Posts

An American in Paris (well, Chamonix): USA triumph at UTMB

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

The slogan for this year’s legendary UTMB race should have been, “The Americans are coming…”

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) has mythic status. Its extreme difficulty coupled with its extreme beauty make it irresistible to ultra runners, and the draw is always heavily oversubscribed. It was first held in 2003 and the route takes you round the stunning scenery of Mont-Blanc and the encircling peaks. The festival includes five races between 22nd and 28th August. The race centre is in Chamonix in the French Alps.

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

The five races are:

  • UTMB: Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (170 km +10,000 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 (55 km +3,300 m)
  • PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (approx. 290 km +26,500 m)

UTMB is a single-stage race and passes through three different countries as it follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc across France, Italy and Switzerland. The race varies very slightly in different years and in this edition it was 170km with 10,000m of ascent. 2500 starters set off but there was a heavy drop out rate.

This year a couple of the big names dropped early including two of the favourites – Rory Bosio of the USA and  Luis Hernando of Spain.  

Before the race, Anton Krupicka had picked Hernando as a favourite.

“It is hard to bet against Luis Hernando and Zach Miller has the fire for it. For the women, Caroline Chaverot has had a great season and also Magdalena Boulet”

Jason Schlarb, who is one of our IRUN4ULTRA  ambassadors was also a casualty. On his Facebook page, he posted this moving note about how it felt to have to DNF (did not finish) and what it meant for his son, Felix.

It was a real disappointment to drop today. I felt really good training in August but the body was a wreck today. The hardest part was the massive disappointment Felix had from my drop. He was crushed. He cried and told me he wanted me to do UTMB. We have been in Europe for 6 weeks getting ready for UTMB, he has a UTMB t-shirt, he did the kids race, UTMB was his world this month. I am Felix’s hero. We run together on trails every day together. My drop was almost like having Christmas canceled. My heart is broken.”

RACE LEADERS

Photo Credit: © UTMB® - photo : Pascal Tournaire
Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

But for those who stayed the course, it was to be a magnificent race. Zach Miller of the USA was in the lead for a large part of the race, proving that he did have that fire. In the end, though he was unable to hold onto first place and Ludovic Pommeret of France chased him, passed him and took the win with 25 minutes to spare. Gediminus Grinius from Lithuania put in a very impressive performance to come in second. Then there was a late contender. Tim Tollefson from the USA had been behind but clawed his way up, clicking past the other competitors to come in at third, to his own, and everyone else’s delight.
Speaking after the race, he told us what it felt like.

There was not long to wait until there was more great news for America. Tim was followed in by David Laney (third last year) who had also run an astounding race. He crossed the finishing line and had clearly given it all he had, as he collapsed, showing just how much these athletes sacrifice of themselves to be the best.

Zach Miller, who was given the accolade   “most aggressive runner” by the UTMB TV crew, completed the trio, making it in 6th place.

After the race, one of his sponsors, Brent Hollowell, Vice President of Marketing for NATHAN said:

“ The first 85 miles were nothing short of amazing and the last twenty miles were heroic. You can’t watch that kid and not been inspired by the way he goes out at 100% and let’s what happens happen.”

The USA may not have taken first or second place, but the men’s gutsy performances and sheer charm won over the Chamonix crowd.

The woman’s race went to Caroline Chaverot, giving France the one/two. The French flags were out in force in town this evening and deservedly so.  

Photo Credit: © UTMB® - photo : Pascal Tournaire
Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

But don’t forget for the main body of the field, they still have a long night and day ahead of them and a thunderstorm has just broken over the mountains. The cut off time is 46 hours which will bring us to 4pm tomorrow evening local time.

FINAL RANKINGS

  1. Ludovic POMMERET, France 22:00:02
  2. Gediminas GRINIUS, Lithuania 22:26.05
  3. Tim TOLLEFSON, USA, 22:30.38

WOMEN’S RANKINGS

  1. Caroline CHAVEROT, France, 25:15:40
  2. Andrea HUSER, Switzerland, 25:22:56
  3. Uxue FRAILE AZPEITIA, Spain, 26:15:18

Keep across our Twitter feed for live updates, our Facebook page for new videos and our Instagram feed for the best pictures from the course @IRUN4ULTRA

Read more inspiration from the stars of UTMB past and present https://irun4ultra.org/2016/08/26/thoughts-on-utmb/

Thoughts on UTMB

UTMB, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is the biggest mountain ultra in the world. It is a dream for most mountain ultra runners to take part and winning catapults any runner to trail stardom.

The race kicks off tonight at 6.00pm local time. It is 170km with 10000m of ascent – Everest is 8848 metres to put that in context. There are 2300 runners and a cut off time of 46.30 to complete the course. The leaders should take approximately 21 hours to finish.

So, what are the thoughts of the international champions who have taken part (past or present) as UTMB 2016 gets underway? We look at their motivation and inspirations, reflections and even share some of their training tips.

Zach Miller –  2015 CCC Champion

image1
Photo Credit: Zack Miller’s Mom

“I’ve received many messages, emails, and words of encouragement from all sorts of people in the lead-up to UTMB, but this picture of a bulletin board from the school where my Mom teaches really hit home today. Thanks Mom!”

Rory Bosio, 2 x UTMB Champion

Photo Credit: North Face
Photo Credit: North Face

“I do not have the fortitude to run just for the sake of running. I like to use running as a way to escape from everyday life or to see a new place. Fitness is a great by-product. I choose races based on location rather than competition. If I’m running somewhere that inspires me, or I find beautiful, I usually have a better race anyway.“ https://www.theguardian.com/

Kilian Jornet, 3 x winner UTMB

Photo Credit: UTMB

“A great athlete is one who takes advantage of the ability that genetics have brought him in order to secure great achievements, but an exceptional athlete is one who can swim in the waters of complexity and chaos, making what seems difficult easy, creating order from chaos. Creative individuals search for chaos in order to explore all the places they can imagine beyond the frontiers of consciousness, following the irrational forces that come from within themselves and from their environment.” https://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Kilian-Jornet

Marco Olmo – twice winner of UTMB and Ambassador for IRUN4ULTRA

“It is very emotional to be back here because ten years has passed since I first won UTMB. I realise that the years have passed and that you have to be happy with what you have done before.”

Xavier Thevenard  2 x UTMB Champion

Photo Credit: © UTMB® - photo : Pascal Tournaire
Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo: Pascal Tournaire

“UTMB is mythical because of its relationship to Mont Blanc. It is a place known all over the world and everyone wants to get closer to see what it looks like. And then there is the route itself that is very tough and physical. For purists, it’s something to do. Chamonix is the capital of mountaineering and all these make this race unique. I think this is how it will continue for a long time.” http://www.meltyxtrem.fr/

David Laney, UTMB 2015 3rd place

Photo Credit:David Laney
Photo Credit:David Laney

“Run the most technical trails you can find.  Find steep rocky mountain ridges and steep rugged canyons that mirror the course you plan to race on.  Get to a place where you can roll through really rooty, rocky or steep downhill sections.  Find those trails that allow you to practice the more technical aspects of running. Do them again and again and again.The mountains are big and free and wild and powerful.  Use those emotions to inspire your next race.” https://davidlaneyrunning.com/

Luis Alberto Hernando Alzago, Skyrunning Champion

Photo Credit: correrxmuntanya.com
Photo Credit: correrxmuntanya.com

“Everything is prepared and we are convinced that the third time is a charm!“ http://www.luisalbertohernando.com/utmb/

Lizzy Hawker, 2 x winner UTMB

Photo Credit: Lizzy Hawker
Photo Credit: Lizzy Hawker

“As a child I preferred to walk rather than take the bus and I just found moving under my own effort more appealing. By the time I came to run that first UTMB I was used to long days on my feet – mountaineering, hiking as well as running – and for a long mountain ultra like the UTMB ‘time on feet’ is good preparation.” http://www.independent.co.uk/

Jason Schlarb, 4th place UTMB 2015 and IRUN4ULTRA Ambassador

image9

“I want to improve on my 4th place. I want to get on to that podium which is a very high ambition for a USA runner.One of our difficulties (in the USA)  is that our mountains just aren’t as steep. We have the Rockies, but they are more characterized by switchbacks and there are trails there for mountain bikers and hikers whereas the Dolomites and the Alps are really sheer. I really attribute my fourth place to the fact that I went to Europe for three months to train. It made all the difference.” http://www.runultra.co.uk

IRUN4ULTRA in Chamonix for UTMB: TDS – The Wild Alternative

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.

TDS Depart
TDS Start © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

TDS

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.


Montée de Bourg saint Maurice – Pau CAPELL © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

Pau Capell

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!