Nearly three thousand UTMB hopefuls in trail running shoes (plus a few barefoot shoes and one pair of sandals) packed into the center of Chamonix yesterday under a cloudless sky to begin a 106.2-mile gallop around the Mont Blanc Massif and we’re here with Merrell watching all the action.
Early on, things took a surprise turn when a relatively unknown French runner named Duncan Perrillat took the lead on the run out of Chamonix, but by the time they started the climb up to Saint-Gervais, he’d been caught by the group and he has since withdrawn from the race, one of 281 runners to do so thus far.
Speaking of withdrawals, one of the big stories out of the race this morning is that UK runner Tom Evans has sadly dropped out overnight after 81.5 km, with a post to his Instagram stories suggesting a search had been required to locate him and reporting that he is okay but has been taken to the hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Meanwhile in the women’s race, Hungarian hopeful Eszter Csillag withdrew after just 31.8 km with no news on her condition, though the runner has admitted that running so soon after her Western States 100 podium place was a gamble.
Turning our attention to those who are still on their feet, at the time of writing, we are 14 hours into the race and the sun has been up for two hours after the competitors raced through the night in headlamps.
Here's where thing's stand this morning:
- US runner Zach Miller is holding onto his lead with 50 km to go. This is his seventh UTMB attempt.
- Jim Walmsley, also from the US and another favorite to win, is neck-in-neck with Germain Graingier from France and currently the pair are about 10 minutes behind Miller.
- Mathieu Blanchard was leading the pack when they passed us on the first climb last night, but he’s since dropped back to fifth place, about 13 km behind the lead runner.
- Courtney Dauwaulter is dominating the women’s race with an hour lead. The US runner is a strong favorite to win.
- About 10 km behind Dauwalter and neck-in-neck are China’s Fuzhao Xiang, France’s Blandine Hirondel and Germany’s Katharina Hartmuth.
This is the UTMB, so literally anything could happen between now and the finish, and we’re here for it all. We’ll be heading to Vallorcine in a couple of hours to cheer on the runners, and at the finish line this afternoon where the first runners are expected to return to Chamonix any time after 2 p.m. local time.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.