It’s testament to the strength of Aussie ladies ultra trail running currently that we see them dominate yet again, this time at UTMB. It could be argued that across both female and male fields, this was one of the deepest in the event’s history, possibly across any race globally this year – and it was a true mountain race too. The wind, rain and snow lashed competitors as the sunshine preceding the start of UTMB hid behind the clouds to give runners a real dose of what it’s like in the mountains in and around Mont Blanc.
We begin with two very fine performances from Kellie Emmerson (fifth) and Robyn Bruins (tenth) in the main event, UTMB. On a day when some seriously good athletes couldn’t quite live up to expectations, the performances of both Kellie and Robyn are pure standouts.
Kellie and Robyn have won many races between them in their time, but fifth and tenth respectively at UTMB probably ranks as one of their finest performances in a truly globally recognised field.
Stephanie Howe, Kaci Licktieg and Magda Boulet have all won the Western States Endurance Run 100 miler in the past and both these ladies finished ahead of all three of them – that’s what happens in ultra running. Some days are great, others not so great.
Looked at another way, 20 percent of the ladies top ten at UTMB was Australian, ranking us as the most successful nation within that top ten. Remarkable really when you think of the depth of talent that exists in traditionally strong mountain racing countries such as France, Italy and Spain. Even more remarkable when you consider the generally ‘flat’ terrain we have to train on too compared to those countries.
But it doesn’t stop there. Brook Martin from Terrey Hills in New South Wales also ran a blinder of a race to finish 23rd, leaving us with three ladies inside the top 30 at UTMB.
A special mention also to overall winner, Spain’s Nuria Picas. Nuria is a formidable athlete who in 2014 won pretty much everything under the sun. Her racing has toned down a little over the last few years, but this result shows that she’s truly back on top of her game yet again. Fantastic work Nuria, with this picture an absolute treat showing Nuria, chilling out with her two sons at one of the checkpoints.
In the men’s event, well the Ultra168 computer got it wrong and it was another name, Francois d’Haene showing his class once again to come up trumps against Kilian. He’s been in fine form this year, beating some big names in Europe and he’s come up trumps to win at UTMB once again. Kilian finished just 15 minutes behind Francois with Tim Tollefson (UTA winner), rounding out the podium.
Special mention also to Kiwi Australia resident, Scotty Hawker, whom after a bit of a torrid last six months or so, put it all together to finish just outside of the top ten and bag 11th position. Great work Scotty, awesome to see you back running well again.
Other Aussie to mention include Lucy Bartholomew who finished fifth in the TDS, this despite suffering some issues early on in the race. Big hand also to Sophie Brown for her 17th place in the OCC.
Well done to all who finished a race of some kind at UTMB.
Feature image credit: Lloyd Belcher for Racebase