DAVID Harvey completed a ‘brutal’ 105-mile race around Mont Blanc, finishing 178th out of 2,500 starters.
After crossing the finishing line, he declared: ‘That’s not bad for a man from the flat lands of Portsmouth!’
Harvey was part of a group of city-based runners who travelled to Chamonix, France, to take part in a number of races known as the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc - UTMB for short.
The races were over some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world and well known in ultra-running communities for their elevation and technical trails.
Harvey was joined by Colin Reynolds, Daniel Del Piccolo, David Poole, Phil Hoy, Simon Boreham and Teresa Baverstock.
A group of friends and partners also went along to offer support, including Portsmouth ultra runners Heather Neal and Jason Hawen.
To enter the UTMB races, you needed to have gained a number of points from qualifying races.
Reynolds, Del Piccolo, Poole and Boreham competed in the near 63-mile CCC race taking in Italy’s Courmayeur, Switzerland’s Champex-Lac and Chamonix.
Hoy and Baverstock took part in the near 35-mile OCC race.
Del Piccolo recalled: ‘The week leading up to the CCC was an experience itself. It felt like the running world had all come to Chamonix.
‘It was so inspiring seeing thousands of runners reaching the finish line which was in the middle of the town. People were constantly cheering participants on to finish. It was just amazing.
‘My own race started and ended well, however at halfway I found myself in a very dark place questioning my ability to finish. I nearly threw the towel in, but I managed to recover with the help of other runners and finish strong.
‘The kindness from complete strangers made the experience so special.’
Of his race, Poole said: ‘The mountains are a magical place and climbing five of them was a big challenge, especially when you consider how flat our training ground is in Portsmouth.
‘However, there is something quite spiritually satisfying about summiting.’
Harvey said: ‘The UTMB experience was brilliant.
‘The 105-mile course was beautiful with mountains surrounding you throughout. There were ten mountain passes, some at high altitude with groups of people supporting on the mountain tops through the day and night.
‘Each aid station was a street party and the support was brilliant.
‘The climbs were brutal and the downhills smashed my quads but I kept a decent pace.’
Harvey summed up the overall experience, saying: ‘Chamonix is good for the soul.’