The North Face Mont Blanc Ultratrail is made up of several different trail running events:

  • UTMB® (FRANCE - SWITZERLAND - ITALY) - around 166 km long with 9 400 m of elevation gain, mostly self-supported - 46-hour cut-off – starts Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:30pm from downtown Chamonix – a maximum of 2300 racers allowed
  • CCC® (COURMAYEUR-CHAMPEX-CHAMONIX) : 3 countries – around 98 km long with 5600 m m of elevation gain, mostly self-supported - 25-hour cut-off – starts Friday, August 28, 2009 at 9am from the center of Courmayeur – a maximum of 1800 racers allowed
  • SUR LES TRACES DES DUCS DE SAVOIE [TDS] around 106 km long with 6600 m of elevation gain, mostly self-supported - 30-hour cut-off - starts Saturday, August 29 at 5am from Chamonix – a maximum of 1200 racers allowed
  • LA PETITE TROTTE A LEON  [PTL]  (FRANCE - SWITZERLAND - ITALY) – around 245 km long with 21,000 m of elevation gain, completely self-supported - Starts Tuesday, August 25, 2009 à 10pm from downtown Chamonix - Cut-off: Sunday, August 30 at 4:30pm (114 h maximum). A non-stop, non-competitive race open to 60 inseparable teams of 3.

The start of the Mt Blanc Ultra-Trail - Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire

The UTMB started smoothly and swiftly, with the Spaniard Kilian Jornet (last year's winner) leading. As night fell, a light rain came down and a thick fog rolled in, making the course hard to follow. Armed with a good knowledge of the course and wearing a MYO RXP on his head, Kilian calmly held on to the lead all the way to the finish line.

Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet - Photo (c) JP Clatot

A stampede in the pea soup: the racers came together to keep from getting lost and a long procession of lights forms, as headlamps become key for safety on the trail.

Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire

When weather conditions take a turn for the worst, having the right headlamp becomes crucial. Pascal Bourquin, on his third UTMB, was equipped with the ULTRA : "At the Col du Bonhomme, it wasn't fog but snow that we had to go through... With the ULTRA on high, I could see the ground well and be sure-footed. Because of that I was able to pass around 100 racers, who were missing the trail markers. Many of them even slipped in behind me so they wouldn't get lost."

Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire

Without the extra power of the ULTRA BELT (350 lumens), the MYO RXP ( 85 lumens) with its 150 lumen Boost mode was still enough deal with this crucial section.

Seb Chaigneau (2nd), ran with his MYO RXP but nearly regretted his choice, having loaned his ULTRA to his girlfriend who was competing in the CCC®. The Japanese Kaburaki, (3rd in the Men's), almost got lost in the fog. He lost 20 minutes around Courmayeur. "But Japanese never give up," he said with a smile. His wanderings gave him a chance to get to know his new friend Seb Chaigneau better. "We met up at the Col de la Seigne to avoid getting lost. And we hardly ever separated until we neared the finish line," laughed Sébastien, who felt the pressure of the Japanese racer most of the way.

Kristin Moehl
Kristin Moehl - Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire

The inclement weather made it hard for everyone. Monica Aguilera (3rd in the women) lost 40 minutes at the Col du Bonhomme trying to find the trail in the thick fog. Working hard to make up the lost time, the last 50 km were particularly rough for her. The same misadventure for Lizzy Hawker: she got lost several times before getting back on track, but not before letting the American Kristin Moehl pull ahead to victory. Six years after first winning the UTMB®, Krissy "ran one of the best races of her career." With 10 ultras under her belt, Krissy finished this race in total control. "In six years, the UTMB® has really changed. The race has gotten huge and is completely different from the first year. Having Lizzy right behind me helped me to focus on the trail and my body," explained the American.

Ultratrail Mt-Blanc - Photos (c) Pascal Tournaire

At 4:30pm on Sunday, the UTMB® closed with 1382 runners making it to the finish line. It took many of them 2 nights to get to there. Fortunately, visibility on the second night was better.

Congratulations to all the race organizers and runners and here's to a smooth recovery! We'll finish with this quote from Dawa Sherpa after he threw in the towel on the first night: "I didn't have any strength left in my arms or legs. I was on empty and it didn't make sense to continue under these conditions," he said with a smile. "Running has to be fun for me..."

See you back next year for more fun...!

After 42 hours on the race, Jean-Luc is psyched to be close to the finish line! - Photo (c) Lafouche

For more information, results and news from the race visit the official race site. open

UTMB 2009 Men

Kilian JORNET                         21.33.18   Salomon ESP
Sebastien CHAIGNEAU            22.36.45   The North Face FRA
Tsuyoshi KABURAKI                22.48.36   The North Face JAP

UTMB 2009 Women
Kristin MOEHL                             24.56.01      Patagonia USA
Elisabeth HAWKER                     26.04.42       The North Face UK
Monica AGUILERA VILADOMIU    29.17.31       ESP
CCC 2009 Men
Jean-Yves REY                         11.40.47    NIKE SUI
Nikolaos KALOFYRIS                12.15.35    GRE
Ludovic POMMERET                 12.34.20    Quecha FRA
CCC 2009 Women
BEGUE Chantal                        16.51.00     FRA
PENSA PATRIZIA                      17.10.17    ITA
ARRIGONI GIULIANA                 17.11.39    ITA
TDS 2009 Men
BOHARD Patrick                      14.01.48     Asics FRA
SAINT GIRONS Thomas            14.04.40     Asics FRA
POWELL Alun                          14.40.23     UK
TDS 2009 Women
Fernanda MACIEL                      17.17.43    The North Face BRE
agnes HERVE                            17.38.16    TEAM OUTDOOR  FRA
Kim GAYLORD                          18.11.45    The North Face USA
41 MORD’FIN: Cyril CHOSSAT, Pascal MORFIN, David ALLOUARD  79h24