Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

On Friday 27th August 2010, at 18:30 hours the 8th Edition of the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc will start in the Place du Triangle de l’Amitiét in he centre of Chamonix. The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is one of the greatest European Mountain Trail Races. The international race limited to 2,300 participants -this year the event had a record success with almost 3,900 requests-, 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. The sporting and human achievement is remarkable: 166 km is the distance between Paris and Auxerre by the motorway; it is also the distance of four marathons back to back. The positive height gain is equivalent to twice the ascension of Everest from base camp.
Alternatively, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) will give the 2,000 participants 25 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.
The "Petite Trotte à Léon", a event born two years ago, a non-competitive raid for teams of 3 people to complete a great circuit of Mont-Blanc of about 250 km for about 18,000 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.For its 3rd year, the PTL is ‘complete’ with a record 75 teams registered.
This year the second edition of the event "Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie" will take place, approximately 105 km and 6700 m of positive vertical change for a limited time of 30 hours. In the line with the other races The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, this race is bathed in wilderness and takes place on the Great Ride mountain trails of the Mont-Blanc region and the Beaufortain region. The event in its 2009 format, did not fulfil one of the objectives for its creation, namely to satisfy the largest number of runners possible by balancing the registrations between the various races. The message from the competitors could not be ignored. After numerous discussions with the communes concerned and the wish to offer runners a race which pleases them, it was decided to invert the direction of the event. This way the runners can benefit from a magnificent departure from Courmayeur like that of the CCC, and the opportunity to cross the finishing line in Chamonix like all the other finishers.
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: 1700 volunteers maintaining 48 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 33 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 70 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 (25,000 visitors expected).
With 6,500 participants and 58 nations represented the 4 events are surpassing the craze of previous years. Within the 4 events, the predominance is always sharply European with France in lead with 62.15% registrations, followed by Italy 7.68%, Spain 7.03%, United Kingdom 4.54% and Switzerland 3.28%. The event also see a notable increase in the presence of the Japanese who now outnumber the Americans with 110 registrations against 33 last year and 6 in 2008 !

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