World Masters Mountain Running Championship Saillon to Ovronnaz
23rd September 2006

It was not really mountain running at all as the race just went through vineyards, villages and forests. It was mostly uphill but as usual those I passed on uphills attempted to overtake me on the flat sections on wide tarmac and forest roads. Many alpine races start in this way but this time the finish was at Ovronnaz which is actually the start of a very prodigous uphill race to Cabane Rambert. One has to congratulate anyone willing to put on a championship like this though and I enjoyed the chance to meet old friends I have competed against in the Alps over the last 30 years. Having been at a computing Grid conference just before the event it just seemed like another conference with late nights at the pasta party and post race meal, the conference networking, and the presentations every 20 minutes as a new age group race started.

It was unusually warm for the time of year with a fohn wind from the South. This did not suit the Scots nor probably did arriving the evening before the race. So we took no medals and best positions were in the teens.

In my age group M55 I was pleasantly surprised to be not far off the first half dozen. One of my old friends, Dick Evans from Wales came past at 3km and finished 7th. 59 year old Omer van Noten came past me with 2km to go and finished 6th. Another old friend, Anton Gorbunov, sprinted past me at the finish to get 12th but he had bought me a beer the night before. My race was won by Mike Short who was a top fell runner in the 1970s before settling in Switzerland.

There was a Grand Prix race over the same course on the Sunday and also the very steep uphill Fully-Sorniot race which is 8km and up 1600m. Mike Short followed his victory on Saturday with a strong run in Fully Sorniot but the very early start did not fit with my hotel.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at Champery where I stayed nine times before doing the Tour du Dents des Midi race. This circular races of 44km with 2900m of ascent and descent is no more after 37 editions. I discussed the reasons with Fernand who owns the pension where I stayed and was chief technical organiser. It is all about insurance and the Swiss now having an American attitude to litigation. We need to be ware. Another 60km race from Ovronnaz has only been run for a few additions because of lack of organisers. Same story as in Scotland!

John Blair-Fish
Full results here


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