It’s UTMB time and the race kicks off today at 1730 and currently the lights are green for go… phew!
As one would expect, a quality line up and men and ladies will toe the line to run the circular route around Mont-Blanc.
As was shown last year in the men’s race, predicting a winner, even a top-3 can be a tricky thing. One thing is for sure; Thevenard will not do the double as he won TDS just the other day. In doing so, he has become the first runner to win CCC, UTMB and TDS. I like that, it shows a level of skill and speed over multiple distances and terrain.
So, UTMB will roll out and without doubt we will see some drama on the trails. Unfortunately, last years 2nd place, Miguel Heras will not run. Once again injured! Will he ever get a break?
Francois D’Haene is a past winner on the shortened course and for me he has blossomed into one of the best 100 runners out there. His Raid de la Reunion last year and his early season win and sub 20-hours in Japan must make him a hot fave!
Luis Alberto Hernando is one guy who I would love to see make the podium. For 12-months he has been building up to this race and wins at Transvulcania and the 80km Skyrunning World Champs must put him in a great place. BUT, he hasn’t run a 100 before and he does like to push. He will need to be patient for 100km and then start racing if he wants any chance of success.
Tofol Castanyer like Luis is stepping up to the 100. Winner of the CCC he has all the skills and ability to do something special.
Iker Karrera completes a strong Salomon line up and is a hot favourite for the win. He is a beast on tough and technical races and for sure having disappointment with course cancellations in the past, Iker will be looking to make this one count.
Dakota Jones is due a big race. Dropping from Hardrock 100 will certainly have stoked the fire for a great performance here but maybe the ankle isn’t 100%? He has done some epic days with Kilian in and around Mont-Blanc; so, let’s hope he has his day.
Mike Foote consistent at UTMB and a great record over long distance races. You won’t see him in the top-10 early on but he will close hard (as usual) eat up those who are struggling and move up the ranks. I don’t see him winning put podium is always a possibility.
Timothy Olson put his eggs in the Hardrock basket and they got smashed with one of those gutsy, ‘I’m gonna finish no matter what days.’ Respect! Of course, Timmy can win this race, his success this year will all come down to how well he has recovered from HR100. If he is in shape, podium potential and of course a win is a distinct possibility.
Anton Krupicka had the race sewn up for me last year. He was on fire looking relaxed and incredible at every moment. However, the relentless injury problems ruined his day and he has been in and out of injury for 2-years. He had a couple of great early season results, Lavaredo in particular and then dropped from Speedgoat with injury. I have a feeling that Anton will win the race or not finish. I hope he has his day; it’s long overdue.
Jez Bragg will have a solid run; he always does and like Foote, will start way back and work his way to the front. Top-10 would be a great result.
Fabian Antolinus will be an interesting inclusion. He ran a great race at Ice Trail Tarentaise and of course he has continually impressed in French races such as Templiers. UTMB? I would say a top-20 for sure and top-10 if he has a great day.
Hal Koerner is 100m beast and like Mr Meltzer can run 100’s for breakfast. His experiences with UTMB have been somewhat mixed so it is great to see him back and I hope he puts a great race together. He could surprise a few people!
Carlos Sa is a really talented athlete who races road, trail, multi-day, mountains and so on. He has all the ability and potential to create a stir in the top-5. In the past he has gone off course, so this year I hope he nails the route and pushes with the best.
Jason Schlarb has been mixing it up in Europe for a while now. This can only be a really good thing. He raced at Transvulcania and the Skyrunning 80k; so, he has an understanding of what is needed. He may make top-10?
Scott Hawker will be one of the top runners from the Southern Hemisphere who has spent time in Europe this year. Ice Trail Tarentaise would have been a great prep ground.
Rory Bosio dominated the race last year with arguably one of the most impressive female performances ever. A win at Lavaredo shows that the build up has been good and her recent obscurity can only mean training and training hard. She will be impossible to beat if she repeats the form and condition of 2013.
Nuria Picas was 2nd last year in her 1st 100 and has gone on to run big races all over the world and in most cases, win them too! Without doubt, Nuria can win this race but she must be tired? In contrast to Rory who will be fresh as a daisy.
Nathalie Mauclair winner of Reunion last year and top ranked at Western States, Nathalie brings a mix of speed, endurance and climbing ability and for me, barring issues, will make the podium!
Fernanda Maciel like Nuria has been on the UTWT roller coaster of exhaustion. Fernanda won’t be fresh but like many of the other top ladies can produce a really strong 100 and keep pushing even when fatigued. Her 2014 results alone show what a talent she is.
Laurence Klein, now this is an interesting inclusion. The MDS queen on this terrain leaves a huge question mark. She can run quick, for sure has run some impressive times in races such as the Ecotrail de Paris, however, this 100-mile course and vertical will be something new. Interested to see this one plays out.
Uxue Fraille is a consistent performer at around 80-100km but I think this is the first 100 she will run? Always there or thereabouts, Uxue closes well and picks off the others as they crumble. I see more of the same at UTMB.
Ashley Arnold is a question mark and the US’s hope outside Rory. I don’t think this tough mountain 100 will play to her strengths, particularly based on recent results. However, this ladies field has quality but not depth, so, top-10 for sure and top-5 if on a great day.
Rounding out the top ladies, we have 2-Brits, Claire Price and Lizzie Wraith. Both ladies raced the Skyrunning 80km and may well sneak into the top-10. Shona Stephenson has struggled at UTMB in the past but knows how to run 100’s and is top-10 potential and Meghan Arbogast, Simona Morbelli and Leila Degrave round out my ones to watch!
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