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France’s Mont Blanc Marathon

Awe-inspiring photos from the Mont Blanc Marathon, one of the world’s premier trail running events.

Anyone who visits Chamonix, France for the first time is quickly awestruck by how massive the mountains are. Towering high over the village, the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges within the Mont Blanc massif make you feel rather miniscule in the grand scheme of things—especially if you’re a trail runner. While the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc gets most of the press, the three-day Mont Blanc Marathon festival of races is another one of the world’s premier trail running events. Each of the five races—a Vertical Kilometer (VK) uphill race, 10K, 23K, 42K and 84K—send runners over dastardly steep mountains on mostly singletrack trails. The races draw some of the world’s greatest runners, but it’s the shared community experience of being in the rugged mountains that makes it memorable for all runners. (The 2016 Mont Blanc Marathon festival is set for June 24–26.)

RELATED: The Culture of Hard-Core Trail Running in Chamonix

Photos: Jordi Saragossa, Brian Metzler