Those ultra runners deserve a whole heap of respect. Imagine the volume of time needed to train for those insane distances. Local girl Edwina Sutton is one such runner. With World Championship Triathlons on her sporting CV, Edwina made the switch to ultra running after becoming a mum. Here’s her Morzine running story.
“Once the skiers move out, Morzine is really the perfect place for both beginner runners and those looking for more challenging runs. Hurry past the hustle and bustle of the centre and there are many marked routes of trails to explore. Everybody loves Morzine in the winter, but in the spring and summer, I think it’s at its most beautiful and is best seen as high as your lungs, legs and heart will take you!
By March, with bated breath, I’m watching the snow receding up the mountains. As others are binning their lift passes for another year I’m getting ready to head up under the empty chair lifts to see what winter has left behind. Rocks and ridges reappear, the first green shoots of alpine flowers begin to poke through the trail. Hit the snow line and you are rewarded with stunning views, but razor sharp snow that stubbornly clings to the mountains until spring arrives proper.
There are some moments when I do question what I’m doing. Losing my footing over ridges, hearing the thunder rolling in in the distance and knowing I’m up high and a likely lightening target, feeling half deranged with dehydration in Prodains and pushing myself to climb back up to Avoriaz for the third time that morning. Lots of my friends think I’m crazy; lots of my friends don’t really have a grasp of what I do, but that’s fine by me. My sport, though a great community, is a sport of how much you are willing to suffer, how brave you can be on the day. What it really all comes down to is how much you want it.
Since I have had kids, this is where my mental focus has really changed. My drive to compete and achieve before was very individual, but now my training, my racing, my work its all about showing the kids what you can do if you commit and believe and most importantly, if you fall over you get back up and try again. Trail running is part of our family and the love of the mountains already runs deep in all three of my children.
Living with a young family, even in such an idyllic spot, is still hard work. Day in, day out, there are chores to be done; laundry, cooking, homework, more laundry. Getting out the door every day gives me the strength and energy to cope with the never-ending parenting of young kids. Trainers on, dog called and I’m off, often not planning my route before I go, but taking a trail with the sun or following the river until it becomes a stream or disappears back into the mountain.
As I head higher, the constant noise of life slowly decreases. The run becomes about me, my body, listening to my breathing, worries disappear or answers to problems spring to mind. The landscape changes, silence falls. I feel the change in the air, the rush of the wind as it hurries down the valley or round the peaks. It’s early; the dew is clear and fresh. The sun peaks over from Avoriaz, tipping me a wink with the promise of a beautiful day. As the heat rises the sweat is dripping into my eyes, my throat is parched and I stop to gather up water from the stream. The path is becoming rocky and treacherous, I have to concentrate, everything is focused on my feet. Rocks hurtle down either side of the ridge, but something inside keeps driving me to go up, up, up. Sport is often talked of as a way of escaping reality, but this is reality. This is life. Hard, relentless, unforgiving.
Earn your right to be here, I tell myself. Don’t give up, take strength from the mountains. Breathe the air they give you, it’s worth every drop of effort. The view when you get to the summit of every climb is always worth every moment. Like anything in life, the harder fought the battle the sweeter the victory. A quick stop, a single moment, and I have to turn back for home, every run a little bit stronger, every run a little bit wiser and a little more humble.
And this is why I love the mountains. They have taught me resilience, sacrifice, they have shown me the inner strength I hold within, that even as a mother I can still achieve great things. Don’t be fooled, they have conquered me many times, left me on my knees, broken and bruised, but I always go back the next day wanting to do better.
I take the lessons learnt from the trail back to my children, telling them to practice, never give up, follow your dreams and most of all take the time to savour what the mountains give to all of us, belief. Belief in what you can do with just a little bit of courage and a whole lot of heart.”