After more than 28 hours of tough running in conditions which forced hundreds of runners to quit because of extreme cold, HOKA ONE ONE athlete Kellie Emmerson ran herself into 5th place at UTMB, one of the world's most competitive 100-mile ultramarathons.
The event takes athletes around the mountains range surrounding Mont Blanc in France, covering 167km with 10,000 metres of climbing - effectively 4 marathons in thin air while running up and down a 3,500-storey building.
The unique challenge of 2,500 competitors racing around Europe's tallest mountain was only made tougher by snow falling unusually low for this time of year.
"My hands were so cold today I couldn't use them; I couldn't eat, I couldn't drink," said Emmerson. "I just had to keep my head down and push through the ice and sleet"
Known in her home country of Australia as a strong competitor with a variety, of course, records to her name, this 28:30 epic in harsh terrain was the kind of run that can only be described as a breakthrough.
Only edging into her best position of the entire race over the closing miles, it was, in fact, her first 100-miler.
"I ran 70k further than I ever have before and didn't change my shoes once."
She challenged hard for fifth just minutes before crossing the line and was able to hold on for a stellar finish at the most prestigious ultra-trail event in the world.
Emmerson ran in the new Speedgoat 2 from HOKA ONE ONE.
Scott Hawker was the first New Zealander across the line in a time of 21:55:47, taking out 11th position.
Full results can be found here: http://utmbmontblanc.com/en/live/utmb
Words: Roger Hanney
Image: Tom le Lievre