“I guess from the start many people really thought I was crazy. Crazy is as crazy does!” laughs Hong Kong resident and mum Jeanette Wang. Crazy is a phrase that comes up pretty often when discussing the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) a 105-mile race around Mont Blanc that is, arguably, the most revered ultra race in the world. Requiring participants to climb roughly 34,000 ft., which is more than the height of Everest, it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. But is it really crazy?
It wasn’t that long ago that people thought marathons were crazy, but nowadays revealing you’re training for a marathon is generally met with encouragement not incredulity. 100 miles, on the other hand, is another story. It’s pretty unbelievable to the average person that this could be anyone’s idea of a fun challenge. However, for increasing numbers of people, the challenge of running 100 miles, and more specifically UTMB, has an almost magnetic appeal. Despite the hours of training, and intense mental and physical endurance that it requires, UTMB is their dream.
What motivates them? “Sometimes I ask myself that question. There is always some point in each training cycle when you ask yourself, is it really worth it?” says first time 100 miler, Ian Lye.