The 2013 version of The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc was one for the record books. Quite literally. Youngsters Xavier Thevenard (post-race interview) of France and Rory Bosio (post-race interview) of the United States both bettered the respective men’s and women’s records. All of the runners were treated to unbelievably good weather and an unaltered course. Très magnifique!
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 preview on our 2013 TNF UTMB Live Coverage page.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to TNF UTMB-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports.
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2013 TNF UTMB Men’s Race
It was the perfect storm of events for the men’s top performers: impeccable weather that included not-too-hot highs, not-too-cool lows, and not a drop of precipitation; an unblemished trail tread unlike many years due to bad weather and four huge races in a week, the PTL, TDS, CCC, and UTMB; and the gathering of at least 15 men who could win this race on ‘their day.’
But in the end, it was Xavier Thevenard who had the biggest day of all. In the early part of the race, the Frenchman ran in or near the lead. Sometime on the Grand Col du Ferret around 100k, Thevenard made a break from the lead pack and went for it. Like all good breaks in sports–bike racing and marathoning as examples–some of them just get swallowed back up by the peloton. In the UTMB’s case, Thevenard’s break stuck. He built a 15 to 20-minute lead as a result that he then maintained to the bitter end. When all was said and done, his 20:34:57 was good for just under a two-minute improvement over Kilian Jornet’s 20:36:43 from 2011.
Miguel Heras (post-race interview) started this race physically prepared, but a little mentally unsure about going the distance. At the advice of the Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet, Heras took it pretty easy from the start. It’s typical Euro-racing style to push course-record paces early and often. But this year, Miguel and the boys lapsed to about 18 minutes back of course-record pace by Courmayeur at 77.1k. Then, from Courmayeur, the pace was brought back down so that Thevenard finished under record pace.
We’ll be the first to admit that we know almost nothing about third place Javier Dominguez (post-race interview). (Except that he is Basque and loves iRunFar. Awesome!) To be certain after this performance, you’ll be hearing more about him (and from him) him real soon. He was in a groove all day, never lapsing back or forward by much. And we can’t help but love his style of running and talking on the phone just a couple miles from his third-place finish.
Other notables in the balance of the men’s top 10. Timothy Olson (post-race interview). I think he almost tossed in the proverbial towel at La Fouly, kilometer 108.4. He pressed on, though, arriving to kilometer 122.4 in seventh place and finishing the race in fourth, grunting and heaving and pushing and still smiling his way there. I’m betting Timothy’s happy he decided to press on!
Montana’s Mike Foote (post-race interview) hurt early; he thought he had a fever or similar. When we saw him after Lac Combal at kilometer 65, he said he got that out of his system and had some work to do in playing catch-up with the other boys. He didn’t get all the way back up to this third-place finish of last year, but fifth place is darn good. I’ll bet he’ll treat himself to some gelato for it.
Of course we can’t not mention here that gal Rory Bosio made UTMB history by finishing inside the men’s top 10 for the first time ever in the 11 editions of the race. In seventh place. Just six men in front of her. Yes, gentlemen, you best be shaking in your boots if you see her name on a race entrants list in your future.
Last but certainly not least are two hat tips to dudes who sent the ‘smart-race category,’ ninth and tenth place finishers John Tidd and Jez Bragg. Their splits from start to finish are study of patience and the art of picking carnage. Read up.
Finally, a couple notable drops. France’s Seb Chaigneau dropped at Les Contamines, 30.7k, for unknown reasons, and Canada’s Gary Robbins dropped in the same spot because he was sick. From the US, 2010 UTMB champ Mike Wolfe pulled the plug at Courmayeur from being just plain whooped after setting the supported JMT FKT less than a month back. Jonas Buud of Sweden, last year’s second-place finisher, dropped at Champex-Lac, kilometer 122.4, due to a number of issues. And, America’s Anton Krupicka pulled out at Trient, kilometer 138.9, from pain in his hamstring and Achilles. Somewhere along the way, Portugal’s Carlos Sa was forced to pull due to physical issues, as well.
2013 TNF UTMB Men’s Results
- Xavier Thevenard (ASICS/France) – 20:34:57 (New course record; Old course record: Kilian Jornet – 20:36:43 – 2011) (post-race interview)
- Miguel Heras (Salomon/Spain) – 20:54:08 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Javier Dominguez (Spain-Basque) – 21:17:38 (post-race interview)
- Timothy Olson (The North Face/USA) – 21:38:23 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Mike Foote (The North Face/USA) – 21:53:19 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Julien Chorier (Salomon/France) – 22:08:11 (pre-race interview)
- Bertrand Collomb-Patton (France) – 23:14:16
- Arnaud Lejeune (Hoka One One/France) – 23:18:05
- John Tidd (Spain) – 23:18:27
- Jez Bragg (The North Face/United Kingdom) – 23:50:01
2013 TNF UTMB Women’s Race
Much like the beginning of the men’s race, none of the gals took things out too hard, too fast. For the first 21 kilometers, Núria Picas (post-race interview), Francesca Canepa, Emma Roca (post-race interview), and Rory Bosio ran in near tandem. After that, Núria gradually built a lead over the others. That is, until Rory showed back up on her heels on the Col du Bonhomme. By the race’s marathon mark on the col, Rory Bosio passed Núria… for good. After that, she be-bopped her way through aid stations, told jokes, and joked about her own positioning as the leader. But let’s face it, the ladies’ race from there on was, quite simply, The Rory Show. Which is code for Rory having the race of her life, destrominating a course record, and keeping a smile on her face the whole way. Bosio built an incredible lead, eventually winning and smashing Krissy Moehl’s old course record of 24:56 by almost two hours and twenty minutes with a time of 22:37:26.
Núria didn’t blow up after spending time in that early leadership position; she just kept trucking steadily. And she held off the relentless charge of fellow Catalana Emma. All three ladies finished under the previous course record.
It’s fascinating to note, in addition to the nearly two-hour spread between Rory and Núria, there was another three-hour spread between third place Emma and fourth place Katia Fori and the balance of the women’s top 10.
Let’s end with a couple notes on notable DNFs. Some sort of sickness took out Helen Cospolich early on. Courmayeur, her hometown, caught Francesca Canepa in its wrath. Shona Stephenson ducked off the radar around Arnuva, kilometer 94.5. Amy Sproston DNFed in Champex-Lac from physical issues.
2013 TNF UTMB Women’s Results
- Rory Bosio (The North Face/USA) – 22:37:26 (New course record; Old course record: Krissy Moehl – 24:56:01 – 2009) (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Núria Picas (Buff/Spain-Catalana) – 24:32:20 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Emma Roca (Hoka One One/Spain-Catalana) – 24:48:14 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Katia Fori (Technica/Italy) – 27:48:45
- Silvia Trigueros (Spain) – 28:13:12
- Gill Fowler (La Sportiva/Australia) – 28:50:30
- Maria Semerjian (France) – 29:34:30
- Manuela Vilaseca (Brazil) – 30:17:02
- Juliette Blanchet (France/Raidlight) – 30:24:08
- Audrey Meyer (France) – 30:50:47
2013 TNF UTMB Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
- The New York Times photo gallery
- Trails Endurance Mag men’s and women’s UTMB reports and their UTMB by the numbers report
- iRunFar’s UTMB start video
- ULTRAtrail.tv’s Eurosport video in English and en Français
- Video recap from Timothy Olson’s crew
- Over Element UTMB video recap
- Over Element September 2013 video with UTMB recap
- The North Face’s UTMB video recap
- Seb Chaigneau’s (DNF) “Get Ready For” video recap
- Timothy Olson (4th man)
- Jez Bragg (10th man)
Rory Bosio (1st woman)[broken link to September 2013 Never Stop Exploring blogpost removed]
- Gill Fowler (6th woman)
- Meghan Arbogast (13th woman)
- Tony Krupicka (DNF)
Carlos Sa (DNF)[broken link removed]
- Gary Robbins (DNF)
- Eric Lee (DNF)
- Amy Sproston (DNF)
We owe thanks to a number of people who helped present iRunFar’s live coverage of the 2013 UTMB. First, thank you to each of our CoverItLive moderators, Travis Liles, Andy Noise, Mark Barnes, Travis Trampe, Leon Lutz, Jon Allen, Tom Caughlin, and Dean Georgaris. Thanks as well to the folks who helped make the ‘show’ ‘live’, Morgan Williams, Ian Campbell, and Dave James. These folks literally ran all over the mountains to capture stories and images from the field in real time. Thanks, finally, to Gary Robbins who pulled through with crucial, last-minute gear help.