Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)
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On the Chamonix trail running calender there is one race that dominates all the others; the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, or UTMB as it's affectionately known. Each year Chamonix welcomes thousands of ultra trail runners from all over the world to compete in the race. The UTMB starts in Chamonix, and makes a full circuit of Mont Blanc, with over 9000m of vertical height gain, and a total distance of 170km. It is no small wonder that this race is one of the hardest ultra trails in the world, and why it fills up so quickly with runners each year. Unless you have been in Chamonix during the UTMB week, you would find it hard to comprehend how caught up in the event all the locals are, and how the race dominates the town with all the shops selling merchandise and equipment. The atmosphere is electric, but absolutely nothing beats the emotion of the start of the main race from through the town streets and off into the mountains, with the music of "Conquest of Paradise"
by Vangelis thundering over the speakers and the roar of the crowd. It is impossible not to be caught up with the spirit of this event, whether you are a runner or a spectator, and for any trail runner it is the race that one must attempt once in your life! Only about half the competitors finish the race, despite tough entry criteria and each of the runners gaining sufficient qualification race points. It's no surprise that this is the Holy Grail of trail running races.
There are actually four races held during the UTMB 'week' in Chamonix. The shortest race is the CCC that is 98km long with 5600m vertical, starting in Italy in Courmayeur, then passing through Champex in Switzerland, finishing in France in Chamonix. There is a slightly longer but more technical race called the Traces du Ducs du Savoie, the TDS which starts in Courmayeur and passes Mont Blanc to the west, to return to Chamonix. A three person team event called the Petit Trotte a Leon PTL is the longest event, run over up to five days in stages with nights in mountain huts. The blue ribband event is the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, and the UTMB starts and finishes in Chamonix in France, and circumnavigates Mont Blanc through Italy and Switzerland. The winners of this race take just under 24 hours, with the last finishers having run through two days and two nights non stop!
 
 
 
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