I’m officially in love with trail running

I’ve been happily married to running since the first day I’ve started to run for pleasure and not as a part of my basketball training. But I’ve only done road running and some english-style-non-hilly trail runs in London’s and Southampton’s parks, so yeah not a proper trail run where you actually mix both hiking and running.

My recent big move to London due to a new job has introduced to me a proper trail running world.  After my very first day in the new job the whole team headed to Chamonix, France for a 5 day company trip to discuss business development. As my new employer, Freestak, is the Endurance Sport Agency it was no surprise to me that we went there the weekend of the Skyrunning World Championships.

Skyrunning World Champs - Chamonix 2014 - Program

Chamonix Valley-Mont Blanc has become a very popular trail running destination and is proudly crowned as he mountaineering capital of the world. So if you’re into challenges, Chamonix is your place. Don’t forget that this little town is the host of super extreme trail race, Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc or UTMB where runners cover over 103 miles with 9,400 metres of height gain!!!

Although I come from a little town in the mountains and I’ve always been into mountain life the idea of trail running there has never crossed my mind.

After 12hour car journey we arrived to beautiful Chamonix and the first think I looked for was Mont Blanc, of course. As soon as we arrived I felt like I’m home; mountains, fresh air, massive trees, sun, mountain river, snow…what else can you wish for? We stayed in a nice chalet where we rented a 2 bed swiss-style flat with wooden ceilings, furniture and balcony with Mont Blanc view…exactly how I like it! No posh at all!

View at Mont Blanc from our balcony - Chamonix 2014

Morning Trail Run and Hike

After breakfast on Friday we headed out for morning trail run and hike which turned into over 4hour long trail trip. It was my first ever proper trail run and I absolutely loved every second of it. I had to stop a couple of times to take some pictures as the view was breathtaking.

Freestak Team Photo - Chamonix

Mer De Glace Chamonix - Trail run

Team Freestak - Me and Julia - Morning Trail Run - Mont Blanc

Plus we managed to run the same course as the runners who were competing at the Mont Blanc Ultra 80K; we were able to spot the top 5 men; the pace they were racing at was super-fast. In total we managed to run/hike around 11K which might not seem like a lot but these we made with over 1,000 metres of height gain.

Chamonix - Mont Blanc 80K - runners

Meeting Kilian Journet and high-fiving Emelie Forsberg

After our morning run we headed to town to see the finish of the top runners doing the grueling 80K run. We’ve managed to spot the top women Emelie Forsberg and gave her a nice high-five as she was crossing the finish line;

Giving high five to Emelie Forsberg

By the way, if you didn’t know Emelie is a blogger and you can check out what she does when not running (although this very rarely happens as she loves ‘moving in mountains’), her running stories as well as try out her tasty recipes. For some mountain love check out her Emelie’s blog  or meet her on Twitter – @tinaemelie or Instagram 

Sunday was the day of the Marathon Du Mont Blanc where amazing Kilian Jornet took first place. We didn’t go to see the finish as the weather was horrible plus we had a brainstorming session about the business and our next projects and clients. However, later that day we bumped into Kilian as he was signing his cards at the Salomon shop.

Highlight of the day – So yeah I got a nice selfie with Kilian;

Killian Jornet and Me


Mont Blanc 10K Race

We all entered the Mont Blanc 10K race which was on Saturday after our morning 4hour trail run and hike. The race was supposed to start at 9am originally but was moved to 8am due to bad weather. Well, luckily I was in the second wave as the first one was sent off and then called back as they went the wrong way. This big gig didn’t go down well with many first-wave runners as they had to run it again!

The course was a trail with hiking parts  and I totally loved it. I will however need to work on descending as I wasn’t that confident as many of the other runners who I believe were from Chamonix so they know how to decent on technical course. I finished 40th woman overall which is my best result to date!!!

Mont Blanc 10K - 2014 bib and medal


If you want to know what the Mont Blanc races looks like, have a look at this video. It’s amazing!!!

All in all this was an amazing trip and I’m so glad I had a chance to explore Chamonix and watch the big sky running races live! I’m now officially in love with trail running!!! I’m already planning my next Chamonix trip which will hopefully happen very soon (September 14′).

Lenka Istvanova

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