UTMB podium finisher Mathieu Blanchard achieves goal at Paris Marathon

UTMB podium finisher Mathieu Blanchard achieves goal at Paris Marathon

At Sunday’s 2023 Paris Marathon, a recognizable figure in the ultra-trail running community took his shot over 42.2 kilometers. Back-to-back Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) podium finisher and Franco-Canadian Mathieu Blanchard ran a 10-minute personal best of 2:22:36 on the streets of Paris.

Blanchard finished 36th overall (and 36th male), beating his previous marathon time of 2:32:34 from the 2017 Chicago Marathon (his debut). He opened the race in 1:12:04 and ran a massive negative split of 1:10:32 in the latter half of a challenging Paris course, into a reported headwind and nearly 200m of elevation gain.

Before the race, he recognized the vast differences between road and trail racing, but said he honestly did not expect this great result. “I was aiming for 2:25, so averaging a speed of 18 km/h seems mind-blowing to me,” said Blanchard on Instagram.

In a post-race interview with the French news station Stadion, Blanchard said he still felt he had something left at the end and would love to chase the 2:20 mark in his next road marathon.

Mathieu Blanchard UTMB
Photo: Jordi Saragossa

Blanchard, 35, was born and raised in France but currently lives and trains in Montreal. He is coached by former Quebec marathoner Dorys Langlois. In 2022, he became only the second runner to break the 20-hour barrier at UTMB, finishing second to his idol, Kilian Jornet. This year, Blanchard intends on returning to Chamonix in late August for another shot at the UTMB podium.

In the weeks leading up to the Paris Marathon, the two-time UTMB podium finisher spent several weeks training at altitude in Kenya, developing his speed on the roads and learning the differences between road and trail running.

Blanchard will now head to Morocco to race the historic 234-kilometre multi-stage desert ultra, Marathon Des Sables (MDS), beginning on April 21. He finished fifth at the MDS in 2021.

Photo: Mathieu Blanchard / Strava

Blanchard has qualified for and plans to run both The Western States 100 and UTMB this summer, a feat his friend and fellow Canadian Marianne Hogan pulled off in 2022 (reaching the podium at both). The two 100-mile races are within two months of each other, which makes for an intimidating double. Most ultra-trail athletes will focus on running well at one rather than trying to race both.

It will be Blanchard’s first time racing Western States.

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