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Photo credit: Alice Morrrison.

UTMB 2017 Preview

23-Aug-17

By Alice Morrison

It is that time of year again when the determined and the speedy gather together in Chamonix to take part in the biggest mountain running event of the year, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) takes you round the fantastic climbs of Mont-Blanc and the surrounding peaks. It was first held in 2003 and has grown to become the key race in the mountain calendar. The festival includes five races between 28th August and 3rd September. The race centre is in Chamonix in the French Alps.

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 to participate in and the YCC (Youth Chamonix Courmayeur) which is open to 16-22 year olds.

The Course

The course varies slightly from year to year but remains hugely challenging. It is a single-stage race over 171k with 10,000m + of ascent. Entry requires points and there will be 2,300 lining up at the start in Chamonix. The cut off time is 46h 30. The route covers the following path: Aiguille de Bionnassay, Col du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, Val Veni, Noire du Peuterey and the glaciers descending Mont Blanc, Val Ferret, Dent du Géant and Grandes Jorasses, Bovine and Les Tseppes, Aiguille Verte, the Drus, Mont Blanc and Chamonix.

The Favourites

It is on the exhilarating ascents and descents of UTMB that many of the world’s great ultra runners have cemented or won their reputations. The winners’ list is a roll call of the greats: Kilian Jornet, Marco Olmo, Rory Bosio, Nathalie Mauclair, Dachhiri Dawa Sherpa, Elizabeth Hawker…

Last year it was a French double and the turn of Ludovic Pommeret and Caroline Chaverot with times of 22:00:02 and 25:15:40 respectively. And this year? Who better to give a view than UTMB’s ever-exuberant announcer and very own Mr Motivator, Ludovic Collet.

The favourite will be, without doubt, Caroline Chaverot who has the same form which allowed her to win the 2016 UTMB® but Andrea Huser's constant and fast progress could, maybe, cause some doubts. Also, do not forget, Nùria Picas and Emilie Lecomte's enormous experience of this format and they will not hesitate to seize the opportunity should the race leader show any weakness. I include Magdalena Boulet in my top 5 to be loyal to the American tradition which always has one runner of this level.

For the men, there is also a lot of excitement in prospect. We are going to experience a historic race about which we will still be talking in ten years’ time. The direct confrontation between Kilian Jornet, Francois D'Haene and Xavier Thévenard promises to be explosive without forgetting the talented Jim Walmsley and Luis Alberto Hernando who are never far from winning. On paper Kilian seems to to be the strongest but he has never been pushed to his limits during the ultra. If that is the case, the record for the event is going to be beaten.”

RunUltra at UTMB

RunUltra will be there at Chamonix with James Eacott providing live updates and exclusive pictures and interviews from the scene. We will also be publishing news updates on the website. For all the latest news and pictures, follow us on:

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