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If someone had told me 18 months ago I’d be writing a blog about running a 54k alpine ultra marathon, I’d probably have choked – 18 months ago I couldn’t even run a 10k! But just a couple of weeks ago I finished the OCC, an ultra trail race which is part of the UTMB series. Starting in Orsieres in Switzerland and finishing in Chamonix, France. The OCC might be the shortest in the series, but it is also considered one of the most demanding trail races in Europe.
When I signed up for the OCC, I’d just returned from a summer of alpine trail running – I was clocking up serious miles and my ascent profile was looking ten times as healthy as it had done compared to any running I’d done in Scotland – I had big dreams of eventually running the CCC, and perhaps even one day the UTMB. You can’t just rock up at the start line of these sort of races though, you’ve got to prove you’re actually capable, and the OCC was the place I decided to start. Even for the OCC entry isn’t guaranteed – so I spent weeks with everything crossed that I would get a race number.
Just after Christmas, my prayers were answered, and at the end of August I flew out to Chamonix (my second home) to take my place on the OCC start line – it was surreal, from start to finish, absolutely surreal. Town was buzzing with trail runners and the atmosphere was totally electric – I’ve never experienced anything like it, even collecting my race number was a really big deal – standing in the queue for almost two years, having all my kit checked – even the seams of my waterproofs were checked! Then – I got my race bib – it didn’t just have my race number on it – but my name and country too!
The next day, after just a few hours sleep, I woke up, got ready, and walked through the dark, silent Chamonix streets to catch a 5am bus to the start line. The mood varied on the coach – some people slept, some were agitated, some happy and excited; many had never been to Chamonix before and that was clearly part of the excitement.
At the start line there was lots of hanging around, and it was freezing – so, so cold. I stayed back since I didn’t want to get pushed to move too fast at the start, but it was a big mistake, as soon as the trail turned to steep singletrack I got completely caught in a slow-moving bottleneck. On the flip-side, it might have been moving slow on the steep alpine climbs (almost 4000m of ascent!) that meant I still had the energy to keep going almost 11 hours later.
The route itself was spectacular – even though it was so hot, steep and technical, and every inch of my body hurt – I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be running such amazing trails, with views of alpine peaks and glaciers for the duration. At some points, I felt a bit weird – dizzy, shivery, far too happy; but for the most part it just felt like I was supposed to be there. I can now fully understand why people become addicted to the buzz of running ultras.
The closer I got to the end, the stronger I actually felt – there was one point where my knee gave way on a technical descent and I did wonder if I would have to withdraw, but after the feed station, I just took it easy – until I hit the descents, then I just let rip and enjoyed the last 15 or so kms. The most fun, exciting and exhilarating part of the whole race was the last couple of kms – they were steep, technical and so, so fast – it was amazing. Running through Chamonix toward the finish line was great – the streets were lined and everyone was shouting my name and cheering – it was so surreal.
I can’t wait for the next one.
Enter our latest competition to win £100 to spend on Breo.com on our watches & sunglasses. Yes, just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below using your Facebook or Twitter account and we’ll give the winner £100 credit to spend on Breo.com. Once you’ve entered pass some time by checking out our range and deciding what you’d spend the £100 on. … Continue reading
Enter our new competition to win a set of parent and child sunglasses. To celebrate the launch of our Junior Eyewear range of kids sunglasses we’re offering a great prize of 1 pair of child sized sunglasses and 2 pairs of matching adult sized sunglasses so you’re little one can look as cool as the grown ups. Imagine the ‘admiring’ … Continue reading
Today we launch the Breo Summer Sale with up to 40% off watches and sunglasses. Visit the Sale Area now to bag a bargain on such ranges as our fun Two Tone Mirror, classic Resident and sporty Edge sunglasses and our multi function Zone, edgy Overtone and colourful Polygon watch styles. From analogue to digital, smoked to mirrored lenses, and … Continue reading
Enter our new competition to win a multi function Orb 10 digital sports watch worth £44.95. Available in 6 eye-catching colours combinations, the Orb 10 is a great watch for exercise with a chronograph with lap timer, alarm, 12/24 hour option and a back lit display. It also has a 10 atm water resistance rating making it perfect for water … Continue reading
Often we forget that the main job of our sunglasses is to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, so when choosing a pair of summer sunnies safety often takes a backseat to style. However in the sun we need to protect not only our skin from harmful UV radiation but also our eyes-because they are pretty useful … Continue reading
It’s not the most common question we ask ourselves when we buy sunglasses, will these sunglasses go with my hair? But matching sunglasses with hair colour can make or break anyone’s style – and it isn’t the easiest thing to do. That is until our 50 Shades of Hair guide, which will give you advice on what sunglasses will work … Continue reading
Robin Williams is the Breo Hero du jour, read our chat with the SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) maestro below on his motivation, proudest achievements, heroes and tips for aspiring SUP-ers. How long have you been Stand Up Paddleboarding? Approx 6 years How did you get involved?
Exciting news here at Breo HQ as we launch a new range of Junior size sunglasses. Offering our most popular styles, Uptones, Uptone ICE and Two Tone Mirror, we’ve created a range of kids sunglasses that looks great and perform. As with our adult sizes, all our sunglasses offer 100% UC protection to protect eyes, toughened polycarbonate lenses and a sweat … Continue reading
Today we chat to Breo Hero Zak Lawton about his surfing life, his motivation, heroes and tips for aspiring surfers. How long have you been surfing? I started when I was 9, so 13 years ago now! I cannot even remember my life without surfing to be honest with you. How did you get involved? We moved to Croyde, Devon, … Continue reading