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UTMR 2018: Bold, brutal, beautiful.

We look back on another epic edition of the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa (UTMR). The athletes we followed in training share their experiences from one of the world's toughest trail races.

The fourth edition of UTMR was proved to be another epic, as hundreds of ultra runners tested their physical and mental limits in the Monte Rosa massif. 

 

The winner of the 170km men’s race was Swizerland’s Matthieu Girard in 32 hours, 59 minutes. The women’s 170km race was won by Britain’s Nicky Spinks in 37 hours, 11 minutes. Full results are available at ultratourmonterosa.com

 

After the race we caught up with the athletes we’d followed during training to hear about their experiences in this truly alpine adventure. 

 

 

Pip Haylett - the urban ultrarunner

“There were so many highlights to the UTMR - it's absolutely stunning and almost every turn brings a beautiful view of the mountains.  The other runners were all really friendly, but my favourite moment was fellow runner Sarah Hansel appearing out of the bushes on the climb up the Colle del Turlo.  She'd been having a quick sleep halfway up the climb. She appeared out of the darkness and kept me company for the next few miles.

 

“I was happy with the performance. I had a wobble on the last 20kms, when I lost my footing a few times, but managed to pull myself together and keep up with the people in front of me."   

 

“The On Chalet was a definite highlight.  From the supporting cheers to the crew inside looking after your every need, to the fantastically well stocked food, drink, massage and kit options there. My split for the section to the next aid station was faster than the eventual winner, which shows how much of a boost I got from the stop!

 

“I will definitely be back.  It's an amazing place, an amazing race with a real intimate feel to it, despite its huge distance.  I loved it, it was one of my favourite races so far!”

 

See Pip’s pre-race film

 

Kirra Balmanno - the defending champion

"My experience with the 2018 UTMR didn’t finish on the high note that was the previous year’s win, but I still had an incredible experience out there on the trails from Gressoney to Saas Fee, where I had to pull out of the race with an injury that had stuck with me from the first descent. 

 

"This year, a string of injuries impeded an ideal lead up to the race. I stepped up to the start line with no expectations, just hoping that my body would make it through the 100 technical kilometres up and over the three big passes. It didn’t. 

 

"I left the race unfinished but brought away with me gratitude for spending solid time in the mountains with new friends and old and witnessing an incredible sunrise as I crossed back into Switzerland. I was unable to celebrate my own finish, but had the opportunity to celebrate and cheer for others achievements. At the end of the day, it’s just one race, as we have just one body, to respect and take care of so that we can spend many more days enjoying the mountains and all of the beauty of endurance running." 

 

See Kirra’s pre-race film

 

 

 

Pam Reed – the ultrarunning legend

"It was a really fun experience, but extremely difficult. Doing it with other people made it fun. The On Chalet was amazing. The announcer at the prior aid station told me there was going to be a surprise. And when I got there I was blown away. It was so well put together it was kind of like you were in some fancy hotel. It was great. It honestly picked me up when as I was starting to not feel very good. And now I have to get ready for Hawaii (the Ironman World Championships in Kona)!" 

 

See Pam’s pre-race film

 

On is title sponsor of the 2018 Ultra Tour Monte Rosa(UTMR), taking place every September. Said to be one of the most beautiful ultramarathons in the world, the trail winds through the Swiss and Italian Alps, encircling one of the biggest mountain massifs in Europe. With three race options: The four-day stage race, the 100km Ultra 3Passes or the full 170km Ultra Tour - the UTMR has something to offer every experienced trail runner.

 

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