The CCC is known as ‘UTMB’s little sister’, it’s a 101km race with 6500m vertical ascent which passes through 3 different countries! The level of competition is always amazing and the top trail runners are always in Chamonix at this time. I had my eyes set on CCC for the whole of 2018, it was going to be one of my ‘A’ races for the year.
I have raced quite a bit this year already, TCC Costa Rica, South Downs Way 50, Trail World Championships and some sky running… only to mention a few! I used some of the races to build my confidence on running on slightly more technical terrain so when I was racing in the Alps, I had more confidence on the trails. I had a 12 week training block for CCC which included 5 weeks at altitude in the mountains to practice on similar trails and also get to recon the course.
After arriving in Chamonix a week before the race, there was a buzz around the town, I had never seen it so busy! I was staying 10 minuets outside of town in a lovely little apartment. While packing my kit, my crew, Simon Bayliff (Arete) handed me a waterproof bag and told me to open it… I had no idea what it was going to be! On opening the bag, I received a Red Bull athlete cap! I couldn’t believe it, Red Bull is my dream brand who I wanted to partner with. I was speechless and couldn’t quite believe it! I’m so excited about being an official athlete and the journey that we will go on together over the years!
The start of races are always fast. I made a real conscious effort not to overdo it in the first couple of km. Min Qi, an amazing Chinese athlete took the lead after 100m, I was not sure if I would see him again! The course has 5 major climbs and some long downhill, the downhill was where I was hoping to be strong. Things were going well till the 35km point, I was in 3rdplace and feeling good. At the highest point of the course 2800m I started to feel pretty ill, a combination of being cold, too much water and the nerves had got to me and I couldn’t keep anything down! I managed to pull through 10km later and was back on track, I had slipped down to 5thposition by this point.
You’re allowed a team/crew for the CCC. This means that there are 3 locations on the course (55km, 72km and 84km) where you can receive support. This helped me so much as I was able to control my nutrition, my hydration and also get some extra motivation from Si and the rest of the team.
Min Qi had a 15 min + lead for the majority of the race. It was only with 20km to go that I started to gain on him. I was feeling strong and really determined to push hard in the closing stages of the race. At the start of the final climb I was in 2ndplace, only 4 mins behind the lead runner. I had to dig deeper than ever before and ran the whole of the climb, catching Min Qi at the 94km mark! The final 7km are downhill, I knew my legs were going to be sore after the race so I just kept pushing as hard as I could. I didn’t think about winning the race until I was crossing the line. I managed to put an 8 minute gap on Min Qi over the final 7km to cross the line in 1stplace!! A dream come true. The support running through Chamonix was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It just made all the pain go away and I couldn’t stop smiling.
For me, this has been the most special weekend of my running career. Firstly signing with Red Bull, my dream brand to work with. I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity and I’m really looking forward to the journey. Having some of my biggest influences, my coach Allison Benton (AB Training group), a great friend/my agent, Si Bayliff (Arete) plus the amazing trail running community!
I’m going to take a bit of time to recover properly and make sure I can come back fitter, stronger and faster. I have got some big performance based goals for the rest of this year and going into next year.
- The clock doesn’t stop till you have crossed the finish line, anything is possible.
- Race with fire in your heart but a cool head
- Enjoy the process and the outcome will look after its self