Matterhorn Ultraks Race Preview

image copyright Matterhorn Ultraks - www.

image copyright Matterhorn Ultraks – www.

On the Italian border of the Canton of Valais in the west of Switzerland, at the end of the 30 km-long Nikolaital, lies Zermatt, the village at the foot of the Matterhorn, the most photographed mountain in the world. Zermatt epitomizes their image of Switzerland; high alpine, awe-inspiring and original. Almost one-third of the 4,000-metre mountains in the Alps are grouped around this word-famous health resort, which has been visited by mountaineers from all around the world since the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. The hotels and restaurants are world-class, and the ski area is not only the highest in the Alps – it is also one of the best developed and most convenient in the world. The climate is of an excellent quality; with 300 sunny days a year, there is less rainfall than anywhere else in Switzerland. The air in Zermatt is clear, dry and clean, because, since 1947, only electric cars without a combustion engine are allowed to operate in the village. Things are a little different in Zermatt. Zermatt – A world of its own.

The ISF Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks is the penultimate race in the SkyUltra series. It will be a magical race, 46 km long with 
D+ : 3’600 m | D- : 3’600 m. It has a great combination of wild open spaces, high mountains and a course that will require a thrilling combination of speed and technique. The highest summit of Gonnergrat at 3100m will be a test for all, however, at the summit it offers incredible panoramic views and of course, the ever-present Matterhorn will dominate.

Want to race? limited places are still available at ultraks.com

Men

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Kilian Jornet comes to this race the outright favorite. At the ISF Skyrunning European Championships he came away with three gold’s in VK, Sky and Ultra. Post Trans D’Havet he moved over to Cervinia (Italy) and he is now preparing meticulously for his next ‘Summit’, a speed attempt up and down the Matterhorn itself. He will be prepared and adapted for everything that the Ultraks can throw at him.

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Breaking news just in, 14th August. Luis Alberto Hernando to join the line up at Ultraks. Of course this is great news. Luis is one person that has pushed Kilian Jornet throughout 2012. He placed second at Transvulcania, he pushed Kilian to the line at Zegama, placed third at Mont Blanc and of course, Kilian and Luis crossed the line together to be crowned European Skyrunning Champions at Trans D’Havet. One thing is for sure, Luis will push Kilian and all the other contenders for the top spot right to the line!

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Tofol Castanyer has had a troubled early 2013 with a series of injuries, however, a win at Salomon Four Trails and a second place at the recent Giir di Mont means he is coming back in form. If he has a good day, he will certainly be up at the front pushing with Kilian.

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Michel Lanne secured a joint win with teammate, Francois D’Haene at the Mont Blanc Marathon ultra event but then had to miss Trans D’Havet due to an injury.  Michel, along with Tofol, Philipp, and Cameron will dictate the early pace at the front and as his reputation confirms, he has all the ability and potential to make the podium. *injured

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Philipp Reiter romped to a great podium place at Ice Trail Tarentaise and was ready to repeat his performance or move up the podium at Trans D’Havet, however, a bad fall in the first 30% of the race unfortunately meant some time in hospital and recuperation. At this stage his recovery is progressing well and we hope that he will toe the line in Zermatt.

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Cameron Clayton has had a very impressive rise in the ultra world. He is young and races just one-way; hard! He applied that principal at Transvulcania La Palma and lead the race in the early stages but later faded to still secure a top placing. At Western States, his first hundred miler, he applied the same principal but came unstuck. Just the other weekend he raced at Speedgoat 50k but I am sure this was very much ‘getting back into racing’ race post Western. If he is making a trip from the US to Zermatt, you can be sure of one thing; he will turn up to run hard and win. Question is, will he be able to? Most certainly he has all the ability to mix it up at the front and push his peers. Cameron is an exciting addition to the race line up.

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Nicola Golinelli had a great race at Mont Blanc Marathon and then placed in the top fifteen at Dolomites Skyrace. It wasn’t a great race for him; he certainly would have expected to be at the front end of the race. So, with that in mind, Nicola will be looking to put the record straight at Ultraks.

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Florian Reichert and Didier Zago, both had similar stories to Arc’teryx teammate, Nicola Golinelli. Great racing and top ten placing’s at Mont Blanc and then below par performances in Canazei at the Dolomites Skyrace. Didier is experienced and will bounce back, Florian however is new to Skyrunning and once again found the Dolomites and its combination of steep gradients and snow another learning curve. However, he is a sub 2:30 marathon runner and the Ultraks course will suit his abilities.

Ben Abdelnoor is coming to Zermatt after an impressive win and new course record at the Lakeland 50 in the UK. For sure he is going to relish the opportunity to push against some of the best in the world. Joining Ben we have his new inov-8 teammate, Erik-Dagsson Haugsness. Erik from Norway placed fifth at Mont Blanc Marathon and is certainly a name to watch in the future.

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Tadei Pivk has consistently performed in 2013 with great results at Zegama and Dolomites Skyrace; without doubt he will be coming to Zermatt to move from third place on the podium to second or even the top. Watch this space, without doubt he will add spice to the front of the race.

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Stuart Air from the UK is starting to get a reputation for himself within the Skyrunning calendar. With little fanfare he turned up at the brutal Ronda dels Cims and placed thirteenth overall, he then followed this up with nineteenth at Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will participate at Matterhorn Ultraks as a guest for Scott Running. At 46km, the race may very well be a little too short and too fast for him, but it will be great to see how he performs.

The men’s field at Ultraks has great depth, Nicolas Pianet, Dai Matsumoto and representation from Russian Skyrunning, Diedre-Matxacuca, Euskal Herriko Mendi Lasterkarien Selekzioa and the FEEC will mean that an iconic and fast race awaits us.

Ladies

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Emelie Forsberg, how can you bet against her? Her rise in the sport is meteoric and after winning at San Francisco in late 2012, Emelie has rarely been off the top of the podium. Her 2013 result sheet is incredible and like Kilian, she is becoming a dominant leader in the sport. Her recent results and performance ability at any distance from VK to Ultra puts her way ahead of the competition at Ultraks. I honestly don’t see anyone coming close, particularly if Emelie decides to push.

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Silvia Serafini does offer a glimmer of hope at the front of the race and like Emelie, Silvia has also had a speedy rise in the sport. Just recently everything has started to click. A podium place at Dolomites Skyrace and while Emelie was dominating Trans D’Havet; Silvia topped the podium at Giir di Mont. For sure, Silvia will be Emelie’s biggest rival at Ultraks.

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Anna Lupton had a troubled performance at Zegama and then found some consistency at Mont Blanc Marathon. She has recently raced in Poland and will be coming to the Matterhorn with several weeks’ recovery and training, so, she may well perform as she would expect and add some pressure to the front of the race.

Ragna Debats, Aitziber Ibarbia Beloki, Anna Comet Pascua, Paloma Lobera Grau and Eugenia Miro Figueras all have the potential to make the podium and it will be interesting to see who has the strength on the day to push the outright favorites to the line.

LINKS: 

Skyrunning HERE

Race start list HERE

Matterhorn Ultraks website HERE

Race start 0700 am 24th August 2013.

Skyrunning European Championships

The ice at Ice Trail Tarentaise hasn’t even melted and just 48 hours later we ae looking ahead to the third edition of the European Skyrunning Championships which start this coming Friday, the 19th. with the Vertical Kilometer®. The series of events will have seven world champions representing sixteen nations.

Please Note:

A course recce for Trans D’Havet will take place on Tuesday July 23rd and Wednesday July 24th. You can download a PDF document with information HERE

On July 25th at 1500 we will have an introduction to Skyrunning with Salomon athlete, Philipp Reiter. This will involve a ‘live’ interview followed with Q&A and then ISF President, Marino Giacometti and Dr Roi (Sky Doc) will provide a small talk and answer questions. Information available HERE

Schedule:

The Dolomites will again host two of the events in the three-year history of the Championships.  The record on the unforgiving Vertical Kilometer® course just 2,1 km long, stands at 33’16” by world record holder Italian Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola in 39’13” back in 2008 when the course was inaugurated.

The classic Dolomites SkyRace® favoured by the world’s top runners offers a new challenge after record-breaking performances here this year by Kilian Jornet in 2h01’52”, and the three top women, Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg, American Kasie Enman and Spaniard Mireia Mirò - all under record time.  Forsberg’s record stands at 2h26’00”. The challenging and often technical course represents one of the toughest proving grounds for the relatively short distance: 22 km but with 1,750m climb to the summit of the Piz Boè which, at 3,152m altitude, towers above the start and finish of the race in Canazei.

The much anticipated Ultra is embodied by the Trans d’Havet, a point to point 80 km long with 5,500m vertical climb traversing the Piccole Dolomiti in the Veneto Region.  The route, technical in stretches, includes 6 km of tunnels dating back to the First World War, created by General D’Havet, to whose name the race is dedicated. At the launch this year, the men’s winning time was 10h58’44”, no doubt destined to fall with the top European runners participating here in 2013.

Participants

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Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg will test their powers of recovery and just five days after impressive victories in what many are now considering an iconic Skyrunning race, the Ice Trail Tarentaise, they will toe the line for all three events in the European Championships.

It is going to be difficult to bet against them, certainly Kilian has the ability, powers of recovery and experience to top the podium in all three events. However, Luis Alberto Hernando has pushed Kilian close in three events already in 2013 and he will most certainly be keen to move one place on the podium higher.

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Nuria Picas missed Ice Trail Tarentaise so that she could save all her energy for the ultra race, she desires the Euoropean Championship crown and keeping in mind Emelie Forsberg’s recent calendar and the fact that she will have participated in the VK and Sky race the weekend before, one has to say that Nuria may well be the favourite for the Trans d’Havet race.

Michel Lanne joint winner of the Mont Blanc Mrathon Ultra race will almost certainly be a hot favourite at Trans d’Havet along with an in-form Philipp Rieter who took third place at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

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The Sky distance race will be extremely competitive, Nicola Golinelli (4th Mont-Blanc Marathon) Florian Reichert (9th at Mont Blanc), Tadei Pivk (3rd at Zegama), Matheo Jaquemoud, Augusto Roc (three time world champion), Didier Zago and Dimitris Theodrakakos will go head-to-head for the title.

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However, so will Kilian Jornet. On this course, I don’t see Kilian loosing, however today, 17th July, we have had confirmation that Kilian’s favourite sparring partner, Marco De Gasperi will toe the line. Not only is this great news for the race but it is great news for us. No doubt after the head-to-head battle at Mont Blanc we will see a repeat performance on the slopes os Canazei.

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The ladies Sky race will be equally competitive with Emelie Forsberg, Celine Lafaye (2nd Mont Blanc), Maite Mayora Elizondo and Silvia Serafini as strong favourites. However, nobody will have an easy run with strong competiton coming from Zhanna Voueva, Laura Orgue, Stephanie JiminezRagna Debats to name but a few.

Maite Mayora Elizondo at Haria Extreme

Maite Mayora Elizondo at Haria Extreme

The Vertical at Canazei is regarded as one of the toughest. It is incredibly steep, to put this in perspective, even Kilian Jornet used ‘poles’ in 2012. Without doubt Kilian is a strong favourite but the men’s field has real quality and ‘VK’ specialists; Urban Zemmer will lead the charge for the title, closely followed by Marco Facchinelli, Tadei Pivk, Didier Zago, and Augusti Roc.

Antonella Confortola will be the hot favourite for the ladies. Emelie Fosberg will push hard but she is still learning in the VK as is Zhana Vokueva. Tessa Hill from the UK is slowly becoming a VK specialist and she stated at Mont Blanc that she was already seeing a progression from her 2012 form. The ever present Corinne Favre is always a contender, as is Laura Orgue. Sivia Serafini, Celine Lafaye, Maite Mayora Elizondo and Ragna Debats will double up with the Sky race and have every possibility to make the podium in both races.

Antonella Confortola

Antonella Confortola

To date, the sixteen countries entered are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.

The winning formula?  Easy: the European Skyrunning Championships are open with individual titles at stake in each discipline. Ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Coverage and imagery will be provided by iancorless.com via Facebook Talk Ultra and Twitter

European Skyrunning Championships 2013

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Italy will host the third edition of the biennial championships. The Vertical and Sky disciplines will take place in Canazei, Trento, on July 19 & 21. The Ultra distance, for the first a championship discipline – will be celebrated in Vicenza, on July 27. The skyrunning “hall of fame” is unveiled

The third edition of the European Skyrunning Championships kicks off in Italy with not just Europe’s best, but no less than seven world championsrepresenting sixteen nations.  The events will mark the first European Ultra title, as well as the Vertical and Sky distances.

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Taking on all three disciplines will be super-champs Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, for whom only the sky is the limit.  A number of other athletes will take on the three-race challenge but mostly the specialists are aiming for medals in their preferred categories.

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The strong Spanish team includes 2011 Skyrunning World Champion Luis Alberto Hernando who will take on the Ultra with 2012 Ultra Champion Nuria Picas.

Luis Alberto Hernando copyright iancorless.com

 

Nuria Picas copyright iancorless.com

The twelve team members also include three-time World Champion, Agustì Roc and Vertical Champion Laura Orguè

Silvia Serafini copyright iancorless.com

Italy will be aiming at the Vertical and Sky distances with a robust line-up headed by Vertical World Champion Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola who took third at the recent KM Vertical in Chamonix. The Italian squad is supported by Nicola Golinelli (4th Mont-Blanc Marathon), Marco Facchinelli currently heading the SWS Vertical Series together with Marco Moletto (ranked 4th).  Silvia Serafini (4th in Mont-Blanc Marathon), will race both distances while Stephanie Jimenez will take on the SkyMarathon®.  

Many more world-class names have signed up to represent their county in the European Championships.  Among them, the strong French team: Michel Lanne, Emilie Lecomte, Matheo Jacquemoud, Didier Zago, Celine Lafaye and Corrine FavrePhilipp Reiter and promising “new” skyrunner Florian Reichert (Germany); Ferran Teixido and Oscar Casal Mir (Andorra); Zhanna Vokueva (Russia); Csaba Nemeth (Hungary); Ionut Zinca (Rumania); Tessa Hill(Great Britain).  

Emilie Lecomte copyright iancorless.com

The Netherlands are not new to skyrunning after their first experience at the 2012 SkyGames®.  They are led by Ragna Debats, 5th at Mont-Blanc Marathon. New entries include a very strong representation from the Czech Republic with no less than thirteen team members they are determined to make an impression on the international skyrunning scene.

To date, the sixteen countries entered are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Rumenia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.

The events kick off on July 19 in Canazei, Trento, Italy with the Vertical Kilometer®, followed by the Dolomites SkyRace® on July 21.  The Ultra distance will be disputed at the Trans d’Havet just six days later in the nearby Veneto Region on July 27.

With such a deep field in every category, records are likely to tumble.

The record on the unforgiving Vertical Kilometer® course, just 2,1 km long, stands at 33’16” by Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola39’13”, back in 2008 when the course was inaugurated at the SkyGames® .

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The Dolomites SkyRace® favoured by the world’s top runners offers a new challenge after record-breaking performances last year by Kilian Jornet in2h01’52 and Emelie Forsberg, in 2h26’00. The challenging and often technical course represents one of the toughest proving grounds for the relatively short distance:  22 km but with 1,750m climb to the summit of the Piz Boè which, at 3,152m altitude, towers majestically above the start and finish of the race in Canazei.

Moving on to the much anticipated Ultra, the Trans d’Havet is an 80 km point to point with 5,500m vertical climb traversing the Piccole Dolomiti in the Veneto Region.  The route, technical in stretches, includes 6 km of tunnels. 

Course records at last year’s launch were: 10h58’44” by Daniele Palladino (ITA) and Francesca Canepa (ITA) 11h44’45’’.

The winning formula?  Easy: the European Skyrunning Championships are open with individual titles at stake in each discipline. Ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Vertical

Dolomites Vertical Kilometer®, Canazei, Trento, July 19

Sky

Dolomites SkyRace®, Canazei, Trento, July 21

Ultra

Trans d’Havet, 80k, Piovene R, Piccole Dolomiti, Vicenza – July 27

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Skyrunning Website HERE

Mont Blanc Marathon summary

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130911_aThe Skyrunning Mont Blanc Marathon, part of the Skyrunner®  World Series weekend has really been a truly incredible experience. Mont Blanc, location of the 2014 Skyrunning World Champuionships, the 2013 event  was so much more than a test run for next year!

The VK on Friday was an exhibition of exploding lungs and legs full of lactic acid as 400 runners climbed 1000 vertical meters over a 3.8km course – follow HERE

Today however, Sunday, was the classic marathon with a stellar field toeing the line to tackle a tough but fast course over the Mont Blanc mountain range. Wet and misty weather from Saturday cleared to one of the most glorious days in the mountains I have had the pleasure to witness.

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Course records fall at the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon

If you have never seen the Mont Blanc mountain range, a photo may give an impression but the awe inspiring majesty of these enormous beasts is a sight to behold and remember. They are truly incredible.

At 0700 two thousand runners departed from the square in Chamonix. The early pace was relentless over the first 10km’s due to relatively flat and very runnable terrain.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130840A lead group of men sped past at Argentiere pushing the pace hard. As expected, the main protagonists of the day were present; Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi, Luis Alberto Hernando, Florian Reichert, Nicola Golinelli, Didier Zago, Alex Nichols, Tofol Castanyer and Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet amongst other.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140228First lady was Stevie Kremer. Pushing the pace hard very early on she shouted as she passed, “they are not far behind”. As it happened, at this early stage in the race she already had a ninety second lead over Emelie Forsberg.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040688On the trails the terrain changed and started to undulate. Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi along with Luis Alberto Hernando and Nicola Golinelli started to pull away from the rest of the filed. Stevie Kremer extended her lead from ninety second to three minutes and this pattern continued.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040722At the Col de Posettes the race was blown apart with Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasperi pushing each other stride-for-stride. Four minutes later Luis Alberto Hernando arrived. Nicola Golinelli was pursued by team mate Didier Zago and then we had Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert. The pace was relentless.

Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert

Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert

Stevie Kremer flew down the descent and I waited… three, four, five, eight, ten and then Emelie came in sight… she was ten minutes and thirty seconds behind Stevie. Quite incredible! Emelie did say post race that she was having stomach issues, “I take nothing away from Stevie’s incredible performance, but today I just couldn’t push, I had no additional energy”.

Stevie Kremer on the Col de Posettes

Stevie Kremer on the Col de Posettes

From Tre les Champ at 1363m and approximately 32km into the course, the final 10km was all uphill! A relentless climb was broken with some relief just after Flegere before the final push  to the summit finish at Plangraz, 2016m.

First around the bend was Kilian Jornet. Waving to the crowds he approached the line, turned, gave his usual one arm wave and then bent double as he tried to recover from the effort, 3h30’41 a new course record!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140305Marco De Gasperi was second just over a minute later. the two sparring partners had pushed each other to the line and in the process had once again provided an incredible racing spectacle that we can only look upon in disbelief.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140332Luis Alberto Hernando completed the podium. Post race he expressed his thoughts, “I have been training for longer races and I found the early relentless pace difficult to keep up with. However, from half way I improved and felt good. Maybe I am a little tired?”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140380Stevie Kremer absolutely dominated the ladies race and blew the old course record off the scale by some twenty five minutes, her time of 4h03’16 placed her within the top 20! As she approached the line she could finally relax and that incredible smile appeared on her face. It was a stunning performance and one that many of us will never forget.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140635Emelie Forsberg arrived twenty two minutes later, despite her issues during the race she smiled and waved to the crowds. Emelie in her meteoric rise in the sport has become a firm crowd favorite and the cheers from all who watched acknowledged this.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140709Celine Lafaye completed the podium closely followed by Silvia Serafini. The Mont Blanc Marathon really was a showcase event. The anticipation for the 2014 World Skyrunning Championships will now start in earnest, with the inclusion of an 80km event, the race weekend will provide participants the option to race over the three classic Skyrunning disciplines:

  • VK
  • Sky
  • Ultra

Notable mentions must go to the incredible performances from the inov-8 International Skyrunning Team and Arc’teryx, both placed runners in the top ten.

Attention now turns to the Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarantaise and the European Championships in July – Information HERE

Links:

  • Skyrunning HERE
  • Marathon Mont Blanc HERE

IMAGES FROM THE RACE AVAILABLE HERE

Results

1° Kilian Jornet 3h30’41 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Marco De Gasperi 3h31’42 -
3° Luis-Alberto Hernando-Alzaga 3h36’14

1° Stevie Kremer 4h03’16 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Emelie Forsberg 4h25’10
3° Céline Lafaye 4h35

Team Arc’teryx at Chamonix

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130517Team Arc’teryx line up in Chamonix with a quality field to race the Skyrunning VK and Marathon part of the Skyrunning World Series. Team members, Tessa Hill, Didier Zago, Nicola Golinelli, Didier Zago and Florian Reichert are excited once again to be testing themselves against very competitive fields.

Tessa Hill placed 2nd at Ribagosa VK and has high hopes for Chamonix. She realises it won’t be an easy race, “It’s all about monitoring your effort, push too hard, just by a fraction and you pay for it” Tessa says, “I am looking for a good consistent race and plan to run as much as I can”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130488Florian Reichert had his first introduction to Skyrunning at Zegama-Aizkorri and performed exceptionally well, “I was in the top ten and was able to use my speed on the flat and climbing sections, however, I need to improve my descending”. Of course, Florian wont have a problem descending on the VK course! On Sunday he will race the marathon and this will suit him. He will have the potential to use his speed and run his own race.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130485Nicola Golinelli is an experienced Skyrunner and often excels at the VK and ‘Sky’ distances. For sure, this weekend will suit his abilities and skills. When asked about recover he said, “the key when racing a VK and then a marathon just a day later is all about recovery. The VK may only be short but it is extremely hard on the body. I will hydrate and rest and hopefully come Sunday I will feel fresh”.

Didier Zago is also an experienced Skyrunner and he will use all his past experiences to great effect over the VK and Marathon. Like Nicola, he also says that recovery is key, “many will say that the VK is only 2.8km long and so therefore it is easy… it is not, you go up for 1000 vertical meters, this hurts the lungs and the legs”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130503It is possible to follow all races live over race weekend here: http://mbm.livetrail.net

Links:

Arc’teryx HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Arc’teryx announce team for Skyrunner World Series

Arc’teryx, the Canadian outdoor brand and ISF partner, announces their six-man team participating in the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series. 

Arc’teryx, the Canadian outdoor brand and ISF partner, announces their six-man team participating in the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series.  From the US, charismatic and eclectic runner Joe Grant is back for more and will race the Ultra Series starting with the Transvulcania Ultramarathon on May 11 where he placed 12th last year as well as a 2nd place at Hardrock 100 and a second place at the 350-mile long Iditarod Trail Invitational, the legendary Alaskan sled dog race.  He’s also aiming at the Sky Series’ new Ultraks 46K in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Adam Campbell

Adam Campbell

Canadian distance runner Adam Campbell, plagued with injury last year, has got big plans for the SWS Ultra Series and he’ll be toeing the line at Transvulcania with Grant in the first of the Series Ultra races which he describes as, “a global race series in some of the most iconic mountain settings and over some very rough and technical terrain”. The SWS in a nutshell.

Italy’s Nicola Golinelli will be tackling both the Sky and Vertical Series.  Last year, he chalked up two third places in the Vertical K and a fourth position at the Giir di Mont, Premana, Italy.  He will debut at the highly competitive Zegama-Aizkorri marathon on May 26 where he placed 5th in 2011.

Frenchman Didier Zago, like Golinelli, will aim for both Sky and Vertical races, starting off with the Cara Amón Vertical Kilometer® on May 18, site of the 2012 SkyGames® in northern Spain.

Tessa Hill

Tessa Hill

Briton Tessa Hill joins Zago in the two disciplines and skyrunning new comer Florian Reichert from Germany, will race the Sky Series, launching at Zegama.

An intensive season of highly competitive racing faces the runners, from the short steep Vertical Kilometers to the marathon distance Sky Series and the grueling Ultra Series.  With no less than five world champions competing, one thing is for sure – everyone will be racing for the love of it.  Champions or not, unquestionably the driving force behind every SWS participant lies their passion for running in the mountains.

Follow news on the athletes on Facebook and Twitter and www.arcteryx.com