A few short word from Jon:
I was inspired to run for DEBRA after watching the piece on Tilly on channel 10s 'The Project'. Having 3 little healthy girls of my own this story really stuck a chord with me and I wanted to help. As part of a European trip in 2014 I set about looking for a suitable challenge in which I could incorporate my love for running with a bit of adventure and raise some funds. I chose the Marathon du Mont Blanc as an excuse to have to take my family to the French Alps on the way back from a trip to the UK to visit family.
The 42km mountain race is run on trails at altitudes including over 2500 metres of ascent and 1400 metres descent. We arrived in Chamonix a couple of days before the race to be advised of severe weather warnings for race day. As the day arrived, the warnings got worse and the course finish was changed from 2300 m up on a ridge (to which the only was down via cable car) to the town centre as the organisers were worried about the lightning and how people would get back down (cables cars don't run in thunder storms!)
I was also a bit worried about my kit...I hadn't brought any gloves or hat as was expecting a relatively warm day. The previous 5 years had seen temperatures of around 25c...this year it was 7c in the town centre, even before we began climbing. I was aware the weather is changeable in the mountains but wasn’t quite prepared for it being as wild and cold as it turned out to be.
About half way up the biggest climb it started snowing/sleeting and it was getting bitterly cold (and wet) as we got higher and higher. Nearing the summit I was shivering and teeth chattering whilst running - a very strange sensation and I was getting quite concerned about hyperthermia and even making it to the finish.
I was feeling quite sorry for myself until a French gentleman who was trying to pass me managed to put one of his trekking poles through his left foot! The poor chap was in agony - this focused my attention on getting help and stop feeling sorry for myself. I made it to the top of the Col Des Possettes and got help (with very limited French!). All the advice says to stop, wrap up warm and have a hot drink, but I decided to run straight past the aid station at the top of the mountain to get off the mountain as quickly as I could. At least I was half way! I gradually started to warm up during a very wet, slippery and dangerous decent. In the difficult up and down 20kms that followed I drew on motivation from all the people that had supported me through donations....I just had to get round for them and it helped put a bit of wet and aching limbs into perspective.
I managed to finish the race in 7hrs 10 and promptly had a beer at the finish line - apparently a French tradition which I wasn’t going to argue with. This was the first beer in six months of training and not surprisingly I was asleep back at our chalet not long after.
Here’s the link to the official YouTube film of the best bits of the run: click here
Chamonix is a truly beautiful place and I feel very privileged to have been able to run through its mountains whilst raising a few funds for DEBRA Australia. I enjoyed every minute. The one question now is...what am I going to do next?
Thank you for all your support.