Friday, August 27, 2010

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. An eco-responsible event

Today 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 (UTMB) 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.
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 bases at Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, Champex and Chamonix.
Since the creation of the event, organisers, runners, accompanying persons, volunteers and partners, meet the challenge of integrating an event gathering several thousand actors together into a fragile environment. By integrating a totally active eco-responsible attitude, the organisation tries to minimize, to the maximum, harmful effects. Therefore everybody can leave the event by congratulating themselves for having been able to reconcile the beauty of the effort with the magnificence of high mountain ecosystem.
Whether it is by logistical optimization of anticipating the unforeseen, or by establishing innovative measures such as buses for the runners and their accompanying persons, car-pooling, road closures or the use of the unique beaker for the runners, the UTMB has always had as an objective the conservation of the natural environment, by the raising each person’s awareness of how to protect an exceptional natural landscape and how to adopt an eco-responsible attitude. The North Face Ultra-Trail of Mont Blanc is signatory of two environmental charters: that of the Espace Mont-Blanc (involves 35 different communes, under the wing of the Mont-Blanc cross-border conference -Switzerland, Italy and France- who are all striving to protect and valorise an exceptional cross-border territory) and of the Direction Départementale de la Jeunesse et des Sports.
Hundreds of thousand walkers, and more and more runners, stride out along the paths of the Tour du Mont-Blanc every year, without any supervision. For the greater part, they have a strong urge to leave the least possible track of their passage. To understand, analyze and act, in 2010 the Environment committee of Ultra-Trail are taking advantage of these thousands of runners to pilot and supervise a study into the impact on the environment. It will gather the anxieties, knowledge and ideas of all the actors of the massif to envisage a project where nature and runners can each find a harmonious place. More concretely, it will be a question of drawing up a map of the exposed zones, to verify that the load capacity of the environment crossed is not exceeded and that the generated disturbance is not too important in relevance to the stakes of site conservation.

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