August 24, 2016
I Run4Ultra Race
By Alice Hunter Morrison
Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA.
It is quite possibly the most important mountain ultra on the planet – UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc). It takes place annually in Chamonix in the French Alps and is a week long fest for ultra runners from around the world.
IRUN4ULTRA is based here all week, following the action, and raising awareness about Autism and
ADD/ADHD from our base in the Competitors’ Village at Booth 99.
An estimated 50,000 runners and supporters will be in this tiny Alpine town during the week to enjoy and participate in the five races that take place from July 22 – 28.
The five races are:
- UTMB: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (166 km + 9,600 m)
- CCC: Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (101 km + 6,100 m)
- TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (119 km + 7,250 m)
- OCC: Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (53 km + 3,300 m)
- PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (approx. 300 km + 28,000 m)
There are also mini events for children and the YCC (Youth Chamonix Courmayeur), which is open to 16-22 year olds.
The big race for today began at 6:00 a.m. local time from Courmayeur in Italy. It is the TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie), and comprises 119 km with 7,250 m of climbing.
1600 runners lined up this morning on the start line on a cool but clear dawn. The weather conditions were perfect with 100% visibility. The runners set off in great spirit.
It was a hotly-contested race from the get-go with the leaders changing constantly. The course starts off with a sharp climb and the pressure never lets up. At the four hour mark, Jessed Hernandez Gispert was leading the men and Meredith Edwards from the USA led the women.
Meredith Edwards hung tenaciously on to that lead, running strong over the peaks and for the main body of the race. As we publish this, however, she was in second place, having been overtaken by the strong Frenchwoman, Delphine Avenier, who had an eleven minute lead.
As the men’s race progressed, Pau Capell, the young Spaniard who won the Ultra-Trail of Australia in May went into the lead for the men and stayed there, pulling further and further ahead.
He came through in a final time of 14.45.44 to an ecstatic reception and spent time celebrating with the crowd and enjoying his tremendous victory.
In his post-race interview he said that one of the hardest things about the course was the heat. It was the hottest race he had ever run. And he said that whether he was 5th, 10th or 1st, it was absolutely extraordinary to see the public in Chamonix coming to welcome the runners across the finish line.
In second place was Yeray Duran Lopez with 15.14.07.
Congratulations to all the runners, many of whom will be out there for many hours to come. Don’t forget we will be covering all the action on Twitter @irun4ultra and will be regularly updating on Facebook. Also, check out our Instagram @irun4ultra as well!