Return on the UTMB® week

The UTMB® was held in Chamonix from the 24th to the 30th of August 2015. It is a key event of the season, hailed as the world summit of trail-running, bringing together thousands of runners, supporters, volunteers and other mountain lovers all along the course through France, Italy and Switzerland. ITRA was also there all week long with a busy schedule.

The UTMB® races:

On Monday, to begin this mad week, the PTL® (300km; 26000m D+) departed in the evening under torrential rain. Nevertheless, the public was ever present to praise these unique runners. This race promises a shared adventure with each team composed of two to three runners in an alpine environment (30 passes to cross) in four to six days and full self-sufficiency. It is an extremely testing feat, all the more with the severe heat participants had to face as the week went on.

Then, on Wednesday morning, the TDS® (119km; 7250m D+) set off. It is renowned for its “Mountain” difficulty (rated 12, the maximum grade, on the ITRA ranking). The Catalan Pau Bartolo won once more in Chamonix after his 2014 victory on the CCC®. Then arrived the Frenchmen Cyril Cointre (2nd), Antoine Guillon and Lionel Triviel (tied for third place). In the women’s race, the Swiss Andréa Huser finished first in an impressive time, in front of Cristina Bes Ginesta, Spanish, Juliette Blanchet, French.

On Thursday, it was, again, a Catalan, Marc Pinsach Rubirola, which won the OCC (53km; 3300m D+); beating the French, and recent world champion, Sylvain Court (less than two minutes behind) and a fellow Frenchman Germain Grangier. Victory in the women’s race was decided in a final sprint between the French Célia Chiron (1st), Cécile Lefèbvre (2nd) et Caroline Benoit (3rd); less than a minute behind. This race was also the occasion of celebrating the arrival of the eldest runner of the week and active member of the UTMB® race direction, René Bachelard; supported by all the members of the organization.

The week continued with the CCC® (101km; 6100m D+) on Friday. For the first time on a UTMB® race, an American, Zach Miller, came in first. The Nike squad got a double, placing Tim Toffelson second, followed by the French Nicolas Martin and the Chamonix local Sacha Devillaz. In the women’s race, the New-Zealander Ruth Charlotte Croft took the lead in a record time and an 8th place overall. The American Magdalena Boulet and the Spanish Laia Canes followed.

The week’s main event then came up, bringing a massive crown to the start line. The traditional music, by Vengelis, as well as a royal eagle, marked the start of the 13th edition of the UTMB® (170km; 10000m D+).

Many favorites were present, including the Americans Canaday (DNF), Laney (3rd M), Swanson (4th M), Howe (8th W); the Spanish Hernando (2nd M), Fraile (2nd W), Herras (DNF), Picas (DNF) or Castaner (DNF); and the French Chaigneau (DNF), Antolinos (6th M), Clavery (7th M) and Chorier (DNF). Should also be stated the South-African Sandes (DNF), the Bresilian Maciel (DNF) and the Italian Canepa (DNF.

During the race, two runners quickly took the lead and kept it to the end; Xavier Thévenard finishing in close to 21h in the men’s race and Nathalie Mauclair in close to 25h in the women’s race. The French runner, native of the Jura, confirms his good shape and reaps his fourth victory for four participations in a UTMB® event (winner of the CCC® in 2010, the UTMB® in 2013 and the TDS® in 2014). He ends with a comfortable lead over the Spanish vice-world champion, Luis Alberto Hernando, and David Laney, with an impressive track record in road-running. Nathalie Mauclair, representative of athletes in ITRA, adds another major title to her track record after a victory during the world championships in May. As in Annecy or on the Lavaredo in Italy, Nathalie Mauclair and Caroline Chaverot had an epic duel. After a quick start placing her in the lead, Nathalie Mauclair was worried that Caroline Chaverot would catch up mid-race before the latter DNFed on the end of the race. It was finally the Spanish Uxue Fraile, 6th in the world championships, which came in second, before the Swiss Denise Zimmermann.

ITRA’s backstage action on the UTMB®

ITRA was available on the Salon Ultra-Trail® to meet runners, race organizers, brands, the media… It was a great chance to explain our role in the international context of trail-running and the issues underlying the recognition of our sport by the IAAF. We also presented our various other services such as the Performance Index, the race calendar, race evaluations or the health space dedicated to runners…

ITRA also set up the Health Policy asked for by the UTMB®’s race direction. During the race bib retrievals over 200 runners were monitored; mainly from the elite. We had multiple objectives with this Health Policy. A medical observation was made on the general practice of ultra-running. It also allowed us to heighten the awareness of runners or detect abnormal profiles. This action complements the traditional anti-doping measures that runners had to undergo at the end of their race or in another setting. ITRA’s Health Policy does not wish to sanction runners, financially or in their practice of the sport, as the World Anti-Doping Agency organizes. We wish to detect abnormal profiles; not simply by exceeding a measure, but more globally by bringing together coherent physiological markers. The race direction will then have the possibility, via a medical commission (made of the race’s medical doctor and ITRA), to prevent a suspect runner from participating in the event. This will allow the races to maintain a clean image and foster a clean practice of trail-running.

The week’s races brought together in Chamonix many ITRA members and sympathizers. Thus, we organized an informal meeting on Wednesday evening. Around drinks, many were able to meet physically for the first time and assess ITRA’s current activities.

On the same day, a meeting between brands involved in trail-running was organized by Kilian Jornet. ITRA presence and actions was heavily debated during this gathering. These brands discussed if it is necessary for them to organize themselves as a group as well as a possible line of conduct and future cooperation with ITRA.

Let us also congratulate the members of our Executive Committee who participated in different races. Like Nathalie Mauclair, they were all finishers: Pierre Sallet (cornerstone of ITRA Health Scheme) on the UTMB®, Janet NG (race director of the Hong Kong 100 Ultra Marathon) on the PTL®, Sébastien Cote (race director of the Ultra-Tral Harricana in Canada) and Nic Bornman (race director of the Ultra-Trail Cape Town in South Africa) on the CCC®.

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