High altitudes, tough conditions at Mont Blanc ultramarathon

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CHAMONIX, France (Reuters) - Facing tough conditions and high altitudes, runners gathered for one of Europe’s toughest foot races on Friday - an ultramarathon around the Mont Blanc.

The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, which takes participants through France, Italy and Switzerland, kicks off in the French resort area of Chamonix in the evening and follows the trail taken by hikers around the Alps’ highest mountain.

Around 2,300 people take part in the 170 km (105 mile) race, where they can face cold, windy and even snowy conditions. Runners can take up to 40 hours to finish the course.

Reporting by Denis Balibouse and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens