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We went for a trail run… and came back with The Hub, Chamonix

We went for a trail run… and came back with The Hub, Chamonix

Mar 8, 2024

You probably have had this experience: out on a long trail run, you leave the cares of the day behind. In time, your mind wanders. You free-associate. By the time you’re done, you’ve developed some of your best ideas. Maybe you even run to your car or back inside your home to write them down, or text a friend. That’s exactly how we created The Hub, Chamonix, a casual, welcoming chalet a short walk from the center of town, designed specifically with trail running and trail runners in mind.

the hub chamonix
Summer vibes at our 2023 Hub. (Photo: Kim Strom)

Here’s our origin story

A decade or so ago, in our early years, Run the Alps rented an apartment in Chamonix. It was a place where our staff and guides would spend a night or two, often mixing with friends who were passing through and visiting elite trail runners. 

There was a certain energy, built around a shared love for trail running in the Alps. And you never knew who would show up. 

We all felt that vibe and loved it. Somewhat by accident, we had created something special. 

Then, early one morning in the fall of 2019, Run the Alps founder Doug Mayer and Mike Ambrose set off for a run. Mike, if you haven’t heard his name, is a fixture in the trail running world both in the US and Europe. At the time, he was busy developing new trail running shoes for Salomon. Today, he’s the head of NNormal in North America.

They ran down the Chamonix valley, then up to Chalet de Cerro, then over to Les Bossons and up – way up – to the meeting place of the Taconnaz and Bossons Glaciers at La Jonction.  (Here’s La Jonction, courtesy of a drone flyover.) It’s a special place.

Over the course of the day, they reminisced about another great summer of trail running in Chamonix. But they lamented that, while organizations and brands from around the world were active in the valley’s vibrant trail running scene, there was no central gathering place for trail runners. 

And simultaneously, Run the Alps’ Chamonix housing for staff and friends was filled, all summer long. During busier times, Run the Alps was turning away longtime friends. 

Maybe Chamonix was ready for something more– a place rooted in the lively, friendly staff housing that Run the Alps had provided over the years– but with the doors opened for others to join in the fun, too. In short, a literal and figurative home for trail running in Chamonix. 

Groups, friends, and trail running brands could use The Hub. Solo trail runners passing through Chamonix could make new friends. Ideas, energy, and enthusiasm would be shared among all comers. 

That could be the driving spirit behind The Hub. 

As we ran, we talked about how special Chamonix is to trail running. Chamonix really is the world’s home to trail running. There are the iconic races, one of the world’s largest trail running clubs and, of course, the endless kilometers of dramatic trails. For trail runners, it’s a special place.

And yet… There was no place in town that trail runners could call home– literally and figuratively. There is no shortage of activities, of course– brands have their weekly runs, there are trail running organizations, formal and informal, and a constant stream of great talks and events, and visits from elite athletes. 

As the day passed, we daydreamed about the idea. During the long 1,500 meter uphill climb, we imagined what might happen at The Hub. There would be fun events, chances to hang out and meet other trail runners, and opportunities to learn and grow as trail runners. We would have a Community Manager who would be a mentor, sharing tips for visitors about where to run, latest trail conditions and more. 

In short, The Hub would have everything we love about our shared trail running community and culture.

By the time we got back to Chamonix, the concept for what became The Hub had crystallized.

Six months later, we had The Hub ready to launch: a chalet rented, a Community Manager hired, a website built, social media accounts created and booking software lined up.

Maybe this was the time and place to start The Hub Chamonix? We were about to find out.

Well, not quite.

A week before we were ready to launch The Hub,, we watched as the story of a new virus grew ever more urgent and pressing.

Enter the global pandemic.

During the ensuing 15 months, like so much of the world, we entered a holding pattern. It was disappointing, but we weren’t alone. Everyone’s lives were on hold.

In 2021, we finally got a chance to launch The Hub. 

And, well, it was a huge success. 

It was just what we had dreamed, that day, trail running up to La Jonction. It’s a great place to spend a night or two– or a few weeks, even. There’s an energy at The Hub, with trail running at the very heart of it all. 

I think I speak for Mike and all of the rest of the Run the Alps crew who had a hand in developing The Hub, that’s it’s pretty special when we walk in and see what’s happening. The culture, the scene, information and tips… it’s all getting passed on. And we couldn’t be happier about it. The Hub has taken its place as part of the DNA of Chamonix trail running scene.

And so, that’s the genesis story of what became The Hub, Chamonix

Like trail running itself, The Hub is still evolving. So be sure to let us know what ideas you have to make it even better. Drop us a note any time.

Whether you’re new to trail running or one of the world’s top athletes, we hope you’ll join us there. And when you do, save time for a run. Because, well, you never know what will come of it.

Doug Mayer
Doug Mayer is the founder of Run the Alps and lives in Chamonix, France with his labradoodle, Izzy. He is the author of The Race that Changed Running: The Inside Story of UTMB and writes for Outside Online and Ultrasignup News. His upcoming book is a graphic novel about Italy’s 330km long Tor des Géants trail race.