Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend with the Tromsø SkyRace® the first race of three in the new Skyrunner® Extreme Series which also includes the iconic Trofeo Kima and the soon to be iconic, Salomon Glencoe Skyline in the UK.
A double whammy weekend of running that starts with the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and concludes with the Tromsø SkyRace® is the brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Needless to say, the dynamic Skyrunning duo have something quite special in store.
On Friday, 15 countries will participate in the tough, challenging, leg hurting, lung busting Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® as they climb 1000 vertical meters over the short distance of 2.7km. Starting on the shores of the sea, the race really does encompass the ethos of ‘sea-to-sky’ perfectly and concludes at the altitude of 1044m at Store Blåmann.
Double Skyrunning World Champion (SKY and VK) Stian Angermund is without doubt the hot favourite for victory after two incredible performances in Spain. Running on home soil, Stian will without doubt be fired up to impress. Strong competition will come from Ferran Teixodo, Hannes Perkmann, Rolf Einar Jensen, Allan Spangler, Pieter Schnapps and Ferran and Jordi Lorenzo.
Laura Orgue took silver medal in the Skyrunning World Championships just 2-weeks ago for the VK distance and last weekend she held off a charging Oihana Kortazar at the SkyRace Comapedrosa to take a stunning victory. Laura has said she is feeling a little tired but without doubt, she is the favourite for victory in Tromso. Yngvild Kaspersen, like Stian, will be running on home soil and although the VK is not her speciality, we can expect a top performance. Other strong competition will come from Natalia Tomasiak and regular VK competitor, Therese Sjursen.
Saturday’s Hamperokken SkyRace® is a beast of a course and has some of the most technical and challenging sections ever witnessed in a Skyrunning race. Designed by Kilian and Emelie the race has been instrumental in inspiring the new Extreme Series which harks back to the early pioneering days of Giacometti, Meraldi and Brunod.
Covering a ‘new’ distance of 53km (the old distance was 45km) and 4600m of vertical terrain, the race really is a challenge for those taking part. This is reflected in the 2015 winning time of Jonathan Albon’s 6:08:41. Jonathan will return this year no doubt looking for a repeat victory as he starts his ‘Extreme’ journey in 2016.
Arguably Jonathan’s biggest threat will come from the UK’s Tom Owens who is on fire at the moment. Tom placed silver at the Skyrunning World Championships for the SKY distance and last weekend took a stunning victory at the SkyRace Comapedrosa where he said post race, “I felt brilliant today, my legs were superb!” If Tom makes the journey to Norway, he will push Jonathan, no doubt!
For me though, the one to watch will be Finlay Wild. Finlay spent his teens and early twenties mountaineering in summer and winter throughout Scotland and abroad. His local mountain Ben Nevis provided an obvious running challenge and he went on to win the Ben Nevis Race six times. In 2012, Finlay set new course records on Glamaig, Glen Rosa Horseshoe and Sliochmay. In 2013 he set a new record on Scotland’s Cullin Ridge knocking 15-minutes of the old record to set a benchmark time of 2:59. He may very well be the real surprise package of the race!
Also watch out for Andrew Fallas, another Scottish runner relatively unknown in Skyrunning circles but the ‘Extreme’ element is bringing the fell/ mountain runners into a new playground.
Norwegian Rolf Einar Jensen made the podium at the Tromso race in 2015 and with race experience, local knowledge and an ability to run fast over this technical terrain, one can expect him to equal if not better his past results. Equally, Eirik Haugsness who won the first edition of the Tromso race 2-years ago brings experience to the start line. It’s going to be tight up at the front and Philipp Reiter will add to the pressure.
Luke Nelson is flying over from the USA, he is a prolific ultra runner and an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit in the USA. This year Luke is looking to compete in the Extreme Series. Matt Cooper from Australia has experience of Trofeo Kima and once again will return this year, to the Italian classic; Tromso kicks off his ‘Extreme’ campaign and he will make his presence felt.
Sota Ogawa makes up the last of the top men who will contest the podium after placing 9th at Sai Kung 50k in 2015.
Surprises will no doubt come from the UK’s Jim Mann who is an experienced fell runner and winner of the 2015 Dragons Back Race. Also watch out for Konrad Rawlik who has just married the ladies hot favourite for victory, Jasmin Paris.
ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort will also run along with Zigor Iturrieta, Christophe Le Saux and Alfred Gil Garcia amongst others. It’s going to be a cracking race!
Finally a notable mention in the men’s race for Tim Shieff. Tim is one of the worlds most successful ‘Freerunners’ and is an expert in Parkour. In 2009 he was crowned World Champion after winning the Barclaycard World Freerun Championships. Although Tim is new to Skyrunning, he has completed the Skyrunning UK’s V3K and in a recent chat, Tim told me, ‘running is my new passion and particularly Skyrunning. The technical courses that Skyrunning offer are a great extension of Freerunning and Parkour.’ I wonder, could Tim surprise everyone like Jonathan did last year?
The ladies race has less depth but Jasmin Paris from the UK, in my opinion, will make an impact on the circuit in a huge way in 2016. Last year she placed 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Glencoe Skyline and just a couple of weeks ago, Jasmin took the bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ULTRA distance. This all came on the back of minimal training due to her recent wedding. Jasmin’s legs may well feel a little tired in Tromso but the course, the technical sections and all the climbing will suit her… watch out ladies!
Martina Valmassoi recently placed well at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and comes to Tromso with plenty of high mountain experience. Both Natalia Roman Lopez (who placed 7th at the recent High Trail Vanoise and 26th at Transvulcania) and Kathrin Shambeck (who was 53rd at Matterhorn Ultraks last year and 27th Transvulcania in 2013) will also look to make the top-5.
Malene Blikken Haukoy may well be a dark horse after a victory at Homindal Rundt 70k in 2015 and her 3rd place at the Tromso race in 2015.
Both Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and the Tromsø SkyRace® are capped for safety and environmental reasons. It’s an important element of running in such a stunning part of the world and they are both ecologically sustainable.
Gnarly, gruelling, technical, beautiful and challenging; Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend, don’t miss it!
Course records are 6:08:41 and 7:09:54 for the men’s and ladies’ races held by Jonathan Albon and Emelie Forsberg, will we see a new benchmark set in 2016?
About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.
The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.
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