Canadian runners shine at Canyons by UTMB

Canadian runners shine at Canyons by UTMB

The 2023 Canyons by UTMB ultrarunning festival took place in California over the weekend, and it saw several exciting races. The men’s 100-miler featured a sprint finish for first place after 17 hours of racing, various athletes booked their tickets to the Western States 100 and UTMB Worlds Series finals and multiple Canadians ran into the top 10 in their respective races. Priscilla Forgie of Edmonton finished second in the women’s 100K, Ethan Peters of Fernie, BC, and Ryan Atkins of Sutton, Que., ran to fourth and sixth in the men’s 100-miler, melody gilbert of Bromont, Que., posted an eighth-place result in the 50K and alexandra harris of Vancouver won the women’s 25K.

The 100-miler

The Canyons by UTMB is a UTMB World Series event, and so the top 10 male and female finishers in the 50K, 100K and 100-miler all booked their spots at August’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, France. The men’s race featured a two-runner battle between Switzerland’s Mathieu Clément and China’s Canhua Luowho ran together for most of the race.

The two started a tad slowly, sitting a few spots back of the lead in the opening few kilometers. By the 23 km checkpoint, Luo had moved into first place and opened up a slight lead over Clément, but the gap only ever got as big as a few minutes. For about 50 km, Clément had pulled Luo back in and overtaken him for the lead, but Luo eventually drew even with him once more, after which point they remained close together. They battled it out for the next 110 km, never straying far from each other, until they reached the finishing stretch and had to sprint for the win.

Sprint finishes are incredibly rare in 100-milers and other ultramarathons, so this was an unexpected treat for fans waiting at the finish line. Clément ended up having just a bit more left in his tank as he willed himself to the finish, just ahead of Luo. The two men ended up with the same time of 17:05:16, but it was Clément who took the win in a thrilling finish.

A little under an hour back of Clément and Luo was Peters, who crossed the line in fourth place at 17:59:43. Atkins made it to the finish at 19:16:12, locking in sixth place overall. As top-10 finishers, Peters and Atkins both earned their spots at the start line in Chamonix later this year.

The women’s 100-miler was much less dramatic, with American Alyssa Clark cruising to the win at 20:13:21. Clark’s Fellow American Alexis Crellin was within striking distance for part of the race, but by around the 100K mark, pulled Clark away for good. Crelling remained in second, stopping the clock at 20:55:06. Annie Hughes made it an all-American women’s podium with her 21:26:05 finish.

The 100K

Forgie had a tremendous race in the 100K, not only finishing as second woman, but running to seventh overall. Sweden’s Ida Nilsson took the win in the women’s race, breaking the tape in 9:51:07, but Forgie was not far behind, eventually crossing the line in 10:00:20. For a while early on in the race, Forgie had a lead over Nilsson, at one point running close to 10 minutes ahead of the Swede. By the 65km checkpoint, though, Nilsson had clawed her way back, eventually passing Forgie and charging up the course to the win.

The 100K not only offered spots at the UTMB World Series finals, but also a pair of WS100 Golden Tickets to the top two men and women. Forgie booked her spot at both races with her second-place result. In the men’s race, American Cole Watson took the win in 8:34:38.

The 25K and 50K

In the men’s 50K, American Hayden Hawkes won with a final time of 3:32:11. hawkes’s compatriot Heather Jackson won the women’s race in 4:09:36, about half an hour ahead of Canada’s Gilbert, who crossed the line as the eighth woman in 4:41:21. In the women’s 25K, Harris ran to the lone Canadian win of the weekend, posting a final time of 1:52:45.

For full results from the Canyons by UTMB, click here.

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