I am decompressing.
In the last 4-days I have had around 10-hours broken sleep. That is the reality of working on multiple events during UTMB week.
It all started though the week before, arriving in Chamonix on Thursday to join the adidas TERREX team for a full 10-day UTMB extravaganza. It was my 3rd time at UTMB with the TERREX team so I was under no illusion of what was ahead – amazing friends, quality time with athletes and crew and once the TDS got underway, little sleep.
It’s a privilege and honor to work the TERREX team, I have seen them grow and grow in the sport and the ethos of #oneteam personifies what goes on before, during and after every event. Just look at the finish line footage of Emily Hawgood crossing the line to take 6th place at UTMB. The whole team was waiting, they surrounded her and unplanned, went into a frenzied bounce fest to celebrate not only an incredible run but an incredible team effort. No other pro-team does this and it’s noted by all the other media… The TERREX team are doing something very special.
You may well say I am biased. And I am not going to deny that I have a professional and working relationship with the brand. However, this is a choice. Working with the team management, the media crew and the athletes is a dream come true and one that is immensely rewarding.
adidas had once again rented multiple chalets and one huge chalet would act as a base for meeting up and all meals. The chalet had three chefs who provided meals for the entire team and in so doing, dietary needs could be looked after and the need to try to find a restaurant in Chamonix was removed. Physios were literally ‘hands-on’ every day from morning and Charlie and Robert managed the day-to-day team plans.
My emphasis pre-racing was to recorded Season 2 of ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ and provide some photo content.
UTMB week may well be what you, the fan or follower sees. But as in all these scenarios, the reality for UTMB 2022 started at the conclusion of UTMB 2021. It’s a 12-month process of building and planning.
This time last year, Tom Evans missed UTMB and instead underwent surgery not knowing if he would be able to run professionally again. However, he there and then set the goal to target UTMB 2022 as a main goal and target. He would put all the processes in place to make that happen. And oh my word, look what happened… He completed the podium with an outstanding and awe-inspiring 3rd place.
But with all the highs, the TERREX team also has lows.
TDS did not go to plan, 4-athletes hovered around the podium for much of the race only have dreams taken away. That is racing. There are no guarantees.
Sabrina Stanley, after meticulously planning and preparing for UTMB had her dream shattered even before the start of UTMB with a positive Covid test. There are no words to help here, just the unity and backing of oneteam.
Down but not out, the team rallied, and OCC turned out to be a stunning race with Sheila Aviles taking victory and Robbie Simpson making the podium.
Toni Mccann placing 5, Martin Dematteis placing 10th and Kim Schreiber, Jeshurun Small, Dioni Gorla, Deborah Marti and Anna Hahner all having solid runs. The team was back on track.
CCC was up next and it’s fair to say that myself, and the whole TERREX team were quietly confident that Petter Engdahl could produce something. Little did we know then that the Swede who lives in Norway would light the fire of the UTMB.
He blazed a trail that made the competition look on in awe as he not only won the race but set a course record. Abby Hall from the USA once again had a stellar run placing 3.
Remigio Huaman, Stephen Kersch, Taylor Nowlin and Yngvild Kaspersen all brought the three stripes home and, on each occasion, the team was waiting with hugs and applause.
The big dance, UTMB would conclude the week. The 171km loop through France, Italy, Switzerland and concluding in France has 10,000m of vertical gain, rugged terrain, variable weather and is arguably, the most competitive ultra of the year. This year, the event was off-the-scale with over 2700 participants and goodness knows how many fans and spectators.
The event is now huge! The TERREX team had Pablo Villa, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tom Evans, Emily Hawgood toeing the line and sadly, the omission of Sabrina Stanley due to Covid. It’s with noting here that a listen to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ with Tom Evans provides a great insight not only to the event, but how to prepare for it is a ‘must’ listen. The race, despite a quality line-up was always going to be about Jim Walmsley and Kilian Jornet and for much of the race, this was the story. Jim had the lead, lost it to Kilian and and in-form Mathieu Blanchard. Kilian put the hammer down for the win against Mathieu and behind as Jim faded Tom Evans put his plan in action. He left Zach Miller who he had traded run steps with for many an hour and hunted Jim.
With Jim caught, Toms head went down, all the processes were put in place and the Brit placed 3rd in the greater ultra in the world! Tears were shed by all… It’s difficult to put into words the emotions of the finish. Tom walked in, somewhat mind-blown about what he was about to achieve, he held hands together, covered his face and then stood stock still and saluted the world. Job done! The TERREX team were in pieces with emotion.
Hours later, Emily Hawgood arrived at Col de Montes, the TERREX team lining the climb to give her one last big push to the finish. Eventually the finish came and a 6th place. Surrounded by her team, the worlds media were amazed at the unity of the TERREX team as they celebrated en-mass the success of one of their own.
This is the oneteam ethos, victories may be individual, but they are not possible without what goes on behind the scenes. We all had roles, but flexibility is key. Athletes became crew, office workers became car drivers, and everyone became a supporter both in a physical and mental capacity.
Once again, it was a real pleasure to be immersed with the adidas TERREX brand and follow closely the whole process that makes a race and team come together. We use the word family and without a doubt, the TERREX team is family. We are all #unitedbysummits
I spent much of the week with Stefan Durst but a huge thanks to Pfefferminzmich – Rapha, Andy, Yannick, Vinz and Christian.
I have the best job in the world!
Instagram – @iancorlessphotography
Twitter – @talkultra
Web – www.iancorless.com
Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com