A New 170km Mountain Ultra Race Created By Lizzy Hawker

Fancy a new challenge, a very tough and a new race to run? Here is your chance. An endurance athlete and five-time winner of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc ultra, Lizzy Hawker has announced a new race – the full course of popular hiking route Tour Monte Rosa. The Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, 170Km, encircles Europe’s highest mountain massif on the Swiss-Italian border.

Ruuning UTMR Route - Day 2 - Zermatt - Cervinia - full TMR route

You’ll be following the path of the Tour Monte Rosa, a race that didn’t exist but Lizzy always wanted to run. And so she decided to create it. 

”I did long back-to-back days on the Monte Rosa route while training for UTMB, and thought, If I was to have a race…I trained here for the UTMB. I love this route – it’s bold, very beautiful and definitely brutal. It’s at least twenty percent harder than the UTMB,” 

Running UTMR route - Day 3 - Cervinia - Alagna - Macugnaga - mountains

Back in August 2016 I had a chance to run the full course with Lizzy and I must say it’s a beautiful trail. It’s definitelly harder than UTMB, more technical and steep. The expected winning times confirm that as well;

  • For men it will be between 29-30 hours whereas UTMB winning time is around 22-30 hours
  • For women the winning times will be about 30-32 hours which is 5 hours more than UTMB times

“The winners will be masters of their craft – skilled mountain runners with depths of experience to draw on and bloody minded determination.” says Lizzy.

Running UTMR route - Day 3 - Cervinia - Alagna - Macugnaga - me with Lizzy

The UTMR Course

The Monte Rosa Tour (TDR) is a circular hiking trail through the Swiss & Italian Alps around Monte Rosa massif.  With around 170K in length and with the highest point of 3,301 m, it’s one of the finest long-distance hikes in the Alps. 

And so the UTMR = 170K & 11,200m ascent beneath awe-inspiring 4000m summits including the iconic MATTERHORN!

The terrain is very technical and will test every seasoned runner but the views…the views and landscape will take your breath away. You can expect longer and steeper ascents and descents than in other races, boulder fields and narrow paths clinging to cliff edges.


You can have a look at what the course looked like in my past blog post here

Lizzy did a solo test run in July 2016 and it took her just over 37 hours; 37 hours and 10 minutes to be exact. It’s fair to add that she did the full course about 5 times that summer, I know, crazy! 

The good news…

The 170 km ultra is one of four events being offered as part of the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. Both the 170km and 116 km events are also offered as stage races. This multi-event format enables you to find the challenge that is right for you.

Ultra tour monte rosa - trail camp with Lizzy - Runista

The North Face athlete Sébastien Chaigneau who ran the stage race last year and came second said,

“The stage format was ideal a few weeks before the Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji, I’m persuaded this kind of format is ideal for preparing for a longer [race] objective. And of course beyond the kilometres, it is impossible to overlook these breathtaking landscapes!”

Also Ruth Croft, who was runner up in the 2016 stage race loved it too;

The course was challenging but the scenery was even more rewarding. What I loved most was the intimacy of UTMR compared to other events and the opportunity to meet new people.”

Entry Requirements

If you’re up for it and have nothing to do one the weekend of 6-8 September then get in! Registrations for the 2017 stage races and ultramarathons are now open but places are limited to 100 for the 170 km ultra so be quick!

Although you don’t need to have points to enter you will need to prove you can survive in the mountains. Therefore, for both ultra and stage races, the ability to look after yourself in the mountains in potentially severe weather conditions will be crucial. When filling the registration make sure you list every previous mountain experience – this might include climbing or mountaineering, multi-day trekking, ski alpinism (not downhill piste skiing). 

The entry requirements are as follows;

Ultra Races

For the 116km Ultra (Cervinia to Grächen) is a real challenge you will need to have experience of a race of at least 100km on mountain trails and requiring you to run over 6 hours during darkness on rocky mountain trails (not smooth single track).

As the 170km Ultra Tour (full circle) is a serious challenge you will need to have have already completed one of 5 races of comparable difficulty. Note that in Lizzy’s opinion the UTMR is at least 30% harder than the UTMB.

Stage Races

The stage races are a wonderful way to experience the UTMR. You can race as hard as you like during the day and then enjoy the companionship of your fellow runners as you relax and recover in delightful alpine villages.

You will need to have prior experience of multi-stage racing on mountain terrain or completion of a mountain marathon with up to 2000m ascent within a time of 8 hours. 

Note that the 4-day stage race covering the full tour is 40% harder than the 3-day stage race starting in Cervinia. 

Distance Route Ultra Stage
116 km
D+ 8,300m
Cervinia, Italy to Grächen, Switzerland Starts 8th Sept

Enter here

3 stages

Starts 7th Sept

Enter here


170 km

D+ 11,200m

Grächen to Grächen Starts 9th Sept

[100 places only]

Enter here

4 stages

Starts 6th Sept

Enter here

So hands up who is up for it…

Lenka Istvanova

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