America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

French publication Mile and Stone has a great overview of this historic event in Chamonix in their latest newsletter. Here are some highlights.

On the inspiration and creation of the event:

“In 1976, we saw the birth of Sierre-Zinal on the Swiss side. The Chamonix Sports Club quickly decided to draw inspiration from it to create the Mont-Blanc cross-country race in 1979. It was a different time, of course, when you could pick up your number at the start line, without having to wear any compulsory equipment or have a federal licence”, recalls Frédéric Comte, director of the Chamonix Sports Club since 2006, the club still organising the event 45 years after its creation.

So many great events were created in the 70s and have had a longstanding history.

On the partnership with Salomon and how the event is being perceived in the community:

The following year, everything accelerated with the arrival of the event’s historic partner: Salomon. “With Salomon, I’m used to saying that we’ve grown together. They used our event and we used their expertise as a leading company. They’re really part of the team, and it’s really interesting to work with them. They have a real vision and a rare understanding of the sport”, comments Frédéric Comte. “Today, being a partner of the Mont Blanc Marathon means seeing 60,000 people pass by your stand in the village, because each runner comes with an average of five companions! It’s a different population from the UTMB, more family-oriented, more relaxed. To show off your new trail products, it’s a must”, says Grégory Vollet.

And more on the business side of the event:

With a budget of almost €1.2 million, the Mont Blanc Marathon is one of the top trail events in France. “70% of this budget comes from registrations, the rest from private partners. We get almost no public money. The local authority allows us to run our races – that’s not bad – and it works on maintaining the trails all year round and provides rescue services. We’re lucky in Chamonix to have particularly good support in this area” explains Frédéric Comte.

A bit more insight here into how these type of events are setup in Europe: No permit fees from the local authorities, but also no subsidies. In other parts of Europe local municipalities are heavily subsidizing these type of events with their tourism budgets in the hope to bring tourists into town to fill the beds in the community.

On the media production:

Today, the MMB is one of the flagship events of the Golden Trail World Series, and its longest race too. “In recent years, we’ve taken charge of producing and broadcasting the race (since 2023 on Eurosport) and we’ve brought in our own teams of content producers”, continues Grégory Vollet.

Salomon, the main sponsor brings their own media team to cover the event.

On the focus to reduce the carbon footprint of the event:

“We weigh all our waste and do carbon footprints after each event. From 2025 onwards, each runner will receive his or her own carbon footprint and will be obliged to offset it”, he (Frédéric Comte) continues.

The fact that the article in the newsletter ends with a focus on the environment – in a business newsletter at that – is such a important challenge for all race directors and events managers to make this piece not an afterthought, but build it into their business plans.

A few more interesting pieces of information for the Marathon Mont Blanc:

  • The event offers six events of varying distances and additional kids races for different age groups.
  • The finish line is right in downtown Chamonix, in the same place as UTMB’s.
  • The Golden Trail Series race is the 42km marathon, but there’s also a 90km distance offered and a 2 person team event.
  • Salomon is the title sponsor and essentially only “big name” global brand sponsor of the event.
  • The live tracking show 11, 202 runners registered (that includes about 1,100 kids registered for the various kids races!).
  • 139 runners from the US are at the starting lines.

The Marathon Mont-Blanc is an absolute massive event on the global trail running scene. And while only one race is at the ultra distance, with 1,302 people at the starting line of the 90km this race alone makes it a bigger single ultra race than any race in the US (I believe).

Information on how to follow the event live can be found here and on Eurosport.