UTMB Points and the Search for the Golden Three

Confused about UTMB points? Well, fear ye not, Majell Backhausen is here to help explain it all to you in a form that is clear as mud! Having spent a lot of time studying French and just as much time visiting the country to eat cheese and drink lots of wine, I know the French has a penchant for their rules and regulations. They love them, and UTMB is no different. So if you’re ‘confuddled’ in any way about what you need to do to grab some precious points to gallivant in the montanes with 2,500 other people, have a gander at what Majell has to say.

There are threes things I know about this sport and its people.

We are all good at ultra distance running, we are all even better at talking about ultra distance running and there is the accepted fact amongst us, that some events on everyone’s dream list.

So much so, that these events can even shape an ultra running enthusiasts lifetime race schedule.

I will list a few and I am 60% sure you will agree with 100% of them UTMB, West- ern States, Hard Rock, C2K, TDG, UTA, Kima Trophy, HURT100, TCC, Matterhorn Ultraks, B2H, Kepler Challenge, Tarawera Ultra…. the list is Ultra Long and its growing.

The offering is growing and so the original criteria for entry in many of these races is changing too.

Western States for instance, used to have 50 milers as qualifying races, but now it’s the pretty much all 100km and 100milers.

With UTMB used to be a possibility with only 7 UTMB points for an application, now it is 9. Our very own UTA is now on the Ultra Trail World Tour, which calls for an even quicker mouse click when entries open, due to huge demand!

The two things I love about this scenario. Firstly, people everywhere are discover- ing this underlying ability to be able to complete ultra marathons and enjoy it and secondly, there are new races opening up in all corners of the globe, for us to expand our exploration and enjoy.

I want to firstly explain the UTMB 9 point equation quickly, before it is set to change again!

Race organisations can apply to be a qualifying race for UTMB. Their event is then evaluated based on its distance and vertical gain, as the main factors. Events can be awarded a minimum of 1 point or maximum of 4 points.

For UTMB the points required to apply for the ballot = 9, but these can only be obtained from a maximum number of 3 events.

This can be either in the form of: 4+4+1=9


Oh, sorry, it’s already changed again… This sport is Growing FAST!!

In conjunction with ITRA, the organisation of UTMB has now introduced a new evaluation criteria for ultra distance events and it goes like this:

Evaluation Criteria: Endurance

Scale of 1 to 6 Points

Derived from the formula and scale of: Distance (km) + Vertical Gain (m) / 100

With the resulting figure being scaled as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 8.25.21 AM

Mountain level

Scale 1 to 12 points

Equated from the evaluation of the events percentage of slope, the longest continual ascent and the average altitude of the course.

It is the ‘Mountain Difficulty’ of the course.

Finisher criteria

This is linked to your individual ITRA Performance Index value and the event finish ing cut-off time.

This new evaluation criteria is great because it helps runners, who may be unsure if they can complete and event in the required cut-off time.

The evaluation gives the ITRA Performance Index value required to be able to finish the race within the event cutoff time. So participants can compare their own current value to the Finisher Criteria value and use this to gauge their ability to finish the race within the time limit.

So with all this in mind
UTMB will soon, require 15 Point for entry to the ballot. Again these can only be obtained from a maximum number of 3 events.

This can be either in the form of:

6 + 6 + 3 = 15
6 + 5 + 4 = 15
5 + 5 + 5 = 15

So if we take The MesaStila Peaks Challenge, an event with bite in Central Java, Indonesia. It’s stats for the races the event offers are:

100km Option

Distance = 100.9 km
Elevations Gain/ Loss = 7900m / 7900m

Old Points = 4 New Points = 5

65km Option
Distance = 65.3 km
Elevations Gain/ Loss = 4610m/ 4610m

Old Points = 2 New Points = 4

42km Option
Distance = 43.5 km
Elevations Gain/ Loss = 2730m / 2730m

Old Points = 1 New Points = 3

All these options can be used as one a qualifying race for UTMB (of its sister events for the festival, CCC, TDS or OCC)

I was fortunate enough to explore the route for the MesaStila Peaks Challenge and it is one race not for the faint hearted. Summiting 5 Peaks all of which are volcanoes and hold some ridiculously fun and scary gradients!

It touches on the second point I mentioned about the growth in this sport. The ability to explore and search further a field for experiences. It is not always easy, I can understand that, but it is good to know that it is possible and something we can all plans for.

Keeping ahead of the game and understanding the requirements for entry into these epic events, will ensure you can enjoy them at some point in your ultra career.

Also knowing what options there are when the preferred race is out of reach for the year, can keep you in prime position to tow the start line of your bucket list race the following year!

It will also bring an exciting new destination to your playground!

For further info on this article you can visit the ITRA website for your Performance Index Value.

Or check out the MesaStilla Peaks Challenge at their website.

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Majell Backhausen
Majell (pronounced My-al) is an Australian International Ultra Distance Runner who wants to explore the world, meet great people and prove himself in the mountains.

You’ll either find him behind a BIG plate of veggies, running in the mountains, talking about a positive life or cycling around town.

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