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Columbia Sportswear Company and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® announce their new partnership at ISPO in Munich

by Press Release
Tuesday 10th February 2015

Race news: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® - August 24-30, 2015

Columbia Sportswear Company announced the partnership with Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® in November 2014 across its three brands : Columbia,Mountain Hardwear and Montrail. (HERE)

A press conference was held at ISPO Munich 2015 to officially present the partnership, with Catherine Poletti, Director of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, Franco Fogliato, SeniorVice President, General Manager EMEA and Topher Gaylord, President of Mountain Hardwear.

Catherine Poletti explained the story behind this iconic trail running event, which emerged from a group of nine friends who shared a dream of doing the tour of Mont-Blanc starting from Chamonix across three countries - France, Italy and Switzerland. Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® was registered for the first time on the international calendars in October 2002. The organisation team were unaware how successful theUTMB® would become. In order to manage the growing enthusiasts and preserve the quality, the UTMB® developed the event according to a draw system of qualification points over more than 1200 races all over the world, andeventually offering five races during the UTMB® week.

"Despite the higher qualification requirements for the UTMB®, CCC®, and TDS®, the 2015 registrationswere beyond expectations with 15.500 registration requests across the 5 different races. 7500 runnerswill be on the starting lines in August from 84 different nationalities, which proves the UTMB® hasbecome a truly global event inspiring trail runners and outdoor enthusiasts." Catherine Poletti commented on the 2015 registrations.

The UTMB® is an event built on core human values such as equity, respect for the environment, respect for other people and oneself, solidarity, and fair-play. The event also strives to create strong links with all stakeholders: runners, the 2000 volunteers, the 19 communities along the route, partners, and media. Catherine Poletti explains “It is important that we all share the same values, passion and emotions, eventhough the scale of the event has led us to professionalize many things.”

Catherine Poletti warmly welcomes the three brands within the UTMB® partner family. While Columbia has taken the leadership sponsor position with Outdoor Apparel, Mountain Hardwear has the leadingpartner role in the Technical Outdoor Equipment. In addition, they also involved Montrail, the first and The Original Trail Running Shoe brand as she explains “The introduction of these three brands as UTMB® partners is a strong sign, which allows us to assert that the promise of quality is intact and will continue to progress”

Franco Fogliato explains that when the opportunity came up to partner with the UTMB®, it was an immediate and natural choice.  He says: “We are very excited about this partnership based on a four year agreement. Beside being the most iconic event in the outdoor world, it is a global event with more 84nations represented, which we are proud to support as a portfolio of leading global brands. The UTMB®is also a unique outdoor event regrouping passionate people that share the same ultimate passion wehave in the company.”

Topher Gaylord, President of Mountain Hardwear, and also a top-class ultra-trail runner and a formerUTMB® participant further explains “ We believe this event, with its impressive beauty, world-classorganisation, passion for every runner, and commitment to making the experience life-defining for eachparticipant was definitely a natural fit for our outdoor, mountain, and trail focused brands”

Chamonix is also referred to as a leading outdoor capital, playground for many outdoor enthusiasts. Franco Fogliato comments “It is a unique opportunity for the group to strengthen their relationships withall those consumers, who love our brands and the outdoors. With our partner stores, such as theColumbia Partner Store in Chamonix run by Jean Francois Coquoz, they will be fully refitted on this occasion, providing consumers with access to the complete range of products”. Topher Gaylord explains that Mountain Hardwear will continue to build relationships with their retail partners in Chamonix, as well as globally through this event. Snell is namely one of them, where the brand is well represented.

The UTMB® will provide great opportunities for the three brands to test their products and technologies in the most extreme conditions. While the Finisher tee developed by Columbia will feature Omni-FreezeZero,  the innovative sweat-activated cooling technology, the iconic Finisher vest will be a MountainHardwear product featuring a Polartec fabric.

Topher Gaylord  mentions: “Building relationships with the world-class athletes helps us in putting our innovative product to the test and collecting feedback for our future product development. Our participation as a portfolio of brands will focus on empowering the amateur runners: those dedicated recreational runners with the appetite to test themselves in one of the most iconic running events in the world.”

Regarding Montrail, Topher Gaylord  does not disclose any future plans or strategies but explains “we believe the Montrail brand has a tremendous opportunity to grow and develop throughout Europe. We believe the UTMB® can become a key consumer launch platform for the brand and our innovative product.  If we re-launch the brand in Europe, it will be with the right retailers and focused on delivering our exceptional trail running footwear to European Trail Running consumers”

The main focus is to activate the partnership with the event and celebrate the challenge each encounters on any of the UTMB® courses. Topher Gaylord explains: “We will have several athletes, our own employees and retail partners that will participate in the various Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® races and I believe each runner will strive to find the edges of their potential and each runner that crosses the finish-line will forever be a finisher and champion. That is the very nature of the UTMB®."

Find out more about the Columbia Sportswear Company at: investor.columbia.com

For more information on the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ® please visit -www.ultratrailmb.com - ultratrail.tv  Facebook : www.facebook.com/UltraTrailMontBlanc


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