The stunning alpine village of Val d’Isère is the official home of the next two races in the Skyrunner® World Series: the Ice Trail Tarentaise and Bellvarde Vertical Kilometer. The ITT starts and concludes in this beautiful mountain retreat and as the name suggests, it is also the source of the Isère River. The Isère flows through some of the most iconic mountain landscape available. It is a haven for alpinists wanting to test themselves on the iconic slopes of Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchavel; it is affectionately known as the ‘Le Trois Vallees’.
The Tarentaise valley and the Ice Trail Tarentaise in many respects personify what Kilian Jornet has been pursuing for years, the term ‘Alpinism’ is often perceived as climbing but it is so much more.
The race route has over 60 km’s above 2000m altitude and with a highest point of 3653m at ‘Grande Motte’ this is a race not to be taken lightly. Memories of the Tour de France flood into my mind when I discuss this region, however, other than the highest paved mountain pass at the ‘Col de L’Iseran’ at 2770m, no bicycles will be seen.
Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386m, participants in the 2014 Ice Trail Tarentaise will no doubt have a full appreciation of what Kilian and others like him strive for when they coin the term, Alpinism.
Ropes, ladders, way markers, peaks at over 3000m and 5000m +/- ascent and descent guarantees that not all those who toe the line will see the finish. It is a tough-tough race, no doubt!
65km / 5000mD + –
Starting July 13, 2014 at 04:00 / Centre station Val d’Isère.
Luis Alberto Hernado is on a roll in 2014. Victor at Transvulcania La Palma and recently crowned Skyrunning World Champion for the Ultra distance in Chamonix, one has to say that Luis is the hot favourite for glory in Val d’Isère. Running with 100% commitment, Luis is a frightening force on any trail or mountain and his commitment is motivating. Tempered with a wonderful friendly nature, Luis is without doubt an increasingly popular choice by ultra, trail and Skyrunning aficionados. I for one hugely respect Luis’s ability and his approachable, modest and friendly nature. Luis has great experience of snow and ice and although the ITT field has depth, this may well be a re run of Hernando and d’Haene going head-to-head.
François d’Haene ran toe-to-toe with Kilian Jornet for the 2013 edition of the ITT and it was only in the latter stages of the race that Kilian clicked up a gear and pulled away for victory. Francois, like Luis is an extremely talented and likeable guy! I know this isn’t a personality contest but the addition of good characteristics helps. Francois produced a remarkable UTMF victory a couple of months ago and just last week placed 2nd behind Luis in Chamonix for the Skyrunning worlds. I have to say that I think that Francois may just have the edge of Luis on this course. One thing is for sure; it’s going to be real close and a great battle.
Ricky Lightfoot had to miss the Skyrunning worlds due to work pressure so I am really excited to se him toe the line in Val d’Isère. He’s an incredible talent and may well just slip under the radar at Tarentaise. In 2013 Ricky had a couple of incredible results, particularly at The Otter in South Africa and IAU World Trail Championships. In 2014, Ricky beat Tom Owens at the iconic Three Peaks fell race, so, we can expect a great performance. Withdrawn
Tom Owens ran his first ultra in May at Transvulcania La Palma and placed well within the top-10 with a world-class performance. At Zegama-Aizkorri the impact of Transvulcania took its toll and although Tom had a great run it was probably a little below expectation. Jump to one week ago and Tom made the final podium slot behind Kilian Jornet and Michel Lanne at the SKY distance in the Skyrunning World Championships. Ice Trail will be a real test and adventure for Tom but I think we can expect to see him in the mix.
Fulvio Dapit placed 4th at this race last year and I have no reason to think that an equal or better performance can be expected in 2014. The only question mark will come in regard to Fulvio’s recovery. He raced at Lavaredo Ultra Trail just 7-days ago and was a dominant force over the first half of the race.
Caine Warburton from Australia was one of the Aussie trio who placed in the top-10 in Chamonix. Needless to say, this has placed Caine from well under the radar to a ‘one-to-watch.’ Ice Trail Tarentaise however will be a very different race to the one experienced in the Skyrunning World Champs. Caine’s performance will come down to 2-key elements: recovery post Chamonix and his ability to run on snow and ice. He’s a top-10 contender.
Matt Cooper is another Aussie who raced in Chamonix but he had a below par performance, particularly if we compare it to his 2013 Ronda dels Cims performance. I personally think that Ice Trail may well suit Matt’s skill set and although the podium may be ambitious, a top-5 and certainly top-10 is a distinct possibility.
Pau Bortololo Roca has placed in and around the top-10 consistently at high-key races. In 2014, Pau has won 2-races: Ultra Trail Barcelona and Transgrancanaria 82km. Unless a disaster happens at the front of the race, I don’t see Pau a contender for the win but top-5 is a distinct possibility and should all things align, the podium is not out of reach.
Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz placed 7th at the 2013 CCC showing a skill level that will transfer to Ice Trail and place the Team Adidas runner a contender for top-10. A recent 11th place at the Maxi Race in Annecy and top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km shows he has great form. However, Aurelien may only race the VK? (tbc)
Ones to watch:
Marc Casal Mir – 21st at Transvulcania La Palma 2014.
Scott Hawker – 7th at Lavaredo Ultra Trail just 7-days ago.
Jordi Bes Ginesta – 17th at Transvulcania La Palma 2014.
I don’t wish to put a down on the ladies race but I just don’t see anyone coming close to Emelie Forsberg if she has anything like the form she displayed at the Skyrunning World Championships. Emelie showed everyone a clean pair of ‘Sense’ last year and dominated the ladies race by almost 1-hour. Her performance was so strong that the ever smiley and happy Swede ‘chicked’ most of the men’s field. Emelie is outright winner barring an accident and top-10 contender overall ((maybe even top-5!)
Maud Gobert is racing less these days, however, when she races she personifies that class is permanent as shown in Chamonix 7-days ago with another top quality performance. Maud may have all the potential to take either podium slot.
Anna-Lise Rousset placed 5th at Transvulcania La Palma in 2014 and will be looking to repeat that performance in Val d’Isère. In reality, 2nd or 3rd on the podium will be the target. Ice Trail will be a new challenge though; one can’t look at the distance of 65km and think it will be easy. It’s a whole new ball game.
Alessandra Carlini has moved up a level recently and although I see her offering no contest to Emelie, she will be in the mix fighting for the podium and most definitely a top-5 possibility. In 2014, Alessandra placed 2nd at MSIG Sai Kung 50 and 10th at Transvulcania La Palma.
Laia Andreu Trias has only two significant results that I am aware of and both of those come from Cavalls del Vent: 6th in 2012 and 3rd in 2013.
Ones to watch:
Judit Lamas Borraz
2013 results Top-10 Men
- Jornet 7:35:32
- d’haene 7:40:13
- Reiter 8:12:38
2013 results Top-10 Ladies
- Forsberg 9:11:11
- Dewalle 10:08:58
- Canepa 10:31:59
Skyrunning website HERE
Ice Trail Tarentaise website HERE