Czech runner dies during UTMB’s TDS race in Chamonix

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On the morning of August 25, there was sad news coming out of Chamonix, France.

After suffering a bad fall and serious injuries in the TDS race, a male runner from the Czech Republic lost his life. As the plane returned to Chamonix, the accident occurred as it descended the Passeur de Pralognan, an 8,421-foot mountain pass.

In the 19-year history of Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc races held in and around Chamonix, this is believed to be the first death.

The UTMB race organization is deeply saddened by the accident and wished the international trail running community to express condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

At 12:25 in the morning, the accident occurred. CT, the emergency response team stationed on the course, responded to the scene immediately and additional emergency personnel were called onto the scene by helicopter. He succumbed to his injuries despite life-saving treatments (whose identity will be kept secret until his family is informed). The race committee modified the route based on the remote and complex nature of the rescue operations. The runners via the Passeur de Pralognan, and further back, were instructed to turn around and return to Bourg Saint-Maurice, where they were met and transported back to Chamonix.

The TDS course is extremely technical with many exposed sections (Photo: Courtesy UTMB/Franck Oddoux)

It was a clear night and cool temperatures through the night and into the early morning as runners participated in this race in Courmayeur, Italy. The 293 runners who had already run through Passeur de Pralognan were allowed to continue, but the approximately 1,200 runners who were turned back will not be able to finish the race.

The final winner of the TDS was Norway’s Erik-Sebastian Krogvig, who made it back to Chamonix in 18 hours, 49 minutes, 58 seconds. Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, the TDS race, is the most challenging race during the UTMB week, featuring a series of craggy climbs and descents that require precise footing and balance.

Doug Mayer, a Chamonix-based Trail Runner Magazine contributor, describes this section of the course as difficult. It is about ten kilometers to go over 2,000 meters, then you must hold onto chains on the other side. Rescuers are always on the scene here. This is a technically challenging moment of the race.”

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