On Wednesday, August 28, at 07:00 in the morning, the starting gun fired in Courmayeur (Italy) for the official start of the TDS. The first of the UTMB’s three races set the pace for this 2013 edition that promises to be an exciting adventure for runners with, for the first time in awhile, fantastic weather.
Petzl, event partner, presents the first status report for the TDS prior to the highly anticipated starts of the CCC and the UTMB...

 

TDS: tre, due, uno… and they're off!

UTMB 2013 © Petzl/ Lafouche
Race start in Courmayeur

The TDS is a relatively short race for an ultra, covering “just” 119 km and 7250 meters of vertical gain; it circumnavigates half of the Mont-Blanc range by way of Bourg Saint Maurice, Cormet de Roseland Pass, Beaufort, and Les Contamines. The course combines highly technical trails with several sections at or above 2500 meters elevation. The race runs in the opposite direction of event counterpart, the CCC.
 
In the heart of the mountain village of Courmayeur, enthusiastic trail runners showed up and head towards the starting line. Fifteen minutes before the start of the race, the remaining stragglers hurried to the start as a mass of spectators gathered along each side of the main street.
Then came the countdown: tre, due, uno… and they were off! 1500 runners took their first steps towards the finish line in Chamonix. For some the goal was to simply finish the race in less than 33 hours, for others the hope was to earn a spot on the podium.

UTMB 2013 © Petzl/ Lafouche
UTMB 2013 © Petzl/ Lafouche
Runners at Verney Lake

 

A "breathtaking" race course

At Verney Lake, two and a half hours later, the gap started to widen between runners. Clément Posecak was already two minutes ahead of his challengers. Nathalie Mauclair, the race favorite for the women’s category, was in the lead and in the top 10 overall. She ended up staying in front throughout the entire race. Between sunshine and a slight mist, participants ran by the lake still maintaining a fierce, competitive focus. The ascent towards Col du Petit Saint Bernard Pass and the descent down to Bourg Saint Maurice proved difficult and shook up the rankings.

UTMB 2013 © Petzl/ Lafouche
Nathalie Mauclair - Women’s leader

The Bourg Saint Maurice aid station was a welcome break for most runners. They all knew that the never-ending climb to Passeur de Pralognan Pass lay in wait. A few runners would end up dropping out, teary-eyed and disappointed.

Everyone reached Passeur de Pralognan Pass (2567m) breathing hard, hoping that the subsequent descent would provide ample opportunity to recover. Unfortunately for them the descent was steep and technical, and even included a handrail at the start to keep from tripping on and tumbling down the rocks. Those who made it to the pass before nightfall were happy not to have to navigate the steep terrain in the dark. Following this challenging section some runners suffered cramps and tendon pain for the remainder of the race.

 

At nightfall the fog made an appearance and everyone turned on their headlamps.

UTMB 2013 © Petzl/ Lafouche

UTMB 2013 © Lafouche
UTMB 2013 © Lafouche

A nighttime descent from Passeur de Pralognan Pass

More than 400 runners crossed over Passeur de Pralognan Pass before nightfall. For the other participants the goal was to simply complete the race, their overall ranking mattered little. It’s at moments like these when we are able to witness the true camaraderie between runners. When competing no longer matters other questions arise. Will I finish? Should I drop out at the next aid station? Each individual had to decide their own fate, but everyone “joined hands” during what seemed like a never-ending endeavor.
Both fatigue and doubt set in once down at Cormet de Roseland pass. Most ended up dropping out; although the more obstinate chose to finish the race using mental fortitude alone. Some runners even left the pass at half past midnight.

 

A first-hand account by British runner, Dave Stephenson, at Passeur de Pralognan Pass.

UTMB 2013 © PETZL / Lafouche

We all ran together and gave each other support until the very end. The climb to Passeur de Pralognan Pass was really hard. It took 3.5 hours to ascend the 1750 meters to the pass. We didn’t run, but we did try to walk as fast as possible. Whenever a member of the group started to fall back, everyone gave them the encouragement to keep moving forward. When we reached the pass the landscape was simply breathtaking…
Andy Giggons and Dave Stepheson finished in 336th and 337th place respectively. Congrats guys!

 
 
 

Final TDS standings

UTMB © PETZL / Lafouche

Men’s standings:
Arnaud JULIA BONMATI (Buff): 15:09:59
Antoine GUILLON (Lafuma): 15:21:26
Mattia RONCORON: 15:31:20

Women’s standings:
Nathalie MAUCLAIR (Lafuma): 17:36:41
Claire PRICE (Salomon): 18:09:23
Lisa BORZANI (Lafuma): 19:07:10

 

Salon Ultra Trail®

UTMB © PETZL / Lafouche

The Salon Ultra Trail® exhibitor fair will be open to the general public through Friday, August 30. This is a great opportunity for those present to meet gear manufacturers and trail running specialists.
Come and meet our team at the Petzl booth to learn more about our headlamps for trail running and for advice on use, especially for programming your NAO headlamp.

 

 

 

A selection of photos

UTMB 2013 © PETZL / LafoucheUTMB 2013 © PETZL / LafoucheUTMB 2013 © PETZL / Lafouche

 

UTMB 2013 © PETZL / Lafouche

UTMB 2013 © PETZL / Lafouche

 

Full slide show on the race !