Category Archives: Adventures

Alpine Adventures…

Reuben_Tabner_Aiguille_du_Midi.jpgI’m back in Chamonix for a few days, to spend some more time running on these amazing alpine trails, this time with my girlfriend. The weather has been amazing… The views breath taking…

Reuben_Tabner_185700.jpgIt’s largely a relaxing holiday, taking time out, to drink coffee, watch the clouds, and read as much as enjoying the trails. Whilst here, I’m also making final adjustments to my kit for the Lakeland 50, which is now only 10 days away and moving my thinking forward to the UTMB – TDS which is also getting increasingly closer.

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4am Alarm…

A Trail Running Team Alpine Adventure Part Three:

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0698The alarms buzzed quietly at 4am. Tired Trail Runners, slipped out of their beds and silently dressed for another lazy day in the mountains. We crept from the dormitory, not wishing to wake the School children, despite their lack of care the previous evening…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0689 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0696It’s still dark outside as we gather in the gloom, it’s an opportunity to test our new LED Lenser Head Torches. That is why we have woken in the small hours, to run in the dark on this mountainside… We race up technical paths, and back down with our lights shining the way.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0714As the dark begins to fade and a hint of light touches the mountain tops, we turn back towards the refuge in time for breakfast. Cereal is served in bowls so small you can hardly fit in a spoon… Nutella is layered onto dry bread, strong coffee is swallowed. And then before the sun is fully up, we shoulder our backpacks and turn back down the mountain.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0734We race away from our refuge, weaving our way down through the trees, past waterfalls, and mountain streams… It’s our last day. A hint of sadness is in the air as we run back towards Chamonix.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0740 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0750Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0752-2We pass through villages and stop at the Pâtisserie to get a second breakfast and a hint of lunch… then continue, dropping down to run along the river bank for a while, before climbing again, back towards home.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0773 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0776 We pass the finish zone for a race, remembering that it’s Sunday. We find a panda and insist on a bewildered photo. Then we continue to climb into the clouds. There are no views for us today…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0786 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0804 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0822We reach the final top, and unilaterally decide on the cable car descent to save the knees for another day. It’s a quiet journey down as we reflect on what has been a fabulous few days. At the bottom, we run the final few hundred yards back to the cars. Alpine Adventures are at an end.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0806We say goodbye to Julia who has been a fabulous guide, showing us not only amazing trails, but also pointing out fauna and snippets of history along the way. After showers and with clean clothes we meet again for food, before saying goodbye to Chris, Lindley, Tim and Claire who had to catch flights home.

The final night in France seemed quiet, without the friendly team banter. I sat and reflected on the weekend… 105km with over 5,500 metres of climbing, through some of the most stunning scenery you can imagine, with the best Team possible.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0780I met some of the most inspirational people you can imagine in France, and for that I must thank our sponsors, TORQ Fitness for fuelling us through every one of those 105km, Mammut for shoes, clothes and backpacks, Compressport for calf guards, Tifosi for keeping the sun outta our eyes, LED Lenser for lighting the way at 4am, Roy Belchamber for running round like a mad man with a camera, Trail Running Magazine for giving us Claire to laugh at and with, as well as providing inspiration six times a year, and most importantly Simon and Julie of Freestak for pulling the whole thing together

I would also like to thank the entire Trail Running Team for making the best weekend possible, it’s been fun..!

It was raining when I woke up… And raining even more on the way to the airport…

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I did not cry…

Into the Mountains…

A Trail Running Team Alpine Adventure Part Two:

Trail Running TeamIf yesterday gave us a taster of running on the flat (1700m of ascent), today was going to be all about the hills… As we left the Gite, not quite as early as yesterday,  we had a simple plan… up and over four little hills to find our mountain refuge and bed for the night. We had everything on our backs that we would need for the next two days, packed in to our new Mammut running packs.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0218Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0285The climbing started instantly, straight up and out of Les Houches. With no time to warm lungs, we were soon gasping for breath. But again, with views to die for, we took the opportunity to drink in our surroundings, catch our breath and try and sneak a wee rest from our guide when we could.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0228We are joined today by Claire, the editor of Trail Running Magazine, she scribbles as we run, up the mountains. Asking us what the best bit about being here is… I’m lost for words, it’s not a question I can answer… I’m running through Never Never land..!

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0234 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0294We twist and turn, climbing up the mountain side. At times its hands and feet, scrambling over rocks in the trail, with drops to our left or right of hundreds of feet. Below, lakes shimmer in the morning heat, helicopters buzz in the sky, ferrying supplies to and from mountain huts, dew dries from the trees, as we climb and climb…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0313Eventually the summit is reached, to be welcomed with stunning views of Mont Blanc, micro houses and villages below… Time for a quick TORQ Gel and glug of water and we are off again, skipping rocks, along the narrow singletrack path… As we round a corner we are greeted by Roy, hard at work behind his lens. We run and re-run a few small sections of trail so he and the video team can get the footage they need, before beating a rapid retreat back down the mountain, a true descent we can open up the legs, stretch out and let go.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0332 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0391Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0429The mountain bottom is reached, and as expected the legs are order back uphill, climbing through more alpine meadows, brimming with flowers, we pass under ski lifts, closed for the summer. I’m grateful for my poles, they help keep me upright as we climb, making breathing easier, keeping me in rhythm, keeping us climbing. Despite the blazing sun and balmy 27 degrees we manage to find snow in our path… it’s retreating rapidly, but only a few days ago the whole mountainside was covered.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0466 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0458 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0475We reached the col, and what goes up, must of course come back down… With the promise of tart and coffee at the bottom we all had a goal to race for… The path here was much looser than yesterday. Winter avalanche debris littered the way, and we had to be careful not to dislodge rocks on people below… In places the path had gone or was hidden under patches of remaining snow…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0484 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0485With water bottles refilled from the raging mountain stream, double espresso shot back and perhaps the best tart in the valley scoffed we set about our third mountain of the day…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0494We cross a bridge, which bounces as we take it in turns to run across… It has been here for three days, lifted back in place by a helicopter after a winter retreat. We drink and eat on the ups… but the water in my bladder is hot, so I keep my bottle topped up from streams and drink the mountain nectar.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0525 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0594 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0597The final climb of the day is long, seemingly never ending, but we can stop and look back at the way we have come… see the mountains we have crossed… Eventually we reach the Mountain Refuge de Tré la Tête sat perched on the mountainside at 1970 metres. We collapse in a heap, happy to be able to finally kick off our shoes, drop our packs to the floor. I mix a TORQ Recovery Shake and wash it down with the best pint I’ve ever tasted. We sit back and admire the views as we wait for dinner.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0602 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0605 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0607 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0609 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0617Unbeknown to us, as we settled down for an early night (10pm) and cursed the French School children who did not want to sleep, it was the celebration of the birth of St. John. The open window was suddenly turned red as flares were lit on every mountain top… The children stampeded for the door, as we watched in bewilderment from the window.

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Cowbells and Alpine Flat…

A Trail Running Team Alpine Adventure Part One:

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0208 The gentle sound of distant cowbells drifts around the valley as we weave up and down through the trees on this rolling alpine trail. It’s flat we are told by our guide, Julia… Bursting lungs and crying legs suggest otherwise. Alpine Flat, Julia finally informs us, is slightly different to British flat, it’s actually rather steady uphill. And the hills around these parts can go on for miles…

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There are seven of us, plus Julia, running through the Chamonix Valley, following our dreams and the route of the Mont Blanc Marathon Route. We are the Trail Running Team and we are here to test our new Mammut Team Kit and to sample the delights of the Alpine Trails.Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0050

We started early, buzzing alarms waking us at 6am… The trails started out easy, but quickly got steeper, so we are grateful when the village of La Lavancher is reached after only a few miles. We replenish water supplies and meet up with Roy the team Photographer. Any excuse for a wee break. But soon we are running again, passing through Alpine meadows with cows grazing, villages where we stop and fill water bottles from troughs, through woods and over rivers.

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Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0125We move quickly through the mountains, mostly climbing, but at a pace we can talk. Most of the time, at a steady run, but we would drop to a fast walk when flat became uphill and we kick on the downs. The banter flows freely; races done, races planned, views on kit, life, living, reasons for running, training and injuries. The air is clean and crisp and yet despite being at over 1300 metres, it seems easy to breath, it is a joy to run…

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Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0176Another meeting with Roy for some more photographs and then the climbing started for real. As we climbed a stile, Roy asked me to run uphill whilst Julie filmed, I thought I had heard wrong, but kicked out anyway, before quickly pulling my poles from my pack. We climb higher, sweat pouring from us in the increasing midday heat… But the views are on another level as Mont Blanc peeps from behind the clouds and watches over us as we run in her shadow.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0184We climb upwards, over what in the winter would be a ski run. Today there is no snow, and  path provides the quickest way to the top. Finally we run along a narrow ridge to the summit of L’Aguillette des Posettes where we stop for much needed lunch. Quiche is washed down with TORQ Energy, fuelling the brain for the descent that is to come.

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© Roy Bel Chambers Photography

© Roy Bel Chambers Photography

What goes up, must come down… An Alpine Dream, a Mountain Runners Paradise… a 1000 metre descent, twisting and turning down the mountain side, dropping over rocks, always losing hight. We regroup often and discuss techniques, ways to make us faster, safer and smoother. We pass Roy and Julie, who repeatedly race ahead to get images of us as we skip down the mountain side.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0141Eventually we reach the bottom, and in true Alpine style find a small cafe, serving cake and strong coffee to replenish some of the calories we have just burnt. And then it’s just a matter of a 10km jog back in to Chamonix in time for a beer, French cuisine and a much a needed bed.Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0048

The Road to Fort William

Last week I made the long drive North to Fort William for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. It’s an event that attracts over 20,000 downhill fans to the sides of Aonach Mòr every year and one that I was again commissioned to photograph for a mountain bike magazine. It’s always one of my favourite events of the year, the crowds, the riding, the location, all add up to a week long buzz!2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Fort William June 9thSpending three days running up and down the sides of the mile long downhill track meant I didn’t get my long runs in. Although that being said, with 25kg of kit on my back and working 14 hour days probably makes for quite good ultra training.

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I took the Monday to recover a little with a short run on the way home and finally a wash fitting for a king!

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A full set of images can be found here… Fort William  Mountain Bike World Cup.

UTMB – TDS 90 Day’s to Go

It’s just under three months until the UTMB race series gets underway in Chamonix, kicking off with the TDS – Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie. This race starts in the center of Courmayeur in Italy on Wednesday 28th August at 7:00am and runners have a maximum of 33 hours to complete the 119km to Chamonix.

“A race in open country along the ‘Grande Randonnée’ paths crossing though the Mont-Blanc, Beaufort, Tarentaise and Aosta valley countryside.”

Carte-TDS_coureurs-2013An estimated 1500 runners are expected to line up for the start and I will be amongst them.

With the Lakeland 50 coming the month before at the end of July I have had little chance to think about the TDS, however my thoughts are starting to turn to this race and how I can best prepare for the altitude, the logistics and race day.

I’m heading out to France to run the CCC route in a couple of weeks with the TORQ Trail Running Team, which hopefully will give me some idea of the terrain and the geography of the area. Both the Lakeland 50 and the TDS are my A’ races for the year, so I will be speaking to the guys at TORQ Fitness to ensure that I can recover sufficiently  and maintain fitness between the races and head out to Italy best prepared.images

IPPG Weekend

Reuben_Tabner_IPPG__3262Something totally different… A couple of weeks ago, I spent Sunday hiding from the rain in a big red inflatable sausage. Katie and myself had driven down from Newcastle to the Brecon Beacons to meet the guys behind the International Porters Protection Group (IPPG). We are hoping to spend some time working for IPPG in Nepal, at their Rescue Post in Machhermo, 4470 metres above sea level.Reuben_Tabner_IPPG__3275The weekend was an opportunity for us to hear more about what the role would involve, particularly for myself going out as a non-medic and working as a photographer, and for IPPG to get to know us as individuals to see if we would be suitable for the post.

Reuben_Tabner_IPPG__3245It was also an opportunity for us to learn about Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and practice with some of the equipment we would have to rely on to treat patients, including the Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC Bag)… Since it was raining I readily volunteered to get inside the bag and stay dry…

Reuben_Tabner_IPPG__3248Once inside, the PAC Bag is pumped up and simulates a drop in altitude of a 1000 metres.  Used in an emergency situation they help save lives, in this case it kept me dry!

Reuben_Tabner_IPPG__3250 Reuben_Tabner_IPPG__3252If you haven’t come across IPPG it’s worth checking their website out, and once you have done that, they have a Charity Giving page

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