“Return of the King.”
That was the title of a YouTube video tweeted out by UTMB on February 23 to announce Kilian Jornet’s return to the legendary race in Chamonix.
“This year I’m coming back to UTMB,” said Jornet, in a clip sprinkled with quotes touting him as the sport’s greatest of all time. “Why, you will ask me: it’s because I really love to suffer. I really love the pain in the legs, the feet, and everywhere in the body. That’s what long distance is about. To enjoy the pain!”
It will be Jornet’s first time back at the 105-mile (170K) race since 2018, when he dropped 11 hours in. He has raced UTMB six times since 2008, including victories in 2008, 2009, and 2011. In 2017, he broke the race’s course record while finishing second to Francois d’Haene’s 19:01:54 and becoming the second man ever to break 20 hours on the course in 19:16:59.
The 2022 edition of UTMB is slated for August 21-28, with the 105-mile flagship race kicking off on Friday, August 26. It will come just six weeks after Jornet’s appearance at the Hardrock 100 on July 15, where he will go after another win to complement those from 2014, 2015, and 2017 (as well as a co-victory with Jason Schlarb in 2016, when the two finished hand-in-hand).
Other athletes expressed their excitement for Jornet’s return in the Twitter video.
“It would be a bit empty if Kilian wasn’t there, to be honest,” said Tim Tollefson, who will also race UTMB in August. “He is the king of the sport, so it just feels right to have him on the line.”
Once August rolls around, Jornet will compete against one of the strongest fields UTMB has ever seen. Two-time champion Xavier Thévenard of France and an American contingency including Tollefson, Jim Walmsley, Jared Hazen, Sage Canaday, Dylan Bowman, Jason Schlarb, and Cody Reed will all be aiming for a podium finish. On the women’s side, Americans Camille Herron, Brittany Peterson, and Hillary Allen will be in attendance, as well as Beth Pascall of the U.K., Audrey Tanguy of France, and Ragna Debats of the Netherlands.
“UTMB always has such a big level, so many good athletes, so I really love this competition,” said Jornet in the video announcement. “I’m really looking forward to being at UTMB again this year.”