If running 26.2 miles to complete a marathon seems like a superhuman feat to you, then running an ultramarathon that’s just over 103 miles in under 46 hours probably seems like asking you to do the impossible. Yet for those of you who run marathons like they’re your hobby, an ultramarathon probably sounds like a fun challenge.
The Mont Blanc Circuit Ultramarathon, or the “Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc,” will have you running through France, Italy, and Switzerland. If the distance wasn’t challenging enough, you’ll also be running over mountains — through the Alps. The pass over Mont Blanc follows the same trail that hikers take 9 days to complete, and it has runners climbing a total of 30,000 feet over the course of the race.
The Mont Blanc Circuit Ultramarathon is sponsored by the North Face (not surprisingly) and is limited to just over 2,000 competitors (though we can’t imagine that there are thousands of people scrambling over themselves trying to get a spot on this course).The route begins and ends at Chamonix in Southeastern France.
If all that weren’t enough, you can also expect to be racing in the wind, the rain, and even the snow. It will be cold, and it will be dark, and it will not be easy.
Though we think it’s safe to say that you won’t be signing up from the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc on a whim — this is no “Couch to 5k” — it still needs to be said that this is a race that requires months or even years of serious preparation. You should already be comfortable running long distances before you even begin to think about training for this, and you should preferably have a few marathons under your belt. The potential for serious injury is high, not only because of the very long distance but also because of the extreme conditions under which you run. It is recommended that you train with a professional for this race.
All that said, if you think you are up for the challenge both physically and mentally, the Mont Blanc Circuit Ultramarathon will land you major bragging rights. Check out this video for a glimpse into this one-of-a-kind event:
Best Time to Go
Unfortunately, you can’t decide when to run this. The 2013 race will take place on August 30. Registration is already closed, but you can still register for next year’s race, which will be Aug. 25-31. A pre-registration period will open on December 19 of this year.
Just completing this race is enough to give you bragging rights forever. However, if you really want to show off, you can work on making your time the best it can be. Top runners can do it in about 20 hours, but you have a time limit of 46 hours.
Of course, just entering also gives you some bragging rights. Not only does it show you were brave enough to try, but you also have to qualify to enter, so not everyone can.
Registration for the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is 160€. You will also have to factor in airfare and lodging, which can be an additional several thousand dollars, depending on where you are flying from and the type of accommodations you choose.
You need to come prepared for the race. Required gear includes a waterproof jacket and clothes to protect you from the elements, a head lamp for night running, a survival blanket and whistle. Though there are food and drink points every 6 to 10 miles, you’ll still need to bring water and sports gels or other snacks to make sure you are properly nourished along the route.
You can stash bags and supplies at points along the route, and at Courmayeur and Champex, you can collect a bag that you previously left at Chamonix (the race start).
To find out more about the race, and to register, visit the official website at http://www.ultratrailmb.com/accueil.php.
About the Author:
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching New Orleans cooking classes. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.
Top image via trailrunningsource