Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe!

If you’re an ultra-trail runner and you accidentally hear the initials “U” “T”, before you hear anything else, your mind forms the rest of them, “M” “B”. U.T.M.B stands for… Well, you all know what it stands for! But what you don’t know is that from October 2019 and on UTMB will have a very strong competitor in the world of ultra-trail races. Its name is Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe or UTLT for short.



Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe come from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, it’s closer to the Pacific rather than the Atlantic. Yeah, you guessed it right! After all, there is only one lake named Tahoe and it’s a very beautiful and scenic place! The truth is that Lake Tahoe is somewhat related to a whole bunch of other trail races but that wasn’t a reason for Charles Sheya, race director of UTLT, to stop dreaming of a unique event that will be held in that place. If the Alps have their ultra-trail running festival then so do Lake Tahoe.


Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe, as written above, is a new event that will take place for the first time on the 12th of October 2019. It is part of Epic Endurance Events (E3), which is a series of trail races, and consists of 4 different courses that will match almost anyone’s preferences. Those are a 25 kilometer race, a 50 kilometer race, a 50 miler and the big brother of the family, the 100 miler! Charles Sheya says that he wants this event to be part of the Ultra Trail World Tour calendar just like UTMB. Well, if you ask me, I strongly believe that there is a good chance of getting his race in UTWT. People living in the United States don’t have a festival of trail running, similar to UTMB’s race bouquet! They do have great and prestigious 100 mile races, like Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and many more but they lack an event that will attract thousands of athletes from all over the world!  


All 4 courses start and finish inside the village at Northstar California which serves as the headquarters of the event. For those not knowing, Northstar CA is a luxury mountain resort hidden among the trees in the majestic Martis Valley! The village itself was a former lumber site by the name Timber farm but in 1972 it changed to Northstar at Tahoe or just Northstar. So much for our history lesson. What you should remember is that Northstar offers a great variety of outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking, ice skating and of course skiing and snowboarding! Yes, I know. You couldn’t find a trail race though. Well, I’m sure that from 2019 Northstar CA will be a synonym for Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe. So that is about to change!



As for your accommodation, the village is world class with great rooms, condos, homes not to mention that up on the mountain lies the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Luxurious amenities abound where you can pamper yourself with spa treatments, hot tubs, swimming, shopping and exquisite food after the leg crushing terrain you will have to face! Enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe before or after running. Every scenery that surrounds this place will, surely, leave you in awe. All this and many more will provide the perfect backdrop for North America's version of the ultimate Mountain Ultra Trail Festival. After all, it wasn’t by chance that famous Mark Twain wrote “As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” when referring to Lake Tahoe!


So now that you have registered for the race and booked your accommodation, I think it’s the perfect time to tell you what you are about to achieve when finishing one of the four Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe courses. Although the event hosts 4 races, in fact there are only two different courses that you repeat twice. Two same 50 mile loops for the 100 mile race and another two 25 kilometer loops for the 50 kilometer race. I know. Some may wonder “Why the heck should I run the same loop twice?”. The answer is simple, because you’ll enjoy so much every step on your way that one time won’t be enough. It will be like “Pringles” potato crisps, “once you pop, you can’t stop”!



So, this is how the 50 mile loop goes. Starting in the village, at Northstar, all the runners must climb up ski runs and single track paths until they reach the summit of Mount Pluto. From there, they will drop down West Ridge to the Perimeter trail along Martis Camp. The next, big climb begins on the new Schaffer trail and then continues up the backside ski run to Mount Pluto again! It’s only mile 12 and we already have 5.000 feet of total elevation gain. This is not a walk in the park, so you better prepare your quads! Well, what goes up must come down so now it’s time for the runners to descend 2.000 feet, down to the notorious Western States trail. The course follows the WS trail for a couple of miles until it reaches another world known trail, the Tahoe Rim trail. The TR trail is a long rolling climb around Mount Watson and Lake Watson, across Hwy 267 at Brockway. Once you reach there you continue up to Mount Baldy where you turn around and follow the course the opposite way you came for a few miles. Make sure you haven’t forgotten your smartphone because you will definitely want a selfie-photo there. Go back on the TR trail, again, to Mount Watson Rd and then to Sawmill Flat Rd for your epic, finishing triumph inside Northstar village. Or for your epic “Hi! See you again in 50 miles guys!” phrase, if you’re in for the 100miler. Each loop has nearly 11.000 feet of total elevation gain, so 22.000 for the 100 miles, that consist of very technical terrain with steep, strenuous climbs. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t scare you because you’ve got this! Just remember that there is a cut off time limit, which is 15 hours for the 50 mile race and 33 hours for the 100 mile race. Well, if you ask me, I think that there is plenty of time to finish both courses unless you’re not trying to share each mile with your friends on social media!



The 25 kilometer event follow the same, first 12 miles as the 100 and 50 mile courses. Then, from mile 12 which is at the top of Mount Pluto all runners will drop back down to Northstar village where they started. Runners who participate in the 50 kilometer course will do the loop twice. With nearly 5.000 feet of total elevation gain for each loop, it will be very interesting to see who will be on the podium of these two fast races!


This October brings cool temperatures, fall colors and Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe! It’s your turn to make history at the Inaugural UTLT Mountain Ultra Trail Festival. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy incredible Lake Tahoe views as well as running on Tahoe Rim and Western States trails!


Theoharis Lezpouridis     

Advendure will be the exclusive media sponsor of Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe race festival. Therefore, we would like to express our gratitude to the organizers that they took the initiative for this collaboration!



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