Jim Walmsley hoping to learn from UTMB failures

Jim Walmsley

by Paul Halford |

US ultra runner talks about his past hiccups as well as his hopes for this summer's big race in a new video from Wahoo Fitness and HOKA

Many believe Jim Walmsley is the most talented ultra trail runner in the world. Yet he is yet to claim victory in three attempts at the the world's most prestigious trail race.

The American hopes to change all that this summer at the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and he has even temporarily moved to the Alps to help him in his quest.

Although Walmsley's successes – such as setting a world 50 mile record on the road and winning the Western States 100 three times – are many, he is not known for his consistency. His all-out mentality has occasionally ended in falling short of his potential in races. After leading the 2017 UTMB on his debut, he ultimately placed fifth and his two races since at the unofficial world championships of trail running resulted in him not finishing.

However, in an insightful new video from Wahoo Fitness and HOKA (embedded below), he talks about how he views success as not all about winning and how he embraces failure.

Fellow elite trail runner Dylan Bowman sums up Walmsley's career well when he says in the video: "It often takes hims several tries to get it right. He fails a lot in his career... He's dropped out of races. He's famously made wrong turns that have resulted in him not winning races. But all of those stories create a much better story when he is successful. It's born out of adversity and Jim is not one to shy away from failure. He learns from it and avenges those failures with great successes."

No American man has won the UTMB and Walmsley believes that, for him to end the barren spell it is necessary for him to get to know the Alpine trails as well as the Europeans. Moving to the area has thus been part of his plan for this year's race.

His past failures could prove in his favour and he clearly embraces the shortfalls as much as the victories. He says: "There's something about things not working perfectly, not going right, being hard, getting my ass kicked that I like, I guess. Three times I've raced UTMB. I feel like I've underperformed every time."

Despite his extremely ambitious outlook to racing, he is realistic to know that his best will not always be good enough to win. Looking ahead to this year's race, he adds: "I think ultimately success is going to come in the form of just feeling like I had my day. The competition and the other athletes is out of your control. And even on my best day, maybe that's not going to be good enough to win. So I think winning is not a healthy way of looking at success and failure with UTMB. I think growth and learning how to race a trail ultra through the mountains like this efficiently and trying to replicate that is important."

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