Montreux Trail Festival
MxTrem160 (100 Miles)
105 miles and 37'730 feet
July 29, 2017
The departure place of the MxTrem160 is magical, as we were waiting for the race to start I did a selfie moment with friends, knowing that it should be hard to see each other during the race. On the departure line, I saw Julien Gantenbein who with I never raced before but I knew we had pretty much the same times on same races so we decided to try the adventure together.
The begining of the race, given by Ludo is, as usual a show.
CHILLON - JAMAn - Miles5.5 - 4720D+
JAMAN - LIOSON - Miles22 - 4720D+
Quick collation and keep going for our adventure, going down the hill of Jaman and by inadvertance we miss the trail entrance but as I know the area we can go back on the trail a 330feet ahead. We pass the col of Bonaudon then we go down a less used trail I didn’t know but great too. Andrea Huser join us during the descente but goes back on her feet after a couple of miles !?!? There is no markups and I am not kidding, there is nothing…. Since when????
I advise to keep going down as I knew we would be back on the concrete on the road that goes up to l’Hongrin. We have to go down on a long distance, not really reassuring but we finally reach the concrete part. We have to make a choice, right or left ?? One chance over two, Julien and Andrea decide to take on the left hand side (descente), I was more intended to take on the other side without being 100% sure. We will go down of about 0.3 miles, then we will all agreed that we were wrong. We try to call Diego (race director) but the network is so poor up there in between those cliffs that the only thing we told him we got lost, I am sure he freaked out knowing that 3 runners were already lost including the first lady!!!! As we reached the junction, Andrea who was ahead of us goes on the right hand side to come backward on the parcours. We met Sylvain, a friend of mine from Les Diablerets, who was a bit surprised to see us here. We start the ascension of the col des Gaules (1840D+), quite steep, just to remind us there was still 36'000D+ !!!! We come back on a group of runners that overtook us during our « trip » we pass on top of the col in 12th position, as we did on top of Jaman. As we passed the col, we enter the « Pays d’En Haut », and then a succession of ups and downs the hills up to la Lécherette, Andrea goes ahead of us, we will not see her again before…. the finish line.
As I arrive in la "Lécherette", my family in law is here to encourage me which is always good to hear. Since that point, we go towards the Pic Chaussy but, before that, we have to go through the fields of Pra-Cornet, it’s almost midday and it’s really hot outside !!!! So as I reach the great lake of Lioson it was hardly impossible for us not to go swimming for a little while !!!!
The show we gave the audience of the aid station plus the restaurant has been quite appreciated…. And we got even cooler after that little break.
LIOSON - SOLALEX - Miles44 - 17'000D+
Eating break done, we have to keep going on climbing up the Pic Chaussy and its 1640D+. The climbing is going on well as we are quite light on food, but there is something else hidden in my case, since the beginning of the race, my legs feel heavy and on the far end of the climbing the first cramps are coming, and as I reach the summit (Miles24), there are here, I mean cramps…. No worries there is only 80 miles left !!!! We are laughing about that but I am not feeling well at the moment…. Julien gave me a sporteine and it can only get better after that…. Give up now?? The only way I can is if I have a "mechanical problem“ but from now on I got rid oft that word in my mind.
After a strech out moment later, we keep going our trip, on the trails I used to know, as I am located on the trails I know by heart cause I am home now, in Les Diablerets…. And let me tell you that the crossing up to the col du Pillon I just love it even though my legs hurt !! As we arrive to the other aid station I feel myself a bit better and coming down towards the Diablerets with my family encouraging me, I have to keep running…. And surpise on top, we even have some stawberries for the collation, lovely jobely….
After the descent…. the climbing up to reach the col de la Croix and its alpine with another aid station, the last before the base camp of Solalex. We take our time, something like 5 minutes ☺ just because there is some good cheese up there. Then long descent, knowing that we had to climb all the way back up to reach Les Chaux, but the path is so nice as the climbing up is too, as the path that will bring us to Solalex.
Here we are in Solalex, first base camp, so I took advantage oft that moment to do a nice hand massage for my legs and after that we are all invited for a nice pasta plate on the terrasse of the restaurant, the volunteer ask me what I would like to drink ( a beer would be perfect but not yet!!), I choose a fresh lemon juice, perfect!! She laughs at me and goes straight to the kitchen to see if it’s possible…. She comes back 2 minutes after with a lemon, asking me if this one will do?! she is surprised because no one has been asking that on a race, then she comes back with a big glass of fresh lemon juice, that is what I call a five stars service!!
SOLALEX - RIJASSE - Miles53 - 22'310D+
We are feeling so nice on the terrasse, so nice that we could stay here for the next 45 minutes!!!! But we still have a bit of trails in front of us and also we have to take adavntage of that lovely sunny Friday. We keep going for the col des Essets (1640D+).
The landscapes are so wonderful and especially with the end day light, our progression is becoming lower and lower…. Arriving on top….little break!! Yep, it’s so nice that we have to stop for a while….
The thing is that we are racing and from now on, we have 2620D- of descent down to the "pont de Nant" and it would be nice to go down as it is still daylight.
A small technical descent and we reach the plateau of the "Vare", realy wonderful. At the end of the plateau, we got invited for a drink!! Outch!! But we stay humble otherwise I am not sure if we could have gone ahaed after that!!
Pont de Nant, a very important aid station, because what is coming next is very hard, the "Col des Pauvres" (litteraly the Pass of the Poors!!), 3280D+ on a very technical and steep path and on top of that at night !! Let me tell you that I loved that one, a real engaged trail path as I like. Not all of the concurrents had the same feeling than I had, even realy hard for some of them at this point of the race !!
Passed that chaos, we have to go down on a relatively steep slope followed by a rocky path but no markups again !! Julien and I decide to come back on our feet before going further down and the climbing up is even harder for both of us. As we were coming back up, we met an other runner, an english one, but as we tried to tell him it wasn’t the right way, he would be continuing on the direction of a wrong valley…. A second one is coming and I recognise Roman, a swiss german runner who have run the Iron Trail K201 in the canton of Grisons. I told him to come backwards with us, he will listen to us and 50m after that, I see the yellow signs of the path, we are not lost anymore…. Yes finally!!!!
The descent on Rijasse in the valley of Euzanne (are you still following me?!?!) is not that easy, very few markups and lots of path traces but as we look forward on the left hand side (on the right hand side is the edge of the Pauvres) we can say that we found the right way.
„Rijasse-Euzanne“ quick stop at the aid station, Roman will crave for a nice soup but as they don’t have any electricity at the aid station he will drink it cold!!!! Yak! it works in every langage.
RIJASSE - GRYON - Miles60 - 23'560D+
Come on, let’s keep going on a 4*4 path, Roman flies up like a Kenyan runner, very impressive but 3 minutes after that, he comes back on his feet?!?! No more markups, again !! He is right, there is nothing so we all come back up on our feet.
We didn’t pay attention but on the first corner of that road, there was a path going on the left hand side and the markup for the night was not really visible , that’s why we missed the entrance of it.
On the way to Gryon it was a mixture in between nice running path and road running as well…. A bit muddy sometimes. Julien was laughing at me seeing me running in the mud which was a advantage for me with the Luna sandals just because nothing stays inside of the shoe.
GRYON - VILLARS- Miles105 - 25'600D+
Next step, Villars passing through the back of „Gryonne“, great paths I have been biking on several years before, and even today running on them was just great but the way up Villars…. My god was endless!! After having run for more than 20 hours, the fatigue starts to arrive and we arrived at the aid station in Villars at 3.50am, quick collation for "the after“….. We even hesitated to sleep a bit but as Stanislaw says : « Hesitating is already taking a decision » and the decision has already been taken…. We keep on going!!!!
VILLARS - LEYSIN -Miles77 - 30'050D+
Next objective, The "grand Chamossaire" (6920feet) which means a climbing of about 2950D+ to wake you up, nothing better!! Well in fact it’s to keep you awake !!!! Damn, my eyelids are heavy, fatigue starts to take hold on us and finally after having climbed up for an hour, the sleep goes away, I won the battle !! And what’s incredible is that Julien was in the same state than me and we didn’t even talk .
Arriving at the Roc d’Orsay, I took a peep on the right hand side because a lighting animation was coming on and my climbing rythm increased and I wanted to summit as quick as possible to see this lovely moment, the sunrise, the only regret I had was not to have a real camera with me at this time but we stopped 5 minutes just to look at it.
Next direction the "petit Chamossaire" on the edge path, we just love it eventough we are tired. After that, on the way down to La Forclaz and its aid station hold by Eric Descloux, we had a nice Ovomaltine chocolate, hum…. It’s 7.10 am and my wife, Sophie, who was with my daughter, Mila, came to surprise me which was top !! I don’t even understand how she could have waken her up so early!!!!
After La Forclaz, direction Leysin that we can already see but…. There is a big valley in between !!!!
If the descent down to the "pont de la Tine" was great, we can say that to go up to Leysin was just unremarkable with its shorcut by Cergnat. As much difficult to endure when you think about the great path which is located a 100m above…. Finally we are in Leysin and it’s 9 in the morning, a new day is about to start !! We stopped for 50 minutes, time for us to eat something consisting and to get a good massage as well, but not too relaxing because my legs are in bad shape!!
My family in law is there with the croissants and chocolate buns, yammy yammy especially the carac (a swiss speciality I am fond of!!)
We ate and drank so we can go now….
LEYSIN - COL DE CHAUDE - miles91 - 36'090D+
Just to feel happy, 2560D+ up to the top of Berneuse (ski slopes on top of Leysin). Two friends of Julien are here with us to help us out handling the climbing, it’s cool for both of us to have somebody else after having spent 27 hours together !! Not far from the top, a runner overtakes us and encourages us as well !! We are a bit surprised but we undestood it was the one who won Villars60, a running machine who left only 2.45 hours, it took us 5 more…. Hours I mean !!!! Well we have 656 miles in our legs but it’s impressive !!
Berneuse here we are, aid station, especially with water, it’s almost 11.20am and it’s damn hot outside. From now on, direction "Joux Verte" but before that , Tompey pass, not too difficult but at this time of the race we are a bit less speed in terms of running!! When we arrive on the alpine, the path is completely different with some weird stuff to avoid the road, then a shortcut brings us straight to Joux Verte.
As soon as we reached the aid station, it’s so hot outside that the cheese looks like a nice raclette , completely melted so we decide not to stay too longer !! Before we leave I saw a water fountain, time for me to get cooler before the other climb, in Malatraix and its 1870D+ and also time for me to start running barefeet inside my sandals, with that heat the convertible mode is more appreciate !!
The climbing is great, and I am trying to maintain the rythm I have since the beginning of the race (1640/h) that I am on since the miles 24 and which suits us well. The edges crossing from Malatraix to the pointe d’Aveneyre is very technical, I knew it for having done it once before. It’s hard to run but it does not matter, the view is so nice that it’s worth it.
So close but so far away!! We still have 15 miles to do, it seems less but still…. Arriving on top of Aveneyre, the edges are behind us, it was great. Switching on the other side, we can hear some music and looking towards the direction of the "Col de Chaude", we notice the aid station and a bunch of people, it looks like there is a nice atmosphere over there !!
Just amazing the atmosphere at the aid station, Yvan is there, coming to encourage me and it feels so nice before the last section.
COL DE CHAUDE - HAUT CAUX - miles100 37'700D+
We leave for the last climbing of the race…. Sniff!! It’s 4 pm and if everything goes on well, we should cross the finish line in Montreux before the night, but before that we have to climb the "Rocher de Naye" the path is just awesome and even after 34 hours we still enjoy and that’s what is great.
Now that we are on top, the finish line is located just 5250 feet a bit downer, nearby the lake. Outch !! And that’s where the serious things happen a bit form I guess, my legs muscles and moreover my calfs are out of order, the cramps I had at the beginning oft he race have killed my legs. For most of the runners it won’t be that bad but for me who run with sandals which means no cushion, therefore my calfs and feet are doing the job. 5250 feet going down with dead cushions!! I am worried , especially that the first part down to Sonchaux is a rocky path, and it’s the first time I envy Julien for his shoes, Hoka's!! (all the contrary than mines)
Sonchaux, here we are, but now we have to cross on the "Haut de Caux", 6km on the road with a mixture of concrete and gravel, horrible!! We have to run on the side and the temptation of walking is becoming bigger and bigger as we met some runners who did the 60K who were walking but we forbid it. It’s 6 pm when we arrive at the last aids station, in Haut de Caux.
HAUT CAUX - MONTREUX - miles105 - 37'730D+
Even though we still have to come down, we are taking our time to eat properly and to fill out our water bottles, we still have 8 km to do for 2690D- and we cannot do that in 30 minutes !!
Just before leaving, my phone is ringing, it’s my parents, they ask me if everything is okay and I can roughly tell the time I would be crossing the finish line, after a bit of reflexion I tell them before 8 pm.
8 km !! it’s not that much but still and I am struggling to keep running even though my muscles do not response . And for that, I am using so much energy that I am alterning walking and running.
We reach the Gorges du Chauderon with the night lights it looks wonderful, but it’s really hot and humid even at this time oft he day. I am sweating and my heart beat is getting higher and I don’t feel well so I decide to walk a bit to calm me down as there was only 0.2 miles to do before leaving the Gorges du Chauderon.
Here we are, Montreux!! The descent on the concrete, horrible for my feet and I will even take my sandals off on the bottom to see if it gets better. Arriving on the border of the lake, I might have to put them back on, the concrete is too abrasive and especially after 37 hours of race !! And Julien is so patient of waiting for me. Now we still have 1km on the flat up to the moment we cross the finish line in between the tourists!!
We can see the arch of the finish line in front of us, we did it, the whole turn around the Alpes Vaudoise!!
It’s one of the longuest race I have ever done with the biggest vertical drop and with Luna sandals, what a pleasure to run in convertible shoes, my muscles did not follow the distance but I did not manage them at the beginning of the race and I have been punished for that!!
37h47minutes, it’s the time it took us, Julien and I, and I have never done a whole race with someone the whole time, I do believe we have never been away from each other more than 20 m!! We had such a nice race both of us.
The first Mxtrem160 (105 miles) was a lovely race, but some things need to be ameliorated (such as the marking) but that is really what I like on first edition race, when everything is not perfect and the runner has to get out of his coccon and try to improve himself as much as he can, just like we do in off sessions.
A massive thank for the organisation and for the volunteers too. And of course to Philippe for translation!
thanks also to philip Stark who made me discover the Luna sandals
A Mountain Barefoot runner