Here’s What You Need To Know About UTMB 2021

It’s August again, and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is less than a week away! After not having any of the events last year due to Covid, it’s back in full force—and I’m beyond excited for UTMB 2021. As for trail and ultra runners, this is our Super Bowl.

Despite Covid restrictions making it hard for runners to get to France for the race, the lineup is still packed with the strongest runners in the world. And it’s not only on the men’s side; the women’s side is sure to be as competitive. So here’s what you need to know about UTMB 2021.

Check out my UTMB 2021 post-race review here!

UTMB Background

UTMB Events

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is held at the end of every August or the beginning of September in Chamonix, France. The event began with one race—171 kilometers (106 miles) with over 10,000 meters (33,000 feet) of elevation gain.

But, as it gained popularity, they expanded the event. Today, it consists of seven races:

Despite the addition of more races, the most popular race continues to be the one carrying the event’s namesake: UTMB.

This race draws the top runners worldwide. It puts them through a grueling test that takes them around Mont-Blanc. This navigates runners through the most beautiful but rugged terrains in France.

UTMB Route

The route follows the Tour du Mont Blanc hiker’s path, which is one of the most famous trekking routes in the world. As runners traverse the route, they make a giant loop around Mont Blanc.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Usually taking around 7-9 days for hikers, the top runners finish this route in about 20 hours. Average runners take between 32-48 hours. This means they spend two nights out on the trail, which is no easy feat.

Also, each year, the route is reversed. So one year, it’s run clockwise, and the next counter-clockwise.

UTMB 2021 field

As mentioned before, the competition at this event is top-notch. In this year’s event, despite a couple of past winners being absent, we are seeing the familiar names lining up for their chance to win this race. So let’s take a look at the men’s and women’s fields.

Women’s UTMB 2021 favorites

Courtney Dauwalter

Women's favorite for UTMB 2021: Courtney Dauwalter
Credit: Facebook

If Courtney is entering a race, then she’s going to be a favorite every time. Courtney is a world-class ultrarunner, regardless of sex. She is a beast on the trails.

Many know her based on her win in 2019 at UTMB (which she will look to defend this year). But Courtney has been destroying the competition—male and female—in most races she’s run. Whether she is running 383 kilometers (238 miles) at Big’s Backyard Ultra. Or finishing 1st overall and more than 10 hours ahead of second place at Moab 240. Courtney has set the standard in women’s ultra-running.

Beth Pascall

Women's favorite for UTMB 2021: Beth Pascall
Credit: Beth Pascall

Beth Pascall has been flying high the past couple of years. Most recently, she won the 2021 Western States 100, and she looked smooth while doing it.

Beth is no stranger to UTMB, either. She competed in 2018 and 2019, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. She’ll have the confidence coming off her win at the Western States, so it’ll be great to see the battle between her and Courtney.

Maite Maiora

Women's favorite for UTMB 2021: Maite Maiora
Credit: Facebook

Maite is coming into this race after placing third in 2019. That isn’t her only podium finish, though, as she placed second in the CCC in 2017.

She has continued to look strong in her training and races, so it will be fascinating if she can sneak in and snag first at UTMB. Not as talked about as the other two, do we have an underdog on our hands?

Men’s UTMB 2021 favorites

François D’haene

Men's favorite for UTMB 2021: Francois D'Haene
Credit: Facebook

François is coming off a clinical performance at Hardrock 100. Shattering the course record by more than an hour, François is in prime form to add another victory to his belt in 2021.

If you’re unfamiliar with François—which would be hard to believe—he’s won UTMB three times before this. Also, he’s won about every 100-miler you can think of. It will take an incredible performance to challenge François this year.

Xavier Thévenard

Men's favorite for UTMB 2021: Xavier Thevenard
Credit: Facebook

Well, look here, another three-time winner of UTMB in the field. Have I mentioned the field this year is stacked? Xavier is coming back to UTMB after placing second in 2019 in a strong performance behind Pau Cape.

Like D’haene, Thévenard is one of the best when it comes to the 100-mile distance. The only concerns are the recent health issues Xavier has been battling. Let’s hope he’s alright and fit for UTMB this year.

Jim Walmsley

Men's favorite for UTMB 2021: Jim Walmsley
Credit: Facebook

Jim has been on a roll lately as well. He’s dominated the Western States the last three years—setting course records in 2018 and 2019.

Yet, that success has not translated to UTMB. After placing fifth in his first appearance in 2017, Jim DNF’d in 2018 and has not run the race since then. He has been in prime form recently, so could he be the first American to top the podium?

When is UTMB 2021?

  • PTL: La Petite Trotte à Léon
    • August 23rd, 2021 — 8:00am CET (2:00am EST)
  • UTMB: Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
    • August 27th, 2021 — 5:00pm CET (11:00am EST)
  • TDS: Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie
    • August 24th, 2021 — 3:00pm CET (9:00am EST)
  • CCC: Courmayeur — Champex — Chamonix
    • August 27th, 2021 — 9:00am CET (3:00am EST)
  • OCC: Orsières — Champex — Chamonix
    • August 26th, 2021 — 8:15am CET (2:15am EST)
  • MCC: De Martigny-Combe à Chamonix
    • August 23rd, 2021 – 10:00am CET (4:00am EST)
  • YCC: Youth Chamonix Courmayeur
    • August 25th, 2021 — 9:00am CET (3:00am EST)

Where to watch UTMB 2021

You can get a live stream for all the events here.

There is also a YouTube live stream here.

You can also check their Facebook page closer to the start time to find out more.

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1 thought on “Here’s What You Need To Know About UTMB 2021”

  1. Pingback: UTMB 2021 Results: King François & Queen Courtney reign – The Travel Runner

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