Trofeo Kima 2014 in-depth race preview

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

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

MEN

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

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ones to watch: 

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

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

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LADIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ladies to watch:

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

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

Past racers who have excelled:

Franco Sancassani 3rd in 2012

Rodrigues Bodas 7th in 2012

 Links:

Skyrunning HERE

KILIAN JORNET – The Human Carabiner

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Kilian Jornet is defining our sport and in the process is setting new records and providing inspiration to thousands, if not millions of people. Just 12-months ago, I spoke to Kilian in Zermatt. It was just days after his incredible Matterhorn Summit where he set a new record for Cervinia-Matterhorn Summit-Cervinia beating the long standing Bruno Brunod record. Looking relaxed, Kilian joins me at a table and we chat. He looks lean and in the form of his life. The sky is blue and clouds are around the base of the Matterhorn. Looking up we pause and take it in.

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It really is an incredible mountain. I turn to Kilian and ask…

IC – Do you feel nostalgic Kilian, looking up at the Matterhorn and thinking back 12-months?

KJ – Yes, I have great feelings. I-year ago I climbed from Italy (Cervinia) and today I climbed it from Switzerland (Zermatt). I have many great friends in Cervinia and very soon it will be 150-years of the Matterhorn. So many great memories; It’s such a beautiful memory.

IC – Okay, so you have just thrown this on me. You climbed the Matterhorn this morning from Zermatt?

KJ – Yes (laughs) I am not racing Matterhorn Ultraks so it’s okay. I went this morning… I was thinking to myself, it’s great weather so I decided to go. Conditions are not good though. The mountain has much more snow and the ridge was pretty icy. I had no crampons, which was a big mistake. At the summit it was very windy. I thought I might take the quick way down to Zermatt…!

IC – People say the Matterhorn is harder from Switzerland side?

KJ – The Italians say it’s harder from Cervinia and the Swiss say it’s harder from Zermatt. (He laughs) Both routes are very similar. I prefer the Italian side, it’s a narrow ridge about 500m long and you can really run. From Switzerland you go straight to the summit. It’s really beautiful and maybe a little more complicated. For me though, the Italian side is more difficult.

IC – Did you time yourself?

KJ – Hotel to hotel was 7-hours. I had planned to go down to the Italian side and come back via the pass. But the conditions were very windy and I decided to come back on the Switzerland side. It had lots of snow all the way up. I can normally climb up in good conditions in 2.5hrs but today it was 4-hours.

IC – Not the perfect time for a FKT?

KJ – No, it was really dangerous. Normally I would see 100’s of people at the summit. Today it was just me and I saw 4-people on my way down. The weather would be okay for Mont-Blanc but not here; it’s much more complicated.

 

IC – I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?

KJ – This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometres.

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IC – It’s not unusual for you to start your run season at Transvulcania La Palma on 4-5 days running. This year you did this. You had a great race placing 2nd behind Luis. You then went to Denali and followed this with running again becoming Skyrunning World Champion. In Denali, this is not ultra running. It’s Alpinism. So tell us, what was the experience like?

KJ – It was a hard experience and fun. The weather was bad in Alaska. We stayed 21-days in the glacier and we had 3 sunny days. Everyday was snowing but we did a great number of things. We travelled very light. We would go to 4000m camp and from here everyday we would do something… we did the west ridge and then ski, we did another ridge, then I did the record, the north summit and so on. It was really nice to see. It’s possible to do something everyday. It was really interesting. I think I was surprised to come back to Chamonix and perform so well. Really I was just going to use it as training for Hardrock. In the VK I surpassed my expectation, in the marathon I knew I could do well. I lost weight in Denali.

IC – Yes for sure. You lost weight and your legs seemed smaller. Did it feel unusual to be back in Chamonix feeling like a different person?

KJ – Yes, I had small legs. It is similar to after Alpinism. It’s good for going up but coming down it has its affects.

IC – Denali unlike the Matterhorn was very much about you going and doing it. We haven’t seen the new Summits film yet, so, what did Denali involve?

KJ – It’s Skimo. You go via the plane to Anchorage and then take anther small plane to the glacier. It’s snow all the way. We didn’t take run shoes. We just used skis everyday. We had planned to acclimatize but the weather cleared and I made an attempt on the 6th day. I may have not been adapted but I was still strong. If you stay at altitude you loose strength. I had good conditions for 3-hours but the last uphill section and all the downhill had bad conditions. It was snowing and foggy. I just hoped that I could complete the summit. I added more clothes and pushed on.

IC – How do you prepare for an event like this? Do you do extensive research beforehand on maps? You make it sound casual and matter of fact but I know it’s not.

KJ – You need to be really well prepared. It’s a dangerous mountain. I looked at maps and we planned ahead, not only for the record but other adventures. I made good preparation 2-weeks before. We did 3-days to base camp and did the west ridge and ski down. It was good to see the conditions, find out what the snow was like and see if I could ski fast from the summit. You need to open your mind.

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It was great to have a small team. We were 4-people: Seb Montaz, Jordi Tosas, Vivian Bruchez and me. It’s really quick to change plans and make decisions with a small set up. For example in 5-hours I decided to attempt the record. Everyone was ready; they all knew what they had to do. It was great. Also, the team had projects that each wanted to do. All 4 of us had aspirations to achieve things whilst in Alaska.

IC – That is what is so interesting about what you do. You have very experienced people with you. In particular, Seb, he’s a great mountaineer and cameraman. We often forget he is often doing what you are doing.

KJ – For sure. You either have a small team or a big team with multiple people, helicopters, and many cameramen. The problem is budget! For example, all our team can work independently and they can all film, even myself. I like this process. We all move in the mountain, they are happy alone and that is great. We all captured images of each other. 

IC – That is going to be great to see. You followed Denali with Hardrock 100.

KJ – Three years of waiting!

IC – Yes, you got the confirmation in 2013. We all had expectations and excitement. You were racing really strong competition, Adam Campbell, Joe Grant, Seb Chaigneau, Dakota Jones, Julien Chorier and so on. You had a remarkable day; you smashed the course record. I know from pervious chats that you wasted lots of time. What was the experience like, did it live up to expectations?

KJ – It’s a beautiful race. I have run several 100-mile races and this is the best. The ambiance, the course, the spirit, it was just amazing. I arrived 1-week before and I checked all the last 100km so that I was prepared. I knew I would be in this section at night. I didn’t know the early section; I didn’t check it at all. We all started together; Seb, Adam, Timmy, Dakota and Julien. We had a big group. I felt good from the beginning. Having said that, you always feel good early. It’s just moving. After 4-5 hours I wasn’t pushing but I was pulling away. I thought to myself, maybe I will have a good day but I wanted to be cautious for the latter stages of the race. So, I waited for Julien and then I ran to km 100 with him and then the night started. After this point, I knew the course so I decided to go. It could take 9-hours if I was feeling good. I hadn’t eaten much up to this point so from here I took energy from soup and burritos. It was also really bad weather with rain and storms. I was happy to take a little time in the aid stations.

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IC – I think you were lucky and got ahead of the worst of the storms. For example Adam Campbell had a crazy time.

KJ – Yes, this is what can happen, Handies Peak is at 4800m and 30km between aid stations, so, you are on your own. If a storm comes they don’t stop the race. You need to know what to do. If you are afraid, you stop and find shelter until the storm passes. Runners need to think and that is a good thing. We all need to think what to carry and what to do.

IC – You had Frosty (Anna Frost) and Ricky Gates as pacers. What point did they pace you?

KJ – Ricky started at 100km for the first part of the night section from Sharman. He ran around 35-40km with me. In the second part it was crazy rain. We were so cold and wet. He stopped. I continued for 10-miles alone and then met Frosty for the last 10-miles.

IC – At any point did you have the course record in mind?

KJ – Yes, you have it in your mind but I don’t race for records. I like racing a great deal. I do lots of races. My priority was to win if possible and I was also thinking of the Dolomites 1-week later…

(Laughter)

KJ – I said okay, I am doing well but don’t try to get tired! I was 20-min ahead of the record and I knew that Kyle Skaggs exploded in the latter stages when he set the record. So, if I kept my pace I knew the record was possible.

IC – As winner, you are the only male with a guaranteed place for next year. Will you be back?

KJ – Yes, for sure as it alternates direction each year.

IC – The two races are different, lets forget next year. Given what you have learnt this year, if you went back in 2-years, with what you now know. Of course weather dependant. Do you think you could make big differences to the time?

KJ – Weather is crucial and of course the feelings. Some days you feel great, like a cloud. You can’t predict these days. I had one of these days at the Matterhorn and certainly Hardrock. For sure I could go faster. I stopped 56-minutes in aid stations.

IC – And you waited for Julien 20-mins? 

KJ – Yes, I think 1-hour quicker is possible should all things align.

IC – You came back from Hardrock and surprisingly raced at Dolomites Skyrace in the VK and SkyRace just days later.

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KJ – I was happy about the VK. I was feeling recovered but after 100-miles you need recovery. The VK was super good. I placed 8th which was great. It surprised me that I could push. It motivated me for the Sky race just 2-days later.

IC – Another great victory for you, amazing really!

KJ – Yes. Thanks

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IC – Trofeo Kima is just around the corner. It’s arguably one of ‘the’ key Skyraces. Do you have any plans or intentions for Kima?

KJ – It’s difficult to discuss plans. So many variables come into play. For example, I may do some mountaineering this week, which may mean I am tired. I have The Rut and Limone Extreme too this year. After a summer of rain when the sun comes out the snow tempts me, so, I can’t resist despite what races are on my calendar.

IC – I have to say, I was watching your posts about your runs this last week. Dakota and yourself doing big days in the mountains that have lasted 7-hours. With UTMB around the corner, didn’t Dakota make that mistake before?

(Laughter)

KJ – I have often done Mont-Blanc just days before UTMB. It has altitude, great training and it doesn’t take too much energy. Dakota is strong and talented. We did this with 10-days before UTMB. He will be fine. I sometimes think he thinks too much. He needs to just run… it will be interesting to see Tony, Iker, Tofol and all the rest. I think Iker will be good. Luis Alberto he will start strong but can he maintain it? Luis has one pace, hard! Maybe he will start slower. UTMB this year will be a great race.

IC – You have Aconcagua (Summits of my Life) left for this year, December yes?

KJ – Yes, I will start in November to do ski training and then I will go back to running for Aconcagua. I’m excited as it has a high summit of 7000m. It’s not technical but it’s a tough record.

IC – And the record?

KJ – I think there are a couple of records but I don’t know the times. (In 2000 Bruno Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes. Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones.)

KJ – I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too.

IC – Wow, nice! I guess Aconcagua will be more like the Matterhorn?

KJ – No, it’s easier. It’s rocky but not steep. The altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different.

IC – It doesn’t have the danger of the Matterhorn. Ultimately, you have Everest as the last big objective. Have you thought about this yet?

KJ – It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem. It’s to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependant. I expect to have several attempts.

IC – If you achieve Everest and complete the Summit series, where do you go next? Your list is ticked off, do you think you will comeback to some races you have done before or do you think you will create a new sport, a combination of all your skill levels?

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

KJ – I have lots of projects. Today I climbed the Matterhorn, I looked around and suddenly projects appear. I think maybe I can go from here to here or in skiing I go down a steep line. It doesn’t need to be the highest or the longest. Nice mountains with not many people. I like this sport because of the beauty. I like aesthetic projects more than numbers. I have so many options to choose from.

IC – Do you think racing will still appeal?

KJ – Yes, I love racing. I love the ambiance. I also like it as training. I push I give it everything and you can’t do this alone, it’s boring. I will race for sure in skiing and maybe run less.

IC – Today I spoke to Marco De Gasperi, I took him back to ‘91’ when he was 16 and the formative days of Skyrunning. His first race!

KJ – Yes, it was Monte Rosa.

IC – Yes, Monte Rosa and he also did the VK. He reminded me of 2007 when you were 20 and you turned up at a race and placed 6th. He said you looked at him as though he was a hero. He now looks at you as the hero.

KJ – No, Marco is the hero.

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IC – 20+ years of Skyrunning. In the last 3-years Skyrunning has become bigger than ever and it continues to grow. Would you like to see the sport progress in anyway?

KJ – Every person is a carabiner. We all pass on and provide energy and it grows. The sport keeps the values of the beginning. However, it’s not just about distance, elevation and athletics. It’s about mountains and alpinism. More people are interested in being in the mountains, it’s not just about technical terrain, and we must look at what is around us too. The sport will grow for sure. We are seeing VK’s grow and longer races. I think in central Europe it will stay as it is but it will develop in other countries, for example the US. It’s important to grow and keep quality; we must keep the spirit.

IC – In ‘89’ when Marino Giacometti ran up Monte Rosa and came back down, it was pure mountain spirit. Up and down as fast as possible. I feel that Skyrunning is starting to go back to where it was 20-years ago. Maybe because we look at sport differently; but also you are providing a great influence. Do you think there is room for another sport outside of VK, Sky and Ultra within Skyrunning, maybe an extreme event?

KJ – Yes. I think an extreme sport would be a great idea. It has been done before as you say. It’s really important though to understand that this is mountaineering fast and not running.

IC – Alpinism without the clutter?

KJ – Yes, it’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It will come as the sport grows but it is not for all. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.

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IC – Kilian, once again thank you so much for your time and the inspiration.

KJ – Thank you for everything.

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Article ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Please credit as and when appropriate when sharing

Thanks

I would like to thank Kilian Jornet for his time and generosity.

Marino Giacometti and Lauri Van Houten from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation)

Salomon Running

Seb Montaz

Jordi Saragossa

And all the wonderful races throughout the world that provides us all the opportunity to live our dreams.

Seven wacky world records you’ll never believe ©redbull

kilian-jornet-record-mckinley Image © 2014 Summits of My Life

kilian-jornet-record-mckinley Image © 2014 Summits of My Life

Great to see Kilian Jornet and Steve Birkinshaw listed in this Red Bull article, ‘Seven wacky world records you’ll never believe.’

Steve Birkinshaw

Mountain-running 36 vertical kilometres

Type: Distance Record
Who: Steve Birkinshaw
Where: England
Hazards: Bad weather, injury, exhaustion
Insanity level: 6
Status: Done

Listen Steve Birkinshaw talked about this on Talk Ultra, episode 65 HERE

The stats speak for themselves: 512km in distance, 36km straight up, 214 peaks. Running all the way. That’s the impossible challenge ultra runner Steve Birkinshaw set himself around a loop of England’s hill country, the Lake District…..

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Kilian Jornet

A lightning ascent of America’s highest mountain

Type: Speed climbing/skiing
Who: Kilian Jornet
Where: Denali, USA
Hazards: Cold, altitude, storms, exposure, avalanches
Insanity Level: 9
Status: Done

It’s impossible to write about records in the mountains without mentioning one man – Kilian Jornet. The Spanish mountain athlete has broken so many of them it’s difficult to know which one to select……

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

All content ©redbull.com

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Sierre-Zinal 2014 In-depth Race Preview

Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.

Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.

Just one mention of the name: Sierre-Zinal and the emotions stir in even the most experienced mountain runner. For over 40-years, the 31-km point-to-point course from Sierre to Zinal with a total elevation gain of 2200m and just 800m of descent has been the battle ground for some epic battles. In 2014 the tradition will continue and with it a new moment in history… I have a feeling that this year may well be a record year! It’s a bold statement. Jonathan Wyatt set the current male record of 2:29:12 in 2003 and the female record of 2:54:26 was set by the Queen of Sierre-Zinal; Anna Pichtrova (now Strakova) in 2008.

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The Sierre-Zinal course is unique in profile, starting low, the runners immediately go into a tough long climb that is followed by fast running with a slight drop to the line. It suits a rounded athlete; one who can climb with the best, keep pace with the fastest and then descend like a demon. Who’s your pick? On August 10th, 4000 runners will depart Sierre and head to the mountain arena that is Zinal. I for one can’t wait!

Who is going to win? 

Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com

He is on a roll and with current form I am going all out, laying it on the line and predicting Kilian Jornet with not only victory but a new course record (weather permitting.) The Catalan’s current form is arguably the best we have witnessed. His 2014 so far has illuminated the history books and leaves us all wondering… what will Kilian go on to achieve in his lifetime. His natural ability, humility and passion for the sport is endless and I for one feel very content that I am here to witness ‘The Kilian Years!’

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

Marco De Gasperi has been struggling with injury but when on form, Marco is one of the few runners to push Kilian and push him hard all the way to the line. In many respects, The Sierre-Zinal course may well suit Marco more? We saw this in 2011 when Marco pipped Kilian to the line in the 2nd fastest time ever seen on the course. In 2012, Marco returned and won once again. However, Kilian was not present. The showdown that awaits this year may well prove to be one of the eagerly anticipated editions of this iconic race.

Juan Carlos Cardona placed 2nd in 2013 and along with course record holder, Jono Wyatt one has to assume that the duo will be upfront, pushing the pace and looking to repeat 2013 performances.

Robbie Simpson, Chamonix 2013

Robbie Simpson, Chamonix 2013

Brit, Robbie Simpson had a breakthrough performance in 2014 and I for one sincerely hope that he can at least repeat or better his performance. His current form is very good and the opportunity to race against such a quality field is something that he will embrace.

Tom Owens Trofeo Kima 2012 ©iancorless.com

Tom Owens Trofeo Kima 2012 ©iancorless.com

Robbie will not have it all his own way though and I see Tom Owens moving up a level and following up his already impressive 2014 placing at the Transvulcania La Palma, Skyrunning World Championships and Ice Trail Tarentaise with a podium place in Zinal. Currently on a sabbatical from work, the time is right for Tom. Quality training and more importantly, quality rest. One to watch!

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Ionut Zinca is on form. He showed his class at Limone Extreme in 2013 and once again adorned the podium behind Kilian Jornet at the Dolomites Skyrace. On his day, Ionut is a definite podium contender.

Jo Gray from the USA is an ever present at Sierre-Zinal. His current form appears to be excellent and although he may not make the podium, a top-10 placing is a definite possibility.

Tofol Castanyer on his day needs 100% respect, particularly in a mountain race. His presence here will not only make his competitors make a mental note but also firmly place a target on his back as one to follow should he make a move.

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Aritz Egea goes from strength-to-strength and will be a fierce competitor with a top-10 placing guaranteed should he continue the form shown at Zegama-Aizkorri, Skyrunning World Championships and most recently at the Dolomites Skyrace. Aritz will be top-5 at the summit of the long climb but may slip back as the running becomes faster and flatter.

©iancorless.comIMG_7059Canazei2014

Zaid Ait Malek will be smiling. Guaranteed! Zaid broke onto the circuit in 2013 and like others has progressed into ‘hot’ on the trail, mountain and Skyrunning circuit. Without doubt top-10 potential and should he have a great day, top-5.

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols may very well upset the apple cart for everyone! The Sierre-Zinal course will suit him right down to the ground and will play into his hands; he loves mountain running on faster trails where he can unleash his speed. His recent top result at Speedgoat 50k bodes well!

©iancorless.comIMG_2843Canazei2014

Thorbjorn Ludvigsen goes from strength to strength not only in the VK distance but in the Sky distance. His ability and rounded running style will suit the Sierre-Zinal course and after 2 impressive runs in the Dolomites, we can expect Thor to push at the front of the race.

©iancorless.comIMG_2745Canazei2014

David Schneider heads up the competition from Switzerland and Cesar Costa will make them an unstoppable duo. David has recently become a Dad so he may be a little sleep deprived but his recent performance at the Dolomites Skyrace shows he has lost none of his speed.

Florian Reichert will be looking to transfer his fast marathon pace and VK ability to a course that plays into the German’s hands. Of all the Skyrunning courses, Sierre-Zinal on paper appears to be the perfect fit for Florian. His recent performance at the Skyrunning World Championships shows his form is good.

Ones to watch:

  • Fabio Bazzana
  • Dabid Garcia
  • Hector Haines
  • Saul Antonio Padua
  • Robert Krupicka
  • Nicolas Pianet
  • Julien Rancon

The elite line up has great depth. I am sure I have missed some possible top-10 contenders? You can view the list HERE

 

THE LADIES

©iancorless.com_IMG_2071Zegama14

Elisa Desco pipped Stevie Kremer to the top slot in 2013 and will be looking to do the same in 2014. Elisa recently beat Stevie at the Skyrunning World Championships and just this last weekend placed 1st at Fletta Trail. Elisa is going to be the one to beat!

©iancorless.com_IMG_0989Zegama14

Stevie Kremer has raced at Sierre-Zinal a couple of times now and hasn’t made the top slot. 2014 may well be the year that elevates her up a slot and she is crowned champion. In real terms, I wonder if this course has enough climbing? Certainly in the early stages, Stevie will be at the front of the field and may well lead the race. However, as the course flattens off and comes more runnable, Stevie looses some of her advantage. If I were Stevie, I’d run hard from the gun and open up a gap…

©iancorless.com_IMG_8267Zegama14

Kasie Enman is back! I have been continually impressed by the progression and story of Kasie. Now a mother of 2, Kasie is on the comeback trail after her 2nd child and her recent improvements in all her races can only mean that the American will be ‘one-to-watch’ on this course. Placing in the top-3 at Speedgoat 50k must have provided a real boost not only to her confidence but fitness. Now in Europe for an extended period, expect Kasie to create a stir.

©iancorless.comIMG_3081Canazei2014

VK specialist Laura Orgue turned the tables upside down at the recent Dolomites Skyrace relegating Emelie Forsberg to 2nd place. For sure, Laura will embrace the opening kilometres of the Sierre-Zinal route, as they are all uphill. However, as the course flattens one has to question will she be able to hold any advantage gained to the line.

©iancorless.comIMG_3218Canazei2014

Victoria Wilkinson created a stir at the Dolomites Skyrace and I am 100% convinced that she will make her presence felt here in Zinal. Like so many other Brits before her, Victoria is grounded in fell running and the technical skills and ability that style of running brings. The transition is often seamless as we have seen with Tom Owens, Andy Symonds and so many more… one to watch!

Stephanie Howe along with Kremer and Enman adds more US firepower to what is already a very strong line up! Sierre-Zinal may well be a little short for Steph, however, if she can transfer he ability from longer races to this fast mountain race, we may well see an upset. In 2014 alone, Steph has won Western States, Mesquite Canyon 50k and placed 2nd at Lake Sonoma 50.

Christel Dewalle is an ever present on the podium. Her ability of VK and SKY distance is second to none and the French lady will without doubt be contesting the top-5 and arguably the podium.

Aline Camboulive and Maud Mathys both return. Aline won the race in 2012 in 3:02:58 and Maud placed 3rd in 2012 and 2013. This year the competition is arguably a little stronger and more competitive. Add Celine Lafaye to the mix and if any of this dynamic trio makes the podium, they will have had a great race.

Ones to watch:

  • Tessa Hill
  • Leire Agirrezabala
  • Caroline Chaverot
  • Ana Conde
  • Helen Bonsor
  • Christy Mahon

Female Elite start list HERE

LINKS

Skyrunning HERE

Talk Ultra on Twitter HERE

Talk Ultra on Facebook HERE

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

Kilian Jornet at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

Kilian Jornet at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Emelie Forsberg at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

Emelie Forsberg at the Dolomites SkyRace 2014

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

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

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

Results HERE 

MALE

1 Kilian Jornet Salomon 3:12:36

2 Ionut Zinca Valetudo Skyrunning Italy 3:21:19

3 Thor Ludvigsen Salomon 3:21:44

4 Fabio Bazzana Salomon 3:22:26

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

 

FEMALE

1 Emelie Forsberg Salomon 4:06:25

2 Emanuela Brizio Valetudo Skyrunning Italy 4:12:56

3 Rampazzo Silvia Valetudo Skyrunning Italy 4:16:37

4 Deborah Benedetti AS Premana 4:33:22

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

Kilian Jornet sets new record in Alaska

Kilian Jornet

Breaking news from Alaska and the Summits of my Life team is that Kilian Jornet has set a new record in Alaska. A time of 11-hours and 40-minutes (tbc)

Nº6

2014: AMERICAN SUMMITS 

Mount McKinley, United States. 6.186 m

Denali is a symbol of exploration and adventure and we’ll be delving into the icy lands of Alaska to climb its frozen walls.

Image ©summitsofmylife ©kilianjornet

Image ©summitsofmylife ©kilianjornet

News from Alaska is sparse and we will update you as soon as we have any news. Kilian and the team are well and will return to Europe in the coming days.

Summits of my Life posted on Facebook:

Great news from Alaska!! Kilian has set a new record on the McKinley!! Huuuuge congrats Kilian!!!! The team is still out there for a few more days so there are no confirmed details. We’ll get you the full story as soon as they are back! Congrats again, Kilian, you are amazing!!

The previous record was set by Edward Warren HERE

Overview:

Ed Warren
Date:  21 May – 01 June 2013
Location: Denali National Park, Alaska
Overview:
On May 31st, 2013 Warren set the speed ascent and round-trip records on Denali. Climbing via the West Buttress, he ascended in 12 hours and 29 minutes and completed the round-trip effort in 16 hours and 46 minutes. In doing so, he beat the previous records which Chad Kellogg set in 2003.
Kilian’s time beats the record by just over 5-hours, however, we do need confirmation of the official time.
Info from ©wikipedia

Mount McKinley, [native name Denali (Koyukon Athabaskan for "The High One", Dghelaayce’e in Ahtna)] is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet (6,168 m) above sea level. At some 18,000 feet (5,500 m), the base-to-peak rise is considered the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level.[6] Measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominentpeak after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of US state of Alaska, McKinley is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The first European to document sighting the mountain was George Vancouver in 1794. In 1903, James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing McKinley, which was unsuccessful. In 1906, Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent, which was later proven to be false. The first verifiable ascent to McKinley’s summit was achieved on June 7, 1913 by climbers Hudson StuckHarry KarstensWalter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit. In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route and therefore the most popular currently in use.[7]

Follow Kilian Jornet HERE

Follow Summits of my Life HERE

 

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Volta Cerdanya Ultrafons 2014

Eugeni Roselló - VCUF 2013

The Tour Cerdanya; take paths linking the towns of the region or neighboring regions, it is a wonderful environment to explore and discover… it is one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe for its breadth and its sunshine. A place where athletes such as Kilian Jornet and Emma Roca have spent hours and hours running and discovering. It is a magnificent corner of the world that is surrounded by four peaks, Carlit Puigpedrós, Tossa Plana Lles and Puigmal; they dominate the plains.

The Volta Cerdanya Ultrafons consists of four key races:

214km

Perfil VCUF 2014 - rut

Data: 6th

Start: Puigcerdà

Distance: 214 km

Elevation: +10.000 m

Elevation: -10.000 m

 

87km

Perfil VCT 2014 - rut

Date: 7th

Start: Alp
 Arribada: Puigcerdà

Distance: 87,5 km

Elevation: +4.410 m

Elevation: -4.365 m

 

37km

Perfil CMC 2014 - rut

Date: 8th

Start: La Tor de Querol

Arrival: Puigcerdà

Distance: 37,6 km

Elevation: +2.095 m

Elevation: -2.160 m

 

13km

Perfil CPMC 2014 - rut

Data: 7th

Start: Bellver de Cerdanya

Arrival: Martinet

Distance: 12,8 km

Elevation: +530 m

Elevation: -617 m

Nuria Picas (Buff) has confirmed her participation in the Tour Cerdanya Trail (87 km race) this comes as a surprise after her withdrawal from Zegama-Aizkorri. However, Nuria must feel strong and will use this as preparation for the Skyrunning World Championships at the end of June.

Nuria

Nuria is one of the best mountain runners in the world and currently leads the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) after impressive wins at Transgrancanaria, UTMF and TNF100.

©iancorless.com.IMG_5698

Judith Franch (inov-8), along with Berta Moreno, Djanina Freytag and Xari Adrian are strong candidates to become the new champions this weekend in Catalonia Cerdanya.

Who else should we watch out for?

VCUF 

  • Eugeni Roselló winner of The Spine in the UK will be a strong contender
  • Eduardo Perez
  • Ganuza, David Vallverdu
  • Olga Manko

VCT

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1170664

Almost all Spanish/Catalan, but great names indeed:

  • Jordi “Toti” Bes (Esports Nabes team)
  • Gerard “Blacky” Morales (Buff),
  • Pau Bartoló (Buff)

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1170586

  • Arnau Julià (Buff) is not sure if he’ll run 87K or 37K.
  • Karim El Hayani (from Morocco, runs in sandals and was fourth a few weeks ago in a Spanish Cup race),
  • Berta Moreno,
  • Isaac Torija,
  • Ignasi Vilà
  • And two Tarahumara Indians from Mexico: Silvino Cuberas and Arnulfo Quimare.

CMC

  • Emma Roca is the best known here and hot favourite.
  • Kilian Jornet used to run this distance but he’s attempting Denali (McKinley) as part of his Summits project.
  • Pau Zamora (Buff),
  • Marc Pinsach
  • Diego Marin

CPMC 

Pablo Vigil!

P in CPMC is for “popular” so there are no elite runners (apart from Pablo, of course!), some famous TV presenters, writers, doctors and so… More than 200 people take part making VCUF a big event.

The Region

The Catalan Cerdanya region is an area of natural beauty that has unique traits such as, terrain, climate and history that give a very particular character. Cerdanya is one of the widest valleys of Europe, with a minimum altitude of 1000 feet). Cerdanya’s east-west orientation provides around about 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The mountain range consists of the Sierra del Cadi (western half) of the Sierra Moixerò and others as eastern most massifs Tossa d’Alp and Puigllançada, and the bulk of Pedraforca as Berguedá. The diversity and beauty is very clear: from the pure features of the Mediterranean to alpine levels. The area has sub-Mediterranean forests, beech forests, boreal forests of pine and sub-alpine coniferous forests, with pine and fir. The vegetation of the park is considered of special interest, because of the low temperatures and high humidity in the area and its altitude contributed to the existence of species that are not typical of the Mediterranean area, but in northern Europe and the European high mountains. Cerdanya is a great place to enjoy sport in a unique environment that offers a wide range of possibilities for any kind; mountain bike, trails, Nordic skiing, skiing, golf, horse riding, fishing, mountaineering, climbing, snowshoeing … the region has endless possibilities.

 

Website http://www.ultrafons.com

 

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 – Race Day Images

©iancorless.com_IMG_1255Zegama14

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

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

©iancorless.com_IMG_2026Zegama14

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

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

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 In-Depth Race Preview

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

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

Zegama Map iancorless.com

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

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

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

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

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

Tech specs:

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

Date: 25th of May, 2014

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

Total length: 42.195 km.

Control points: 14
Refreshment points: 13

Flying sprint: Aizkorri (22.58 km)

Accumulated height gain: 5.472 meters

Maximum altitude: 1.551m Aitxuri

Minimum altitude: 296m Zegama.

Technical percentage of course: 70% approx.

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

Time limit: 8 hours.

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

 

MEN

Kilian Jornet, Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet, Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Luis Alberto Hernando Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Kilian Jornet Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Marco De Gasperi Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Marco De Gasperi Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Tom Owens Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Tom Owens Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

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

Tadei Pivk Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Tadei Pivk Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Zaid Ait Malek Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Zaid Ait Malek Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Pablo Villa Transvulcania 2014  ©iancorless.com

Pablo Villa Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

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

Oli Johnson inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Oli Johnson inov-8 ©iancorless.com

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

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

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

Martin Gaffuri Transvulcania Half Marathon ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri Transvulcania Half Marathon ©iancorless.com

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

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

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

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

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

LADIES

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

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

Nuria Picas Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Emelie Forsberg Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

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

Maite Maiora Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Maite Maiora Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

Elisa Desco Transvulcania VK ©iancorless.com

Elisa Desco Transvulcania VK ©iancorless.com

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

Uxue Fraile Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Uxue Fraile Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

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

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

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

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

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

YOU CAN CHECK THE FULL LIST HERE

Trail Magazin, Germany 2013