Kilian Jornet of Spain ran into Chamonix in 19 hours, 49 minutes, 30 seconds on Saturday, breaking Pau Capell’s UTMB course record of 20:19 from 2019; Mathieu Blanchard, a recent Canadian citizen who was raised in France and now lives in Montreal, was only five minutes behind him, for a triumphant second-place finish in 19:54:50.
Tom Evans of the U.K. finished third in 20:34:33, having overtaken the American, Jim Walmsley, in the latter stages of the race, despite falling and breaking a finger earlier in the day.
Blanchard started the race conservatively in 10th position, gaining time on the lead by being efficient at aid stations and on the descents. Walmsley and Jornet worked together until 115K, then Walmsley fell back due to stomach pain. Blanchard slipped ahead and caught Jornet at the 150K before the Vallorcine aid station. Blanchard let Jornet go ahead on the final climb of La Flégère, hoping to catch him on the final descent into Chamonix, but he left it too late.
This was Jornet’s fourth win at UTMB; he won back in 2008 and again in 2009 and 2011. In 2017 he finished second to François d’Haene. Jornet’s win is remarkable considering he’s still fresh off breaking the course records at Spain’s 42 km Zegama-Aikorri in June and Hardrock 100 in July; he was also fifth at the 31 km Sierre-Zinal race in Switzerland earlier this month.
Blanchard, who only emerged onto the professional trail running scene in 2017, has made steady improvements at UTMB, finishing 10th in UTMB-CCC in 2019 and reaching the podium as an outsider in 2021.
It was a great day for Canadians overall; in the women’s race, Marianne Hogan hung on tenaciously to finish second behind American Katie Schide, who won in dominant fashion in 23 hours, 15 minutes, 12 seconds. Hogan’s time was 24:31:22, and came only two months after her third-place finish at Western States Endurance Run. Kaytlyn Gerbin of the U.S. was third in 25:44:07.