UTMB 2018 Preview

Last updated: 24-Aug-18

By Alice Morrison

It doesn’t feel possible that a year has already passed since we sat glued to UTMB TV to watch the magnificent François D’Haene cross the line in Chamonix first at last year’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.

A fantastic race from him, it was his third win at UTMB. He was followed just 15 minutes later by Kilian Jornet, and the young American, Tim Tollefson, came in third. For the women Nuria Picas of Spain won it, Andrea Huser was in second place and Christelle Bard of France in third.

But that twelve months has passed and it is time, once again, for the greatest festival of mountain ultra running in the world and – as you would expect – the line-up is super strong.

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is the queen of the races but there is a full programme over the week (details below). We will be bringing you all the action as it happens on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds and filing a nightly news round up for you.

The five main races are:

  • UTMB: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (170 km +10,000 m)
  • CCC: Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (101 km +6,100 m)
  • TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (121 km +7,300 m)
  • OCC: Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (55 km +3,500 m)
  • PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon (approx. 300 km +25,000 m)

UTMB Contenders

Enough of the plans, let’s spend some time looking at who is running and what their hopes are.

The Americans are out in force this year – making up a whopping 24% of all the  top-elite-classified runners taking part. Jim Walmsley will be there, fresh from his Western States win along with Zach Miller, Hayden Hawks and last year’s third placed Tim Tollefson.

But will the Americans be able to unseat the Europeans: racing on their own territory and in conditions they are masters of? Kilian Jornet, couldn’t take the crown last year, but could this be the year for his fourth victory and a new record?

We know he is pretty good at record setting, and we have an exclusive interview with him here. We can’t help but feel that after taking nearly an hour off the Bob Graham Round and whipping up Everest twice in one week, UTMB will be a mere bagatelle….

Luis Alberto Hernando, the World champion of trail-running, is hungry, though, he would like to win his first UTMB® and Frenchman Xavier Thévenard is always a contender.

The women’s race is stuffed with stars too. Caroline Chaverot of France, female leader in the ITRA ranking is on the list of starters.

Clare Gallagher, Kaci Lickteig, Magdalena Boulet and Stéphanie Howe are all there under the stars and stripes banner and the Catalan, Núria Picas, winner in 2017, will be hoping for a repeat. One to watch is Mimmi Kotka from Sweden who has been very strong for the past two seasons.

TDS/OCC/CCC

TDS®  has also attracted a great spread of elites including Tom Owens of the UK. The USA is really well represented at TDS with Megan Kimmel and Rory Bosio keen to podium.

New kids on the block

With Marco Olmo winning his first UTMB in his late fifties, comes proof that ultra running is about more than age and experience really does count.

But there are a lot of younger men and women on the block this year. In all four races, you will be seeing a mix of old and new faces: Cody Reed (CCC®), Timothy Freriks (OCC), the Russian Dimitry Mityaev (TDS®), and the Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius (UTMB®) for the men.

For the women some of the other names to watch are Camille Herron (CCC®), Andrea Huser (OCC) Keely Henninger (TDS®), and Miao Yao (CCC®).

The great thing about the UTMB festival, though, is that it is always surprising. It never goes to plan when you factor in the mountains, the weather and the sheer level of competition and desire.

Get your training runs in early so you can stay with us as we follow this tremendous week of competition.

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Timetable

Monday, August 27th – Martigny-Combe and Chamonix
08:00: Start PTL®, Chamonix (France)
10:00: Start MCC, Martigny-Combe (Switzerland)
13:30: First MCC finishers
18:30: Opening of the Walk of Fame

Tuesday, August 28th – Chamonix
13:00-19:00: Salon Ultra-Trail® expo village and bib pickup for the TDS®
16:00-20:00: Bib pickup for the TDS® in Courmayeur for runners who made this specific request

Wednesday, August 29th – Courmayeur and Chamonix
06:00: Start TDS®, Courmayeur (Italy)
10:00: Start YCC
10:00-20:00: Salon Ultra-Trail® expo village and bib pickup for the OCC
16:00-20:00: Bib pickup for the OCC in Orsières for runners who made this specific request
20:20: First TDS® finishers

Thursday, August 30th – Chamonix
08:15 Start OCC, Orsières (Switzerland)
All day long, runners finishing the TDS®
10:00-19:00 Salon Ultra-Trail® expo village and bib pickup for the CCC® and UTMB®
16:00-20:00 Bib pickup for the CCC® and UTMB® in Courmayeur for runners who made this specific request
16:00-17:30 Official press conference
13:30 First OCC finishers

17:30 solidarity evening

Friday, August 31st – Courmayeur and Chamonix
09:00 Start CCC®, Courmayeur (Italy)
10:00-14:00 Salon Ultra-Trail® expo village
18:00 Start UTMB®
20:00 First CCC® finishers

Saturday, September 1st – Chamonix
All morning long, runners finishing the CCC®
15:00 First UTMB® finishers

Sunday, September 2nd – Chamonix
All day long, runners finishing the UTMB®
10:00-11:00 final press conference
16:00 UTMB® closing ceremony
16:30 last runners finishing the UTMB® & PTL

"it is time, once again, for the greatest festival of mountain ultra running in the world and – as you would expect – the line-up is super strong"

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