As per usual, the depth of talent in this year’s UTMB women’s field is staggering, and it was hard to know where to draw the line when writing this preview! The absence of last year’s winner and course record holder Courtney Dauwalter leaves the race wide open to a number of hopefuls capable of taking the win. Among them are previous top 10 UTMB finishers, as well as previous winners of other UTMB Mont-Blanc festival events like the TDS and CCC looking to graduate to the main event — but, notably, no one on this list has won UTMB before.
It goes without saying that the UTMB is the ultimate season finale and the high point of the ultra-trail running calendar. The race, which follows the stunningly beautiful Tour du Mont Blanc trail, takes in 171.5 kilometers (106.5 miles) with over 10,000 meters (32,800 feet) of climbing, traversing three countries before weaving its way back to Chamonix, France.
A special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of UTMB possible!
Thanks also to BUFF® and Squirrel’s Nut Butter for their support of our UTMB coverage.
Tune in to our live coverage of UTMB starting at 6 p.m. CEST (10 a.m. MDT in the U.S.) on Friday, August 26. You’ll be able to follow our UTMB live coverage right here on iRunFar!d
Be sure to check out our in-depth UTMB men’s preview for a look at the men’s race!
The Favorites to Win the 2022 UTMB
Spanish Dutch runner Ragna Debats (pre-race interview) is in great shape and will be tough to beat in this year’s UTMB. A pro at hard mountainous ultras — so far in 2022 she’s won the 126k Transgrancanaria and the brutal Istria by UTMB 100 Mile. She suffered a DNF at the 2022 Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120k, due to a hamstring issue, which has since been resolved, and sat out this year’s Western States 100 to focus on UTMB. The year previous at Western States, she had placed third in a very competitive time of 17:41, and was high on our ones-to-watch list for this year’s race until she decided to withdraw. As an easier build-up race, she won the 72k race at the Montreux Trail Festival at the end of July of this year. Aside from a DNF last year, she has good form at UTMB events too, having won the 2019 CCC in 12:10, one of the faster winning times on the full route.
Sweden’s Mimmi Kotka (pre-race interview) is the highest placing returning runner from last year’s UTMB, where she placed third, having run in second for much of the race, at times putting pressure on the ultimate winner and record-setter, Courtney Dauwalter. She has strong form in UTMB-specific races, having won both CCC (in 2016) and TDS (in 2017). She got off to a great start in 2022, winning the 120k Lavaredo Ultra Trail. She is currently based in Chamonix and is regularly seen eating up the UTMB trails with her four-legged training partner, Enzo, and home advantage will definitely be a factor.
Audrey Tanguy (pre-race interview) of France has won the TDS twice — on the old 120k course in 2018, and in the inaugural year of the more challenging extended course in 2019. Earlier this year, she ran a strong second behind Courtney Dauwalter at the 115k Madeira Island Ultra-Trail (MIUT), and another second (behind OCC course record holder, Blandine L’Hirondel) in the 46k Trail du Ventoux. She placed sixth in the 2021 Western States 100, but then subsequently failed to finish UTMB later that season. This year, she declined her place on the start line of Western States and is likely to be quite focused on a good performance at UTMB.
Last year’s TDS winner, Frenchwoman Manon Bohard, has not been twiddling her thumbs this past year! She won the 76k Trail de Calabri, in a small field, just two months after TDS. This year, she won the 80k race at the Innsbruck Alpine Trailrun Festival and the 76k Trail Verbier St Bernard by UTMB, both in very strong times. She failed to finish the 30k race at the Montreux Trail Festival at the end of July, but possibly just needed a little more recovery time, three weeks on from the 80k in Innsbruck. Bohard has strong results at a range of ultra distances, but following on from a DNF at the 170k SwissPeaks Trail in 2020, this will be her second attempt at her first 100 miler.
More Top 2022 UTMB Women’s Runners
Jocelyne Pauly, of France, finished third on her last outing at UTMB, in 2018, and there are lots of indicators that she’s capable of another similar performance. She placed second in the Tor des Géants 330k in 2019 and has had plenty of wins in France so far this year — including the Senpereko Trail 80k in March, the Trail des 3 Pics 56k in June, and the Grand Trail de la Vallée d’Ossau 72k in July. Her previous high-profile wins include the Grand Raid des Pyrénées 180k and the Endurance Trail des Templiers 100k, both in 2017.
Spain’s Azara García (pre-race interview) had a superb 2021, winning Transgrancanaria, Ultra Pirineu 100k, and Ultra Sierra Nevada 100k, to name but a few. She also took fourth at the 2021 Lavaredo Ultra Trail. This strong year did not come out of the blue, as she has a lengthy back catalog of good results, including two more wins at Transgrancanaria in 2017 and 2020, and the Zegama Marathon in 2015. She has some UTMB-specific experience in that she placed second in the 2019 OCC, but this will be her first 100 miler.
Frenchwoman Lucie Jamsin placed seventh at the 2021 UTMB, having also placed fourth at Transgrancanaria earlier that year. This year, she took sixth at Transgrancanaria, but shaving a little off her time in more difficult weather conditions, which suggests she’s in good shape and should be a top-10 contender again this year.
One thing I failed to find when researching the USA’s Katie Schide’s (pre-race interview) previous ultra form, was evidence of a single DNF. She consistently gets it right and finishes strong. A French resident these days and no stranger to these trails, this will be her third attempt at UTMB. She’s had two pretty similar runs at it, finishing sixth in 2019 in a time of 27:22, and eighth in 2021 in 27:39. She’s also placed second in CCC in 2018 and won the Mont-Blanc 90k in 2019. She’s in good shape this year too, having won the Val d’Aran by UTMB 105k in July, and should be able to climb higher up the field this time around.
Emily Hawgood, who’s from Zimbabwe and lives in the USA, placed 10th at UTMB in 2021, having just placed seventh at that year’s Western States 100. Having already demonstrated that she has the bouncebackability to pull off the tricky double, she’s going for it again this year and has strong potential for a high placing. Her climb from seventh place at the 2021 Western States 100 to fifth in 2022 might on paper look like a marginal gain, but anyone following the 2022 race will know that she ran an absolute stormer. She was out front with winner Ruth Croft for much of the race, before eventually falling back, but still finished strong and an hour quicker than last year. If she can be patient with the pacing, and with more 100-mile experience under her belt, she is well capable of climbing further up the top 10 at UTMB too.
Hillary Allen from the USA has had some great runs in the Alps, including a strong second place in the 2019 TDS and third in the Mont-Blanc 90k in 2015. She also has two wins in the 50k race at Lavaredo Ultra Trail — in 2016 and 2018 — in the Dolomites. More recently, she won the 2021 MIUT and, as part of her build-up, recently placed third in a competitive field at the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile. She failed to finish last year’s UTMB and is still on the quest to finish her first 100 miler, but with all her relevant experience the extra distance should be well within her scope, and she could do well.
Sabrina Stanley of the USA announced she isn’t racing due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. [Updated: August 26, 2022]
Sabrina Stanley of the USA has had some great 100-mile runs, including wins at the Hardrock 100 in 2021 and 2018, and Diagonale des Fous in 2019. She also placed third at the Western States 100 in 2017, albeit in a less competitive than usual women’s field. She placed fourth at MIUT in 2021 and won the 2022 Quest for the Crest 50k earlier this year, and although she hasn’t raced at UTMB before, she’s reportedly been training on the route all summer and should be well prepared.
China’s Fu-Zhao Xiang (pre-race interview) was just outside of the top 10 on her last run at UTMB, finishing 11th in 2019. This was a climb up from 20th the previous year, knocking 2.5 hours off her previous time, so she’ll likely be looking to continue that trend. She also recently finished a close second behind Ragna Debats in the 72k at the 2022 Montreux Trail Festival. Other standout results include a win at the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji 100 miler in 2019, and second in the Hong Kong 100k in 2019 and Transgrancanaria in 2020.
Canada’s Marianne Hogan has a long history in triathlon and ultrarunning, but has been going particularly well these past couple of years. She placed second in the 2021 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k. Then in 2022, she won her way into the Western States 100 with a victory at the Bandera 100k, a Golden Ticket race, and went on to take third at Western States. She looks to have recovered well from that event and is busy training and recceing with friends in Chamonix and should be well acclimatized and good to go.
Still More 2022 UTMB Women to Watch
Hungarian Eszter Csillag, who lives in Hong Kong, is a runner on the ascendency and one to watch in her 100-mile debut. She placed fourth at CCC last year just four months after giving birth — learn more about that in our in-depth profile. Since that, she took fifth in the 2022 Transgrancanaria and recently placed second in the 50k Eiger Ultra Trail. She was on the start list for the canceled Mont-Blanc 90k, and will be extra eager this time around for her run around Mont Blanc.
Poland’s Katarzyna Solińska placed second at the 2022 Lavaredo Ultra Trail, just 20 minutes back from one of our race favorites, Mimmi Kotka, so she has to be taken seriously for UTMB. She also placed fifth at CCC last year and took eighth at the 2021 Ultra Pirineu 100k.
Brittany Peterson of the USA has a depth of experience that arguably should place her a little further up this preview, but she’s not been racing at her best this year. She didn’t finish the Canyons by UTMB 100k and had a difficult run at the Western States 100, which she gutted out for a respectable 16th-place finish. She also doesn’t have really strong UTMB-specific form, having failed to finish the race last year and placed 19th in the 2019 CCC. She has, however, proven herself in the past to be very strong over 100 miles, having placed second and fourth at Western States in 2019 and 2021, respectively, and a strong second behind Camille Herron in the 2021 Javelina Jundred Mile. She also won the Black Canyon Ultra 100k early in 2021, and if she can resurrect that previous top form, she has strong wild card potential.
Kaytlyn Gerbin is another USA runner with superb results to her name who doesn’t seem to be racing at her best this year, although she did set a fastest known time on the 78k La Vuelta al Hielo in February, and is just back from a multi-day mountaineering traverse in the U.S.’s Cascade Range. She won the 2019 and 2020 Transgrancanaria but placed eighth this year, a nice bit back from her previous times on the route. Other strong past results include second in the Western States 100 in 2018 and sixth in 2019 — but in a faster time of 18:13 — and a win at the Bear 100 Mile in 2018. She has demonstrated that her best is very good, but even her below-par days are pretty solid so she shouldn’t be too far off the mark.
Jasmin Paris of the U.K. placed sixth on her last lap around Mont Blanc in 2016, and won the Ultra Tour Monta Rosa in 2021. This year, she became the first woman in almost a decade to complete the Barkley Fun Run — three loops of the notorious Barkley Marathons route. She is not the most prolific racer on the international scene but is highly regarded at home in the U.K. where she holds the course record for the brutal 268-mile winter Spine Race, and held the women’s record for the Bob Graham Round before passing it to Beth Pascall in 2020. Her lack of a social media presence makes it hard to get a peep at how her training is going, but she can generally be counted on to quietly get the job done. [Added 17 August]
Belgium’s Manuela Soccol is no longer on the entrants list. [Updated: August 25, 2022]
The word “interesting” is bandied around a lot in these previews, but it really will be interesting to see how Belgian crossover athlete Manuela Soccol fares at UTMB! In 2016 the elite marathoner represented her country in the Olympics and she has a PB of 2:37 for that discipline. On the trails, her standout result was a win at the Tarawera 100k in 2020 in a time of 9:39. For context, this was just 18 minutes over Ruth Croft’s time for her course-record-setting win the following year. She also won her first ultra, the 63k Cappadocia Ultra Trail in 2019. In terms of both distance and elevation, UTMB will be a massive step up for her, but she is also registered for the Javelina Jundred Mile later this year and appears committed to pursuing the 100-mile distance.
Aroa Sio of Spain joins the growing number of athletes taking the Western States 100 and UTMB in one season. She’s had a good year so far, having qualified for Western States with a strong third-place finish at the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k, and finished 12th in a deep women’s field at Western States. Her previous strong results include a win in the 85k at MIUT in 2019, and 15th at the CCC later that year.
This will be Japan’s Kaori Niwa’s fifth UTMB and her results have been consistently solid. Her best was a fourth-place finish in 2017 and her most recent was 13th place last year. She raced five 100 milers in 2021 alone, taking third in Thailand by UTMB 170k and the Lake Biwa 100 Mile, second in the Val d’Aran by UTMB 162k, and winning the Mt. Fuji 100 Mile Challenge. She shouldn’t be too far back from the action.
Even More Top 2022 UTMB Women to Watch
- Claire Bannwarth (France) – 4th 2021 Tor des Géants
- Elisabeth Borgersen (Sweden) – 6th 2019 & 7th 2018 TDS
- Naomi Brand (South Africa) – 3rd 2020 Tarawera 100k; 15th 2019 UTMB
- Isabelle Dragon (France) – 1st 2021 Endurance Trail des Templiers 108k; 13th 2021 TDS
- Basilia Förster (Italy, lives in Germany) – 8th 2021 TDS; 13th 2017 UTMB
- Claire Heslop (Canada) – 18th 2021 UTMB
- Mariya Nikolova (Bulgaria) – 9th 2018 UTMB
- Eva-Maria Sperger (Germany) – 6th 2022 MIUT; 1st 2019 Grossglockner Ultra-Trail 110k; 9th 2019 Transvulcania 73k
Alissa St Laurent (Canada) – 2nd 2022 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile; 5th 2018 TDS; 6th 2017 UTMB[Updated August 24, 2022]
- Anna Troup (U.K.) – 1st 2021 Lakeland 100 Mile; 1st 2021 Spine Race Summer Edition 268 Mile
- Emily Vaudan (Switzerland) – 5th 2021 MIUT
Previously, But No Longer on the 2022 UTMB Entrants List
- Kirsten Amundsgård (Norway)
- Luzia Buehler (Switzerland)
- Anna Carlsson (Sweden)
- Camille Herron (USA)
- Jasmin Paris (U.K.)
- Beth Pascall (U.K.)
- Leah Yingling (USA)
Call for Comments
- So, who is your money on to be the 2022 UTMB women’s champion?!
- Who do you think will be the most improved returning runner?
- Who do you think will be the best newcomer?
- Is there anyone we haven’t mentioned who you think should be here too?