The Mont-Blanc area is very famous for its beautiful scenery and its wide offer of winter sports facilities. This region hosts countless well-known ski resorts such as Chamonix, Les Contamines Montjoie, and La Rosière in France, Courmayeur in Italy and, a bit further away, Verbier in Switzerland. Geneva Airport is close by with several daily coach and shuttle services to the Mont-Blanc region. In the Italian valley of the Mont-Blanc, the city of Aosta definitely deserves a stop.
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a trail-running event that circles Mont-Blanc (Tour du Mont-Blanc) through France, Switzerland and Italy. Every year, at the end of August or at the beginning of September more than 10,000 runners join the race. The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is considered one of the largest and most difficult running race in the world. It is made of seven different foot races, four of which are ultra endurance trails. Some of these trails are several days long, in high altitude and with up to 25,000 meters of ascent.
The original and most famous race of the seven is the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) and it is part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT). The first edition was in 2003 and, due to its growing success, the number of runners had to be limited to 2,300. This trail takes approximately 40 hours. It starts and finishes in Chamonix (F) and goes round the Mont-Blanc massif through Les Contamines Montjoie (FR), Courmayeur (IT), Champex-Lac (SW), Trient (SW) and Vallorcine (FR). UTMB is 170 km long; runners go through 10,000 meters of ascent and overcome several passes such as the Col Ferret (2,537m), the highest point of the trail.
I have seen people sit on the ground after crossing the finish line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and sit there for hours with blank looks, smiling broadly to themselves, still not believing that what they have achieved isn’t a hallucination. Fully aware that when they wake up, they will be able to say that they did it, that they succeeded, that they vanquished their fears and transformed their dreams into something real. Kilian Jornet, Run or Die
The trail is only accessible to the worlds best trail-runners. Unless you are one of them! You can still be part of the event by volunteering and helping the runners all along the trails. You can also just come cheer the runners and enjoy all the festivities around this world-renowned event.
The next UTMB races will begin the 27th of August and finish the 2nd of September 2018.
Cover photo: Sander van der Werf
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