Triple header weekend incoming with Val d’Aran by UTMB, Trail Verbier St-Bernard by UTMB and Restonica Trail by UTMB
Val d’Aran by UTMB
All eyes will be on Val d’Aran by UTMB® next weekend as 3,600 runner’s line-up for the first of two UTMB World Series Majors in 2022. The event promises to be nothing short of spectacular having attracted runners from around the world looking to secure their spot at the UTMB World Series Finals in Chamonix, France. The heart of the Spanish Pyrenees is a fitting place to take on the challenge, with the Top 10 in each of the 100M, 100K and 50K race categories qualifying for entry at the corresponding UTMB World Series Final, while double the amount of Running Stones are also on offer to all finishers. With Age Group Qualifications also up for grabs, dreams could certainly come true in the majestic mountains of the Pyrenees.
In just its second year, Val d’Aran by UTMB has already established itself within the trail running arena and Race Director, Xavier Pocino is looking forward to welcoming runners back for a special edition. He said, “For us, it is a great responsibility to live up to an event of these characteristics and it has already exceeded figures from the previous year. With more than 3,600 runners of 70 different nationalities heading to the valley to race this weekend, the event is also the biggest trail running event in Spain in terms of registered runners.”
With the youngest runner aged just 16 years old, and the oldest 76 years old, athletes from all walks of life can look forward to an unforgettable race.
Alongside its stunning mountain ranges, the Val d’Aran by UTMB also guarantees tough and technical trails, an aspect that attracted elite athlete Germain Grangier to the event. Currently with a score of 800 on the UTMB Index, the French athlete is looking forward to taking on his first 100-miler since UTMB Mont-Blanc 10 months ago. With 10,200 metres of climbing, featuring ascents such as Port de Urets’ passage at 2,500m, the VDA 161km will be the perfect test of form and resilience.
“After a winter spent on the skis, I have run fewer kilometers than normal this year. I planned this on purpose to be more rested at the start of the Val d’Aran by UTMB,” Grangier explained. “I feel both ready and excited to discover a new place and see how I go! I have always wanted to race in the Pyrenees and heard that the Val d’Aran valley is really rural and authentic with a strong sports culture. I can’t wait to race and discover a new place.”
Joining him will be his partner and elite runner, Katie Schide (USA) who will take on the CDH 105km race. Speaking about the course she said, “I have heard that this region is beautiful with technical trails and a great community around mountain sports. It sounds like all the ingredients for a fun and challenging event. This will be my second time in the Pyrenees and while I love the Alps, it will be a nice change of scenery.”
The race certainly offers unique scenery, with the toughest mountain ranges taking center stage for the first part of the course, before glacial lakes, natural hot springs and fast-flowing rivers spoil athletes as they continue through the rugged and authentic landscape to reach the finish line in Vielha.
With the PDA 55km and SKY 15km races also on offer at the weekend, and additional qualification chances for the UTMB World Series Finals on offer, the atmosphere promises to be electric for the first UTMB World Series Major.
Trail Verbier St-Bernard by UTMB
No less spectacular than its Pyrenees counterpart, the Trail Verbier St-Bernard by UTMB® also promises a spectacular weekend in the mountains as runners get set to traverse the Swiss Alps as part of this iconic race. The flagship event, the 140km X-Alpine, starts and ends in the famous resort village of Verbier, taking runners through the Valais region via the historic monastery at Grand-St-Bernard Pass and the regions stunning mountain terrain and alpine villages.
Elite runner, Konoka Azumi (JPN) will travel from New Zealand to take part in the X-Alpine race. She said, “One of the biggest reasons for participating in the Trail Verbier St-Bernard by UTMB is that it is one of the most popular and iconic races in Switzerland. It will be my first-time racing in the country, and it has been a dream of mine. I have heard many stories about how valuable the experience of running this course is, so I am honored to have this opportunity to do so! I hope this race will give me the chance to compete in the UTMB World Series Finals next year.”
With the Mont Blanc massif as a backdrop, the route provides the ultimate test for athletes looking to qualify for the UTMB World Series Finals, as they wind through mountain villages, past breathtaking glaciers and via the best alpine trails.
Over 2,400 runners will compete across the four races, which in addition to the 140km event, includes 76km, 45km and 26km races in their quest to UTMB Mont-Blanc.
Restonica Trail by UTMB
Over 1,500 athletes are preparing to head to ‘the island of beauty’ for the Restonica Trail by UTMB® on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. Athletes will experience the ultimate destination race as the trail winds along the jagged spine of Corsica’s mountainous center.
From glacial lakes and dense pine forests to stone villages and shepherd’s huts that cling to the mountains, this race takes in one of the most famous hiking trails in the world, the GR20. With four distances on offer, from 110km to 17km, it promises runners a chance to lose themselves in the unique Corsican atmosphere.
Race Director, Jean-Éric spoke of two of his highlights on the course. “The Restonica Trail is always special as the culture, the history and the daily life is so different than on the mainland. Within the race, one highlight is the passage of Bocca Crucetta on the Ultra-Trail® di Corsica (UTC) course. Here the runners start from the checkpoint at Calacucci and head directly up to nearly 1,700m+. When you get there, your legs will be very tired but the view of Paglia Orba will be an incredible reward. Another route highlight can be found at the passage of Bocca alle Porte on the UTC and Restonical Trail (RT) course. After a nice climb starting at the refuge of Manganu on the GR20 trail, runners will enjoy a splendid view of two glacial lakes at the Restonica Valley.”
Diego Pazos of Switzerland is looking forward to discovering the landscapes and its technical terrain. Also known as ‘Zpeedy’, Diego said, “I am feeling very motivated and can’t wait to discover this wonderful island. Physically I am feeling a bit tired due to my busy schedule recently, but I will give it my best and hope for a solid performance and most importantly to enjoy it!”