MF rounds up the best mountain races

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Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

The UTMB is the grandaddy of mountain ultramarathons. Starting in Chamonix, it’s a 161km off-road loop around the Alps that takes you into Italy and Switzerland before finally returning to France. Along the way runners climb a total of 9,400m, and descend the same – that’s more elevation than Mount Everest. For experienced ultrarunners only.

Mega Avalanche

For those who prefer their mountain endurance gravity-assisted, the Mega Avalanche is an epic downhill mountain bike race starting on the 3,300m snow-capped peak of Pic Blanc above Alpe d’Huez, and rocketing down to the green valleys of Allemont at 720m. It’s not a swift freewheel though – at 30km from start to finish, this is still a proper lung-buster.

Tour Divide

This is a wholly self-sufficient 4,400km mountain bike ride following the Great Divide route across North America, from the Banff in Alberta, Canada, to Antelope Wells on the US/Mexico border. You make your own itinerary, carry everything you need, and then settle in for three weeks of pedal punishment along the world’s longest off-road cycle route. By journey’s end you’ll have climbed over 60,000m. Seventeen days is the record to beat.

To read Warren Pole’s account of the Alpe d’Huez triathlon, with a brutal 1,850m of ascent on the cycle leg, get the April issue of Men’s Fitness. Or subscribe here – we’ll give you 5 issues for £5.