Ultra Trail Mount Fuji
The UTMF is a “sister” race of the UTMB. There are no alpine style trails but the relentless steep ascents/descents on mountains surrounding Mount Fuji make this a challenging and difficult course which included a rock scramble with fixed ropes.
The UTMF is a +100 m race but a shorter, 50m option called STY, which finishes in the same town, Kawaguchiko, as the UTMF, is also available.
Participating in the UTMF is an excellent opportunity to combine participation in this event with sightseeing in Japan. We flew to Osaka and took the train to my favorite city Kyoto
with its many temples and shrines before taking the bullet train to Shin-Fuji where we rented a car.
Race check-in is at the Start/Finish of the UTMF in Kawaguchiko, a lake-side town with fantastic views of Mount Fuji.
The start of the STY is in Kodomo-No-Kuni, a 40 minute drive from Kawaguchiko. Shuttle buses take runners to the start line. The race begins at 12 a.m. and nightfall is already at 6 p.m. For slower runners like me, this meant running 2/3 of the race at night. To make this situation worse was the continuous rainfall throughout the day and night (and 2 days before the race). With trails being very muddy and slick, two or three bottlenecks on the single track trail occurred during the first 3-4 hours of the race. Less than 50% of the participants of the “full” UTMF finished due to poor weather and trail conditions. Fortunately, it was not cold and a light rain jacket was good enough for running during the night.
According to my race plan, it should have taken me no more than 18 hours to finish the race. It took me one additional hour because of the poor trail conditions.
The Aid Stations were well stocked, particularly with local ramen specialities. Interpreters were also available. In typical Japanese fashion, this was a well organized event supported by the local communities and enthusiastic volunteers.
Both races are quickly sold out but it seems that foreigners have it easier obtaining an entry as most participants are Japanese. UTMF is using the same qualifying races for points as UTMB.