You can now add another major sporting event to the ever-growing list of cancellations due to the coronavirus. Today, organizers of the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc announced that the race will not take place this year over continued fears surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
Originally scheduled to take place from August 24-30 in Chamonix, France, this year’s UTMB had competitors from more than 100 countries registered to take part. Each year, the ultramarathon draws thousands of runners who come to test themselves on its grueling 145 km (90 mile) course, which circles completely around its namesake mountain. The route crosses the border from France into Italy, then on to Switzerland, before returning to Chamonix once again.
The organizers of the UTMB, which has grown into one of the biggest and most well-known ultra events on the planet, made their announcement after consulting with health and governmental officials. At this time, they simply feel the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus is simply too high to hold such a high-profile event that includes so many people in close vicinity to one another. According to the press release announcing the cancellation, there were over 10,000 runners from 111 countries alone. On top of that, the even was expected to draw an additional 100,000 spectators.
The UTMB joins a growing list of sporting events that have been cancelled or postponed this year. The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are probably the most high profile of those events, but there are literally thousands of other races, big and small, that have also gone by the wayside. It also makes you wonder what will become of the Tour de France, which is an absolutely massive event currently scheduled to take place starting on August 29. The TdF would have overlapped with the UTMB by a few days and yet it poses a potentially much bigger threat in terms of crowds and opportunities to pass COVID-19 amongst spectators and riders. At this point, how the biggest bike race in the world continues to go off is beyond me.
At the end of the day, this was a wise move on the part of the UTMB team. Better safe than sorry. There will be other races to come starting in 2021 and beyond.
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