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Tales from the UTMB Races By way of the Lens of Information – iRunFar


The facility of information is that it offers us proof and inputs that inform our views and selections. Information permits us to maneuver past anecdotes and intestine emotions. Generally the information confirms what we beforehand suspected, and different occasions it offers us solely new insights.

Traditionally, now we have checked out aggregated information for this column. It’s enabled us to debate tendencies throughout a number of years, races, and runners. This month, we’re utilizing information to debate particular person runners.

With UTMB and the UTMB Mont Blanc pageant simply across the nook, we picked some tales associated to that group of races the place we expect the information permits for a deeper appreciation of somebody’s efficiency — whether or not that efficiency was one you already knew was spectacular, or it’s a wholly new perception.

[Editor’s Note: We kindly remind readers that the Running the Numbers column is a just-for-fun analysis. While we always endeavor to analyze accurately, we limit the scope of each article in order to make the work doable for author Mallory Richard, and the results digestible for readers like you.]

Ildikó Wermescher and the 2022 TDS

The place will we begin? Ildikó Wermescher is a Hungarian path runner and ultrarunner who lives in Germany. She excels at mountainous races, however a earlier top-10 end on the Western States 100 proves she has leg velocity on prime of her endurance, climbing potential, and common toughness.

It’s difficult to select a single efficiency to spotlight Wermescher’s potential on the subject of lengthy, tough ultras. She gained the 2022 Path Andorra 100k occasion, and positioned third in 2023 — however improved on her earlier time by some 28 minutes. Over that very same interval, she additionally boasted a win on the 2022 Istria by UTMB 110k, and podium finishes at Restonica Path by UTMB 66k and Path Alsace Grand Est by UTMB 110k.

Ildiko Wermescher - 2018 UTMB

Ildiko Wermescher on the 2018 UTMB. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Maybe Wermescher’s most spectacular efficiency at a UTMB race is her fifth-place end on the 2022 TDS, which takes place in the course of the UTMB Mont Blanc pageant. The TDS runs for 145 kilometers (90 miles) from Courmayeur, Italy, to Chamonix, France, and is run on extra technically difficult terrain than the marginally longer UTMB route. Wermescher completed behind 4 different elite athletes: winner Martina Valmassoi, Claudia Tremps, Katharina Hartmuth, and Julia Rezzi.

What made Wermescher’s consequence stand out is she was 57 years previous on race day, inserting her comfortably within the grandmasters (age 50-plus) age class. The DUV Extremely Marathon Statistics database estimated that Wermescher’s ending time of 24:38:45 is the equal of 19:57:30 if the efficiency is age-graded. For context, Valmassoi’s profitable time was 22:42:47.

The DUV web site has a strong clarification for why and the way it age grades runners’ occasions, citing analysis to clarify that “an athlete of 55 years can obtain simply 85% of the efficiency of a 30-year-old athlete.” I’d encourage you to learn the reason for your self as a result of I’m not a physiologist, however I’m a Wermescher fan.

Zachary Friedley on the Val d’Aran by UTMB Sky 15k

Zachary Friedley, an expert path runner and founding father of the non-profit Born to Adapt, grew to become the primary above-knee blade runner to start out and end the 2023 Val d’Aran by UTMB Sky 15k. A longtime athlete, the American took up path operating as an grownup and has made it his mission to create alternatives for extra adaptive athletes to find path operating.

In 2022, he accomplished MCC on the UTMB Mont Blanc pageant, which covers 40 kilometers (25 miles) with 2,300 meters (7,500 toes) of elevation achieve, and he’s presently getting ready to finish the race for the second time.

Zachary Friedley - 2023 Val d’Aran by UTMB Sky 15k

Zachary Friedley ending the 2023 Val d’Aran by UTMB Sky 15k. Photograph courtesy of Zachary Friedley.

The United Nations Division of Financial and Social Affairs studies that roughly 15% of the worldwide inhabitants lives with some type of incapacity. Individuals with disabilities expertise discrimination, obstacles to becoming a member of the workforce, and different types of exclusion. The United Nations notes that, internationally, individuals with disabilities are underrepresented within the office and are under-represented in larger training amongst nations within the Group for Financial Co-operation and Improvement (OECD).

It’s in opposition to that backdrop that Friedley is selling entry and inclusion in path operating for adaptive athletes. He’s working with race organizations to create insurance policies and efficiency classes that facilitate participation by adaptive athletes. Within the absence of these efficiency classes, the present participation charges of adaptive athletes are tough to measure and even estimate.

Anke Drescher and Didier Delemontez and Their Many UTMB Finishes

Should you comply with this column carefully, you could know I find it irresistible when individuals return to the identical occasion many times. To me, these veterans play an important position in constructing the tradition and environment that surrounds a race, giving it continuity from 12 months to 12 months.

Anke Drescher is a grandmasters path runner from Germany. She was there in 2003 when the first-ever UTMB was held, ending the 153-kilometer (95 miles) course in 36:42:52. She was one among solely 67 finishers. She has been on the beginning line virtually yearly since, racking up 15 UTMB finishes from 15 begins. Drescher improved on her first ending time by ending in 36:13:03 in 2007, though the course was then 10 kilometers (6 miles) longer.

Robust, constant efficiency at UTMB seems to be a trademark for Drescher, and she or he definitely transfers these qualities to different occasions, racking up a number of finishes of the grueling, 200-plus-mile Tor des Géants through the years.

Reviewing my spreadsheet, France’s Didier Delemontez stood out for a similar purpose. After ending nineteenth within the inaugural race in 2003, it seems Delemontez started a love affair with the race, returning one other 15 occasions. When he final entered the race in 2019, on the age of 61, his ending time positioned him within the prime 11% of all male finishers.

Yu Lei and the Grand Col Ferret Climb at UTMB

A weblog submit on the Strava web site describes the climb up Grand Col Ferret as “maybe essentially the most iconic climb, the one that each runner – elite and beginner alike – dreads” within the UTMB. Over 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles), runners climb 750 meters (2,450 toes) to the best level within the race.

Runners have already coated 99 kilometers (61 miles) once they go away the checkpoint at Arnouvaz to start the climb, in order that they aren’t precisely feeling recent. Unsurprisingly, this is usually a part of the race the place many runners discover themselves struggling to remain on objective tempo.

Grand Col Ferret - view from top

The view from the highest of the notorious Grand Col Ferret climb at UTMB. Photograph: iRunFar/Craig Murphy

When Yu Lei, of China, first ran UTMB in 2014, the splits present he took 4:42:36 to climb from Arnouvaz to Grand Col Ferret. Lei returned to UTMB every of the 4 following years, and finally whittled his time on that slope all the way down to 1:27:27 in 2018. For context, Tim Tollefson had the quickest break up from Arnouvaz to Grand Col Ferret that very same 12 months, reaching the highest in 59:13. Lei went on to complete in 35:43:54. Tollefson didn’t end that 12 months, struggling a fall, however completed on the rostrum within the two earlier years.

Ludovic Pommeret and the 2016 UTMB

France’s Ludovic Pommeret, then a pc engineer whose passion was being an elite path runner, gained the 2016 UTMB. We may cease there and also you’d be impressed, however you’d miss out on the juicy particulars that make his win stand out.

As Pommeret defined to iRunFar in a post-race interview, after beginning robust and operating within the lead, he had extreme abdomen points three hours into the race that diminished him to a strolling tempo for 3 hours.

Having entered the race as a podium contender, he was lower than a 3rd of the best way by the race when he set his expectations apart: “Inside me I didn’t consider. Then I noticed that I’d not end the race, or I’d end the race however possibly I’d sleep for one night time for 4 hours after which proceed later.”

He was in fiftieth place on the 50-kilometer (31 miles) mark — remarkably a full hour behind the lead — however clawed his approach again to finally win the race.

Ludovic Pommeret - 2016 UTMB champion

Ludovic Pommeret, the 2016 UTMB males’s champion. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Closing Ideas

That is clearly not an exhaustive checklist of notable performances at UTMB races, only a few examples the place quantitative information can enrich the storytelling and our general appreciation of what these athletes completed. We’re excited to do this once more on one other theme in a future version of this column.

Name for Feedback

  • Did you comply with any of those performances, or are you a fan of those athletes? Go away a remark to share your ideas!
  • We solely gave just a few examples of nice UTMB-event performances that may be higher appreciated with information, however there are such a lot of extra. Which performances would you nominate?



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