Sunday, 26th March 2023
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UTMB 2016 reaches the halfway point

by Press Release
Friday 26th August 2016
Tags  UTMB   |   OCC   |   TDS   |   Natalie White
The TDS® race kicked off at 06:00 in Courmayeur, Italy, on Wednesday. 1792 runners (174 women) stood at the starting line. What did the day have in store for them? 119km and 7250m of vertical gain, including Col Chavannes de Pass, the highest pass on the course (2603m elevation) near the French-Italian border.
Under sunny blue skies and extremely warm temperatures, Spaniard Pau Capell, the current leader on the l'Ultra-Trail® World Tour, won the race in 14:45, almost a half an hour in front of fellow Iberian Yeray Duran and Italian Franco Colle. The first Frenchman, Ugo Ferrari, finished just off the podium in 4th place. Majell Backhausen, from Australia, took a fantastic 6th place in what was a very tough race in the heat. For the women, local runner Delphine Avenier took first place in front of American Meredith Edwards and Christelle Bard (FRA). The last person to finish, Grégoire Gregori, completed the race Thursday afternoon, after more than 33 hours on the course. He was the 1059th and final participant to cross the finish line for this year's TDS®, hit by a 41% drop out rate due to the very hot weather.
OCC - Xavier Thévenard adds to his collection of wins at the UTMB®
The OCC race began early on Thursday morning in Orsières, Switzerland. Early Thursday afternoon, after running for 5:28:37, Xavier Thévenard won the 2016 edition of the OCC, linking  Orsières (SUI) to Chamonix (FRA) via Champex (SUI), covering 55km and 3300m D+ in front of the other 1414 participating runners.
The runner from France's Jura Mountains, the current UTMB® title holder, accomplished the incredible feat over the last 6 years of winning the CCC® (2010), the UTMB® (2013 and 2015), the TDS® (2014), and yesterday's OCC. A first grand slam of its kind and a novel distance for Xavier, who is more accustomed to longer ultras. "When I entered this race I wasn't necessarily looking to win," he commented at the finish line, his face dripping with sweat from the scorching heat. "As with each race, I try to do things well and make sure that I properly manage my effort. Today was a new experience for me, covering a distance I'm not used to, but useful in preparing for my end-of-season goal, the Ultra-Trail® Mt. Fuji."
The Jura Mountains native battled hard in the morning to pick off his adversaries one by one, including Moroccan Rachid El Morabity and Frenchman Thibaut Baronian. The three favorites quickly charged out in front before Xavier slowly but surely took control of the race. In Catogne (km 31), just past the halfway point, Thibaut Baronian fell to the wayside, "breaking down" on the climb, whereas the Moroccan, four-time winner of the Marathon des Sables, did his best to stay with the leader during this rare occasion where he traveled far from his native Morocco.
El Morabity succeeded in containing Baronian, the latter taking a tumble during the last descent from La Flégère, staying a handful of seconds ahead to cross the finish in 2nd place. For the first time an athlete from Africa stepped onto the podium for this race. "It's a bit of a dream come true for me today," said Rachid El Morabity. "I experienced a fantastic adventure, and learned a lot during the race and in such a unique atmosphere," explained the runner from Zagora, who admits to wanting to start venturing out more onto mountain trails than across the desert dunes for which he is a renowned specialist.
For the women, Spaniard Mercedis Arcos won the race in 06:54:13, in front of Italians Lara Crivelli and Francesca Scribani. Brit Natalie White finished a brilliant 4th, despite suffering terrible cramp in the latter stages, in what was a really close women's race.  

Nat Vallorcine

Natalie White, 4th place (photo by RunPhoto)

The CCC® kicked off this morning (Friday) at 9am in Courmayeur and the UTMB® starts in Chamonix at 6pm tonight. 
This is the remaining programme of events: 
Friday August 26th  - Courmayeur and Chamonix
09:00 am : Start of the CCC®, Courmayeur (Italy)
10:00-01:00 pm : Ultra-Trail® Salon
06:00 pm : Start of the UTMB®
08:30 pm : First CCC® finishers
Saturday August 27th  - Chamonix
Throughout the morning CCC® finishers
03:00 pm : First UTMB® finishers
Sunday August 28th  - Chamonix
Throughout the day arrival of UTMB®finishers
10:00 am -11:00 am : Official press conference
03:00 pm : Official Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® closing ceremony 
03:30 pm : Last arrival of UTMB® and PTL® finishers

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