UTMB is the world’s most prestigious ultra-trail running race, drawing tens of thousands of participants and spectators alike from all corners of the globe, at the end of August each year.
Held in the French village of Chamonix the race crosses three countries passing through Italy and Switzerland before looping back into France. The UTMB is one of the hardest one-day competitions in existence, covering an incredible 171 kilometers (106 miles) and adding up to 10,800 meters (35,400 feet) of elevation gain. The UTMB is perhaps best-known for its spectacular scenery, where towering granite mountains, lush green valleys, and the ever-present Mont Blanc massif as backdrop for the entire race. This extraordinary trip at the heart of the massif will permit trail-runners to cross through seven valleys, over 71 glaciers, and 400 summits in an alpine décor which is unique in the world
The UTMB is also recognized for its technical difficulty, ranging from runnable dirt roads to slick, vertical scrambles. The elevation of 32,900 feet makes it one of the steepest routes in the world. Another aspect that runners should be aware of is the extreme weather – often going from freezing at night to blistering hot during the middle of the day.
The race was founded in 2003 by the World Trails Network (WTN) to celebrate trail running and bring together mountain enthusiasts from all over the world. Initially held as a single race from Chamonix, the UTMB family has now grown to include four races of varying lengths and difficulties, namely the TDS, CCC, and PTL. Most famously, the original UTMB sees participants run the entire route, taking more than 20 hours to complete the full length for top elite runners. Participants are strongly encouraged to use the ‘leave-no-trace’ approach to their journey – this means leaving the beautiful environment of the mountains as you found them, taking all rubbish with you and abiding by the rules of local wildlife and nature preserves.
Another factor that makes UTMB so special is not just the tremendous physical challenge it poses, but its unique spirit of camaraderie and community. Runners from around the world come together during the event week, helping each other with logistical preparations, sharing stories, and exchanging advice. The crowds of people cheering along the runners in the alpine villages is unprecedented in this sport and the atmosphere is magic.
Completing a UTMB race requires rigorous preparation, training for the physical demands of the race with the effects of altitude and rugged high mountain environment is just the start. Runners will, depending on the race and speed, run through 1 or even 2 nights. The physical challenge of relentlessly moving forward for days is also something that needs mental preparation. The longer the race the more important it becomes to be on top of fueling correctly and optimizing running biomechanics, being efficient in both running and speedy hiking.
Despite the challenge the UTMB races present, it is also an incredible way to experience the beauty of the Alps, the thrill of tackling a trail through incredible terrain, and the incomparable feeling of camaraderie that comes with it. Although the event is difficult and daunting, those that take it on are rewarded with a new sense of self. Facing obstacles along the way and taking on challenges is a way to grow as a person.
I myself have had the great fortune of winning both CCC and TDS and have finished 3rd at UTMB in 2021. Now it is time to take on this massive adventure again.
In 2023, the UTMB takes place 28 August to 3 September 2023, making it an epic running experience for us here at Moonvalley. A total of six (!) members of the Moonvalley Team are entering the race at different distances, with me (Mimmi), Ida, and Emelie entering as elite runners alongside other members of our board!
Of course, we here at Moonvalley have your nutritional needs for UTMB covered with everything from easy-to-digest energy bars and protein bars to sports drinks. Just click on the link below to browse through our collection and find what fits your needs.
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See you on the trails!
/Mimmi & the Moonvalley Team