Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)
170KM | August | Chamonix, France
Qualifying FOR UTMB
Understanding The Point System
Most races in the US that have a qualifying standard take one of two approaches: (1) require runners to complete a minimum race distance or (2) require runners to complete a specific race.
The Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run is an example of the first approach. For the 2019 running of Cascade Crest, entrants “ must complete an organized trail 50-miler or longer between January 1st, 2019 and July 31st, 2019, or have completed an organized trail 100-miler ever.” Cascade Crest’s qualifying standards are here.
The Hardrock Hundred (HRH), a “post-graduate” run, is an example of the second approach. It provides a list of specific qualifying races that race management believes “give[s] the runner and the HRH management confidence that the runner is prepared to safely complete the HRH.” You can view the Hardrock list here.
UTMB, on the other hand, utilizes a point system. Relying on a difficulty-based point system administered by the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), UTMB stipulates a minimum number of points with a maximum number of races. For 2019, runners must earn 15 points in no more than three races. (Interestingly, a runner who has completed UTMB in the past does not automatically qualify: UTMB is worth six points — the current maximum awarded under ITRA standards.)
With the 15-point minimum and the three-race maximum, there are three possible combinations of points:
6, 6, 3
6, 5, 4
5, 5, 5
A runner can, of course, go over 15 points — running three races worth six points each, for example. For the sake of simplicity, though, we’ll assume you’re trying to collect 15 points and call it good.
Finding a Qualifying Race
UTMB’s organizers provide a search tool for identifying qualifying races for the week-long series of running events. Runners can filter by location, distance, points, etc. It’s a great place to start your planning.
To our knowledge, however, they do not publish a comprehensive list of every race that qualifies just for UTMB. By virtue of math, races worth one or two points don’t “count.”
Minimum Total Distance TO QUALIFY — 202 Miles (325K)
By our math, the shortest total distance you can run to qualify for UTMB is approximately 325 kilometers (202 miles):
5 points: 100K (Finlayson Arm — September, BC)
5 points: 115K (Georgia Death Race — March, GA)
5 points: 110K (Whistler Alpine Meadows — September, BC)
TOTAL: 325K (202M)
There aren’t many ~100Ks worth five points, so we had to be specific about each race.
Maximum Total Distance to Qualify — 320 Miles (515K)
How dare we suggest you want to minimize your race mileage! For those of you looking to log as many miles as possible, here is the maximum number of miles you can log:
6 points: 120M (Fat Dog — August, BC)
6 points: 100M
6 points: 100M
TOTAL: 320M (515K)
There are lots of 100-milers worth six points, so we’ll let you pick and choose the last two.
List of 123 Qualifying Races in US and British Columbia
Since we couldn’t find a list, we created our own. Below are the 123 US- and British Columbia-based races worth three or more UTMB points in 2019. UTMB’s list changes often, so we encourage you to double-check before putting up registration money for an event!