Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trail Verbier St-Bernard course preview

This is a preview of the 110.5 km (68.7 miles) loop (La Boucle) course of 2010 Trail Verbier St-Bernard, which I'll be running on Saturday - and probably a good part of Sunday too. TVSB will be the longest race I've ever done, road or trail.

Trail Verbier - St. Bernard

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The start will be 5 AM in Verbier, and you'll have to back there by 1 PM on Sunday. 32 hours may seem like plenty of time for this, but the course is designed to be extremely tough.

First, there's 6,904 meters (22,651 ft) of cumulative ascent and descent. Second, there will be snow. And third, there's not too much oxygen as the highest peak is 2,714 meters (8,904 ft) above sea level and the four other mountains along the route are not much lower than that.

There are four cutoff stations along the route, which you will have to leave before the following times:
  • Sembrancher (26.7 km), 11:30 AM (Saturday)
  • La Fouly (48.5 km), 5:00 PM (Saturday)
  • Bourg St. Pierre (76.4 km), 2:00 AM (Sunday)
  • Lourtier (98.9 km), 9:00 AM (Sunday). 
Most of the course is in Switzerland, except a 3K section that allows us to briefly visit Italy. The 15K trail between Champex and La Fouly is the same as in Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in August, only the direction is opposite.

There are 1,050 entrants, but most of them (693) will run La Traversée, ie. the last 61 km of the course. 357 runners have chosen the whole La Boucle (loop). Most of them (134) are in my VH1 category (men 40-49). Last year, when TVSB was organised for the first time on a slightly shorter 105K course, there were 500 runners altogether.

The obligatory gear which each competitor must carry all the way includes the following:
  • a backpack
  • 1 liter water reserve
  • a food reserve (not specified in more detail)
  • 2 lights with spare batteries
  • a rescue blanket
  • a whistle
  • elastic adhesive tape
  • a water- and weatherproof jacket
  • a long-sleeve sweater
  • long pants or tights
  • a pair of gloves
  • your bib and chip
  • poles (not obligatory, but if you plan to use any sort of sticks at any point, then you are required to carry them all the way with you - they will be marked before the start).
There will be ten refreshment stations with drinks and food along the way. At 48 km in La Fouly you can also get access to whatever stuff you have left in your personal bag before the start.

Why do I want to finish TVSB? I simply need it to qualify for UTMB 2011 lottery. That's the No. 1 ultra trail race in Europe, and there are always way too many applicants. So even with this it won't be by no means certain. If I don't get selected, I'll have a better chance to try again for 2012, as the points acquired will be valid for two years and those who have lost in a previous lottery will have some sort of priority the next year I think.

The weather is reported to be sunny or partially cloudy with surprises like thunderstorms. Looks like a fun weekend to me!


Michelle Aslan said...

Wow! What a beautiful trail. This looks like a challenging and amazing marathon. Just looking at the clip :) I want to hike on this trail. All those beautiful water falls and glaciers.

Thank you for posting this clip :).

Jakuko said...

Merci! Yeah the scenery sure looks great, that's why I want to go there. My only problem is, in that part of Switzerland they speak French, but I don't... my quick fix is to say "Bonjour, Vous parlez anglais?" to everyone.

Michelle Aslan said...

I am not very fluent either. My whole family speaks French. :)