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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Roman Lopez

Around Monte Rosa (I): the trip before the trip

Kora. A journey of self-discovery; a meditative state of putting one foot in front of the other over and over again; an appreciation for the beauty of nature.

Who but Lizzy Hawker would put together such a BOLD, BRUTAL and BEAUTIFUL (her words) route. Running around Monte Rosa used to be her training loop preparing for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – which she won 5 times. Lizzy is the most humble person I have ever met. Quiet as a mouse, she perseveres and perseveres, and…

In 2020 Ultra Trail Monte Rosa (UTMR) was supposed to be my A race. Hopefully a successful second attempt to the +100 miles (106 miles to be precise). To me, a race is an occasion to discover new places & people and celebrate together the preciousness of nature and our bodies. As preparation I had ‘run’ 120k of the course over 3 days in 2019. Once it became clear the race wouldn’t take place this year, I felt the urgent need to travel again those paths between Switzerland and Italy around the queen of the Alps.

What to pack for a four days solo adventure? Like my friend Dr. Ian Lake puts it when it comes to insulin: ‘as much as needed and as little as possible’. You want to be light but you also want to be prepared when difficulties arise. Let’s address this topic from a running, safety, type1 diabetes and food point of view.

RUNNING: not much needed here. Up to you how many change of ‘regular’ clothes (2x shorts, socks, t-shirt, underwear and headband in my case). Then the ‘just in case items’: waterproof jacket, trousers and gloves and a thin long-sleeves top. A couple of luxury items: spare t-shirt, shorts and socks for the evenings. Note: I am almost never cold but suffer in the heat. Hence the very limited warm clothes. I would recommend a down jacket depending on the time of the year and weather. Additionally: sunglasses, poles, running belt, 15L running pack, 2x soft flasks (900ml), sport watch with barometer and route track. I would recommend a couple of zip bags for the clean/dirty clothes. AH! don't forget the shoes ;-)

SAFETY: bivy bag, headlamp, tape, wound dressings, tiny scalpel, ibuprofen, bandage, compeed, voltaren and anti-friction cream. Add your personal hygiene items to the list! Don’t forget mask, money & passport!

TYPE1 DIABETES: 1x basal, ultra-rapid and regular insulin pens, a frio bag for cooling the insulin, diabetes ID card, glucose meter kit, plenty of strips, needles, dextrose, powder glucose and some gummies to treat potential hypoglycemia – not a big worry in my case.

FOOD: first of all, sleeping at villages every night makes things quite easy – dinners and breakfast were covered. Since I follow a very low carb diet I brought along some homemade foods for breakfast such as flatbread and muesli. Not needing practically any trail food makes your pack so much lighter! Some cheese and salami, one protein bar and some nuts – all this for 4 days of running!! A carb-fuel person would need at least 5-6 times the amount of trail food!

Now that our pack is full with all the basics and plenty of enthusiasm, let’s go run around Monte Rosa ! 4 days - 150km - 10k uphill – solo

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