Panda Trail by UTMB® provided an epic and unforgettable challenge for trail runners last weekend in China’s Sichuan province, earning its place alongside the most prestigious races from across the globe as part of the 2021 Ultra-Trail® World Tour.

© Panda Trail by UTMB®

In this cursed year where this virus has dynamited all races around the world, the UTMB was not going to be the exception, however there is still light and thanks to the effort and passion of many fo some hours, life remains normal. Paradoxes of life, right in the country where the virus arose, now you can enjoy mountain races.

The Panda trail by UTMB was to be held in September, but due to the virus it moved at the end of November. In central China and a few kilometers from the mega city of Chengdu, which with more than 16 million inhabitants is the fourth largest city in China, famous for spicy food and of course, by panda bears is the city of Dujiangyuan and the Qingcheng mountain in which slopes inhabit the few panda bears that live in the wild today.

Despite muddy conditions, four distances including 160km, 106km, 49km and 26km, provided a variety of landscapes combining nature, culture and history: from the mountainous terrain and bamboo forests where wildlife reigns supreme, to roads winding through local villages and world heritage sites, runners left with indelible memories, strained legs and smiles on their faces.

© Panda Trail by UTMB®

And as trail runners from around the world begin to dream and plan their next great challenges in 2021, which for many will mark a return to organised events, the organizers of Panda Trail by UTMB® have confirmed the second edition will take place from the 19-21 November next year.

Part of the UTMB Group family of events, which includes the most famous trail running event in the world, UTMB® Mont-Blanc, Panda Trail by UTMB® concludes the 2020 season for the Group which has also seen the successful organisation of Thailand by UTMB® as well as virtual editions of the international races which have engaged thousands of runners around the globe.

While travel restrictions prevented international runners attending, the field was stacked with some of China’s top runners, who defied the tough conditions to set impressive course times. In the men’s 160km Dragon Panda Trail (DPT), Liang Jing crossed the line first in 19 hours, 7 minutes and 22 seconds; in the women’s category, Xiang Fuzhao led the field finishing after 25 hours, 18 minutes and 49 seconds.

In the 106km Mad Panda Trail (MPT), Wang Zhihu set the course standard in 11 hours, 44 minutes and 33 seconds, with Yang Guangmei leading the women home in 15 hours, 23 minutes and three seconds.

Panda Trail by UTMB® 2020 winners
Dragon Panda Trail, DPT (160km)
Male: Liang Jing – 19 hours, 7 minutes, 22 seconds
Female: Xiang Fu Zhao – 25 hours, 18 minutes, 49 seconds

Mad Panda Trail, MPT (106km)
Male: Wang Zhihu – 11 hours, 44 minutes, 33 secods
Female: Yang Guangmei – 15 hours, 23 minutes, 03 seconds

Kung Fu Panda Trail, KPT (50km)
Male: Luo Tao – 4 hours, 56 minutes, 27 seconds
Female: Yang Xuebing – 6 hours, 56 minutes, 21 seconds

Little Panda Trail, LPT (26km)
Male: Yan Junjie – 2 hours, 31 minutes, 31 seconds
Female: Lu Xiayan – 2 hours, 56 minutes, 05 seconds

© Panda Trail by UTMB®

Mr. Liu Yang, Chairman of the Organizing Committee Xingzhi Exploring Group, commented: “This first edition of Panda Trail by UTMB® has shown its potential to become one of the most influential ultra-trail races in China. We have big ambitions to grow the event over the next three years, and we’re confident it can contribute to the development of a sustainable outdoor industry in Dujiangyan City and Wenchuan County – the centre for mountain sports in China.

Next year, we are looking forward to welcoming international runners and their families to show them what the region has to offer – a combination of world-class trails and a unique cultural experience.”

Catherine Poletti, UTMB Group Chairwoman commented:Panda Trail by UTMB® is held in the cradle of Taoism and in the land of the panda and the organizers have fully embraced this spirit to deliver an exceptional event with a true Chinese experience. As we look ahead and begin to think about our future travel plans, Panda Trail by UTMB® offers a unique experience to discerning international runners.

Reflecting on the year, Catherine concluded: “Like many event organizers, in this period we have learnt a lot about how to adapt, find solutions and we’ve acquired new skills along the way. As a sport, trail running has shown its unique resilience and I have no doubt it will play a role in our healthy recovery, as people look forward to organised sport, but also look for ways to improve their health and well-being. Our desire to share experiences with runners from across the globe is stronger than ever, and we’re looking forward to seeing you again in 2021. Moreover, despite the unusual conditions this edition demonstrated the quality of the collaboration between the Panda Trail organization team and that of UTMB Group.”

In 2021, UTMB Group has five events scheduled including European events Val d’Aran by UTMB® and UTMB® Mont-Blanc, as well as Asian events Thailand by UTMB® and Panda Trail by UTMB® and Oman by UTMB® in the Middle East.

2021/22 UTMB Group events
Val d’Aran by UTMB® , Spain: 9-10 July 2021
UTMB® Mont-Blanc: 23-29 August 2021
Thailand by UTMB® : 29-31 October 2021
Panda Trail by UTMB® , China: 19-21 November 2021
Oman by UTMB® : December 2021
Gaoligong by UTMB® , China: March 2022


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Text info by UTMB, posted by Héctor Rubio for Trailrunningspain