Sebastian Warner Shares His Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc Experience with Cornwall’s Rotary Club

Jason Setnyk
Sebastian Warner Shares His Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc Experience with Cornwall’s Rotary Club
Photo caption: Sebastian Warner, an international marathon runner, was the guest speaker at a Rotary Club lunch on January 29, 2024. (Photo : Jason Setnyk)

Cornwall, Ontario – Local athlete Sebastian Warner captivated members of the Rotary Club of Cornwall on January 29, with a detailed recount of his extraordinary experience at the Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB), one of the most challenging and prestigious ultra-marathons in the world.

Held in August 2023 in Chamonix, France, the UTMB is a grueling 171-kilometer race that tests runners with a staggering 10,040-meter total elevation gain. The race, known for its competitive spirit and global appeal, draws participants from over 130 countries across the globe. Warner, the Race Director at the St. Lawrence Marathon and a manager at John D. Warner Insurance Brokers Inc., completed the race at 44:22:05.

During his talk at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297, Warner shared about 100 photos in a slideshow, vividly bringing his journey to life for the audience. His passion for running was evident as he described the electrifying atmosphere of the race.

“It’s the most prestigious ultramarathon in the world. You’re running around the biggest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc, traversing a few countries, and twenty villages and towns participate. The start line is like nothing I ever experienced,” Warner recounted. The enthusiastic crowd at the start of the race was so dense that runners were reduced to a walk for the first 3 kilometers, surrounded by cheering supporters.

Warner’s road to the UTMB was not without its hurdles. Originally slated to participate in 2020, the event’s cancellation due to global circumstances led him to defer his entry to 2023. “I originally started qualifying for this in 2013. It’s a long process to get into the event,” he explained, highlighting the dedication required for such a feat. Despite the high dropout rate – with 1100 of the approximately 2500 runners not finishing the race – Warner’s goal was clear: to complete the course.

The UTMB presented various challenging conditions, from snow-capped peaks to extreme heat, pushing Warner to the brink of heat exhaustion. However, he remained conservative in his approach, saving his energy for a final 7-kilometer sprint to the finish line. “Through the second night, I found a way to motivate myself after some low moments,” Warner shared, reflecting on the emotional impact of completing the race.

Warner’s journey inspires aspiring athletes and adventurers alike, proving that even the most daunting challenges can be overcome with determination and hard work. Next, Warner eagerly anticipates the upcoming St. Lawrence Marathon, scheduled for April 27.

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