Ultra hard trail no problem for Thornbury runner
Dave Beard became the first Thornbury RC runner to compete in the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) in the French ski resort of Chamonix, amongst huge crowds of supporters and a rock concert atmosphere.
Dave joined over 2,500 runners who had qualified for the UTMB by earning points for completing several ultra-marathons in the years leading up the race. Their prize was the right to race over 171k on the trails through the mountain peaks and valleys in France, Italy, Switzerland and looping back to the start in Chamonix, with more vertical ascent than Mt. Everest in the process.
It’s little surprise that almost 800 highly experienced runners, including many of the professional runners, had to drop out at varying stages along the route.
As well as the gruelling mountain terrain, the competitors received an alert on the morning of the race that temperatures were expected to plummet to minus 10 degrees at some of the highest points with strong winds.
Most of the runners in the UTMB have a small team to help at the aid stations dotted along the course.
Team Beard included Dave’s wife, Helen, his 2 children, Mum and friends, who helped to replenish him, make a makeshift bed after 80k at an Italian mountain stop and provide much needed encouragement to get him through some of the more difficult moments.
After 2 days and 2 nights on the trail Dave made his way down the final bone-jarring descent into Chamonix on Sunday afternoon in scenes reminiscent of the Tour de France, with streets lined with cheering supporters. Dave’s final position was 1455th place in a time of 44 hours 59:24 mins.