Panda Trail by UTMB® prepares to welcome 2,700 runners to the start line
The trails of the Qingcheng Mountain in China will welcome 2,700 runners this weekend at the first ever Panda Trail by UTMB®, the final event of 2020 for UTMB Group.
Located in both Dujiangyan city and Wenchuan city in the Sichuan province, the area is home to one of the country’s most famous Taoist mountains. Its spectacular trail network will be showcased over 4 distances: 100-miles, 106km, 49km and 26km.
While most of the world tentatively begins to host trail running events with limited numbers of runners, China is returning to a sense of normality following the global pandemic. At Panda Trail by UTMB®, precautionary measures such as mandatory temperature checks, masks at bib collection, and the requirement for runners to have a clear COVID-test will be implemented.
Due to the global travel restrictions, the race will only welcome runners based in China. Amongst them will be a field of the country’s top elites, including Chen Chaojiang, who has already shown he is on top form after winning the Ultra Trail Chongli 168 earlier this year, and 22-year old-Luo Tao, who came third in the 2019 UTMB® 56km OCC.
Amongst the female competitors is Hua Yang, winner of the 2019 Simingshan Trail 100km and Junyue Zheng, who came second at Ultra Trail Chongli 168 in 2019.
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Catherine Poletti, UTMB Group Chairwoman said: “The rising popularity of ultra-running is a global phenomenon, but nowhere is it more noticeable than in China, where just a few years ago there were only handful of marathons, and last year there were almost 500 organised trail running events (according to ITRA). At UTMB® Mont-Blanc in 2019, we had over 300 Chinese runners who qualified in the draw taking to the start line, and to have almost 3,000 runners preparing for the first edition of Panda Trail by UTMB® is exceptional given the current health context.
We are pleased to be able to work with our local partners Xingzhi Exploring Group to give runners the chance to take to the mountains again after what has been a challenging year. This is a positive milestone for the whole trail running community, to show there is light at the end of a dark period. We are sure runners will fall in love with this event thanks to the combination of world-class trails, the wonderful local hospitality, the energy of the local people and the great show the organisers are guaranteed to put on.”
While the event will be delivered to the high standards demanded of any UTMB® event, it will have a uniquely Chinese atmosphere, taking runners on a magical route through bamboo forests, past historic towns and if they are lucky, providing a glimpse of the famous giant pandas. From the incredible lightshow that will illuminate the traditional Dujiangyan Gate at the start, to the local people cheering the runners along the way, runners can expect to be truly immersed in Chinese culture.
Runners around the globe are invited to experience their own Panda Trail by UTMB® adventure by signing up to the Virtual Race with almost 700 runners already signed up to the challenge. Based on the Little Panda Trail distance, runners who complete the 26km distance will be automatically entered into a draw to win entry into the 2021 Panda Trail by UTMB®. Sign up here.
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