Seminal UTMB 2017 – The Ladies Race

Nuri Picas running to the podium in Tromso earlier I’m 2017

The 2017 UTMB was billed as the ‘best ever’ and as the weather finally improves in and around Chamonix, life returns to normal for everyone and we all have an opportunity to step back and look how important this years race actually was.

I think it may well be a seminal edition and for many reasons.

I wrote about the men HERE.

The ladies race turned out to be far more unpredictable than the men’s with many of the pre-race favourites either having bad days and going slower than expected or dropping through illness or injury. This opened the doorway for an interesting top-10 and several unexpected names.

The TOP 10 Ladies

NO1

Nuria Picas 25:46:43 – Came into the race not a dark horse but with a question mark. Nobody doubted the ability of this lady, she has proven time and time again that she is a dominant force in mountain running over any distance. She dominated the UTWT rankings and has placed 2nd twice at UTMB. However, in the latter part of 2015 and pretty much throughout 2016 she was missing from racing. It appeared to me that a really tough calendar and race dominance had taken its toll. 2017 has been quiet and just recently I watched her race in Tromso at the Tromso SkyRace and she placed on the podium. It still left me with a question mark though on UTMB – would she have the endurance for 25-hours of running?Nuria set the pace in the ladies race and produced a dominant performance. She built a huge gap during the night and day and it was only in the latter 20% that the race took its toll forcing her to slow. The margin she had built up so important! At the end, this margin was reduced to less than 5-minutes! Nuria is back and like many long-term fans of the sport, Nuria’s victory is a welcome one. A seminal moment.

NO2

Andrea Huser 25:49:18 – Andrea races and races. She has a physical and mental strength un-matched. A race can start badly but she has the tenacity to push on and this year’s UTMB is no different. She started down the ranking, pushed on and with over half of the race covered took control and moved to 3rd and then second. She hunted Nuria Picas down as she slowed, almost a re-run of 2016 when she hunted Caroline Chaverot down. For two years running, 2nd at UTMB.

NO3

Christelle Bard 26:39:03 – Signifies the excitement and unpredictable nature of 100-miles. Although she has had success at CCC and TDS in past year’s, Bard was not really on my radar for a top-10. My fault, I should have done more research. Experience counts though and a steady start paid dividends as she slowly but surely moved through the field. In the final 80km’s or so she moved through the field from 10th to an eventual podium slot. A seminal year for this lady!

NO4

Kaori Niwa 27:31:39 – Was not a surprise after placing 8th last-year. The 100-mile distance is all about consistency and perseverance and this is how this lady excelled. As the distance and weather conditions took its toll, Niwa pushed on and reaped the rewards. A seminal year for this lady!

NO5

Kellie Emmerson 28:13:06 – Australian Emmerson was a surprise top-10 who I think (?) was running her first 100. She is proficient over the 100km distance and maybe the most significant indicator coming into the 2017 UTMB was her 4th at Tarawera earlier this year. Her race was well executed with patience and consistency and her 100km pace kicked in the latter stages to go past St Laurent.

NO6

Alissa St Laurent 28:13:43 – Had a tough race but persevered to finally have a strong and consistent race to place 6th. She certainly slowed as the race progressed and I am sure she will be frustrated with losing that 5th place in the closing stages.

NO7

Anna-Marie Watson 28:37:16 – What a breakthrough performance for Anne-Marie, last year we had Jasmin Paris from the UK in the top-10 and this year I was expecting Beth Pascall to step up to the mark but this was all surpassed by Watson. Her progress through the sport has been quite the surprise, go back to 2008 and she placed 124th lady at CCC – cut to the 2017 UTMB and she was 7th. Wow! That is some progress and the indicators are there, from 2015 she has a string of victories and top ranked places, 2nd at the 2015 MDS, 1st Cotswold Way Challenge, 1st at Cappadocia Ultra and most recently 1st at Gran Trail Courmayeur – a seminal performance.

NO8

Amy Sproston 28:44:08 – Has a running history the length of my arm and a string of notable runs, highlights coming over many varying distances. She has been top-10 at UTMB before – 8th in 2012. Notably she has also had great results at Western States, 2nd in 2016. So, matching her 2012 position is no surprise, it looks like she paced herself well with a slow first half and then making up ground in the second half. Notably, the USA’s top female finisher!

NO9

Mariya Nikolova 29:04:16 – This Bulgarian lady was 16th at UTMB in 2015 in almost 33-hours. 2017 is breakthrough year for her and her time of 29 hours a significant improvement even when one considers the shorter course.

NO10 

Robyn Bruins 29:41:11 – So, the Australian ladies have a seminal year, just like the USA men. Bruin placed 10th and in doing so arguably has one of the best results of her career. She is known in the Southern Hemisphere, but in Europe, no, she is a newbie. This result will no doubt kickstart a renaissance not only in her own running but the running of Emmerson who placed 5th.

NOTABLES:

Pre-race favourite and I think many pundits odds-on for victory, Caroline Chaverot, had a tough race and dropped at midway. Chaverot, like Picas in her hey-day has been unstoppable with many races and a recent victory at Hardrock 100 may well have just taken its toll. It could be a seminal UTMB for this French lady as she decides her plans and calendar moving forward.

As often happens, many of the pre-race favourites had a tough night, day and night at the 2017 UTMB.

Magdalena Boulet, 5th last year had a bad day, Juliette Blanchett 4th last-year dropped early, long distance specialist Emelie Lecomte dropped at Courmayer, Fernanda Maciel withdrew with eye problems from the wind, snow and rain and Stephanie Violett (formerly Howe) battled on for a finish but was not in the top-10 as I and many others expected.

So, a seminal year without doubt.

Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 Lottery Draws for 2017

WESTERN STATES 100

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

See you Squaw… it’s the term and phrase that so many want to here and the only guaranteed entries are for those who place top-10 (male and female) in the previous edition and those who gain places via the Golden Ticket races, UTWT and Ultrarunning Race Series.

Golden Ticket Races

  • January 7th — Bandera 100k
  • February 4th — Sean O’Brian 100k
  • February 18th — Black Canyon 100k
  • March 25th — Gorge Waterfalls
  • April 1st — Georgia Death Race
  • April 15th — Lake Sonoma 50-miles

Of the 20 top-10 male and females from 2016, 19 will return, the only person not to accept a place is Didrik Hermansen who placed 2nd in 16:16:08. That’s a surprise for me as WSER suits this fast runner.

The men’s returning list is as follows:

  1. Andrew Miller
  2. Will not return
  3. Jeff Browning
  4. Thomas Lorblanchet
  5. Paul Giblin
  6. Ian Sharman
  7. Chris Mocko
  8. Kyle Pietari
  9. Chris DeNucci
  10. Jesse Haynes

The times for those returning 9 vary from 15:39:36 to 17:12:30.

The ladies’ returning list is as follows:

  1. Kaci Lickteig
  2. Amy Sproson
  3. Devon Yanko
  4. Amanda Basham
  5. Alissa St Laurent
  6. Meghan Arbogast
  7. Bethany Patterson
  8. Maggie Guteri
  9. Jodee Adams Moore
  10. Erika Lindland

The times for those returning 10 vary from 17:57:59 to 21:07:40.

Notable entries for 2017 come from ‘Automatics’ (notes here) in addition to the top-10 men/women come from Golden Ticket Races, 6 slots from UTWT and as listed on the WSER Automatics page.

WSER lottery statistics are here

But 250 runners were drawn HERE on December 3rd with 117 automatics. The waitlist is HERE.

The 2017 WSER entrants list is HERE with 332 entries.

Notable names on pre-lottery were:

  • Jonas Buud
  • Zach Bitter
  • Ryan Sandes
  • Michael Wardian
  • Stephanie Case

Jim Walmsley needs to qualify; I think we can expect him to crush a Golden Ticket race to confirm his 2017 WSER slot.

Other slots:

  • 24 tickets will come from the Golden ticket races,
  • 6 from UTWT
  • 2 places from the Ultraruning Race Series. These slots will go to the top male and female as of April 30th 2017.

HARDROCK 100

hardrock-100-logo

Well, Jason Schlarb and Kilian Jornet crossed the line hand-in-hand and they have both confirmed they will return in 2017 to dance once again in the San Juan’s. The only other person guaranteed a slot is Anna Frost – she will be back!

Information HERE.

Hardrock, despite being a small race increasingly is becoming THE race people want to do and that is reflected in almost 2000 applications for 2017.

Entry is down to a lottery but the lottery is broken down into divisions as follows:

  • ‘Veterans’ – Runners who have finished more than 5 times.
  • ’Everyone Else’ – runners who have completed 1-4 times.
  • ‘Nevers’ – As the name implies, runners who have never finished Hardrock.

Hardrock 100 usually has around 150 starters, 2016 edition had 152 and I understand the 2017 edition will be just less than 150.

So, who’s in?

  • Caroline Chaverot is a huge draw and I have to say her attendance in the San Juan is an
  • exciting prospect. For me, Caroline has been THE ultra-runner of 2016.
  • Darcy Piceu missed 2016 and as a 3-time winner, she is the one that ‘Frosty’ will most
  • fear and the one that will always challenge for the victory.
  • Nathalie Mauclair has won UTMB and excelled at Raid de la Reunion.

Other notable names for the ladies’ – Darla Askew, Rachel Bucklin, Bethany Lewis,

Betsy Kalmeyer and Betsy Nye.

The men’s race is an interesting one with some old and new names.

  • Joe Grant is back again to the race he loves, boy does he have some luck with the lottery.
  • Mike Foote was 2nd at the 2015 Hardrock.
  • Iker Karrera 9th at Hardrock in 2015 but he’s a podium contender for sure.
  • Karl Meltzer has been there, done it and won it. This will be a breeze after the AT!
  • Adam Campbell, wow, does he have some motivation to be back!
  • Mike Wardian just runs and runs and runs, Hardrock will be an interesting one.
  • But the biggest interest will come with Zach Miller. We could see fireworks!

Full Entrants List HERE

We can expect other top ranked men to contest this list and then of course there is the ‘waitlisted’ men and ladies who will have a chance to run. HERE.