Skyrunning UK – the first steps

Skyrunninguk logo sign offIt has been a long season… the 2013 Skyrunner World Series came to a close in early October on the shores of Lake Garda at the impressive Limone Extreme race. The Skyrunner ULTRA title had been concluded just weeks earlier in Vail, Colorado at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) but at Limone Extreme, VK and SKY champions were crowned confirming the closure of an incredible 2013 season.

It would be nice to sit back, relax and reflect. Oh no, time stands till for nobody, the 2014 Skyrunner World Series needs to be confirmed and announced, in addition, 2014 has the Skyrunning World Championships taking place in Mont-Blanc (here) at the Mont-Blanc Marathon weekend. Champions, male and female will be announced for the distances of VK, SKY and ULTRA.

An exciting year awaits!

Luis Alberto Hernando at Matterhorn Ultraks

Luis Alberto Hernando at Matterhorn Ultraks

The growth os Skyrunning has exploded in the past 2-years, the catalyst, Transvulcania La Palma in May 2012. Arguably, the worlds ‘best’ descended on a small island in the Canaries and although the ULTRA distance was new to Skyrunning, a transformation was made and suddenly, Skyrunning became the next big thing! The foresight of Marino Giacometti (President ISF) and Lauri Van Houten (Executive Director ISF) was rewarded with a big thumbs up from all who attended!

La Palma, Transvulcania La Palma 2012 ©iancorless.com

La Palma, Transvulcania La Palma 2012 ©iancorless.com

Skyrunning today is growing and at an alarming rate. The Skyrunner World Series has now established itself as one of ‘the’ series to do and we are seeing this reflected in the diversity of the nations taking part but also the diversity in the athletes. We are seeing many runners participating in several disciplines and in certain scenarios, such as Kilian Jornet, we are also seeing them crowned champion in multiple disciplines.

We are not only seeing the ‘regulars’ perform. Skyrunning are being rewarded with new athletes and teams, take a look at Arc’teryx and inov-8. They have taken the bull by the horns and seized an opportunity, not only have they created teams to perform at this high level but they have created apparel and shoes that work in this demanding sport. In 2013, Arc’teryx had UK based athlete, Tessa Hill create some stunning results in the VK and SKY distance, in addition, inov-8 had great success with UK based Anna Lupton and with Alex Nichols (USA) who placed third on the Skyrunner SKY World Series podium.

Tessa Hill and Anna Lupton, Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

Tessa Hill and Anna Lupton, Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

For years, the UK have provided a hard core of athletes who have raced and won on this world stage; Angela Mudge, Ricky Lightfoot, Andy Symonds, Tom Owens and so on… in many respects, these UK runners progressed from a minority sport in the UK, ‘Fell Running’ and participated in a minority sport in Europe called ‘Skyrunning’.

That is all changing and the time is now right, for the UK to progress and not only create a UK based series but also create stimulus within the UK to encourage UK based runners to travel to Europe and farther afield to experience Skyrunning on a global scale.

Salomon athlete, Andy Symonds sums it up very well,

Skyrunning was born in Italy, twenty years ago. For me it’s always represented the best of European and until recently – mainly Italian – racing. It’s about racing high up, on real mountains, on real mountain terrain. The fun comes from the race courses which go to summits, along exposed ridges, gaining incredible views, and from moving fast in a competitive environment over this sort of terrain.

Andy Symonds Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

Andy Symonds Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

The UK may lack the altitude of the Italian Alps, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same thing on our own moderately sized mountains, fells and hills! It’s great to see the sport branching out of Italy, with national series now launching in France, Australia/NZ the UK and no doubt shortly elsewhere.

The future of proper mountain running will probably lie in the hands of the Skyrunning Associations and I’ll be supporting that growth and hoping to help guide things in a good direction!’

Andy is right! the time is perfect.

Welcome to Skyrunning UK

It is early days for Skyrunning UK and 2014 will almost certainly be a transformative year. We are well aware that Skyrunning in the UK will be a challenge… we don’t have too many 2000m+ peaks! However, as Andy says, ‘The UK may lack the altitude of the Italian Alps, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same thing on our own moderately sized mountains, fells and hills!’

To that end, an athlete commission has been created to help guide the sport within the UK from a grass roots level. We already have established and respected runners signed up and confirmed:

  • Ricky Lightfoot (Salomon)
  • Anna Lupton (inov-8)
  • Tom Owens (Salomon)
  • Ben Abdelnoor (inov-8)
  • Andy Symonds (Salomon)

Within the coming weeks, several other athletes will be added to the commission and this will guarantee that the direction of Skyrunning in the UK is not only in good hands but will also consider the well established traditions of fell and trail running.

Skyrunning UK will work in harmony and respect existing races and traditions within the UK.

To interact and get involved, please make sure you:

  • ‘Like’ the Skyrunning UK Facebook page HERE
  • ‘Follow’ on Twitter HERE
  • and sign up to ‘Follow’ our website HERE

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

Limone Extreme VK – Race Report

Limone Extreme VK ©iancorless.com

As daylight disappeared on the shores of Lake Garda 192 runners departed on the quest to complete a VK under darkness with only illumination from a headlamp.

It was a fabulous spectacle as the lights of Limone glowed in the distance.

Departing in one large group it was always going to be a frantic charge for the front of the race. A clear path a huge advantage for a fast and trouble free race.

Urban Zemmer at halfway

Urban Zemmer at halfway

Urban Zemmer (US La Sportiva) was a pre race favourite and he didn’t disappoint. He charged and led from the front. He wanted that Skyrunner World Series title and he needed a win today with maximum points and the current leader, Marco Facchinelli, to finish outside the top four places.

At the line Urban achieved his goal taking the win in an incredible 37:10. Second place went to Thorbjorn Ludvigsen from Norway, 37:34, third place Marco Moletto (La Sportiva) was just over a minute back in 38:37 and Kilian Jornet (Salomon) was fourth, 39:04.

The male overall rankings will have big changes after this race with current leader Marco Facchinelli finishing twenty second, Ferran Teixido Marti Ventoa (currently second), thirteenth and Joan Freixa Marcelo (currently third) in eighteenth place.

The ladies race had an interesting dynamic with Antonella Confortola (GS Forestale) looking to repeat her win at Canazei VK on the Limone course. However, Laura Orgue (Salomon Santiveri) currently lying third in the Skyrunner World series, Like Urban Zemmer would be looking for maximum points to hopefully take the overall series title.

Antonella Confortola at halfway

Antonella Confortola at halfway

With grit and determination Laura took the lead and never looked back powering up the 1000m of vertical gain and crossing the line in 46:10, over 1 min ahead of Antonella Confortola who finished in 47:19. Samantha Galassi finished third in 48:27 with Brit, Tessa Hill (Arct’eryx) taking a great fourth place 48:45.

Vanessa Ortega Trancon who lead the World Series before the Limone race finished sixth and Alba Xandri Suets who was placed second finished in eigth place. These placings will without doubt affect the overall ranking.

Skyrunner World Series rankings will follow asap after the judges have checked the results and made all the necessary calculations.

Skyrunning European Championships

The ice at Ice Trail Tarentaise hasn’t even melted and just 48 hours later we ae looking ahead to the third edition of the European Skyrunning Championships which start this coming Friday, the 19th. with the Vertical Kilometer®. The series of events will have seven world champions representing sixteen nations.

Please Note:

A course recce for Trans D’Havet will take place on Tuesday July 23rd and Wednesday July 24th. You can download a PDF document with information HERE

On July 25th at 1500 we will have an introduction to Skyrunning with Salomon athlete, Philipp Reiter. This will involve a ‘live’ interview followed with Q&A and then ISF President, Marino Giacometti and Dr Roi (Sky Doc) will provide a small talk and answer questions. Information available HERE

Schedule:

The Dolomites will again host two of the events in the three-year history of the Championships.  The record on the unforgiving Vertical Kilometer® course just 2,1 km long, stands at 33’16” by world record holder Italian Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola in 39’13” back in 2008 when the course was inaugurated.

The classic Dolomites SkyRace® favoured by the world’s top runners offers a new challenge after record-breaking performances here this year by Kilian Jornet in 2h01’52”, and the three top women, Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg, American Kasie Enman and Spaniard Mireia Mirò - all under record time.  Forsberg’s record stands at 2h26’00”. The challenging and often technical course represents one of the toughest proving grounds for the relatively short distance: 22 km but with 1,750m climb to the summit of the Piz Boè which, at 3,152m altitude, towers above the start and finish of the race in Canazei.

The much anticipated Ultra is embodied by the Trans d’Havet, a point to point 80 km long with 5,500m vertical climb traversing the Piccole Dolomiti in the Veneto Region.  The route, technical in stretches, includes 6 km of tunnels dating back to the First World War, created by General D’Havet, to whose name the race is dedicated. At the launch this year, the men’s winning time was 10h58’44”, no doubt destined to fall with the top European runners participating here in 2013.

Participants

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130794

Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg will test their powers of recovery and just five days after impressive victories in what many are now considering an iconic Skyrunning race, the Ice Trail Tarentaise, they will toe the line for all three events in the European Championships.

It is going to be difficult to bet against them, certainly Kilian has the ability, powers of recovery and experience to top the podium in all three events. However, Luis Alberto Hernando has pushed Kilian close in three events already in 2013 and he will most certainly be keen to move one place on the podium higher.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040736

Nuria Picas missed Ice Trail Tarentaise so that she could save all her energy for the ultra race, she desires the Euoropean Championship crown and keeping in mind Emelie Forsberg’s recent calendar and the fact that she will have participated in the VK and Sky race the weekend before, one has to say that Nuria may well be the favourite for the Trans d’Havet race.

Michel Lanne joint winner of the Mont Blanc Mrathon Ultra race will almost certainly be a hot favourite at Trans d’Havet along with an in-form Philipp Rieter who took third place at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1100258

The Sky distance race will be extremely competitive, Nicola Golinelli (4th Mont-Blanc Marathon) Florian Reichert (9th at Mont Blanc), Tadei Pivk (3rd at Zegama), Matheo Jaquemoud, Augusto Roc (three time world champion), Didier Zago and Dimitris Theodrakakos will go head-to-head for the title.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1090789

However, so will Kilian Jornet. On this course, I don’t see Kilian loosing, however today, 17th July, we have had confirmation that Kilian’s favourite sparring partner, Marco De Gasperi will toe the line. Not only is this great news for the race but it is great news for us. No doubt after the head-to-head battle at Mont Blanc we will see a repeat performance on the slopes os Canazei.

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The ladies Sky race will be equally competitive with Emelie Forsberg, Celine Lafaye (2nd Mont Blanc), Maite Mayora Elizondo and Silvia Serafini as strong favourites. However, nobody will have an easy run with strong competiton coming from Zhanna Voueva, Laura Orgue, Stephanie JiminezRagna Debats to name but a few.

Maite Mayora Elizondo at Haria Extreme

Maite Mayora Elizondo at Haria Extreme

The Vertical at Canazei is regarded as one of the toughest. It is incredibly steep, to put this in perspective, even Kilian Jornet used ‘poles’ in 2012. Without doubt Kilian is a strong favourite but the men’s field has real quality and ‘VK’ specialists; Urban Zemmer will lead the charge for the title, closely followed by Marco Facchinelli, Tadei Pivk, Didier Zago, and Augusti Roc.

Antonella Confortola will be the hot favourite for the ladies. Emelie Fosberg will push hard but she is still learning in the VK as is Zhana Vokueva. Tessa Hill from the UK is slowly becoming a VK specialist and she stated at Mont Blanc that she was already seeing a progression from her 2012 form. The ever present Corinne Favre is always a contender, as is Laura Orgue. Sivia Serafini, Celine Lafaye, Maite Mayora Elizondo and Ragna Debats will double up with the Sky race and have every possibility to make the podium in both races.

Antonella Confortola

Antonella Confortola

To date, the sixteen countries entered are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.

The winning formula?  Easy: the European Skyrunning Championships are open with individual titles at stake in each discipline. Ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Coverage and imagery will be provided by iancorless.com via Facebook Talk Ultra and Twitter

Team Arc’teryx at Chamonix

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130517Team Arc’teryx line up in Chamonix with a quality field to race the Skyrunning VK and Marathon part of the Skyrunning World Series. Team members, Tessa Hill, Didier Zago, Nicola Golinelli, Didier Zago and Florian Reichert are excited once again to be testing themselves against very competitive fields.

Tessa Hill placed 2nd at Ribagosa VK and has high hopes for Chamonix. She realises it won’t be an easy race, “It’s all about monitoring your effort, push too hard, just by a fraction and you pay for it” Tessa says, “I am looking for a good consistent race and plan to run as much as I can”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130488Florian Reichert had his first introduction to Skyrunning at Zegama-Aizkorri and performed exceptionally well, “I was in the top ten and was able to use my speed on the flat and climbing sections, however, I need to improve my descending”. Of course, Florian wont have a problem descending on the VK course! On Sunday he will race the marathon and this will suit him. He will have the potential to use his speed and run his own race.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130485Nicola Golinelli is an experienced Skyrunner and often excels at the VK and ‘Sky’ distances. For sure, this weekend will suit his abilities and skills. When asked about recover he said, “the key when racing a VK and then a marathon just a day later is all about recovery. The VK may only be short but it is extremely hard on the body. I will hydrate and rest and hopefully come Sunday I will feel fresh”.

Didier Zago is also an experienced Skyrunner and he will use all his past experiences to great effect over the VK and Marathon. Like Nicola, he also says that recovery is key, “many will say that the VK is only 2.8km long and so therefore it is easy… it is not, you go up for 1000 vertical meters, this hurts the lungs and the legs”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1130503It is possible to follow all races live over race weekend here: http://mbm.livetrail.net

Links:

Arc’teryx HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Cara Amòn Vertical Kilometer

Zemmer and Orgué

Zemmer and Orgué

2012 Vertical Kilometer® world champions, Italian Urban Zemmer and Spaniard, Laura Orgué win Saturday’s Cara Amòn Vertical Kilometer®, second race in the Vertical Series after Mount Elbrus.

Cold, rain, wind and snow above 1,500m prompted the organisers to choose a safer, alternative route.  The new course followed the original 2012 SkyGames® route in Barruera Vall de Boi in the Spanish Pyrenees.  Initially the same for the first 500m climb, the course then deviated to summit the Corona del Pina at 2,053m where the runners were greeted with 25 cm of fresh snow. The race totalled 980m vertical climb over 4.8km distance, shorter than the planned event.

Despite the desperate climatic conditions, 200 participants took part.  Among the top runners present, three-times skyrunning world champion Agustí Roc, winner of the Vertical Kilometer® category at the 2012 SkyGames, who came a close second to Zemmer. Zemmer’s team mate, Marco Fachinelli, winner of the Mount Elbrus Vertical Kilometer®, now leads the Vertical Series ranking together with La Sportiva.

The women’s field was strongly led from the start by Laura Orgué (Salomon Santiveri), followed by Britain’s Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx) second, and Spaniard, Alba Xandri (FEEC), third.

SWS Team partners Salomon, La Sportiva and Arc’teryx all had an excellent race, featuring in the top five in both men’s and women’s categories.


Race results

Men
1. Urban Zemmer (La Sportiva) – 39:26
2. Agustí Roc (Likesport) – 39:34
3. Marco Fachinelli (La Sportiva) – 39:40
4. Didier Zago (Arc’teryx) – 40:35
5. Marco Moletto (La Sportiva) – 41.30

Women 
1. Laura Orgue (Salomon Santiveri) – 47:23
2. Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx) – 49:59
3. Alba Xandri (FEEC) – 51:51

Calendar:

VERTICAL
1. RUSSIA: Mount Elbrus Vertical Kilometer®, Mount Elbrus – May 7
2. SPAIN: Cara Amón Vertical Kilometer®, Barruera – May 18
3. FRANCE: KM Vertical, Chamonix – June 28
4. GREECE:  Gerania Vertical Kilometer®, Loutraki – September 8
5. ITALY:  Vertical Grèste de la Mughéra, Limone sul Garda – October 11

Link:

Skyrunning – skyrunning.com

Arc’teryx announce team for Skyrunner World Series

Arc’teryx, the Canadian outdoor brand and ISF partner, announces their six-man team participating in the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series. 

Arc’teryx, the Canadian outdoor brand and ISF partner, announces their six-man team participating in the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series.  From the US, charismatic and eclectic runner Joe Grant is back for more and will race the Ultra Series starting with the Transvulcania Ultramarathon on May 11 where he placed 12th last year as well as a 2nd place at Hardrock 100 and a second place at the 350-mile long Iditarod Trail Invitational, the legendary Alaskan sled dog race.  He’s also aiming at the Sky Series’ new Ultraks 46K in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Adam Campbell

Adam Campbell

Canadian distance runner Adam Campbell, plagued with injury last year, has got big plans for the SWS Ultra Series and he’ll be toeing the line at Transvulcania with Grant in the first of the Series Ultra races which he describes as, “a global race series in some of the most iconic mountain settings and over some very rough and technical terrain”. The SWS in a nutshell.

Italy’s Nicola Golinelli will be tackling both the Sky and Vertical Series.  Last year, he chalked up two third places in the Vertical K and a fourth position at the Giir di Mont, Premana, Italy.  He will debut at the highly competitive Zegama-Aizkorri marathon on May 26 where he placed 5th in 2011.

Frenchman Didier Zago, like Golinelli, will aim for both Sky and Vertical races, starting off with the Cara Amón Vertical Kilometer® on May 18, site of the 2012 SkyGames® in northern Spain.

Tessa Hill

Tessa Hill

Briton Tessa Hill joins Zago in the two disciplines and skyrunning new comer Florian Reichert from Germany, will race the Sky Series, launching at Zegama.

An intensive season of highly competitive racing faces the runners, from the short steep Vertical Kilometers to the marathon distance Sky Series and the grueling Ultra Series.  With no less than five world champions competing, one thing is for sure – everyone will be racing for the love of it.  Champions or not, unquestionably the driving force behind every SWS participant lies their passion for running in the mountains.

Follow news on the athletes on Facebook and Twitter and www.arcteryx.com

SkyGames – Spanish Pyrenees

I am pleased to say that I am just doing my last minute prep and packing before heading out to the Pyrenees at the invite of Skyrunning partner Arc’teryx.

Arc’teryx will be present with a media camp where international journalists will get to know the company, the skyrunning partnership and to learn about and test the Endorphin line together with team athletes:  Adam Campbell (Canada), Murray Strain and Tessa Hill (Great Britain), Didier Zago (France) and Nicola Golinelli (Italy).

For the people of Ribargorza Románica a dream comes true as runners from across the world converge on the small towns dotted around this remote and relatively unknown area of the Spanish Pyrenees hosting the 2012 SkyGames®.

This evening, a turnout of 1,500 spectators is expected at the opening ceremony which will pay homage to the 19 countries participating with a parade of flags representing each nation. The organisers, OCI Sport, intend to get the events off with a bang by concluding the evening with a fireworks display spsotlighting the Romanic Church of Taüll, a World Heritage site and the surrounding mountains.

Forty medals, 14 world titles and 40,000 euros prize money are at stake in the skyrunners’ “high altitude Olympics”.   1,300 athletes will compete in the six disciplines held between June 30 and July 8, climaxing with theSkyMarathon, compulsory for the combined title.  Certainly, the super-strong Spanish team looks set to take the lion’s share of the medals, headed by reigning Skyrunner® World Series champions, Luis Alberto Hernandez and Oihana Kortazar and past world champion, Agustí Roc, as well as Mireia Mirò competing in the Vertical Kilometer.

Adam Campbell testing the Arc'teryx Endorphin lineAmong the other nations participating are France with past skyrunning world champion Corinne Favre and Didier ZagoNicola Golinelli from Italy;Zhanna Vokueva, Russia, Adam Campbell, Canada; Alex Nichols, USA;Murray Strain and Tessa Hill, Great Britain; Adel Ojeda from Venezuela; together with teams from Andorra, Bolivia, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Japan, Marocco, Mexico, Poland, Singapore and Switzerland.

Joan Peralada, President of the Association for Ribagorza Románica Development, commented;  “For two years, the residents have worked with determination to ensure the success of the event, amassing 300 volunteers and a 50-strong team of professionals to manage the races.  After a bleak winter where the ski facilities were closed and jobs lost, the SkyGames® have filled 7,000 hotel rooms creating a much-needed economic boost for the area and it’s future development.”

The six SkyGames® disciplines making up the mammoth event are:SkySpeed, 100 metres vertical climb with a 45% incline; Vertical Kilometer, the universally popular formula, here a mere 3.5 km with a 30% incline; SkyBike – a duathlon combining mtb and skyrunning to 2,000m altitude; SkyRaid – a multi-discipline team relay; the 21 km SkyRace with 1,350m vertical climb, reserved for runners aged 16-21.  The events conclude with an epic SkyMarathon reaching 3,100m altitude – valid for the combined points title.

The event is sanctioned by FEDME, the Spanish Federation for Mountain Sports.

Follow the events on twitter and Facebook and see www.ocisport.net for details.

RESULTS for Vertical K

Ladies race was won by Oihana Kortaza and the mens race was won by Augusti Roc