Mike Foote, race director for ‘The Rut’ races had to make the tough call this morning at 0500 and confirm that the ULTRA race would go to a plan B route. Rain, snow, cold temperatures were all rolling in and the potential hazard to all participants was too high. It’s a decision no race director wants to make but as the day unfolded it was the correct decision.
“Due to current freezing rain conditions in the alpine and potential significant snowfall later today, we have made the tough choice to go with our plan B course for the 50k.”
The plan B route unfortunately removed all the key Skyrunning elements of the original course leaving the opening third unchanged with the first 12.1 miles remaining the same as the original course (Soul Hole-Tango-Challenger service road-Moonlight-Ullery’s Lake loop-Madison Connector-Madison Village-Moonlight Loop trail-Elkhorn trail).
The middle section of the course, Headwaters Ridge and Lone Peak sections of the original course were simply too exposed and technical to be safe for runners or safety personnel in the event of a major storm on race day and they were therefore removed. This therefore confirmed that “Plan B” would be in place and the new route would remain approximately 50% true to the original course. This change would mean that the course would stay off the high exposed ridgelines and not go to the summit of Lone Peak – the Skyrunning element was gone and ultimately this would have a huge impact on the race.
At Swiftcurrent lift where the runners would have turned right for the tough and challenging climb to Lone Peak followed with the technical descent off the summit was replaced with a run along an access road and a descent through a rocky boulder field before heading back up to Dakota lift and rejoining the original course for the run to the line.
In the opening 2-hours low mist hung around and temperatures were actually surprisingly warm despite the forecast and I am sure many were thinking, we could have run the original route. Then at Swiftcurrent, about 16 miles into the course the rain started to fall and then the snow. The temperatures plummeted and suddenly it was difficult to remain warm. The front end the race was moving fast and generating heat but as you moved through the pack and as time past, the pace of runners changed and those who were starting to walk were really feeling the impact of the conditions.
With the main climbing and technical sections removed, the new route most certainly suited those who can run… Chad Trammell from Alaska was dictating the pace followed by Scott Patterson who placed 3rd in Friday’s VK. Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet pursued as did Cristofer Clemente and last years 3rd on the podium Matt Shyrock.
As the terrain became more challenging, Greg Vollet used his downhill skills to take the lead but Cristofer Clemente was playing the wise game, just as he did in Madeira. He slowly moved up into 3rd and then on the final descent he unleashed an all out effort to catch and pass Greg and Chad. Cristofer cruised into the line in 3:51:53. Greg finished +1:38 later just managing to hold off Chad who took the final podium place just 16 seconds later. Cristofer’s victory here follows on from victory in Madeira and he therefore heads the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series with everything to fight for in late September at Ultra Perineu.
In the ladies’ race, the revised and more runnable course played into the hands of Ida Nilsson. Ida who was victorious at Transvulcania earlier this year opened up a gap in the early stages and extended it and extended it. At halfway, her lead was over 10 minutes and victory was never in doubt. Although some of the more challenging terrain may well have slowed her in the final stages, it was never enough for her to lose such a strong lead, Ida crossed the line in 4:27:30.
Pre race favourite and winner of the High Trail Vanoise, Anne-Lise Rousset, was running a strong race no doubt being challenged by the wet and cold. But just behind her, Hillary Allen (who podium at the Rut in 2015) was pursuing closely followed by Kristina Pattison. The pressure was on and in the closing stages it was touch and go who would placed 2nd…
Anne-Lise held on finishing +16:22 after Ida but just behind Hillary could be seen, the gap after crossing the line just 36 seconds. Kristina Pattison held on for 4th, +22:21. Martina Valmassoi who placed 3rd at the Rut last year withdrew from the race and Anna Comet Pascual finished 8th.
Ultra Pirineu on the 24th September concludes the Ultra Skyrunner® World Series and it’s all to fight for with a 20% points bonus on offer.
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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