From Friday, July 5 to Sunday, July 7, Val d’Isère is the setting for 9 separate mountain races for different standards of competitor. These range from the ultra to the (almost) beginner. This year sees the inclusion of the Odyssea charity race and a two-person relay which will greatly enhance these rather special sporting weekend against the beautiful backdrop of the French Alps.
The event kicks off with the Vertical Kilometre on the Face de Bellevarde. At 4pm on Friday, July 5 the cream of the trail running world will tack the one-in-three slope that made its debut as the men’s Olympic downhill course in 1992. Only this time, the athletes – with running shoes rather than race skis – will be going up it, rather than down it. This is one of the 17 races on the VERTICAL KILOMETER® WORLD CIRCUIT.
Saturday, July 7 at the early hour of 4am, sees the start of the actual High Trail Vanoise, a hugely demanding 70km of running through a mighty vertical of 5400m. This is the Blue Riband event for top athletes. It takes the runners through the beautiful Vanoise National Park up to the 3650m summit of the Grande Motte glacier and to the Aiguille Pers, passing along the scenic shore of the lac de l’Ouillette on Solaise above Val d’Isère.
This year, for those want to experience the snow-laden glaciers with a partner you’ll have the opportunity to run in DUO (2 people). High Trail Vanoise earns 2 points according to the old ITRA scale and 4 points on the new one (mountain level 12).
Saturday continues with the 8.30am departure of runners in the also demanding Trail des 6 Cols. The course is shorter than that of its big brother, but nevertheless extremely challenging. The high altitude route takes competitors to a number of peaks around Val d’Isère. These include the 2780 m Passage de Picheru, the 2780 m, Grande Sassière, the 2845m Col de la Bailletaz, Col Pers at 3000 m, l Col de l’Iseran at 2764 m, the Tunnel des Leissières at 2940 m and the Col de la Madeleine at 2690 m. In all, the athletes, alone or in two-person relay teams, cover 42 km and 3500m of vertical.
This year, two-person relay teams can complete the course. Le Trail des 6 cols earns 1 point on the old ITRA scale and 3 points on the new one (mountain level 12)
Throughout Sunday there are further trails for all levels. At 9.30am these begin with the Trail des Balcons de Val d’Isère with 1000m of vertical over 20km. This is an ideal event for exploring the stunning scenery around Val d’Isère. The route takes you along the Manchet valley, past the lac de l’Ouillette at 2500m,and then into the forêt de Laisinant before you reach the hamlet of Le Fornet. The route continues to the hamlet of Le Crêt and onwards to the finishing line through the forêt de la Balme.
Les Balcons de Val d’Isère scores 0 points according to the old ITRA scale and 1 point on the new one (mountain level 9)
10am on Sunday sees the start of the Odyssea race in aid of breast cancer research. It’s the charity’s first race at altitude for this worthy cause and the 9km route takes runners through 300 vertical metres. The event is open to all, with a cut-off time limit of two hours. There’s a minimum donation per participant of 10€ and all the money raised goes to the charity.
The final events of the weekend are in the Trails Jeunes (the youth category). Start time is at 2pm for racers aged 7-11 years and 12-15 years. Playstations are up for grabs, and refreshments are provided by Andros et Pierrot Gourmand. Entry is free online or at the bib collecting point until 30 minutes before the start.