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.
After 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!
— iRunFar (@iRunFar) September 1, 2018
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!
Damian Hall, journalist and elite runner, is signed up for the 2019 170 km Ultra Tour. With an impressive 5th place at the 2018 UTMB in 22:35:13, and having recently set an FKT (fastest known time) for the Cape Wrath Trail with Beth Pascall, he is no stranger to the long and hard. We look forward to hearing what he thinks of UTMR!
I love a good 100, me. The lumpier and hurtier the better.
Lizzy Hawker is a huge inspiration me and when I heard first heard talk about the inaugural Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, I wanted in right away.
There are a lot of appealing races towards the end of summer though and I had a bit of a UTMB obsession I needed to shake first.
In the meantime, friends of mine – especially Tim Laney, Nicky Spinks, Philip Haylett – did UTMR and raved about it. Race photos just looked sensational.
I’m done with UTMB for now and UTMR seems like the perfect replacement. Not only is it only one letter different, but it’s the same distance and also in the Alps.
However UTMR also seems very different to UTMB in some ways. It looks wilder and remoter, more technical and spectacular than UTMB. It goes higher (above 3,200m) and there’s 1,300m more ascent (gulp). It’ll obviously be more low-key, but that’ll make a nice change. (Cowbells can get a bit irksome after 20 hours or so.)
I can’t wait to get out there. I can’t wait for it to get hurty.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Because i think that this race is a real tough race and not just a commercial one.
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.
Love the Alps (especially under sunny conditions). UTMB too busy, expect UTMR to be more intimate and to my liking.
Because of it being in unique surroundings and not too big in terms of runners.
The scenery, organisation and the course.
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.
Route description. mountain terrain. cheap flight ticket to Geneva.
Simply because it is very tough while the scenery is splendid!
No crowds on the trail and for the surroundings!
Beautiful scenery, tough but rewarding trails, and glowing reports from everyone I know who’s been before.
Because the view and the challenge.
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!
Looks like a beautiful part of the world, and a challenge. What could be better!
“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 bucketlist 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.”
“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!
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!
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…]
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!
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.
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!
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.
With entries closing in two weeks I thought I would remind everyone what a fantastic race this is and to say that I’m so looking forward to returning to Grächen in September and completing the full 170 km race. Last year I was upset to have to DNF at 100 km after 20 hours with a chest infection that took me until October to recover from.
I have only dropped out of two races in my life; Tankies Trog when I had a haemorrhaged cyst and the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, I was gutted both times. And this year I am determined to come back to UTMR and enjoy the first half as much as I did last year … and then revel in completing the second half and running down to the finish to meet Lizzy Hawker as she greets runners in on the finish line!
Training is going well with the Ultra Tour Snowdonia 50 completed in 9th position, 1st Lady in 13.50 hours. This was a good training race as 50 miles but with a huge 6070m ascent. My next race is the Lakeland Trails Ultimate 55k on July 8th which is “flatter” with 2133m of ascent but in 34 miles.
I’ve ordered a UTMR map and keep looking back at the photos of last year. I was blown away by the scenery on the route and hope the weather is just the same as in 2017 so I can enjoy it to the maximum. The race organisation is very low key but efficient and appeals to my sense of fell running spirit. I just love the serenity of being part of the mountains and not in huge crowds.
To enter just chose your course; either full 170 km, full 100 km or stage 170 km. Then fill out a pre-registration form and Lizzy will respond with your invitation and hey presto – you’re in and can start planning the adventure!!
Contact @Nicky Spinks via Twitter.
JASON POOLE : COLORADO, USA
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram at @jasonmpoole, Twitter at @jasonmpoole or Facebook, Jason Poole.
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.
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.
While feedback is sometimes critical (and constructive) there is a lot of happy feedback from many race competitors. Here is a selection from 2017….
“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.”
“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)!”
“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.”
“Loved having hotels to sleep in, real food for breakfast & dinner and bags carried for us! Altogether a fantastic event.”
“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.”
“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!”
“Great event, really well organised, incredibly well marked and lovely helpful volunteers at all times.”
“The trail is very beautiful. It deserves being run in daylight, so I really loved the staged format.”
“Still small enough to run in the wild and to make (and find) friends and a good spirit amongst participants and volunteers.”
“Volunteers were always excellent. Always friendly, helpful and encouraging. A real asset to the race.”
“This was one of the best and most breathtaking adventures I have experienced.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“I absolutely love this race!”
“I had one of the best, if not toughest runs of my life and loved it all. Thanks and see you all again.”
“This route was outstandingly beautiful and extremely tough (which I expected).”
“A week on and I am still blown away by the amazing experience I had running the 170 km race.”
“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.”
“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.”
“It’s one of the most memorable and rewarding races I have done.”
“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.”
“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.”