Rounding the Chamonix Loop: A UTMB Recap

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Starting Line. Photo credit: Michel Cottin

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Starting Line. Photo credit: Michel Cottin

The thirteenth running of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc occurred last weekend, bringing roughly 2,500 eager ultrarunners to the quaint mountain town of Chamonix, France. Located at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix serves as the starting and finishing point for this grueling endurance race which spans terrain in France, Italy and Switzerland. A highly respected and immensely challenging course, UTMB has become one of the most desirable races in the ultra running scene, attracting mountain runners from 89 countries.  Over the 104-mile course, runners navigate trails in the day and the night, in a multitude of weather conditions, summiting nearly a dozen peaks, and covering over 66,000 combined feet of elevation gain and loss.

UTMB Elevation Profile

UTMB Elevation Profile

This year was the race debut for Ultimate Direction athlete, Sage Canaday, and heading into the event, he was picked as a top favorite. Having spent the four previous weeks training around Mont Blanc, Canaday explains in his irunfar interview  that he had scoped out roughly 40 miles of the course, learning the nuances of this steep and technical terrain.

Sage scouting out the UTMB course. Photo credit: Matt Trappe

Sage scouting out the UTMB course. Photo credit: Matt Trappe

Canaday’s competitive strategy kept him in the front pack for the first 20 miles. He spent the following 20 chasing the leaders from a minute behind. All was going well until mile 40, at which point Canaday unexpectedly tripped on a rock and tumbled to the ground, badly injuring his knee.  He explains the situation in his post-race vlog, openly discussing what led to the fall and how he was able to persevere for another 14 miles. Once making it to the Bertone aid station, around mile 54, Canaday’s injured knee could no longer endure the pounding, and it stiffened up completely, forcing Sage to drop out. While things didn’t go exactly as planned, Sage remarks that the situation could’ve been worse, and he did “get the gift of being able to train on some of the most beautiful mountain trails in the world.” The Ultimate Direction team wishes him a speedy recovery!

Numerous other Ultimate Direction athletes and ambassadors also made the trek to Chamonix to crew for and cheer on their favorite runners.

 UD Ambassador Sandi Nypvaer crewed for boyfriend Sage Canaday at UTMB.

UD Ambassador Sandi Nypvaer crewed for boyfriend Sage Canaday at UTMB.

Scott Jurek running near Chamonix. Photo credit: Jenny Jurek

Scott Jurek running near Chamonix. Photo credit: Jenny Jurek

Ultimate Direction sponsored New Zealand athlete Vajin Armstrong at the starting line.

Ultimate Direction sponsored New Zealand athlete Vajin Armstrong at the starting line.

Grant Guise, the Ultimate Direction distributor in New Zealand, sporting some new UD swag.

Grant Guise, the Ultimate Direction distributor in New Zealand, sporting some new UD swag.

Looking at UTMB overall, the men’s and women’s races were both full of action. Xavier Thevenard of France won the race for the second year in a row, finishing in 21:09, an incredible 50 minutes ahead of the second place runner, Luis Alberto Hernando . Perhaps the most nerve-wracking finishes though came from third and fourth place where Americans David Laney and Seth Swanson both charged to the finish, crossing the line only 28 seconds apart.

Top ten men’s results:

  1. Xavier Thévenard— 21:09:15
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando— 21:57:17
  3. David Laney— 21:59:42
  4. Seth Swanson— 22:00:10
  5. Gonzalo Calisto — 22:24:37
  6. Fabien Antolinos— 22:28:26
  7. Erik Clavery— 22:45:28
  8. Francesc Solé Duocastella— 22:53:23
  9. Ryan Smith— 23:10:07
  10. Alexandre Mayer— 23:44:53

In the women’s race, Nathalie Mauclair soared to the finish line in a remarkable time of 25:15, more than an hour ahead of second place finisher, Uxue Fraile (26:29). Denise Zimmerman rounded up the top three with a time of 27:33, Silvia Trigueros in a close fourth, finishing in 27:39.

Top ten women’s results:

  1. Nathalie Mauclair— 25:15:33
  2. Uxue Fraile— 26:29:35
  3. Denise Zimmermann— 27:33:51
  4. Silvia Trigueros— 27:39:36
  5. Darcy Piceu— 28:38:30
  6. Luciana Moretti — 28:40:11
  7. Bernadette Benson — 29:40:11
  8. Stephanie Howe— 30:16:28
  9. Melanie Rousset — 30:17:01
  10. Manuela Vilaseca— 30:19:21

A big congrats to all of the runners of this year’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc!

To keep up to date with Ultimate Direction’s other athletes and ambassadors, make sure to check out their blogs.

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One thought on “Rounding the Chamonix Loop: A UTMB Recap

  1. Thévenard’s first win was in 2013 and not in 2014. Last year he won one of the shorter sister races.

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