For trail running racing, the equivalent of the World Cup of the competitive side of the sport is taking place right now… The Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc… the championship event in the Ultra Trail World Tour.
The first edition was held only in 2003, but has risen in popularity year upon year. As the number of participants are limited, it has become a much sought after race bib! Today several friends and XACT athletes took a spot at the start line in the mountain village of Chamonix, the birthplace of modern mountaineering… Here are some of them…
JOAN ROCH, MONTREAL (BIB #168)
Joan is probably the most experienced Canadians when it comes to 100 mile trail races taking part in the UTMB this year. Joan recently ran the Vermont and Masanutten 100 mile races, but neither of these come close to the daunting vertical that is the hallmark of UTMB. Secret fact: Joan made sure he was packing XACT ENERGY fruit bars for the UTMB to supplement what is on offer at the feed/aid stations!
Good luck Joan! (PS it’s pronounced yo-ann)
Photography: Alexis Berg / Grand Trail
ALISTER GARDNER, BROMONT (BIB #125)
Alister qualified for the UTMB in 2014 but was not able to start due to injury. 2015 has seen Alister perform spectacularly at some very competitive marathons, Philadelphia, New York and London.. it has also seen Alister open a specialty running store in Granby, Quebec, Course et Cie. We caught up with Alister and co-owner Audrey during a trail running camp they organized in the eastern Township mountains of Quebec (they promise a repeat next year) just last month and despite the marathons and the chalennges of starting a new business as well as being very active in his local running community (Alister designs and sets the Bromont Ultra course) managed to get in the training necessary for the UTMB! Secret fact : Alister is 100% vegan and is known to be a little evangelical. Just as well XACT ENERGY fruit bars are vegan too!
FREDERIC BERG, POITIERS/MONTREAL (BIB #754)
Frederick splits his time between Montreal and his native Poitiers, but most recently has been based in France but travelling a huge amount whilst working on his upcoming book, Grand Trail, a labour of love he has embarked upon with his brother, Alexis Berg that describes the most spectacular ultramarathons in the world (in french). Good luck Frederick and we cant wait to see the Grand Trail later this year. Secret fact : The photgraphy in Grand Trail is a work of art in itself!
Sebastien set off earlier this morning in the CCC (Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix) race, one of the many races held during UTMB week. One of the “smaller distance” races, it is a formidable at 101km & 6100m of positive altitude change. Sebastien is highly active in the Quebec trail running community, he co founded the reference Ultra trail race in eastern Canada, Ultra Trail Harricana of Canada, which this year ‘s edition will see some celebrities of the trail running world travel to race… Sebastien Chaigneault, Yohan Stuck and form nearer home, previous winners Florent Bouguin, Ian McNairn and Jeff Gosselin for the 125 km signature event… and a host of local up and coming talent for the 65, 28 , 10 and 5 km distances. Seb also coaches on a volunteer basis for the Montreal Trail Club as well as representing Canada at ITRA (International Trail Running Association). Secret fact: Sebastien is known for his bohemian taste in legging wear!
THIBAULT CROCHON, GRENOBLE (BUT PREVIOUSLY MONTREAL!) (RACE BIB #3112)
Thibault also competes in the CCC today, he has been preparing for many months and whilst no longer a resident of Canada we still think of him as such… He helped found the Montreal Trail Running club and has been personally responsible for putting this writer (me) through many hours of pain (or fun depending on how long after we’re talking about) and most recently led and hosted members of the Montreal Trail Club in his native alps for the Marathon du Mont Blanc and Ice Trail Tarentaise races. Thibault we wish you all the best! Secret fact: Thibault ensures he never runs out of XACT ENERGY even when in the hexagon (France) by ordering them from our friends at trailstore.fr