The 2023 Madeira Island Ultra Trail kicked off at midnight local time on Saturday, April 22. The 115-kilometer (72 miles) route travels from northeast to southwest, spanning the full width of the beautiful and rugged island of Maderia. Along the way, it takes in 7,200 meters (23,600 feet) of arduous climbing and technical descent, beginning at sea level and climbing to almost 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) at its highest point at Pico Ruivo.
This year’s line-up was less competitive on both the men’s and women’s side to last year’s race, which saw both the women’s and men’s event records shattered, by Courtney Dauwalter and Jim Walmsleyrespectively.
Where the Americans had dominated last year, this year was a French sweep, with French runners taking the win in both the men’s and women’s races. Men’s winner, Lambert Santelli, was 10th in last year’s race and fifth in the 2019 edition. He managed to improve on his own time from last year by 38 minutes.
women’s winner Manon Bohard placed second in the 85k race at MIUT back in 2019. The 2021 TDS winner was right at home on this technical course, and stormed her debut at the 115k main event.
2023 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Women’s Race
It was a decisive win for France’s Manon Bohardwho by the top of the first major climb, 14.5 kilometers in, had already established a lead of just over a minute on chaser abby hall (USA), who was two minutes clear of Lucie Jamsin (France) in third.
Past halfway at Curral das Freiras, 63k, Hall still hung on in second place, but Bohard had steadily extended her lead and was now almost 20 minutes clear in front. Meanwhile, Jamsin in third was applying pressure from behind and had closed the gap on second to a minute and a half.
Hall was found wanting on the mammoth climb that followed — 1,475 meters over 11k — to Pico Ruivo, the highest terrain of the route. Bohard summitted 19 minutes ahead of Jamsin in second, who was now almost 10 minutes clear of Hall in third.
Meanwhile, Switzerland’s Lucia Buehler, who had sat patiently in fifth place for the race’s first half, moved into fourth position by the high point at Pico Ruivo. She passed Hall on the rough, undulating 9k section that followed to Chão da Lagoa, by which point she had moved into podium position.
By the race’s final checkpoint at Porto da Cruz, 101k in, Bohard had put down an untouchable 45-minute lead. Jamsin followed in second, still 11 minutes clear of Buehler in third — who was more than a half an hour ahead of the rest of the field.
Having continued to extend her lead all day, Manon Bohard broke home in a time of 15 hours and 48 minutes, the 2023 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail women’s champion.
Luzia Buehler — having spent more than half of the race in fifth place before moving up to third for the last quarter — had a stormer of a last section, where she passed Jamsin to finish in second place in a time of 16:40.
Lucie Jamsin held on for third, crossing the line seven minutes later in a time of 16:47.
2023 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Women’s Results
- Manon Bohard (France) – 15:48:58
- Lucia Buehler (Switzerland) – 16:40:11
- Lucie Jamsin (France) – 16:47:56
- Paulina Krawczak (Poland) – 17:19:22
- Emilie Maroteaux (France) – 17:22:39
2023 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Men’s Race
At 14.5k in, with already 1,515 meters climbed, just 32 seconds separated the top-four men as they reached the mountain plateau of Fanal — known for its ancient forests. These were Madeira Island’s Luis FernandesSweden’s Petter Engdahland French runners Lambert Santelli and Benoît Girondel.
By the end of the first technical descent to Chão da Ribeira, the same group made up the top four, with Fernandes having moved two minutes clear of Santelli, who was now in second place.
The lead group continued to trade places, with Engdahl leading for a time before Santelli moved into pole position before the 48k checkpoint at Encumeada.
Things then took a turn for the worse for Engdahl, who fell back from first to seventh position in the 16k stretch between Estanquinhos and Encumeada. He reportedly spent 20 minutes at the aid station being attended to by his crew before carrying on, but called it a day before the next checkpoint.
Another French runner, 23-year-old Hugo Deckhad climbed up the field to second place by Encumeada and remained in the top three through 84k, but then also with drew from the race.
When the frontrunners reached the 63k checkpoint, Girondel had replaced Deck in second place behind Santelli and the two held position for the rest of the race, with Santelli crossing the line in 14 hours and one minute.
Girondel, who excels in technical ultras — having previously won the 2018 Diagonale des Fous and placed second in the 2021 TDS — followed 12 minutes later, to take second place in 14 hours and 13 minutes.
Having led the race in the early stages, and never fallen back further than sixth place, Madeira’s Luís Fernandes closed out the podium in a time of 14 hours and 23 minutes.
2023 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Men’s Results
- Lambert Santelli (France) – 14:01:26
- Benoît Girondel (France) – 14:13:38
- Luis Fernandes (Portugal) – 14:23:42
- Alban Berson (France) – 14:24:35
- Walter Manser (Switzerland) – 14:33:34