2021 Diagonale des Fous Results: Ludo Pommeret and Daniel Jung Tie, Emilie Maroteaux Dominates

The 2021 Diagonale des Fous kicked off on October 21, 2021, at 9:00 p.m. local time, sending runners in white and yellow Grand Raid de la Réunion jerseys off into the dark. The storied ultra, whose name roughly translates to the “madman’s diagonal” or the “diagonal of fools,” has long challenged ultrarunners with its notoriously tough terrain. And 2021’s edition lived up to that reputation.

The 168-kilometer (104-mile) race features 9,611 meters (31,500 feet) of elevation gain on some of Réunion Island’s most mountainous ground. Réunion Island is a French department located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. The route, which begins at the town of Saint-Pierre at the south end of the island, greeted runners with a brutal ascent right out of the gates, gaining roughly 2,400 meters in the first 40k and offering very few descents to break up the climb. From there, runners made the northwest cut across the island — with plenty more climbing and descending yet to come on steep, technical terrain before reaching the finish line in the capital city of Saint-Denis. The true highlight of the race is traversing Réunion Island’s remote Cirque du Mafate, a high altitude volcanic caldera that’s only accessible by foot.

Temperatures hovered around 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) at night and 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day with some cloud cover, forcing runners to deal with hot and humid conditions on the course.

And while the men’s race shaped up to be a suspenseful back-and-forth battle, the women’s race was a bit more spread out. Below we recap how the men’s and women’s races for the podium played out.

Diagonale des Fous 2021 - Starting Line

The starting line of the 2021 Diagonale des Fous. Photo: Grand Raid Réunion/imazpress.com

2021 Diagonale des Fous Men’s Results

The men’s race delivered both a competitive battle and a celebration of sportsmanship as Daniel Jung (Italy) and Ludovic Pommeret (France) crossed the finish line side-by-side, tieing for the win.

Jung, who took the lead between the 40k and 50k marks of the race and never looked back, eventually found himself running alongside Pommeret. Fourty-six-year-old Pommeret, who claimed second at Diagonale des Fous in 2014 and 2019, gradually worked his way up from 15th to join Jung around the 108k mark after nearly 15 hours of racing.

Diagonale des Fous 2021 - Ludovic Pommeret

Ludovic Pommeret, who eventually tied for the win, in the early hours of the 2021 Diagonale des Fous, with third place Beñat Marmissole close behind. Photo: Grand Raid Réunion/imazpress.com

Diagonale Des Fous 2021 - Daniel Jung

Daniel Jung, eventually tieing with Ludovic Pommeret for the win, descends the course with people cheering in the background. Photo: Grand Raid Réunion/imazpress.com

From there, Jung and Pommeret traded positions through the remaining checkpoints. According to the official race clock, the pair often had as few as two seconds separating them. They left the final aid station together — and proceeded to cross the finish line hand-in-hand. Beñat Marmissolle (France) finished third in 23:45:54.

The first Réunionese finisher was Judicael Sautron, who took seventh in 25:56:39.

Men’s top-five finishers:

  • 1. Ludovic Pommeret (France) — 23:02:21
  • 1. Daniel Jung (Italy) — 23:02:21
  • 3. Beñat Marmissolle (France) — 23:45:54
  • 4. Cédric Chavet (France) — 24:08:41
  • 5. Francesco Cucco (Italy) — 24:32:42

Full results.

2021 Diagonale des Fous Women’s Results

Meanwhile, the women’s race wasn’t nearly as close. Emilie Maroteaux absolutely dominated the women’s field, finishing two hours ahead of the next female finisher. Maroteaux ran a smart race, gradually moving up throughout the day, giving up very few spots to the rest of the field. She’s run at Grand Raid Réunion before, but only in the shorter Trail de Bourbon (113k) and Las Mascareignes (64k) races, so to win at her first go at the brutal 100-plus-mile course is impressive. She lives on Réunion Island, so the women’s win goes to a local.

Grand Raid Reunion 2021 - Diagonale des Fous - Emilie Maroteaux Champion

Emilie Maroteaux crosses the finish line with her family as the 2021 Diagonale des Fous champion. Photo: Grand Raid Réunion

Behind Maroteaux was France’s Amandine Ginouves. This was also her first time at this race, and looks like perhaps only her second time at the 100-mile distance. Ginouves also ran a smart race, moving up throughout the day, significantly behind Maroteaux, but gaining ground on the field at large. Crossing the line in knee braces, it looks like she laid it all out there.

Finally, not too far behind Ginouves was Sophie Blard. We believe this year was Blard’s fourth running at the Diagonale, coming off a disappointing DNF in 2019, she came back with a vengeance. It took her a bit longer to move up in the field, but starting at the climb around 120k, she threw down the pace and moved up steadily until the end with nothing to worry about – she was a full hour ahead of fourth-place woman Sylvaine Cussot, of France.

France’s Jessica Lassara was the fifth woman, across the line in 35:26:35.

Grand Raid Reunion 2021 - Diagonale des Fous - Sophie Blard 2nd Place

Sophie Blard was all smiles after improving from her previous finishes to be the third-place female at the 2021 Diagonale des Fous. Photo: Grand Raid Réunion

Women’s top-five finishers:

  1. Emilie Maroteaux (Réunion Island) — 29:54:59
  2. Amandine Ginouves (France) – 32:30:18
  3. Sophie Blard (Réunion Island) – 32:51:11
  4. Sylvaine Cussot (France) – 34:01:16
  5. Jessica Lassara (France) – 35:26:35

Full results.