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UTMB International formed, taking ultra-trail running into China and beyond

GaoLiGong by UTMB 2016 test event runners in Tengchong, China - photo Alexis Berg

Autour du Mont-Blanc and OC Sport, two sports marketing companies specialising in outdoor events, have announced the joint creation of UTMB International, a new company aiming to ‘speed up and control the development of the UTMB brand beyond Europe, and work with event organisers from all over the world’.

Originating in Europe, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is a single-stage mountain ultramarathon. It takes place once a year in the Alps, and follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland.

With a bold aim to be supported by almost 2,000 qualifying races around the world and ‘beloved by hundreds of thousands of athletes, who dream of one day being on the start line in Chamonix’, the UTMB brand is now going global.

UTMB adds that it is in a constant quest for innovation to continue to develop trail running… ‘a sport that has grown considerably in recent years (increase in participation, global expansion, new social categories, new technologies).’

In 15 years, UTMB has built bucket list credentials across the endurance sport community. It is often seen as a ‘must-do’ international event for ultra-runners and is referred to as the ‘World’s Summit of Trail Running’. The organising team feels that its unique expertise inspires many organisers especially in countries or continents new to the sport.

According to Catherine Poletti, Managing Director of Autour du Mont-Blanc (owner and organiser of UTMB Mont-Blanc), “UTMB has managed to orchestrate these numerous developments thanks to its unfailing loyalty to its core values: a love for the mountains, respect for nature as well as an openness to the world and the will to reach out to others.”

UTMB International’s ambition is to contribute in the next 10 years to the birth of major and popular trail running events organised with very high quality standards, in all continents (outside Europe). Improving runners’ safety will remain a top priority as well as the quality of the ‘journey’ offered to runners and their supporters. UTMB adds that ‘These events – whether they already exist or will emerge in the coming years – won’t be part of a new circuit but will aim to integrate into the highest level of the Ultra-Trail World Tour.’

UTMB International will work with professional and independent event organisers ‘to be certain that the local territories’ knowledge and authenticity will remain unspoilt’. UTMB International will advise and grant up to five ‘by UTMB’ labels to events meeting requirements on every continent outside Europe (North America, South America, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Oceania).

Each event will have to be organised in a mountainous environment and be based around an iconic and easily accessible location with high quality facilities. To meet the requirements, events must also offer different race formats (including a 100-mile distance) to attract thousands of participants every year from around the world. ‘After a few successful editions, the best event on each continent will receive the highest reward and become a UTMB event.’

GaoLiGong by UTMB 2016 test event in Tengchong, China - photo Alexis Berg

Rémi Duchemin, Executive Director of UTMB International as well as Founder and Executive Director of OC Sport, announced the signature of a first long-term agreement with Chinese company Xingzhi Exploring Group.

Duchemin said “This win-win partnership will be a reference for the future: Xingzhi Exploring Group brings its knowledge and networks to help grow and structure trail running in Asia, while UTMB International will support their marketing, commercial and operational actions. We will have an ambitious but controlled growth with the signature of a similar deal every year until 2021.”

A well-known and recognised sports marketing player in China – especially in the organisation of trail running events like the Ultra Gobi, marathons and half-marathons – Xingzhi Exploring Group is currently creating several events as part of its partnership with UTMB International.

Following the success of a test event organised in Tengchong (China) last November, UTMB International and Xingzhi Exploring Group have now officially announced the creation of the GaoLiGong by UTMB.

The inaugural edition will be held between 9-11 March 2018 in the tropical mountain range of Yunnan Province around Tengchong. Three distances will be on the programme: MGU (160km distance, 8,400m+ altitude), RCE (125km, 6,600m+) and THT (55km, 2,300M+). Registrations open on Friday 28 April 2017.

Founded in 2004, Autour du Mont-Blanc is based in Chamonix (France). The company is managed by Catherine and Michel Poletti, founders and organisers of UTMB Mont-Blanc. Beyond the creation of UTMB in 2003 and its organisation, Catherine and Michel largely contributed to the launch of the Ultra-Trail World Tour and the International Trail Running Association (ITRA).

OC Sport is a global sports marketing and events company specialising in professional sailing and outdoor events including running, trail running, amateur cycling and triathlon. Operating globally from bases in Switzerland, France, UK, United States and China, OC Sport is an award-winning event management company and rights holder. It manages competitive teams and athletes and provides consultancy to global brands, host venues and other event organisers. In 2017, OC Sport’s international team is organising 28 events in 16 countries and 5 continents.




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