A music store, the fire in the tunnel, the Kilian phenomenon ... the history of the UTMB, the most important race in the world

"Over the years I've learned that this week I have to sleep at least five hours every night because if it's not then it does not work for me, it's hard, but

A music store, the fire in the tunnel, the Kilian phenomenon ... the history of the UTMB, the most important race in the world

"Over the years I've learned that this week I have to sleep at least five hours every night because if it's not then it does not work for me, it's hard, but I get it," recognizes Catherine Poletti to the world, although he does not know where he gets the Time between Dersaults, presentation of athletes, promotional events, solidarity events, and, above all, races, many mountain races, up to seven, with the most important in the world, the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc (UTMB), 170 kilometers , as an epicenter this Friday.

In Chamonix, at the foot of the Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, Poletti almost twenty years ago began the fever for Trail Running and, there he continues, receiving the 10,000 runners that each edition crowded to enroll - "in 2008 The dorsals were exhausted in eight minutes "- and that they have run the previous races that the UTMB demands. He directs a team of dozens of people, generates an impact of tens of millions for the territory and that everything began by accident. Literally by accident.

In March 1999, the driver of a tourism occurred to him to pull a cigar butt through the window in the middle of the Mont Blanc tunnel, it entered through the air filter of a truck that transported flour and margarine and the slow fire that provoked He ended with the lives of 39 people. The tunnel was closed for three years. And the inhabitants of the area, like Poletti and her husband Michel, had to surround the highest mountain of the European Union again and again, again and again.

"Michel and I studied computers in Grenoble and we did not want to go to Living at Paris, where there was more job, so we decided to open a music store in Chamonix. I had been a pianist, my family is musicians, so we found good idea . One day, after the tunnel fire, we talked with some friends about recovering a race that was already done, the Montblanc, but by the mountain, not as asphalt as until then. And so the UTMB was born. It was 2003, we thought that 300 people would register and came 700. Michel, who was a runner, took care of the sports part and I played the organizational one, "recalls Polletti, today President of the UTMB Group, with all his family involved: her husband Michel is still a director , his daughter Isabelle is the current director of the race and his son David Comanda a related company, Live Trail, timing.

All lived the immediate boom of the race, which already in 2005 exhausted its 5,000 dorsals with seven months in advance, and the appearance in 2008 that still today is its reference, Kilian Jornet, although only a member of the family, David, suffered The latter especially. "By regulations Until the age of 20 you can not participate in the UTMB and when it turned 20, in 2008, my son enrolled in the race, I asked myself: 'Do you think I'll win at my age?' And no, the truth is that he did not win. Another 20-year-old boy was a faster tag, "recalls Polletti with Sarna. The Jornet phenomenon, who exploded that year, changed everything, the UTMB, the Running Trail and even fashion in the mountains.

With Spanish as an icon and the race as a dream, many got hooked and everyone did as it did: with faster and faster sneakers, with the innovative vests, with pants, t-shirts or jackets very, very light. "For me that is the main change, in addition to the number of corridors, now there are more, they are younger and, above all, are more prepared. In the first years the Trail Running was very rustic, men, many times older than 40 or 50 years, with his beards and his clothes very little technical. The change is Kilian thing, yes, but also from Salomon. And it is not the brand that sponsors the race [it is Columbia], but I must admit that they were the first In innovating in our field, "concludes the President of the UTMB Group, which has now undertaken an ambitious path.

Years ago, to try to content the many runners who are every year left outside the UTMB, it created a point system, itra points, which only allowed access to those who had a good history of prior racing. Most trail tests from around the world, large, medium and small, stick to distribute the itra points that allowed to access the UTMB and the runners were looking for them like gold. But that has been over.

This year UTMB has been allied with another similar company, Ironman, to organize a series of proper tests around the world who, in the end, will lead to the test reigns around the Montblanc. In Spain, at the moment, there is only one, the Val d'Aran by UTMB, but according to Poletti will soon be another and the network, earlier as late, will be composed of about 40 races. The Trail Running was, it is and it will be his thing. And that everything started by accident.

Updated Date: 26 August 2021, 14:44

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