Athletes Travel Around the World for Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc

For an ultra-running event that goes around a mountain and crosses three countries, it’s fitting to have a team powered by athletes from around the world.

For an ultra-running event that goes around a mountain and crosses three countries, it's fitting to have a team powered by athletes from around the world. In the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, Vasque, the performance outdoor footwear manufacturer, is sponsoring a top-notch international group of athletes for whom running is a globe-trotting passion.

The annual competition, which passes through France, Italy and Switzerland, will be Aug. 25-30. Vasque's lineup includes Krissy Moehl of Seattle, Japanese runners Chiharu Watanabe, Ken Yamamoto and Hiroko Suzuki and Mandy Calvert of the United Kingdom.

The event consists of four races of different lengths that start in France and Italy. The races are tough, but the scenery — pastures, peaks, glaciers, forests, flowers — will inspire the Vasque team and other participants.

“We are very proud to have so many trail team members from around the world competing in such an amazing event,” Vasque marketing manager Sarah Pitts says. “This displays the magnitude of talent our trail athletes possess and shows Vasque is a strong brand worldwide. The team members are also excited to be able to meet and compete together.”

Moehl is the Vasque team's only returning competitor at the Mont Blanc race. Finishing in the top three women is one of her goals for the year. “I'm happy to be on a team with skilled runners from around the world. The cross-cultural experience makes this race even more awesome,” she says.

Moehl, a member of the 2009 Vasque Trail Team, has turned in impressive performances this season. She's just off a second-place finish among women in California's Western States Endurance Run in June. She also placed first among women and took third place overall in the Leona Divide 50-mile race in California in April. In May, Moehl took first place among women in the grueling Pocatello 50-mile trail.

Suzuki has had a successful season, earning top female finish at the High Sierra 100-mile race in Bishop, Calif., her first U.S. race of the season. She has also racked up many finishes in recent years in events in Japan and the United States, including the Japan Mountain Endurance Race and the Western States 100.

At 42, Watanabe has achieved success in endurance and trail races, a triathlon and other competitions. Finishing the Mont Blanc race is his main goal for the year. He has competed since 2003 and won the first trail-running series in Japan last year.

Yamamoto set a course record in the Japan Mountain Endurance Race (Hasegawa's Cup) on his way to winning the competition last year. He posted a time of 7:39:16.

Calvert picked up running after she stopped competitive rowing. Since her introduction to long-distance running in 2000, she has completed a number of races and keeps a busy schedule of competitive running. Completing more Vasque series races is one of her goals for 2009. Among her biggest achievements were a 3rd place female finish at the 2007 UTMB and earning a medal only a week later at the world masters rowing championship.

To learn more about each Vasque athlete visit Vasque's updated website and for more information about the UK team visit

About Vasque
For over 40 years, Vasque has crafted high-quality performance-driven footwear for the outdoor market with a line that includes specialized footwear for trail running, crossover, hiking, backpacking, alpine pursuits and kids. With an unyielding commitment to innovation, Vasque focuses on fit and world-class performance as the core pillars in every product they produce. Company product testing takes place through a team of exceptional athletes that report directly from trails all over the world, resulting in product that withstands the test of time and the hardest conditions and wear. To illustrate the “Vasque Fit” story, the company has brought on the Master of Fit™ to narrate, in a series of videos, exactly what it takes to become an award-winning footwear manufacturer.

To view the Master of Fit in action visit:

For more information on all Vasque products go to