Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc : Chamonix’s Epic Ultra Marathon

This week brings more than 7000 people to take part in the biggest trail running event of the year – the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.

Over 7 days 7450 people will take part in 6 races, covering a distance of 758 kilometres (470 miles) and a positive height gain of 53650 metres (176000 feet) – phew!

The races that make up the event are:

PTL Petite Trot a Leon
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – FlashSport

PTL – the Petite Trotte à Léon is misleadingly named, being anything but “petite” at a distance of 300km with a massive 26000m of positive altitude change! This event is a team challenge in which runners must stay with their team mates for the entirety of the course to be classed as finishers and the extreme nature of the course makes this one of the toughest trail events around. The PTL is the first event of week, it starts at 17:30 on Monday 24th August in the centre of Chamonix and takes most participants a full 5 days to complete.

TDS Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Franck Oddoux

TDS – runners in the TDS, or the Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, will find themselves treading historical paths in provinces on the French/Italian border that once made up the Savoie State. We’re guessing though that with 120km to contend with, the runners will have more to focus on than political history! The race starts in Courmayeur at 6am on 26th August and finishes between 14 and 33 hours later in Chamonix.

utmb-2015-ycc-routeYCC – the newest race of the lot, the YCC is the Youth Chamonix Courmayeur – a 15km challenge with 1100m of ascent for young trail runners aged from 16 to 19 years old. All participants will also have the chance to take part in a video competition, with all entries to be shared on social networks. The YCC takes place on Wednesday 26th August at 10am in Courmayeur, Italy with a prologue event the day before in Chamonix.

OCC Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Franck Oddoux

OCC – the shortest of the races, the Orsières – Champex – Chamonix may only be 53km long but it manages to squeeze in 3300m of positive height gain, making it a pretty steep and technical course. Starting in Switzerland at 08:15 on 27th August, the first runners are expected back in Chamonix around 5-6 hours later.

CCC Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Michel Cottin

CCC – often seen as the “little sister” of the UTMB, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix follows a similar route but over a shorter course of 100km with around 6000m of positive altitude change – still a massive distance by most people’s standards! The race starts in Courmayeur, Italy at 9am on 28th August and finishes in Chamonix centre with an average finishing time of around 20 hours.

UTMB Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Franck Oddoux

UTMB – the legendary Ultra Trail du Mont is the highlight of the week. Crowds of people will be lining the streets at 6pm on Friday 28th August in the centre of Chamonix to cheer for the 2300 runners as they set off on the run of their lives. Now in it’s 13th year, the UTMB is an iconic trail race that draws people from all over the world to circumnavigate Mont Blanc; running 170km through three countries, much of it during the night, and climbing 10000m to return to Chamonix as heroes. The winner often finishes in about 20 hours with the cut-off being 46 hours, meaning that finishers are coming in all weekend. The atmosphere is incredible and runners and spectators alike get swept up in the strong emotions as exhausted legs stumble over the finish line!

UTMB Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Alexandre Girbal

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is a fantastic spectator event and there are lots of things going on throughout the week;  you can access some of the race routes using the lift system but don’t rely on buying your lift pass on the day as the desks are bound to be busy.

Order your lift pass in advance through Mountain Lifestyle and we’ll have it ready and waiting for you on your arrival.

The Mont Blanc Multipass gives you access to a multitude of exciting activities in the valley, visit our website to discover all summer activities in Chamonix.

Our partners at Haute Transfer are offering return transport to Switzerland and Italy, should you wish to see the start of the TDS, YCC, OCC or CCC races – booking in advance is highly recommended, please contact us for a quote.

You can find further details of all the races on the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc website.

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