Chamonix, France, Aug. 28, 2011â€”The North FaceÂ®, the world's premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, connected the world's running communities to witness drama unfold as Lizzy Hawker(GBR) took first place and Kilian Jornet (ESP), Iker Karrera (ESP) and Sebastien Chaigneau (FRA) claimed podium at the ninth annual The North FaceÂ® Ultra-Trail du Mont BlancÂ® (UTMB) on August 22-28 2011, in Chamonix, France.
Storms that delayed the start of The North Face UTMB race by five hours and potential rock fall increased the course to 169km and creating the toughest race since 2003. Despite the variable conditions including rain, snow and extreme high and low temperatures, it was the fastest course to date.
Of the 2,370 The North Face UTMB competitors, 1,700 runners shared their race in real time on personal Facebook and Twitter pages with family, friends and fans through the innovative LiveTrail APP. From start to finish line, live updates were posted from the course as checkpoints were passed, enabling followers globally to track their runner. Approximately 4,800 automatic tweets and 24,000 automatic Facebook posts were recorded by LiveTrail on runners' profiles and walls.
From a field of 86 women, The North Face runner Elizabeth â€˜Lizzy' Hawker (GBR) victoriously claimed first place to win The North Face UTMB in a time of 25h:02m:00s, finishing thirteenth overall. Incredibly Hawker became the first athlete ever to win the coveted title for the fourth time - 2005, 2008, 2010 & 2011, and achieved the second fastest women result on record.
â€œWith a race like The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc you have to run with courage and humility â€“ it was something very special to share the trail with so many people with passion for mountains and trails. I had a lot of pain in my hip and it took a lot for me to finish. I wasn't sure if I would get to the end, but the shouts of â€˜courage' from the supporters helped me through,â€ explained a contented Hawker.
Nere Martinez Urruzola (ESP) placed second, nearly three hours later with a time of 27h:55m:34s, with Darcy Piceu Africa (USA) placing third at 28h:30m:28s.
The men's The North Face UTMB race was intense from start to finish. It was double-podium for Spain as 24-year-old Catalonian Kilian Jornet Burgada (ESP) took first place honors to win the title finishing in a breakneck time of 20h:36m:43s and followed closely by team mate, 37-year-old Iker Karrera Aranburu (ESP) who completed just nine minutes later with a time of 20h:45m:34s. Amongst the leading pack, Miguel Heras Hernadez (ESP) had to leave the race after 20.5 hours of running, due to a knee injury.
Using the LiveTrail App and thrilled at winning The North Face UTMB for the third time (2008, 2009, 2011), Jornet said: â€œBecause of the weather, my racing strategy changed; it became an adventure and a very intense emotional experience where I had to dig really deep in myself. It was an incredible day to share with my two team mates and Seb Chaigneau, running and pushing each other, sharing the run with friends.â€
Arriving ten minutes later than Karrera, having had a hard and challenging race, The North Face athlete 39-year-old Sebastien Chaigneau (FRA) took the third spot in a time of 20h:55m:41s. â€œI am very happy for the third place because it has been very hard and challenging. The weather conditions were really tough - from rain, to snow and ice, sunny and cool then really hot in Martigny - but thanks to the great support from people all night and day long, I felt really encouraged. It was tough thanks to Kilian and the three Spanish guys setting the pace, working as a team.â€
Jez Bragg (GBR), winner of The North Face UTMB 2010, had to pull out of the race due to health reasons after a recent infection combined with the inclement weather. â€œI am really disappointed. I was moving well and my legs felt really strong, but what I had to do in terms of breathing was unsustainable. Very soon after leaving Champex Lac it became so difficult to breathe, I made the decision to retire from the race.â€
Each runner, tracked by a chip, provided data such as location, ranking and timing each time they went through a checkpoint. LiveTrail APP, a widget that connects the live tracking with the runner's social media profiles, automatically posted their location details on their Facebook and Twitter pages directly from their personal runner's page on the race website or on eu.thenorthface.com. The North Face is the leading community outdoor brand with nearly 1.3 million Facebook fans.
The North Face Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc takes place annually during late August in Chamonix, France. 5,500 competitors from 58 different nations take part in one of four races: headline course The North Face UTMB 166km max. 46 hrs; CCCÂ® 98km max. 26 hrs; TDS 110km max. 31hrs; PTL 300km: non-stop. The North Face UTMB, of which 2,300 compete, crosses nine high elevation mountain passes, with a total positive height gain of 9,500 metres, circling the Mont Blanc massif through three countries: France, Italy and Switzerland.
For further information on The North Face ultra-running team, race highlights, trail running products, upcoming ultra-running events and The North FaceÂ® Get Ready For Ultra-Trail online training series, click:
web: www.thenorthfacejournal.com or www.neverstopexploring.com
facebook - http://www.facebook.com/thenorthface
twitter - http://twitter.com/TheNorthFaceEU
LiveTrail APP - http://eu.thenorthface.com /www.ultratrail.com
About The North FaceÂ®
The North FaceÂ®, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains. Additional information about The North FaceÂ® can be found on the company's website, www.thenorthface.com.