Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30′s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

Mont Blanc Marathon 2014, Skyrunning World championship – Registration

screenshot_370Mont-Blanc Marathon

Registration opens Tuesday October 15

Race dates: Friday June 27th, Saturday 28th and Sunday June 29th, 2014

Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasper in the 2013 edition

Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasper in the 2013 edition

The Club des Sports de Chamonix is ready for an on-line ‘race’ with registration opening next Tuesday! Each year the phenomenon amplifies and regardless of the race format, inscriptions are filling faster and faster. In 2013 the Marathon was full in just 8 days and the other races within a month…

The organizers are expecting record participation …even more so due to the fact that among the 6 races offered by the Club des Sports de Chamonix, three of them will count for the Skyrunning World Championships! The world’s best runners are expected alongside thousands of amateur athletes who hope to finish the Marathon or the Mont-Blanc 80Km race!

Tuesday October 15: Registration opens

It is therefore next Tuesday at 13:00 that inscriptions open for the 6 races of the Mont-Blanc Marathon weekend. A sprint start for adept participants for one of the major trail running races in the Chamonix Valley.

All information concerning registration can be found here.

Skyrunning World Championships

The Skyrunning World Championships are organized every four years and in 2014 the bid was won by the Club des Sports de Chamonix for this important  international event!

Founded in 1995, and renowned in 2008 the International Skyrunning Federation organized the first Skyrunning World Championships in 2010 in Canazei, Italy for two events: the Vertical Km and the Marathon. For the second World Championships being held in Chamonix a new distance, an ultra represented by the Mont-Blanc 80km race, is also on the program.

An addition that will mark Chamonix but also Skyrunning, who together inaugurate this new distance at the foot of the Mont-Blanc where the beauty and technical difficulty of the course already guarantee its success!

The different distances will either be run individually or by team with the title of World Champion for each category.

Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation says “We are proud to present the Skyrunning World Championships in France, in Chamonix Mont-Blanc. We are convinced the events at the foot of the Mont-Blanc will be a perfect showcase for our sport and provide an athletic line-up without equal.”

Three distances, three events on the Skyrunning World Championship program:

- Mont-Blanc 80KM: Trail in semi-autonomy. Distance of 80km with 6000meters of vertical gain

- Mont-Blanc Marathon: Trail in semi-autonomy. Distance of 42km with 2511 meters of vertical gain and 1490meters of descent

- Mont-Blanc Vertical KM: Time-trial event. 3,8km distance with vertical gain of 1000meters.

Three titles will be awarded:

- World Champion title for each of the three races

- Combined World Champion title: cumulative results in at least 2 events

- Nations ranking by teams of 4 (3 men and 1 woman)

Links:

For more information please visit: www.skyrunning.com

- The teaser for the 2014 edition is available to download here.

- Mont-Blanc Marathon on Facebook !

Mont-Blanc Marathon Races

Mont-Blanc 80KM

2014 Skyrunning® World Championships

Friday June 27, 2014 at 4:00am – Limited to 1000 participants – TRAIL in semi-autonomy

Distance of 80km with positive vertical gain of 6000m

 

Mont-Blanc Marathon

2014 Skyrunning® World Championships

Salomon Skyrunner France Series 2014

Sunday June 29, 2014 at 7:00am – Limited to 2000 participants -TRAIL in semi-autonomy

Distance of 42km with positive vertical gain of 2511m

 

Mont-Blanc Cross

Saturday June 28, 2014 at 8:30am – Limited to 1500 participants -SHORT TRAIL in semi-autonomy

Distance of 23km with a positive vertical gain of 1454m

 

Vertical KM

2014 Skyrunning® World Championships

Friday June 27, 2014 at 4:00pm – Limited to 400 participants – Time Trial

Distance of 3,8km with a positive vertical gain of 1000m

 

Mont-Blanc 10km

Saturday June 28, 2014 – Introductory Trail – Distance of 10km on the cross-country ski trails, accessible to all runners regardless of their ability level. Limited to 1000 participants

 

Mini Cross

Saturday June 28, 2014 -  Children’s races between 800m-3km in the Bois du Bouchet

 


 

Contacts

 

Club des sports de Chamonix Mont-Blanc

Tel: 04 50 53 11 57/ Fax: 04 50 53 61 63

E-mail : club@chamonixsport.com

Site : www.montblancmarathon.fr / www.chamonixsport.com

Limone Extreme SKY race report

Kilian Jornet and Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

It was always going to be a classic race… the male SKY Skyrunner World Series title was sewn up with a dominant Kilian Jornet securing maximum points form three out of five qualifying races. However, the ladies race was a completely different story. Just ten points separated the leader, Emelie Forsberg from fellow Salomon teammate, Stevie Kremer.

Kilian Jornet Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

At the finish line on the shores of Lake Garda, Kilian Jornet once again proved his supremacy with another stunning victory. For the ladies, Stevie Kremer confirmed her incredible mountain running and descending ability to take not only the victory in Limone but also the Skyrunner World Series title.

Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

We have witnessed some incredible performance in the 2013 Skyrunner World Series over three distances; VK, SKY and ULTRA. Limone Extreme provided a stunning close to the 2013 season and we are left with some well-established names confirming that they are true champions but in addition, we have several new names on the Skyrunning scene that will most certainly build anticipation for the 2014 season.

Antonella Confortola leading on the first climb

Antonella Confortola leading on the first climb

Antonella Confortola after taking second place in the VK on Friday night had been unsure if she would start the Sky race on Sunday. Start she did and using her impressive abilities at climbing she led the way on the long steep and technical climb. Stevie Kremer followed closely in second and Emelie Forsberg was third and already loosing some ground. Emelie has had an incredible season and just over one week ago took victory and the overall Skyrunner World Series title for the Ultra distance. UROC in Colorado was Emilie’s first 100k-race and as such, she openly admitted it had taken far more out of her than she anticipated.

Emelie Forsberg Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

Stevie by contrast had raced a couple of shorter races the weekend before and arrived at Limone ready for action. After alternating the lead with Antonella, Stevie finally made her move and although she says that she can’t descend very well, she used every ounce of her ability to hold off Antonella and Emelie to win by over seven minutes. On the line Stevie said, “I was running down that final descent scared, it was twisty and technical but I just didn’t want to look back. I ran as fast as I could. It worked!”

Stevie Kremer with Skyrunning legend and Limone course designer, Fabio Meraldi

Stevie Kremer with Skyrunning legend and Limone course designer, Fabio Meraldi

Kilian Jornet bided his time in the men’s race but when he made his move he just pulled away and secured not only another impressive victory, but also another World Series title. Kilian didn’t have it easy though.

Kilian Jornet Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

On the first climb, new signing for inov-8, David Schneider led the way followed by Aritz Egea and Ionut Zinca. Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet (finally finished eleventh) was showing some stunning climbing ability holding a top five place along with up and coming star, Zaid Ait Malek from Morocco all the way to the summit.

Greg Vollet leading Zaid Ait Malek

Greg Vollet leading Zaid Ait Malek

One of the pre race favourites and second overall in the Skyrunner World Series, Luis Alberto Hernando was having a tough day protecting an injury, however true to his great sportsmanship he soldiered on knowing full well that I had no possibility to make a top ten position. A true champ!

Luis Alberto Hernando

Luis Alberto Hernando

Kilian made his move and a battle followed for the second and third podium places. Ionut Zinca finally pulled away from Aritz Egea and finished just one minute behind Kilian and thirty seconds ahead of Artiz. Showing great potential for 2014 season, David Schneider turned a few heads with a great fourth place with Zaid Ait Malek fifth.

Ionut Zinca second place

Ionut Zinca second place

The 2013 season has shown some incredibly diverse and consistent performances, Alex Nichols from the US in his first season participating in the Skyrunner World Series placed eighth at Limone Extreme and this elevated him to third overall in the World Series.

Alex Nichols third overall in the Skyrunner world Series

Alex Nichols third overall in the Skyrunner world Series

A similar story for Arc’teryx athlete, Tessa Hill, not only did she have a great VK on Friday but she placed fourth on the day. Anna Lupton (inov-8) from the UK also proved that fell/mountain runners can perform with the best on high and technical mountain courses in Europe.

Tessa Hill with fellow Brit, Anna Lupton

Tessa Hill with fellow Brit, Anna Lupton

The influx of new names such as Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and Leire Aguirezabala and responding great performances show all of us that Skyrunning is not only in a great place for the future but that the participants are eager for true mountain courses that test the mind as well as the body,

Roll on 2014!

IMAGES from the Limone Extreme race are available to view HERE or purchase HERE

Skyrunning website HERE

WIN, Stevie Kremer’s signed race number HERE

Results taken from ISF website:

Limone Extreme race results

Men

1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) Salomon –  2h17’03

2. Ionut Zinca (ROU) Valetudo Skyrunning Italia – 2h18’27”

3. Aritz Egea (EMF) – 2h18’53”

4. David Schneider (AUT) inov-8 – 2h20’40”

5. Zaid Ait Malek –  2h21’09”

Women

1. Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 2h46’13”

2. Antonella Confortola (GS Forestale) – 2h53’58”

3. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 2h54’54”

4. Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx) –  2h58’20”

5. Leire Aguirrezabala (EMF) – 2h58’54”

Sky Series Final Ranking (provisional)

Men

1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – Salomon

2. Luis Hernando (ESP) adidas Trail Running

3. Alex Nichols (USA) invo-8

4. Jokin Lizeaga (ESP) – EMF

5. Aritz Egea (ESP) EMF

Women

1. Stevie Kremer (USA) – Salomon Agisko

2. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon

3. Silvia Serafini (ITA) – Salomon Agisko

4. Nuria Dominguez (ESP) – Buff

5. Anna Lupton (GBR) – inov-8

Teams

1. FEEC

2. Salomon

3. EMF

4. inov-8

5. Salomon Agisko

Win STEVIE KREMER’s signed race number

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1040636

 

Win Stevie Kremer’s signed race number from the Limone Extreme Sky race.

HOW?

Answer using the ‘reply’ form below and tell me:

“How many points did Stevie score to win the Skyrunner World Series ‘SKY’ title in 2013?”

Pikes Peak Marathon 2013 – Race Preview

Pikes Peak

Though heavy rains and flooding have caused havoc in Manitou Springs, the famous Skyrunner World Series Pikes Peak Marathon will go ahead as planned with the Ascent starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the Marathon at 7 a.m. Sunday.

“Our primary event locations, Memorial Park and Soda Springs Park were flooded and are unusable this year,” said race director Ron Ilgen. “We’ve decided to go with the smallest event footprint we can in order to reduce impact to the city.” Taken from HERE

The Course

map pikes peak

The race begins in front of the City Hall in Manitou Springs, 6 miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The majority of both races are run on Barr Trail in Pike National Forest. Barr Trail is a US Forest Service trail that is on the east face of Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain. The course has an elevation gain of (start to summit) is 7,815′ (2,382 meters). The start is at 6,300′ (1,920m) and the summit is 14,115′ (4,302m).

The course for the 26.21 mile Pikes Peak Marathon® covers the same route as the 13.32 mile Pikes Peak Ascent® race but returns down the trail from the summit and finishes at Ruxton and Manitou Avenues in Manitou Springs

The Race

MEN

Alex Nichols in the Alps ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols in the Alps ©iancorless.com

2012 winner Kilian Jornet (3:40:26) will not return to Pikes Peak in 2013 and therefore this leaves the door open for Alex Nichols, (inov-8)2nd in 2012, to move up the podium to the top slot and potentially improve on his time of 3:47:22. He is a local lad, knows the course like the back of his hand and he is without doubt the hot favorite. Last years third place, Max King will also not race and therefore the main protagonist for Alex will be Cameron Clayton. Cameron raced last weekend at Dakota Jones’s Telluride mountain ascent and won and although he will race in Swiitzerland next weekend at the SkyrunningMatterhorn Ultraks, I am sure he will bring his ‘A’ game to Pikes Peak.

Cameron Clayton at Transvulcani La Palma ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton at Transvulcani La Palma ©iancorless.com

Although I have not had 100% confirmation, Fulvio Dapit may well toe the line, if he does, Fulvio without a doubt will push Cameron and Alex all the way to the line and has all the potential to top the podium. In addition, Jokin Lizeaga Mitxelena is very strong and he too will race at the Matterhorn Ultraks.

The rest of the men’s field does have depth and we can see many of the following runners looking for top ten placings: Gary Gellen, inov-8, Narc Caros, FEEC, Mikael Pasero, New Balance, Dai Matsumoto, Hagolfs *injued, Toru Miyahara, La Sportiva, Eric Diaz Martin, FEEC, Josep Vines Soler, FEEC and Oscar Casil Mir, FAM.

LADIES

Emelie Forsberg (4:28:07) 2012 ladies winner will also not return and in addition, last years second, Kasie Enman or third, Mireia Miro Varela will not return, so, who is the hot tip?

Step in Stevie Kremer. Stevie has been on fire for the last twelve months, she has been racing regularly and making consistent podium places. Just last weekend she placed second at the iconic Sierre-Zinal. For me, Stevie is the outright favorite, however, she hasn’t had much time at altitude lately and that may play against her.

Stevie Kremer at Zegama-Aizkorri ©iancorless.com

Stevie Kremer at Zegama-Aizkorri ©iancorless.com

On the face of it, the ladies field looks wide open, but expect pressure to be applied from, Laia Anfreu Trias, FEEC, Leila Degrave and Ragna Debats.

LINKS:

Skyrunning HERE

Pikes Peak Facebook HERE

In Progress Results HERE

Sierre-Zinal 2013 Race Summary

©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgIMGP0638glacierdezinal

What a race the 2013 and 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal proved to be. It was an exciting nail biter in the men’s race with a new star and the old guard shining. For the ladies, we had a new lady on top of the podium, a repeat performance for second and third and the UK showing how to be consistent and perform at the highest level.

Men’s race

Marc Lauenstein (Suisse) 2:32:14 took home the win from Juan Carlos Cardona (Colombia) who was Kilian Jornet’s pre race prediction by just 16 seconds in what proved to be a fitting climax to an incredible race. Cardona looked as though he had the race won but Lauenstein pulled something special out of the bag in the closing stages. Very little is known about Marc, however, he is a Swiss orienteering competitor and he won silver at the 2005 and 2006 World long distance orienteering championships.

Mountain running legend and Sierre-Zinal course record holder, Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) proved that experience and pure class can outwit the competition for a 3rd place in a time of 2:33:44.

Although entered in the race for some time, Kilian Jornet decided to run only in the days before the race. He was already at the Matterhorn and preparing for his next ‘Summit’. The temptation to drive from Italy to Switzerland was too great, and although he may very well have raced for ‘fun’ he placed fourth in 2:33:59. After the race he tweeted, “Super, super, happy today with Sierre-Zinal. I was here to enjoy the race and I feel super good. Finished in an unexpected 4th with my best crono!”

Robbie Simpson from the UK proved what an incredible talent he is, running for inov-8 he placed 5th in 2:35:32. It’s a world-class performance in a world-class field. A star of the future!

As you will see from my pre race summary, the 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal was such a tough race to call. Stars like Tofol Castanyer (7th), Rickey Gates (9th), Sage Canaday (17th); all proved that predictions are a fickle area to delve into, particularly in a relatively short and tough mountain race like Sierre-Zinal.

Sage Canaday runs a 2:16 marathon and has had repeated victories in 2012 and 2013. Many of those victories have come with course records. Just recently he won Speedgoat 50k ahead of runners like Anton Krupicka, Max king and Timothy Olson. Now of course here at Sierre-Zinal he may well have been running on ‘jaded’ legs. It is a distinct possibility. Post race he said, “Total muscle failure. Mountain racing in Europe is totally different from the US ultra-trail scene.” It does beg a question, are some of the top guys racing too much or do they need to be more specific in training? Certainly Rickey Gates has proven here that US male runners can perform in Europe, as did Anton Krupicka at Cavalls del Vent in the latter part of 2012. What are your thoughts?

On a final note, Cesar Costa (Martigny) has placed second at Sierre-Zinal three times before. For sure, many of us thought that 2013 may well have been his opportunity, however, he finished in thirteenth with a time 2:42:11.

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Ladies race

Placing 2nd at Sierre-Zinal in 2012, her first European race, I firmly placed my prediction on Stevie Kremer taking out the win after a stunning twelve months racing. At the finish line, Stevie didn’t disappoint, however, the top spot was not hers. In a repeat of 2012, Stevie placed second, 3:03:12 and Maud Mathys placed third, 3:04:13. It was like déjà vu.

One thing that did change though was the top slot on the podium. Unnoticed by me on the start sheet, Elisa Desco produced a career enhancing performance and she once again proved that after some time away from the sport that good things come to those who wait. Marc De Gasperi (2012 Sierre-Zinal winner) summed it up when he tweeted, “No words enough to say how much YOU deserve this victory! Brava, brava, brava!!!”

Kenyan, Hellen Musyoka set the early pace but in the end placed 4th with a time of 3:04:47 and GB mountain running legend, Angela Mudge proved that experience is what really counts when it comes to Sierre-Zinal with a great fifth place in 3:07:21.

Victoria Wilkinson from Bingley Harries in the UK produced a sterling run to place sixth overall and this was ahead of some sterling competition. For example; 2013 Speedgoat 50k winner, Stephanie Howe placed 11th, Lizzy Hawker 14th (admittedly training for UTMB), Zhana Vokueva 15th and Celine Lafaye 18th.

Without doubt, it was an exceptional weekend of racing and of course, from a UK perspective, it is great to see Robbie Simpson, Angela Mudge and Victoria Wilkinson flying the flag at the front of the top European races.

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You can actually watch all the action from the 2013 Sierre-Zinal here:

http://www.rts.ch/video/sport/athletisme/5125770-revivez-la-40e-edition.html

Sierre-Zinal Race Preview 2013

©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgSierre Zinal 1sirrezinalIt’s a birthday year for this iconic mountain race. 40 years! To celebrate, the race organisation have invited many a past winner.

Considered to be one of the finest mountain races in the world. It was once written that it is to mountain races what the New York Marathon is to marathons. It is the oldest mountain race found in its category in Europe’s mountains.

The location is incredible. Of all the races I attended in 2012, Sierre-Zinal left some incredible memories… you see, the Zinal basin is just an incredible place. Also called, ‘the Race of Five 4000m Peaks’ when you stand in Zinal, look to the Matterhorn, you fully appreciate why. It is quite stunning.

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Sierre-Zinal, which takes place in the heart of Valais’ Alps, offers its participants a significant challenge: distance – 31 km, 2200m ascent and 800m descent. Incredible scenery, a warm atmosphere and exceptional organisation explain the success and longevity of this challenge.

As Jonathan Wyatt (record holder of both Sierre-Zinal and the Jungfrau Marathon, as well as a multiple world mountain racing champion) wrote, ‘As a mountain racer you must experience the tradition and history of this race.’

The course records are held by Jonathan Wyatt at 2:29:12 set in 2003 and Anna Pichrtova 2:54:26 set in 2008. If anyone fancies breaking a record in 2013, it would be a great pay day! A CR and a win this weekend, would earn the lucky person 3,000 Swiss Francs.

Legendary Pablo Vigil is a special guest this year. He participated and won the race years back and has become an ambassador for the race and has been instrumental in ensuring a strong American contingent at the race, for example, Stevie Kremer may very well have not participated in 2012 had it not been for Pablo.

This years race, as in any year will have names missing and I guess the big omission will be Marco De Gasperi. He is choosing to race in Italy. So, who will be lining up from the impressive 40-year history of the race?

MEN

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Despite Kilian Jornet telling me he was having a rest post Trans D’Havet so that he could prepare for his Matterhorn Summits attempt and the ISF Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks later in August, it would appear the proximity to Zinal is just too much temptation for him. So, he will make the trip from Cervinia and line up in Sierre for what he says will be a ‘fun’ run. Read into that what you will. When I see Kilian’s name on a start sheet he always must be considered for the podium… however, he may just kick back and enjoy the day. Read my interview with Kilian HERE

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Sage Canaday is travelling to the race after a strong victory at Speedgoat 50k and although he will be new to the course, I have to think it will suit him. He will need to ensure that he is near  the front in the early stages for the long climb, but once up, the course flattens and he will be able to open up and let his natural speed do the work. If he has a good day and is pushed, we may well see a new course record.

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Max King has raced at Sierre-Zinal before and from memory he didn’t have a great race. He was around 20th and I think the European style of racing was just too different from what he was used to. However, he is a very different person now. In actual fact, Max raced at the 2012 Zegama-Aizkorri, however, that race was as problematic as his 2011 Sierre-Zinal. It’s a tough call for Max. Definitely top 10 potential and of course he has all the ability to be on the podium. But will he get over the European demons?

Course record holder, Jonathan Wyatt is back at the race and although his pedigree and his history elevates him to a high-profile within the race, one has to wonder how he will perform against top-level competition who are some years younger than him. He still runs and races regularly, but as he told me in Chamonix, it is for fun. We will see ‘Jono’ figure for sure… his ability will set him apart from so many other runners but I think the podium is an option.

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Tofol Castanyer is finding form after early season injury issues and recently placed 2nd at Giir di Mont. Like Kilian, he will also race at Matterhorn Ultraks. This race won’t tire or affect his Matterhorn performance so we can expect him to run hard and that can only really mean one thing, a podium place is without doubt in his grasp.

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Rickey Gates also raced at Giir di Mont and placed just behind Tofol. He is obviously finding form after a slightly problematic Ice Trail Tarentaise. Sierre-Zinal will suit him and his speed.

Cesar Costa has finished 2nd at Sierre-Zinal three times, he knows the course like the back of his hand and in the 40th edition will most certainly want to move one place up the podium for the win. He will without doubt be a favourite. Local knowledge and being slightly under the radar to the American runners will play into his hands. He will push hard and for sure, top 3 is an expectation.

Vajin Armstrong from New Zealand has been in Europe for some time. Sage Canaday for sure will be well aware of what this man can do after racing each other at Tarawera in New Zealand earlier this year. Vajin has speed and considering he has had some great results recently: 2nd at Zugspitz behind Philipp Reiter, 2nd at the K78 Swiss Alpine Marathon, one can’t help but think that he will shake things up and turn some heads at the finish in Zinal.

LADIES

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It all started 12 months ago and the progression has been incredible. Stevie Kremer lined up at Sierre-Zinal completely blown away by the competition and experience that surrounded. Cut to the finish of the race and she was 2nd on the podium. What has followed is a meteoric race in the sport and without doubt, Stevie comes to the 2013 Sierre-Zinal race as my outright favourite. Listen to my recent interview with Stevie HERE

Ladies Winner

Aline Camboulives won the race in 2012. She has experience and ability and for sure, I see her on the podium. But I think Stevie has moved on and has the all the potential to take the race to Aline and not only push her to the finish but to go past her.

Megan Lund is a name I am familiar with but in all honesty, I know little about her. Stevie Kremer has told me that she has great potential and is one to watch on this course. I am aware that she won the race in 2010 but her European performances are few and far between. She has had a baby and as Stevie said, don’t you come back stronger after a baby!?

Ladies Podium

Celine Lafaye has been up at the front of all the Skyrunning races and I don’t see Sierre being any different. She has all the ability and potential to win this race and if she has a good day, she will push Stevie at the front of the race.

Local lady, Maud Mathys finished 3rd last year and will come to the race knowing full well that Stevie is the one to watch. I anticipate she will keep as close to Stevie as possible and try to pull something out of the bag in the latter stages of the race. However, she was five minutes behind Stevie in 2012 and Stevie has moved on. Has Maud progressed at the same level?

Lizzy Hawker

Lizzy Hawker turned up and ran literally at the last minute in 2012. Once again she will toe the line in 2013. I anticipate a top 10 finish but not the podium. Like last year, she will use this as a prep race for her attempt at another UTMB title. Lizzy has also had injury issues and although UTMB is only weeks away, she is still on the road back!

Zhana Vokueva will also be looking to push at the front of the race. She recently raced in the Dolomites at the Skyrunning European Championships but it wasn’t a great weekend for her. She will be looking to get back into form and for sure, would like to repeat or go better than her 5th place in 2012.

Stephanie Howe has just won Speedgoat 50k and like Sage Canaday, that has got to be a great boost going into this race. If she has recovered well from Speedgoat, Stephanie may well be the person to push Stevie all the way to the finish. It will be interesting to see what unfolds.

Finally, 2001 Sierre-Zinal champ and GB mountain running legend, Angela Mudge will toe the line. She has recently raced at a very high level and with some impressive results. I see Angela being a dark horse to the new runners who will know her name but may well dismiss her due to her lack of high profile racing of late.

Without doubt it will be an exciting men’s and ladies race.

Links:

Sierre-Zinal website HERE

Episode 41 – Kremer, Clark, Mills, Whitehead

TU41

Episode 41 of Talk Ultra - We speak to Stevie Kremer 12 months on after she burst on the Skyrunning scene with a 2nd at Sierre-Zinal. We have 15 mins of fame with double leg amputee, Richard Whitehead. An interview with Lakeland 100 winner, Stuart Mills. A catch up with Nick Clark on the Grand Slam of ultra. Smiles and Miles with Emelie Forsberg. The news, a blog, up and coming races. Marc is back for Talk Training and of course, Speedgoat co hosts!

00:07:30 NEWS

Speedgoat 50k

  1. Sage Canaday  5:08:07
  2. Anton Krupicka  5:09:36
  3. Jason Schlarb 5:19:34
  4. Max King 5:29:02
  5. Justin Yates  5:42:24
  6. Luke Nelson  5:47:09
  7. Timothy Olson  5:47:10
  8. Jason Loutitt  5:49:35
  9. Michael Barlow  5:53:37
  10. Ryan Smith  5:53:51
  1. Stephanie Howe  6:17:02 
  2. Jodee Adams-Moore  6:18:06
  3. Ruby Muir   6:25:54
  4. Emma Roca  6:41:21
  5. Krissy Moehl  6:43:54
  6. Becky Wheeler  6:48:43
  7. Silke Koester  6:52:16
  8. Erica Baron  6:55:46
  9. Anita Ortiz 7:02:18
  10. Francesca Canepa  7:05:14

Stockholm 100k

Steve Way 6:40:14, Linus Holmsater 7:24:18 and Frijof Fagerlund 7:29:01

Trans D’Havet

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

Lakeland 100

  1. Stuart Mills 22:17:50
  2. Charlie Sharpe 23:02:45
  3. Ed Batty 23:07:40
  1. Lizzie Wraith 24:15:06 (smashed old CR)
  2. Debbie Martin Consani 26:02:00,
  3. Julie Gardner 28:16:47

Lakeland 50

  1. Ben Abdelnoor 7:39:26
  2. Riichard Ashton 8:20:58
  3. Robin Houghton 8:33:30
  1. Katherine Brougham 9:44:10
  2. Alice Briscoe 10:35:42
  3. Rachel Ball 10:43:43

WMRA – 10. WMRA World Long Distance Mountain Running

Mitjia Kosovelj won Andrew Davies from Wales 2nd and Ionut Zinca 3rd

Antonella Confortola won Omella Ferrara 2nd and Anna Celisnska 3rd. Have to give a shout out to Claire Gordon from Scotland who was 4th and Anna Lupton from England who was 5th

Hal Koerner and Wolfe – FKT on JMT -HERE 

Ann Trason to run a 100 in September – Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival – HERE

Now the iconic Sierre-Zinal is coming up this weekend. I remember being at this race last year… pre race I got chatting to this shy girl who just seemed a little uncomfortable being surrounded by some of the best in the world. Needless to say, this shy girl performed out of her skin and finished second on the podium. One year on, I catch up with Stevie Kremer and find out what the last 12 months have been like and what the future holds.

00:42:38 INTERVIEW Stevie Kremer

01:16:20 BLOG

We have given Stuart Mills, the Lakeland 100 winner plenty of coverage this week with a long interview, however, his interview does go very much hand-in-hand with his blog… so, this weeks blog is ultrastu.blogspot.co.uk

You can read his very unique and in-depth analysis of how he races. Word of warning… make yourself a coffee. It’s a long one!

Blog HERE

01:17:00 15 MIN OF FAME with Richard Whitehead – http://www.richardwhiteheadrunsbritain.com/

HERE

01:32:40 TALK TRAINING – Marc Laithwaite is back after a busy couple of months. Not only has he been training for an Ironman but also he is the RD for the Lakeland 50 and 100.

01:57:55 SMILESandMILES with Emelie Forsberg - smilesandmiles@yahoo.com

02:20:40 INTERVIEW

This week’s interview is with Brit, Stuart Mills. Stuart as you will hear has a very unusual approach to running… or should I say, training and racing. Without doubt it works! Just the other week, Stuart once again won the Lakeland 100 for a second time. In this in-depth interview we discuss everything. I am sure you will find it fascinating.

03:23:30 MELTZER MOMENT – It’s good, good, good this week

03:29:52 CLARKY’S CORNER – It’s two down and two to go for Clarky and the other ‘Slammers’. Leadville is just around the corner. We catch up with Nick, discuss how Vermont went and what lies ahead…

03:44:22 RACES

Belgium

Trail des Fantômes – 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Arc’teryx Squamish 50 | 50 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

Arc’teryx Squamish 50K | 50 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Ontario

Iroquoia Trail Test – 50K | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Quebec

XV de la Vallée- Trans Vallée | 66 kilometers | August 16, 2013 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Ultra Marathon Bornholm | 100 kilometers | August 11, 2013 | website

France

Hautes-Pyrénées

Grand Raid des Pyrénées – l’Ultra | 160 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Isère

Ultra Tour des 4 Massifs | 160 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Ultra Tour des 4 Massifs – 90 km | 90 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Savoie

Tour de la Grande Casse | 62 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Trail du Galibier | 55 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Allgäu Panorama Ultra Trail | 69 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Berlin

100MeilenBerlin | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Ireland

Ulster

Quadrathon | 169 kilometers | August 15, 2013 | website

Kenya

Kenya Highlands Race | 75 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Mongolia

Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100K | 100 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Sweden

Björkliden Arctic Mountain Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 16, 2013 | website

Björkliden Arctic Mountain Marathon 70 km | 70 kilometers | August 16, 2013 | website

Trans Scania | 246 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Switzerland

Grisons

Swiss Irontrail T141 | 136 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Swiss Irontrail T201 | 201 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Swiss Irontrail T71 | 66 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Trail Marathon 70 KM | 70 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Obwald

MOUNTAINMAN full | 80 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Vaud

Ultra Trail du Barlatay | 81 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

United Kingdom

England

ashmei 33 Mile Trail Run | 33 miles | August 18, 2013 | website

North Downs Way 100 | 100 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

USA

Alaska

Resurrection Pass 100 Mile Ultra Trail | 100 miles | August 09, 2013 | website

Resurrection Pass 50 Mile Ultra Trail | 50 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

California

Rattlesnake 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Run-de-Vous 100M | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Run-de-Vous 50M | 50 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Run on the Sly 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Colorado

GORE-TEX TransRockies Run – Run3 | 59 miles | August 13, 2013 | website

GORE-TEX TransRockies Run – TRR6 | 120 miles | August 13, 2013 | website

Leadville Trail 100 Run | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Michigan

Marquette Trail 50 Kilometer | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Marquette Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Minnesota

Ragnar Relay Great River | 200 miles | August 16, 2013 | website

Nevada

Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight 51 km | 51 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

New Jersey

Wildcat Ridge Romp 100k | 100 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Wildcat Ridge Romp 50k | 50 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Wildcat Ridge Romp 50M | 50 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

New York

Beast of Burden Summer 100 Miler | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Oregon

Where’s Waldo 100k Ultra | 100 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Utah

Kat’cina Mosa 100K Mountain Challenge Run | 100 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Vermont

100on100 Heart of Vermont Relay | 100 miles | August 18, 2013 | website

Washington

Angels Staircase 50K | 50 kilometers | August 11, 2013 | website

Angels Staircase 60K | 60 kilometers | August 11, 2013 | website

Wyoming

El Vaquero Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

03:46:44 CLOSE

03:51:01

LINKS


ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Website - talkultra.com

 

 

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

Mont Blanc Marathon summary

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130911_aThe Skyrunning Mont Blanc Marathon, part of the Skyrunner®  World Series weekend has really been a truly incredible experience. Mont Blanc, location of the 2014 Skyrunning World Champuionships, the 2013 event  was so much more than a test run for next year!

The VK on Friday was an exhibition of exploding lungs and legs full of lactic acid as 400 runners climbed 1000 vertical meters over a 3.8km course – follow HERE

Today however, Sunday, was the classic marathon with a stellar field toeing the line to tackle a tough but fast course over the Mont Blanc mountain range. Wet and misty weather from Saturday cleared to one of the most glorious days in the mountains I have had the pleasure to witness.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040706

Course records fall at the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon

If you have never seen the Mont Blanc mountain range, a photo may give an impression but the awe inspiring majesty of these enormous beasts is a sight to behold and remember. They are truly incredible.

At 0700 two thousand runners departed from the square in Chamonix. The early pace was relentless over the first 10km’s due to relatively flat and very runnable terrain.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130840A lead group of men sped past at Argentiere pushing the pace hard. As expected, the main protagonists of the day were present; Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi, Luis Alberto Hernando, Florian Reichert, Nicola Golinelli, Didier Zago, Alex Nichols, Tofol Castanyer and Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet amongst other.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140228First lady was Stevie Kremer. Pushing the pace hard very early on she shouted as she passed, “they are not far behind”. As it happened, at this early stage in the race she already had a ninety second lead over Emelie Forsberg.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040688On the trails the terrain changed and started to undulate. Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi along with Luis Alberto Hernando and Nicola Golinelli started to pull away from the rest of the filed. Stevie Kremer extended her lead from ninety second to three minutes and this pattern continued.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040722At the Col de Posettes the race was blown apart with Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasperi pushing each other stride-for-stride. Four minutes later Luis Alberto Hernando arrived. Nicola Golinelli was pursued by team mate Didier Zago and then we had Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert. The pace was relentless.

Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert

Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert

Stevie Kremer flew down the descent and I waited… three, four, five, eight, ten and then Emelie came in sight… she was ten minutes and thirty seconds behind Stevie. Quite incredible! Emelie did say post race that she was having stomach issues, “I take nothing away from Stevie’s incredible performance, but today I just couldn’t push, I had no additional energy”.

Stevie Kremer on the Col de Posettes

Stevie Kremer on the Col de Posettes

From Tre les Champ at 1363m and approximately 32km into the course, the final 10km was all uphill! A relentless climb was broken with some relief just after Flegere before the final push  to the summit finish at Plangraz, 2016m.

First around the bend was Kilian Jornet. Waving to the crowds he approached the line, turned, gave his usual one arm wave and then bent double as he tried to recover from the effort, 3h30’41 a new course record!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140305Marco De Gasperi was second just over a minute later. the two sparring partners had pushed each other to the line and in the process had once again provided an incredible racing spectacle that we can only look upon in disbelief.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140332Luis Alberto Hernando completed the podium. Post race he expressed his thoughts, “I have been training for longer races and I found the early relentless pace difficult to keep up with. However, from half way I improved and felt good. Maybe I am a little tired?”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140380Stevie Kremer absolutely dominated the ladies race and blew the old course record off the scale by some twenty five minutes, her time of 4h03’16 placed her within the top 20! As she approached the line she could finally relax and that incredible smile appeared on her face. It was a stunning performance and one that many of us will never forget.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140635Emelie Forsberg arrived twenty two minutes later, despite her issues during the race she smiled and waved to the crowds. Emelie in her meteoric rise in the sport has become a firm crowd favorite and the cheers from all who watched acknowledged this.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140709Celine Lafaye completed the podium closely followed by Silvia Serafini. The Mont Blanc Marathon really was a showcase event. The anticipation for the 2014 World Skyrunning Championships will now start in earnest, with the inclusion of an 80km event, the race weekend will provide participants the option to race over the three classic Skyrunning disciplines:

  • VK
  • Sky
  • Ultra

Notable mentions must go to the incredible performances from the inov-8 International Skyrunning Team and Arc’teryx, both placed runners in the top ten.

Attention now turns to the Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarantaise and the European Championships in July – Information HERE

Links:

  • Skyrunning HERE
  • Marathon Mont Blanc HERE

IMAGES FROM THE RACE AVAILABLE HERE

Results

1° Kilian Jornet 3h30’41 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Marco De Gasperi 3h31’42 -
3° Luis-Alberto Hernando-Alzaga 3h36’14

1° Stevie Kremer 4h03’16 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Emelie Forsberg 4h25’10
3° Céline Lafaye 4h35