I ran the UTMB in 2012. I even made a blog post of the experience. Due to snow, the course got changed from going through France, Italy and Switzerland to just being in the French Alps. Here are the pointers I have for any Canadian who is also contemplating this.


I did not have any crew when I went. I did not feel that this penalized me unduly. The refreshment stations were quite well stocked so food wasn’t an issue.

The biggest thing I missed about not having a support crew was emotional support. There were other people there with support crews, so I was able to steal some encouragement from them.


I stayed at the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Hostel. It was good for me. There were great meals each night for a reasonable price. I found the meals there better than when I went into town. I got a free bus pass to get me to and from town.

That said, it would have been terrible if I had had a support crew. The hostel is 2km away from the race. And the bus doesn’t run too frequently, and not at all at night. If a support person was staying there, they would have had to take the public bus to town and then take the support bus to the appropriate aid station. I don’t think that would have worked out.

Don’t skimp and neglect to get a room for while you are running. If something goes wrong, or the course gets changed on you, you may be back earlier than you expect.


The thing to remember is that the Alps have been inhabited for thousands of years. There are building that are older than my country. All the trails have been used for a very long time. The locals have had plenty of time to bring bridges over any obstacles. Your biggest problem will be mountains. It will not be mud and water.

The closest equivalent I can think of is leg three of the Sinister 7. Or possibly a drier leg four of the Death Race.


The required equipment list is very extensive. I found it handled everything I needed. More than handled. The reason the course was changed for me was due to snow. I did not find it that bad and I was in shorts the entire time. Even though they wanted me to have more clothing, I found the base equipment was already too much.

Don’t get folding poles. i.e The ones with a concealed inner cord and can fold up into portable segments. Get solid screwy ones that just extend. I saw poles littering the course, and I’m pretty sure I saw the folding ones far more often.

Bring Immodium and remember to take it. The water in Europe is potable but it is still different from what you are used to. I had bad digestion problems for the first week that I was there.