Chamonix is perhaps the spiritual home of European mountaineering. Nestled as it is in the shadow of the monstrous Mont Blanc massif, mountaineers have long used the town as a launch base for alpine adventures. However, Chamonix is also the start and end point for what is maybe the most famous mountain race in the world: The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. This mammoth 171km route follows the Tour du Mont Blanc hiking trail as it circumnavigates the highest mountain massif in the Alps.
The trails themselves are an utter joy to run. One of the highlights of the route is the section directly above the Chamonix valley across the flanks of the Aiguille Rouges. The high point of this section is the rocky summit of Le Brevent, which is handily accessible by cable car from the valley. From here the route plunges some 500m to the station at Planpraz. It is an exhilarating descent when done at speed. Following this, the traverse from here to La Flegere, with endless vistas to Mont Blanc, the Chamonix Aiguilles, Aiguille Verte and Aiguille du Dru, is nothing short of breathtaking.