Courtesy of UTMB INTERNATIONAL Media Service

UTMB® MONT-BLANC – the World Summit of Trail Running

The 16th edition of UTMB® MONT-BLANC took place from August 27 to September 2, and for the first time broke the symbolic barrier of 100 nationalities represented in terms of runners registered for the event.

Sixteen countries were represented by more than 100 runners. China (the largest non-European contingent at the event), Japan, and the United States boosted their presence with 385, 269, and 246 runners respectively. Not to be outdone, South America also sent a large contingent from the four corners of the continent, with Argentina (122 runners) and Brazil (114 runners) leading the way.

UTMB® MONT-BLANC 2018 featured winners from all over the world on all its races with 8 different nationalities represented, a first in Chamonix.

The victories of Erenjia Jia on OCC® for men and Miao Yao for women (CCC®), 2nd place for Min Qi on the CCC® men confirm the rise of China in the world of trail running.

Our warmest congratulations to all these great champions, including Xavier Thévenard – who joins François d’Haene and Kilian Jornet in the number of victories of UTMB® – and Francesca Canepa who brilliantly won the queen race UTMB®.

Creation of USHUAIA by UTMB® in Argentina

Among the South American countries present, Argentina has the most registered runners for the UTMB® MONT-BLANC. It therefore makes sense to organize the first South American event “by UTMB®” in this country.

In line with its ambition to organize events all over the world, the UMTB® International team has just officially formalized an agreement to create a new, truly extraordinary event, USHUAIA by UTMB®, in partnership with the event promoter South American Sports Company, the Tierra del Fuego Province, and the Argentinian government.

For the first edition of USHUAIA by UTMB®, from April 5-7, 2019, runners will explore the wilderness trails of Tierra del Fuego, a province located at the southern tip of Argentinian Patagonia. The event will offer several distances to run, including a 130km ultra (7700m of vertical gain). Each challenging course winds its way through the incredibly beautiful and wild landscapes that trail runners worldwide dream of – subantarctic forests, glaciers, lagoons, ridge crests, and rivers – in a sometimes thrilling natural environment where one often experiences all four seasons in a single day.

With its airport just a 3-hour direct flight from Buenos Aires, the city of Ushuaia will host the start and finish for every race, as well as all event festivities. The world’s southernmost city and the official capital of the Tierra del Fuego Province, Ushuaia is located along the coast of Beagle Channel, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Registrations for USHUAIA by UTMB® open in October, 2018.

Gustavo Santos, National Minister of Tourism, Argentina

“Major international sporting events, such as USHUAIA by UTMB®, offer excellent opportunities to promote our tourist destinations around the world,” said Argentina’s Tourism Minister, Gustavo Santos. “Photos and videos of our wonderful landscapes will be widely circulated in the media and on social networks, while runners will become our tourism ambassadors when they return back to their home countries. In addition, the arrival of runners and spectators at the chosen destination triggers the productive engine that promotes tourism, which contributes directly and indirectly to creating genuine and sustainable jobs.”

Rémi Duchemin, CEO of UTMB® International, stated, “With a presence in China since last March, November’s upcoming event in Oman, and then Tierra del Fuego in April 2019, UTMB® International keeps its promise to inspire by offering trips to spectacular destinations, while always guaranteeing an extremely high-quality event. 

It’s so exciting to organize a breathtaking ultra distance race where the vast, high-mountain, alpine landscape plunges straight down into a unique stretch of water where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. Being in one of the most remote corners of the planet is more than a simple marketing claim since no other international sporting event has ever set foot here. Following Gaoligong in the mountains of China, and the Hajar Mountains in Oman, it is Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego’s turn, legendary place names and for good reasons. Grab a world map and run your finger directly east or west from Ushuaia, and the next time your finger hits land will back in Ushuaia!”

Next stop, OMAN by UTMB® on November 29, 2018

The journey continues with the launch of OMAN by UTMB®, the second event to receive support from UTMB® International in 2018 and organized by Oman Sail. The first UTMB® event in the Middle East, OMAN by UTMB®, explores the incredible terrain of the Hajar Mountains, including a section near Jebel Akhdar. An easy flight from Europe or Asia, Oman is one of the top 4 safest countries in the world according to the World Economic Forum, and along with the capital city of Muscat, is considered a must-visit destination by National Geographic and Lonely Planet.

The creation of OMAN by UTMB® has generated considerable interest among the world’s trail running elite, especially by American runner Jim Walmsley, the current world leader in the ITRA rankings, and Lithuanian runner Gediminas Grinius, who won the first GAOLIGONG by UTMB® last March. OMAN by UTMB® will be honored to welcome other leading runners like Meredith Edwards, second in the TDS® in 2016, Jason Schlarb, winner of the 2016 Hardrock 100, Samantha Chan, the higuest profile female runner from Hong Kong as well as Diegos Pazos, the extrovert Swiss athlete also known as the ‘bow tie trail runner’

David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail, stated, “Oman enjoys a hospitable culture, natural beauty, an unspoiled coastline, and, of most interest to UTMB® International, the highest and most diverse mountain range in Arabia. Joining the UTMB® International family means hundreds of athletes will now have the opportunity to embark on a unique and legendary experience. The event this coming November is a first step on an exciting journey, with an enduring legacy for local communities residing along the route. For next year, we have already mapped a longer 100-mile route that includes Arabia’s highest peak, Jebel Shams. We look forward to welcoming the world of running to the country.”

Michel Poletti, Founder and Technical Director for the UTMB®, was involved in designing the 137 km and 7800m vertical gain course. “I had never before run in a place like Oman. The landscapes are truly spectacular, the mountains incredible, and the people so friendly and welcoming. I took the time to travel through Oman, and the country has a lot to offer visitors. It is a very safe place and there is so much to do that the entire family will enjoy the trip.”


GAOLIGONG by UTMB®, see you in 2020 for the 2nd edition

The first edition of Gaoligong by UTMB®, which took place from March 9-11, 2018, proved a resounding success, with 2000 participants from 24 countries. After just one edition, Gaoligong by UTMB® has established itself as a major event on the Asian trail-running calendar, as well as the standard-setting race for the continent. The Gaoligong Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site, were the theater for an incredible race between China’s best trail runners and the current international elite. The event also proved quite the achievement for race organizer Exploring Group, whose overall strategy is to develop trail running throughout China.

Local authorities have provided their stamp of approval for the event’s 2nd edition, which will be held from March 21-23, 2020. In the meantime, Xingzhi Exploring Group and UTMB® International will get right to work promoting GAOLIGONG by UTMB® 2020’s four race distances: MGU (160 km), RCE (125 km), THT (55 km), and the all-new TCZ (30 km).

Registration for the 2020 GAOLIGONG by UTMB® will open on March 20, 2019.

Ma Lin – Pavel Toropov, co-race directors of Gaoligong by UTMB® : “In 2018 we established GAOLIGONG by UTMB® as both a national and worldwide brand, putting this untouched, uniquely beautiful part of China on the tourist and trail running map. Next year we will work on improving the race course to make the 2020 event one of the world’s ‘must-do’ ultras, and continue building the legacy of GAOLIGONG by UTMB®.”

UTMB® International opens a subsidiary in North America

UTMB® International has officially created a North American subsidiary and opened an office in the Rocky Mountains. Let us not forget that trail running originated in the United States before growing on a massive scale in Europe and then Asia.

Alain Lambert, Executive Director in North America, stated, “Through the creation of a subsidiary, UTMB® International demonstrates its commitment to supporting, in the short and medium-term, the creation of a major international event open to all in North America. We are reviewing several projects, and will make an official announcement sometime in the next few months.”

Qualifying points

Beyond the adventure and exploration, OMAN by UTMB®, USHUAIA by UTMB®, and GAOLIGONG by UTMB® all offer a certain number of benefits to finishers who would like to participate in the UTMB® MONT-BLANC. For the long races, every finisher will receive six ITRA points that will be valid for three years (instead of two) for the UTMB® MONT-BLANC lottery. In addition, finishers will gain a year in the registration process: if they would like to participate in the 2019 edition of the UTMB® MONT-BLANC, every UTMB® event finisher will double their chances in the lottery if registering for the first time, or will be guaranteed a spot if they were unsuccessful when trying to register for the prior year’s edition.

Dates for upcoming UTMB® events:

–       OMAN by UTMB®: November 29, 2018

–       USHUAIA by UTMB®: April 5-7, 2019

–       UTMB® MONT-BLANC: August 26 to September 1, 2019

–       OMAN by UTMB®: Fall 2019

–       GAOLIGONG by UTMB®: March 21-23, 2020


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