French runners dominate Madeira Island Ultra-Trail race

Madeira Island Ultra-Trail

More than 2,000 runners toed the start line of the various Madeira Island Ultra-Trail races over the weekend. french athletes Manon Bohard and Lambert Santelli ran to the wins in the 115K race, which takes competitors across the length of Madeira, a Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean. Canada’s Jean-Francois Cauchon finished in 29th in the 115K race, and Martin Dagenais crossed the line in sixth in the hopeful but still extremely challenging 42K run.

Bohard’s big win

The 115K race starts in Porto Moniz, a town on the northwest coast of the island. From there, runners make their way southeast over Madeira’s rough terrain, covering a whopping 7,200m of elevation gain throughout the entire race. Included in all this climbing is an ascent of Pico Ruivo, the island’s tallest point at 1,861m. It’s a tremendous feat to simply finish this race (those who do it in 29 hours or faster will be entered in the Western States 100 lottery), but even more impressive to run it quickly, which is exactly what Bohard and Santelli did.

At the first checkpoint (a little over 14 km into the race), Bohard had a lead of a minute over American abby hall. Bohard held onto her lead and slowly put more time between herself and Hall. By the halfway mark, she was 19 minutes clear of the American, and although she still had plenty of race left to run, it was very much her race to lose.

Not long after the halfway checkpoint, Hall faded to third, but Bohard continued to charge forward. She crossed the finish line in 15:48:58, almost a full hour ahead of second-place Lucia Buehler of Switzerland, who finished in 16:40:11. Third went to Bohard compatriot Lucie Jamsin, who stopped the clock at 16:47:56. Hall ended up in sixth, finishing in 17:54:02.

A tight men’s race

The men’s race was much closer than the women’s run. At the first checkpoint, there were four men within 30 seconds of one another. They separated a bit by the second checkpoint, when Portugal’s Luis Fernandes held a lead of two minutes over Santelli. By the third timing mat, Santelli was still in second, but Fernandes had faded to third, replaced by Sweden’s Petter Engdahl at the head of the race.

Santelli soon made his move to take the lead, and he never let it go. For a while, he led two fellow Frenchmen as they searched for an all-France podium, but Fernandes eventually found his way back into third place. Santelli crossed the line in first in a time of 14:01:26, 12 minutes ahead of Benoit Girondel of France (final time of 14:13:38) and Fernandes (14:23:42). Cauchon finished well back of the leaders on the challenging course, stopping the clock in 17:34:47.

A great day for Dagenais

The 42K race starts closer to the center of the island and takes runners north and then east to the coast in Machico. Dagenais was right in the mix from the start, never falling outside the top 10. Portugal’s Tiago Vieira ran away with the win, breaking the tape in 3:26:58. He was followed by Dylan Ribeiro (another Frenchman) in 3:34:28 and fellow Portuguese runner Roberto Baião in 3:42:09. Dagenais finished in sixth in 3:50:56, not too far off the podium. He was the lone Canadian to finish in the top 10 in any of the races in Madeira.

For full results from Madeira, click here.

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