GB’s Jonathan Albon wins the OCC at the UTMB

Big course record for the Brit as Scotland's Robbie Simpson takes second and France's Blandine L'Hirondel is first woman

Jonathan Albon

by Paul Halford |

Jonathan Albon at the finish line in Chamonix (credit: Laurent Salino)

Jonathan Albon beat fellow Brit Robbie Simpson into second by smashing the course record at the UTMB OCC race in the Alps. Meanwhile, France's Blandine L'Hirondel was convincingly first woman, also setting a course record.

Albon took more than 16 minutes from the mark set two years ago by Stian Angermund-Vik, clocking five hours two minutes 57 seconds for the 56km course, which has 3500m of elevation.

Simpson, who had swapped the lead several times with Albon, was two minutes 38 seconds behind as the first four broke the previous record.

Albon, the current world trail running champion from 2019, former skyrunning world champion and multiple obstacle course racing champion, showed his versatility once again.

He edged in front for the final time on the climb towards the final checkpoint at La Flegere. Arriving with a 10-second advantage, on the 7km-long steeply downhill run-in to the finish in Chamonix, he took advantage of his technical ability by stretching away.

Simpson, who is a 2:14 marathoner who has won bronze at the Commonwealth Games for the distance, showed his superior raw speed at the end as the ground became less technical and flatter, but he did not have enough time to reel him in.

Robbie Simpson
©Franck Oddoux

Runner-up Robbie Simpson (credit: Laurent Salino)

Albon, who has been out of action due to foot surgery last year, is the first British winner of the race, which was added to the UTMB programme in 2014.

Like the men's winner, L'Hirondel also won world gold in 2019 over 44km, so she is likewise suited to this distance.

She set off rapidly, quickly building up a strong lead over France's eventual runner-up Mathilde Sagnes.

She crossed the line in 5:45:05 – eight minutes four seconds inside the course record set by Ruth Croft in 2019. Sagnes finished in 6:07:35.

Blandine L'Hirondel
©Laurent Salino

Women's winner Laurent Salino takes the plaudits (credit: Laurent Salino)

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