Ultra? Ultra emotional…
On a day of rain, cold temperatures and intense racing, ultra running and in particular ultra Skyrunning opened a new chapter in our sport.
Despite alternativerace options available all over the world, many of the worlds best decided to head to Spain and race at the Skyrunning ‘Ultra Cavalls del Vent‘, an 84.2km race with 6098m of altitude change.
Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones, Tony Krupicka, Tofol Castanyer, Miguel Heras, Joe Grant, Philipp Reiter, Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas and Emma Rocca all decided to do battle in what turned out to be an incredibly testing day.
At Refugio Niu de L’Aliga the race format was starting to unfold with Kilian leading the race followed closely by Tofol and then several minutes back Miguel Heras. Dakota Jones and Philipp Reiter soon came into sight and then Tony Krupicka. Although minutes separated them all, one thing became apparent. It was cold!
Thick mist made visibility difficult and it was biting cold on hands. Kilian seemed in his element running in short sleeves but nearly all the other runners wore jackets. Including Tony!
Emelie Forsberg was the first lady to come into sight. Somewhat of a surprise… not because she didn’t have the ability but because the plan was to ease into her ‘first’ 50 miler. Frosty followed and then a very cool and relaxed looking Nuria Picas.
The cold and constant rain hit the race and the runners hard! Miguel Heras dropped, Tofol had hypothermia, Joe Grant had hypothermia and at the last count some 200+ runners have dropped from the race. Certainly those who will go into the night are in for a tough time.
Tony Krupicka moved up through the field, moved ahead of Dakota and a format was set. Kilian and Tony swapping the lead and Dakota following.
At Gresolet, Kiliian had a 2 min lead. As he passed me I asked how he felt?
“I am great, it was a little cold but now I am good. I am having fun!”
Tony approached “How you feeling Tony?”
“I’m good man, Kilian is just playing with me.. all good though!”
Some of the press with me at this point wondered if Tony would win? To be honest, no disrespect to Tony but Kilian seemed in control and was glad of company. Dakota was now some 30 min in arrears with Philipp Reiter in 4th. This order remained until the final climb when Kilian accelerated leaving Tony behind. Kilian crossed the line with a new CR of 8:42:22. Tony crossed the line in 2nd beating the old CR too with 8:49:56 and Dakota 9:26:25.
Tony was stoked at the finish and rightly so. After the best part of 2 years being out of the sport his ‘return’ now seems to be confirmed. His return is a new return with a love for Skyrunning. He said on the line “these are the races we want, vertcal gain, tough gnarly climbs and altitude. We can’t get this at home, I love it”
Dakota was happy with 3rd but said he had hoped for better and that he never felt quite on his game!
Emelie Forsberg in the ladies race pushed ahead and at one point had a 15 min lead with Frosty and Nuria chasing. However the gap was closed and over the final 2 hours a battle started. My money was on Nuria, she had told me at ‘Kima’ that this was the race she wanted and I guess it showed. In the latter stages Emelie was dropped and Nuria ran into the finish victorious in10:34:42 beating her 2011 winning time by over an hour. Frosty finished in 2nd 10:35:24 and Emelie jumped for joy in 10:39:51.
Frosty said “Everything hurts. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. I dug deeper that I have ever had to go, I am happy for Nuria and I am happy for me”
Emelie in only her 2nd ultra and first 50 miler was elated. She told me “I felt really good and still do. My legs are not hurting but it was mind… in the latter stages when I had to fight I couldn’t focus but I am super happy”
Cavalls del Vent was an incredible day. It showed us all what is great about our sport. Wonderful courses, great running, new runners showing potential for the future, established runners confirming that they are the best, a return to form for Tony and of course immense comradeship. I am in the hotel ‘Press Room’ surrounded by all of them… Kilian on the sofa chatting, Tony and Dakota on the web, Frosty and Emelie giggling, Philipp and Terry discussing the next time to pose naked. All individual but all one.
Cloud confuses and distorts “less cloud MORE SKY“
The next event in the Ultra Skyrunning series is ‘Templiers’ in the South of France. The date is October 28th and rest assured I will be at the race to bring you images, stories and a podcast from the final race in the series.