Skyrunning is Booming! article on RUNULTRA

Skyrunning is Booming!

The recent Fast and Light film provides a great insight into Skyrunning and shows how the sport has grown worldwide; the UK has also seen interest grow in a sport where earth meets sky.

Shane Donnelly is a 26-year old runner from Ireland who has had his imagination captured by the sport.

In 2015 alone, he has raced the Tromso SkyRace in Norway, the Glen Coe Skyline in Scotland and the Mourne Skyline MTR in Northern Ireland.

Three challenging races but it’s the Glen Coe event in Scotland that is currently making runners turn their heads and wonder, ‘can I do that?

Let’s face it, the 2015 first edition of the race had Skyrunning World and European Champion, Emelie Forsberg take part and post race she said:

“Waow! Seriously the best race in this distance. Super technical ridges and gullies (think Trofeo Kima but no via ferrata!) and some parts are very runnable on nice but tricky trails. Glen Coe I’m thrilled to have run this race. Thanks for the amazing organization. Even though it was hard all of the nature and the course made me go fast.”

 You can read the full story on HERE



FAST and LIGHT Salomon SRTV – Skyrunning


Watch the film, Fast and Light at the bottom of this article

A trickle of piano noise from the local music school weaves its way through open window shutters left ajar to allow some breeze… the heat of the day can be stifling. It feels and sounds like a scene in a movie. Cobbled streets, stone arches, a wonderful old square, the chatter of children playing and the smell of a freshly brewed cappuccino in the air.


Biella, or should I say, the International Skyrunning Federation HQ (and home of Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti) is atop a hill in a walled village close to the Aosta valley, just over an hour from Chamonix and in close proximity to Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn. It seems the perfect location for the home of pure mountain running. Biella lies in the foothills of the Alps in the Bo mountain range near Mt. Mucrone and Camino.

It is midway through the 2014 season, between Ice Trail Tarentaise and Trofeo Kima, I spend time with Lauri and Marino in Biella at their home in the mountains (Casina) Corteno Golgi and at Trofeo Kima to get an inside look at what makes this couple tick and how the Skyrunning calendar and its logistics fall into place. The African Attachment with Greg Fell, Dean Leslie and Kelvin Trautman were also filming for Salomon Running. Today, 20th Oct the preview film will be made live. ‪#‎FastandLight‬ is for me a special moment. I hope you enjoy the film and the related articles and images that are currently published worldwide to coincide with the films release.


Mountains dominate the life of Marino and Lauri. It’s not a job; it’s a passion that dominates 12+ hours of every day. You will see the dynamic duo at all the Skyrunner® World Series races every year. In total, that is 15-events in 3-disciplines, VK, SKY and ULTRA. But these worldwide events are just the visible face of what the ISF does! Behind the scenes it’s a frenetic highly pressured scene of telephone calls, emails, logistical planning and negotiations that make the Skyrunner® World Series tick.

“We moved here as the sports brand Fila were based here. In the 90’s they were a key sponsor for Skyrunning,” says Lauri van Houten, Executive Director for the International Skyrunning Federation, “When Fila folded, we were left with a dilemma; should we stay or should we go? Stay we did and it feels natural and relaxed to be here now.”

It’s a scenario far removed from 1989 when Giacometti set a record running from the village of Alagna to the summit of Monte Rosa. 25-years of mountain running and today, iconic names such as Bruno Brunod and Fabio Meraldi are once again being talked about in the same breath as Kilian Jornet.


Bruno Brunod

“Older generations were already Skyrunners. My grandfather crossed the mountains working for example. ‘We’ as Skyrunners added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunners have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says. 

“What I liked was going quickly to the summit. I felt the same when I was a kid in the pastures, I always ran up and down the summits that surrounded me. It is something I felt inside, something I liked.”

In 2012, Skyrunning went through a revival. After careful and strategic planning, the ISF launched the new Sky Ultra Marathon Series with Transvulcania La Palma and a seminar, ‘Less Cloud, More Sky.’ The sport moved up a notch and became something that runners all over the world aspired to. It’s been called the ‘the next big thing’ but as Giacometti explains:

“There is nothing new in Skyrunning. It is just now that everyone is catching up with our vision from so many years ago.”



Biella is a wonderful place. Calm and relaxing, to me, it is typically Italian. Located opposite a music school, the ISF headquarters and home of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten resonate a calm and tranquility that seems far removed from the full-on days in and around and Skyrunner® World Series.
The sun shines and the daily bustle of Italian life provides a wonderful soundtrack that penetrates ones’ mind. Cars rumble over cobbled streets as they scoot off to work, mothers are heard chastising their child©iancorless.comIMG_5035ren as they amble to school. The click of an espresso machine and that wonderful noise as pressured water works its way through fresh coffee and the smell, oh the smell! Nothing beats a fresh coffee in the morning. It’s 7am and Marino is kicking off his day with a good strong shot of the dark stuff before donning glasses and opening his computer.

The office is adorned with memorabilia from 20+ years of travel and racing. The door plaque sums it up’ Skyrunners.’ In the corner, magazines are stacked in chronological order documenting a lifetime in sport.

Lauri joins us looking a little tired. Yesterday was another 18-hour day. It’s normal… it shouldn’t be but it is!

“What does a normal day look like for you Lauri?” I tentatively ask, knowing full well the answer.


“How long have you got? I have no idea; I am speechless. I am a person that gets bored easy. This job is NEVER boring! I may have 5-spreadsheets open, 50 e-mails to look at, and a schedule of things to address and amend and then I need to coordinate with athletes, teams, team managers and race directors and media. My day starts with email. I often think oh my goodness and then the first forty or so emails arrive and then a daily grind starts. In addition to this, sometimes language is a challenge. I speak English, Italian, German but I have emails from Russia, Turkey, Greece, Afghanistan and so on. As I said, my day is never boring.”

Trofeo Kima is just around the corner. For many, me included, ‘Kima’ is the epitome of Skyrunning. Kilian Jornet sums it up well when he says:

“Picture a mountain terrain that has no paths, amidst glaciers; it is all crests, rocks, stretches of via Ferrata and all over a course that stretches 50-km. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering; pure Skyrunning!”


Preparations are well underway for the race and in just 24-hours we will all need to travel to Milan for a press conference and then a journey will follow to the mountains, to Corteno Golgi and a stay at Marino’s mountain house, the ‘Casina’ before an onward journey to the Kima race itself.

“I m a hub, the person in the middle,” says Lauri. “But often you can’t plan how a day will unfold. I have a ‘to do’ list that obviously needs to get done but then things happen daily that need to be addressed immediately. It’s all about time management and you just can’t stick to a too rigid schedule as the guidelines constantly move and change. Kima is imminent and therefore many questions and problems arise. We also have a press conference in Milan, that requires work.”


Marino looks over at us, he peeps over his glasses and smiles. My question. “Tell me where you come in Marino?” Seems to suggest that I am implying he does nothing.

“Now it’s difficult. We have so many races. I look at race profiles initially and it is easy to see from a quick glance what will and will not make a good Skyrunning race. Remember, my experience was mountaineering but we had to adapt my dreams for a worldwide audience. I look for mountains and mountains provide races and opportunities. I also need to consider locations, countries and how the schedule comes together.”


The phone rings and Marino joins Fabio Meraldi in a conversation. Walking out of the office into the sunlight, Marino strides around the garden in animated discussion. The Italian sounds like bird song and with arms waving and gesticulating, plans are made for Kima and a series of interviews that will be filmed by The African Attachment on a new film about Skyrunning called, ‘Fast and Light.’

“Tell me about Trofeo Kima, because you designed this course, yes?”

“Kima is on the course of the Sentiero Roma. It’s a well known via ferrata route. It crosses the group of technical mountains in the area and passes through all the 7-refuges. We did the race in reverse for safety reasons but it is still a very technical race and ultimately it has become a beacon of Skyrunning. Ironically, for a Skyrunning race the course does not go to the summits! It is just not possible. However, it is a pure expression of Skyrunning.”

It is easy to look at the ISF calendar and see the Skyrunner® World Series and think easy! However, it takes 365-days to make those 15+ days happen. When one season ends, plans start immediately, if not before for the following season.

“We are no longer race organisers.” Lauri says, “We did in the past! We organised many races in logistically difficult places, such as Tibet, Mexico, Nepal and so on. I think we organised over 80-races! The World Series is a collection of races that we coordinate.”

Marino was a visionary and many like to call him the ‘Father’ of Skyrunning.

“Skyrunning differs to other sports and this is the discipline we launched in the late 1990’s. Skyrunning has always existed; all across the world it is just that it became a formalised sport. I therefore consider myself the father of Skyrunning for the aspect of race organisation because when it started 25-years ago nobody talked about this.”

Emails ping on arrival, the phone rings repeatedly and I suddenly realise that our day is going to be way too busy to continue discussing the working life of the ISF. Taking a place at my desk, I open my laptop and get on with my work in preparation for Kima. I sneak an opportunity pre lunch to stroll around the town, take in a cappuccino and photograph Biella. Lunch provides a break and in true Italian fashion, everything stops. It provides an opportunity to relax, take in a glass of wine and eat fresh and wholesome food in a meze style.


“Marino is brilliant,” Lauri says as she pours white wine into my glass. “He took on the role of food shopping and preparation to allow me more time to work on logistics. It really is a life saver.”


Marino is a fit man, he is lean, dark skinned from many hours outdoors and one may well think that is to be expected from someone who heads up the ISF and the sport of mountain running. It would be easy to assume that Marino spends 4 to 8-hours a day on the mountains, fulfilling his dreams and working his ISF role in and around his passion! In reality, Marino cycles or runs for 30-minutes a day. Somewhere deep inside I wonder, does he have regrets and then I find myself asking the question, “Do you regret the decisions you made all those years ago, to race direct and not race?”

“I made my choices. What can I say, for 2 to 3-years I was very disappointed with myself. I had run around Everest for example, but not to the top. Now I can’t go back. It’s a question of mountain mentality; I was born in a small valley, a small village with no sun in winter. You try to survive everyday and this forms your mentality. In my next life I hope to relax and enjoy simple pleasures.”

“But you must have dreams, aspirations. Do you have a bucket list; do you want to achieve anything else?”

“I want to go back to the mountains… it is just a dream! In 2016 I would like to go to the Everest North Face with Bruno and Kilian. I know it is impossible… but I can dream.”

It’s not often that I am stuck for words, but as I look into his eyes I feel sad. To me it seems as though Marino has given up on his personal dreams.

“Do you believe you can only live your dreams when you leave Skyrunning behind?”

“Skyrunning is our baby. But the baby has grown up. We would be lost without Skyrunning and we will be on board for as long as we can but obviously, in the near future we will hand over more duties to other people. Many of the people we work with are all very knowledgeable and passionate. That is stimulating and exciting. Skyrunning is here to stay, as we both are, have no fear!”

BIELLA gallery:

MILAN – Trofeo Kima press conference

Milan is not far away and it’s on our way to the ‘Casina’ thus making the Kima press conference logical and workable into a day of travel. We are late but Marino drives like an Italian! A clean white shirt, Armani jeans and Mr ISF looks pretty darn dapper. Lauri is dressed in black with large shades. I suddenly feel very British. Italians do ‘style’ with ease and of course, where better to look sharp than Milan. I have no choice, I am on a working trip and my wardrobe doesn’t extend to looking cool.

It’s hot in the city and the traffic irritates me after the quiet of Biella. Walking into a large office block we are escorted to the 4th floor and Kima delegates greet us. It’s all kisses and handshakes. Old friends meet new friends and the banter is relaxed.


A large table with place names adds formality to the event. Marino takes his place and the conference begins. It’s a show for local press and global papers and all part of the valued process to promote the ISF, Skyrunning and give valued exposure to race sponsors.


Post the conference, a meeting takes place and Kima is discussed. Great emphasis is placed on schedules in regard to the helicopter. Kima is so technical and demanding that a helicopter is the only way to transport media around the event. Bad weather; no media!

Helicopters are expensive but at Kima we often have 2-helicopters at our disposal for 8+ hours. It may well be why I enjoy the race so much. It’s an adventure. Believe me, to be afforded the opportunity to see the worlds best runners on arguably the best course is something I will never take for granted.


“We have to do these press conferences, it’s important for all concerned but it’s a drain on our valuable time and for every hour, minute and second we are here, more and more emails and questions flood into our respective in-boxes,”Lauri says as we rush to the car for our onward journey to the Casina. “It has a knock on effect for tomorrow and the days after, what can you do?”

CASINA – Corteno Golgi 


The ‘Casina’ is a mountain house in Corteno Golgi close to Marino’s birthplace of San Antonio. Spread over 2-floors it is almost two completely different buildings. Upstairs is all wood, a combination of rustic/ modern and a wonderfully relaxing place that has been heavily influenced by Lauri. Downstairs is the original building, un-touched for years and one that harks back to Marino’s past. The garage is a Skyrunning museum of ice axes, helmets, shoes, race bibs, clothing, videos and old slides.


Surrounded by green fields and mountains on either side I suddenly see Marino in a new light. He his home! He points at peaks and explains his childhood; his passions and I suddenly feel very honoured and privileged.

“The African Attachment (TAA) arrive tomorrow Ian and you are going to be able to spend a couple of days in the mountains with Marino. They are filming a piece on Skyrunning and they want to take Marino back to his childhood, revisit old haunts and film Marino running in the mountains.”

I met Dean Leslie and Greg Fell from TAA at Transvulcania La Palma back in 2012 and since then we have kept in-touch and often crossed paths at races all over the world. I am excited at the guys arriving and the opportunity to work alongside them and shoot stills, a real perk of the job. Photographer, Kelvin Trautman is directing the film and although I haven’t met him before, we soon hit it off and I realise that what is in store; two awesome days in the mountains.


The evening is amazing. The sky is adorned with clouds and as we climb with cameras, Marino runs to the instructions of Kelvin.


Looking for ridges and technical lines, Marino embraces the challenge and is arguably having the most fun he has had in ages.



Days don’t get much better than this… at the summit of Monte Padrio the light is incredible and as the sun disappears for the day we are rewarded with a colour palette of orange, red and gold. Marino is in silhouette on the Skyline and I realise I am in a moment, a moment that I won’t ever forget.


Sleep is not something you need when working with the ISF. The following day starts early with a short drive and we are suddenly looking at Marino’s childhood home.

Marino's childhood home

Marino’s childhood home

Marino laughs as he recounts boyhood memories. “I used to go mushroom picking in this area.”


Following him up the trail, Kelvin wants Marino to go back 50-years to those mischievous days as a boy. Immediately Marino finds a mushroom, he removes his Buff and ties a knot in one end to create a cloth bag. Moving left to right on the trail, the bag slowly fills with the rewards from the land.

“In the Valle Campo Vecchio I would go skinny dipping in the river.”

Marino may well have regretted this sentence as just an hour later he was running along grass banks barefoot and then submerging himself in the ice cold river water from the mountains.


Today, Marino may well have fulfilled some of those dreams that he thought might not ever come back. It was special.

The warmth of the log burner in the Casina provided that ultimate feeling of contentment that one longs for after a day in the mountains. Marino’s body was aching, his legs heavy from the repeated running but beneath a tired façade I knew he had had a good. Red wine had been decanted to glasses and dinner was moments away.

As we relax into the evening, the Casina provided a very different ambiance to Biella. It’s more relaxed. The pressures and deadlines still exist, they have not gone away but the mountains and mountain life make us all realize why we are here. It provides perspective.

Eager to resume my questions from the previous day, I hold back. Now is not the time… it has been a great day, a great couple of days and we need to savour the moments.

“We have plans for some very exciting races at high altitude that will be very technical in future years.  2012 was an important stepping-stone. Less Cloud. More Sky was an important phase in the development of Skyrunning. One thing that was apparent is the desire from runners for technical and high altitude sport. So, here we are following our heritage for a new era.”

My concerns of talking shop are eroded away as Lauri brings our conversation to present day.

“So, am I correct in assuming that we won’t see races like Templiers or UROC in future ISF race calendars?” I ask.

“We needed to expand, to grow and introduce Skyrunning to a new audience. Templiers and UROC allowed this to a certain extent but we will go back to our roots moving forward. In America it is harder to find courses but we are working on this. UROC was a high altitude race just not technical. The Rut has shown we can find the correct style of course. We would love to do a race from Cervinia or Chamonix to the summit of Mont-Blanc but we can’t do this for everyone!”

“Do you think it is a happy coincidence that the revival of Skyrunning coincides with the rise of Kilian Jornet?”

“Absolutely, however, it is no coincidence. Bruno Brunod was Kilian’s hero. Kilian followed his dreams and the inspiration Bruno provided, Kilian is now the epitome of Skyrunning. When we first met Kilian in 2006, he impressed immediately. He was a natural Skyrunner. We all know the history; he was born in the mountains and as such he has just developed in an organic way. As I said, a natural.”

Kilian Jornet

Conversation turns to the day’s events; Lauri is eager to enquire how filming went. We laugh as Marino explains in detail his plunge in the ice-cold water of the river and how his fingers turned blue.

“Kelvin worked Marino hard today with his demands but it was great fun. This area, the mountains and the small village are all quite special. I can understand completely why Marino loves to escape here.”

Another fried mushroom is removed from the platter and added to my plate. To think, just this morning Marino was collecting these very mushrooms from his childhood haunts. He had prepared them in the traditional manner and the simple delicacy provided the perfect accompaniment to the surroundings and company.

The Casina gallery:

Filming with The African Attachment gallery:



Emelie Forsberg looked into the lens of the TAA camera, smiled in a way that only Emelie can and with a nervous and infectious giggle whispered the words:

“Two years ago in my first year of racing I was fortunate to race at Trofeo Kima. I looked at this course and thought; really… you can run a race on this course?”

© too had found my first Kima experience equally mesmerising. My breath had been taken away by the drama and severity of the course. I had never seen anything quite like it and the impact was profound. Hopping from one section of the course to another via helicopter added some serious icing to the Kima cake.

A vertical wall of rock and suddenly a flash of red and white. Kilian appears, hand-over-hand as he descends via chains and then flies past us with a wave as though running a 5k. He looks so incredibly relaxed.



Kasie Enman is the first lady and this provides some confusion. Emelie Forsberg had had a convincing lead; what had happened? Finally, Emelie arrives 5th lady, in tears but running like a demon. She had gone off course and lost almost an hour. Trying to claw back time she takes risks; 4th place, 3rd place and then 2nd, was it possible to take back victory?



Unfortunately, no! Kasie Enman held on to a convincing lead and the records will show that the American was the 2014 Kima ladies champion. In the male race, Kilian Jornet had the race of his life and in doing so broke his own course record.

© ©

Fabio Meraldi makes an appearance and like a long lost son is embraced into the arms and hearts of the Skyrunning throng:

“I remember the feeling, like a drug, feeling this moving energy… I still get goose-bumps just talking about it.”


The party atmosphere continues and minutes after the award ceremony, clouds turn from grey to black and a warning clap of thunder alerts everyone that a change is coming. The heavens open and rain falls from the sky like a series of rods being thrown. It’s a biblical storm and we all look at each other and simultaneously shake our heads. Lauri relays our thoughts, “Wow, thank god this rain and storm did not arrive during the race.”

Another race over, another successful event but there is no rest. This evening a glass of red and a nice meal but tomorrow it’s back to the grind. Another race is only weeks away and like déjà vu the process will repeat itself.

“Lauri, and you, your dreams?”

“To expand Skyrunning and see the growth continue with the collaboration from those who love the sport as we do.”

“Will you ever be able to let go?”

“Why, why would I want to let go? This is my life: I love it. Maybe I would like less stress but I like challenges, I like work and I don’t like to be bored.”

I smile knowing full well that her words are true and that in all honesty, I already knew the answer.

“One thing is for sure, I won’t be in the Bahamas filing my nails everyday, I can guarantee that will never happen.”


The KIMA galleries:


FastandLight Salomon SRTV

Fast and Light is released on October 20th 2015 at 1600 via Salomon SRTV HERE

Credits and thanks

Quotes from Bruno Brunod, Fabio Meraldi, Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet are taken from the film, FAST and LIGHT. ©TheAfricanAttachment and ©SalomonRunning.

Many thanks to Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti the ISF and Skyrunning.

Many thanks to Trofeo Kima and all the staff.

All images and content ©

A series of articles will be published worldwide to coincide with the release of Fast and Light and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the editors and creatives involved in this process.

Look out for articles in: Adventure Types – Australia/ NZ, Canadian Running Magazine – Canada, Trail Chile – Chile, TRAIL Magazin – Germany, Ski Alper – Italy, Trail Run – Japan, Poland, ALERG – Romania, Running The Cape – South Africa, Outdoor Fitness Magazine – UK, Like The Wind – UK, Nature Trail – France, Spain and many more.


CALENDAR 2016 – Order now!


The 2016 calendar is now available to order.

Price £20.00 (free postage UK)

Delivery is guaranteed on or before December 7th with the first batch of calendars being posted in early November. Numbers are limited and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

To order a calendar please use the contact form below.

Featured races in the calendar are:

Marmot Dark Mountains, The Coastal Challenge, The Dragons Back Race, Marathon des Sables, Tranvulcania Ultramarathon, Richtersveld Wildrun, The Rut, Glen Coe Skyline, Ultra Pirineu, Everest Trail Race and the Dolomites SkyRace.

To order a calendar please tick the calendar box and then your preferred postal preference – UK, Europe or outside Europe (please tick only one postbox). You will receive an invoice via PayPal and once paid a confirmation.

Ultra Pirineu 2015 Race Images and Summary


Nuria Picas was looking to defend her ‘home’ crown in a race that she has won for the last 4-years. Luis Alberto Hernando, champion in 2013 and 2014 was returning looking to make it a triple but more importantly the Skyrunner® World Series title for the ultra distance was at stake. Add to the mix Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, the last time the duo raced here in Baga was 2012. Kilian won that year ahead of Anton Krupicka and Dakota Jones, Emelie placed 3rd behind Nuria Picas and Anna Frost.


Starting at 0700 in the center of Baga, one has a full appreciation of how important running has become in Spain and I guess more importantly here in Catalonia. Kilian and Nuria are as important if not more important than football stars here in this part of the world. Autographs, photographs, shaking hands, pats on the back and the noise; wow the noise is incredible! Yes, they are the ‘Messi’ of the running world in these parts.


The day was always going to be one full of drama and battles. We had a race within a race and as such one had to keep an eye not only on who was running in the top-3 but also who was running in the top overall rankings. Coming into Ultra Pirineu Franco Colle was 1st in SWS rankings followed by Cristofer Clemente in 2nd and Luis Alberto Hernando in 3rd. It was all up for grabs. For the ladies the battle was relatively straight forward; if Emelie won the race she would be SWS champion. If Mira Rai won the race, she would become champion.



From the gun Emelie made her intentions clear and took hold of the race from the front and it stayed that way for the whole 110km. Although the story changed a little behind the dominant Emelie, the writing was on the wall; Mira Rai would place 2nd and Nuria Picas would place 3rd. At times Mira looked to close the gap and then it would extend whereas Nuria looked resigned to a solid 3rd place.



The men’s race was a little more unpredictable! I say unpredictable but in all honesty, did we (I) ever think anyone other than Kilian Jornet would win the race? I know I shouldn’t say that; anything can happen in 110km but barring an accident or some unforeseen problem, I really didn’t see any other scenario playing out.


In the early stages Jessed Hernandez, Miguel Heras and Zaid Ait Malek accompanied the Catalan over the undulating terrain. Kilian always looked relaxed and in control. The protagonists changed at the front of the race, Miguel and Zaid would take a turn to pace and all the time Kilian would run in 2nd keeping his powder dry. The elastic finally snapped with Zaid and Kilian taking the front and opening up a gap over Miguel.


Behind the lead trio a battle was unfolding. Franco Colle SWS leader coming into the race dropped with sickness; his 2015 SWS chances over! Cristofer Clemente was running in 4th and Luis Alberto Hernando clearly tired from his 2nd place efforts at UTMB just 3-weeks earlier was running in and around the top-10 battling to win the SWS title.


Miguel didn’t give in though, he found some internal strength with 85km’s covered and closed the gap to then take over the lead with Kilian as Zaid faded. Over the final km’s, Kilian put his foot on the gas on one of the final climbs and quickly opened up a 6-minute gap over Miguel. The writing was on the wall, Kilian would win the 2015 Ultra Pirineu and he would be welcomed by a home crowd like a long lost son.


Behind the drama unfolded, Zaid refused to give in. He once again caught Miguel and this time pulled away and never looked back. He finished 2nd and produced one of the most impressive display finish line antics I have witnessed. Miguel took the final podium place and then attention turned to the SWS ranking.


Cristofer Clemente finished 4th and Luis Alberto Hernando had to finish in the top-15 to take the SWS crown; he did it! It has been quite a year for Luis. A series of high ranking victories and podium places, 2nd at UTMB, Skyrunning European Champion and now the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series Champion. Bravo!

Attention now turns to Limone Extreme for the respective SWS titles in VK and SKY.


  1. Kilian Jornet 12:03:27
  2. Zaid Ait Malek 12:12:23
  3. Miguel Heras 12:20:35
  1. Emelie Forsberg 13:39:33
  2. Mira Rai 13:43:49
  3. Nuria Picas 14:13:01

Skyrunner World Series Champions 2015

Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando


Full race results HERE

Skyrunning goes global with The RUT and CBS News



If you think running a marathon is a feat in itself, imagine doing an ultra-marathon up a mountain. At “The Rut Mountain Race” in Big Sky, Montana, nearly 400 athletes from around the world gathered to compete across 31 miles. They cover more than 10,000 feet of elevation. The sport is known as “skyrunning.”

As part of the “CBS This Morning” series, “Pushing the Limits,” we take a look at the world’s elite athletes who are getting their high-altitude adrenaline rush.

Luke Nelson sums it up when he says:

“I run in the mountains because it gives me a freedom that I can’t find anywhere else…. I think the human body was meant to run; but this is pushing it!”

View the film here

You can read reports and view images from RUNTHERUT races below:




Ultra Pirineu 2015 Race Preview


The Skyrunner® World Series for 2015 for the Ultra distance draws to a close in Spain at the Ultra Pirineu. It’s amazing how time flies; it only seems weeks ago that I was writing about Transvulcania.

Taking place on September 201th, Ultra Pirineu follows on from the RUT and as such, it will be an exciting race.

Runners will assemble in the Cade Moixero National Park to do battle over a very challenging race. The 110km race is the main event and the one that gains the most attention. With 6800m of vertical gain it’s a race that will push each and every Skyrunners’ legs and lungs to the limit.


Luis Alberto Hernando, Skyrunning World and European Champion for the ultra distance will be looking to repeat his victory from 2014. Would you want to bet against him? Luis has been on fire in 2015 with victories at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. Add to this podium finishes at Tromso SkyRace and UTMB and for sure Luis will be a hot favourite for victory.


However, a certain Kilian Jornet running on home ground may well scupper Luis’s plans. Kilian has had a quitter year in 2015 as he has concentrated on his Alpinrunning projects but that did not stop repeating his 2014 victory at Hardrock 100 and in the process he now holds the course record for both directions.

“I am very excited about competing at home again as this was the very first race I competed in. There is an incredible level of competition this year, so a show is guaranteed.” – Kilian Jornet

And Kilian has hit the nail on the head, rising star of the sport Manuel Merillas (winner in 2011) will run. Manuel is still looking for the big win but a string of high placing and podium finishes will almost certainly guarantee that he is pushing the pace with the rest at the front.


Franco Colle just the other weekend won the RUT in the USA and has now decided to miss Tor des Geants to content the podium on Spain. Currently Franco leads the Skyrunner World ~Series for the ultra distance and he will bo looking to gain maximum points and the bonus that come with it to secure the overall position in the ranking, it won’t be an easy task!


Cristofer Clemente was 2nd at the RUT also and now lies 2nd on the ranking for the SWS. He did have some question marks over if he would race here in Spain due to the proximity of the USA race, however, I can’t help but think he will give the race a go and he will see what happens. At 110km it’s a long tough race for this late in the season.

tnfutmb 2013 ©

UTMB duo, Miguel Heras and Tofol Castanyer both had troubled races this year on the big loop of Chamonix and so they will no doubt be looking to put the record straight here. As we all know, on their day they are 2 of the best ultra mountain runners in the world. They also both have a great history with this race.



Ricky Lightfoot has once again had another incredible 2015 mixing up his race distances and experiences with diverse races races such as Ultra Skymarathon Madeira, DoDo Trail in Mauritius and of course his local fell races in the UK.  *may not race due to illness, me missed the Lakes Sky Ultra?

Jessed Hernandez placed 3rd in 2014 and he will be looking to move up 1 or 2 places in 2015 but the odds may well be stacked against him with such a quality line-up. Yeray Duran, Philipp Reiter and Miguel Caballero will also contend the top 5 but there are more runners than places; who will come out on top?


Nuria Picas has made a home at Ultra Pirineu, it’s ‘her’ race and 2015 will be the 5th time she will toe the line looking for another victory. Her recent blip at UTMB will soon be behind her and she will no doubt looking to put the record straight on home ground. We can all think back to that epic battle between Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas in 2012.

“I am delighted to see that world renowned international athletes are once again coming here, it’s a race that deserves consideration.” – Nuria Picas



Emelie Forsberg ran her very first 80km race at Ultra Pirineu (then called Cavalls del Vent) in 2012. She placed 3rd! What has followed has been an incredible rise in the sport of Skyrunning. While Nuria pursued the UTWT, Emelie has gone on to dominate Skyrunning races worldwide, the 2015 edition of Ultra Pirineu will once again see these two dominant and inspiring ladies once again go head-to-head. It’s an exciting prospect.


Nepalese sensation Mira Rai will also race. Her victory at the Mont-Blanc 80km turned heads and I think it’s fair to say that the 110km distance will suit her running style.


Anna Comet has been a revelation in 2015 and has consistently placed on the podium. Like Nuria, Anna is placing a great emphasis on Ultra Pirineu as she considers it a home race. The ‘home’ advantage really motivates and Anna’s recent non-racing will almost certainly mean that she will be fresh for an epic battle.

Ester Alves, Julia Boetger, Gemma Arenas and Roser Espanol will also be looking to mix it up at the front of the race. Ester in particular has seemed unstoppable in 2015 after going from one race to the next.

You can follow the stories through words and images on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and on Facebook at

In addition, the official Skyrunning Facebook page (here) and Twitter @skyrunning_com will have regular updates and news.

The RUT – 50km 2015 Race Images and Summary


Concluding an incredible weekend of Skyrunning, the RUT 50km which is the penultimate ultra in the Skyrunner World Series took place today (Sunday) in the resort of Big Sky, Montana. One of the key races in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series this stunning race did not disappoint.

View and purchase the RUT IMAGES HERE


Overnight temperatures dropped and light snow had left a sprinkle over much of the 50k terrain. The 0600 start was below freezing and it was a good job that runners went straight into a 500m climb to get warm. The first 45-minutes were undertaken in darkness and then a most incredible sunrise welcomed a new day.


Covering 50km (31 miles) the race had 10,00ft (3040m) of vertical gain and loss. In the words of the Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe (Rut race directors), ‘There are sections of this course, including the ascent and traverse of Headwaters ridge, as well as the ascent and descent of Lone Peak, which are EXTREMELY STEEP & TECHNICAL with sections of exposure and potential rock fall hazard. This is a true mountain course so please treat it with the respect it deserves!’


To many a Skyrunner, that is a calling card for full-on, adrenaline packed mountain running adventure. Restricted to just 600-runners, demand for the RUT 50km was always going to be high and this was reflected in the race selling out.

Containing 60% single-track, 25% dirt road and 15% off-trail, the RUT really did provide a spectacular race. As with all races over the RUT weekend, the 50km event had wave starts that would be offset by 5-minute gaps. The elites ere released in wave 1 and 3 other waves followed.


What transpired was a stunning day of racing. Franco Colle from Italy followed on from his impressive podium placing at Mont-Blanc 80km and ran a cool, calm and controlled race. Pushing from the front he looked relaxed throughout and he crossed the finish line in 5:16:58. His time was impressive but outside Kilian Jornet’s 2014 winning time.


Cristofer Clemente has consistently shown excellent results in 2015 and is a prime contender for the Skyrunner World Series, he backed this up once again time trailing Franco throughout the race but running a strong and secure 2nd place in 5:19:28.


Matt Shyrock produced a breakthrough performance having placed outside the top 10 in 2014 to come through and take the final podium place in 5:29:00. His excitement and enthusiasm for his finish was clear for all to see with some great showboating.


Pre race favourites, Max King and Luke Nelson finished 6th and 7th respectively, Max on the line said, ‘that is quite some race!’


In the ladies, Emelie Forsberg followed on from her 2014 victory with a repeat win in 2015. Not only did she win but in the process set a new course record! This is all the more remarkable considering that Emelie has raced all 3 races of the runtherut weekend. Incredible. Her time 6:25:44.


Continuing to show incredible promise as a future star of Skyrunning, Hillary Allen followed on from a podium place at Mont-Blanc 80km to finish 2nd here in Montana. Her time 6:30:15 was under Emelie’s 2014 course record! It was no easy result though, just before the 18-mile mark Hillary went of course with 3 other ladies and this opened up the doorway for eventual 3rd placed lady, Martina Valmassoi to move into 2nd. Hillary dug deep though and gained back her 2nd place.


Martina Valmassoi running her first ultra had a breakthrough performance to finish on the podium in 6:41:42. It was quite a run.

Ashley Erba, a pre race favourite had been leading the ladies in the early stages but was forced to withdraw from the race having received extreme blister on the soles of both feet.

With the racing over and done, Big Sky Resort, the two ‘Mikes,’ Montana, the Lone Peak mountain and a stunning weekend of favourable weather has well and truly made the RUNTHERUT weekend a great showcase for Skyrunning in the USA and worldwide.



  1. Emelie Forsberg 06:25:44
  2. Hillary Allen 06:30:15
  3. Martina Valmassoi 06:41:42
  1. Franco Colle 05:16:58
  2. Cristofer Clemente 05:19:28
  3. Matt Shyrock 05:29:00

THE RUT – LONE PEAK VK 2015 Race Images and Summary

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-5142Starting at the Big Sky Resort base area, the Lone Peak VK offered Skyrunners a lung busting ascent to the summit of Lone Peak (11,166ft) in just a little less than 5k.

It may not be the steepest VK on the Skyrunner® World Series but it certainly is one of the most dramatic and the views from the summit are quite incredible.

In contrast to 2014, the first half of the VK route had a change based on operational concerns of Big Sky Resort. So this year, the sole hole biking trail is a no go and the route takes on a steeper and more direct route following the ethos and principals of Skyrunning.

Heading up Huntley Hollow and Calamity Jane ski runs the route headed up to the Bone Crusher and the impressive Alto ridge. Here it gets steep, gnarly and technical and the long haul, hands-on-knees grunt continued to the summit. The final sections had a potential for rockfall, exposure and other objective hazards.

View and purchase the RUT IMAGES HERE


Starting in waves, the elite runners departed first on the stroke of 1500 in a mass group. The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm, working out a good pace and then looking for a prime position before the more technical and challenging terrain started. Remi Bonnet and Laura Orgue pushed from the start and both looked very strong at the midway point before the more technical sections started.


In the ladies race Morgan Arritola looked to be closing the gap with 500m covered but Laura found the extra reserves to push on to the line. Ladies rising star, Yngvild Kaspersen ran a strong race and relegated ladies Tromso VK winner, Emelie Forsberg with a strong push for 3rd.


Remi Bonnet was in a class of his own on this course and finished clear of Matterhorn Ultraks winner, Martin Anthamatten and Ferran Teixido moved up from 4th place and 500m to 3rd at the line.


At the summit Remi Bonnet arrived first looking spent with the effort in a time of 45:58:04. It was a dominating performance and a confirmation of a star in the making. Holding on for 2nd was Martin Anthamatten and 3rd place was Ferran Teixido in 47:38:78 and 48:04:89. respectively.


In the ladies’ race Laura Orgue finished a strong 1st 1-minute clear of Morgan Arritola 2nd and Yngvild Kaspersen 3rd. Times were 52:20:36, 53:16:79 and 55:15:05.

The weather and altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK and when a race starts on or around 2000m, a runner’s altitude adaptation was always going to play a key part.

Attention now turns to Saturday and the 25km event. This event will prove to be fast and furious with mixed terrain that includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and the summit of the iconic Lone Peak.


  1. Laura Orgue 52:20:36
  2. Morgan Arritola 53:16:79
  3. Yngvild Kaspersen 55:15:05
  1. Remi Bonnet 45:58:04
  2. Martin Anthamatten 47:38:78
  3. Ferran Teixido 48:04:89

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline 2015 – Race Images and Summary


Today, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline well and truly cemented itself as one of the ‘must-do’ events not only in the UK but the world. At times, it has been a rocky road putting this event on. Not from an organisation point of view I must add but from negative publicity about inappropriate use of the mountains and of course the D A N G E R and the ‘risk-of-death’ that may occur.

Many Scottish papers said that the trails would be strewn with runners going fast and ruining the day of many a mountain lover….

As predicted, the reality was far from the scare mongering of a select few.

Mountain lovers were on the mountains and you know what? They stopped, cheered, applauded and encouraged what (in their words) these ‘super humans’ were doing.

Skyrunning World and European Champion for the ultra distance, Emelie Forsberg won the ladies race and placed 2nd overall. Her performance was quite literally ‘off-the-scale.’ She relegated several of the UK’s top mountain runners to lower positions and post race she said:

Waow! Seriously the best race in this distance. Super technical ridges and gullies (think Trofeo Kima but no via ferrata!) some parts very runnable on nice but still tricky trails. Glen Coe I’m thrilled to have run this race. Thanks to your amazing organization. Even though it was hard all of the nature and the course made me go fast. Thanks all of you standing along the course, you made me feel so welcomed here!


It was a sentiment echoed by the recent Lakeland 50 runner, Jayson Cavill who placed 3rd man and 4th overall:

“Oh my gosh I can’t believe it!! What an amazing race, I am too far gone to put into words just how totally nails that route was, technical descents that went on forever, long steeeeeep climbs that went on for even longer. Great climbing around the ridges and rock faces, I am so so chuffed I really feel like I got the best out of myself today – even if my legs were shot after the first 10 miles – it did hurt a lot! Such a great experience.”

Scotland played ball today too. The previous day’s rain eased over night and the runners were greeted with a perfect day until just after midday. As predicted the cloud came in and with it showers. But at this stage the runners just had one thing in mind; the finish.


In the early stages of the race, it was all going to script with Joe Symonds, Es Tressider and a handful of other top male talent dictating  the pace and Emelie Forsberg was holding a slender lead over the 2015 Berghaus Dragons Back winner, Jasmin Paris.


Climbing Curved Ridge was for many, the highlight of the race. Coming just 6-miles in, it was a real brutal way to kick off what would be the UK’s most extreme day in the mountains. For those who don’t know, The Curved Ridge route ascended Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor) via the exposed Grade III scramble (a ‘Moderate’ graded rock climb).

What followed was a master class of pure Skyrunning by Joe and Emelie. They pushed the pace, extended the gap between the competition and when they entered the Aonach Eagach Ridge barring an accident, the race for the respective top slots was over. However, Joe was only 10-minutes ahead of Emelie… could she close the gap?


But only by a couple of minutes. Joe crossed the line in 7:36:21 and Emelie 7:44:19.

“My overall reflections on this race are that the route was absolutely phenomenal. I can’t think of anywhere else on mainland UK that could offer such quality of extreme mountain running. It is no overstatement to say that this really was a first for us in Britain. Elsewhere Emilie has already given her thoughts on how it compares to other races of this distance across the globe. To organise this event was of course brave, given the objective danger involved. But bravery often pays off, and you can mitigate against the dangers, as the organisers did, by taking appropriate safety precautions and vetting participants carefully.” – Joe Symonds


Mark Harris and Jayson Cavill finished 2nd and 3rd men after pre-race favourite Es Tressider tired over the final miles.

Jasmin Paris once again produced another top notch result placing 2nd behind Emelie and 5th overall in 7:54:29, just 10-minutes back from the Skyrunning World Champion. Sarah Ridgway rounded out the ladies’ podium in 9:21:44.


148 runner started the 1st edition of the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and currently (at the time of writing) 24 have withdrawn from the race. This low drop out rate is a testament to the strict vetting procedure that was put in place by race director, Shane Ohly.

The buzz post race is one of adrenaline, stories and how the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline is the hardest race they have ever done.

The stage is now set. This race is set to become a beacon of Skyrunning, not only in the UK but worldwide.

Expect great things for 2016!

“What a great closer of a long, successful and satisfying season: #glencoeskyline had everything (and more) of a skyrace I expected! It was by far the most technical, most demanding, most dramatic and most scenic race I ever did! It’s amazing what the organizers around Shane Ohly put together here in Scotland. I feel deeply priviledged that I could’ve been part of the inaugural race of what will become an epic on the skyrunning calendar! Thanks for having me here and thanks for your support! I went into the race with a minor injury, but up to the highest point I felt really good. Then I took a tumble on a technical downhill and lost a bit of confidence going down, finishing in 17th place in 8:45 h. After all I’m just so happy and satisfied with a great day out in the mountains and an amazing visit to Scotland! – Florian Reichert

Full results are available HERE

The Salomon Glen Coe Website HERE

Skyrunning UK HERE


Joe Symonds 7:36:21

Mark Harris 7:44:51

Jayson Cavill 7:49:42


Emelie Forsberg 7:44:19 (2nd overall)

Jasmin Paris 7:54:29

Sarah Ridgway 9:21:44

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ALL IMAGES © – all rights reserved



Read my first hand account of the incredible Tromso SkyRace on RUNULTRA

I clamber, drop, grip and ascend and descend as required by the ridge. The rocks were wet and grip via hand or foot was going to be compromised. I was already wearing light gloves to protect from the cold, my shoes were mountain running shoes designed for grip of softer/ muddier ground. I wondered, ‘What will the grip be like on these rocks?’



To provide a perspective, take a look at Jordi’s video via GoPro from the ridge