This weekend, to correspond with the launch of its new trail running apparel line, ASICS will be sponsoring a unique kind of trail race.
Unlike your classic marathon format, Race the Sun dares some of the world’s toughest trail runners to complete a full loop around the base of Europe’s natural wonder, Mont Blanc, before the sun sets.
Ultraruns around Mount Blanc are nothing new. As the highest peak in western Europe, the landmark has frequently drawn extreme athletes to its base. With the growth of ultrarunning in recent years, Mont Blanc has become a favorite location for some of the world’s elite runners; a place where they challenge themselves to complete the rocky course in a record 20 hours, though most take between 35 and 40.
By giving athletes only 16 hours to complete the run, Race the Sun raises the stakes even higher for its premier competitors. Straying once more from your average race standards, instead of asking athletes to compete against each other, they will be working together toward a common goal.
As such, the athletes have been divided and will tackle the course in two teams. Interestingly, the teams are uneven, with one team consisting of four members, and the other consisting of seven. In this way, ASICS hopes to provide its audience with two totally different experiences.
Though both teams will begin at sunrise in the French valley town of Chamonix, Team Ultra-Trail will break up the total distance by running in 28-46 kilometer intervals, while Team Enduro divides the run by 17-29 kilometers a piece.
Though this may seem to disperse the work load, it does not make the challenge any less daunting. Together, each team will need to give it everything they have in order to traverse the 162 kilometers of mountainous terrain that includes climbing 9,450 meters through France, Italy, and Switzerland. Along the way, they will encounter scorching heat, fierce winds, and freezing cold temperatures, making this a true test of will and strength.
“This is one of the most groundbreaking and exciting programs ASICS has ever been a part of and it’s a testament to our recent innovations in the trail running category,” said ASICS America CEO Kevin Wulff. “We have brought together some of the world’s best trail runners and outfitted them in industry-leading products as they take on this momentous challenge. We look forward to supporting all competing athletes as they strive to break world records and push the limits of trail running.”
To capture every moment of the experience, a team from Fly on the Wall Productions will be filming each runner. Though some of the footage will be released via social media, specifically on an ASICS dedicated microsite, it will eventually be compiled and released as a documentary later this year.
“ASICS is looking to inspire sportspeople to ‘better their best’ and encourage everyday people to try a new challenge,” said Shannon Scott, the Director of Marketing for ASICS. “The athletes undertaking the challenge range from teachers to physiotherapists, who possess extraordinary levels of mental and physical stamina.”
The rosters for Team Ultra-Trail and Team Enduro are equally impressive. Both teams have diverse backgrounds, with athletes coming from all corners of the globe. Each athlete will be responsible for a leg of the journey based on their skills and expertise.
One of the race’s most notable competitors, 2013 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc winner Xavier Thevenard, is excited to return to the area for a race unlike any he has every experienced. “Returning to Mont Blanc and being a part of this momentous challenge is something I had only ever dreamed about,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to train and race against some of the world’s most elite trail runners and now we are joining together and combining strengths as we attempt one of the most difficult races—to literally ‘Race the Sun’.”
All the athletes will sport ASICS’ most recent, high-tech trail running gear, including the new GEL-FujiTrabuco 3 Neutral shoe and ASICS FujiTrail apparel.
Follow the journey and check out the teaser video below:
Image courtesy ASICS