For the first time in Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc’s (UTMB) 19-year history, not one but two Canadian runners found their way onto the podium. Montreal’s Marianne Hogan and Mathieu Blanchard led the way for the Canadian contingent, both taking home second-place finishes at the 170-kilometre trail race with 10,000m of vert around the base of Mont Blanc.
But there were many other performances worth noting, including five Canadian women placing inside the top 50. Here are the top Canadian finishers from UTMB.
Marianne Hogan (Montreal, 2nd female)
Montreal’s Hogan became the first Canadian woman to podium at UTMB and only the third woman who has ever reached the podium at both Western States and UTMB in the same year. (The last woman to do this was U.S. ultrarunner Krissy Moehl, who was second at Western States and won UTMB in 2009; Nikki Kimball won both races in 2007. In 2012, Canada’s Ellie Greenwood won Western States and CCC.)
Hogan trailed American Katie Schide for the first third of the race but managed to catch up to her at an aid station during the night. Hogan then took the lead, but suffered an injury (which turned out to be a tear in her psoas muscle), which allowed Schide to catch up and overtake her.
Mathieu Blanchard (Montreal, 2nd overall)
Blanchard, a recent Canadian citizen who was raised in France and now lives in Montreal, finished only five minutes behind the winner, Kilian Jornet, in 19:54:50. With this second-place finish, Blanchard announced his dominance on the elite trail running scene, after his third-place last year.
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 150K, before the Vallorcine aid station. Blanchard let Jornet go ahead on the final climb of La Flégère, hoping to catch Jornet on the final descent into Chamonix, but he left his move too late.
Claire Heslop (Toronto, 19th female, 4th in 40-44 age category)
The Toronto-based trail runner and doctor placed inside the top 20 for the second year in a row. Although Heslop finished one spot back from where she was in 2021 (18th), she improved her time on the course by nearly two hours (30:38:58).
Read more about Heslop in our 2021 interview with her here.
Georgie Islip (Calgary, 46th female, 2nd in 55-59 age category)
Islip was born in the U.K. and now lives, coaches and trains in Calgary. She finished second in her age category and top-50 among women, in 37:47:06. Islip has raced some of the world’s toughest ultras, like Marathon des Sables, the Sinister 7 100-miler and Canyons 100K.
Audrée Lafrenière (North Vancouver, 47th female, 7th in 35-39 age category)
Lafrenière is a trail runner from Shawinigan, Que., who moved to North Vancouver to work and train in the North Shore Mountains. In 2021, Lafreniere won the Quebec Mega Trail 100-miler, which helped earn her points to qualify for this year’s UTMB.
Nathalie Long (Canmore, Atla., 49th female, 8th in 35-39 age category)
In her first UTMB, Long finished in the top 50 and eighth in her age category in a time of 38:22:03. Long has had a successful season, earning two top 10 finishes at the Broken Goat 50K and McLennan’s 12-hour ultra in B.C. before UTMB.
Larissa Chankseliani (Vaughan, Ont., 133rd female, 2nd in 60-64 age category)
After two top-five finishes at Ontario 100-mile races (Tally in the Valley and Sulphur Springs), Chankseliani, 60, earned herself a spot at UTMB and took second place in the women’s 60-64 age category.