With just over 24 hours to go to the 2012 TNF UTMB here is just a quick look at some of the contenders for this year’s race.
One important factor is the weather!
The race organisers have been tweeting, texting and posting as much as they can about the severe weather that is predicted over the race weekend. It would now appear that a ‘mandatory’ 4 layers of clothing will be required.
Forget being lightweight! Finishing anyone of the races this year in Chamonix may very well come down to how good your kit is.
Australian, Mick Donges has just posted a last minute blog and writes:
“The forecast is snow down to 1800m, temperatures on the high mountain passes are -10 degrees and they are saying 4 layers of clothing is necessary. They are predicting severe and dangerous weather.”
Will the course be shortened I guess may very well be one big question. My gut reaction is no! Lessons have been learnt from previous years and I think the process of ‘pre-warning’ via text, email and social media is all in attempt to ensure that all participants are prepared. The 2010 shortened race made the UTMB organisation re look at mandatory kit and increase what was required for 2011 and 2012. It would appear that they are now ‘adding’ to this kit pre race to compensate for worsening conditions. Having said that, safety is paramount and should conditions become extremely dangerous I am sure they will have no issue in ‘pulling the plug’ and I agree and support that.
Firstly, Ellie Greenwood has moved down from the UTMB to the CCC and I predict a win for her! The terrain on this course may not be what she is used too but the cold and snow is something she is well practiced in and actually I think she may even welcome it!
Krissy Moehl is the course record holder and loves the UTMB but she has had a busy year with Western States, Hardrock and mow UTMB. She knows what is needed on this course and she has the invaluable experience. If she is fresh she will be up at the front with Lizzy Hawker.
Amy Sproston has placed well at Western States but UTMB is a whole new ball game for the 100k-world champ and I have to say she may well be in for a surprise.
Rory Bosio is another achiever at Western States but as was shown last year in the men’s race, UTMB is not Western States! I think Rory may be up at the front but not contending with my ladies prediction…
Lizzy Hawker loves the course and I wouldn’t bet against her. I spoke to her at Sierre Zinal and she was racking the training and was running the UTMB course in 2 days as ‘training’. She has some issues with her back but even with this issue, the mountains are her playground and she will take the win barring disaster.
Emma Rocca from Spain is maybe a little more suited to the UTMB as she has a multi-sport background and is a ski mountaineer.
Katia Fori from Italy has been top 10 at UTMB before and will once again contend.
Finally, Meghan Arbogast will toe the line. Another great 100k runner, Western States finisher and 2nd at KFK50 but as I keep saying… UTMB is nothing like those races and I can’t help but think the terrain and cold weather will play against the American field
Dave Mackey has moved down to the CCC and Mike Wardian is out of the race due to a stress fracture. To be honest I don’t think either of those removals will make any difference to the UTMB outcome. Both are great runners but not in contention on this course.
With Kilian Jornet not taking part (or will he?) the field this year is maybe a little more open.
Jez Bragg after winning the shortened race in 2010 hasn’t fulfilled his potential but this may be his year. He didn’t race as he wanted at Western States but that may well have been a good training run for the UTMB. He is super motivated.
Seb Chaigneau after 3rd last year told me that this may be his last UTMB but he recently had a bad accident and damaged his knee. He will start the race but who knows what implications this will have, He knows the mountains, he knows the course and he is tough. If the knee causes no problems he will be up at the front.
Julian Chorier is the hot tip. He is in great form and meticulous in prep for the big races. With the Salomon Team behind him they will be going into this race with a plan. A plan to win.
Other Salomon athletes such as Iker Karrera who placed 2nd in 2011 will also be chomping at the bit and we may well see Chorier, Karrera and Francois d’Haene all running together to help each other along until the latter more decisive stages. Francois d’Haene has a good year this year and he will be in the top 10 if all goes well.
Nemeth Csaba from Hungary placed 4th last year and knows the race well. He has finished multiple times in the top 10 and I guess he only needs a ‘perfect’ year to move onto the podium or take the win. He did after all finish 2nd in 2006.
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, Carlos Sa and Patrick Bohard all paced top 10 in 2011 and return to the 2012 race. Although Kaburaki finished behind Sa and Bohard you can’t help but think a good race will move him up the field and place him top 5. In 2009 he was on the podium in 3rd and the previous year he was 4th.
Jonas Buud from Sweden is super quick and his 100m-world record of 12:32 confirms that. But just like Ian Sharman, this speed doesn’t translate to the high mountains. He has won the Swiss Alpine Marathon though. He may make top 10 but not top 3.
I am still uncertain if Miguel Heras is running. If he is he will be up at the front and may well take the win but he has had a mixed year. My outsiders are a couple of Aussie – Jim Villiers and Clarke McClymont. Clarke is running the race for the first time but having met him, chatted and discussed him with a close friend he may just create a surprise…
I will be in Chamonix over the race weekend and provide updates and news as and when I can.
Without doubt an interest race lies ahead.