On July 4th each year for the past nearly 100 years, Seward, Alaska has hosted the Mount Marathon trail race. Officially held for the first time in 1915, MMR started as a sort of bar wager that morphed into the yearly spectacle that it's become. The name is a bit of a head fake for outsiders. It’s not a marathon but rather climbs a shoulder of a mountain baring the name. Climbing from downtown Seward 3,022 feet and 3.5 miles to the turnaround and back to town, the race has tested mountain runners for nearly a century.
There's little argument that fueling athletic efforts, whether it be outings in the mountains or competitive endurance events, has become increasingly simple over the last two decades. When I first started bike racing in the mid '80's, figuring out what to eat to get through a 4 hour race was tricky. In training, I was eating Pop Tarts and Sweet Tarts, the latter being mostly maltodextrin, a good source of complex carbohydrate which, at the time, was gaining some noteriety in endurance nutrition. But using this stuff while racing was not straight forward. Hell, I didn't even know how many calories I needed each hour to keep from bonking.
A few years ago I became involved in some beta testing of a internet-based recovery monitoring software program called Restwise. I used it effectively in my own training and preparation for ski mountaineering racing. After going live in 2009, Restwise has been used effectively by individual athletes and professional teams in a variety of sports worldwide.
Reentry complete. I’m back to work. Doesn’t feel like I was gone that long. The transition from ski bum to working stiff was strangely painless. But I profoundly miss the excitement I felt each morning waking up in my flat, looking out of one of the roof windows and peering straight up at the summit of Mt. Blanc, wondering what the day would bring. I’d make a quick trip down to my bakery for a chocolate croissant and baguette. The walk back ascended steeply to my flat with the Bossons icefall tumbling down directly above. It’s hard to believe people can live within a stone’s throw of such severe alpine topography. But there I was living and breathing it everyday.
It’s ironic that winter has returned to the Haute Savoie a week before my Chamonix adventure ends. We’ve had decent snowfall with a couple of clear spells during which it’s been possible to enjoy it. It stormed hard all night and I enjoyed the sound of rain on my window, lulling me to sleep. The snow line also dropped to less than 100 meters above the valley.