International ultra-run event brand UTMB has further increased its presence in China with the launch of its newest international event, Panda Trail by UTMB. Working alongside local organiser firm Exploring Xingzhi Group, the first edition will take place from 25-27 September 2020, offering trail runners the choice of several distances.
The inaugural event will be based around one of most famous Taoist mountains in China, Qingcheng Mountain in Dujiangyan city and Wenchuan County in the Sichuan province. Located in the southwest of the country, the Sichuan Province is one of the largest in China and the gateway to Tibet. It is where Tibetans, the Yi, the Hui, the Han and other ethnic groups live.
The local area is known as the ‘Country of Heaven’ thanks to its world heritage irrigation system and as the ‘Sunshine Valley’ due to its mild temperatures throughout the year. Runners will have the chance to experience colourful historic towns, spicy Sichuanese food, temples, bamboo forests and of course the Giant Panda that the region is famous for.
Chengdu International Airport (CTU) is located an hour’s drive from Dujiangyan in Sichuan, and is the fourth largest hub in mainland China with direct flights to most major North American cities and European capitals.
There will be three distances to attract runners of different abilities: an ultra-distance race of approximately 120 km, plus two shorter races of approximately 60 km and 30 km. Full course and registration details will be announced on 20 January 2020, when entries will officially open.
Catherine Poletti, UTMB Co-Founder and Group President said “We are thrilled to strengthen our relationship with Exploring Xingzhi Group, and to offer trail runners looking for a real adventure the chance to discover the unique trails of the Sichuan region.”
She continued, “We have already seen the appetite for trail running in China at Gaoligong by UTMB, which has over 4,000 runners registered for next years’ event, and also at UTMB Mont Blanc, with over 300 Chinese runners taking to the start line this year; and so we are excited to launch this new event with three challenging distances for more than 2,000 runners.
“This event is in line with the overall goal of UTMB to develop prestigious and open-to-all events on all continents.”
The new event was announced following a test event that saw 65 runners take to the trails of the Qingcheng Mountain. Nicolas Lagrange, UTMB Operational Director, who was present to oversee proceedings said “The UTMB brand represents more than just a name, and all the events supported by UTMB are organised with the highest quality standards offering challenging courses.
“We’ve been really impressed by the trails in this region and these mountains will provide a challenging and unique experience for runners.”
Margaret Jin, Vice President of Xingzhi Exploring Group, said “We are very much looking forward to Panda Trail joining the UTMB family. It is our goal to offer the global running community a world-class trail race with a unique Sichuan flavour. This event will support the joint development of two renowned national travel destinations: Dujiangyan City and Wenchuan County.
“By creating a race course which we hope becomes as well-known globally as UTMB Mont-Blanc itself, Panda Trail by UTMB shall make a key contribution to promoting and developing the local outdoor industry.”
As with all other ‘by UTMB’ events, finishers of Panda Trail by UTMB will be able to collect ‘Running Stones’ and ITRA points, providing them with a direct entry for UTMB Mont-Blanc 2021 courses without having to go through the lottery.
Other upcoming UTMB events include:
- Oman by UTMB from 28-30 November 2019;
- Gaoligong by UTMB (China), 21-23 March 2020;
- Val d’Aran by UTMB (Spain) 3-5 July 2020; and
- UTMB Mont-Blanc, 24-30 August 2020.