Dmitry Mityaev became the first Russian athlete to climb to podium of in the most prestigious trail running series in the world, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc-UTMB®, taking third place at of the TDS® race - 120 km D + 7250, which stands for "Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie”.
The race this year had incredible competition: the Americans Hayden Hawks and Dylan Bowman, Ludovic Pommeret of France, Tofol Castaner, Zaid Ait Malek and Pablo Villa Gonzalez of Spain, and Marcin Świerc of Poland.
From the very beginning of the race, Dmitry ran together with the group of leaders. At the aid station at Bourg-Saint-Maurice (51,1 km), Hayden Hawks, who was the main favorite of the race, had to quit the race due to an aggravated hamstring injury. Beyond this aid station, the TDS® distance was modified by race organizers due to unfavorable weather conditions, and in place of a large climb and technical descent, contained a 20 km stretch of paved highway.
At this point, Dylan Bowman and Pablo Villa Gonzalez broke away and went ahead. At the aid station Cormet de Roselend (70.4 km), Dmitry was in 5th place, losing about 8 minutes to the leaders. On the technical section from Cormet de Roselend to Les Contamines (99.9 km) Dmitry caught up to the leaders and arrived at the aid station first. Unable to withstand the psychological pressure, the Spaniard Pablo Villa Gonzalez quit the race there, and the Frenchman Ludovic Pommeret scratched even earlier in Cret Bettex (61.9 km).
In the final 20 kilometers of the course, Dmitry was pursued by Marcin Świerc and Dylan Bowman. Approaching the last peak at Col de Tricot (107 km), Dmitry had an advantage of 2 minutes, but, unfortunately, his injured knee did not allow him to maintain the necessary pace on the final flat section.
Marcin Świerc and Dylan Bowman caught him with 2 km left to the finish line, and Dmitry finished in 3rd, 41 seconds behind second place Dylan Bowman and 1 minute 43 seconds behind winner Marcin Świer, who finished in a blitzing 13 hours and 24 minutes. The fourth place finisher, Tofol Castaner of Spain, was more than a half hour behind them!
- Marcin Świerc (POL) - 13:24:00;
- Dylan Bowman (USA) - 13:25:02:
- Dmitry Mityaev (RUS) - 13:25:43;
- Tofol Castaner (ESP) - 13:58:25;
- Diego Pazos (SUI) - 14:39:18.
It was an exciting fight for the podium until the very end! Here we present the post-race interview with Dmitry Mityaev.
English translation - Elizaveta Ershova.
TRAIL-RUN: We are here in Chamonix, and next to me is the third-place winner of UTMB®-TDS®, Dmitry Mityaev. Congratulations, Dima!
Yesterday, I, together with thousands of trail-running fans around the world, experienced an incredibly emotional day, following the race, all thanks to you and the incredible fight you put up here on the trails around Mont Blanc. The fate of the podium of a 120-km race was decided literally in the last two kilometers, and until the very end it was not at all clear how the seats on the podium would be distributed. Personally, I feel completely emotionally drained after yesterday, but what about you, what emotions do you feel?
DMITRY: First of all, thank you for the congratulations and before I start answering this question, I would like to thank all those who followed and sent support, it is very motivating and means so much to me! So many thanks to all of you!
My emotions are of course of happiness and amazement! I think it’s safe to say that a little dream has come true.
In every sport there is an iconic race. In cycling it is of course the Tour de France, and even the World Cycling Championship cannot compare with it in prestige and popularity. The same thing with trail running, there is Ultra-Trail® du Mont-Blanc and nothing can compare with it.
This year the TDS® attracted an unbelievably strong line-up and many toed the line with the intent to win, but the race had its own plans, so athletes such as Hayden Hawks, Ludovic Pommeret and others had to quit early. I know how much preparation they put into this race, so I can imagine how hard it must have been for them to end the race early, or after 100km, for example, like Pablo Villa.
I myself experienced so many emotions during the race... And although I did not manage to become neither first nor second, my third place finish gave me the same emotions that I would have had if I had won. The most important thing is that everything went well.
Col du Petit Saint Bernard 36 km.
TRAIL-RUN: I want to ask you a question that you were already asked yesterday in the blitz interview right after the finish. You've been leading for most of the race, and now on the final stretch, under the lights of Chamonix, with the podium in sight, you are caught, then overtaken, first by the Pole Marcin Swerc, and then by the American Dylan Bowman. Could you really have done nothing to keep your leading position?!
DMITRY: Just before the start of the race, the organizers changed the route and instead of the big climb from Bourg-Saint Maurice (51 km) and then a technical descent to Cormet de Roselend (70 km), replaced it with a long, almost 20 km stretch of paved road. In principle, the climb was practically unmodified, but the technical difficulty of the race has changed a lot.
I really love and have an edge on my competition in technically challenging terrain with large climbs. I'm more physically predisposed to such races. And my training is aimed precisely at such competitions, because most of the races I plan in the season are skyrunning races. So now, with the change in the course, these guys who train for faster races and show great results on the track, appeared to have a major advantage over me.
All throughout this season I have been battling a knee injury, so I almost completely stopped running on smooth surfaces, especially on pavement. And if in Bourg-Saint Maurice I was leading with a margin of several minutes, then after this section of paved road leading to Cormet de Roselend, I was already fifth, almost 9 minutes behind the leader Dylan Bowman.
Cormet de Roselend 66 km.
Yes, there were still technically difficult sections, and trails, and dirt roads, there were still big climbs, but after the change in the route, the biggest climb and the most technically difficult descent were removed. The race has changed a lot. I think that if this section remained the same, then the race could have developed differently, because I could see that it was hard for the guys to keep up on the climbs, but I was, on the contrary, always feeling fine and had strength to spare.
The last climb to Col de Tricot I ran very well and my lead was 4 minutes, but on the technical and slippery descent I slipped and jerked my bad knee. I realized then that if I'm not careful I can lose the entire race altogether, that the knee may not let me finish at all. And I decided that it's better to have a sparrow in your hand than a crane in the sky, as we say in Russia.
TRAIL-RUN: When you were overtaken, did you not try to hang on behind them?
DMITRY: The thing is, it was already quite dark and I could not see who was catching up to me. I could see a headlamp, but I did not think it could be Marcin, since on the last climb he was very unwell and was breathing heavily. I thought maybe it was Pablo Villa or Dylan Bowman. I did not know that Pablo had quit the race, nor Hayden. I figured I had 5 minutes advantage to last me these last 10 km, that I could lose about 30 seconds per kilometer, but in the end still compete. I guess I conceded psychologically at this moment.
TRAIL-RUN: In this section Luis Alberto Hernando came out to support you on the course, what did he shout to you?
DMITRY: It wasn’t just Luis Alberto, but also Robert, the head of our adidas team. They shouted many things, very loudly! My wife also came out during this time, she even tried to trick me, saying that I was being chased by number four, although he was 30 minutes behind me! I could have accelerated earlier, but during that moment I could do nothing because I had already given it my all. I was motivated only by first place, second or third no longer mattered to me. I also want to note the many supporters along the course! So many people stand on the roadside and support you. I heard so many Russian words, I do not know how they learned them! “Bol’shoy molodec!”, “Davay, davay” ("Great job!”, ”Come on, come on!”)
Les Contamines 99 km.
TRAIL-RUN: I want to ask you, what do you think is the secret of UTMB®? Why does it attract so many people?
DMITRY: First of all, it's Chamonix. It is the Mecca of mountaineering! It was born here. In principle, our sport is not far from mountaineering. Therefore, I think much of it is the attraction of the place itself. And second, the organization of this race is outstanding. The atmosphere! I love watching cycling and to me UTMB® is like the Tour de France. And most importantly, it has fantastic competition! This year everyone came here! No World Championships in trail- or skyrunning can compare with the UTMB® in terms of competition. That’s very cool!
TRAIL-RUN: Can you name the three most memorable moments for you during the race?
DMITRY: Well, first, the first half of the race has stunning scenery. The lakes are so beautiful! The legs are still fresh, so you run and enjoy the views, the beauty of the mountains, the support of the fans. This is one of the positive moments.
And the negative, I will never forget that stretch of asphalt. I don't think I run so far on pavement over the course of a year! I love the mountains and to me trailrunning is equal to the mountains and trails. This section was very difficult for me psychologically, I even wanted to quit, thanks to my beloved wife who kept me from doing so. And of course it became easier after that, ultras are like this; they allow you to go through several drastic mood changes. It's like living a little life.
And the third moment was already towards the end. The last climb and descent were really high quality trail running - a fun, rocky technical descent. We ran under the glacier, with the sunset ahead, just as it was beginning to rain, such mixed weather! It was so beautiful! I make the time in races to look around me.
TRAIL-RUN: Will you come back here?
DMITRY: Of course, I'll return for this atmosphere! No question about it.
TRAIL-RUN: And which race will you compete in?
DMITRY: I hope UTMB®, the main race. Although I have little experience in long races, I ran only two races longer than 100 kilometers, but I feel like if yesterday there was another mountain of 2,000 meters in place of the finish, I could have easily gone further. I was feeling well and am confident that I could have kept performing at a similar level. As a rule, the longer the race, the more comfortable I feel.
TRAIL-RUN: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
DMITRY: This year I had two goals: the Skyrunning® World Series and TDS®. Unfortunately, because of TDS®, I had to skip the Kima Trofeo Skyrace, and Kima was a bonus race this year in the World Series that added +50% to your points. Therefore, I got very close to losing my lead in the ranking, only 6 points separate me and Spaniard Pere Aurell, I have 345, and he has 339. There are only two races left in the series, Ben Nevis and Ultra Pirineu, and if I want to win the series, I need to do well in Ultra Pirineu.
TRAIL-RUN: So you will not go to the World Skyrunning Championship in Scotland?
DMITRY: For me the championship has already happened here at UTMB®!
Yes, I will definitely skip the skyrunning championship. There is no way I can compete with my injury in all these races. I need a period of rest and cross-training to heal it. Therefore, I will assess the state of my health and perhaps end the season early altogether. Now we are going home, to recover and train. And I will definitely not start the next season early. It seems that early season races right after high volume training don’t go very well for me, so we will skip Transgrancanaria next year.
I will start my main season next year with Transvulcania!
Big interview with Dmitry Mityaev - "I race with myself, not with my rivals."
Col du Petit Saint Bernard.