Jon Albon did it again, 2-years in a row and his 3rd victory. His time of 7:04 gave a huge margin over the 2nd and 3rd times of 7:36 and 7:37 for Pere Aurell and Andy Symonds.
Hillary Gerardi took a huge win in 8:14 and set a new CR. Ragna Debats and Brittany Peterson were 2nd and 3rd in 8:27 and 8:40.
Kilian Jornet did it again, his 6th victory at the race and it just shows what a ‘complete’ athlete he is! The course record set by Jono Wyatt has still eluded him though… This year ran 2:31:39. Robbie Simpson and Robert Panin were 2nd and 3rd in 2:33:11 and 2:33:18.
Lucy Wambui once again took the win in 2:57:54 ahead of Michelle Maier and Simone Troxler, 3:01:30 and 3:02:46 respectively.
Megan Kimmel broke Lynn Bjorklund’s 1981 record of 4:14:18 by just 14-seconds. She ran the up in 2:42 and the descent in 1:33. Laura Orgue was 2nd in 4:30 and Kristina Mascarenas 3rd in 4:37.
The men’s race saw the return of Dakota Jones. He actually cycled 250-miles to start the race. He won in 3:32, 2:18 for the up and 1:13 for the down. The down time is incredible and broke Matt Carpenter’s 1:15 which has stood since 1993. Oriol Cardon and Darren Thomas placed 2nd and 3rd, 15-seconds separated them.
It was somewhat of a comeback weekend with Dakota winning at Pikes Peak and Rob Krar obliterating Leadville 100 with arguably one of the greatest runs of all-time. He ran 15:5, the second fastest time ever on the course. He was only 9-minutes off Matt Carpenter’s 2005 record. Ryan Kaiser and Seth Kelly were 2nd and 3rd, 17:37 and 18:15.
Katie Arnold won in 19:53 ahead of Addie Bracy in 21:17. Gina Slaby was 3rd in 23:13.
Big shout out to Dave Mackey !!!
TRANSROCKIES – 6-stage race over 120-miles.
The El Kott twins, Lina and Sanna were at it again… these two have been unstoppable in 2018. They have taken Skyrunning by storm and with a relentless calendar, they have now won in the US ahead of Hillary Allen/ Lucy Bartholomew – 17:48 to 18:26.
Shawn Lywood and Mike Tucker won the men’s division in 19:25.
There are also solo categories for 3-days and 6-days.
Tessa Chesser won the women’s 6-day and Amanda Basham the 3-day, their time 21:04 and 8:59. Must give a shout out to Becks Ferry who placed 3rd in the 6-day race.
Cody Reed won the men’s 6-day and Owen Bradley the 3-day, 16:37 and 8:40 respectively.
Interview with EL KOTT TWINS
ULTRAVASEN 90KM (Sweden)
Last year’s champ, Ida Nilsson could only manage 2nd this year after battling with stomach issues. Alexandra Morzova won in 6:43. Nilsson ran 7:06 and Sarah Bard 7:27 for 3rd.
Fritjof Fagerlind won in 6:01 ahead of Pat Reagan and Didrik Hermansen, 6:10 and 6:15.
APPALACHIAN TRAIL FKT
Karl Sabbe from Belgium is on the AT looking for a ‘supported’ FKT record and looks set to break the records of Scott Jurek and Karl Meltzer. This attempt seems to have little PR and buzz and is almost under the radar…
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.
The 2018 Skyrunner World Seriesarrives in Madeira for the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira,USMfor short. It’s a 55km race with a whopping 4000m of vertical gain. Anna Frost, a regular on the island sums it up, “The place is incredible, it has diversity of nature, amazing vertical gain and of course, the sea provides stunning backdrop to amazing technical and mountainous terrain.”
Created specifically for the Skyrunner World Series, the USM is a serious challenge and includes tough terrain and at times, climbing expertise to grade 2 is required. The race, in many ways, is like no other race on the calendar. The sea provides an aspect rarely found in Skyrunning races as they more often than not, take place in-land, in mountainous areas. Leaving the town of Santana, the race heads into the mountains taking single-track, working a route that takes in the highest point of the island. From here, the route drops to the sea before finally climbing once again and returning to Santana for the finish. However, before the finish, runners must work their way up a river, boulder hopping; it’s a little spice to mix the racing up.
Last year, Jon Albon won the race in style, “USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. It was relentless terrain of ups and downs; the variety is incredible, and I loved the river bed section. This race is up there with my all-time favourites. I will definitely be back!”
For the ladies’ it was Hillary Allen who took the top honours, of course, our thoughts and best wishes go out to Hillary as she slowly but surely returns to fitness and racing after a horrific fall at Tromso SkyRace.
So, who are the 2018 contenders for victory?
One could say, that this year, the USM has the most stacked field ever in the history of the race. It’s a who’s who of the world’s best.
Ragna Debats arguably tops the ladies’ field after her stunning victory at the World Trail Championships, add to this, a super solid 2017 season on the Skyrunning calendar, and she will be the one to beat.
Gemma Arenas has raced in Madeira before and has had great success; she won! Gemma knows the course, knows the challenges and will certainly be in the mix.
Malene Haukoy like technical race, she as placed well in Tromso and Glencoe and the 55km of USM will suit her. One to watch for sure!
Hillary Gerardi goes from strength-to-strength, she likes technical, she loves vert and therefore USM is made for her. Her recent success over the VK distance and top placing at Yading in China means she is in great shape.
Ekaterina Mityaeva like Hillary seems to get stronger with each race. She has just had atop placing at Transvulcania and I think it’s fair to say that the more challenging terrain of Madeira will suit her skills in contrast to the more runnable and faster, Transvulcania.
Emelie Forsberghas been away from the sport over the winter concentrating on Skimo and just this weekend will race Zegama. Zegama for Emelie, despite great success in the past may well be just a little short and fast for this early in the season, so, USM will suit her far more. She is one of the best in the business and you can never rule her out.
Martina Valmassoi was missing for much of 2017 with injury, she is now back and recently had a victory! USM will no doubt be a push this early in the season, but Martina knows the course and has done well in the past.
Nuria Picas was always the one to beat in any Skyrunning race. In recent years, Nuria moved to the longer UTWT series and she excelled at the longer distance. In 2017 she raced Tromso and now in 2018, she runs USM for the first time. It’s Nuria Picas, so, expect something special.
Anna Mae Flynn and Brittany Peterson both raced Transvulcania and just missed the podium. It’s fair to say that USM is far more ‘European’ than Transvulcania… the trails more technical, rutted and challenging, therefore it will be interesting to see how the duo handle the change. One thing is for sure, they both know how to run, Transvulcania showed us that!
Mira Rai would probably prefer a longer course than 55km, however, Mira is always one to watch and USM will be no different. One thing is for sure, she will smile her way around the course.
Jonathan Albon is the returning champ and based on his 2017 race and his overall SWS championship victory, it’s fair to say that he is the favourite for the 2018 win. His recent 4th at the World Trail Champs confirms good form and we all know he prefers technical and challenging terrain.
Dmitry Mityaev gets stronger and stronger, he did well in 2017 and just recently made the podium at Transvulcania, Dmitry will be in the mix in Madeira, for sure.
Marco De Gasperi was 4th in La Palma recently and admitted post-race that he didn’t take enough risks. This was primarily due to the races distance, he rarely races over 42km and Transvulcania’s 75km was an unknown. With USM being 55km, I think we will see a different Marco and is we all know, he is the Skyrunning master!
Pau Capell is an interesting addition to the race. He is without doubt a master over longer distances and as we saw in 2017, he can do welt Skyrunning after a top run at Transvulcania. He is a savvy and clever runner and I expect him to trade blows with the best in Madeira.
Andre Jonsson races everything and usually very consistently. He once led USM from the front only to be passed in the latter stages. I would anticipate he will have a similar tactic in 2018.
Alex Nichols i
Alex Nichols was a pioneer for American’s running in Europe on the Skyrunning circuit. In recent years he has moved to longer distances, in particular, 100-miles. He is a class act who manages to combine speed and technical ability – he is one to watch!
Cody Lind had a tough race in China with a below par performance. That will have no doubt knocked his confidence, but I think we wills him back at the front in Madeira and looking to impact on the front of the race for atop-5and maybe podium.
Franco Colle, Luis Fernandes, Daniel Jung, Armando Teixeira, Phillip Reiterand Fulvio Dapit make up the other main contenders for the male podium, it is going to be an exciting race!
Episode 120 – Alex Nichols tells us all about his first 100-miler and how how he won it! Emelie Forsberg tells us about her return to Kima and finding solace and new skills in India. Jasmin Paris is on fire and we sum up an incredible 2016 and ‘another’ round record and finally Speedgoat Karl answers your questions about the Appalachian Trail FKT.
KARL ON THE AT
Some questions from listeners:
Daniel “DJ” Denton Funny: will he burn the van because it has his permanent stench after not showering for over 40 days, and, Serious: did the experience result in a deeper bond/relationship with is father and wife?
Seth Holling What was his thoughts on the smokies? Was the smokies tougher or easier than expected? Would he recommend tacklinnog the smokies first (NB) or last (SB)? Also, did he find a sixer that was left for him at Davenport gap where the AT crosses I-40 🍺
Chris Morgan Ask Karl if he had to push through any injuries?
And if he did how did he do it and did they go away? Or did they become something that needed constant management.
Florian Schuetz What made the difference compared to his previous attempts? Why did he manage to break the time this year? Better fitness, no injuries, mental game, etc.
Brett Slater I’d be interested in his foot care regimen and how he avoids calf issues.
David Nowaczewski Ask him what the heck happened on the day he was found face down on the trail?
Ray Jackson Jr. Ask him how it feels to finally be home and in a place where he can rest without deadlines.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is now available in Spain, Germany and Italy and the UK edition will be delivered to UK audiences, USA audiences and Southern Hemisphere audiences from November 3rd: more info – HERE
In the SkyRace (39km) Joe Gray did the double ahead of Tayte Pollman and Patrick Parsel – 4:00, 4:00.3 and 4:11 respectively.
Alicia Shay (now Vargo) won the ladies 4:51 ahead of Kristi Knecht and Sandi Nypaver 4:53 and 4:54
GRAND TO GRAND
Florian Vieux and Emilie Leconte won the self-supported race with Sebastien Nain and Elisabet Barnes taking 2nd.
Became a ‘really’ short race due to bad weather and Dylan Bowman and Fernanda Maciel ran great races to win the 27-mile race
Miguel Heras was back to winning ways with a dominant performance and just missed Kilian’s record. he finished in 12:05.Jessed Hernandez and Cristofer Clemente was 3rd. Cristofer became Skyrunner World Series champion for the Ultra distance.
Gemma Arenas tool the race win and Skyrunner World Series. Hillary Allen and Anna Comet placed 2nd and 3rd in the race.
Jasmin Paris sets another FKT on a UK round in wales
00:29:00 INTERVIEW with Jasmin Paris
Kaci Lickteig and Mick Jurynec/ Ryan Weibel (joint) won in 20:27 and 19:33
Rob Krar was back with a victory at Berkeley Trail Adventure 50 mile
Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.
Just one mention of the name: Sierre-Zinal and the emotions stir in even the most experienced mountain runner. For over 40-years, the 31-km point-to-point course from Sierre to Zinal with a total elevation gain of 2200m and just 800m of descent has been the battle ground for some epic battles. In 2014 the tradition will continue and with it a new moment in history… I have a feeling that this year may well be a record year! It’s a bold statement. Jonathan Wyatt set the current male record of 2:29:12 in 2003 and the female record of 2:54:26 was set by the Queen of Sierre-Zinal; Anna Pichtrova (now Strakova) in 2008.
The Sierre-Zinal course is unique in profile, starting low, the runners immediately go into a tough long climb that is followed by fast running with a slight drop to the line. It suits a rounded athlete; one who can climb with the best, keep pace with the fastest and then descend like a demon. Who’s your pick? On August 10th, 4000 runners will depart Sierre and head to the mountain arena that is Zinal. I for one can’t wait!
Who is going to win?
He is on a roll and with current form I am going all out, laying it on the line and predicting Kilian Jornet with not only victory but a new course record (weather permitting.) The Catalan’s current form is arguably the best we have witnessed. His 2014 so far has illuminated the history books and leaves us all wondering… what will Kilian go on to achieve in his lifetime. His natural ability, humility and passion for the sport is endless and I for one feel very content that I am here to witness ‘The Kilian Years!’
Marco De Gasperi has been struggling with injury but when on form, Marco is one of the few runners to push Kilian and push him hard all the way to the line. In many respects, The Sierre-Zinal course may well suit Marco more? We saw this in 2011 when Marco pipped Kilian to the line in the 2nd fastest time ever seen on the course. In 2012, Marco returned and won once again. However, Kilian was not present. The showdown that awaits this year may well prove to be one of the eagerly anticipated editions of this iconic race.
Juan Carlos Cardona placed 2nd in 2013 and along with course record holder, Jono Wyatt one has to assume that the duo will be upfront, pushing the pace and looking to repeat 2013 performances.
Robbie Simpson, Chamonix 2013
Brit, Robbie Simpson had a breakthrough performance in 2014 and I for one sincerely hope that he can at least repeat or better his performance. His current form is very good and the opportunity to race against such a quality field is something that he will embrace.
Robbie will not have it all his own way though and I see Tom Owens moving up a level and following up his already impressive 2014 placing at the Transvulcania La Palma, Skyrunning World Championships and Ice Trail Tarentaise with a podium place in Zinal. Currently on a sabbatical from work, the time is right for Tom. Quality training and more importantly, quality rest. One to watch!
Ionut Zinca is on form. He showed his class at Limone Extreme in 2013 and once again adorned the podium behind Kilian Jornet at the Dolomites Skyrace. On his day, Ionut is a definite podium contender.
Jo Gray from the USA is an ever present at Sierre-Zinal. His current form appears to be excellent and although he may not make the podium, a top-10 placing is a definite possibility.
Tofol Castanyer on his day needs 100% respect, particularly in a mountain race. His presence here will not only make his competitors make a mental note but also firmly place a target on his back as one to follow should he make a move.
Aritz Egea goes from strength-to-strength and will be a fierce competitor with a top-10 placing guaranteed should he continue the form shown at Zegama-Aizkorri, Skyrunning World Championships and most recently at the Dolomites Skyrace. Aritz will be top-5 at the summit of the long climb but may slip back as the running becomes faster and flatter.
Zaid Ait Malek will be smiling. Guaranteed! Zaid broke onto the circuit in 2013 and like others has progressed into ‘hot’ on the trail, mountain and Skyrunning circuit. Without doubt top-10 potential and should he have a great day, top-5.
Alex Nichols may very well upset the apple cart for everyone! The Sierre-Zinal course will suit him right down to the ground and will play into his hands; he loves mountain running on faster trails where he can unleash his speed. His recent top result at Speedgoat 50k bodes well!
Thorbjorn Ludvigsen goes from strength to strength not only in the VK distance but in the Sky distance. His ability and rounded running style will suit the Sierre-Zinal course and after 2 impressive runs in the Dolomites, we can expect Thor to push at the front of the race.
David Schneider heads up the competition from Switzerland and Cesar Costa will make them an unstoppable duo. David has recently become a Dad so he may be a little sleep deprived but his recent performance at the Dolomites Skyrace shows he has lost none of his speed.
Florian Reichert will be looking to transfer his fast marathon pace and VK ability to a course that plays into the German’s hands. Of all the Skyrunning courses, Sierre-Zinal on paper appears to be the perfect fit for Florian. His recent performance at the Skyrunning World Championships shows his form is good.
Ones to watch:
Saul Antonio Padua
The elite line up has great depth. I am sure I have missed some possible top-10 contenders? You can view the list HERE
Elisa Desco pipped Stevie Kremer to the top slot in 2013 and will be looking to do the same in 2014. Elisa recently beat Stevie at the Skyrunning World Championships and just this last weekend placed 1st at Fletta Trail. Elisa is going to be the one to beat!
Stevie Kremer has raced at Sierre-Zinal a couple of times now and hasn’t made the top slot. 2014 may well be the year that elevates her up a slot and she is crowned champion. In real terms, I wonder if this course has enough climbing? Certainly in the early stages, Stevie will be at the front of the field and may well lead the race. However, as the course flattens off and comes more runnable, Stevie looses some of her advantage. If I were Stevie, I’d run hard from the gun and open up a gap…
Kasie Enman is back! I have been continually impressed by the progression and story of Kasie. Now a mother of 2, Kasie is on the comeback trail after her 2nd child and her recent improvements in all her races can only mean that the American will be ‘one-to-watch’ on this course. Placing in the top-3 at Speedgoat 50k must have provided a real boost not only to her confidence but fitness. Now in Europe for an extended period, expect Kasie to create a stir.
VK specialist Laura Orgue turned the tables upside down at the recent Dolomites Skyrace relegating Emelie Forsberg to 2nd place. For sure, Laura will embrace the opening kilometres of the Sierre-Zinal route, as they are all uphill. However, as the course flattens one has to question will she be able to hold any advantage gained to the line.
Victoria Wilkinson created a stir at the Dolomites Skyrace and I am 100% convinced that she will make her presence felt here in Zinal. Like so many other Brits before her, Victoria is grounded in fell running and the technical skills and ability that style of running brings. The transition is often seamless as we have seen with Tom Owens, Andy Symonds and so many more… one to watch!
Stephanie Howe along with Kremer and Enman adds more US firepower to what is already a very strong line up! Sierre-Zinal may well be a little short for Steph, however, if she can transfer he ability from longer races to this fast mountain race, we may well see an upset. In 2014 alone, Steph has won Western States, Mesquite Canyon 50k and placed 2nd at Lake Sonoma 50.
Christel Dewalle is an ever present on the podium. Her ability of VK and SKY distance is second to none and the French lady will without doubt be contesting the top-5 and arguably the podium.
Aline Camboulive and Maud Mathys both return. Aline won the race in 2012 in 3:02:58 and Maud placed 3rd in 2012 and 2013. This year the competition is arguably a little stronger and more competitive. Add Celine Lafaye to the mix and if any of this dynamic trio makes the podium, they will have had a great race.
The heat subsides on the island of La Palma, the waves continue to splash on the shoreline and a new week begins. It’s only 10-days since the incredibly successful, dramatic and exciting Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma. But wait a minute, days away, the iconic mountain race, Zegama-Aizkorri kicks off. Ask anyone about ‘Zegama’ and they say, it’s ZEGAMA! Nothing more needs to be said… it’s a race that excites mountain runners like few other races do.
It’s a brutally fast and technical race that is not for the feint hearted. Located in a natural park, Aizkorri-Aratz, it brings respect and excitement to every mountain runner that toes the line.
Zegama this year may very well just be a classic in the making, we had fireworks at Transvulcania, but one look at this line-up and I think we may well have fireworks once again but this time on the proportions of a New Year’s Eve get together…
Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Marco De Gasperi, Tom Owens and Pablo Villa illuminate a top-quality men’s field.
Emelie Forsberg, Maite Maiora, Stevie Kremer, Kasie Enman, Elisa Desco and Nuria Picas add no element of softness to the race line up, these ladies are as tough as nails and may well take down a few of the top ranked men.
So, what is going to happen on the trails and mountains of the Aizkorri-Aratz?
A medium mountain route over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri, which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region (Aratz – Aizkorri –Akategi and Aitxuri). Starting in the town of Zegama (296m) the race climbs up to the high point of Otzaurte (652m) and then follows a mountain pass and a route along paths and mountain tracks of great natural beauty. It combines forests with steep rocky slopes and high grazing land. It is very technical and with a high level of difficulty.
Date: 25th of May, 2014
Start and finish: Zegama ( guipúzcoa ) –09:00 start.
Total length: 42.195 km.
Control points: 14 Refreshment points: 13
Flying sprint: Aizkorri (22.58 km)
Accumulated height gain: 5.472 meters
Maximum altitude: 1.551m Aitxuri
Minimum altitude: 296m Zegama.
Technical percentage of course: 70% approx.
Climate: medium mountain, possibilities of intense heat, strong winds, fog or rain.
Time limit: 8 hours.
Closing time of check points: Click the button to see the control time
The men’s race is full of talent and like Transvulcania, a winner could come from any direction; are we due a surprise? However, based on the La Palma showdown, one has to conclude that Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian Jornet are HOT favourites for the win.
Luis Alberto Hernando fulfilled a dream at La Palma and coming to Zegama he will either be immensely satisfied and looking for a victory loop or he will be fired up and ready for more… I’m going with the latter! He’s a fierce competitor and his powers of recovery post Transvulcania will be good. Zegama suits Luis and he only ‘just’ missed out on the win in 2013 by seconds, pushing Kilian Jornet all the way to the line.
Kilian Jornet now has one race under his belt and all the competition will now know that his training is done… I joke, but Kilian usually only needs one race to loosen up and he is back in his stride. If we look at 2012, Kilian placed 3rd at Transvulcania and then just 1-week later dominated Zegama in atrocious conditions. For sure, Kilian doesn’t like heat and he will be hoping for cooler conditions come the weekend of the 24th. If he could choose, he would like rain, some snow and wind. If we get those conditions, Kilian will almost certainly be hot favourite. Should we get sun, heat and calm conditions, I think Kilian is still the hot favourite BUT it will be close, very close.
So close that Marco De Gasperi will almost certainly make Kilian and Luis potentially repeat the Zegama finish of 2013 or we may have a ‘replay’ of the Kilian and Marco sprint from the Dolomites Skyrace in 2013. One thing is for sure, the legend that is Marco De Gasperi will be pushing the Spaniard and the Catalan over every meter of this course and if he is not pushing them, he will be leading them. Marco keeps telling me that he is getting old but class is permanent and that class will shine in Zegama.
Tom Owens had a superb Zegama in 2011 and 2012 and then disappeared in 2013 with injuries. However, Tom is back! A recent 2nd behind Ricky Lightfoot at the Three Peaks in the UK and a stunning 6th at Transvulcania, his first ultra, without doubt elevates Tom to hot and he will be looking for a podium place. For Tom to place 6th in an ultra and then drop down to his preferred distance, SKY, can only mean that he has an even greater chance of rocking the cart. His strong fell running background is a perfect fit for this race. Podium potential for sure.
Tadei Pivk produced a stunning run in 2013 taking the final podium place ahead of Zaid Ait Malek. Both of these runners will make an impact one again. In particular, Zaid has progressed in the last 12-months with a series of quality results and performances. He’s a small guy with a huge character and personality. They will both be up at the front.
Michel Lanne will be leaving his helicopter at home and once again lacing up his ‘Sense’ to test himself against the best in the world. He will be in the mix, he always is, however, he just needs that touch of extra luck to help him move up to the very front end of a pure mountain race like this. Michel had a string of top-3 performances in 2013, a notable 2nd to Francois d’Haene at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight. Just recently he placed 2nd at Trail du Ventoux, so, the form is good.
Pablo Villa is going to be on a high after top-10 at Transvulcania and like Tom Owens will be looking to carry the momentum on here. It’s going to be a tough call and although I don’t see him contesting the podium, the Scott runner will be in the mix if recovered.
Inov-8, Skyrunning partner are sending a very strong field that can be broken down into several levels. I see the strong performances coming from Eirik Haugsnes, Aritz Egea and Alex Nichols. Anyone of these guys could make the top-10. Oli Johnson placed top-10 at Mont-Blanc Marathon in 2013 and will represent the UK at the up and coming Skyrunning World Champs, he has the run ability and skill set to excel at Zegama, however, I am not sure he is 100% at the moment, so, I think he will have a presence at the front end, his performance will very much depend on his progression in the last 2 to 3 weeks. Pierre Laurent Viguier recently won Trail du Citadelles but like Robbie Britton, this race may well be too short, too technical and too fast for them to excel. I see Zegama, as being a learning curve and Chris Steele will no doubt embrace the opportunity and give it all he has.
AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri
Alex Nicholls gets a nod in the inov-8 line up but we have other quality overseas competition coming from Cameron Clayton (USA), AJ Calitz (South Africa) and we should have had Vlad Ixel arriving from the Southern Hemisphere, however, recent injury has put a stop to that. A real shame, Vlad is my hot-tip as one of the new ‘surprises’ in the trail and ultra world. No worries, we will get to see him perform in June at the World Champs. AJ Calitz pushed at the front end of the 2013 Zegama and then it all went pear shaped when he tried to follow Kilian on one of the descents, he hit the deck and his race was over… AJ swore he would be back and he is! I still think he is in for a learning curve experience but I do expect to see him in the mix. Cameron has all the speed needed to race at the front but this race is like no other. It’s fast, furious, relentless and technical. The question for Cameron will be can he use all that natural ability and perform on what for him, will be very technical terrain?
Martin Gaffuri raced really well in 2013 earning some very cool Skyrunning stripes. He started 2014 with a warm up in Costa Rica laying a great foundation and at Transvulcania he raced the half-marathon so as not to use up too much energy and gain a confidence boost. However, the race didn’t go well… just a bad day I am sure. However, it may play on Martin’s mind? Martin has the right skill set, speed and downhill ability to do well at Zegama so we will just have to see what happens.
To be honest, Zegama has an elite list that extends well beyond 50 runners, so, here are a few notable mentions that we can almost certainly expect to see in the mix:
Cristobal Adell – potential top-10
Alfredo Gil – potential top-10
Jokin Lizeaga – potential top-10
Greg Vollet – Team Manager for Salomon. Don’t be surprised to see Greg beat some of his own athletes and he may well make top-10.
Florian Reichert still new to Skyrunning and on a learning curve but may make the mix?
Who have I missed? In a field this stacked, it’s impossible to account for everyone, particularly local runners who I may not know too well but who will excel on local terrain.
Rewind to Transvulcania and I think we may well see some similar performances with the exception of Frosty who will not be racing at Zegama. What we have, is a who’s who of female mountain running and it’s wide open.
Nuria Picas is on fire! As I write this, she has just won TNF100 in Australia setting a new course record. Add to this win, two incredible 2013 wins, one at the 105-mile UTMF and the other at Transgrancanaria and Nuria is the female to beat at any distance and on any course. However, she pulled out of Transvulcania (correctly in my opinion) and although Nuria is on the start list for Zegama, I expect a similar withdrawal this coming week? However, should she race, she will be pushing at the front, of this I have no doubt. The question mark will come on how fresh she will be for a short, fast mountain race after racing 100km’s or more in the early part of 2013. Nuria placed 2nd in 2013 behind Emelie Forsberg and finished just seconds ahead of Stevie Kremer. It’s an exciting prospect. Update 21/05/14 : Nuria will not race stating that recovery is paramount after her win in Australia.
Emelie Forsberg is just off skis and other than running half of the Transvulcania VK and a couple of hours in the Transvulcania main event, has little running in her legs. Add to this a bad fall in La Palma, stitches and some recovery time and Emelie may well be going to Zegama the most underprepared ever. She was relatively underprepared in 2012 when she arrived an unknown, however, look what has happened since… She has said to me that Zegama is no longer an ‘A’ race and she will use it to find form, however, Emelie on an off day is still a formidable force and I still see her in the mix. Emelie won Zegama in 2013 and pretty much everything else in her long and demanding season. When knocked off the top slot, particularly in mountain running, it was by Stevie Kremer! Firstly at Mont-Blanc and then at Limone, so, Emelie will be taking Zegama with one eye on the trail and the other on Stevie.
Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless
Stevie Kremer is also just off skis but unlike others, Stevie does maintain some running during the winter months. It may not be a great deal of hours or mileage but that connection with trail certainly puts her in a good place for the first race of the season. She showed this last year at Zegama when she flew down the final descent (she says she can’t descend) and nearly caught Nuria for 2nd place. Notorious for being nervous on the start, Stevie turns that energy into exciting running. She can climb with the best and although she thinks that she can’t contest the downhills, she can! Stevie just needs to believe it. My tip for the race victory!
Maite Maiora is a class act when it comes to mountain running. Her recent 2nd place at Transvulcania shows a new side to this slight but extremely strong runner. With added endurance, boosted confidence and great technical ability, Maite will be in the mix at Zegama and testing the other ladies to the limits. I see her on the podium; the question will be at which level? To be honest, if her recovery has gone well post La Palma, I see her going head-to-head with Stevie.
Elisa Desco returned to racing in 2013 and won the highly prestigious Sierre-Zinal. Her recent win at the Transvulcania VK and half marathon confirms that her form is good. Elisa has all the right elements to perform well at Zegama and without doubt she is podium material. The ladies field is so strong, it may well just come down to who makes the least mistakes? Elisa won’t make many!
Uxue Fraile once again produced an incredible race in Transvulcania. I said in that preview that she lacks the outright speed of some of her rivals, however, what she does have is staying power and true grit. So, should any lady falter, Uxue will be in the mix to take places. I see this happening again at Zegama. She will definitely be in the top-10, probably in the top-5 and may just sneak the podium.
Kasie Enman is coming over from the USA and will add an interesting dynamic o the race. She’s a fast lady and as Stevie says, she is without doubt one to watch. The trails and technicality of Zegama may not allow Kasie to unleash her natural speed, however, I don’t see her being off the pace. The biggest question will come in her form, as this is a return to racing after having a child.
The ladies race has less depth than the men’s field, however, you can expect to see the ladies listed below in or around the top-10.
Oihana Azkorbebeitia last big win in 2012, Puebo de Gran Fondo and has had top ranking at Zegama before. This is her comeback after having a baby. You can’t rule her out…
Stephanie Jiminez strong run at Transvulcania VK and just coming into form. Will not race, Stephanie says she is not ready for 42k yet.
Landie Greyling strong South African runner, 5th at Kepler Challenge and 2nd at Addo Elephant.
Who have I missed? It’s impossible to account for everyone, particularly local runners who I may not know too well but who will excel on local terrain.
My head hurts…it’s December, what happened to the ‘off-season’. Not only do we no longer have an off-season but The North Face have arguably assembled one of the most competitive fields in the 2013 season. Way back in April I was writing about the ‘race of the year’. Of course, it was Transvulcania La Palma. This was followed by another ‘race of the year’, Western States. I then followed this with another race of the year, Zegama and so on… you get the picture! Ultra running and mountain running is booming and as such, we are all seeing the benefits, not only from a watching and a following perspective but also from a racer perspective. It is now possible to have several peaks in one year and TNF may very well have hit on a winning formula with such a competitive race in December. It’s late enough in the season to have recovered from recent previous efforts, such as UROC or Run Rabbit Run and equally far enough away from ‘key’ races in 2014 to allow for adequate RnR.
Miguel Heras returns after winning the race in 2012. His time of 5:33 in lousy conditions confirmed his ability if any was needed. Having said that, Miguel is used to rough-n-tough weather and as such, may very well have excelled in the conditions over his US contemporaries. Also the 2012 race did have issues over course marking which did lead to several runners going astray. I take nothing away from Miguel, he is a class act and although 2013 has been a difficult season for him, his second place at TNFUTMB proves that he is back. He followed this with a quality performance at Cavalls del Vent so without doubt he is a contender for the win. However, this field is stacked.
Dakota Jones is back racing and embracing the trails after a quiet start to 2013 and some escape in the mountains. In addition, Dakota became an ‘RD’ in 2013 which primarily caused him to miss TNFUTMB and refocus on UROC. That refocus nearly worked and certainly with 5-miles to go at UROC he looked as though he had the race in the bag. However, Rob Krar pulled something out of the bag and relegated Dakota to second that day. In fine form, Dakota departed for Japan to repeat his 2012 win at Hasetsune Cup, however, disaster struck and he had a tough day and a dnf. Without doubt, Dakota will be recovered and focused on winning at San Francisco. He will be looking for a repeat performance similar to San Juan Solstice 50m when he broke Matt Carpentar’s record.
Sage Canaday will bring his speed to this race and along with Cameron Clayton and maybe, Max King. They will be out at the front pushing the pace. Sage has had a mixed 2013 in the sense that he has occasionally pushed and failed below his own demanding standards. His great runs at Tarawera, Transvulcania La Palma and Lake Sonoma may well fall into insignificance in Sage’s own mind as I feel he may well dwell on his performances at Sierre-Zinal and UROC. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big Sage fan. He has all the ability to go out and win San Fran but I just wonder what effect recent performances will have on his confidence. In real terms, caution may well prove a huge bonus allowing him to hold back early on and keep his powder dry for the final 30% were he can use all that natural speed and ability. Unfortunately Sage has Flu – will not start
Cameron Clayton will be feeling somewhat inspired and motivated coming into San Fran after his 3rd place at UROC behind Rob Krar and Dakota Jones. Cameron was 3rd at this race last year and although he has had a full season, you can’t rule him out from pulling something special out of the bag for that $10,000 prize. His 2013 season has been fulfilled with top placing’s at Transvulcania and Lake Sonoma, however, he has had a few below par performances which I think ultimately were more due to a niggling foot and other health issues. All looks good now though.
Rob Krar, wow, what can we say about Rob that hasn’t already been said. Arguably, one of ‘THE’ ultra runners of the year after his rim-to-rim exploits, Western States run (his first 100) and then his incredible win at UROC. He raced just the other weekend at JFK50 and dropped leaving question marks in his own mind. However, the ‘drop’ may very well have just saved his legs and without doubt, don’t be surprised if he is on top of the podium at the end of the weekends festivities.
Timmy Olson repeated his victory at Western States, always the sign of a true champion when you can go back to a race and do it again…! He raced at Tarawera and made the podium, he just missed the podium at Transvulcania and dug real deep at TNFUTMB. Surprisingly after such a tough TNFUTMB he then raced Run Rabbit Run on what must have been a tired body. He certainly has an autopilot but I can’t help but think this race will be all about fulfilling sponsorship requirements and showing face. Having said that, showing face will probably still result in a top-10 and should he get his race face on, don’t be surprised if Timmy gets a podium place.
Ryan Sandes has had ‘one of those years’ that he will be keen to get over! I was with Ryan in Gran Canaria in March, he was all fired up for an exciting season ahead and then injury hit forcing him to miss Western States. Healed, Ryan returned to Leadville in the hope of repeating his 2011 victory, however, injury reappeared. He has tackled some personal projects in South Africa and recently raced in Patagonia. Ryan will be looking to finish 2013 on a high and may just well go under the radar after a quiet year.
Max King has not had a repeat of his 2012 season. Winner of the 2012 JFK and UROC, Max was an unstoppable rollercoaster and along with sage Canaday was just on fire. In 2013 he had planned to mix things up and race at different distances and represent the USA in multiple disciplines, it didn’t go to plan and he has been plagued with an ankle problem. If he is recovered and inform, Max will be up at the helm with Cameron and Sage dropping fast minute miles an looking to be the last man standing at the end.
Alex Nichols placed 5th last year and will come to this race confident after a great 2013 season racing in the Skyrunning calendar. In particular, he has plenty of speed uphill and has improved his down hill speed. 2013 may well just be the year that he moves a couple of places higher on the podium.
Francois D’Haene was last years 2nd place, approximately 13-mins behind his Salomon teammate, Miguel Heras. Francois has raced less in 2013 due to the pressures of owning a vineyard, however, when he has raced, he has been in top form. His was 2nd at Ice-Trail Tarentaise behind Kilian Jornet, he was joint winner at Mont-Blanc Marathon 80k Ultra with Michel Lanne and his recent dominance at the super tough Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale de Fous) means that his presence at San Fran surely means he is a podium contender.*Update“Finally my season ends sooner than expected …since my fall in Death Valley tuesday with a shock in the ribs I hope but I have finally abdicate … So I would support the team tomorrow.”
Michel Lanne is another consistent performer who may well do very well at this race. He had a great run with teammate Francois D’Haene at Mont-Blanc but then picked up an injury. In addition, he has also become a dad! December may well prove to be a great time of year; his life will have settled a little, he will be over his injury and without doubt he will be excited to race in the US.
My final hot tip for a podium place goes to Dylan Bowman. Dylan had a great Western States and turned up at TNFUTMB in the form of his life but had a freak training accident, which caused him to miss the race. He has a new coach and he is going to be looking to release some of that UTMB frustration.
So who else… it seems crazy that I am not writing about the names below in more depth. But I have previewed above who I think may well take out the top-3 slots
Mike Wolfe – was 11th last year and set an incredible FKT this year with Hal he could win this race!.
Adam Campbell – 4th last year and I may regret not adding him above?
Mike Foote – great 2013 UTMB but been quiet recently.
Hal Koerner – Think he will be on TNF duty.
Karl Meltzer – Karl says he has no chance in such a fast and ‘short’ field. If it were a 100-miles he would be listed above.
Matt Flaherty – another who should maybe be above but he was 2nd at JFK just a week ago, maybe a little tired?.
Mike Wardian – anything can happen…. Mike is an unpredictable phenomenon.
David Riddle – may or may not race with injury?
Gary Gellin – 9th last year.
Ryan Ghelfi – 5th at UROC and I may regret not adding him above too.
Rickey Gates – mixed 2013 but always a contender.
Jorge Maravilla – top 20 in 2012.
Martin Gaffuri – great season on the Skyrunning calendar.
And finally, Greg Vollet who continues to amaze and surprise every time he races.
So, there you have it. A super stacked crazy race to end the year, the top-3 are any bodies guess. I have tried to provide a little insight but just don’t be surprised if we see a completely unexpected performance and a surprise win.
It was always going to be a classic race… the male SKY Skyrunner World Series title was sewn up with a dominant Kilian Jornet securing maximum points form three out of five qualifying races. However, the ladies race was a completely different story. Just ten points separated the leader, Emelie Forsberg from fellow Salomon teammate, Stevie Kremer.
At the finish line on the shores of Lake Garda, Kilian Jornet once again proved his supremacy with another stunning victory. For the ladies, Stevie Kremer confirmed her incredible mountain running and descending ability to take not only the victory in Limone but also the Skyrunner World Series title.
We have witnessed some incredible performance in the 2013 Skyrunner World Series over three distances; VK, SKY and ULTRA. Limone Extreme provided a stunning close to the 2013 season and we are left with some well-established names confirming that they are true champions but in addition, we have several new names on the Skyrunning scene that will most certainly build anticipation for the 2014 season.
Antonella Confortola leading on the first climb
Antonella Confortola after taking second place in the VK on Friday night had been unsure if she would start the Sky race on Sunday. Start she did and using her impressive abilities at climbing she led the way on the long steep and technical climb. Stevie Kremer followed closely in second and Emelie Forsberg was third and already loosing some ground. Emelie has had an incredible season and just over one week ago took victory and the overall Skyrunner World Series title for the Ultra distance. UROC in Colorado was Emilie’s first 100k-race and as such, she openly admitted it had taken far more out of her than she anticipated.
Stevie by contrast had raced a couple of shorter races the weekend before and arrived at Limone ready for action. After alternating the lead with Antonella, Stevie finally made her move and although she says that she can’t descend very well, she used every ounce of her ability to hold off Antonella and Emelie to win by over seven minutes. On the line Stevie said, “I was running down that final descent scared, it was twisty and technical but I just didn’t want to look back. I ran as fast as I could. It worked!”
Stevie Kremer with Skyrunning legend and Limone course designer, Fabio Meraldi
Kilian Jornet bided his time in the men’s race but when he made his move he just pulled away and secured not only another impressive victory, but also another World Series title. Kilian didn’t have it easy though.
On the first climb, new signing for inov-8, David Schneider led the way followed by Aritz Egea and Ionut Zinca. Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet (finally finished eleventh)was showing some stunning climbing ability holding a top five place along with up and coming star, Zaid Ait Malek from Morocco all the way to the summit.
Greg Vollet leading Zaid Ait Malek
One of the pre race favourites and second overall in the Skyrunner World Series, Luis Alberto Hernando was having a tough day protecting an injury, however true to his great sportsmanship he soldiered on knowing full well that I had no possibility to make a top ten position. A true champ!
Luis Alberto Hernando
Kilian made his move and a battle followed for the second and third podium places. Ionut Zinca finally pulled away from Aritz Egea and finished just one minute behind Kilian and thirty seconds ahead of Artiz. Showing great potential for 2014 season, David Schneider turned a few heads with a great fourth place with Zaid Ait Malek fifth.
Ionut Zinca second place
The 2013 season has shown some incredibly diverse and consistent performances, Alex Nichols from the US in his first season participating in the Skyrunner World Series placed eighth at Limone Extreme and this elevated him to third overall in the World Series.
Alex Nichols third overall in the Skyrunner world Series
A similar story for Arc’teryx athlete, Tessa Hill, not only did she have a great VK on Friday but she placed fourth on the day. Anna Lupton (inov-8) from the UK also proved that fell/mountain runners can perform with the best on high and technical mountain courses in Europe.
Tessa Hill with fellow Brit, Anna Lupton
The influx of new names such as Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and Leire Aguirezabala and responding great performances show all of us that Skyrunning is not only in a great place for the future but that the participants are eager for true mountain courses that test the mind as well as the body,
Roll on 2014!
IMAGES from the Limone Extreme race are available to view HERE or purchase HERE
Though heavy rains and flooding have caused havoc in Manitou Springs, the famous Skyrunner World Series Pikes Peak Marathon will go ahead as planned with the Ascent starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday and the Marathon at 7 a.m. Sunday.
“Our primary event locations, Memorial Park and Soda Springs Park were flooded and are unusable this year,” said race director Ron Ilgen. “We’ve decided to go with the smallest event footprint we can in order to reduce impact to the city.” Taken from HERE
The race begins in front of the City Hall in Manitou Springs, 6 miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The majority of both races are run on Barr Trail in Pike National Forest. Barr Trail is a US Forest Service trail that is on the east face of Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain. The course has an elevation gain of (start to summit) is 7,815′ (2,382 meters). The start is at 6,300′ (1,920m) and the summit is 14,115′ (4,302m).
The course for the 26.21 mile Pikes Peak Marathon® covers the same route as the 13.32 mile Pikes Peak Ascent® race but returns down the trail from the summit and finishes at Ruxton and Manitou Avenues in Manitou Springs
2012 winner Kilian Jornet (3:40:26) will not return to Pikes Peak in 2013 and therefore this leaves the door open for Alex Nichols, (inov-8)2nd in 2012, to move up the podium to the top slot and potentially improve on his time of 3:47:22. He is a local lad, knows the course like the back of his hand and he is without doubt the hot favorite. Last years third place, Max King will also not race and therefore the main protagonist for Alex will be Cameron Clayton. Cameron raced last weekend at Dakota Jones’s Telluride mountain ascent and won and although he will race in Swiitzerland next weekend at the Skyrunning, Matterhorn Ultraks, I am sure he will bring his ‘A’ game to Pikes Peak.
Although I have not had 100% confirmation, Fulvio Dapit may well toe the line, if he does, Fulvio without a doubt will push Cameron and Alex all the way to the line and has all the potential to top the podium. In addition, Jokin Lizeaga Mitxelena is very strong and he too will race at the Matterhorn Ultraks.
The rest of the men’s field does have depth and we can see many of the following runners looking for top ten placings: Gary Gellen, inov-8, Narc Caros, FEEC, Mikael Pasero, New Balance, Dai Matsumoto, Hagolfs *injued, Toru Miyahara, La Sportiva, Eric Diaz Martin, FEEC, Josep Vines Soler, FEEC and Oscar Casil Mir, FAM.
Emelie Forsberg (4:28:07) 2012 ladies winner will also not return and in addition, last years second, Kasie Enman or third, Mireia Miro Varela will not return, so, who is the hot tip?
Step in Stevie Kremer. Stevie has been on fire for the last twelve months, she has been racing regularly and making consistent podium places. Just last weekend she placed second at the iconic Sierre-Zinal. For me, Stevie is the outright favorite, however, she hasn’t had much time at altitude lately and that may play against her.
Nick Clark returns for Clarky’s Corner with an update on his Western States and a look ahead to his next 100 in the Grand Slam. We have an interview with Ultra Running legend, Nikki Kimball about her running career and another podium finish at Western States. Alex Nichols talks Mont Blanc Marathon and in Talk Training we speak with Florian Reichert about the transition from road running to trail and mountains.
Pam Smith (La Sportiva) – 18:37:21
Nikki Kimball (The North Face) – 19:21:43
Amy Sproston (Montrail) – 19:25:11
Meghan Arbogast (SCOTT Sports) – 19:30:50
Rory Bosio (The North Face) – 19:52:09
Aliza Lapierre (Salomon) – 20:04:46
Emily Harrison (AdiUltra) – 20:28:40
Denise Bourassa (Patagonia) – 21:44:37
Leila Degrave (Inov-8) – 21:59:26
Abby McQueeney Penamonte – 22:36:29
Timothy Olson (The North Face) – 15:17:27
Rob Krar – 15:22:05
Mike Morton (Allied Van Lines) – 15:45:21
Ian Sharman (SCOTT Sports) – 16:20:25
Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi) – 16:32:18
Nick Clark (Pearl Izumi) – 16:56:23
Jesse Haynes (INKnBURN) – 17:44:36
Paul Terranova – 17:56:29
Yassine Diboun (Inov-8) – 18:44:02
Karl Meltzer (Hoka One One) – 18:51:55
00:21:27 CLARKEYS CORNER –Nick Clark ran the 2013 Western States and now lines up for his second 100 in the Grand Slam just a few weeks later.
Mont Blanc Marathon
1° Kilian Jornet 3h30’41 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Marco De Gasperi 3h31’42
3° Luis-Alberto Hernando-Alzaga 3h36’14
1° Stevie Kremer 4h03’16 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Emelie Forsberg 4h25’10
3° Céline Lafaye 4h35
00:40:37 INTERVIEW with Alex Nichols
1. Saul Antonio Padua (COL) – 34’34”
2. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – Salomon – 34’53”
3. Erik-Dagssøn Haugsnes (NOR) – Il Pioner – 35’02”
‘My race was playing out perfectly. The early morning miles were appropriately subdued and I had the pleasure of sharing time with many men whom I idolize and consider to be good friends. Shortly after Red Star Ridge, Rob Krar and I fell into a similar pace and remained together for virtually all of the ensuing 45 miles. In my mind, we were executing things perfectly – sitting behind the lead pack early before methodically and intentionally moving through the field in the middle third of the race.’
01:17:00 TALK TRAINING –On this weeks talk training we speak with Arc’teryx and inov-8 athlete Florian Reichert about his transition from middle distance and road running to trail/ mountain running and his participation on the Skyrunning World Series
01:46:25 INTERVIEW –This week we speak to a legend of female ultra running, her Western States history alone sets her apart, she won the race in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and she was 4th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2011, 5th in 2012 and just this year placed 2nd.– Nikki Kimball
02:34:10 MELTZER MOMENT with Speedgoat Karl
02:37:37 RACES – Up and coming races for the next two weeks worldwide