As we break into summer, a lot is concentrating our minds at GBN.
Beyond our own known horizon
Last Friday and Saturday, I was lucky enough to watch close up the 17th edition of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) event in Chamonix, France.
But what is the UTMB? It is a series of trail races, spanning three countries, and ranging between 4, 8 and 15 kilometres long for young runners YCC (Youth Chamonix Courmayeur), to the 300 kilometre, 25,000m-elevation-gain (D+), 2 to 3 person-team Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL) race – and anything in between!
Some 10,000 men, women and youngsters, showing exceptional physical and mental abilities, as well as a certain degree of madness, undertake these gruelling feats…
Non-trailers out there might wonder why one would put themselves through such extreme endurance, and to be honest I did too, until I witnessed this most humbling of moments:
Spaniard Gorka Zubeldia Letamendia, lifting his prosthetic leg at the finish line as he successfully completed the 101km Courmayeur Champex Chamonix (CCC) race in 28 hours and 5 minutes. He was the last participant to finish the race.
It was a moment of double victory. One over high altitudes (>2,500m), a difficult course (6,100m D+), and at times, arduous weather conditions… and one over the odds: not letting what has been a life-changing injury to define him for the rest of his life.
And it is very much this opportunity – being able to prove to oneself that anything is possible and that we can go beyond our own known horizon or capabilities – that such high-performance events bring on.
Access to true resilience of the mind and remarkable courage of the heart, on top of a well-trained body. The concept of hedonic or positive adaptation in the context of significant adversity.
So a big HATS OFF to all UTMB 2019 runners, with a special mention to Gorka and any other runners with an impairment.
Image: UTMB – Christophe Pallot