Skyrunning World Championships – Ultra 80km Race Report

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1118 runners toed the line for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships 80km Ultra in the endurance capital of the world, Chamonix.

Departing at 0400 the race followed the original route in contrast to last years race, which was modified due to the presence of snow at high-points.

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Blue skies welcomed each and every runner and allowed an opportunity for everyone to view the splendor of this tough, technical and remarkable route. A total distance of 83.7km and 6000m of positive gain was always going to provide a male and female champion of the highest quality.

At La Flégère (km16), Transvulcania La Palma winner, Luis Alberto Hernando (SPA) was leading followed by Mike Wolfe (USA) and the winner of the 2013 edition, François D’Haene (FRA). Luis-Alberto took the bull by the horns and pushed ahead and by the Col des Montets (23km) had a lead of 5-minutes.

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Luis Alberto continued to push and at Emosson dam (km32) the Spaniard had opened a convincing lead that he would continue to hold all the way to the line. However, Francois d’Haene tried everything he possibly could to close the gap. In the end, the margin was reduced to 4-mins making it a remarkably close finish.

©iancorless.com_©iancorless.com-0436MontBlanc80k_2014François gave us the story of the head of the race, ‘Luis Alberto produced a great performance. He is strong on the short distance; I am stronger on longer distances. At Montenvers (km75) after getting cramps, I gave everything in the last run to the line and I gained a little time. I am very happy about my race, this course is amazing.’

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Behind the 2-lead men, Mike Wolfe faded opening the doorway to the rising stars of the Southern Hemisphere; Ben Duffus (3rd), Blake Hose (6th) and Caine Warburton (9th). Clement Petitjean placed 4th after a consistently strong performance all day.

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Emelie Forsberg (SWE) put early season disappointments behind her and started the World Championship event from the front and never looked back. Producing a master-class in endurance running, Emelie crossed the line in Chamonix and was crowned female Skyrunning World Champion in 12-hours 38-minutes.

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Anna Frost on a roll from her Transvulcania La Palma victory confirmed that she is back with an excellent second place, 8-minutes behind her Salomon teammate.

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Magdaléna Laczack (POL) was in contention all-day and produced a stand out performance to place 3rd lady ahead of Maud Gobert (FRA).

Tiredness, fatigue and endurance accompanied by magnificent landscapes and panoramic views. This is the magic and the essence of the Skyrunning World Championships.

Podium of the Mont-Blanc 80k, World Championship ultra-marathon Skyrunning

Men

1 – Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP) : 10:25:52

2 – François d’Haene (FRA) : 10:29:33

3 – Ben Duffus (AUS) : 10:52:33

 

Women

1 – Emilie Forsberg (NOR) : 12:38 :49

2 – Anna Frost (NZ) : 12:46:52

3 – Magdalena Laczak (PL) : 12:58:51

The Best Of The Best – 2014 Skyrunning World Championship line-up announced

Lauri van Houten, Executive Director for the ISF gives us the low down on who will be participating in the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships to be held in Chamonix on June 27-29.

Even before getting off the ground, the events were an immediate sell-out when they went online last October with a record number of requests.  Since then, the world’s best runners and teams have submitted their entries, which we announce here.

No less than nine Skyrunner® World Series Champions will take part, headed by superstars, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Stevie Kremer, Nuria Picas, Urban Zemmer, Agustì Roc, Laura Orguè.

Out of the ISF Top 20 World Ranking:
–  15 athletes will compete in the Sky distance, 14 in the Ultra and 17 in the Vertical.

Many more world-class names will be competing over the three distances –  winners from top skyrunning events, from trail running races, and mountain running….they will all be here to compete in the magic arena that is Mont Blanc.  3,400 athleteswill participate in the three Skyrunning World Championships disciplines with a total of 6,500 runners overall in the weekend’s events.

In the previous World Championships held in 2010, the country ranking was headed by Italy, followed by Spain and Francecounting 13 nations.  Four years on and the country participation has more than doubled, with 28 nations taking part.

Certainly Spain is the all-out favourite, with France and Italy close behind. With the rapid development of the sport and new countries emerging, the picture could soon change. Strong competition is forecast from Great Britain and new entries Norwayand the Czech Republic for example, will no doubt make their mark.

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Spain: Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Nuria Picas, Laura Orguè, Uxue Fraille, Maite Maiora, Agustì Roc, Iker Karrera, Artiz Egea, Jokin Lizeaga, Nuria Dominguez

France: The host country with the biggest field of participants. Where to begin?
Francois D’Haenne, Michel Lanne, Xavier Thevenard – respectively 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 80K last year; Christel Dewalle, Mathéo Jacquemoud, Alexis Sevennec, William Bon Mardion, Thibault Baronian, Axelle Mollaret Stephanie Jimenez, Maud Gobert, Mikael Paséro

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130788Italy:  Urban Zemmer, Antonella Confortola, Silvia Serafini, Elisa Desco, Tadei Pivk, brothers Bernard and Martin Dematteis EAA champions, Marco Moletto, 2010 World Champion Nicola Golinelli, Federica Boifava

Great Britain: Tom Owens and Andy Symonds are back racing after a year off   joined by Ricky Lightfoot and Tessa Hill.

New Zealand: Anna Frost, Jonathan Wyatt and Ruby Muir. After her recent Transvulcania victory, Anna is back in great shape after a difficult year.

USA: 2013 Sky Series champion Stevie Kremer, 2011 WMRA champion Kasie Enman, Alex Nichols, Cameron Claytonand Ultra running icon Mike Wolfe.

Andorra: the consistently strong Teixido and Casal brothers.

Canada: Land of great distances and Ultra runners:  Tina Lewis, Jason Loutit, and Adam Campbell.

Robust teams will participate from Japan with Dai Matsumoto and Torhu Myahara; from the Czech Republic starring Anna Straka (Pichrtova), five-time winner at Sierre-Zinal, and Robert Krupicka.

From Brazil, ultra runner Fernanda Maciel; from Switzerland Marc Lauenstein and Candide Gabioud among others.

Completing the ISF member countries participating with teams will be Greece, Poland and Russia and, for the first time in an international skyrunning competition: Australia, China, Netherlands, Portugal and South Africa.

 

Top runners from other countries are headed by Romanian Ionut Zinca, ranked 2nd behind Kilian in the Sky distance, and include Germany’s Philipp ReiterFlorian Neuschwander and Florian Reichert.  Interestingly, strong competition is coming from a number of countries new to skyrunning. Norway is showing great promise and will offer strong competition in the Vertical and Sky categories with talent like Thorbjørn Ludvigsen and Eirik Haugsnes who, in just one year, have made their mark in the sport.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040540Sweden will support Emelie Forsberg, at the head of both the 2013 Sky and Ultra ranking, with a team. Countries stretching across the world from Ecuador to Nepal complete the picture of a truly international championship.

Overall, 46 athletes ranked in the top 20 across the three disciplines will take part – a historic first. The 2014 Championships represent the first time the Ultra distance will be disputed.

Some numbers for the record:
•    9 Skyrunner® World Series Champions
•    28 national teams
•    38 countries participating
•    46 top 20 ranked athletes
•    3,400 participants in the thee disciplines
•    25,000 euros cash prizes

Individual world titles are at stake in each discipline as well as a combined title, based on the best results of two out of three races. Countries will be ranked according to the best results of three men and one woman in all three disciplines.
€ 25,000 cash prizes will be awarded and anti-doping controls will be carried out.

On the launch of the announcement, Marino Giacometti, ISF President, commented:  “We’re proud to present the World Championships in Chamonix and, with the support of the Club des Sport, we’re confident the events will be a perfect showcase for skyrunning and draw the best athletes in the world for some intense competition.”

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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.

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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

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Almost all Spanish/Catalan, but great names indeed:

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

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  • 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 – Pre Race Images

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The 2014 edition of the Skyrunning Zegama-Aizkorri starts today, Sunday 24th at 0900 in the town of Zegama.

Read my in-depth race preview HERE

Images and stories will be posted throughout the day (and afterwards) so please stay tuned to this website, @talkultra on Twitter and Facebook.

inov-8 head to Zegama

Alex Nichols will lead a powerful nine-man inov-8 team into battle at the opening race of the 2014 Skyrunner World Sky Series on Sunday.

As in 2013, the first race is Zegama, an iconic yet brutally fast and technical 42k (26 miles) event staged in the mountains of northern Spain.
With a total elevation gain of 2736m, Zegama is a beast of a course and takes no prisoners.
Last year, US-based Nichols suffered an injury early in the race and was forced to withdraw. Despite this, the 29-year-old still finished third in the series after recording several outstanding results in the races that followed Zegama.
Alex said: “I am definitely looking forward to some redemption after last year at Zegama.
“I think the competition this year could be the best it has ever been, so I am not going to take anyone in the field lightly.
“The course is so brutal that any weakness is magnified, and on a given day anything can happen to anyone. I will put myself in a spot to be competitive and see how the race unfolds from there
“Having a full skryrunning season now under my belt is certainly going to help me in dealing with the technical terrain that makes Zegama so famous.
“Going into the race this year I have far more confidence in my technical abilities than ever. Everything I have learned in the last 12 months will definitely be put to the test on Sunday.”
In preparation for the 2014 Skyrunner World Sky Series, Alex has been training and racing at altitude in Colorado.
He recently ran 3:13:37 to smash the 50k Greenland Trail Race course record and prior to that smoked the elite competition at the Moab Red Hot 55k.
Alex said: “I have won two fast 50k’s at altitude this year in preparation for the skyrunning season.
“It is difficult to find many races that are comparable to a true sky marathon, so I have instead focused on slightly longer distance races.
“Running 3:13 for 50k just three weeks ago was a very good sign of my fitness. I’m now looking forward to seeing how that will carry over to such a steep, technical race like Zegama.”
Alex will be joined on the start line by inov-8 team-mates Eirik Haugsnes (Norway), Pierre-Laurent Viguier (France), Oli Johnson, Chris Steele, Robbie Britton (all UK) and Aritz Egea, Jokin Lizeaga, Pau Bartolo (all Spain).
The Zegama course record of 3:54:18 is held by inov-8 athlete Rob Jebb, who set the fastest time nine years ago.

2014 Skyrunner World Sky Series races:

SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42km – Zegama – May 25

ITALY: Dolomites SkyRace® – 22km – Canazei – July 20

SWITZERLAND: Course de Sierre-Zinal – 31km – Valais – August 10

SWITZERLAND: Matterhorn Ultraks – 46km -Zermatt – August 23

ITALY: Limone Extreme SkyRace® – 23km – Limone sul Garda – October 11

Skyrunning at http://www.skyrunning.com

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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

 

Middlefell Fell Race #inov8retreat – Wasdale, English Lakes

Day 2 of the inov-8 athlete retreat and after a morning of discussing new products (apparel, shoes and packs) for 2015, the inov-8 team and support staff travelled to Nether Wasdale for Middlefell Fell Race.

Covering 6.6-miles, runners climb to 1,700-feet on an out and back course in the heart of the English Lakes.

Dashing along roads, tracks and fields for approximately 2-miles, after Greendale, runners branched left and and started the ascent following the Wasdale route but after a short sharp and steep climb, the route then branches right at a natural fork and then ascends to the summit of  Middlefell. It’s an out and back route so after turning at the cairn at the summit, runners re trace back to the start.

David Schneider ©iancorless.com

David Schneider ©iancorless.com

Wasdalefell is normally a small fell race, but today, an influx of inov-8 athletes almost doubled the numbers and the pace! With a strong representation from the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Catalonia, France and the Basque country, this small fell race became a truly International affair.

Erik Haugsnes ©iancorless.com

Erik Haugsnes ©iancorless.com

Pre-race discussions had been all about who would take the win and how would ‘Skyrunners‘ from Switzerland, Norway and Catalonia fair against out-and-out fell runner’s?

Aritz Egea ©iancorless.com

Aritz Egea ©iancorless.com

With the flat early 2-miles over, it was great to see, Swiss runner, David Schneider leading Baque, Artiz Eregea in the early stages, This strong European representation was also backed up with Erik Haugsnes from Norway. Tom Addison and Orlando Edwards was leading the ‘local’ attack and were closely followed by Gary Priestley and Morgan Connelly.

Early morning low lying mist had lifted leaving a relatively clear day, with light winds and a bite in the air. The push to the summit was followed with a turn and quad busting descent.

Orlando Edwards ©iancorless.com

Orlando Edwards ©iancorless.com

Orlando was first to appear setting a relentless pace. Looking cool, calm and relaxed; he was giving a masterclass of fell running descending. Erik Haugsnes from Norway followed, closely pursued by Artiz Egea, Tom Addison and David Schneider.

Unfortunately, a wrong turn by Orlando on his way back to the finish messed up his race! Erik followed Orlando but soon realised his error and re-joined the course. With Aritz now in the lead, Erik and Tom followed and with 1km to go, Tom made his move and took out the win ahead of Aritz and Erik.

The ladies race had less runners participating in contrast to the men’s race. Sharon Taylor was a convincing leader from the start and finessed a clear leader ahead of Hazel Robinson and Lyn Thompson.

In true fell running fashion, the race finished at a pub and was followed with a beer and quality plate of local food.

It was a great day! A small quality race unfolded on the fells of Wasdale, and just as we all had appeared from nowhere, within just a few hours, we all disappeared again.

Skyrunner® Spain & Andorra Series announced

SNS SPAIN ANDORRA Logo-Light

After France, USA, South Africa, UK and Italy, Spain and Andorra join forces to present an imposing calendar for the Skyrunner® National Series launched today which count some of the best and most popular races on the international stage. Ultras include the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, the 112 km Mitic in Andorra and the new Ultra Pirineu (formerly Cavalls del Vent). Zegama-Aizkorri in the Sky Series and the Cara Amón Vertical KM feature in an important and exciting fifteen-race calendar.

 All the races echo the Skyrunning credo where altitude reigns, the courses are steep and demanding and excitement runs high. The Sky Series takes place entirely in “Mountain Parks” a seal of quality for the protection of the environment.

The races in the Spain & Andorra National Series are:

Vertical:

  • Cara Amón
  • Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer
  • Nit Pirineu
  • and Sitja del Llop

Sky:

  • Marató Montserrat
  • Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon
  • SkyRace Vallibierna
  • SkyRace Comapedrosa
  • Marató Pirineu
  • and Montseny Marathon; and in the

Ultra: 

  • Transvulcania Ultramarathon
  • Ultra del Montseny
  • Ultra Mitic Andorra
  • and Ultra Pirineu (formerly Cavalls del Vent)

The winners of each National Skyrunner Series in the three disciplines will be awarded travel, free entry and accommodation to the first races on the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series calendar.

©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.comP1010311cavallsdelvent

The much anticipated Series offers the best of Skyrunning in two countries that have a long tradition of high-profile international races and have provided many of the world’s best athletes and champions:

Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Agusti Roc, Miguel Heras, Iker Karrera from Spain, the Texeido and Casal Mir brothers from Andorra and, among the ladies, Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar, Nuria Dominguez, Nerea Martinez, Emma Roca, Uzue Fraile, Laura Orgue… to name but a few.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1080588_Snapseed

The National Series is managed by Ocisport, long-time partner of the ISF responsible for the 2006 and 2012 SkyGames® in Andorra and central to the foundation of the Skyrunner® World Series in 2003. The Series is supported by FEDME (Spanish Federation for Mountain and Climbing Sports) and FAM (Andorran Mountaineering Federation), ISF Member nations.

Check out the Skyrunner® Spain & Andorra Series at www.skyrunnerseries.es

Skyrunner® National Series

ISF Ranking 

Skyrunner® goes nationwide

©highterrainevents_DSC02842

 

Ten years on and the Skyrunner® World Series goes nationwide. The successful 15-race model with three distances, Vertical, Sky and Ultra, will be reproduced, where possible, in many ISF member countries, which currently count 27.

Earlier last year, France was the first country to launch the Skyrunner® National Series which includes some of the best races in the country in the 42 km to 80 km range.  USA followed in December with a full calendar featuring five Sky, five Ultra and four Verticals.

National Series Logo

South Africa launched with three SkyMarathons and the new, much acclaimed Lesotho Ultra Trail in November.  Two more races are to be announced.

The UK as we know, lacks the higher altitude common to skyrunning, but it lacks nothing of the tough, challenging courses that have produced skyrunning stars of the highest level.  The first race announced earlier this month has 4,000m of vertical gain over 80 km – enough to satisfy even the most demanding Skyrunner.

Today, Italy, birthplace of skyrunning, announces their calendar, which perfectly reproduces the World Series format with five races in each discipline – Vertical, Sky and Ultra. In a country that boasts over 120 affiliated races and 90 associations, the calendar is spoilt for choice.  The National Series was created to mirror the SWS format and includes some of the country’s top races, such as the Giir di Mont, the Trans D’Havet (last year’s European Ultra Championships) and the Cervino Vertical K, where the first Vertical Kilometer took place 20 years ago at the foot of the Matterhorn.  The Italian Championships (one race per discipline), will be announced at the end of the month.

The concept of launching National Series lies in promoting the skyrunning philosophy at grass roots level and to offer runners in many different countries an opportunity to experience the skyrunning concept on home ground – to participate in well-organised, quality events with the passionate support of organisers and supporters; to enjoy spectacular courses that embody the skyrunning spirit; to push themselves further and higher on challenging terrain; to enjoy strong competition and, to reap the rewards of race and Series’ prize money.  The winners of each Series will win a place in the 2014 World Series finals (or the first 2015 races) together with travel contributions and other benefits.

Particularly welcome has been the response from National Series organisers to create races and circuits that reflect the spirit and the values of skyrunning and where, no doubt, future stars will emerge.

 Other National Series are in the pipeline, starting with one of skyrunning’s most important countries for both races and runners, Spain and Andorra.

Following on will be announcements from Australia & New Zealand, China, Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia…

Skyrunner® France Series

Skyrunner® USA Series

iRunFar - an in-depth article on the US Series launch

Skyrunner® South Africa Series

Skyrunner® UK Series

Spain’s Carreraspormontana – report

Skyrunner® Italy Series

Trail running in America & mountain races in Europe

Are there really any differences when it comes to racing in Europe & America? Runners from both sides of the Atlantic have their say about trail running on both continents.

When Michel Poletti, president of ITRA, spoke recently at the presentation of the Spain Ultra Cup about what type of international race organizations would de targeted for future membership, he affirmed that the ITRA would be particularly hoping to attract “organisations with long-distance races taking place in natural scenery“. Although this definition may sound a little vague, it is in fact quite difficult to find a common denominator that might aptly describre races taking place on both sides of the Atlantic.

Are we talking about the same kind of race on both continents? It doesn’t seem that way from what some of our top runners have to say. In any case, surely the “variations on a theme” are what make this sport so appealing, right?  What are the differences anyway, between trail running & mountain running? According to the ISF, “The difference lies in the terminology itself: trail & montain“. 

ISF

We’ve asked some of the top runners about what it is that makes racing different on both sides of the Atlantic. Here are their answers, together with our conclusions:

American races, much faster

The main difference, which everyone seems to agree on, is the greater technical difficulty of races in Europe and the faster speed of races run in the US.

Tofol

As Tòfol Castanyer points out, this means that“American races are more runnable” suggesting that faster ultra-distance racers have the advantage, as opposed to mountain running specialists.

This difference has already been discussed in our article in Spanish, la diferencia entre trail running, fell running y carrera de montaña. In the US the sport is called “trail running“, whereas in Europe, terms such asmountain runningskyrunning or fell running (UK) are used. The term “trail running” obviously refers to the kind of track or path followed, whereas in Europe it’s all about “mountains“. Whereas “trail running” doesn’t necessarily imply elevation gains.

Heras

In Europe the elevation gains are usually greatersays Miguel Heras,I think that this difference is motivating for us Europeans when we go there, as it is for the Americans when they come over to Europe to compete.

Stricter rules in the US

Many of the races held in the US run through national parks, which follow a stricter legislation than we’re used to in Europe, regarding how hikers & runners should use the footpaths or trails. All these measures are imposed with the greater benefit of protecting the lanscape & natural habitat of the species found in the parks. This means that anyone wondering off the trail will be sanctioned (usually with disqualification), something that Europeans are simply not used to.

Emelie

As Emelie Forsberg jokes, “I think it´s like with everything in America; trail races aren’t any different you know“. Rules are rules!

In Europe, things are very different, where, in most cases,the race course simply follows the most direct route across the mountain.

Andy

In Scotland“, for example, says Andy Symonds,” the hills are steep, there are great open spaces without trees, there is grass and bog all over the place. The result is that fell races go straight through fields and up and down hills. Race routes are driven by the shortest lines rather than by path networks”.

Consecuently, European trail runners find that they have to change their whole approach to racing, as Silvia Serafini states, “I know that in the US there are very strict rules about ‘shortcuts‘. You are out of the race if you don’t follow exactly the signed trail“. Kilian Jornet can testify to this, as he was stripped of his prize money and course record, in last year’s Speedgoat 50k for cutting switchbacks.

In Europa, it’s more competitive

So what’s Dakota Jones take on the subject? He interestingly points out that “ In America, trail running came out of a culture of hiking and mountain climbing that has its roots in solitude and escape“. Whereas, “Europeans accept mountain running more and are allowed to have more people in their races, so the scene is much more professional than anywhere else”. ” When Americans race, they are almost afraid to say they are racing, because they don’t want to betray traditional values about the purity of the sport“.

Dakota

Sportswear

In an episode of Kilian´s Quest we can see how the young Catalonian runner meets up with running legend, Pablo Vigil. It’s interesting to compare how the two are dressed; Kilian with his specialized gear  –Suunto GPS heart rate monitor, Salomon technical shorts & training shoes, while Pablo Vigilcan be found wearing the traditional runners sorts and a pair of Nike road trainers. Although this is a simple anecdote, it does undeline the point that, in general, European runners seem to get moredressed up for the occasion!

Anna Frost comments that “Clothing differs…with fashion and trends. Euro wearing more technical lycra and USA wearing looser fitting comforts.

Frosty

What’s in common? People, volunteers, the spirit of racing

There seems to be a common agreement among runners that there is one characteristic to be found on both sides of the Atlantic: the spirit of running, be it trail running in the US or fell running (UK), mountain running or skyrunning in Europe, “our mutual appreciation for the mountains & outdoor spaces”, says Alfredo Gil, Spain’s national champion. “I think we all have that in common“.

Alfredo

American, Stevie Kremer, also emphasises this point & recognizes the efforts of all the people, behind the scenes, who support the races: “both have incredible supporters and volunteers, without which these races would never be successful!”

Stevie
It seems that, as more and more runners make the jump, from one continent to another, things are changing. As Jonathan Wyatt observes, ” We see a lot of North American runners who have learnt a lot from the European style of trail running and they are excited to bring some of these elements to North America including the more technical running trails“.

Jono

Finally, let’s just remember the words of Silvia Serafini, who defines the atmosphere of our sport perfectly, “I can’t really choose which I like most, racing in America or in Europe. I love the atmosphere, the welcome of the people, which I have found on both continents“.

Silvia

 

LINKS & CREDIT:

© Escrito por Nigel John Wilson / David Clavera / Pablo Cantó

This article is a re post from : corredordemontana.com

It is reproduced with the full approval of corredordemontana.com and Nigel John Wilson and has not been altered or adjusted in anyway. The original article is available HERE should you wish to view it.

It is also available in Spanish HERE

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