The organising team behind UTMB (Ultra Trail Mont Blanc) has confirmed updated race entry procedures ‘so all fans can one day enter the race of their dreams’. The new system will feed into the new strategic partnership between UTMB and the Ultra Trail World Tour.
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.
In the last three years, the main Mont-Blanc event has seen applications increase by 68%. To help keep up with demand the UTMB team notes that ‘In order for all runners to be able to enter the race of their dreams one day, the organization has renewed the entry process.’
There will be a 2-step transition to the new entry system:
- 2020: an evolution of the rules, with the implementation of a more flexible lottery.
- 2021: introduction of a faster procedure to enter UTMB races by taking part in new international circuit races.
Currently, access to the UTMB races is divided in two stages:
1. Runners must complete a certain number of qualifying races in the allotted time during the qualifying period. Qualifying points were first introduced in 2009 and have evolved over time.
2. Once runners have gained their qualifying points, they can pre-register for the race of their choice. If they are not successful, runners gain an advantage for the following year’s lottery for the same race (double the odds in the following year’s lottery, then a direct entry if the runner fails to gain entry in the lottery for the same race for 2 years in a row.)
2020: a year of transition towards the new entry process
The new entry process will be implemented gradually so that the organization can honour its commitments towards runners already benefiting from an advantage in the original lottery.
The novelty for the 2020 UTMB Mont-Blanc lies in the implementation of a new lowered scale of qualifying points and the implementation of a more flexible lottery:
2020 UTMB Mont-Blanc qualifying points scale
UTMB: 10 points in 2 years (2 races max)
TDS: 8 points in 2 years (2 races max)
CCC: 6 points in 2 years (2 races max)
OCC: 4 points in 2 years (2 races max)
PTL: 0 points selection upon presentation of a file
MCC: 0 points for volunteers, local runners and partners
With this significantly lowered scale, runners will be able to gain their qualifying points in a more relaxed way. One ultra-marathon per year will be enough to get points for the UTMB Mont-Blanc. In the light of studies conducted by the UTMB Mont-Blanc team, this is seen as a logical development which is meant to better respect runners’ health.
Implementation of a more flexible lottery
From 2020, the lottery will become more flexible. Runners who are not selected on their first attempt through the lottery will have better chances of being selected in following years.
- Runners who failed to gain entry in 2019 will double their chances of being selected in the 2020 lottery for the same race. If they are still not selected in the 2020 lottery, they will get a direct entry for 2021.
- Finishers of the 130 km distance 2019 Ushuaia by UTMB and 130 km and 160 km of 2019 Oman by UTMB will be guaranteed a direct entry for the 2020 UTMB Mont-Blanc races.
The entry process for elite athletes will still be based on the International Trail-Running Association (ITRA) ranking. The scale evolves to take into account the increase in the level of international elite athletes.
2021: ‘an innovative, open and more flexible entry process’
In addition to the lottery, which will continue to exist, UTMB Mont-Blanc will introduce a parallel system offering faster access to its races, starting from January 2020.
This latter system will be based on the concept of the ‘Running Stones’, which will only be awarded to the finishers of a limited number of races, carefully selected by UTMB.
Running Stones will be recorded on a database, which runners can refer to check their up-to-date stock. Once they have gained the required number of Running Stones, runners will get a direct entry for the UTMB Mont-Blanc race of their choice without having to go through the lottery.
If a runner doesn’t have enough Running Stones, he/she will be able to trade them for additional tickets in the lottery thus improving the probability of being selected. From January 2020, it will be possible to collect Running Stones by participating in existing ‘by UTMB’ events (Gaoligong, Ushuaia, Oman, etc.) as well as the 2020 Ultra-Trail World Tour events.
UTMB and Ultra-Trail World Tour have formalized a major strategic partnership, whose objectives are to better define ultra-trail running in the trail running world and to develop new sporting and marketing synergies. The 2020 international circuit resulting from the partnership between the UTMB and the Ultra-Trail World Tour will be presented to the press at the 2019 UTMB Mont Blanc event.
To access the 2021 UTMB races without having to go through the lottery:
UTMB : 18 Running Stones
CCC and TDS : 15 Running Stones
OCC : 12 Running Stones
How to gain Running Stones:
Finishers of the by UTMB races : 1 ITRA point = 3 Running Stones
Finishers of the UTWT races : 1 ITRA point = 1 Running Stone
The release from UTMB added… ‘Trail running is a booming sport, and its potential is enormous in many countries. The recent partnership between the UTMB and the Ultra-Trail World Tour is very exciting. By building on each other’s strengths, by combining the influence of the UTMB with that of the UTWT, we wish to write a new chapter in the history of our sport and create an extremely appealing circuit for both elite athletes and the millions of passionate trail runners around the world.’