The 2023 OCC race left Orsières, Switzerland, at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, August 31, and sent 1,729 runners through Champex-Lac, Switzerland, and on to the finish in Chamonix, France. The point-to-point route through Orsières, Champex-Lac, and Chamonix, with the abbreviated race name coming from the town names, is often called the Little Swiss Sister of UTMB.
While the course is a relatively short 55 kilometers (34.2 miles), it’s packed with an impressive 3,500 meters (11,480 feet) of elevation gain through the high mountains. With a rockslide closing one of the trails between Trient and Col de Balme, runners took a slightly more direct route than in years past, which together with cool and dry conditions, plus the ever-increasing depth of competition at this event, meant fast times.
Last year’s winners, Manuel Merillas (Spain) and Sheila Aviles (Spain) did not return to defend their titles, but there were many fast women and men to challenge for the win.
You can also check out more results from the week’s UTMB Mont Blanc festival:
- 2023 TDS Results: Meier and Nakache Win on Rerouted Course
- 2023 CCC Results: Albon and Kaspersen Win Over Deep Fields
- 2023 UTMB Results: Dauwalter and Walmsley Lead American Sweep
2023 OCC Women’s Race
The depth of the women’s field for the 2023 OCC was impressive, but after 55k, it was Toni McCann (South Africa) who ran into Chamonix solo for the win with a time of 5:18:21. Last year’s OCC fifth-place finisher put together a solid race start to finish and looked absolutely ecstatic, if a little bit shocked, when crossing the finish line with plenty of time to celebrate her win. The South African runner is coming off a string of victories this season already, including the Davos X-Trails and Transvulcania by UTMB 50k.
All eyes were on the 2022 UTMB champion and 2023 Western States 100 second-place finisher, Katie Schide (U.S.), and she didn’t disappoint at this much shorter distance. An American living in France, Schide has a long history with the UTMB race festival events, including an additional two top-10 UTMB finishes in 2019 and 2021 and a second place at CCC in 2018.
In the final kilometers of the race, it was clear that Schide would earn a podium spot, but it was unknown whether she’d be able to hold off a charging Miao Yao (China). With the gap hovering at 15 to 20 seconds through the final minutes of the race, it seemed possible that Yao, a 2:37 marathoner, would have the leg speed to close the gap on the longer-distance specialist.
But in the end, by running the steps and squeezing every last second out of the course, Schide was able to hold on to second with a time of 5:26:25. Yao finished in 5:27:07.
2023 OCC Women’s Results
- Toni McCann (South Africa) – 5:18:21
- Katie Schide (U.S., lives in France) – 5:26:25
- Miao Yao (China) – 5:27:07
- Caitlin Fielder (New Zealand) – 5:36:25
- Daniela Oemus (Germany) – 5:38:22
- Rachel Drake (U.S.) – 5:40:27
- Candice Fertin (France) – 5:41:39
- Louise Serban-Penhoat (France) – 5:44:41
- Núria Gil (Spain) – 5:44:58
- Anna-Stiina Erkkilä (Finland) – 5:45:16
2023 OCC Men’s Race
Stian Angermund (Norway) was first across the line for the 2023 OCC on a beautiful day in Chamonix with a time of 4:42:40. A blistering fast day on the course saw close times between the top four men in the final kilometers, but it was the Norwegian who was able to hold on to a lead that he established just over halfway through the race. Sitting in third at just under 30k into the day, he made his move on the climb up to the Col de Balme and never looked back.
This win is another in a long line for Angermund, who has already run away with victories in the Trail World Championships 50k and the Trail des Hauts Forts 20k this year. Surely this win was sweet redemption after his DNF at CCC in 2021.
The battle for the final podium spots remained close between Francesco Puppi (Italy), Antonio Martínez (Spain), and You-Sheng Guan (China). Puppi ran a smart race throughout, staying near the front, but was as far back as ninth place at 23k into the race, and was able to put on the gas to slowly but surely move himself into second by the end. With a final time of 4:44:58, he was able to just stay ahead of Martínez, who finished on the final podium spot in 4:45:19. Puppi has already had a successful season with these shorter distances, including wins in the Lavaredo Ultra Trail by UTMB 50k and the Andersen Half Marathon Trail.
2023 OCC Men’s Results
- Stian Angermund (Norway) – 4:42:40
- Francesco Puppi (Italy) – 4:44:58
- Antonio Martínez (Spain) – 4:45:19
- You-Sheng Guan (China) – 4:45:49
- Jeshurun Small (U.S.) – 4:48:18
- Robbie Simpson (Great Britain) – 4:55:33
- Anthony Felber (France) – 4:55:50
- Guang-Fu Meng (China) – 4:56:14
- Tao Luo (China) – 4:57:54
- Jan Margarit Solé (Spain) – 4:59:46