2012 TNF UTMB Course Changed, Start Possibly Delayed

The 2012 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc course altered due to wintry conditions.

By on August 31, 2012 | 67 comments

The 2012 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc course will be changed due to wintry conditions. It will be at least 100k and will start at [Updated and finalized:] 7 pm local (CEDT) time on Friday. The route will only pass through France. The Grand Col Ferret is impractical. Instead, the course will go through Val Montjoie and Valle de Chamonix.

For those curious, Val Montjoie is the north-south-trending valley containing Notre Dame de la Gorge near its southern head, Les Contamines, and Saint Gervais near its northern mouth. And, Valle de Chamonix is the northeast-southwest valley containing Argentiere on its northeastern head, Chamonix, and Les Houches near is southwestern mouth.

We will continue to update you as we learn more details.

2:30 PM Update From the Official Press Conference

The start time is confirmed for 7 pm local time (CEDT) Friday night with the winner expected to finish around 5:30 am Saturday morning and a 9 pm Saturday cutoff. The course will be approximately 100k (62 miles) with 6,000 meters (20,000′) of climbing. Update: There will be no drop bags.

The aid stations will be, in order:

  • Les Houche
  • Saint Gervais
  • Les Contamines
  • La Balme
  • Les Contamines
  • Les Houches
  • Argentiere
  • Finish

Here’s the elevation profile for the 2012 UTMB alternate course.

2012 TNF UTMB Elevation Profile

The elevation profile of the 2012 TNF UTMB.

2012 TNF UTMB Course Map (pdf)

Points Distance Positiv altitude change First runner Last runner Time barriers
Départ 0.00 Km 0 m 31-19:00 31-19:00
Le Delevret 13.60 Km 1015 m 31-20:10 31-21:53
Saint Gervais 20.88 Km 1123 m 31-20:37 31-22:59
Les Contamines 30.69 Km 1793 m 31-21:34 01-01:21 S-01:20
La Balme 38.82 Km 2372 m 31-22:28 01-03:36 S-03:40
Les Contamines Retour 54.10 Km 2915 m 31-23:52 01-07:05 S-07:05
Bellevue 66.87 Km 4142 m 01-01:38 01-11:27
Les Houches 71.72 Km 4144 m 01-01:59 01-12:19 S-12:20
Les Tines 85.65 Km 5037 m 01-03:37 01-16:22
Argentiere 93.38 Km 5684 m 01-04:38 01-18:52 S-19:00
Chamonix Arrivee 103.42 Km 5862 m 01-05:30 01-21:01

Ongoing List of Runners Who Have Withdrawn from the 2012 TNF UTMB

  • Iker Karrera
  • Julien Chorier

11:45 AM Update

It appears as though some major competitors will choose not to start the race after learning of the announced course changes.

Per Miguel Heras, “He decidido tomar la salida, aunque el trazado no me favorece. Mis compañeros de equipo no correrán, ha sido decisión personal de cada uno.”

English translation by Roger Soto, “I’ve decided to start even if the route doesn’t suit (favour) me. My teammates aren’t running, each one of us has taken his personal decision.”

11:30 AM Update

Weather conditions too difficult on Col du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, and the Grand Col Ferret.

The UTMB departs around 19:00 on an alternate course in France.

The first part of the UTMB route remains unchanged, then returns to La Balme, Les Contamines, and Les Houches and by a different route. It will then run along the valley of Chamonix to just before the Col des Montets to join the CCC route to return to Chamonix by way of Argentiere.

100km, 6,000 meters of climb.
Maps of new routes and time barriers available soon.

9 AM Update

Here is this morning’s press release (in French with full English translation below):

2012 TNF UTMB course change and delay

Course Modifications
Chamonix, August 31st, 2012 at 9 am

CCC
Departing 10 am at Courmayeur.
Winter conditions above 2,000 meters, cold, snow, wind.
The course without Tete de la Tronche [the first pass of the regular CCC course] and without Tete aux Vents [the last pass of the regular CCC course].

UTMB
Due to winter conditions on the passes, an alternate course in France only. Col Ferret [a 2,500 meter pass in Italy at the 99k mark of the regular UTMB course] impractical.
Val Montjoie [the valley containing Notre Dame de la Gorge, Les Contamines, and Saint Gervais], Chamonix Valley [the valley containing Argentiere, Chamonix, and Les Houches], at least 100 kilometers.
Departing between 18:30 and 20:00.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.