UTMB 2017 will be the most competitive ultra in trail running history with over 150 elites runners. Kilian Jornet and Caroline Chaverot are the favourites to win the emblematic UTMB (171km). Not much can stop Jornet, not even a dislocated shoulder and he could be the first runner to finish under 20h. All prognostics expect the lead group to run the first half at a crazy record pace with at least half of elites dropping of the race (last year almost 70% of the elites were DNF).
It will be difficult this year for the Asian runners to get into the top 20. Japanese Yoshikazu Hara is fast on runnable races but also won the first edition of UTMF. Hara is a serious contender to be the first Asian finisher. Nepalese Sange Sherpa, based in France, could also do well if not tired from his numerous ultras this year. We could be surprised by Chinese runners, notably with Jiagen Yang. In the ladies, Pui Yan Chow is in the top 15 elite runners with an ITRA quote of 714, thanks to a win at TNF Thailand and TNF Korea earlier this year. Chow will, however, be challenged with a very competitive field and she will need a good day to get into top 10.
The CCC (100km) is also packed with elites but only one elite Asian runner is listed, the infamous Chinese Yan Longfei who finished 5min behind Francois D’Haene at HK100 two years ago. Longfei is a serious contender for a podium. We should mention American Justin Andrews living in China, who can finish top 20. Vlad Ixel is also on the start list although he seems more triathlon oriented these days.
On the TDS (120km), which will start on Wednesday morning from Courmayeur, we have both Chinese Dong Li and Hong Kong based Marie McNaughton who can surprise many European ladies with a top 5 finishing. Nepalese Samir Tamang, who finished at an impressive 2nd place behind Xavier Thevenard two years ago is also on the start list, although not confirmed whether he will be in Chamonix.
Japanese Ruy Ueda, who finished 2nd at CCC last year, will take the start of the OCC (50km) with a very likely podium. Ueda will take part to the Asian Skyrunner championship in Japan the following week end, which is certainly the reason he is not racing a longer distance.
An exciting ultra week!