In appalling weather conditions nearly 6000 competitors from 72 nations took the start line this weekend in one of the three North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® races. Organizers, volunteers, runners and supporters will have been constantly juggling with the hazardous weather - snow, rain, wind and fog - to offer their fullest support and assistance to the world-renowned rendezvous for trail running.
UTMB® - François d'Haene reaps the rewards
The young 28 year old winemaker from Villefranche-sur-Saône, won the 10th edition of the UTMB® early Saturday morning after a long night of 10h32:36. Following Vincent Delebarre in 2004, François d'Haene is only the 2nd French runner to take the title of this mighty challenge. Due to deteriorating weather conditions above an altitude of 2000m (winds, snowfall, cold, fog), the organisation committee decided on Friday to establish a new race route for the UTMB®, only on French terrain, approximately 100km in length. "In the end, even if the course did not follow the genuine UTMB® route (168km) I thought that most of the suitors would nevertheless be there and that the battle could take place" would say 28 year old François, from Lille. Sébastien Chaigneau (FR), Miguel Heras (ES), Manu Gault (FR), Jean-Yves Rey (CH), Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (JP) or Carlos Sa (POR) would honour the race with their presences.
"I didn't really have a strategy for the race. It was really the one who could best adapt themselves to the conditions and the new race route. As soon as someone attacked I responded. I started to believe in it in Les Houches. This victory makes me feel really great" continued the young winemaker from the Beaujolais, owner of 4.5 hectares of vineyards for the last year after being a physiotherapist as a profession.
Being fast will have played a massive part on this year's race route due to the reduction in the usual high mountain route. This is probably the reason why find unexpected athletes on the 2nd and 3rd positions on the podium.
The Swedish Jonas Budd will finish 2nd just half an hour behind the winner, taking advantage of the many abandons. Jonas has an impressive road racing palmares: Three times 2nd in the world for the 100km road race, 4th in the Comrades Marathon in 2011, and his marathon record time is 2h22... The first time taking part in a 100km mountain trail race (even if he has also won the Alpine Swiss Marathon de Davos 6 times), Budd will have suffered to keep his place. "At the end of the race I was exhausted and not very lucid". He nevertheless will have resisted right to the end the tornado from the other side of the Atlantic, Mike Foote (USA) who will finish the race at full throttle.
Among the women, the English Lizzy Walker, emblematic figure of The North Face® Team has made her way even deeper into history winning for the 5th time after 12h32 of effort and 16th over all and merely 1h59 after the 1st man and in front of many male favorites such as Ludovic Pommeret (FR) or Matthias Disppacher (DE). A race won through mental strength after suffering from several recurrent physical injuries at the start of the season. Trail running specialists will confer that this is an exceptional performance, and believe her to be far out of reach on this legendary race. 44 minutes later Francesca Canepa, one of the best Italian specialists in ultra racing, crosses the line.
TDS™ - Dawa Sherpa 9 years later!
On the most mountainous route of this edition, 9 years after his success on the very first UTMB®, Dawa Sherpa would victoriously open the weekend's racing on Thursday after 14h37:07 of effort. He beat the Lafuma duo Lionel Trivel & Antoine Guillon, arrived hand in hand after 15h05:26. In difficult conditions that are often the route to his success, Dawa Sherpa took the lead after several kilometres. Only Seuls Trivel-Guillon would stay more than fifteen minutes behind the Nepali. "Due to the tough conditions we decided to stay together" Antoine Guillon will explain. "Dawa was stronger than us. We hit the groove at the Col du Tricot and by then we realised that there was no catching him". "It's such a great pleasure to win this today" Dawa will say. It is a beautiful course, the whole day I enjoyed every minute, I really loved the route".
Among the women, the French Agnès Hervé started out carefully before catching up with the leader Juliette Blanchet and to win in 19h37:07 beating Juliette by 32:53. An ultra racer, her success has made a mark in the mountain trail running universe.
CCC® - Castañer and Greenwood rise above the debates
The Spanish Tofol Castañer continued the tradition of Spanish victories on the Ultra-Trail® by winning the CCC® early Friday evening, in less than 9 hours. From track and road racing the stocky Mallorcan wins his first great victory in the trail running world, after winning the European mountain race in 2010. Castañer, 40 years old, immediately appeared at the forefront of the race. He and the 1913 competitors of this CCC® confronted terrible racing conditions, notably on the Grand Col Ferret, where the snow quickly made its appearance, coupled with freezing wind and fog that you could cut with a knife. In this atmosphere, the French Erik Clavery, who seemed to be able to keep the Iberian at bay, drifted away. The straw that broke the camel's back and the world trail running champion in 2011 will finish by abandoning.
Behind him a magnificent head-to-head took place between Nicolas Piante double winner of the Marathon du Mont Blanc, Mikeal Pasero and Seb Camus.
Among the women, the Scottish Ellie Greenwood, winner of the Western States last June, wins after 11H17:24 of effort in front of French Maud Combarieu (2nd 34 minutes later) and Maud Gobert (3rd 39 minutes later). Also unknown in France her important palmares across the other side of the Atlantic (1st American Rivers 50 in 2011 and 2012 and 1st Canadian Dead race 100 in 2010) foretold a beautiful victory.
More than ever this tenth edition belonged to the mountain: unpredictable, wild and sometimes hostile. The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc® this weekend experienced moments of strong emotions, between exhaustion, solidarity, endurance and adventure. So, only the front runners can go and rest this Saturday morning, there are still more than 1500 runners enduring the winter cold that has settled on the Mont Blanc massif.
TDS™ - 114 km - 7150 vertical meters (classic route 112 km - 7150 vertical meters)
1465 took the start, 125 of which were women. 629 finishers. 836 abandons
1- Dawa SHERPA - Népal - 14:37:07
2- Lionel TRIVEL TEAM - FR - 15:05:26
3- Antoine GUILLON - FR - 15:05:28
1- Agnès HERVE - FR - 19:07:00
2- Juliette BLANCHET - FR - 19:39:53
3- Alessandra CARLINI - IT - 20:32:14
CCC® - 86 km - 5998 vertical meters (classic route 100 km - 5950 vertical meters)
1913 took the start, 255 of which were women. 1582 finishers. 331 abandons
1- Tofol CASTAER BERNAT - ES - 08:57:04
2 - Mikael PASERO - FR - 09:39:06
3- Nicolas PIANET - FR - 09:39:38
1 - Ellie GREENWOOD - UK - 11:17:24
2- Maud COMBARIEU - FR - 11:51:40
3- Maud GOBERT - FR - 11:56:42
UTMB® - 103,42 km - 5862 vertical meters (classic route168 km - 9600 vertical meters)
2482 took the start, 215 of which were women. Number of finishers and abandons in progress
1- François D'HAENE - FR - 10:32:36
2- Jonas BUUD - SE - 11:03:19
3- Michael FOOTE - USA - 11:19:00
1- Elizabeth HAWKER - UK - 12:32:13
2- Francesca CANEPA - IT - 13:17:01
3- Emma ROCA - ES - 13:23:37
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