Kilian Jornet to return to UTMB

Trail running legend looks for fourth win in world's greatest trail race

Kilian Jornet

by Trail Running |

Three-time winner Kilian Jornet has confirmed he will return this summer to the UTMB Mont Blanc for the first time in four years.

The Spaniard, who won in 2008, 2009 and 2011, recently acquired enough qualifying points for the world's most prestigious trail race on August 26.

Jornet last competed in the Alpine event in 2018 when he had to withdraw due to a pre-race bee sting causing a bad reaction. Since then he has seen France's Francois D'Haene pulled clear of him with four career UTMB wins.

Explaining to organisers why he is back for a seventh time, he said: "This year, I will be back at the UTMB. Why, you might ask? As a matter of fact, I like pain, to put myself through the wringer. The long-distance challenges you to bear the effort and manage the pain. So, this is one of the reasons. But also, because at the UTMB there is always a great competition with the top athletes of the world. I know the course well, I lived in Chamonix for several years. It's a pleasure to come back to this mythical race."

As a former winner, Jornet benefits from an extended time to earn his qualifying points, which he did on February 12, winning the Tjörnarparen Ultra-trail in Sweden.

Western States 100 record-holder Jim Walmsley will be the main threat to Jornet at this year's event. Reacting to the news of his return the American said: "There's no one bigger in the sport, in trail running, so it puts a little pressure on my own training, make sure I do things right and I am ready and I show up to the starting line as healthy and most fit I can be, just mentally I have to be prepared for that."

Meanwhile, 2019 winner Pau Capell, who is seeking to regain his title, said: "It will be a good competition with Kilian, with Jim Walmsley, with Xavier Thévenard. I think it's really good that the best race in the world has the best athletes in the world."

Jornet also newly announced his plans for 2022. He is due to compete in the Zegama-Aizkorri trail race on May 29, the Hardrock 100 on July 15 and the Sierre-Zinal on August 13.

As previously revealed, Britain's Tom Evans, a former winner of the CCC race at the UTMB, is running the flagship event for the first time. Britain's Beth Pascall, the 2021 Western States winner, will be seeking to improve on her best of fourth in the event.

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