This year’s UTMB had it all! In case you missed it, here’s a round up of what went on from the winners to how the Irish fared and of course the pictures!
The UTMB powered by Columbia is arguably the most competitive, popular and prestigious trail race in the world. From 1-3 September 2017, the 171km race was tackled by 2,300 runners from more than 90 countries. They faced 10,000m+ of vertical ascent as they tackled Aiguille de Bionnassay, the Col du Bonhomm, the Col de la Seigne, Aiguille Verte and other high mountain locations. Weather conditions were brutal, with rain, wet snow, high winds, fog at the higher elevations and mud challenging the hardy competitors. Temperatures dropped to as low as -9ºC at higher elevations.
Despite conditions, the frontrunners in this year’s were amongst the fastest since the race began 15 years ago. Frenchman Francois d’Haene won out in the much-anticipated duel with Spain’s Kilian Jornet (the man who ran up Everest twice in a week). D’Haene crossed the line in 19:01:54 while Jornet finished in19:16:59. American Tim Tollefson was third in 19:53:00. No American has ever been the first man to finish. This is d’Haene’s third UTMB victory and he now joins Jornet in the UTMB hall of fame.
Spain’s Núria Picas Albet took top podium position in the women’s race finishing in 25:46:43, despite suffering an asthma attack during the long ascent to La Flégère. Andrea Huser (Switzerland) took second (25:49:18) and France’s Christelle Bard was third (26:39:03)
But that’s just half the story of the UTMB. While the frontrunners are home and dry in less than 24 hours, many of the rest of the field will spend two full nights and more in this demanding high mountain terrain. In 2017, the last finisher – Emil Duch from Poland – crossed the line in a heroic 46:15:23. And it’s worth remembering that more than one-third of the field will not finish at all.
Which is not terribly surprising given that huge numbers of the field like the Irish in attendance simply do not have mountains like that Alps to train on. Ireland’s first runners home at this year’s race were Brian Meskell (29:56:22) and Chantelle Farrelly (35:21:39).
Following an epic year with a record breaking run from Mizen to Malin and setting a new Irish 24-hour record, hopes had ridden high on Ireland’s Eoin Keith. Keith had previously finished 20th in 2013 and second in his category. However, due to blisters, which were followed by cramps, the athlete had to pull out at the 90km mark.
As well as the 171km UTMB, four other sister trail races take place as part of this ultra running extravaganza: the 101km CCC which features 1900 runners, the 119km TDS with 1600 runners, the 56km OCC and the 290km PTL team even.
With a combined total of 8,000 athletes taking part and huge crowds of supporters descending on Chamonix and the other Alpine towns through which the races run – as well as climbing the mountains to ring cow bells and shout encouragement at the athletes, the atmosphere for these races is akin to a festival.
For more information, visit: www.utmbmontblanc.com
Take a look at our UTMB gallery below.
Like this? You should check these out:
- 7 of the Toughest Ultra Marathons in the World
- Trail Running Races in Ireland: 10 of the Best
- Trail Running Shoes: 8 of the Best