Chamonix Just Keeps on Running!
Popping down to the gym to do a few miles on a running machine is child’s play compared to this...
Chamonix may well be known for being a top-class ski resort in the winter, but in the spring, summer and autumn the skis and boards are tidied away and the running shoes come out.
In recent years the sport of trail running has literally taken off. Popping down to the gym to do a few miles on a running machine is child’s play compared to trail running in the French Alps, passing amazing vistas and panoramas that you just don’t get anywhere else.
Hardly surprising then, that Trail Running races have become major events in the Chamonix valley. Each year the programme gets more ambitious and thousands of runners descend on the resort, eager to conquer the trails of Mont Blanc by taking part in events such as:
- The Chamonix Mont Blanc Marathon – organised at the end of June with a 10km run, a half marathon (23km) and a full marathon (42km) that start in Chamonix town and boast a stunning finish at the top of the mountain in Brevent
- The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – this is the star event in Chamonix attracting literally thousands of runners. It’s a serious test of stamina covering 166km with 5600m of positive height gain and passing through France, Italy and Switzerland. The maximum time is 46hrs and the winners come in after around 20hrs. Mental. There are now three other events (the CCC, the TDS and the PTL)
that complete the full week of running in Chamonix at the end of August each year.
- The Trail des Aiguilles Rouges – this friendly race takes place during the last weekend of September and is a ‘back to nature’ trail race using only mountain paths over 51km and 3900m of uphill height gain.
- The Chamonix Corrida - is the perfect event if you want to dip a tentative toe into running, as the relay race for teams of two does circuits of Chamonix town in the snow, as the race usually takes place on the 26th December.
- The Run and Skate competition - is held in February and aims to combine cross-country skiing and running. Teams of two or individuals do a chilly 12 km run before attacking the cross-country ski pistes for 18km.
Even if you don’t run, these events are really quite exciting to watch. There is a real buzz in town and more lycra than you can shake a stick at, as people head to the raft of excellent sports shops in Chamonix for last minute purchases and go out to the Italian restaurants to scoff pasta before heading into the hills on foot!
Spectators are always welcome to cheer runners on. We think by far the most convivial is the finish line of the Cross and Marathon at the top of the Brevent ski area. To get around the valley, extra public transport is laid on and the ski lifts run so you can get to the top of mountains without having to run up. Thank goodness for that. Now where’s that doughnut we were scoffing before we started typing this article…all this talk of exercise is making us hungry…