Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year's wish

Many things on our planet didn't quite work out as it was planned in 2012:
  • global (or European) economic recovery,
  • Facebook IPO,
  • UTMB 2012 (100 miles around Mont Blanc was reduced to a 100K around Chamonix due to bad weather),
  • Lance Armstrong's Ironman Hawaii triathlon race,
  • New York City Marathon, or even
  • the predicted end of the world on December 21st.
However hope remains key. Everything will pass, including bad things. We just have to keep on adjusting ourselves to the changing conditions. Through our efforts things will gradually get better. We must take action and seek for improvement continually.

 So in that spirit, hear goes Trailplodder's New Year's wish for 2013: May UTMB be organized in a similar fashion to La Misión Race in Patagonia:
  • race course is 100 miles / about 160 km,
  • the max time allowed is 76 hours (3 days 4 hours), allowing the participants to walk or rest as necessary,
  • there will be no major changes to the course during the event,
  • the race will not be suspended for any reason (highest mountain passes may have to be regulated temporarily until a storm passes),
  • the race organization understands that the mountain weather is unpredictable, and is prepared and able to continue the event in bad weather.

Happy New Year, see you on the trails! And good luck for the UTMB lottery -  if you're not in yet, there's still time. It's currently about a 30% chance of winning, which is a lot better than for example with Hardrock 100!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Fine Line - Summits Of My Life movie review

A Fine Line is the first documentary film in the Summits Of My Life project by Kilian Jornet and Sébastien Montaz. It was released today. I downloaded and watched it right away after some minor technical issues (the simple solution was to add '.mp4' to the end of the file name for it to play on iMac).

The movie is about the fine line between life and death. What drives an athlete like Kilian Jornet to take calculated risks on the mountains day after day? Kilian's mother Núria and sister Naila tell their personal views. A wide range of Kilian's friends from FC Barcelona defender Carles Puyol to trail runner Anna Frost are featured as well for a more comprehensive picture.

The film starts with Kilian's VO2 max test, mixed with Alpine running in deep snow. We are shown some trail running clips from Transvulcania 2012. Then there are some spectacular shots from Aosta Valley, where Kilian displays some of his his skiing and poses on top of Gran Paradiso (4,061m).

The film is completely free of any unnecessary hype. It doesn't try to strengthen Kilian's superstar status, but rather prove that he is just a human being (some of Kilian's competitors have seriously doubted that). For example there is a clip of a spectacular ski fail. Also a psychologist explains in layman terms what goes on in Kilian's mind, who has spent most of his life in the Pyrenees above 2,000 meters.

Summit of My Life - Premiere from Summits of My Life on Vimeo.

Kilian has already won all the races in his bucket list, so he is nowadays mostly motivated by his personal mountain projects. One of those was Les Contamines-Mont Blanc-Mont Maudit-Champex 63 km traverse (+7,800m). As Kilian's mom states proudly in the film, that is a feat no-one has ever done before.

The best part comes at the end, when Kilian's Courmayeur-Mont Blanc-Chamonix 42 km traverse via Innominata Ridge is covered. He set a new record of in 8h 42min 57s. It's a beautiful day with great views from the air.

The film is dedicated to the memory of Stéphane Brosse (20.11.1972-17.6.2012). One of Kilian's closest friends, he is featured frequently in the film. His tragic death beside Kilian shadows the overall mood of this slightly sad but mainly inspiring movie.

A Fine Line is only 52 minutes long, but it's packed with fantastic footage for mountain lovers. I wouldn't mind if it were a bit longer, but it's well worth the download price (6.95€), and you will probably watch it again and again over the years. The editing is great, the music is good, the video quality is excellent and the camera work is amazing.

After seeing this film everyone will understand and remember Stéphane Brosse's last piece of advice: "There is happiness everywhere, we just need to see it".

Friday, December 14, 2012

Eiger Ultra Trail 2013

I have registered for a new exciting race in Switzerland: Eiger Ultra Trail on 20 July 2013. So it will be just three weeks after my 80km du Mont Blanc attempt. Nice!

The 101 km course climbs 6,685 meters clockwise, starting and finishing in Grindelwald. It's located in Bernese Oberland near Interlaken. This is a very scenic and nice area, I've been there before. The trails there are very tough for a flatlander like me.

Eiger Ultra Trail 101 km course.
E101 has a 28-hour cutoff. It starts 5am on Saturday, so you have to finish by 9am on Sunday. Finishers will be rewarded by 3 glorious UTMB points (only 1 point for E51 finishers).

The course profile looks pretty steep, it seems to be going either straight up or straight down all the time. The highest peak is Faulhorn at 2,680 meters.

There will be many famous participants like Oscar Perez (Tor des Geants 2012 winner), Julia Böttger (winner of Canadien Death Race 2012). Ueli Steck, Eiger North Face Speed Record (2h47min) holder, is the Ambassador of the event.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lifestyles of the iRich and iFamous

Oh no, I watched the presentation above and somehow accidently pre-ordered the new 27-inch iMac for Christmas. They estimate it will be delivered sometime in January 2013.

It's an Apple, so it was roughly twice the usual price for a computer like this, even without all the latest bells and whistles like the Fusion Drive. There goes most of my next year's race budget, but this is the only way to cure my Apple-fever, I guess.

Let's focus on the positive: the new iMac is only 5mm thin! That's possible only because the CD/DVD superdrive was removed from the design. Fortunately they kept all the vital parts, which explains why the body is still a couple of inches thick in the middle. It's like a fat guy announcing after a long diet: "Look, my ear is only 5mm thin now!"

Enough of the hardware. The current OS X version is called Mountain Lion, because it's so agile and powerful. Logically the next version should be named Kilian Jornet.

Due to some complications, iTunes 11 wasn't released until last week, although it was introduced already on September 12, 2012. It was supposed to be a lot simpler, but the jury will let you know the final verdict after they have figured out how to use it.

While waiting for the new iMac, I've read many Apple-related books on my iPad. My top three:
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson,
  • Insanely Simple by Ken Segall, and
  • iWoz by Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder).
Speaking of Woz, after seeing his Tweets on December 1, I wonder how healthy his lifestyle is.

Woz lifestyle according to his Twitter (the latest on top).
From Grill & Bar to Police Station, only to return to the Grill & Bar, then Bar-B-Que, Baskin Robbins, and finally Cemetery! All I can say is that I'd rather run all day in the Alps than risk trying the Woz Lifestyle for an hour. 

When I and iMacs were young, each episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous used to end with the signature phrase 'Champagne wishes and caviar dreams'. My 'poor and unknown' slogan could be nowadays something like 'Fruit smoothie wishes and vegetable dreams'. Finally I've become a true apple-fan!