This weekend is the grand dame of ultra racing, the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, a 170km race which in over 10,000 metres of climbing, starting in the beautiful French ski resort of Chamonix.
Why do it? For the sheer beauty of the event, the incredible atmosphere and the challenge that sees you going from tiny mountain villages and high altitude passes where snow still clings to the rocks and supporters cheer you on, to rocky trails under a starlit sky where there is nothing but your own tired mind willing you to carry on and finish the race.
The fastest runners can expect to do it in 20 hours, 45 minutes, the slowest in 46 hours and 30 minutes, the cut off.
How do you get a place?
You know how hard it is to get a place in the London Marathon, well this is even harder.
The event is so popular, a strict system is in place whereby you need to accrue points at qualifying races before you can enter. And even then, it’s oversubscribed and you may not get a place and have to try again the following year (your points will still stand). For 2020 registrations, it’s two races and 10 points (here’s some ideas of the qualifying UK races).
Just as popular are the other accompanying races that take place over the week long festival of running in Chamonix, which sees the locals cheering from the bars and offering runners beers before they set off. But you still need to get your points!
Other races in the festival
The CCC, 101km with 6,100 metres.
The TDS – ,Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, 145km with 9100 metres of climbing.
The OCC – 55km with 3500 metres of climbing.
The PTL , Petite Trotte à Léon, with even more technical knowledge of alpinism than the full event.
The MCC, 40km with 2300 metres of climbing.
Tempted? We can tell you that a beer after any of these races will NEVER feel quite as good. And if you are signed up for this year, a word of advice, get yourself booked into the stunning QC Terme in Chamonix for your recovery.