Last updated: 20-Oct-17
It was heralded as the best UTMB line up in history with a fearsome cast in both the men’s and women’s races: ultra running’s darling, Kilian Jornet; the French formidables François D’Haene and Xavier Thevenard; and the ultra-ambitious Americans Jim Walmsley, Zach Millar and Tim Tollefson. For the women: Caroline Chaverot, Andrea Huser, Nuria Picas and Magdalena Boulet were all fancied.
After 19:01:32 hours on the mountain, and after leading for most of the race, it was the triumphant François D’Haene who crossed the line in Chamonix first. A fantastic race from him, this is his third win at UTMB. He was followed just 15 minutes later by Kilian Jornet, and the young American, Tim Tollefson, came in third with 19:53:00.
Watching the runners cross the line at UTMB is a truly uplifting experience. Pure joy is etched on the finishers’ faces. Hundreds of supporters line the route, hoping to high five the runners, the TV cameramen follow behind on roller blades, and the sound of hands clapping on the barriers is like thunder.
They deserve the moment, after a course that is guaranteed to take every last ounce of determination. It varies slightly from year to year but is always hugely challenging. It is a single-stage race over 171km with 10,000m + of ascent. Entry requires points and there were 2,537 starters in Chamonix this year.
The route covers the following path: Aiguille de Bionnassay, Col du Bonhomme, Col de la Seigne, Val Veni, Noire du Peuterey and the glaciers descending Mont Blanc, Val Ferret, Dent du Géant and Grandes Jorasses, Bovine and Les Tseppes, Aiguille Verte, the Drus, Mont Blanc and Chamonix.
The cut off time is 46h 30 but the winners come in in under half that. The weather played its part this year, with plenty of rain and very low temperatures.
At the finish line, champion, François D’Haene, thanked the supporters, “I had a great race. I had a nice time running with Kilian and Jim. I was really surprised to see how many people were out there to support us. There were people everywhere, even in the snowy areas.”
Of course, Kilian Jornet, came in for the win, but he had this to say about François, “He deserves his victory! But how about a second meeting? What do you think, François? Next year?”
Tim Tollefson, bounced down the last few metres like a kangaroo, with a smile that almost split his face open, lapping up the adulation of the crowd. “It was absolutely fantastic,“ he said. “The weather and the course changes made it difficult and challenging but we came out here for the challenge. Everything about this race is beautiful.”
Night had fallen as the first of the women made their way into Chamonix and the history books. Nuria Picas of Spain had had a super strong race throughout. She had gone in as one of the favourites and did not disappoint. The crowd cheered themselves hoarse as she crossed the finish line in 25:46:43. They didn’t have long to wait – just two and a half minutes – until Andrea Huser powered in in second place with a time of 25:49:18. Christelle Bard of France came in third with 26:39:03.
As Andrea crossed the line, Nuria was waiting for her and the two women shared a long embrace, celebrating their remarkable achievements.
The race, of course, continues with many runners out there on the mountains for a second cold, long night. You can follow their progress live at http://utmbmontblanc.com/en/live/utmb
- François D’Haene, France, 19:01:32
- Kilian Jornet, Spain, 19:16:38
- Tim Tollefson , USA, 19:53:00
- Nuria Picas, Spain, 25:46:43
- Andrea Huser, Switzerland, 25:49:18
- Christelle Bard, France, 26:39:03
Killian Jornet Video
François D’Haene Video