An action-packed weekend for the UTMB World Series in Europe
July 12, 2022
/ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – The first of two UTMB World Series Majors this year, Val d’Aran by UTMB, saw more than 3,700 runners from over 70 countries take on some of the most spectacular trails in Europe, with its flagship race – the VDA-161km – witnessing a double victory for French athletes in both the male and female categories.
In fine conditions in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, the VDA race proved the toughest of challenges with 437 runners taking on 10,200 meters of climbing, starting and finishing from the pretty Pyrenean ski resort of Vielha.
In the men’s category the elite French runner Germain Grangier was in fine form as he tackled his first ever 100-miler, becoming the only athlete to break 24 hours for the VDA-161km course with a time of 23 hours, 24 minutes and 54 seconds.
“I am quite surprised how difficult the race is,” said a delighted Grangier at the finish. “There’s never a respite. I love running at night so that was good and I saw quite a few wild animals. It was very pretty – I love the Pyrenees, so the fact that this race is here for me was very attractive.”
In second place, just over an hour behind Grangier, was the Spanish runner Gaspar Bartra who fought hard to keep his fellow countryman Alexandre Urbina Rubio behind him in the closing stages.
“This was my first 100-mile race and I didn’t expect to do this well,” said Bartra who, like each of the top-10 finishers in the three longest race distances at Val d’Aran – the 100M, 100K and 50K – won his place at the UTMB World Series Finals.
“The weather was quite warm, but the advantage is that running at night was pleasant and the caffeine I drank certainly helped to keep me going. I’d like to thank the volunteers who have done a tremendous job and I’d like to dedicate this victory to my wife and my eight-month-old son,” added Bartra.
The female category of this race, that awarded eight Running Stones for all those who completed it, saw a superb performance by winner Amandine Ginouvès of France. She finished 21st overall and more than eight hours ahead of her nearest female rival, the Peruvian athlete Martha Ccorahua.
The runner from La Gaude in southeastern France was taking on her second 100-miler and had been attracted to Val d’Aran by UTMB by the beauty of its setting. “An absolutely beautiful course,” said Ginouvès after the finish. “I had chosen this ultra for the Pyrenees and the landscapes and I was not disappointed. It was an incredible finish with the crowd on fire – it was magic and my months of training paid off.” Behind her and Ccorahua, Lurdes Palao Belda of Spain was third.
In the second longest challenge – the CDH-105Km – 865 athletes took the start with the Spanish runner Andreu Simón winning the men’s race and Katie Schide from the USA winning the women’s category.
“I am super-happy about this win, but exhausted, so I need some time to process this victory,” Simón said. “Now I’m enjoying the moment of having won my first UTMB World Series Major. Val d’Aran by UTMB is a spectacular race and UTMB World Series is the greatest ultra-trail circuit in the world.”
In the PDA 55km race, China’s Yanqiao Yun who is spending the summer in Europe before the UTMB Mont-Blanc in August, won the men’s category. He said, “This race is very technical and the first time I ran in the Pyrenees, so I didn’t dare to run it very fast. I only sped up in the last section of the race and I really enjoyed this. I am from Beijing and the trail running is very different to home and from the Alps but it’s very beautiful. Participating in Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB first earlier this year when I didn’t perform that well and now here in Val d’Aran and being able to win means a lot to me and it gives me the confidence to do well at UTMB Mont-Blanc.”
Romania’s Ionel Cristian Manole was second, while Sergio Gustavo Pereyra (Argentina) – who also finished second in the SKY 15km – was third. Spain’s Maite Majora won the women’s PDA race, with Emily Schmitz (USA) second, and Aurélie Paul (FRA) third.
View all the results from Val d’Aran by UTMB here.
Trail Verbier Saint Bernard by UTMB
Meanwhile, in the prestigious Swiss ski resort of Verbier, more than 2,400 runners took on four race distances in perfect conditions at the Trail Verbier Saint Bernard by UTMB. The athletes starting the X-Alpine 100-miler did so under headlamps and an idyllic starry night as they tackled an authentic, mountainous and steep UTMB World Series course.
The winners in that category were Antoine Bouchet of France in the men’s division and the Swiss athlete Emily Vaudan in the female race. She described her victory on her home course as “an incredible day – 24 hours doing what we love.”
In the X-Traversée 76km, Manon Bohard of France was in impressive form, winning the female category and finishing fourth overall after a challenge featuring 5,300 meters of ascent. She finished over an hour ahead of the Swiss runner Melanie Delasoie.
“I love this course,” said a delighted Bohard after an effort of 10 hours and 17 minutes. “It was a very beautiful day, but I really struggled with the heat. The climbs were difficult. I recovered on the descents and the flats. I wasn’t on my top form, but my muscles are really fine. I met lots of great people. I am very happy.”
View all the results from Trail Verbier Saint Bernard by UTMB here.
Restonica Trail by UTMB
On a busy European weekend for the UTMB World Series, there was also an excellent turnout at the Restonica Trail by UTMB on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. More than 1,500 athletes took on four distances from 110km to 17km on courses that celebrated the culture, history and daily life of a unique island.
On the longest test, the Ultra Trail di Corsica, which includes the super-tough climb at Bocca Crucetta, the Frenchman Beñat Marmissolle, with a time of 15 hours and 48 minutes, finished nearly two hours ahead of his second-placed fellow countryman Noel Giordano with Switzerland’s Diego Pazos in third.
Reflecting on his race and his competitors, Pazos said, “Gorgeous, incredible views, and unforgiving terrain. Beñat (Marmissolle) who was on another planet today, he was really monstrous. Noel Giordano was daring today, he took risks, he started strong, and it paid at the end. He is a very good international runner to represent Corsica in the future.”
In the 66.8km Restonica Trail, Gautier Airiau of France took the honours in the men’s race, nine minutes ahead of second-placed Yohan Viani, also of France. In the female division, the convincing winner was Frenchwoman Julie Marini, with Ildiko Wermescher of Hungary second.
View all the results from Restonica Trail by UTMB here.
Next stop, Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB
Next up in the 2022 UTMB World Series is one of the most demanding but spectacular events on the calendar, the Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB based at Grindelwald in Switzerland on 13-17 of July which has been a major feature of European trail running since its launch in 2013.
With six courses including a new 250km team challenge – the E250 UNESCO Jungfrau-Aletsch Trail with 20,000 meters of ascent which has been introduced for this 10th anniversary year – these races are set against the imposing and majestic north face of the Eiger in spectacular mountainous scenery featuring rustic valleys and the largest connected glaciated area in the Alps.
For individual competitors and runners competing as couples, the E101 Ultra Trail, features stunning panoramic views but also some tough climbing with 6,700 meters of ascent. Among those toeing the startline will be the celebrated Swiss female athlete Kathrin Goetz who won this event in both 2018 and 2019 and for whom this is very much a home race.
“I always look forward to going to Grindelwald for the Eiger Ultra Trail,” she said this week. “It’s a race that’s very close to where I live; I know the course well now and the atmosphere there is always great.”
The winner of the La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB in 2019, Goetz would love to complete a hatrick of wins at Grindelwald, but her build-up has been far from easy. After finishing third at the Madeira Island Ultra Trail at the end of April, she came down with Covid-19 which derailed her training for nearly two months.
“I could not train in the usual way,” she explained. “Then a fortnight ago, I suffered a muscle injury in my calf, which prevented me from running again. Now I hope that I can still benefit a little from my base (training) from the spring and the bike workouts. I am looking forward to the race.”
Also competing in the women’s E101 Ultra Trail race is China’s Xiang Fuzhao, and the UK’s Emma Pooley. In the men’s race, an exceptionally strong turn-out of Chinese runners including Shen Jiasheng, Yun Yanqiao, Canhua Luo and Zhao Jiaju and likely to be vying for podium places.
The Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB also features races over 52km, 36km and 16km, and a fun “Trail Surprise” with a route only revealed three days before the start, offering something for all ages and levels of experience.
© Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB – Download here
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