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Jason Poole Ultra Runner

Jun 10


Jason Poole Ultra Runner

USA Ambassador: Jason Poole

UTMR Admin


We’re delighted that Jason has offered to share his experience of the 2017 Ultra Tour Monte Rosa with anybody interested in learning more about the course from an American trail perspective. Here’s a little info about Jason and contact details. 

Jason Poole Ultra Runner

Jason became involved in endurance sports in 1987, primarily competing in long-distance mountain bike races. In 1996, Jason started adventure racing, long-distance orienteering and ultrarunning. For the past 16 years, his primary focus has been 50 and 100-mile mountain trail ultrarunning events. He has competed in world-class ultra events across North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, including the Tor des Géants, Hardrock, Barkley, Ronda dels Cims and the Eco Challenge. One of his all-time favorite events is the 170-kilometer Ultra Tour Monte Rosa (UTMR) in the Swiss & Italian Alps, which he completed in 2017. For more information on the spectacular UTMR, please contact Jason at: jasonpoole@hotmail.com or follow him on Instagram at @jasonmpoole, Twitter at @jasonmpoole or Facebook, Jason Poole.

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Latest Posts

Apr 03


Japan Ambassador – Shinobu Ono

UTMR Admin

小野 忍(おの しのぶ)



chamonixshinobu@yahoo.co.jp http://mountain-ma.com/katorisenko

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Nov 07


2017 Ultra winner Stone Tsang interviewed over the last kilometer

UTMR Admin

So exciting! It’s a tough race, very difficult. Very difficult.

It’s not a normal ultra race.

If you finish this race [you’re] very tough, the very long climbs up and do – so big – also the altitude,
and also the technical… it’s so technical my god! Unbelievable. It’s not just one or two sections. Maybe just one or two sections are runable, other sections are so technical. You need to focus the whole way, and your feet are suffering, so those things make this race so tough.

If people can finish this race, they are really a champion!


The good thing is the weather – so good – otherwise more difficult.

Ah finally!

I really slowed down on the last section. I really wanted to take it easy a little bit. So tough, I’m so tired.

Very beautiful race course. I think the stage race is fun.

[Lizzy Hawker, at the finish line:] You’re the first person (ever) to complete the race course.

Thank you!

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Jul 29


Italian ultra 100 km race checkpoint

Feedback from runners in 2017

UTMR Admin

While feedback is sometimes critical (and constructive) there is a lot of happy feedback from many race competitors. Here is a selection from 2017….

Basil Geoghegan

“The UTMR was awesome. Putting together a race on this terrain is impressive. I loved it. I have never run a stage race before. Standing in an Alpine village waiting for the clock to strike 6 and running until it strikes 6 again in another village is a great experience. The camaraderie and banter with other runners was better than my expectations.”

Thomas Naughton

“I loved the event.  I found that because for the stage races you are staying in hotels overnight, you are able to spend a lot more time with your fellow runners than you would if you were doing the ultra. Course is beautiful and I thought organisation was as good as I’ve seen it for an ultra.  Volunteers and staff were brilliant. One of the friendliest races I’ve been at (in terms of people). And one of the most brutal (in terms of terrain)!”

Brett Hochfeld

“I really enjoyed the race beautiful and brutal in equal measure. I loved your personal touch & prayer flags on the summits – it really added a special feel to the race.”

Janine Canham

“Loved having hotels to sleep in, real food for breakfast & dinner and bags carried for us!  Altogether a fantastic event.”

Dane Ryan

“This is my third year at the UTMR and I have really enjoyed being part of the race, it has given me focus, a goal and helped my running enormously. The course is challenging and beautiful and the volunteers friendly and helpful, the whole event has a informal almost family feel to it – which is great.”

Alan Wood

“Fantastic route, really enjoyed the stage race concept. Overall a fantastic event and extremely well organised given the logistical difficulties. I will definitely be recommending the race!”

Nicola Gover

“Great event, really well organised, incredibly well marked and lovely helpful volunteers at all times.”

Aleksandr Vikulin

“The trail is very beautiful. It deserves being run in daylight, so I really loved the staged format.”

Venetia Wingfield

“Still small enough to run in the wild and to make (and find) friends and a good spirit amongst participants and volunteers.”

Lotte Carritt

“Volunteers were always excellent. Always friendly, helpful and encouraging. A real asset to the race.”

Georgia Fane-Hervey

“This was one of the best and most breathtaking adventures I have experienced.”

Sophie Villance

“J’ai adoré cette course, le concept de 4 jours est vraiment génial, les paysages étaient magnifique et l’organisation était top, un tout grand merci!”

Barb Campbell

“The course was everything you promised and much more. I’ve finished many races of different kinds but few of them have felt like such a major accomplishment. it was a wonderful experience – spectacular, adventurous and fun.”

Tobias Hurter

“A great, unforgettable, very hard race. Please keep the personal atmosphere. I’m glad to pay a higher entrance fee to run in such a friendly atmosphere – no need for another overcommercialized mass event.”

Helen Cospolich

“I absolutely love this race!”

John Moreton

“I had one of the best, if not toughest runs of my life and loved it all. Thanks and see you all again.”

Derek Fish

“This route was outstandingly beautiful and extremely tough (which I expected).”

Sarah Gilliam

“A week on and I am still blown away by the amazing experience I had running the 170 km race.”

Beverley Redfern

“I thoroughly enjoyed this challenging race and thought the organisation was very good. All queries prior to the race were answered very promptly. This is a very beautiful and challenging race and I feel privileged to have taken part. I felt very well looked after.”

Spyridon Siakoufis

“I felt that you really love what you are doing and that is what I am looking for on these races. Thank you for the experience.”

Johannes Parkkonen

“It’s one of the most memorable and rewarding races I have done.”

Peter Hjelmström

“Great race in absolutely astounding mountains. Excellent and challenging race course. Although a major large race, the race organizers and volunteers made it a very personal experience.”

Philip Pearson

“Thanks very much for staging such a tremendous event. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The route and scenery would be hard to beat anywhere in the world and I met many lovely people over the four days.”

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Jul 03


Ultra Tour Monte Rosa route GPS

FKT of Tour de Monte Rosa – how was it?

UTMR Admin

On 29th July 2016, Lizzy Hawker completed a full tour of Monte Rosa solo, to “test the course”. Here is what she wrote back then in answer to five questions about the route.

Ultra Tour Monte Rosa route GPS

You started at the same time as the race will start next year, so passed around the route as a mid pack runner would. What should they look out for – what are the major challenges the Monte Rosa course will present to them?

A mid-pack runner will reach the top of the first climb out of Grächen and be onto the high balcony path of the Europaweg as dawn breaks. On this FKT I was alternately under and within a bank of cloud. But if it is clear then the alpenglow on the Weisshorn before sunrise will be something special to see. This balcony path runs across spectacular wild terrain high above the valley floor.

The major challenges of the route are just the relentless ascents and descents, the exposure to alpine conditions (the weather at 3300m might not be the same as low in the valley) and the isolation of some stretches of the route.

What difference does it make to do this distance and elevation change alone without the support of race infrastructure?

The full tour is pretty tough, whether racing or making an FKT. But there are a few differences. Firstly, when doing an FKT there is no support if something goes wrong or if you make a misjudgement. You have to be confident that you can rely on your own ability and experience. The Alps are not a true wilderness area, of course, but you still have to be confident with your level of risk. Then, food and drink can be a challenge. I made a foot trip around the race route the week before my FKT because I had some meetings with the mountain guides and some other logistics to fix. I took the opportunity to hide a couple of things under rocks and leave a few bags with friends along the way. I think I deposited three pairs of socks and a miscellaneous variety of food in plastic bags. It wasn’t very thought through, just a last ditch attempt to prepare in case I did try the FKT. In the event, I didn’t pick up some of the stuff, thinking I’d be quicker just using the local shop/coop, and much of the food I’d deposited wasn’t really what I felt like eating after X tough hours on foot.

In Alagna I was lucky a friend waited until 11pm to meet me. And in Macugngaga a hard night meant I passed through at breakfast time instead of during the dead hours of 3-4am. However you put it, when you make a ‘more-or-less’ unsupported FKT you have to be running well enough within your comfort zone that you can make choices and decisions. You have to be able to look after yourself and push yourself onwards, otherwise everything falls apart. Conversely when you make the same journey within a race situation, yes the route is just as difficult, but there is infrastructure in place to support you.

What was the hardest part of the 37 hours for you and why?

The hardest part of the 37 hours for me was the night. Training since Lavaredo has been all or nothing and sleep has been insufficient. So whereas in the past I have comfortably gone through two nights and then had a tough time with the third nightfall, this time the first (only) night was difficult. That and getting myself out of the door to begin with to start the journey with no witness and no reason why other than curiosity.

What is your prediction for the fastest elite men and women’s times for 2017?

30-32 hours for the women, 26-30 hours for the men

What one piece of advice would you give to someone consider entering for the 2017 ultra?

Don’t arrive short on sleep! This does of course depend on family and work commitments but starting with a sleep deficit will make the night hours extra tough. You need to be well trained but well rested. Beyond that the only thing I would say is enjoy it. It is a wild and beautiful mountain journey and it will push you further than you think is possible, physically, mentally, emotionally.

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Sep 20


Leeches, faceplants, snowblindness: Lizzy Hawker takes on the Great Himalaya Trail

UTMR Admin

The Great Himalaya Trail is a vague concept, really a network of trails through the Himalayas. When you set foot on the trails, it’s anything but vague: it’s tough, wild, enormous, humbling. Lizzy Hawker, as you may know, has a passion for making long solo journeys across tough terrain. In 2011, a attempt to cross Nepal failed, losing the way in a terrifyingly dense forest on a steep hillside, and losing satellite phone, money, permits too. It took four days to escape from the forest. This 2016 attempt is looking much better, with 5 years more experience gained. In between she’s run from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu, 319km in 60 hours, and recently the Tour of Monte Rosa, a brutal 170km with 11km D+ in 37 hours.

Lizzy is, the time of writing, this far across:


And at the time you read this, she is this far across.


The Great Himalaya Trail is some 1600km east to west climbing more than 2km of height per day, maybe 100,000m in total. Moving across Nepal crosses all of the major rivers that cut deep into the Himalayas. Anyone who’s walked in Nepal’s hills will know the scale of the ups and downs.

At the point she is at now around two-thirds is done, and now it gets tougher than ever. The high altitude passes of Dolpa: traveling in thin air over 5000m high passes 6 or 7 times, then into an area of no habitation for nearly a week, crossing difficult terrain like this on the faintest of trails.



And so, as written on her fundraiser page: It’s hard to stay fit and healthy on a journey like this. Hundreds of thousands of footsteps from dawn til dusk in wet shoes, climbing more than twice the height of Everest every week, falls (pic), cuts & scratches, the leeches (pic), snowblindness, losing the way, sleeping under the stars (or rain clouds) and (almost) all solo. How do you keep up the mental strength to keep going?

Having a cause to work for helps.

Lizzy wants to raise money to give opportunities to Nepali runners, particularly girls. She’s seen the impact Mira Rai‘s success has had on Nepal, inspiring girls across the country. That started by a chance meeting and a subsequent donation of $360 from a woman to pay for Mira’s food and lodging while she learned about trail running.

Not everybody can be Mira Rai. But girls should get a chance to be the best they can be. Opportunities like these can change lives, give new perspectives, and especially in countries like Nepal, can maybe help to change the view of women’s place in society and prove women can be champions too – amazing, inspiring ones. This is why we need your help.

And of course it can be fun, challenging and exciting too.

With every donation, we’ll send a message to Lizzy’s tracking device. This will keep her going forward on this enormous, bleak terrain and finish this 1600 km and 100,000m of climb (1000 miles, 328,000 feet) on the world’s biggest mountain range.

Thanks for your support!

How to donate

We’ve set up a crowd-funding page linked to a newly started NGO in USA, Athletes for Athletes (ASA), set up by Molly Mikita in Breckenridge, Colorado. Molly runs the Vertical Runner store there. After visiting Nepal and following the stories of Nepali athletes she onboard with Trail Running Nepal to fundraise for athletes. This is great!

Before you donate

Please note the following. Generosity.com only charges the credit card provider fee, around 3%. However it offers you the chance to donate 15% of your fee to them too for the service, which you may or may not want to do. Click images below:


It is set at 15% but you can change it easily to an amount you are happy with.


Note there is an optional platform fee.

Donate now!


Alternative ways to donate

Paypal is also great, via molly@myawesome.org to the USD account of the US registered charity ASA.

Do you want to donate by bank transfer? Send an email and we’ll send you details.

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Sep 29


Financial Times

UTMR Admin

Click to access PDF-running-in-the-clouds.pdf


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Sep 16


Swiss fighting cow

UTMR 2016 Monte Rosa images from Mark Brightwell

UTMR Admin

Mark was standing below the Monte Moro pass on the Swiss side. While monitoring the runners down the slope, he kept his camera busy.

Mark wants to offer printed copies of his images to you for a reasonable price in order to collect money for Trail Running Nepal’s athlete fund. The athlete’s fund raises money for trail running athletes to travel, buy good shoes, gels etc. i.e. everything needed to get to the start line with the best chance to compete. See Bhim at Kima and Tirtha at Ultraks. Mark has lived and worked in Nepal and knows that this talent needs support.

Check the images below and if you want to buy one, you’ll get a great memory for a reasonable cost and be assisting runners from Nepal like Bhim and Tirtha to have more chances to race.

Swiss fighting cow

Please note: 
  • Please be aware that the image dimensions are in inches! 1″ = 2.54 cm
  • After selection, you’ll be asked to adjust the crop. This is very straightforward and will be checked by me before going to print.
  • The digital file will be downloadable with purchase.



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Aug 24


taped seam

UTMR Equipment review – taped seams mandatory!

UTMR Admin

Runners, with one week to go we would like to highlight the importance of the obligatory equipment.

Mandatory equipment list.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”

I have just attended an event that was hit by severe wind and rain for the full 5 day duration of the event.

Most competitors managed their own safety well, but a few had poor equipment for the conditions or did not know how to manage their own safety in the mountains. This gave the organisers a huge problem in order to manage the race and avoid any injury to competitors.  We therefore feel it appropriate to highlight the obligatory equipment requirements for the UTMR and help clarify requirements.

Clothing, and in particular waterproofs, are the difference between a successful race or a potentially dangerous situation for the racers and organisation. As the UTMR is in the high mountains it is important to make sure the clothing layers are suitable.


This is obligatory for very good reason so please do not turn up to this race without these important items. These items are carried in case you or a fellow competitor injures themselves and cannot seek shelter. The safety team need to know you can stay safe while they attempt a rescue.

A good layering system allows competitors the best chance to manage their own safety on the mountains and reduce the risk of injury or death from  hypothermia. A key skill of an ultra runner is to master their environment and an important part of this is to manage their clothing systems. If it rains then competitors and their clothing will get wet, a good waterproof will delay this far longer. Sweat that is not wicked away from the skin from climbing uphill can quickly cool and put the competitor in danger at higher altitudes, so cotton is not allowed as a layering material.

A good base layer that dries quickly and removes moisture away from the skin is the most important but least expensive item of clothing in the system.

An insulating layer that dries quickly and does not absorb moisture will extend the extreme level of conditions you can stay safe in. A fleece for good weather forecasts or a thicker insulating layer for bad weather would be ideal.

Finally the waterproof breathable layer allows it all to work. Without a good waterproofness rating the moisture will force its way in under rucksacks and zips, particularly in strong winds. Without a good breathability rating the moisture that manages to get into the jacket or your own sweat with stay there and increase the speed of hypothermia.

A plastic type jacket is waterproof but not breathable, and a windproof is breathable but not waterproof.

Both these forms of shell are dangerous in protecting the athlete in the high mountains. At equipment check we will be looking at the quality of your waterproof, and insuring they have fully taped seams. Without a tape on the seams they are not classed as waterproof.

taped seam

Remember a windproof is not appropriate for this event even if it has passed other ultra equipment checks as we hear this excuse regularly. If you are unsure, please contact the manufacturer of your waterproofs, or send us an email.

Make sure you check this before arriving at registration for UTMR as we do not want you to have an additional unnecessary expense.

There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.

Good luck and may the sun shine on all of us (oh and don’t forget sun cream!)

Anthony Emmet

resp_fabric_690PS. I would probably add that they should all be washed and reproofed as a jacket that doesn’t bead the water off doesn’t breathe.  That might be just a step too far for most.

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Aug 06



Sidetracked by the Tour of Monte Rosa

UTMR Admin


© @benreadphoto

“The terrain was rougher than we could possibly imagine. It was in stark contrast to the flowing trails that we’d encountered while racing the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc).”

Ben Read and James Noorkoiv’s account of a summer fastpack adventure on the Tour de Monte Rosa. The threat of a storm forces them to return to Alagna in the end, but not before enjoying some adventure, and collecting some beautiful photos on the way.

Read on here:


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