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Trail running: Floods around Mont Blanc…

September 2, 2012

Photo credits: The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc

Press release The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc
Chamonix, 1st September 2012

In appalling weather conditions nearly 6000 competitors from 72 nations took the start line this weekend in one of the three North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® races. Organizers, volunteers, runners and supporters will have been constantly juggling with the hazardous weather – snow, rain, wind and fog – to offer their fullest support and assistance to the world-renowned rendezvous for trail running. 

UTMB® – François d’Haene reaps the rewards
The young 28 year old winemaker from Villefranche-sur-Saône, won the 10th edition of the UTMB® early Saturday morning after a long night of 10h32:36.  Following Vincent Delebarre in 2004, François d’Haene is only the 2nd French runner to take the title of this mighty challenge. Due to deteriorating weather conditions above an altitude of 2000m (winds, snowfall, cold, fog), the organisation committee decided on Friday to establish a new race route for the UTMB®, only on French terrain, approximately 100km in length. “In the end, even if the course did not follow the genuine UTMB® route (168km) I thought that most of the suitors would nevertheless be there and that the battle could take place” would say 28 year old François, from Lille. Sébastien Chaigneau (FR), Miguel Heras (ES), Manu Gault (FR), Jean-Yves Rey (CH), Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (JP) or Carlos Sa (POR) would honour the race with their presences.

Winner Francois D’Haene

“I didn’t really have a strategy for the race. It was really the one who could best adapt themselves to the conditions and the new race route. As soon as someone attacked I responded. I started to believe in it in Les Houches. This victory makes me feel really great” continued the young winemaker from the Beaujolais, owner of 4.5 hectares of vineyards for the last year after being a physiotherapist as a profession. Being fast will have played a massive part on this year’s race route due to the reduction in the usual high mountain route. This is probably the reason why find unexpected athletes on the 2nd and 3rd positions on the podium.

The Swedish Jonas Buud will finish 2nd just half an hour behind the winner, taking advantage of the many abandons. Jonas has an impressive road racing palmares: Three times 2nd in the world for the 100km road race, 4th in the Comrades Marathon in 2011, and his marathon record time is 2h22… The first time taking part in a 100km mountain trail race (even if he has also won the Alpine Swiss Marathon de Davos 6 times), Budd will have suffered to keep his place. “At the end of the race I was exhausted and not very lucid”. He nevertheless will have resisted right to the end the tornado from the other side of the Atlantic, Mike Foote (USA) who will finish the race at full throttle.

Lizzy Hawker won the TNFUTMB for the 5th time.

Among the women, the English Lizzy Walker, emblematic figure of The North Face® Team has made her way even deeper into history winning for the 5th time after 12h32 of effort and 16th over all and merely 1h59 after the 1st man and in front of many male favorites such as Ludovic Pommeret (FR) or Matthias Disppacher (DE). A race won through mental strength after suffering from several recurrent physical injuries at the start of the season. Trail running specialists will confer that this is an exceptional performance, and believe her to be far out of reach on this legendary race. 44 minutes later Francesca Canepa, one of the best Italian specialists in ultra racing, crosses the line.

After winning Swiss Alpine Marathon 6 times in a row Jonas Buud is no stranger for trail runners in Sweden. Hopefully he will continue racing big ultra trail races, and promote this fantastic sport.

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