Mont Blanc: Sea to Summit in 7 Days

On July 29, Gábor Rakonczay reached the summit of 4,808m Mont Blanc. To many, knocking off such a high peak would be enough. But for the Hungarian extreme athlete, who canoed solo across the Atlantic in 2012 and reached the South Pole earlier this year, this was just the final step.

Over seven days, he ran the 363km from sea level at Genoa, Italy to the summit of Mont Blanc. Apart from the varied terrain, temperatures ranged from 40°C at sea level to below freezing in the higher Alps.

The challenge began on the beaches of Genoa. Photo: Gábor Rakonczay

He didn’t ease in to the challenge. On a witheringly hot first day, he ran 96km over almost 11 hours. On Day 3, he ran uphill along the route that Tour de France cyclists would take the following day.

He reached the the foot of Mont Blanc on the fourth day. Enduring flash storms, torrential rain and knee-deep snow, he eventually reached the top.

Day 3: Entering France. Photo: Gábor Rakonczay

Rakonczay burned over 10,000 calories a day and drank six litres of water, three litres of Coke, three energy drinks and two isotonic drinks. Besides his actual meals, he snacked on multiple bananas, biscuits, slices of fruit loaf and bread.

Rakonczay has relatively little climbing experience, but admits that his second day on the flats was harder than any mountain segment. Heat and traffic made the 105km particularly grueling.

On Mont Blanc. Photo: Gábor Rakonczay