CHAMONIX, France – The forecast called for dire conditions: rain, freezing temperatures, possibly snow. The CCC and its already formidable, punishing 101-kilometer course from Courmayeur, Italy, through Champex-Lac, Switzerland, and ultimately to the finish line in downtown Chamonix was projected to be a slow, soggy, sloppy sufferfest – at least for the non-elite mortals at the middle and back of the pack.
Then again, nobody was promised perfect conditions, and anyone expecting an idyllic half-loop around Mont-Blanc had set themselves up for failure.
For six hours, however, we were given a gift of sunny skies, cool but comfortable temperatures, and the opportunity to admire the lush green mountainsides and snow-capped peaks while running and hiking through the Italian Alps.
Now, 18 miles into our 63-mile journey, we stood at the base of our gateway to Switzerland, the Grand Col Ferret, 2,500 feet above us. A thick, white fog eased over the Col, quickly erasing the top from view. A bone-chilling wind began to whip, causing Alex and me to stop and pull out our jackets before proceeding upward. Moments later, the first drops of rain pelted us.
For four years we’d dreamed of running this race. Now, with 45 miles to go and a thunderstorm closing in, the Alps were about to turn this adventure into an unforgiving and unforgettable journey. Continue Reading