The idea originated from a fortuituous moment, when two trekkers completed their route just as the sun set behind them during the longest day of summer. They thought, “Instead of competing with each other, why not race against the sun?”
Today the ASICS Beat the Sun is one of the toughest and most popular races in the world. Runners traverse Mont Blanc, cross three countries, tackle all manner of terrain from snow to soil and battle altitude sickness. It’s an excruciating race. I would know; I attempted one leg of the run and went away with legs that had turned numb from repeatedly plunging into snow as well as a healthy dose of admiration for the runners who had to complete 140 km in 15 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds. For someone so used to training at sea level, running 2,400 metres above the sea was taxing both on the body and on the lungs, which had to work harder due to the limited oxygen available.
This year two teams – Team Europe North and Team Europe South – managed to beat the sun, welcomed at the end by hundreds of tourists, curious passers by and friends and families of athletes, many of whom were ringing cow bells. Part of the culture in Chamonix, sporting competitions in the mountain town always have cow bells as part of the celebrations. Europe North came in an incredible 51 minutes before the sun set while Europe South managed to cross the finish line 12 minutes before darkness descended on the town of Chamonix.
ASICS Beat the Sun is nature’s toughest relay for a reason. If you’re interested to join the 2017 edition keep a close eye on the official ASICS website and start training hard.