ULTRA RACE OF CHAMPIONS (UROC) 2013 Race Report

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

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The 2013 Skyrunner Ultra World Series came to an exciting conclusion in Vail, Colorado on Saturday as many of the top ultra runners in the world lined up against each other for the Ultra Race of Champions. Starting at 0700 in the small town of Breckenridge and concluding in the center of Vail, some 100km later this race was always going to be an exciting nail biter and it didn’t disappoint.

Sunny skies the day before the race turned to dark grey, light rain fell and then snow. So much snow that on the highest sections of the course, particularly in the early stages of the race; eighteen inches of snow covered the ground. At 12,000 feet temperatures in the wind were around -14 deg. It was cold! However, Colorado has never looked so good. Deep blue skies, beautiful sunshine and so much snow it made one feel like Christmas.

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The buzz in the small town was tangible as runners wrapped up in puffa’s and beanies waiting for the 0700 ‘GO’. It soon came and the 200+ strong field departed in a rush. Two early cash primes were won by Sage Canaday and Emelie Forsberg, a pattern was unfolding and as many had thought in pre race predictions, two outright favorites had taken the bull by the horns and were starting as they meant to go on.

UROC start ©iancorless.com

However, Emelie was certainly suffering from the altitude and had to ease off allowing Stephanie Howe to take an early lead out at the front. For the men though, the field was very much a who’s who of ultra running and Dakota Jones, Rob Krar, Kilian Jornet and Jason Wolfe reeled Sage in.

At Frisco, 14-miles into the race a front group had formed and then the climb to the highest point of the course came. At an altitude of 12,000 feet and freezing temperatures, a winter wonderland awaited the runners. Kilian Jornet and Dakota Jones arrived first, running together matching stride for stride. I was convinced that if conditions remained like this Kilian would for sure dominate!

 

Less than a minute behind, Rob Krar followed and then Sage Canaday. Sage looked less relaxed and calm in the knee-deep snow; his arms were outstretched as he tried to balance. A string of other top contenders followed, Ryan Ghelfi, Cameron Clayton, Luke Nelson, Mike Versteeg and so on. The descent from the summit was tricky in places as running water had turned to ice.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg used the snow to her advantage and reclaimed some time from Stephanie Howe, as she ran past me on the descent she shouted, ‘I feel better now, the altitude was making me feel very uncomfortable’. However, Emelie was still one minute in arrears.

Stephanie Howe UROC ©iancorless.com

Vail Pass at 33-miles was a significant turning point in the race, Rob Krar used his speed and took hold of the race and started to push. Dakota Jones followed. A flat road section that covered approximately 19% of the course demoralized Kilian; confident that his World Skyrunner Champion title was secure he eased back and allowed Cameron Clayton to run ahead of him.

Emelie Forsberg UROC ©iancorless.com

Emelie reclaimed the lead at Vail Pass and never looked back. She continually pulled away from Stephanie Howe and at the finish in Vail she had secured UROC victory and the Skyrunner Ultra World Championship title with 23-minutes to spare in a time of 12:06:34 (her first 100km). Stephanie Howe ran a great race and considering she very nearly didn’t start due to a potential injury issue, she looked super pleased with her 12:29:26. Third spot for the ladies podium went to Michele Yates in 12:46:24, considering Michele had won Run Rabbit Run 100-miler just two weeks prior, this was an incredible result for her.

Dakota Jones UROC ©iancorless.com

The men’s race however was less formulaic. On the descent to Minturn, Dakota Jones came charging through the forests with Rob Krar 1min in arrears. He looked strong and focused.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Minturn, mile 52.5 saw runners turn and head back up the trail. Jones appeared running every step of the way and then 90 seconds later Krar appeared with hands-on-knees powering up the climb. He looked less relaxed than Jones and at this stage one would have most certainly put money on a Jones win.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton was 3rd at this point, he was way too far back to contend the top slot and Kilian Jornet was far enough behind in 4th not to contend the 3rd place on the podium, so, barring a disaster, Clayton had 3rd guaranteed.

Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com

With less then 4-miles to go, Krar and Jones were together and then Krar unleashed a break neck descent to the line that Jones later went on to say, ‘jeez, that guy was an animal on the descent. All respect. It was a great race, a pleasure to run with one so talented and the better man won’.

Dakota Jones UROC ©iancorless.com

The better man did win; Krar broke the Skyrunner tape and then covered his face with his hands. ‘I can’t believe what just happened’. Exhausted, shocked, elated he was embraced by his wife and the victory sunk in. 2013 has been an incredible year for Krar, to put this in perspective, just a couple of years ago he thought he may never run again!

On the line, sitting in a chair, buckle in his hand, cowboy hat shadowing his face he said, ‘It was the hardest effort in my life, possibly the hardest course I have run. The course had a great mix of terrains making it a fair course’ I asked Rob, about the final climb when he was 90-seconds in arrears, ‘I caught him (Dakota) at the top. I was really hurting in Minturn I thought I was down and out but with a mile to go I caught him and pushed.’

The 2013 Ultra Race of Champions was without doubt a great race. It was a fitting finale to the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and of course, excitement now builds as the 2014 calendar in finalized. However, we do have a Vertical Kilometer and Sky Running World Champion to announce at the final race of the 2013 Skyrunner season in Limone, Italy.

All images are available to purchase for personal or commercial use HERE

Results – Men

  1. Rob Krar – The North Face – 9:29:00
  2. Dakota Jones – Montrail – 9:32:26
  3. Cameron Clayton – Salomon – 10:06:24
  4. Kilian Jornet – Salomon – 10:19:16 2013 Skyrunner World Ultra Champion
  5. Ryan Ghelfi – Rogue Valley Runners – 10:24:38

Results – Ladies

  1. Emelie Forsberg – Salomon – 12:06:34 2013 Skyrunner World Ultra Champion
  2. Stephanie Howe – The North Face – 12:29:26
  3. Michele Yates – Ultimate Direction – 12:46:24
  4. Francesca Canepa – Vibram/Montura – 12:55:06
  5. Kerrie Bruxvoort – Salomon – 12:23:39

Skyrunner Ultra World champion Classification 2013

M

1° Kilian Jornet                  292 points

2° Sage Canady                 255

3° Cameron Clayton       208

F

1° Emelie Forsberg         320 points

2° Francesca Canepa        266

3° Stephanie Howe        206

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2 thoughts on “ULTRA RACE OF CHAMPIONS (UROC) 2013 Race Report

  1. Pingback: Daily News: Hiking; UROC ‘road-run’; World records a plenty | ULTRA168

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