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For most runners, the thought of taking on a half marathon or full marathon really is the highlight of their running year. 26.2 miles is an impressive feat when you consider the hours of training you need to put in. But what if 26.2 wasn’t enough? We’ve explored the world of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc to bring you the information you need to know about Europe’s most popular ultra-marathon.

UTMB week takes place every year in the beautiful town of Chamonix, France and is host to a portfolio of tough races that take place on the mountain trails surrounding Mont-Blanc. To inspire your next race, we’ve put together a breakdown of what you can expect from this amazing week of mountain running.

When Is It?

Traditionally the UTMB is held on the last weekend of August to make the most of the summer weather. However, most runners arrive at least a few days before their race to help them adjust to the altitude and explore the terrain.

Where Is It?

Chamonix, France is home to the UTMB. Situated at the base of Mont-Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps, the resort is host to wild trails and tracks that are enjoyed all year round.

During UTMB week the resort attracts thousands of runners and spectators from all over the world to revel in the race excitement and enjoy the mountain trails. The races vary in distance but travel outside of Chamonix into Italy and Switzerland before returning to the finishers arch in Chamonix square. 

What are the Races?

Whilst the UTMB race itself attracts the most fanfare, there are a number of other races taking place during UTMB week:

PTL or Petite Trotte à Lèon

Not for the faint hearted, this race will take your running buddy relationship to another level. The Petite Trotte à Léon more commonly known as the PTL is completed as a team of 2 or 3 and covers 290km and 26,500m of ascent on foot through France, Italy and Switzerland. This race is both physically and mentally demanding, and has a strict cut-off time of 151:30 hours.

The PTL covers some beautiful and yet technical terrain and is arguably the toughest race of them all.

TDS PR Traces des Ducs de Savoie

The TDS is a technical mountain race, following the Grande Randonnée trail through the Mont Blanc, Beaufort, Tarentaise and Aosta valley countryside. The race starts in Courmayer before finishing in Chamonix under the famous arch, covering 119km and over 7,250m of ascent.

With a cut off time of 33 hours and 1600 runners on the course, it’s a race that requires a great deal of mountain experience.  

OCC or Orsières-Champex-Chamonix

In comparison to its big sisters, the OCC is regarded as the entry race at UTMB. Starting in Orsières in the south west canton in Val d’Entremont, the OCC covers 55km and over 3,500m of ascent. Starting at 8am, runners have a maximum of 14.5 hours to complete the race before the cut off.

As with all the UTMB races, runners are welcomed home by the finishers arch and rows of spectators waiting to celebrate with them at the finish line. 

CCC - Courmayer-Champex-Chamonix

This 101km race takes runners from Courmayeur to Champex-Lac before heading to the finish in Chamonix. The CCC has a total ascent of 6,100 metres and has a maximum cut off time of 26 hours and 45 minutes.

The start of the race in Courmayeur is hosted in true Italian fashion featuring the music of Vangelis before runner’s head out on this 101km test of endurance. 

UTMB or Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

Lastly, and by no means least, is the iconic Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Informally known as the UTMB, this difficult and striking race takes on the original Trail du Mont-Blanc. Runners will take on 170km with over 10,000m of ascent with a maximum cut off time of 46.5 hours.

Described as one of the toughest ultra-marathons in the world, runners are expected to begin the race with a good level of experience and the mandatory kit list for some unpredictable and often extreme weather.

Starting at 6pm in Chamonix square and ending in Chamonix some 20, 30 or 40 hours later, this race is the most iconic of them all.

What are the Requirments?

The technical nature of all of the UTMB races means that runners need to qualify for entry using a points system. Runners can race throughout the previous year to qualify for points, and submit these points as part of their application. Due to the growing popularity of all of the UTMB races, many places are now allocated using a ballot system. [SS1] 

Race Highlights?

If running the beautiful trails of the Tour du Mont-Blanc isn’t appealing enough, then the atmosphere in Chamonix is certainly worth experiencing. Whether you’re planning on taking part in one these amazing races, or you’re just spectating, you’ll have plenty to get involved with whilst you’re there


Feeling inspired but not ready for the ultra-distance just yet? You might like this post:




Information source: http://utmbmontblanc.com/en/

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