2016 UTMB Results

Altra Lone Peak 3 - 200-x-167France’s Ludovic Pommeret (post-race interview) and Caroline Chaverot (pre-race and post-race interviews) emerged as victors from a truly dramatic 2016 UTMB. The women’s race was characterized by two women pressuring each other off the front and steady-as-she-goes forward progress by the rest of the top female finishers. The men’s race story was ultimately shaped by the guys who best navigated multiple levels of racing carnage.

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!

GU EnergySpecial thanks to Altra for making our live race coverage possible.

Thanks also to GU for sponsoring our coverage.

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Start 2016 UTMB

The start of the 2016 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

2016 UTMB Men’s Race

Let’s face it, we’re all a little speechless about what went down on that large loop around Mont Blanc this weekend. As our volunteers were staffed at more than a dozen places around the course, what we saw was a race that ran like an onion. Layer after layer peeled off as the kilometers clicked by, each new layer a seeming brand-new race. The men’s UTMB race is these days becoming one of significant attrition and a race where success is largely defined by smart racing and avoiding becoming a statistic. This year was no different. The reason for this year’s attrition must in be in large part due to the weather–the extra heat and humidity–as the men’s early pace was actually a bit more controlled as compared to previous years, slower than record pace for the race’s first third. In the end, it was a race which in some ways broke all the rules and in other ways abided by them. In the end, I still find the whole thing a bit inexplicable.

UTMB 2016 - Men's top five

The men’s top five from UTMB 2016 (from left-to-right): 5. Javi Dominguez, 2. Gediminas Grinius, 1. Ludovic Pommeret, 4. David Laney, 3. Tim Tollefson. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

For 124 kilometers, American Zach Miller (pre-race and post-race interviews) led the race. He did so in the same Zach fashion we’ve seen him race 20k’s 50k’s, 50 milers, and 110k’s–unabashed rabbiting, the kid never looks back. His lead vascillated at times in that he occasionally shared it with others while at others he was quite a distance off the front. In the race’s middle third, however, his lead kept growing such that at Grand Col Ferret (102 kilometers) he had 26 minutes over the rest of the field. But his race quickly nose dived, not unlike the steep descent off the col. In the span of 22 kilometers, Zach bonked hard and gave up all 26 minutes of his lead, leaving Champex-Lac (124km) in second and a few seconds off the lead. He held pace with the leaders as long as it seems he could, but eventually his pace lapsed and he would go on to finish in a still-strong sixth place. It’s often said that high risk brings either high reward or high failure, and I’d still firmly stick his performance in the reward category. Zach finished sixth place in the world’s most competitive 100 miler for his first shot at the distance. At the finish, Zach’s eyes betrayed both deep fatigue and a deep hunger for more–I can’t help but think he’ll be back.

How Frenchman Ludovic Pommeret’s race played out was something of a marvel. Ludovic started out by running at the front of the men’s race. At a half marathon into the race, he shared the lead with Zach and Fabien Antolinos, who would DNF late in the race. But on the climb to the race’s marathon mark at Col du Bonhomme, Ludovic tanked, and fell back to 50th place. He suffered a low patch due to stomach problems that, as he said at the finish line, made him thinking about dropping more than once. He slowly crept back up into the top 10, but it took some 50 kilometers to do so. Even then, his battle was seemingly just beginning because he was still some 44 minutes off the lead. At Champex-Lac (124km), where most runners showed the effects of the terrain they’d already covered, Ludovic looked fresh. The game was on, and it wasn’t long before he took over the lead, broke from those desperately trying to keep contact, and built a 26-minute cushion by the finish. It seems simply not possible to win a race as competitive as this one in this style–it breaks all the rules! But those who understand this sport well know that we may not ever fully understand it. In 100 miles, anything can and does happen.

UTMB 2016 - Ludovic Pommeret

Ludovic Pommeret winning the 2016 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Good grief, if I were a dude, I’m not sure I could stand the pressure of Lithuania’s Gediminas Grinius (post-race interview) racing behind me. He has established his racing M.O.: conservative starts, rip-roaring finishes. And he’s one of the most internally focused racers I’ve seen, turned within and monitoring himself. Gediminus raced outside of the men’s top 10 for about the race’s first third, right around 10th place for the next third, and then he just hammered the race’s last 50 kilometers. Like Ludovic, he was something of an apparition when he moved like a steam train through Champex-Lac (124km) in fourth place. Twenty-five kilometers later, he’d passed the remaining carnage in front of him and made finishing second look like a walk in the park. When we saw him atop the last climb and descent at 160, 162, and 165 kilometers, he was simply floating. For a guy who races with such internal focus, he let it all loose at the finish, lifted a Lithuanian flag, and expressed jubilance.

UTMB 2016 - Gediminas Grinius

Gediminas Grinius taking second at UTMB 2016. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

American Tim Tollefson (post-race interview) debuted at 100 miles this weekend and he made doing so look really fun. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous for the guy when I saw him run through Saint-Gervais, the race’s half-marathon point, in something like 40th place. I expected him to take things out a little harder, and I wondered if he was feeling off. At the race’s marathon point, he was hovering just outside the men’s top 10, a situation he maintained until after the 100-kilometer mark, where he moved into the men’s top 10. For a guy who has never raced this distance, he exhibited remarkable patience and poise. From an outside perspective, it looked like Tim spent about 50 kilometers of the race’s second half lying in wait–waiting for carnage to come back. Getting onto the podium at UTMB is a bucket-list item for a lot of fast trail-ultra folks, but doing so for Tim involved passing his friend and teammate Zach Miller late in the race. These guys had made it pretty clear pre-race, though, that even if they are friends, the game would be on during the race. On the race’s final climb, Tim climbed into third place, where he would finish. And then he seemingly threw away all the patience he previously possessed, and went on like a man possessed, hunting Gediminas in second place and trying to stay in front of a chasing David Laney in fourth.

UTMB 2016 - Tim Tollefson

Tim Tollefson striding into La Fouly (110km). Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

In taking fourth, American David Laney (pre-race interview) put to bed anyone’s wonderings about whether the guy was a one-hit wonder here at UTMB. I felt the same way about David as I did Tim in the race’s early miles, a little nervous to see him running in 40th-some-odd place. As the race went on, however, I realized that David (and Tim for that matter) was actually running faster relative to the very front of field this year. It was actually that the men’s field was much more deep–there were more dudes than ever running within an hour of the lead at 100 kilometers. At 100 kilometers, David was in closer contact with the lead this year, it’s just that he passed much more carnage to get to the front. His late-race pushing is so fun to watch as a spectator, and it must be terrifying for the runners around him. You could see at the finish that he was spent, having given his fourth-place finish his all.

Spain’s Javi Dominguez was the men’s fifth-place finisher, and I’m not a bit surprised to see him there. His race results of late have been strong, so I expected him to contend for the men’s top 10, and I anticipated him doing so with the conservative-start/fast-finish style we saw him use to take third here three years ago.

Seventh place was France’s Sébastien Camus, who appeared to have several highs and lows, which would propel him in and out of the men’s top 10 throughout the race. He ultimately finished looking strong. Julien Chorier, who ran among podium position through 130 kilometers, slowed at the end to eighth. Italy’s Giulio Ornati came on strong late to move into the top 10 in ninth, and Spain’s Juan Maria Jimenez ran strong at the edge of the top 10 for much of the race.

2016 UTMB Men’s Results

[Watch videos of the top-three men finishing.]

  1. Ludovic Pommeret (Hoka One One) — 22:00:02 (post-race interview)
  2. Gediminas Grinius (Vibram) — 22:26:05 (post-race interview)
  3. Tim Tollefson (Nike) — 22:30:28 (post-race interview)
  4. David Laney (Nike) — 22:41:14 (pre-race interview)
  5. Javi Dominguez (Vibram) — 22:44:16
  6. Zach Miller (Nike) — 22:54:26 (pre-race interview)
  7. Sébastien Camus (Garmin) — 23:12:43
  8. Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) — 23:13:34
  9. Giulio Ornati (Salomon) — 23:25:38
  10. Juan Maria Jimenez (Green Power) — 23:27:18

Full results.

2016 UTMB Women’s Race

The strategic highlight of the women’s race was the pressure France’s Caroline Chaverot and Switzerland’s Andrea Huser (pre-race and post-race interviews) put on each other for 170 kilometers. Caroline had run at the lead of last year’s UTMB for almost 150 kilometers before she succumbed to leg cramps. This year, believe it or not, Caroline’s race was mired by stomach issues and those same leg cramps. Though Caroline was moving well in the more than dozen times our team saw her out on the course, it appeared that she was working hard to achieve that movement. That is, it just didn’t look like the race was coming easy for her. Turns out, she suffered stomach pain on every single descent, which she said was uncomfortable and made it difficult to eat. Additionally, she was plagued by the same leg cramps as last year. It’s just that this year, she chose to push through them. Caroline’s lead over second place was never large–at it’s greatest it was something like 20 minutes. In the race’s final third, Andrea reduced her deficit by so much that Caroline caught sight of Andrea behind her, and was spurred to fight back and create a lead again. Her seven-minute gap at the finish wasn’t much, but it was plenty to crown her the 2016 UTMB champion.

UTMB 2016 - Caroline Chaverot

Caroline Chaverot floating through La Fouly (110km). Photo: iRunFar/Sergi Colome

Andrea Huser’s command over races with long distances and technical terrain is incredible–the woman was as strong at the finish after finishing second as she was at the start. Andrea is a quiet presence, which from a racing perspective is incredibly dangerous. She’s like the shadow you can’t shake, always right there. While the women’s podium positions swapped quite a lot in the race’s first half marathon, Andrea settled into second place by 20 miles in and she unwaveringly maintained that position through the finish. Her time gap over the rest of the women’s field increased strongly–third place was one hour and 50 minutes back at the finish. Very clearly, Caroline and Andrea were in a category of their own at this year’s UTMB. To be honest with you, when I saw Andrea running about 14 minutes behind Caroline at Champex-Lac (124km), I thought it was game over. Andrea bounced over the rocks on the trail with a big smile, while Caroline struggled through a powerhike. So late in a race to look so good! Andrea continued from there to cut into her gap to Caroline, making it a real race for the win in the final 20 miles. With only seven minutes separating the pair at the finish, this was the closest women’s one-two finish in UTMB history.

UTMB 2016 - Andrea Huser

Andrea Huser staying hydrated. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Spain’s Uxue Fraile (pre-race and post-race interviews) was last year’s fastest-returning finisher, having taken second. This year, she came back with the goal of running a faster time. A strong runner over long and technical races, UTMB is really the perfect scene for her. Turns out, Uxue’s stomach went bad at about 70 kilometers into the race, and she subsequently struggled with nutrition and energy levels. Sometimes, as a race observer, you just feel bad for runners, and I sympathized with Uxue’s sufferfest–nothing came easy for her. I find it notable, however, that on a day where Uxue felt bad for 120 kilometers, she still finished a solid third place at the prestigious UTMB. Goodness, if she can run third here on a rough day, I’d sure like to see what she could do at a race like this on a perfect-for-Uxue day.

UTMB 2016 - Uxue Fraile

Uxue Fraile enjoying Saturday’s sunrise. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

France’s Juliette Blanchet, the U.S.’s Magda Boulet, and the U.K.’s Jasmin Paris (post-race interview) took fourth, fifth, and sixth places, respectively. At 92 kilometers into the race, at Refuge Bonatti, this trio ran into these positions, and would mostly stay in them for some 80 kilometers more to the finish. There was some late-race drama, however, between Magda and Jasmin when Jasmin caught Magda on the descent to Vallorcine (151km) and Magda was forced to hammer the final climb. And hammer she did, putting about 15 minutes on Jasmin, a gap she would maintain to the finish.

UTMB 2016 - Magdalena Boulet

Magda Boulet staying calm and collected in La Fouly (110km). Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Hungary’s Ildikó Wermescher took seventh, Japan’s Kaori Niwa was eighth, Switzerland’s Denise Zimmermann was ninth, and the U.K.’s Sophie Grant 10th.

2016 UTMB Women’s Results

[Watch videos of the top-three women finishing.]

  1. Caroline Chaverot (Hoka One One) — 25:15:40 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  2. Andrea Huser (Mammut) — 25:22:56 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  3. Uxue Fraile (Vibram) — 27:10:22 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
  4. Juliette Blanchet (Isostar) — 27:37:18
  5. Magdalena Boulet (Hoka One One) — 28:18:05 (pre-race interview)
  6. Jasmin Paris (Inov-8) — 28:34:35 (post-race interview)
  7. Ildikó Wermescher (Mammut) — 29:13:56
  8. Kaori Niwa (Salomon) — 29:17:41
  9. Denise Zimmermann (Salomon) — 31:00:03
  10. Sophie Grant (Serpentine) — 31:53:07

Full results.

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Thank You

Wow! So many people helped bring iRunFar’s UTMB coverage to the world. We appreciate the field assistance of Tim Peeters, Marissa Harris, Kerry Suter, Ali Pottinger, Glenn Alverus, Francois Satier, Sergi Colome, Brian Lang, Margo Meyer, Lizzy Trower, Donielle Wolfe, and Stephane Ehrstrom. We’re also grateful for the office assistance of Mauri Pagliacci, Dani Torres, Franco Larooca, Travis Trampe, Eric Senseman, Ellie Greenwood, and Kim Wrinkle.

Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 35 comments

  1. Nick

    Thanks for the great coverage as usual. It’d be interesting to have the full lists of, say, the 25 top contenders who DNFed. LOTS did.

    1. richard felton

      hernando, hugenschmidt, schlarb, heras, tofol castanyer, antolinos, symmonds, sandes, hermansen, lorblanchet, bosio, tidd….crazy this year. that looks like a top 12 finisher list not a dnf list

    1. Davide

      Rory’s CR was on a slightly different course, I guess the new climb to Les Pyramidees adds a good 40 mins for the top runners.

      Nonetheless, it’s still a very stout CR.

  2. michael

    it makes me a bit annoyed that so many pro runners dropped out while a whole lot of average folk managed to push on and finish.

    1. Pacer1

      There were over 1000 withdrawals from the race. Yes this included some elite men and women, but it also includes many others for whom is was not their day either. Unless you have competed in a race of that magnitude and difficulty and know otherwise, it is probably best to allow individuals to make a choice for themselves and accept it without judgment. Tough sport, really tough race. Congratulations to all the finishers and to those who for whatever reason decided not to push on.

    2. Toby

      Why would a pro finish if they had to slog their way to the line. They show up to compete and win. If I was a pro and I knew it wasn’t my day I would drop in a second. Why potentially risk injury or some other calamity?

      Also most of these big races like UTMB/WS100 etc. are once in a life time for a lot of people and mostly likely the culmination of their running career but for a pro it’s just another race on their calendar.

    3. Emerson Thoreau

      Sun Tzu said: “The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.” Each runner must do what is best for him or her self. That you have angst for their not finishing reflects on you, not them.

    4. Thomas

      I was also a bit annoyed when I saw the DNF’s of the elites at first. Having finished UTMB myself (mid pack) this weekend and suffered from the heat however, I realize that pushing as hard as the top runners did must often have been a “Hollywood or bust” move. It is easy to judge from the armchair :)

    1. David Roche

      Larisa is focusing on the IAU World Trail Champs in Portugal later in the year! These efforts are so huge that she decided to save it for that race. Thanks!

  3. Nelson

    Some of the Spaniards dnf’d because:
    – Tofol fell and hurt a knee
    – Luis Alberto had some sort of issue with his heels
    – Miguel Heras hadn’t/couldn’t prepare well for the race and was already skeptical before the start

    In an interview, Heras was asked about Miller’s strategy and he wasn’t impressed with the all-out approach. He said it may work once in a while but there are smarter ways to run 100 miles (I’m paraphrasing). He commented that while he sat down to have some soup at an aid station, Miller was trying to eat so fast that food almost fell from his mouth. The image sums up both approaches nicely.

    Interesting fact: the winner was outside of the top50 by mile 30.

    Tollefson’s was the performance that impressed me the most, and that in his first 100 miler, and especially UTMB. Laney’s was also very solid. Miller’s incredible talent allowed him to almost pull it off, but I too think his strategy was too risky for the distance. But as he gains more experience there’s no telling what he can achieve.

    1. Simon

      I was crewing another front end runner so got to see the leading guys right the way through, and the ones that impressed me the most were Tollefson and Laney. So controlled and considered in aid stations, totally on top of their game, steadily building a momentum through the race and actually seeming to enjoy the process. Tim in particular. Also their crew were really well drilled and super nice.

      I was hoping Zach could see it through but seeing him in the first half and the way he was literally bouncing through aids… I don’t know. There seemed an inevitability that he would suffer later on. Poor guy was a ghost by Vallorcine. Finishing in sixth place was a superhuman effort considering what he was going through.

      And props to our guy Paul Giblin from the UK!! 17th place and first Brit!!!

    2. Florian

      Dont get me wrong but Miguel Heras shouldnt really comment on strategy. The guy is like on almonst every startlist, rarely starts due to injury/poor training? and drops from most races like this one. I think he started UTMB 6 times and finished like once.

      Everyone should do what he wants but its just disrespectful to all the people who give up their time to support you in a race like this.

      1. Nelson

        Well, Heras only commented on it because he was specifically asked about it in an interview. He doesn’t seem concerned with what other runners do, but at UTMB there seemed to be a lot of puzzlement with Miller’s strategy and the question was brought up in many interviews. A lot of people were rooting for Zach, too. He is very popular and well liked here.

        About Heras, remember he isn’t in his 20s anymore, has a job and a family. He can’t just go dirtbagging all summer to train for a race. I think he’s also been dealing with some injuries this year. He doesn’t heal and recover as fast as his younger self.

        What most people would agree on is that going all-out in a hundred miler is a gamble, which was Heras’ take too. In the end, that’s how Zach likes to run, and he certainly has pulled it off before. What I wouldn’t agree is with Zach’s assessment that he almost did at UTMB.

        1. Florian

          Well, that may all be true. Zach finished and Miguel didnt. You can choose who had the better approach. If he was injured before than just dont start. Period. I just respect Zach more for blowing up and still finishing.

          1. Naan

            I agree with Nelson that Miller’s self-assessment is wrong. I actually think there’s a bit of self-deception going on here. He did not nearly did it. First and sixth are very different positions, and it should now be clear that he would have had a better shot at it had he been less self-confident and delusional. Saying that HE almost dit it but, say, Grinius or Tollefson didn’t is even disrespectul to them. THEY were much closer to winning than he ever was.

            1. Bobby O

              It was like a day after the race when he was interviewed. Give the guy a break. A hot take like that can’t really be taken too seriously because something like what Zach just went through will take some time to process.

              My personal opinion is that I love Zach’s style and I personally would never judge another runners strategy or style because that’s their deal. They are just another man in the arena.

              “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -T.R.

  4. Eric

    Based on that photo of the top 5 men, it looks like Americans like shorty-shorts while the Euros go long. I’d always been led to believe the opposite was true :)

  5. another_william

    Euros don’t just like to go with the long shorts, they also like to compress various body parts with the help of sock-like clothing articles, layer up once it gets below 15°C, and wear NASA tested sunglasses. You can really tell where a trail runner is from by just looking at him. It put a smile on my face to see Miller carry a handheld instead of poles. Rock on, Zach!

    1. Walter

      Granted, there’s no scientific evidence for compression socks during a race and the length of somebody’s shorts is a matter of personal preference and style. But it’s different for the poles. In a race like the UTMB, with its huge climbs, they can make all the difference, especially towards the end of the race. Anyone who has seen the winner, Ludovic Pommeret, racing up those mountains will attest to that. Sure, Zach and Anton and Timothy may look cooler than the Euros. But what’s more important? Looking cool or winning the race? Go for it, Euros! -:)

    1. Walter

      I am not sure if there are any stats but you will hardly find any of the mid-pack runners without poles. I would estimate around 80% or more. Top level runners will use them mostly for very steep slopes (above 15% grade) while others will walk already at much lower grades.

  6. Alice

    Thanks in advance for clarifying :) – poles are mandatory as per race required equipment, right? But obviously not everybody uses them, I remember Rory Bosio mentioning in her lovely humorous manner that she didn’t. But runners are still required to carry them at all times, correct? The picture referred to above of Zach, with a handheld, is it just that he was not using poles but was still carrying them? Just curious if the organizers now have different rules re poles. Thank you!

      1. Walter

        Poles are definitly NOT mandatory for the UTMB. The UTMB organizers take the mandatory kit very seriously and even the elite runners are being checked if they carry everything – otherwise you get a penalty.

        I don’t know of any trail race in Europe which makes poles mandatory. But there are some for which they are not allowed – like Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland.

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