Jez Bragg: won a weather hit, shortened Mont Blanc event

Jez Bragg: won a weather hit, shortened Mont Blanc event

British long-distance expert Jez Bragg won a truncated Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc today.

The Warwick-based ultra runner came in with a time of 10hrs 30mins 37secs, seven minutes ahead of American Mike Wolfe.

The original, 160km (100-mile) race was abandoned when severe weather forced organisers to halt the event. A restart the following day, using the shorter Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix route was hastily arranged after the runners were bussed to Courmayeur, and Bragg headed the 1,500 or so competitors who made the restart.

Lizzy Hawker. Photo: akunamatata CC-BY-ND-2.0

Lizzy Hawker. Photo: akunamatata CC-BY-ND-2.0

British runner Lizzy Hawker was the fastest woman runner in the event, finishing with a time of 11hrs 47mins 30secs.

Earlier today, race director Catherine Poletti explained the reasons for the stopping of the original race. “We stopped the UTMB for safety reasons,” she told a press conference. “Weather forecasts predicted heavy rain until Saturday morning and a significant risk of fog. A lot of wind and snow at around [2,300m], 7,500ft were also reported.

“We stopped the race at the Contamines to avoid allowing 2,300 runners on to the mountain, and risking losing some of them.

“We also realised that markers have been removed from their positions on the Bonhomme pass as far as the Chapieux – the most mountainous part where it’s easy to get lost.

“We organised a helicopter to drop new markers to set up the route again, but the continuing unfavourable weather means we can’t continue.”

The full Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc route, sponsored by The North Face, involves a total ascent of 9,400m (30,840ft) in an anti-clockwise route around the massif which is home to western Europe’s highest peak. The race passes through France, Italy and Switzerland.

Bragg won the 98km (61-mile) Fellsman event through the Yorkshire Dales at his first attempt in 2009. Lizzie Hawker was the fastest woman in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in 2005 and 2008, and second-placed woman last year.

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