Saint-Jacques by UTMB: a trail in the footsteps of pilgrims

At the top of an almost vertical paved alley, you come across the monumental facade of the cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay. Mineral colors and ancestral atmosphere: around, the old town and its centuries-old alleys immerse you in the Middle Ages. The stone storefronts rub shoulders with the lodges and their dormitories filled with tired walkers and broken shoes. This sets the scene, that of the stages of the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Developing the “World Series” circuit

However, this weekend, the pilgrims are of a different style. More athletic, their bags have been reduced to the bare minimum and their high shoes have been replaced by sneakers. As for the facade of the cathedral, it borders an arrival arch with 4 letters, well known to mountain sports enthusiasts, printed everywhere: UTMB.

Here is the reason: as part of the development of its “World Series” circuit, the famous Chamonix organization has brought several renowned races around the world into its fold. In France, the trail of Saint-Jacques is the first to take place since the creation of the circuit. The new Nice event and the Restonica in Corsica will follow, without forgetting the original UTMB, at the end of August in Chamonix.

For this first, some 3,000 runners joined one of the four races of the stage with dimensions ranging from 17 km to 123 km, four formats standardized by the circuit (20 km, 50 km, 100 km and 100 miles) . “We are here because we have always wanted to be part of this pilgrimage. Since then, we started trail running, explains Thierry who, with his son Jules, are part of the large peloton of nearly 800 runners in the 42 km. And even if these are not exactly the paths of the pilgrimage, it allows us to have an overview of the region. And to collect two “Running Stones” along the way. We would like to do one of the UTMB races next year. »

Collect “Running Stones” for Chamonix

Here is therefore an additional motivation for these runners who had to brave hours, even tens of hours of hardship under the scorching sun of this weekend heralding an episode of national heat wave: to collect “Running Stones” which will will allow, from 2023, to join the Chamonix UTMB draw, now reserved for practitioners who have completed one of the races on the UTMB World Series circuit.

As for the athletes, in the lead on the queen race (123 km), Aubin Ferrari took the lead after sharing the trails with his brother Hugo. Because, for the elite too, the races of the UTMB World Series involve a major challenge: to be invited to line up on the starting line of the UTMB, it will now be necessary to be on one of the podiums of the UTMB World Series.

Bet won for Aubin, victorious, his pilgrimage is synonymous with a ticket to turn, in 2022 or 2023, around the Mont-Blanc massif. Less success for his brother Hugo (4th at the finish): he will have to try his luck again in one of the 24 other events of the UTMB World Series.

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