Described by some as a ‘mythical race’ and by others as the ‘ultimate runner’s challenge’, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is legendary across the world. With no prize money, the reward for completing this race is just that – to have completed it. I look at the thrilling details of this ultramarathon and let you know how you can see it for yourself. Who knows, you might be tempted to lace up your trainers and join the thousands of people running the race every year! |
Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc: The Low Down
The Ultra-Train du Mont Blanc (UTBM) follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc and is seen as one of the toughest foot-races in Europe. The race begins in beautiful Chamonix climbing around 1500m to cross into Italy through the Col de la Seigne. The highest point is the Grand Col Ferret at 2537m which is also the border of Switzerland. After climbing down again the single-stage race crosses back into France and finishes in Chamonix. Runners will be competing in all sorts of weather conditions and climbing about 10,000m during the race.
The most skilled runners will finish the circle around Mont Blanc in around 20 hours; others can take as long as 60. Every year, hundreds of the runners who begun the race stop part-way through. Though they are unable to continue, they are almost always ready to return in the future and conquer the route once and for all.
All runners must be ‘semi-autonomous’. This means that they must be able to survive from one refreshment post to the other without help. Whether this means carrying their own food and drink, or adapting to sudden bad weather conditions or unexpected injury, it is the runner’s responsibility to look after themselves.
They are really on their own out there! Runners must carry all their own equipment and cannot have help from a professional team, a medical or paramedical professional.
Don’t Miss Out on Mont Blanc
The UTMB is just one of five running events which take place during the last week of August. Around 8000 runners will descend on the region from 28 August to 3 September. Make sure you book accommodation as soon as you can! An ideal base for the event is a catered chalet in the Three Valleys. There’s no reason to worry about busy cafes and restaurants when you can relax in the comfort of your own catered chalet.
To enter the main race, or one of the shorter events also running during the week, visit utmbmontblanc.com. Remember that prior to the race runners must prove they have knowledge of the mountains and can cope with any problems that might crop up during the event. This is not a run for the faint-hearted amateur!
If you’re staying in a catered chalet with a serious runner but you’d rather relax in the sun, you could be one of the 2000 volunteers who support the race. Why not stay in a large catered chalet to get the holiday mood going and be on the spot when you’re needed.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for the best catered chalet accommodation in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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