2015 Ultratrail du Mont Blanc men’s preview

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.

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Luis Alberto Hernando, one of the big contenders to the final win // Foto: Albert Jorquera

 

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.

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Tòfol Castanyer, crossing the finish line last year with Iker Karrera // Foto: Albert Jorquera

 

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.

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Sage Canaday, one of the fastest trailrunners in the world // Foto Runners.es

 

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.

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Xavier Thevenard, after winning TDS on 2014 // Foto: Albert Jorquera

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.

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Gediminas Grinius, winning Transgrancanaria 2015  // Foto: Albert Jorquera

 

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.

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Ryan Sandes with Landie Greyling at La Palma // Foto: Albert Jorquera

 

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.

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Heras, finishing second in 2013 // Foto: Miguelheras.com

 

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.

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Seb Chaigneau, this june running Mt. Blanc Marathon // Foto: Albert Jorquera

 

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.

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Julien Chorier, from Team Hoka and Compressport // Foto: Ian Corless (@talkultra)

 

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.

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Franco Collé, exultante tras su 2º puesto en la Mt. Blanc Marathon // Foto: Albert Jorquera

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

Live coverage of the race will be held vía Twitter and Facebook

2015 Ultratrail du Mont Blanc Women’s Preview

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.

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Núria Picas winning Transgrancanaria 2015 // Foto: Albert Jorquera

 

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.

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Caroline Chaverot, at Eiger Ultratrail // Foto: UTWT

 

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.

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Nathalie Mauclair, 2015 World Champion // Foto: Ian Corless (@talkultra)

 

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.

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Francesca Canepa, at Eiger Ultratrail // Foto: Eigerultratrail.com

 

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′!

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Stephanie Howe, a very fast (and smiling) runner // Foto: @irunfar

 

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.

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Fernanda Maciel, al ganar el Ultratrail Catllaràs // Foto: Naciodigital.cat

 

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.

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Darcy Piceu, during 2014’s Hardrock that she won // Foto: @irunfar

 

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.

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Uxue Fraile, crossing the finish line at Transvulcania // Foto: Avernotrail.com

 

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.

You can see UTMB’s mens preview here

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