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A picture of the new Europaweg route from Zermatt to Grachen opened in summer 2021

Aug 22

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A picture of the new Europaweg route from Zermatt to Grachen opened in summer 2021

Europaweg: new GPS routes 2021 – Grächen to Europahütte and Zermatt

UTMR Admin

Yet again the Europaweg changes its route! This time it’s been improved to make an easier climb towards the Europahütte with less time on the old Europaweg balcony routes, but still plenty of nice scenery. You can download the GPS track (and Google Earth KML file below).

A picture of the new Europaweg route  from Zermatt to Grachen opened in summer 2021
The new Europaweg route opened in summer 2021

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Latest Posts

Oct 28

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Julien Gilleron

Wider Mag journalist wins Grächen Berglauf

UTMR Admin

Wider Magazine: posts and articles following UTMR throughout 2021. Final publication about Grächen Berglauf.

Julien Gilleron
Julien Gilleron accepting a khatta from Lizzy Hawker
Wider mag UTMR grachen berglauf


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Mar 02

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Children's running race Grachen, Switzerland

Rangliste Grächen UTMR 2019 Kinderrennen

UTMR Admin

A big thank you to all of the children who stepped on to the start line for the 2019 Kinderrennen event at the UTMR in Grächen. It was 100% effort from the start to the finish as you might expect if you’ve ever seen a children’s running race.

There were two distances, 2 km and 900m starting on the village square.

A big thank you to Stefanie Zenklusen and Reto Tröndle for managing route logistics, marshals, and timing; to Saskia and the Grachen Tourism office team for registrations; and to Sacha Mijatov as MC, motivations and more. Of course thank you to all of the young runners for participating.

See you in 2020 for more short distance, ultra-effort racing!

 

Children's running race Grachen, Switzerland

Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, 2019, (c) alphafoto.com

 

Rangliste Graechen Kinderrennen 2019

Rangliste Graechen Kinderrennen 2019 as PDF file

 

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Feb 21

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Roman Evarts on his 2019 UTMR experience

UTMR Admin

Elite athlete Roman Evarts, 6th place in the 2018 UTMB, gives some insight into his experience at the 2019 Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. He is happily returning for the 2020 race. Good luck Roman!

You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/romans.evarts & follow his results on his ITRA page.

Choices, choices…

End of summer for many ultra-trail running enthusiasts is a time to lace up the shoes for a long and epic race. No doubts – the end of August or the beginning of September is the best time to undertake some mountainous 100 miles. It’s not steamy hot anymore and there is plenty of time during the summer months to run long and fun runs in the mountains in order to get ready for a big day.

Many of you are targeting UTMB and it definitely is worth trying out. It’s a very pleasant experience for those who are taking on their first 100 miler. Event trails are not very technical; there are plenty of checkpoints with rich food selection and even sleeping options in the middle of the distance. But the best thing about UTMB is the handful of fellow runners around, who can give you a mental boost and cheer you up during your low moments. Or kill you with their pace – yes. Be smart when looking for friends on trails!

I have done UTMB twice. The first time I went there with little expectation, not much training and most of the race I was enjoying the company of the French speaking people with having no idea what they were talking about. Finishing 35th, I realised that I need to do more than 6 weeks of training beforehand and maybe learn some French. My second attempt in 2018 went better and I finished 6th. That’s it, no more UTMB for me, as I have explored the same trails twice and took part in the competitive side of the event as well. Time to move on!

UTMR became my 2019 choice as it met all the criteria I set for a 100 milers:

  • Not during the hot summer months (I hate running in the heat)
  • In the Alps (the best location for me)
  • Technical (tripping over and stumbling is the way to go)
  • Steep (I like to power hike)
  • Circumnavigate course (I love to make rounds)
  • Easy to enter (I can’t stand deciding about the entering 6 months in advance or planning some qualifiers)

 

Everything sounded great and the fact that race director Lizzy Hawker claimed that the course is more demanding than UTMB’s route sounded even better.

The UTMR race 2019

Grächen, a little Swiss village high above the valley leading to Zermatt and legendary Matterhorn, is the starting place of UTMR.

Runners line up in the local community building to get bibs and pass the equipment check. This race doesn’t have the excessive hype of the UTMB and most of the people are super relaxed and very friendly: they are here to have a good time rather than beat the sh*t out of other people in order to get recognition and potential sponsors’ attention.  I got my number “69” and was ready to go eat and sleep before a 4 am start.

After a great night’s sleep, me and another few hundred enthusiasts are ready to find their way around Monte Rosa. The race will take us to Italy and back to Switzerland circumnavigating the hiking loop around one of the biggest collection of peaks in the Alps. Start bell rings and we are off. I am leading the race with a few other guys; among them Brit Damian Hall, who finished just a couple of minutes before me the previous year at UTMB and he is definitely one of the strongest contenders here. We are 15 km in and there is a first big climb. I am dying at this point – my legs are useless and don’t want to climb a steep hill.  All others are pushing hard and they are leaving me behind alone in the darkness. Fighting my way up I reached the top when the first sunlight started breaking through – but wait a minute – where is the sun? The entire valley has been covered in dark thick clouds and a bad weather front was approaching very fast. I got a few raindrops and some snowflakes in the next hour. At least it’s not hot.

Next stage was a rolling technical trail traversing the mountainside for about 20 km. Fun running on technical terrain got me back in a racing mood and I felt excited. Maybe overexcited. I tripped over a big stone and landed on my knee. Knee was bad before the race – swollen and full of liquid – I smashed it two weeks prior. Well, my running routine was always taking me to the kind of terrain where tripping and stumbling skills are essential. I took time for a little cry and situation reassessment. The knee was still swollen and got upgraded with a bloody wound. Trying to carry on was a good decision, as the wound wasn’t that bad and after I limped a few hundred steps I was back in shape to jog again. After I ran across the world’s longest suspension bridge I forgot about my bad knee.

40 km in I approached Zermatt. My support team was there with all delicious treats and goodbyes, as Zermatt was the only place we managed to organize transportation to.

Monte Rosa’s round is tricky in terms of logistics and I highly recommend sending all necessary food/equipment with the drop bags to the km 82, 102, 128. Even if you have a support team with a car they might not make it in time to meet you at the checkpoints.

Zermatt is a holiday destination and mostly famous because of great views of the Matterhorn, an epic peak at the backdrop of the village. If the skies are clear you can see it from everywhere in the valley. During our race the weather wasn’t that great and I’m assuming nobody saw the Matterhorn that day. Even the run up to 3300m didn’t provide us with any glimpse of the mountain. That particular climb from Zermatt to Teodulo, (the hut at the border between Switzerland and Italy) was steep and with a glacier on it. We put on our micro-spikes and spent some good 40 min traveling up the glacier chatting with another runner Jason, who caught me on the way up.

runners crossing theodul glacier, Tour Monte Rosa

Glacier crossing!

Italy welcomed us with a ray of shy sunshine and some epic views down the valley. We ran down Cervinia’s ski fields and I felt some extra boost of motivation after having a few pieces of flapjacks at the next checkpoint. I welcomed my racing mojo back and thought that it might be time to put some pressure on the front pack. I felt really great for the next 30 km of the distance and even rain didn’t kick any drop of motivation out of me.

When I arrived at the Gressoney checkpoint (km 82) I saw Damian, who was walking around in his pajamas. Right, I thought, as a real Brit he probably became afraid of miserable weather and decided to pull out. Turned out, that the race officials had made the decision to stop the race expecting snowstorms at the next stages of the race.

Ok then, what next? Yes! The first thing that every runner should do is to pretend that he is very sad about that decision: “The race only began for me and I was saving the energy for the last part of the race”. Right. Everyone was happy to finish. 82 km is a good chunk of running and personally I was very happy to finish the race and get my weekly dose of Nutella in one go. All of the finishers spent a great time together waiting for the transfer back to the Grächen; cheering newcomers, making new friends and enjoying delicious food. I loved that time more than time on my feet. Ok, probably I am not a real runner.

A 100 miler is a big commitment and most of us spend months and months building our fitness towards that specific goal. It’s normal to be sad about somebody’s decision to stop the race when all you want is to be out there trying your best. Unfortunately mountains are not the Italian mafia that you can deal with using your communication skills, connection or money. Mountains are going to kill you even if the race organisers have all the money in the world or can perform strange weather rituals involving Siberian Shamans and Pandas. (All the rituals with Pandas always work.) A good call to stop UTMR 2019!

Definitely you are not going to be high-fiving thousands of strangers at the finish line as at UTMB. But you are probably going to make a few new friends, as the vibes at the event are very friendly and very relaxed with plenty of time and opportunity to talk to other runners in for the challenge.

But you have to train. UTMR is hard and more technical than UTMB. You cannot run downhills here with your eyes closed – that’s for sure.

You don’t have to worry about qualification points and ballot results. The race is still a few years from being overcrowded and the bibs are easily available.

You can choose a few other options beside 100 miles to explore the trails and area:

–        Run 100 miles in 4 stages as a multi-day race

–        Run 100 km race, part of the ‘full tour’ course

–        Run 23 km, great for support crew members after the main event

2019 winners!

Advice: You must take the mandatory kit and do consider taking the recommended kit suggested by the organisers in addition. The second part is in cold, dark and big mountains and an extra warm layer can save your motivation and maybe life.

You don’t have to worry about micro-spikes, if they are required (depending on the glacier conditions) the organisers rent them for a little fee before the race.

For all the reasons I mentioned above, and mainly because I like completing rounds and unfinished business, I’m going to be back there in 2020. I’m looking forward to better weather and views of the Matterhorn this time! Hope to see you there!

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Oct 01

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UTMR in Trails Endurance Magazine

UTMR Admin

Thanks to photographer Hervé Le Gac and Trails Endurance for taking the time and effort to cover Ultra Tour Monte Rosa 2019 and brave the unfortunate weather conditions we faced.

We hope you will come back for more of the sunny days we more often expect!

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

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Aug 22

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Map of new europaweg route

Europaweg new routes from Grächen to Europahütte

UTMR Admin

This route has again been updated and the new GPS track for the Europaweg 2021 is here.

Map of new europaweg route

https://www.graechenberglauf.ch/europaweg/

The Europaweg from Grächen to Europahütte has changed since August 2018. A new route has been opened in June 2019.

The new route has two variants, one harder, one easier. 

All of the following information is for reference only and comes with no guarantee!

Variant one

First walk out of Grachen to the south on the way to Herbriggen.
It’s pleasant to walk along the Wasserleitungen rather than the paved road / path to Gasenried. As you approach Mattsand, you have the choice to follow the variant one or two.
Variant one takes considerable effort. The trail is quite narrow, with a lot of up and down, before it starts climbing steeply (1300m) to reach the old Europaweg route with great views. In July and early August, there are water sources on the route.

Variant two

Variant two adds a pleasant flat x on the valley floor! You can make good progress on easy flat trails while enjoying the splendour of the valley around you.

The climb from Randa to Europahütte is about 900m on a well made and well marked trail. It is easier than variant one. It misses some of the views and the high mountain feel of the old Europaweg, but the views from the terrace of the Europahütte remain exceptional.

See https://www.graechenberglauf.ch/europaweg/ for more information including gps tracks.

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Jan 10

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roman evarts utmb utmr

Roman Evarts chooses UTMR after UTMB

UTMR Admin

UTMB Podium Finisher chooses the 2019 UTMR 100 mile course for his next big challenge in order to keep focused, and to keep slim. He joins top 5 UTMB finisher Damian Hall and 11th place Petter Restorp.

roman evarts utmb utmrAfter last year’s UTMB, finishing 6th, I fulfilled my sporty ambitions and it was about a time to retire from the sport of Mountain Ultra Running. I was looking forward to a bright future and a great lifestyle with no extra energy wastage!

I’ve been off the running for a few months and guess what: I am almost faced with a need to upgrade my wardrobe to a XXL size. No surprise for a man who is highly appreciating high sugar and carb diet as a daily nutritional plan. Frustration about getting oversized rose up and I started looking for motivation to start moving again. No running this time!

Playing some ball game would be ideal, I thought. But it turned out that all my old football buddies became useless, as the only football they are doing nowadays is the PlayStation football. “Bummer!” But that’s ok; it was a great opportunity for me to put all the old habits aside and try something completely new.

Unfortunately to jump on a new wave routine wasn’t easy, as I came to the point when from the few option I had to choose between MMA fighting and CrossFit. As my last kickboxing tournament 20 years ago left me with a half damaged brains I decided to go for CrossFit.

Long story short: to keep up with athletes from this sport I found I would have to spend most of the time shirtless and drastically improve my selfie taking skills. As I am well known for the worst selfies on Instagram – the right decision for me was to give up this intention.

As you can imagine after all these adventures I’ve been in a bad mood and was taking extra dosage of ice-cream to get myself back from the dark hole. So the circle been closing and again I found myself sitting on a rooftop in Nepal looking for a big mountain race where I could take my running shoes for a walk.

The UTMR 100 miler has been on my radar for couple of years. I know the area and have been on some parts of the course, but never had an opportunity to have a see how the whole loop around Monte Rosa looks. The awesomeness of the area, the competitiveness of the next edition’s field and the right proportion of the miles vs elevation gain was the indication for me to enter without any doubts. For anyone who missed the UTMB lottery, this is a great, but hard, alternative.

This definitely will keep me moving and give some extra motivation to be out in the mountains during the summertime. But now I am out to have more ice-cream, as the signing up for the race doesn’t mean you have to start training straight away!

roman evarts trail running in Nepal

See you in September!!!

 

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Dec 10

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Petter Restorp chooses UTMR 170 km, the full tour of Monte Rosa, for 2019

UTMR Admin

Petter Restorp has joined UTMR through our programme for elite runners… Restorp finished 11th in the UTMB this year in a very respectable 23:34:35 and is looking for a new challenge for 2019 as he explains below.

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Petter Restorp Dolomiti Extreme Trail.

Photo: Andrea Sagui / Dolomiti Extreme Trail.

I ended my 2018 season with a full month of rest. Instead of running I went climbing in Spain, France and Italy. Staying away from the trails was sometimes difficult but it gave me time to reflect on the past years’ competitions, remembering the best moments and learning from the mistakes. It was also the perfect time to plan for the future.

The race should not, however, be an easy one. I want to have to doubt my own performance. I want to feel overwhelmed, go through the hard times and finally get out on the other side.

To do a long race in the mountains is a big experience. It is a long journey both physically and emotionally and leaves you with a memory to carry with you for the rest of your life. Given that you have to invest a good amount of time in training and preparing for it, you better choose a race that you really would like to do. And there are many races to choose from, all with different lengths, elevation profiles, types of trails and more.

Petter Restorp running UTMB

I was looking for a challenge for the main event of my 2019 race calendar: a race that can take me high into the mountains on winding narrow trails with striking views. A race where I can journey into remote wild places, reconnect temporarily with civilization in some picturesque village before climb back up again.

The race should not, however, be an easy one. I want to have to doubt my own performance. I want to feel overwhelmed, go through the hard times and finally get out on the other side.

When I discovered the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa I immediately knew that it is the race I was looking for. I have never been on the trails around Monte Rosa, but the high peaks in the area are iconic and finisher times from the past editions tells me that it is brutal enough.

I also get the impression that the organization is very professional and surrounded with less of the commercial circus that you can find in some other big races.

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Jul 29

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Why Monte Rosa Ultra

A bucket list ultra – Why choose Ultra Tour Monte Rosa?

UTMR Admin

When people enter for the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, the ultra trail race around the massif of Monte Rosa, we ask them to tell us why they entered, with this question.

Of all the races in the world, why did you choose to race the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa?

And here are the answers!

Massimo Scribano

Because i think that this race is a real tough race and not just a commercial one.

Sarah Hansel

I ran Tor last year and have been having a hard time finding another race that might live up to my experience there. A number of people recommended this race to me; it looks rugged and wild and incredibly challenging, and not as crowded as UTMB.

Hans Schmid

Love the Alps (especially under sunny conditions). UTMB too busy, expect UTMR to be more intimate and to my liking.

Kristian Gotsch

Because of it being in unique surroundings and not too big in terms of runners.

Svitlana Lavrenchuk

The scenery, organisation and the course.

Trent Ribaczkow

The course looks brutal and beautiful, while still having the charm of not having huge crowds and commercial popularity. The perfect recipe for personal growth.

Rasmus Braad

Route description. mountain terrain. cheap flight ticket to Geneva.

Lee Kit

Simply because it is very tough while the scenery is splendid!

Emil Nordh

No crowds on the trail and for the surroundings!

Rory Mitchell

Beautiful scenery, tough but rewarding trails, and glowing reports from everyone I know who’s been before.

Sergio Alla

Because the view and the challenge.

Frederik Burger

I love the Alps and having done the CCC twice this seems like the next step up. Aiming to one day do the full UTMR & UTMB. I’m typing this sat on a bench (having a coffee) before heading up on Stafal-Gabiet ski lift!

Rob Cain

Looks like a beautiful part of the world, and a challenge. What could be better!

Start line ultra tour monte rosa

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Oct 27

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Alternative to UTMB ultra trail

Alternative to UTMB – a comparable European 100 mile race

UTMR Admin

“What is a good alternative to UTMB – Ultra Trail Mont Blanc?”

The internet is a great place to prefix a great product’s name with “Alternative to” to find a way to either find something cheaper, simpler, as yet ‘undiscovered’ and quieter etc. Especially the case when the product in question is sold out!

With ultra trail races, no different. UTMB, the classic European 100 mile bucket list foot race, is always sold out and with a lottery for places, plenty of capable runners are looking for an alternative race each year. As Roman Evarts advises below, don’t cancel your 100 mile plans, switch to a similar race and “just keep on working towards a big 170 km event.”

Alternative to UTMB ultra trail
Two great mountain tours.
Here’s some 2018 feedback from Andre Lauhoff 

“In January I was disappointed after not to be drawn in the UTMB lottery, but now I know it was the right and even better decision to participate the UTMR. I found joy with fantastic people in non commercial environment where all is about passion for ultra mountain running. This 4 days in Grächen with my first 100miler were very special for me and I will thank Lizzy, Richard and all runners, all volunteers, all spectators for this. Please keep the race at it is.” link

To help those looking for an alternative to the UTMB, here are some opinions from runners who know both UTMB and UTMR courses, which might help. Don’t agree? Give your opinion below in the comments box!

Jason Poole

I’ve been fortunate to finish some really amazing races in many parts of the world.  This includes finishing the Hardrock Hundred five times, Tor des Géants, Ronda dels Cims, UTMB, Zugspitz and many more.  I can honestly say that the UTMR is one of my absolute favorite mountain running races of all time.  It offers up such a diverse mixture of terrain and topography, not to mention postcard-worthy views of some of the most famous and recognizable mountains in all of Europe.  The race is very well organized and offers just enough support, yet not so much that you can’t let your guard down while out on the course.  Coming from Colorado in the USA, I was very impressed with everything the UTMR offered.  I highly recommend this race as a great alternative to larger, more extravagant races.  You won’t be disappointed!

  • Jason Poole UTMB® 2011 32:27:54, General ranking : 81, Category ranking V1 H : 26 / UTMR 2017 39:22:17 15th / V 5th

Brian Melia

brian melia utmr runner ultra
Brian Melia, UTMR 2017

UTMR 2017, 2nd Veteran Male 39:00:33, 13th overall

You could say that UTMR is an alternative to UTMB, however it is so much harder mentally and physically. The climbs, the technical parts…. it is so different. However, it is 170 km and not too far away so if you fail a UTMB entry it is certainly alternative.
You do get a rude awakening though, not far from the start… 💪💪😢🇮🇹❄️💥

[i.e. there is a big climb beginning 2 km after the start, which leads right into technical mountain trail…]

  • Brian Melia UTMB® 2013 29:24:05, V1 H : 28 / UTMR 2017 39:00:33 13th / V 2nd

Denise Zimmerman

dennise zimmerman ultra runner at utmr with Lizzy Hawker
Denise Zimmerman, UTMR 2017

UTMR 2017, 2nd woman 38:47:55

UTMB is a very famous and nice, popular race. It is well organised and marked, and the course is very nice. UTMR is a smaller race and it is very familiar [friendly]. The organisation is good. The aid stations are a little bit small for the big distance. The course is great and for me it was nicer then the UTMB course, but much more technical and so much harder then UTMB. I took much longer then UTMB [to finish]. (UTMR 38:47 vs UTMB 31:00)

For me both races were great!

  • Denise Zimmerman, 2nd Woman UTMR 2017, UTMB…31:00:03 in 2016 and finished also in 2015, 2012, 2011, 2009
UTMR 2017 Gill Fowler Credit_Lloyd_Belcher
Gill Fowler (c) Lloyd Belcher

Gill Fowler

UTMR 2017, 4th woman 41:33:23, La Sportiva Australia

I think UTMR is a fantastic course! It has more appeal to me than UTMB, because for me the mountains are more spectacular, the terrain more challenging and the trails more technical.

It is a great alternative, but it depends on the person. I think they need to be a confident and strong runner/walker. UTMB can cater for a wider range of participants.

I also really like the size of the event, and am happy being in the mountains by myself, and don’t need to have spectators snd fanfare, but if a runner wants this, maybe this is not a good alternative.

It is the extra challenge of UTMR that makes it more attractive. I loved UTMR and I hope to be back.

  • Gill Fowler 2013 UTMB finisher, 28:50:30, 6th female.

Roman Evarts

Roman Evarts UTMB alternative
Roman Evarts training near the Annapurna Range, Nepal

In my opinion Ultra Tour Monte Rosa is the best possible alternative to the UTMB for somebody if the person had a working long term plan towards 100 miles and failed in the UTMB entry lottery. Both events are only one week apart and there is not much needed to reschedule the season’s goal. I would recommend to all those who are saying due to failure in the UTMB lottery: don’t say “well, maybe next year”, but just keep on working towards a big 170 km event and give it a try on Monte Rosa’s trails. It will be the best option for you to test your mental and physical abilities in a big race. You will gain a lot of experience and will learn new things about your body and mind. With all this you will take a huge boost of confidence and conclusions with you to your next training block towards UTMB.

UTMR doesn’t have as much hype as UTMB does, but if you don’t care about being into the Brazilian Festival-style mood then go for Ultra Tour Monte Rosa without any doubts and regrets. The trails and views around Monte Rosa are awesome!

  • Roman Evarts is from Latvia but trains in Switzerland(UTMB 2017 35th EVARTS Roman  24:58:48)

100 mile ultra in stages!

Remember another alternative to UTMB or UTMR is to race 100 miles / 170 km in 4-stages. Before the UTMB the course was run in stages apparently. The advantages are many: run in daylight hours, stay in mountain villages in comfortable hotels where you can eat well and socialise with other competitors, and you still cover the distance getting to run each stage harder or more fluidly that you would as an ultra.

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