For all intents and purposes, trail running season is fading away in Chamonix, as it is for much of the Alps. It starts in early summer with the Mont Blanc Marathon races, and slowly builds toward UTMB’s many events at the close of August. Then, as the first snows appear on the peaks above town, there’s Trail des Aiguilles Rouges. In between, trail runners come and go, at all hours of the day and night. The sound of “Les Baskets” touching down on cobblestones echoes throughout the alleys of Chamonix, no matter the hour.
One trail runner who enjoys town regardless of the season is the US’s David Laney. Laney recently joined our crew, as a Run the Alps Ambassador. (You can read more about him, here.)
Laney admits to lacking the three-piece suit of other ambassadors, but we forgive him. He more than makes up for it with his ever-present international goodwill.
We recently hosted David here in Chamonix, as he enjoyed town in the off-season. Here’s what he had to say about one of his favorite trail running towns.
Run the Alps: We noticed that you like to hang around Chamonix. What is it you like about trail running there?
David: The features and benefits of the Chamonix trail system are practically endless: great access, amazing views, fun trails. But why this place is so great is hard to quantify with words. It’s the kind of place where you always look forward to getting out for your run. Here’s what it finally comes down to for me: on every run here I’ll lose track of time. Five hours can slip by in the blink of an eye.
Run the Alps: For someone thinking of trail running in the Chamonix region, what are the “Don’t Miss” runs?
David: The Alps are a seemingly infinite playground, but since I’ve spent most of my time in the Chamonix valley I’d say my top three runs are La Junction, the Balcon Nord from the Aiguille du Midi tram’s mid-station to the Mer de Glace, and climbing straight up the “Kilomètre Vertical” and continuing up to Le Brévent. All of these runs have quad-burning climbing, mind-blowing views, and are easily accessible from town. They each have a refuge or two along the way where you can stop, get a Coke or a crêpe, and take in the scene!
Run the Alps: And when you’re not running? Where do you like to hang?
David: Lac des Gaillands is a really nice park with a small lake. It’s just down the valley from the center of Chamonix, right across the street from a little, two-pitch climbing wall. Its a great spot to have a snack or just sit and chill out on a sunny day. Poco Loco, the hole-in-the-wall burger joint on Rue du Dr Paccard, may be my favorite spot to hide out and get some great food at prices runners will appreciate. Finally, just taking a walk through town is a nice way to relax and loosen up your legs after a long day on the trails.
Run the Alps: What are your plans — running or otherwise?
David: A real career is on the horizon, but I am in the best shape of my life, so I’m also trying to balance professional development and job interviews with my usual training, traveling, and racing. I was thwarted on the Haute Route this fall, so I plan to come back in the summer and soak in more of the high country here in the Alps. Racing took a back seat in 2018, but I feel refreshed and energized to get back on the trails in 2019!
Run the Alps: You’re a Run the Alps ambassador now. Are you upset with us that we didn’t give you an embassy? You know we always have floor space for you at our apartment in Chamonix, right?
David: Rage doesn’t begin to describe my emotion toward not being given an embassy.
Just kidding! A sleeping bag on a couch around friends is better than any five star hotel– not that I would know what a five star hotel is like. But, you get the idea. I really enjoy time with the Run the Alps team. These people are incredibly smart, experienced, and fun to hang with. Everyone involved radiates the spirit of the sport, and the spirit of the mountains.
When I was about ten years old my Dad told me to surround myself with people I respected and admired. I’m thankful Run the Alps has allowed me to do just that!