By Amit Mehta Pre-Race Interviews

UTMB – Ultra-Trail Mont-Blanc

In the realm of trail races, it simply doesn’t get any bigger than Chamonix, France’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. This breathtaking event for trail-runners from all over the world started in 2003. Each year the elite of the trail-running world find themselves in Chamonix alongside almost 10,000 runners from 87 countries spread among 7 races; the claim is hard to dispute.

For many runners, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) has iconic status, appearing on countless bucket lists. There are longer races and those with more elevation (Italy’s Tor des Geants is 330km long with 24,000m of ascent); courses with more difficult conditions (Badwater, in Death Valley, USA, takes place in temperatures of over 50C); and running events that go on for longer (Morocco’s Marathon des Sables takes six days). But the UTMB has something particularly special about it, with a distinct cachet for ultra runners. The course itself has to be one of the most breathtaking settings for a race in the world. You run in the shadow of Mont Blanc, you reach 10 summits, you cross rivers & glaciers and you run in three countries. Three countries! Now that’s a long run. Most participants will run through two nights, which means they’ll get to see the sunrise over the range twice in one race. Not many people get to experience this in a lifetime. Mont Blanc itself is a symbol for human endeavour – known as one of the most deadly mountains in the world, its scale and difficulty has fascinated adventurers throughout history.

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc event offers seven races:

1. The UTMB (Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc, 171km),
2. The CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix, 101 km +6,100 m),
3. The OCC (Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix, 53 km +3,300 m),
4. The PTL (Petite Trotte à Léon, 300km + 28,000m, to be completed in teams and unsupported),
5. The TDS ( Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, 119 km +7,250 m)
6. The YCC (Youth Chamonix Courmayeur, 15 km +1,100 m for 16- to 19-year-olds.)
7. The MCC (Martigny-Combe Chamonix, 40 km + 2,300 m)

This year, a few Unived Athletes will be toeing the line of UTMB, CCC, TDS, and OCC. Here is a list of some of their big accomplishments from 2018 and how they have been training for the upcoming big race!

Hayden Hawks

After spending most of the summer in Europe, Hayden is back in Utah and will travel to Chamonix to race UTMB-TDS. This year, Hayden started the winning 2nd place at the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge (a staged race). He then raced the 62k MIM race at the Trail World Championships-ITRA were he took 1st place. Hayden’s win at  Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120K has set him for his next race, UTMB’s TDS.

Charli Mckee

This 2018, has been good for Charli. She had a PR at the Moab Red Hot 33k early on in the year. She later took 3rd place at the Antelope Island 25K, and 4th in the Speedgoat 25K. Charli’s main race for the year is  UTMB’s OCC. 

Harry Jones

Harry has had quite a full racing schedule for 2018. He won the Cordillera Mountain Ultra 50km followed by the Sungai Menyala Forest 50K where he also won. Later he traveled to Australia for the Ultra Trail Australia 100K where he placed 3rd. As preparation for UTMB’s CCC, Harry raced the Eiger Ultra 100K in Switzerland placing 7th.

Henrick Westerlin

After living in India for a several years, Henrik is now living in Zurich, Switzerland. In 2018 Henrik achieved a personal best at the Zürich Marathon. Henrik has also raced a few local races in the Alps the 4th place in LGT Liechtenstein Half Marathon (4th place), the Gondo Marathon, and also participated at the European 24hr Championships. This year, Henrik will be racing UTMB’s CCC.

Paul Giblin

Currently living in Chamonix after spending a few a months in USA, Paul finished 9th at Western States 160k and for the second year in a row finishing in the top 10. Earlier in the year, Paul once again raced at the Istria Ultra Trail 160K, where he won the race. He is now preparing to toe the line the main UTMB race.

Scotty Hawker

Scotty this year to the trail at Lavaredo Ultra Trail where he placed 19th. After Lavaredo Scotty has been training for UTMB and hopes to have a strong a performance just like last year where he took 11th place.

The UTMB races this year will commence from 27th August to 2nd September 2018. The TDS race starts on Wednesday, 29th August, the OCC on Thursday, and CCC and UTMB race start on Friday, 31st August.

For all those who will be running the UTMB races this year, keep it light and positive. If you never attempt the ascent, you’ll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side!

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