How to qualify for UTMB races is a question asked by all trail runners at some point.
And this doesn’t come as a surprise because it is the most popular trail race in the world. It is also considered as the unofficial world trail championship with some of the best trail runners in the world participating.
Here is a detailed guide about all the ways you can qualify for UTMB races, but if you’d just like to find out what is the best way to do it, then scroll to the Summary at the bottom of the post.
TWO TRACKS – TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAYS TO QUALIFY FOR UTMB RACES
As of 2020, it will be possible to qualify for UTMB races through two different tracks. One will be through the Lottery, quite similar to how it was until now. And the other one is a brand new way by collecting Running Stones.
Here are details for both for them:
Unless you were an elite runner, the lottery was the only way you could qualify for UTMB races until now. The lottery track has been kept, but they’ve made a few changes to it:
- Less qualifying ITRA points needed
- No direct entry for 3rd year
- Flexibility for collecting multiple tickets
LESS QUALIFYING ITRA POINTS NEEDED
As of 2020, you will need to collect far less ITRA points to be eligible to qualify for UTMB races and to enter the lottery. The organizers say this was done with runners’ health in mind. With the new system, runners don’t have to run too many ultramarathons each year and are still able to qualify.
COLLECTING MULTIPLE TICKETS FOR LOTTERY
Until now the rules for increasing your chances in the lottery were very rigid. The first year you had only 1 ticket for the draw. The year after that you would have 2 tickets, but only if you were applying for the same race and not in a group with persons who were applying for the first time. And if you were unlucky again, you could register the 3rd year directly, but only for the same race for which you were applying for before as well.
Now, there is no more direct entry for the 3rd year which is quite a bummer, but there are other advantages to the new system:
- Collect tickets for the lottery each year that you apply and thus increase your chances
- You can change to which race you apply each year and not lose tickets (great if you feel like running a longer or a shorter race than the one you applied for the previous year)
- You can skip a year and continue applying after that without losing previous tickets (great if you got injured one year or got pregnant)
- 2020 you apply for OCC and you have 1 ticket but are not selected in the lottery
- 2021 you didn’t apply
- 2022 you apply for UTMB and you have 2 tickets and are selected in the lottery 🙂 You run the race and love it
- 2023 you apply for CCC and again you start with only 1 ticket
Now the lottery isn’t the only way to qualify for UTMB races. You can also do that through the other track by collecting Running Stones.
Running stones are collected by running and finishing eligible races the same way as ITRA points are collected. But the biggest difference is that Running stones enable you to qualify directly for UTMB races, while the ITRA points only enable you to enter the lottery.
Running stones are collected through:
- By UTMB events
- UTWT events
BY UTMB EVENTS
By UTMB races, are races all over the world which are a part of the UTMB International program. Currently, there are 4 of these races:
- Gaoligong by UTMB (China)
- Ushuaia by UTMB (Argentina)
- Val d’Aran by UTMB (Spain)
- Oman by UTMB (Oman)
Finishing those races will bring you the most Running stones and enable you direct entry into UTMB. You get 3 Running Stones for each ITRA point that the race carries.
- Finishing the 130km race at the Ushuaia by UTMB will bring you 6 ITRA points and therefore 18 Running stones. That gives you a direct entry to any of the UTMB races
- Finishing the 70km race at the Ushuaia by UTMB will bring you 4 ITRA points and therefore 12 Running stones. That gives you a direct entry to OCC race at UTMB.
You can check out more details about these races at the UTMB international.
ULTRA TRAIL WORLD TOUR (UTWT) EVENTS
UTWT is an international circuit of amazing trail races longer than 100 km. It is also a trail running league with world’s best trail runners leading in the rankings. It consists of 20 races all over the world and by finishing them, you also collect Running stones. The only difference compared to By UTMB races is that you only get 1 Running stone for each ITRA point that the race carries.
For example, 100 miles of Istria race carries 6 ITRA points, therefore, you get 6 Running stones.
This is still a good way to collect Running stones as they are valid for 4 years, but definitely not nearly as good as by running the By UTMB races.
You can check out the full list at UTWT – races
APPLYING AS A GROUP
To make sure that both you and your friends (or a boyfriend/girlfriend) are going together keep the following things in mind:
- If you’re all applying with Running Stones then you all get direct entry so you’re good to go
- If you’re all applying through the Lottery it would be great that you have the same number of tickets. In case you don’t, your chances will be according to the person with the smallest number of tickets
SUMMARY – THE BEST WAY TO QUALIFY FOR UTMB
- Run and finish a race from the UTMB International program – You get enough Running Stones from 1 race to get a direct entry to UTMB races.
- Run and finish races from UTWT events – You collect Running Stones which will enable you direct entry, but you will need to do probably at least 3 of them within 4 years to collect the required amount of Running Stones. Even though this takes longer, the main advantage is that you can get guaranteed entry. Since there are no limitations from how many races the Running Stones need to be collected, you can also do more shorter races to collect them faster.
- Collect ITRA points and apply for the lottery – If you know that you want to go to a UTMB race someday, but you’re not in a hurry, then this is also a good way. You just need to make sure that you collect enough ITRA points every year to be eligible to apply and keep your fingers crossed. Just keep in mind that since more and more runners will start to get a direct entry to UTMB through Running Stones, there will be less and less available space for the people from the lottery.
I hope that this guide will help you in achieving your goal of going to UTMB! 🙂 If you have any questions, you’re welcome to contact me and I will be happy to help out.