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Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)

01-Sep-2017 Chamonix, Haute-Savoie, France

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4 REVIEWS
Mountains Race Race Terrain
170KM / 105Miles
7 Days - 2300 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Brutal  

Images: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®

The internationally renowned Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc extends to seven valleys, 71 glaciers and 400 summits. This ultra trail in the Mont-Blanc mountain range includes Mont-Blanc, Noire de Peuterey, Dent du Géant, Grandes-Jorasses, Aiguille du Tour, Aiguille Verte and the Drus vertical.

As part of a week long festival of ultras in the Alps encompassing three countries, the UTMB is the main event, taking place over two days. Registration is open to 2300 participants who have accumulated the necessary UTMB points, obtained by competing in the list of world ultra races approved by the organisers and found on the official website.

The route covers the following path: Aiguille de Bionnassay, Col du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, Val Veni, Noire du Peuterey and the glaciers descending Mont Blanc, Val Ferret, Dent du Géant and Grandes Jorasses, Bovine and Les Tseppes, Aiguille Verte, the Drus, Mont Blanc and Chamonix.

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Event Organiser
Nathalie Ecuer

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

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.

Expert

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

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances 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 evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

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

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 evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Review Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)

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ultraventure

02:42 31-12-16

Achieved a long standing dream to stand on the start line in 2016 and sadly DNF'd arriving into a checkpoint 20min after the cut-off.

Amazing race, with the best atmosphere I have ever experienced, being used to much smaller races it was overwhelming to be in Chamonix with 10,000+ fellow ultra runners, and like a lot of the big races should be on everyone’s bucket list (especially if you want to feel like a Rockstar!)

Besides the obvious hill work and amount of training required, the recce we did of the route really paid off. I hope to get a place for 2017 and the main things I will change will be extra water storage and get to the start line early and up the front - the bottlenecks at the start and in the mountains if you ae stuck in the back/middle of the pack can really slow you down. Plus the obvious do some training in hotter weather!

For supporters the tracking was good but not the organisers buses which were very disorganised - something I hope to see improve in 2017 as it is a good idea reducing the races carbon footprint and traffic on the roads - just needs more buses!

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MarkT

08:12 31-08-16

I've now completed this race twice (2013 & 2016) and it is tough. The 2016 race was hot throughout and runners struggled with the heat. Probably the first 20 miles or so is a hard push as everybody tries to put distance under their feet but sooner or later the effort of the climbs and the difficulty of the descents take their toll. The DNF rate can be high with plenty of runners falling from early in the race.

The scenery is superb and the atmosphere fantastic. In the middle of the night there will be spectators out on the mountain to cheer you along.

This is not for the faint-hearted - you need the ability to endure and the determination to succeed.

Should be on the bucket list for all ultra runners.

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ultramiker

05:15 03-06-15

Somehow before doing it I thought I would be running. hills were sp steap it was mostly walking even on the down hills.

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@ultralynch

10:55 15-05-15

I completed the UTMB in August 2014, and I really felt like I'd earned the green gilet that is bestowed upon all finishers (as an alternative to a medal).

The UTMB, for me, is the pinnacle of European ultra-running events, and I highly recommend that all ultra-runners give it a go. Here are a few reasons why:

First, there's the fact that it is steeped in history; with ultra-running legends like Kilian Jornet, Lizzy Hawker, Jez Bragg, and Rory Bosio all having delivered super human course times. This made being part of the UTMB feel extra special.

Then there's the mountain weather...! In previous years, it has required the course to be reduced in length: fortunately, I just had to contend with rain / cold for the first night, and then the baking heat on the Saturday. It's very challenging, and, therefore, the achievement is all the more satisfying.

Third, there's the atmosphere: all the towns / villages come out in full force to cheer and support the runners - I can think of more than one occasion when a shiver ran down my spine as people cheered, clapped, and patted me on the back. Also, I'll never forget leaving Chamonix in the gloomy drizzle of Friday evening with the whole town cheering, and Conquest of Paradise (by Vangelis) booming from the speakers: it really felt like the troops were off to war! I had knots in my stomach, and have to admit that I was a bit scared!

Pre- and post-race Chamonix is brilliant. In the week before the start of the UTMB, Cham is like a runners' version of the Glastonbury Festival, with everyone eating, drinking and sleeping ultra-running. Post-run, I couldn't think of a better place to replenish; with loads of nutella crepes, delicious bread dripping with cheese fondue, and glugging lots of fine reds.

My fifth reason is that it is way, way harder than the MdS. It is possible to drag yourself around the Sahara Desert with a good level of ultra-running fitness and training, but the UTMB requires the bar to raised several times more (especially the technical, rocky terrain and two nights of navigating the mountain trails with a sliver of white head-torch light). The MdS felt like a beautiful running holiday, but the UTMB required me to be super alert and focussed from start to finish.

I should also say that the organisation, feed stations (stocked with everything, inc. chocolate, breads, cheeses, and salami), and volunteers are all exemplar, and the entire event is organised with military precision.

This is a must-do run for any ultra-runner!

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