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Tips on how to Win UTMB, In line with the Knowledge – iRunFar

[Editor’s Note: Welcome to a limited-series column by runner and data analyst Mallory Richard where we dive into data from the sports of trail running and ultrarunning to look for trends, see our sport’s progression through time, and have fun playing with numbers.]

The place is UTMB received? Throughout each final kilometer of the course.

As already lined in iRunFar’s previews of the ladies’s discipline and males’s discipline, respectively, the 2022 version of UTMB is shaping as much as be one other thrilling one. These elite runners possess a wide range of strengths and racing methods.

I’ve questioned for a number of years about the very best technique for racing UTMB. I haven’t carried out the race or seen the course myself, so my curiosity is primarily as a fan of the game.

I keep in mind that Jim Walmsley’s aggressive technique in 2017, the place he finally completed fifth, fueled dialogue in regards to the relative deserves of setting the tempo early within the race. It likewise caught with me that Pau Capell’s 2019 win was described by iRunFar as “an impressive line-to-line efficiency,” with an emphasis on how exceptional it was that Capell maintained a lead over three-time winner Xavier Thévenard and so many different high runners for the complete race.

I had spent the primary half of that very same 2019 race compulsively refreshing the stay monitoring for updates on whether or not Courtney Dauwalter had caught as much as early chief Miao Yao within the ladies’s race. Whereas I’ve the very best opinion of Dauwalter’s skills, I by no means handled it as inevitable that any runner would catch Yao, although she finally did and received the race.

2019 UTMB - Miao Yao at Lac Combal

China’s Miao Yao operating within the lead about 66 kilometers into the 2019 UTMB. Photograph: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

It left me questioning, is there such factor as a typical UTMB win? Simply how uncommon is a line-to-line win? If it’s extra frequent for UTMB winners to let their fellow rivals set the tempo early on, when do they take the lead?

To attempt to reply these questions, I sifted by means of previous UTMB splits — excluding 2012, when the occasion was held on a brief course, and 2003, for which splits aren’t out there on the UTMB web site. I checked out how most of the eventual winners have been within the lead at a given checkpoint. There may be lots of speak of how runners change place on the Western States 100 beginning round Foresthill, which is 62 miles into that 100-mile race, with the eventual winners rising because the individuals who managed the miles main as much as that time successfully. Was there the same level on the UTMB course?

The Males’s UTMB

The desk under reveals the names of checkpoints which have been used constantly at UTMB since 2009, together with the gap in kilometers of these checkpoints. The UTMB has modified a lot of its checkpoints through the years, so I calculated the chances primarily based on the overall variety of splits out there. For instance, solely 20 of the 30 males’s and girls’s winners had splits recorded at La Flégère (164k).

2019 UTMB - Pau Capell at Champex-Lac

Pau Capell at Champex-Lac. He was untouchable by everybody on the 2019 UTMB. Photograph: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

The third column of the desk lists what number of race winners have been already operating within the lead at every of these checkpoints. I solely thought of a runner to be within the lead in the event that they have been the very first runner to cross by means of the checkpoint. In some instances, the eventual race winner was mere seconds behind one other runner, however I categorized these runners as being “inside rivalry.” As you’ll see, it’s true that Capell was comparatively uncommon for being within the lead by Le Delevret (13.6k). Then again, it seems unusual to lose contact with the lead pack and nonetheless win. The suitable-most column of the desk under reveals what number of eventual winners have been both main or inside 5 minutes of the lead at every support station. The vast majority of race winners match these standards throughout each checkpoint within the desk under.
Table showing UTMB men's race checkpoint data

What the information appears to point, then, is {that a} males’s runner can win UTMB with out being the primary by means of each checkpoint, however they can not win with out being aggressive, and so they completely can’t fade. Once I talked about this to Meghan Hicks, who has years of on-the-ground expertise protecting the race for iRunFar, she added, “We’ve anecdotally speculated the descent from Grand Col Ferret (102k) to La Fouly (112k) to be a typical turning level for who wins the lads’s race, and the information appears to corroborate this.”

For the lads’s race, the information arguably gives some validation to runners like Jim Walmsley and Pau Capell, who’ve taken massive dangers at UTMB. From the place I’m sitting on my sofa on the Canadian Prairies, I dare not touch upon whether or not, when, or the place runners with podium aspirations ought to push themselves and their rivals. I’ll humbly be aware, although, that the crucial to push is so evident I can learn it within the splits from a continent away.

Capell and Walmsley are again on the 2022 UTMB. So is Kilian Jornet, who likewise set the tempo for the whole thing of his profitable UTMB run in 2009. In 2011, the splits counsel Jornet deployed a barely extra conservative technique, at one level operating as much as 12 seconds off the lead.

The Ladies’s UTMB

The ladies’s race is slightly totally different. Roughly half of the eventual winners have been already main by the primary checkpoint. Amongst runners who took the lead later within the race, they usually made their transfer sooner than the lads’s winners: Two-thirds of the ladies’s winners have been within the lead 60 kilometers into the race. At Grand Col Ferret (102k), 87% of the ladies’s winners have been already within the profitable place, in comparison with simply 33% of males. Krissy Moehl (2009) and Núria Picas (2017) are the one two ladies to win on the total UTMB course to have taken the lead after Champex-Lac (126k). Late-stage presses are much less frequent within the ladies’s race partly as a result of the start-to-finish domination that made Capell stand out in 2019 is sort of regular amongst these world-class ladies. Clearly, the lead ladies are racing aggressively. They’re prepared to set the tempo themselves and spend vital parts of the race wanting over their shoulders for would-be challengers.

2017 UTMB - Núria Picas - Finish

Núria Picas profitable the 2017 UTMB. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Table showing UTMB women's race checkpoint stats

No earlier ladies’s UTMB champion is again for the 2022 version, however we’ll see earlier podium and top-10 finishers alike on the beginning line, to incorporate Mimmi Kotka, Katie Schide, and Fu-Zhao Xiang, so let’s see what methods they make use of.

The UTMB information on runners’ splits by means of totally different checkpoints provides us one other method of appreciating aspects of the ladies’s and males’s races, respectively.

As race day arrives, will probably be enjoyable to observe the frontrunners to see whose aggressive pacing pays off, and who pays for his or her paces. Whereas the eventual winner is more likely to be within the lead pack always in each the lads’s and girls’s races, in reality there’s just one spot on the course the place being first issues.

Name for Feedback

  • Taking a look at UTMB’s profitable performances is barely the tip of the spear. What different questions would you pose when 15 years’ value of UTMB splits?
  • Knowledge is enjoyable, however operating UTMB might be extra enjoyable. Do you’ve any private insights on optimum pacing and racing methods for UTMB?
2021 UTMB champion - Francois Dhaene

2021 UTMB champion François D’Haene crosses the end line. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell



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