After Krissy Moehl (2003 and 2009), Nikki Kimball (2007), and Rory Bosio (2013 and 2014), late afternoon yesterday Courtney Dauwalter became the 4th American to win in Chamonix, with a time of 24 hours, 34 minutes. The latter, already victorious at the beginning of the year at the Tarawera UltraMarathon and the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail® in May, had to drop from Western States at the end of June, when she had already cruised into the lead. One hip injured, she had to drop out, allowing time to heal up before embarking for Chamonix for the first time in her career.
She played a waiting game, letting China’s Miao Yao, winner of the CCC® last year, to try her hand at a higher-level adventure this year. Leaving town to the sounds of beating of drums, the young Chinese runner unfortunately had to drop at the top of Grand Col Ferret, after a little over 103 km of racing. It left the field wide open for Dauwalter, who was hiding behind, and who would ultimately experience the full range of challenges during the race, including crushing fatigue at Champex-Lac (km 123). Suffering from heat exhaustion, Dauwalter stopped a long time at the aid station, vomiting before somehow managing to start again, still with a comfortable lead of nearly 45 minutes on her pursuer at that moment, the Swede Mimmi Kotka. Digging deep to find new power, Dauwalter, 34, got her second wind, and proved beyond reach, arriving in Chamonix for a crowning achievement in her first appearance. Mimmi Kotka, on the other hand, experienced the flip story. Her second half proved a long ordeal, keeping her off the podium (20th woman). Another Swede, in the form of Kristin Berglund, would seize the opportunity to leave anonymity behind, finishing 2nd in 25:34 of this 2019 edition. Maïté Maiora (ESP) finished the race in 3rd position, in a time of 25:41.
It was said that no podium was out of reach for Spain during these 2019 UTMB races. Indeed, among the 100 countries represented, Spain was the big winner in this 2019 edition, which included no fewer than 10,000 competitors taking the start of the different races.
The Spanish attack began Wednesday night on the TDS® (145km / 9100m D +), with the victory of Pablo Villa, the fastest of the 1600 entrants. His win came on a longer and steeper course than prior editions, thanks to a new section of trail added to the event in the Beaufortain region. Nevertheless, Villa arrived almost an hour ahead of the best predictions. The change of course didn’t seem to bother Audrey Tanguy, defending champion, who was once again victorious for the women, after a splendid and breathtaking battle with American Hillary Allen, who finished 2nd. There’s already a sense of anticipation in the air, as the French trail racer will tackle the flagship UTMB® race, next year..
Spanish dominance continued on Thursday with three-time world champion trailblazer Luis Alberto Hernando, winner of the 2019 CCC® (101km / 6100m D +), who ran without so much of a hint of weakness, winning in 10 hours, 28 minutes, in front of France’s Thibaut Garrivier. Hernando, who had as of yet been unable to add a UTMB event to his record of wins, had finally vanquished bad luck. Spanish resident Ragna Debats (HOL) took the win for the women.
In the end, it was only on the OCC (56km / 3500m D +) where Spain failed to triumph. The country missed a win and a possible Spanish Grand Slam by just 1 minute, 22 seconds to Andreu Simon, the gap separating Spain from Norwegian winner Stian Angermund-Vik. On the women’s side, Azara Garcia (ESP) couldn’t find a way to stop New Zealand’s Ruth Croft from scoring a second consecutive title in the event.
Pau Capell completed the Iberian triumph yesterday at the UTMB® (171km / 10,000m D +), thanks to a strong solo performance that no one could touch, not even Xavier Thévenard, triple winner of the event in search of a 4th title, and ultimately the 2nd-place finisher. It was a result that was hardly a defeat for a runner noted for his humility, and who had given it his entire effort. “Pau had a hell of a performance. I had my own plans. I had expected to finish the race in 21 hours and 10 minutes, and I finished in 21:07. There’s not much to say, except that Pau was entirely untouchable,”nconfided Thevenard. “I’m having one of my best seasons this year, and it was nice to be able to run this year’s UTMB in good weather; we had time to enjoy the mountains. It’s there that one realizes the luck we have to be here, and to be able to contemplate the universe; we must really take care of it, change our habits, accept a bit less comfort to live more simply, to protect this environment, and ensure that future generations can also enjoy it as we do,” concluded Thévenard, in a message of ecological awareness in full agreement with the sustainability policy developed by the event.
The various winners and other notable personalities will not forget that among the highlights was the widespread enthusiasm that brought entertainment and life to the sides of the trails. Under favorable weather to cheer on the exploits of the runners, the crowds of supporters grew as the days went on, reaching its peak Friday and Saturday. The different regions of the three countries through which the races pass (France, Italy, Switzerland) have shown the world their best faces and their great hospitality, reaching attendance rates never before seen; the 20,000 companions to runners and the tens of thousands of spectators have made this 17th edition a moment of sport, sharing, and unforgettable coming together, all amid a magical and good-natured atmosphere.Results: utmbworld.com
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