Courtney Dauwalter has secured a historic treble of the 2023 Western States, Hardrock and UTMB, becoming the first person to win all three in one calendar year after dominating the women’s field at the UTMB World Series Finals 2023, winning in a time of 23:29:14.
It’s a feat that many thought impossible given the extreme distance and elevation gain of all three races, which all take place in a relatively short period of time.
But Dauwalter, undeniably the GOAT of women’s ultrarunning, has rewritten the sport’s rule book by winning her third UTMB title in the same year as setting new records at Western States and Hardrock.
In second was Germany’s Kartharina Hartmuth, finishing around 40 minutes back on Dauwalter, with Blandine L’Hirondel taking third.
Dominant UTMB 2023 performance
The actual race for the women’s UTMB 2023 title was near enough a non-event. Dauwalter led from early on, and with her in such good form, it was clear that, barring accident or injury, all bets were off over the ultimate winner.
But in every other way, this was the running event of the year- if not the decade. As the crowds started to build later in the race as the runners emerged from the night, the atmosphere was electric with everyone crowding together to witness Dauwalter close in on history.
Moving towards Trient (143km) the frenzy reached new levels. The crowds near enough surrounded her, parting like the red sea to allow her to pass but not wanting to move too far away from this master of ultrarunning.
There were flares, there were banners and there in the middle of the throng was Dauwalter, the number one bib attached to her Tour de France style yellow jersey as she travelled to her coronation as the Queen of ultrarunning in Chamonix.
An unprecedented physical feat
The frenzy continued in the small French town, which over the course of 20 years has become the home of ultrarunning itself.
But the celebration around Dauwalter makes sense when you begin to appreciate the sheer scale of what she has now accomplished.
In winning what some are referring to as the ‘Triple Crown’ of ultrarunning, Dauwalter has changed expectations about what is possible in the sport.
She began by setting a new record at Western States 100 on June 24, winning the 100 mile race in a time of 15:29:34. She then went on to the Hardrock 100 on July 14- another 100 mile race in which she set yet another record.
That double in one calendar year was itself completely unprecedented. She also already had the UTMB record, meaning she held the best times in the three biggest ultrarunning races in the world.
But when she announced she was going to run in the UTMB 2023, people questioned if it was a race too far.
It wasn’t. Across all three races, Dauwalter has now ran more than 300 miles and made 25,500m of elevation gain in just around 10 weeks, obliterating the field in all three.
From California, to the Rocky Mountains and now Europe- all can attest to her greatness.
The battle for second and third
Growing into the race, Katharina Hartmuth of Germany was a deserved runner up, entering Chamonix with tears in her eyes and the clock on 24:10:52.
Hartmuth had climbed up the leaderboard steadily all race, and on the climb up to La Giete she made serious ground on then second and third place women’s runners Fuzhao Xiang and Blandine L’Hirondel.
L’Hirondel had started that ascent first- but by the time the trio reached the peak she was fourth overall with Hartmuth passing her to claim third and Xiang moving up to second.
But it was Hartmuth who kicked on from there- following the descent to Trient she was second, and stretched her lead from there to secure a special second place, adding to her second place at the WMTRC Long Trail earlier this year.
The battle for third became the centre of attention. Champion of UTMB 2022- L’Hirondel, in her first 100 miler, looked to be drifting away from Xiang but impressively she regained her strength.
Her second wind came, and she passed the Chinese runner on the climb from Vallorcine to La Flegere- running down into Chamonix a new French favourite.
UTMB 2023 Women’s Results
1. Courtney Dauwalter (USA) – 23:29:14
2. Katharina Hartmuth (GER) – 24:10:52
3. Blandine L’Hirondel (FRA) – 24:22:50