Well, the rain came, the snow fell and the course was quite rightly considered too dangerous to send so many runners to potential harm. With rain forecast for all of the race evening, snow above 1600m and possible drifts with -5 temperatures the TNFUTMB organisation decided to cut short the route to 100k, keep it below a certain altitude and keep the whole race in France. Using a ‘sort of’ figure of 8 loop the runners would go out and come back on themselves primarily through Contamines and Les Houches and then finish as planned in Chamonix.
Of course this is not what any runner wanted to hear. All the money, all the time training and focussing on a target race for it all to be removed at the last minute. If this was the first time then we could all say ‘bad luck’! But unfortunately this is the fourth year in a row the race has had problems and although they cannot control the weather and I do believe they made the correct decision I can’t help but wonder why they can’t plan ahead and have a ‘safe’ longer route available as an option.
Certainly the lack of a longer route saw pre race favourites, Julian Chorier and Iker Karrera defect from the race. Juian heading to the GR20 and Iker doing a ‘flyer’ to make the start of the GoreTex Transalpine race at 2100hrs that very same day.
However, a very good field remained with Francois d’Haene, Jonas Buud, Mike Foote, Csaba Nemeth, Jez Bragg, Sebastian Chaigneau, Miguel Heras, Carlos Sa and Kaburaki amongst others ready to fight it out in the dark and wet.
In the ladies race pre race favourite, Lizzy Hawker looked ready and happy to run. Emma Rocca, Krissy Moehl, Amy Sproston, Rory Bosio, Francesca Canepa and Katia Fori all took to the start.
Lizzy Hawker set her table very early and never let up. I saw her at Notre Dame de Gorge and she was running a gradient others walked. She was pushing hard, so hard she never came out of the top 20 overall. Lizzy took a great win in 12:32:13 and was 16th overall. Following in second place was Francesca Canepa from Vibram. She ran a strong consistent race and took an excellent podium slot behind Lizzy in 13:17:01. Emma Rocca filled the vacant podium slot in 13:23:37.
In the mens race Francois d’Haene took the lead out of Contamines and slowly pulled away. My tip for the shortened race was Jonas Buud. I felt that 2:22 marathon speed and WR 100m time would play into his hands and allow him to runner quicker in the final stretches of the race. Not so! Francois finally finished with a 30 minute lead in 10:32:36 leaving Buud in 2nd with 11:03:19. Revelation of the race was super talented Mike Foote. He ran easy for 30k saying he was thinking of quitting. At 50k he felt much better and then just speeded up. In doing so he moved from way outside the top 10 and just kept picking runners off until he finished on the podium in 3rd in 11:19:00.
Notable drops was Seb Chaigneau who was lying in 4th place and with just 10k to go dropped due to problems with vision. Jez Bragg dropped early with stomach issues and Miguel Heras dropped too.
In the ladies I guess the big looser was Krissy Moehl but in real terms she has had a super crazy calendar and to perform at UTMB was unlikely.
- François D’Haene 10:32:36
- Jonas Buud 11:03:19
- Mike Foote 11:19:00
- Carlos Sa 11:22:39
- Csaba Nemeth 11:37:18
- Jean-Yves Rey 11:43:48
- François Faivre 11:51:32
- Arnaud Lejeune 11:53:17
- Sébastien Buffard 11:57:47
- Tsuyoshi Kaburaki 12:03:04
- Lizzy Hawker 12:32:13
- Francesca Canepa 13:17:01
- Emma Roca 13:23:37
- Rory Bosio 13:43:10
- Katia Fori 13:58:25
- Magdalena Laczak 14:07:50
- Fernanda Maciel 14:12:01
- Amy Sproston 14:13:35
- Emelie Lecomte 14:35:54
- Nerea Martinez 14:58:59
View my photos Faces of UTMB here