Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc | Chamonix’s Biggest Trail Running Event

Chamonix is about to be invaded by a peculiar type of species… the ultra runner. Yes, it’s that time of year again – UTMB week. The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc attracts more than 7000 people to take part in the biggest trail running event of the year.

7500 runners from over 80 different countries will push themselves to the limits of their endurance as they 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 Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc are:

PTL, Petite Trot a Leon

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 the week, starting at 17:30 on Monday 22nd August in the centre of Chamonix and can take up to 6 days to complete.

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

TDS, Sur Les Traces des Ducs de Savoie

Runners in the TDS 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 of distance and over 7250m of ascent to contend with, the runners will have more to focus on than political history! The race starts in Courmayeur at 6am on 24th August and climbs many mountain passes to finish between 14 and 33 hours later in Chamonix.

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

OCC, Orsieres Champex Chamonix

The shortest of the races, the Orsières – Champex – Chamonix may only be 55km long but it manages to squeeze in 3500m of positive height gain, making it a pretty steep and technical course. Starting in Switzerland at 08:15 on 25th August the route has three challenging climbs and takes in hanging glaciers, roaring torrents and alpine forests along the way. The first runners are expected back in Chamonix around 5-6 hours later with the maximum time barrier being set at 14 hours.

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

CCC, Courmayeur Champex Chamonix

Often seen as the “little sister” of the UTMB, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix follows a similar route through France, Italy and Switzerland 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 26th August and finishes in Chamonix centre with an average finishing time of around 20 hours.

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

UTMB, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

The legendary Ultra Trail du Mont is the highlight of the week. Crowds of people will be lining the streets at 6pm on Friday 26th 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 14th 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; 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

YCC, Youth Chamonix Courmayeur

The newest race of the lot, the YCC is 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 24th August at 10am in Courmayeur, Italy.

YCC youth race at UTMB in Chamonix
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Foto Lanzeni

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 Chamonix 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, at no extra charge for the service. Order it more than 3 days in advance and you’ll also benefit from a special offer of 6 days for the price of 5.

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.

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

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2016 – who’s in?!

It might have been dumping with snow in Chamonix all week but some of us are already planning our summer of adventure! Results have gone on line this week to confirm all those who have successfully subscribed to take part in the 2016 Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, taking place next August.

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in Chamonix
Photo credit : Franck Oddoux

The UTMB is one of the valley’s biggest events and we’re super excited to have some of the Mountain Lifestyle team taking part. The week comprises 5 different races – UTMB, PTL, TDS, CCC, OCC – all ultra-marathon trail races taking place at high altitude in the shadow of the mighty Mont Blanc.

  • UTMB – Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – 170km distance & 10,000m elevation
  • PTL – Petit Trot de Lyon – 290km distance & 26500m elevation
  • TDS – Trail des Ducs de Savoie – 119km distance & 7250m elevation
  • CCC – Courmayeur Champex Chamonix – 100km distance & 6100m elevation
  • OCC – Orsieres Champex Chamonix – 55km distance & 3300m elevation

This is such an exciting time of year to be in Chamonix, with an amazing buzz in the air and people from all over the world gathering to take part or to cheer for their friends and family.

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in Chamonix
Photo credit : Michel Cottin

You can get a taste for the UTMB by heading to Chamonix this spring or summer to take part in one of our trail running camps – a week or long weekend of pounding the alpine trails with an expert trail running coach. You’ll benefit not only from training at altitude but you’ll also receive invaluable advice on training strategies, learn how to fly down technical descents, conserve energy on steep climbs and manage your nutrition. If you book during June then you’ll have the chance to see the Marathon du Mont Blanc take place, another fantastic event when the whole town turns out to cheer and get involved. Here in Chamonix you’ll meet many people who have taken part in all of the UTMB races and can share their experiences with you, this town loves to talk running!

If you don’t have a full week to spare then get an insight into what’s needed to complete one of the world’s most iconic races with a 2 day UTMB recce in which you’ll complete either the first or the second half of the route, accompanied by a running guide. You’ll run 80km through the day and night with around 5000m of positive elevation gain on high altitude trails. An incredible experience and invaluable preparation if you’re planning on running the real thing one day – contact us now for further details.

Marathon du Mont Blanc in Chamonix

We also offer one-to-one running and fitness sessions with a personal coach – so whether your goal is to complete your first marathon, to smash a personal best, or just to have some fun in the mountains, we can help you achieve and even exceed it!

For the ultimate trail running experience, contact us for a bespoke training camp including nutritious gourmet meals, daily massages, expert advice on sports “pre-habilitation” and recovery from professional physiotherapists and guided runs in the mountains with tips and advice. We can cater for any group sizes and are happy to discuss a variety of options to create an itinerary that meets your needs. We are fortunate enough to live in the perfect environment for outdoor training of all kinds that can include road biking and lake swimming for budding triathletes!

If you’ve not already checked, you can find out if you were lucky enough to get a place in one of the  UTMB races on the official Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc website – just enter your surname in the search box to find the results.

Congratulations if you were successful! UTMB week is one of the busiest of the year, so be sure to book your accommodation in Chamonix before it all books up. We can also help with essentials such as airport transfers and pre or post race massages and physiotherapy – just ask us and we’d be happy to help.