The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc® is just around the corner. The event, which hosts four of the world’s wildest and most extreme trail running races, will take place from August 26 to September 1, 2013. For the 11th time in as many years, runners will circle the Mont-Blanc range and cross through the three countries it lies in: Switzerland, Italy, and France. People experience a real connection with the mountains during such trying races. This feeling will be even more enhanced with the establishment of a dedicated environmental services team to ensure a leave-no-trace approach to the protected natural spaces where the races take place. So venture to the Chamonix Valley to cheer on the best trail runners on the planet.
Races that push the envelope
A group on the TDSTM
- The Petite Trotte à Léon (PTLTM) provides for a true team building experience as teams of two or three people run together throughout the entire race. Team members are there for each other through both trying times and thrilling moments, forging an unbreakable bond over the extremely long course. Participants cover 300 km and 20,000 meters of vertical gain on foot. This is the longest race of the weeklong event. The challenge starts in Chamonix on Monday, at 22:00 (10pm) and the last teams to finish will arrive in town on Sunday, at 14:00 (2pm). Teams must be self-reliant throughout the entire race since there are no aid stations nor outside assistance, though they have access to the mountain huts along the course. The itinerary is mapped out and all GPS coordinates are provided.
- The TDSTM (sur les Traces du Duc de Savoie) is a much shorter but very intense race, a true mountain adventure. The race requires a high level of mental fortitude in order to take on the challenging conditions above 2500 meters elevation. Only 1500 well-trained athletes will stand at the starting line. The general public usually comes out in droves to watch this race since the aid stations are easy to access. The race starts in Courmayeur, Italy, in the Aosta Valley region, on Wednesday at 7:00. The frontrunners will finish at around 22:00 (10pm) for the men and 4:00 in the morning for the women.
- The CCC® (Courmayeur Champex Chamonix) has long stood in the shadow of the UTMB®. Today, the CCC® is a highly sought out challenge in its own right for trail runners. With the top runner in the men’s category finishing in 11 hours 40 minutes and the top woman finishing in 12 hours 45 minutes, the CCC® is fast-paced with little time to rest. The course crosses over steep mountain terrain and is reserved for experienced trail runners. The race starts in Courmayeur on Friday, at 9:00. The frontrunners will finish at sunset.
- The Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc® (UTMB®) has set the world standard for mountain ultras, and is a little bit like the Olympic Games of trail running. Considered to be the most difficult trail race in the world, runners will cover 168 kilometers and 9600 meters of vertical gain during the 21 hour 30 minute race for the top runners in the men’s category, and approximately 25 hours for the women. Participants will spend two days crossing through the three countries that share the Mont-Blanc range. The race will start on Friday at 16:30 in front of the more than 5000 enthusiastic spectators present. Sunset and sunrise will provide unique and magical moments for both runners and spectators alike.
Magnificent landscapes along the TDSTM
A well-oiled organizing team
Staff present and available
For each race volunteers will be present and available at key spots all along the course to manage aid stations, providing assistance or water in order to support runners as much as possible.
To limit car traffic each race will provide public transportation to bring participants, their family or friends, or the general public to the starting line or to changes in the race course.
Given last year’s chaotic weather, event organizers have decided in 2013 to establish backup courses to ensure in advance viable alternate itineraries equivalent in length but well-suited for poor weather.
In the heart of nature
The organizing team has appointed environmental ambassadors to explain to racers how to properly respect the specific rules and regulations within the local nature reserves. They will ensure that both runners and spectators leave no trace on their respective courses. These ambassadors will take part in each race and will be equipped with the right gear in order to successfully carry out their mission: lightweight clothing, backpacks, trail-running shoes, Petzl headlamps…
Petzl and the UTMB
Event partner and assisting runners for nine years
Headlamp assistance allows runners to safely complete the night portion of the event. The assistance points provide the opportunity to replace headlamps and batteries if needed. In spite of the requirement to carry at least two lamps, runners are not immune to gear problems. In order to take on such a race without worry, Petzl recommends a few products specifically designed for night races in the mountains. The ULTRA RUSH, the NAO, and the MYO RXP are all headlamps that work well for trail running. The E+LITE performs well as an emergency backup headlamp.
During the TDSTM, assistance will be available in Les Contamines Montjoie on Wednesday night from 18:25 (6:25pm) to 9:00 on Thursday morning. Services will be provided non-stop throughout the night for battery or headlamp changes.
During the CCC®, headlamp assistance will be available non-stop from Friday, August 30, at 16:30 (4:30pm), through Saturday, August 31, at 3:00 in the morning. Caution, assistance staff will not be in Champex, but in Trient, Switzerland.
During the UTMB®, the first night from Friday, August 30, to Saturday, August 31, from 21:20 (9:20pm) to 3:30 in the morning, headlamp assistance will be available in Les Chapieux. For the second night, headlamp assistance will be in Trient and not Champex, from 20:50 (8:50pm) to 5:30 in the morning from Saturday, August 31, to Sunday, September 1.
Team Petzl’s trail runners are expected to be in top shape!
After placing third two years ago (2011) and following his recent victory on July 13 at the HardRock 100 Run in the USA, Sebastien Chaigneau will be back to run in the king of all mountain ultramarathons that is the UTMB®. He will be joined by fellow countryman and team member, Vincent Delebarre, who placed second in the Grand Raid des Pyrénées in 2012. The Chinese, Qing Gao, will also be at the starting line right next to the two Frenchmen.
For the TDSTM, Dawa Sherpa, who won the first UTMB® in 2003 and the TDS™ last year, is considered to be one of the major favorites for this year’s title.
The trail running expo, a cornerstone of the UTMB®
The Petzl booth will be in place from Tuesday, August 27, at 13:00 (1pm), through Friday, August 30, at 13:00 (1pm). We will present our entire 2013 headlamp line including all new compact lamps equipped with “Reactive lighting” technology that until now has only been used in performance headlamps. The classic and robust TIKKA and its R+ and RXP versions will be exhibited at the booth.
You will also be able to take advantage of advice from Petzl staff on how to program the NAO headlamp and on how to use the OS by Petzl software.
- Petzl's Trail running page
- Petzl's 2012 UTMB® Report
- The official UTMB website
- Follow each race on Ultratrail.tv