After just one year, the Gaoligong ultra-trail running event has quickly become one of the biggest in Asia. Under the supervision of the UTMB team, the second race, which takes place in 2020, is set to cement it as a destination for ultra runners around the world seeking a new challenge in a difficult and remote mountain setting.
- Try these for size: Best world half marathons
- Bucket-list 26.2s: Best marathon road races
Where: Tengchong, Yunnan Province, Southwest China
When: 21-23 March 2020
As destinations go, few have the unique landscape as the Gaoligong mountain chain. The four race options include the TCZ - 30km (the Tengchong International Airport postcode), the TH - 55kmm (Tea and Horse Trail), RCE - 125km (Road of Chinese Expeditionary Force) and the MGU - 160km (Mt Gaoligong Ultra), and sees participants making their way across the historic cobbled trading paths, through World War II battle sites, across mountains and through jungles teaming with animal life including clouded leopards, gibbons, bears and red pandas.
Terrain and elevation
The 165km MGU course sees runners tackle over 9500m of ascent over a maximum of 48 hours, with the lowest point being 1,200m and the highest at 2,600m. The terrain is mixed trail, ranging from cobbled roads to rocky mountain paths. Expect high temperatures of 21 degrees and lows of 5 degrees. Light showers are also likely across the month of March.
The MGU route covers 14 checkpoints with serve hot and cold local food as well as support from medical assistance.
Entry to take part in the MGU event requires 5 UTMB points and will cost from £210 (earlybird) for the full distance, with shorter distances coming in cheaper.
How to get there
Tengchong is served by many daily flights from the provincial capital Kunming and also direct flights (some are not frequent) from Beijing, Xi'an, Shenzhen, Changsha, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Chengdu, Qingdao, Guiyang, Zhuhai and Lijiang.
Kunming airport has a number of direct international flights, however many destinations will require two.
From Kunming you can take also take bus from Kunming western passenger station taking 9-10 hours (day bus) or 11-14 hours (night bus), or fly to Mangshi or Baoshan city and take a two hour intercity bus to to Tengchong Town.
Where to stay
There are a number of hotels located within walking distance from the race start line, with many receiving between four and five stars on TripAdvisor. Prices range from £13 per night for some of the local youth hostels to £500 (Banyan Tree Tengchong)