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The North Face® Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc® - What's it all about?

by Editor
Friday 22nd August 2014
Tags  The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc   |   The North Face   |   ULTRA-TRAIL DU MONT-BLANC   |   UTMB   |   TDS   |   CCC   |   OCC   |   PTL

Race feature: The focus of ultra runners will be firmly on Chamonix as the first race of The North Face® Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc® starts on Monday, August 25, 2014

Trail runners from around the world will run across borders around Mont-Blanc between France, Italy and Switzerland in one of the five events of The North Face ® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®. Among the many taking the annual pilgramage to Chamonix are some of Run247's contributors who will be reporting from the heart of the action.

Before the racing begins, lets take a look at the five races and the schedule of events:

Schedule of events

Monday August 25th - Chamonix
17:30 : Start of the PTL

Wednesday August 27th - Courmayeur et Chamonix
07:00 : Start of the TDS, Courmayeur (Italy)
Ultra-Trail® Salon
22:00 : First TDS™ finishers

Thursday August 28th - Chamonix
08:00 : Start of the OCCOrsières (Switzerland)
All day, finishers of the TDS™
Ultra-Trail® Salon
TDS™ Prize Giving

Friday August 29th - Courmayeur and Chamonix
07:00 : First PTL™ finishers
09:00 : Start of the CCC®, Courmayeur (Italy)
Ultra-Trail® Salon
17:30 : Start of the UTMB®
20:30 : First CCC® finishers

Saturday August 30th - Chamonix
All morning, arrival of CCC®  finishers
CCC® Prize giving
14:00 : First UTMB® finishers

Sunday August 31st - Chamonix
All day, arrival of UTMB® finishers
14:30 : Last PTL™ finishers
UTMB® Prize giving
The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® official closing ceremony
14:30 : Last finishers of the UTMB®


For more information, visit the race website: www.ultratrailmb.com

Further links: ultratrail.tv, Facebook: www.facebook.com/UltraTrailMontBlanc - Twitter:twitter.com/TNFUTMB


The 5 races:

UTMB® (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®)

Around 168 km and 9600m of ascent
Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude. Semi-self suffient. 10 aid stations which supply drink and/or food to be taken on site

Date: 29th August, 2014
Start: 5:30pm from Chamonix (France)
Cut off time: 46 hours
Event limited to 2300 runners


UTMB® (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®)

2014 will be the 12th edition of this classic ultra race which is popular the world over. It is now considered by many the most prestigious ultra.

The UTMB® is limited to 2300 competitors. Only experienced ultra-runners can take part in this race and strict rules and a points system are in place to ensure this!

To enrol for the UTMB® participants must first have aquired a set amount of points by completing races from a list supplied by the organisers. In addition to the demanding qualifying rules, a lottery is in place to deal with the many applicants.

The start time ensures that all the participant will experience large stretches of night running, the slower finishers going through two nights before reaching the finish!

In recent years (2010 & 2012) the race had seen bad weather affect the race and the organisation has now put comprehensive plans in place in the case that adverse conditions should make it unsafe to proceed with the original route. The weather forecast for race week will be anxiously followed by organisers and racers alike! (http://chamonix-meteo.com/chamonix-mont-blanc/weather/forecast/morning/5_days_weather_forecast.php)

Britain's Lizzy Hawker is without doubt the queen of this event, having won it an incredible five times to date, placing second another time too! In 2010 Jez Bragg also won the race, and British runners make up a big percentage of the field.

For more information visit: www.ultratrailmb.com/page/20/UTMB%C2%AE.html


CCC® (Courmayeur Champex Chamonix)

Around 100km & 6100m of ascent

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude. Semi-self suffient. 5 refreshment posts with food, 4 refreshment posts with drinks

Date: 29th August, 2014
Start: 9:00am from Courmayeur (Italy)
Cut off time: 26 hours
Event limited to 1900 runners


CCC® (Courmayeur Champex Chamonix)

Now in its ninth year, the CCC® is no longer just a step-up or side-show to the UTMB®, but attracts world-class athletes as well as a sell out field of dedicated ultra runners.

Like the for UTMB®, participants need to prove that they have some experience, but the points required to take part in the CCC® are easier to obtain than those for the UTMB®.
Apart from the first monster climb, the route follows the second half of the UTMB. While the winners will be finishing in Chamonix in the evening, many participants will be running into or through the night!

For more information visit: www.ultratrailmb.com/page/21/CCC%C2%AE.html

TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie)

Around 119 km and 7250m of ascent

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude. Semi-self suffient. 6 aid stations with food, 2 aid stations with drinks

Date: 27th August, 2014
Start: 7:00am from Courmayeur (Italy)
Cut off time: 33 hours
Event limited to 1600 runners


TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie)

Now in its sixh year, the TDS was added to the programme in 2009, but was cancelled in 2010 due to bad weather. In 2012 however the TDS was the only race which went ahead without any changes due to the adverse weather experienced in the area.

The TDS sets off from Courmayeur in an clockwise direction and takes in some higher ground than the first half of the UTMB®, really testing those climbing legs! Despite the longer time allowed for runners to complete the event, compared to the CCC®, this is not an easy option!

The beautiful mountainous route aside, one of the many attractions of the TDS is that it sets off two days before the two above races, so participants can collect their finisher's gillets, have a sleep, drink a coffee and bask in their glory whilst watching the other races in progress!

Participants need to prove that they have some experience, but the points required to take part in the TDS are easier to obtain than for the UTMB®.

For more information visit: www.ultratrailmb.com/page/22/TDS%C2%AE.html

PTL (La Petite Trotte à Léon)

Around 295 kilometres with about 26 500 metres of ascent

Number of aid stations: None

Date: 25th August, 2013
Start: 5:30pm from Chamonix (France)
Cut off time: 142 hours
Event limited to 100 teams


PTL (La Petite Trotte à Léon)

This is a real monster! This race his completed by teams of 2 or 3 participant who need to be completely self-sufficent in some very testing terrain! La Petite Trotte à Léon is an "enlarged Tour du Mont Blanc", far from beaten tracks taking participants on difficult paths sometimes even non-existent; it includes the crossing of numerous cols (passes) and summits of between 2500 and 3000 metres altitude. At the finish, there are no results or prizes...

"The route uses, as much as possible, rarely used footpaths and sometimes crosses zones of complete ‘wilderness’. Technical passages are spread out all along the route."

Not only the runner's endurance will be pushed to it's limits in this event, but also their knowledge of the mountain environment, their ability to navigate and control their efforts and resources! Above all, their team spirit will be tested to the max.

The route is different from one year to the next; it is not way-marked but will be mapped (GPS tracks and maps supplied). Teams are required to manage their own progress, refreshments and rest time as they wish. To do this they must use the local infrastructure of refuges and villages (no back-up vehicles or assistance allowed).

To qualify at least one member of the team must have finished, in the past, the UTMB® or the TOR DES GEANTS, one of the previous PTL™ or even the 2012 TDS™. The organisers may consider alternative qualifications.

For more information visit: www.ultratrailmb.com/page/22/TDS%C2%AE.html

OCC (Orsières - Champex - Chamonix)

Around 53 km and 3300 m of positive altitude change

Number of aid stations: Three

Date: 28th August, 2013
Start: 8:00am from Orsières (Switzerland)
Cut off time: 14 hours
Event limited to 1200 runners


OCC (Orsières - Champex - Chamonix)

New for 2014 is what had been missing from the proramme - a race that starts in Switzerland!

At 50 kilometres the OCC (Orsières-Champex-Chamonix) will be a little less 'ultra' than the other four races and accessible to those who want to start to participate in The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®

The race will start from Orsières, located south-west of the township in the Val d'Entremont. This valley offers unique landscapes and final needles last spurs of t ... The route of the OCC will take runners into the unique landscape along the eastern flanks of Mont-Blanc which form the French-Swiss border, before joining the last part of the course of the UTMB ® and the CCC ® at Champex.

For more information visit: www.ultratrailmb.com/page/217/OCC.html

All of the races finish in the square in Chamonix under a huge finish line banner. So from Wednesday evening, when the first TDS finishers arrive, to the Sunday afternoon, when the last UTMB finishers come in, Chamonix provides the beautiful backdrop to hundreds of emotional scenes as loved ones are greeted by friends and families. The majority of runners are also greeted personally by the organiser, Catherine Poletti.

As well as big races for grown-ups there are also 5 races for children aged 3 – 13: the micro CCC (400m), mini CCC (600m), mini TDS (1200m), mini UTMB (1800m) and the mini PTL (3km). These all take place on the beginners’ ski slope in Chamonix on the Thursday before the CCC and UTMB kick off and provide a good distraction for nervous runners, as well as a fun activity for families who’ve travelled with them.


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