I’m sure if you’ve been running for a while, you’ll have noticed the growing popularity of trail running and also trail running in Chamonix.
Personally, I haven’t covered much ground trail running with the exception of Love Trails Festival back in 2022, Black To The Trails in June 2023 and then my local parkrun which with the exception of being flat as a pancake, has everything else trail running can offer.
So it’s no surprise that when the opportunity / idea to run Mont Blanc 10km in Chamonix with Nike Running, came up, I jumped at the chance. All without really doing any research into whether Chamonix is good for beginners.
So, Where Is Chamonix?
Chamonix is a town located in the southeastern part of France, near the border with Switzerland and Italy. It is situated in the French Alps and is known for its stunning mountain scenery, including the famous Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe.
Chamonix is a really popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly for skiing, mountaineering, hiking and of course, trail running come Summer months.
Weather For Chamonix
Chamonix experiences a mountainous climate with distinct seasons and pretty changeable weather, as I experienced. June is the start of Summer in Chamonix which means generally pleasant temperatures, ideal for outdoor activities.
Typical daytime temperatures range from 15°C (59°F) to 25°C (77°F); during my trip, the average was about 27°C. Being Summer also means longer daylight hours and relatively mild evenings. However, temperatures can drop at higher elevations, so it’s advisable to carry layers especially if heading out on the trails.
I experienced everything from torrential rain, to scorching non stop sunshine in the few days I spent in Chamonix. The best place to check the weather in Chamonix is Chamonix Meteo.
Getting to Chamonix From The UK
There are actually quite a few ways to get to Chamonix from the UK, but the most convenient option is to fly to Geneva International Airport (GVA) in Switzerland, which is the closest major airport to Chamonix.
Quite a few airlines offer direct flights from various airports in the UK to Geneva. I flew with British Airways (out from London City Airport and returning to Heathrow) as I had some airmiles to use, which saved me some money on my flights.
Another option is to take the Eurostar train from London to Paris. From Paris, you can then take a high-speed TGV train to Geneva.
If you prefer driving, you can take a ferry or the Eurotunnel from the UK to Calais, France, then head towards Chamonix. The journey by car typically takes around 9-10 hours, depending on the route and traffic conditions.
Transfers To Chamonix From Geneva
From the airport, you can take a coach transfer or hire a car to reach Chamonix, which is approximately a 1.5-hour drive away.
I checked a few different sites to find the best times and prices for coach and private transfers based on my flight times. They were:
Where To Stay in Chamonix
With Mont Blanc 10km on the Saturday, I opted to stay in Chamonix for 3 nights; Thursday to Sunday. In hindsight, I would have stayed a bit longer to enjoy the mountains but Chamonix is pretty expensive, especially when there’s high demand for accommodation in the area.
The initial plan was to book a hotel room, but after some confusion, I ended up booking accommodation just 6/7 weeks before the event. I found a great apartment on Booking which was a 15min walk from the 10km start line, <10min walk from Chamonix South Bus Station and located in the centre of town.
The apartment slept around 5 people and cost less than a hotel room for the 3 nights, at the time of booking. It worked out well, with me sharing the apartment with 4 great ladies, which made the cost much more reasonable. Staying in an apartment also meant we had facilities to cook what we wanted / needed (if we wanted to) and also to each have our ideal breakfasts on race morning.
Here are some of the hotels I looked at when choosing where to stay in Chamonix:
- Rocky Pop – Les Houches, 10min by car or bus from Chamonix
- IBIS Style – Les Houches, 12min by car or bus from Chamonix
- Heliopic – Chamonix, 3min – 260m from Chamonix Town Centre
- Alpina Eclectic – Chamonix, 5min – 400m from Chamonix Town Centre
- Mercure – Chamonix, 5min – 400m from Chamonix Town Centre
- Refuge Des Aiglons – Chamonix, 13min – 1km from Chamonix Town Centre
Mont Blanc 10km Review
When I signed up for this event, I didn’t even take into consideration elevation until I was already registered. Once I realised the elevation was just under 300m, I compared it to the River Ness 10km which I thought was hilly only to realise this event would be an extra 100m of elevation.
When asked what my expected finish time would be whilst signing up, I’d initially put my usual 10km time. Little did I know that realistically, whatever your 10km time is you need to add another 20-25minutes. Thankfully, you can change that information after registering so I changed it to sub 1hr 45mins just to be on the safe side.
Your 10KM Kit List:
- hydration vest / capacity to carry 500ml water (mandatory)
- reusable cup / bottle (mandatory)
- trail running shoes
- rain jacket
- wind jacket
- running hat
- in race fuel (as per personal preference)
It was clear that Mont Blanc Marathon had a real emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices during the events, such as using refillable water bottles, respecting the environment and local communities. Upon bib collection, you were required to show your mandatory equipment in order to get your bib.
If you forget something at home though, don’t stress as there are plenty of sports shops in Chamonix town centre including Decathlon.
The first 4km I spent inside my head. Wondering if I was out of my depth, asking myself if running really was for me, berating myself for not tackling as many hills as I had planned to in an effort to prepare.– Me
Check Out The 10km Route On Strava:
The day before the Mont Blanc 10km, whilst having coffee with a friend, Amy, she’d shown me the entire 10 km du Mont Blanc route on FATMAP which proved to be very useful. It highlighted that the majority of the elevation was around the half way mark and after that it was “downhill to the finish line”.
The start of 10km Marathon du Mont Blanc was pretty chilled. We rocked up hung out, then made our way to the starting arch and we were off.
Running 10Km Marathon Du Mont Blanc
I quickly mistook one climb in the early stages of the race for being the real elevation when it was just a warm up for what was to come.
The bulk of the elevation came in the form of a single file hike, directly up the face of a mountain, traversing across and then the descent to the finish line came into play.
The slowness of that km in the middle of the race was frustrating for some, and frightening for others. For me, it was a welcome rest where I felt like I recharged as once I was able to run again, I felt like a new person.
Running downhill comes with it’s own issues though especially on uneven ground. There was one moment where I rolled my ankle as I ran along a cliff edge but managed to catch myself. I knew I needed to keep running to so my ankle wouldn’t swell and that’s what I did.
There was the moment I tripped and went flying forward but somehow managed to catch myself and keep upright. It was precarious, but by this point, I was loving life and loving trail running.
The longest kilometre though (after the 20min km hiking) had to be the final km. You really couldn’t see the finish line until the last 100m so you never quite knew when it would end. All my race photos are from the finish line and that probably explains why I look so confused (and tired) in them all.
Would I do this event again? Hell yeah. And if you get the opportunity to, take it (or make the opportunity).
My Favourite Chamonix Spots
Once the running is done, there’s plenty to explore in Chamonix itself, and beyond. Here are a few of the must visit places that I managed to hit up during my time in Chamonix:
- Shoukâ Chamonix for coffee or hot chocolate
- can get super busy so not always easy to get a table
- Moody Coffee Roasters for coffee, obviously
- it was always closed when I tried to visit, so it’s on my list for next time
- Chez Richard Chamonix for pastries and ice cream
- Cascade du Dard Hike
- at under 5km, this walk is perfect to stretch your legs, and you’ll get to see the waterfall with ice cold water coming straight from the glacier.
- ELA Chamonix, a great little Mediterranean restaurant
- Super U et Drive (117 Rue Joseph Vallot) for groceries
- it’s kinda like WholeFoods prices for pretty regular groceries, but it’s the best / greatest selection the centre of Chamonix has to offer
I’m also planning a visit to Annecy, another alpine town in southeastern France, with a beautiful lake – Lake Annecy, the next time I find myself in the area.
Tips For Your Chamonix Trail Running Holiday
As much as I had a great time in Chamonix for the 10km du Marathon Mont Blanc, there were a few bits of admin to do which are beyond what we normally do here in the UK.
First up, let’s chat about the fact that to take part in events in France (and Italy I’ve heard), you need to submit a medical certificate signed by a Doctor before the event.
If you’re lucky, your GP will do this for you and probably will charge. If not, you’ll need to go privately – I can recommend DocTap which alot of my fellow UK Mont Blanc 10km participants used.
This was the most major thing to get sorted tbh, but it was quite stressful as there was a deadline for submitting which if you didn’t meet, your race place would be cancelled.
Other than that, this is your reminder to pack sunscreen for your body, your face and your lips especially. And make sure you have a good read of the handbooks provided digitally for your event for mandatory equipment as well as advised equipment.
For those taking on tougher events, you’ll also need insurance that covers air rescue on the mountains.
Before I go, just wanna give a massive shout out to Dora – Nike Running Coach and Founder of Ultra Black Running – for sharing this event with the community and Nike Running for the place.
Turning up to events which are typically lacking diversity can be alot when you’re on your own so it was epic to be with a group over over 100 runners who stand for creating space for those who are not typically represented in trail running.
Have you been to Chamonix before?! Got any tips… drop ’em in the comments below!