Ultra Trail - Tour du Mont Blanc

North Face have organised the first race around Mont Blanc on 30/31 August of this year.

Entire race is 150km starting and finishing in Chamonix, France with 7200m (equivalent to running up Mt.Everest starting from Katmandu) of positive climb and the same amount of downhill. There are also two intermediate arrival points in Courmayeur, Italy (67km) and Champex Lac, Switzerland (112km). The winner took 20 hours with second place in 22 hours plus.
The same race will be run again in 2004 at end August.
Any loonies out there wanting to have a go?
I'm kind of thinking about it but am also terrified at the idea.
Anyone done anything like this?
Any idea of what kind of training would be needed, apart from running lots of ridiculously long distances?


  • have trekked this one but as for running it - NOOOOOOOO!!!!

    I think the unofficial solo record for this is about 18 hours??
  • Could be since there was very bad weather this year during the race with rain storms etc and consequent muddy conditions.

    Great views all the way round. I think that I've already seen all of them at one time or the other but never one after the other - have to admit though that most of the great views would be missed due to running / walking in the dark.

    I figured that since the winner got round in 20 hours that means 7,5 k an hour. I'm pretty sure that 5k an hour is a reasonable target, therefore 30 hours plus a few rest hours would make it 33-35 hours or thereabouts.
  • Ha! I just happened to be there at the finish as some of the competitors came in, after about 22 hours and 150K in the pissing rain. I suppose they looked quite good considering what they'd been through (i.e. they were still alive...)
  • you're barking mad you know

    yeh - the views over the cols would be great but the red mist over the eyes would hide them. bet they don't do the Fenetre d'Arpette detour!!!

    if you do decide to do - look forward to the report

    I know two guys who did the bike equivalent (via Barrages du Roseland, Petit and Grand St Bernard) and took them 24 hours.
  • Have you got a web address for it?
  • hmmmmmmm

    and there's always the transalp MTB stage race
  • Caspar, you can get there through www.northface.com. Click on events and a list of reports on crazy things comes up including Tour de Mont Blanc. At the bottom of the Tour du Mont Blanc report there is a link to the official race site (not very good or informative to tell the truth).

    Doesn't anybody have any idea what kind of training is needed for this?

    In any case I want to train for some other shorter races of this kind which willl take place next summer. The Trofeo David which is a marathon in the mountains arriving at a high point of 2800m. The Trofeo Kima - 48km with three passes over 3000m and various climbing/scrambling bits. My local Ecomaratona - mountain marathon with 1700m of positive climb.

    I need a training programme though.

  • i guess you need a pretty serious hill programme.

  • Hmmm now that DOES sound interesting....

    I would guess hill running training will be as important as long distance running especially strengthening the quads which always get totally mashed in long mountain races.

    whats 150k in real units of measurement? 100 miles?

  • ok worked it out, its about 93 miles.
  • you're all barking mad
  • 93,75 in your very funny, rather quaint way of measuring distance.

    fbf - we're only talking about it - nobody has said they're actually going to do it.

    I don't think that the only problem would be the quads - though they would as you say get very mashed. There's also feet to be taken into consideration, especially if the conditions are wet. Also shoulders since you have to carry a small rucsac with some essential gear and emergency rations / water. Uphill is also heavy on the calf muscles whether you run or walk.

    Still no training advice!!!!!
  • I would be tempted by an event like this, not saying I'd fair well at it but the course does appeal.

    Personaly I would look to keep to a basic ultra distance trainig schedule- something along the lines of what Timothy Rainey was doing for the 100 track race if I was city based (which I am) and where ever possible- (at least once a month) I'd do weekend long cross country trails and be out on my feet for 6-8 hours a time for say sat and the sunday.

    I'd incorporate mountains where possible- when I trained for the MDS this year running (mmm not quite!) up and down Snowdon proved invaluable.

    I would also look to enter a couple of 50 milers to practice being oput on my feet for over 10 hours.

    Also start to run with a rucksac from time to time (initially with 2-3kg) and build up to 5kg.- Again this help to build up legs and back strength which are all required after going fr so long in an extreme environment.
  • complete madness still just thinking about it

    now if conditions were right and there was good snow to valley level - maybe a ski version?? that would be interesting.
  • Actually this looks like a very tasty event indeed!

    I am thinking about doing the grand union canal (Birmingham to London) in May so this could be on the agenda.

    I am not making any firm decisions for a couple of months thouhg as I need to tend to a few injuries and I also want to do an ironman so everything is up in the air.
  • woops - actually that was a devious lie- it is about the chamonix high marathon- but will gives an idea of what to look forward to ( or have nightmares about)
  • The Mt Blanc Ultra will not be as steep as this one (I know that route and the track up from Trelechamp is very steep and narrow) and the main climbs will be wide and well marked. But sooooooooo long.
  • I am VERY tempted by this one. Hmmm sounds to me as though firemonkey is slowly but surely talking himself into it......................
  • Yeah, the track up from Trelechamp is a real killer. I've done it many times both with and without climbing equipment on my back. As you say Dick the climbs on the Tour are wider and less steep as well as being well marked but it's a hell of a long way especially if the weather is not perfect. And that could mean rain and fog on one hand or hot as hell on the other.

    I' m not sure if I'm talking myself into it but it sounds like hill runner and Caspar are also seriously considering it.
  • I have never been to the region and would love to go.

    I have put this on my list of events for next year (I have about 12 so far and will choose 3 of them I think). I do want to do an ironman next year and some other ultras.

    I have to wait to see how the next couple of months pan out before making a firm committment- apart from anything I am injured at present and cant run, so I need to see how than will pan out.

    I have emailed them to find out when they are taking applications for next year. If I dont do it next year I reckon 2005 would be a definite.
  • Caspar, could you post on this thread when you find out what date it is taking place next year? That would be great thanks.

    Yep firemonkey, youve sold this one to me. Like Caspar, if not next year then 2005.

    There seems to be 3 different length races on offer so I suppose the option is there to try the shorter option one year to see what its like and then go back the next year.
  • out of interest.. where u based caspar ?
  • I'm not sure if you have to declare which of the three lengths you're aiming to do when you enrol or indeed if there is any difference in price.
    In any case you always have the option of dropping out at either of the two intermediate arrival points (67 and 112 km)from where, I imagine, they have arranged transport to take you back to Chamonix - either that or they stick you on a bus, after having first giving you a medical check and something to eat. I believe they also have mattresses to sleep on if you arrive in the middle of the night (that would be in Switzerlad at 112km rather than in Chamonix at 67km seeing that the race starts at 04.00 on Saturday morning).
  • hillrunner - for sure

    ed m- London but I get around-

    ps- well done on the 24 hour, how was it?
  • it was.... .... ... .. . . . good mostly :)
  • fm - not been on the site yet - which way round are they doing it - clockwise or counterclock? I guess that will also make a difference in the severity of the climbs.
  • Clock or counter depends where you're looking from. Let's say standing in Cham looking at Mt. Blanc, it's counterclock i.e. Cham - Les Houches - St. Gervais - Queen Elisabeth Hut/Miage - Val Veny - Courmayeur - Val Ferret Italiano - Val Ferret Swiss - Champex Lac - Trient - Cham as a rough idea though I don't know the exact route.
  • www.ultratrailmb.com seems to have a lot of race info firemonkey.
  • Thanks. I'll give it a look.
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