Outdoor Focus Winter 2017 - Page 14

last 20 years, and it is more inclusive, more accessible, and more enjoyable than ever before. Before you start out, it’s worth making sure that you have enough kit with you in terms of both safety, and the rapidly changing weather conditions in the mountains. It’s worth investing in a decent pair of trail running shoes. Compared to road shoes, these have a more aggressive tread, a rock plate in the sole to stop your feet bruising on rough ground, and a toe box to reduce the amount of blackened toe nails. Oh yes, forget the L’Oreal foot model contract - if you ever take up trail running, you’ve got to forget that as a future career. When running in the mountains, it’s worth taking a running pack to carry the essential safety gear. A running back is typically up to 12 litres volume, and fits very well to avoid movement and chaffing. In it you should carry some water, a rain jacket, extra layer, survival blanket, whistle, phone, head torch, hat, gloves, first aid kit, snacks, map and compass. These are pretty standard obligatory kit for any trail running race, and even on the days when it looks sunny, in the Alps especially the afternoon convection storms can quickly bubble up and catch you in a downpour. To enjoy Alpine trail running you don’t have to be superhumanly fit. You need to be in good condition for running, but to be determined and highly adaptable. Adapt your output to the terrain, and the length of your run. Some of the best trail runners aren’t the fittest or the fastest, but those with the most tricks up their sleeves, who save energy wherever possible. Remember that laziness and efficiency are the same thing re-marketed! Safety is always a key consideration, and if you are trail running in Chamonix, the mecca of European mountain sports, there is generally very good phone reception around the massif, in event of needing to call mountain rescue. It’s good practice to always run with a friend, so you have some backup in case of an emergency. Navigation on the trails is fairly straightforward, due to the amount of signage in the Alps, so navigators who fear the clouds days in the UK hills, will find Alpine trail running navigation a doddle. It’s still worth taking a map, in case plans change. Always check the weather forecast when setting out trail running, and don’t be afraid to adapt. < Chamonix Plan de l’Aiguille Kingsley finishing the UTMB Mer de Glace and the Grand Balcon Nord (France) 15.3km, + 1260m, 4h 30m From Trail Running - Chamonix and the Mont Blanc Region If you only run one route in the Chamonix valley, make it this one. Start near the Montenvers train station, and run up through the Le Planards ski slopes, along the ‘James Bond’ ski track out from the Vallee Blanche. In the summer it’s snow (and skier) free, and you zig-zag upwards through the trees to reach the edge of the Mer de Glace next to its snout, at the charming Les Mottets buvette. Here you turn right and thread your way up through the moraines, keeping left at the junction, to arrive just below the upper Montenvers station 1913m. The view ahead to the Mer de Glace and the Grandes Jorasses at its head are breathtaking. Run up to the train station, then ascend further towards Le Signal. This is the high point of the run, and the view of the one kilometre high West Face of Les Drus across the glacier, is quite something! After taking photos, and catching your breath, run across the balcony trail to the Plan d’Aiguille. This undulating path offers very aerial