Frequently Asked Questions
Is Atlas Quest accessible to all runners ?
The answer is yes..and no, it all depends on which race you choose.
The UTAT 105 km is not a good choice for everybody, it is only open for those who have already finished an ultra-trail. Furthermore, the race takes place in a rough and not easily accessible mountain environment. Thus, the participants must be able to manage several hours of effort at high altitude without endangering themselves. The organization must ensure that all those taking part in this 105 km race is capable not only of going the distance, but also manage all parameters of the race (high altitude, isolation, semi self-sufficiency…).
However, the other races are more accessible. The Marathon de l’Atlas (42 kms) and the Virée d’Ikkiss (26 kms) do not require any specific previous experience. There is also the Amazigh Trail (12 kms), perfect for supporters and open to hikers as well.
If you take part in the Challenge de l’Atlas (42 kms one day, and 26 the following), you are welcome to enter the 105 km the year after.
Which course should I choose ?
Two parameters should be taken into consideration : the altitude and the technical terrain. With a start at an altitude of 2600 m and passages at over 3000 m (3700m for the UTAT 105), and a rough environment (rocks, screes, steep slopes, climate…), all of the races are more difficult than their European counterparts equal in distance and positive elevation. Please bear this in mind when you choose your race. As an example, a racer who in Europe will need 2h30 for a distance of 26 kms with 1400 m of positive elevation, is likely to need 3h15 for a similar trail in the High Atlas.
Here are our recommendations :
The UTAT 105 is for experienced trail runners, used to long and technical races and capable of managing their efforts in semi-autonomy.
The Marathon de l’Atlas is for good runners, well trained and used to the European trail marathons.
The Virée d’Ikkiss is open to less experienced trail runners, however you need to be in good shape – the itinerary remains challenging.
The Amazigh Trail is open to all trail runners and is open to hikers as well.
The Challenge de l’Atlas is a good challenge for those who wish to learn more about long distance running and prepare for an ultra-trail.
What is different with the Atlas Quest compared to other trails ?
The Atlas Quest is different to other trail races for several reasons :
The altitude (a start at 2600 m and several passages above 3000 or 3500m) and the technical terrain.
You will experience an environment difficult to access, an impression of isolation can be strong at times.
The race not only offers a sport challenge, but also an exceptional human experience thanks to the difficulty of the itineraries, the Berber villages – out of time – you pass by and the days spent at the base camp making new friends and enjoying the local culture.
You will discover a different continent, a new environment, another culture : the UTAT is an experience like no other!
What are the characteristics of the terrain ?
The High Atlas is a stony and dry mountain range where running requires a strong technical level. The itineraries not only use less technical tracks, but also demanding single tracks. In addition to a technical terrain, you should take into account the climate conditions: because it takes place at high altitude UTAT you will often experience huge magnitudes in temperature (around 0°C during the night and sometimes some 30°C in the sun), and climate (cold winds, rain, snow at the cols…).
Please have a thorough look at the compulsory gear list : it may seem long or exaggerated, but it is necessary to carry at a minimum this equipment to be able to manage a possible emergency situation.