The picturesque landscapes of Southern France are about to bear witness to the triumphant return of trail running sensation, Jim Walmsley, at the upcoming ‘Roubion-Nice’ race. This event, an integral part of the UTMB World Series, is poised to deliver a thrilling weekend of endurance challenges against the stunning backdrop of Nice Côte d’Azur. Complementing the marquee 100-mile Ultra Trail Métropole Nice, there are equally enticing races, including the 50km Menton-Nice and the 20km Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat-Nice.
Walmsley’s Historic UTMB Victory
Returning to Nice, Walmsley assumes the mantle of the reigning UTMB champion, etching his name in history as the first American man to seize this prestigious title earlier this month. This monumental achievement marks the culmination of years of unwavering dedication and arduous training, heralding a new chapter in his trail-running odyssey.
The Roubion-Nice 115km race presents an imposing challenge, requiring participants to surmount a staggering 4800 meters of elevation gain on their journey from Roubion to the enchanting city of Nice, nestled on the Mediterranean coastline near the Italian border.
A Thrilling Race Course
The race embarks on a thrilling note with an 839-meter descent from the starting line to St Sauveur sur Tinée (14km). Yet, this initial descent merely serves as a prelude to the demanding ascent to Col de la Madeleine (30km), marking the race’s zenith.
While Jim Walmsley rightfully holds the mantle of the favorite, he is set to face stiff competition from Frenchman Thibaut Baronian, renowned for his consistent performances in prestigious races. Baronian clinched seventh place at this year’s Sierre-Zinal and triumphed in the 50k at Restonica Trail by UTMB 2023. Although he secured third place in the UTMB CCC in 2021, Baronian has confronted challenges in 2022 and 2023, making Nice a crucial milestone in his quest to return to the podium in Chamonix.
Women’s Trail Running Showdown
In the women’s Roubion-Nice race at Nice Côte d’Azur by UTMB, the spotlight is firmly on Meg MacKenzie, hailing from South Africa. MacKenzie triumphed in the 100k at Transvulcania La Palma Island by UTMB 2023, showcasing an impressive comeback following a previous DNF in the 50k at the same event. Additionally, she secured the 27th spot in the UTMB OCC. The likes of Finland’s Marjo Liikanen and Italy’s Giulia Vinco are poised to offer formidable competition.
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The 100-mile race, officially titled the Ultra Trail Métropole Nice, is set to commence this Friday, with participants embarking from the scenic resort of Auron. Over the course of 165km, runners will confront a daunting 8400 meters of elevation gain as they embark on their journey to Nice.
The women’s race promises to be an enthralling contest, featuring the legendary Japanese runner Yuri Yoshizumi facing off against Dutch athlete Hannah Derksen. Both contenders have graced the podium before, with Yoshizumi securing third place in the 50k and Derksen claiming second in the 100k.
The Men to Watch
In the men’s field, all eyes are on the talents of Roberto Mastrotto, Gwendal Moysan, and Alexandre Urbina, who are primed to showcase their prowess.
As the global trail running community converges upon the stunning landscapes of Nice, France, anticipation builds for these athletes poised to challenge their physical and mental boundaries in pursuit of victory. The stage is set for a weekend of exhilarating competition and extraordinary feats of endurance.