Kilian Jornet is beaten for the first time at UTMB. Came in second to D´Haene after three previous victories
François d´Haene and Nuria Picas won the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc hundred miles 2017. Kilian Jornet came second to François after a closely fought race with the Frenchman. After his previous first three victories, it was the fourth time Jornet has taken part in the Alpine classic. This time, in a race dominated by the cold and rain he was beaten for the first time but left us a wonderful memory
To start with, let us review his race expectation as explained at his multilingual prerace media conference in french, catalan, spanish and english.
UTMB 2017: FRANÇOIS DHAENE AND KILIAN JORNET DUEL.
Kilian Jornet finished second in the Ultra Trail del Mont Blanc 2017 (UTMB) after a closely fought race with the Frenchman François d’Haene, said after racing for 19h 16m
The UTMB is one of trail running’s talismanic courses, run over 170 kilometres and with an overall ascent of 9,600m. The race starts near Mont Blanc and traverses three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) across spectacular landscape. It’s a race that the world’s top athletes dream of taking part in, although each year only 2,300 get to do so.
Jornet has a long history in the UTMB. In 2008 he was the youngest competitor to take part and surprised everyone by running away with the race almost from the start. He would go on to win in the next two years, confirming his dominance in the trail running elite. Jornet returned this year with the event in its 15th year and, as he said before the start: “This year we wanted to climb Everest in August but we were refused a permit. I wanted to compete in August in a competition with top athletes and the UTMB met my requirements. I like to compete in events with a high standard where you can experience really good battles.”
The race began on Friday, September 1 at 18:30 in the French Alpine village of Chamonix. It’s a race where cold and rain usually play a part and this year was no exception. The course was altered slightly and the start was delayed half an hour given the forecast of bad weather overnight
The runners set off through the streets of Chamonix under a grey sky but it wasn’t raining. The first stretches, which are always fast and lined with spectators, produced a leader group, Killian Jornet among them, relaxed and enjoying the atmosphere.
The first help point was at Contamines, at kilometre 31,2. Here the American Jim Walmsley took off like a rocket to take the lead, hoping to break the American jinx on this event. Jornet was in second place and took his time to eat and dress up warm, aware that he would pass most of the night at altitude. Close behind him was a group of runners, among them François d’Haene, who won the UTMB in 2015, Pau Capell, Xavier Thévenard and Zach Miller among others.
One of the toughest parts of the circuit begins at Contamines, taking the runners across the Italian border at the Col de la Seigne (km 60, 2,516m). Running in the rain, the runners then began to descend to the second help point at Courmayeur (km 77). There the race positions remained the same, with Jim Walmsley in front after a quick food stop. He was followed by the Frenchman D’Haene, who knows the race well and took his time to prepare himself, as did Jornet, who 8h02m into the race knew that it was barely half run and was looking forward to a good fight. See below how Kilian took his time there, together with pau Capell and Zach Miller who where running after him as 4-5 at that moment.
One of the hardest sections began shortly after, moving on from Itay to Switzerland, with the climb up the Grand Col Ferret (km 99, 2,537m) and the descent to Fouly (km 111). The race changed at this point with Jim Walmsley arriving at the feeding station with a long face. He took more than seven minutes to rest, time that D’Haene and Jornet exploited to retake the lead while the sun rose behind the impressive Alps.
At Champex-Lac (km 125) D’Haene had an 8-minute lead over Jornet who tried to hunt the Frenchman down, using a strategy that the triple UTMB winner used having lived in the area for years. However, D’Haene, an exceptional athlete, wasn’t going to make it easy. At Trient (km 142) the Frenchman had a lead of 16 minutes over Jornet who arrived visibly tired at the feeding station. Nevertheless, at Vallorcine (km 153) he had cut the lead down to five minutes and all the excitement of the race was concentrated in the final 19 kilometres.
Victory to D´Haene 2017. Revenge race for 2018? D’Haene knew how to make the most of his advantage and was first to cross the line at Chamonix. Kilian Jornet arrived 15 minutes later, smiling and waving at the fans. He took the microphone to salute D’Haene: “François, you and I have both won three UTMBs so we have to meet again next year to end this draw, OK?” The Frenchman smiled enigmatically. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in at the UTMB in 2018.
Kilian Jornet: “I came to race here because there’s a high standard and I wanted to enjoy real competition with the best runners in the world. And that’s how it turned out. François has run a great race and he deserved to win. I’m happy with second place after a difficult race”.
KILIAN JORNET TAKING ON SIX MOUNTAIN RACES IN 2017
Three victories in first three races: Mt Blanc Marathon, HardRock and Sierre-Zinal
Kilian Jornet has planned relevant activity for this trail running season: After taking some months to combine several mountain activitities at the Himalayas including his dual Everest ascent, he came back to trail running. He first raced in the Alps, then moved on to the Rockies and now at the Swiss region of Valais. He will now move on back to Mount Blanc and then the Pyrenees, while at the same time taking on some personal pet projects, such as the Bob Graham Round.
Declarations Kilian Jornet: “I like polyvalence, and this season paints very well because we will have a little bit of everything. From the great Everest project to trail races, through personal alpinrunning projects. I’m still motivated like the first day, so I really want to see what will happen this season. I want to wear a bib number again. After Everest I want to see again how my body feels in a mountain race. If everything goes well it can be a very nice year at the level of competition with very emblematic races and I feel like running. In addition to the challenge of the Bob Graham Round Club”
MOUNTAIN RUNING: Kilian will take part at either side of the bib on six races, from Chamonix to Colorado. After Everest, whatever the outcome, Jornet will face a summer full of races. As he explained: “I have never lost the motivation to compete, but it is true that in recent years other projects had left me little time. Races are a motivation to train and give the best of us in a day, so I plan to participate in some during this summer. ” These are the next races up & coming for his season´s calendar.
- Marathon Mont Blanc: His first objective, this very weekend is the Marathon du Mont Blanc at Chamonix, and he explained: “It’s a race that I’m not totally sure if I can go, because it will depend on how we get back from Everest, but to which I hope to arrive, because I like the race and the environment “.
- Ultra Trail Mont Blanc: At the end of the summer is when you anticipate the season’s highlights. On the one hand, Kilian Jornet is among the participants of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. In the race for excellence, Jornet hopes to be able to fight a beautiful battle with the best runners in the world, as he explained: “I have not run the UTMB for many years and this year I feel like coming back because there seems to be a lot of level. There are few times that you find a race with such density of elite runners, so it can be a nice show in an ultra fast as is UTMB “.
- Glen Coe: After the great Chamonix rendezvous Jornet will travel to Scotland to participate in the Glen Coe, an extreme race that he explains here: “My partner Emelie ran it two years ago and told me I had to go, for the wild and technical part. We will see what happens and what the mountains of Scotland are for us. “
- Ultra Pirineu: On the other hand, Jornet does not want to miss the Salomon Ultra Pirineu: “It’s home race, where I started to run and where I always get excited to return, the environment there is very special.”
PERSONAL PROJECTS: As the third axis of the season, in addition to his great adventure in Everest and the mountain races, KIlian will complete the calendar with some personal projects, derived from this hobby to look for different angles and combine activities of all kinds. We will see this way from an ultra trail route in the purest British tradition.
- Bob Graham Round (119km / D + 8.700m / Max-24h) Within the personal parallel projects that he will face these months, Jornet would like to be able to join the Bob Graham Round Club. Entering this club is not easy, as you first have to complete a turn through 42 hills in the Lake District region of the UK, covering a total of 119km and 8,700m of positive gradient. To be accepted into the club you have to make the return in less than 24h, and the current record is sustained by Billy Bland with a time of 13h53 ‘.
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Info by Mayayo Oxígeno for Trailrunningspain