What’s it like to compete in arguably the most demanding ultramarathon in the world, the UTMB race?
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is a single-stage mountain ultramarathon that takes place once a year on either the last weekend in August or the first weekend of September in the Alps. The race follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland.
The UTMB race is approximately 105 miles and has a total elevation gain of around 9,600 m. It is widely regarded as one of the most difficult foot races in the world, and one of the largest with more than 2,300 starters. It is one race during a week-long festival based around Chamonix in France.
You don’t just show up to a race like this, put on the best men’s running shorts on the market and run. It takes years of preparation to physically be able to do it, and you have to qualify via several other races to even set foot on the UTMB course.
Ruff Rd. founder Tim McGargill competed in UTMB 2017 and these are his thoughts just prior to the race.
“With just about 90 minutes before the start of UTMB, I find myself here — all the work is done. It was an amazing journey to this destination. I can only think of how grateful and fortunate I am to be in this position.
“It was two years ago I found myself in an aid station medical tent before the tallest climb of this race with a body that would not let the will prevail. While I did make it over that climb, my race ended shortly after as I knew was in danger.
“I have reminded myself of these events everyday for the last two years. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great people and family to help encourage and support this goal. I have made new friends that will last a lifetime. There is nothing more that I could ask for.
“Now I get to share this amazing experience with some of my family, the rest are here in spirit along with close friends, mentors, and mentees. Now it’s time to soak it in and as I have been told numerous times, “Just have fun!”
In part two, Tim shares the experience of running the race and what it felt like on the course.
Read more about us and how the brand of Ruff Rd. started out of a necessity by a runner, for runners.