No sooner does it feel like the trail and ultra season is coming towards a close for 2011, than a little email pops up in my inbox last night reminding me of the fact that I have a guaranteed entry for the Ultra Tail du Mont Blanc in 2012. Having been unsuccessful this year, the guys at UTMB have a great system whereby you are guaranteed entry for the following year. Entries open on December 16th and run through until January 9th 2012 before the lottery is then drawn.
The chances of gaining entry to UTMB are considerably higher than most of the US trail races, with the success rate pitched at around 67%. The reason being for this is that UTMB accepts in the region of 2,500 entrants, compared to the few hundred of most US 100 milers, and for the most part this is a major attraction we feel for a lot of runners – the almost festival-like atmosphere that it produces.
There are four races to choose from as part of the whole festival of running, but really, if you’re coming over from Australia, there is only one box to tick 🙂 You also need to be aware of the qualifying races too, to gain entry into the race. A large number of the big Aussie ultras are indeed qualifiers for UTMB, including the Glasshouse 100s, GOW100km and The Great North Walk 100s. So do check to see if you have the necessary qualification before you get all excited about a mountain 100 miler.
I know a few Aussies have been over to France and competed in this race, and having been a regular to the ski fields of Chamonix from when I used to live in the UK, I know just how much of a wonderful area it is.The race runs through three countries, France, Italy and Switzerland and has some of the toughest yet beautiful scenery you could imagine for a race. If you’re thinking of doing UTMB, I’d certainly advise heading over the ditch to NZ and having a crack at the Northburn races too. Being on mountainous terrain, this is excellent preparation for the large mountains you’ll be climbing over in France. At Northburn you’ll have some great 4-hour climbs straight up the mountains in the Otago range and it too is a beautiful place to run.
For UTMB, we feel that there will be more additional interest this year we feel too after the rather large US drop-out rate that saw pretty much all bar a heroic death-march from Hal Koerner DNF. Surely these guys will want to come back over and put right the misgivings of their trip from this year and put up a serious challenge to the likes of Kilian and Francois D’Haene for a top spot. Given that Kilian effectively took out pretty much all before him last year, there will be a whole host of runners wanting to take him off his top dog placing and to certainly beat him in his own backyard.