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The greatest trail runner of all time will not toe the line at Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) this year.
Four-time winner Kilian Jornet has withdrawn from trail and ultra running’s biggest stage, due to a sacrum injury, he announced on Instagram on August 17.
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“No UTMB for me this year,” Jornet wrote. “I still can’t run due to the sacrum injury so we decided it was better to prioritize a good recovery and try to do something fun when the pain disappears.”
Jornet qualified for the UTMB World Series Finals by running the Eiger Ultra Trail by UTMB E16 Pleasure Trail on July 15, reportedly two days after he sustained an injury to his glute. He finished in 48th place. Jornet withdrew from Sierre-Zinal on August 12 to prioritize healing for UTMB.
RELATED: Trail Runner’s Guide to UTMB 2023
Last August, the 35-year-old won UTMB for a record-tying fourth time—just six weeks after winning the Hardrock 100. He completed the 106.5-mile loop which climbs 33,000 feet around the Mont Blanc massif in 19 hours, 49 minutes, and 33 seconds—a course record.
Discontent With UTMB’s Dacia Sponsorship
Now Jornet’s attempt at a record-breaking fifth win will have to wait. His announcement comes less than 24 hours after Jornet publicly called out UTMB for its presenting sponsor Dacia, a car manufacturer owned by the French car manufacturer Groupe Renault.
“The places where we practice our activities are changing drastically by climate change and pollution,” Jornet wrote in an Instagram story on August 16. “Today, if we have the luxury to choose, we should aim for future before profit. The role of elite athletes, federations, teams, and organizers of big events go beyond our own activity, and the projection we have is also our responsibility.”
Jornet’s statement about Dacia came shortly after The Green Runners, an environmental running community cofounded by U.K. trail running stars Damian Hall and Jasmin Paris, published a petition asking UTMB to denounce Dacia as a sponsor. Jornet signed the petition and linked to it in his Instagram Story.
The Green Runner’s petition claims that Dacia is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of SUVs, a significant driver of greenhouse gas emissions growth over the last decade. The petition calls UTMB’s partnership with Dacia an instance of “sportswashing,” in which the positive associations people have with sport are used to condone the actions of the sponsoring brand. Over 1,000 people have signed the petition to date. Hall and Paris, who have finished fifth and sixth at UTMB, respectively, have both stated they will not race UTMB until the Dacia partnership ends.
UTMB will take place on September 1, 2023, the marquee event capping off a week of races that start August 28. The races also serve as the finale for the yearlong UTMB World Series. About 2,300 runners will depart Chamonix at 6 PM local time with the task of covering the course’s 10 alpine summits in under 46 hours and 30 minutes. Livestreaming coverage of UTMB will be available on Outside Watch.