2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) Men’s Preview

Ultra-Trail du Mont-BlancThis year’s men’s race at The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc promises to be as strong as ever. In addition to the always strong European contingent is the best assemblage of Americans yet to tackle this Alpine race. Whatever the course, there will be ten or more guys with a real shot to win this one. Let’s get into it shall we?!

[Editor’s Note: We’ve also previewed the 2013 TNF UTMB’s women’s field.]

Last Year’s Top Ten

2nd – Jonas Buud (Sweden) – With last year’s champion, François D’haene, not racing UTMB this year, last year’s runner-up, Jonas Buud of Sweden is the top returning man. Buud is a two-time IAU 100k World Champion (2010 and 2011), has won at least seven-straight Swiss Alpine Marathons, and owns the fastest-ever trail 100 miler of 12:32 in 2010. This June he patiently and methodically moved his way up to a second-place finish at the Comrades Marathon. Buud has to be one of the favorites to win this year’s UTMB and with how consistently he runs, a near lock for a top-five finish. (Our pre-race interview with Jonas Buud.)

Mike Foote

Mike Foote

3rd – Mike Foote (The North Face/USA) – Hampered by injury, Mike Foote’s been quiet this year with only a second at the Zane Grey 50 Mile and fifth at the TNF Lavaredo Trail (after getting lost) on his resume this year. That said, he consistently crushes tough mountain races having taken second at the Hardrock 100 in 2010 followed by eleventh and third at UTMB the past two years. [Added 8/27: Lavaredo Ultra Trail result.] (Our pre-race interview with Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe.)

4th – Carlos Sa (Berg/Portugal) – Sa improved from fifth to fourth at the past two UTMBs. He’s also got diverse talent as he won the Badwater 135 this July (after taking seventh at the Marathon des Sables this spring). It will be interesting to see if one can have success running two such different races less than seven weeks apart. If he finds success, he’ll be able to lay claim to one of the best ultrarunning seasons anywhere this year.

6th – Jean-Yves Rey (Salomon/Switzerland) – This year Rey has won the 71k Trail du Gypaète. We’d love to know more about him and his running this year.

7th – François Faivre (La Fuma/France) – Faivre took seventh at UTMB last year after taking ninth the year before. He’s finished in the top ten in at least two shorter French ultras this year. He’s another runner we’d love to know more about.

8th – Arnaud Lejeune (Hoka One One/France) – After taking eighth at last year’s UTMB, Lejeune took third at the Diagonale des Fous. It looks like he’s run well in his tune-up races, although he finished fifth behind Jean-Yves Rey’s first at the Trail du Gypaète.

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

9th – Sébastien Buffard (Brooks/France) – In the year since cracking the top 10 at UTMB, Buffard has a pair of wins at the L’Ultra Lozère and the Andorra Ultra Trail – Ultra Mític 118k. French readers, fill us in on this runner.

10th – Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (The North Face/Japan) – Kaburaki-san has five UTMB finishes ranging from third to eleventh, including tenth last year. Earlier this year, he traveled to the US where he won the Bighorn 100 in 18:51, only 15 minutes off Mike Foote’s course record. Rumor is that Kaburaki isn’t sure if he’ll start this year’s UTMB. He’s headed to Chamonix and will decide once he’s there. [Update 8/26: Tsuyoshi Kaburaki has confirmed that he will not be racing UTMB this year.]

Last year’s fifth-place runner, Csaba Nemeth of Hungary, is not running the race this year.

Past Champions

We know of three past UTMB men’s champions entered in this year’s race. Vince Delebarre (’04), Marco Olmo (’06 and ’07), and Jez Bragg (’10). Of these, only Bragg is a likely contender in this year’s race.

Vince Delebarre (Quechua/France) is still a capable racer having taken eighth at this year’s Ice Trail Tarentaise, even if well behind winner Kilian Jornet. However, Delebarre is closely connected to the UTMB organization and last year took on a role with the race’s Web TV despite being entered in the race. We suspect the same thing may happen this year.

Jez Bragg - UTMB 2010

Jez Bragg

Marco Olmo (Italy) is known as being an ageless wonder, having last won UTMB at the age of 59. He also runs the Marathon des Sables nearly ever year. In his five MdS runnings between 2003 and 2007, he finished sixth, seventh, eighth, eleventh, and ninth. From 2008 through the present, he’s placed eleventh, twelfth, eleventh, fourteenth, and thirteenth. So, while he’s running incredibly for a 65 year old, his performances appear to be slowly slipping relative to the field.

Jez Bragg (The North Face/UK) is the most recent UTMB champion returning to the race. He’s been very light on the racing side this year, but he did have quite the run this winter when he covered the entirety of New Zealand’s 1,900-mile Te Araroa Trail. He recently detailed his build up to this year’s UTMB.

The North Americans

With past champions and the most recent UTMB success stories spelled out, it’s time to look back across the pond to the North Americans who’ll contend at this year’s UTMB. Including Mike Foote noted above, any of six North American men could stand on the podium on Sunday if all goes right. Here are the other five:

  • Dylan Bowman - 2013 Western States 100

    Dylan Bowman

    Dylan Bowman – (Pearl Izumi/USA) – With the international ultra community’s eyes focused on the likes of Krupicka and Olson in the American contingent, Dylan Bowman could be seen as a sleeper pick despite amazingly consistent high-level results the past few years. He’s got a pair of podium finishes at Leadville (3rd in 2010, 2nd in 2011), a seventh and fifth place at Western States (’12 and ’13, respectively), a second at last year’s Run Rabbit Run 100, and seventh at last December’s TNF EC 50 Mile. [Update 8/26: Dylan Bowman announced he won’t be racing UTMB this year due to an ankle injury.]

  • Anton Krupicka – (New Balance/USA) – Anton’s in great shape and ready to rip one. Heck, he already did in placing second to Sage Canaday at the Speedgoat 50k by just 90 seconds last month. He traveled over to the Alps three weeks before UTMB so that he could get some fun time in the mountains before actually tapering. If he manages to stick to that plan, watch out. (Our pre-race interview with Anton Krupicka.)
  • Timothy Olson - 2012 Run Rabbit Run 100

    Timothy Olson

    Timothy Olson – (The North Face/USA) – Yeah, he won Western States for the second straight year (interview, race report). He’s also taken second at the Tarawera 100k, fourth at the Transvulcania Ultramaraton (80k), and seventh at the Speedgoat 50k. You could say he’s in good form, but can he keep performing in so many big races? (Our pre-race interview with Timothy Olson.)

  • Gary Robbins – (Salomon/Canada) – Robbins took a disappointing 53rd at last year’s UTMB, but opened this year with a course record at the HURT 100 Mile, besting his old course record (2010) by 37 minutes. He’s won a couple tune-up races in Canada while logging ridiculous training. (Our pre-race interview with Gary Robbins.)
  • Mike Wolfe - JMT FKT

    Mike Wolfe

    Mike Wolfe – (The North Face/USA) – Like his fellow Montana Mike mentioned above, Mike Wolfe has seen success at UTMB, having taken second on a weather-shortened course in 2010. Wolfe’s 2012 was forgettable on the race front and he’s only toed the line for two races that we know of in 2013, a win at the Pocatello 50 Mile and a second (after getting lost) at the TNF Laverdo Ultra Trail. However, Wolfe’s got the requisite training miles in, having set the FKT on California’s 210-mile John Muir Trail (and 11-mile Mount Whitney Trail) alongside Hal Koerner earlier this month. It’s a tall task to bounce back from that kind of effort and race another 100-plus miles. [Added 8/27: Lavaredo Ultra Trail result.] (Our pre-race interview with Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote.)

Other North Americans who could place well are Eric Lee, Adam Lint, and Brendan Trimboli, and Jason Loutitt. Canadian Loutitt has twice won the difficult HURT 100 in Hawaii, where he finished second to Gary Robbins this past January. He recently took second at the Arc’teryx Squamish 50 Mile on the heels of Adam Campbell. [Update 8/26: Canadian Jason Loutitt will not be running UTMB. Update 8/27: Added Brendan Trimboli.]

While entered, Dakota Jones, Adam Campbell, and Michael Wardian are not racing UTMB this year. Eight-time finisher Topher Gaylord will also miss this year’s race.

International Talent

UTMB might have the most international elite field of any trail ultramarathon in the world this year. Despite all the world-class names listed above, we’ve got another five with pedigrees that should have them shooting for the podium this year.

  • Vajin Armstrong

    Vajin Armstrong

    Vajin Armstrong – (Macpac/New Zealand) – Despite having a great 2012 in which he took first or second at the Tarawera 100k, American River 50 Mile, TNF 100 – Australia, White River 50 Mile, and Kepler Challenge, Armstrong remained largely under the radar outside New Zealand and Australia. That’s changed this year as he’s again been on podiums regularly far and wide. So far in 2013, he was third at the Tarawera 100k, second at TNF 100 – Australia, second at the Zugspitz Ultratrail, and second to Jonas Buud at the Swiss Alpine Marathon. Okay, so the podium at UTMB would be a big leap for Vajin, but he keeps surprising us, so why not?

  • Sebastien Chaigneau – (The North Face/France) – Seb is sneaky fast and always smiling. He’s run UTMB a few times and has placed second in 2009 and third in 2011, when he, Kilian Jornet, Iker Karrera, and Miguel Heras all ran together until the final miles of the race. In March, Seb won the TransGranCanaria for the second-straight year before taking third at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji in April. This July, he set the counter-clockwise course record at the Hardrock 100, a notoriously difficult race in Colorado. It will be a tall task for Seb to perform at a top level after running so well at Hardrock. (Our pre-race interview with Seb Chaigneau.)
  • Julien Chorier 2011 Hardrock 100

    Julien Chorier

    Julien Chorier – (Salomon/France) – A methodical monster. Chorier picks a big race, trains like mad for it, and usually nails it. It could be said that no one has won a wider variety of major (approximately) 100 milers than Julien, as he’s won Diagonale des Fous (2009, 2011), the Hardrock 100 (2011), Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji (2012), and Ronda del Cimes (2013). UTMB is the one title that’s been just out of Chorier’s reach. After winning the CCC (UTMB’s original sister race) in 2007, he took third at UTMB in 2008 and fourth in 2010 (pre-race interview), after fading from the lead late in the weather-shortened 89k version. Chorier arrived in Chamonix to take part in last year’s UTMB, but did not start after the race route and distance was altered. (Our pre-race interview with Julien Chorier.)

  • Yoshikazu Hara – (Japan) – “Who?,” you ask. Yoshikazu Hara, this year’s Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji champ who beat, in order, Julien Chorier, Sebastien Chaigneau, Gary Robbins, and Brendan Davies, with more talent behind them. Hara-san has had much success at the 100k distance with a PR of 6:33:32. While road 100k success does not guarantee success at UTMB, Jonas Buud and his 6:28:57 100k PR showed that it doesn’t hurt at last year’s UTMB. (Yes, last year’s UTMB was short, but it certainly wasn’t a flat road 10ok.) Koichi Iwasa of DogsorCaravan points out that Hara is better prepared for UTMB than one might think, as he attended last year’s UTMB to learn about the event. (Our pre-race interview with Yoshikazu Hara.)
  • Miguel Heras

    Miguel Heras

    Miguel Heras – (Salomon/Spain) – Outside of Kilian, a healthy Heras may be the most unstoppable force in men’s trail ultrarunning. Unfortunately, Heras has seen plenty of injuries the past few years, including a knee injury that caused him to drop from the 2011 UTMB while he was running with the leaders very late in the race. Among his notable wins from 2010 to 2012, are The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships in 2010 and 2012; TransGranCanaria in 2010; Transvulcania, Zugspitz, and Cavalls del Vent in 2011; and the TNF 100–Taiwan in 2012. Heras has won a few ultras in Spain without challenge this year, but did drop out with an injury 5k from the start of this year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. While he’s largely been off the radar this year, it looks like he’s been putting in some big days in the mountains of late. (Our pre-race interview with Miguel Heras.)

Other Top Runners

  • Pascal Blanc – (Lafuma/France) – Pascal took tenth at the shortened UTMB in 2010. In 2010, he also took fourth at the Diagonale des Fous before improving to second place the following year.
  • Miguel Capo Soler – (Spain) – Capo Soler ran out of his mind to take third at this year’s Marathon des Sables. As far as we know, he’s not yet seen that sort of success in the mountains. (He finished 57th at UTMB last year.) He did take tenth at this year’s TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail.
  • Giuliano Cavallo – (Salomon/Italy) – A local from the Aosta Valley who was ninth at Transvulcania and ninth at the IAU Trail World Championships in 2011. We think this is his 100-mile debut, but his vast local experience may make up for that. [Added 8/28]
  • Cyril Cointre – (Hoka One One/France) – Cointre was fifth at the shortened UTMB of 2010. This year, he’s been eighth and ninth at TransGranCanaria and Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji, respectively.
  • Terry Conway – (UK) – Conway won the Lakeland 100 Mile in both 2011 and 2012. He dropped 30 miles into this year’s race.
  • Emmanuel Gault – (ASICS/France) – Speedster Gault had a win and three second-place finishes at the Éco-Trail de Paris Île-de-France between 2009 an 2012. He also won La SainteLyon last year after taking second in 2009 and 2011. He won CCC (UTMB sister race) in 2011 after taking fifth in 2009, so he’s experienced success on these trails. [Added 8/28]
  • Paul Giblin – (UK) – Big course record on the 95-mile West Highland Way race in Scotland. [Added 8/26: Thanks to Richard Felton.]
  • Antoine Guillon – (Lafuma/France) – Guillon is an experienced ultrarunner who doesn’t seem to be slowing down at the age of 43. He was fifth at UTMB in 2010 and eighth in 2011. Last year, he was third at TDS (a UTMB sister race), second at the Andorra Ultra Trail – Ultra Mític 118k, and second at the Diagonale des Fous. Earlier this year, he took seventh at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji.
  • Zigor Iturrieta  – (The North Face/Spain) – Zigor took third at UTMB in 2010 and followed that with a standout 2011 in which he won TransGranCanaria, took second at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, and fifth at Cavalls del Vent. His results haven’t been as strong the past two years. For example, he was fourth at both Lavaredo in 2012 and TransGranCanaria in 2013. He had a very rough UTMB last year.
  • Goran Lesjak – (Croatia) – Lesjak has three-straight wins at the 100k Velebit Ultra Trail, which has almost 20,000 feet (6.000 m) of climbing. [Added 8/28]
  • Shunsuke Okunomiya – (Montrail/Japan) – We still remember Shunsuke’s shy smile that hid a fierce determination when he finished 13th at Western States in 2011. He was seventh at UTMF last year and has many top finishes at Japan’s Hasetsune Cup. Koichi Iwasa reports that Shunsuke is recovering from a stress fracture.
  • Adam Perry – (UK) – All of 23 years old, Adam won this year’s Fellsman race before tying for third at the Lakeland 100 Mile albeit two-and-a-half hours behind Terry Conway, noted above. Adam ran a 10:34 at Fellsman compared to Bragg’s 2011 course record of 10:06.
  • Gustavo Reyes – (The North Face/Argentina) – Gustavo dominates the competition in South America. Further afield, his best runs are a 14th at the IAU Trail World Championships in 2011 and a 17th at Transvulcania last year. [Update: Thanks to Trail Running Argentina, we’ve learned that Gustavo Reyes is out with a hip injury.]
  • Aite Tamang – (Nepal) – He’s won the last two Annapurna 100ks and taken second and sixth at the past two Hong Kong 100ks.
  • Armando Jorge Teixeira  – (Salomon/Portugal) – Teixeira took 11th at last year’s UTMB. In 2011 and 2012, he was fifth and then second at TransGranCanaria. He’s already got a long race under his belt this year with a sixth-place finish at Ronda del Cimes.
  • Xavier Thevenard – (ASICS/France) – The CCC winner in 2010 went on to win Templiers in 2011. This year, he took a respectable 11th at Transvulcania and third to François D’haene and Michel Lanne at the Mont Blanc 80k. [Added 8/28]
  • Siu-Keung “Stone” Tsang – (The North Face/China) – Stone was 21st at UTMB in 2010 after placing 12th at the TNF EC 50 Mile in 2009. In 2013, he’s taken second at the Honk Kong 100k and won the Lantau 50k, also in Hong Kong.
  • Anton “Toni” Vencelj – (Slovenia) – Vencelj has twice placed in the top ten at the Marathon des Sables: fourth in 2009 and eighth in 2012. He was 30th at MdS this year.
  • Minehiro Yokoyama – (The North Face/Japan) – He was sixth at the 2009 UTMB and fifth at the debut Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji last year. He has had knee problems and had a very rough 2012 UTMB.

Call for Comments

  • Who do you think will win this year’s UTMB? Who’ll give the winner a run for their money?
  • Who do you think is most likely to surprise the world with their performance at this year’s race?
  • Can anyone tell us more about the runners in the back half of last year’s top ten, Jean-Yves Rey, François Faivre, Arnaud Lejeune, and Sébastien Buffard, as well as other runners on the list above who might not be as well known outside their home country?
  • Have we missed any contenders? If so, please let us know. With over 2,000 entrants, we’re sure to have missed someone!
  • Did we mention someone who’s definitely not running? Let us know and we’ll update the article.

There are 120 comments

  1. Andrew

    Please Tony K, just stick to the plan and no "fun" 8 hour days in the week leading up to the race!

    You are due for a big win!

      1. Sz_Peter

        It's time to look for some other adventure :-)

        he was never on the registered list, I guess

        I think I go with Julien for the final win, but I cross my fingers for a decent american result also :-)

    1. Bryon Powell

      I just double checked now that I'm settled and it wasn't Philippines nor Hong Kong, it was Taiwan! :-) So many TNF100s and top performances by Salomon runners that it's hard to keep them straight!

  2. Anonymous

    I wonder if Tony manages to bring his own vest for the ton of mandatory equipment….

    Good luck to all the Americans, high time to come home with a victory !

      1. SteelTownRunner

        The other day, I believe it was UD that posted a photo on FB of Tony, Joe Grant, and one or two others on the summit of one of the peaks in the UTMB course. Ironically, I noticed that Tony was wearing a Mountain Hardware race vest…

  3. IndyB

    I reckon it will be Buud, Chaigneau and Olson on the podium, with Chorier and Sa next. Very wide open though and there could be some big surprises!

  4. Tahoe Pete

    I hope the weather holds this year. This is really an amazing field. If TK has tapered he is due for a good 100. Can't wait to follow the fireworks

      1. Tahoe Pete

        Well that is a good sign. Normally once in the 5 day window we can slightly tell what is gong to happenn with weather. Thanks for the coverage once again Bryon it is much appreciated.

  5. Nick J

    I'd love to see Terry "the tortoise" Conway bringing it home for the UK, but my money's on Julien Chorier for the win. Closely followed by Seb Chaigneau and a third place for Jez Bragg. I think AK will get a top 5 place. Alot depends on the weather with this race

  6. Lstomsl

    An American worth mentioning is Brendan Trimboli. He's capable of placing in the top 10 of any American 100 and is healthy and has been training like a madman this summer.

    1. Bryon Powell

      … any American 100 other than Western States. I know Brendan well and definitely thought about including him in the preview, but his ultras these past three months – 9th at the Jemez 50 Mile and 24th at the Bighorn 100 – didn't warrant it. I really hope he can rein himself over the first half of the UTMB course.

      1. Lstomsl

        Your prerogative I guess Bryon, but I hope Brendan has a great day and proves you wrong.

        Funny, I've been blacklisted from this site for making far less critical comments. Just sayin……

        1. Bryon Powell

          I hope Brendan has a great race, too. I consider him a friend, have been in contact with him about the race, and we've even been in touch since I landed in Europe a few hours ago. The above is merely one person's considered, analytical opinion made is a respectful way.

          Lstomsl, not sure what your referring to with regarding blacklisting. So long as they're made civilly and respectfully, dissenting view points are quite welcome here. Sorry if you feel that you've been treated otherwise – you can contact me directly any time and we can figure out how to correct the situation.

          Respectfully,
          Bryon

          1. Lstomsl

            Kind of wish I could go back and delete my original comment. I was just trying to give a shout out and some encouragement to a local runner and friend. Now i feel bad. Sorry Brendan. Hope you crush it over there.

  7. Anonymous

    A small correction: It is "Toni Vencelj" not Anton, and watch out for Goran Lesjak, Croatian runner. He wins 3 times in row Velebit Ultra trail 100k whit 6000m positive elevation. This year for 15:09 hours, 2 hour in front of Toni Vencelj.

  8. Steve in Beijing

    Tony K and Timothy Olson for the 1-2, although maybe not in that order. Perhaps Mike Wolfe in 3 for an American sweep!

  9. Alex

    I can't recall the last time I've seen TK or Olson race carrying any more than a handheld, and I don't think that's a small thing. Clearly, both have the fitness for a great race. But I wonder how their bodies will react to toting (fairly minimal, but still) added weight on their shoulders the entire way. As someone who hates packs, and never wears them, my shoulders would be wrecked 50K in.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Fortunately, if someone plans and buys/has access to the right gear, you can fit all the required gear (excepting the volume of water) in a quart size bag. I did in 2011. That's fit in a UD AK vest and weigh no more than the gear that Ton carries on some of his scrambles and winter runs.

  10. Rachel

    The way Japanese Hara took down Chorier at this year's UTMF in Fuji, Japan, was truly remarkable… Though he won't have home town advantage, I think we shld expect big things. Such an impressive line up & it's a long way- could be anyone's!!!

  11. IndyB

    With all this talent in this year's field, and potentially good weather, what number of runners do we think will go under 24 hours? In the last 3 100+ mile races, only 6, 7 and 8 runners have gone under 24 hours. With this field I would not be surprised if 15 managed it this year.

    1. Bryon Powell

      We've got to see how many make it to the starting line first. In just the past eight days, Dakota Jones, Dylan Bowman, and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki have withdrawn. Those were a bunch of sub-24 shoe ins. Here's hoping most of the other top runners start the race!

  12. Jeremy

    Gary Robbins is an Animal. Since he's been back he has been doing some amazing things, but haven't seen him line up against such a deep field of top level guys since his return to form. A Gary Robbins victory would be spectacular, and wouldn't surprise me, however this is shaping up to be one of those races that could go many different ways. The next best thing to a GR victory would be Hara, after his heroic UTMF win. No matter what, this will be a race to be remembered!

    1. Andy

      Gary might not take the win, but I'm betting he surprises a lot of people. He really is an animal and sporting the playoff beard, so you know he's in it to win it like the '87 Oilers.

  13. Dave evans

    Julien Chorier for the win. If Miguel Heras is on form i think he could push him all the way, though that is a big if, what with all his recent injuries. Of the americans i reckon timothy olson will be right up there and anton krupicka

  14. richard felton

    From a uk runner perspective the attention to adam perry on here and talk ultra is deserved but surpising as outside of conway and bragg we have a bigger hope in Paul Giblin. He won West highland way (scottish 95miler) in a huge CR. A CR previouly held by conway and before that bragg. Trust me, a much bigger deal than perry's fellsman run. Love your work Bryon

    1. Bryon Powell

      Thanks, Richard. I'd been given a heads up as to Paul, but didn't have enough context for his performance at the WHW to include him originally. Given Braggs' runs at Fellsman, I knew more of its history.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Richard,
      It took me a second (or a second comment) to put it together… but my UK source actually pointed me to exactly this post for context…. just didn't have enough time at 3:30 am on Sunday morning before me flight to work through it. :-)

      Cheers,
      Bryon

  15. patrick t.

    There's a guy from Ecuador, Gonzalo Calisto, who I'd add as a darkhorse for top-10. He placed a close 2nd against Mike Foote in the TNF 50 miler in Chile last October and then crushed a field of established South American pros at La Misión, a very rugged, self-supported 100-miler in Argentina a couple months later. He comes from a professional adventure racing background and has been slowly and methodically building up his ultrarunning chops over the past couple of years.

  16. CDG

    Aside from TalkUltra, what's the best Euro-centric source of information for ultrarunning? I'm going with TK for the win, but I certainly don't know enough about most of the non-American competitors to make an informed judgment.

  17. lstomsl

    I don't know of any reason to choose between Tony, Julien, Seb, Jonas, or Miguel. I think it will come down to who has the smartest prep and best day. I will say its been years since we've seen a healthy and tapered TK toe the line so I think he has the best opportunity to blow some minds. Also Seb seems like the real deal and a genuinely nice man. It would be cool to see him double Hardrock and UTMB in the same year. It seemed like he left a little in the tank during Hardrock……

    1. Scott

      I would love to see TK win, but one thing to his disadvantage is the timing of the race. At least 1/3 of the race will be at night, and he has very little experience racing at night. I wonder how he'll handle the lack of sleep – it seemed to be his downfall in his Nolan's attempt. This will also be his longest (time) race, whereas all of those guys you mentioned have experience at races of this length, not to mention I believe all of them have experience at this race in particular.

  18. Dave

    If julien chorier runs like he did at hardrock 2011 or at the ronda del cims this year then he will be very, very hard to beat

  19. lstomsl

    Yeah, historically he finishes a 100 before it gets dark….. I have no idea how the dark will affect him I guess we'll see. I believe he has some experience running in the dark at least from Nolans and I think he was pacing Joe Grant at hardrock last year. I'd point out that he has some advantages too. Nobody regularly trains at higher elevations then he does and that can't be discounted. (Maybe some colombian runners in the race I'm not aware of???) Also I think he has less racing miles over the past few years then anyone else. That could be good or bad but I suspect good, especially at this time of year. I don't know him, don't know how he's feeling, just speculating like everyone else here. It wouldn't surprise me to see him either crush it or DNF trying. I hope he crushes it.

  20. Ethan Kanning

    Mike Foote has the fire inside, knows the course and is one of the smartest and most patient runners out there. It's his year… watch out.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Thanks for the reminder. I knew they were headed to Lavaredo, but it skipped my mind when I didn't hear anything about them finishing… over the course of Western States weekend. :-)

  21. tahoe Pete

    Anton can absolutely keep up with the Europeans. He has all ready proven he can. He finished closely behind Killian in 2nd last year at Cervallis De vent (sp? sorry if wrong) and can run with Seb, Jullian, Heras and the rest. The one who should be questioned as to weather or not he can keep up with these guys is Olsen and that should be a yes as well since he has all ready beaten Ryan Sandes. The big thing is Anton and Olsen have been Europe for a few weeks. This race should be hotly contested for a good solid 80 miles before someone pulls ahead. My money is on TK he is due and UTMB is more to his skill set than his last 100 leadville. Cant wait for this to go down.

    1. lstomsl

      I have to say TK has a pretty amazingly diverse skill set, which is one of the reasons he's such an enigma. He's got speed for flat sea-level courses like Rocky Raccoon, he can compete on short steep mountain runs like speedgoat, at high elevation moderately hilly but smooth courses (leadville) at downhill track meets like western states. Yet what he is most known for is high elevation mountain runs on steep technical terrain. I'm not super familiar with the European races but we haven't seen him compete in America at a race that should theoretically be his real strength (like Hardrock or Wasatch). Granted there are not that many of those types of courses around. That's why I'm excited to see what he can pull off at UTMB.

      1. tahoe Pete

        I agree. I don't think we have seen TK race a course like this and the battle that is about to go down should be very interesting.

  22. Nikos

    Exactly what I was thinking of. Tony, Seb and Julien my top 3 pics, Jonas right after and Miguel the big question mark.

    I think Tony s training in the last two years will help him for UTMB. A lot of fast hiking and many long runs with a pack. I feel he will have a great race

    1. Bryon Powell

      Ultragirl,
      As is our usual tradition, we publish one gender's preview one day and the other's the following. This go around, it was men first. Enjoy the women's preview tomorrow. :-)

  23. Charlie

    Watch for Andrew Tuckey from Australia. Has been training in Europe all year. Finished just behind Vajin at TNF100 Australia putting 10 minutes into him in the final 11k. He also just failed to run down Gary Robbins at the world trail running championships. He starts out easy and just gets faster and faster. This will be his first 100 miler, but the way he finishes 100k races, 100 miles may just be his distance.

  24. anwar

    i am a fan of TK and hope he could win this one.

    also i am very proud that this year there is one Indonesian trail runner joining racing in UTMB. I think Hendra Wijaya is the first Indonesian who race this event. Go Indonesia!

  25. Robbie

    Mike Foote is due a UTMB win, he's had consistent finishes the last few years. It would be great to see TK podium, his amount of vertical gain this year is nuts.

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