The 2016 Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) was one of the hottest and most grueling on record, with more than 40 percent of the starting field falling by the wayside by the time the 46 1/2-hour time limit had expired.
Nearly 1,800 runners toed the starting line in Chamonix, France, and more than 730 dropped along the 170-kilometer (105.6-mile) course. Of the 1,468 runners who reached the finish line after conquering more than 32,000 feet of vertical gain and temperatures in the upper 80s, three finishers hailed from Massachusetts.
Brian and Amy Rusiecki of South Deerfield, Mass., have made their mark on mountain courses in the United States with strong showings – including sweeping the men’s and women’s titles at Grindstone last year – and UTMB was their first time taking on the Alps. Brian, 37, completed the course in 25:40:17, good for 235thoverall. He also was the 17th American finisher.
Amy, 37, was the 33rd American to cross the finish line. Her time of 39:49:42 was good for 553rd overall.
Additionally, Julien Fourcade, 41, of Shrewsbury, Mass., completed UTMB. He was the 39th American finisher and 1,033rd overall in 43:49:46.
A total of 46 Americans finished the race.
Ludovic Pommeret, 41, of France earned the victory in 22:00:02, comfortably ahead of Gediminas Grinius, 37, of Lithuania who placed second in 22:26:05. Tim Tollefson of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., was the first of three Americans to land in the top six. Tollefson, 31, placed third in 22:30:28; David Laney, 27, of Portland, Ore., was fourth in 22:41:14; and Zach Miller, 27, of Manitou Springs, Colo., placed sixth in 22:54:26.
Caroline Chaverot of France was the women’s champion and 20th overall in 25:15:40 after holding off Andrea Huser of Switzerland who took second-place female honors and 21st overall in 25:22:56.
The UTMB series also includes a two- or three-person team event, the 290-kilometer PTL (Petite Trotte à Léon) with a 151 1/2-hour time limit – more than six full days – starting and finishing in Chamonix. Dima Feinhaus of Waban, Mass., tackled that option as he teamed with Christian Marolf of Switzerland and Uwe Herrmann of Germany to complete the course in 145:28:57.
Feinhaus, 53, has a few weeks to recover from taking on the Alps by tackling the Bear 100 in Logan, Utah, on Sept. 23, before returning to Massachusetts for the Stone Cat 50-Miler in November.
*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct details about the PTL race.