Ultra trail marathon with the start and finish in Verbier (CH) covering 111KM over 7.800m vertical

As I did not finish this race, I kept this race report short and reflected on the learnings I took out of this race.

As a matter of fact, this race has taught me more than the 4 other ultra trail marathons (anywhere between 58 km and 170 km) that I did finish. Learnings that I do not only use for my outdoor endurance challenges, but which are of value in my professional life as well. Never come underprepared.

D.N.F. is an abbreviation that was never part of my dictionary. But after 80 kilometers, with 31 more to go, I had to abandon the race. A combination of factors – painful blisters on the soles of my totally soaked feet, broken equipment and hallucinations due to sleep deprivation without much time to take a break to deal with them – made me decide it would have been irresponsible to continue racing into the second night. The descent from Col De Mille and climb to la Chaux that laid ahead of me, both ask for your utmost concentration. After 21 hours of racing this wasn’t the case anymore.

Some learnings I took out of this race:

  • Physical preparation means so much more than getting your body prepped for the race. It focuses the mind and enables you to deal with challenges that you face when running 111KM through the mountains. My last minute decision to enter this race without having the right amount of training KM’s under the belt, meant that my mind wasn’t as prepared to keep going and deal with physical and mental challenges. The physical challenges I endured in this race were nothing compared to the ones i faced during the 2015 UTMB (170KM, 10.000m vertical), yet I then never thought of abandoning. There was a clear difference in focus and determination.
  • No matter how much your body or your mind are challenged, the beauty of the nature works healing. Her incessant beauty and force makes me realising I’m very blessed to run around and over her curves.
  • There’s a first for everything – in my case “Did Not Finish”. A reality which i learned from. With a mindset that’s not programmed to stop when the going gets tough, I believe that the decision to stop made me stronger and wiser.
  • A set back like D.N.F. makes me wanna go twice as prepped for my next challenge.