This past weekend the North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc took place in the Alps. Over the past decade, the race has earned itself a reputation for being one of the toughest competitions on the planet as runners attempt to circumnavigate around Mont Blanc, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland in the process. The route, which features more than 9600 m (31,496 ft) of climbing, is typically 168km (104 miles) in length, but this year, bad weather caused last minute changes which dropped those distances dramatically. That didn’t necessarily make it a much easier race to run however.
On Friday, when the race was scheduled to get underway, UTMB organizers announced that due to wet conditions and cold temperatures they had elected to alter the course. The new route would stay completely within France and was cut down to just 103km (64 miles) and 5790 meters (19,000 ft) of climbing. That didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of many of the runners however as thousands of them hit the trail to test their skills. A little more than ten and a half hours later, the first competitor was crossing the finish line.
French runner Francois D’Haene claimed first place in the men’s division finishing more than a half-hour in front of second place runner Jonas Buud. American Michael Foote claimed third, finishing at 11 hours, 19 minutes even. On the women’s side of the bracket, Brit ultra-legend Lizzy Hawker took first place once again, earning her a record fifth UTMB title. She was an hour and five minutes ahead of second place finisher Francesca Canepa, with third place going to Emma Roca with a time of 13 hours, 23 minutes, 37 seconds. Hawker also managed to finish 16th overall, marking the first time ever that a woman finished in the top 20.
Congratulations to the winners and all the runners of the race. It’s a shame the weather reared its guly head once again, but the event still went off well and the top finishers remain tremendous athletes.
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