Our committed athlete Shona Stephenson (Australia) looks ahead to the 2014 UTMB.
Wow another year! Chamonix always delivers with its beauty, atmosphere, energy and excitement. It’s hard to not get caught up in the nervous tension that awaits the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc). This year it will be my second attempt at the 167km course, which crosses three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) and involves over 9,600m of elevation gain.
The UTMB is the ultimate when it comes to trail racing and trail running in the mountains. It always attracts one of the deepest fields of the year, and, once again, the start line will be packed with talent this time around.
Last year I went into the UTMB knowing I also had a big race in Japan in mid-September. This year I don’t have that same distraction and I will be able to give the UTMB my absolute all. I will be holding nothing back at UTMB 2014.
In the end it was a pretty bad ankle injury that forced me to pull out of the UTMB mid-race in 2013. It turned out to be a stress fracture and as a result I took my first off-season so I could recover only, however, after I had raced and won the Hakuba 50km in Japan.
Trail runner Shona determined to lay 2013 UTMB ghost to rest in the Alps
The UTMB has been my long-term goal for 2014 and I feel much better going into this year’s race having learnt from the mistakes I made the previous year. There is no doubt about it, in 2013 I over-raced, over-trained, over-worked and just thrashed both my body and mind. I was exhausted before I even started the UTMB. I have since taken time to reflect and also look back at my 2012 season when I was racing so well. I have tried to follow the same pattern I did in 2012 and, ultimately, do fewer races. In March I did the Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand and placed sixth and followed this up with the Ultra-Trail Mt Fuji in April, again finishing sixth. After that I did the TNF100 in Australia and, most recently, won the Oxfam Brisbane and Kokoda Challenge.
Now it is all about the UTMB. I feel full of energy and adrenalin. I am, quite literally, bouncing off the walls. I am so pumped up for this race. I know I have unfinished business with the UTMB and I can’t wait to run past the spot where I pulled out last year. It’s my 36th birthday this weekend too, so I’m determined to bag myself a UTMB finishers’ medal as a present. There will likely be rain, hail, snow, sunshine, falls, tumbles, pain and vomiting. It’s the UTMB, it’s supposed to hurt. Bring it on!