Red Wing, MN â€“ Sept. 1, 2009 â€“ Returning competitor and Vasque-sponsored trail athlete, Krissy Moehl, of Seattle, WA and Bend, OR, set a female course record as she placed first among women and 11th overall at the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc this past weekend. The renowned race takes runners on a 166-k course that crosses through France, Italy and Switzerland.
The other four members of Vasque's team performed impressively with a combination of skill, stamina and courage. The multinational team mirrored the international flavor of the event, which attracts thousands of runners, thousands of volunteers and thousands of spectators.
Moehl's time of 24 hours and 56 minutes beat the competition by an hour and nine minutes and shattered the existing course record which stood at 25 hours 19 minutes 41 seconds. In this grueling event, which included an ascent of 9,400 meters, Moehl finished 11th overall, the highest place ever for a female runner.
â€œWhat a race. It was purely awesome to be here to experience her gallant win,â€ Vasque's European sales manager, David Harrison says.
Finishing in the top three women in the race was one of Moehl's goals for the year. â€œEvery race is an opportunity to learn something more about the mind and body. This year's UTMB taught me to harness the energy from supporters both present and abroad and draw on that energy to help me accomplish my goal. I had some significant rough patches and finding this as a focus to pull me through was an amazing feeling. Fortunately my training has been solid, my feet were healthy, and I was able to jump when the opportunity to go for the win presented itself. Lizzie pushed me to one of my best performances to date and I am super thankful for her as a competitor and new friend. I am thrilled at my race, and am thankful to all those who helped get me through to the finish line in good form,â€ Moehl says.
The event consists of four races of different lengths that start in France and Italy and attracts a total of 5600 + competitors from all over the world. 2400 competitors, alone, left the starting line simultaneously for the UTMB course which is 166k with a 9400m ascent. There were 1600 volunteers on hand to help organize and administrate the successful race.
This year, the weather was generally dry with a cold snap at one point. Runners endured freezing nights, dense fog, traversing mountain passes and multiple ascents. Lizzie Hawker, two-time champion of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and the North Face athlete, built a lead in the early hours of the race. But by the 94-k point, Moehl caught Hawker. The lead switched on and off between them until Moehl stretched out a lead in the latter stages of the race.
The other Vasque team members were Japanese runners, Kenichi Yamamoto, Hiroko Suzuki, and Chiharu Watanabe and Mandy Calvert of the United Kingdom, all in their first attempt at the races.
Yamamoto finished eighth among men in a time of 24 hours and 17 minutes. Yamamoto appeared strong throughout the race. He moved up steadily from the 50s at La Contamines to the 20s at Courmayeur to 11th at Col Du Ferret (99-k), a fantastic result for a first attempt, resulting in a very emotional Yamamoto.
Suzuki finished the race in a time of 36 hrs and 11 minutes, 14th among women and 303rd overall.
Calvert, who raced for the first time the Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie course (106-k) finished in 106th place and 9th place among women in a time of 21 hours and 51 minutes. Experienced aided Calvert as she used her skills cultivated from her three previous UTMB 166-k races to catapult her to the finish.
Watanabe ran until the 120-k point at Champex, when he retired in 46th place because of stomach problems.
Huge congratulations to the entire Vasque trail team for their fine finishes at the 2009 Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. Photo credit Henry Iddon.
For over 40 years, Vasque has crafted high-quality performance-driven footwear for the outdoor market with a line that includes specialized footwear for trail running, crossover, hiking, backpacking, alpine pursuits and kids. With an unyielding commitment to innovation, Vasque focuses on fit and world-class performance as the core pillars in every product they produce. Company product testing takes place through a team of exceptional athletes that report directly from trails all over the world, resulting in product that withstands the test of time and the hardest conditions and wear. To illustrate the â€œVasque Fitâ€ story, the company has brought on the Master of Fitâ„¢ to narrate, in a series of videos, exactly what it takes to become an award-winning footwear manufacturer.