Gaoligong by UTMB® is an Ultra Distance Trail Running Race in Gaoligong Mountains in Tengchong Municipality of Yunnan Province, South West China
Gaoligong mountain chain runs from North to South next to the border with Myanmar. Geographically the foothills of the Himalaya, it is a reservoir of great biodiversity, harboring some of the best-preserved forests in China, home to clouded leopard, gibbons, bears and red panda. It is located to the south of the Three Parallel Rivers UNESCO World Heritage site, where the great rivers – the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween flow southwards from the Tibetan Plateau into Indo China.
History here goes back millennia – starting from three thousand years ago, predating the Silk Road, caravans travelled across Gaoligong along the great Tea and Horse Trail, which linked Yunnan, Tibet and India. The Tea and Horse Trail operated until about 60 years ago, trading in silver, jade, horses and tea.
World War II left battlefield scars all over Gaoligong – here Chinese Expeditionary Force battled against the invader, aided by the courageous volunteer American pilots – the legendary Flying Tigers, who were stationed in Yunnan. In 2016, Bob Becker, a son of a Flying Tiger pilot, received a special invitation to Gaoligong Ultra, which he completed successfully, honouring the sacrifice his father made more than half a century earlier.
Tengchong is renown in China for its jade industry – jade is a semi-precious stone prized by the Chinese by its warm, flowing, delicate colour. Truly beautiful jade decorations and works of art can be bought in Tengchong, drawing people from all over China. Another attraction is local food – a mixture of Chinese and South East Asian, it is yet to be discovered by Westerners. Then there are hot springs – Tengchong has hundreds of them, fueled by the energy of the local volcanos, whose craters rise just next to the city.
Gaoligong Ultra is a journey through time, in undiscovered China, on the cobbled trading paths 3,000 years old, through battle sites, and across mysterious mountains that few foreigners have ever glimpsed, all the while welcomed warmly by the local people.
In 2016, the joint winners, world class ultra-runners Mick Thwaites of Australia, and Dan Lawson of the UK, completed the 100-mile distance in 21 hours 16 minutes, while the female champion, the American Marcia Zhou did it in just over 30 hours. Marcia, an elite marathoner and ultra-runner who has raced all over the world, said: “The organization and the way you are looked after, both are just unbelievable. In fact, the best way to describe MGU, despite the toughness of its course, is as a “boutique race”.
Michel Poletti, ITRA chairman and the founder and organizer of the legendary UTMB who completed MGU in 2016 has this to say: “It is one of the best races I have ever done, and the morning of the second day of the race was the best day I ever had racing. No exaggeration. The scenery, the sunshine and the atmosphere were unbelievable.” In fact, as the title suggests, MGU by UTMB means that MGU follows UTMB standards under the supervision of the UTMB organizing team. The organizers have spared no expense to create a world-class race.
What is Gaoligong by UTMB®?
Gaoligong by UTMB is a trail running journey through undiscovered China
Hub of China’s global One Belt One Road initiative：
Yunnan is strategically located, linking China and Southeast Asia and is a major junction of the Trans-Asian Railway. Chinese government envisages Yunnan as a key economic junction between Southeast Asia and South Asia as part of the One Belt One Road economic initiative.
Global Tourist Destination：
Yunnan is the most popular tourist destination in China. In 2016, it attracted 431 million visits from home and abroad. Yunnan aims to become a global tourist destination in the near future.
Cultural and ethnic diversity:
Yunnan is China‘s most diverse province, biologically as well as culturally and ethnically. It is home to 25 of China’s 56 ethnic groups.
China’s fifth-largest airport：
With an investment of RMB23 billion, Changshui International Airport which is located in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province is designed to become Chinas major hub and the only national gateway now to the Southeast Asia and South Asia, handling over 40 million passengers in 2016. It is China’s fifth largest airport.
Tengchong is located in Western Yunnan, on the border with Myanmar, which places it strategically on the development route advocated by one BELT AND one ROAD initiative. It is a gate way to South and South East Asia, and has received extensive investment and undergone rapid development as a hub for regional trade.
Established national tourism destination
Tengchong is a growing national vocational and travel destination, with 8 million visiting last year.
Potential to become world-class outdoor travel destination
Tengchong enjoys a very pleasant, all-year round mild climate and boasts abundant tourism resources and a great scope for outdoor and adventure activities.