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Francesca Canepa of Italy wins UTMB

Post-race she said, "winning was entirely out of my mind before the race."

Francesca Canepa of Italy won one of the world’s most prestigious trail races in 26:03:48. Post-race she said, “winning was entirely out of my mind before the race.”

Canepa was not predicted to win. Her strategy was to start very conservatively. She spoke to iRunFar about her mental approach for the race. “Everyday I worked on the mental aspect of the race. I wanted to stay focused on my own race, be at ease, and let people go. The race is long.”

It’s easier said than done. Letting runners go, especially the top runners, is very difficult. But over 171 kilometres, a small error in pace early on can turn into a catastrophe by the end. 

Canepa is a former snowboarder who got into sky and trail running at the age of 40. After only six years in the sport, she’s already become one of the best trail runners in the world. She was second in the 2012 UTMB. 

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Second place went to Uxue Fraile Azpeitia of Spain in 26:08:07 and third to Jocelyne Pauly of France in 26:15:11. 

Canadian Anne Bouchard was 29th female overall in a time of 34:01.52. 

UTMB this year saw rain, wind, and freezing temperatures. The forecast shifted quickly from beautiful to quite difficult. A “cold weather kit” became mandatory equipment. The weather caused an extremely high number of DNF’s in the 2018 race. 

It remains unclear why American and predicted top-three finisher Jim Walmsley did not finish. Walmsley does not show results past Champex-Lac. 

In the men’s race, many have commented that this year’s UTMB was similar to Boston, in that many of the predicted top finishers didn’t make it to the finish line. Of the three men who were leading at 50 kilometres, all dropped out. Neither Miller, Jornet nor Walmsley finished the course.