The next stop on the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) is the Madeira Island Ultra Trail taking place (funnily enough) on the island of Madeira in Portugal on April 22. The race route is point to point across the island starting in Porto Moniz and finishing in Machico for a total distance of 115 kilometres with 7100 metres of elevation gain. There are also 85, 42 and 16 kilometre events but the 115 kilometre event is the centrepiece and like many of the other UTWT events this year features a deep field.
Starting with the women’s field, it includes Andrea Huser, Lisa Borzani, Beth Pascall and Manu Vilaseca, plus several other contenders. Andrea Huser is one of strongest runners on the ultra trail scene currently, and after a strong 2016 that included wins at Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Grand Raid Reunion, she has had an equally strong start to 2017 with 1st at Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan 100 Mile and 2nd at Transgrancanaria 125k. Andrea’s history of success at long courses over the last couple years is second only to perhaps Caroline Chevrolet and she often appears to be in a league of her own, so barring a major upset I believe she will win.
Lisa Borzani had a good 2016 with wins at Tor des Geants and Andorra Ultra Trail, and has had strong start to 2017 with 8th at Transgrancanaria. Beth Pascall was 8th at World Trail Championships in 2016 plus 1st at Lakeland 100 Mile, Spine Challenger Race and the Highland Fling. Manu Vilaseca has had a good last few years including 10th at Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) in 2015, 7th at Lavaredo Ultra Trail and 5th at Lesotho Ultra Trail in 2016, plus a steady start to 2017 with 10th at Transgrancanaria 125k.
Other ladies to look out for include:
- Lara Crivelli – 2nd Osieres-Champex-Chamonix (OCC) 2016, 8th Transgrancanaria 83k 2016
- Stephanie Case – 6th Vibram 100 2015, 11th Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) 2015, 13th Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115k 2016
- Nathalie Henriques – 2nd Festival Des Templiers 100k 2016, 1st Festa Trail Pic Saint-Loup 120k 2016
- Perrine Scheiner – 6th CCC 2014, 12th TDS 2015, 17th Grand Raid Reunion 2016
- Graziana Pe – 15th Ultra Trail Lavaredo 2015, 19th Transgrancanaria 125k 2016, 11th UTMB 2016
- Maria Semerjian – 7th UTMB 2013, 3rd Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji (UTMF) 2014, 3rd Tor des Geants 2016
- Sofia Roquete – 5th Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115k 2015, 6th Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115k 2016
- Severine Vandermeulen – 8th Ice Trail Tarentaise 2014
The men’s field is equally deep, including Francois D’Haene, Gediminas Grinius, Xavier Thevenard, Pau Capell and Sebastien Chaigneau plus several other worthy contenders. Francois D’Haene had an incredible 2014 and seemed untouchable with wins at UTMB, UTMF and Grand Raid Reunion but since then has not quite reached the same levels. But recent results suggest that he is on the comeback so to speak, and his 2016 included wins at Vibram 100 and Grand Raid Reunion. He seems to do better the longer the course, so if in form Francois should have a great race here.
Gediminas Grinius has been one of the most consistent performers on the ultra trail running circuit the last few years. His 2016 included 2nd at Transgrancanaria 125, Ultra Trail Lavaredo and UTMB and 3rd at Vibram 100. He’s had solid start to 2017 with a win at Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan 100 Mile and 5th at the Tarawera Ultra.
Xavier Thevenard has not raced too much the last few years, but when he does race he is consistently on the podium if not winning outright. In 2014 he won TDS, and in 2015 he won UTMB. In 2016 he won OCC and was 3rd at the Hardrock 100 Mile. Xavier focuses on racing quality rather than quantity, so if he shows up it means he is ready to contend for the win.
Pau Capell is one of the rising young stars of ultra trail running at only 25, but already with bucketloads of strong results. His 2016 included 4th at Vibram 100, 3rd at Transgrancanaria 125k, 1st at Ultra Trail Australia 100 and 1st at TDS. He’s had an incredible start to 2017 with a win at the hugely competitive Transgrancanaria 125k. His upward trajectory would only suggest more great results this year and he will certainly be gunning for the win.
The final runner in contention for a podium position is the French trail running legend that is Sebastien Chaigneau, who although has been hit and miss in terms of results (injury has not been kind to him) the last couple years, bring loads of experience and an amazing racing resume to the table. In 2013 he was 3rd at UTMF and 1st at Hardrock 100 Mile. In 2016 he was 14th at Transgrancanaria 125k and 9th at Mont Blanc 80k. He’s had a favourable start to 2017 with a win at the competitive Transgrancanaria 83k and given his history of success at long courses, MIUT should suit him.
Other strong male runners include:
- Fabien Antolinos – 4th MIUT 2016, 20th Transgrancanaria 125 2017
- Daniel Jung – 1st Sudtirol Ultra Skyrace 121k 2016, 2nd Vibram 100 2017
- Vaidas Zlabys – 8th Transgrancanaria 125k 2016, 2nd Transgrancanaria 125k 2017
- Javier Dominguez – 9th Transgrancanaria 125k 2016, 3rd Ultra Trail Lavaredo 2016, 5th UTMB 2016
- Jordi Gamito – 6th Vibram 100 2016, 10 Transgrancanaria 125k 2016, 4th Transgrancanaria 125k 2017
- Erik Clavery – 2nd Ultra Trail Lavaredo 2015, 6th UTMB 2015, 6th Grand Raid Reunion 2016
- Sange Sherpa – 18th Transgrancanaria 125k 2016, 12th Vibram 100 2017
- David Jeker – 8th Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2015, 1st Ultra Trail Hurricana 125k 2015, 13th Vibram 100 2016
- Diego Pazos – 4th Transgrancanaria 125k 2016, 1st Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2016, 8th Transgrancanaria 125k 2017
- Arnaud Lejeune – 8th UTMB 2013, 2nd UTMF 2015, 4th Eiger Ultra Trail 101k 2016