UTMB 2023 : American dream

Jim Walmsley. ©Peignée Verticale

Yes, every UTMB goes down in history. What can we expect after the exceptional intensity of 2022? Just as good, if not better. Jim Walmsley becomes the first American to win. Then the event celebrates its 20th anniversary. Queen Courtney Dauwalter becomes the empress of Ultra, winning Western States, Hardrock and her third UTMB. On September 2, 2023, Chamonix smells of the USA and, above all, the transcendence of two extraordinary athletes. A man and a woman, no chabada.

There are champions like that, whose jinx and relentlessness resonate with us. Admittedly, bad luck is a strong word to describe Jim Walmsley’s career in UTMB country: four participations (5th in 2017, D.N.F. in 2018 and 2021, 4th in 2022) in one of the world’s toughest events, a race management style that has often been maliciously mocked for its trial and error and gastric reflux, and a sport based on experience and detail. But Jim is still Jim.

©Peignée verticale

Demons and wonders, the day Jim conquered his devil

For the average person, his divine stride, celestial times and rare bird-like mastery “promised” him his UTMB one day. Some said the American was obsessing over his pace, while friend D’Haene urged him to refocus on his own pace, ease off the pace and, above all, take care of himself during the race. Jim and the dawn, Jim and the cold, it never stuck, and the demon began his mental jig. “You’re going to miss, son. That stomach threatening, can