Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a series of trail races that take place every year in Chamonix, France on the last weekend of August. The title event is considered by many as the top trail race in the world. Over 2500 runners take on the approximately 100-mile race through the Alps of France, Switzerland, and Italy. Spectators align the course, much like the Tour de France. Because the demand to compete in this event is so high, other races have been added. The list of Mont Blanc races with distance and ascent are as follows:
- UTMB: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (171 km +10,040 m)
- CCC: Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (101 km +6,100 m)
- TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (121 km +7,300 m)
- OCC: Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (56 km +3,460 m)
- PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (approx. 300 km +30,000 m)
- MCC: De Martigny-Combe à Chamonix (40 km +2,300 m)
- YCC: Youth Chamonix Courmayeur (15 km +1,100 m)
To qualify for the lottery for these races, a runner must have completed points in certified races. The point process will change for 2020. In 2019 there were over 26,000 applicants into the lottery for the 10,000 spots of all the races.
- To register for the UTMB, it is necessary to have a minimum of 10 points from a maximum of 2 races.
- To register for the TDS, it is necessary to have a minimum of 8 points in 1 or 2 races.
- To register for the CCC, it is necessary to have a minimum of 6 points in 1 or 2 races.
- To register for the OCC, it is necessary to have a minimum of 4 points in 1 or 2 races.
For 2020, UTMB has added running stones. This allows runners to enter the UTMB- Mont Blanc events without having to go through the lottery. The running stones are awarded to the finishers of international UTMB races.
The new 2020 qualifications for UTMB – Mont Blanc trail races
Portland trail runner Marya Van Metre is taking on the CCC race this weekend. We wanted to ask Marya what drew here to this event and how she got there.
1) Why did you start trail running?
I started running in 2009 after finishing graduate school when I was looking for a way to keep fit after spending my childhood/teenage years swimming. I started by training for a 5k, then a 10k, and eventually up to a marathon. While I was training for my first marathon, I heard about Forest Park, and ended up doing a few of my runs up there, and really enjoyed my time on the trails vs. the roads. I volunteered a few years at the Hagg Lake Mud Runs and really fell in love with the community. When I returned to running a few years after my (now 6 years old) twins were born, I felt drawn to the trails, and ended up signing up for my first 50k.
2) What have been your favorite races and trail runs?
I recently ran Volcanic 50, which I loved! Running around Mt. St. Helens is such a beautiful and iconic route. The other memorable run that immediately comes to mind was a run I did on Orcas Island that included the climb up to Mt. Constitution. There were amazing views at the top, and beautiful lakes down below.
3) Why did you decide to run CCC?
UTMB is one of those “bucket list” type events. I love watching the coverage of the races every year, and it always seems like such a fun “trail running festival” that I really want to experience. So when I saw that I had the points, I threw my name into the hat!
Marya and her kids on Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island
4) How did you qualify and what races did you run for CCC?
Last year you needed 8 points from 2 races, over 2 subsequent years to apply for the CCC lottery. I wasn’t purposely trying to collect points for any of the UTMB races, I just ran races I was interested in running but ended up with enough points with Mountain Lakes 100 (6 points) and Mt. Hood 50 (4 points). (I also had 2-3 points from several 50k’s which would have been enough as well.) The UTMB website is pretty great, and you can input your information there to determine which races you have qualified for.
5) How have you been training for CCC?
I have been focusing a lot on vert. I have read a lot of recaps that talk about the long and steep ascents, but most people say the hardest part of these races is the DESCENTS, so I have tried to focus on pushing the descents while power hiking the climbs.
6) What are you looking forward to with the trip and the race?
I’m really just excited to experience the whole event. We arrive in Chamonix on August 26th, which is the first day of the entire event, and I want to just wander around all the goings-on and soak in the gorgeous Alps.
7) What are your biggest fears about the race?
It’s hard going into a race without ever having seen any of the course in person. I’m used to doing races in my neck of the woods, where I can go out for one weekend and sneak a peek of what I’m in for. And, as with any new challenge, I’m worried about cutoffs. I’m usually ok, but I always have that in the back of my mind when I hit the starting line.
8) What is your trail running plan after CCC?
After getting a Western States qualifier last year, I really wanted to continue toward an eventual entry. CCC can be a qualifier if you finish within a certain time frame. I didn’t want to be too pressured beyond just finishing, so I ended up signing up for Javelina Jundred, so my running season will continue on through the end of October for 2019, but I have no plans so far for 2020, so TBD.