The inaugural Panda Trail by UTMB race is set to take place in China’s Dujiangyan region on November 20 to 22. The race is the latest addition to the UTMB’s lineup of international events, and although very few (if any) North Americans will be racing in person this year, organizers have created a virtual event to encourage mass participation in the new run. Participants in the Panda Trail by UTMB Challenge have until November 23 to run 26K with 1,500m of elevation gain, and all finishers will be entered into a draw to win free entry into the race of their choice at next year’s in-person event.
The virtual challenge
The challenge started earlier this month, and so far 66 runners have completed their 26K-plus-1,500m runs, which organizers say equates to a flat 41K effort with all of the climbing involved. The virtual event is based on the Little Panda Trail race, one of the in-person runs that will be held in China, which is 26K long with 1,500m of elevation gain over its route. Of course, runners in China running the Little Panda will have to complete the race in less than a day, whereas virtual participants will have a much longer window to finish the event.
The rules are quite simple, and the only real restriction is that runners may not average more than 22K per hour. Sorry to anyone who was looking to bust out a one-hour, 11 minute 26K run (we’re pretty much just talking to Eliud Kipchoge at this point), but you’ll have to slow down to 21K per hour. Look at the bright side: if you were prepared to run faster, this’ll be an easy run for you.
A first-time event
In addition to the 26K race (which is the shortest and only non-ultra event of the weekend), the Panda Trail by UTMB features three other distances. After the Little Panda Trail race, the next shortest run is the 49K Kongfu Panda Trail. Almost double the Little Panda, this race has more than twice as much climbing, with 3,300m of elevation gain throughout the run. The Mad Panda Trail is next, coming in at 106K and more than 6,700m of climbing. Finally, the longest race of the weekend is the Dragon Panda Trail. The climbing stats for this run aren’t listed online, but it’s 120K in length, and based on the jumps in elevation gain between the other three shorter runs, the Dragon Panda likely includes well over 7,000m of climbing throughout the race.
To sign up for the virtual event, click here.