UTMB 2021: THE DREAM BEFORE EVERYTHING

Top level performance for La Sportiva athletes Mimmi Kotka, Sophie Grant and Federica Zuccollo. A narrowly missed podium for Andreas Reiterer.

UTMB 2021: THE DREAM BEFORE EVERYTHING

The majestic Mont Blanc, the elite of world ultra-running, an icon that has become a legend. UTMB 2021: indomitable, spectacular, unparalleled. There are dreams destined to become fatigue, tears of joy, sweat. Dreams to run all in one go, dreams that you’ve got to go out and get by putting your all into it. And then there is UTMB: the dream par excellence. The one that enters your head and stays there, constantly knocking around. One of the first hundred-mile races in Europe, UTMB still represents an inimitable challenge today: the famous route around the heart of the Mont Blanc massif is about 171 km long, with 10,000m D +, and passages at over 2,500m of altitude, in semi-self-sufficiency, and to be run in a time limit of 46:30 hours. Many begin the race in Chamonix (this year around 2,300 competitors) while fewer athletes manage to finish it.

This edition will be remembered in particular for the outstanding women athletes who reached the top: among those present at UTMB Mimmi Kotka from Sweden, the La Sportiva athlete who gained an amazing third place on the podium: "It was a very special edition, the women were very strong and I felt honoured to have the opportunity to share the race with athletes of such a high level. Before leaving I thought that this was definitely the year to be present at UTMB and considering the final results, I was right. As for my performance, at the beginning I felt good and managed to keep a good pace, but then unfortunately I couldn't keep it up for the rest of the race. I faced several problems and I am not entirely satisfied, but I know there is room for improvement. On the other hand, I had good energy and stuck to my pre-race plans, so in general I am happy with my performance.

At the CCC, one of the most competitive 100km in the world, with about 6,100 meters of elevation gain, Andreas Reiterer, La Sportiva athlete, Italian trail champion and currently the strongest Italian athlete over these distances, after an excellent season, immediately took the lead, keeping constantly between third and fifth place, never experiencing any moments of uncertainty and pushing well until the finish, where he came in fourth: "For me it was the first time at UTMB, and I was well aware that this was the most important race of the year. I have never seen so many people cheering along the course, it was an incredible emotion. After 2020, a difficult year due to the pandemic, it was fantastic to run such an important race. I came from a very positive period and I knew I was in shape: I am satisfied with my result and I know I can say that I did my very best. I am super motivated for the next 2022 edition, I want to return to this track and improve my time . This year I have never been far from the podium: maybe who knows, one day I could even win this race. It would really be a dream come true ”, confessed the South Tyrolean champion.  

As for the TDS, unfortunately marked by the tragic loss of one of the athlete from the Czech Republic to whom our thoughts go, the high level of the female athletes characterized this very technical race: Sophie Grant, the La Sportiva athlete, from England but of New Zealand origin, who arrived in fifth position together with French rival Marie Dohin, consistent with the values and spirit of ultra-trail running, said: "Trail running is exploding and for me one of the most exciting aspects is to see many strong girls running distances like TDS and achieving great goals: my hope is that this trend will continue into the next year as well. I am absolutely thrilled with my result: I fell dislocating my finger, so being able to keep moving as I did was extraordinary. I have also improved my time by two hours compared to the last edition of the TDS and I am very happy to have achieved this goal: Marie Dohin reached me on the last downhill section of the race and I started running with her in Les Houches. Having spent much of the race alone, her presence was a welcome distraction from the pain, and it was when I met her that I learned of the tragic loss of one of the racers. So we decided to join forces to finish the race together rather than fight against each other: after what had happened it seemed like the right thing to do”.

After having closed his first UTMB (2018 edition) in 24h: 28 'and 19th position, Roberto Mastrotto, La Sportiva athlete, due to Covid and health problems, had to wait two years before being able to return to compete on the trails that had captivated him during his first 100 miles: the expectations were high and the race had long been dreamt of: “I was aware of my possibilities and my limits and I knew I could aim to finish the lap in around 23 hours. Unfortunately, there are always a lot of variables in a race of this type, and the cold played a bad trick on me at a critical point in the race, which gave me a terrible stomach cramp. From there my race turned in to an attempt to survive up to La Fouly, where I was sadly forced to stop: it no longer made sense to continue with the engine off and the smile gone. But I will definitely come back to run around Mont Blanc next year to finish what I started!”

Federica Zuccollo, the La Sportiva athlete, who came from a somewhat unlucky season, instead ran an excellent race, finishing in tenth position at the CCC: "This was my first participation in the CCC: it is truly something unique, an incredible emotion and a privilege to run meeting fans who cheer you on! Regarding my performance, I can say that I am satisfied. It was my first race over this distance and coming from six months of injuries I had only had a month and a half to prepare for this race. It was an unknown factor, I was aware of it, but the desire for redemption, the joy of running and listening to my body were too strong. Upon arrival in Chamonix, I did not know how to express that mix of emotions, immense joy and fatigue, which pervaded me: I told everyone that for a while I didn't want to hear about running, but it was just tiredness that spoke. I would definitely like to come back next year, hoping to lower the time ".

UTMB means determination, commitment, mental strength. There are those who run it all with a smile, those with the desire to tell it, those who can't wait for it to end. “I hope this community always stays the same and never changes, it's really special. Ultra trail runners are passionate, lively and generous people. It is a very inclusive sport, something that touches natural, primordial experiences, which has to do with inner introspection. It is a metaphor for life, which leads you to grow constantly during each race”, these are the thoughts of Mimmi Kotka.  

This year too, UTMB confirmed itself as the most important world event on the ultra-trail scenario, the event not to be missed, the ambition par excellence of the international jet set of runners. A race in which it will be increasingly difficult to participate, considering the new access rules. The only certainty, however it goes, is that UTMB never disappoints: perhaps because of its breathtaking track, perhaps due to the unique atmosphere that you breathe, perhaps for the sacred giants of the ultra-trail with whom you have the opportunity to shake hands with, running it always means living an inner adventure, a meditative experience during which each participant pushes himself beyond his physical and mental limits and what remains, in the end, is always the desire to relive it, again and again.

 

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