Posted in At the Races by Matt Ward on Thu 25 Aug '11

© The North Face

Known as the unofficial world championships of trail running, the The North Face® UTMB is one of the monuments of world running, never mind trail running. To put this as a win on your ‘palmares’ cements your name in trail running history…

At 166km long with a total climb of 9,500 meters+, the race is far more of a challenge for the majority of the sell-out 2300 runners – this one really is all about finishing. But for a select few the event is a race, a battle, of minds and bodies.

Taking place in the valley area which surrounds the Mont-Blanc massif, the event can be unpredictable. 2010 showed us just that, when rain of biblical proportions stopped the event in its tracks, some 21km into the event. What followed was a debacle of sorts whereby runners didn’t quite know what was going on, the race was restarted then wasn’t. The likes of Kilian Jornet and Geoff Roes thought better of hanging around and headed off to Italy for the Kima race.

© The North Face

Jez Bragg, victorious

The UK’s Jez Bragg hung around, went to bed, then awoke to a text on the Saturday morning saying the race was on, in 45 minutes! He got lift from iRunFar man Bryon Powell, and well, the rest is history.

And so to 2011.

The start lists of the men’s and women’s events read a bit like a whos who of mountainous trail running. Kilian Jornet, Geoff Roes, Jez Bragg, Mike Wolfe, Scott Jurek, Miguel Heras, François D’Haene, Lizzie Hawker, Krissy Moehl, Nerea Martinez, Julia Böttger, Darcy Africa – the list goes on and on.

© The North Face

Lizzie Hawker

As well as getting ready for the event himself, Bryon Powell has found the time for some pretty juicy pre-event interviews from the men’s side, and with some of the women’s leading contenders.

2008 and 2009 winner Kilian Jornet is a man on a mission in 2011. After wins at the TNF 100k in Australia, The Western States 100 in the US, Giir di Mont in Italy and a recent third place at Sierre Zinal behind Marco de Gasperi, the powerful Catalan is ready for a race which has a special place in his heart.

© www.skyrunning.com

Kilian Jornet

“The UTMB is a race that goes through spectacular countryside. Just being in those valleys is a treat. Also the race level is really exceptional, which increases your motivation and the relationship between volunteers and spectators is excellent.

After some very long runs last week (30 hours), this week Jornet plans to “try to relax, have some peace and quiet, lead a normal life without training, just 3 to 5hours total training in the week.” Not much of a taper in some people’s books, but this is what works for Kilian, as documented in this recent film on his ultra race preparations.

This year Killan has stated that his objective is:

“To do it as well as I can and to fight to win if at all possible, though that will be difficult if you consider the level. If the race conditions are good and there is a fast start, I think I can finish in 20 hours.”

Moreover, Killan has commented that in an ultra distance race like the UTMB, “Everything is equally important, the training, the preparation of the kit, the race strategy and the nutrition”, and when talking about the competition, Kilian is respectful of the quality of this year’s line-up:

“Miguel Heras is very good, he’s run a really good season so far. Also Geoff Roes, Iker Carrera, Kaburaki, Jez Bragg, Mike Wolfe, Nick Clark, Dakota Jones, Seb Chaigneau, François d’Haene. The level is really high.“

A full programme of events can be found at the UTMB site, and as reported earlier this month on MST you’ll be able to track runners live throughout the whole event.

Racing gets underway tomorrow in Chamonix at 18.30 CET, and you can expect full updates and reports from MST throughout the weekend via this site, and our Twitter feed.

Reactions so far
  1. Grant Aug 25, 08:03 PM

    nice Matt, look forward to the updates

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  • Adair Broughton 03 Jun '14(Andi and Katie are Great in Keswick)

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