Early Wednesday morning, a runner from the Czech Republic, who has not been publicly identified, died as the result of a fall during TDS, one of a series of races in the French and Italian Alps leading up to this weekend’s Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). This marks the first fatality in the history of the festival.
— Aaron Shimmons (@whoisaaron) August 25, 2021
TDS, which stands for Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, started Tuesday afternoon. The 145-kilometre race starts in Courmayeur, in northern Italy, and ends in Chamonix (the centre of the UTMB festival), and involves 9,100 metres of ascent. In a press release, the UTMB organization said the accident happened during the steep, technical and rocky descent of the Passeur de Pralognan, involving the use of fixed ropes, about 18 kilometres into the race, however this area has been part of the course for many years. A report by iRunFar mentions reports that there had been rain on the course.
A helicopter rescue was initiated, but the runner could not be saved. The accident and rescue caused a backlog of runners on the descent; the race was stopped for runners who had not yet reached the accident location, and those who could were asked to return to the previous checkpoint, at Bourg-Saint-Maurice, where they were transported off the course. Of 1,573 starters, 293 runners had already passed the site of the accident and were allowed to continue racing.
Erik-Sebastian Krogvig of Norway won the men’s division in 18:49:58, and Manon Bohard of France won the women’s race, in 23:11:14.
According to the race’s live tracker, Marc Roumagnac and John Harrison Pockler of Canada are still on the course. David Orr and Benjamin Violot were among those whose races were ended as a result of the accident.