RUN the RUT 2016 VK Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series

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The Skyrunner® World Series continues in Montana, the USA with three races at Run the Rut, today it was the Lone Peak VK. It may not be the steepest VK on the circuit but it certainly is dramatic with the finish line high in the sky and always visible. Well, that would have been the case had the VK route not been changed… Weather in this area can change in just 5-minutes and storms had been predicted for the afternoon. It’s always a tough call for a RD but Mike Foote took the cautions to heart and had his team mark an alternative route. He made a call at midday and decided on an alternative route that reduced the climb by 300m to 700m vertical gain and a distance of 2.3 miles.

The route was somewhat steeper and more direct in the early stages and followed the ethos and principals of Skyrunning perfectly, start low, get high! At the Bone Crusher, the runners should have gone to the impressive Alto ridge, here it gets steep, gnarly and technical with plenty of hands-on-knees action and scrambling with some via ferrata before the final sections of exposed rock and loose terrain to the summit. The re-route missed this section, dropped down a short descent and then once again climbed up through a steep section of loose rocks and scree. It was challenging but considerably less challenging than the original route.

The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm and tackling the early steep and slippery gradients. The route was wide though and overtaking was no issue.

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Ondrej Fejfar and Jan Margarit Sole pushed from the start and both looked very strong at the midway point before the more technical sections started. Ondrej looked in control though holding a good gap.

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In the ladies race Cynthia Arnold looked to be closing the gap on the expected victor and leader Laura Orgue. Laura looked less comfortable than normal, occasionally looking behind to see where Cynthia was but I think all along it was about doing enough to win and not expending too much energy. Maria Zorroza was running a strong race in 3rd but would she stay ahead of her team-mate Aitziber Iberia ?

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In the men’s race, Ondrej was in a class of his own on this shorter course and finished clear of Jan by 24 seconds.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-0935Scott Patterson was a surprise 3rd (he is a ski mountaineer) ahead of race director, Mike Foote who looked to be having a blast on his new course, Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet finished 5th.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2761Surprise of the day was expected winner, Ferran Teixido who finished 7th obviously having a below par day potentially due to the more runnable re-route and altitude?

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In the ladies’ race Laura finished a strong 1st 41-seconds clear of Cynthia and Maria 3rd +2:16 back.

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Altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK, starting above 2000m it is very difficult for those with little or no adaptation. When combined with challenging terrain, this only adds to the problem. Unlike other VK’s the Lone Peak VK is unique with its mixture of surfaces. The loose and large rocks create many frustrations as often it stops participants getting a rhythm, this is contrasted by the early sections when it’s possible to find a good momentum despite the steep gradients.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s 28km event which starts at 0800, you can read a preview HERE. This event, as last year, will prove to be fast, the mixed terrain includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and at the summit of the iconic Lone Peak a gnarly and technical descent brings the runners back to the resort of Big Sky where the race started.  The race has 2375m of vertical gain with a low point of 2286m and a high point of 3403m. Ones to watch are Laura Orgue and Yngvild Kaspersen who will also have run the VK and Megan Kimmel who is the outright ladies favourite. In the men’s race, Marc Lauenstein and Dakota Jones head up a strong mens field.

Results:

1 Ondrej Fejfar 29:26

2 Jan Margarit Sole +00:24

3 Scott Patterson +1:07

4 Mike Foote +1:21

5 Greg Vollet +1:52

 

1 Laura Orgue 34:20

2 Cynthia Arnold +00:41

3 Maria Zorroza +2:16

4 Aitziber Iberia +3:33

5 Jenny Wolfe +3:59

Limone Extreme SkyRace 2015 – Race Summary and Images

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Another season of Skyrunning concluded in Limone sul Garda with the Limone Extreme SkyRace, the final race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series. As expected, it was a day of high emotions that ultimately resulted in blood, sweat, tears and elation.

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Although race day conditions were ideal, a new course had been created after the thunderstorms of Thursday night and Friday morning. The resulting race although the same distance (23km) had an additional 800m of elevation and descent. Work it out! 23km and 2800m of elevation gain and descent, that can only mean one thing; pain!

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One thing became clear though post race, although this new course was tougher it had a unanimous nod from all the runners that the additional difficulty was a good thing; that’s Skyrunning for you!

Final races in a series can often have a forgone conclusion of who will be crowned respective male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions, not here in Limone. It was wide open and all to fight for.

Click on the images to view pre race photographs:

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In the men’s race, Remi Bonnet once again proved that we have a star in the making. He followed on from the previous nights VK victory with a world-class SKY performance that left every other runner in the race trailing in his wake. It was stunning to watch. This course is tough, don’t doubt it! Remi ran every step. He has an incredible style, almost shuffling as he moves from left-to-right foot in small movements. It’s incredibly effective and ultimately impossible to follow. Despite him winning the race outright, he could not follow up his Skyrunner® World Series victory for the VK distance as he did not have a result on a Continental race, had he had this, he may well have been the 2015 champion?

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Behind Remi, series leader, Tadei Pivk grabbed the bull by the horns and followed the young Swiss runner with 100% determination. His style on the climbs was in complete contrast to Remi; he almost fought the terrain! On the final long descent back down to the Lake and the finish line in Limone, I had expected Tadei to close the gap as he descends incredibly well. Alas no, the day was not for him but his 2nd place gave him the ultimate prize of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series title.

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Ever present Manuel Merillas, also a strong contender for the overall series ran a well paced race and moved from 6th, 5th and 4th to finally finish 3rd. It was a great result and ultimately secured his 2nd place in the Skyrunner® World Series rankings ahead of Martin Anthamatten who took the final podium slot despite finishing 13th on the day, no doubt carrying over fatigue from his recent victory in the USA.

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In the ladies race a hotly anticipated battle between Laura Orgue and Megan Kimmel really came to fruition and as always happens in these scenarios, somebody wins, somebody looses. Laura Orgue already had the Skyrunner® World Series title for the VK distance secure before Friday’s VK race and she made the very sensible decision not to race and save her legs for the following day and Saturday’s Sky race.

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Running at the front of the race, the VK specialist really embraced the additional 800m of vertical gain and used all her climbing skills to pull off a stunning victory. It was a gutsy ‘give it everything’ performance and one that Maite Maiora tried to spoil. They traded blows throughout the day and Laura managed to squeeze ahead and find those extra percentages of performance to finish just 17-seconds ahead of the La Sportiva runner.

Could Megan Kimmel finish 3rd and secure the world series title?

No! A tough day in the office and carried over fatigue from a recent victory in the USA’s Flagstaff race resulted in Megan feeling tired all day. Of course, the additional 800m of vert didn’t help. Megan finally finished 6th and just had to accept that ‘these things happen!’

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Oihana Kortazar followed up a great run from the previous days VK with the final podium place ahead of Elisa Desco and Yngvild Kaspersen.

A season comes to an end and with it we have memories, emotions and passion. The 2015 Skyrunner® World Series champions are:

Laura Orgue and Remi Bonnet are the SWS champions for the VK distance.

Laura Orgue and Tadei Pivk are the SWS champions for the SKY distance.

Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando are SWS champions for the ULTRA distance.

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Attention now turns to 2016 and the calendar of races that will once again secure the hearts and minds of the mountain running community.

Less Cloud, More Sky!

Results

  1. Laura Orgue 3:18:50
  2. Maite Maiora 3:19:07
  3. Oihana Kortazar 3:22:24
  4. Elisa Desco 3:28:00
  5. Yngvild Kaspersen 3:28:40
  1. Remi Bonnet 2:45:25
  2. Tadei Pivk 2:51:08
  3. Manuel Merillas 2:52:52
  4. Jokin Lizeaga2:53:55
  5. Aritz Egea 2:55:47

Moments from the finish line, click on images to view larger:

RACE DAY IMAGES – more images to follow as soon as wifi becomes available

Check out my Facebook page HERE

Skyrunning HERE

The North Face – AK Stormy Trail

A5YKJK33As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMB, The North Face fully understand the needs of every runner when embarking on the epic alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and hard place.

Look at the history of the race. For several years the TNFUTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.

Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNFUTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary,

To this end, The North Face have created two items that tick all the boxes. The AK STORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow

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Key Features

It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduces excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.

Box TICKED

The AK STORMY range do all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. At £160 for the jacket and £110 for the pants this is an investment. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow.

SPECS

AK JACKET – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, the jacket is constructed with a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood, an adjustable hood cinch and a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. Easily stowed in a backpack and with a glued zip chest pocket for secure storage, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket.

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  • Reflective brimmed hood with stay
  • Adjustable hood cinch
  • Glued chest pocket
  • Reflective drop-tail hem
  • Stowable

available S,M,L,XL

AK PANTS – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant is a waterproof, windproof, breathable running trouser for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, these performance fit pants are constructed with an elasticized waist with adjustable drawcord and articulated knees for increased mobility. Easily stowed in a backpack and with reflective logos for increased security on night and low level visibility runs, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant.

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  • Elasticated waist with adjustable drawcord
  • Performance fit
  • Articulated knees, Ankle zips
  • Reflective logos
  • Packable

available S,M,L,XL

A full test of the AK range will follow soon. Initial impressions are superb. Fit is excellent. The attention to detail really is spot on and both garments are a real joy to wear but ultimately, they are a pleasure to run in… that is what counts!