Robin Challamel, a young man from the Chamonix Ski Mountaineering Club, has just achieved a magnificent sporting performance!
Left last Sunday, 8 October, 2023 at 4:05 a.m. from Les Contamines to complete exactly the same course as Antoine Socquet who held the previous record in 15:55.
The objective was to leave early to make the descent of the Col de Balme sur Trient at daybreak, as it is very technical. 'I was quite confident mentally and physically after the last few results, but I was still going well into the unknown! I was extremely motivated to do this loop and if possible with an interesting time.
Since I was 10 years old, I've been passionate about the UTMB so it was a logical next step, but on a mountain bike.' With a good management of the sector times, Robin was able to keep a lead over Antoine's times throughout... "So it really motivated me," says the young Chamoniard.
Robin had assistance from his family, at 3 places in Italy: Arnuva, Courmayeur and then Lake Combal. The climb to Lac Combal was very hard, but on the climb of the Col de la Seigne he made up for lost time. "The further I went, the more tempted I was to take less than 15 hours."
The last and last climb of more than 1000 metres to the refuge of La Croix du Bonhomme was also very hard, because for 3/4 of the way, Robin had to carry his bike as the route is too technical and steep to ride.
Robin says: 'I take away a lot of pleasure, beautiful autumn landscapes, very few people, and a great personal lesson'...
It is finally in 14h 44 that he completes this TMB with a beautiful last descent for a total of 160km and 8200 metres of vertical climb.
The route boils down to taking as many paths as possible: Contamines / Champel / Bionnassay / Col de Voza / Les Houches à Argentiere via the South Balcony / le Tour / col de Balme / Trient / Col de la Forclaz / Bovine / Champex / La Fouly / Grand col Ferret / Arnuva / Bonatti / Bertone / Courmayeur / Maison Vieille / Lac Combal via Arrêt du Mont Favre / Col de la Seigne / Chapieux / Refuge then Col de La Croix du Bonhomme / Refuge de Balme / Contamines centre.
Robin rode a Rockrider Race 900 Hardtail mountain bike. He selected this bike because he wanted to focus on weight saving to make ascents and particularly carrying more easy but this light bike makes the descents more difficult. It's about getting the right balance.
To conclude, Robin says: 'I take away a lot of pleasure, beautiful autumn landscapes, very few people, and a great personal lesson'...
"In short, it was hard, very hard, but the beauty of the effort and of this tour amply rewards this personal achievement," concludes the young ski mountaineer.
Well done Robin...
Here's the route on Strava