Samoëns, France – A somber cloud loomed over the Ultra-Trail du Haut Giffre (UTHG) race on Saturday, June 15, 2024, when adverse weather conditions led to the death of one runner and left three others seriously injured after falls on steep slopes.

 The incidents unfolded during the early morning hours as participants navigated challenging terrain made treacherous by inclement weather. Initial reports indicate that four runners fell, resulting in one fatality. Emergency responders acted swiftly, providing immediate aid before the runner was evacuated. The organizers of UTHG expressed their heartfelt condolences in a statement on social media, extending sympathy to the victim’s family and loved ones.

Local prosecutor Karline Bouisset provided additional details to BFMTV, stating that the deceased, a man in his fifties, likely succumbed to cardiac arrest. Two other men, also in their fifties and thirties, suffered severe injuries with various traumas, while a fourth runner sustained less severe injuries.

The Ultra-Trail du Haut Giffre, a prominent European ultra-trail event spanning three days, hosts various races starting from Samoëns, about 30 miles southeast of Geneva, Switzerland, and 20 miles northwest of Chamonix, France. Events range from children’s races to the challenging 128-kilometer Ultra Tour des Lacs aux Cimes (UTLAC), with the 96-kilometer Ultra-Trail du Haut-Giffre (UTHG) being the second longest.

Originally scheduled to start on Friday, June 14, at 7 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. local time, respectively, the UTHG race experienced a delayed start due to inclement weather and was eventually canceled, alongside all other events.

Bouisset mentioned that rescue efforts commenced around 4:35 a.m. on Saturday following reports of falls in a mountainous area exacerbated by worsening weather conditions. These incidents likely involved participants in the 128k UTLAC race. According to social media accounts from participants, weather conditions deteriorated significantly around 3 a.m., causing trails to become dangerously slippery.

While the exact sequence of events remains unclear, some runners reported seeking refuge at aid stations due to worsening weather conditions, while others received notifications from organizers about race suspension and evacuation procedures. Several participants also witnessed minor to moderate falls in addition to the more severe incidents.

The rescue operation, which involved 73 local firefighters and the Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM) mountain rescue service from Chamonix, continued throughout much of Saturday.