CCC Race Report 100km by Helen Beard

In 2023, Helen Beard was overjoyed (and nervous) when she finally got an entry into the UTMB Mont Blanc. It was her third attempt at the lottery, but this time she had amassed 11 Running Stones which was enough to secure her a spot.

Helen had finished several previous UTA100's, so she wasn't too phased by the 100km distance, but UTMB CCC has 45% more climbing and descending than the UTA, so this was going to be a whole new beast.

She was excited to step it up a notch and take part in CCC, and she successfully completed the event, covering the 100km and 6500m of climbing in 25hrs and 21 mins.

It was tougher than expected and harder than any event she had previously completed. Helen shares some of her key learnings and tips that you can only pick up from someone who has been there and done that!

CCC 100km Race Report by Helen Beard
Why did you want to do UTMB CCC ?

I love a destination event. There’s something exciting about not really knowing what you are heading into and then knowing you’ve got a perfect recovery planned for afterwards.
I chopped and changed between entering CCC 100km and UTMB 100 miles. Finally deciding on CCC to “play it safe”. I also wanted to experience what is known as the event of all trail running events.

Did you find it easy to get an entry in the event?  How many stones did you have leading up to it?

I had tried entering twice before. I had 11 stones at time of entry (I think)

How many 100k and/or 100 mile events have you done previously?
  • Oxfam Trail Walker 100k – 9 times (twice walking)
  • GNW 100k – 3 times (1 DNF)
  • UTA 100k – 8 times (2 DNF)
  • Zagori Mountain Running - Greece 80k – 1 (I liken this to a 100k race)
How hard did you find CCC  compared to other ultra events you have done?

CCC I thought was possibly the most difficult. Closely followed by the Greece event

Did you do anything different in your CCC training compared to when you are training for a “normal” ultra?
  • Extra stretching
  • Extra sleep especially in the lead-up to the event
  • Some extra strength when time permitted. (e.g. walking lunges at the end of my runs)
Is there anything we could add to our Locker Room training plan that would help you prepare for the race?

No. I think the information already there is great!

Which did you find harder on race day – the uphills or the downhills?

The downhills. They were more technical than I thought they would be. Also the fact they were soooooo long.

Which part of the course did you find the hardest?

The middle of the day in the heat which happened on the second long climb. Naturally the last climb of the race was difficult but that was always going to be difficult no matter how steep.

What did you have for nutrition on race day?
  • Naak Energy Drink (I trained with this as I knew it would be provided on race day)
  • Naak Energy Bars
  • Tailwind (as it was easy to carry in sachet form)
  • Perpetuem
  • Fruit – oranges and bananas
  • Soup – available at checkpoints
Did you rely much on the aid stations / checkpoints? Were they well supplied with food?

Originally I was going to rely on food at the checkpoints for the majority of the event, although friends that did OCC prior to CCC advised that there wasn’t enough supplies. Change of plans. I ensured I carried enough to food to get me through the early checkpoints (first 50k). Very thankful I did that. Many of the checkpoints that advised they would have certain foods did not.

There was also one remote checkpoint that had also run out of water. Thankfully I had filled up the checkpoint before. The checkpoints did have plenty of fruit and cake. Soup was great at the night checkpoints.

I was also lucky to have support crew meeting me where they could so that I could get more supplies.

Did you support crew manage to navigate their way around the course on the buses to see you where you expected to see them?

Yes. Whilst the buses took a little while to work out they managed to meet me at each checkpoint. Noting that they allowed plenty of time to get there.

Do you have any advice to offer in terms of when to get to Chamonix and what to do in the days leading up to the race?

I arrived in Italy just under 2 weeks prior to race day and spent time in the Dolomites.
I arrived in Chamonix 4 days before the event to get my bearings and also went high up in the surrounding mountains to experience some more time at high altitude. I spent time at the expo (compulsory). Tried to not spend too much time on my feet two days prior to the event.

Unexpected / suspected blood clot did eat into my relax time. I spent this running around trying to find medical assistance in the form of an ultrasound to give me clearance to race. No luck. It’s a very different medical system over there. The race medical teams understood my concerns, the health system did not.

How did your race go? Were you happy with your result?

Given my lead-up to the event – very sick father and possible blood clot highlighted the fact that I was very lucky to make it to the start line. My head space changed completely in those last few days from thinking I was just going to put my head down and race hard (Plan A)… to… I’m very lucky to get here, I’m going to enjoy this day as much as possible (Plan B).

Yes I spent too long at the aid stations but that was also part of the fun.

I was very happy to start and even more happy to finish. Yes I could have gone faster (Plan A) but I was enjoying every minute (Plan B).

There were quite a few running friends also over doing various races, so to have familiar faces cheering you on at the finish line was fantastic!

Do you have any pearls of wisdom for someone going to Chamonix for the first time to compete in one of the UTMB events?

It’s reputation of being a very difficult event is true. But it is also the most amazing event.

  • Do the training, and so long as you are within cutoff make sure you enjoy the day. Don’t forget to stop and look around. The scenery is even better than the YouTube videos.
  • Make sure your support crew pack chargers to charge their phones on race day. The tracker will drain their batteries guaranteed.
  • Train with a heavy pack. The compulsory gear required for UTMB adds a lot of weight. Much heavier than UTA!

Training for The CCC?

Learn more about the CCC 16- Week Training Program Now

CCC training plan for UTMBWe have three different volume/difficulty levels of our CCC 100km Training Program. They are a reflection on how much time you have available to train, rather than a reflection on your goal time for the event. Some runners will be able to complete 100 kms in <14 hours following the level 2 plan, and other runners might take >25 hours following the level 3 plan.

Designed by a physiotherapist and ultra runner, this holistic program incorporates running technique lessons, strength and stability training, stretching and rolling, nutrition and gear recommendations to help you to prepare for a race you will remember for a lifetime.