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THIS IS MY WORLD. ALONE. RUNNING.

IN THIS EXTRACT FROM LIZZY HAWKER’S BOOK, RUNNER, SHE TAKES ON THE HOLY GRAIL OF ULTRARUNNING, THE ULTRA-TRAIL DU MONT-BLANC. WITH LITTLE RACING EXPERIENCE – AND NO KIT – WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG OVER 155K OF TRAIL WITH 8,500M OF ASCENT?
Britain’s Lizzy Hawker has won UTMB an astonishing five times – more than anyone else
© ALEX TREADWAY

The start line. The beginning of anything. You, your journey and where it will take you.

Poised in the space between the known and the unknown. Infinite possibility.

I’m standing here scared witless and surrounded by a sea of people. The centre of Chamonix, the Triangle de l’Amitié Square to be more exact, and it is shortly before 6.30pm on a Friday evening in late August.

Most people at home will be packing up to leave work with the anticipation of a longawaited bank holiday weekend ahead. Maybe the queues will be starting on the roads.

The trains will be in their normal chaos. No doubt there is rain forecast.

I am a world away from that bank holiday fervour. I am a world away from anything I have ever done before. But some things are the same everywhere.

Rain, for example. It woke me last night with its persistent pattering on my tent. I scarcely slept in the end. When day broke it revealed one of those grey damp misty dawns that leaves you wondering if a world exists beyond those low-lying clouds. I didn’t think there was any chance they would lift, but things change quickly in the mountains. A few hours later and it could even have been considered hot, so much so that the shade from the trees by my tent was more than welcome. And now? Well, it’s dry at least, thank goodness. And really quite warm. And the skies are clear for the moment.

I feel tired though. I had barely any sleep last night, and there has been no chance to nap today, I’m too on edge and nervous for that. Ahead of me now is the prospect of 46 hours on my feet, running if I’m lucky. Well, there will be time to sleep afterwards.

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