NFEC 50 + 2013 in Review

Written by arno kroner on . Posted in running, ultra distance


2013 ended pretty nicely with The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile run in Marin, north of San Francisco. With the UTMB in particular (and 100s of miles of mountain running) 2013 has been a great running year for me. The TNF50 was a good cherry on the cake since it was a beautiful cold day in the Marin Headlands and I also got a PR on that course (by 1 hour and 25 minutes no less!)

I first ran the course in 2011 and it was my first ultramarathon. It was fantastic and although I was a little slow (and I was hurting at the end quite a bit!) I pledged to come back. I went back in 2012 and the weather was so awful that they shortened the course to 46 miles (I did 9 hours and 58 minutes and I was very happy with that). I got so wet that sometimes by the ocean it seemed someone was throwing buckets of water at me! This year the weather was very cold but dry and sunny and, with the right equipment it was a great pleasure!

Outdoor Emergency Care Course

Written by arno kroner on . Posted in alpine skiing, mountaineering, outdoor emergency care


This summer I decided to plan for my next level of outdoor emergency care and I was faced with the choice of taking a WFR (Wilderness First Responder) course or OEC course (Outdoor Emergency Care). Because I have always been interested in volunteering in a ski patrol I opted for OEC – it also seemed that the training was similar in nature to WFR. OEC is the National Ski Patrol mandated course, meaning that all NSP ski patrolers need to be OEC certified (some are EMTs which is kind of the same).

After looking for a class on the NSP site I found that the patrol I wanted to join in Mammoth did offer a class in Burbank and it seemed very convenient except that I was going to be out of town for too many classes (running UTMB for instance) and I wasn’t sure I could commit to two nights a week (and teaching also two nights a week). So I settled on a two weeks intensive in Squaw Valley in November – I found the class through the NSP web site. I got in touch with the instructor and he had a web site set up and directed us students to read the OEC book on our own, some 1300 pages of emergency medicine instruction. I read the book twice over the summer until I became confident taking the exams and scoring about 94% on my own (we had access to a number of past exams). It was a lot of medical information to digest but I loved it, there’s so much to know about the human body and trauma.

UTMB 2013

Written by arno kroner on . Posted in mountaineering, race, running, ultra distance


“It is not a pristine mountain experience, but rather, it’s a spectacle of the sport of mountain ultra running. I happen to like this aspect of the race. For a sport that is often niche and very grassroots and an activity that I spent a vast majority of my time doing alone, almost everything about the race is an over-the top, at times kitschy, experience; a true celebratory event.” — Adam Campbell

While it’s always fun and beneficial to write a report after every event I run, doing so for the UTMB seems just as daunting as finishing the course. It’s definitely the hardest ultra marathon I ever ran – 105 miles (168 km) in high mountains, 31000 feet of steep climbing and descending, semi-autonomous mode – it took me over 42 hours, having to stop for 15 to 45 minutes at aid stations to fuel, rest and occasionally take a 15 minutes power nap. It was hard but it was an adventure like no other and also a dream come true: running around the Mont-Blanc!

I finished 1039 out of  2469 participants (only 223 Women). 1686 runners finished (68% of  participants).

If you just want to look at pictures click here! For a video summary click here!

imageI got to the start line very rested and well nourished after almost a week in a super cozy hotel near Chamonix and daily visits to the center. If you go run the UTMB and have a tight budget I highly recommend the Hotel Beau Soleil in Le Lavancher. It’s operated by Mr and Mme Bossonney and they were so caring and happy to have a UTMB runner that they treated me like their son, cooking simple and delicious dinners that contributed to being well fed at the start. I also slept extremely well, between 8 and 10 hours a night before the race.

UTMB Newscast 03

Written by arno kroner on . Posted in mountaineering, race, running, ultra distance


newscastlogoLast update before the race which is now in less than 24 hours (about time!). The weather forecast has turned to something very positive (but weather is still unpredictable anyway!). It’s going to be rather hot for French standards which is going to be just fine by California standards. I think we are really going to be able to enjoy the views and hopefully the night won’t be too cold. It’s been a while that the UTMB hasn’t been run in optimal conditions so it should be a lot of fun! A lot of pain and hard too – definitely should expect that. People around the race have a tendency to turn it into a myth. Check out the iRunFar interview of Anton Krupicka if you think some drama should be taken out of it!

imageToday I went early to the race HQ to get my bib and have my gear checked. I thought I was early but there was still a big line! It took about an hour to get through and have my drop bag. Waiting wasn’t to much of an ordeal because I met a guy from Minnesota who was here the CCC. Then the volunteers are pretty nice and it was a breeze to get the gear checked (they can’t check everything so they pick three random items).  The volunteer checking my gear was impressed by my packing technique (clothing is all in zip lock bags to keep them dry) but also told me that sometimes people have stinky dirty clothes in there!