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How Dani Moreno Became the First-Ever American Woman to Podium at the OCC Race at UTMB

"How far is the podium?!" Dani Moreno yelled to her French friend as she crested a high point in the race at this week's hyper-competitive OCC race, based in Chamonix, France.

"Too far!" her friend responded. 

He would later regret saying that. Why? Because 6 hours and 17 minutes after starting, Dani Moreno, 30, from the Mammoth Lakes, California, secured her spot on the podium to finish in third place, the first-ever American woman to reach this level at OCC. 

The OCC (Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix) race is a 56km (35 mile) option with 3500 m (11,500 feet) of elevation gain. Unlike the UTMB 100-mile race that circumnavigates Mount Blanc, starting and finishing in Chamonix, France, the OCC option begins in Switzerland and stays in the Valais region, until the finish, where it drops into the Chamonix valley. Winners expect to arrive at the finish in under six hours, while the cutoff is 14 hours, 30 minutes.  

Weeks prior to OCC, Moreno experienced an unusually difficult race at Sierre-Zinal, in Switzerland. Before the race, she lost someone close to her back at home and a funeral service was the week of the race. She thinks the emotion caught up with her. 

"I went into that race realizing I hadn't fully grieved," said Moreno. "I didn't represent myself and all this work I'd done." But after overwhelming support from friends and family, she recalibrated for OCC and showed up ready to compete. Her fiance traveled to Chamonix to help crew, along with a couple of friends.

Early in the race, Moreno would pass competitors on the ups and get passed on the downs, and yet she kept saying to herself: trust, trust, trust. Trusting in her strengths and pacing was critical, and it paid off halfway into the race. 

"I passed five girls and moved into fourth at the halfway point," she said. "I could see the third-place woman but didn't know what was happening in front of them. Then third place and I were battling it out."

"You are As Strong As You Think You Are"

Moreno's secret weapon? Having fun-no matter what.  

"It was fun the whole time," said Moreno. "Well, maybe the last downhill was agonizing because I was really trying to see if I could catch second place." She would make airplane arms, pretending to fly, while high-fiving spectators, always with a smile. "It felt like a fun day out with my friends." 

Before the last descent, she received a huge boost after seeing her ultrarunning hero, Ruth Croft, who offered her words of encouragement. And at one of the last spots along the course, she remembers her fiance yelling to her: "You are as strong as you think you are!"

"Those last 90 minutes I sort of blacked out," said Moreno, digging deep to try and catch up to the second place woman. A few hundred yards from the finishing chute, she knew she'd done it, and the joy of her last few hundred yards was palpable. "It was a lot. First, I was like, I did it, but then I was like we did it. My coach, my family, everyone that believed in me."

Moreno finished in 6 hours and 17 minutes, only 7 minutes off the winning woman, Sheila Aviles, from Spain. The second-place woman, Nria Gil, finished only one minute ahead. Other American women in the top ten were Kimber Maddox (4th) and Allie McLaughlin (6th). 

Running As Expression, Running As Order.

Dani Moreno moved to the eastern slope of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains after living and attending university at UCSB, where she ran cross country. Moreno is a four-time member of Team USA and a two-time USA champion. In addition to competing at the highest levels of the sport, Moreno maintains a full-time job at a construction firm, working in mergers and acquisitions. 

"First, I was like, I did it, but then I was like we did it."  

OCC was the longest race-both time and distance-that Moreno had ever pursued. But on her website, she writes that her goal is "to solidify myself as one of the best mountain runners in the world at the sub-ultra-distances." Refreshingly, she appears content with fine-tuning her performances in shorter trail races. So often in this sport, athletes feel pressure to level up to increasingly longer distances. For the next couple years, Moreno hopes to focus on marathon trail distances. However, more ultras are very much on the horizon.

"My plan is to do a 100K in the next year and a half, nestled between other shorter races, and keep inching my way up," she said. Moreno mentioned not wanting to do the CCC yet, the 101K option at UTMB. Yet. 

"I'd like to do OCC again, and go about a little more aggressively this time." She plans to finish the Golden Trail Series, too, which she did last year.  

Want to Run a UTMB Race? Here are Moreno's Three Rules: 

Respect the weather. The weather in this dramatic region can change in an instant. Be ready for anything. "Practicing with your equipment is key," she says.  

Learn how to move and fuel. Moreno is strict about practicing eating and drinking while training. During her OCC race she mixed up sports drinks and foods, things she was familiar with. The best place to learn what works-and what doesn't-is during training. "It's okay to fail during training," she said. Better to fail in training than in a race. 

Be prepared for undulations. Constant ups and downs. "The undulations. Sometimes in the U.S. we tend to only go up and then down, and that's it. Here, there are multiple [big] ups and downs." 

Beyond the competition, Moreno seeks trails not only as an elite athlete, but as a way of becoming a whole person, of building order and resiliency into her life. 

"It helps me get through a lot of stuff," said Moreno. "It helps me organize and compartmentalize stuff in my life. Sometimes in life I can get overwhelmed by my emotions, Running provides important guidelines for that."

(08/28/2022) Views: 292 ⚡AMP
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North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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2022 UTMB Women’s Race

An American living in France and eighth-place finisher at UTMB in 2021, Katie Schide set out to make her mark on the race from the beginning, leading the women’s field after seven kilometers into Les Houches while being trailed closely by the trio of Marianne Hogan from Canada, Kaytlyn Gerbinfrom the USA, and Hillary Allen from the USA.

Schide grew the gap over the next 13 kilometers into Saint-Gervais. With only one hour and 48 minutes on the race clock, a truly raw opening effort, her lead over second place Hogan was already five minutes, and she had eight minutes on third place Audrey Tanguy (pre-race interview) of France. Jocelyne Pauly and Manon Bohard, both from France also, came through in fourth and fifth with Mimmi Kotka (pre-race interview), a Swede living in Chamonix, just behind them in sixth. 

Fu-Zhao Xiang (pre-race interview) of China, Ragna Debats (pre-race interview), who is Dutch but lives in Spain, and Azara García (pre-race interview) of Spain rounded out the top 10, running together 13 minutes behind Schide.Keeping up her consistent and strong pace, Schide continued to increase her lead on the rest of the women’s field, coming into Les Contamines at 31 kilometers with 2:50 on the race clock.

By then, she’d extended her lead on Hogan to over nine minutes, Tanguy to 12 minutes, and Bohard and Pauly to 15 minutes. Tanguy was probably relieved to make it past Les Contamines where she had dropped last year from severe stomach cramps. A visibility limping Kotka, who had challenged Courtney Dauwalter during last year’s UTMB during the early miles of the race before finishing third as Dauwalter won, came into Les Contamines nearly 20 minutes off the lead in sixth and would not continue.

Schide continued to smile coming through the Col du Bonhomme, at about a marathon’s distance into the race, clearly enjoying her run through the night and appreciating the cheers of the spectators. Climbing one of the largest passes of the race only seemed to make her stronger. Her gap to Hogan and Tanguy had grown to about 20 minutes as the two chasers crested the col.

The cheers from the enthusiastic French crowd brought smiles to both women’s faces as they passed through. The cheers continued for Bohard and Pauly, who were still running together.

The crowd at Les Chapieux, 50 kilometers in, was enthused to see Schide, erupting in huge cheers as she came in. While the gaps between the women in second through 10th grew and shrunk over the kilometers, Schide’s gap on the field had only gone one direction so far: up. She was now more than 22 minutes up on second place Hogan. By the time Schide got to Lac Combal, 66 kilometers into the race, the gap was up to 25 minutes, and it would be an additional 20 minutes for Tanguy to arrive after that.With 80 kilometers run, Schide came into Courmayeur flying, spending only eight minutes at the aid station approximately halfway into the race.

The crowds were thrilled to see her, providing a warm and raucous welcome as she ran into the aid station looking smooth. But for the first time in the race thus far, Hogan had started to close the gap to the leader, whittling it down to just over 20 minutes. Smiling but with a stomach that couldn’t handle gels any more, she quickly drank a Coke and opted for pizza for fuel. The gap between the top two women and the rest of the field continued to grow, and it was over an hour before Tanguy, Pauly, and Gerbin ran through, and a few more minutes after them to the sixth woman, Emily Hawgood, of Zimbabwe, who lives in the USA.

While Schide had seemed unstoppable before Courmayeur, the tables seemed to turn over the next 17 kilometers to Arnouvaz as night turned to day. Schide came in with stomach issues, clearly in a rough spot, with Hogan hot on her heels, now only two minutes behind. Closing a gap of more than 18 minutes is a feat to be acknowledged, and a feisty and strong Hogan seemed energized by the coming of the day and the idea of leading the race for the first time.

A struggling Schide maintained her lead over the Grand Col Ferret at 102 kilometers, but it was down to a minute, and when the women’s leader arrived at La Fouly at 112 kilometers, it was Hogan instead of Schide for the first time, with a sizable six-minute gap.

By Champex-Lac at 125 kilometers, it was still Hogan in the lead and well under course record pace, now with a 10-minute gap to second. But Schide wasn’t about to give up, slowing down to let her stomach recover from its previous rough spell, and finally eating a cheese sandwich and starting to move well again.

One hundred miles is a long distance to race, long enough that runners can get through rough spells and rebound. And that’s exactly what Schide did, regaining the lead in Trient at kilometer 142, not only eliminating the 10-minute gap but putting an additional 10 minutes on Hogan. By Vallorcine at 153 kilometers, the gap between the top two was up to 41 minutes, with Hogan nursing a hurt left leg.

By the time the pair reached the finish line in Chamonix, they maintained their one-two position with Schide having extended the gap to some 75 minutes.It was another 35 minutes later that we saw the final member of the women’s podium arrive, Gerbin, who ran for much of the second half of the race in what she described as “no woman’s land,” well in front of those behind her but out of contact with the lead.

It was apparently a comfortable spot for her, though, as she held her position strongly, and crossed the finish line back in Chamonix like she could run plenty more kilometers if needed.

Pauly finished fourth, the successful conclusion of a focused day of racing. Eszter Csillag, who is from Hungary but lives in Hong Kong, moved up later on to take fifth. Emily Hawgood ran strong all day to set and maintain a very similar position of sixth place. Xiang held tight to seventh place with Spain’s Aroa Sio just behind in eighth. Italy’s Francesca Pretto and Eva-Maria Sperger of Germany moved up into the top 10 in the last 50 kilometers.

 

(08/28/2022) Views: 189 ⚡AMP
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2022 UTMB Men’s Race

As expected, the men took the race out fast from the start on the relatively flat roads and trails from Chamonix to the village of Les Houches. Spain’s Pau Capell, the 2019 UTMB winner, led a charging group through Les Houches, seven kilometers into the race, followed closely by Mathieu Blanchard, a Frenchman living in Canada, and Jia-Ju Zhao and Guo-Min Deng, both of China. All the top contenders were in a massive chase pack, settling in for the long night and day ahead.

It didn’t take long for Jim Walmsley (pre-race interview) of the USA to make his intentions for this year’s race clear, coming into Saint-Gervais, at 20 kilometers into the race, in the lead, looking strong and relaxed. Kilian Jornet and Capell were just seconds behind with Deng, Zhao, and American Zach Miller making up a chase group half a minute in arrears. They were followed by Frenchman Germain Grangier, Blanchard, Frenchman Thibaut Garrivier, and Yan-Qiao Yun of China.

Unsurprisingly, by Les Contamines, 31 kilometers into the race, it was shaping up to be a showdown between Walmsley and Jornet. They came into the aid station together looking relaxed, Walmsley taking the time to high-five fans, and were shortly on their way into the night together. Capell and Miller came in just 30 seconds back, and Grangier rounded out the top five, just a minute behind them.

A notable withdrawal around this time due to physical issues is last year’s second place finisher, Frenchman Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz (pre-race interview).

Climbing over the high Col du Bonhomme, 43 kilometers in, Walmsley, Miller, Jornet, and Tom Evans (pre-race interview) of the U.K. shared the lead. With 1,160 meters (3,800 feet) of climbing down just on this one climb, everyone in the group looked relaxed and was moving well. Capell was just 90 seconds back, trying not to let the elastic to the front group snap in the dark of the night on the run over to Col du Bonhomme before the long descent into the remote French outpost of Les Chapieux.

The four leaders stayed together down to Les Chapieux, 50 kilometers into the race, where last year’s winner, François D’Haene — not participating this year — was spectating and cheering on runners. Unfortunately, Capell had lost contact with the lead group over the previous section, coming into the aid station more than two minutes back. The rest of the top nine stayed relatively the same with Erik Sorenson of the USA slotting in 10th for the first time.Coming into Lac Combal, 66 kilometers into the race, after crossing country borders into Italy and traversing the most remote part of the course, Walmsley and Jornet had only slightly pulled away, their gap to Miller and Evans hung at a tenuous minute. All four looked strong, but it seemed like pre-race predictions of a two-man showdown were about to be realized.

Walmsley, with his arms and legs fully covered from the cold of the night but shirt front open, came into the town of Courmayeur, 80 kilometers in, solo and in the lead, but his gap on Jornet just 80 seconds.

Both men were moving well and left the aid station together after only a few minutes. It was a significant 12 minutes before Evans and Miller came through, staying in Courmayeur for under three minutes. Blanchard, looking more relaxed than any of the previous four, was also in and out of the aid station quickly, 18 minutes off the lead. Known for his slower starts and late race surges, Blanchard appeared to know exactly what he was doing.

It was never a question of if Walmsley or Jornet would strike out on their own, it was just a matter of when. Walmsley was the first to throw down a serious acceleration, coming into Arnouvaz (97 kilometers) solo and with a 2.5-minute gap on Jornet. Both were in and out of the aid station quickly, looking strong and motivated. Blanchard also chose the trail between Courmayeur and Arnouvaz to make his move, coming into the Arnouvaz aid station in third, looking very controlled and 14 minutes behind the leaders.

He was familiar with that position in the race, having finished third in UTMB in 2021. He was also familiar with the race tactic of starting slower, letting the leaders fight it out early and tire themselves out, and then moving up as the fast starters dropped back. It had brought him success the previous year, and he was seemingly employing the strategy again. Miller and Evans continued to run near each other, what Evans would later refer to as a “bromance” that lasted over half the race, and both looked like they had less spring in their step than the men ahead of them.

Committed to making the move stick, Walmsley climbed the Grand Col Ferret at 102 kilometers with a strong powerhike and held a five-minute gap over Jornet. Seemingly unconcerned with his position, Jornet chatted in French with both spectators and volunteers before vanishing into the night. Moving faster and looking stronger over the col than the previous two men, Blanchard continued the chase in third 17 minutes back. Miller and Evans continued to work together to keep the gap manageable.

The gap between Walmsley and Jornet stretched even further to 14 minutes by the sleepy Swiss village of La Fouly, 112 kilometers into the race. Both men were running under course-record pace, and both looked calm and collected. Still running strong into La Fouly, Blanchard kept the leaders within reach.

But Walmsley was committed to stretching the elastic on the field as much as he could, coming through Champex-Lac at 125 kilometers with 13 hours and 40 minutes on the race clock, gaining even more time on the course record and moving strongly. It’s generally a bad idea to bet against Walmsley after he’s put his mind to something, and after a fifth place finish in 2017 and DNF in 2018 and 2021 at UTMB, his commitment to the race and move to Europe to train on the trails seemed to be paying off.

But Walmsley is also known for going out fast and strong, and it doesn’t always stick.One could argue that Jornet was just biding his time, letting Walmsley burn his matches out front. However, there were times around this point in the race where Jornet just plain looked like he was working, enough so that we all began to wonder if the GOAT of trail running would have a crack in his armor today. However, by Trient at 142 kilometers, Jornet had decided to make his move, coming into the aid station in the lead. But instead of seeing Walmsley behind him, it was a surging Blanchard, less than a minute back that Jornet would have to now battle.

It was a long 19 minutes before Walmsley would arrive, appearing to be in discomfort. The dynamic duo of Evans and Miller continued to run together, still holding the gap to the race leader at just over 30 minutes, as they had for much of the race.As the kilometers ticked down, it was indeed a showdown between two men, except it was Blanchard challenging Jornet, with both men coming into Vallorcine at 153 kilometers together, well ahead of the course-record pace.

With Walmsley slowly losing time to the leaders but still in third, eyes moved to Evans who’d finally dropped Miller after nearly a night and a day of racing side by side to see if he could make the pass.By this time, it felt nearly inevitable that Jornet would run to the win and it was no surprise when he came into Tete aux Vents solo looking focused and fast with an 11-kilometer downhill run to the finish. Blanchard never gave up the chase, seven minutes back, while Evans passed a tired but “pumped” Walmsley to slot into third for the first time.

Jornet would finish with a course-record time of 19:49:30, besting both François D’Haene’s 2014 record time (20:11:44) on a course which did not include the Pyramides Calcaires, a gnarly little climb and descent added to the UTMB course a few years back, and Capell’s 2019 time (20:19:09), which did include those extra kilometers.

This is his fourth win at UTMB. Just five minutes back, Blanchard would also come into the finishing chute under the previous course record in second place. An elated Evans rounded out the podium, a stellar finish for his first UTMB.

Walmsley came across the line in fourth, releasing the two DNF monkeys on his back and finishing the next step in his goal of ultimately winning this race someday. Miller, no longer on the comeback trail following surgery and recovery, but fully back, crossed the line in fifth place.

Most of the back half of the men’s top 10 are runners who started slower and bided their time, moving up in the race’s second half, including France’s Beñat Marmissolle, France’s Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon,Jonas Russi of Switzerland, and Romania’s Robert Hajnal. The final member of the men’s top 10, however, is France’s Thibaut Garrivier, who went out hot and looked like he paid for it later, but ultimately holding onto 10th place.

(08/28/2022) Views: 213 ⚡AMP
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North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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American Jim Walmsley will be taking another stab at UTMB

The 2022 edition of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is seven months away, but the elite fields have been made official. Although he has never done better than fifth (and that was back in 2017), American Jim Walmsley will be gunning for a podium finish again on Aug. 28, along with seven of Canada’s top ultrarunners, including last year’s third-place finisher, Mathieu Blanchard. Check out the top athletes who will be racing this year.

UTMB — men

Blanchard, who is from France but lives and trains in Montreal, is among the top men who will be competing this year. Going into the race, Blanchard says his goal is to win the race, and he’ll have two main focuses for his training: “the first will be to prepare myself mentally, to visualize, to accept this possibility of a big goal because I still have trouble believing it today,” he says. “The second will be to build a logical race path to prepare for this race, choices of reason rather than choices of the heart.”

Last year’s second-place finisher, Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz of France will be returning, along with 2019 UTMB winner, Pau Capell of Spain. Walmsley, whose top finish was fifth in 2017 but who has won the Western States 100 for three consecutive years (2021, 2019, 2018) will also be challenging for a podium spot, as will France’s Xavier Thévenard, who has won UTMB three times (2018, 2015, 2013) and placed second in 2019. Nine other recent top-five finishers will also be joining them on the start line.

Notably absent from the start list is last year’s winner, François D’Haene and three-time UTMB champion, Kilian Jornet.

UTMB – women

Canadian ultrarunning fans will have plenty to cheer about in the women’s race in August. Three top Canadians will be on the start line, including Montreal’s Marianne Hogan, who won the 2022 Bandera 100K and placed second at the Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k. Toronto’s Claire Heslop, Canada’s top finisher in 2021, will be joining Hogan, along with Alissa St. Laurent of Moutain View, Alta., who placed fifth in the 2018 UTMB TDS 145K in 2018 and sixth at UTMB in 2017.

“My dream result would be a top 10 at UTMB,” says Hogan, “so I will definitely shoot for that. A lot can happen come race day, so I will make sure to show up to the start line as ready as possible.”

Other top contenders on the women’s side include Camille Herron, who won the 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile (and broke the course record) in 2021 and set the 24-hour world record in 2019, Anna Troup, who won the 2021 Lakeland 100 Mile and the 2021 Spine Race Summer Edition 268 Mile, Sabrina Stanley, two-time winner of the Hardrock 100 and Beth Pascal, winner of last year’s Western States and two-time top-five finisher at UTMB.

There will be five other recent top-five finishers on the start line as well, but running fans will be disappointed to hear the two-time winner Courtney Dauwalter, 2019 third-place finisher Maite Maiora, among several other past winners, will not be in Chamonix on August 28.

CCC — women

There will be three elite Canadian women in the 100K CCC, including Victoria’s Catrin Jones, who placed in the top-10 at the 2019 Comrades Marathon 90k and holds the Canadian 50-mile and six-hour records. She will be joined by Ailsa MacDonald of St. Albert, Alta., who won the 2020 Tarawera 100 Mile and the Hoka One One Bandera 100K, and placed sixth in the CCC in 2019. Rounding out the Canadian squad will be Vancouver’s Kat Drew, who was third at the 2019 Bandera 100K, first at the Canyons 100K and eighth at Western States in 2019.

Other notable runners in the CCC include New Zealand’s Ruth Croft, who won the 2021 Grand Trail des Templiers 80k, placed second at the 2021 Western States 100 and won the UTMB 55K OCC in 2018 and 2019. France’s Blandine L’hirondel will also be looking to land on the podium after winning the OCC last year.

(01/28/2022) Views: 604 ⚡AMP
by Brittany Hambleton
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North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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UTMB bans painkillers at all events including ibuprofen, before or during any UTMB races

The organizers of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) World Series will be banning the use of painkillers within 24 hours and during all races. This includes all non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. The announcement was made after the UTMB’s Quartz Event health program carried out post-event drug tests for the first time this year and three athletes’ samples contained NSAIDs.

The Quartz Event health program was set up in 2008 to protect the health of participants and contribute to clean sport. The rules of the program align with the banned substance list set out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) but goes a couple of steps further. Under the Quartz medical rules, athletes must not compete in any race if they have violated any of the following regulations:

Within 60 days before the start of the competition and during the competition: 

Intravenous iron infusions

Within 7 days before the start of the competition and during the competition:

Intravenous infusion

Gas inhalation

Substance subject to a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) according to the WADA Prohibited List

All glucocorticoids regardless of the mode of administration

Thyroid synthesis hormones except in case of partial or total removal of the thyroid or hypothyroidism of medical origin.

Within 24 hours before the start of the competition and during the competition:

All beta-2-agonists regardless of the mode of administration

All painkillers including Tramadol and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) regardless of the mode of administration

All substances included in the WADA Monitoring Program

After the 2021 UTMB final, three athletes out of 30 who were tested had NSAIDs in their samples. The organizers did not disqualify the athletes because the rules were only implemented this year, it was their first violation and there was an assumed lack of knowledge of the new regulations. Moving forward, however, all races will be employing the Quartz Event program and any athletes found in violation of the rules will be automatically disqualified.

Why are painkillers being banned?

According to Doctor Patrick Basset, the medical director of Dokever, the company that manages the medical teams at all UTMB events, these regulations have been put in place to protect athletes from the dangers of self-medicating. “the most frequent type of self-medication seen is to treat two types of symptoms: osteoarticular pain and digestive problems,” he explains on the UTMB website. “As a consequence, the main medicines concerned are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), anti-diarrhea or anti-vomiting medicines.”

He continues to explain that in the context of a long-lasting endurance race, taking anti-inflammatories could be toxic to the kidneys and cause rhabdomyolysis, which is the excessive breakdown of muscle tissue to dangerous levels, potentially leading to renal insufficiency. This is even more likely to happen when combined with dehydration, hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and hypotension (a drop in blood pressure).

Many athletes are criticizing the ban as going too far since the Quartz program refers to these new rules as “legal doping,” and NSAIDs are not banned by WADA.

(09/23/2021) Views: 601 ⚡AMP
by Brittany Hambleton
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North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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Francois D'haene claims his fourth victory at UTMB

Frenchman Francois D’haene delivers once again in the Alps, achieving his fourth victory at Ultra-Trail du Tour Mont Blanc. D’Haene finished in 20 hours and 45 minutes to cover the 170km course, climbing over 10,000m up and down the valleys of Mont Blanc.

This is D’haene’s fourth win in his fourth attempt at UTMB. He now single-handedly holds the record for most wins since the race began in 2003, passing Spain’s Kilian Jornet who holds three.

D’haene lead since the first breakaway and started a second breakaway group with American Jim Walmsley, as they began the climbing in Italy, D’haene dropped Walmsley and charged on towards the finish line. Walmsley dropped out of the race after failing to stay on pace with D’haene.

French-Canadian, who lives and trains around Montreal but was born in France, Mathieu Blanchard finished third to round out the podium. This marks the highest finish by a Canadian ever at UTMB. Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz of France was second to round out the French sweep of the podium, for the first time in history at UTMB.

In the women’s race, it was American Courtney Dauwalter who rose to glory. Dauwalter won the previous edition of the race, becoming the third woman to successfully defend her title on the hills of Mont Blanc. Dauwalter broke fellow American Rory Bosio’s course record finishing in 22 hours and 30 minutes. Dauwalter finished seventh in the overall standings, the highest finish ever by a woman.

(08/28/2021) Views: 691 ⚡AMP
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North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

more...
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Czech Runner Dies from Falling During UTMB’s TDS Race in Chamonix

It is believed to be the first death in the 19-year history of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc races in and around Chamonix

There was sad news coming out of Chamonix, France, early on the morning of August 25.

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race organization reported that a male runner from the Czech Republic competing in the 145-km TDS race died after suffering a bad fall and serious injuries. The accident occurred at the 62.3 km mark on the descent of the Passeur de Pralognan, an 8,421-foot mountain pass west of Chamonix, France.

It is believed to be the first death in the 19-year history of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc races in and around Chamonix.

A spokesperson for the race said the UTMB race organization is deeply saddened and wished the international trail running community to join in offering condolences to the family and friends of the victim.

When the accident occurred at 12:25 a.m. CET, the rescue team stationed on the course responded to the scene immediately and additional emergency personnel was called into action via helicopter support. Despite life-saving treatments, the runner (who is being kept anonymous until all family members have been notified) succumbed to his injuries. Because of the remote and complex nature of the rescue operations, the race was partially halted and the runners located at the Passeur de Pralognan, and further back, were instructed by the race committee to turn around and go back down to Bourg Saint-Maurice, where they were met and transported back to Chamonix.

The race began on Tuesday afternoon in Courmayeur, Italy, and runners experienced clear skies and cool temperatures through the night and into the early morning. The 293 runners who had already run through Passeur de Pralognan were allowed to continue on to finish the race, but the remainder of the approximately 1,200 runners who were turned back will not be able to continue.

Norway’s Erik-Sebastian Krogvig was the eventual winner of the TDS, making it back to Chamonix after 18 hours, 49 minutes, 58 seconds. The TDS race, officially known as the Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, is the most technically challenging race during the UTMB week, with several craggy climbs and descents that require precise footing and balance.

“This is a tough section of the course,” reports Trail Runner Magazine contributor Doug Mayer, who lives in the Chamonix area. “You’ve just climbed 2,000 meters in about 10 km, then need to hold on to chains on the other side. They have a rescue group right there at this spot, always. It’s the most technical moment of the race.

(08/28/2021) Views: 615 ⚡AMP
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Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc officials confirm plans for 2021 in-person race

Organizers of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc announced on Friday that their ultramarathon will be back this year after missing 2020 due to COVID-19.

The storied ultramarathon features multiple events, including the classic 171K UTMB race that takes athletes around Mont Blanc and through parts of France, Italy and Switzerland. Race organizers were able to confirm the running of the event after the French government released its latest COVID-19 guidelines, and it is officially locked in for August 23 to 29.

While the race is set to run later this year, there will be COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines in place for all racers. Like most mass participation races that have been held since the start of the pandemic, masks will be mandatory at the start and finish lines, and racers will be asked to wear them when they approach aid stations along the route. They will also be required to wash their hands as they pass through, and there will be no self-service at aid stations, which will help avoid the potential spreading of germs from each runner. 

The race start will also feature waves, and crowds will be limited along the course. The number of spectators permitted may vary throughout the route, though, as it will be dependant on the rules of each town, region and country that runners pass through on the course. There will reportedly be other restrictions in place, but organizers have yet to finalize all of the details. 

There’s also the matter of travel restrictions, which the race of course cannot control. The French government is set to introduce a “Sanitary Pass” on June 9, and this will allow outsiders from other European countries to visit France. For Canadians and other non-Europeans, organizers said the Sanitary Pass details are still being figured out, but they will keep all potential UTMB racers in the loop as the matter progresses.

Sanitary Passes will be mandatory for everyone participating in any French events of more than 1,000 people, and it requires individuals to have one of three things: proof of full vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test or a certificate of COVID-19 recovery. Anyone who does not qualify for a Sanitary Pass will be unable to get their bib ahead of the race.

(05/25/2021) Views: 649 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Six former UTMB champs are on the start lists for the famed ultramarathon's comeback in August

The 2021 edition of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is still months away, but the fields for the August race are officially set. After UTMB organizers cancelled their event in 2020 due to COVID-19, any race would have been exciting to watch this year, but fans will be treated to a pair of stacked lineups in the men’s and women’s fields.

With six former UTMB champions and many other world-class runners set to race in Chamonix, France, later this year, the storied 170K ultramarathon looks like it will be can’t-miss action. 

The women´s race 

Former UTMB champs Courtney Dauwalter of the U.S. and Francesca Canepa of Italy headline the women’s race. Dauwalter is the reigning UTMB champion after her win in 2019, which was her first time running the race. She is widely recognized as one of the best ultrarunners on the planet, and she will be extremely tough to beat in Chamonix. 

Canepa won the women’s UTMB crown in 2018, and she also placed second in 2012. Other former top UTMB finishers on the start list for 2021 include Japan’s Kaori Niwa (fourth in 2017 and the winner of the 2019 Oman by UTMB 170K ultramarathon), Uxue Fraile Azpeitia of Spain (three-time UTMB podium finisher) and Beth Pascall of the U.K. (fourth- and fifth-place finishes in 2018 and 2019). 

Multiple world record holder Camille Herron is also set to race in Chamonix. She has won ultramarathons around the world, including the Comrades Marathon in South Africa in 2017 and the Tarawera 100-miler in New Zealand in 2019, and she certainly has what it takes to win or place high in the overall UTMB standings. 

Alisa McDonald 

Is the lone Canadian in the elite Camille Herron is also set to race in Chamonix. She has won ultramarathons around the world, including the Comrades Marathon in South Africa in 2017 and the Tarawera 100-miler in New Zealand in 2019, and she certainly has what it takes to win or place high in the overall UTMB standings. 

The men’s race 

On the men’s side, there are four former UTMB winners: Pau Capell of Spain (winner in 2019) and French athletes François D’Haene (won in 2012, 2014 and 2017), Ludovic Pommeret (won in 2016) and Xavier Thévenard (won in 2013, 2015 and 2018). The past eight UTMB crowns belong to these four men, and they’re all capable of extending that streak to nine straight this year. 

Jim Walmsley and Tim Tollefson are the top two American hopes on the men’s side. Tollefson made the UTMB podium in 2016 and 2017 with a pair of third-place finishes, while Walmsley has only raced in Chamonix once, running to fifth place.

As Walmsley showed recently in a 100K world record attempt (he ran 6:09:26, missing the record by 12 seconds), he is in incredible shape this year, and while August is still months away, he has to be considered a favorite. 

Also on the start list is the U.K.’s Damian Hall, who finished in fifth at the 2018 edition of UTMB. Hall is coming off a fantastic year of running that featured several prominent FKTs, and although he hasn’t raced in a while, he shouldn’t be counted out come August.

Finally, Canada will be represented by Mathieu Blanchard. Born in France, Blanchard now lives and trains in Montreal. He has raced in Chamonix before, running to a 13th-place finish in 2018, and in 2020 he ran onto the podium at the 102K Tarawera Ultra race. 

(02/24/2021) Views: 785 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Spanish ultrarunner Pau Capell says he plans on running the 171K UTMB Mont-Blanc route even though the race is cancelled

On May 20, race organizers for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc announced that the 2020 edition was officially cancelled. The UTMB features seven events (all of which start in Chamonix every August), the most famous being the gruelling 171K ultra that takes runners through the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland.

Runners around the world were of course disappointed when the race was called off, no matter how inevitable that cancellation seemed to be. The men’s champion from 2019, Pau Capell of Spain, isn’t accepting the cancellation, and he has announced that he will be running the route on his own in late August.

Capell made this announcement soon after the UTMB was officially cancelled (just two days later), posting on Twitter and Instagram to say, “I will run UTMB! Alone, without a bib and with my support team.” He also posted that he plans to start the run at 6 p.m. on August 28, four days after the event was set to officially start.

There are many issues that could arise and ruin Capell’s plan, including potential travel restrictions and further lockdowns in his home country of Spain or in France. Both countries were under strict lockdowns for the past two months, and restrictions have only recently been loosened in each country.

Many public health officials around the world have forecast a second wave of the coronavirus, so by August, Spain, France and the rest of the world could be back in lockdown, which would stop Capell from going.

There’s also the moral question of whether it’s OK to go and do this race when it’s been cancelled. UTMB organizers called the race off because it was the best way to keep everyone safe, and although Capell running on his own with a small support crew is much different than thousands of runners coming to race the UTMB events, it’s still a questionable decision.

Capell is an experienced ultrarunner, and he will undoubtedly come well prepared with enough supplies and a good crew, but there’s the possibility that people will follow in his footsteps and take on the UTMB solo as well. If this happens, it’s very possible that other runners won’t be as well prepared as Capell, and that could create issues for themselves and other runners around them.

If Capell is able to go through with his solo run, it will be interesting to see how it goes. When he won the race in 2019, he covered the 171K course in 20:19:07. It’s hard to imagine that he could beat that time without the adrenaline shot delivered from a real race with cheering spectators and other competitors, but we’ll just have to wait and see what type of run he can produce if the time comes.

(05/26/2020) Views: 900 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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The 2020 edition of the UTMB might be cancelled, but now you can look back and enjoy the 2019 race coverage for free

This week, the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc was officially cancelled for 2020, and as a result, race organizers are releasing the 2019 event footage to runners and fans for free. This would have been the eighteenth edition of the trail race, but athletes will have to wait until 2021 to race through France, Italy and Switzerland again.

Luckily, fans of the event can rewatch last year’s run, and although it’s not as good as the 2020 race going ahead as planned, it’s still some good news in these hard times. The race footage can be viewed at the Endurance Sports TV website.

The UTMB is an event with seven different races, all of which take place in Chamonix, France, each August. The biggest of these events is the 171K UTMB Mont-Blanc race, which takes runners through the the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland. Runners also have to climb more than 10,000m over the 100-mile event, which is higher than Mount Everest.

It is an epic race and challenge, and each year thousands of runners travel to France to see how they fare in one of the seven races (although a third of the UTMB Mont-Blanc runners don’t make it to the finish line). If you’ve never watched this event, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

“The UTMB is a huge event to be cancelled this year, yet we don’t want fans to miss out, and have therefore opened up all of last year’s content for free,” said co-founder of Endurance Sports TV Paul Shanley. “We hope that this will give runners the next best thing to look back on all of the action from 2019.”

The 2019 edition of the UTMB saw thrilling results, including American Courtney Dauwalter‘s win in 24 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds. This was Dauwalter’s first try at the UTMB, and she nailed it, beating the second-place female, Kristin Berglund of Sweden, by almost exactly an hour. Dauwalter finished in 21st place overall, and she was the second American finisher, crossing the line just seven minutes after fellow American Jason Schlarb.

Rewatching this event, or watching it for the first time, is a great way to get motivated for your own training. It can be tough to find inspiration to train right now during COVID-19 with no races to work toward, but watching UTMB 2019 will certainly give you the boost you need to get back into action.

(05/25/2020) Views: 885 ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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One of the world’s biggest ultramarathons UTMB officially cancelled after a month of uncertainty

For almost a month, a lot of uncertainty has surrounded the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). With the race scheduled for August 24 to 30 in Chamonix, the French government announced in late April that major sporting events were cancelled until at least September.

But UTMB organizers gave athletes and the running community hope, saying the race would likely still be run, just with a few alterations so it could fit the government’s guidelines. Satisfying these guidelines proved to be unsuccessful, and this morning, it was announced that the 2020 edition of UTMB has been officially cancelled.

The UTMB route—which is 171K long—starts and finishes in Chamonix, located in the French Alps, and takes runners through Italy and Switzerland before they return to France. The event has been run since 2003, and this year would have been its 18th edition. Although poor weather has forced organizers to shorten the event in years past (2010, 2012 and 2017), 2020 will be the first year they’ve been forced to cancel the race outright.

In the cancellation notice, event organizers listed their reasons for calling the event off, the biggest of which was the health and safety of participants. There were 10,000 runners registered for the 2020 event, and the UTMB site says these athletes came from more than 100 different countries.

In April, UTMB co-founder Catherine Poletti proposed the possibility of cutting that number to 5,000 competitors, but that still couldn’t feasibly work with the French public health rules. Organizers ultimately decided that cancelling was “the most responsible decision to preserve the health and safety of all participants, which include runners, inhabitants of the Mont-Blanc region, visitors, suppliers, partners and volunteers.”

Runners registered for the 2020 event will receive a refund of 55 per cent of their original entry fee. UTMB officials have also given participants the option to turn down this refund and donate it to charity, which can be done through the event’s website.

UTMB is not a race you just sign up for—runners undergo a long qualifying process for this event. With this in mind, organizers will give 2020 runners the opportunity to reserve their spots in the 2021, 2022 or 2023 events.    

(05/21/2020) Views: 889 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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UTMB organizers are still trying to make the race happen

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed that major sporting events would be cancelled until at least September. UTMB, one of the world’s biggest trail races, is set to run August 24 to 30 in Chamonix, France.

Despite this announcement, Catherine Poletti, co-founder of UTMB, thinks that the race will go ahead, just with some changes to the original plan.

Poletti says that while the race won’t be able to accommodate their 10,000 entrants, if they capped the event at 5,000, it might be possible.

“We are working on the barrier measures, not only for the start, but on all fronts,” she told Le Dauphine. “We are committed to not giving up. We still want to organize the event in compliance with the rules.

The entire economic community of the Mont-Blanc valley needs this. We are a race outside a mass stadium, which can adapt to the rules set by the government.”

While UTMB will hopefully be able to run, events like the Tour de France are facing cancellation.

The Tour, which was already rescheduled from June to August, will be well over the gathering cap of 5,000 people and is considered a major sporting event. No official statement has been made yet in regard to the Tour.

(04/29/2020) Views: 1,155 ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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A glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc is at risk of collapsing from melt linked to climate change and threatens UTMB Trails

One month after 2,300 runners toed the line at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, part of the course has been closed due to rapid glacial melt.

A glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapsing from melt linked to climate change. The Planprincieux Glacier sits on the Grandes Jorasses peak on the Mont Blanc massif above Courmayeur, Italy.  The small resort town is the halfway point for the UTMB and the starting point for the TDS and CCC races. 

Scientists have been using radar technology to monitor the glacier since 2013, and detected the accelerated melting via radar this summer. A summer heatwave is causing a lower chunk of the glacier to melt at a rate of two feet per day, according to glaciologist and alpinist Ulyana Horodyskyj, who has climbed Mont Blanc.

“The high air temperatures this summer have led to more melting and faster movement of the glacier down the mountain,” says Horodyskyj. “The glacier is always moving and always has a large crevasse, but this summer it’s melting faster and the crevasse is bigger.” The part of the glacier below the crevasse could break, and separate entirely. 

If it collapses, 250,000 cubic meters of ice could tear away from the mountain and crash into trails, roads and alpine refuges below. That impending danger has prompted road closures and evacuations. 

“For this region, in particular, the biggest impacts will be on tourism,” says Horodyskyj. 

Glacial melt could endanger trails like those on the UTMB course, and also affect local water supplies. Though it’s impossible to predict when exactly the glacier could collapse, the glacier’s speed has local officials and scientists concerned. 

“These phenomena once again shows that the mountain is going through a phase of strong change due to climatic factors. Therefore it is particularly vulnerable,” said the mayor of Courmayeur, Stefano Miserocchi, in a statement. 

Scientists have been monitoring thousands of glaciers across the Aosta Valley Region. Temperate glaciers, like the ones on Mont Blanc,  are essentially at melting point. Liquid water coexists with glacial ice, which makes them especially vulnerable to temperature variation caused by climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, alpine glaciers would shed half of their ice by 2050. They could lose over 80 percent of their ice by 2100, according to Horodyskyj. 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned the United Nations General Assembly last week that this news just the beginning, and that Mont Blanc’s future “must shake us all and force us to mobilize”. 

(10/15/2019) Views: 1,180 ⚡AMP
by Zoe Rom
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Courtney Dauwalter wins UTMB with dominant display – tough days are why she loves ultra running

Courtney Dauwalter won the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) women’s race in 24 hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds. She absolutely crushed the women’s field, finishing while the next closest competitor was still around an hour from the end. Dauwalter was 21st overall and the second fastest American in the race, including the men.

The 171km UTMB is one of the most famous and hotly contested races of the year. The brutal course has over 10,000 metres of accumulative climbing, much of it at altitude.

Dauwalter is the fourth American women to win the race. This year, she was the second American overall, pipped to the post by a matter of minutes by Jason Schlarb.

“It was a really tough day, but that’s why we love ultra running, right?” Dauwalter said, adding a thank you to her friends and family, saying she wished they were there, but “I’ll take care of the beers for you”.

Yao Miao of China was in the lead for much of the early stages. She set out at a fierce pace. Before the race started, ultra runner Dylan Bowman predicted Miao would win or crash out of the race, when speaking on the Billy Yang Podcast.

He was proved correct as Yao eventually faded and by the time Dauwalter finished, Yao was languishing almost 70km back, in 73rd position.

This was Dauwalter’s first UTMB race. She completed the race with her trademark baggy clothing and irrepressible smile.

(09/01/2019) Views: 1,242 ⚡AMP
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Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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Pau Capell aggressive tactics pay off as he becomes first non-French winner since Kilian Jornet to win UTMB

Pau Capell won the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) in 20 hours, 19 minutes and seven seconds. He is the first non-French winner since his fellow Spaniard Kilian Jornet won in 2011.

The UTMB is one of the premier ultra trail races in the world. It is the culmination of a week long running festival, which sees the best in the sport compete for the coveted winners titles.

The brutal 171km course, with over 10,000 meters of accumulative elevation, favors runners who pace themselves conservatively – a common refrain is that “the race does not start until 100km”. But, Capell ignored the advice and set off at an aggressive pace, taking the lead in the first few kilometres and holing it until he ultimately won.

“Leading from wire to wire, in heroic fashion, it goes against common sense in endurance sport and everything you would expect given the field,” said UTMB commentator Dylan Bowman, who finished second in the 145km TDS at the UTMB week in 2018.

Bowman added it shows the sport is evolving, and to win at the top level, you now need to take risks.

Finish line announcer Eoin Flynn listed Capell’s other wins and compared him to a superhero.

‘I felt horrible’: Ruth Croft reflects on OCC win at UTMB

Capell modestly said “I’m not a superhero but if one did exists it would be my parents.”

The race started in Chamonix, 6pm, on Friday. A few Chinese athletes set off at a mad speed. In particular, HK100 2018 champion Qi Min looked like he was trying to set his 5km personal best, rather than run for almost a day. Qi looked over his shoulder and saw the lead he had built in the first few hundred meters and slowed until Capell was level with him. The pair stuck together, but Qi began to fade from the top five. Between 80km and 100km he dropped out of the top five and then out of the top 100. 

The pack began to set and it looked as though the podium was decided well before the finishing line. Capell had an unassailable lead over three time champion and eventual second place Xavier Thevenard (21:07:56), who himself was well ahead of third place New Zealander Scotty Hawker (21:48:04).

Audrey Tanguy wins TDS, Hillary Allen marks comeback from near-fatal fall

“What to say about Pau? He did a great race today. I saw the time, it got 10 minutes farther and 10 minutes farther,” Thevenard said. “He was untouchable.”

Thevenard used his time in the limelight to call people to protect the environment for future generations.

Hawker crossed the finish line, running hand in hand with his young daughter, mirroring scenes at the HK100 when she sang Happy Birthday.

“It’s a dream come true,” Hawker said of reaching the podium at the UTMB. “I thought maybe one day, but it was just a dream, now it’s real.”

Hawker was in the leading group along with Capell at the start of the race.

“At the start, it may have looked fast but it was honestly slower than other years,” he said.

A tearful Hawker said as he ran he thinking of his parents watching at home and his family at the finish line.

(09/01/2019) Views: 1,426 ⚡AMP
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Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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Tollefson, Dauwalter Lead a Strong Pack of Americans at 2019 UTMB

A year after a bad fall ended Tim Tollefson’s latest effort to be the first American atop the podium at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), the ultrarunner is returning with reignited determination—but also a heavy heart.

Twice a third-place finisher of the daunting 171K, the Mammoth Lakes, California, pro is primed and ready to compete in this epic race through the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps between Friday and Saturday. This comes after Tollefson’s bid in 2018 ended around the 48K mark when a fall required stitches in his left quad, forcing him to withdraw, but not leading to any long-term damage.

Though a disappointing way to end his day and his hunt for first, he’s put that behind him as he once again tries to become the first American man to finish atop the podium in the 17-year history of the race.

“Last year doesn’t haunt me, but it’s something I would like to avenge,” Tollefson told Runner’s World. “It serves more of a constant reminder that I need to come back here and prove something to myself because I think I have unfinished business. I think this race in particular plays to experience, and I’d like to think that I now have enough experience and the skill set to put together the performance I have dreamt of.”

Training was slightly different this year to prepare. The 34-year-old physical therapist added about 20 percent more vertical gain during his weekly training, especially on long runs. This included dozens of 20- to 30-mile runs with about 9,500 feet of vertical gain. He also won the popular 120K Lavaredo Ultra Trail in June in Cortina, Italy, with a time of 12:18:47.

With more than 32,000 feet of vertical gain and often inclement weather, the UTMB course has been known to crush even the strongest and fittest runners. Tollefson proved worthy of the challenge in 2016 and 2017 with third-place efforts, not to mention his runner-up showing in the adjacent CCC 100K in 2015.

This year, Tollefson is competing for more than just his personal goals: He is running to honor a fallen friend. On August 14, friend and fellow Mammoth Lakes resident Cody Tuttle, a 32-year-old professional filmmaker and photographer who documented Tollefson for several projects, died in a paragliding accident near Lone Pine, California.

“It was a tragic loss for the community,” Tollefson said. “It’s a sobering reminder that every time we go into the mountains, there is an inherent risk, and yet there is a reason we are all drawn to this type of rugged mountain environment.”

Tollefson will have heavy competition as he strives for his goal. As usual, the men’s field of the race is deep, with Frenchman Xavier Thévenard, a three-time winner and defending champion as the clear favorite. Last year’s runner-up Robert Hajnal of Romania is also in the field, but Americans Zach Miller, twice a top-10 finisher at UTMB, Alex Nichols, who was second at the 2018 Hong Kong 100K, Hayden Hawks, who has had big success at 50K and 100K races, and Jason Schlarb, who has been on a tear since turning 40, could all be contenders.

“I feel like I’ve finally acquired the climbing skills that allows me to run with the Europeans and be able to be confident coming into this race,” Tollefson said. “It still comes down to executing the race, but I’m really psyched to get out there and run another lap around Mont Blanc.”

The women’s field is also intriguing, especially from an American point of view. Although defending champion Francesca Canepa of Italy returns, all eyes are on Courtney Dauwalter, who has dominated women’s ultrarunning in recent years, right up to the point when she dropped out of the Western States Endurance Run in late June with a hip injury. The 34-year-old Golden, Colorado, resident is healthy, but admits she didn’t do the training she had hoped while recovering from her injury.

“It’s a long race and, from what I hear, it’s a grind, so it’s not a fast 100-miler,” Dauwalter told Runner’s World. “I’m not sure how my skills and experience will play into it, but I’m going to take each section as they come and run as efficiently as possible and see what happens. These mountains are awesome and the challenge will be big.”

Two-time winner Rory Bosio (2013, 2014) from Truckee, California, is also back after running the shorter OCC in 2017 and the longer TDS last year, while Nebraska’s Kaci Licktieg, who took third at Western States Endurance Run this year, and Katie Schide, an American living in Switzerland, both could be poised to compete for podium finishes.

“I don’t know if I can be competitive; the women’s field is bonkers this year, and I think that’s great,” Bosio told Runner’s World. “Winning those races back to back seems so long ago, almost like it happened to a different person. But it’s going to be an exciting race, no matter what because it’s UTMB.”

More than 2,300 runners from 90 countries will start the race at noon ET on Friday. You can follow along live here.

(08/31/2019) Views: 1,471 ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World
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North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont-Blanc

Mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude (>2500m), in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy. It is 6:00pm and we are more or less 2300 people sharing the same dream carefully prepared over many months. Despite the incredible difficulty, we feel...

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Ultra marathon mom, stopped to breast feed her baby during the 106-mile Mont-Blanc Trail Race

A British mom has made headlines all over the world after being photographed taking a break to breast feed her baby son during a 43-hour ultra marathon.

Sophie Power, who recently competed in the 106-mile, high-elevation Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc trail run through France, Italy, and Switzerland, has been applauded for showing “motherhood endurance” and “the strength of the human body” in the snap, which was taken by photographer Alexis Berg.

The 36-year-old mother of two and avid runner took time to nurse her 3-month-old infant, Cormac, during the challenging race.

“Cormac usually feeds every three hours, “This isn’t a story about me,” she wrote. “It’s a story about the daily struggle of being a new Mum. A story about the need to nurture our babies the best we can. And the importance to priorities our physical and mental health — to be ourselves as well as be a mother.

“I have been overwhelmed by the positivity and supportive messages. They are for all mothers for we are all in this together.” Despite having to stop to feed her son, Power managed to complete the marathon in 43 hours and 33 minutes. 

She believes that keeping active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is really important.  She has logged 273 miles on Strava so far this year, 27 races. 

"In a typical race I would get in and out of the aid stations as quickly as possible," she says.  "But here I had to focus on keeping down enough food for me and for Cormac, and resting."

(09/12/2018) Views: 2,085 ⚡AMP
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French runner Xavier Thevenard won one of the most prestigious trail races in the world on Saturday

French runner Xavier Thevenard won one of the most prestigious trail races in the world on Saturday. Thevenard finished the 171 kilometres in 20:44:16. The runner adds this finish to his two previous wins at UTMB in 2013 and 2015. Earlier this year, Thévenard was on course to win this year’s Hardrock 100 when he was disqualified at mile 91 for accepting aid outside an aid station. Second place went to, unexpectedly, Romanian Robert Hajnal in 21:26:20. This is the runner’s first time in the top three at UTMB and a major international victory. Hajnal said post-race that he was aiming for the top 10. He had no idea he would end up in the top two. Surprisingly, the two favourites Kilian Jornet and Jim Walmsley, were not to be found in the top two. (09/01/2018) Views: 1,431 ⚡AMP
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Poland's Marcin Swierc took victory last night after a dramatic finish at the UTMB Festival

Poland's Marcin Swierc took victory last night after a dramatic finish to the TDS, the first major race of the UTMB festival, while France's Audrey Tanguy took a surprise win in the women's category. After making a gap on leader Dmitiry Mityaev of two minutes seven seconds over the last 7.8m, Swierc became the first Pole to win a UTMB race. He was 62 seconds ahead of USA's Dylan Bowman, who also passed the Russian, a further 41 seconds back, between the last checkpoint at Les Houches and the finish line at Chamonix. Swierc, who started steadily, completed the 123.4km in 13 hours 24 minutes. Mityaev and Bowman did much of the front-running in the middle of the race as favored American Hayden Hawks went from being early leader to suffering his third DNF in UTMB races. Meanwhile, Swierc was just 29th and nearly three minutes behind the leader after 6.8km. He was up to 23rd but still more than four minutes adrift at 11.4km. Sky running specialist Mityaev made a push up the final big ascent from Contamines to Col Tricot, establishing a four-minute lead, only to have that reduced on the descent and finally eclipsed on the flatter run-in to Chamonix by Swierc and Bowman. Rob Forbes was Britain's top finisher in 12th as Tom Owens, who figured highly in the early stages, was eventually 20th. (08/31/2018) Views: 1,450 ⚡AMP
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My feet have pretty much taken me all over the world says Zach Miller

Zach Miller likes to look down from a mountain, see a distant peak or valley that looks inviting and know he can just run there. The 29-year-old Miller has surprised himself and the racing world by becoming one of the top mountain runners and ultra racers, running for up to 105 miles at a time. But, at its core, it’s a will to use the gift of his legs that propels him. “My feet have pretty much taken me all over the world,” he says while cooling down after one of his daily 20-mile training runs on Colorado’s Pikes Peak, where he lives in a one-room cabin above 10,000 feet. “They’ve taken me physically up and down mountains. They’ve enabled me to do enough in races to send me anywhere in the world.” In just a few years’ time, Miller has exploded on the scene as an extreme-racing legend and fan favorite by the way he starts each race like a spooked horse in a sport in which measured is considered the only way to win. “I just like to be at the front if I can be,” the 2007 Hempfield High School grad says. “I don’t like being at the back. It makes me nervous.” Not trailing the pack is one thing. Being able to run like your pants are on fire over hill and dale for 50 miles or more at a time is another. But Miller does it. Sometimes he hits the wall like any human testing the limits of physical and mental endurance. But sometimes the go-get-’em mindset makes for great performance. Zach is in France in preparation for the grueling 103-mile Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc race through three countries. (04/08/2018) Views: 1,752 ⚡AMP
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Maybe the Most Difficult Race on the Planet?

MBR UNIQUE RACES: One of the most challenging races in the world is the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Its distance of 103 miles (and elevation gain of 9,600m) around western Europe's highest mountain, taking in Switzerland, France and Italy, is widely regarded as one of the most difficult foot races on the planet. (12/22/2017) Views: 1,297 ⚡AMP
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