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Jez Bragg and Lizzie Hawker ready for the 'big dance'

by Editor
Monday 22nd August 2011

"It's nearly that time again, the 'big dance' for the world's ultra running community, The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)" (Jez Bragg)

80 teams will start the Petite Trotte à Léon at 10pm tonight. The team event which involves a route of 300km and 22,000m of positive height gain will start off the events of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®.

Excitement is building as the main North Face® UTMB® race, due to start Friday evening, heralds an exceptional line-up. More than ever, the UTMB® is taking on the appearance of a world championship. No less than 40 elite men will be contending the top places on the North Face® UTMB®.

Heading the strong British contingient is 2010 men’s champion, 30-year-old Jez Bragg. Following on from his fantastic fourth place at the Western States 100, Bragg will be keen to give a good performance in 2011 over the full course. "This year I will be wearing race number ‘1’ on my vest. I won the weather-shortened UTMB race last year, so that’s the honour I get. It is, and I am honoured, but it is a bit like having a target stuck on the back of your vest…" After some intensive training he is ready to take on the challenge! "I’m excited and looking forward to another day-long race in the mountains which will test me to my limits, but is guaranteed to provide plenty of stories to tell. I’ll certainly give it everything I have."

Spain's Kilian Jornet (twice winner of the UTMB®) is another one of the favourites. A gutsy win in the Western States 100, for which he had planned meticulously ever since his third place in 2010, showed a new determined and maturer approach to his racing. He has spent the whole summer in the Chamonix valley, training on the summits of Chamionix, showing that he is keen to add another great run to his portfolio!

However a great many more are arriving from all over the world, keen make their mark: Kilian's fellow countryman and friend Miguel Heras Hernandez is one to be watched.

Many of the top American ultra runners are also coming to Chamonix for the race. Among them: Michael Foote, Dakota Jones, Scott Jurek, Hal Koerner, Anton Krupicka, Karl Meltzer, Geoff Roes and Mike Wolfe.

Japan is also staking its claims with Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (3rd in 2008 and 2nd in 2009) and Nomoto Tetsuaki and Minehiro Yokoyama.

All the best French trail runners will be present : Sébastien Chaigneau (2nd UTMB® 2009), Vincent Delebarre (1st UTMB® in 2004) as well as Patrick Bohard, François D'Haene, Hervé Giraud Sauveur, Antoine Guillon, Thomas Lorblanchet, Nicolas Mermoud, Thomas Saint Girons.

Not forgetting Zigor Iturrieta 3rd in 2010 (Spain), Gustavo Reyes (Argentina), Jean-Yves Rey (Switzerland), the Englishman Nicky Clark or the Italian Giuliano Cavallo...

There also is serious competition amongst the elite women.

Lizzy Hawker (United Kingdom) who has already won the UTMB® three times, is dreaming of a 4th victory! The twice-winning American (2003 and 2009) Krissy Moehl returns this year. Fernanda Maciel (Brazil) winner of the TDS in 2009 is an important outsider. It will also be necessary to watch out for the French Maud Giraud Gobert (1st CCC® in 2010) and Karine Herry (1st UTMB® victory in 2006), the Spaniard Néré Martinez Urruzola, the Italian Giuliana Arrigoni, or the Americans Diana Finkel and Darcy Piceu Africa.

For the 6th CCC®, there will also be an impressive line-up. France's Xavier Thevenard, the 2010 winner, is defending his title, alongside Adam Campbell (Canada), Dave Mackey (USA), Christophe Malarde (France), Mikael Pasero (France), Emmanuel Gault (France), Jason Hill (South Africa), Aurélien Brun (France), Lucas Humbert (France), Julien Jorro (France), Didier Mussard (France) et Florian Racinet (France) who are all serious challengers.

The women's field features Valerie Boitte (France), Alessandra Carlini (Italy), Virginie Govignon (France), Maria Kalogirou (Greece), Josiane Piccolet (France), Barbara Piva (Italy), Ruling Xing (China).

And as though that isn't enough talent in one place, the third TDS also has an exceptional line-up: Hidefumi Kimura (Japan), Franck Bussiere, (France), Jérôme Challier (France), Ole Petter Hjelle (Norway), Sébastien Talotti (France) et Lionel Trivel (France).

And amongst the women: Catherine Dubois (France) will be up against the Canadian Sophie Limoges within an even more international pack including Norwegians, Argentineans, Germans, Finns and Turks!

Race Director Catherine Poletti knows it's not all about winning though: "I would just like to remind all the runners, spectators, sponsors, communes and countries, that the very essence of the races in The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® is to live out a real adventure in the mountains."

Live a fabulous adventure, through 4 events!

    3 countries- 166km and 9,500m of positive height gain in semi-autonomy
    46 hours maxi– 2,300 runners at the start.
    3 countries – 98km and 5,600m of positive height gain in semi-autonomy
    25 hours max– 1,900 runners at the start
    110km and 7,100m of positive height gain in semi-autonomy
    32 hours max – 1,200 runners at the start
    3 countries – 300km and 22,000m of positive height gain in complete autonomy
    A continuous non-stop event open to 80 teams

Find out more

Website: www.ultratrailmb.com/
Facebook : www.facebook.com/UltraTrailMontBlanc
Twitter : twitter.com/TNFUTMB


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