Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

On Friday 29th August 2008, at 18:30 hours the 6th Edition of the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc will start in the centre of Chamonix. The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is one of the greatest European Mountain Trail Races. The international race (44 nations represented in 2007), limited to 2,300 participants, takes place in one of the most incredible landscapes on the world. A breathtaking scenery of seven valleys, 71 glaciers and 400 summits like the Mont Blanc, the Dent du Géant and the rock face of the Grandes Jorasses. The athletes cover a distance of 166 km and 9,400 of positive altitude change along the famous GR TMB, within 46 hours, at an altitude ranging between 1012 m and 2537 m., crossing six passes over 2000 metres high. They will pass through 3 countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. This year the race offers a variation between La Fouly and Champex and at the end of the race, after Vallorcine, they will have to climb up towards the Flégère (1,877m) before the Finish in Chamonix.
Alternatively, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix will give the 2,000 participants 24 hours to cover a distance of 98 km with 5,600 m ascent from the Italian heart of the Aosta valley, through Switzerland, before finishing in Chamonix.
Today August 27th is the bithday of a new event. The "Petite Trotte à Léon" a non-competitive raid for teams of 3 people to complete a great circuit of Mont-Blanc of about 220 km for about 17,000 metres of positive altitude change (limit time: 100 h). This course, marked on a map handed out to each team, but not signposted, will follow the legendary passes (col des Fours, Fenêtre d’Arpette) with an extension towards the Great St Bernard and the Emosson barrage.
Created in 2003 by a united party of friends lovers of cross-country racing and of the country of Mont-Blanc, les Trailers du Mont-Blanc, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a real challenge for the organization: 1200 volunteers maintaining 30 control and safety points for a duration of 60 hours to ensure the wellbeing of all who participate. Also, the entire length of the trail is checked and marked with about 5000 flags or signs, all of which have to be removed the days following the race. In the route there will be a total of 16 refreshment posts, some in villages and others at high mountain refuges, together with 4 reception bases at Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, Champex and Chamonix. For hours the volunteers will ensure a continual supply of hot and cold drinks, and trays of all kinds of foods (some places delight in offering their speciality – fresh cheese from the alp, homemade tart, etc.).
Along with the racing, around sixty exhibitors are coming together in the context of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Open to all brands, the aim is to create an annual rendezvous. All the great figures in foot-racing will be there to present their novelties. But also trade names aware of the tourist impact of such a race. In fact a race of this size is a real tourist asset for a region (15,000 visitors expected).