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UTMB uncertainty continues for injured Kilian Jornet as he is ruled out of Sierre-Zinal

Olly Green
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Kilian Jornet‘s hopes of defending his title at the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) seem to be fading after he pulled out of the Sierre-Zinal.

The Spanish runner, widely regarded as the greatest of all time, has won the UTMB four times and became the first person to run the course in under 20 hours last year.

Jornet was due to return to Chamonix this year – he entered last month’s Eiger Ultra Trail in order to gain the Running Stone he needed to qualify for the UTMB World Series Finals.

However, he reported a “small injury” as he struggled home in 48th place, and has since revealed that it is more serious than first thought.

Sierre-Zinal setback

The bone edema has now seen him ruled out of the Sierre-Zinal, the esteemed mountain race in the Swiss canton of Valais with which he is firmly associated.

Jornet has won the race a staggering nine times since 2009, and set the record for the 31km course in 2019, finishing in 2:25:35.

Kilian Jornet finishing the UTMB in 2017
Kilian Jornet finishing the UTMB in 2017 [Photo credit: Franck Oddoux / UTMB]

After Andreu Blanes Reig won last year’s race, Jornet stated in March that he would return for the 2023 edition.

That plan has been scuppered, though, with the Golden Trail World Series, which the Sierre-Zinal features on, confirming his withdrawal.

It’s official, Kilian Jornet will not take part to Sierre-Zinal this year,” an Instagram post said. “Injured in the right hip, the multiple winner suffers from bone edema.

“But Kilian will be present in Zinal during the live broadcast. He will be behind the micro in the French and English live on @eurosport 🎤

“Paying attention to injuries and opting for recovery is a wise decision that is part of an athlete’s life.

“Wish with us a good recovery to Kilian! We hope to see you soon in the mountains!”

Huge absentees

Jornet’s absence means both Sierre-Zinal course record holders will miss the 2023 race – its 50th edition – with Maude Mathys unable to compete in the women’s event.

Golden Trail World Series organisers also revealed that the Swiss runner has had surgery for Haglumd’s syndrome, an abnormality of the bone and soft tissues in the foot, and is undergoing a recovery period.

Britain’s Tom Evans has also ruled himself out of Sierre-Zinal after he recently announced that he will be heading to UTMB in a tweak to his 2023 plans.

Kenyans Patrick Kipngeno and Philemon Kiriago will be sensing opportunities for Sierre-Zinal wins with Jornet and Evans out, as will 2016 champion Petro Mamu.

Nienke Brinkman will fancy her chances in the women’s race with Mathys no longer competing – the Dutch runner was second behind the record-setter in 2021.

She will be up against the likes of WMRA World Cup champion Joyce Muthoni Njeru and her Kenyan compatriot Lucy Wambui Murigi, a three-time Sierre-Zinal winner.

Olly Green
Written by
Olly Green
Olly is the content lead for RUN247, is a regular contributor to TRI247 and keeps an eye out for content that appeals to both audiences including interviews with pro Heather Jackson.

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