Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) is synonymous with trail running and is often touted as the big show of ultra events. Altra New Zealand athletes will be lacing up for the festivities, with Cecilia Flori and Weston Hill racing this years 101km CCC and Nancy Jiang tackling the 53km OCC. West gives us a run down -
Chasing the skyline with Nancy and Cecilia recceing the CCC course
A quick download on what this UTMB tom foolery is all about with a plethora of acronyms...
The UTMB event hosts a whole range of races from the 300km PTL gravy train to the explosive YCC 15k kids race. The premier event's, race around or partially loop the highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc. Circumnavigating the mountain range, the trail scales passes and traverses valleys to finish in the French mountain town and trail mecca of Chamonix.
The event has been the stomping ground of many kiwi ultra badasses such as Scotty Hawker (11th UTMB '17) , Varjin Armstrong, Ruth Croft (1st CCC '15) and The Guise. It has become a pilgrimage for trail runners the world over.
This year Cecilia and Weston will be towing the line for Altra NZ at the CCC (Courmayeur - Champex - Chamonix, 101 km +6,100 m). The race starts in Courmayeur, Italy, and warms up with a 1500m+ climb, then traverses Grand Col Ferret before dropping into Switzerland and Champex Lac. A few more decent climbs and a rapid descent into Chamonix. Three countries, 1900 runners, Ultra Trail World Tour series round, total ascent equivalent to 9 ISMC's (International Standard Mt Cargill's)
Cecilia Recently smashed the Western States 100mile taking out 5th Woman
Italian born, New Zealand claimed, Cecilia is hot off an incredible 5th at Western States in California and is in flying form. Her running goes from strength to strength and she will suit the steep climbs and predicted hot temperatures. Making the most of her time in the alps, she has been scouting the UTMB course and has hinted at eyeing the miler in the future, watch this space.
Scouting the final ascent in the CCC before the trail drops into the valley and Chamonix below
I will also be running the CCC this year after a number of Sky running races this summer in Europe, including an 11th at the Olympus Marathon. Theres nothing like racing in the alps and I'm looking forward to getting in the deep end and giving giving it a good crack.
Nancy shredding trails in the French alps
Nancy will be racing the OCC (Orsières - Champex - Chamonix, 53 km +3,300 m) which starts in Switzerland and is a fast and furious course with solid climbs and plenty of rocks and undulation to keep it honest. Two countries, 1200 runners, yodelling optional and a total ascent of +3300m.
Warming up toward the World Mountain Running Champs in Andorra later in the year, Nancy has been refining her running prowess, training and living in Tignes, in the French Alps. The steep climbs and fast decent's of the OCC will suit Nancy's strong style, and love for bombing fast technical trail.
Not long now, going to be an exciting week!
The OCC starts on the 30th, with the CCC following on the 31th August