Skyrunning in Val d’Isère

STORY BY Patrick 24th May 2017

Lace up your running shoes and get ready for one of the biggest events in the trail-running calendar. This year, the tough, but dramatically beautiful Val d’Isère course forms part of the Skyrunner World Series.

The International Skyrunning Federation represents the governing authority of  skyrunning. Skyrunning is defined as mountain running above 2,000 metres over extremely technical trails. Four disciplines define the sport which are not just based on distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty. They are Sky, Ultra, Vertical and Extreme.

On 8 July, the High Trail Vanoise in Val d’Isère, sponsored by Odlo, joins the challenging circuit for the first time. But that’s not the only trail-running race the famous French resort offers…


This stopwatch weekend starts with the Vertical Kilometre. The Face de Bellevarde is considered by World Cup ski racers to be one of the toughest downhills in the world – only this time it’s being raced in reverse. The uphill event took place for the first time in 2014. The contestants start at 30-second intervals from the base station of the Olympique gondola, choosing individual lines up the various tracks and paths that crisscross La Face.  Start: 16.00 on 7 July 2017


At 70km and 5,400m of vertical, this is the ultimate mountain trail, plus, the scenery will take your breath away. Climb the top of the Grande Motte at 3,656m, pass through the Lost Valley and the Grande Sassière Nature Reserve… for the first time this year the High Trail Vanoise forms part of the European Skyrunning Championships.  Start: 04.00 on 8 July 2017 at the Club des Sports


At 39km and 3,200m of vertical, this route is also just as scenic as the High Trail Vanoise, and not to be underestimated. It takes racers to six peaks and the Grand Pissaillas glacier, l’Aiguille Pers at 3,386m, or the original path of the Leissières tunnel.  Start: 08.30 on 8 July 2017 at the Club des Sports


This challenge of 19km and 1,000m of vertical takes you to the hamlet of Le Fornet and up to the Lac de l’Ouillette, a picturesque spot on the Solaise massif. Even children as young as seven can get a taste for the sport on the Trail Jeunes – a much shorter race –  later in the day.  Start: 09.30 on 9 July at the Club des Sports.

UTMB Qualification 2017

The High Trail Vanoise earns two points (old ITRA scale*) / four new points (mountain level 12). Le Trail des 6 Cols earns one point (old ITRA scale) / three new points (mountain level 12). The High Trail Vanoise forms part of the Skyrunner World Series.

Details of the routes are here.


Apartment for three nights with one entry to the Centre Aquasportif and unlimited lift access from 70€ pp – Price based on four people sharing a studio, taxes included. Flights, transfers and food extra.

*As of 17 April 2014, ITRA (International Trail Running Association) is offering a service of certification of the route and evaluation of the difficulty of trail races. This service will certify the distance, the elevation gains and losses of a trail race and supply an evaluation of the race’s difficulty by assessing it on a range from 0 to 6 points. ITRA will issue a certificate which will allow the organiser to prove the exact distance of their route and/or the number of ITRA points his race has been awarded.

(Image top credit: Andy Parant)

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