Sometimes called the “little sister of UTMB” CCC (Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix) is an epic race all its own with the competition to match. Starting from Courmayeur, Italy runners will climb over 20,000 feet on their way back to the finish line in the center of Chamonix. Clocking in at 101 kilometers, roughly 62 miles, runners must excel over what is often considered the faster ‘back half’ of UTMB if they want to land a spot on the podium. The 2022 event saw historically fast times but with several days of rain to kick off race week we are waiting to see if the conditions are setting up to be perfect with cool temps or if mud is waiting for the runners as they launch off the top of the Grand Col Ferret. No matter what happens we expect a battle from start to finish, so get in on the fun and make sure you submit your Freetrail Fantasy picks before the gun goes off Friday morning.
Athletes to Watch: Women’s Race
Rosanna Buchauer (Dynafit) is the only runner from last year’s top 5 returning to this year’s CCC race, in which she steadily climbed up the ranks throughout the race. Since her result here last year, she has also secured impressive fifth place finishes at both Long Trail World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (WMTRC) in Thailand and Austria in just the past ten months.
Erin Clark (Nike Trail) was the second American at CCC last year, with an impressive late race surge to capture 7th place. After qualifying for the US Women’s Long Trail team for the WMTRC in Austria earlier this year with a win at the Lake Sonoma 50 mile, Erin unfortunately had to bow out from her spot on the team with an injury. She appears to have recovered quite favorably, finishing just outside of the top 30 at Sierre-Zinal in early August.
Johanna Antila (Salomon) returns again this year following a tenth place finish in her debut here last year. She ended her year in 2022 with a 13th place finish at the Long Trail WMTRC in Thailand, and opened up her 2023 season with a second place finish at the always competitive Transgrancanaria 85-kilometer race.
Azara Garcia (Hoka) has been unbeaten this year in races she’s finished, including the Transgrancanaria 85-kilometer, Reventon El Paso Ultra Trail 67-kilometer and Val D’Aran by UTMB CDH 112-kilometer. This will be Azara’s second go at CCC, having previously dropped out of the race in 2018 after fighting in the top five up until the halfway point in the race. If her streak of impressive finishes over the past five years is any indication, she should be poised for a strong finish here.
Ida Nilsson (Craft) may have raced more than anyone in this competitive field over the last twelve months with an incredible string of results. In pursuit of an automatic entry Western States Endurance Run (WSER), Ida finished in fifth place at Black Canyon Ultras 100-kilometer, followed up by a win at the Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB 100-kilometer, which earned her an entry into WSER (where she also finished in exceptional company in the top 10 in late June). She also recently won the Vasaloppet Ultravasan 90-kilometer less than two weeks ago, for her second win at this race and fourth podium finish.
Audrey Tanguy (Hoka) will be racing CCC for the first time, although she is no stranger to competing here, albeit with polarizing results. Audrey has previously won the Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) race at UTMB in back to back years (2018 and 2019), but did not finish the UTMB race in either of 2021 or 2022. Recently, Audrey has run strong with a top 10 at both Long Trail WMTRC races in Thailand last year and Austria in June of this year, in addition to a second place finish at the Istria by UTMB 42-kilometer race.
Emily Hawgood (Adidas Terrex) is yet another athlete racing CCC for the first time, although she’s had notable experience at UTMB, with back to back top ten finishes in 2021 and 2022. Emily also has three consecutive top ten finishes at WSER (2021, 2022, 2023), and additional top ten finishes at some of the most competitive 100-kilometer races over the same period (Bandera, Black Canyon Ultras, and Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB).
Helen Mino Faukner (unsponsored) finished just outside of the top 10 at last year’s race and looks to improve on that this year. Helen has had a strong year of racing so far, including a second place finish at the Lake Sonoma Marathon, and win (and second overall finish) at the Valholl Ultra Trail by UTMB 80-kilometer, the Broken Arrow Skyrace 46-kilometer and the Speedgoat by UTMB 50-kilometer.
Emelie Forsberg (NNormal) will be attempting CCC for the second time, after dropping from the race in 2019 after battling in the top 5 for the first half of the race. Emelie has a long and storied career as a World Champion Sky and Ultra-trail runner, most recently having finished in the top 10 at the Short Trail WMTRC in Austria and winning the Eiger Ultra-Trail by UTMB 50-kilometer race.
Yngvild Kaspersen (Adidas Terrex) returns to CCC for the second time, following a disappointing performance at last year’s race, where she fell through the ranks after a strong start to her day. She bounced back to finish out her 2022 with a 2nd place finish Transvulcania 73-kilometer. Although she has had a limited race calendar this year outside of Norway, she took 7th at the Black Canyon Ultras 100-kilometer in February, ran a 2:38 marathon setting a course record at the Midnight Sun Marathon, and won the final edition of the Tromso Skyrace.
Honorable Mentions: Tara Fraga, Marcela Vasinova, Priscilla Forgie, Sandra Sevillano Guerra, Emily Schmitz.
Athletes to Watch: Men’s Race
Jon Albon (The North Face) is the top returning runner at CCC this year, finishing second place with the second fastest time ever logged on the course in 2022. Albon has dominated the mountain running and sky running scenes since moving over from the world of OCR, with recent results including a win (and course record) at OCC in 2021, top five finishes at the Short Trail WMTRC races in Thailand and Austria and a podium at Zegama-Aizkorri earlier this year. He should be an overwhelming favorite to podium in this year’s race.
Andreas Reiterer (Dinamo) returns having finished third only minutes behind Albon in last year’s race. Andreas has had an exceptional stretch of podium finishes over the last two years across numerous ultra and sub-ultra distances. In addition to consecutive podium finishes at the Long Trail WMTRC races in Thailand and Austria, he has also finished on the podium at Transvulcania 73-kilometer and the Eiger Trail by UTMB 51-kilometer in the past few months.
Jiasheng Shen (The North Face) looks to improve on last year’s fourth place finish, which was his second attempt and top five finish at CCC. The Chinese athlete had an exceptional performance at WSER in late June, in which he finished in fourth place during his debut 100-mile race. Shen has also showcased his ability to race competitively in much shorter and faster races, with top 30 finishes at the speedy Sierre-Zinal race in both 2023 and 2022.
Peter Frano (Scarpa) rounded out the top five runners in last year’s race and has since had a top 10 and a podium finish at the Long Trail WMTRC races in Thailand and Austria, respectively. Frano, a Slovakian champion in skimo has historically excelled at sky running and will look to showcase both his endurance and ability to navigate technical terrain again at this year’s race.
Andreu Simon Aymerich (Asics) comes into this race with an impressive string of results including victories at the Transgrancanaria Marathon (twice), Transgrancanaria Classic 130-kilometer, Val D’Aran by UTMB CDH 106-kilometer, and a podium at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 121-kilometer in 2021. Finishing just outside of the top five last year Andreu will surely be in the hunt for a podium spot in this year’s race.
Dakota Jones (NNormal) despite being a long standing figure in the competitive ultra and trail running scene, he will be making his first appearance at any of the races that make up the UTMB finals. In the past year, Dakota has finished on the podium at the Hardrock 100-mile Endurance Run, set a new course record at the Javelina Jundred 100-mile race, and won the Transvulcania 73-kilometer race. Despite a minor misstep at WSER earlier this summer, Dakota looks to extend his streak of success here at CCC.
Drew Holmen (Nike Trail) will be debuting at CCC this year in his first race on the trails around the Mont Blanc. Having podiumed at the Ultra Trail Cape Town 100-kilometer last fall and winning the Lake Sonoma 50-mile earlier this year (earning a place on the American Long Trail team at the WMTRC), Drew showcased his mountain running prowess with an impressive fifth place and top American finish in Austria. Keep an eye on Drew as a guy who will pace himself well and hopefully nab a top spot later in the race.
Aritz Egea (Domusa Teknik) snuck in just inside the top 10 last year and under 11 hours in his first appearance at CCC. Aritz followed this up with a fifth place finish at the Long Trail WMTRC in Thailand last November. Despite some shortcomings earlier this season (top 20 at Zegama-Aizkorri and top 40 at the Long Trail WMTRC in Austria), Aritz bounced back with a podium at the Val D’Aran by UTMB 53-kilometer race in July. With a long history of solid results across a number of ultra and sub-ultra distances in the sport, don’t count Aritz out for another top 10 this year.
Eric Lipuma (Adidas Terrex) is another American athlete racing here for the first time, and looks to make a splash in the top 10. Historically favoring flatter and faster trail races, Eric has thrived in mountain terrain as of recent with consecutive seventh places finishes at the last two Long Trail WMTRC races in Thailand and Austria. Keep an eye for Eric and hopefully another seventh place (or better!) finish at this year’s CCC.
Thibaut Baronian (Salomon) has had an exceptional string of results this year, including a win at the Short Trail French National Championships at the Trail de la Cité de Pierres, and subsequently represented his country with a top 5 finish at the Short Trail WMTRC race in Austria. He’s also earned a top ten result in the deep fields at Zegama-Aizkorri and Sierre-Zinal. Thibaut has a third place finish at CCC in 2021, but did not finish last year’s race despite being in the top 5 mix for the first half of the race. He has the legs and course knowledge to reclaim a top spot here in 2023.
Honorable Mentions: Seth Ruhling, Ramon Manetsch, Davide Cheraz, Simon Gosselin, David Laney.
The race starts at 9:00am local time in Courmayeur, Italy on Friday September 1 (3:00am Eastern Daylight Time/12:00am Pacific Daylight Time) and will be streamed live on the UTMB YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@UTMBMontBlanc/streams
Make sure you get your Freetrail Fantasy picks in for all three of the UTMB World Series Finals (OCC, CCC, & UTMB). We will be picking 10-deep for the men’s and women’s competitions in each race. Thanks to HOKA, CamelBak, and HVMN for providing generous prize packages to the top-3 predictors in each event.
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