The North Face Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB), now in its 9th year, is now established as the unofficial world summit of trail running.
With 7200 runners from 62 nations taking part, all of whom had to qualify to be able to compete, the event is the largest on the calendar.
Great positioning for The North Face
This year I had the privilege of taking part this year in the little sister (just 93km) of the main event – the CCC.
It was a chance to test myself in a challenging, but beautiful, mountain landscape, and while the physical challenge kept me busy, as a marketeer I couldn’t help reflect on The North Face’s sponsorship.
The four races cross the three countries of the Mont Blanc range, passing through 15 communes. It’s estimated that up to 30,000 people watch. This year for the first time, the UTMB also featured on Eurosport.
Big and getting bigger…
Interest in the event continues to grow. It becomes harder and harder to qualify each year. More races have been added (the CCC in 2006, the TDS in 2009) to try to take the pressure off the main race.
Each race requires that competitors carry a certain amount of compulsory equipment, including technical clothing such as waterproof jacket and trousers, gloves and base layers. I don’t have any stats on this, but I’m willing to bet a higher proportion than usual were wearing The North Face.
The North Face ‘partout’
As title sponsor, their brand is everywhere. The North Face logo is on the streets, in the mountains, at the registration tent and on the competitors themselves.
The North Face has partnered the race since its inception in 2003, so they can’t be accused of jumping on the bandwagon. In the fast changing world of mountain sports, it’s a great example of a brand picking exactly the right event to sponsor (not always a simple task).