All good things must come to an end… at least for this year! The 2014 Skyrunner® World Series concludes this weekend in the mountains that surround Lake Garda.
On Friday the VK will commence as the light fades and darkness surrounds the mountains. Sunday the SKY race takes place over a course of 23.5km’s and 2000m +/-. Two races, one great weekend of running and at conclusion we will have newly crowned male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions for both VK and SKY distances.
As one would expect, these two races are attracting a who’s who of the Skyrunning world.
In the VK, La Sportiva and Salomon are fielding two very strong teams. Illuminated by the glow of head torches, a very interesting battle will unfold.
Urban Zemmer is the outright favourite after winning Limone Extreme in 2013 and in the process winning the Skyrunner® World Series. However, La Sportiva teammates, Nejc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet, Marco Facchinhelli and Marco Moletto will be looking to pull rank and gain valuable points.
Kilian Jornet has been training hard and as we all know, can never be ruled out when it comes to head-to-head racing uphill. Add to the mix, Marco De Gasperi and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and the Limone Extreme VK looks set to be a classic.
For the ladies, 2013 Skyrunner® World Series champion, Laura Orgue, like Zemmer is the outright favourite. This lady has been unbeatable uphill in 2013 and I don’t think Limone will be any different.
Stevie Kremer will push and push and look to gain an advantage as will Christel Dewalle, Antonella Confortla, Emelie Forsberg, Sara Longoni, Francesca Rossi, Beatrice Delflorian and surprise entrant, Julia Bleasdale. Julia is an exciting prospect from the UK and I am extremely keen to see how this Olympian performs.
Do you want to bet against Kilian Jornet? No, me neither. Kilian has excelled in 2014 and other than placing 2nd to Luis Alberto Hernando at Transvulcania; the Catalan has won every rave (VK’s excluded). Kilian has been training hard and Limone will see one chapter close for 2014 before the transition to skis and another Summit attempt in December.
Marco De Gasperi if fit is potentially the one person to push Kilian all the way to the line and if firing on all cylinders, may well take the glory away from the Salomon runner. I personally have waited all year for this head-to-head to happen and the prospect is exciting.
Waiting in the wings is a plethora of Skyrunning talent who will be looking to upset the apple cart and history shows that anything can happen.
Manuel Merillas is hot property at the moment and after strong performances in the Skyrunner® World Series, his presence at Limone adds an exciting element to proceedings. Recent top-3 performances at Trofeo Kima and The Rut add weight to a very strong case that we see a surprise on the shores of Lake Garda.
Ionut Zinca had a great result at Limone last year and recently placed well, once again at Dolomites Skyrace. I would anticipate Ionut having a great race, he’s a fierce competitor and top performer.
Zaid Ait Malek won the Matterhorn Ultraks and is without doubt a contender for the podium at Limone. However, Aritz Egea has performed consistently all year and at just under 24km’s, the Limone course plays to his strengths.
Alex Nichols is one again making the long journey from the USA and has great potential to mix it with the best, however, 2014 has been a tough year and his current form is unknown.
Tadei Pivk will also be a hot contender for the top-5.
Did we say THIS FIELD IS STACKED…. !
Rounding out the hot contenders for the top-5 places are Jono Wyatt, Alexis Sevennec, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen, David Schneider and Nicola Golinelli.
Look out for:
- Didier Zago
- Matheo Jaquemond
- Fabio Bazzana
- Florian Reichert
- Oli Johnson
- Gary Priestley
- Hassan Ait Chau
- Marco Moletto
- Marc Pinsach
Stevie Kremer already has the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series sewn up, so, this will take the pressure off and allow Stevie a trouble and stress free run. As we all know though, she probably will still nail it and has every chance of taking away the victory.
Elisa Desco, Emelie Forsberg and Laura Orgue will do everything in their respective powers to ensure that Stevie does not have another victory. In all honesty, the ladies race is wide open. Laura Orgue has displayed pure class going up hill and certainly, the first half of the Limone course will suit her racing style. I expect to see Laura to be leading at the summit; the question will come if she can hold of the charging train of Forsberg, Desco and Kremer. Very few ladies can go downhill like Emelie Forsberg and if she is in contact during the 2nd half of the race, Emelie will potentially take top honours.
Elisa Desco is a very rounded athlete uphill and downhill, at 23.5kms the distance will suit the Italian and with valuable points at stake, we can expect a 100% committed effort for victory.
Maite Maiora started the year with a bang at Transvulcania and has continued to bang the drum all the way throughout 2014. For sure, Maite stepped up a level this year and along with Desco, Forsberg and Kremer, she has been a force to be reckoned with. The podium is a distinct possibility but it’s going to be a battle.
Victoria Wilkinson had a great race at the Dolomites Skyrace and has continued to excel on the UK Fell running scene. The podium may just be out of reach but top-5 is a distinct possibility.
Anna Lupton has been missed in 2014 with injury. Arguably, Anna has been the UK’s most consistent performer in previous Skyrunning events and it’s great to see her back on a start line.
Tessa Hill has been a little quiet in 2014 but has committed herself to Limone and has recently posted, ‘My main way of preparing for this is to get as much climb in the legs as possible and then top things up on the bike.’
Julia Bleasdale is a British Olympian who raced the 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics. She placed 8th in both finals. Julia tipping her toes into the Skyrunning world is a great boost for the sport and Skyrunning in the UK. However, Julia understands the challenge ahead, “I hear so many great things about Skyrunning, but I do not underestimate the strength required to compete in this extreme discipline! So I am delighted to mix things up at the end of the season for variety. I love running in the mountains as they give you depth in your strength, but track athletes cannot transform themselves in just a few weeks to be ready for this!”
Stephanie Jiminez excels at the Sky distance and Limone will suit the skill set of the Salomon athlete. Her experience sets her apart from the competition and on her day, she can beat the best in the world.
Ones to watch:
- Deborah Cardone
- Elisabet Beltran
- Marta Molist
- Paloma Lobera
- Anna Kosova
- Azara Garcia
- Leire Agirrezabala
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