Monte Rosa AMA VK2 – Summary and Images

The weather in the mountains can never be guaranteed, and this weekends Monte Rosa Skymarathon was today postponed one-day, to allow bad weather to disappear and hopefully provide an incredible day’s racing – albeit one day late!

However, the sister event, the AMA VK2 did take place as it did not reach the high points of Monte Rosa. However, the start was delayed from 0830 to 1000 to allow for a better weather window.

The race takes place on mountain trails with demanding uphill sections, exposed areas, steep pastures, scree and snow fields. Severe environmental and weather conditions plays a huge factor in the race. Starting in Alagna, the race covers 2000 vertical meters and concludes at an altitude of 3,260m.

It was a day of mood and atmosphere as the mist and clag moved in an out. The 30com of snowfall from the previous night making conditions wonderfully challenging.

VK specialist showed the whole race a clean pair of heals powering over the 2000m in 1hr 42 min (tbc). Behind was Givanni Bosio and Milesi Davide taking 2nd and 3rd place.

In the women’s race, Iris Pessey had a very tight battle with Corinna Ghirardi and Ilaria Veronese – the trio finished all within 1-minute – a really epic battle.

VIEW THE FULL VK2 IMAGES HERE

Tomorrow the Monte Rosa Skymarathon will go ahead with a revised start time of 0530 (originally 0600) and currently, the plan is the race will have a full route. Temperatures are expected to be very warm as the day progresses and of course this may impact on snow conditions.

Race website HERE

Race Facebook page HERE

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Episode 173 – Sondre Amdahl, Ultra Trail Scotland and Elisabet Barnes

Episode 173 of Talk Ultra is here… Casey Morgan, Debbie Martin Consani and Rob Sinclair talk all about Ultra Trail Scotland. Sondre Amdahl discusses Trans Atlas and plans for Ultra Mirage and Elisabet Barnes co-hosts.
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Speedgoat is currently on ‘The Longtrail” with Belz (his crewman from the AT)
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*****
NEWS
ULTRA TRAIL SCOTLAND HERE
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00:32:28  – CASEY MORGAN 
00:52:45 – DEBBIE MARTIN CONSANI 
01:19:00 – ROB SINCLAIR 
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TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL HERE
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TRANS ATLAS
Sondre Amdahl and Elisabet Barnes won in 30:14 and 34:15 for the 6-stage race in Morocco.
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WORLD TRAIL CHAMPIONSHIPS, PORTUGAL
Jon Albon is the world champ along with Blandine L’Hirondel. The podium was Julien Rancon and Christian Mathys for the men and Ruth Croft and Sheila Aviles for the women.
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COMRADES
Edward Mothibi in 5:31 ahead of Bongmusa Mthembu who was 2nd just 25-secs later – ouch! Nah Kazami was 3rd in 5:39. Gerda Steyn broke the record books with a sub-6 5:58 – the first time in the 94 year history! Alexandra Morozova 6:17 for 2nd and Ireland’s Caitriona Jennings was 3rd 6:24.
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MOZART 100km
Pau Capell Sally McRae took the wins in 10:54 and 14:38 with Aysen Soland and Colette Coumans 2nd/ 3rd for the women and Andris Ronimoiss and Gerald Fister rounding out the podium for the men.
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LIVIGNO
Great win by Florian Reichert who is in fine form this year! He was ahead of Tofol Castanyer and Marcin Swierc 6:04, 6:10 and 6:13. Magdalena Laczak 7:29 was ahead of Simone Schwarz and Juliane Totzke 7:44 and 7:50.
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ZUGSPITZ ULTRATRAIL
Pau Capell Sally McRae took the wins in 10:54 and 14:38 with Aysen Soland and Colette Coumans 2nd/ 3rd for the women and Andris Ronimoiss and Gerald Fister rounding out the podium for the men.
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01:53:34 – SONDRE AMDAHL 
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MONTE ROSA PREVIEW HERE
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VJ SPORT MAXx SHOE REVEW HERE
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DON’T MISS OUT ON EPISODE 172 with JOHN KELLY HERE
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02:13:23
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Monte Rosa Skymarathon 2019 Preview

“If you build it, they will come”

– the famous line from the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner.

The term has been used time and time again as a metaphor for reaching out, taking a risk and fulfilling a dream. Well, in 2018, Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten did just that! They harked back to the roots and the glory days of skyrunning and the race and mountain that created the sport that we all now know today.

It was in Alagna, on the slopes and summit of Monte Rosa that Marino pioneered the approach of ‘fast and light!’ It’s a simple concept, start in the town, go to the summit as fast as possible, turnaround and then run back.

1993, starting at 1192m in Alagna and reaching the Margherita Hut at 4554m and on the way passing Bochetta delle Pisse at 2396m, Indren Cable Car 3260m. Gnifetti Hut 3647m and finally the Colle del Lys at 4250m before the lung bursting summit.

It is pure skyrunning.

And today, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon retraces that pioneering route to spend time in less cloud and more sky.

It’s a route for the experienced only and unlike 1993, the race now requires teams of two, pioneered last year in the 1st edition. Snow fields, glaciers, exposed landscape the steep climb and descent of a couloir and all the time pushing the body and mind to the limit.

In the individual records date back to 1994 when skyrunning legends Fabio Meraldi and Gisella Bendotti completed the outa and back journey in 4:24 and 5:34 respectively.

 

Last year, 2018, the team of Franco Collé / William Boffelli completed in a stunning 4:39:59. The mixed pair team of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg completed in 5:03:56 – in the process, Emelie set the fastest time for woman.

The stage is now set for 2019 and the 2nd edition of the Monte Rosa Skymarathon, the route as in 2018 will be a full recreation of the 1993 original race with a total distance of 35km and 3500m+ and 3500m-.

From the Indren cable car station, teams (2-people) must be roped with: UIAA 105 approved harness, UIAA 101 approved 8 mm diameter dynamic rope 10m long, UIAA 128 approved rope with two carabiners, micro metal crampons must be worn and ski or cross country poles must be carried.

Top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions will arrive in Alagna aiming to challenge the incredible records set by those before them. But records only tell part of the story, for a skyrunner or ski mountaineer, this race is more than a race, it’s a journey through time, it’s the purest form of the sport, a hark back to the roots and just toeing the line is a great achievement.

New for 2019 is the AMA VK2 – The course starts and finishes in Alagna Valsesia, 1,192m. It passes by the Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2,396m and summits at the Indren cable car station, 3,260m for a distance of 11 km and a total 2,080m vertical climb. The race takes place on mountain trails with demanding uphill sections, exposed areas, steep pastures and scree and snow fields, possibly subject to severe environmental and weather conditions.

A list of entrants for both races can be found HERE

Due to the nature of the events, equipment requirements are strict HERE

PROGRAM

FRIDAY 21 JUNE, PALAZZETTO DELLO SPORT, ALAGNA

10.00 Race Office opens

Registration, bib and race pack collection

18.00 Mandatory Briefing

19.00 Race Office closes

SATURDAY 22 JUNE, PIAZZA GROBER

6.00 Monte Rosa Skymarathon race start

In case of unfavourable weather conditions the race may be shortened to finish at Colle del Lys or postponed to Sunday, 23 June

08:30 AMA VK2 starts

10.30 Arrival of first athletes of Monte Rosa Skymarathon in Alagna.

On-site podium ceremony of first three men and first three women

16.00 Award ceremony – Palazzetto dello Sport

RACE WEBSITE HERE

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Ultra Trail Scotland 2019 Summary

The Isle of Arran, a hidden gem just 90-minutes away from Glasgow. Many describe the island as ‘Scotland in miniature!’ Have to say, for a first-time visitor I was a little blow away by this little gem.

On first impressions, I thought travelling to Arran would be difficult. I couldn’t have been more wrong. A flight to Glasgow, a 30-minute train journey from Paisley to the harbour station of Ardrossan and 15-minutes later, the ferry departed for the 55-minute journey to Brodick and then a 5-minute walk to the race HQ where the weekend’s race would start and conclude.

Ultra Trail Scotland is the brainchild of elite mountain runner, Casey Morgan and Andrew Falconer of Find Your Adrenaline – www.findyouradrenaline.com – Also important to mention the incredible work of Noreen Devine and her incredible logistics and support who held the event together.

The duo have created two races, the Ultra Trail Scotland and The Tarsuinn Trail – both races showing the best of the incredible trails and mountains that Arran have to offer over the distances of 45km and 26km respectively.

The main event of the weekend is the Ultra Trail which manages to provide 3500m of epic running for vetted runners. This really is an out-and-out pure mountain running experience that harks back to the heritage of skyrunning races in Italy.

Nerves of steel, a head for heights, the ability to traverse amazing ridge-lines, climb and descend technical routes that pound not only the body but the mind. Remote and sublime, the route is an epic day of running compressed into 45km. Highlights coming with the technical ridge that follows Mullach Buide leading to Cioch na h-Oighe. Cir Mhor and of course, the Witches Step.

One could almost say the 26km Tarsuinn Trail is the fun run…! But it is no easy race with 2000m of vertical. The early trails to Goatfell at 873m only a warm up for what is to follow as the route shares some of the trail with its bigger brother.

The day before the races was bathed in sun with blue skies, white fluffy clouds and the Arran skyline looking magnificent. But as the day came to a close and as the race briefing concluded, the patter of rain started what was to become a very wet night. At 11pm, the weather forecast completely changed and the early forecasts of rain clearing to sunny skies disappeared.

At 0600 on race morning, two-hours before the scheduled start, Casey and Andrew took all the elements and mountain conditions into consideration and delayed the start to 10am. However, conditions did not improve, and a revised route was devised to still offer the runners of the Ultra Trail an incredible 38km mountain run, but unfortunately removing the two key technical sections of the ridge and Witches Step to ensure the safety of the competitors. The shorter, Tarsuinn Trail route was left unchanged due to the shorter distance and the midday start.

Let’s be clear here, the revised route for the Ultra Trail was still a beast of a course and as the race was underway, it was clear to all, that the conditions to change the route were completely justified. Visibility for much of the time was down to a few meters, the rain relentlessly poured, and the wind gusted and thrashed the mountain. The predicted clear patch in the early afternoon did arrive and provided everyone, runners and Marshalls included, a welcome warm and dry patch before the mist and rain returned later in the afternoon to remain well into the evening.

Caisteal Abhail provided a turnaround point for the Tarsuinn Trail and a key checkpoint for the Ultra Trail as runners passed through here on the way to the Glasson carpark, where they turned and re-traced back to Caisteal Abhail before concluding the race. As they passed through, there were no complaints from the Ultra Trail of a revised route or shorter course, just appreciation and thanks for the bravery of the decision, no matter how hard, to make the right decision for everyone’s safety.

The Ultra Trail was dominated by Rob Sinclair who was untouchable in the men’s race, he made the course and the conditions, dare I say, look easy. Stuart Whittle and Michael Reid had a much closer battle for the two remaining podium slots.

Debbie Martin-Consani needs no introduction to the ultra-world in Scotland and despite saying she would be happy with a top-five placing, she went on to win ahead of Katie Henderson and Ruth Stanley.

Tarsuinn Trail was led by Hamish Battle early on and unfortunately, he took a wrong turn and dropped to seventh place. Ahead the race went on with Gregor Stewart taking the win. However, Hamish battled hard and clawed his way back to second with a great run. Graham Connolly rounded out the podium.

 Highly respected and renowned hill, fell and mountain runner, Jill Stephen controlled the 26km’s with a strong and dominant performance ahead of Hazel Wright and Erin Rendall.

The event concluded with the last runner arriving just before the 10pm cut-off. It had been a testing day for all concerned, but gladly, there were no major injuries and despite constantly testing conditions, everyone had had a great day on Arran.

Full results, reports and additional information will be posted HERE

Race Images Gallery HERE

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Fred. Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL 2019 Results

The Fred. Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL concluded on Saturday 8th June after another incredible year exploring the nature and beauty of what Tenerife has to offer.

In total, five events make up the Blue Trail weekend, the main event, the 102km which started on Friday at 2330. It’s a tough event with runners starting at the sea in the south, travelling all the way to the highest point of the island, Teide, and then following down the trails to finish in the north, a full crossing of the island complete.

In contrast to 2018, the weather was warmer and less windy for the night journey to the highest point of the island. It was only later in the afternoon on the Saturday that low cloud arrived and with it, intermittent rain.

Despite an early charge by Sange Sherpa, it was once again Yeray Duran who controlled the mens race. He bided his time early in the evening but by dawn, he had a firm grip on the race as he crossed Teide and dropped down to the north in 11:48:09. Albert Vinagre Cruz and David Lutzardo Barraso completed the podium in 12:11:22 and 12:20:47 respectively.

In the women’s race, Leire Martinez Herrera ran a strong and controlled race to seal victory in 14:36:42. Marta Muixi Casaldaliga placed 2nd in 14:49, the victory by Leire never in question in the second half of the race. Rounding out the podium was Irene Guembe Ibanez in 15:23:10.

Full results for the 102km race are HERE

Also taking place over the weekend is the 67km Trail, 43km Marathon, 20km Media and Reto with varied distances.

67km results are HERE

Abel Carretero Ernesto 6:18:42 and Silvia Puigarnau Coma 7:43:32 took the respective victories.

43k results are HERE

Ultra running sensation, Pau Capell took a strong win in 3:28:23 and Iballa Castellano San Gines 4:52:33 took the win for the women.

20km results are HERE

Yoel De Paz Baeza and Marta Perez Moroto took victory in 1:31:38 and 1:57:24 respectively.

IMAGE GALLERIES ARE HERE

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Episode 172 – JOHN KELLY – ‘The Grand Round’

Episode 172 of Talk Ultra is here… We bring you a full and in-depth interview with John Kelly about his amazing journey to attempt The Grand Round  in the UK and the Godfather of Trail, Kurt Decker is co-hosting.
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Speedgoat is currently on ‘The Longtrail” with Belz (his crewman from the AT)
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Talk Ultra is now on Tunein- just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
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Donate HERE
*****
NEWS
TRANSVULCANIA HERE
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TRAIL MENORCA HERE
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ZEGAMA
Eli Anne Dvergsdal won in 4:36 and finished just 1:39 off Maite Maiora‘s2017 course record. Elisa Desco was a second in 4:47 and Amandine Ferrato was third, only eight seconds behind Desco. King Kilian Jornet won the race for a record ninth time, his time 3:52. Revelation (mark this name) Bartłomiej Przedwojewski was second in 3:55 and Thibaut Baronian was third in 3:56.
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USM – Ultra Skymarathon Madeira
Pere Aurell beat Beñat Marmissolle by 2mins, 6:06 to 6:08. Daniel Jung was a close third in 6:12. Maria Koller won in 7:20. Ekaterina Mityaeva was second in 7:22 and Ester Casajuana was third in 7:34
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ULTRA TRAIL STARA PLANINA HERE
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ISRAEL NATIONAL TRAL FKT on SIDETRACKED HERE
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TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL PREVIEW HERE
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VJ SPORT MAXx SHOE REVEW HERE
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01:50:00
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
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VJ Sport MAXx Shoe Review

I get asked a great deal what is the best shoe for trail, ultra and mountain running? Of course, there is never a definitive answer as so many variables come into play – gait, drop, persons weight, running style and so on and so on.

It comes a so secret that VJ Sport make two of the best shoes for running in the mountains, the IRock 2 (here) and the recent XTRM (here).

I thought with the XTRM that VJ had excelled themselves taking all the stunning features of the IRock2 and then adding them to the XTRM and providing a shoe that was better for running longer in the mountains.

The above two shoes were designed in collaboration with OCR and skyrunning World Champion, Jon Albon. The XTRM was specifically designed to meet Jon’s needs when running longer both time and distance.

Well, VJ and Jon have now collaborated again and come up with the MAXx.

Going back to that original question, ‘what is the best shoe for trail, ultra and mountain running?’

My answer will be now, go look at the VJ Sport MAXx first.

I have been in these shoes for a month on all sorts of terrain and they are now the only shoe I am using. VJ have nailed it once again. I don’t know how they do it…

If you like IRock2 and XTRM then the MAXx is just going to be immediately added to your shoe selection and quite simply you will then have a shoe for the following:

  • Fell and short mountain races – IRock2
  • Medium distance mountain and skyrunning – XTRM
  • Long distance mountain ultra, trail and skyrunning – MAXx

To put the above in context, Jon recently raced the 73km Transvulcania on the island of La Palma, he used the MAXx.

Everything that is perfect in the IRock2 and XTRM is replicated here in the MAXx – the only difference coming with the notable bounce and cushioning – I love these shoes!

Specs:

  • Medium last
  • Rubberized and protective toe cap
  • Rockplate for the length of the shoe
  • Kevlar breathable upper
  • 6mm drop
  • 4mm Butyl rubber outsole
  • Cushioning front 10mm and rear 16mm

Quite simply, VJ Sport make the best outsole for trail, mountain and skyrunning, no other outsole comes close to the sticky compound that VJ create. Many sponsored runners agree, and they use different brands!

The XTRM has 6mm outsole and here on the MAXx we have 4mm – this makes a logical sense to reflect the trail and ultra-objectives of the shoe. So, if you need a shoe for really muddy ground, you will be better off with the XTRM. However, if running long on trail, mountain, snow, ice, rock (wet or dry) then the MAXx is the shoe for you.

Feel when sliding the shoe on is just like the XTRM, the toe box is medium and works perfect for me. The upper is arguably the most durable there is without losing flexibility or breathability. Kevlar is going to outlast the outsole and several years of using VJ shoes, I have never had an upper fail or tear.

FITLOCK is just amazing as I have mentioned previously with the IRock2 and the XTRM. Here the FITLOCK is the same, it pulls in on the middle of the foot creating the most comfortable and secure feel of all shoes I have tried.

Toe box is really substantial and protective and ideal for any mountain race when collision with rocks is a high risk. The heel box is as on all previous VJ shoes, snug and secure.

The cushioning is the marked difference in the shoe, and it is noticeable immediately. I intentionally landed with my heel on some runs and the cushioning compressed beautifully and gave a lovely bounce and push in the transition phase. On road and hard trail, the shoes move along wonderfully and feel a great deal like my Nike Wildhorse (another favourite shoe). The cushioning does not lose feel for the ground though. I still have that contact and sensory perception that is really important for me when running off-road, especially if on technical terrain. Of course, there is less feel than the IRock2 and XTRM. There is more cushioning! On stoney ground, the rock plate is spot on providing that all important protection, especially important when running longer. We can all tolerate a little discomfort for an hour or two, but if running for 4, 5, 6, 7 hours or longer we need more protection and for many, more cushioning.

The great thing about the MAXx is its ability to be an everyday trail/ mountain shoe and this is a huge selling point. The MAXx will work perfectly for racing and everyday trail running, that for me is just perfect.

SUMMARY

I said I couldn’t find any faults with the XTRM and the same applies here with the MAXx. In all honesty, I think (for me) the MAXx is now my ‘go-to’ trail/ mountain shoe. The combination of elements makes it perfect. If I was a racing snake, I would line up the IRock2, XTRM and MAXx and decide on a weapon that best suits the race. But I am not, I am runner who loves to play in the mountains and the MAXx is just perfect for 1-hour runs or full-day outings. I think it’s worth noting that races such as the Dragons Back, Cape Wrath Ultra or say, Ultra Tour Monte Rosa when runners must spend long and multiple days in the mountains, the MAXx is perfect for this. This shoe is a complete winner and it is going to take a truly amazing shoe to come along and make me choose it for my mountain/ trail runs in the future. Yes, this VJ Sport MAXx is that good!

VJ Sport HERE

MAXx HERE

VJ was founded in 1981 to produce light weight and fast shoes for orienteers for all circumstances.

During the years we have built up our shoes in every category through feedback and continuous trial runs. Nowadays there are more sports we want to serve but our mission is still the same: we want to offer light weight shoes, which at the same time protect your feet and have #thebestgripontheplanet.

So whether your sport is orienteering, trail running, skyrunning, swimrun or obstacle course racing we are here for you.

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Fred. Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL 2019 Preview

Fred. Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL is a trail running event that offers five modalities with different characteristics for people with or without disabilities, designed so that mountaineers and athletes with different levels of experience and physical fitness can participate. In this way, Tenerife Bluetrail pursues a clear objective of integration: TRAIL RUNNING FOR ALL.

The Ultra (102km) of the Fred. Olson Tenerife Blue Trail is particularly tough: it involves considerable climbs and descents and a long stretch of the run in a mountainous area at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. The maximum height of 3,555 metres is reached just below the summit of the iconic Teide. The other categories also involve difficulties and risks, inherent in the natural environment where they are performed. Due to the environment and mountains, sometimes extreme temperatures can be experienced, particularly for this in the ultra who depart just before midnight and must climb to Teide in almost complete darkness with cold temperatures.

THE FIVE RACES:

Ultra 102km

The star race of the Fred. Olsen Tenerife Bluetrail 2019 a brutally tough and challenging race of 101.5km’s. It’s an amazing concept race that is truly logical as it offers a traverse of the island, from sea, to summit and returning back to the sea. The highest point of the race is the iconic Mt Teide at 3550m. Made up mostly of paths and tracks, the route also includes a small section of asphalt, just 13%. An allocated 24-hours is provided to complete the event. Departing from Playa Fanabe at 2330 on June 8th, the route will pass through La Quinta, Ifonche, Vilaflor de Chasna, Degollada de Guajara, Roques de Garcia, Pico Viejo, La Rambleta, Montana Blanca, Lomo Hurtado, Recibo Quemado, Ladera de Tigaiga, Chanajiga, Tigaiga, El Asomadero, El Mirador de la Corona, Mirador San Pedro and Rambla de Castro before finishing in Puerto de la Cruz.

Trail 67km

This 66 km trail will start at 6:00am, June 8th, in Vilaflor (Santa Catalina St.). Departing from 1,387 m above sea level and reaching 2,520 m at its highest point, this race will be comprised by paths (55%), tracks (32%) and asphalt (13%). The total elevation gain for this race is 7,886 m. The maximum time for completion will be 14 hours.

Marathon 43km

The third edition of this 43 km marathon will be held on June 8(9:00 am). This race will be comprised by paths (50%), tracks (29%) and asphalt (21%).

Media 20km

This 20 km race (half-marathon) will also start on June 8th at 8 am. It will depart from Plaza de San Agustín, los Realejos, and the runners will have 4 hours to get to the finish line. This race will be comprised by paths (32%), tracks (18%) and asphalt (50%).

Reto 8km/ 3.7km/ 1.2km

The Bluetrail Challenge will be held again in this 9th edition, with an 8.4 km and a 1.2 km race. It will be held on June 8.

In the Ultra race 3 runners stand out and they occupied the places of the podium last year:!

Yeray Durán returns and was the winner with 12:57 last year.  Sangé Sherpa was 2nd in 2018 and will be looking for victory and finally, José Antonio González who placed 3rd in 2018 will be looking to place higher.

Also look out for David Lutzardo, Santiago García Soria, José Antonio Luna and Italian Gianluca Gaelati.

Leire Martínez heads up the ladies race with last years winner, Azara Garcia missing the race. Azara’s time of 14:21 will take some beating! Look out for Sonia Escuriola, Marta Muixí and Marta Escudero. Important to also note that Maria Lorena Ramirez will also toe the line.

More than 2,500 participants will toe the line in one of the four races that make up the 2019 Fred Olson TENERIFE BLUE TRAIL. Notably, world renowned, Pau Capell will race the marathon!

Race website HERE

Start list for 2019 HERE

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Ultra Trail Stara Planina 2019 Race Summary – Serbia skyrunning

Stara Planina which roughly translates to ‘Old Mountain’ is known to many as The Balkan mountain range which is in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains are in central Bulgaria. Botev at 2,376 m the highest. On the border between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea.

Stara Planina, one of the most beautiful and most authentic nature reserves that hides the highest mountain peak in Serbia – Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level. Endless stretches of untouched nature, vast mountain pastures and forests rich in forest fruit and herbs, picturesque villages and interesting folklore.

Ultra Trail Stara Planina kicked off on Friday at midday with the 130km race which has a whopping vertical gain of 5870+. It was a race which was enveloped in mist and rain, but the relentless rain and storms that were forecast, thankfully did not appear.

On Saturday at 0700 three other races that make up Ultra Trail Stara Planina started from the Stara Planina ski resort – 36km with 2370+ the 57km 2350+ and 94km 3890+. The latter race would run till the early hours of Sunday morning and all other races would conclude on Saturday.

Saturday was a mixed bag of weather with dense fog and mist lasting through to midday and then an afternoon of glorious sunshine that allowed the amazing landscape that this area has to offer to finely shine through.

400 runners from over 25 countries assembled to experience Ultra Trail Stara Planina.

This area is a hidden gem. It’s remote, beautiful and wild. To run here, one feels truly remote and isolated from the outside world. The only glimpses of life coming from remote villages where time has stood still. Gostuša talking to a woman in her late sixties, she had never ventured from her village – she told me of how a now derelict building was once a disco. It’s hard to imagine that some 50-years ago a disco was required in a small isolated village. What was a local shop, now boarded up, closed and crumbling to the ground – the demand for supplies making the shop redundant as over the years, villagers have moved away leaving just 20 residing.

To experience the ‘real’ life of a place, one gains an insight into a journey. If it wasn’t for running and adventure, maybe these gems of Serbia would disappear completely?

Posters pasted on walls notify the passing of loved ones and it’s hard not to feel a little sad that in year’s to come, no posters will be posted as the locals, the core of the community will have all disappeared leaving ghost towns in the mountains.

Green lush vegetation with winding trails interweave through this area providing relentless challenging terrain that continuously goes up and down.

Then the arrival of a village, refreshment, a chance to stop, replenish and refuel before heading back out to experience more of the wilds of Serbia.

This area is very inaccessible by vehicle, just 10km’s can take over a hour by a 4×4 vehicle – the runners therefore are truly privileged to experience a testing and challenging journey with the experience of summiting the highest peak of Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level. To get there though, this year, they had to experience dense mist and snow on the course.

Topli Do a hidden gem like Gostuša but there is more life here, the village is bigger and although much is falling down and wasting away, it has a raw and natural beauty.

Runners here arrive from different directions with Marshalls ever vigilant to ensure that they go in the correct direction.

A highlight, depending on which race you are running, is a technical descent from Midžor or equally, a technical climb for the 130km runners.

In the village of Gostuša an old hall is used as a major aid station where drop bags, a change of clothes and warm food is available.

Finally, for all races, Plaža signifies the final section of the race with stunning views over the mountains and for those who have time to stop, they can look back and trace the journey they have travelled.

Stara Planina ski resort, for all races signifies the end of a truly epic day or days in the heart of the Serbian landscape. The journey of 36km, 57km, 94km or 130km over.

Results:

130km

1 – Nedjalkov Balazs
2 – Jovica Spajić
3 – Danijel Loncarević

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Nela Lazarević
2 – Ivona Velimirović
3 – Ivana Stanković

94km

1 – Dusan Bazic
2 – Duško Momić
3 – Mariya Nikolova

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Mariya Nikolova
2 – Cecilia Papay-Sar
3 – Kristina Radović

57km

1 – Dejan Todevski
2 – Filip Todorovski
3 – Dimitar Todorovski

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Snezana Djuric
2 – Agata Labedzka
3 – Tatjana Jovanović

36km

1 – Srdjan Mate
2 – Marko Popin
3 – Marko Ilic

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Marija Djordjević
2 – Alana Munnik
3 – Lidija Radulovic

FULL RESULTS HERE

IMAGE GALLERIES AVAILABLE HERE

*****

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