Last updated: 03-Sep-16
This is called the small Swiss cousin as it is a (relatively) speedy 55km with 3300m of ascent. It set off at 8.15 am from the picture-perfect Swiss town of Orsieres. As we were all waiting for the start, the race commentator entertained us with fast facts including…
- Three mayors from the region were taking part in the race, but not the Mayor of Chamonix as he had a knee injury.
- The oldest runner was 83, Rene Bachelard, and this was not his first rodeo, he actually ran UTMB while in his late seventies.
- Dawa Sherpa was lined up at the start. He was the first winner of UTMB, thirteen years ago in 2003.
- The race set off at a fair crack and the field was initially crowded with only five minutes separating the first and thirtieth runner after 15 km.
From early on, Xavier Thevenard led the field. The young Frenchman went into the race very much as the favourite. He needed OCC to have a clean sweep of wins having previously won all the other races: CCC, TDS and UTMB (twice!). His is a story of outstanding raw talent as he won CCC, the very year he started racing. In fact he has never NOT won a UTMB race he has entered and today was to prove no exception.
He kept the lead throughout the race, with Rachid El Morabity right on his heels for the first half. El Morabity is a four times winner of the Marathon Des Sables and had been brought over to race by Cyrille Sismondini, the race director of Morocco’s big mountain ultra, UTAT. He is not a mountain racer, but the course favoured his speed and the heat was also a positive for him. It was a very impressive performance up against the French and Spanish mountain experts.
Thevenard came in for the win at 5.28.37, with El Morabity second in 5.43.23 and Frenchman, Thibaut Baronian taking third with 5.48.
In the women’s race, Mercedes Arcos Zafra, one of the impressive Spanish contingent here, took a very strong lead and finished in 6.54.13. She was followed by Lara Crivelli at 7.34.06 just 13 seconds ahead of Sonia Locatelli.