UTMB, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is the biggest mountain ultra in the world. It is a dream for most mountain ultra runners to take part and winning catapults any runner to trail stardom.
The race kicks off tonight at 6.00pm local time. It is 170km with 10000m of ascent – Everest is 8848 meters to put that in context. There are 2300 runners and a cutoff time of 46.30 to complete the course. The leaders should take approximately 21 hours to finish.
So, what are the thoughts of the international champions who have taken part (past or present) as UTMB 2016 gets underway? We look at their motivation and inspirations, reflections and even share some of their training tips.
Zach Miller – 2015 CCC Champion
“I’ve received many messages, emails, and words of encouragement from all sorts of people in the lead-up to UTMB, but this picture of a bulletin board from the school where my Mom teaches really hit home today. Thanks Mom!”
Rory Bosio, 2 x UTMB Champion
“I do not have the fortitude to run just for the sake of running. I like to use running as a way to escape from everyday life or to see a new place. Fitness is a great by-product. I choose races based on location rather than competition. If I’m running somewhere that inspires me, or I find beautiful, I usually have a better race anyway.“ https://www.theguardian.com/
Kilian Jornet, 3 x winner UTMB
“A great athlete is one who takes advantage of the ability that genetics have brought him in order to secure great achievements, but an exceptional athlete is one who can swim in the waters of complexity and chaos, making what seems difficult easy, creating order from chaos. Creative individuals search for chaos in order to explore all the places they can imagine beyond the frontiers of consciousness, following the irrational forces that come from within themselves and from their environment.” https://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Kilian-Jornet
Marco Olmo – twice winner of UTMB and Ambassador for IRUN4ULTRA
“It is very emotional to be back here because ten years has passed since I first won UTMB. I realise that the years have passed and that you have to be happy with what you have done before.”
Xavier Thevenard 2 x UTMB Champion
“UTMB is mythical because of its relationship to Mont Blanc. It is a place known all over the world and everyone wants to get closer to see what it looks like. And then there is the route itself that is very tough and physical. For purists, it’s something to do. Chamonix is the capital of mountaineering and all these make this race unique. I think this is how it will continue for a long time.” https://www.meltyxtrem.fr/
David Laney, UTMB 2015 3rd place
“Run the most technical trails you can find. Find steep rocky mountain ridges and steep rugged canyons that mirror the course you plan to race on. Get to a place where you can roll through really rooty, rocky or steep downhill sections. Find those trails that allow you to practice the more technical aspects of running. Do them again and again and again.The mountains are big and free and wild and powerful. Use those emotions to inspire your next race.” https://davidlaneyrunning.com/
Luis Alberto Hernando Alzago, Skyrunning Champion
“Everything is prepared and we are convinced that the third time is a charm!“ https://www.luisalbertohernando.com/utmb/
Lizzy Hawker, 2 x winner UTMB
“As a child I preferred to walk rather than take the bus and I just found moving under my own effort more appealing. By the time I came to run that first UTMB I was used to long days on my feet – mountaineering, hiking as well as running – and for a long mountain ultra like the UTMB ‘time on feet’ is good preparation.” https://www.independent.co.uk/
Jason Schlarb, 4th place UTMB 2015 and IRUN4ULTRA Ambassador
“I want to improve on my 4th place. I want to get on to that podium which is a very high ambition for a USA runner.One of our difficulties (in the USA) is that our mountains just aren’t as steep. We have the Rockies, but they are more characterized by switchbacks and there are trails there for mountain bikers and hikers whereas the Dolomites and the Alps are really sheer. I really attribute my fourth place to the fact that I went to Europe for three months to train. It made all the difference.” https://www.runultra.co.uk