Skyrunning Mont-Blanc 80k 2015 Preview

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The 2014 edition of the Skyrunning Chamonix 80k proved to be a stunning and exciting race with Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando being crowned respective champions and in the process they also were crowned Skyrunning Ultra World Champions.

The 2015 edition of the race may not be a world championship but racing is expected to be just as fast and ferocious. Runners are travelling from all over the world to take part and as you may have expected we have a who’s who of Skyrunning toeing the line.

New for 2015 too is a tougher course! Yes, if the race wasn’t already tough enough. Changes have been made to avoid towns in favour of more secluded trails. It’s a stunning course with 6000m of vertical gain and it takes in Bel Achat, Brevent, Col de Montets, Buet, Col de la Terrasse, Tre les Eaux, Aiguillette des Posettes, Montenvers, Mer de Glace, Plan d’Aiguille and of course the wonderful finish in Chamonix.

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In the men’s race several names stand out. Dakota Jones fresh from a top placing at Transvulcania will be looking to establish a grip on the race and recently has been training in the area with 2014 ladies champion, Emelie Forsberg. Unfortunately Dakota is injured.©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_

Manuel Merillas is a rising star in the Skyrunning world after an incredible 2014. All looked to be going well at Transvulcania in May when he was racing with the front 5, however, it all became too much and he eventually finished outside the top 10. Manuel bounced back remarkably well placing on the podium just one week later at Zegama-Aizkorri. He is podium material for sure; he just needs to get his pacing right for the longer distance.

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Hardrock 100 champion (2013) and UTMF winner Sebastien Chaigneau needs no introduction to a French or Chamonix audience. His face is synonymous with the area after repeated runs at UTMB. He placed 2nd in 2009 and 3rd in 2011. He knows the trails in and around Chamonix so well. However, 2014 was a tough year for Seb, we can only hope that he is 100% fit for the 80km. If he is, he is without doubt one to watch.

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Alex Nichols is an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit and his confidence will be high after a top 10 placing at the IAU world trail championships in Annecy.

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Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz had a good run in Chamonix in 2014 and recently placed 10th at Transvulcania. I see him looking for a top 10 once again in the 80k and if his day goes well top 5 may be a possibility but I don’t see him contending the podium.

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Pablo Villa may well dish up a surprise? Since a breakthrough performance at Transvulcania in 2014, he moved to Salomon and that almost certainly has boded well. One to watch!

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My last tip is Cristofer Clemente who placed on the podium just last week at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and on the podium at Sai Kung MSIG 50k. He is on the up at the moment and his performance in Chamonix will all depend on his powers of recovery.

Catlow ShipeckPascal GiguetDavid PasquioFranco ColleDan DohertyStuart Air and Francois Favre are all names that will add fire to the front of the race.

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The ladies race all looks about 3 people with Dong Li, Mira Rai and Hillary Allen as the main contenders for the podium. The proximity of the IAU world championships in Annecy and Skyrunning’s Ice Trail Tarentaise (in 2 weeks) have impacted on who was available to take on this tough Chamonix course.

Mira Rai has had a sting of high profile victories recently and is without doubt a hot favourite. Mira burst onto the scene in 2014 with victory at the Mustang Trail Race. Recent results are 3rd at Buffalo Stampede, 1st at MSIG HK50 and MSIG Lantau 50.

Dong Li has all the potential to upset Mira’s plans for the top of the podium and in all honesty, a longer race may well fall into her hands. Dong Li won TNF 100 in Australia and placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria.

Hillary Allen is not a lady who I have met on the run circuit, however, I am aware of her 5th place at The Rut (50k) in 2014 and she also placed 4th at Speedgoat 50k. Past records show that 50k or 50 miles are Hillary’s preferred distance so this 80km may well stretch her. This is no ordinary 80k course.

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Racing starts in the early hours of Friday 26th June and you will be able to follow online via the Skyrunning Facebook page and on Twitter @skyrunnning_com

A list of entrants is available HERE

ISF announce location for the 2016 World Championships

 The 2016 Skyrunning World Championships will be held from 22 -24 July in the Vall de Boí in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. The location will host a super-technical Ultra, a SkyMarathon® and a Vertical Kilometer® announce the ISF via a press release. 

It was here that in 2012 the SkyGames® were held, a spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

Skyrunning is not just about distance and vertical climb, but technical difficulty. The events here tick all those boxes, starting with the 105k Buff® Epic Trail. A gruelling 8,000m elevation gain and a maximum gradient of 56%, it’s not for the feint-hearted. Strict qualification standards will be enforced for participants, which are capped.  

The Buff® Epic Trail SkyMarathon® is a point to point over a rugged 42 kilometres with 3,200m positive vertical climb. Again, a highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit.

For the short and steep specialists, the Buff® Epic Trail Vertical Kilometer® is 4.7 km long with 1,380m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point. 

The 2016 Skyrunning World Championships title was awarded to Spain, the country that represents the greatest following of the sport and some of the greatest champions. Just take a look at the wealth of talent this country has provided: 

Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Augstí Roc, Manuel Merillas, Iker Karrera, Miguel Heras, Aritz Egea, Alfredo Gil, Jokin Lizeaga, Pablo Villa, Jessed Hernandez, among many others…. An equally strong women’s line-up includes Laura Orguè, Maite Maiora, Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar, Azara Garcia, Uxue Fraille, Nuria Dominquez, Emma Roca…

Spain also excelled in the highly successful 2014 Skyrunning World Championships held in Chamonix, taking the silver and the outright wins with Luis Alberto Hernando taking the Ultra World title, Kilian Jornet, both the VK & Sky and Laura Orguè the VK title.

FEDME, the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation and ISF member for Spain, will sanction the events and oversee them with their referees. The organisation will be in the capable hands OCI Sport, with whom the ISF has collaborated on a number of high-profile events including the SkyGames® in Andorra and Spain. 

WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the Championships.

A number of collateral events will complete the festive weekend, including a half marathon, a mini SkyRace® for children and a cultural trek.

Programme, race and entry details will be published at a later date. Subscribe to our newsletter for all the news and follow us on twitter and Facebook for updates.

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2015 – Race Images and Summary

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Images to purchase HERE

Waking up at 0400 to pouring rain is never a great way to start a day, particularly when you have 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over. After a couple of recce runs in the days leading up to the race, it became very clear that the USM was going to offer a very tough challenge.

Stevie Kremer had flown in from Colorado and was praying for sun. Ricky Lightfoot and Aritz Egea are from Cumbria and the Basque country and ‘it always rains’ they told me, so no need to ask what they hoped for.

The USM course is a unique one. Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending. It’s not your ordinary Skyrunning course!

Departing the start line at 0600 on the dot, the runners disappeared down a darkened lane with only head torches and rain for company. It was a brutal start to the day, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m.

Onwards and upwards the runners climbed and a section of via ferrata at around 6km provided a taster for the final push to the summit. It wasn’t easy going. The mist had come in and visibility was poor. Add to this constant rain and steep gradients.

Ricky Lightfoot and Zaid Ait Malek were the first to appear. The contrast between the two striking, Ricky is tall and well built and a fireman by trade. Zaid is Moroccan, small and probably only about 50kg in weight when completely wet through and wearing three layers of clothes.

They matched each other step-by-step. Minutes later, Aritz Egea appeared looking calm and relaxed in the wet and challenging conditions. With 90 minutes of the race elapsed, the main male contenders came thick and fast and with them, Stevie Kremer.

It was sometime before the 2nd lady Ester Alves came into sight and the writing was on the wall. Stevie was going to need to crumble to loose this race. Descending over the summit, an inversion came in allowing the surrounding vistas to come clear. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until a decisive phase around the 30km mark. Climbing from the sea and beach, Ricky Lightfoot continued to extend his lead looking strong. However, Zaid Ait Malek looked in trouble and Aritz Egea was closing. After 5km of ridge running and a technical descent, a riverbed with boulder hopping awaited.

Ricky was long gone but here Aritz moved ahead of Zaid. It looked like a decisive move but as we know, nothing is guaranteed in racing. Behind, Clemente Mora and Nuno Silva were coming to life. In particular Nuno, he ran over the boulders in the river like a man possessed.

But another long climb needed to be ascended and descended before the finish line and here the podium changed. Zaid was having trouble and feeling dizzy. His only option to ease off the pace providing a gateway to third. As Clemente and Nuno battled for 3rd, Aritz exploded through a lack of calories and was forced to jog/ walk it into the finish. Seizing an opportunity, Clemente proved the stronger and finally pulled away from Nuno and they finished 6:17:22 and 6:24:57 respectively behind Rick Lightfoot’s new course record, 6:09:56.

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Steve Kremer was almost in another race by the time the riverbed and the final climb came. However, she did say she wasn’t feeling great. This was the longest race she had ever run! It was academic, Stevie despite what she said ran into the finish looking strong in 7:33:37 almost 45 min ahead of 2nd placed Ester Alves in 8:14:45. Lucia Franco took the final podium place in 9:01:53.

Post race, Stevie went on to say, ‘USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. I think it is a much harder race than Zegama-Aizkorri. It was relentless terrain and the conditions just made it so much harder. Race organisation was brilliant and course marking superb. It was brilliant but so tough.”

By contrast, Ricky seemed relaxed after his run, ‘It was a great course and one that embodies Skyrunning exceptionally well. However, the first hour of the course is not designed for someone as tall as me! All those trees that needed to be crawled under; I was bent double,’ he said with a laugh. ‘Zaid is only tiny so he could just run. I felt like I was crawling. The views when the mist lifted were incredible. It was almost as though I was running in another race.’

The 2nd edition of the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira has been a great success. Madeira is an amazing island with a tough and challenging course. The future looks bright for this new addition to the Skyrunning calendar.

Results:

  1. Stevie Kremer 7:33:37
  2. Ester Alves 8:14:45
  3. Lucia Franco 9:01:53
  1. Ricky Lightfoot 6:09:56
  2. Clemente Mora 6:17:22
  3. Nuno Silva 6:24:57

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2015 Pre Race

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It’s the day before the 2015 Ultra Skymarathon Madeira and this morning we had a shake out on a couple of sections of the course with several of the top elite athletes including Stevie Kremer and Ricky Lightfoot.

Renowned for glorious sunshine, Madeira today showed us a very wet day. The rain poured and poured.

It seemed appropriate that the days short run concluded with a run up a riverbed that ultimately will be a very important section of the USM2015 race. Wet rocks that will require boulder hopping is never an easy prospect and this section of the course last 500m. It’s going to be tough.

To be honest, it doesn’t seem as though Madeira posses ant flat. You are either going up or down. Ricky Lightfoot, no stranger to tough and wet conditions said, ‘It’s going to be tough tomorrow. The climbs and descents we have passed over today were quite a challenge while running easy. Taking these sections while racing will be very different.’

Stevie Kremer had a typical beaming smile irrespective of the rain, ‘How did you guys run down that descent so quickly. That is one seriously tough drop!’ Looking at the boulder section, it would be fair to say that Stevie had a mixed look, ‘Oh boy, that section is going to be fun.’

Racing starts tomorrow at 0600 local time. You can read a pre race preview HERE.

Images and race updates will be posted on this website, Twitter @talkulta and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

USM website is here

Es Tresidder and Finlay Wild to run Glen Coe Skyline in August

 

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Es Tresidder and Finlay Wild, the two leading British ridge runners of their generation, have confirmed that they will race in August. In addition to this great news, the organisers of the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ race have confirmed that they will include the classic grade III scramble of Curved Ridge in the race route.

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Es Tresidder, who holds the Snowdon horseshoe record (1:25:08 details HERE), said:

“I’ve always loved exploring that line between running and mountaineering and ever since running my first Skyrace, the legendary Sentiero delle Grigne in Italy, I’ve wondered about whether you could do something similar in the UK: very technical, fully marked so as not to offer too much advantage to locals, very long and very aesthetic. Until now this sort of ground has been the reserve of solo records such as those on the Cuillin ridge or Snowdon horseshoe, but it will be awesome to have a race over such technical terrain. I’m planning on making this race one of my main objectives for the summer.”

 

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The confirmed route for the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ will now take in the two most popular and iconic mountaineering challenges in Glencoe with the inclusion of both Curved Ridge and the Aonach Eagach in a route that is 45.6km with over 4,000m of ascent.

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Race Director, Shane Ohly explained his decision to include Curved Ridge.

“From the start we wanted to included Curved Ridge but were unable to confirm this 100% until completing a series of risk assessments on the route in different weather conditions and consulting with independent experts on our plans to manage the runners on the route. The winter snow stayed on the higher parts of the route longer than expected so we had to delay this announcement until the route and our management plans could be site assessed in snow free conditions. I am happy that we have now done this.”

 

“I am not creating another mass participation running event, rather, a world-class course for experienced and competent participants and the inclusion of Curved Ridge is in keeping with this. The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to negotiate the course.”

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Finlay Wild, the Fort William based runner and Cuillin Ridge record holder (2:59:22 – details HERE), said:

 “I’m really excited about this race. The European Skyraces look like a fantastic mix of technical running and scrambling, and Scotland certainly has loads of suitable terrain. Running the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ includes some of the best scrambling in Lochaber. The Aonach Eagach is one of the most famous ridges in Scotland and is well suited to running as the more technical sections are short-lived and relatively easy. Of course much of the route is hugely exposed and should attract only confident scramblers. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but for runners who relish moving fast on rough mountaineering ground this route is totally inspiring. Although not as rough as the Cuillin, there’s a huge amount of interesting technical terrain up there. In fact a large amount of the route is on narrow but very runnable ridges, with fantastic views to the rest of Glencoe and beyond. I love the feeling of being on top of the world that comes with running light and fast along narrow exposed ridges. For me, the biggest challenge will be the sheer length of the route.”

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The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ will take place on Saturday 22nd August 2015 and will be part of the UK Sky Runner Series.

The race website is available HERE

Imagery all ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

 Full Image Gallery available HERE

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Pivk and Garcia crowned champs at Zegama-Aizkorri 2015

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Press release by isf ©laurivanhouten

Today, the Basque town of Zegama hosted the 2015 Skyrunning European Championships and it was unsurprisingly the host country that came out tops with a gold, two silver and two bronze medals in this iconic race. Italy took the gold for the men’s title with Tadei Pivk cruising to the finish in 3h51’11”.  The women’s European Champion is Azara Garcia who closed in 4h41’23. A last minute appearance by Kilian Jornet recently arrived from Nepal added to the excitement of a stellar field.

The first half of the race at the famous Sancti piritu aid station, saw Ionut Zinca comfortably in the lead with Aritz EgeaTadei Pivk and Pere Rulan hot on his heels, followed by Manuel Merillas and Kilian Jornet. At the final summit, the group remained intact. It was the descent that changed the game. Tadei was alone with Kilian and, feeling comfortable, took his chance to accelerate the pace. “I knew this was my chance. I thought if I accelerate here I can do it. On the last bends I looked back and was alone. I still can’t believe it,” he commented.

The men’s line-up finished with Manuel Merillas 2nd and Pere Rullan 3rd completing the gold, silver, bronze medals for Spain.

The stacked women’s field started without Maite Maiora, one of the favourites, due to injury. Another strong favourite, Oihana Kortazar led the field and looked strong to the final summit, followed by Paula Cabrerizio, Azara Garcia and Elisa Desco. Again, the descent was the decider. Elisa Desco, 2014 winner and World Champion, gave it her all, possibly too much, and collapsed at the finish line in 6th position.  It was to be Azara Garcia’s day, crowned European Champion and taking the gold for Spain. Paula Cabrerizio and Oihana Kortazar were a close second and third respectively. Emelie Forsberg, with the Transvulcania win just a week earlier still in her legs, raced bravely to finish 4th.

Yet again the Zegama-Aizkorri, now in its 14th year, was dampened by the weather, but not the spirit of the crowds cheering on the runners, every single one of them, every part of the way along the 42 km and 5,472m ascent and descent.

Today’s race represented not only the European Championships for the Sky category, but scored points for the Skyrunner® World Series ranking.

The two 2015 Skyrunning European Champions, Tadei Pivk and Azara Garcia, were awarded a prestigious  Alpina Horological SmartwatchOfficial Watch of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and European Championships.

2015 European Skyrunning Championship – SKY

Spain – 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

Italy – 1 gold

European Skyrunning Champions – SKY

Tadei Pivk, (Crazy Idea/Compressport)

Azara Garcia (Compressport)

Race results

Men

  1. Tadei Pivk (ITA) – Crazy Idea/Compressport – 3h51’11”
  2. Manuel Merillas (ESP) – Mammut – 3h51’47”
  3. Pere Rulla (ESP) – 3h52’50”
  4. Aritz Egea (ESP) – EMF – 3h59’27”
  5. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) – SCOTT Sports/ Compressport – 3h5948”

Women

  1. Azara Garcia (ESP) – Compressport – 4h41’23”
  2. Paula Cabrerzo (ESP) – 4h43’44”
  3. Oihana Kortazar (ESP) – Salomon – 4h44’57”
  4. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon – 4h49’38”
  5. Federica Boifava (ITA) – Montura – 4h51’32”

Zegama-Aizkorri 2015 Race Preview

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It’s Zegama-Aizkorri time and on May 17 yet another classic edition of the iconic Skyrunning race will take place. A permanent feature on the Skyrunner® World Series since 2004, the 42 km race has a tough 5472m ascent and descent and attracts a consistently high quality field. This year, the iconic race will also award the European title for the Sky distance, together with points for the Skyrunner® Series.

As one would expect, a quality field will assemble in this small town, however, make a note… the race will not have Luis Alberto Hernando or Kilian Jornet toe the line.

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For the men Marco De Gasperi heads up a strong field closely followed by Ricky Lightfoot, Michel Lanne, Aritz Egea, Manuel Merillas and Zaid Ait Malek.

*Breaking news. KILIAN JORNET will run Zegama-Aizkorri

©iancorless.com_IMG_3476Zegama14©iancorless.com_IMG_0199Zegama14The ladies race is set to be a classic with Laura Orgue, Elisa Desco, Maite Maiora and Emelie Forsberg (tbc) doing battle on these challenging trails and mountain paths.

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34 elite athletes on the 2014 ISF Ranking will be among the 600 runners lining up and the racing will be fast and furious. Zegama has become a beacon in the world of Sky and mountain running and as such it’s race that attracts as many spectators as it does runners. The atmosphere is always incredible and the weather, well that can be somewhat unpredictable. It certainly can play a key factor in the final outcome.

2014 winners Kilian Jornet and Stevie Kremer will not so we can expect fireworks from both the ladies and the men’s fields.

Marco De Gasperi on paper has all the skills and power to take victory but an in form Ricky Lightfoot fresh from a fell running victory in the UK is all set to upset the apple cart. Michel Lanne has been stretched with work recently but still produced a quality run at Buffalo Stampede and with less travel and fresh legs he will also be a podium contender. Tadei Pivk, Zaid Ait Malek, Ionut Zinca and Aritz Egea will all be pushing the pace and to be honest, as past records show, any of them could dislodge the podium screws. Manuel Merillas recently had a tough day at Transvulcania and one has to ask how much impact that will have on his reserves for Zegama. Expect fireworks, the Zegama-Aizkorri script has been written and ripped up many times before, I don’t this current edition will be any different.

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Emelie Forsberg is still undecided if she will run Zegama after taking victory at last weeks Transvulcania. To be honest I think she will run but may well lack some of the explosive speed required to win this race. In all honesty, I have to give a nod for Elisa Desco, Maite Maiora, Oihana Kortazar and Laura Orgue for the top slot. Who’s going to win? I don’t know! I genuinely feel that the podium places will be made up of these top 5 and who places where will all come down to the day and the variables that any race can throw at runners.

The records to beat are by Kilian Jornet (3h48’38’’) and Emanuela Brizio (4h38’19’’).

Action will get underway on Sunday and you can follow on Facebook and twitter for updates.

The top ISF ranked men as provided by the ISF:

Ionut Zinca (Rank 2 – ROU), Marco De Gasperi (Rank 3 – ITA), Tadei Pivk (Rank 4 – ITA), Zaid Ait Malek (Rank 6 – MAR), Aritz Egea (Rank 7 – ESP), Alfredo Gil (Rank 10 – ESP), Jokin Lizeaga (Rank 12 – ESP), Michel Lanne (Rank 19 – FRA), Eirik Haugsnes (Rank 20 – NOR), Manuel Merillas (Rank 25 – ESP), Hassan Ait (Rank 27 – ESP), Jessed Hernandez (Rank 32 – ESP), Pere Rullan (Rank 33 – ESP), Imanol Goni (Rank 35 – ESP), Florian Reichert (Rank 37 – GER), Cristobal Adell (Rank 38 – ESP), Iban Letamendi (Rank 41 – ESP), Ricky Lightfoot (Rank Ultra 54 – GBR), Dai Matsumoto (Rank 56 – JPN), Ricardo Mejia (Rank 59 – MEX), Pere Aurell (Rank 60 – ESP), Fernando Arca (Rank 82 – ESP).

The top ISF ranked women provided by ISF:

Emelie Forsberg (Rank 1 – SWE), Maite Maiora (Rank 3 – ESP), Elisa Desco (Rank 6 – ITA), Nuria Domínguez (Rank 8 – ESP), Uxue Fraile (Rank 11 – ESP), Laura Orgue (Rank 15 – ESP), Federica Boifava (Rank Ultra 16 – ITA), Aitziber Ibarbia (Rank 26 – ESP), Ragna Debats (Rank 27 – NED), Nerea Amilibia (Rank 35 – ESP), Azara Garcia (Rank 39 – ESP).

Top runners will not only compete for points in the World Series ranking, but titles and medals are at stake in this first edition of the European Championships.

For the first time, a special prize will be awarded to the male and female European Champions: a prestigious Alpina Smartwatch, Official Watch of the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series and European Championships.

Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2015 – Race Summary and Images

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No matter which way you look at it, no matter how you write it, the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon was the Luis Alberto Hernando and Emelie Forsberg show.

Kicking of the 2015 Skyrunner World Series, Transvulcania was always going to be a great race and showdown that started the ISF ball rolling.

The dynamic duo of Luis Alberto and Emelie were beyond impressive and as such have provided a great impetus for the 2015 series.

Emelie Forsberg fresh off skis (and a win at Mezzalama) lead the race from the front and slowly but surely extended a lead that extended to over 30-minutes by the time the finish line arrived in Los Llanos. ‘It was so hot out there,’ Emelie said, ‘I am fresh off skis and cold temperatures and to run in this intense heat was so hard but I am extremely happy. It’s a dream come true to win this race again.’

Luis Alberto by contrast played a waiting game in the early stage. A feisty Zach Miller went off the front trying to fulfill a pre race promise that he would win the race. But Luis kept in contact and at Pico De La Nieves he made his move opening a gap of just a couple of seconds. As the kilometers passed, the Spaniard produced a master class of mountain running and when he turned the after burners on, there was no stopping him. As he entered the final kilometers he knew the course record was a possibility and he pushed and pushed providing all those watching a skin tingling and inspiring finish to snatch the course record by a couple of minutes. ‘I took it easy; I let the others dictate and then just pulled away. I felt good the whole way and it’s just incredible to win here again. I had no problems.’

It was a day of shocks though. The men’s field was super stacked and many of those we expected to contend the podium either did not start or faded and/ or pulled out. Miguel Heras did not start, Ryan Sandes dropped early saying he had no energy and Timothy Olson, Mike Foote and so many more just had a tough day on La Isla Bonita; the beautiful island.

Dani Garcia Gomez took a surprise 2nd place and Australian sensation, Blake Hose took the final podium place showing a distinct promise of an exciting future. ‘I am more than happy,’ said Blake, ‘I was taking it easy and went through some rough patches but so did everyone else by the sounds of it. To get the podium here in this quality of field is incredible, now some short races!’

Dakota Jones sprinted for 4th ahead of a charging Zach Miller and although he improved on his 2014 performance, it was easy to see that Dakota was a little perplexed by his run. However, he was very philosophical post race.

Landie Grayling was potentially going to provide Emelie with some competition after her win at Buffalo Stampeed (in Australia) but like her South African teammate, Ryan Sandes, Landie said she had no energy. Everest Trail Race winner Anna Comet Pascua started down the field and moved her way through to 2nd on the podium, albeit 30-minutes behind Emelie. Myriam Marie Guillot Boisset placed 3rd just under 2-minutes ahead of American, Alicia Shay. Magdalena Laczak rounded out the top five.

Transvulcania with the help and inspiration of the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) in just 4-years has become one of the most iconic and prestigious ultra marathons in the world. The 2015 edition has secured this reputation. It’s not just running; it’s an island coming together to create a beautiful harmony that celebrates running. With arguably one of the most impressive and logical (sea-summit-sea) courses, the race is a pleasure to behold. I for one am booking a place for the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon; I suggest you do too!

Check out Skyrunning HERE

RESULTS

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg 8:32:59
  2. Anna Comet Pascua 9:02:57
  3. Myriam Marie Guillot Boisset 9:15:06
  4. Alicia Shay 9:17:49
  5. Magdalena Laczak 9:23:45

 

Men:

  1. Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga 6:52:39 – NEW CR
  2. Dani Garcia Gomez 7:21:28
  3. Blake Hose 7:25:23
  4. Dakota Jones 7:28:59
  5. Zach Miller 7:29:00

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Transvulcania La Palma 2015 – Race Preview

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It’s here, the big dance, the mega showdown, the big kahuna, the dogs bolx, yes, no matter what you call it, Transvulcania is here and guess what? This race is stacked higher than the Shard!

In 2012, the ISF joined the La Palma party and in just three years the race has become ‘the one’ to do in the early season. I am biased, no doubt. I have been all over the island following the race and I have even had a couple of holidays exploring the trails. It is the most perfect running environment and the Transvulcania course is wonderful in its simplicity. Start at the sea, run all the way up and up, run around the Caldera and then drop like a stone and back to the sea for the final uphill finish to Los Llanos.

In 2012, Dakota Jones was crowned ‘El Presidente’ along with Anna Frost, in 2013 it was the Kilian nd Emelie show and in 2014 Luis Alberto Hernando finally topped the podium with a returning Frosty. La Palma has become a place of inspiration and the series of races that unfold over the Transvulcania weekend are now considered one of the pinnacles in the ISF Skyrunner® World Series.

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As you would expect, 2015 is upholding the traditions of the three years that have gone before it and dare I say, it may very well be the best line up ever assembled?

I suppose many will say, aaagh but Kilian is not running! True, KJ has other mountains to climb. For sure he will be missed but hey, Everest looms and he needs to prepare.

Don’t despair. Luis Alberto Hernando, Dakota Jones, Ryan Sandes, Timothy Olson, Miguel Heras, Tofol Castanyer, Manuel Merillas, Jason Schlarb, Fulvio Dapit, Blake Hose, Zach Miller, Jorge Maravilla and Mike Foote (and so many more) are going to illuminate those volcanic trails. It’s been some years since a volcano erupted in La Palma but the heat generated from these runners may well get the fires burning.

*Frosty returns for the ladies but as I write, she is struggling with injury. It’s been a roller coaster for the NZ speedster and I more than most have seen the trials and tribulations that Anna has had to deal with. I just hope she finds that spark for the race that we all know she has. Just last week, 2013 winner Emelie Forsberg has declared her intentions to run. Last year she fell early on and it ruined her day. This year, she is back admittedly just off skis. One would say that Emelie will need this race to find her running legs but you can never rule her out. South African, Landie Greyling is on fire at the moment and Anne-Lise Rousset, Alicia Shay, Alessandra Carlini, Anna Comet, Ester Alves, Magdalena Laczak and so many more are going to test the Frost and Forsberg duo.

*Breaking news, 25th April – unfortunately Anna Frost has withdrawn from the race. Get well soon Frosy.

Previewing the 2015 edition of this race may very well turn into a mini novel, so, grab a beer (irrespective of the time of day), pull up a chair, grab some snacks and read on.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando was on fire in 2014 and was a welcome winner of Transvulcania finally relegating Kilian to 2nd place. Following up with victory in the Skyrunning World Championships his season was one to savour. On paper, he’s the one to beat. He races with a strength, force and commitment that are seldom seen. He only has two speeds though, fast and resting. It has been his downfall in the past (2014 UTMB) but the Transvulcania course is the perfect distance for him. Luis is odds on favourite for victory.

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Dakota Jones will not make things easy for Luis though. Victor in 2012, Dakota returned in 2014 and had a disappointing race by his standards. With Kilian absent and Dakota now running in Salomon colours, maybe he is primed as the one to take over the reigns at the front?

Dakota has some serious Salomon company and to be honest, anyone of these big hitters could win – Ryan Sandes, Tofol Castanyer and Miguel Heras. Pick a name! I honestly find it impossible to say how these runners will place come the big day. In all honesty, should Luis have an off day, we could potentially see a Salomon 1, 2 and 3.

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Ryan is running Transvulcania for the first time so this puts him at a slight disadvantage. In addition to this, the South African has had a few injury issues over the winter. I know only too well that he has his eyes and focus on Western States this year; so, Transvulcania may well be a stepping stone race.

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Tofol Castanyer was 4th last year at Transvulcania and 2nd at UTMB. Do you want to bet against him? I don’t and I wouldn’t. He is a class act and has the race skills to dominate the race. He is without doubt podium potential.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras if on form is another hot property on the La Palma trails. On his day, he is one of the best in the world. However, Miguel does have the potential to just keep pushing and pushing resulting in a series of injury woes. His return to form at UTMB a couple of years ago was a wonderful thing to see… it would be pleasure to see a repeat performance at Transvulcania.

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Timmy Olson loves La Palma. A little too much in my opinion! For me, Timmy left his 2014 Transvulcania performance on the trails in training. He just loves to run… I think he has realised that less is more and he has now taken on a coach to keep him on the straight and narrow. He has been quiet in 2015 which can only mean he is preparing for Transvulcania. In 2015 he’s going to be in fine form and he is going to get in and amongst the Salomon team and you know what, he may just win!

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Jason Schlarb gave me the surprise of 2014 by placing 4th at UTMB. I don’t doubt his ability; I just didn’t see that one coming. Jason is going to be fired up for this year’s race and a good winter of consistent training and no injuries is always a good sign.

Manuel Merillas was a revelation in 2014 and his 7th place at the 2014 Transvulcania does not reflect his growth in the sport. Manuel was one of the few runners too push Kilian in 2014 and I see him as being a real force in 2015. His 2nd at Trofeo Kima proves his potential. 

Blake Hose is the new star of Australia and after placing 6th at the Skyrunning World Championships, he really made the world look on and wonder what the future may hold. Well come May we will know, Blake is lining up against the best in the world.

Jorge Maravilla was 7th at TNF 50 last year and then placed 2nd at Tarawera. He loves to run and the Transvulcania course may well just suit his skill set. The ultimate test will come when he drops down 18km in the latter stages of the race. If he is in contention, will he have the downhill skills to hold on to the mountain goats?

It goes on…

Clement Petitjean (4th Skyrunning World Championships), Mike Foote (2nd at Lavaredo) Zach Miller, Josh Arthur, Pau Capell (1st Transgrancanaria Advanced), Vlad Ixel, Aurelien Dunand Pallaz, Carlos Sa, Christophe Le Saux, Marcin Swierc, Oscar Casal Mir, Cristofer Clemente Mora, Paul Hamilton, Pablo Villa, Florian Reichert, Dimitris Theodorokakos, Phudorjee Lama Sherpa and Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh.

 

LADIES

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Frosty, if well (and that is a question mark at the moment) will take some beating. She proved this in 2012 and then backed this up in 2014 with a course record performance. I was with Anna in Costa Rica in February and she was in fine form until plantar fasciitis reared its head causing her to pull out of the race whilst in the lead.  *Breaking news, 25th April – unfortunately Anna Frost has withdrawn from the race. Get well soon Frosy. 

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The late entry of Emelie Forsberg is a great addition to the race. Emelie ran a great race in 2013 and although she is only just off skis, like Kilian, Emelie seems to be able to transfer seamlessly. I see the race potentially being a head-to-head with Frosty.

Anna-Lise Rousset was the ladies winner at CCC and for sure, that is going to transfer well to La Palma. Having said that, she placed 5th at TV last year and although I don’t see her contesting the top of the podium, 2nd or 3rd is possible.

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Landie Greyling seems to have moved things up a notch recently… she won the Salomon SkyRun in late November and just recently topped the podium at Buffalo Stampede in Australia. If Frosty and Emelie are in form, I don’t think Landie has the race (yet) to beat them but I don’t think she will be far off.

Alicia Shay will debut on the island and that for sure is a disadvantage, however, the American has the potential to shake up the front of the race as her 6th place at TNF showed.

Magadalena Laczak placed 8th at Templiers and was the surprise 3rd place at the Skyrunning World Championships. I am not sure of her recent form but based on those two results alone, one has to assume that she will be in the mix.

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Alessandra Carlini has continued to impress and in 2014 stepped up one more rung on the Skyrunning ladder placing 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise, 6th at Trofeo Kima and 10th at Transvulcania. One year on, can she contest the top-5?

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Anna Comet won the Everest Trail Race in November and looked impressive each day as she dominated the event. A ski mountaineer, her skill set is perfect for La Palma and although it’s her first time on the volcanic trails, I think we will see her do well.

Ester Alves placed 8th at UTMB and 6th at Transgrancanaria in 2014. Two solid performances! The podium may well be a long shot but top-5 is a distinct possibility and you never know, she may have a great day… if she dies, anything can happen!

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It’s also worth keeping an eye on the 2015 130km Iznik Ultra winner, Zoe Salt. Zoe may well go under the radar, as she doesn’t race too often, however, lets not forget she did place 3rd at Marathon des Sables in 2013. Angels Lloobera, Laura Mustat and Yurena Castillo add additional depth to the ladies field.

Phew… so who are your picks for the male and female podiums. The men’s race is wide open, the female race maybe less so but we can’t predict Frosty or Emilie’s form. One thing is for sure; it’s going to be an incredible day of racing.

The Skyrunner® World Series once again has support from Active Patch 4U, Salomon, Scott, Compressport, Arc’teryx, La Sportiva and new sponsor, Alpina Watches.

 

Follow all the action in words and images on this website, @talkultra on Twitter and of course, skyrunning.com and @Skyrunning_com

Ultra SkyMarathon™ Madeira 2015 #USM2015

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The Ultra SkyMarathon™ Madeira (#USM2015) will take place on the13th and 14th June 2015 on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Continuing the growth and expansion of Skyrunning globally, for the first time, USM will see its integration in the Skyrunner® National Series Spain, Andorra & Portugal. A set of 6 ultra distance races, USM will be the only race that takes place in Portugal.

Comprising of three races of different distances, USM will have:

  • Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira (USM 55 km 4000 m D +)
  • Santana Sky Race (SSR 21 km 1350m D +)
  • and the Mini Sky Race (MSR 13km 400m D +).

It’s going to prove to be an exciting weekend of racing as runners from all over the world will travel to Madeira, not only to race but also to soak up the beautiful scenery, talk with the locals and indulge in the excellent food that only Portugal can offer.

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Stevie Kremer needs no introduction to Skyrunning aficionados and her incredible 2014 and Skyrunner® World Series title has recently been followed up with a great start to 2015 with victory at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia. This lady from Crested Butte is going to take some beating.

Ricky Lightfoot is the 2014 IAU World Trail Champion, winner and course record holder for the ‘Otter’ in South Africa and victor and course record holder for the DoDo Trail in Mauritius. On his day, he is an incredible force in any fell, trail, mountain or Skyrunning event.

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Zaid Ait Malek burst onto the Skyrunning scene in 2013 with a top placing at Zegama-Aizkorri. His enthusiasm, big smile and huge presence are a great contribution to any race. His victory at Matterhorn Ultraks in 2014 was a highlight and for sure, he will be looking for a podium place in Madeira.

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Aritz Egea is a ‘Sky’ distance specialist and his ability to climb and descend with equal ability has seen him dominate races all over the world. A consistent top-10 finisher he will be looking to gain valuable points in Portugal.

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Alessandra Carlini really made a mark on the Skyrunning circuit in the past two years and she has proven, that despite living in the flat lands next to the sea, she has an ability to climb and descend with the best. Her performances improve when the races get longer, so, expect Alessandra to turn a few heads in the 55km race.

It won’t be easy running for Stevie, Ricky, Zaid, Aritz or Alessandra… a plethora of other top runners will toe the line looking for glory in Portugal:

  • Ester Alves (winner at this year’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail)
  • Nuno Silva (Winner, Falcotrail SkyMarathon 2014)
  • Luis Fernandes (winner at this year’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail)
  • Manuel Faria (Winner USM 2014)
  • Unai Santamaria (3rd USM 2014)

It’s not too late to enter any of the races in Madeira and a special discount is available if you enter before the end of April.

What you waiting for? Join some of the worlds best on the beautiful trails of Madeira.

Santana is a northern municipality of Madeira Island, renowned since 2011 as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. It is known by the typical A-thatched houses, symbol of Madeira and Portugal and offers a wide variety of surroundings such as the laurel forest, mountainous areas surrounding Pico Ruivo and São Jorge hills and the outstanding cliffs of the north of the island.

I will be at the event photographing and reporting on the action as it unfolds. You can follow on Facebook and Twitter – @talkultra

Promo video: https://vimeo.com/125025950

Race website HERE

Registration HERE

Race weekend program HERE