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What You Need To Know About Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 3 January 2017
Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji is an extreme long-distance race through the mountainous trails encircling Mount Fuji, held every year in September. The race is one of the most challenging on the Ultra-Trail World Tour circuit, designed to push runners to their limits and test the furthest reaches of human endurance. Here are six things you need to know about Japan’s most challenging long-distance race, Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji.

It’s Two Races

Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji consists of two races. The main Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji race, or UTMF, goes around the entire perimeter of Mount Fuji, while the Shizuoka To Yamanashi race, or STY, goes about halfway. UTMF starts and ends in Kawaguchiko, a town in Yamanashi, while the STY begins in Kodomo-no-Kuni.

It’s New

Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji is a relatively new international sporting event. It was established in 2012 to join the ranks of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, a group of ultra-long-distance endurance races scattered around the globe. Compare that to its sister sporting event, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, which was first organized in 2003.

Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji | © Tom 1/PhotoZou
Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji | © PhotoZou

It’s An Extreme Endurance Race

Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji is one of the longest and most difficult long-distance endurance races. Less than 50 percent of participants complete it. It takes racers through 168 kilometers of mountainous trail terrain and up to altitudes of 9,500 meters. The time limit is 46 hours, while the best runners usually finish around the 20-hour mark.

It’s Got Goals

Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji aims to give people an opportunity to experience and appreciate the beauty of the Mount Fuji region through trail-running. It’s all about challenging people through physical sport. It’s not about winning, but about the self-discovery runners will experience as they compete in the race.

Mt. Fuji climbing,Yoshida Trail for descent © suzutake / Shutterstock
Mt. Fuji climbing,Yoshida Trail for descent | © suzutake / Shutterstock

It’s Not For Everybody

As one of the most difficult tests of endurance on Earth, Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji doesn’t allow just anyone to sign up. Competitors in UTMF must have earned a minimum of six points in a maximum of three qualifying races, or two points in two races for STY, to prove their skill and fitness. Other than that, hopefuls are asked to be in good health and able to navigate the trails.

It’s Dangerous

Rocky, rough terrain and the tremendous distance are not the only things racers have to worry about. Competitors are also asked to wear bear bells to frighten the dangerous animals away during training runs. Bright colors are also recommended since the property is shared with local hunters. During the race itself, however, these shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Crossing the finish line at Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji | © Guillaume LOUIS/WikiCommons
Crossing the finish line at Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji | © Guillaume LOUIS/WikiCommons