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For the second consecutive year, the trail running community is grieving a death in a race at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, France.
A Brazillian runner in the 300km PTL was killed after a serious accident near the Refuge de Plan Glacier. The runner was with his team on an official trail at 1:30 am CET. A rescue helicopter team responded to the scene, following which they confirmed the death of the runner.
The PTL, which started on Monday at 8 am, is the longest and arguably the hardest of the seven races during the UTMB week. It’s a two- or three-person team race that sends competitors on a massive loop with 82,000 feet of vertical gain hrough parts of France, Switzerland and Italy in the rugged mountains around the Mont Blanc massif.
Runners bivy overnight in huts and are required to carry mountaineering helmets for safety on some of the most technical terrain. The section of the course the runners were on at the time of the accident is marked year-round between the Col de Tricot and the Refuge de Plan Glacier. Participants are tracked by a GPS beacon at all times on the entire course.
The UTMB race organization issued a press release offering condolences to the athlete’s family and friends but said the athlete will remain anonymous.
Mike McManus, sports marketing director for Hoka, held a moment of silence for the runner before Hoka’s casual group run Tuesday morning in Chamonix.
“We are all here to celebrate the beauty of this place and why we love trail running, so this is especially sad news,” he said. “ Our thoughts and prayers and condolences go out to the family of the victim.”
To participate in the PTL, applications are selected from a list of experience submitted by each team.
All PTL teams have been informed of the situation. The event remains ongoing, each team will decide whether to continue. The first finishers are expected back sometime on Friday.
“Man, to hear that news this morning is just devastating,” said American runner David Laney, who is running the 171km UTMB race on August 26. “My heart goes out to the family.”
Last year, a runner from the Czech Republic was killed after he fell on a treacherous portion of the 145km TDS race.
Trail Runner will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.