Mont Blanc Marathon Preview

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The Race:

The Mont Blanc Marathon needs no introduction! Starting from the center of Chamonix (1035m) the race route over the classic marathon distance has has a positive vertical gain of 2511 meters and an elevation loss of 1490meters. 

The route climbs steadily towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of “les Bois” and Lavancher to reach Argentière at 1250m. Following a trail towards Le Planet the route traverses to the Balcon Nord before heading down towards Montroc. On leaving Montroc village runners take the trail towards Tré le Champ and go towards Col des Montets.

Crossing the “Col des Montets” at 1461m in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve runners take the old stage-coach route along the “chemin des Diligences”, the old stage-coach route to arrive at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine at 1260 m.

Climbing to the Col des Possettes at 1997m via a trail leaving from the Plan de l’envers progression is made onwards to the highest point of the course at the Aiguilles des Possettes (2201m). The climb and exhaustion is worth it… each participant is rewarded by a breathtaking panorama of the Mont Blanc range.

Facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ and the Mont Blanc range, the route Following the ridgeline of the ‘aiguillette’ and facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ it is now time to descend in the direction of Tré le Champ.

A pretty trail toward le Tour, runners cross through a village, and then the Tour glacier. Taking a north-facing trail towards Montroc, cross through hamlets of the Frasserands and Tré le Champ. Now at the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, opposite the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbs up towards la Flégère (1875 m). Cross the magnificent Charlanon Comb (1812m) and then the gradient increases until just before the arrival at Planpraz at 2050 m giving one of the most beautiful views of the Mont-Blanc.

The race is done!

Results 2012:

Ladies:

2012: Maude Mathys (SUI) 4h28’17’’

Mens:

2012: Kilian Jornet (ESP) 3h38’24’’

Key players in the 2013 race

Without doubt the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon has quality and depth in abundance in both the ladies and men’s fields. The second race in the Skyrunning World Series, we now have a clear indication of who is in form and who is coming in to form.  Stand out names are Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. After topping the podium at Transvulcania La Palma and Zegama-Aizkorri, will the Salomon duo remain on the top step when the race is completed on Sunday? 

Men:

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Kilian JornetSalomon Santiveri, without doubt is the out-and-out favorite for the race. Last years winner is in form and firing on all cylinders, it is his home playground and he knows the route like the back of his hand. Post his win at Zegama-Aizkorri were he had a head-to-head battle with Luis Alberto Hernando, Kilian he has done some shorter races and he has won all of them.

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Luis Alberto Hernando – Adidas is without doubt a great addition to the race. His second place at Transvulcania La Palma, followed up with a second place (just 12 seconds) behind Kilian Jornet at Zegama-Aizkorri fmeans that we have a battle on our hands! A couple of weekends ago he ran Haria Extreme and produced a strong and convincing performace. Without doubt a potential winner for the race.

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Tofol CastanyerSalomon Santiveri, was forced to miss Zegama-Aizkorri due to injury so his form may not be 100%, however, he loves the mountains and he knows how to race.

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Marco De GasperiScott, despite dropping at half way at Zegama was showing some fine form. He was head-to-head with Kilian and pushing him. He has had some injury issues (hence the drop at Zegama) but he seems to be well on his way to a full recovery and is coming back strong. Kilian and Marco have 100% respect for each other and love to push each other to the line… we may very well see a repeat battle of the Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian battle at Zegama, re run over the course in Mont Blanc.

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Florian Reichert – Arc’teryx/ Inov-8, is new to Skyrunning but he has speed! Despite the odds, he pulled out a great first race at Zegama-Aizkorri and not only survived but also performed exceptionally well. With his duck over he will come to Mont Blanc with renewed confidence. Without doubt he will have worked on improving his technical running ability and descending. If he can add his natural speed to improved technique, he may well be one to watch!

Nicola GolinelliArc’teryx, always performs well in the mountains and Skyrunning events. He is the 2010 combined events champion. He will bring mountain skill and speed to the Mont Blanc course.

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Ben BardsleyInov-8, had a troubled race at Zegama-Aizkorri with a calf strain. At this moment in time we are unsure of his rehabilitation but his skills on the fells and regular trips and training in Chamonix will mean that if fit, he will be one-to-watch.

Brendan DaviesInov-8, has had an incredible 2013 with top placing’s at the super competitive Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand, a top five at UTMF 100 in Japan and then a win and new CR at TNF100 in Australia. He is fired up and his running is re-invigorated with sponsorship from the Inov-8 International Team. Fast over the marathon and 100km distance, hos only downfall at Mont Blanc may well be his ability over tough and technical terrain. He has all the ability to be top three and without doubt, he will not be aiming for anything else.

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Alex NicholsInov-8, scored a top 5 at the Sky Games in 2012, his first outing in a Skyrunning event. He said, “It was a learning curve’. He recently came over to Zegama-Aizkorri to race but pulled a muscle early in the race forcing him to drop. With Pike Peak on his doorstep in the US he has plenty of opportunity to practice ascending and descending, combined with natural speed he will be a force at the front of the race.

Scott DunlapInov-8, has already had a busy start to 2013, he PR’d at Boston Marathon with 2:44:35 and most recently he has run Silver State 50m in sub 10 hours. Scott has the potential for a good race but I don’t see him in contention at the front of the race.

Nicolas PianetNew Balance, winner of the race in 2010 and 2011 and fourth last year will have some stiff competition this year and will need to provide everything within himself to fight such tough competition.

Marc PinsachFEEC, just recently was joint first place at the 35kmVolta Cerdanya Ultrafons with no other than kilian Jornet. Marc, like Kilian, is a ski mountaineer and they have often competed together at the world and European championships. Ranked 8th in the World in 2010 in the ‘team’ race, 4th in the ‘world relay’ in 2011 and in 2012 he was 5th in the ‘European championship team’ event; all with Kilian as his partner. He has incredible ability and a true ‘Alpinist’ approach.

The depth and quality of the Mont Blanc Marathon field means that it is just not possible to review everyone, however, here is a list of other main contenders who may well shine in the Alps.

Male contenders:

Fabio Bazzana – Crazy Idea, Sota Ogawa – Salomon, Fabio Tonolo – Salomon Agisko, Giulio Ornati – Salomon Agisko, Daniele Cappelletti – Valetudo Skyrunning, Gyorgy Szabolics Istavans – Valetudo Skyrunning, Ryan Bak – Scott, Didier Zago – Arc’teryx, Marc Caros – FEEC, Just Sociats Asensio – FEEC, Jose Lozano Garcia – FEEC, Jordi Bes Ginesta – FEEC, Joan Valls Gomez – FEEC, Oscar Csal Mir – FEEC, Roberto Sancho Martinez - Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Paloma Lobera Grau – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Francesc Marti Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Eugenia Moro Bertomeu - Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Artem Rostovtsev – Russian Skyrunning.

Ladies:

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Emelie Forsberg – Salomon, come to Mont Blanc as the outright favorite. In just one year Emelie has become a star of mountain running. Her 2012 season progressed and progressed and culminated with a stunning win at San Francisco 50. She started her 2013 season with win at Transgrancanaria running the marathon. A dominant performance at Transvulcania La Palma saw her not only stand victorious on top of the podium but she only missed Anna Frosts CR by minutes. Just a few weeks ago she again showed her form with a win at Zegama-Aizkorri. She will take some beating at Mont Blanc! However, she will not have an easy race. The ladies race is stacked.

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Stevie Kremer – Salomon Agisko, had her first outing in a Skyrunning event Zegama-Aizkorri and learnt many things… probably the most important thing is that she can believe in herself and that she really does have the ability to perform at the highest level against the best in the world. She took the race to the ladies at Zegama and I am 100% sure that we will see a repeat performance in the Alps. Definite podium place and without doubt she has all the ability required to stand on top of it.

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Silvia Serafini – Salomon Agisko, another star in the making! Silvia comes from a road background but she has adapted to the trails and mountain running exceptionally well. Like her teammate Stevie Kremer, she has every possibility to be on the podium. At Zegama-Aizkorri was having an incredible race running in the top four, unfortunately she twisted an ankle in the latter stages and although she finished she had dropped several places (6th) and was in pain. Providing she has no knock on effects Silvia will perform at the highest level and without doubt has the potential to be on the podium or top five.

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Oihana Kortazar – Salomon Santiveri, 2012 winner of Zegama-Aizkorri excels in the high mountains, particularly when the course is tough and technical. Her recent form is in question as she dropped at Zegama, however, you can never rule her out. She will want to prove something at Mont Blanc and put the record straight.

Shona Stephenson – Inov-8, is travelling from Australia as part of the Inov-8 International Skyrunning Team. She has had quite an incredible start to 2013 with impressive runs and results over a variety of distances and terrain. Shona was second at UTMF 100 in Japan, third at TNF100 in Australia and now Europe and the high mountains. Without doubt she has ability but this Mont Blanc course may well be a little too short and technical for her. I can’t help but think she will need some time in Europe not only to adapt to the pace but the terrain for Skyrunning mountain events.

Other lady contenders:

Stephanie Jiminez – Salomon Agisko, Natalie White – Inov-8, Sarah Ridgeway – Inov-8, Anna Lupton – Inov-8, and Tanya Pacheco.

One thing is for sure; Chamonix and Mont Blanc will see an incredible weekend of racing from June 28th to July 1st. Many participants in the marathon will also toe the line for the ‘VK’ on Friday. A lung-busting ascent from the center of Chamonix straight up to a measured 1000 m height gain over a course 3.5km long. Great to watch, painful to participate in.

Weekend Schedule:

Friday, June 28, 2013

- Mont Blanc Vertical KM, 400 places, starting from 4:00pm in the center of Chamonix.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

- Mont Blanc Cross, 1500 places, starting at 8:30am on the landing paragliders.

- Mont Blanc 10km, 800 places, starting at 9:00am on the landing paragliders.

- Mont Blanc Mini Cross, from 800m to 3km starting from 11:00am on the landing paragliders.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

- Mont Blanc Marathon, 2000 places, starting at 7:00am in the center of Chamonix.

Stats:

  • Limited to 2,000 competitors
  • Distance: 42.195 km / 26.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,511m Elevation loss: 1,490m
  • Start: 1,035m. Finish 2,016m
  • Max altitude: 2,201m (Aiguilles des Possettes)
  • 6 aid stations
  • 9h time limit

Content from Skyrunning.com re VK and  Mont Blanc 80k:

The Mont-Blanc Marathon which sold out the 2,000 places many months ago, will be preceded by the KM Vertical on June 28th where 400 runners  will line up for a lung-busting 1,000 metres skywards over the short 3.5 km course.  Heading the start-list are Vertical world champions Urban Zemmer (La Sportiva) and Laura Orgué (Salomon).

Urban will be challenged not only by Kilian, last year’s winner in 36’07”, but current Vertical ranking leader, Marco Facchinelli (La Sportiva) and team mates Marco Moletto and Nadir Maguet; but also Nicola Golinelli and Florian Reichert, (Arc’teryx); Ben Bardsley, Brendan Davies, Robbie Simpson (inov-8); Matheo Jacquemoud (Crazy Idea); Oscar Casal and Joan Valls (FAM); Jose Lozano (FEEC) and Artem Rostovtsev (Russian Skyrunning) in the men’s field.

Vertical specialist Laura Orgué (Salomon) will face tough competition from team mates Emelie Forsberg, Oihana Kortazar and Anna Frost as well as last year’s race winner Antonella Confortola; Shona Stephenson, Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx);  Silvia Leal and Alba Xandri (FEEC).

Among the events over the weekend organised by the Club des Sports Chamonix, is the new Mont-Blanc 80K on June 28, the first time a race has been held on this course, although shortened due to snow on the course.  The race will represent a “test run” for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships where the three events will be featured.

LINKS:

Skyrunning – HERE 

Mont Blanc Marathon HERE

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3 thoughts on “Mont Blanc Marathon Preview

  1. Pingback: Heading to the Alps! | Home of the #Committed Athlete

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