Walmsley is the headline name at the event in the South of France this weekend, which also features the 100 mile Ultra Trail Métropole Nice, the 50km Menton-Nice and 20km Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat-Nice.
Watch Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB Live
You can watch all the action from Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB live via the UTMB World Series YouTube channel and the video below.
The 100 mile Ultra Trail Métropole Nice will start at 12:00pm CET on Friday 29 September.
The 115km race featuring Jim Walmsley will start the next day, at 6:00am on Saturday 30 September.
Live tracking for all Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB races will be available HERE.
Walmsley in World Series action
In Nice, Walmsley will line up as UTMB champion for the first time since becoming the first American man to win ‘the Superbowl of trail running’ at the start of this month.
His victory was the culmination of years of effort, and now a new challenge will begin as he ponders how to build on his historic win.
The Roubion-Nice 115km race will offer a fitting challenge for Walmsley, with runners having to deal with 4800m of elevation gain as they weave their way from Roubion to Nice, which lies on the Mediterranean coast near the Italian border.
The race starts with a descent of 839m as they race from the start line to St Sauveur sur Tinée (14km), but that just makes the first climb to Col de la Madeleine (30km), the highest point on the race, even harder.
From there it’s a long descent until runners must tackle a short, sharp climb from just before Levens (66km) to just before Chapelle St Michel (75km). A long descent follows before a few more minor up and downs prelude the final descent into the idyllic city of Nice.
Walmsley is the obvious favourite, but will face competition from Frenchman Thibaut Baronian who has a plethora of solid results in big races, including seventh this year at Sierre-Zinal and a win at the 50k in Restonica Trail by UTMB 2023.
He came third in the UTMB CCC in 2021 but has since failed to finish in 2022 and 2023, so Nice will likely be his first spot on a year-long mission to get back on the podium in Chamonix.
Meg MacKenzie is touted as the favourite in the women’s Roubion-Nice at Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB. The South African won the 100k at Transvulcania La Palma Island by UTMB 2023 earlier this year, a year on from a DNF in the 50k at the same event, and she came 27th in the UTMB OCC. Finland’s Marjo Liikanen and Italy’s Giulia Vinco are expected to be her closest rivals.
Yoshizumo and Derksen to battle for 100 mile crown
The 100 mile race, known officially as the Ultra Trail Métropole Nice, will start this Friday, with runners departing from the resort of Auron, traversing 8400m of elevation gain across the 165km route to Nice.
Prior to linking up with the 115km route, the race poses two additional major challenges with the ascent from Saint Étienne de Tinée (8km, 1149m) to Refuge de Rabuons (17km, 2515m) and the even steeper descent from Pas de Colle Longue (29km, 2547m) to Isola (37km, 859m) in which runners must drop 1688m in just 8km.
The women’s race is expected to catch the attention, with legendary Japanese runner Yuri Yoshizumi expected to go toe to toe with Dutch runner Hannah Derksen. Both have previous podium finishes last year, with Yoshizumi third in the 50k and Derksen second in the 100k.
Roberto Mastrotto, Gwendal Moysan and Alexandre Urbina are the names to look out for in the men’s field.