DAMIAN Hall is pushing his training to the limit to whip his legs into shape for the daunting Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) Marathon in the French Alps next month, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Corsham ultra distance specialist has been training up and down Snowdon and the highest peaks in the Brecon Beacons to get his muscles used to the conditions he is going to face in the 106 mile challenge that incorporates 10,000 metres of climbing.

That means punishing climbs up and down some of the toughest slopes in the Alps which, for a runner based in Wiltshire, represents a huge step outside his comfort zone.

“That’s the equivalent of running up Snowdon ten times,” said Hall.

“It is not so much about running the miles it is all about ascent and descent and getting the legs used to that.

“Actually, it is not so much about the climbing although that is tiring but it is the downhill sections that smashes up your quad muscles.

“Hopefully, I have done enough to strengthen up my legs and I do feel a lot stronger than last year but I know they will still hurt like hell.”

The sheer scale of the UTMB means competitors must run through the night with head torches as they tackle the 106 miles, which, at its highest point, reaches 2,500m, which is two-and-a-half times higher than Snowdon.

With the highest peak in the Brecons measuring just 500 metres, Hall accepts his preparations will pale in comparison to those of his foreign rivals, who live and run in the big mountains.

But, after a good build-up, he is cautiously optimistic of improving upon his previous performances.

“Last year it took me 25 hours 12 minutes to complete the race in 19th place while the winner came in three hours ahead of me,” added Hall.

“This year, I am not even ranked in the top fifty as the field is so heavily stacked with the top ultra runners from around the world but hopefully I can go quicker and I have my own little targets.

“It is not long to go now.”