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UTMB celebrates 20th anniversary with induction of 22 ‘UTMB Legends’

Olly Green
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UTMB has announced that 22 ‘UTMB Legends’ will be inducted at this year’s UTMB World Series Finals in Chamonix.

The 2023 event is the 20th anniversary of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) and boasts a typically star-studded field.

To mark the milestone, UTMB is celebrating 22 runners who have written themselves into the race’s history with victories over the past two decades.

“Extraordinary talent”

“UTMB Legends celebrates individuals who have an exceptional record of success on the trails as well those that have made an outstanding contribution to UTMB since its inception in 2003,” UTMB explained.

Courtney Dauwalter after winning the 2019 UTMB
Courtney Dauwalter after winning her 2019 title [Photo credit: UTMB / Christophe Pallot]

“Recognizing the extraordinary talent of the runners who have graced the competition since the first edition, the 12 women and 10 men who have won the gruelling UTMB race, which crosses France, Italy and Switzerland, will become the first UTMB Legends.”

The 22 runners will officially become UTMB Legends during a celebration ceremony in Chamonix on August 30, with each receiving a personalised bracelet.

Legends in action

Three UTMB Legends are running at the UTMB World Series Finals, with Courtney Dauwalter and Pau Capell taking on the UTMB, and Katie Schide competing in the OCC.

American star Dauwalter is chasing an unprecedented treble of wins after victory at the Western States and Hardrock earlier this year, but already has her spot in the UTMB hall of fame after her triumphs in 2019 and 2021, the latter of which was the best women’s performance ever as she finished seventh overall.

Capell produced a dominant display to win the 2019 UTMB, and is back in search of a second title this year. The Spaniard also won the TDS in 2016 and the CCC in 2018.

Schide, another American talent, won last year’s UTMB after holding off Marianne Hogan but won’t defend her crown in 2023, instead entering the shorter OCC race.

Absent four-time winners

Unsurprisingly, four-time UTMB winner Kilian Jornet has also been named as UTMB Legend, though he recently confirmed he won’t run in 2023 after suffering a bone edema.

The Spaniard, widely considered as mountain running’s greatest of all time, reigned supreme at UTMB in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2022, with last year’s success seeing him become first person to complete the race in under 20 hours.

Francoise D'Haene and Kilian Jornet after the 2017 UTMB
Francoise D’Haene and Kilian Jornet in 2017 [Photo credit: UTMB]

Francois D’Haene, the other four-time winner of the men’s UTMB, is also absent from this year’s but will also scoop his Legend title.

The Frenchman claimed his first victory in 2012 before triumphing again in 2014, 2017 – after a historic and captivating duel with Jornet – and 2021.

All-star list

As for the remaining 17 Legends, there is esteemed Nepalese runner Dawa Sherpa, who won the first ever UTMB in torrid conditions in 2003 before picking up second the year later.

Switzerland’s Colette Borcard battled skin cancer and quit smoking in a remarkable journey to the 2004 women’s title, while France’s Vincent Delebarre, a former triathlete, grabbed the men’s title that year before further podiums in 2005 and 2006.

Decorated French runner Karine Herry won the 2006 race in a stellar year which also featured victories at Templiers and Grand Raid de la Reunion.

Lizzy Hawker is the most successful woman in UTMB history, having won the race a staggering five times. Dubbed the ‘Queen of the Mountains’, the British runner took the 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 title, and picked up second in her only other entry in 2009.

Italian Marco Olmo cruised to back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2007 – the latter aged 58 – while USA’s Krissy Moehl took her first victory as a 25-year-old in 2003 before returning to clinch a second title six years later.

Christophe Jacquerod became the first Swiss man to win the UTMB in 2005 and three-time Western States winner Nikki Kimball was the second American to triumph in the women’s race in 2007, finishing inside the top 20 overall.

France’s Ludovic Pommeret produced a stunning comeback to win the men’s race in 2016, while two-time Trail World Champion Nathalie Mauclair, another French runner, added the UTMB to her collection in 2015.

Jez Bragg prevailed in the weather-hit 2010 race, and remains the only British men’s winner, while Rory Bosio is a two-time women’s winner, delivering what is now the second-best female performance of all time in 2013 before retaining the title in 2014.

Spain’s Nuria Picas took the women’s title in 2017 and created a memorable moment when she waited to celebrate with runner-up Andrea Huser at the finish.

Ex-competitive snowboarder Francesca Canepa was the first female Italian to win the UTMB in 2018 while former kayaker Caroline Chaverot delivered another title for France in 2016 – she was also crowned Trail World Champion that year.

France’s Xavier Thevenard remains the only person to have won the UTMB, CCC, OCC and TDS, with the cross-country-skier claiming victory in the flagship race three times – in 2013, 2015 and 2018.

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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