Sunday, August 28, 2011

Super challenging and exciting UTMB 2011

Thousands of ultra trail running fans were glued to their screens to follow the super exciting and challenging UTMB 2011.

Long story short, Kilian Jornet and Lizzy Hawker won. That wasn't a surprise, since both have won the tour a couple of times. Hawker also won last year's shorter replacement event.

Kilian had some serious competition, which made the race exciting to follow. Ultimately others could not climb and descend like him. His finish time was 20:36:43. Iker Karrera was 2nd and Sebastien Chaineau 3rd, each about 10 mins apart. Here is a video of the three first men arriving in Chamonix.

Also Lizzy Hawker had her share of fun by catching and beating men in top 20. Interestingly many of them DNFd after getting chicked by her. She was easily the most inspiring star of the race. After 5 hours she fell to 27th place overall, but then she started to rise again. She finished 13th overall in 25:02:00.

The weather turned bad once again just before the start. A heavy storm with snow and all caused an annoying delay of five hours (from 6:30 PM to 11:30 PM) on Friday. Somehow both the organizers and the toughest competitors seem to have pulled it through. However there were no Americans in top 10 (France 4, Spain 2, Japan 2, Portugal 1, Hungary 1). I guess the unpredictable Alpine weather and equally complex French organization broke their spirits eventually.

The course was slightly changed from last year. It was the longest route in UTMB history: 169.9 km (105.6 miles) with 9,586 meters (31,450 ft) cumulative climbing. From Champex they had to run via the aid station in Martigny, because the storm had destroyed the one in Bovine.

By 9AM Sunday morning - after two cold nights of running - only 113 out of 2,369 registered competitors had finished. And keep in mind that they are all accomplished, well-trained ultra trail runners. There's still 12.5 hours time left, but we might see a big DNF percentage in this year's race, certainly over 50%. Anyone who can finish this race is a hero with unlimited bragging rights.