Following the cancellation of the 2020 edition of UTMB Mont Blanc due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UTMB Group has announced the launch of UTMB for the Planet; a digital sporting event to bring the community together around a united cause. Having previously committed to work towards "a common cause in order to contribute to make the world a better place."
UTMB Group will offer runners 4 virtual races based on the main distances of the event; UTMB Virtual 50, UTMB Virtual 100, UTMB Virtual 170, UTMB Virtual 240. Entry into the UTMB for the Planet virtual races is free, and all participants are invited to donate the amount of their choice when they register to support WWF France projects. The virtual races be officially launched on July 20th and will be accessible to all runners from around the world.
Partners since 2019, UTMB Mont-Blanc and WWF France both work to harmonize trail running activities with environmental issues, by developing and promoting alternative solutions for the entire trail running industry in terms of food, transport, waste minimization and public awareness.
The virtual races will be live from July 20th to August 30th and will be hosted on a new UTMB for the Planet digital platform which is being developed in-house by UTMB Group and will integrate a real-time ranking. To encourage the greatest number of runners to take part, participants will be able to complete their chosen distance over several runs or in one go. The classification will also take into account the kilometre-effort* for people who cannot integrate elevation gain in their run.
Catherine Poletti, UTMB Group President, commented:"With UTMB for the Planet we wanted to offer another way to meet, to bond and to unite. It is, in a way, an extension of our values in which runners, partners, the municipalities of the Pays du Mont-Blanc, and more generally the entire trail community can come together. These values are respect for the environment, solidarity and adventure. The COVID crisis has reshuffled the cards and more than ever, we must stand together. This upheaval has shown us how important it is to act responsibly and sustainably, and to carry out projects that unite us. Joining forces WWF France is a logical continuation of the partnership we signed together in 2019, to enable us to achieve our objectives. Through these virtual races, UTMB wishes to work alongside the WWF France to harmonize outdoor activities with the environmental issues of the territories."
In addition to the virtual races, original and exclusive challenges will be organised in conjunction with the various UTMB Group partners, in order to support the outdoor industry which has been hard hit by the crisis. These challenges will offer different sporting formats such as night races, a variety of distances, team events or challenges based on elevation, and will be available throughout the summer on the digital platform.
Through UTMB for the Planet, UTMB Group wishes to send a forward-thinking and encouraging recovery message to the trail, outdoor and tourism industries. While the virtual races are accessible to runners from all over the world, those who can travel, are also invited to take on the virtual race of their choice on the trails of the Pays du Mont-Blanc which will be free to access throughout the summer.
From 27th-30th August, the territories of Mont Blanc will come together to welcome runners who wish to complete their race in the region. A special welcome, in compliance with the health regulations, will be offered to runners by the municipalities of the territory as well as the tourism stakeholders, with whom the organisation is working to define the conditions.