Race Report – The North Face Transgrancanaria 2014

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

“The Canary Islands Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing announces Ryan Sandes as winner of The North Face Transgrancanaria 2014. The arguments explained by the South African runner has been accepted by the arbitral team and the disqualification has been corrected.”

Excitement on the trails almost faded into insignificance on the morning of Sunday Mar 2nd as a press release was released claiming that Julien Chorier would be crowned 2014 Transgrancanaria champion and that Ryan Sandes would be disqualified for a failure to comply with mandatory kit as specified in the race rules.

A couple of hours of frantic activity followed and eventually a resolution found! The incidence arose due to a misunderstanding in regard to a space blanket, which was translated into the word, ‘cover’ by the local race official. Ryan understood cover to mean jacket and produced the item from his pack. The official noted this as a noncompliance of race rules and of course the rest is now history. Discussions will go on in regard to this situation, certainly, errors were made. A simple discussion with Ryan and officials prior to any statement would most certainly have been preferable in contrast to the media frenzy that preceded the awards ceremony.

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ultimately, Ryan was crowned champion and Timothy Olson summed up everyone’s sentiment post the decision, ‘I’m really pleased to hear this. Great decision. Ryan is a great athlete and true professional. He’s a great ambassador.’

The Race

Transgrancanaria 2014 ©iancorless.com

Transgrancanaria 2014 ©iancorless.com

The 2014 Transgrancanaria was always going to be a great race, tough 125km technical course with vertical gain and loss to make the most seasoned trail runner squirm in pain. Add to the course a top-quality men’s and ladies field and we had the makings of a classic.

Pre race we had a couple of notable drops from the line-up, Nathalie Mauclair was expected to be a real presence in the ladies race but she decided her form was not where she needed it to be. Julia Bottger also dropped with a niggling leg injury. In the men’s race, Jez Bragg withdrew before making the journey to Gran Canaria due to a cold, in contrast, Jez’s TNF teammate, Mike Wolfe arrived in Gran Canaria only to come down with flu like symptoms in the days before the race. Miguel Heras’s injury problems continued and he too unfortunately didn’t make the race

Starting at midnight in Agaete, runners would endure tough, technical terrain and relentless climbing before arriving at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas in an expected winning time of 14-hours. At the toll of midnight, runners disappeared into the night. Conditions in comparison to the 2013 edition of the race were good; light rain, some mist and blustery winds caused little problems. Ryan Sandes and Sebastien Chaigneau ran smart races in the early stages allowing time to get in the flow. Ryan in particular showed incredible maturity and patience and gave a master class in how to work your way up through the field and finish in the top slot. For nearly half of the race, Ryan was just on the edges of the top-10, British runner Casey Morgan said post race, ‘He really knew what he was doing and he looked so relaxed and calm. For sure, he was running within himself and I was just waiting for him to take off.’ Take off he did, just after the 70km mark Ryan was lying in 4th-place and in contrast to the 3 –runners in front of him, he looked relaxed and on a mission. Moving up in to 3rd and then 2nd, Ryan finally took the lead with just under 20km to go. Pushing from the front, Ryan couldn’t be complacent… Julien Chorier and Timothy Olson were pursuing. At the line, Ryan had opened up a 9-minute margin confirming that not only is he one of the best ultra distance runners in the world but also that patience is a precious commodity in any race.

Sebastien Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau had looked like a potential winner early in the race. He was the defending champion after all and he knows the trails well. Like Ryan, Seb had paced himself well early in the race and then took over the lead. Running relaxed but with focus, Seb traded blows with Arnaud Julia (Buff) and local runner, Yeray Duran (Yeray placed 5th at CCC in 2013) was arguably a revelation and surprise of the day, despite his 3rd place at the 2013 edition of Transgrancanaria, against such strong competition in 2014, I personally thought he would finish lower down the top-10.

However, Seb dropped with dehydration and Arnaud dropped having run too hard in the early stages of the race. This allowed the two main protagonists and pre race favourites, Julien Chorier and Timothy Olson to take control of the race.

Arnaud Julia Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

 Timothy ran a smart race and respected the terrain and the competition. Taking over the lead at just over halfway, Timothy battled with Julien until Ryan passed them both. Post race, Timothy was very happy with his race, ‘It beat me up; I like that, that’s why I do them. It was a beautiful and technical course. It’s a race I will do it again’.

Timothy Olson Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier impressed me at the 2013 Ronda dels Cims and without doubt was a potential favourite for the top title here on the island of Gran Canaria. Meticulous in preparation, Julien would bring a clever strategy to the race and having run the whole race in or around the top-5, one just wondered ‘when’ he would make his move. With Timothy out in front, the stage had looked set for an American win, however, a charging Ryan Sandes changed that and when Timothy faltered in the latter stage, Julien pounced to take 2nd place just 2.5mins ahead of the American.

Julien Chorier Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

It was Ryan Sandes day. After a troubled 2013, 2014 is certainly looking to be a great year for the South African. In just two weeks he will attempt an FKT in South Africa and then attention will focus on the Holy Grail of ultra; Western States.

Nuria Picas & Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas & Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

*Notable mention to Brit, Casey Morgan who ran an incredible race for 10th overall

Ladies

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas came into Transgrancanaria as a pre race favourite and the Catalan did not disappoint. Starting slowly over the first 10km she took the lead ahead of Francesca Canepa and then never looked back. Pre race Nuria had said how important it would be to have reserves for the latter stages; however, Nuria didn’t need to worry. Her consistency of effort was superb. Without doubt, Nuria’s 2nd place at the 2013 TNFUTMB has provided incredible confidence in how to run long and technical trail.

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

With Nathalie Mauclair and Julia Bottger out of the race, in reality, 2nd place and 3rd place was always going to be a battle between Francesca Canepa and Fernanda Maciel.

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda looked to have 2nd place sewn up and post race, she told me, ‘I was told I had a 30-45 minute lead over Francesca and I think I became a little complacent. In the latter stages of the race the terrain became easier and more runnable which played into Francesca’s hands. We arrived at the last feed station together and Francesca didn’t stop.’

Needing to eat and hydrate may very well have cost Fernanda 2nd on the podium, we will never know, certainly missing the last feed was not an option!

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©Iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©Iancorless.com

Francesca had an incredible 2013 dominating long distance racing, however, she found the trail on Gran Canaria a little too technical for her style of running. For much of the day she ran in 3rd place but in the latter stages, Francesca found some extra energy, closed the gap on Fernanda and managed to take 2nd place by just under 3-minutes.

Attention will now turn to UTMF in Japan; many of the runners at Transgrancanaria will be present to do battle once again on very different terrain. I wonder, who will come out on top?

RESULTS

Ryan Sandes Salomon/Red Bull : 14:27:42

Julien Chorier  Hoka One One/ Compressport “14:36:28

Timothy Olson The North Face : 14:39:03

Yeray Duran : 15:06:54

Antoine Guillon WAA : 15:17:30

Sondre Amdahl : 15:28:35

Javier Dominguez Vibram : 15:46:06

Cyril Cointre WAA : 15:47:08

Dylan Bowman Peral Izumi : 15:59:13

Casey Morgan Salomon 16:00:31

Nuria Picas Buff : 16:44:55

Francesca Canepa Montura : 17:29:18

Fernanda Maciel 17:31:57

Ildko Wermescher Mammut :18:50:45

Uxue Fraile Vibram 19:21:00

Nerea Martinez Salomon 19:21:00

Magdalena Ostrowska-Dolegowska : 20:27:02

Ester Alves : 23:03:10

Laureda Tirepied : 23:10:44

Helen Allison : 23:40:48

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® race day images

Ryan Sandes and Nuria Picas were crowned 2014 champions of the The North Face® Transgrancanaria®

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) won the 2014 edition in 14 hours and 27 minutes  covering a total distance of 125km. Julien Chorier (Hoka One One/ Compressport) and the current two-time champion of the Western States 100; Timothy Olson (The Noth Face), came second and third with respectively.

Núria Picas (Buff), excelled amongst the female competition with a time of 16 hours and 44 minutes, followed by the Italian  Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) with 17 hours and 29 minutes and Fernanda Maciel (The North Face) came third just two minutes later.

A detailed race report will follow.

IMAGES of an exciting day of action:

All images ©iancorless.com : all rights reserved

The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2014 pre race and press conference images

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Tension builds ahead of the 2014 The North Face® Transgrancanaria with runners arriving from all over the world to take part in the second race of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour).

You can read an in depth race preview HERE

Important news from the last couple of days are key withdrawals from the ladies race; firstly Julia Bottger has decided that recent racing and training stress has left a niggling leg injury a disaster waiting to happen and so therefore has made the wise and cautious decision not to start. Nathalie Mauclair was without doubt a potential winner of this years race and unfortunately she too has withdrawn  saying that she too has a niggling leg injury and that she doesn’t feel ready.

In the men’s race, Miguel Heras once again has picked up an injury in the build up to the race and his problematic injury issues continue. Will he be ready for Marathon des Sables?

The 125km The North Face® Transgrancanaria  starts at midnight on Friday and images and updates will be provided on this website, Talk Ultra Facebook and @talkultra on Twitter as and when possible.

Thursday evening saw a presentation of some of the key athletes in this years race.

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

 

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® 2014 Preview

Transgrancanaria2

The 2014 Transgrancanaria is just over a week away and for the first time the race will be part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) and the newly formed Spanish Ultra Cup.

Arguably the five races that make up the Transgrancanaria weekend (Transgrancanaria  (125 kilometers), Advanced (82), Marathon (44), Starter (30) and Promo (17.4). Promo aims to gain the attention of new runners to participate in ultra trail races.) Will see some of the first big showdowns, certainly at an elite level, of 2014.

The level of competition assembled for the main event, the 125km Transgrancanaria is extremely impressive. Starting in Agaete runners will endure some tough and technical terrain to arrive at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas.

This race will provide us with a great insight into some of the early season form of some of the best in the world! So, who is racing?

MEN

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau (The North Face) returns to defend his 2013 crown and after also being victorious at Hardrock 100 in the same year he will most definitely have a target on his back as ‘one-to-watch’. Hardrock certainly took plenty of energy out of Seb, when he attempted TNFUTMB just weeks later he dropped early saying he had nothing left. I am sure he will be focused and ready to take the Transgrancanaria on with 100% commitment.

Scott Jurek ©iancorless.com

Scott Jurek ©iancorless.com

Scott Jurek (Brooks) paced Seb Chaigneau at Hardrock 100 and it’s great to see that this legend of ultra running will toe the line for his first ever race in Spain. Scott needs no introduction. He has been quiet in recent years with writing his book and promotion, however, he recently returned to Leadville to race over the 100-mile distance and on a recent trip to the UK he told me, his years of competitive running are coming to a close but he still has some objectives and bucket list races he wants to tick off! European racing is very different to western States, Badwater and Spartathlon, however, Scott loves a challenge and I for one am going to be really interested to see how he stacks up against sold competition. Listen to Scott Jurek on Talk Ultra HERE

Timothy Olson ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson (The North Face) had a great 2013 and he understands European racing and courses. His experiences at Transvulcania La Palma and TNFUTMB will put him in a great place to not only understand the demands that the Transgrancanaria course will bring but also how to race it. This is still early season for Timothy and although I am sure he will be fit and raring to go, I don’t expect him to be at 100%. He has been putting in the training and regular runs up Mount Wilson will put him in a great place. Just the other day Timothy did 5k of vertical in 7-miles in 1:19:30 and then followed this with 24-miles and more vertical. Like Seb Chaigneau, Timothy has a date at Hardrock 100 later this year and I am sure his focus and emphasis will be placed on the big showdown. His recent 8th place at Sean O’Brien 50-mile (an hour slower than Dylan Bowman) shows that Timothy is biding his time and easing his way into 2014. Listen to Timothy Olson on Talk Ultra HERE

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) had a troubled 2013, ironically, I remember discussing his 2013 plans in Gran Canaria this time last year. At the time he chose to step down from the 125km race and run the 82km Advanced race, which he won. However, things did not go well afterwards, he got injured ahead of Western States which forced him to miss out and improve on his second place of 2012 and then later in the year he arrived at Leadville looking in fine form. Unfortunately midway through the race things took a bad turn forcing him to drop with back problems. Ryan did win Patagonian International Marathon 63km and place 9th at San Francisco 50 in December. So, with batteries recharged and plenty of running in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa, Ryan I am sure will be looking for a solid start to the year so that he can build and look ahead to a potential overall victory at Western States. Listen Ryan Sandes on Talk Ultra HERE

Dylan Bowman ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi) was all ready to go at TNFUTMB in 2013 but his plans flew out of the window with an unfortunate slip in training in the days leading up to the big race. Recovery was paramount in the second half of 2013 but Dylan looked objectively from the outside and turned this period into an opportunity to grow. Taking on a new run coach Dylan has progressed and for sure will be looking to make an impact in Europe during 2014 with a whole series of top races lined up against high quality fields. Gaining 5th place at San Francisco 50 behind a speedy and in form Rob Krar was a great sign and his recent victory at the Sean O’Brien 50-mile in 6:23:17 ahead of Mike Aish and Mike Wolfe bodes really well for his current form and his chances on the island of Gran Canaria. Listen to Dylan Bowman on Talk Ultra HERE

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) gave a master class of distance running at the Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims in 2013. Not only did he break the course record but each and every step of the way he looked calm, collected and in control. Following this up, Julien raced at TNFUTMB and I have to say based on his Ronda performance I tipped him as a hot favourite. However in the race he was fighting the sleep demons, despite this he still paced highly. He is meticulous in preparation and leaves nothing to chance. A previous winner of Hardrock 100, Julien will also return in 2014 what is already looking like a highlight’ race of 2014. A recent move from Salomon to Hoka One One is very interesting and I am really keen to see how Julien’s form is this early in the year.

Jez Bragg ©iancorless.com

Jez Bragg ©iancorless.com

Jez Bragg (The North Face) returned to main stream racing at the 2013 TNFUTMB having devoted pretty much the previous 12-months to his Te Araroa expedition. An expedition that he always knew would deplete him in ways he had never been depleted before. His 10th place (male) and 11th place overall was a rewarding run and most certainly confirmed that Jez was back. His recent performance and top-10 placing at HK100 again confirms that Jez will be going into 2014 with a full race schedule planned out and highlight being Western States 100. Transgrancanaria will provide a course that will suit Jez’s style of running; expect him to start steady and move his way up as the distance progresses. Listen Jez Bragg after Te Araroa HERE

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©iancorless.com

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©iancorless.com

Mike Wolfe (The North Face) placed 3rd at the recent Sean O’Brien 50-miler; a great sign. Mike would be the first to admit that he has had a troubled time since the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma. He struggled to find form but his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner in 2013 put Mike back on track. A slight blimp was trying to run TNFUTMB too quickly after the JMT but Mike had the sense to drop early and avoid causing any injuries and his decision was confirmed with a 6th place at San Francisco 50 in December. Mike always races hard and loves to perform, definitely one to watch! Listen to Mike Wolfe on Talk Ultra HERE

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb (Altra) took out the win at Run Rabbit Run in 2013 and in addition to a win at Pocatello 50 had top-3 places at Speedgoat 50, San Juan Solstice 50 and Leona Divide. The Transgrancanaria course is somewhat different to the above but Jason has great speed and endurance that will hopefully work well on this testing 125km course.

Miguel Heras ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras (Salomon) heads up the ‘local’ talent and like many of the above names has struggled with injury in recent years. Miguel’s 2nd place at TNFUTMB was a great moment for the fans but more importantly, Miguel. He needed that result. He followed this with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Cavalls del Vent. Looking back at ‘13’ one could say Miguel didn’t race many times, however, he did have 6-victories, a 2nd place and a 3rd. not bad eh! If Miguel is in top form, he is a potential winner of the 125km race; no doubt!

The quality of the men’s field really is quite impressive and in no particular order here are the other names to watch…

  • Arnaud Julia – 2nd at Transgrancanaria in 2009 & 2010 but more importantly the winner of the 2013 TDS.
  • Jorge Maravilla – recent win at Bandera 100k in 8:02:27 shows current great form.
  • Antoine Guillon – 8th at TNFUTMB in 2011 and 2nd at TDS in 2013.
  • Casey Morgan – top Brit mountain/ fell runner.
  • Christophe Le Saux – 16th at Transgrancanaria in 2013 and recent top placing at HK100.
  • Cyril Cointre – 8th at Transgrancanaria in 2013, 9th at UTMF 2013 and 11th recently at HK100.
  • Fulvio Dapit – 4th at Ice Trail Tarentaise in 2013.
  • Pascal Blanc – 3rd at Diagonale des Fous 2013 and 13th at HK100 in 2014.

LADIES

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) triumphant after a stunning win at HK100 in January must arrive in Gran Canaria as a hot favourite. At 125km it is probably till just a little too short for this long distance specialist, however, it has plenty of climbing and technical terrain, this will suit Francesca down to the ground. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this stunning lady… she never stops to amaze me! Her racing calendar is brutal and her powers of recovery are miraculous. Francesca’s victories at Ronda dels Cims, Eiger Ultra Trail and Tor des Geants in 2013 were stand out results, however, these results were interspersed with top results at Ice Trail Tarentaise, UROC, Speedgoat 50 and so on. Needless to say, Francesca is a hot tip! Listen to Francesca Canepa after Ronda dels Cims on Talk Ultra HERE

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair (Endurance 72) burst onto the ultra running scene at Transvulcania La Palma in 2013 with 4th place and never stopped. She became IAU World Trail Champion, won TDS and then crowned out an incredible year with victory at Diagonale des Fous. Nathalie’s combination of speed and endurance is a lethal combination and every lady at Transgrancanaria should most definitely place a target on this ladies back.

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas (Buff) has performed at the highest level in Skyrunning for years, her 2012 was a master class in mountain running. A change of tack in 2013 saw Nuria prepare meticulously for TNFUTMB (her first 100-miler) and this paid off with 2nd overall behind a storming Rory Bosio. Following TNFUTMB with repeat victories at Cavalls del Vent and Courses des Templiers showed that despite running long, Nuria did not loose speed. Meticulous in training and racing, Nuria will have her ‘A’ game in Gran Canaria and will need utmost respect from the female competition.

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) recently raced at HK100 and placed 5th overall; shows she has early season form. Like Francesca Canepa, Nerea loves long and tough races. One glimpse at her 2013 result sheet confirms this, her 2nd at Tor des Geants was a standout performance, however, in addition to this Nerea had 4-victories. One of which was the outright win at the 2013 Transgrancanaria. Amongst this level of competition I don’t see Nerea regaining the top slot but she will be pushing and looking for one of the ladies above to falter.

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel (The North face) always has a busy calendar; her recent victory at the Everest Trail Race will without doubt put her in a great place for this race. All that climbing at altitude has to be a great boost. Fernanda’s stumbling block will be speed, particularly in comparison to Nuria and Nathalie. Listen to Fernanda in Episode 48 of Talk Ultra HERE

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger (Salomon) has just returned from 2nd overall at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and is currently in Gran Canaria for a training camp. Like Nerea and Francesca, Julia loves tough, long and technical courses. A consistent performer at Diagonale des Fous and Tor des Geants, Julia’s climbing and endurance will be a great advantage over this 125km course. Listen to Julia Bottger on Talk Ultra HERE

Uxue Fraile (Adidas Trail Running) has had a great couple of years placing 5th at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 and then returning in 2013 to place 3rd. In addition, Uxue placed 5th at the 2012 Cavalls del Vent and then returned in 2013 to place 2nd overall behind Nuria Picas. Maybe not an out and out favourite for Transgrancanaria but on her day, she has the potential to pull something special out of the bag and place top-3.

One to watch:

Karine Sanson – 6th at Transvulcania La Palma 2013 and 8th at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

As you can see, the 125km Transgrancanaria is without doubt going to be a very exciting race. However, a race within a race will be contested with points up for grabs for the Spanish Ultra Cup.

Follow the race on facebook.com/talkultra and on twitter @talkultra

Pre race interviews, images and writing will be uploaded to this website (www.iancorless.com) in advance of, during and post the race.

An addition, we must also remember the other races that will take place over the weekend. Last year the 82km Advanced race had a great battle with Ryan Sandes and Philipp Reiter. Philipp returns this year looking to move up one step! He will have some great competition from Zaid Ait Malek.

Here are the Advanced participants:

National:

  • Chelis Valle Gallego
  • David Mundina Gil
  • Felipe Artigue
  • Gaizka Barañano Urquijo
  • Gerard Morales Ramírez
  • Juan Antonio Ruiz García (Juanan)
  • Juan María Jimenez Llorens
  • Pau Bartoló Roca
  • Pedro Bianco
  • Vicente Parra
  • Zaid Ait Malek
  • Ana Bustamante
  • Djanina Freitag
  • Elena Calvillo
  • Judit Franch Pons
  • Leire Aguirrezabala.
  • Lucía Pasamar Marquez

International:

  • Philip Reiter
  • Tim Ellis

Canary:

  • Cristofer Clemente Mora
  • Dani Santana García
  • Evaristo Almeida
  • Jesús Falcón Macías
  • Jose David Lutzardo Barroso
  • Jose israel Fernández Cáceres.
  • Jose Manuel León Medina
  • Francisco rodríguez Martín
  • Miguel Espino
  • Mari Carmen García Santana.
  • Yurena Castrillo Simón

Participants in the Marathon distance are as follows:

International:

  • Michael Kabicher
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Lúcia Franco
  • Marie Sammons
  • Nina Ingvarsson

National:

  • Zigor Iturrieta
  • Nuria Domínguez
  • Silvia Sos
  • Sonia Escuriola

Canary:

  • Dario Dorta
  • David reyes Lorenzo
  • Franscisco Rodríguez de Paz
  • Majid Belouati
  • Óliver Perera
  • Samuel Ortega Hernández
  • Leticia Rodríguez Navarro
  • Sandra Moreno Santiago
  • Yaiza Herrera

La Course des Templiers – 2013

Nuria Picas Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

Millau, Southern France. The iconic ‘La Course des Templier’ has often been regarded as the Holy Grail of Trail in France. Salomon athlete and Brit, Andy Symonds won the race a couple of years ago and it made him a household name. Of course living in France and speaking the lingo did help.

The Great Race of the Knights Templar was founded in 1995 with a humanitarian purpose. To financially support an orphanage in Chad

Sighting the Leadville Trail 100 miler in the US as an influence, Odile and Gilles Bertrand decided to embark on this adventure in March 1995. The project was launched and a date was selected, the last Sunday of October.

But the format of 100 miles as at the Leadville race was considered too long and Odile and Bertrand decided to offer a more appealing distance of 65 km.

In October 1995 before the fortress of St. Eulalie de Cernon 500 runners assembled and the first edition was undertaken. La Course des Templiers gave birth to trail running in France. This first edition of Templiers was won by Patrick Fox and Corinne Favre.

Race start 2012 ©iancorless.com

Race start 2012 ©iancorless.com

THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS

. Distance: 72 km – altitude: 3200 m +
. Departure: 5:15 (note time change), Millau, Millau Plage road (attention, 1h 20 ‘night in the morning) and arrive in Millau, Millau Beach Road 1.2 km from city center
. 4 stations (Peyreleau, St André de Vézines, Pierrefiche, The Cade)
. Registration limited to 2500 runners

A weekend of racing – Festival de l’Endurance

The Templiers race is part of the Festival de l’Endurance. The main event takes place on Sunday, the Grande Course – THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS is steep and rocky, so steep that the race organisers place ropes in many areas so that runners can ease their way through rough spots without falling.

To add to that magical ambiance, it helps to know that Nant was one of many points in a network of secret trails built by the Knights Templar, the monastic, international military order formed at the end of the First Crusade with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar, known for their architectural skills and fighting alongside Richard I were the first warrior monks and were prevalent in that part of France until their downfall in 1307.

The race route uses the secret paths of the Templars which ncludes two long tunnels that had been used as shortcuts to beat enemies to strategic locations. The region has become a popular tourist attraction primarily due to the success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

2013 RACE

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB

The 2012 edition of the race concluded the Skyrunner World Series but not this year! However, a quality field is assembled. Miguel Heras (Salomon) just missed out on the win last year so he will be looking for the top of the podium. However, he will have a re match with TNFUTMB winner, Xavier Thevenard (Asics). Thomas Lorblanchet, teammate of Xavier will also return, he has won this race several times before and without doubt be at the front of the race. Julien Rancon will be looking to repeat his victory but Michel Lanne may well be the favourite, he had some time way from the sport with a new baby and an injury but he is back.

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

The ladies race has the return of Nuria Picas (Buff) Nuria dominated the race last year ahead of Emelie Forsberg and Lizzy Hawker. Nuria has gone from strength to strength and after placing second at TNFUTMB and then shortly afterwards winning Cavalls delVent once again, she is for me, the outright favourite for the ladies race. Julia Bottger (Salomon) will also participate, however, I can’t help but feel it will be a little too short for her.

Nuria Picas winning Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas winning Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

The main event takes place on Sunday.

You can see images from the 2012 race HERE

Cavalls del Vent 2013 – Race Preview

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The 2012 edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent turned out to be a classic race. It’s inclusion on the ISF Skyrunner World Series attracted a stellar field and fans around the world of true mountain running had a stunning display from the men’s and ladies races.

Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka and Dakota Jones inspired with stunning performances and the ladies race proved to be a thriller, with arguably the three best mountain runners in the world going head-to-head for the Ultra Cavalls del Vent crown. At the line it was local girl, Nuria Picas who took the crown from a charging Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg.

However, the event was marred with bad weather and unfortunately the loss of life. Teresa Farriol who had placed 14th lady in the 2011 event unfortunately came into difficulty during the night and although she received expert medical help, she passed away.

Our sport should be challenging and we all acknowledge accidents happen. Needless to say the mood after the 2012 race was subdued but safety has always been and always will be paramount at the Ultra Cavalls del Vent.

Article on the 2012 event HERE

Anton Krupicka race report HERE

The Race

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Now in its fifth edition, the UCdV will once again attract top mountain runners to participate in an ultra endurance mountain race crossing the mythical trek in the Cadi Moixero National Park. The route is 100km long and has a total elevation gain of 6668m, the highest point of the course coming at approximately 14km at Niu de L’Aliga (2400m). The course takes in eight huts and starts and ends in the quiet town of Baga. In comparison to previous editions, the route has been extended from 84km to 100km and the cut off time has also been extended to 28 hours.

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Potential Winners

One thing is for sure the 2013 edition of the race has nowhere near the stacked field of 2012. But what may be missing in depth is compensated for with quality, particularly in the men’s field. The ladies have a couple of stand out names and although not confirmed yet, Nuria Picas did say that she would return for her ‘home’ race.

Men

Tofol Castanyer, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Tofol Castanyer, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Tofol Castanyer has raced at Cavalls del Vent before, he placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 8:42 (for 84k) and in 2013 he unfortunately had to drop with hypothermia. So far, 2013 has been mixed with some injury issues and stomach problems in one or two races, however, his recent form at Transalpine should ring alarm bells for all his completion. Without doubt a hot favourite for the win.

Luis Alberto Hernando, Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando, Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando is a class act and 2013 has seen him move up the distances in a long-term bid to race at TNFUTMB. He has repeatedly played second fiddle to Kilian Jornet and has been one of only a small handful to really push the Catalan to the line.  He was seconds behind at Zegama-Aizkorri, finished joint first at Trans D’Havet and once again, just finished a minute or so in arrears at Matterhorn Ultraks. Luis can win Cavalls del Vent, no doubt.

Zigor Iturrieta, Trans D'Havet ©iancorless.com

Zigor Iturrieta, Trans D’Havet ©iancorless.com

Zigor Iturrieta like Tofol raced in 2011 and placed 5th overall. He has the potential for a strong performance here; the terrain and distance suit him. However, he has already raced a lot in 2013 and one has to wonder how fresh he will be.

Jordi Bes will be racing on home soil. He recently won the CCC and must come to Cavalls with high hopes of a podium finish. He knows the area well and placed 9th at the 2011 edition. One-to-watch for sure.

Gerard Morales Ramirez placed 10th and the 2011 edition and last year, in a much higher quality field placed 8th. He will come with high hopes of hopefully moving into the top five and if all things go well, maybe even a podium slot.

Felipe Artigue Rodriguez is a runner I know little about, however, he placed 10th overall at the 2012 edition of Cavalls del Vent at the knowledge will be extremely useful for 2013. I don’t see him as a contender for the podium but I am sure he hopes to improve on his overall placing.

Terry Conway (2nd place) Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Terry Conway (2nd place) Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, Terry Conway from the UK raced at Cavalls del Vent and was a victim of the bad weather. Since then, Terry has struggled with below par performances at Ronda dels Cims and the Lakeland 100. He didn’t finish either event. He recently secured a top fifty place at TNFUTMB and this will be a great boost for him. Providing he is fresh and recovered from TNFUTMB, he has all the potential of a good run and make the top ten.

Other names to watch out for: Carlos Santasusana Bayona and Pau Bartola Roca.

Cavalls del Vent 2012 ©iancorless.com

Cavalls del Vent 2012 ©iancorless.com

Ladies

Nuria Picas, Cavalls del Vent  ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas is not on the start list so I am going here from conversations with her post TNFUTMB. She confirmed for me that if her recovery was good, she would line up at her ‘home’ race and run. If she does, she is the outright favourite for the race win, even with a tough 100-miles in her legs from her circular tour of Mont Blanc and 2nd place!. Nuria is a class act, her 10:34 from the 2012 edition of the race smashed the previous course record and when you consider her consistency over all distances, not many ladies beat her. This year over the 80km distance and less she has consistently placed second to Emelie Forsberg, however, that will have no impact here!

Placing 6th at Cavalls del Vent in 2012, Laia Andreu Trias is the next lady with top billing. In 2013, she has won several races; La Vall de Nuria, Vertical Sobrepuny, Curse de Muntanya Sotabranques and Curs Mossos d’Esquadra, so, she has form. Should Nuria not run, Laia is a potential winner and for sure, a hot possibility for a podium place.

Teresa Nimes Peres has potential to make the top 10 and if she has a good day, she will be pushing for the top five and maybe even the podium. In 2013 she placed 8th at Trans D’Havet and in 2012 Teresa was 15th at La Grande Course des Templiers, 11th at Cavalls del Vent, 19th at TNFUTMB and 9th at Transvulcania.

Christina (Tina) Bes is a ski mountaineer and has a list of palmares the length of my arm. However, her ability as a runner in the mountains is relatively unknown to me. One thing I have learnt though is that a quality Ski Mountaineer very often makes a great mountain runner! A dark horse?

Finally, Natercia Martins Silvestre placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees in 2012 and was 2nd at Ultra Trail das Aldeias do Xisto. In 2013 she had a win at the Trail de Perialara 80km, so, she has form. It will be interesting to see what she can do in the Cadi Moixero National Park.

I am absolutely sure that the 2013 edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent will be an exciting race with many surprises. For sure, the addition of 16km will make a big difference to the final outcome.

If you’d like to follow the race, go HERE

 

 

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2013 – Ladies Preview

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

It was always going to be touch and go… unfortunately, it is go. Lizzy Hawker has struggled with injury for much of 2013 and despite running at Sierre-Zinal recently, Lizzy has been forced to withdraw from the 2013 TNF UTMB with another stress fracture. Of course, this is devastating news for Lizzy and the race. Lizzy is the Queen of UTMB and we want her here, not only so that she can chase the course record she so desires but also to allow the other ladies to race the best.

Another main contender for the overall, Emelie Lecomte has been forced to withdraw due to injury. Emelie is a strong performer over the long races and a lovely person. I for one am disappointed not to see her toe the line. She placed on the podium at Ronda dels Cims earlier this year but has struggled ever since.

So, who are the ladies to watch? 

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Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) was 2nd in 2012 and then just one week later turned up at Tor des Geants and won! Without doubt, a remarkable double. Francesca likes long, tough and hard races. For sure, a shortened TNF UTMB as it was in 2012 in theory, would normally not suit her yet she still placed 2nd. That has to be a worry of all those that will line up against her on Friday. This year she has raced and raced. A very impressive and dominant win at Ronda dels Cims is probably the most significant result going into this race, however, Francesca placed well at Ice Trail Tarentaise and won the Eiger Trail. Recently she ran Speedgoat (not a race for her) and she placed 10th. All in all, Francesca is the outright favourite for this year’s race now that Lizzy and Emelie are not running.

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Emma Rocca (Buff) placed 3rd last year and is a consistently good performer with plenty of experience. For example, she has raced at Marathon des Sables (2nd in 2011) and just recently had a great run at Speedgoat with 4th place. That shows great depth over multi stage, single stage and also shorter faster courses. Without doubt, Emma is podium potential once again for this year’s race.

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The most exciting prospect for the 2013 race is Nuria Picas (Buff). This is Nuria’s first 100-mile race and that for sure will be the biggest stumbling block. However, if she can hold the reins back, take it easy over the first two thirds and then use her speed and skill in the final third, then we may well see Nuria top the podium. Nuria had an incredible 2012 dominating the Skyrunning calendar, she had three great wins at Trofeo Kima, Cavalls del Vent and Templiers, and she also placed second behind Frosty at Transvulcania. 2013 has been an equally great year, however, she has been chasing Emelie Forsberg around the Skyrunning calendar and has placed a super consistent second at Transvulcania, Zegama-Aizkorri and most recently Trans D’Havet. She is without doubt one to watch!

Three US ladies make my ‘hot contenders’ for this year and first up is Amy Sproston (Montrail). Amy is a 100k champ and placed top 10 at last-years UTMB with 8th overall. On paper, Amy can most certainly be top 5 at UTMB and if she has a great day, maybe top 3. Significantly, she placed 3rd at Western States, two places ahead of Rory Bosio. However, I think we will see those roles reversed in the Alps but as we all know, anything can happen.

Meghan Arbogast (Scott) was in Zermatt last weekend for the Matterhorn Ultraks but she only ran the short race as a loosen up for this weekends fun. She was looking strong, relaxed and confident. Her 4th place at Western States certainly means that everything is in place for a great tour of the Alps. In 2012, Meghan placed 12th at UTMB and for sure she can move up and be top 10. A great day and she may well push top 5.

Rory Bosio (The North Face) placed 4th in the 2012 race over the shortened course and was some time behind Francesca Canepa. Rory’s recent 5th place at Western States is obviously a great race and a great boost, however, I for one thought she would make the podium. Post WSER, Rory has spent plenty of time in Europe and therefore will come to the race adapted and ready to push for the podium and top slot.

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Shona Stephenson (inov-8) is making the long journey from Australia and arrived a day or so ago. Shona has already spent time in the Alps racing at the Mont Blanc VK, Mont Blanc Marathon and Ice Trail Tarentaise (she dropped about two thirds in). She also spent a great week with the inov-8 team testing new apparel and shoes in the mountains. Earlier this year she was performing consistently well with a win at Tarawera, a great 2nd place at UTMF and a win at Northburn 100. She like the longer and harder races and although she has limited European racing experience, if she is in the right frame of mind and feeling good, then we may well see Shona on the podium and I would expect a top 10 to be guaranteed.

Katia Fori (Technica) has raced twice at UTMB before placing 5th and 7th. Of course, being an Italian is a great advantage, as she will understand the terrain, mountains and the weather. This is a key to racing well over the Alpine course. In addition, she knows how to survive and spend a long time in the wilderness; her 4th place at the Tor des Geants proves this. In reality, I don’t see Katia making the top 5 but it only takes one or two to have a bad day and Katia to have a great day!

Helen Cospolich (The North Face) is a three times finisher at UTMB, her best performance came in 2011 with 6th. She has the super strong TNF team behind her and although she placed just inside the top 20 last year (17th), I would imagine that she could do better. It all comes down to the day! This year looks to be dry and warmer (at least in the day) and that will make her feel better for sure.

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Another TNF (The North Face) athlete is Ligia Madrigal. Ligia is Costa Rican and I actually ran with her on several occasions at this year’s multi-stage, The Coastal Challenge; a race she has won and placed 2nd at in previous years. This year she didn’t have a great race and dropped. Although she places well in Central and South American races, UTMB will be a steep learning curve for her. She will do well to place in the top 20 and if she makes the top 10, she will have had a great race.

Completing the TNF line up is Ru-Ling Xing. I would be lying if I knew much about Ru-Ling however; her stats show top 10 results at TNF 100k in China and 3rd at Vibram 100k. She has raced at UTMB before but finished outside the top 20, if she edges into the top 20 this year she will have had a good race.

Nora Senn has placed 3rd overall at the tough UTMF in 2012; great grounding for the UTMB. Earlier this year she won Lantau 100k so I am sure she will be looking to put the record straight after dropping from UTMB last year. She has the potential to surprise a few people, however, best-case scenario will be top 10. I don’t see Nora contest the podium.

The ladies race may not have as many possibilities as the men’s race, but with Lizzy Hawker not in the race, it is wide open for a really exciting and competitive race up at the front.

Without doubt I will have missed several ladies who will make the top 10 and for sure make the top 20, so, if you know anyone let me know.

  1. Who do you think will win?
  2. Will we see a surprise performance from one of the ‘100’ newbies?
  3. Who will be the best placed US runner?

Zeagama-Aizkorri 2013 – Trail Magazin, Germany

Zegama Spread 1

Zegama Spread 2The latest edition of Trail Magazin is available on line and can be downloaded for just 4€ from HERE

Transcript:

Zegama-Aizkorri

 

When asked about Zegama, Kilian Jornet replies, ‘It’s Zegama’. In other words, no explanation is needed. The word itself is enough. Zegama-Aizkorri is THE ultimate mountain race.

 

Located in the heart of the Aizkorri nature reserve, Zegama village is the hub for the Zegama-Aizkorri race. On July 7th 2002 in conjunction with the Amezti Mountain Society, the Zegama-Aizkorri Alpine marathon was created, its main goal to promote and revitalize the Zegama region in terms of economics, culture and tourism.

 

The race is now one of the most prestigious alpine marathons in the world. It was the European Mountain Race Championship event in 2008 and is now a key race in the Skyrunning World Series.

 

At 42.195 kilometers it is a classic Sky marathon. The route has an accumulated height gain of 5472m over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region; Aratz, Aitzkorri, Akategi and Aitxuri at the highest point of the course at 1551m. Starting in the town of Zegama at 296m runners climb to Otzaurte at 652m. From here, following paths and mountain tracks with stunning natural beauty, participants are confronted with forest; rocky slopes, technical ridges and high grazing pasture land. It’s a tough and technical course. A capped field of 450 must cover the terrain within the eight hour cut off.

 

The Race

It is the race that many want to do… like London Marathon or an Ironman event; the race has far more demand than places available. The 2013 allocation of 450 participants saw over sixteen countries represented.

After several years of very wet and cold weather, a race day with good conditions could see the long-standing records of 3:54:18 by Rob Jebb in 2005 and 4:38:19 by two-time world champion, Emanuela Brizio set in 2009 challenged.

However, snow and rain in the days before race day ruled out ‘good conditions’ underfoot. As it happened, race day was a glorious, warm and sunny day. Maybe even a little too hot for some. As 450 eager participants departed from the start line, the early morning mist lifted and what lay ahead was a stunning day of mountain racing by the best in the world.

Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernando had placed one and two respectively at Transvulcania La Palma just two weeks earlier. Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas also had the same result on the island of La Palma, would we see a repeat in the Aizkorri nature reserve?

Last minute entrant, Marco De Gasperi dictated the early pace in the men’s race with Kilian Jornet and South African, AJ Calitz close on his heels. Marco, a world champion in his own right had been injured in the build up to Zegama and although he started the race, his long-term plan was always to pull out at halfway.

On the climb to Otzaurte Kilian and Marco had dropped AJ and pushed the pace. Hands on knees, bent double; they pushed from left leg to right leg at a relentless pace while all behind suffered. Pre race favorite, Luis Alberto Hernando running with ‘poles’ was minutes back.

Stevie Kremer from the US (now living in Italy) pushed hard in the early stages of the ladies race. She is the current long course world mountain running champion and although new to Skyrunning, she was not letting this daunt her. Stevie said post race, “I am new to Skyrunning and although I love to climb I was worried by the technical aspects of the descents, in particular the last descent which dropped from 1551m to the finish line. I wanted a time buffer!”

Behind Emelie Forsberg followed patiently. She looked calm, relaxed and focused. A surprise came from Nuria Picas. Nuria had placed second in 2012 at Zegama and was now lying in seventh place minutes behind the front of the race.

US runner, Dave James who is a USATF 100m champion had his first experience of a Sky Marathon, post race said, “The ridgeline I crawled over would make a great place for a trail if they would move some of those jagged rocks out of the way he laughed.  Welcome to Skyrunning in Europe; an entirely different “sport” that combines the ascent and descents of the mountain in its purest form!  Poles, hands on quads, people descending on their butts, knee-deep mud and power hiking!  Was I at a mountain trek or a running event? Or was it a perfect mix of the two? The most historic off road race in the Basque Country, Zegama has it all, and for me is the toughest marathon in the world!”

As Marco dropped from the race, Kilian was left alone. He was running within himself. Enjoying the views, the blue skies, the incredible support.

“I drifted away a little,” said Kilian, “I was enjoying a wonderful day in the mountains and then suddenly I heard deep breathing. As I looked around I saw Luis Alberto Hernando, he had caught up with me along the ridgeline, and he was focused. I suddenly realized I had a race on my hands”.

Kilian was correct. Luis Alberto had the bit between his teeth and he was pushing harder than ever before… he wanted to move up from second and top the podium. If Kilian was going to win this race, he was going to have to earn it. From the final summit at Aitxuri the two dropped some 1300m on technical, twisty, muddy and very slippery terrain. Pushing each other to the limit they would alternate the lead. This race could come down to who makes a mistake!

With just a couple of kilometers to go, trail turned to road and Kilian made his move. He opened a small gap over Luis Alberto and at the line he had a handful of seconds to spare. It was an incredible finish and one that was reflected on the faces of both. Bent double, hands on knees they gulped for air. Each a spent force! They had raced hard and the best man had won

Behind, Tadie Pivk from Italy flew around the final bend, arms outstretched. He had made the podium.

The ladies race also reflected the excitement of the men’s race. Early leader Stevie Kremer was caught and passed by Transvulcania La Palma winner, Emelie Forsberg. Emelie was in her element, she just loves the mountains and you can see it reflected in her smile. Stevie was joined by teammate, Silvia Serafini and the two pursued as fast as they could.

Behind, Nuria Picas was having a stunning race, she moved up from eighth on the first climb to now catch Silvia and Stevie and go past them. As Stevie had predicted it was all going to come down to that final descent! Pushing the pace Silvia twisted an ankle and although not out of the race it hampered her ability to chase.

Emelie ultimately was a comfortable winner of the race. Nuria in the final meters of the finishing straight waved to the crowd and high fived… suddenly Stevie appeared! She had made up time on that final drop from the summit. Had Nuria been facing the wrong way, she may very well have lost second place. Nuria turned and ran for the line. It was close, so close that only three seconds separated Stevie and Nuria in the final results.

Zegama is without doubt a highlight of the mountain running racing calendar. The course and the crowd support are like a stage of the Tour de France. Although weather conditions were perfect for race day, underfoot was less than perfect. Despite this, Kilian missed the course record of 3:54:18 by only twenty seconds. The ladies record of 4:38:19 was very safe with almost 10 minutes to spare.

Race results

Men

1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon Santiveri) – 3h54’38”

2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Adidas) – 3h54’50”

3. Tadei Pivk (Crazy Idea) – 3h58’07”

Women

1.  Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) -  4h48’12”

2.  Nuria Picas (FEEC) – 4h49’55”

3.  Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 4h49’58”

Technical details:

  • DATE: 26th of May, 2013
  • 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 metres
  • MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 1.551m Aitxurri
  • 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
  • DIFFICULTY: Very high.
  • MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 450

Trans D’Havet – RACE SUMMARY

Trans D’Havet was the concluding race in the ISF European Skyrunning Championships. Following on from the VK and SKY race in Canazei last weekend, the 80km Trans D’Havet was always going to be a test of many aspects of human will and the power to dig deep and find something from within. However, little did we know how deep some people are able to go?

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Runners assembled in Piovene Roccchette for the 0100am start. It was quite a site, local revelers were dancing and drinking while around them, lycra clad runners milled around waiting for the off. The arrival of Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Nuria Picas, Emelie Forsberg and Philipp Reiter created some additional buzz as locals and participants in the race looked for a photo opportunity or an autograph.

With five minutes to go, it was already 27 degrees, it was going to be a very hot race! Missing from the start line was Luis Alberto; he had unfortunately received some devastating personal news. After some contemplation, he decided to run. Goodness knows what he felt like. Of course we can only guess and this is not the place to pursue that thought. With his decision to race confirmed, on the stroke of one, the masses disappeared into the dark.

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The route is a spectacular one, which winds through the Piccole Dolomiti between the Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige on the Pasubio and Carega group. These mountains are the setting for some of the bloodiest battles in the First World War. Starting with 1000m altitude to Mount Summano the course goes up and down taking in, Forte Rione on Monte Novegno, Monte Alba and Passo Xomo. Taking in fifty-two tunnels that have total distance of some 6km the course offer much variety. With over halfway completed, runners pass Monte Cornetto and then the final big climb to the highest point of the course at 2238m, leaving the Passo Campogrosso runners climb to the Faccaroli refuge. From here the course looks to be downhill but 12km of ups and downs await before the finish line in Valdagno.

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Luis Alberto and Kilian Jornet started together and finished together. Matching each other over every meter of the 80km course, it would maybe appear that a decision was made to race the rest of the field but not each other. They had occasional time gaps but that was more due to natural breaks and feed stations. Ultimately, the decision to cross the line together was the correct one, the statement made in the finishing straight said far more that any one individual victory. Today was ’really’ about trail and Skyrunning. Kilian has a photo book titled, ‘Trail running for me is not about running’ and today both he and Luis proved it. It was an honor to witness that moment.

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Csaba Nemeth from Hungry was doing a great job in the European Championships and his efforts paid off, his consistent pace and strong climbing in the growing daily temperatures secured him a third place. Podium prospect Philipp Reiter unfortunately had to pull out of the race after falling and damaging his knee.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1160274The ladies race was always going to come down to a battle between Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg. Emelie has had a stunning 2013 and her calendar of late has seen her race multiple times and place 2nd at Mont Blanc Marathon, 1st at Ice Trail Tarentaise, 2nd at Dolomites VK, 1st at Dolomites Skyrace and then of course she was coming to Italy to tackle 80km’s with over 5000m+ of vertical gain and ascent against a fresh Nuria.

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Emelie had a small gap in the early stages but as per usual, both Emelie and Nuria ran together again, on the final big climb from Campogrosso, Emelie had a two-minute lead and then extended that, continually pulling away. With the throttle open, the gap extended and she scored a convincing victory. Equally impressive, once again she placed 10th overall.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1170625 Nuria arrived in Valdagno and looked to be a spent force. The temperatures were now around the mid 30’s and the combination of heat and pace had cooked her. She said after the race. ‘The miles just didn’t tick past today. I had to push for everyone and it was a tough day’.

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©copyright .iancorless.com._1070726The third podium spot actually turned out to be an exciting battle. Taken by Uxue Fraile, less than a minute after Nuria, this confirmed the stranglehold by Spain both in the men’s and ladies events over the ultra distance.

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The ISF Skyrunning European Championships have been a great success. We have seen some incredible racing over VK, Sky and Ultra and the locations, terrain and temperatures have been varied; what more could you want!

Full results and classifications of how the European rankings stand will be posted later today.

Results:

Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (Spain) 08:59:47
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) 08:59:49
  3. Casaba Nemeth (Hungary) 09:43:25

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) 10:21:32
  2. Nuria Picas (Spain) 10:33:34
  3. Uxue Fraile (Spain) 10:34:20

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Trans D’Havet HERE

RACE DAY IMAGES HERE