The North Face Mont Blanc Ultratrail is made up of several different trail running events:
- UTMB® (FRANCE - SWITZERLAND - ITALY) - around 166 km long with 9 400 m of elevation gain, mostly self-supported - 46-hour cut-off – starts Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:30pm from downtown Chamonix – a maximum of 2300 racers allowed
- CCC® (COURMAYEUR-CHAMPEX-CHAMONIX) : 3 countries – around 98 km long with 5600 m m of elevation gain, mostly self-supported - 25-hour cut-off – starts Friday, August 28, 2009 at 9am from the center of Courmayeur – a maximum of 1800 racers allowed
- SUR LES TRACES DES DUCS DE SAVOIE [TDS] around 106 km long with 6600 m of elevation gain, mostly self-supported - 30-hour cut-off - starts Saturday, August 29 at 5am from Chamonix – a maximum of 1200 racers allowed
- LA PETITE TROTTE A LEON [PTL] (FRANCE - SWITZERLAND - ITALY) – around 245 km long with 21,000 m of elevation gain, completely self-supported - Starts Tuesday, August 25, 2009 à 10pm from downtown Chamonix - Cut-off: Sunday, August 30 at 4:30pm (114 h maximum). A non-stop, non-competitive race open to 60 inseparable teams of 3.
The start of the Mt Blanc Ultra-Trail - Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire
The UTMB started smoothly and swiftly, with the Spaniard Kilian Jornet (last year's winner) leading. As night fell, a light rain came down and a thick fog rolled in, making the course hard to follow. Armed with a good knowledge of the course and wearing a MYO RXP on his head, Kilian calmly held on to the lead all the way to the finish line.
Kilian Jornet - Photo (c) JP Clatot
A stampede in the pea soup: the racers came together to keep from getting lost and a long procession of lights forms, as headlamps become key for safety on the trail.
Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire
When weather conditions take a turn for the worst, having the right headlamp becomes crucial. Pascal Bourquin, on his third UTMB, was equipped with the ULTRA : "At the Col du Bonhomme, it wasn't fog but snow that we had to go through... With the ULTRA on high, I could see the ground well and be sure-footed. Because of that I was able to pass around 100 racers, who were missing the trail markers. Many of them even slipped in behind me so they wouldn't get lost."
Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire
Seb Chaigneau (2nd), ran with his MYO RXP but nearly regretted his choice, having loaned his ULTRA to his girlfriend who was competing in the CCC®. The Japanese Kaburaki, (3rd in the Men's), almost got lost in the fog. He lost 20 minutes around Courmayeur. "But Japanese never give up," he said with a smile. His wanderings gave him a chance to get to know his new friend Seb Chaigneau better. "We met up at the Col de la Seigne to avoid getting lost. And we hardly ever separated until we neared the finish line," laughed Sébastien, who felt the pressure of the Japanese racer most of the way.
Kristin Moehl - Photo (c) Pascal Tournaire
The inclement weather made it hard for everyone. Monica Aguilera (3rd in the women) lost 40 minutes at the Col du Bonhomme trying to find the trail in the thick fog. Working hard to make up the lost time, the last 50 km were particularly rough for her. The same misadventure for Lizzy Hawker: she got lost several times before getting back on track, but not before letting the American Kristin Moehl pull ahead to victory. Six years after first winning the UTMB®, Krissy "ran one of the best races of her career." With 10 ultras under her belt, Krissy finished this race in total control. "In six years, the UTMB® has really changed. The race has gotten huge and is completely different from the first year. Having Lizzy right behind me helped me to focus on the trail and my body," explained the American.
Ultratrail Mt-Blanc - Photos (c) Pascal Tournaire
At 4:30pm on Sunday, the UTMB® closed with 1382 runners making it to the finish line. It took many of them 2 nights to get to there. Fortunately, visibility on the second night was better.
Congratulations to all the race organizers and runners and here's to a smooth recovery! We'll finish with this quote from Dawa Sherpa after he threw in the towel on the first night: "I didn't have any strength left in my arms or legs. I was on empty and it didn't make sense to continue under these conditions," he said with a smile. "Running has to be fun for me..."
See you back next year for more fun...!
After 42 hours on the race, Jean-Luc is psyched to be close to the finish line! - Photo (c) Lafouche
For more information, results and news from the race visit the official race site.
UTMB 2009 Men
Kilian JORNET 21.33.18 Salomon ESP
Sebastien CHAIGNEAU 22.36.45 The North Face FRA
Tsuyoshi KABURAKI 22.48.36 The North Face JAP
UTMB 2009 Women
Kristin MOEHL 24.56.01 Patagonia USA
Elisabeth HAWKER 26.04.42 The North Face UK
Monica AGUILERA VILADOMIU 29.17.31 ESP
CCC 2009 Men
Jean-Yves REY 11.40.47 NIKE SUI
Nikolaos KALOFYRIS 12.15.35 GRE
Ludovic POMMERET 12.34.20 Quecha FRA
CCC 2009 Women
BEGUE Chantal 16.51.00 FRA
PENSA PATRIZIA 17.10.17 ITA
ARRIGONI GIULIANA 17.11.39 ITA
TDS 2009 Men
BOHARD Patrick 14.01.48 Asics FRA
SAINT GIRONS Thomas 14.04.40 Asics FRA
POWELL Alun 14.40.23 UK
TDS 2009 Women
Fernanda MACIEL 17.17.43 The North Face BRE
agnes HERVE 17.38.16 TEAM OUTDOOR FRA
Kim GAYLORD 18.11.45 The North Face USA
PETITE TROTTE A LEON
41 MORD’FIN: Cyril CHOSSAT, Pascal MORFIN, David ALLOUARD 79h24
33 OCCITANIE SPORT AVENTURE: Benoit MIRABAUD, Philippe BANEGAS, Emeric FOURNIER 86h25
57 LES ESNEUTOIS CELESTES: Cédric JOIE, Vincent LOUON, Arnaud SALMON 86h25