Alpe d'Huez 2013

It starts at a jolly civilised 09:30 and is only marginally longer than a half-iron, so despite a couple of pesky up-flats, I reckon on being home & hosed in time for a long, late, legendary, lunch image. Maybe a salade landaise followed by tartiflette, washed down by a gallon of burgundy? Then a brisk freewheel back down the hill for a siesta. Or something like that image.

So I've entered. Logistics look like a pig, and the only time I went for a run in a ski station before, I felt like I was breathing through a bucket of soil. If anybody else is entered, or if you can offer advice based on previous experience, I'd love to chat, please!



  • 2013 is full for me but this is one i would love to do at some point.

    Looking forward to the report....think Donald raced this last year, he might be able to help with planning.

  • I am in for the lunch image

  • I'll open the wine for you
  • The key is to make sure that your cheese has been aged for a minimum of six weeks, otherwise you won't get that nutty flavour for the tartiflette.



  • Think Donald made onto the TV coverage as well


  • I'll be driving past on the way to Embrun!    image

  • I did this in 2011. Very good event, although it was a bit cold and rainy on the day. Am considering for this year as am also considering the Tour de Mont Blanc on the previous Sunday.

    Would be happy to give you some background if it would help.

  • Embrun again, Slim? Awesome effort. I was tempted!

    Sounds like the catering and cultural exchange bits are coming together, but I would value that background info, Dermot. Hope you don't mind me PMing you, or would you rather stick it on here?

    P.s. sorry to be a plank, but who's Donald, please? I'm getting the impression i ought to know him image.

  • He's another IM Pirate

  • STIL, I did this last year in preparation for IMW and I will be returning this year! Let's discuss logistics as I am coming in with a Sherpa that drove half the course last year behind me. PM me when you read this! I am so excited you are in this one too.

  • I saw VERY fit people walking up the Alpe last year mate ... just so you know!

  • So nobody's going to mind this vaguely fit bloke walking up the Alpe then?

    Brilliant to read that you're doing this one again, Hokori. I'll drop you a line and look forward to meeting up with you again in July image.

  • I was one of the very fat people who walked up the Alpe...... it was fecking hot and the hills are something you would really struggle to replicate in this country..... the first 2 go up and I mean up... no respite for 20+km, at least the Alpe is only 15k..... 

  • Well that's torn it imageimage. I'll get my coat.

  • Yep did it last year as well, didnt walk on the bike but walked virtually all the "run" and yes it was roasting. Doing the Marmotte this year though, but will go back one day and do a proper job. image

  • My last two efforts at triathlon were the mildly bumpy Eirias in north Wales and the vaguely lumpy IronMan Wales in Tenby. Dragging my bulk around these tracks had caused me to swear that, if I was ever to subject myself to another of these stupid races, it would categorically not be a race with hills in. Which explains why I found myself nestled in the crotch between the celebrated Cols of Glandon and Ornon, at the foot of the fabled Alpe d'Huez, preparing for the torture of the 8th EDF Triathlon Longue Distance. With over 10,000 feet of vertical to climb on the bike, and another 600 feet at 2,000 metres altitude on the half marathon, I was philosophical about my chances of outright victory.


    Part of my pre-race coping strategy entails surveying the paddock for competitors in clearly worse shape than me. Reassuring myself that, as unsuited as I am to long distance triathlons, there are plenty of more deluded muppets toeing the start line, is always a relief. Unfortunately for my ego, the rest of the field appeared to have been slow-roasted over so many seasons of high-altitude training that their bodies were now just nut-brown bags of sinew and lung. My inner chimp was screaming at me to escape from this gathering of the Contadors. What was I doing here? Who was I kidding? It might have helped if I was in condition, but other priorities had meant that I'd averaged about 5 hours a week of training since a solid winter base. In short, this was going to be carnage.


    One thing that did help was the fantastic organisation of this race. Arrangements were stress-free and I had no doubt that my T2 bag would indeed be transported from T1 to my peg up the mountain. A sense of calm descended on me during the final minutes, before Cyrille Neveu delivered the pre-race briefing with all the passion of a man compelled to attend on Community Service. I was amused to learn that pissing in the reservoir was an offence deemed worthy of automatic expulsion from the race, and pitied the poor referee charged with policing that rule. 


    Lac du Verney was 14.2 degrees, which might as well have been -14.2 degrees judging by the protestations of my skeletal companions. This would be the only time that I would find my body fat advantageous, so I wallowed in it. Swimming in this beautiful mountain reservoir, with the blazing sun cresting the high mountain tops, is a real privilege. Even with the wee of a thousand triathletes polluting it, I reckon this was the cleanest lake I've ever raced in, and compared to a cesspit like Rutland Water, this was paradise. The water temperature had caused a lot of folks to linger on the bank before getting in, or to swim straight across the narrow channel to climb onto the sun-kissed rocks opposite the start line. How smug I felt when the TV helicopter appeared overhead, the hooter sounded without warning, and I could enjoy the sight of 500 triathletes, stubbing their toes as they clambered off the rocks, into the water and out to the start line as I trundled away in relatively un-troubled water. About 2,200 metres of unremarkable swimming later, I exited the lake in 46 minutes. I ought to linger for longer on T1, as it was the sole component of the race in which I ranked inside the top 500, but what can you say about stealing somebody's sun block and taking off your wetsuit?


    Coming up the hill from the reservoir to the road proved to be a real treat, because Muffin had made it over with the kids, which I hadn't expected. It may be that stopping for high-fives and cuddles cost me victory, but I'm too big a man to point that finger. So I settled in for the first 26km, which are gently downhill and allowed me to cruise to the base of the Alpe du Grand Serre, which is a 15km climb with 1,010 metres of vertical. It's actually a really nic

  • It's actually a really nice ride, mostly in the shade, with a gradient of about 7%. That said, I was being overtaken by a constant flow of skinny, little, buttockless, bastards, which was pissing me right off. Approaching the top I saw the signs for the feed station and threw my empty bidons into the drop zone like a good boy. But when I got to the drinks, they were 750ml bottles of Evian, which don't fit in a bottle cage, so like an idiot I had to cycle back down to the mass of empties, pick up a couple of cage-friendly bottles, and then ride back up to refill them. One to remember!


    Descending is the only bit of triathlons that I'm not crap at, so I enjoyed hurtling down to the bottom of the Col d'Ornon with my cheap brake pads screeching on my cheap carbon rims to frighten the locals. Going up Ornon's supposed to be a piece of cake; just 11km at just under 6%. But the midday temperature had reached 35 degrees in the shade, and shady the Col d'Ornon definitely is not, so I sweated and cursed my way up this boring pass before plummeting down the other side into Bourg d'Oisans and the altogether more intimidating bulk of Alpe d'Huez. For those who don't already know, the first 2 kilometres of the ascent are north of 10% before it flattens a bit for the other 11k. They're also in full glare of the mid-afternoon sun and right up against the rock face. To be frank, I've cooked belly pork in less fierce ovens and some of the guys battling up these early hairpins looked fairly pitiful. I was riding a mildly sissyish compact with 28 on the cassette, but it was ideal for me on this climb. I felt good, and was enjoying taking back a few places, feeling pretty humbled to be churning along the route upon which cycling legends are born. The heat was obnoxious, and plenty of people were taking a break, some even getting off and sitting in a stream. I learned that those big Evian bottles fit just nice between your tri bars, kept myself hydrated and just ground it out. After my triumphant T1 performance, a 90-minute climb of the Alpe was the next most competitive bit of my race, and I'm quite pleased with that.

  • With hindsight, and wishing I had a few quid for every time one of us says this, I probably pushed too hard on the bike and suffered for it on the run. I'm a bad runner at the best of times, and this was not the best of times. The temperature in the shade was still well north of 30 degrees and the route is a soulless out and back, with 200 feet of climbing on each of three, rutted, exposed, dusty and largely spectator-free laps. The altitude, heat and lack of training combined to make it feel like I was breathing through a pillow. I tried to run some of the uphills, but just felt dizzy and nauseous, so I settled for walking uphill and running downhill, which is pathetic, but got me through to the finish line, which I crossed in 9:35 before experiencing a little flood of tears, because it's been a pretty crappy year so far. I'd finished 588th out of somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 starters and that was miles ahead of expectation. I would do this one again, and that's the only time I've ever said that about a race. It really is a spectacularly good day out.

  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭

    nice on STIL

    try IM Sweden or Florida next - about 50m at the highest points for both......  image

  • slimshadyslimshady ✭✭✭

     STIL - Great to hear from another French Alps Loon!   Enjoyed reading that and it sounds like a must do in the future.

    I'll be driving past the Alpe d'Huez on the 12th August on the way to Embrun.

    Embrunman next year?  image

  • Great report. My list of must do's is getting longer.

  • Well done!! It's onmy list after cycling alpe D'Huez and col d'ornon a few weeks ago...very tempting!

  • It is a properly good race. It would be great to do it properly fit image.

    I love the look of Embrunman, Slim. Massive kudos to you for doing it and going back. But I'm thinking more along the lines of Copenhagen or Florida, like Buddha mentioned. Or retirement image.

  • Great report - must say though I'm glad it was pointed out that it's only a little longer than a half, that gives me the perfect excuse as I'm medically forbidden to run more than 10km!

  • Nice one STIL - you'd have sold it to me with that report if it wasn't alreaday on a list.  Along with Embrunman, I should add.

  • Great report mate, looking forward to seeing you soon, Lanza still has entries open image 


  • Great report STIL; I really enjoyed reading

  • mathschickmathschick ✭✭✭

    Well done STIL great report 

  • cracking report - love the humour of it. image  Sounds like one for the bucket list - read that how you like!  image

  • I have very much enjoyed the report and sherpa memories.

    It worked brilliantly as an event to combine with a family holiday. I loved the Alps in summer and the race was very civilised being both mid week and a 9:30 start.


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