The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is the world’s premier trail running event for trail runners from around the world. The course takes runners through the Alps in France, Italy, and Switzerland in a distance of 171 km and an elevation gain of 10,000 m. It is generally held at the end of August each year. The majestic scenery and the challenging terrain the Alps offers has drawn over thousands of elite runners worldwide to participate in the race each year.
The UTMB event includes 7 races ranging from 53 km to 300 km in distance. Some of them are:
- UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc): 171 km and 10,000 m ascent
- CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix): 101 km and 6,100 m ascent
- OCC (Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix): 56 km and 3,500 m ascent
- PTL (Petit Trotte a Leon): 300 km and 25,000 m ascent
Scotty Hawker was the third-place winner in UTMB 2019. After two years, he came back to Chamonix to join this race again. Instead of UTMB, he turned to CCC, a 100 km race shorter than the 171 km UTMB race.
Scotty Hawker at the finish line in UTMB 2019 with his daughter. Photo by Jose Miguel Muñoz
Before the CCC race began, Scotty gave us an interview in which he shared with us what changes COVID-19 has brought to his life for the last two years and why he changed to CCC. (Below is the transcript of the interview)
Kailas: What changes has COVID-19 brought to your life in the past two years?
Scotty: COVID definitely changed a lot over the last eighteen months to two years. I think everyone has changed a lot. The normal way of living life is different now. But for me, personally, it’s meant a big change in life because now I don’t travel as much as I used to. Yeah, staying more in New Zealand and Australia. So this is probably the biggest change.
Kailas: In the past two years, did you stay in New Zealand or travel to different countries most of the time?
Scotty: In the past two years, most of the time I stayed in New Zealand. But also when we have been able to, I have been spending some time in Australia and traveling around Australia a little bit as well. It has been lucky that New Zealand and Australia have been doing quite well with COVID, so I was able to travel a little bit to Australia. But upon to in July, the beginning of August this year. Now, this is the first time I have been to Europe since 2019 UTMB. So it has been a long time since last year in Europe.
Kailas: How do you feel when you returned to UTMB after two years?
Scotty: Definitely feels different being back here in Chamonix for UTMB this year. Obviously a lot of changes in the last two years for the world and for everybody. Everyone has been affected. It’s quite strange because although the races go ahead this year, the feeling in Chamonix is slightly different. I think next year things should return to normal like 2019, so this year for me I will run in CCC. For me it’s about enjoyment, enjoy a different race. I shorted the race than normal and next year for sure I’ll return to UTMB.
Kailas: As the third-place winner of UTMB 2019, you chose CCC this year. Many people think you have a big chance of winning the race. What’s your goal and plan this time?
Scotty: There was a reason for choosing CCC this year. Because in the end of 2020 I injured my ankle. So the first four months, nearly five months of this year, I wasn’t doing any running and only on the bike. It was quite a serious injury. But I’ve been lucky to have a really good sports doctor. Now I am running the CCC. Shorter race but I am feeling really good for the CCC. The race is only 100k. Quite a lot shorter than the UTMB. Also, the top of the race will be so much faster than the UTMB. So for me, it’s interesting because it’s a different challenge. A race that I would not normally do but I’m really excited to run a CCC this year.
Kailas: Is this your first time to compete in CCC?
Kailas: When did you arrive in Europe? How did you feel? What training did you have before the race?
Scotty: I arrived in Europe on around 6th, August. I traveled from New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur, to Dubai, to Milan, and I drove up to place quarantine in France and I have been in two weeks training in team. An amazing week of training. I also did a team trail race. 27km with 1700. I was the second place in the race. For me, it’s training so it’s amazing to finish this race in second place. Feeling so strong.
Kailas: What gear did you use for CCC?
Scotty: For the CCC this year, I will use the Fuga Pro 3. I think the Fuga Pro 3 is the best shoe for running the CCC or UTMB. Because the Fuga Pro 3 has nice cushion but not so much. Also, the Vibram Litebase Megagrip is perfect for the UTMB trails. That made the Fuga Pro 3 an amazing shoe for the UTMB. I think I will continue to use the shoe for many years.
Scotty Hawker at Kailas Booth at UTMB 2021
Kailas: What’s your feedback on Kailas products, such as Fuga Pro 3, Nebula- light 2.0 jacket?
Scotty: As I said before, the Fuga Pro 3 is the shoe I use. And the Nebular jacket is so amazing. It is so light. You can pack it down so small to fit in the backpack, which is amazing. For me, the reason I will use the jacket is because it’s so small. An amazing jacket and gets good protection against the rain, the wind and everything. So for me, it’s perfect.
Scotty Hawker wearing Kailas Nebular Jacket. Photo by Kamil Sustiak
Kailas: Due to COVID-19, runners in mainland China can’t come to Chamonix to compete at UTMB. Do you want to say anything to them?
Scotty: This year is crazy. I feel really sad for the runners from mainland China who are not able to come out to Chamonix or to Europe. I understand it is really difficult at the moment to be able to leave China and return to China. My thought is with everyone in China. I hope that you can continue to enjoy the trails and enjoy the mountains in China. I hope really soon we can share the trails together in Europe, New Zealand and many countries and we can all enjoy the mountains again soon.