By: Spencer @runsonfruit
On the 18th December the ballot opens for the Lottery type application for places in one of the highly coveted UTMB races. You have until the 3rd of January to complete your registration and then until the 10th of January to wait nervously for the outcome.
So with just less than a week to go until I put my own bid in for a place it has got me thinking about just how important this time of year is for me. This is because the outcome of the UTMB lottery will; dictate my training program, direct the races I enter in preparation and occupy every spare thought up until race week in late August. I know this is this case because for the past 3 years I have been lucky enough to gain a ballot entry in each of the UTMB races I have ‘bid’ for. Starting with the OCC in 2016 (56KM), the CCC in 2017 (101km), and the TDS this year, 2018 (125km).
For the observant among you, or for those who are aware of the different races offered in the circus that is the UTMB, that leaves just the one distance to cover, the full round. The prospect of doing all 4 races, in 4 successive years is so exciting and is rarely achieved, so I would like to think the Ballot Gods will take this into account… (if only!)
The full round, THE UTMB, The big boy. It’s a 170km (106mile) trail race that circles the entire circumference of Mont Blanc. It culminates an amazing week and festival of trail running that takes over the alpine town of Chamonix. It is a week that is electric from start to finish and is spoken about as the mecca of Trail running. This race (if successful in the ballot) will be an enormous undertaking. I have never run a 100mile race before, so I really am stepping into unknown territory. Yes, 2019 will be screaming ‘Volume’ in terms of mileage, but besides mileage, the whole thing is a daunting prospect.
Despite the trepidation and impending fear of what it will mean to be successful in the UTMB ‘full round’ ballot, my overwhelming feelings are of excitement. I have seen many friends, pros and pro friends take on this race. I have; tracked them, supported their superhuman efforts and stayed up through all hours to cheer them home. As such I would be very proud to toe the start line myself of this hugely anticipated race.
I know in the next few weeks the excitement of Santa will be belittled by the anticipation of the UTMB ballot. Between the 18th of December and 10th January I will be eagerly waiting the outcome of my own ballot entry, as well as those of friends and team mates as the outcome paves the way for who will be running and who will be supporting in Chamonix during the summer.
I’m trying to keep a level head and remind myself that If I'm not successful this time, I’ll try my luck again in 2020, try a different race in 2019 and of course you won't be able to keep me away as I will still be heading out to Chamonix for the week to support others. However the big kid inside me is really screaming ‘PLEASE LET IT BE ME’ whilst stamping my size 14 feet and waving my arms in the air. I have all my toes and fingers crossed for a successful ballot draw I as know other race will quite be the same.
So, my advice for any of you aspiring UTMB Trail runners is, If you have the points you need for a UTMB race, don’t miss the out on the ballot. December 18th is when it opens and you have until the 3rd of January to complete the form. If you don’t have the points this year, then enter some races (Maverick X-series events all now offer UTMB points, so check those out) to collect the points, so that you can enter the ballot next year.