The final race in the ultra Skyrunning series comes to an end this weekend in Millau, Southern France. The iconic ‘La Course des Templier’ has one of the best fields ever assembled for this race. The inclusion of Skyrunning certainly has made a difference.
The Great Race of the Knights Templar was founded in 1995 with a humanitarian purpose. To financially support an orphanage in Chad
Sighting the Leadville Trail 100 miler in the US as an influence, Odile and Gilles Bertrand decided to embark on this adventure in March 1995. The project was launched and a date was selected, the last Sunday of October.
But the format of 100 miles as at the Leadville race was considered too long and Odile and Bertrand decided to offer a more appealing distance of 65 km.
In October 1995 before the fortress of St. Eulalie de Cernon 500 runners assembled and the first edition was undertaken. La Course des Templiers gave birth to trail running in France. This first edition of Templiers was won by Patrick Fox and Corinne Favre.
Andy Symonds the 2011 winner of Templiers knows the course extremely well and after a great 2nd place at Transvulcania La Palma you can surely expect to see him up at the front. A top 3 placing is a distinct possibility and of course he may well get a consecutive win
Thomas Lorblanchet had a stunning win at Leadville 100 and has figured highly at other significant races in 2012. In particular Transvulcania La Palma and Salomon 4 Trails.
Miguel Heras is without doubt a top performer but he has had a mixed 2012 with injury. He dropped at Cavalls del Vent with hypothermia so he will be looking to put the record straight at Templiers. If he has a good day. Top 5.
Philipp Reiter has gone from strength to strength in 2012. A super talented young athlete with the ultra world ahead of him. In 2012 he has consistently performed at the highest level with wins and top 10 places in pretty much every event he has entered. I think Templiers won’t play to his strengths, having said that I would consider him to place in the top 10.
Terry Conway had his introduction to Skyrunning at Cavalls del Vent and fell victim to the foul weather. However, he knows what is required now and is just back from 2 weeks running in Italy. He has told me that he is ready for this race and he is ready to race!
Tom Owens is the UK’s most consistent performer at Skyrunning events in 2012 and this is reflected in his 3rd place at the World title. He is without doubt a contender for the overall win at Templiers.
Francois d’Haene has had a great 2012 and with 4th place at Transvulcania La Palma and the overall win at UTMB he will be coming to Templiers brimming with confidence.
Greg Vollet team manager at Salomon is a top quality athlete and this course will suit him. He has performed consistently well in 2012 and has had some great podium finishes. He is not as experienced at the ultra distance and he may very well just be running Templiers for fun…. You can’t rule him out!
Lizzy Hawker is a late entry to the race and will without doubt raise heads within the female competition. Within the last 3 months she has had a stunning period of racing with a win at the shortened UTMB, a win at Run Rabbit Run 100 miler and then a win and third place overall at the iconic Spartathlon. Not only does this show incredible consistency but it also shows incredibile ability over a variety of distances and terrain.
Francesca Canepa was 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at UTMB and then just one week later went to the brutal Tour des Geants and won that race. Templiers may very well not be tough enough for her but she will figure.
Anna Frost needs no introduction. Always a top top performer but after her 2nd place at Cavalls del Vent she has had some injury and therefore her performance at Templiers has question marks. If she is in form expect a top three.
Emelie Frosberg has performed and performed at the highest level in 2012. Templiers may very well not have enough vertical gain for her but that descent at the end will suit her abilities and if she is in contention expect he to open the throttle and potentially pull away.
Silvia Serafini is the newbie to the ultra series and this is only her second ultra. However, this race is not as demanding as other Skyrunning races and the ability to open up the engine and run quickly will suit her. She recently won the Royal Parks Ultra and placed highly at Kinabalu.
Nuria Picas is always in form and a fierce competitor. Always smiling, passionate about running she is a pleasure to watch. She has raced hard all year and after her win at Cavalls del Vent she said Templiers would be fun. Even Nuria having fun is a dominant force and I wouldn’t rule her out winning. However, the course is less technical and has less vertical gain than Nuria prefers.
Anne Valero is my outsider and placed well at the CCC in 2012. She runs well on the road and that combination of hill strength and road speed may very well see her pull something out of the bag at Templiers.
THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS
- . Distance: 72 km – altitude: 3200 m +
- . Departure: 5:15 (note time change), Millau, Millau Plage road (attention, 1h 20 ‘night in the morning) and arrive in Millau, Millau Beach Road 1.2 km from city center
- . 4 stations (Peyreleau, St André de Vézines, Pierrefiche, The Cade)
- . Registration limited to 2500 runners
Sunday, the weather seems to be confirmed with a cold, dry and sunny day but temperatures may even be below zero at times.
Therefore the race organisers have stipulated that runners must have suitable equipment for the cold. However, no equipment is compulsory other than a space blanket.
If the cold continues recommendations are as follows: gloves are essential, also a head cover such as a buff. A light jacket is recommended for the start and long tights/leggings or long shorts short + long socks are a suitable compromise.
A weekend of racing – Festival de l’Endurance
The Templiers race is part of the Festival de l’Endurance. The main event takes place on Sunday, the Grande Course – THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS is steep and rocky, so steep that the race organisers place ropes in many areas so that runners can ease their way through rough spots without falling.
The racing at Templiers starts on Friday and goes through to Sunday with a selection of races as follows:
. Time limit: 22 hours.
. Distance: 105 km – altitude: 4800 m +
THE TRAIL OF VIADUCT
. Distance: 26 km – altitude: 680 m +
. Distance: 38 km – altitude: 1600 m +
MONNA LISA TRAIL.
. Distance: 26.5 km – altitude 1000 m +
. Distance: 1.5 km and 3 km for young
KD TRAIL – JUNIOR TRAIL
. Distance: 9 km – altitude: 300 m + (same course cadets and juniors)
. Distance: 9 km – altitude: 300 m +
. Distance: 19 km – altitude: 700 m +
THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS
To add to that magical ambiance, it helps to know that Nant was one of many points in a network of secret trails built by the Knights Templar, the monastic, international military order formed at the end of the First Crusade with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar, known for their architectural skills and fighting alongside Richard I were the first warrior monks and were prevalent in that part of France until their downfall in 1307.
The race route uses the secret paths of the Templars which ncludes two long tunnels that had been used as shortcuts to beat enemies to strategic locations. The region has become a popular tourist attraction primarily due to the success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.