Courtney Dauwalter Smashed the Women’s Record at UTMB and Knocked Over 2 Hours Off Her Previous Best
In her second appearance at the French race, she knocked over two hours off her previous best and placed 7th overall.
Courtney Dauwalter returned to the 106-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) to defend her 2019 crown and did not disappoint in her second appearance in Chamonix, France.
The 36-year-old from Golden, Colorado, led wire to wire in the women’s race, running into only a few minor issues along the way to set a new course record in 22:30:54 and finish seventh overall.
“It was an incredible experience again, and we were so excited to be back, immersed in that community,” Dauwalter told Runner’s World. “I didn’t know what to expect from the race, but I knew that I was lining up healthy and physically and mentally as ready as I could be.”
UTMB was a redemption race for Dauwalter, who was forced to drop out at mile 62 of the Hardrock 100 in July because of stomach issues.
Since then, Dauwalter said she has been tweaking her fueling strategy with her husband and crew chief, Kevin Schmidt. With solid foods causing issues at a certain point, she found that she should take in liquids only.
What happened at Hardrock turned out to be a blessing for her second time through the Alps. Similar problems arose around mile 50 at the Courmayeur aid station. Dauwalter was well ahead with only Mimmi Kotka of Sweden near her, but solid food wasn’t going down. Though she initially planned to switch to liquids only at mile 70, she and Schmidt opted to make the change earlier.
This meant Dauwalter relied on drinking a lot at aid stations and only fueling with the single liter she carried with her between aid stations.
“Climbing out of Courmayeur and coming to the top, I lost my lunch a little bit,” Dauwalter said. “But once it happened, it never happened again and I felt fine. I don’t know if my body was rejecting the fluids I put into it, but it ended up not being a big deal.”
Dauwalter then opened up a massive lead in the women’s race, picking off male competitors one by one. She said there were still low points in the latter part of the race—her legs felt shredded with each climb—but in those moments, she turned to her old friend, the iPod Shuffle.
“It literally has just the play button,” Dauwalter said. “It’s the best. Helps occupy my brain space with upbeat music. It basically has a playlist that started in 2010 and has just been added to since. So an eclectic mix of country music, Michael Jackson, Prince, some early 2010s pop and rap, and Taylor Swift.”
Dauwalter led the women’s race by over an hour as she made the final climb out of Vallorcine at mile 93 and descended back into Chamonix. Dauwalter found herself overjoyed upon seeing the mass of spectators welcoming her back into town.
As she ran through the streets and across the line, Dauwalter said she had no idea her time of 22:30:54 had set a new course record. Her time bested fellow American Rory Bosio, who set the previous record in 2013 (22:37:26) on a course that was three kilometers shorter.
“I feel very happy to have made the entire loop,” Dauwalter said. “After DNFing Hardrock, I wanted to finish UTMB no matter what it took. I’m grateful to my legs, my body, and Kevin and I were able to make the whole 100-mile adventure together. It’ll make for another great memory.”
Not only did Dauwalter make history with her time, she also finished seventh overall in the race. The rest of the women’s podium rounded out with French runner Camille Bruyas taking second (24:09:42) and Kotkas taking third (25:08:29). You can find the full results here.
“It’s a very cool time in the sport,” Dauwalter said. “There’s a lot of women pushing the limits and seeing what is possible. I feel lucky to be in this sport right now and sharing miles with those women and sharing races with these women.”
Dauwalter celebrated at the finish with Schmidt and her Salomon team. Having a beer was her top priority, so she grabbed a light beer that was handed to her. The next event on her race calendar is Big’s Backyard in October.
In the men’s race, French runners took the top five spots, led by now four-time champion Francois D’haene (2012, 2014, 2017, and 2021), who finished in 20:45:59.
American men continued their struggles at the event with Jim Walmsley and Tim Tollefson dropping out. The top American male was Luke Jay, who finished as the second American and 34th overall in 25:54:40. No American man has ever won UTMB.
posted Sunday September 5th