Talk about a game of two halves.
That was Arrowtown ultra-runner Bernard Robinson’s experience during the gruelling 170 kilometre-long Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in the European Alps early this month.
The 45-year-old had wanted to break 30 hours for the race – which starts and finishes in Chamonix, France, and also passes through Italy and Switzerland – after finishing in about 30hr 50min in 2014.
However, over the first 14 hours, he suffered stomach problems and couldn’t hold down food or water.
“Races are challenging enough but this made it near impossible.
“I had no strength and was constantly being passed by other competitors.”
Coming into the 90km mark, Robinson had resigned himself to pulling the pin.
But after a couple of croissants, and a gentle push from his wife, Fenella, he had enough to go on to the next climb.
“I was back at race pace again but still nervous about my stomach problems so I kept eating to a minimum.”
He was forced to forsake his aim of breaking 30 hours.
Instead he tried to beat his 2014 time for each stage over the second half.
He managed that convincingly, passing about 450 runners to finish in 31hr 34min.
“It’s hard to describe the dark spaces you go into on these races, but the euphoria of coming out the other side is electric. This was one race I will not forget.”
Robinson notes that out of 2400 runners, more than 800 didn’t finish.–