Kilian Jornet wins the UTMB ahead of Mathieu Blanchard and signs a historic record

The script was enticing, the reality exceeded expectations. Because it is indeed a historic edition of the UTMB that we attended: this Saturday, Kilian Jornet got rid of a tough adversity and once again triumphed in Chamonix, at 34 years old, 14 years after his first victory over the UTMB in 2008!

The living legend of trail running beats Pau Capell’s 2019 record by more than 30 minutes and is the first runner to descend under 20 hours on the Chamonix race (19h49’32”), an average of 8.63km/h on this barely conceivable challenge of completing 170 km and 10,000m of elevation gain in one go. Historical.

It must be said that all the ingredients were there to attend a legendary race. Near-perfect conditions, an extraordinary field with only one notable absentee (Frenchman François D’haene, four-time winner of the UTMB), record promises and a duel at the top. What more ?

Walmsley first incisive then in perdition

The expected duel, that between the legend Kilian Jornet and the flamboyant Jim Walmsley, took place and animated a large part of the race. Because if other athletes arrived on the trails of the Tour du Mont-Blanc with ambitions, like the 2019 winner Pau Capell who was looking for a time under 20 hours but who quickly no longer deceived himself (relegated out of the top 10 at halfway), the announced match was indeed between the Spaniard and the American. Unfortunately for the latter, difficulties in eating after the 125th kilometer got the better of his ambitions, which he nevertheless assumed wonderfully until Champex-Lac.

Because a few hours earlier, Kilian Jornet, in difficulty, had suffered the attack from Walmsley after Courmayeur (km 90) and had seen Mathieu Blanchard return almost to his height in the early hours of the day (km 112). It was then in the climb of the Giète that the race was turned upside down. With renewed energy, Jornet caught up with the American in distress near the Bovine mountain pasture (km 133). Frenchman Mathieu Blanchard was still on his trail.

The duel therefore changed sides to become Franco-Spanish. And it took Jornet the fast and rolling climb of the Col des Montets (km 155) to finally break away from Blanchard, the French athlete being intractable in high percentages. The Spaniard made his speed qualities speak for himself to take a few minutes lead, minutes that the Frenchman will not take back.

The two men finish just 5 minutes apart, both under 20 hours. It is a fourth victory for Kilian Jornet in Chamonix (2008, 2009 and 2011), after a 2nd place in 2017 and a retirement in 2018. He thus equals the victory record of another legend of the discipline, François D’ haene.


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