2015 Ultra-Trail World Tour Schedule Announced

Ultra-Trail World Tour sqAfter a successful inaugural year, today the Ultra-Trail World Tour, in a press conference in Paris, France, announced its 2015 schedule. We learned that the 10 races of the tour’s inaugural year will remain in the tour for 2015, with the addition of Switzerland’s Eiger Ultra Trail for a total of 11 races on the 2015 calendar.

2015 Ultra-Trail World Tour Schedule

More Insight on the Eiger Ultra Trail

The Eiger Ultra Trail 101k (referred to locally as the E101) was added to the 2015 UTWT today, so we spoke with race director Ralph Näf to get some back story on the race itself.

iRunFar: Why did the Eiger Ultra Trail want to join the Ultra-Trail World Tour?

Ralph Näf: The reputation and myth of the Eiger has to be in the Ultra-Trail World Tour. Trail running is booming–more and more ultra events are coming up. It is becoming competitive to reach the runners. Also, we look forward to attract elite runners, create synergies, exchange knowledge, and develop a bigger international reputation. At the end, of course, it is our main goal to secure the trail running event at the foot of the Eiger and promote our destination as an attractive trail running spot.

iRunFar: What does the course offer that will attract runners globally, in terms of the scenery, how the course is layed out, and the ability for runners traveling from afar to learn and experience Switzerland through their whole visit?

Näf: The elegance of our mountains Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, and the presence of the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau-Aletsch. The route, with 101k and 6,700 meters altitude difference, with its challenging climbs and technical sections, and a few leisurely trails thrown in for good measure, is considered a tough test for any trail runner. The panoramic views along some of the staging locations (Grindelwald, Grosse Scheidegg, First, Bachalpsee, Faulhorn at 2,680 meters–the highest attainable altitude in the race, Schynige Platte, Wengen, Männlichen, Kleine Scheidegg, traverse along the base of the Eiger North Face) are so vast and impressive that they literally carry you away.

We want runners to experience, see, and be a part of our culture in Grindelwald. On the course we offer local cheese, meat, and ham, and traditional folklore music is part of the entertainment in the event area. As nice last example to be also mentioned, all finishers take a piece of the Eiger home. The finisher medal is Eiger limestone rock collected on the base of the Eiger by the organizing team. So every medal is unique.

iRunFar: Registration opened for the race before it was announced as part of the tour, and the website says that as of November 13th, almost all the bibs are taken. Since the UTWT is meant to be something for both elite and ‘regular’ runners to experience, do you have a plan for allowing extra entries to those who have interest in taking part in the tour?

Näf: Our registrations opened 10th October. By then we didn’t know about the selection [to the tour]. Indeed, the E101 and E51 races are already very well booked. E51 is nearly sold out. The maximum number of participants for each trail is set according to the risk management of the Eiger Ultra Trail event. Runners on E51 and E101 are half of the distance at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters above sea level. The highest check point (Faulhorn) is at 2,680 meters.

The estimated time for a complete, proper, and safe trail evacuation; the remoteness; the transport capacity; and all this in context with the short-term weather forecast on the event day sets the maximum number of participants–this especially on the stretch between Bussalp to Faulhorn and Schynige Platte.

I am sure, than many potential UTWT runners are already registered for the Eiger Ultra Trail. Of course we look forward to welcoming top athletes from UTWT. With an extensive communication of our UTWT membership this Thursday, we hope to reach many regular UTWT runners in the coming days. If all comes right, we may open the limit with a few bibs–but at the end, our risk management sets the limit which we will stick to.

iRunFar: How do you think Eiger Ultra Trail adds to or compliments the other races of the UTWT?

Näf: Our add is the legendary Eiger with its North Face and the true, fascinating but also tragic stories about the first ascent. They were pioneers–we want our runners to be pioneers as well. The event organising team is united in its opinion that such amazing scenery rightly deserves an ultra-trail race and to be part of the UTWT. The 360-degree view from the Faulhorn at 2,680 meters, the stunning glimpse from above the Lauterbrunnen valley, and the final stride along the base of the Eiger North Face will set new accents in the trailing running scene. All of this within the UNESCO World Heritage site Jungfrau-Aletsch is a truly spectacular and unforgettable alpine experience.

 Madiera Island Ultra Trail as a ‘Future’ UTWT Race

The UTWT announced that they are considering the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail 115k, to be held on April 11 in 2015, for future inclusion in the tour. The UTWT says that the race has the all of the qualities they seek in a tour race with the exception of the correct number of runners. While the UTWT wants to bring attention to the race by naming it for possible future inclusion, it isn’t part of the official 2015 tour, and runners cannot score tour points by participating in it.

More Insight on the 2015 Ultra-Trail World Tour Scoring and Award Structure

For 2015, five races have been named ‘Series’ races:

  • Transgrancanaria,
  • Marathon des Sables,
  • The North Face 100k – Australia,
  • Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and
  • La Diagonale des Fous.

This represents a change from the four ‘Series’ races in 2014, which were Transgrancanaria, Marathon des Sables, Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji, and Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc.

As with the 2014 UTWT, runners participating in ‘Series’ races receive added points toward their overall scoring in the tour.

[Editor’s Note: It is anticipated the the scoring and award structure for the 2015 UTWT will be the same as 2014, aside from this change in the number of and which ‘Series’ races runners can earn extra points at. As we gain more details, we’ll update this section.]

Call for Comments

  • Did you participate in the Ultra-Trail World Tour in 2014? If so, what did you think?
  • What are your thoughts on the 2015 UTWT?
  • Is anyone tempted to give a couple of these races a go?
Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com’s Senior Editor, the author of ‘Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,’ and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world’s wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

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