The USM, Ultra Skymarathon Madeira – 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over, the next race in the the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
The 2018 edition was arguably the greatest field ever assembled at the USM with a who’s who of elite mountain runners. Heading up the men’s field was last years winner, Jonathan Albon. For the ladies, it was difficult to pick a favourite byut gut instinct said that either Emelie Forsberg on the recent IAU World Trail Champion, Ragna Debats, was the favourite.
Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending, the USM course is a unique one – It’s not an ordinary Skyrunning course!
Experienced runners start a little slower for this race and Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats did just that, placing themselves away from the first three over the early sections of the course, there is a reason…
The USM has a brutal start, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m. Light rain followed the runners over the early miles until they broke through the cloud – on the other side, blue skies and a different day.
A section of via ferrata at around 6km was followed by a little descending and a final push for the highest point of the day. Dmitry Mityaev from Russia was the first to arrive no doubt feeling confident after a great result at Transvulcania recently. Marco De Gasperi and Franco Colle followed and then Andre Jonsson and Jon Albon.
Emelie Forsberg lead the ladies to the summit and Mira Rai pursued with Ragna Debats a little further back. Emelie was on a mission and looked strong, Mira unfortunately was suffering with stomach issues and eventually had to ease off opening the doorway for Ragna to pursue Emelie. Behind Hillary Gerardi, Ekaterina Mityaev, Nuria Picas and many others followed.
Descending over the summit, the cloud inversion was clearly visible – the landscape awe-inspiring. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.
Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t really change until they returned back to the coast. Franco Colle had dropped and now the men’s race had Dmitry leading Marco and Jonathan in 3rd- they were all close though. A descent to the sea was followed by a steep short climb and then another descent which was followed by a section of riverbed littered with boulders. Albon made his move, the obstacle course world champion was in his element and he pulled away from the other two with ease. Marco looked in trouble though and eventually he would ease back out of the top 5. Andre Jonsson though was revived, he moved from 4th and eventually would take a great 2nd ahead of the Russian and then Pau Capell and Dani Jung placed 4th and 5th.
Emelie lead through the riverbed but Ragna was close. With a tough climb to go, it was anyones race. Behind, Nuria Picas had moved from way back into 3rd and looked very strong. The battle at the front was intense and eventually Ragna opened a 1-min gap to finish ahead of Emelie. Nuria Picas would hold on for 3rd.
“USM is one of if not the hardest races out there, I loved it last year and I loved it this year.” said Albon. “It is a course made for me with my obstacle course racing background and it was nice to race today tactically and it alcove together!”
For Ragna, “Emelie pushed hard and really wanted the win, she never gave up trying and it was so tough to finally make a move. It is so pleasing to win against such incredible competition.”
- Ragna Debats 6:46
- Emelie Forsberg 6:47
- Nuria Picas 6:58
- Hillary Gerardi 6:59
- Ekaterina Mityaeva 7:01
- Jonathan Albon 5:48
- Andre Jonsson 5:55
- Dmitry Mityaev 5:57
- Pau Capell 5:58
- Dani Jung 6:07
RACE IMAGES AVAILABLE HERE
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