In 2012 I had the pleasure of reporting from The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc following The North Face athlete Jez Bragg around the course as he attempted to repeat his 2010 win. (Link to blog). In 2013 I'll be back but to attempt the CCC, a shorter version of the main event featuring a 100km route from Courmayer to Chamonix via Champex with 5950m of ascent
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Change of the UTMB route
From around 11:30am today by text and through a press conference at 2.30pm the UTMB organisers have explained their decision to modify the race route in response to the serious conditions in the mountains. 15 cm of snow has now fallen at 2000m and the UTMB route crosses two passes of over 2500m. The weather is also continuing to worsen so there is not the option to delay as they did in 2010. This is now the third year in succession that bad weather has had a significant affect on the event. The organisers were at pains to emphasis that they still wanted to give everyone a adventurous experience but that in line with the event ethos respect for the mountains and safety came first
The new route was devised almost from scratch last night as the weather forecasts got continuously worse. It now comprises 100km and 6000m of ascent solely in France making it very similar to the CCC although on more sheltered terrain. Briefly the route now follows the original route as far as La Balme before retracing it's steps to Contamine. It then goes directly to Les Houches, follows the Bacon Sud along the northern side of the Chamonix valley as far as Argientiere before returning to Chamonix along the valley floor. The race will now start at 7pm with the winners expected around 5.30 am and a cut off of 9pm on Saturday night
As an illustration of the severity of the conditions the runners will face the CCC experienced a dropout rate of 56% before the race was more than 5 hours old.
To continue telling the story of the challenge of the UTMB I'm still planning to blog the original route descriptions and videos in predicted race time but will interspace this with news of Jez's progress on the new route.