Xavier Thevenard and Nathalie Mauclair took away victories at the 2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Xavier by working the rest of field to bits until there was no one left at the front but him, and Nathalie by simply being nearly untouchable from the start.
In addition to this article, you can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and previews on our UTMB live-coverage page.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to UTMB-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports. Check back!
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2015 Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc Men’s Race
This is the kind of race that makes fans. Entertainment, stout racing, and a changing plot from beginning to end. You can’t not love our sport when a race goes like this one did.
First, let’s begin with the guy at the front who ran out of his brains and showed us all the capabilities of the human mind and body. Cue Xavier Thevenard (post-race interview). He’s the young Frenchman who was at the front or with the front runners for more than half the race, until after the 100k point. He was the same guy who was still there when, runner by runner, the lead pack fell off pace. By the 124k aid station, he was all alone by several minutes. And he was there as the race closed out, setting for himself a different standard, building a big lead over everyone else, and finishing almost 50 minutes ahead of every other man. That is to say that he worked it, but by the time it was said and done, this race had worked him, too. On the final climb and descent, Xavier was quiet and a bit hollow looking, though he never deviated from his steady, forward progress. This effort marks Xavier’s second UTMB win.
I’m guessing Luis Alberto Hernando (pre-race and post-race interviews) was bound and determined to finish this year’s race, after dropping from the UTMB last year past the 100k mark. In the race’s first half, Luis looked like typical Luis, there at the front and with the lead pack, totally calm, confident, collected. But the UTMB course blows just about everyone apart in some way, and a runner as talented as Luis is not exempt to this reality. There were times in the second half of the race–starting around the 96k mark–where Luis looked rough around the edges. The thing is, once you could tell he was straining to put out a good effort, it’s not as if his performance declined. In fact, for more than a marathon distance, he fought against the persistent attacks of the runners behind him–first from Seth Swanson and lastly from David Laney–to ultimately finish in second place. He had gas in the tank to rev the gears when challengers approached.
David Laney (post-race interview). Just, what the heck? And where can we all learn to close out our own races like he does? The guy is like a nice French wine in that he and most of them get better with age (or race experience in this case). Let’s just run his numbers. He was in something like 45th place at the half-marathon mark less than two hours into the race. And he wasn’t inside the top 10 until there was about a marathon to go. And he clawed his way over the race’s final climb and descent into his final podium position. With four kilometers to go, he was running just a hair in front of fourth-place Seth Swanson. In the end, the pair finished just under 30 seconds apart with David the victor. What a race! Wasn’t this chap an ultra upstart just 2.5 years ago? His 2015 has been insane, and he’s proven himself at many distances and terrains.
If I were a betting woman, my money would have been on Seth Swanson (post-race interview) for a top-five finish. Twice second at Western States, the course-record holder for the Cascade Crest 100 Mile, the slayer of mountain trails around his Montana home. Yep. Seth hovered at the back of the top 10 early, then made his way up toward the middle of the race’s top five by about the distance midpoint on the course. He held strong–and may I say both mentally and physically–carrying his body and spirit through the later kilometers of the race with lightness and what appeared to be contentedness, two characteristics that were missing in some of the other top runners whose faces had gone blank some 18 and more hours into the race. It was a true pleasure watching Seth manhandle the UTMB course’s offerings, and it’ll be an even bigger pleasure to see what he does next with his running.
Ecuadorian Gonzalo Calisto rounded out the men’s top five, Fabien Antolinos was sixthfifth, Erik Clavery seventhsixth, Francesc Solé Duocastella eighthseventh, Ryan Smith nintheighth, and Alex Mayer 10thninth and Piotr Hercog 10th.
[Update: July 19, 2016: At the 2015 race, Ecuador’s Gonzalo Calisto finished fifth, and was honored in the men’s top 10 at the awards ceremony. On July 8th, 2016, the IAAF announced that Ecuadorian Gonzalo Calisto was serving a two-year doping suspension, beginning March 18, 2016 and ending March 17, 2018, due to an anti-doping rule violation discovered during an in-competition test at the 2015 UTMB. According to the IAAF, Calisto tested positive for EPO at that in-competition test. Here’s our article, which explains what’s publicly known about Calisto’s doping suspension.]
2015 Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc Men’s Results
- Xavier Thévenard (ASICS) — 21:09:15 (post-race interview)
- Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) — 21:57:17 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- David Laney (Nike) — 21:59:42 (post-race interview)
- Seth Swanson (The North Face) — 22:00:10 (post-race interview)
- Fabien Antolinos (Mizuno) — 22:28:26
- Erik Clavery (adidas) — 22:45:28
- Francesc Solé Duocastella (Koalas Team) — 22:53:23
- Ryan Smith (La Sportiva) — 23:10:07
- Alexandre Mayer (Isostar) — 23:44:53
- Piotr Hercog (Salomon) — 24:10:54
2015 Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc Women’s Race
Wow. This is a race that both met my expectations–I thought the possibility of Nathalie Mauclair (pre-race and post-race interviews) winning handily was very real–and turned what I thought also could happen into what definitely didn’t happen. I had also envisioned an intense battle for the win between Nathalie and her French countrymate Caroline Chaverot (pre-race interview) that would be decided in the race’s final kilometers. However, Nathalie set herself apart from the other women from not long after the start, creating a gap that no woman could surmount. By a half marathon into the race at the Saint-Gervais aid station, Nathalie had minutes on everyone else. And Caroline got injured descending a hill in the Vallorcine aid station at 151k, which knocked her out of the race. The duel I thought might happen was not a duel after all.
While this year’s UTMB was unusual in that there were very few DNS’s among the top athletes–almost everyone started who was planning to–there were loads and loads of DNF’s. Some of the other women’s heavy hitters were just never in the mix, or they sifted out real quick.
But then, there were the women who put together bang-out races, such as second place’s Uxue Fraile (post-race interview). Her racing attitude is one that many people could or perhaps, should, emulate. Chill, chill, chill, not affected by hype, other women’s pacing, nothing. In fact, her relaxed attitude rubs off on even me as I document her progress during races. Because this was a race with shake-ups all the way to the finish, I’m just not surprised that Uxue rode all the highs and lows and came out in second place. Uxue ran
Denise Zimmermann (post-race interview), this year’s third place finisher, ran a tempered race start to finish. After running the first part of the race quite a distance back, she gradually worked her way through the field and up the women’s rankings. Her finish here, on a hot day on a tough course, represents her ability to succeed in tough conditions.
Silvia Trigueros, Darcy Piceu, Luciana Moretti, and Bernadette Benson were the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh finishers. The top 10 was rounded out by Stephanie Howe, Melanie Rousset, and Manuela Vilaseca.
2015 Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc Women’s Results
- Nathalie Mauclair (Mizuno) — 25:15:33 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Uxue Fraile (Vibram) — 26:29:35 (post-race interview)
- Denise Zimmermann (Salomon) — 27:33:51 (post-race interview)
- Silvia Trigueros (Land) — 27:39:36
- Darcy Piceu (Hoka One One/Smartwool) — 28:38:30
- Luciana Moretti — 28:40:11
- Bernadette Benson — 29:40:11
- Stephanie Howe (The North Face) — 30:16:28
- Melanie Rousset — 30:17:01
- Manuela Vilaseca (The North Face) — 30:19:21
Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
- iRunFar’s Facebook album by Kirsten Kortebein
- iRunFar’s Facebook album by Bryon Powell and Meghan Hicks
- iRunFar’s Facebook album by the whole team
Wow! So many people helped bring iRunFar’s UTMB coverage to the world. We appreciate the field assistance of Kirsten Kortebein, Tim Peeters, Ian Campbell, Paul Charteris, Lucho Viani, Donielle and Chris Wolfe, and Francois Satier. We’re also grateful for the office assistance of Travis Trampe, Mauri Pagliacci, Aliza Lapierre, Jon Allen, Tom Caughlin, Nick Pedatella, and Rodri Lizama.