Jornet and Moehl, 2009 TNF UTMB Winners
The most popular mountain ultramarathon was held one more year in the Alps. The 7th edition of the The North Face Ultra-Trail Mont-Blanc took place this weekend in what is now a huge event: 3 countries (France, Italy, Switzerland), 1600 volunteers, a total of 5600 participants, huge media coverage and an estimate budget of €1.3 million ($1.85).
After last year’s amazing victory of the young Kilian Jornet (21) over two time winner Marco Olmo (61), the Spaniard was again the favourite to complete the 166Km faster than everyone. He proved to be in great shape after winning several World Skyrunning titles and breaking the GR20 record in Corsica, but many were the contenders: Olmo had dropped out of Western States, but did a great other international events. Scott Jurek would face the Alps again, after a DNF Western States. 2nd placed in 2008, Dawa Sherpa, was among Kilian’s favourites. As was Vincent Delabarre (2004 winner) and Samuel Bonaudo. Japanese Tsuyoshi Kaburaki was another candidate for the top 3 places and many other like Sébastien Chaigneau, Mohamed Ahansal (yes, the Marathon des Sables Ahansal) or Julien Chorier. On the women’s side, the bets were for British Elizabeth Hawker (‘05 and ‘08 winner), Kristin Moehl (who came in after a great season) or Monica Aguilera (fully recovered from a knee injury).
The race kicked off on Friday at 6:30PM, with the 2300 runners toeing the start line and 46hours to complete the 166Km. Runners came together in small groups of 6 into the first checkpoint but around 15Km (9miles) after that, Jornet and Italian Silvano Fedel (winner of the 2008 Gore Tex Transalpine Race) took the lead. 15 min behind them were Jurek, Delabarre and Csaba. First shocking news: Olmo and Sherpa pulled out and would go not further than the Contamine checkpoint (Km 30/mile 18). “I had no strenght left, not on in my arms, not in my legs. I was running on empty and it made no sense to keep going under these conditions“, said the Nepalese with a prognosis of early stages of anemia.
Jornet increased this advantage short after La Croix du Bonhomme, cruising 17min from Jurek, who had passed Fedel at a great pace. A bunch of runners grouped behind them (Csaba, Heras, Chaigneau, Chorier, Delebarre) less than 30 min away. Moehl was chasing Hawker and cutting the distance between them down to less than 15min. The climb to the Col de la Seigne (60Km/mile 36) took its toll in Jurek, Fedel and a few others. But not in Jornet or Kaburaki, who flew up to the 4th place.
With the dark hours came in the difficulties. Orientering in a mountain environment is not an easy task. Not even in an organized event. The rain and fog made it very complicated for all runners, even those leading the race. Early in the race Scott Jurek took a wrong turn and had to rally back form 8th to 3rd place. Monica Aguilera lost 40 minutes at the Bonhomme pass before finding her way back through a thick mist. Same thing for Lizzy Hawker, who left the trail several times and got back on course behind Krissy Moehl. Kaburaki waisted 20 minutes in the mist around Courmayeur. And the list would go on and on as few runners escaped becaming disorientated.
When the day broke in, Jornet was still leading the race, with Julien Chorier and Sebastien Chaingeau following, at 30 and 45 minutes respectively. Jurek was 4th, Delebarre had dropped out (Lac Combal) and the womens competition was a fierce one, with Moehl passing Hawker at Bonati, 21st and 23rd overall.
140Km/88miles into the race, Jornet pulled another gear. With about 1 hour lead (though 30min slower than last year’s record time), the race was now for second. Chaigneau, Kaburaki and German Uli Calmbach were strong within 15 min of each other. French Lionel Trivel and Japanese Minehero Yokoyama passed Jurek who was now 8th.
Finally, at 4:03PM Jornet crossed the finish line at Chamonix. 21h33′18” (30 min slower than last year’s time) was his time, proving he is again the strongest mountain runner. An hour later Chaigneau and Kaburaki would finish 2nd and 3rd, 1h03′ and 1h15′ respectively to complete the podium.
It might seem an easy victory, but far from it. After all “I had to fight from the start to the end. That wasn’t a relaxed footing in the nature“, said the Catalonian, “ we started fast pushed by Sherpa, Delebarre and a small group of 5, notably Jurek, Chorier, etc. I was forced to push it hard. And the frosty weather at the Grand Col Ferret greatly complicated the race. We had to be very attentive to hydration and the food under so difficult conditions.”
Moehl would end her 6th participation in the UTMB with a great victory over Hawker. 24h56′01” and 11th overall. “One of the best races in my life“, said the runner from Seattle, WA, at the finish line. “In 6 years the UTMB has evolved. It’s a huge race completely different from the first edition. Having Lizzy right behind helped me to keep focused on the trail and my sensations.”
The top ten was completed by Germans Calmbach (4) and Hohenadler (10), Japanese Yokoyama (6) and Yamamoto (8), French Trivel (5) and Giraud-Sauveur (9) and Hungarian Csaba (7). Jurek was finally 19th, Joe Grant 2oth and Topher Gaylord 24th. Monica Aguilera was the 3rd woman, and Zimmerman, Rousset, Ehanno, Carvalho, Olasagasti, Mase and Gruffaz completed the top ten of the best females in this year’s UTMB.
Check out lots of photos of the event at trailrunningSoul’s Facebook page.
|2009 UTMB Results|
|UTMB 2009 Men|
|CHAIGNEAU Sebastien||22.36.45||The North Face||FRA|
|KABURAKI Tsuyoshi||22.48.36||The North Face||JAP|
|UTMB 2009 Women|
|HAWKER Elisabeth||26.04.42||The North Face||UK|
|AGUILERA VILADOMIU Monica||29.17.31||ESP|
|CCC 2009 Men|
|CCC 2009 Women|
|TDS 2009 Men|
|SAINT GIRONS Thomas||14.04.40||Asics||FRA|
|TDS 2009 Women|
|MACIEL Fernanda||17.17.43||The North Face||BRE|
|GAYLORD Kim||18.11.45||The North Face||USA|
|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|
Articles on the 2009 UTMB
- The best compilation of videos of this year’s UTMB at chamonix-meteo.com
- When running becomes big business…: an economic look at the UTMB
- Jornet, among the legends of the UTMB: race report in spanish
- UTMB Full Coverage: media coverage at Chamonet.com
- Completed the 2009 edition of the UTMB: race report in Italian
- Lizzy Hawker prepares to scale the heights again in Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc: interiew with Elizabeth Hawker