Afetr a two year’s monologue by Rory Bosio, her absence makes this Ultratrail du Mont Blanc 2015 (UTMB) more open than ever. All the lights are into Núria Picas, whom after two straight second positions seems to have a clear path to the final win, but the Buff Pro Team runner is not going to live an easy race. She will have to face some of the toughest runners of he world to reach her great dream: win the most famous race in the planet starting on friday 28th at 6 PM.
Main favorites for Ultratrail du Mont Blanc:
Núria Picas (ESP-CAT/Buff Pro Team) – The catalan runner is, without a doubt, the main contender to 2015’s victory. She has already run two UTMBs, where she finished second, and is one of the toughest runners of the world, reliable in short and long distances. Moreover, after winning Transgrancanaria in march and travelling to Nepal in may, this year she has focused her preparation just on UTMB, running shorter races and having less waste than in 2014. She knows she is facing the great opportunity of her whole life and if she’s able to hold the pressure, she can be the first to cross the finish line. However, after two straight second places, not winning would be a bitter disappiontment.
Caroline Chaverot (FRA/Team Hoka One) – The french-swiss runner from Hoka Team is one to be really aware of. Member of the Canoe Switzerland Team, she jumped into trail on 2010, but now, at 38, she seems to be in the sweetest moment of her career. In march she was second at Transgrancaria 24 minutes behind Núria Picas and from then she has been in an ascending line: in june Caroline won The North Face Lavaredo and in july she grabbed Eiger Ultratrail, where she finished sixth overall.
Nathalie Mauclair (FRA/Team Lafuma) – Nathalie Mauclair is one of toughest runners of the world and, without a doubt, one of Núria Picas’ main rivals in this UTMB. She has it all: experience, knows the race and comes in good shape. This 45 years old runner list of achievements is impressive. Just take in mind that she has won Grand Raid de Reunion in 2013 and 2014 or that last year she was also third at Ultratrail del Mont Blanc and Western States. This 2015 she has interesting results as well, like the second place at The North Face Lavaredo or her sensational win at IAU World Championships in May. In the past she has starred epic battles with Núria Picas and this year’s competition at UTMB is going to bring us, for sure, thrilling emotions.
Francesca Canepa (ITA) – Another veteran runner who surprised in 2012 finishing second at UTMB. She comes back to Chamonix wishing to forget recent controversies. Her name was deeply stained last year after being disqualified from Tor des Géants for alleged cheating, even thought the official reason was not passing through a checkpoint. Whatever, Francesca Canepa is a strong runner, reliable in long distance, who won last year Eiger Ultratrail or Vibram Hong Kong. She also grabbed some podiums on top-flight races, like Transgrancanaria, before september’s fatal event at Courmayeur. This year her results have been more modest, but she’s still one to keep in mind.
Stephanie Howe (USA/The North Face) – Stephanie Howe is alike Rob Krar ot Sage Canaday: american runners that you have to take in consideration because they are really fast and if they have a good race, they can destroy it, but with short experience at UTMB. So their performance in an alpine profile is a mystery. However, be careful with this smiling girl who last year amazed the world winning Western States. From then she has kept grabbing podiums in the most important races from USA. This year, she has won Lake Sonoma 80 km and she been third at Western. Do you want an evidence of her speed? She ran Way to Cool (50 km y 1475m+) in… 3h47′!
Fernanda Maciel (BRA/The North Face) – Another great runner to be taken in consideration. This brasilian stablished in Catalonia comes back to UTMB, where last year finished 4th. There are few athletes in the world able to press Núria Picas and last year she did it at Mount Fuji, where Fernanda was second. After a bright 2015, she has paid a very expensive price for his record attempt of climbing up and down Aconcagua: she had to be evacuated with a severe sore throat of which has taken too long to recover. Step by step, however, she seems to have reached her usual level and in june she achieved a lovely third place at The North Face Lavaredo. Recently se has won Ultratrail Catllaràs in Catalunya. Her training for UTMB has been really intensive and, as she arrives with little waste, can be a serious candidate to the podium.
Darcy Piceu (USA/Hoka One Team) – Be really aware of this runner which is not very well known in Europe, but who has won almost everything at the USA. She’s a long distance specialist and goes well in technical terrains, as proves her three straight Hardrock wins between 2012 and 2014. She’s 40 and has gained a massive experience since she won Wasacht 100 in 2005. At 2015 she’s still in good shape and being able to finish second at Hardrock 100 behind Anna Frost. Even though she hasn’t run lately in Europe, she knows already UTMB: in 2011 she was third behind Lizzy Hawker and Nerea Martínez. Can be a big contender for the final win.
Uxue Fraile (ESP/Team Vibram) – Uxue Fraile has been impressive since she jumped from track to trail. The brave basque runner was able to finish second at Cavalls del Vent in 2013 or third at Transvulcania, fighting with world elite, and win Desafío Somiedo. In 2014 she tried the 100 mile races in an awesome way, proving that she wasn’t only fast, but also tough.The crown jewel was a third place Diagonale des Fous, but she was also 5th at Ultratrail del Mont Blanc, so she knows what she’s going to face next friday. Uxue is sometimes not taken in consideration, but she’s a runner that for guts, class, experience and heart is able to do big things.
Other names to watch:
Elite runners list and main top-10 contenders to Ultratrail du Mont Blanc is completed by Nicole Studer (USA), Denise Zimmermann (SUI), Gill Fowler (AUS), Denise Bourassa (USA), Silvia Trigueros (ESP) and Lisa Borzani (ITA). The italian was eleventh at Annecy World Championships, while Silvia is a long distance specialist runner. Last year she won some hard races like Hiru Haundiak, Penyagolosa or Ehunmilak and this year she has been 10th at Transgrancanaria. Also Ester Alves, a former cycling champion in Portugal, is a clear contender for top-10.