How I completed the UTMB Mont Blanc 100 Mile Race

"I entered the UTMB lottery with 3 Running Stones and the expectation that it would take me several years to gain entry.  Having jagged a ticket first try in 2023 I had some soul-searching to do around whether or not I was ready."  


Peter Scott is a regular client in The Body Mechanic physio clinic. He is also a regular attendee of our twice weekly bootcamp-styled strength and stability class. He decided in 2023 that he was going to tackle UTMB as his first ever 100 mile race. His build up was severely hampered by an ongoing hamstring injury, but he didn't let that stop him.

Here he shares some wonderful wisdom for anyone considering completing the UTMB Mont Blanc. 171 kilometers and 10,000 meters of elevation gain!

Why did you want to run UTMB?

I had held an ambition to step up and run a Miler for many years, and it’s an absolutely iconic miler.


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

Too easy.  I entered with 3 stones, and the expectation that it would take me several years to gain entry.  Having jagged a ticket through the lottery I had some soul searching to do around whether or not I was ready.


How many 100k and/or 100 mile events have you done previously?

First Miler, but had more than twenty ultras under my belt, including three 100k (all TNF / UTA in the Blue Mountains), about eight TNF / UTA 50s and half a dozen Six Foot Tracks.  Just the one DNF in the 2023 Tarawera 50 where I took a tumble and gave myself a concussion (doh!).


How hard did you find UTMB compared to other ultra events you have done?

Can I say F@#k?? I had never run more than 100 k's, never more than 4,500 vert, never through a whole night, never for more than 24 hours. This was 173 k's through three countries with ten x 1000 metre climbs – and associated descents. I ran through sunset on Friday night, sunrise Saturday morning, sunset Saturday night, sunrise Sunday morning, all at altitude and with no sleep, and finished nearly 43 hours after the race began. It was an order of magnitude harder than anything I have done before.


Did you do anything different in your training to when you are training for a “normal” ultra?

Definitely, although my training was far from ordinary and far from ideal. I went into the year with a hamstring injury that persisted throughout. It severely constrained my ability to run efficiently on the flats in particular and substantially limited the total k's I could train.  The seven months that passed from accepting my entry until actual race day was one long exercise in re-appraisal of where I was physically and mentally, and what I might define as success come race day.   I was not fit to start the TBM training plan when it kicked off, and never really got back to a level where I could rejoin it in any meaningful way.  That said, a massive amount of my training was strength based using TBM strength and mobility exercises (dead-lifts, hamstring curls, bridges ad nauseum) under the watchful eye and encouraging hand of TBM Phyisiotherapist Pete Sweeny.  When I was away on any travel, I spent hours in the fire stairs of whatever hotel I was staying in.  Most of the k's I achieved were run / hiked up and down the steepest hills I could find locally, which did no harm at the end of the day.


Is there anything we could add to our Locker Room training plan that would help you prepare for the race?

So, bit cheeky to comment here, but anything that prepares the legs for thousands of ‘single leg drops’ when descending the peaks.  Does that make sense?


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

Downhill, without a doubt.  The ups are a grind, but mostly a matter of mindset and determination.  The downs require not just strength, but importantly the agility to negotiate the highly variable trail, including tree root tangles and big drops off rocks.


Which part of the course did you find the hardest?

I have very clear recollections of an extremely tough climb out of Courmeyeur on the Saturday, with the heat of the day on the totally exposed trail really punishing.  Beyond that, the stretch into Champax Lac – a long climb in the middle of the second night – was particularly punishing as the fatigue was deep and I was increasingly concerned about my judgement and ability to stay upright and on the trail. This is not to say they were the hardest parts of the course, as much as these are the challenging sections I most clearly recall.  Which climb/descent was the hardest? The climb/descent you were on. The cumulative effect of successive ascents/descents made each tougher than the previous. Sole exception – the sweet agony of the final climb to La Flegere and descent into Chamonix.


What did you have for nutrition on race day?

I went in with a basic plan of using Tailwind to meet three quarters of my nutritional needs, supplementing that from the outset with whatever was available on course. That plan worked well while it lasted; about a day. Beyond that, nutrition and hydration got pretty loose.  I switched principally to Naak (available on course) and sought to eat whatever I could stomach at the time.


Did you rely much on the aid stations / checkpoints? Were they well supplied with food?

Yes.  No issue with aid stations.  Pretty full on and jam-packed with people over the first night in particular, but well organised and well stocked.  Don’t expect the fare to match what you’re used to in Australia, and be willing to experiment a little along the way.  My enduring takeaway mantra – “Want what you need!”


Did you have any support crew?

Yes.  My wife and daughter.  Bloody brilliant. Note well, fatigue management is as important for the support crew as it is the runner.  They were important for me on the Friday night (Les Contamine) and Saturday (Courmayeur) but absolutely vital on the second night (Champax Lac, Triente).


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.  Type 2 fun, with some Type 3 fun thrown in for good measure.


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?

We could not be there in time to acclimatise.   Arrived Chamonix Tues AM (via Geneva).  Wandered town and expo over Wed, soaking up atmosphere. Thursday was rego and support crew briefing and packing.  Limited trips up the cable cars (to get a sense of the terrain as much as anything).  Focus was on trying to keep my cool (in the shadow of the massive mountains), limiting total k's walked and staying hydrated. Friday, fought hard for an early afternoon sleep ahead of 6:30 pm start.


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

I finished. It was epic. Poles were absolutely essential and in hand for the majority of the run.  Much more hiking than I would have liked, but I reckon this was principally a function of the limited k's I had run in the lead up. (I didn’t dare do the math before the race, but later calculated that I averaged less than 40 k's per week in the four months prior.  Not sure you want to spread that around!!).


Running UTMB was, for me, the ultimate lesson in the extent of my personal capacity.  Limits set in the mind are meaningless until they are challenged in reality.  I walked away with a renewed sense of the possible and fresh courage in life.


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

Want what you need – be clear on what you need (hydration/nutrition/clothing/gear/company/motivation/whatever it is), want that, and go after it.


Four ‘P’s for UTMB

Presence – if you are not present, the terrain and or weather will catch you out and you will come a cropper.

Patience – it is a long, hard race.  Take it one stride at a time, and allow the adventure to unfold.

Persistence – move through the difficulty. Deep breath, lean forward, lift your feet.

Playfulness – enjoy and appreciate the majesty and privilege of running the race of your life.

Training for The UTMB?

Learn more about the UTMB 16- Week Training Program Now UTMB training program

We have three different volume/difficulty levels of our UTMB 100-Mile 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 miles in <30 hours following the level 2 plan, and other runners might take >35 hours following the level 3 plan.

Designed by a physio 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.