The Ultratrail du Mont Blanc 2015 has the best elite participation of recent years and, maybe, of its whole story. There won’t be Kilian Jornet, distant from this race since 2011; François D’Haene and Iker Karrera, first and second in 2014, or Rob Krar, Western States winner in 2014 and 1025 and last time casualty, but even though the battle for the win and the podium will be really exciting. Waiting for last minute drop offs, let’s see the main favorites for the race that will start next friday 28th at 6 PM:
Main favorites to Ultratrail du Mont Blanc:
Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP/Adidas) – The Adidas runner is maybe the best of the world along with Kilian Jornet. This year he has already proved his strength winning races like Transvulcania or Ice Trail Tarentaise, and since then he seems to have focused his training in UTMB. True enough, he’s not an usual 100 mile runner, but Luis has already run the UTMB, where he did a great performance last year and was fourth before some stomach problems forced him to retire. Without a doubt, the current European champion is one of the main contenders to the final win at Chamonix.
Tòfol Castanyer (ESP-MALL/Salomon Etixx) – The Salomon Etixx runner is similar to Hernando: he’s not used to run races over 100K, but he already knows the UTMB. Not only knows it, but the race knows him after in last year’s debut he grabbed an heroic and epic second position with his teammate Iker Karrera. Playing against Tòfol is his lack of experience in 100 mile races; playing for him, that he’s very fast, he has already started at UTMB and that he has focused all the season training for this race. Aged 43, he’s really methodical and wise planning his seasons. For his character, experience and quality, he’s a runner to really have in consideration to be again on the top-3.
Sage Canaday (USA/Hoka One Team) – A very fast runner, one of the fastest trailrunners in the world, and dangerous in ‘medium’ distances of 80-100K. His UTMB’s performance is a big mystery, but he has already spent a couple of weeks preparing the race there. Moreover, you always have to be aware of such a fast and mentally strong athlete. This year, for example, he has already won Speedgoat 50 bordering the course record and has completed Boston Marathon in… 2h19′!!! A fast guy, eh? Sage Canaday can really be the big surprise of this UTMB 2015.
Xavier Thevenard (FRA/Asics) – Xavier Thevenard is the ‘UTMB king’ and the pampered child of french fans. Not in vain he’s the only one that has won CCC, TDS (last year) and the main race, in 2013. He’s a runner that knows in deep the zone, the profile, the times to be split and that has been mainly preparing himself for this event. If he arrives in good shape, he’s a clear contender to top-3 and a serious one for the final win.
Gediminas Grinius (LIT/Inov-8) – Last year he sent a serious warning finishing 5th at UTMB and showing a strength that should be really taken in consideration. This 2015 Gediminas Grinius has showed again his progression winning a hard fought Transgrancanaria. Now, the Lithuanian from Team Inov-8 faces Ultratrail du Mont Blanc as ever, not amongst the favorites for many people, but he’s a mentally solid runner, reliable and methodic that can be a big upset if he has a good day. Consider him to be in top-5.
Ryan Sandes (SAF/Salomon Running) – 2015 isn’t being one of the best years for the South African runner: he started it with a glandular infection, he had to retire from Transvulcania with stomach problems and a food poisoning left him out of Western States. Even though, Ryan Sandes is one of the fastest trailrunners in the world, he’s very reliable in long distances and also very wise deciding the in-race strategy. Morevoer, he’s very excited for his first UTMB, that has been preparing for a couple of weeks in France. Last year he showed his quality winning Transgrancanaria and making really good results, so next friday he can be one of the big entertainers of the show.
Miguel Heras (ESP/Salomon Etixx) – Another spanish ‘big-gun’ along with Tòfol and Luis Alberto. Miguel has been overshadowed by injuries, which didn’t let him rum last year’s UTMB o or this year’s Transvulcania, but since May his progression has been encouraging. Wins at Gran Trail de Peñalara (Spain Ultratrail Championships) and at Desafío Somiedo, just one month ago, give cause to optimism with one of the best runners of the history and a big-name in the french race. His first start was in 2009 and in 2013 he finished second behind Thevenard. If he doesn’t suffer physical problems he can be a serious contender to top-3.
Sebastien Chaigneau (FRA/The North Face) – Another great french runner, really loved by his temper in Chamonix and respected by all the trailrunning family. After a whole and sad year injured, he came back into competition this june at 80K Marathon du Mont Blanc fighting until the end to be in top-10, but he was far from top. Let’s see how has evolved in just two months time a trailrunner who is a legend in the race. Not in vain in 2009 he finished second behind mighty Kilian Jornet and in 2011 he was third.
Julien Chorier (FRA/Hoka One Team) – You always have to be aware of Julien Chorier if he’s starting in a 100 miler. He’s french, runs at home, knows the race, is used to the distance and this year can have an allied in his Hoka teammate Sage Canaday. In 2015 he has grabbed an 8th position at The North Face 100 Australia and a 6th at Western States. He’s quick (did Paris Marathon in 2h35′) and improves in long distance. He made his debut at the UTMB in 2009 with a brilliant third place. Since then his best result has been a 4th in 2010, when the race was suspended and started again during the night. He was also 6th in 2013.
Franco Collé (ITA/Team Tecnica) – One of the toughest and more experienced runners in the world, Franco Collé should be always taken into consideration. His sportive success is massive and he has come through the toughest races in the planet: last year he won Tor des Géants and was second at Matterhorn Xtrail or Eiger Ultratrail. This year he arrives to UTMB in good shape after winning Licony Trail and being second at Mont Blanc Marathon 80K. He knows well the profile and the zone, so don’t forget him in your bets for the final winners.
Other names to follow:
The big ‘spanish army’ will be completed by Yeray Duran, Remi Queral and Dani Garcia. Duran has spent three weeks training in the race ground and is widely expectant and motivated for his debut there; Queral is an experienced runner in long distance while Dani García is making a wonderful season, as shows his unexpected second place at Transvulcania. Coming from prolific Catalonia we have David Coma, who this summer has won Pierra Mente Été and Ultratrail Catllaràs; Gerard Morales, from Buff Pro Team, and Jordi Gamito, who was 5th in last year’s TDS. Also contenders for top-10 are Sondre Amdahl, who last year was 7th at UTMB and this year 4th at Transgracanaria; the tough portuguese Carlos Sa, a legend who has won Badwater Ultramarathon; Yoshikazu Hara, a japanese runner who this year was third at Tarawera, and Fabien Antolinos, a fast french runner who has been second at this years IAU World Championships. We shouldn’t forget the north-americans John Tidd, who has finished in top-20 last three years, Jorge Maravilla or the really fast David Laney, who can be this year’s big-surprise.
You can see women preview (in spanish) here. English translation coming soon