SALOMON S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET and SALOMON S-LAB SENSE SET

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7704

A new year and new products! Nothing is more eagerly awaited than a new offering from Salomon and today I take a look at two new race vests from the French brand, the S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET and the S-LAB SENSE SET.

Race vests have become the norm in racing now and it’s east to see why. When the product works (and some don’t) they fit like a piece of clothing, they don’t move, they cause no chaffing and they provide easy and immediate access to everything you need while still pushing the pace. I honestly don’t know who first came up with the ‘vest’ concept, what I do know is I always remember Kilian Jornet finishing and winning UTMB and holding his vest above his head!

Salomon vests and the S-LAB ADV SKIN HYDRO 12 SET can be seen in long distance races all over the world. Tweaked from one model to the next and the current incarnation has moved away from using a bladder to front mounted soft flasks. With a huge capacity, it’s often considered as one of the most ideal packs to hold all mandatory kit for a long distance race. The pack is lighter and utilises all the key features that one needs including that snug form fitting hold on the body. However, 12L capacity is not needed for shorter and faster races.

Enter the S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET and the S-LAB SENSE SET.

It’s unusual in a review that I would review two packs at once, however, these two packs are so similar that a separate review is not necessary. So, I am reviewing the SENSE ULTRA SET and I will note comments and changes as appropriate for the SENSE SET.

So what is the difference? Simple: weight and capacity. The SENSE ULTRA SET has a 3L capacity and weighs a  110g. The SENSE SET has a capacity of 1L and weighs 90g. I am pleased to say that my two test packs are different colours, the 3L is black and the 1L is red. That’s going to make things easier.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7741©iancorless.com_Salomon-7796

 

Both packs are identical at the front and differ at the back. This is where capacity is removed or added, so, let’s look at the front first.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7704

 

This is a really sweet pack! The layout is great, comfort is awesome and the capacity is ideal for any run when mandatory kit is minimal.

Key features:

Two 500ml soft flasks in two stretch pockets.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7704

Two dump pockets (open ended but elasticated at the top) at the bottom of the soft flasks

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7720

Two zipper pockets (on each side) with large capacity made from a stretch fabric.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7722 ©iancorless.com_Salomon-7724

Open ended stretch pocket on the left shoulder strap above the bottle.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7711

 

Zipper pocket on the right shoulder strap above the bottle.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7710

 

Adjustable fitting system (left to right) with three upper and lower settings.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7713

Whistle.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7707

In Use

I have the M/L fit and it’s quite simply the most comfortable pack I have ever worn. The pack hugs the body, it does not rub and importantly under the armpits and around the neck area the cut is wide to avoid any nasty rubbing.

The soft flasks sit on the chest and do not bounce. You can drink from the bottles without removing them when required, however, I haven’t been able to do that running. I need to stop, lean over, bite the bottle, take a drink and then push on…  Soft flasks and tight fitting stretch pockets make for a tricky combination. The soft flasks and the way they fit on the body are perfect, but trying to add a full bottle back to the pocket can be tricky. With practice it does get easier and a tip is to blow back into the bottle once you have taken a drink. This inflates the bottle and makes it more rigid. I personally have always preferred bottles over bladders and soft flasks and Salomon’s positioning make this combination the best I have tested.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7756

The upper zipper pocket will fit a phone or a gps device. I personally use and old style waterproof phone when racing and that fits perfectly. However, on training runs I have taken an iPhone 5 in a waterproof casing. So, capacity is ideal. The pocket is tight and stretchy and therefore whatever you put in is held tight with no bounce, another plus!

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7775

On the opposite side the open ended stretch pocket is also large enough to hold a phone but is ideally suited for maybe food items or a music player.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7772

The two open ended dump pockets on either side of the pack below the bottles are large enough to hold multiple gels and bars and/ or items such as gloves, hat, buff or anything similar. To give you an idea of capacity, I could fit a beanie and gloves in one side and four/ five gels or bars on the other side. Ultimately it means you have plenty of room for energy when racing. Access is dead easy. Just put your hand in and pull the items out.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7779

The two zipper pockets are the secret weapon on both packs. I am amazed at how spacious these pockets are. Depending on the race you are doing and also dependant on your own personal preferences; the zipper pockets will actually hold a taped seam waterproof jacket in one side and taped seam waterproof trousers in the other side!

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7832 ©iancorless.com_Salomon-7836

 

Salomon provided me the  S-LAB HYBRID JACKET and S-LAB HYBRID PANTS (both medium) to test (review to follow later) and these items folded up and fitted in both packs perfectly.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7847

Considering the SENSE SET pack is only 1L capacity, this is remarkable. Lets just look at the facts, you can fit in:

  • Jacket
  • Trousers
  • Phone
  • 1L of fluid
  • 4-10 bars or gels
  • Hat and gloves
  • and then other extras such as Mp3, space blanket or other small items.

The SENSE ULTRA SET adds extra capacity at the rear in the form of two pockets. The SENSE SET is just a highly breathable and lightweight pack with no extras.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7793

A ‘kangaroo pocket’ on the on the lower third of the rear of the pack provides an easy access open ended pocket that can be added to or taken from whilst moving. The pocket is quite small and would take a windproof jacket or food items.

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7732

 

The mesh back panel is actually two layers and makes an open ended deep pocket that can actually be accessed without removing the pack. It’s surprisingly roomy and should you decide not to add a jacket and trousers to the zipper pockets, this pocket can hold both items. Yes, it’s that roomy!

When running, it was easy to reach over, place my hand in the pocket and pull out my jacket. Of course, it was easier to do this if I stopped BUT this vest is very much designed about moving fast and light. It’s a performance product and as such, should you have the need to be quick… this product will allow you that comfort!

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7748

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7729

I have reviewed many products and last year I reviewed the stripped down inov-8 race vest (review here). This for me was a great product. I loved the feel of it, I loved the capacity and I loved its usability when running. For me though, Salomon have upped the game with the SENSE ULTRA SET and the SENSE SET and produced two sublime products that are a joy to wear and use.

Considering the minimal differences between the two vests, I would almost certainly recommend that the SENSE ULTRA SET is the ideal purchase. From Salomon’s perspective, it almost feels an indulgence to have a 1L and 3L version. The added cost and added capacity of the 3L makes far more long term sense for me and lets face it, if you are running really long races, you will probably have the 12L product (or similar) anyway.

On a final note, I am seriously impressed with the capacity of both packs. The SENSE SET at 1L holds a ridiculous amount of kit for something so minimal that I question if 1L capacity is correct? The SENSE ULTRA SET wouldn’t hold all the required items for a race like UTMB but it wouldn’t come far off if you were keeping items to a minimum. That said, the SENSE ULTRA SET makes a perfect and ideal pack for racing any distance (even 100-miles) when all you need is some liquid, food, jacket, trousers, hat, gloves, space blanket, phone and a few other small items. It’s arguably the perfect pack!

Pros:

  1. Soft flasks are a dream
  2. Capacity on the front of both packs is incredible
  3. Zipper pocket is great for valuable items
  4. Open ended dump pockets great for items that you need all the time – food, hat, gloves and so on.
  5. Zipper pockets have amazing capacity
  6. You could wear the products against your skin
  7. On the SENSE ULTRA SET the rear capacity is superb and a real eye opener
  8. Weight is amazing
  9. Price is good £100 for SENSE ULTRA SET and £85 for SENSE SET

Cons:

  1. Soft flasks can be tricky to get back in the open ended pockets
  2. I am not sure how the pack would fit for lady users. The bottles would potentially sit in just the wrong place?
  3. The ‘kangaroo’ pocket on the SENSE ULTRA SET is small
  4. These are lightweight products and durability ‘may’ be an issue?

Conclusion:

I love these two packs. They actually make wearing a pack a pleasure rather than a chore and that is a real bonus. Capacity is quite mind blowing in both products and the SENSE ULTRA SET makes the most logical purchase choice as it provides more usage options. I actually found it difficult to come up with ‘cons’ for these packs they are that good!

Check out Salomon HERE

 

Salomon LogoSALOMON S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7704

Ultra-lightweight running pack designed by Salomon Athletes. The Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Set weighs in at 110g and is designed to carry the bare essentials in absolute comfort with a 3L capacity.

  • Motion fit trail
  • Sensifit
  • Soft twin link
  • 2 zippered pockets
  • 1 chest pocket
  • 2 soft flask
  • Zipper phone pocket
  • 2 stretch pockets
  • Back compartment
  • Kangaroo pocket
  • soft rim
  • Reflective
  • Whistle

SALOMON S-LAB SENSE SET

©iancorless.com_Salomon-7759

Ultra-lightweight running pack designed by Salomon Athletes. The Salomon S-LAB Sense Set weighs in at under 100g and is designed to carry 1L of the absolute bare essentials.

 

  • Motion fit trail
  • Sensifit
  • Soft twin link
  • 2 zippered pockets
  • 1 chest pocket
  • 2 soft flask
  • Zipper phone pocket
  • 2 stretch pockets
  • soft rim
  • Reflective
  • Whistle

CALENDAR 2015 – NOW AVAILABLE to order

1

 

2015 calendar is now available to pre order.

Delivery will be guaranteed the first week of December.

The calendar has highlights from a great 2014 racing season and includes images of ISF president, Marino Giacometti, Maite Maiora, Stevie Kremer, Jo Meek, Marco De Gasperi, Luis Alberto Hernando, Emelie Forsberg, Zaid Ait Malek, Martin Gaffuri, Kilian Jornet, Francois D’Haene and Anna Frost.

Cost will be £20.00 inc post and package within UK.

(An additional £5.00 for postage outside UK.)

To pre order, please fill in this request form, importantly, please specify postage within UK or outside UK. You will receive an invoice via Paypal.

Payments are accepted via debit card, credit card or Paypal account.

Add a Talk Ultra Bumper Sticker?

Oval

Trail Magazin 6/2014 w/ Kilian Jornet & Emelie Forsberg

screenshot_83

German magazine, TRAIL has a 6-page feature on my interview and images of Kilian Jornet in edition 6/2014.

In addition, it has a photo of Emelie Forsberg and text on Trofeo Kima.

Trofeo Kima_Trail Magazin

You can purchase and download the magazine in PDF HERE

Trofeo Kima 2014 in-depth race preview

--©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgP1060017trofeokima_kilian

Don your gloves, find your helmet and prepare for the jewel in the Skyrunning crown. Trofeo Kima is here! This is THE all-out, kick ass event that Skyrunning put on and as such it is often the most anticipated. You can’t just do Kima. As Kilian Jornet said in a recent interview, It’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.’

Famous throughout the mountain running world, Kima is run over seven mountain passes with 8400m of ascent/decent over the 52km course. It is an all out white-knuckle ride and not for the feint hearted. Biennial, the race has a capped field of just 250 and embraces the true spirit of Skyrunning created way back in ‘89’ when Giacometti (ISF President) first ascended and descended Monte Rosa. The fourth race in the 2014 Ultra Skyrunner® World Series, KIMA will provide, once again, a showcase for earth meeting sky – Skyrunning!

MEN

--©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgP1050995trofeokima_kilian

It may come as no surprise that man on fire and 2012 winner, Kilian Jornet is the one to beat on this course. In reality, Kima is one of the most perfect courses for the Catalan. His advantage over the rest of the competition is marked and other than a disaster on race day, I think we will see Kilian top the podium and should conditions be favourable, a course record may well be on the cards! To put the severity of this course into perspective, it took Kilian 6:28:52 in 2012 to cover the 52km course. (The record stands at 6:19:03 also set by Kilian.)

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Brit, Tom Owens had an incredible 2012 and pushed Kilian at many races. With over a year out of the sport, Tom is back in 2014 and although he has had a few blips, he is showing some of the fire and all out natural ability that saw him place 2nd at Kima at the last edition in a time of 6:39:28. Feeling tired at Sierre-Zinal Tom missed Matterhorn Ultraks and I can’t help but think that will pay dividends here. The last time he toed the line at Kima, he had this to say, ‘It’s the definition of Skyrunning.  Racing here is like being a kid, jumping nimbly from rock to rock and feeling full of energy.’

Paolo Gotti placed 8th in 2012 and was the winner in 2008 and 4th in 2010. It’s difficult to predict how Gotti will perform but he knows this course like the back of his hand and that is a huge advantage.

iancorless.orgP1050496trofeokima

Both Philipp Reiter and Michel Lanne placed 5th and 6th at the last edition of Kima. Philipp has been a little quiet recently with injury and although he is back running, he told me he is not in the best shape for Kima, so, he will have to miss it. Needless to say he is very disappointed. By contrast, Michel was runner up to Kilian at the Skyrunning World Championships and last weekend raced Matterhorn Ultraks and was having a great race until going off course. He dropped, saved his legs and we may well see him looking for pay back in Kima.

Nicola Golinelli effectively retired drop top level racing last year. However, he is still a highly competitive athlete and on this course, if in great shape, we can expect a top-5 performance. When you are racing fun with the pressure off a whole new experience can be enjoyed. One to watch!

Fulvio Dapit knows how to run in the mountains and has speed, experience and technical ability in abundance. Without doubt a contender for the podium should all things align. His recent victory at Dolomiti Extreme Trail can only be a good sign of things to come.

iancorless.orgP1050148trofeokima

Manuel Merillos is the new kid on the block and a hot talent. His recent 4th place at Dolomites Skyrace shows that he can trade blows with the best on a pure Skyrunning course. A definite contender for the podium!

Es Tressider is an interesting inclusion in to the line-up for this race and a runner that many of the other competitors will not be familiar with. In 2007 he set a record for the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye in 3:17:28. The ridge is Britain’s premier mountain traverse and is usually attempted by 2-people in one or two days. Crossing multiple peaks over 3000ft it’s the perfect training ground for Kima.

iancorless.orgP1050621trofeokima

Jordi Bes Ginesta on his day can trade blows with the best in the world. Hailing from a ski mountaineering background he as all the skill levels required for this tough and challenging course, Top-10 potential?

Greg Vollet team manager for Salomon can never be ruled out of the mix in a race like this. He won’t win it but top-10 is always a distinct possibility. The true global appeal of Skyrunning and Kima is reflected by the inclusion of Matt Cooper and Clarke McClymont. Matt had a great run at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and Clarke has been dreaming of Kima every since he watched the race 2-years ago.

Ones to watch: 

  • Pau Bortolo
  • Stuart Air
  • J Francisco Pinera
  • Carles Rossell
  • Yan Longfei
  • Jan Bartas
  • Phudorjee Lama Sherpa
  • Tim Stephens

Ricky Lighfoot is listed on the start sheet but may not be racing (tbc)

iancorless.orgP1050698trofeokima

LADIES

iancorless.orgP1050536trofeokima

Emelie Forsberg placed 2nd in 2012 and at the time it was her longest ever run. Leading the race to halfway, Emelie finally relinquished to Nuria Picas who went on to set a course record 7:36:21. Two years on and Emelie is a very different runner. Like Kilian, Kima will suit Emelie’s skill set and she is the outright favourite.

©iancorless.com_IMG_7150Ultraks2014_

Kasie Enman is currently on a European tour of Skyrunning races and Kima brings a conclusion to the trip. The technical aspects of the course, will not allow Kasie to use her outright speed. However, she is always in the mix and a podium place is a distinct possibility.

iancorless.orgP1050516trofeokima

Nuria Dominguez is a regular and consistent performer in the Skyrunner® World Series. In 2013 she had a string of top results: 3rd Dolomites Skyrace, 4th Trans D’Havet, 3rd at Matterhorn Ultraks and was ranked 4th in The Skyrunning World Championships. Nuria may well lack the speed of Emelie and Kasie but can more than compensate with experience of the montains.

Alessandra Carlini has had a sold 2014 and her recent 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise elevates the Italian to ‘one-to-watch’ at Kima. Living on the Italian coast she has very little opportunity to terrain on a mountainous course, however, this hasn’t proven to be too much of a disadvantage so far.

Emanuela Brizio past winner and course record holder and placed 3rd behind Picas and Forsberg in 2012. I doubt that Emanuela can win the race this year but 2nd place is up for grapes and if she has a great day, who knows. Forsberg only beat Brizio by 15-seconds last time!

Skyrunning legend Corinne Favre will also toe the line. Apparently she won’t be ‘racing’ but we must definitely tip a hat to the first lady of Skyrunning. She was the first world champion in 1998 and although the sport is very different today, Corinne can still hold her own. Don’t rule her out!

iancorless.orgP1050333trofeokima

Ladies to watch:

  • Judit Lamas Borras
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Rosa Vallas Tio
  • Zuzana Urbancova

Needless to say, Kima will have a plethora of Italian talent toeing the line who will without doubt have an impact on the top-10 results for the men and in particular the ladies.

Past racers who have excelled:

Franco Sancassani 3rd in 2012

Rodrigues Bodas 7th in 2012

 Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Giir di Mont 2014 results – It’s Kilian and Emelie!

Kilian Jornet at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

Kilian Jornet at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg top the podium at the 22nd edition of Giir di Mont in Italy.

Kilian Jornet set a new course record 3h12’36 once again placing Ionut Zinca in 2nd place ahead of Salomon teammate, Thor Ludvigsen.

Emelie Forsberg just one week after placing 2nd to Laura Orgue in Canazei topped the podium ahead of Skyrunning legend, Emanuela Brizio and Silvia Rampazzo.

Fulfilling pre race expectations, Spain and Sweden did not disappoint with respective winners, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg dominating the 900 strong 2014 edition and the 22nd running of the iconic, Giir di Mont.

Kilian Jornet placed 1st, 8’43 ahead of the Romanian Ionut Zinca and 9’08” on the Norwegian Thor Ludvigsen. Setting another course record, if any confirmation was needed, Kilian Jornet is at the forefront of trail, mountain and Skyrunning. His incredible career goes from strength-to-strength. The last 2-weeks in particular have seen the Catalan dominate and set a new course record at Hardrock 100, just days later place the top-10 in the Canazei VK. With minimal recovery, Kilian then raced and won the Dolomites SkyRace and now and incredible victory and course record at Giir di Mont. He is unstoppable!

Emelie Forsberg at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

Emelie Forsberg at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

Emelie Forsberg like Kilian is also pushing herself with a busy race schedule. Triumphant at Ice Trail Tarentaise, Emelie just 7-days ago placed 2nd at the Dolomites SkyRace and now victory at Giir di Mont. Emanuela Brizio placed 2nd 6’31 behind the Swede and Silvia Rampazzo was 10’12 back.

The Giir di Mont course id 32km’s long and has 2400m of vertical. Pat of the Italian Skyrunning National Series, the race has long been one of the iconic Skyrunning races and is on many a runners bucket list.

Results and Info from original Italian text on: http://www.giirdimont.it ©

Results HERE 

MALE

1 Kilian Jornet Salomon 3:12:36

2 Ionut Zinca Valetudo Skyrunning Italy 3:21:19

3 Thor Ludvigsen Salomon 3:21:44

4 Fabio Bazzana Salomon 3:22:26

5 Zaid Ait Malek Buff Pro Team 3:24:32

 

FEMALE

1 Emelie Forsberg Salomon 4:06:25

2 Emanuela Brizio Valetudo Skyrunning Italy 4:12:56

3 Rampazzo Silvia Valetudo Skyrunning Italy 4:16:37

4 Deborah Benedetti AS Premana 4:33:22

5 Teocharis Dimitra Team Aldo Moro Paluzza Dynafit 4:34:21

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 – Results and Summary

©iancorless.com_IMG_7967Zegama14

Kilian Jornet (Salomon) breaks a 9-year old Rob Jebb (inov-8) record in less than ideal conditions and in the process takes a 7th victory at the incredible race, that is affectionately known as, Zegama!

©iancorless.com_IMG_8271Zegama14

For the ladies, Stevie Kremer (Salomon) once again proves that she is currently one of the best female mountain runners in the world, particularly at the Sky distance by taking another high quality podium place against strong competition.

It’s Zegama, nothing more needs to be said… it has a status as one of the most iconic races in the world and when you have a race like the 2014 edition, it is very easy to see why!

©iancorless.com_IMG_8534Zegama14For 10-years, Zegama-Aizkorri has featured in the Skyrunner® World Series, it is a race of legends, myth, mud and mayhem. The 2014 edition lived up to its billing, you wouldn’t expect anything else! A night of rain persisted into the morning leaving the ground suitably challenging for the 500+ field.

The men’s race had all the makings of a classic, Luis Alberto Hernando would go head-to-head against Kilian Jornet and repeat the Transvulcania duel of only 2-weeks ago. Mountain running legend, Marco De Gasperi was back and in addition, a plethora of new talent was just looking for an opportunity to take over should one of the three favourites fall.

©iancorless.com_IMG_0123Zegama14

The race started, as one would have expected with Kilian Jornet and his dueling partner, Marco De Gasperi taking the reigns at the front. Local talent, Aritz Egea and up and coming talent Zaid Ait Malek followed setting a relentless pace on Spiritu Sancti at 20km. Luis Alberto Hernando repeated his tactic of 2013 in pacing himself in the early stages and although in the top-10, one did question if the pace up at the front was just that little too much?

©iancorless.com_IMG_8267Zegama14

In the ladies race, comeback girl (after a baby), Kasie Enman was pushing at the front at Spiritu Sancti and was setting a pace that Stevie Kremer, Emelie Forsberg and Maite Maiora could only follow. Nuria Picas did start the day but decided to stop after realizing that her eagerness to race was somewhat optimistic as the fatigue from her win and CR at TNF100 took its toll. ‘I had nothing in my legs today and I made the decision early to stop and recover. I have my next race at the end of June so this was definitely the correct decision.’

©iancorless.com_IMG_0247Zegama14

Climbing onwards and upwards, Kilian eventually opened up a gap on Marco and used all his skills at descending to open up a lead after the Aizkorri summit that couldn’t be reeled in, even by Marco. As Arits Egea and Zaid Ait Malek slowed after the relentless early pace, a storming Luis Alberto Hernando put his foot on the gas and started to make up places eventually working his way into third. Kilian entered the town of Zegama to rapturous applause and cheers from the 1,000’s of spectators who had turned out to welcome warriors home. Kilian’s time, 3:48:38 broke the 9-year old record of 3:54:18 set by Rob Jebb.

©iancorless.com_IMG_1368Zegama14

That is some breaking of a record, particularly on a day when conditions were less than ideal underfoot. It’s a testament to Kilian’s form but also a testament to the runners who placed 2nd and 3rd who pushed him all the way to the line. Marco De Gasperi placed 2nd exactly 2-minutes behind and Luis Alberto Hernando 3rd just 19-seconds back… It was an incredible run by Luis to close the gap and his podium place makes an excellent ‘double’ after his win at Transvulcania, just 2-weeks ago.

©iancorless.com_IMG_2028Zegama14

Kasie Enman subdued to the pressure from the ladies behind but it wasn’t without a fight! Stevie Kremer took over the reigns at the front and although Stevie says she can’t descend, she proved that she can! Pulling away from Elisa Desco, Stevie crossed the line almost 6-minutes ahead. Elisa Desco followed on her Transvulcania VK form and 2013 Sierre-Zinal win with a quality 2nd place and the satisfaction showed as she crossed the line.

©iancorless.com_IMG_2149Zegama14

Maite Maiora looked to be struggling at the halfway mark but found something within to beat Emelie Forsberg to the line for 3rd place and the final podium slot. The effort showed; tears would not stop flowing on the line as the emotion and effort expressed itself in one of the most dramatic ways possible. Emelie Forsberg smiled her way to the finish just behind Maite, holding her sore hand high in the air; the effort no doubt tested the Salomon athlete.

©iancorless.com_IMG_2099Zegama14

©iancorless.com_IMG_1954Zegama14

©iancorless.com_IMG_1494Zegama14

Zegama is without doubt one of the most iconic and atmospheric races in the world, the crowds, the support and the noise make it feel like a stage of the Tour de France. The funnel of people on Spiritu Sancti, the passions shown, the ringing of horns and the shaking of cowbells confirm one thing… that Zegama IS ZEGAMA!

MEN

  1. Kilian Jornet breaks 9-year old CR – 3:48:38
  2. Marco De Gasperi – 3:50:38
  3. Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga – 3:50:57

LADIES

  1. Stevie Kremer – 4:46:44
  2. Elisa Desco 4:50:21
  3. Maite Maiora Elizondo 4:51:48

RACE IMAGES HERE

SKYRUNNING HERE

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 – Race Day Images

©iancorless.com_IMG_1255Zegama14

Boom! Kilian Jornet (Salomon) breaks 9-year old Rob Jebb record in less than ideal conditions at the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri. Marco De Gasperi (Scott Running) once again placed 2nd and Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) places 3rd with a great Transvulcania/ Zegama double.

Mens result 
Kilian Jornet breaks 9-year old CR – 3:48:38
Marco Dega – 3:50:38
Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga – 3:50:57

©iancorless.com_IMG_2026Zegama14

Stevie Kremer (Salomon) confirms that she is currently one of the best ‘Sky’ distance runners in the world with a dominating result amongst a very strong and highly competitive ladies field. Elisa Desco (Scott Running) placed 2nd and Maite Mairoa (La Sportiva) came from behind to place an incredible 3rd just ahead of Emelie Forsberg (Salomon).

Ladies Results:
Stevie Kremer – 4:46:44
Elisa Desco 4:50:21
Maite Maiora Elizondo 4:51:48

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 In-Depth Race Preview

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

The heat subsides on the island of La Palma, the waves continue to splash on the shoreline and a new week begins. It’s only 10-days since the incredibly successful, dramatic and exciting Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma. But wait a minute, days away, the iconic mountain race, Zegama-Aizkorri kicks off. Ask anyone about ‘Zegama’ and they say, it’s ZEGAMA! Nothing more needs to be said… it’s a race that excites mountain runners like few other races do.

Zegama Map iancorless.com

It’s a brutally fast and technical race that is not for the feint hearted. Located in a natural park, Aizkorri-Aratz, it brings respect and excitement to every mountain runner that toes the line.

Zegama Profile Zegama this year may very well just be a classic in the making, we had fireworks at Transvulcania, but one look at this line-up and I think we may well have fireworks once again but this time on the proportions of a New Year’s Eve get together…

Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Marco De Gasperi, Tom Owens and Pablo Villa illuminate a top-quality men’s field.

Emelie Forsberg, Maite Maiora, Stevie Kremer, Kasie Enman, Elisa Desco and Nuria Picas add no element of softness to the race line up, these ladies are as tough as nails and may well take down a few of the top ranked men.

So, what is going to happen on the trails and mountains of the Aizkorri-Aratz?

Tech specs:

A medium mountain route over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri, which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region (Aratz – Aizkorri –Akategi and Aitxuri). Starting in the town of Zegama (296m) the race climbs up to the high point of Otzaurte (652m) and then follows a mountain pass and a route along paths and mountain tracks of great natural beauty. It combines forests with steep rocky slopes and high grazing land. It is very technical and with a high level of difficulty.

Date: 25th of May, 2014

Start and finish: Zegama ( guipúzcoa ) –09:00 start.

Total length: 42.195 km.

Control points: 14
Refreshment points: 13

Flying sprint: Aizkorri (22.58 km)

Accumulated height gain: 5.472 meters

Maximum altitude: 1.551m Aitxuri

Minimum altitude: 296m Zegama.

Technical percentage of course: 70% approx.

Climate: medium mountain, possibilities of intense heat, strong winds, fog or rain.

Time limit: 8 hours.

Closing time of check points: Click the button to see the control time

 

MEN

Kilian Jornet, Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet, Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

The men’s race is full of talent and like Transvulcania, a winner could come from any direction; are we due a surprise? However, based on the La Palma showdown, one has to conclude that Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian Jornet are HOT favourites for the win.

Luis Alberto Hernando Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando fulfilled a dream at La Palma and coming to Zegama he will either be immensely satisfied and looking for a victory loop or he will be fired up and ready for more… I’m going with the latter! He’s a fierce competitor and his powers of recovery post Transvulcania will be good. Zegama suits Luis and he only ‘just’ missed out on the win in 2013 by seconds, pushing Kilian Jornet all the way to the line.

Kilian Jornet Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet now has one race under his belt and all the competition will now know that his training is done… I joke, but Kilian usually only needs one race to loosen up and he is back in his stride. If we look at 2012, Kilian placed 3rd at Transvulcania and then just 1-week later dominated Zegama in atrocious conditions. For sure, Kilian doesn’t like heat and he will be hoping for cooler conditions come the weekend of the 24th. If he could choose, he would like rain, some snow and wind. If we get those conditions, Kilian will almost certainly be hot favourite. Should we get sun, heat and calm conditions, I think Kilian is still the hot favourite BUT it will be close, very close.

Marco De Gasperi Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Marco De Gasperi Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

So close that Marco De Gasperi will almost certainly make Kilian and Luis potentially repeat the Zegama finish of 2013 or we may have a ‘replay’ of the Kilian and Marco sprint from the Dolomites Skyrace in 2013. One thing is for sure, the legend that is Marco De Gasperi will be pushing the Spaniard and the Catalan over every meter of this course and if he is not pushing them, he will be leading them. Marco keeps telling me that he is getting old but class is permanent and that class will shine in Zegama.

Tom Owens Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Tom Owens Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Tom Owens had a superb Zegama in 2011 and 2012 and then disappeared in 2013 with injuries. However, Tom is back! A recent 2nd behind Ricky Lightfoot at the Three Peaks in the UK and a stunning 6th at Transvulcania, his first ultra, without doubt elevates Tom to hot and he will be looking for a podium place. For Tom to place 6th in an ultra and then drop down to his preferred distance, SKY, can only mean that he has an even greater chance of rocking the cart. His strong fell running background is a perfect fit for this race. Podium potential for sure.

Tadei Pivk Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Tadei Pivk Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Tadei Pivk produced a stunning run in 2013 taking the final podium place ahead of Zaid Ait Malek. Both of these runners will make an impact one again. In particular, Zaid has progressed in the last 12-months with a series of quality results and performances. He’s a small guy with a huge character and personality. They will both be up at the front.

Zaid Ait Malek Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Zaid Ait Malek Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne will be leaving his helicopter at home and once again lacing up his ‘Sense’ to test himself against the best in the world. He will be in the mix, he always is, however, he just needs that touch of extra luck to help him move up to the very front end of a pure mountain race like this. Michel had a string of top-3 performances in 2013, a notable 2nd to Francois d’Haene at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight. Just recently he placed 2nd at Trail du Ventoux, so, the form is good.

Pablo Villa Transvulcania 2014  ©iancorless.com

Pablo Villa Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Pablo Villa is going to be on a high after top-10 at Transvulcania and like Tom Owens will be looking to carry the momentum on here. It’s going to be a tough call and although I don’t see him contesting the podium, the Scott runner will be in the mix if recovered.

Oli Johnson inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Oli Johnson inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Inov-8, Skyrunning partner are sending a very strong field that can be broken down into several levels. I see the strong performances coming from Eirik Haugsnes, Aritz Egea and Alex Nichols. Anyone of these guys could make the top-10. Oli Johnson placed top-10 at Mont-Blanc Marathon in 2013 and will represent the UK at the up and coming Skyrunning World Champs, he has the run ability and skill set to excel at Zegama, however, I am not sure he is 100% at the moment, so, I think he will have a presence at the front end, his performance will very much depend on his progression in the last 2 to 3 weeks. Pierre Laurent Viguier recently won Trail du Citadelles but like Robbie Britton, this race may well be too short, too technical and too fast for them to excel. I see Zegama, as being a learning curve and Chris Steele will no doubt embrace the opportunity and give it all he has.

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

Alex Nicholls gets a nod in the inov-8 line up but we have other quality overseas competition coming from Cameron Clayton (USA), AJ Calitz (South Africa) and we should have had Vlad Ixel arriving from the Southern Hemisphere, however, recent injury has put a stop to that. A real shame, Vlad is my hot-tip as one of the new ‘surprises’ in the trail and ultra world. No worries, we will get to see him perform in June at the World Champs. AJ Calitz pushed at the front end of the 2013 Zegama and then it all went pear shaped when he tried to follow Kilian on one of the descents, he hit the deck and his race was over… AJ swore he would be back and he is! I still think he is in for a learning curve experience but I do expect to see him in the mix. Cameron has all the speed needed to race at the front but this race is like no other. It’s fast, furious, relentless and technical. The question for Cameron will be can he use all that natural ability and perform on what for him, will be very technical terrain?

Martin Gaffuri Transvulcania Half Marathon ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri Transvulcania Half Marathon ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri raced really well in 2013 earning some very cool Skyrunning stripes. He started 2014 with a warm up in Costa Rica laying a great foundation and at Transvulcania he raced the half-marathon so as not to use up too much energy and gain a confidence boost. However, the race didn’t go well… just a bad day I am sure. However, it may play on Martin’s mind? Martin has the right skill set, speed and downhill ability to do well at Zegama so we will just have to see what happens.

To be honest, Zegama has an elite list that extends well beyond 50 runners, so, here are a few notable mentions that we can almost certainly expect to see in the mix:

  • Cristobal Adell – potential top-10
  • Alfredo Gil – potential top-10
  • Jokin Lizeaga – potential top-10
  • Greg Vollet – Team Manager for Salomon. Don’t be surprised to see Greg beat some of his own athletes and he may well make top-10.
  • Thorbjorn Ludvigesen
  • Fabio Bazzana
  • Florian Reichert still new to Skyrunning and on a learning curve but may make the mix?
  • Stephan Wenk
  • Hassan Ait

Who have I missed? In a field this stacked, it’s impossible to account for everyone, particularly local runners who I may not know too well but who will excel on local terrain.

Check out the men’s elite field at http://www.zegama-aizkorri.com/en

LADIES

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Rewind to Transvulcania and I think we may well see some similar performances with the exception of Frosty who will not be racing at Zegama. What we have, is a who’s who of female mountain running and it’s wide open.

Nuria Picas Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas is on fire! As I write this, she has just won TNF100 in Australia setting a new course record. Add to this win, two incredible 2013 wins, one at the 105-mile UTMF and the other at Transgrancanaria and Nuria is the female to beat at any distance and on any course. However, she pulled out of Transvulcania (correctly in my opinion) and although Nuria is on the start list for Zegama, I expect a similar withdrawal this coming week? However, should she race, she will be pushing at the front, of this I have no doubt. The question mark will come on how fresh she will be for a short, fast mountain race after racing 100km’s or more in the early part of 2013. Nuria placed 2nd in 2013 behind Emelie Forsberg and finished just seconds ahead of Stevie Kremer. It’s an exciting prospect. Update 21/05/14 : Nuria will not race stating that recovery is paramount after her win in Australia.

Emelie Forsberg Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg is just off skis and other than running half of the Transvulcania VK and a couple of hours in the Transvulcania main event, has little running in her legs. Add to this a bad fall in La Palma, stitches and some recovery time and Emelie may well be going to Zegama the most underprepared ever. She was relatively underprepared in 2012 when she arrived an unknown, however, look what has happened since… She has said to me that Zegama is no longer an ‘A’ race and she will use it to find form, however, Emelie on an off day is still a formidable force and I still see her in the mix. Emelie won Zegama in 2013 and pretty much everything else in her long and demanding season. When knocked off the top slot, particularly in mountain running, it was by Stevie Kremer! Firstly at Mont-Blanc and then at Limone, so, Emelie will be taking Zegama with one eye on the trail and the other on Stevie.

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer is also just off skis but unlike others, Stevie does maintain some running during the winter months. It may not be a great deal of hours or mileage but that connection with trail certainly puts her in a good place for the first race of the season. She showed this last year at Zegama when she flew down the final descent (she says she can’t descend) and nearly caught Nuria for 2nd place. Notorious for being nervous on the start, Stevie turns that energy into exciting running. She can climb with the best and although she thinks that she can’t contest the downhills, she can! Stevie just needs to believe it. My tip for the race victory!

Maite Maiora Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Maite Maiora Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Maite Maiora is a class act when it comes to mountain running. Her recent 2nd place at Transvulcania shows a new side to this slight but extremely strong runner. With added endurance, boosted confidence and great technical ability, Maite will be in the mix at Zegama and testing the other ladies to the limits. I see her on the podium; the question will be at which level? To be honest, if her recovery has gone well post La Palma, I see her going head-to-head with Stevie.

Elisa Desco Transvulcania VK ©iancorless.com

Elisa Desco Transvulcania VK ©iancorless.com

Elisa Desco returned to racing in 2013 and won the highly prestigious Sierre-Zinal. Her recent win at the Transvulcania VK and half marathon confirms that her form is good. Elisa has all the right elements to perform well at Zegama and without doubt she is podium material. The ladies field is so strong, it may well just come down to who makes the least mistakes? Elisa won’t make many!

Uxue Fraile Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Uxue Fraile Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Uxue Fraile once again produced an incredible race in Transvulcania. I said in that preview that she lacks the outright speed of some of her rivals, however, what she does have is staying power and true grit. So, should any lady falter, Uxue will be in the mix to take places. I see this happening again at Zegama. She will definitely be in the top-10, probably in the top-5 and may just sneak the podium.

Kasie Enman is coming over from the USA and will add an interesting dynamic o the race. She’s a fast lady and as Stevie says, she is without doubt one to watch. The trails and technicality of Zegama may not allow Kasie to unleash her natural speed, however, I don’t see her being off the pace. The biggest question will come in her form, as this is a return to racing after having a child.

The ladies race has less depth than the men’s field, however, you can expect to see the ladies listed below in or around the top-10.

  • Oihana Azkorbebeitia last big win in 2012, Puebo de Gran Fondo and has had top ranking at Zegama before. This is her comeback after having a baby. You can’t rule her out…
  • Nerea Ambilibia
  • Aitzibier Ibarbia
  • Stephanie Jiminez strong run at Transvulcania VK and just coming into form.  Will not race, Stephanie says she is not ready for 42k yet.
  • Silvia Miralles
  • Landie Greyling strong South African runner, 5th at Kepler Challenge and 2nd at Addo Elephant.

Who have I missed? It’s impossible to account for everyone, particularly local runners who I may not know too well but who will excel on local terrain.

YOU CAN CHECK THE FULL LIST HERE

Trail Magazin, Germany 2013

 

VK? no, we will go double – Matterhorn Ultraks

Kilian Jornet, Matterhorn Ultraks ©iancorless.com

Matterhorn Ultraks experienced a successful first year in 2013 with over 1‘000 runners taking part. The 46K flagship competition was one of five races included in the Skyrunner® World Series (SWS). Time flies and after the announcement by the ISF that Matterhorn Ultraks will once again be in the “SWS14′ it is time for the team to look ahead in preparation for the second edition scheduled for August 23, 2014. 

Proceeding towards the second edition of the event, the organisers are focusing on offering the competitors an unforgettable, quality driven experience and intend to make the 2014 edition synonymous with innovation.

The courses
The proven courses – «16K», «30K» and «46K» – have been truly appreciated by the competitors and will be renewed, the «46K» remaining an official race of the „Skyrunner® World Series“ and Trail fans will discover a new course, the «2VK» that starts from Zermatt to finish in Gornergrat.

Simon Anthamatten, Race director details: ‘The 2VK focuses on the uphill running, which makes it a perfect track for those who do not appreciate downhills. The track is actually exactly the first part of the 46K and with 1‘927 m of vertical, it almost is a double vertical kilometer, hence the name. To achieve such a climb, the runners will go over 14 km to the Gornergrat where they’ll have an unbelievable view on the Monte-Rosa mountain range and the Gornerglacier.“

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1000499More innovations
The 2VK is not the only 2014 innovation. ‘We listen carefully to the competitors feedback. They were very vocal about the finisher gift and to follow their wish, every runner crossing the finish line will receive a technical t-shirt Matterhorn Ultraks Finisher‘ says Michel Hodara, member of the organising committee.

Finally, by registering to a race, competitors automatically take part to a several draws allowing to win various gifts presented by the Matterhorn Ultraks partners or stays in Zermatt. In addition, those who will be the 2nd, 22nd, 222nd, 502nd 602nd, etc. will have their registrtion fee reimbursed. ‘It is our way to celebrate the second anniversary of the race’ adds Hodara.

Registrations open online on Sunday December 8 at 4 pm via the website www.ultraks.com.