UTMB Preview

Last updated: 01-Sep-16

By Alice Morrison

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is one of the highlights of the ultra racing calendar and is arguably THE highlight of the ultra mountain races. The festival includes five races between 22nd and 28th August. The race centre is in Chamonix in the French Alps.

The five races are:
• UTMB: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (166 km +9,600 m)
• CCC: Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (101 km +6,100 m)
• TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (119 km +7,250 m)
• OCC: Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (53 km +3,300 m)
• PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (approx. 300 km +28,000 m)

There are also mini events for children to participate in and the YCC (Youth Chamonix Courmayeur) which is open to 16-22 year olds.

UTMB is a single-stage race and passes through three different countries as it follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland. It has a distance of approximately 166 kilometres (103 miles), and a total elevation gain of around 9,600 m. It has over two thousand starters, and you have to get points throughout the year to qualify. The combined participation in all of the events is around eight thousand runners.

This is one that you do for the glory rather than the cash as there is no prize money. The lead racers complete the loop in slightly more than 20 hours, but most runners take 30 to 45 hours to reach the finish line. To put this into context, hikers usually take 7 – 9 days to complete the loop. Runners have to carry all the basic equipment but there are food and drink points along the route, every 10 to 15 km. There are also four gloriously-named “life bases” where you can get a hot meal, bed and massage – definitely something to look forward to. They are in Chamonix (France), Les Chapieux (France), Courmayeur (Italy) and Champex (Switzerland).

The festival itself brings together thousands of people from the ultra running community including over 2000 volunteers and a whopping estimate of 16,000 supporters.

ROUTE

The race starts from Chamonix (1,035 m) and goes up to the Col de Voza (1,653 m) to reach Les Contamines (1,150 m). It then climbs to the Croix du Bonhomme (2,479 m) before going back down to Les Chapieux (1,549 m), which is the first life base. The path then runs up to the Col de la Seigne (2,516 m) to enter Italy, and then follows the ridge of Mont-Favre (2,435 m) before descending to Courmayeur (1,190 m), the second life base. It climbs up to the Refuge Bertone (1,989 m) and Arnuva (1,769 m) before reaching its highest point, the Grand Col Ferret (2537 m), on the border with Switzerland. The path descends to Praz de Fort (1,151 m) via La Fouly (1,593 m) before reaching the third life base, Champex d’en Bas (1,391m). The last part includes Bovine (1,987 m) and Les Tseppes (1932 m), separated by Trient (1,300 m). On the descent to Vallorcine (1,260 m), the route goes back into France and crosses Argentière (1,260 m) before the triumphant finish at Chamonix, its starting point.

The route does vary slightly every year.

Winning the race gives you ultra runner superstar status and past champions have included Marco Olmo, Nikki Kimball, Kilian Jornet, Elizabeth Hawker, Francois D’Haene, Nathalie Mauclair, Rory Bosio and Xavier Thevenard.

We will be following the action and bringing you news live from the event so keep your eye on Twitter @RunUltra_UK and our Facebook page RunUltraUK

For more info (and a great personal story and review by @ultralynch): http://www.runultra.co.uk/Events/UTMB

"UTMB is one of the biggest beasts on the ultra running calendar and is a must do for every serious mountain ultra runner"

Like what you read?

Click here to sign up for more

Related news

The Spine

By Alice Morrison The MONTANE® Spine® Race 2017 gave us another epic edition of this 268-mile non-stop monster which follows the entire Pennine Way. The

Read More »

Latest news

MIUT 85k Race Report

MIUT 85k Race Report I want to share my experience of the MIUT 85k as a novice Ultra-Runner – what my background is, how I prepared, how

Read More »

SEARCH

Filters

Distance
Distance - slider
0KM500KM
Entry Fee
Entry Fee - slider
010000

DATE SEARCh

Date Range

Global - Virtual

Elevation

A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for

For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Elevation

An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for

Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Brutal

Elevation

Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude)

Suitable for

Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Expert

Elevation

Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat)

Suitable for

Experienced runners who have completed at least 4 ultras in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Advanced

Elevation

Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for

Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Intermediate

Elevation

Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for

Runners who have completed at least one ultra in last 6 months or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Beginner

Elevation

Very little change < 500 metres

Suitable for

First ultra event. Runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running (>26 miles) in the last 6 months.