Vertical Kilometer (VKM) – 27th June 4pm
The route for the VKM race!
Completed the VKM in 1h:07m – it was a fantastic and unique experience to do this hiking race. About 400 participants were flagged off one by one every 15 seconds to avoid congestion on the narrow hiking trail. My turn came at about 4.30pm – the route starts from the heart of Chamonix town in France, makes a short climb up to the base of a mountain in the French Alps (exactly opposite the more famous Mont Blanc), then climbs 1000 meters up (hence the name!) the imposing face of the mountain over 3.8 km of distance (for reference, Sinhagad is ~450 meters of climb over 2.4km if using the hiking route, or over 8.5km if use the motor road).
The first half was a zig zag trail route working its up the mountain, while the later half was a more difficult hiking route, which grew increasingly steep as it reached the summit. It was slightly terrifying to look around and especially down, especially when you are panting and light headed from the physical exertion. In any case, a race is no time to admire the surrounding scenery, so I just put my head down and concentrated on the next 3-4 steps. There were a lot of “pardon”s, “excusez moi”s and “merci”s as we passed each other on the narrow route. There was a sign after every 100m of ascent and the time between later signs appeared to grow increasingly longer as my steps grew increasingly heavy.
Finally, after 1 hour and 7 minutes, I peaked the summit and made a mad dash to the finish line, with legs burning, heart pumping, and teeth aching from the throbbing blood flow. Having run a good race and given it my all, finally I could admire the breathtaking panorama of the French Alps from high above, the beautiful Mont Blanc in front with charming little Chamonix town at its base.
10 Kilometer (10K) – 28th June, 8am
Completed the 10K trial race in 53m:55s. The 10K race was immediately next morning after the VKM race the previous evening. I was a bit tired and my legs were fatigued from the VKM. There was a 300m climb on the 10K route too, which though not insignificant, seemed like a cake walk compared to the VKM, but which I would have been happy to avoid if possible. The first half of the race which included the climb seemed quite difficult, however I found my rhythm during the second half and went all guns blazing in full “assassin mode” where I overtook about 10-15 runners, each passed runner giving me a new burst of energy.
It was a fantastic, very different experience to do these two hiking and trail races in the heart of the French Alps. The main attraction for the weekend is actually the 42km Marathon du Mont-Blanc and the Ultra Marathon du Mont Blanc, these two races being part of the prestigious SkyRunning series. I intended to do the marathon originally, but could not get in, it gets full within a few hours of the opening of registrations. In the near future, I would definitely like to return here to do the marathon or maybe even the ultra marathon 😉