“I moved to France three months ago, just for that,” says the world No. 1 in the discipline.

Winner in 2008, 2009, 2011 and now 2022? At 34, Kilian Jornet, positive for Covid-19 a few days ago, dreams of a fourth crown at the foot of Mont Blanc. The emblematic extreme endurance race, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), a 171 km loop with 10,000 m of elevation gain through three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland), Friday August 26 2022 from Chamonix. This corresponds to the equivalent of four marathons in distance and more than twice the ascent of Mont-Blanc in height difference.

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The Catalan, who alone symbolizes endurance in the mountains with his 2.5 million subscribers on social networks, looks back on this mythical “UTMB”, the Ultra Trail of Mont-Blanc, with ambition. But he will not lack company. Starting with the world No. 1, Jim Walmsley.

The 32-year-old American has won everything… except the UTMB, which still eludes him. In three participations, he had to give up twice. Proof of his motivation to win this mythical trail: he even settled with his family in Savoie in order to put all the chances on his side. “VS’is an incredible race and it’s great to be part of it. I moved to France three months ago, just for that. To prepare for it as well as possible, I hope to win it or at least be well placed. I just want to improve!“, he almost apologizes.

There will therefore be impressive records on the starting line and a hierarchy that many would like to shake up. This is the case of Frenchman Mathieu Blanchard, third last year: “Of course, when I see all these guys who have 10, 15, 20 years of experience, I put things into perspective a lot… I say to myself ‘Matt, you’re there with an elite bib, fighting in the middle of these guy with poor little ones with five years of experience’. It’s already nice to be able to be there!“, he smiles.

In the absence of Francois d’Haene, who favored the terrible “Diagonale des fous” this fall in Reunion, the suitors are numerous. It is still necessary to reach the finish line of this ultra-endurance event: the fastest runners should complete the loop in about twenty hours.

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