The North Face at UTMB



Here is a story of how the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc unfolded from behind the scenes for the whole team. Many congratulations to the runners, support crew and all participants who made it a wonderful day, night, day and night.

View the interactive gallery


all images and content © – all rights reserved

UTMB kit with Jez Bragg


The TNF UTMB is just around the corner and in a previous episode of Talk Ultra I discussed with The North Face athlete, Jez Bragg what he uses for this 160km mountain race. It seemed topical that we should give you all an opportunity to listen to this once again and refresh your minds.

Get your check list and out and go through it step-by-step with Jez.





Equipment list as required by TNF UTMB race organisation:

In order to participate in these events, a set of obligatory equipment is required. However it is important to note it is the minimum necessary and that each trail-runner must adapt it according to their needs. It is important, in particular, not to choose clothing that is the lightest possible weight in order to gain a few grams, but to choose items which will give real protection against the cold, windy or snowy mountain weather, therefore giving a good level of security and performance.

Obligatory material :

  • mobile phone with option enabling its use in the three countries
    (put in one’s repertoire the security numbers of the organisation, keep it switched on, do not hide one’s number and do not forget to set off with recharged batteries)
  • personal cup or tumbler 15cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable)
  • stock of water minimum 1 litre,
  • two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries,
  • survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimum
  • whistle,
  • adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm),
  • food reserve,
  • jacket with hood and made with a waterproof (recommendation: minimum 10,000 Schmerber) and breathable (recommendation: RET lower than 13) membrane (Gore-Tex or similar) which will withstand the bad weather in the mountains.
  • long running trousers or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completely,
  • Additional warm midlayer top: One single midlayer long sleeve top for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 180g (Men, size M)
    OR a two piece clothing combination of a long sleeve baselayer/midlayer for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 110g (Men, size M) and a windproof jacket* with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) protection
  • cap or bandana
  • warm hat
  • warm and waterproof gloves
  • waterproof over-trousers

* The windproof jacket does not replace the mandatory waterproof jacket with hood

Required by the frontier police forces :

  • identity papers

Very strongly recommended :

  • Knife or scissors with which to cut the self-adhesive elasticised bandage
  • walking poles for security on slippery ground in case of rain or snow
  • a change of warm clothes indispensable in the case of cold weather, rain or injury
  • the sum of 20 € minimum (in order to cover the unexpected….)

Advised (list not definitive) :

Telescopic sticks, change of clothing, compass, knife, string, sun cream, Vaseline or anti-chaffing cream, needle and thread,…

All clothing must be the runner’s size and without alteration since leaving the factory.
You will carry this material in a pack which must be tagged at the race-bib distribution and is not exchangeable during the race.

If you decide to use poles, you must keep them throughout the whole of the race… It is forbidden to start without sticks and recover them up along the way.
No poles will be allowed in the spare’s bags.


A full list of UTMB specific equipment is available via The North Face by going HERE

Jez Bragg website HERE

The North Face announce team for UTMB

© North Face have announced the team line up for the 2013 UTMB and what a line up…

Seb Chaigneau fresh from an impressive Hardrock 100 win will be gunning for the top the podium in Chamonix.

The queen of UTMB, Lizzy Hawker is currently recovering from injury, fingers crossed she will toe the line.

Jez Bragg certainly will provide great interest at the event this year. A previous winner of the shortened version he has always struggled to repeat his form. However, after solving some diet issues and conquering the Te Araroa in New Zealand, I think we will see a new Jez ready to do battle of the circular route of Mont Blanc.

Fernanda Maciel also has had some injury issues but she would appear to be well on her way to recovery.


Rory Bosio has consistently performed well at both Western States and UTMB, she will be looking for a repeat performance.

Zigor Iturrieta has already had a busy 2013 and once again he will line up to battle against a race he conquered in 2010 with a third place on the podium.


Mike Wolfe has had some time away from the sport but is back. He has recently had a top placing at Lavaredo Trail and it will be great to see Mike back in Europe.

Mike Foote made the podium in 2012 over a shortened race distance, he will certainly be hoping to move up at least one place higher this year.


Timothy Olson has had two seriously impressive years, a Western States course record in 2012 and then a back-to-back victory in 2013. This will be his first time racing in Chamonix and without doubt he will be gunning for the top slot!

©copyright Cospolich, Jason Loutitt complete the TNF North American line up and then we look at Japan. Tsuyoshi Kaburaki heads the TNF line up and can never be ruled out for a great performance at this iconic race. He will be followed by Hiroaki Matsunag and Minehiro Yokoyama.


Finally, The North Face will complete the team with runners from China and Brazil. Yun Yanqiao, Xing Ruling and Stone Tsang for TNF China and Manu Vilaseca, Ligia Madrigal (Costa Rica) and finally Felipe Guardia(Costa Rica).

Ligia Madrigal in Costa Rica

Ligia Madrigal in Costa Rica

Without doubt, the 2013 TNF UTMB is going to be an exciting race. The TNF line up along with strong competition from the likes of Julien Chorier, Anton Krupicka and Dakota Jones it does mean that we can expect fireworks in the mens race.

UTMB_TNF Athletes_2013

Lizzy Hawker – Interview

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker is arguably one of the greatest female runners of all time. She has transcended what we all think is possible in running. Her versatility over multiple distances and terrain has without doubt made her one of the most respected ultra athletes of all time. She has dominated the UTMB, she is a 24-hour champion and she has set numerous course records. I was fortunate to catch up with Lizzy in early 2013. She had just had a very successful latter half to 2012 but was recovering from an injury before embarking on another full year of racing and personal challenges.

IC: Lizzy, it’s a real pleasure to finally chat, we have been trying to coordinate this for sometime.  Firstly, can we go back to how you got into running, you say you always remember running but at what point did you realize you had ability?

LH: Well going back, I can’t remember NOT running. I guess we all run as children, you know, just running around. I always remember at school that I preferred running in contrast to netball or similar sports. I don’t know how really but it just became normal to run everyday. It was only for fun though. It never crossed my mind to race or join or club. It was just my way to be outside and in nature. It was a balance to school, university and all other distractions. It’s just something that has always been there for me and I don’t think it was really until 2005 when I entered a couple of long races that I realized that I had something that I should really pursue.

IC: Pre 2005 is that when you where travelling doing expeditions. You were in Antarctica. An Oceanographer, yes?

LZ: I was actually finishing off my PHD and then I had a job with the British Antarctic survey.

IC: Running was very recreational then, a way to keep fit?

LZ: Absolutely, it was my way to be outside and an escape.

IC: Did you do any competitions, half marathons, marathons etc.?

LZ: I did London Marathon just because I felt I should… you know, it just seemed logical. I remember it was several years before I actually got a place due to the ballot. This was prior to my PHD but I was working at the Antarctic Survey when I got a place. I was actually at sea for six weeks. It was only a month before London that I got back on land. Not ideal preparation! It was my first race…

IC: How was that, how did it go?

LZ: I enjoyed it but my time wasn’t special.

IC: Time?

LZ: 3:40 ish

IC: Wow, considering how fast you now run that was a humble beginning. Nice for us all to hear… 3:40 for many is a good time but it was a very modest start for you. How did you progress?

LZ: From London a friend suggested that if I love hills then I should do a marathon in a hilly place, you know, somewhere nice. So, I did Snowdonia marathon in Wales for a few years and then the same friend suggested going ‘off-road’. You know, going across hills instead of around them. So, I entered the Welsh 1000’s. Because I didn’t have fell-running experience at all, I couldn’t enter the fell class, so, I was in the mountain class. It meant a heavy pack, long trousers and walking boots. I enjoyed it and did it a couple if times… that was the only experience I had prior to 2005.

IC: In 2005 what changed, what was it that you then did that paved the way to were you are now?

LZ: Two things really. I was visiting friends in South Wales to escape my PHD for a weekend. They were running a 40-mile track race in Barry. So I just entered it. Primarily because they had. I think that was March and then I was selected for the England team for the UK 100k champs. That was based on my time at the 40-mile race. The 100k was a month later and in-between that I went to Turkey to SkiMo (Ski Mountaineer). Not conventional prep! Also, I had read an article about the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc (UTMB). UTMB did not have the prestige it has now and it had no wait list, so I entered. I was due to finish my PHD and it was a great excuse to go to the Alps. I would goo climbing and then race at the end. That was my first mountain race.

IC: So in 2005 with little or no experience, you go to UTMB. That is quite a step up eh?

LH: I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I had nothing to gauge it against. I had no idea even if I would get back to Chamonix after starting. I certainly expected not to make one of the cut offs… I was on the start and I thought about a quote from Alice in Wonderland, you know, the one about starting in the beginning and stopping when you get to the end. That was my goal. To start and keep going until I stopped or was stopped.

IC: What was that first experience like?

LH: I loved it. I started in the masses. I was way back at the start. I was on the Church steps way back from the front. It was a long long time before I even started to run. Just the sheer number and volume of people slowed everything down. I can remember, after about 15 to 20k I was somewhere between about 500/600th place. I actually finished 25th or 26th overall by the time the end came. I just worked my way past everyone… I just loved it. It was my first experience of running at night and I can remember after one of the feed stations, I was running up  a climb and I could feel the beauty of the mountains. I knew then that I would have to go back. Yes, it was magic.

IC: You have won that race (UTMB) five times…

LH: Well, kind of five times…

IC: Ok, yes, five variations of the race! We spoke after the 2012 finish and you said you still had unfinished business. You want that ‘time’* on the course. Will that mean you will be back?

*Lizzy is very keen to set the fastest ladies time in the UTMB course.

LH: Yes, I am mulling over my plans. I can’t confirm for 2013 but I almost certainly will be back to UTMB, if not this year then maybe next. I do have unfinished business.

IC: Do you think the plans that the UTMB organization have made for 2013 and moving forward to correct issues* in the past will work?  *by issues, we refer to the race being shortened due to unpredictable weather.

LH: I don’t know. What I would like to see is a sliding start time. So that they have the possibility to bring the race forward or delay by 24 hours, this will allow for good weather windows. I am not sure how that would work with the other races (CCC and TDS) going on but it seems to me that the weather systems work through quite quickly and this window may very well be ideal to allow the full race to go ahead. We want the race to be as it should be, a full tour of Mont Blanc. That is 160km. If I were taking time of work, paying money to get there, I would much prefer to add one extra day either side and have that possibility to race for what may very well be moderate additional expense. I don’t think they (UTMB organization) have taken this as an option but it is what I would like to see.

IC: I think many would agree with you. The race is a ‘tour ‘of Mont Blanc. Not a 60k, 100k or 140k. You want to go back and do the race and get the time* but your variety of races are extreme, you know, you run on the track, you run on the road, you run mountains, you run trail, you do multi stage, how do you apply yourself in your training, do you literally just go out and run and enjoy it?

LH: Pretty much I guess. I think over the years I have kind of built up a high level of base endurance so depending on the race I am targeting next I kind of focus training to that specific event. But because of the way I came into running, running was part of my daily routine. I wanted to be outside, I wanted to be moving and I just love running, So, that is really the backbone of my training even now I guess. I just like to run.

IC: For someone who loves the mountains so much, You are passionate about Nepal for example, what is it in your mind that allows you to run on a 400m track, time and time again for 24 hours?

LH: I haven’t done that yet!

IC: Yes I know that, but I am curious what it is within you that will allow you to do this?

LH: I can remember back to my first track race in 2005. I hadn’t been on a track since school. It was funny, I couldn’t get lost, I couldn’t fall down a crevice, I had no avalanches to think about and it basically just simplified the process. I could think about the running movement. I could just focus. Almost like meditation.

IC: Do you use meditation when running?

LH: I use mediation for it’s own sake. But that is just during the last 12 months or so. But I have realized that most of my running is kind of a meditation. Or at least  it is my quiet time. Time alone with myself. Not every case obviously but when I am alone it is a relaxing and spiritual time.

IC: I followed you at UTMB in 2012. I had the benefit of being in the feed stations with Keith (Lizzies crew from The North Face). You would arrive; Keith would have everything laid out. It looked planned with a definite strategy. Get you in and out ASAP. But I remember you said to me that it isn’t that planned.

LH: No not at all. I never know what I want but if I have the options I can choose what I want. I need to move through as quickly as possible.

IC: Do you find that you turn yourself off? Do you almost become metronomic?

LH: Not really. It’s a body and mind connection. It has to be very strong. You need to know what is going on; particularly with your body but at the same time you need to be able to cut pain off. You need to hang on in and sort it out. It’s two sides of the coin if that makes sense.

Lizzy Hawker at Sierre-Zinal 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker at Sierre-Zinal 2012 copyright Ian Corless

IC: If we look at your achievements, UTMB, 100k champs, 24-hour world record and in 2012 you had a golden period… UTMB, Run Rabbit Run and then Spartathlon. If we look at all these things, what are your highlights?

LH: Ultimately it is the running. It is an essential part of my life. The races are stepping stones within that. I think it is funny though, I look at what you call the ‘golden period’ and I don’t feel I raced at my best! I could have done so much more… It is kind of funny; I am always trying to improve. Go faster, go longer. I want to be so much better. I was happy with those three races but I felt I could have given more.

IC: Lets take Spartathlon. It is an iconic race in the ultra calendar. It is a race that has a different variety of people who take part, we often look at that race as giving some significant performances, and for example we talk about Yiannis Kouros and Scott Jurek. You raced for the first time in 2012. Did the race live up to its billing?

LH: It is an iconic race. The atmosphere is amazing. The route is not that wonderful, not so much the route but the fact that you are on busy roads and they don’t close them. I had times during the night with lorries passing me that were less than comfortable. It is an incredible race to be a part of though.

IC: Of course you had a pretty darn good race. You set a women’s course record, you were on the podium overall but yet you say it wasn’t good enough! Did you want to win outright?

LH: yes!

(Joint laughter)

IC: Funny. I love the standards that you set yourself. Will you go back?

LH: Yes, I am not sure in 2013 but I will go back and try again one year.

IC: After Spartathlon I guess you had a cleansing period in Nepal. You did Manasulu Trail. Is that type of race more for you, a personal race?

LH: Half and half. Of course, I love to be in Nepal. Nepal gives me so much back, to be in that place is rewarding but those Nepalese guys can really run, it is not easy.

IC: I love you say that you mention the men and the fact that you are not racing the women.

LH: It’s a small race!

IC: Yes, but women usually race women. You always race for the overall instead of racing for first lady. Are you very competitive?

LH: I guess I am competitive but the competition is within. I want to be the best I can be. I can win a race and not be happy or I could come way down the field but be happy because I did my best on that day. That is the way I feel about racing. It is a personal thing.

IC: You love Nepal. You attempted a full crossing, which unfortunately didn’t go to plan… you lost your sat phone amongst other things!

LH: Or the permits! Just a few things… (laughs)

IC: Will you try again; I know the rules have changed on how you can now do these crossings?

LH I definitely want to go back. It is my dream journey. To cross the Himalayas keeping as high as possible and moving fast is what really motivates me. I would love to go back.

IC: How long is that journey?

LH: About 1,000 miles.

IC: A long way!

LH: Yes, a pretty long way.

IC: A race has been announced that will take this whole route for 2014.

LH: Yes, Spring 2014 and 2016 I think.

IC:  Is that of interest to you or would you prefer solo?

LH: I can do both! (Laughs) I still want to do my solo journey because it will be so different. The race will miss the high passes. You can’t really compare the two. They both have validity and I would like to do both.

IC: 2013 is here, what does it have in store for you?

LH: Good question. I am mulling that over. Nothing is definite, not that it ever is. I am formulating race plans at the moment.

IC: Western States, Skyrunning, and UTMB?

** Please see UPDATE below

LH: Ronda del Cims 100m Skyrunning race is looking very likely in June. I hope to do Hardrock 100. I am on the wait list so I hope to race.

IC: You are high up on the wait list for Hardrock 100 if I remember correctly?

LH: Not sure it is high enough though? I will try to do those two and then we shall see what the rest of the year holds for me.

Lizzy Hawker copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker copyright Ian Corless

IC: Ronda del Cims is a tough course. It has plenty of climbing and altitude.

LH:  Yes. I am looking forward to it. It will be a real challenge and a great race.

IC: Well Lizzy as per usual, it has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. Without doubt you are an inspiration to all. I really appreciate your time and I look forward to seeing you and following you around the Ronda del Cims course in late June.

LH: Thanks so much Ian.

*To get 2013 rolling, Lizzy raced at Annapurna 100k and won the ladies race. She then decided to break her own personal record running from Everest base camp to Kathmandu (319km/ 198m) in 63 hours and 08 minutes (here) smashing her previous record. Not content with running for 63 hours, Lizzy then raced the 277km Mustang Trail Race and was 2nd overall. However, just recently she entered the 24-hour championships and pulled out. Apparently all is well with Lizzy and her focus is now on Ronda dels Cims. I have to say, that Lizzy has not only the potential to win the ladies race but the race outright. Race preview HERE

UPDATE June 6th, An email from Lizzy “As it turns out I’ve just had an MRI confirming a stress fracture in my foot. So, Hardrock would have been off the cards, and now I also have to pull out of Ronda del Cims.”


TNFUTMB need points?


Today the TNFUTMB organisation is going further by testing the creation of a mark, which will allow training courses to be a source of points, according to very strict criteria. This course is organised this year in partnership with WAA.

Qualifying courses with WAA

WAA, (What An Adventure), an enterprise which focuses on two activities: training and sports merchandise.

WAA Ultra Training has, for several years been organising courses in collaboration with, amongst others, Vincent Delebarre (winner if the UTMB®) for the mountains and Laurence Klein (multiple winner of the Marathon des Sables) for the desert…WAA Ultra Equipment offers ranges of products in the colours of the partner races such as Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, the Marathon des Sables, or even the Eco-Trail de Paris.

This year the WAA, for  several years a partner with the  UTMB® are opening the way by setting up, under the aegis of the organisation, a new concept of training courses for preparation for the UTMB®, CCC®  or TDSTM valid for any long trail race which is run in the mountains.

The mountains as well as being beautiful can be hostile, difficult and changeable …The potential risks are numerous but it is possible to anticipate them when they were identified and when one is ready for them. So, the Ultra-Trail ® course will offer apart from a reconnaissance of the terrain, physical training and real ‘mountain’ environment training: “Safe” behaviour, good practise in respect for the environment, race management to optimise performance allowing the runner to be the key to his own safety.

Vincent Delebarre‘s testimony: “For 8 years I have organised around fifteen courses each summer which allow me to judge the physical condition and above all the knowledge of the activity and the participants’ environment. And there is still a lot to be done. The qualifying races show the level of experience relating to trail -running but for all that do not confer, the minimum  knowledge of good management and comportment in the mountains : knowing what to do, how to react in case of injury, or storms, how to help a wounded person in the cold or under the sun… These courses offer the training necessary for a trail runner to become autonomous because trail-running is not just simply running but also integrating into the surrounding environment.”

The courses earn up to 3 qualification points

The Ultra-Trail® courses allow for the possible acquisition of 3 qualifying points, validation average from both the leader and an external jury. But following the example of « Mont-Blanc courses » in the mountains (courses of 5 days preparation and acclimatisation aiming at the ascension of Mont-Blanc), the awarding of points, same as the arrival at the summit of Europe, is not guaranteed. Bad weather conditions, limited physical condition or insufficient technique can lead to an absence of points. Participation in the courses does not mean automatic acquisition of points.

For these courses in the absence of the idea of the competition, the physical and mental load imposed is equivalent to a trail-running event worth 3 points. To obtain this qualifying recognition, the level of these training courses is very high and the qualities required to participate in it are important: being capable of doing the UTMB ® route at the speed of the official time barriers, having the endurance required for each of 4 stages, of having a minimal experience of the Mountain environment…

As for their progress in stages, the notion is already known and used, since today certain big races with stages like the Marathon des Sables, the Défi de l’Oisans, the Annapurna Mandala Trail, the Desert Oman Raid, the Transrockies run or even the Grand to Grand Ultra… are qualifying and already carry points. Also the number of points from the Ultra-Trail®training courses is determined on the basis of the calculation which is currently used for these races and takes into account the kilometres, positive height gain, number of stages and their difficulty, the time barriers, etc.

Michel Poletti confirms that: « Having tested the courses lead by Vincent Delebarre has run for several years, they demand the physical and mental engagement which is as important as that of a race in stages. They carry a qualitative education on the practice of the trail-running in the mountains (effort management, learning to be autonomous, safety, and respect for the environment…). Beyond just training they can allow the acquisition of the necessary Mountain experience, just as much as by their participation in a race. ».

Training courses for a veritable preparation for trail-running races in the mountains

– Physical and mental preparation

·        170km around the massif of Mont-Blanc

·        9 500m of positive height gain

·        To be realised in 4 days at race speed

·        Around 10 or 12 hours of course each day, including refreshment stops

·        A section realised partially at night

·        Same equipment and rucksack packed as for the Ultra-Trail®

– A technical and tactical training

·        Management of the first hours of the race

·        Techniques : ascending, descending, with poles, without poles, supple running, managing walking/running

·        Management of refreshments

·        Managing long descents

·        Food management

·        Orientation tools and their use

·        Managing the night

·        Micro siestas

·        Equipment, clothing, tips, the pack

·        Diet

·        Training for very long trail races in the mountains

·        Knowing how to read the weather forecasts, adapting clothing and pack

– Raising awareness to the rules of the mountains

·        Life in a mountain hut

·        The dangers of the mountains and adequate reaction to them

·        Witness an accident: what should you do?

·        Taking the fragility of the locality into account

·        Cartography – altimeter

– With recognized technical leaders

·          Vincent Delebarre, high mountain guide, high calibre trail-runner, winner of the 2004 UTMB® 2004, course leader for several years and coordinator of the Ultra-Trail® courses.

·          Jean-Claude Marmier: founder of the Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne (GMHM), one of the pioneers of French and world mountaineering, several times finisher of the UTMB®, supervisor for the Ultra-Trail® courses.

·          Professional recognised mountain leaders and specialists in trail running

·          Specialist contributors: mountain security, experts in nutrition, training, environment, trail runners of high calibre, etc.



–         4 full days

–         4 stages – 165 km – 9 500 m of positive and negative height –

–         Up to 3 qualifying points

Distance 42km 38km 43km 42km
Height gain 2 900m 2 300m 1 900m 2 400m
Height loss 1 400 m 2 700 m 2 700 m 2 800 m
Estimated time 11hrs 10hrs 10hrs 11hrs


–         2 full days

–         2 stages – 100 km – 6 000 m of height gain and 6 150 m height loss –

–         Up to 2 qualifying points

Distance 54km 46km
Height gain 3 255m 2 711m
Height loss 3 010m 3 140m
Estimated time 11hrs 10hrs


–         3 full days

–         3 stages – 119 km – 7 250 m of height gain and 7 450 m height loss –

–         Up to 2 qualifying points

Distance 36km 38km 45km
Height gain 2 524 m 2 364 m 2 372 m
Height loss 1 556 m 2 890 m 3 000 m
Estimated time 10h 9h 11h

A professional and economic dynamic

An information day « trail-running in the mountains » is being organised by the WAA, Vincent Delebarre and Jean-Claude Marmier with the aim of explaining the context of these courses, the stakes and the tolerated levels required by the leaders. It is aimed at, firstly, around ten mountain professionals who because they have the specific information, can supervise the Ultra-Trail® training courses.

The organisers are going even further, by imagining eventually a training which could deliver an additional and specific mention “mountain trail-running” for professional guides or leaders…who would like to organise courses themselves. A discussion is planned with the National School of Ski and Mountaineering to see if it is possible to envisage a collaboration for this training to become recognized speciality, and offered by the mountain careers sector.

Trail-running is today a rapidly expanding phenomenon which is generating an innovative energy urging the development of the discipline and all its players. It is the vector of an economy at every level offering mountain huts, municipalities, guides and race organisers very positive perspectives.

I would be really interested to hear your thoughts and comments on this?

Lizzy Hawker to tame the Mustang

Lizzy Hawker fresh from breaking her own (read HERE) 3-day record for running 319km from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu today is returning to Nepal to take part in the Mustang Mountain Trail Race.

Lizzy Hawker 2012 TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker 2012 TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

The Mustang Trail race is a multistage trail running challenge through the wild, spiritually rich landscapes of Upper Mustang in Nepal. It is race of eight stages of 20 to 40km totaling at least 277 km at altitudes between 3-4000m.

In an email to me she said, “Literally leaving now for Mustang – so will be out of internet / mobile reception until Thursday 9th”.

For centuries this has been the safest trading route between Nepal and Tibet. The well worn trails make the yaks smile, and are thus perfect for trail runners too. Trails undulate over successions of dry hills between oasis-like villages. Scroll way down the page to see the background images.

Mustang with its fairytale landscape is one of the few places in the world to retain an air of mystery. Only opened to tourism in 1992, it is an enclave of pure Tibetan Buddhist culture whose conserved monasteries, and caves alike, house priceless historical treasures.

The Stages

Kagbeni to Chele (31km)

Chele to Ghemi (38km)

Ghemi to Lo Manthang (40km)

Lo Manthang – rest

Lo Manthang to Konchok Ling (31km)

Lo Manthang to Yara (37km)

Yara to Tanggye (32km)

Tanggye to Muktinath (45km)

Muktinath to Jomsom (23km)

Links and Information


Lizzy Hawker to attempt new record!

Lizzy Hawker is going to attempt to break her own 3-day record for running 319km from Everest Basecamp to Kathmandu run.

At 7am on Thursday 18th April internationally renowned endurance athlete Lizzy Hawker began a solo run in the direction of Kathmandu some 319km (198 miles) away.

She is the world record holder for the ‘Everest Mailrun’ the route taken by those carrying letters to and from expeditions at Everest Base Camp before the opening of Lukla airstrip in 1964.

Lizzy Hawker at TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker at TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

record stands at 71 hours 25 minutes, completed in November 2011. She made her first attempt of the run in 2007 with two friends which took 74 hours 36 minutes with just 4 hours sleep in Jiri.

The last Nepali runner to hold the record was Kumar Limbu in 3 days 7hrs and 10mins set in May 2000.

The route is brutally hilly with more than 10,000m ascent and nearly 15,000m descent.

Hawker, who was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2013, won the 100K world championship in 2006, set a 24-hour world record by running 247km at the Commonwealth Championships in September 2011, and set a course record for women in the 250km Spartathlon Ultra Race in Greece last year.

Lizzy Hawker TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless

“I try to focus on running the very best that I can, literally moment by moment,” Hawker recently told the New York Times,  “If I’m in pain or tired, I don’t have to fight it. I can be in myself, in the environment. It’s amazing what you can do running moment to moment.”

Hawker fuels herself on simply banana cake and cheese sandwiches and likes dal but prefers roti to rice.

She is expected to reach Jiri at 4pm Friday and reach the Rangashalla stadium late Saturday night 65 hours after starting at Base Camp.

Earlier this year The North Face sponsored athlete won the 100km Annapurna 100 race and will race the multiday Mustang Trail Race later this month.

Lizzy Hawker blog : HERE

Press Release from :

TNF UTMB mandatory kit

The North Face Ultra Trail Mont Blanc are emphasising early the need to be prepared for the challenge that will undertake all participants in 2013.

Do not underestimate this course!

copyright TNFUTMB

copyright TNFUTMB

The last three years have largely shown that in the mountains, even in summer, it can be very cold, it can rain or snow and temperatures can drop below -10 degrees.

In brief conditions even if not extreme can make an event a lot more complicated than if it were taking place in good weather. Over the years, we have tried to progress in an attempt to make certain that you are always safe, and that you will find all along the route teams of doctors, nurses and general assistance should you need them. However nothing replaces your aptitude to avoid or overcome dangerous situations. You are the first and most important element as far as own safety due to your preparation, your experience and the equipment which you carry with you.

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® is a trail which will lead you to spend more than 24 hours in the mountains including at least one entire night.

Be prepared!

Obligatory material

  • mobile phone with option enabling its use in the three countries
    (put in one’s repertoire the security numbers of the organisation, keep it switched on, do not hide one’s number and do not forget to set off with recharged batteries)
  • personal cup or tumbler 15cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable)
  • stock of water minimum 1 litre,
  • two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries,
  • survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimum
  • whistle,
  • adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm),
  • food reserve,
  • jacket with hood and made with a waterproof (recommendation: minimum 10,000 Schmerber) and breathable (recommendation: RET lower than 13) membrane (Gore-Tex or similar) which will withstand the bad weather in the mountains.
  • long running trousers or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completely,
  • Additional warm midlayer top: One single midlayer long sleeve top for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 180g (Men, size M)
    OR a two piece clothing combination of a long sleeve baselayer/midlayer for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 110g (Men, size M) and a windproof jacket* with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) protection
  • cap or bandana
  • warm hat
  • warm and waterproof gloves
  • waterproof over-trousers

* The windproof jacket does not replace the mandatory waterproof jacket with hood

Lizzy Hawker 2013 Adventurer of the Year

Image copyright National Geographic - Tim Kemple - The North Face

Image copyright National Geographic – Tim Kemple – The North FaceUltrarunner Lizzy Hawker


Ultra trail runner and adventurer Lizzy Hawker wins the holy grail of epic trail races for the fifth time.

When Lizzy Hawker first entered the famed Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a staggering 103-mile race with 31,168 feet of uphill running—more than the equivalent of running up Everest—through the mountains of France, Italy, and Switzerland, it was a simple afterthought to a ten-day climbing vacation. Just ten days before the race, she decided it would be wise to purchase trail running shoes.

“It was my first mountain race,” says the 36-year-old Brit, who now lives in Switzerland. “When I entered in 2005, I had absolutely no idea whether I would even finish. I’d never done anything like that before.”

She did more than finish. She won. Since then, Hawker has won the UTMB an unprecedented five times—a feat that no man or woman has done in a sport where it is difficult to stay uninjured and continually run at the highest levels.

You can read the full post HERE

screenshot_203National Geographic HERE