A few hours have passed since the end of the UTMB week (UTMB® (utmbmontblanc.com)).
And although this year I tried to live it with detachment for various reasons, in the end I couldn’t: Trail Running is part of my world.
Consequently, I could not really neglect the UTMB.
Strolling along paths in Valle d’Aosta and watching UTMB-Live from time to time, I wrote down some of the highlights of this edition on a piece of paper.
1. UTMB & Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed the role of the UTMB: it remains by far the most followed and experienced media event in the Trail running panorama.
2. France & Trail Running
The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed the dominant role of some nations.
Before the pandemic I had analyzed the last 10 years of trail running and it had emerged that France was the dominant nation (The relevant Nations in the last 10 years | EmigranTrailer). And so it was also this year.
- Victory and first 5 places in the UTMB (plus even the eighth)
- Silver and bronze medal at the TDS, and 5 runners among the top 10
- Victory and 4 in the top 10 at the CCC
- Four trail runners in the top 10 at the OCC
In short, if there was doubt that anything would change post-pandemic, the doubts are largely resolved.
Nothing has changed: France is still the dominant nation in trail running!
3. No surprises
There were no huge surprises, both at the level of nations and individuals.
4. Francois D’Haene
Francois D’Haene is a phenomenon.
If you have never read his sports curriculum carefully, I recommend you do it: ITRA o DUV Ultra Marathon Statistics (d-u-v.org).
His 4 UTMB victories (2012, 2014, 2017, 2021) are simply the result of years at the highest level and the ability and will to continually improve.
He is truly a champion.
5. Jim Walmsley
Jim Walmsley is a runner. Not a trail runner. At least until today.
I know that many don’t think like me, but when I think about trail running, I never get an association with him.
And as long as he continues to arrive in Chamonix with the idea of being a “runner”, he will continue to return home without any significant results.
I don’t know if it is presumption or recklessness, the fact is that, in my opinion, he approaches trail-running in Europe in a completely wrong way. Yet there is a sponsor behind that should guide him to achieve a prestigious result in Europe as well.
He is young and strong, but he has to enter the perspective of a mountain race, where balancing energies (and using the head) matters much more.
Come on Jim!
6. Courtney Dauwalter
Luckily the Americans have Courtney!
She had a crazy performance.
I don’t care if she runs in Bermuda shorts or with a kilt. These are some details that you can dwell on for a few seconds.
It is much more important to observe the progression she made in the race: fantasic, amazing and unique.
And who knows where it would have gone if there had been another 4-5 hours to run.
7. UTMB & LUT
Those who did great performances at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail at the end of June did very well on the UTMB.
- Camille Bruays (France): 1° woman at LUT, 2° woman at UTMB (11° absolute!)
- Mimmi Kotka (Sweden): 3° woman at LUT, 3° woman at UTMB (23° absolute!)
- Hannen Namberger (Germany): 1° at LUT, 6° at UTMB
And I would also add Andreas Reiterer (Italy) who was in the lead at the LUT for three quarter of the race (then he withdrew) and who at the CCC finished with an excellent fourth place overall.
It is not the first time, and it is not a coincidence. As evidence that a 120 km race like the LUT about 8 weeks before, can be an excellent springboard in preparation for the UTMB.
8. The lessons from the TDS
The TDS experienced a tragedy at Passeur de Pralognan with the death of the trail-runner from the Czech Republic.
I join in the condolences for family and friends. My thoughts go to them right now.
I will not even go into the merits of some of the “soccer-style” controversies I have read on social media.
I’m just saying that we run in a mountain environment (the risks are there even beyond a race), and it is neither the first nor, unfortunately, it will not be the last tragedy either.
And that there is always and only to learn from these episodes (both those who organize and those who run), simply to reduce the risk of such episodes happening.
For example, I like to underline how essential it was that all runners stopped at more than 2500m, at night and in the cold, had with them all the necessary material to spend a few hours in such difficult conditions.
It was no coincidence that there have been no other bad news since that night.
It was part of a process made of learning from the past. And we should continue to do so for further improvements.
Andrea De Filippo
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