Azara García and Juanjo Somohano were the most outstanding runners of the HG AML Team last weekend in Chamonix, France, where a new edition of the great international reference of the trailrunning was disputed: the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. The Cantabrian got a second place in the 55km OCC test, while the runner from Asturias, recently named Spain’s ultra-distance champion, was sixth in the 100km CCC. The French runner Maryline Nakache, from Team TSL Oxsitis HG, was 5th in the CCC.
More than 10,000 trailrunners from dozens of different countries gathered last week in Chamonix, the mythical town at the foot of Mont-Blanc. And in case someone has been on Mars in the last ten years, this is the scenario in which UTMB is held every August. A global and unique event, which by size and influence can not even approach the other great international trailrunning races.
As every year, UTMB 2019 consisted of different races of different distances, and each of them brought together the best specialists. The OCC, the shortest race (not counting the junior and sponsor races) this year had an unusual participation of elite runners. Surely the reason is that in this 2019 the Trail World Championship was held in Portugal, which this time was run on a 45km track. Many elites, then, have been preparing a somewhat shorter distance for months than usual, and the 55km of the OCC fit perfectly in their preparation. The Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik joined the exit box of Orsières, and he lead to a well-worked victory, going from less to more. Andreu Simón, the second best Spanish in Portugal, entered second place, while Chinese Tao Luo was third.
In women, the duel lived in Portugal between Ruth Croft, Sheila Aviles and Azara García was repeated, although this time the world champion Blandine L’Hirondel was missed. Croft was superior to the two Spaniards also on this occasion, while Aviles retired with physical problems. Azara was the second fastest and disputed the race intelligently, being acclaimed in the goal of Chamonix by a French public who knows her well. The newcomer in Chamonix Cristina Santurino, on the other hand, obtained a meritorious 18th position, and confirmed what they already know well in the Gran Trail of Peñalara and the Spain Ultra Cup: Cris is here to stay. On the other hand, the members of the HG AML Team Albert Pujol, Roberto García and Mònica Vives also suffered various physical problems that forced them to withdraw without without reaching the goal.
A few hours after the emotions lived in the OCC, the 100km CCC was disputed from Courmayeur. Among the favorites were undoubtedly the six-time world champion Luis Alberto Hernando, the Transvulcania champion Thibaut Garrivier or the two-time world runner-up and co-champion of Spain Cristofer Clemente. The HG AML Team arrived strongly, with the presence of the other co-champion of Spain Juanjo Somohano, the Top10 in the CCC 2018 Isaac Riera and the well-known by all Gemma Arenas, who had the clear intention to dispute the victory to Emelie Forsberg and Ragna Debats. But Riera had to retire in the early stages of the race, while Arenas’s legs held out halfway. Juanjo Somohano remained standing, and he showed his great level of form to remain in the top5 in the final part of the circuit and end up entering the finish line in sixth position after being advanced in the last descent. Somohano lived his performance as a victory and led the HG AML Team to the top for the second day. In girls, Ragna Debats was the fastest, while the French TSL Oxsitis HG Maryline Nakache was 5th.
There was still to dispute the UTMB queen race, the 100 miles around Mont-Blanc. Agustín Luján, David Lutzardo and Víctor Bernad left at 6:00 p.m. in the afternoon from Chamonix, but had to retire at dawn. An intractable Pau Capell was the great protagonist of the edition, beating the race record and winning one more medal for the powerful Spanish army.