UTMB 2017 Draw and Elite Names

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The results for the 2017 UTMB were announced on January 12th 2017 at 10.00 (Paris time) and what a draw! The list of persons registered and runners files can be viewed at http://www.ultratrailmb.com, all those entered will be confirmed by email.

Those runners lucky in the draw then have a period of 14 days, January 12th to 25th 2017, to definitively finalise their registration by paying, by credit-card, the balance of the registration price and sending in all the required supporting documents.

It’s a big day for many, dreams are made and broken with the opening of an email.

From a global perspective, a look at the elite start list provides an opportunity to whet ones appetite and imagine the race that will unfold for the UTMB and the races that also that happen in and around the main event, the CCC, TDS and OCC.

In 2016, many considered that the line up in the UTMB was the best ever, well, 2017 may have topped it?

The Top Men for 2017

  • Francois D’haene – Two time UTMB winner and countless other 100 victories.
  • Gediminas Grinius – 2nd at UTMB in 2016.
  • Julien Chorier – 8th at UTMB in 2016 but super solid at the distance.
  • Miguel Heras – Looking for 2013 form when he placed 2nd.
  • Luis Alberto Hernando – Hw wants this! 2nd in 2015.
  • Xavier Thevenard – Champ in 2013 and 2015 the winner of ‘all’ UTMB races – CCC, TDS and OCC.
  • Tofol Castanyer – 2nd in 2014.
  • Pau Capell –  TDS winner stepping up to the big dance.
  • Yeray Duran – Stepping up but 2nd at TDS in 2016.
  • Diego Pazoz – Mont-Blanc 80km winner – an intersting prospect!
  • Andy Symonds – Tried in 2016 but pulled out, he has a big race in him.
  • Carlos Sa – 8th in 2014 and an ever-present.
  • Kim Collison – Arguably the UK’s best hope for a top result.
  • Francesc Sole – 7th at UTMB in 2015.
  • Didrik Hermansen – 2nd at Western States in 2016 and winner at Transgrancanaria

And then look at the talent that will join from the USA:

  • Tim Tollefson – 3rd at UTMB last  year
  • Andrew Miller – Western States winner 2016
  • Sage Canaday – Unfinished business at UTMB
  • Jeff Browning – 2016 double with 3rd and 4th at Western States and Hardrock
  • Dylan Bowman – 4th at Lake Sonoma in 2016
  • David Laney – Placed 3rd and 4th at UTMB
  • Jim Walmsley – Unstoppable in 2016, UTMB is going to be a seriously exciting outing for him and us!

But it doesn’t stop there, there other names to consider, the list goes on!

The Top Women for 2017

  • Caroline Chaverot – Defending champ and un-stoppable in 2016.
  • Nuria Picas – 2nd twice, she wants the top slot.
  • Andrea Huser – Relentless, races week-in and week-out, 2nd in 2016.
  • Emelie Lecomte – Tor des Geants champ.
  • Beth Pascall – Lakeland 100 winner and course record could excel on this big loop.
  • Sophie Grant – Has had two top UTMB placings.
  • Gemma Arenas – Excelled in the Skyrunning ranks in 2016, Ultra SWS champ.
  • Juliette Blanchet – 4th last year.

And then look at the talent that will join from the USA:

  • Kaci Lickteig – Western States champ, Bear 100 champ and ultra-runner of the year – exciting!
  • Magdalena Boulet – 5th at UTMB last year.
  • Stephanie Howe – Western States 2014 champ who looks to be back after 2016 full of injury. Previously 8th at UTMB.
  • Sally McRae – 11th at the 2016 Western States.
  • Meredith Edwards – 2nd at TDS.
  • Aliza Lapierre – Solid performer recently raced MDS in 2015 4th at Western States.

Ones to watch:

Kaori Niwa, Christina Bes, Laia Diez, Joelle Vaught, Alissa St Laurent and many more…

CCC and TDS has always felt like a side show to the UTMB but Zach Miller in many ways changed all that with a show boat victory and we are now seeing the CCC as real stepping stone to UTMB with a highly competitive field.

Notably for 2016, Megan Kimmel, Hilary Allen, Nathalie Mauclair, Maite Maiora and Anna Comet amongst others will go head-to-head in the ladies’ race.

For the men, the prospect of what Hayden Hawks is exciting, especially when one considers Tom Owens and Ryan Sandes will toe the line. Add to the mix Erik Clavery, Ludovic Pommeret, Jorge Maravilla, Ben Duffus, Michael Borst, Marcin Swierc and Aurelien Collet and you have a very exciting race.

TDS will see Rory Bosio head up a quality ladies’ field that includes Lucy Bartholomew and, Dong Li and Lizzie Wraith. For the men, Paul Giblin and Michel Lanne are followed by Samir Tamang, Arnaud Lejeune and many more.

The 2017 UTMB week of races, look set to be a very exciting prospect.

Now, get training!

TNFUTMB Registration for 2014 opens on December 19th

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Registration for the 12th The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® will be open on December 19th, there will be thousands of runners who register for the world summit of trail-running which, each year, unites more than 50 000 persons (volunteers, organisers, accompanying persons, runners, local inhabitants, general public…) spread out along the paths of the 19 French, Italian and Swiss communities involved around Mont-Blanc.

TNF UTMB IMAGES HERE

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Already running for 11 years, it has seen an extraordinary development over that time. 10 years ago, Trail-running enticed a few enthusiasts, today this discipline has become a social phenomenon. In France, and all over the world, running in open country attracts more and more people, the trail-running market is growing rapidly and the success of the The North Face ® Ultra-Trail of Mont Blanc ® races participates widely in this expanding development. At just few hours away from the opening of the 2014 registration, it is the occasion to outline the news concerning this year’s event.

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Three major new items for this increasingly international event:

The 2014 The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, which is taking place from August 25th – 31st, will bring together almost 7000 runners coming from all over the world (in 2013, 74 nations were represented…). No other race attracts so many nations…This year there are some new items:

1) A new race, the OCC

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® is becoming even more cross-border and international with the creation of a new race: the OCC, (Orsières-Champex-Chamonix) will start at Orsières, in the Suisse Valais, in the heart of the St Bernard country and finish in Chamonix. From now on, there is a race starting in each of the countries surrounding Mont-Blanc.

As a shorter model, this race will be accessible to lovers of middle distance (in the category Trail Ultra Medium (M) between 42 km and 69 km). Also, so that the less « Ultra » who wish to begin and to participate in the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® can find a race with a format which allows them to enter the event. The route of the OCC will give a taste of the incomparable charm of the villages on the approach to Champex and the last part of the magic of the UTMB® or the CCC®.

Essential details of the OCC

– Start: Orsières, Thursday August 28th at 08:00

– Finish: Chamonix

– Distance: 53 kilometres

– Height gain: 3 300 metres

– Maximum time: 14 hrs

– No qualifying points necessary

– Points acquired by finishers: 1 point

– Maximum number of runners: 1 000

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2) The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® is on the Ultra-Trail® World Tour circuit

Connected to the international community of trail-running, The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® has, since September 2013, been a part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, a circuit which has just seen the light of day. It brings together the world’s most emblematic trail-running and ultra-endurance events, which share the same values and which celebrate the last to cross the line with the same passion as the first.

This circuit is an invitation to travel and discover the richness and diversity of the most beautiful races in the world. This annual international competition, the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, for its first year links 10 big races on 5 continents, with its own ranking, which will discern the holder of the title of champion of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour. In agreement with the organisers four events, of which the UTMB® is one, have been selected to be a “series” of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour and will favour the gathering of elite runners.

For more information (programme, date, country, titles) concerning the running of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour: click here

tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com

3) The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® subscribes to the International Trail Running Association (ITRA)Exchanges between interested parties fuels progression, improvement, adaptation and thoughts and ideas for the future. It is with this objective that since 2013, The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® has been a member of theInternational Trail Running Association which unites numerous trail-running organisers, elite runners and also those of all levels, sports’ equipment brands, associations…. By creating a dynamic founded on a gathering and exchange of thoughts and ideas of all the representative players in the field of the discipline, the ITRA has set several goals:

·                   The promotion of Trail-running as a complete stand-alone sport, rich in its diversity of cultures and locations and which is accessible to all.

·                   The development of a sports ethics which leans strongly on its values and the development of environment-friendly sporting events

·                   The implementation of prevention initiatives in favour of the good health of athletes and the fight against doping.

·                   The deployment of initiatives to improve the quality of organisations and the participants’ safety.

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® participates in the ITRA to contribute to the development of a sport founded on true values, to listen to all the players in the field of trail-running and in order to continue to improve the quality of its races.

More information: click here.

2014 registration

Registration, exclusively by internet, opens on December 19th at 10:00

5 events between August 25th and 31st 2014. Please note that the departure times for the UTMB® and PTLtm have changed:

·                    PTL™: 300 km –  +28 000 m – Starts Monday at 17:30 – Chamonix (FR): open to 100 teams of 2 or 3 persons.

·                    TDS™: 119 km –  +7 250 m – Starts Wednesday at 07:00 – Courmayeur (IT): open to 1600 runners.

·                    OCC: 53 km –  +3 300 m – Starts Thursday at 08:00 – Orsières (CH): open to 1000 runners.

·                    CCC®: 101 km –  +6 100 m – Starts Friday at 09:00 – Courmayeur (IT): open to 1900 runners.

·                   UTMB®: 168 km –  +9 600 m – Starts Friday at 17:30 – Chamonix (FR): open to 2300 runners.

Qualifying races

Since 2007 facing a surge in the number of requests for registration, the organisation has set up the fairest possible selection mode. Registration for the UTMB®, CCC® and TDS™ is only possible for runners who have obtained, between January 1st 2012 and December 31st 2013, the necessary number of qualification points. The list is available on the web-site: qualifying races for the 2014 Ultra-Trail®

·                   UTMB® : 7 points acquired between 01/01/2012 and 31/12/2013 (in a maximum of 3 races)

·                   CCC® : 2 points acquired between 01/01/2012 and 31/12/2013

·                   TDS™ : 2 points acquired between 01/01/2012 and 31/12/2013

·                   OCC : no points required
The pre-registration period will be open from December 19th 2013 to January 6th 2014

If the quota is passed, a draw will be made so that the limit of the number of runners is respected.

The results will be published on January 15th 2014 at 10:00 (Paris time).

Registration is managed by over-booking, there is, therefore, no waiting list.

PTL™ special

This event is without ranking, in complete autonomy in teams 2 or 3 participants who should stay together throughout.

·                   A PTL™ team of 2 or 3 persons must, obligatorily, have at least 1 finisher from a precedent UTMB®,  PTLtm or Tor des Géants®.

·                   The team leader (obligatorily the finisher of the UTMB®, PTL™ or Tor des Géants®) registers on behalf of all his team members at the same time.

·                   Registration will be open as of December 19th 2013.

·                   Registration will be closed once the quota of 100 teams is reached.

All information concerning registration is available by clicking here.

2014 registration prices

UTMB® : 207 €

CCC® : 128 €

TDS™ : 142 €

OCC : 68 €

PTL™ : 670 €

The registration prices have been augmented to maintain the quality of the event despite its rapid growth. The development of the number of people welcomed (runners [7 000 expected in 2014], accompanying persons, general public…) generates a rise in organisational costs, particularly in the important areas of: security, reception, logistics, transport, refreshments, gifts, etc … The figures are enormous.

For example : 36 refreshment posts, 15 marquees erected at different points along the route, 10 safety shelters placed on passes by helicopter, 50 000 tuc biscuits, 2 800 kg of cheese, 20 000 persons transported, 170 buses and drivers, 50 control points, etc…

The success of the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® races is, without any doubt, due to the quality of the organisation. To guarantee, once again, irreproachable logistics for the runners and those accompanying them, the visitors and the volunteers, it is essential to strengthen safety devices, reception and to professionalize certain services.

Nevertheless the price per race kilometre for the races around Mont Blanc remains amongst the lowest incomparison with organisations of the same size: Between 1.15€ and 1.30€/km (after augmentation) for this year, 2014.

Compared to:

Paris Marathon = between 70 and 115€ according to the date (between 1.7€/km and 2.73€/km)

NY Marathon = 290€ (6.9€/km)

Western State = 370$ (= 273€) (1.68€/km)

UTMF = 36 000 yen (= 258€) (1.61€/km)

Vasalopett (99km) between 180€ and 230€ according to the date… (between 1.8€/km and 2.32€/km)

In several days thousands of trail-runners will cement a dream…. December 19th, is the green light, the start of an adventure. The start of six month’s training, emotional due to some sacrifices and a lot of pleasure.

Rendezvous on August 25th for a week of partying and trail-running around the Mont Blanc country.

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2013 – Ladies Preview

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

It was always going to be touch and go… unfortunately, it is go. Lizzy Hawker has struggled with injury for much of 2013 and despite running at Sierre-Zinal recently, Lizzy has been forced to withdraw from the 2013 TNF UTMB with another stress fracture. Of course, this is devastating news for Lizzy and the race. Lizzy is the Queen of UTMB and we want her here, not only so that she can chase the course record she so desires but also to allow the other ladies to race the best.

Another main contender for the overall, Emelie Lecomte has been forced to withdraw due to injury. Emelie is a strong performer over the long races and a lovely person. I for one am disappointed not to see her toe the line. She placed on the podium at Ronda dels Cims earlier this year but has struggled ever since.

So, who are the ladies to watch? 

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Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) was 2nd in 2012 and then just one week later turned up at Tor des Geants and won! Without doubt, a remarkable double. Francesca likes long, tough and hard races. For sure, a shortened TNF UTMB as it was in 2012 in theory, would normally not suit her yet she still placed 2nd. That has to be a worry of all those that will line up against her on Friday. This year she has raced and raced. A very impressive and dominant win at Ronda dels Cims is probably the most significant result going into this race, however, Francesca placed well at Ice Trail Tarentaise and won the Eiger Trail. Recently she ran Speedgoat (not a race for her) and she placed 10th. All in all, Francesca is the outright favourite for this year’s race now that Lizzy and Emelie are not running.

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Emma Rocca (Buff) placed 3rd last year and is a consistently good performer with plenty of experience. For example, she has raced at Marathon des Sables (2nd in 2011) and just recently had a great run at Speedgoat with 4th place. That shows great depth over multi stage, single stage and also shorter faster courses. Without doubt, Emma is podium potential once again for this year’s race.

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The most exciting prospect for the 2013 race is Nuria Picas (Buff). This is Nuria’s first 100-mile race and that for sure will be the biggest stumbling block. However, if she can hold the reins back, take it easy over the first two thirds and then use her speed and skill in the final third, then we may well see Nuria top the podium. Nuria had an incredible 2012 dominating the Skyrunning calendar, she had three great wins at Trofeo Kima, Cavalls del Vent and Templiers, and she also placed second behind Frosty at Transvulcania. 2013 has been an equally great year, however, she has been chasing Emelie Forsberg around the Skyrunning calendar and has placed a super consistent second at Transvulcania, Zegama-Aizkorri and most recently Trans D’Havet. She is without doubt one to watch!

Three US ladies make my ‘hot contenders’ for this year and first up is Amy Sproston (Montrail). Amy is a 100k champ and placed top 10 at last-years UTMB with 8th overall. On paper, Amy can most certainly be top 5 at UTMB and if she has a great day, maybe top 3. Significantly, she placed 3rd at Western States, two places ahead of Rory Bosio. However, I think we will see those roles reversed in the Alps but as we all know, anything can happen.

Meghan Arbogast (Scott) was in Zermatt last weekend for the Matterhorn Ultraks but she only ran the short race as a loosen up for this weekends fun. She was looking strong, relaxed and confident. Her 4th place at Western States certainly means that everything is in place for a great tour of the Alps. In 2012, Meghan placed 12th at UTMB and for sure she can move up and be top 10. A great day and she may well push top 5.

Rory Bosio (The North Face) placed 4th in the 2012 race over the shortened course and was some time behind Francesca Canepa. Rory’s recent 5th place at Western States is obviously a great race and a great boost, however, I for one thought she would make the podium. Post WSER, Rory has spent plenty of time in Europe and therefore will come to the race adapted and ready to push for the podium and top slot.

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Shona Stephenson (inov-8) is making the long journey from Australia and arrived a day or so ago. Shona has already spent time in the Alps racing at the Mont Blanc VK, Mont Blanc Marathon and Ice Trail Tarentaise (she dropped about two thirds in). She also spent a great week with the inov-8 team testing new apparel and shoes in the mountains. Earlier this year she was performing consistently well with a win at Tarawera, a great 2nd place at UTMF and a win at Northburn 100. She like the longer and harder races and although she has limited European racing experience, if she is in the right frame of mind and feeling good, then we may well see Shona on the podium and I would expect a top 10 to be guaranteed.

Katia Fori (Technica) has raced twice at UTMB before placing 5th and 7th. Of course, being an Italian is a great advantage, as she will understand the terrain, mountains and the weather. This is a key to racing well over the Alpine course. In addition, she knows how to survive and spend a long time in the wilderness; her 4th place at the Tor des Geants proves this. In reality, I don’t see Katia making the top 5 but it only takes one or two to have a bad day and Katia to have a great day!

Helen Cospolich (The North Face) is a three times finisher at UTMB, her best performance came in 2011 with 6th. She has the super strong TNF team behind her and although she placed just inside the top 20 last year (17th), I would imagine that she could do better. It all comes down to the day! This year looks to be dry and warmer (at least in the day) and that will make her feel better for sure.

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Another TNF (The North Face) athlete is Ligia Madrigal. Ligia is Costa Rican and I actually ran with her on several occasions at this year’s multi-stage, The Coastal Challenge; a race she has won and placed 2nd at in previous years. This year she didn’t have a great race and dropped. Although she places well in Central and South American races, UTMB will be a steep learning curve for her. She will do well to place in the top 20 and if she makes the top 10, she will have had a great race.

Completing the TNF line up is Ru-Ling Xing. I would be lying if I knew much about Ru-Ling however; her stats show top 10 results at TNF 100k in China and 3rd at Vibram 100k. She has raced at UTMB before but finished outside the top 20, if she edges into the top 20 this year she will have had a good race.

Nora Senn has placed 3rd overall at the tough UTMF in 2012; great grounding for the UTMB. Earlier this year she won Lantau 100k so I am sure she will be looking to put the record straight after dropping from UTMB last year. She has the potential to surprise a few people, however, best-case scenario will be top 10. I don’t see Nora contest the podium.

The ladies race may not have as many possibilities as the men’s race, but with Lizzy Hawker not in the race, it is wide open for a really exciting and competitive race up at the front.

Without doubt I will have missed several ladies who will make the top 10 and for sure make the top 20, so, if you know anyone let me know.

  1. Who do you think will win?
  2. Will we see a surprise performance from one of the ‘100’ newbies?
  3. Who will be the best placed US runner?

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2013 – Men’s Preview

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

What an exciting prospect the 2013 TNF UTMB is going to be! Just a few months ago it looked as though the 2013 edition was lacking some really strong top competition, but a surge of confirmed US entries has brought this race to life and to be absolutely honest, if a US runner doesn’t take top slot this year, then maybe they never will…

It’s a quality field and the list of top men has incredible depth. For the purposes of a preview I am going to highlight who I consider to be the contenders for the top three slots and then give notable mentions to those who most certainly stand a chance to make the top ten and if on a great day, they may make the podium.

So, who is going to win? Or should I say, whom do I think stand a chance of the podium? In no particular order, here are my contenders:

Favorites:

Jonas Buud, Anton Krupicka, Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Timothy Olson, Jez Bragg, Sebastien Chaigneau, Mike Foote, Mike Wolfe, Carlos Sa, Dylan Bowman, Gary Robbins, Yoshikazu Hara, Francois Faivre, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, Jean-Yves Rey and Arnaud Lejeune.

Preview:

Jonas Buud - UTMB 2012

Jonas Buud – UTMB 2012

Jonas Buud placed second last year over the shortened UTMB route behind Francois D’Haene. It was a great run and a superb confidence boost for this year’s race. His recent run at Comrades when he moved up through the field from around 40th to the podium was not only an incredible lesson in pacing but also how to execute a great race strategy. I am pretty sure that this will be something he will bring to Chamonix. Without doubt he has speed but the full UTMB is a very different race to the shortened version and in this field a podium place will be a great result.

Anton Krupicka, Cavalls del Vent, 2012 ©iancorless.com

Anton Krupicka, Cavalls del Vent, 2012 ©iancorless.com

What can we say about Anton Krupicka? With a long time out of the sport due to injury, his return seemed guaranteed at the end of 2012 when he placed 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at Cavalls del Vent. We had hoped to see Anton run at Tarawera but just a week or so before the race he pulled out due to a niggle. Racing Ronda dels Cims was on the cards but he decided an attempt at Nolans-14 was a better option; it didn’t go well leaving him in pieces on the trail. One thing that is guaranteed is that Anton is fit and can climb. His recent 2nd placing at Speedgoat is going to be a great boost and he has been in and around Chamonix for several weeks now training with Joe Grant who will be his support during the race. It may be Anton’s year?

Julien Chorier, Ronda dels Cims, 2013 ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier, Ronda dels Cims, 2013 ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier is meticulous in planning, knows the UTMB route very well and after watching him run and dominate the 2013 Ronda dels Cims, if he brings ‘that’ form to Chamonix, then he will win! He was consistent, strong and a machine. Julien has been on the podium at UTMB before, 2007 and 2008 but this was relatively early on in his run career (a former cyclist). Since then he has won Hardrock, UTMF, Raid de la Reunion and so on. He will bring his ‘A’ game to UTMB with just one position in mind. A hot favorite!

Miguel Heras, La Templiers 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras, La Templiers 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras has had a tough time recently with injury. Running UTMB was a big question mark, however, I heard just the other day that he has confirmed he will run. His training has been hampered for sure and it is impossible to say at this stage, how that will affect his race. His most recent notable performances came in 2012 with La Templiers and San Fran 50. Like Julien Chorier, he is meticulous in planning and outside of Kilian Jornet; I would have said that an in form Miguel Heras would be the stand out favorite for this race along with Julien.

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

A little like Julien Chorier, Timothy Olson picks his races, plans, trains, turns up and wins. Anyone who can win Western States two years on the run knows how to bring the ‘A’ game to the right race. Timothy placed well at Tarawera and Transvulcania but his notable words to me at the end of Transvulcania were, ‘it just needed to be longer, I was getting warmed up’. Racing at Speedgoat recently he placed in the top ten but that doesn’t reflect a lack of form, in fact the opposite, it shows focus; focus on the big target, which is now UTMB. He has been in Chamonix and getting out on the course and so will now fully understand what he needs to do come this Friday. Along with Anton, he is a key favorite for the outright win, the only thing I can see going against him is the lack of experience in a European 100-mile race particularly in the Mountains.

I am going to stick my neck out and say that in the 2013 UTMB we will see a new Jez Bragg. He will run UTMB in a way that he has never run it before. We all know he was the 2010 winner of the race but quite frankly, and no disrespect to Jez, it wasn’t the full race and that makes a big difference. In recent years things have not gone well for him and post 2012 UTMB we discussed certain health issues that may have affected his performance. With those issues under control and then his incredible run in New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail, Jez will mentally and physically be in a different place when on the start line this year and in the famous Speedgoat Karl words he will be thinking, ‘a 100-miles is not that far’.  Jez will have his best UTMB ever! Listen to Jez Bragg talk about UTMB kit HERE

Sebastien Chaigneau, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau has already had an incredible year. His win at the recent Hardrock 100 in a course record time (counter clockwise) is a dream come true for Seb. He actually only got the go ahead for that race just a couple of weeks before as he was a reserve, so, I can’t help but think his long term training was for UTMB but also meticulously preparing for the hope to participate at Hardrock. His early season win at Transgrancanaria and then 3rd place at UTMF will no doubt all take its toll. Seb has all the abilities and experience to win this 2013 edition, however, he may very well be just a touch jaded.

Mike Foote, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Mike Foote, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Mike Foote placed third last year on the shortened course and by all accounts is in great shape and has been training really hard. However, he has been plagued by injury. His second place at Hardrock 100 in 2012 most certainly means that if he his 100% fit, he will mix it up at the front of the race and be in contention for the podium.

Teammate and great friend of Mike Foote is Mike Wolfe. Mike had a year to forget in 2012 after an incredible 2011. He has loads of skill, great fitness and can run like the wind when he needs to. After some time away to recoup, Mike has now found some form and fitness in 2013. He had a win at Pocatello 50 and recently raced to a podium slot at Lavaredo Trail in Italy. Most recently he set a ‘FKT’ on the John Muir Trail with teammate, Hal Koerner. Now no doubt this was great training and great preparation for a 100-miles in the mountains, but, and this is a big but, was it too close to UTMB?

Carlos Sa placed 4th at UTMB in 2012 and earlier this year won Badwater 135. I witnessed him run at close quarters at the Marathon des Sables where he consistently performed well and eventually finished 7th overall. UTMB is a very different race and with strong competition from ‘mountain men’, Carlos will need a great day to make the top three.

Another American joining the mix is Dylan Bowman. Dylan may well be the dark horse of the US contingent. For sure, European eyes will focus on Krupicka, Olson, Wolfe and Foote and therefore allowing Dylan a little more freedom and a little less pressure. They should take note; Dylan has had consistent top performances at Leadville and Western States. What Dylan’s resume of results lacks is experience on tough mountain courses and that will be the crux of how well he performs. Will he be able to take the ups and downs that the UTMB throws at him?  *update 26th August, pulled out due to injury

Finally, my last contender is Gary Robbins from Canada. He had time away from the sport after having some horrendous injuries that almost stopped his career. With patience and rehabilitation he came back to his nemesis, Hurt 100 and not only won, but also set a course record. He has experience of UTMB and finished outside the top fifty last year, so why pick him as a possible contender? He knows what it is about now and to be honest, a full course is probably much more preferable than a short course for Gary. Also, he placed 4th at UTMF earlier this year behind Hara, Chorier and Chaigneau… that’s good company to be running with!

Yoshikazu Hara was the surprise winner of the 2013 UTMF putting Julien Chorier and Sebastien Chaigneau in 2nd and 3rd respectively. He is coming to this years race prepared and may well cause a few shocks!

Francois Faivre trainer of the French cross-country ski team from the Jura region, was recovering from some health issues at the start of the season. After signing up for the cancelled Maxi Race and after withdrawing from the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, François felt he lost some form. He finished 9th in 2011 and 7th in 2012! UTMB without doubt is his main goal for the season.

D'Haene, Kaburaki (middle) Chaigneau UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

D’Haene, Kaburaki (middle) Chaigneau UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki is extremely experienced at UTMB and has placed from 3rd to 11th in five outings. This year he won Bighorn 100 with some incredible running in the latter stages of the race. The jury is out on 2013 and I will update with more info as and when I have it on Thursday.

Jean-Yves Rey was 6th last year and is very much a dark horse. In his early 40’s he has had some impressive results over the years, 3rd at the iconic Sierre-Zinal in 2000, winner of the CCC in 2009 but recently he started the Eiger Trail and did not finish, so, his form is unknown.

Finally, Arnaud Lejeune is in his early 30’s placed 8th at UTMB and 3rd at Raid de la Reunion in 2012. He also had a string of top results with wins in; Faverges Trail, Trail de Savoyards, Trail Glieres, Quecha Trail Fiz, Verdon canyon Challenge and the Guyan Trail at 186km long. A resident of Annecy, he has access to the UTMB terrain on a regular basis and this is a distinct advantage. However, 2013 seems to have been very quiet. He may be a surprise!

As mentioned, the race has no shortage of possible winners, for example:

Sebastien Buffard 10th at UTMB and then of course we have Marco Olmo won UTMB at the age of 59yrs and in doing so became a legend. He most certainly won’t win this year but he deserves a mention.

Marco Olmo, MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Marco Olmo, MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Other names to watch out for:

Vincent Delabarre, Siu-Keung Tsang, Jason Loutitt, Gustavo Reyes, Armando Jorge Teixeira, Zigor Iturrieta, Giuliano Cavallo, Minehiro Yokoyama, Vajin Armstrong, Paul Giblin, Adam Perry and Terry Conway.

The TNF UTMB has gained a reputation as being one of the most iconic 100-mile races in the world. With over 2,000 participants, I will have missed several contenders who will create a stir and surprise us. Do you know who they may be?

Get involved:

  1. Who is your prediction for the race?
  2. Who will have the greatest improvement?
  3. Who will shock us?

Links:

The North Face HERE

TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc website HERE

UTMB kit with Jez Bragg

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The TNF UTMB is just around the corner and in a previous episode of Talk Ultra I discussed with The North Face athlete, Jez Bragg what he uses for this 160km mountain race. It seemed topical that we should give you all an opportunity to listen to this once again and refresh your minds.

Get your check list and out and go through it step-by-step with Jez.

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LISTEN HERE

http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/Jez_Bragg_-_UTMB_Kit.mp3

Equipment list as required by TNF UTMB race organisation:

In order to participate in these events, a set of obligatory equipment is required. However it is important to note it is the minimum necessary and that each trail-runner must adapt it according to their needs. It is important, in particular, not to choose clothing that is the lightest possible weight in order to gain a few grams, but to choose items which will give real protection against the cold, windy or snowy mountain weather, therefore giving a good level of security and performance.

Obligatory material :

  • mobile phone with option enabling its use in the three countries
    (put in one’s repertoire the security numbers of the organisation, keep it switched on, do not hide one’s number and do not forget to set off with recharged batteries)
  • personal cup or tumbler 15cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable)
  • stock of water minimum 1 litre,
  • two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries,
  • survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimum
  • whistle,
  • adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm),
  • food reserve,
  • jacket with hood and made with a waterproof (recommendation: minimum 10,000 Schmerber) and breathable (recommendation: RET lower than 13) membrane (Gore-Tex or similar) which will withstand the bad weather in the mountains.
  • long running trousers or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completely,
  • Additional warm midlayer top: One single midlayer long sleeve top for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 180g (Men, size M)
    OR a two piece clothing combination of a long sleeve baselayer/midlayer for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 110g (Men, size M) and a windproof jacket* with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) protection
  • cap or bandana
  • warm hat
  • warm and waterproof gloves
  • waterproof over-trousers

* The windproof jacket does not replace the mandatory waterproof jacket with hood

Required by the frontier police forces :

  • identity papers

Very strongly recommended :

  • Knife or scissors with which to cut the self-adhesive elasticised bandage
  • walking poles for security on slippery ground in case of rain or snow
  • a change of warm clothes indispensable in the case of cold weather, rain or injury
  • the sum of 20 € minimum (in order to cover the unexpected….)

Advised (list not definitive) :

Telescopic sticks, change of clothing, compass, knife, string, sun cream, Vaseline or anti-chaffing cream, needle and thread,…

All clothing must be the runner’s size and without alteration since leaving the factory.
You will carry this material in a pack which must be tagged at the race-bib distribution and is not exchangeable during the race.

If you decide to use poles, you must keep them throughout the whole of the race… It is forbidden to start without sticks and recover them up along the way.
No poles will be allowed in the spare’s bags.

 

A full list of UTMB specific equipment is available via The North Face by going HERE

Jez Bragg website HERE

UTMB press release

2013 will continue to see the international success of the four events of the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®! Yet again this year trail-runners from the world over will be at the rendezvous, keen to attend to face the challenge, and despite the increase in the number of qualification points necessary this year (7 instead of 5 for the UTMB®, 2 instead of 1 for the CCC®).

As in 2012, 3 600 candidates were unable to validate their registration this year due to lack of places.

UTMB® [Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®] : 3 countries – 168 km and 9 600 meters of vertical gain in semi-autonomy. 2300 runners at the start on Friday at 16:30 from Chamonix to Chamonix in 46 hours max.

CCC® [Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix] : countries – 100 km and 5 950 meters of vertical gain in semi-autonomy.    1 900 runners at the start on Friday at 9:00 from Courmayeur to Chamonix in 26 hours max.

TDS® [sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie] : 119 km and 7 250 meters of vertical gain in semiautonomy. 1400 runners at the start on Wednesay at 7:00am from Courmayeur to Chamonix in 33 hours max.

PTL® [la Petite Trotte à Léon] : 3 countries – 300 km and 24 000 meters of vertical gain in complete autonomy. A non-stop adventure race without rankings open to 80 teams Start on Monday at 22:00 from Chamonix to Chamonix in 138 hours

Registration figures

Pre-registration was closed on the January 8th with a record number of 10 105 candidates (of whom 10.3% were women) for the 4 events of the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®.

The UTMB® and the CCC® were over subscribed. It is obvious that the organisation are proud of the popularity and success of the event but a serious draw was necessary and will mean that numerous trail-runners will have to postpone their dream for at least another year.

It is worth remembering that those who were unlucky in the 2012 draw were able to register without going through the draw this year. The limit of numbers for each event meant that there was a draw for the UTMB® and the CCC®. 2 500 requests for registration for the UTMB® and 1 100 for the CCC® were not able to be accepted this year.

The TDSTM registers a score in permanent progression, with more than 1 300 requests. It may, taking into account over-booking, accept round 500 runners form the more than 3 600 unlucky in the draw for the UTMB® or the CCC®.

Full card equally for the PTLTM for which registration closed on January 3rd, with 88 teams registered.

A reminder that each race is limited to the number of participants possible in order to respect the quality of the race for the runners, the security, the environment and the quality of the organisation.

The The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc® races are welcoming 74 nations:

A record number in the field of open country races!

International participation is as always important with a record level of 49.6% who are not French.

In the lead France with only 50.4%. Then there is Spain with (9.5%) and Italy (8.9%). It is worth noting that Japan is in 5th position with 3.6% of the participants.

The nations represented are : Albania / Algeria / Andorra / Argentina / Australia / Austria / Belgium / Belarus / Bolivia / Brazil / Bulgaria / Canada / Chile / China / Colombia / Costa Rica / Croatia / Czech Republic / Denmark /  Ecuador / England / Estonia / Finland / France / Gabon / Germany / Greece / Hungary / Iceland / Indonesia / Iran / Ireland / Israel / Italy / Japan / Jordan / Latvia / Lithuania / Luxembourg / Malaysia / Malta / Mexico / Moldavia / Monaco / Morocco / Netherlands / New Zealand / Niger / Northern Ireland / Norway / Peru / Philippines / Poland /  Portugal / Rumania / Russia / Scotland / Serbia / Singapore / Slovakia / Slovenia / South Africa / South Korea / Spain / Sweden / Switzerland / Thailand / Turkey / Ukraine / Uruguay / Venezuela / United States of America / Wales / Zimbabwe

A world-wide success which confirms the The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc® as a trail-running event which has become a dream for trail runners from all over the world.

Faces of UTMB

A series of people, faces and experiences from the 2012 UTMB.

Starting at 1900 in Chamonix the race took a shorter route of 100k and remained in France covering 6000m+ of vertical gain on a very wet, snowy and cold night. These images tell the story of 15 hours following the race.

UTMB pre race

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.

The LADIES

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

The MEN

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.