Category Archives: trail running

Kneesocks Without Irony – Ultra Trail Mont Blanc 2011

UTMB 2011

An 'easy 1.8km wide trail'? So tell me again what all the fuss is about?

The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc is back and once again Chamonix is filled with men in tights and incredibly ripped women. I mean seriously, every other week of the year it’s the other way around but for some reason during this particular week the tables are turned. Go figure.

UTMB 2011

Or perhaps more appropriately... Hitting the wall.

And for those who have ever wondered what it’s like to run the race here are a few vids that do a good job of talking you through the entire course including what kind of roads you’ll be on, strategies to use for different parts of the course, and key waypoints to look for so you don’t get lost.

UTMB 2011

...and take a sweater, just in case

These vids take so much of the guesswork out of it that it almost makes you want to run the race. Almost…

The schedule for the weekend:

Friday, 26 August

10:00 Courmayeur – depart CCC (98km / 5600m climbing / 1800 runners / 26 hrs max).

16:00 Chamonix – first finishers of PTL (300km / 22,000m climbing / 80 teams of 2 or 3 runners / 138 hrs max)

17:00 Lacs des Gaillands – Ultra Sieste du Mont Blanc (the ultimate alternative to the UTMB. Bring a hammock, chaise longue, eats, drinks, music, games, and a sense of humor).

18:30 Chamonix – depart UTMB (166km / 9500m climbing / 2300 runners /

21:45 Chamonix – first CCC finishers

Chamonix centre ville – tedious blathering and mundane soundtrack blasted over the sound system all night long. Earplugs highly recommended for those trying to sleep within a 20km radius. For those who thought they could escape the deluge by fleeing to the other end of town, race organizers have thoughfully placed speaker systems cranked to 11 along the high street.

Saturday, 27 August

15:30 Chamonix – first UTMB finishers

Chamonix centre ville – tedious blathering and mundane soundtrack blasted over the sound system all night long. Lock firearms and large knives in a safe place and throw away the key. After being relentlessly tormented by the teeth-grinding Chariots of Fire soundtrack for the past 24 hours you’re going to want to kill somebody if not yourself.

Find all the beta on the UTMB website.

***UPDATE*** Teaser Tuesday: Chamonix Adventure Film Festival 2011

climbing film

Corey Richards having an adventure in the film 'As It Happens'.

Wednesday, 24 August 9:00 p.m. 

***Free screening – Salle Olca, Les Houches  – 21:00***

Ever Last & The Love Letter – 4 + 14 min. “An insight into the life of Krissy Moehl, 2x UTMB women’s champion.”

As It Happens – 16 min. “Renan Ozturk & Cory Richards attempt to establish a new technical alpine route on 6,498m Tawoche in Nepal.”

On a Marché Sous le Pôle – “Eight explorers and a husky are dropped 60kms from the geographic North Pole, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Their aim is to make the first filmed report from below the ice shelf.”

Mo’ beta at

Friday, 19 August 7:00 p.m.

Dark Side of the Lens – moody 7-minute surf film.

Life Cycles – 47 min. of amazing cinematography and mountain bikes

Arctic Speed – 10 min. Exploring the Polar Circle on skis and by speed riding.

Dream World – 8 min. Documentary on free-runner Jason Paul

The Wild Line – 20 min. Four speed riders, a mountain guide and a cameraman travel to China to attempt the first speed ride descent of 7546-metre Mustagh Ata.

Azadi Freedom – 27 min. This film takes a look at Kashmir in the wake of the violent militant insurgence of the 90s, and the current rise in tourism thanks to skiing.

Skateistan – 10 min. “Film telling the story of two young skateboarders and their search for escape from the brutalities of war through skating.”

The Argentine Project – 10 min. “Three friends taking a trip and hoping to create a film with one bike, two cameras, and a few words of Spanish.

Saturday, 20 August 7:00 p.m.

Panik in Baffin – 2 min. ***Chamonix Homegrown!*** “Four girls head to Baffin Island in the Arctic Circle in April 2011 to ski couloirs and explore unknown territory.

Feel the Hill – 17 min. “The multiple disciplines of longboarding and the sense of freedom that comes with the sport.”

WildWater – 31 min. “A visually stunning feast for the senses… a new kind of adventure film – one where image, sound and ideas trump all else.”

Kilian’s Quest – 30 min. “Kilian meets his long-time hero and inspiration, Bruno Brunod, and travels to Greece to attempt a record on Mount Olympus

Climate of Change – 86 min. “In this rich and inspiring documentary, director Brian Hill takes us around the world to find the ordinary people taking action in the fight to save our environment.

Sunday, 21 August 7:00 p.m.

Solitaire– 15 min. Ski vid with Chamonix’s ‘American Dave’ Rosenbarger, JP Auclair, Will Cardamone, Johnny Collinson,  Jacqui Edgerly, Kip Garre, Elyse Saugstad.

Eastern Rises – 39 min. “An epic fly fishing journey to Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. What we found… big, beautiful, mouse-crushing native rainbow trout, super kudzha and bigfoot in Russia’s far, far east.

Second Nature – 14 min. Guys on longboards, blue suits and beards. “Winner: Best Extreme Sports Film at the 2009 Mammoth Film Festival! Winner: Best Short Film at the 2010 X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival. Winner: Best Sports Film at the 2010 Sonoma International Film Festival. Winner: Best Adventure Sport film at the 5 Point Film Festival in Colorado.”

Moonflower – 2 min. ***Chamonix homegrown!*** Teaser for Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker’s film of their ballsy ascent of the Moonflower Buttress on Mt. Hunter in Alaska.

Summit 4 Kids – 15 min. “Laura Bohleber, Marja Persson and Giulia Monego attempt to summit and ski three of the highest mountains in the Peruvian section of the Andes to raise money for disadvantaged children living in the Peruvian city of Cajamarca.

Vertical Sailing – 50 min. “Nico & Olivier Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Ben Ditto take us on their latest climbing and sailing adventure to Greenland in search of virgin big walls. Nine new routes on six big walls earned them a Piolet d’Or award.”

Suffer Well (UTMB remix)

I thought I’d had enough of this silly over-hill-down-dale scamper they call the Ultra Trail but then I saw some vids that did a darn good job of showing what these mentalists go through and so I thought I’d make one last post. But this is it. No more short shorts after this, I promise. Not on men anyway. If they happen to be subtly concealing the svelte hips of some kind of glamazon snow princess well then I guess I could make an exception… UTMB start, sunset, headlamps on. No picnic on the Ultra Trail. Cold, dark, wind, rain – Jornet Kilian at the top of one of the first passes followed by morning fog and finally … sunshine. Kilian crossing the finish. Homey doesn’t even look tired. Second and third place finishers Sébastien Chaigneau and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki still on the trail, looking strong. Story goes that Kaburaki got lost for 20 minutes in the fog before happening upon Chaigneau and finishing the race together.

Ultra Trail Beta, You Betcha

Only 100km left to go

Only 100km left to go

The Ultra Trail website is kind of a nightmare to wade through so I’ve compiled all the maps and profiles for UTMB 2009 races here in one easy-to-use reference. Allez Martina! Allez Crouse! Allez Terry!

CCC (Courmayeur, Cheztrey, Chamonix)

98km (61 miles)

5600m (18,373 feet) climbing

26hr max

1800 runners / 1266 finished

start Friday, 28 August 10:00, Courmayeur centro

Jean Yves Rey (SUI, Nike)                    11h 40m 47s
Nikolaos Kalofyris (GRE)                     12h 15m 35s
Ludovic Pommeret (FRA, Quechua)  12h 34m 20s

Chantel Begue (FRA)                             16h 51m 00s  (79th overall)
Patrizia Pensa (ITA)                               17h 10m 17s   (94th overall)
Giuliana Arrigoni (ITA)                         17h 11m 35s   (96th overall)

Courmayeur Champex Chamonix

Courmayeur Champex Chamonix

Courmayeur Champex Chamonix

Courmayeur Champex Chamonix

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie)

105km (65 miles)

6700m (21,982 feet) climbing

30 hour max

1200 runners / 480 finished

starts Saturday, 29 August 5:00, Chamonix centre ville

Patrick Bohard (SUI, Asics)             14h 01m 48s
Thomas Saint Girons (FRA, Asics)  14h 04m 40s
Alun Powell (UK)                                14h 40m 23s

Fernanda Maciel (BRE, TNF)           17h 17m 43s     (26th overall)
Agnes Herve (FRA)                             17h 38m 16s     (32nd overall)
Kim Gaylord (USA, TNF)                   18h 11m 45s     (44th overall)

Sur les Traces de Duc de Savoy

Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie

Sur les Traces des Ducs des Savoie

Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie

UTMB (Ultra Trail Mont Blanc)

166km (103 miles)

9400m (30,840 feet) climbing

46hr max

2300 runners / 1383 finished

Starts Friday, 28 August 18:30, Chamonix centre ville

Jornet Kilian (ESP, Salomon)               21h 33m 18s
Sébastien Chaigneau (FRA, TNF)        22h 36m 45s
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (JAP, TNF)            22h 48m 36s

Kristin Moehl (USA, Patagonia)          24h 56m 01s     (11th overall)
Elisabeth Hawker (UK, TNF)               26h 04m 42s    (18th overall)
Monica Aguilera Viladomiu (ESP)      29h 17m 31s      (55th overall)

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc

PTL (Petite Trotte a Léon)

245km (152 miles)

9,400m climbing (30, 840 feet) climbing

60 teams of 3 runners each

started Tuesday, 25 August 22:00 Chamonix centre ville

Chossat, Morfin, Allouard                     79h 24m
Mirabaud, Banegas, Fournier               86h 25m
Joie, Louon, Salmon                               86h 25m

La Pettite Trot à Léon

La Petite Trotte à Léon

La Pettite Trot à Léon

La Petite Trotte à Léon

And They’re Off! … (their freakin’ heads)


Let the suffering begin. The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) officially kicked off Wednesday night at 22:00 with the start of La Petite Trotte à Léon. Amidst a blaze of flashing lights and cheering crowds the racers took off into the darkness as the sky unloaded and the cold rain began hammering the runners on the first leg of their 245km (152 miles) course with 21,000m (68,897 feet) of climbing to look forward to.

The Petite Trotte is a non-competitive event for a maximum of 60 teams of three runners each, at least two of whom must have previously completed the UTMB. The race description states:

-Each 3-man team must stay together throughout the event.

-The course follows a mapped path that may not be signposted

-The course is 100% trail running with less than 5km (3.1 miles) on pavement.

-Paths are clearly more difficult than those of the UTMB and can present objective dangers (very steep slopes, falling stones, very narrow paths, and risk of getting lost on very faint trails).

-Teams must finish before Sunday, 30 Aug at 16:30

-Runners are completely autonomous with refreshment and rest available only at the mountain refuges that are passed along the way. Personal assistance is forbidden.

-The course is often above 2,500m (8,200 feet), far from any refuge, and in case of poor weather conditions can become extremely tough.

-There will be no assistance on the ground other than that supplied by the mountain refuges.

Hmmm, surely I wasn’t the only one to get a sinking feeling in my stomach as I watched the lightning and remembered back to this past June when three competitors died overnight from exposure at a race in Mercantour.

Four Races

ultra-trail5000 runners will be competing in four races in this year’s UTMB on courses ranging from 98km to 245km. All competitors will be issued a chip that will be scanned as racers pass through checkpoints every seven kilometers (4.35 miles). However, as in Mercantour, the problem is what happens to the racers between checkpoints, which is one of the reasons competitors are required to carry a mobile telephone with a fully charged battery to which storm warnings can be texted to the racers based on their position.

Rescue and health professionals on hand include PGHM, CRS, mountain rescue, firefighters, doctors, physiotherapists, podiatrists, nurses and volunteers – around 1400 people in all. In addition a Race Control will be set up in Chamonix for the duration of the event and will continuously follow the racers. In case of emergency the team will be able to phone Race Control and speak with a doctor for diagnosis and advice on field treatment. If they need to see a doctor they must reach the next village. If the team finds it impossible to move they can alert Race Control and emergency services will be notified.

Obligatory equipment per person
– 1-litre minimum water supply
– Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries
– Mini survival blanket (140×210 cm)
– Whistle
– Mobile phone with international option
– Sleeping bag
– Clothes:
o breathable T-shirt
o two breathable and warm undershirts with long sleeves
o a long-sleeved fleece
o goretex jacket
o long tights
– Sun glasses
– Gloves
– Hood
– Altimeter and compass
– Knife

Obligatory equipment per team

Road-book (instructions and map of the race) provided by the organizers

– a bivouac tent  big enough to enable a team of 3 to take shelter
– a rescue pack (see below)
– a digital camera

Highly recomended
A GPS on which the maps given by the organisers will have been downloaded.

Required by Customs authorities
– identity papers

Other equipment advised (non exhaustive list)
– camping stove
– trekking poles
– Goretex-style trousers
– additional clothes
– string, sun cream, Vaseline or anti-burn cream

In addition, a GPS/GSM tag is issued to Petite Trotte competitors that will send out an SMS every 15 minutes indicating the position of the team. This information will allow Race Control to follow the progression of the team as well as friends and family to follow on the racers’ progress on Google Earth.

Good luck, ladies and gentlemen. Let the hardest man win.