Kayleigh Ralphs & The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc race
How it all started, the aim of the training game …
After a run to qualify for points to enter the ultra trail Mont Blanc CCC race, we entered the draw for a position in the race, an elite race that everyone with points wants to get into, and me thinking it’s ok theirs no chance our names will get picked, first time entering were not that lucky… How wrong could I be, our names, my dads and mine were picked out, in Aug 2016 we were off to the Alps to complete the 63 mile, 18.000ft ascent race around one of the worlds toughest trail routes .
Strongman training/current training/ how I ended up at Crossfit training for an ultra.
I got back into lifting weights having a little rest from running. Until finding out about the race, me an my dad set out on training runs in the Lake District but I still craved that need to experience pain an build muscles but with the two training routines contradicting each other I had to choose, or did i? I got talking to Chris Tomlinson and explained my adventure and challenge, I was lucky that this PT understood the want and love for pushing limits and challenges and the love of the outdoors with his military background. And even better that he took on the challenge on training me introducing me to Crossfit training through one to one PT sessions once a week.
Through my one to one pt sessions I did what I love squats, deadlifts, strongman training, burpees, box jumps etc going from lighter weighted weights to cardio runs, box jumps, Burpees. Learning what pain is but also seriously using my all my body not only building muscles but also using my inner organs working my heart, lungs etc to the max. Building my engine! I sweated, I got outta breath I nearly threw up…. I pushed myself. I really feel that my fitness increased so much more by attending these Crossfit sessions an Widnes Crossfit and the belief and time from others gives you the determination not to let people down.
The daddy of trainers
My awesome dad, I owe him so much he really has taken the time to train with me, giving up his own training , races and challenges to help me successfully get through mine.every Saturday early mornings, late nights heading to the lakes to go run and train on mountain, such hard training. Sessions but loved every minute of them. Maybe not so much at the time haha
Fast forwarding to the big day
9am (France time) start, bus to Italy at 7am, awake like its Christmas Day at 5.30am.
Even just standing on the start line was an experience such emotion surrounded by people from all over the world all feeling the same nervous, excitement, fear. The music starts, my dad gets emotional and we’re off, that’s it now training is done now it’s down to me.
So compared to everyone else on the start line we look like we wouldn’t even get to checkpoint one… Everyone fully kitted out in hundreds of pounds worth of kit, me, my dads old north face Ruck sack he won on the fells man prob 5 years+ ago, Nike funky shorts, free marshalling Lakeland 100 tshirt and my dad in his “fishermans hat”
Start of the race an straight into the first and one of the biggest climbs on the course, Tete de la tranche, queuing going up the first hill and in the direct sun, hardly any shade as you climbed going up, up, up seeing the line of people that looked like ants that high up an below snaking up the mountain, blue clear skies an mountain tops , just awesome sight. All in high spirits going. Coming down into the first check point was slightly slower trying to get change in pace and the dust from the heat. The altitude throughout the course effected me more that I thought it would , and the heat throughout the day their was no rest from the heat, only relief was the streams an wetting buffs an hats and putting them on your head…! Not good for the hair style tho But I go passed caring what I looked like as the feeling of the cold was much more satisfying hehe. After first climb we made our way over to the 2nd biggest climb the grand col ferret.
Before the climb was a checkpoint we changed tops, socks an ate the Amazing noodle soup an oranges. We got talking to some Americans and the thought of ice cream I seemed to breeze up this hill according to my dad. I got my head down and day dreamed my self up in a good time. We then made our way to champex-lac, Switzerland. I was looking forward to seeing my mum and sister an the warm welcome as well as a new tshirt It was around 10/11pm at this point as we said goodbye and made our way up another 2 hour climb, la glete. This climb was ok however struggled on the way down legs starting to niggle and feeling unable to run but walking at a decent speed, yet not fast enough. I got to trient checkpoint, head was starting to go feeling tired, sore, over heated as still hot throughout the night, my head was my own worse enemy doubting if I would finish. We left the checkpoint an headed up catogne, i asked dad if we were going to finish in time, his response,” yeah you will finish, BUT 15 minutes after cut off ” s**t all I wanted was to finish but this was hard how was I gonna pick up pace when I’m so tired an I’ve still got a good 10 hours to go I started to panic, aderaline kicking in, without realising i kept up pace and didn’t stop. Relief at the top of the climb and the determination to finish and make my dad proud, I set off down the hill, over taking 30 people on one go, I was a women on a mission, still unsure how we got down that fast, the most technical decent on the course an I did it with hardly any battery in my head torch, using the light from my dads. We got into vallorcine check point at 5.45ish (45 mixtures ahead of estimated time) quick fuel an we were off our last climb 3 hours to get up an still with tight cut offs couldn’t really slow to much, we started the last winding ascent that went on forever, I started feeling a stabbing feeling in my right inner knee… Cramp just great timing. I gritted my teeth an dug in getting to the top and feeling outta my body, strangest feeling I took lots of water, and had an energy bar and set off the hour traverse over to the 2nd to last checkpoint, up an down that took forever and never got closer. Heat of the new day blazing on us yet again and no streams to dip head in. Their was no way I wasn’t going to finish, all the way through the only thing in my head was ur going to finish. I want to finish.
So we made our way down the last decent, pain stabbing all the way up my leg but knowing all I had to do was get down this last hill. Every step hurting, willing it to be over. Greeted by friends along the course split the time up but still hardly speaking jus head down trying to keep calm. We made it to the road all we had to do was the loop around the time and enjoy it. Dad gave me a big hug as he got a little emotional, and together we started a little run down road by the river, trying so hard to keep cool and yet all I wanted to do was cry with the emotion of it all, it was nearly over and part of me really didn’t want it to be, but I had done it I was gonna finish it, time an place didn’t matter, I was gonna finish Best experience in my life. Dad telling me to slow down an jus enjoy it, aderaline pumping, no pain just emotions that cannot be explained.
We did it And that’s all that mattered. All the training was worth while and pain is welcomed and nothing can top the past 26 hours.
THE FANCY STUFF
Food: nothing special, no gels used, zipbit energy bars were amazing, along with checkpoint food and good old fashioned oatcakes, b&m bargin sweets and almond cakes. No frills or fancy expensive stuff used here.
Clothes: injinji socks are just amazing, no blisters here. Nike shorts, free marshalling tshirt, CrossFit Widnes tshirt, and dosportlive tshirt, Scott’s trainers and dads old poles
now let’s see what the future holds can I succeed in Crossfit an ultra running… Well I’m gonna try