Episode 136 – The Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2017

Episode 136 of Talk Ultra is all about the UK’s epic multi-day mountain challenge, the Berghaus Dragons Back Race – 5 days, 315km and 1000m’s of vert… we speak with the winner, Marcus Scotney. We speak with Sabrina Verjee who lead the ladies race for 4-days and finished 2nd. We also speak with Jan Rogers who finished in the final 20% of the race. I also have the pleasure of my truly excellent buddy from the USA co-hosting – welcome to the show Kurt Decker.
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NEWS
Big news… KJ, yep, MR Kilian Jornet summits Everest TWICE in one week. I will say that again – Everest twice in one week. This is without oxygen, fixed ropes and moving fast and light – wow! HERE
MaxiRace Annecy
Francois d’Haene proved he is one of THE best mountain runners in the world with another stunning victory. Equally, Caroline Chaverot returned from injury to dominate the ladies (and the mens) race. Francois finished in 12:55 – The USA’s Max King was 2nd 40-minutes later…. Ouch!
Caroline was 5th overall – 5th! Her time of 15:08 was almost 1-hour ahead of Andrea Huser in 16:08. Francesca Canepa was 3rd.
Zegama-Aizkorri
THE classic mountain marathon with an atmosphere like no other was won by Maite Maiora and Stian Angermund-Vik – both new CR’s! Not often that a Kilian record goes down but the dirty conditions produced a fast 3:45. Mountain legend Marco De Gasperi was 2nd and Marc Lauenstein 3rd, their times 3:48 and 3:53.
For the ladies, Silvia Rampazzo placed 2nd in 4:37 behind Maiora’s 4:34 and Sheila Aviles 3rd in 3:43.
Berghaus Dragons Back Race 
Daily reports
Image Galleries HERE
This epic multi-day mountain race is the feature of this weeks show with three interviews. The race was won by Marcus Scotney, however, out was not plain sailing for Scotney. 2015 winner Jim Mann had dominated the early days before a navigational error left it wide open – Mann eventually finished 2nd ahead of Neil Talbott.
Lets go to an interview with MARCUS SCOTNEY
In the ladies race, Sabrina Verjee like Mann, had dominated the early days but a charging Carol Morgan (Spine winner) on day 4 closed the gap and then she took the lead on the 5th and final day. Caroline McIlroy finished 3rd.
Interview with SABRINA VERJEE
As in all ultras, the story is often with those who fight and struggle to finish the race. I caught up withJAN ROGERSwho finished in the final 20% of the race
Interview with JAN ROGERS
UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Northern Territory

TRACK Outback Race | 520 kilometers | May 17, 2017 | website

Queensland

Glasshouse 50 | 50 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website
Glasshouse 80 | 80 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website

Victoria

100km | 100 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

52 km | 52 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website
Trail de Lesse 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Canada

Alberta

Run for the Braggin’ Rights | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Run for the Braggin’ Rights – Relay | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

British Columbia

100K | 100 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
The North Face Dirty Feet Kal Park 50 | 50 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Ontario

Seaton Trail 50 km Trail | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Chile

Atacama Xtreme 100 Miles | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
Atacama Xtreme 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website
Atacama Xtreme 50 Miles | 50 miles | May 19, 2017 | website

China

Trail de la Grande Muraille de Chine | 73 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Cyprus

Lionheart Run | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm -100 Miles | 100 miles | May 05, 2017 | website
Salomon Hammer Trail Bornholm – 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

France

Ain

La Promenade du Bûcheron | 70 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Drôme

Challenge du Val de Drôme | 153 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Les Aventuriers de la Drôme | 66 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Les Aventuriers du Bout de Drôme | 120 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Haute-Loire

50 km | 50 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Haute-Savoie

Intégrale Trail | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Rhône

Ultra des Coursières | 102 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Yonne

The Trail 110 | 110 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
The Trail 60 | 60 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
The Trail 90 | 88 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Yvelines

Trail des Cerfs – 50 km | 50 kilometers | May 14, 2017 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Stromberg Extrem 54 KM | 54 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon Juni | 108 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Hesse

Bilstein-Marathon BiMa 53+ | 53 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Greece

300 of Sparta | 378 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website
Euchidios Athlos 107.5 Km | 107 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Euchidios Hyper-Athlos 215 km | 215 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website
Heroes Ultra | 156 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Indonesia

100 km | 100 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
60 km | 60 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
Volcans de l’Extrême | 164 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Israel

Mountain to Valley Relay | 215 kilometers | May 10, 2017 | website

Italy

Lombardy

Laggo Maggiore Trail | 52 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

Sardinia

Sardinia Trail | 90 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Kazakhstan

70 km | 70 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Kenya

TSAVOEKIDEN | 84 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
TSAVORIDE | 84 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Tsavorun | 84 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Korea

100K | 100 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website
50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Madagascar

Semi Trail des Ô Plateaux | 65 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail des Ô Plateaux | 130 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Malta

55 km | 55 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Martinique

Tchimbé Raid | 91 kilometers | May 05, 2017 | website

Mauritius

Royal Raid 80 km | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Morocco

3 étapes | 77 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website
Trans Atlas Marathon | 280 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website
Trans Atlas Marathon “CHALLENGE” | 120 kilometers | May 12, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Drenthe

UltraRun van Gieten 50 kilometer | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Friesland

Pieter-ROG-pad Special Waddeneilanden | 450 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Kauri Ultra | 70 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Nicaragua

100k | 100 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Philippines

Hardcore Hundred Miles | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
Mayon 360º | 80 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Poland

Ultramarathon “GWiNT Ultra Cross” – 110 km | 110 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Ultramaraton “GWiNT Ultra Cross” – 55 km | 55 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Spain

Balearic Islands

Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls | 185 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website
Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls Costa Nord | 100 kilometers | May 19, 2017 | website

Basque Country

100 km | 100 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Canary Islands

Transvulcania Ultramaratón | 73 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Principality of Asturias

Ultra Trail Picos de Europa 55 km | 55 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Berne

Bielersee Ultra-Marathon | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Bielersee XXL 100 Meilen | 100 miles | May 12, 2017 | website

Turkey

Cekmekoy 60K Ultramarathon | 60 kilometers | May 07, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Argyll and Bute

Kintyre Way Ultra Run | 66 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

East Riding of Yorkshire

200 mile | 200 miles | May 05, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

Hardmoors Ultra 110 | 110 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Perth and Kinross

110 Mile Ultra | 110 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
55 Mile Ultra | 55 miles | May 14, 2017 | website

Surrey

North Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Wiltshire

Marlborough Downs Challenge – 33 mile | 33 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Worcestershire

Malvern Hills 105 Mile Ultra | 105 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Malvern Hills 34 Mile Ultra | 34 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Malvern Hills 44 Mile Ultra | 44 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Malvern Hills 52 Mile Ultra | 53 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Run for Kids Challenge 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

California

100 Miler | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
200 Miler | 200 miles | May 18, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50M Run | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Armstrong Redwoods 50K | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Golden Gate Relay | 191 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Gold Rush 50K | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Horseshoe Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Miwok 100K Trail Race | 100 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
PCT50 Trail Run | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Quicksilver 100K Endurance Run | 100 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Quicksilver 50K Endurance Run | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Whoos in El Moro Race Spring Edition 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Colorado

Collegiate Peaks 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
Greenland Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Quad Rock 50 | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Georgia

Cruel Jewel 100 | 100 miles | May 19, 2017 | website
Cruel Jewel 50 Mile Race | 50 miles | May 19, 2017 | website

Idaho

Priest Lake 50K Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Indiana

DWD Gnaw Bone 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
DWD Gnaw Bone 50M | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Kansas

Rock On! Lake Perry 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Maine

39.3 Mile Maine Coast Challenge | 39 miles | May 14, 2017 | website
Big A 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

43 Miler | 43 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Miler | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Cape Cod | 186 miles | May 12, 2017 | website

Michigan

Nevada

Vegas Valley Voyage 3 Day Assisted | 80 miles | May 11, 2017 | website
Vegas Valley Voyage 6 Day Assisted | 150 miles | May 11, 2017 | website

New Jersey

50K | 50 kilometers | May 15, 2017 | website

New Mexico

Cactus to Cloud Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

New York

50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Kids Fun Run | 1000 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

North Carolina

100 Mile | 100 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Ohio

50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Oregon

50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
McDonald Forest 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50-Mile | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
50 Mile Relay | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Dawn to Dusk to Dawn 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Dirty German 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Dirty German 50 Miles | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Forest Freak 50k | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Knock on Wood 100 Mile | 100 miles | May 12, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
50k Ultra-marathon | 50 kilometers | May 06, 2017 | website
50 Mile Ultra-marathon | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website
50 Mile Ultra Relay | 50 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Vermont

100 Miles | 100 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
200 Miles | 200 miles | May 11, 2017 | website
50 miles | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website

Virginia

100K | 100 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | May 06, 2017 | website

Washington

50 Miler | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
Lost Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Ice Age Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | May 13, 2017 | website
Ice Age Trail 50M | 50 miles | May 13, 2017 | website
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I’m Ian Corless and he is Kurt Decker.
Keep running
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FIZKULTURA, Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more!

Inspiration comes in many forms and ways. I have just been to Sofia, Bulgaria for Fizkultura – a one day event put together by Begach Running Club. The event is geared towards inspiring Bulgarian runners to embrace new challenges, it may be just to start running, or maybe move from marathon to ultra-running, or why not try something bold and new like creating their own running challenge.

My participation was facilitated by the Begach Running Club and the British Embassy – I was joined by ‘the beard!’ The crazy, inspiring and distinctive looking adventurer, Sean Conway

Arriving in the early hours of Friday morning, Sean and myself were working right from the off with a breakfast at the Embassy and an improvised individual presentation – good job this ‘on-the-spot’ request didn’t phase us… some years back, I’d have immediately melted into a ball of nerves; not now!

Sofia is without a doubt Eastern European in feel and architecture. There are bold, brazen and striking monuments everywhere to remind us that Russia is not far away. But I was surprised. The centre had a distinct feeling of wealth with a multitude of high-end shops, plenty of bars and a huge selection of hotels. A backdrop of impressive snow-capped mountains made me feel relaxed.

A drive to the mountains and a leisurely lunch (in an incredible restaurant) provided us all with an opportunity to bond. It’s here that I had a little more time to get to know Sean and extend my introduction to Irina Daniela from Romania who is slowly but surely inspiring Romanians to run and notably empowering women to siege their futures by foot power. Irina recently ran a sub 3h for the marathon and in doing so has shown what is possible for the women of Romania. She’s a striking person – tall (too tall for Sean and myself), great figure, long dark hair and striking features. It’s easy to see how she will inspire those around her. She’s a bundle of energy and enthusiasm but Fizkultra is her first big ‘gig’ out of her homeland. Website here.

Sean by contrast looks like a lion under a mane of ginger. He’s a small and a slight figure who brims with confidence and an accent that’s hard to work out – South African, Irish and British public school make an interesting mix that is captivating to the ear. He casually talks of his up and coming challenge of cycling ridiculous daily distances in Australia to set a new world record. He has a simple motto – to be the first or the fastest – it works for him! His list of achievements is impressive, but more on that later. Website here.

It was early evening before I finally met Dean Karnazes. Dean, aka ‘Marathon Man’ is someone who I have emailed and spoke too on many times but this is my first face-to-face. He taps me on the shoulder. I turn, he grabs my hand and pulls me in close in a tight embrace and says, ‘Ian, finally, good to see you man!’ For once I feel tall, Dean is my height and we are both taller than Sean and if Irina had not been in our presence, for once I may well have been the tallest – just! However, Dean looks incredible – he’s ripped, chiseled, has a Californian tan and he’s swearing shorts. His legs bulge with muscles and I suddenly realize that the reality of meeting Dean didn’t disappoint. This guy, for me, helped change the way the sport of ultra has grown in the last 10-years. It was his book, Confessions of an all Night Runner’ that suddenly made ‘others’ aware of the crazy sport of running long; ultra-running! Website here.

Dinner took place in ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and we joke, discuss love, life, running and politics. Bed soon arrives for Dean, he has no idea what day or time it is. Jet lag has hit hard and he leaves early. Our trio relax with our hosts and a late-night walk back to our hotel is followed with a night-cap in the bar. I felt at home with my two new friends and like all good new friendships, 12-hours have made them both feel like lifelong friends. We laughed the night away till bed finally called.

FIZKULTURA

Dean kicked off the day 0945. Short clad, the audience welcome him with rapturous applause and he quickly goes into a 30-minute presentation that gives an overview of his running. Of course, it’s an impossible task – he has achieved so much! Despite the launch of his recent book, ‘The Road to Sparta,’ Dean takes us back on a journey to his first book as Fizkultura coincides with its release in Bulgarian. Many of you will know those early stories of taking the shoes out of the garage on his 30th birthday and then running 30-miles. His first Western States, Badwater 135 and running a marathon at the South Pole. It’s classic ‘Dean’ and the audience lap it up.

Irina power dresses and looks like an air hostess wearing a suit, shirt, scarf and ridiculous high-heels. Sean and myself refuse to stand close to her… The style of dress was important, Irina’s background was in banking and she wanted to show everyone that it has been possible to still be a business professional and a runner. “My Story’ was about dreaming, having no limits and empowering herself, other women and yes, men, to wear run shoes and find out what is possible. The story of how she achieved sub-3, one of the fastest female performances for a Romanian and how her dreams may well lead to Olympic selection.

Antoniya Grigorova, Bulgaria’s top female ultra-runner, talked about her plans, planning and training in preparation for running the longest trail in Bulgaria: Kom-Emine. A journey of 600km. A professional athlete she provided an insight into the mind, the training and the nutrition of what the journey will take.

Lunch was followed with the lion roaring. Sean was in fine form and told the story of his world’s longest triathlon with great skill and humor. He was a natural on the stage and it’s fair to say the audience loved him. His presentation was interspersed with still images and small videos that documented the journey – and what a journey! A bent bamboo bike, a Sunday roast dinner blended into liquid form for lunch, skinny dipping in an icy river and his face being stung constantly by jelly fish while swimming.

I followed Sean and what an act to follow. My talk was always going to be a visual one as I planned on taking that audience around the world with a selection of races and images from Running Beyond (here). Of course, I had to provide some context on my journey and my opening dialogue provided a glimpse on how I got to where I am today.

Boyan Petrov is a legend in Bulgaria. An Alpinist, he talked us through the training, the planning and the equipment required to climb 8000+m peaks without oxygen. He’s one of the few climbers to make 3 x 8000m peak in one year, something he has done twice. He also discussed the dream of climbing all 8000+m peaks – more people have been to space than done this!

The day concluded with Dimitrina Sivkova talking about trauma prevention and getting back in shape.

It was an incredible day of challenges, feats, adventure, goals, inspiration and living a life with barriers or restrictions. The takeaway was, ‘make dreams happen!’ Dean concluded his talk with a famous quote, it’s not new but it’s apt and it somehow summed up exactly what Fizkultura was trying to achieve:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop and two events, a 12-hour and 6-hour race called Project 360. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and a qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any participation plans for me but I went and cheered on with Irina for an hour and of course, we just had to run a loop with ‘Marathon Man!’

Watch Dean in the video HERE

I love the fact that despite jet-lag, bust days of presenting and travel, Dean rocked up to the start line and run for 6-hours. He personifies his name.

I must say, I was sad to leave Sofia, my new friends and a great, developing running community. Dean, Sean, Irina and myself were there to inspire others but we left inspired. We were each individually energized by our time in Bulgaria. Sean will be bashing out the bike miles for Australia, Irina will be looking for the speed and endurance for a fast marathon, Dean? well, Dean will just keep running and running and me; travel, photography and telling stories. I love to do that and the story of Fizkultura and Bulgaria is a special one – a personal one!

Thanks to:

A huge thanks to the British Embassy, Elenko Elenkov, Begach Running Club and the many new Bulgarian runners who hosted, entertained and looked after us – Alexander, Milen, Vladi and so many more.

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Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 Review #Peak20

Packs for a multi-day race or a running multi-day adventure were once the domain of Raidlight. Of course, other brands ventured into the arena but it was only really the arrival of WAA that made everyone start to stop, look and see what else existed.

Packs are personal.

I think a pack becomes even more personal when one requires something to be comfortable for multiple days and also when carrying 6.5kg or more.

Salomon have now extended their ‘vest design’ to the S-LAB PEAK 20 and in doing so, they will turn the head of many a runner and make them question, is this THE pack for them for their next multi-day adventure or race.

Shape, gender, size, height and so many other variables dictate if a pack is comfortable or not and this depends on you, so, when looking at this pack I try to be impartial and when possible I always try to cross reference with a female perspective. The plus of this pack is it comes in S, M, L and XL so no compromising to be made. I am 38/40 chest and I have a medium which fits perfect.

If you are heading to the mountain for an overnight adventure, I am pretty sure the Peak 20 will work for you. However, would the pack work for a race like Marathon des Sables, Grand to Grand, Everest Trail Race or one of the 4 Desert races when one is completely self-sufficient for multiple days?

Let’s look at the packs highlights:

  • 1 main compartment with a full length zip (double slider) that open up allowing easy access and organisation of what is inside.
  • Fabrics that wick and are quick drying.
  • Three sizes – S, M and L.
  • Soft trims so no chafing.
  • Sensifit is a Salomon buzz word that ultimately means it should be the Rolls Royce of bags when coming to fit and comfort.
  • Front hydration pockets x2 (designed for 500ml soft flasks).
  • Adjustable front straps for customized fit.
  • Zipper pockets – It has 2 large pockets on the front, 2 expandable pockets on the shoulder straps and 2 top zipped mesh pockets.
  • Will take a bladder.
  • Ability to carry poles or ice axes.
  • Lightweight at 484g +/-.

THE PACK

This pack will work for an overnight adventure, mountain marathon race or an adventure when an excessive mandatory kit will be required. But, the big question for many will be, can this pack work for a 6-day self-sufficient race?

In a word – Yes!

Simple reasons why:

  • Yes, it can hold 2 x 750ml of liquid at the front
  • Yes, it has 4 pockets on the front that will allow immediate access to anything you will need whilst running a stage.
  • Yes, it can hold another liter to 1.5 liters on the rear in two external pockets.
  • Yes, it can hold everything you need for 6-days self-sufficiency.

OVERVIEW

The pack has a 20L capacity (typical for Marathon des Sables and comparable with the competition from Ultimate Direction, WAA, Raidlight, OMM and others) and has one large external zip on the rear that works two ways so that you can zip down or zip up depending on preference. Once open, it’s possible to access the pack easily and arrange contents. Internally there is a small mesh panel so that you divide the large compartment in two – a good thing for maybe an overnight jaunt but not required for a multi-day adventure.

It’s light, very light! It has a vest style that echoes and follows on from the designs from Salomon’s other models.

The front of the pack has two stretch pockets for soft-flasks or bottles. On top of these pockets sitting a little lower are two large pockets with zips that hold a surprising amount. On top of the shoulder straps are two stretch zip pockets that provide additional storage.

On the sides of the vest are adjustable cords that pull the pack closer to the body or allow the pack to be looser.

On the top of the rear of the pack above the zip, is a central cord pull. Pull this and the yellow cord that wraps around the pack pulls tighter and compresses the contents. Great when the pack is full to make everything tight and secure but especially useful as the days pass when racing and the pack contents become less.

IN DETAIL

The pack tapers and as you can see from this side-view is narrow at the bottom and then opens up wider as one gets closer to the top. On both sides is an open topped stretch pocket that will take a bottle or other items.

The pack has thin blue padding that does not sit inside the pack but on the outside and underneath the mesh back. The is ingenious as it has been designed so that it can be removed.

It is held in place by small metal buckles that attach to web loops. I removed the padding and used my sleeping mat inside the pack as my padding. Ingenious – not only do you save weight but your mat doubles up as protection when running and sleeping.


The two-way external zip is great to allow access to upper items or lower items in the pack without having to un-zip the whole pack. Importantly, when un-zipped it’s easy to access the inside and arrange items. An internal mesh panel can be used to split the pack into two halves. For some this may be useful but if like me you use the sleeping mat inside, you can only have one large compartment. It’s a great space and like any pack, you will want to play around with how you pack your contents to find the correct balance. As a tip I recommend you leave your sleeping bag out when packing. Put all the contents in and then add the sleeping bag filing in all the empty spaces – you will be amazed how a lightweight down bag will compress.

The external cord the wraps around the pack is designed to be pulled tight and compress the contents. This is adjusted on the rear of the pack just above the zip.

Simply hold the buckle and pull the cord. The cords pulls tight and compresses to make the pack smaller and tight – perfect! You can make this even tighter by pulling the cords on the side and then taking up the the slack by the top adjustment. This on days 3, 4, and 5 will be just incredible at making the pack smaller and smaller as contents are used up.
On the shoulder straps, the yellow cord is also present under the two shoulder zip pockets. Pull the cord here and take up the slack and you pull the top of the pack closer to your back.

 On the sides of the pack between the bottom rear and the front lower pockets there is a yellow cord on each side – again this allows you to pull the bottom of the pack as close to your back as you require.

In a nutshell, this level of adjustment is just perfect and is the best of all packs I have tried.

 The front of the pack is classic Salomon vest design but with some differences. Fitting to the torso comes via 3 straps. Two go right to left and one goes left to right. These attach via a black plastic hooks to a yellow cord.

They can be moved up or down and they can also be made tighter or looser. In particular, this will be useful for lady runners who need to adjust the pack to fit around their chest. It’s a method that works and the on-the-go adjustment is welcome.

There are two stretch pockets that are designed for soft-flasks. This for me caused concern as I was under the impression that they would only hold 500ml. Not so! These pockets will take the Hydrapak SF750 soft-flasks and you can drink from these without the need to remove them.

Prefer straws? The Hydrapak 600ml bottles with straws will fit.

Prefer hard bottles? This is where I needed to think outside the box… OMM make very slim 500ml bottles and they fit like a glove.

Have no fears, you can carry enough water up at the front. Also, lets not forget the two external pockets. In my tests, I had 2x 500ml OMM flasks on the rear too. So, at a minimum you could carry 1litre or 2litres with 2 bottles on the rear. At a max you could carry 3litres with 1.5 up front and 1.5 at the rear.

UPDATE on the bottle situation. I finally obtained 2x 750ml Raidlight bottles with straws and they fit like a glove to the front pockets!


The two pockets that sit below the bottles are a real welcome addition. They are easy to get at. They have great capacity, trust me, you need no more additional space up front, especially when one considers the two additional sip pockets on the shoulder straps. These pockets are less spacious but they will take a phone, snacks or other essentials.

 

There is an attachment system for poles that comes over the right shoulder. I personally though would probably attach to bungee cords to the front of the pack so that I can place the poles across my chest when not in use.

Fit is sweet and with all the adjusters you can really get this pack close to your torso. It fits like a piece of clothing and there are no rough edges – all the seams are soft. Salomon actually say that the pack may be worn against the skin and it will feel like apparel.

At 484g it’s light.

INITIAL SUMMARY

This pack is still under test and things such as longevity, strength, weaknesses, durability and so on have not been tested as it’s too early to say.

However, what I can say is that this is the best pack I have tested for running when the contents are heavy and I require 20L capacity.

I have long been a fan of the Ultimate Direction Fastpack as I loved its simplicity and no nonsense approach to the task of carrying many items and weight. The Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 has now become my new favourite.

It’s not without flaws – what pack is? The yellow cord compression works like a dream but it can be a little tricky to set up – it’s a small price to pay though.

The front bottle pockets almost certainly require soft-flask use or using the OMM 500ml bottles. I personally would always caution against soft-flasks for a multi-day, if they puncture, you are screwed. However, the Hydrapak soft-flasks are more durable than much of the competition and they have never let me down. The 600 or 750 versions work with the vest – perfect.

We will follow up with some action shots of the pack and an overall summary from a male and female perspective in the coming weeks, for now, this pack gets an ‘A’ for awesome.

Photo below is copyright Ricky Gates – he’s currently using a prototype Peak 20 with front pack. Interesting!

You can read Ricky’s specs and the contents of the pack on his Facebook page #transamerica 

In use at Everest Trail Race, November 2016

Some comments:

Paul Wilson Used one on the spine race. It was ace. Did most of my training with an ultimate direction fast pack then seen got the Salomon pack. Which proved to be far better.

Jana Studzinska Tested on fully self supported solo running trip across Serra de Tramuntana. Can’t recommend more.

Sito Castello perfecta para la Everest Trail Race.

Robert Kampczyk Cool bag. Like it because my complete Photo Equipment can insert.

What Salomon say:

Ideal for alpine running, superlight mountaineering or fast hiking, the streamlined S-LAB Peak 20 set uses our trail running knowledge to move fast in the mountain, with stretch fit and complete stability. With convenient access to the 20L compartment, both the pack and the load are easily compressed for maximum stability under partial load. It includes front storage solutions for two 500ml soft flasks and essentials and possibility to carry poles, ice axes…

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable fit
  • Breathability

FEATURES:
Back systems
MotionFit Trail
Sensifit (pack)

Load Management
Soft Twin Link
Compression quick lace
Top and bottom sensi load lifter

Pockets & compartments
2 front soft hydration elastic pockets
2 front zipped large pockets
2 shoulder expandable pockets
2 top zipped mesh pocket

Carrying system
4D Pole holder

Opening & closure
Wide front opening with double sliders

Miscellaneous
Soft trims
Apparel sizing
Patent pending

Fabrics
PVC free
Elastic Power mesh
Fast wicking fabrics
70D Nylon Double Ripstop, Waterproof 500mm
70D Nylon Triple Ripstop – Silicone coating, Waterproof 500mm
Elastic Jersey

Pack weight (lb oz) : 17.073
Pack weight (g) : 484
Pack volume (l) : 20
Pack volume (ci) : 1220

Kilian Jornet – Aconcagua – Summits of my Life

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

“Winning isn’t about finishing in first place. It isn’t about beating the others. It’s about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations and your fears…. To find out whether we can overcome our fears, that the tape we smash when we cross the line isn’t only the one the volunteers are holding but also the one we have set in our minds? Isn’t victory being able to push our bodies and minds to their limits and in doing so discovering that they have led us to find ourselves anew and to create new dreams?” – Kilian Jornet, RUN or DIE

 

December always provides me with a little more spare time (not much) but certainly more time than the past 10-months when I have been on the road, travelling from race-to-race, recording images, writing stories and podcasting on the weekly and monthly action of mountain and ultra running.

I like to look back, soak in my experiences and one-by-one highlight key moments.

Although I plan to do this in the coming weeks, Kilian Jornet’s imminent ‘Summit’ attempt on Aconcagua has made jump ship and write a post about the Catalan himself.

What a year Kilian has had…

In a face-to-face interview in Zermatt earlier this year, I remember asking, “I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?”

As one would expect, Kilian looked away from me a little embarrassed by such a direct question that basically said, ‘you are the best!’

However, he replied with a smile and a twinkle in his eye that confirmed my thoughts, “This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometers.”

I smile at his honesty and his genuine analysis of his form. You see 2014 has been the most impressive year not only in Kilian’s short life but arguably the most impressive in relation to any sportsperson.

We can argue all day about the pros and cons of distance, speed, difficulty and complexity of Kilian’s year but look at the simple facts:

  • Denali – Summit record (11-hours 40-minutes)
  • Hardrock 100 course record
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Vertical Kilometer
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Sky distance
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Ultra distance

Is Kilian THE most rounded athlete? I am biased but I like to think impartial and I have to say, with all things considered, yes! VK to 100-miles, Ski mountaineering and climbing. The Catalan is off the scale.

We have heard the stories of how Kilian says in RUN or DIE, “I enjoyed a normal childhood… I have never been one for being shut inside and was lucky that my parents lived in a refuge, which my father managed, 6500-feet above sea level.”

Kilian may well consider his childhood as normal, for him it was, but many would agree that right from aged two he was being nurtured step-by-step to be the perfect outdoor person.

“By the age of 3 I had already climbed Tossa Plana, Perafita and La Muga. By the age of 6 I had completed four Aneto summits and at the age of 10 I crossed the Pyrenees in 42-days.”

It’s an inspiring and intimidating thought process. At 10 years old I was a naive and inexperienced kid, in contrast Kilian was already on a path of greatness. It may not be a path that was pre determined, however, as we look back we can see that Kilian has not stumbled on this ability, this career, this destiny. With the passing of each year, he has created a legacy and should Kilian stop now at the age of 27, his list of records, results and palmares would quite happily last him to the end of his days.

“I have lost count of the weeks I have spent away from home, of the countries I have visited and the beds I have slept in. I began to compete 10-years ago and it has been 10-years of seeking to relive again-and-again the emotions and sensations that take me to the peak of ecstasy and make me live life at a pace more suited to a rock-and-roll musician.”

December is here and as runners all over the world slip into recovery and hibernation in preparation for the new-year, Kilian departs for the Andes and his attempt to set a record on Aconcagua.

In 2000 Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes to the summit and Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones. Two records, I wondered which Kilian would go for?

“I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too,” Replied Kilian to my question. “Aconcagua is easier than the Matterhorn. It’s rocky but not steep. Altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western and southern hemisphere at just under 7000m.”

The first attempt to reach the summit of Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story of treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.

The first recorded ascent was in 1897 by a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.

The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Tyler Armstrong of California. He was nine years old when he reached the summit on December 24, 2013. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis, who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.

See Kilian Jornet on the UK’s Channel 4 News

http://bcove.me/knvesy10

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid601325122001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_Vh4qBcIZDrvZlvNCU8nxccG&bclid=0&bctid=3915483972001

Pushing boundaries is what Kilian does. It is his DNA and as an appreciation and acknowledgement for his contribution to our sport, Kilian was voted: ‘Peoples’ Choice Adventurer of the Year’ by National Geographic.

As the coming days unfold, Kilian will test himself once again. He will push his own boundaries and he will ask questions of himself and those around him. To document the journey, Seb Montaz will once again record the action as it unfolds. We get to see the Catalan’s endeavors and achievements through the brilliance of Seb’s eyes. Believe me, as a photographer I not only appreciate the craft of a man at the pinnacle of sports imagery but also as climber and sportsman himself. Remember, Seb is on the mountain, often side-by-side with Kilian, matching his strides, following his movements and in doing so he captures moments that we can look on and savor. We are able to experience the brilliance of two pioneers.

We will see less of Kilian in 2015. A return trip to Hardrock 100 is almost certainly on the cards. After all, why wouldn’t he want both course records? But ultimately, Kilian will focus on Everest and the ultimate challenge that this mountain will provide.

“It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem, to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependent. I expect to have several attempts.”

I am unsure what Kilian will do in the future… I think maybe even Kilian is unsure?

Aconcagua is a priority for now and then focus will shift to Everest; the big peak in the Himalayas.

Everest will dominate the mind of the Catalan. It will consume him and with meticulous preparation and he will conjure a plan… a plan that will take him to the top of the world!

Credits 'RUN or Die by Kilian Jornet, Wikipedia and Seb Montaz

 *****

Follow Kilian and his team in the Andes @kilianj @sebastienmontaz @summitsofmylife

Summits of my Life HERE

Kilian Jornet HERE

My interviews with Kilian:

The Human Carabiner – HERE

The Matterhorn Summit – HERE

You can also listen to Kilian Jornet on Talk Ultra podcast HERE

UPDATES

all content ©summitsofmylife

Dec 19th – 1:56pm

Today is the day!!! Kilian is right now trying to be the fastest person to climb up and down the Aconcagua!!! C’mon Kilian, you can make it!!! Gooo!!!‪#‎SoML‬

Dec 19th – 2:27pm

NEWS FROM ACONCAGUA: Kilian was not able to reach the summit on his attempt due to strong wind. He could reach up to 6.500m but 90km/h winds made the attempt completely impossible and he had to turn back. In Kilian’s words “I will try again soon” ‪#‎SoMLAConcagua‬

December 20th

“I consider this failed attempt like a big training in altitude” said to me kilian after running and climbing from Horcones ( 2950m) to 6200 m and back ( about 14h) with crazy 90km/h wind in his face.
Emelie and Kilian will be stronger for the next attempt!

December 21st

When things do not go as expected, you go fast back at the start point and you try it again (soon ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd

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Aconcagua 2nd Round!
Kilian is on his way trying to achieve another dream!!
You can see the long road to the Summit! Go Kilian!!!
We’ll Keep you posted! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd 

Kilian passed Plaza de Mulas, Aconcagua’s Base Camp at 4.300m. He is feeling well because weather is good and not too windy. Let’s push him up to the summit!!! GOOOOO KILIAN!!!

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December 23rd 

BREAKING NEWS: Kilian reached the summit of Aconcagua and is back to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. He feels well but still 25 more Km to go. Enjoy it and goooo!!! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

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Trofeo Kima 2014 in-depth race preview

--©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgP1060017trofeokima_kilian

Don your gloves, find your helmet and prepare for the jewel in the Skyrunning crown. Trofeo Kima is here! This is THE all-out, kick ass event that Skyrunning put on and as such it is often the most anticipated. You can’t just do Kima. As Kilian Jornet said in a recent interview, It’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.’

Famous throughout the mountain running world, Kima is run over seven mountain passes with 8400m of ascent/decent over the 52km course. It is an all out white-knuckle ride and not for the feint hearted. Biennial, the race has a capped field of just 250 and embraces the true spirit of Skyrunning created way back in ‘89’ when Giacometti (ISF President) first ascended and descended Monte Rosa. The fourth race in the 2014 Ultra Skyrunner® World Series, KIMA will provide, once again, a showcase for earth meeting sky – Skyrunning!

MEN

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It may come as no surprise that man on fire and 2012 winner, Kilian Jornet is the one to beat on this course. In reality, Kima is one of the most perfect courses for the Catalan. His advantage over the rest of the competition is marked and other than a disaster on race day, I think we will see Kilian top the podium and should conditions be favourable, a course record may well be on the cards! To put the severity of this course into perspective, it took Kilian 6:28:52 in 2012 to cover the 52km course. (The record stands at 6:19:03 also set by Kilian.)

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Brit, Tom Owens had an incredible 2012 and pushed Kilian at many races. With over a year out of the sport, Tom is back in 2014 and although he has had a few blips, he is showing some of the fire and all out natural ability that saw him place 2nd at Kima at the last edition in a time of 6:39:28. Feeling tired at Sierre-Zinal Tom missed Matterhorn Ultraks and I can’t help but think that will pay dividends here. The last time he toed the line at Kima, he had this to say, ‘It’s the definition of Skyrunning.  Racing here is like being a kid, jumping nimbly from rock to rock and feeling full of energy.’

Paolo Gotti placed 8th in 2012 and was the winner in 2008 and 4th in 2010. It’s difficult to predict how Gotti will perform but he knows this course like the back of his hand and that is a huge advantage.

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Both Philipp Reiter and Michel Lanne placed 5th and 6th at the last edition of Kima. Philipp has been a little quiet recently with injury and although he is back running, he told me he is not in the best shape for Kima, so, he will have to miss it. Needless to say he is very disappointed. By contrast, Michel was runner up to Kilian at the Skyrunning World Championships and last weekend raced Matterhorn Ultraks and was having a great race until going off course. He dropped, saved his legs and we may well see him looking for pay back in Kima.

Nicola Golinelli effectively retired drop top level racing last year. However, he is still a highly competitive athlete and on this course, if in great shape, we can expect a top-5 performance. When you are racing fun with the pressure off a whole new experience can be enjoyed. One to watch!

Fulvio Dapit knows how to run in the mountains and has speed, experience and technical ability in abundance. Without doubt a contender for the podium should all things align. His recent victory at Dolomiti Extreme Trail can only be a good sign of things to come.

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Manuel Merillos is the new kid on the block and a hot talent. His recent 4th place at Dolomites Skyrace shows that he can trade blows with the best on a pure Skyrunning course. A definite contender for the podium!

Es Tressider is an interesting inclusion in to the line-up for this race and a runner that many of the other competitors will not be familiar with. In 2007 he set a record for the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye in 3:17:28. The ridge is Britain’s premier mountain traverse and is usually attempted by 2-people in one or two days. Crossing multiple peaks over 3000ft it’s the perfect training ground for Kima.

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Jordi Bes Ginesta on his day can trade blows with the best in the world. Hailing from a ski mountaineering background he as all the skill levels required for this tough and challenging course, Top-10 potential?

Greg Vollet team manager for Salomon can never be ruled out of the mix in a race like this. He won’t win it but top-10 is always a distinct possibility. The true global appeal of Skyrunning and Kima is reflected by the inclusion of Matt Cooper and Clarke McClymont. Matt had a great run at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and Clarke has been dreaming of Kima every since he watched the race 2-years ago.

Ones to watch: 

  • Pau Bortolo
  • Stuart Air
  • J Francisco Pinera
  • Carles Rossell
  • Yan Longfei
  • Jan Bartas
  • Phudorjee Lama Sherpa
  • Tim Stephens

Ricky Lighfoot is listed on the start sheet but may not be racing (tbc)

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LADIES

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Emelie Forsberg placed 2nd in 2012 and at the time it was her longest ever run. Leading the race to halfway, Emelie finally relinquished to Nuria Picas who went on to set a course record 7:36:21. Two years on and Emelie is a very different runner. Like Kilian, Kima will suit Emelie’s skill set and she is the outright favourite.

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Kasie Enman is currently on a European tour of Skyrunning races and Kima brings a conclusion to the trip. The technical aspects of the course, will not allow Kasie to use her outright speed. However, she is always in the mix and a podium place is a distinct possibility.

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Nuria Dominguez is a regular and consistent performer in the Skyrunner® World Series. In 2013 she had a string of top results: 3rd Dolomites Skyrace, 4th Trans D’Havet, 3rd at Matterhorn Ultraks and was ranked 4th in The Skyrunning World Championships. Nuria may well lack the speed of Emelie and Kasie but can more than compensate with experience of the montains.

Alessandra Carlini has had a sold 2014 and her recent 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise elevates the Italian to ‘one-to-watch’ at Kima. Living on the Italian coast she has very little opportunity to terrain on a mountainous course, however, this hasn’t proven to be too much of a disadvantage so far.

Emanuela Brizio past winner and course record holder and placed 3rd behind Picas and Forsberg in 2012. I doubt that Emanuela can win the race this year but 2nd place is up for grapes and if she has a great day, who knows. Forsberg only beat Brizio by 15-seconds last time!

Skyrunning legend Corinne Favre will also toe the line. Apparently she won’t be ‘racing’ but we must definitely tip a hat to the first lady of Skyrunning. She was the first world champion in 1998 and although the sport is very different today, Corinne can still hold her own. Don’t rule her out!

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Ladies to watch:

  • Judit Lamas Borras
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Rosa Vallas Tio
  • Zuzana Urbancova

Needless to say, Kima will have a plethora of Italian talent toeing the line who will without doubt have an impact on the top-10 results for the men and in particular the ladies.

Past racers who have excelled:

Franco Sancassani 3rd in 2012

Rodrigues Bodas 7th in 2012

 Links:

Skyrunning HERE

KILIAN JORNET – The Human Carabiner

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Kilian Jornet is defining our sport and in the process is setting new records and providing inspiration to thousands, if not millions of people. Just 12-months ago, I spoke to Kilian in Zermatt. It was just days after his incredible Matterhorn Summit where he set a new record for Cervinia-Matterhorn Summit-Cervinia beating the long standing Bruno Brunod record. Looking relaxed, Kilian joins me at a table and we chat. He looks lean and in the form of his life. The sky is blue and clouds are around the base of the Matterhorn. Looking up we pause and take it in.

Interview in Spanish HERE

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It really is an incredible mountain. I turn to Kilian and ask…

IC – Do you feel nostalgic Kilian, looking up at the Matterhorn and thinking back 12-months?

KJ – Yes, I have great feelings. I-year ago I climbed from Italy (Cervinia) and today I climbed it from Switzerland (Zermatt). I have many great friends in Cervinia and very soon it will be 150-years of the Matterhorn. So many great memories; It’s such a beautiful memory.

IC – Okay, so you have just thrown this on me. You climbed the Matterhorn this morning from Zermatt?

KJ – Yes (laughs) I am not racing Matterhorn Ultraks so it’s okay. I went this morning… I was thinking to myself, it’s great weather so I decided to go. Conditions are not good though. The mountain has much more snow and the ridge was pretty icy. I had no crampons, which was a big mistake. At the summit it was very windy. I thought I might take the quick way down to Zermatt…!

IC – People say the Matterhorn is harder from Switzerland side?

KJ – The Italians say it’s harder from Cervinia and the Swiss say it’s harder from Zermatt. (He laughs) Both routes are very similar. I prefer the Italian side, it’s a narrow ridge about 500m long and you can really run. From Switzerland you go straight to the summit. It’s really beautiful and maybe a little more complicated. For me though, the Italian side is more difficult.

IC – Did you time yourself?

KJ – Hotel to hotel was 7-hours. I had planned to go down to the Italian side and come back via the pass. But the conditions were very windy and I decided to come back on the Switzerland side. It had lots of snow all the way up. I can normally climb up in good conditions in 2.5hrs but today it was 4-hours.

IC – Not the perfect time for a FKT?

KJ – No, it was really dangerous. Normally I would see 100’s of people at the summit. Today it was just me and I saw 4-people on my way down. The weather would be okay for Mont-Blanc but not here; it’s much more complicated.

 

IC – I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?

KJ – This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometres.

©iancorless.com_IMG_0123Zegama14_kilian

IC – It’s not unusual for you to start your run season at Transvulcania La Palma on 4-5 days running. This year you did this. You had a great race placing 2nd behind Luis. You then went to Denali and followed this with running again becoming Skyrunning World Champion. In Denali, this is not ultra running. It’s Alpinism. So tell us, what was the experience like?

KJ – It was a hard experience and fun. The weather was bad in Alaska. We stayed 21-days in the glacier and we had 3 sunny days. Everyday was snowing but we did a great number of things. We travelled very light. We would go to 4000m camp and from here everyday we would do something… we did the west ridge and then ski, we did another ridge, then I did the record, the north summit and so on. It was really nice to see. It’s possible to do something everyday. It was really interesting. I think I was surprised to come back to Chamonix and perform so well. Really I was just going to use it as training for Hardrock. In the VK I surpassed my expectation, in the marathon I knew I could do well. I lost weight in Denali.

IC – Yes for sure. You lost weight and your legs seemed smaller. Did it feel unusual to be back in Chamonix feeling like a different person?

KJ – Yes, I had small legs. It is similar to after Alpinism. It’s good for going up but coming down it has its affects.

IC – Denali unlike the Matterhorn was very much about you going and doing it. We haven’t seen the new Summits film yet, so, what did Denali involve?

KJ – It’s Skimo. You go via the plane to Anchorage and then take anther small plane to the glacier. It’s snow all the way. We didn’t take run shoes. We just used skis everyday. We had planned to acclimatize but the weather cleared and I made an attempt on the 6th day. I may have not been adapted but I was still strong. If you stay at altitude you loose strength. I had good conditions for 3-hours but the last uphill section and all the downhill had bad conditions. It was snowing and foggy. I just hoped that I could complete the summit. I added more clothes and pushed on.

IC – How do you prepare for an event like this? Do you do extensive research beforehand on maps? You make it sound casual and matter of fact but I know it’s not.

KJ – You need to be really well prepared. It’s a dangerous mountain. I looked at maps and we planned ahead, not only for the record but other adventures. I made good preparation 2-weeks before. We did 3-days to base camp and did the west ridge and ski down. It was good to see the conditions, find out what the snow was like and see if I could ski fast from the summit. You need to open your mind.

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It was great to have a small team. We were 4-people: Seb Montaz, Jordi Tosas, Vivian Bruchez and me. It’s really quick to change plans and make decisions with a small set up. For example in 5-hours I decided to attempt the record. Everyone was ready; they all knew what they had to do. It was great. Also, the team had projects that each wanted to do. All 4 of us had aspirations to achieve things whilst in Alaska.

IC – That is what is so interesting about what you do. You have very experienced people with you. In particular, Seb, he’s a great mountaineer and cameraman. We often forget he is often doing what you are doing.

KJ – For sure. You either have a small team or a big team with multiple people, helicopters, and many cameramen. The problem is budget! For example, all our team can work independently and they can all film, even myself. I like this process. We all move in the mountain, they are happy alone and that is great. We all captured images of each other. 

IC – That is going to be great to see. You followed Denali with Hardrock 100.

KJ – Three years of waiting!

IC – Yes, you got the confirmation in 2013. We all had expectations and excitement. You were racing really strong competition, Adam Campbell, Joe Grant, Seb Chaigneau, Dakota Jones, Julien Chorier and so on. You had a remarkable day; you smashed the course record. I know from pervious chats that you wasted lots of time. What was the experience like, did it live up to expectations?

KJ – It’s a beautiful race. I have run several 100-mile races and this is the best. The ambiance, the course, the spirit, it was just amazing. I arrived 1-week before and I checked all the last 100km so that I was prepared. I knew I would be in this section at night. I didn’t know the early section; I didn’t check it at all. We all started together; Seb, Adam, Timmy, Dakota and Julien. We had a big group. I felt good from the beginning. Having said that, you always feel good early. It’s just moving. After 4-5 hours I wasn’t pushing but I was pulling away. I thought to myself, maybe I will have a good day but I wanted to be cautious for the latter stages of the race. So, I waited for Julien and then I ran to km 100 with him and then the night started. After this point, I knew the course so I decided to go. It could take 9-hours if I was feeling good. I hadn’t eaten much up to this point so from here I took energy from soup and burritos. It was also really bad weather with rain and storms. I was happy to take a little time in the aid stations.

Kilian ©jordisaragossa

IC – I think you were lucky and got ahead of the worst of the storms. For example Adam Campbell had a crazy time.

KJ – Yes, this is what can happen, Handies Peak is at 4800m and 30km between aid stations, so, you are on your own. If a storm comes they don’t stop the race. You need to know what to do. If you are afraid, you stop and find shelter until the storm passes. Runners need to think and that is a good thing. We all need to think what to carry and what to do.

IC – You had Frosty (Anna Frost) and Ricky Gates as pacers. What point did they pace you?

KJ – Ricky started at 100km for the first part of the night section from Sharman. He ran around 35-40km with me. In the second part it was crazy rain. We were so cold and wet. He stopped. I continued for 10-miles alone and then met Frosty for the last 10-miles.

IC – At any point did you have the course record in mind?

KJ – Yes, you have it in your mind but I don’t race for records. I like racing a great deal. I do lots of races. My priority was to win if possible and I was also thinking of the Dolomites 1-week later…

(Laughter)

KJ – I said okay, I am doing well but don’t try to get tired! I was 20-min ahead of the record and I knew that Kyle Skaggs exploded in the latter stages when he set the record. So, if I kept my pace I knew the record was possible.

IC – As winner, you are the only male with a guaranteed place for next year. Will you be back?

KJ – Yes, for sure as it alternates direction each year.

IC – The two races are different, lets forget next year. Given what you have learnt this year, if you went back in 2-years, with what you now know. Of course weather dependant. Do you think you could make big differences to the time?

KJ – Weather is crucial and of course the feelings. Some days you feel great, like a cloud. You can’t predict these days. I had one of these days at the Matterhorn and certainly Hardrock. For sure I could go faster. I stopped 56-minutes in aid stations.

IC – And you waited for Julien 20-mins? 

KJ – Yes, I think 1-hour quicker is possible should all things align.

IC – You came back from Hardrock and surprisingly raced at Dolomites Skyrace in the VK and SkyRace just days later.

©iancorless.comIMG_6249Canazei2014_kilian

KJ – I was happy about the VK. I was feeling recovered but after 100-miles you need recovery. The VK was super good. I placed 8th which was great. It surprised me that I could push. It motivated me for the Sky race just 2-days later.

IC – Another great victory for you, amazing really!

KJ – Yes. Thanks

©iancorless.comIMG_2670Canazei2014_kilian

IC – Trofeo Kima is just around the corner. It’s arguably one of ‘the’ key Skyraces. Do you have any plans or intentions for Kima?

KJ – It’s difficult to discuss plans. So many variables come into play. For example, I may do some mountaineering this week, which may mean I am tired. I have The Rut and Limone Extreme too this year. After a summer of rain when the sun comes out the snow tempts me, so, I can’t resist despite what races are on my calendar.

IC – I have to say, I was watching your posts about your runs this last week. Dakota and yourself doing big days in the mountains that have lasted 7-hours. With UTMB around the corner, didn’t Dakota make that mistake before?

(Laughter)

KJ – I have often done Mont-Blanc just days before UTMB. It has altitude, great training and it doesn’t take too much energy. Dakota is strong and talented. We did this with 10-days before UTMB. He will be fine. I sometimes think he thinks too much. He needs to just run… it will be interesting to see Tony, Iker, Tofol and all the rest. I think Iker will be good. Luis Alberto he will start strong but can he maintain it? Luis has one pace, hard! Maybe he will start slower. UTMB this year will be a great race.

IC – You have Aconcagua (Summits of my Life) left for this year, December yes?

KJ – Yes, I will start in November to do ski training and then I will go back to running for Aconcagua. I’m excited as it has a high summit of 7000m. It’s not technical but it’s a tough record.

IC – And the record?

KJ – I think there are a couple of records but I don’t know the times. (In 2000 Bruno Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes. Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones.)

KJ – I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too.

IC – Wow, nice! I guess Aconcagua will be more like the Matterhorn?

KJ – No, it’s easier. It’s rocky but not steep. The altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different.

IC – It doesn’t have the danger of the Matterhorn. Ultimately, you have Everest as the last big objective. Have you thought about this yet?

KJ – It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem. It’s to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependant. I expect to have several attempts.

IC – If you achieve Everest and complete the Summit series, where do you go next? Your list is ticked off, do you think you will comeback to some races you have done before or do you think you will create a new sport, a combination of all your skill levels?

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

KJ – I have lots of projects. Today I climbed the Matterhorn, I looked around and suddenly projects appear. I think maybe I can go from here to here or in skiing I go down a steep line. It doesn’t need to be the highest or the longest. Nice mountains with not many people. I like this sport because of the beauty. I like aesthetic projects more than numbers. I have so many options to choose from.

IC – Do you think racing will still appeal?

KJ – Yes, I love racing. I love the ambiance. I also like it as training. I push I give it everything and you can’t do this alone, it’s boring. I will race for sure in skiing and maybe run less.

IC – Today I spoke to Marco De Gasperi, I took him back to ‘91’ when he was 16 and the formative days of Skyrunning. His first race!

KJ – Yes, it was Monte Rosa.

IC – Yes, Monte Rosa and he also did the VK. He reminded me of 2007 when you were 20 and you turned up at a race and placed 6th. He said you looked at him as though he was a hero. He now looks at you as the hero.

KJ – No, Marco is the hero.

--©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140350_kilian

IC – 20+ years of Skyrunning. In the last 3-years Skyrunning has become bigger than ever and it continues to grow. Would you like to see the sport progress in anyway?

KJ – Every person is a carabiner. We all pass on and provide energy and it grows. The sport keeps the values of the beginning. However, it’s not just about distance, elevation and athletics. It’s about mountains and alpinism. More people are interested in being in the mountains, it’s not just about technical terrain, and we must look at what is around us too. The sport will grow for sure. We are seeing VK’s grow and longer races. I think in central Europe it will stay as it is but it will develop in other countries, for example the US. It’s important to grow and keep quality; we must keep the spirit.

IC – In ‘89’ when Marino Giacometti ran up Monte Rosa and came back down, it was pure mountain spirit. Up and down as fast as possible. I feel that Skyrunning is starting to go back to where it was 20-years ago. Maybe because we look at sport differently; but also you are providing a great influence. Do you think there is room for another sport outside of VK, Sky and Ultra within Skyrunning, maybe an extreme event?

KJ – Yes. I think an extreme sport would be a great idea. It has been done before as you say. It’s really important though to understand that this is mountaineering fast and not running.

IC – Alpinism without the clutter?

KJ – Yes, it’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It will come as the sport grows but it is not for all. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.

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IC – Kilian, once again thank you so much for your time and the inspiration.

KJ – Thank you for everything.

*****

Article ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Please credit as and when appropriate when sharing

Thanks

I would like to thank Kilian Jornet for his time and generosity.

Marino Giacometti and Lauri Van Houten from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation)

Salomon Running

Seb Montaz

Jordi Saragossa

And all the wonderful races throughout the world that provides us all the opportunity to live our dreams.

Kilian Jornet – The Matterhorn Summit Interview

Kilian Jornet ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet – The Matterhorn Interview

August 25th, Zermatt, Switzerland.

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Translations

Czech HERE, Italian HERE, Spanish HERE, French HERE

It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks and just four days after Kilian Jornet’s successful attempt on the Matterhorn Summit record attempt from Cervinia. It has been quite a few days for this iconic mountain and although Kilian has excelled on both occasions, we all know, the mountain is still the boss.

Kilian arrives with Emelie Forsberg looking relaxed and fresh after a late breakfast. I congratulate him (and Emelie) once again on topping the podium at the Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks race and ask him how he feels, ‘I am a little tired but feel good. I was certainly tired in the race but I didn’t push too hard. I just did what I needed to do to win the race’.

Our conversation turns the TNF UTMB and we discuss how the race will unfold for the men and women. Kilian and Emelie are animated at the prospect of Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka and the other contenders going head-to-head. Emelie gets excited at the thought of Nuria Picas in the ladies race, it’s her first 100-mile race and of course Emelie knows the Catalan well. We could talk all day but eventually I settle down with Kilian in a quiet corner and we discuss the Matterhorn.

IC: It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks, firstly Kilian, congratulations on your win! Another great race with Luis Alberto Hernando but maybe what is more impressive is that it comes just a couple of days after your Matterhorn Summits. How are you feeling?

KJ: I feel good. It was a super good race with a great atmosphere. To run with Luis Alberto Hernando was super nice. I was very tired before the race, particularly the day before. I used a strategy for the race to take it easy and take the win in the last kilometers. Yes, I think I was much more tired than in other races this year.

IC: We spoke in the Dolomites and we discussed then that your next Summit would be the Matterhorn. You travelled to Cervinia and you lived here for weeks to train. You had the utmost respect for Bruno’s record of 3:14:44. The Matterhorn is a dangerous mountain. You said you needed to learn the mountain, to understand every step. I think in that time you went up and down the mountain multiple times. Just before your attempt you said that the record was in your grasp… what is it like to look at something that is perceived as being an iconic record, a record from 1995, you said in a quote that it was a record you had dreamt of. Something from childhood that you wished you could achieve. It is a massive undertaking. For you it is more than a record, it’s your life.

KJ: I remember it well; I was 13 years old. I entered into a mountaineering center; I was talking to Jordi, the trainer. I said at the time that the record was impossible. I spoke to Jordi recently and he reminded me that I was dreaming about the Matterhorn all those years back and about the record. I thought it was the ultimate expression of our sport. It’s a beautiful summit. It has a logical line. It is a hard record, it is push running and climbing, so, it was in mind for many years… more than Mont Blanc and all the other records. About five years ago when I started to think about Summits of my Life, the Matterhorn was my goal. The other summits were really preparation for the Matterhorn and Bruno’s record. For me, it was the most difficult record in Skyrunning and mountain running. For example, Pikes Peak is not Skyrunning. I was really afraid, not of the mountain as I was climbing a lot but of the time. I summited the Matterhorn nine times before the ascent. The first time you climb you become aware of what is possible. You go up and down and say, wow, this is the time I need to beat. After going up and down nine times I think okay, I know the mountain, I am not going to fall, I know this mountain well. I was aware of where I could go hard and where I needed to go easy. However, the morning of the attempt I was nervous. I thought to myself, will I do this record or will I do four hours?

IC: A few people asked why you made the attempt at 3pm; it seems quite logical that the Matterhorn is a busy mountain so I assume the mountain would have been less busy?

KJ: Yes for sure. It is a busy mountain when conditions are good. When I climbed nine times I saw hardly anyone, just two or three teams. I was alone. The week of the attempt we had good days with warm and dry conditions and everyone was on the mountain. Over one hundred teams! So, I was talking with all the guides and the helpers. We asked the question, what do we do? So many people on the mountain and it would have been impossible. My first idea was to start between 7-8am but it would have been crazy to pass people. We decided to start later. It was the perfect decision. It was warm at the summit and I wore just a t-shirt and nobody was in the way. Everyone was going down or in the hut. I just had the safety guides to help. It was perfect!

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

IC: In the build up to the record, you actually met up with Bruno Brunod. Did he go on the mountain with you or did you just talk about your attempt?

KJ: Bruno said he never climbed the Matterhorn after his attempt. We met in Cervinia and discussed his record. What conditions he had, how he prepared, how he was mentally and then we discussed the rope, the short cuts and how he made time. It is funny, Bruno stopped running in 2003 but last year he started running again and he is now preparing Tor des Geants. He never ran long distances; he was afraid. I said, c’mon man, you are strong, and you can do well in these races.

IC: So, Bruno has gone from no running to doing one of the longest races on the calendar, I guess when you are Bruno Brunod you don’t do things by half. When you go on the mountain to learn and understand, what process does that involve? Do you have several options to attempt the summit and therefore you try them or do you have a defined route and then you put that route in your mind so that you know every step. You know you can push in one place and you won’t slip in another place?

KJ: It’s one route. The Lion Ridge is the classic route and the fastest. It is the historical route and the same as Bruno used and those before him. You work out the differences but it is a thin ridge, you have several places that you can pass but yes, it is about planning. It is about knowing where to put your feet, knowing where to push and when not. I think you need to understand the mountain. You have parts in the west and north face and they are thin in the ridge and you can have ice. If you go in the morning you will have ice. If you go after 10am then this will be water so you can go there. You need to spend time to understand how it works, to understand the mountain and its life. Always in the north face it was icy, so I was aware I needed more care. On the west side I could push harder as the rock was warm and the rubber of my shoes would have better grip. It is important to spend time and understand that exactly. For example, if it is cold or windy, my shoes don’t grip the same as a warm day. I need to know this so I know exactly where to go. It is super important to understand the mountain and how the weather conditions are.

IC: On the face of it, people look at you and think you are very relaxed and casual. I know, I have seen you work and I have seen you study a mountain, you know the history, you go into in depth research to make sure these attempts are correct and that you know what you are doing. It is obviously very important. You have mentioned a simple thing like shoe rubber. Did you have special shoes?

KJ: Yes I tried different rubbers. I always used the Salomon Sense but I had different soles, different grades of rubber. For the attempt I used a softer rubber for grip. In the snow any shoe glides. You just need the technique of a flat foot and the ability to push.

IC: What is great about these attempts in comparison to Bruno, for example, in 1995 I guess Bruno stood in the square in Cervinia and just a few people were around probably having a beer, but Marino Giacometti and Lauri Van Houten were instrumental in Bruno’s attempt. They helped finance it, they arranged the safety, they arranged a helicopter and of course they got involved in your attempt. Fortunately for us we had the opportunity to have Seb Montaz follow the process, for those who know Seb, he is like your self a master of his craft. We have had some great glimpses of your summit; short videos are already on YouTube. Clips of you running a ridge jumping a crevice, or sliding down snow. It brings what you do into perspective. We can talk about you going up and down the Matterhorn but it’s easy to think, ok! But we may not have an idea of the difficulty or danger. These videos convey this. It is an important aspect. Is it a way to record you achievement but is it also a way to attract people to the mountains and also let people understand the beauty and danger?

KJ: It is the second for sure. It is not about my achievement. When I stop it will be in my mind. It is more a learning process. It enables the people to join us in the mountain and it enables everyone to understand. It’s beautiful, it is nice but it is also very difficult. It takes preparation, we do take some risks but the videos help motivate and inform. The way I go the mountain is possible but you need to learn. For me, my summit was the Matterhorn; I understood my capacity, my ability and my technical skill. I accept the risk. For everyone else it may be here or close to the home. We want to show and share that you can be light in the mountains and hopefully more people will understand. I go naked to the mountain.

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

IC: The actual record. You started 3pm from Cervinia. You are in Salomon Sense, shorts, T-shirt and a jacket around your waist. You look like you are going for a run… of course that is what you are doing! You start and in the early stages it is easy and then it becomes tricky, technical, you have ropes, ridges, faces to ascend and so on, how do you process the attempt in your mind. Did you have specific targets, so, did you know what time you wanted to be at a certain place or do you go on feel? I know in the early stages you only had about 3 minutes on Bruno’s record, it was maybe a little too hot but once past a certain point you really opened up time. Of course on the descent you came down super quick. You did 2:52:02 instead of 3:14:44. I believe Bruno predicted 2:52! Were you surprised?

KJ: I was really surprised. When Bruno said 2:52 I said, no way.  I was thinking, I might break the record by 2-3 minutes maximum. Maybe 3:10 would be a good time? During my practice runs I never ran fast because in the hard parts you don’t want to go hard. It’s like a lottery and taking numbers… you leave taking numbers for race day! The only time I went faster was the second day when I trained. I thought, wow, maybe I can beat Bruno’s time. If I am close to Bruno’s time then I can go faster. I spoke to Seb Montaz on the morning of the attempt, he said if you are at the summit within 2 hours it will be so good, you will have time for the downhill. I said, yeah I will be so very happy. When I started the summit attempt it was the afternoon so this was good at the top because it was warm, however, it was warm in the valley too. I don’t like warm. I started with a good pace but it was hard to find the strength. I saw lots of people and friends. Bruno was shouting at me, ski friends shouted, guides from Cervinia, Nuria Picas was there and so on… they gave me energy. I said to myself, I must keep going, I must push. I had Bruno’s time in my mind but I had no prediction of what I could do.

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

I was close to Bruno’s time until the Leone Col then the ridge starts and then I came into my own. It is where I love to run. It’s technical, you need to climb and you need to push. It is exposed. I love to be exposed on the mountain. From here I was not moving fast but fluid. This is the way to move in this terrain, if you go fast and you go more than you can you will have an accident. Moving fluid allows me to move quickly. I started to gain time all the way up to the summit. I looked at my watch and I saw I was almost 12 minutes in front of Bruno’s time, I said to myself, wow, this is incredible. It is possible! Okay, I said, I can do it. I was happy but I could not disconnect. It is a long down hill to Cervinia; I needed to be sure of every step. The boss of the guides in Cervinia said to me at the summit, you can do it! I started down in deep concentration. I was enjoying it so much; I love to run the technical sections. You don’t push with your legs; you push with your mind. Where to put your feet, where to put your hands, when to glide, when to go faster, when to stop, this is what I love, I was enjoying it so much. When the most technical part stopped, I realized I was almost 20 minutes in front of Bruno; so, the last part was just pushing to the finish.

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

IC: Myself and many other people were very worried about the Matterhorn. We respected the mountain and we anticipated that you would push; pushing brings danger, so when you got to the summit and you knew you were ahead of Bruno’s time did that mean that the descent was easier, you took less risks than if the time had been very close.

KJ: Yes of course. If I had been at the summit in 2:10 I wouldn’t have come down at the speed I did. I would have taken more risks. I also think that this doesn’t work! Many people who saw me said that I was going down very fast, they said I looked really fluid and that I wasn’t taking risks yet I was very fast. I think this is the way to go down the mountain. If you take risks the body position is different, you can’t glide as well and so on. You lean back and this slows you. If you feel confident, you can go fast. I think maybe I could have gained 6-7 seconds by taking risks. It’s nothing! These 6 or 7 seconds may have been my life… I knew the route very well and I had no need to take additional risks. I just wanted to be confident. My mother was on the mountain and she had bad memories of when she climbed the Matterhorn for the first time but if you climb again and again, you know it’s risky but it isn’t necessary to take risks, it is about being confident.

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

IC: When you arrived in Cervinia, it was like the end of a race. It was incredible. The barriers were out. It was almost like the race finish here in Zermatt. Did this surprise you?

KJ: Yes, I was completely surprised. I was in Cervinia for three weeks sleeping in my van in preparation for the attempt. I was surprised by the reception by everyone. For example, the first day I climbed the Matterhorn I was with Emelie. We climbed with running shoes and when we reached the top, the mountain guides said, ‘wow, you are going with run shoes. Congratulations. Do you want to try the Matterhorn record, can we help you? Tell us the day, we want to help you’. There is not another place that is like this, we usually get the response of, ‘What are you doing here in run shoes, this is ridiculous’. Not in Cervinia, they wanted to help us right from the start. Every time I climbed it was so open, the support was great. I was always asked, ‘tell us what day you go and we will help. We want to be on the mountain to help and support you’. It was the same for the hotels in Cervinia, they offered me showers or they said if I needed anything such as Internet that I could use the Wi-Fi. It was an incredible ambience. People were happy that I was in Cervinia to do the record and they got behind me. I think this was the most beautiful part of the record. I went just with my van, I was alone to climb but everyone was supporting the team and myself. It was so easy then to do the record. The day before my attempt, I made a call to the mountain rescue and said, ‘Tomorrow I go’. He replied, ‘Okay, how many people do you need? We will put people in the mountains for safety in case you have a mistake’. He called the mountain guides and they said, okay, we will put people here and here. The guides had finished work at midday on Wednesday and then they returned to the mountain to support me. It is unique. The reception was so fantastic.

Great video here on YouTube ©Martin Mikloš

IC: It was incredible the level of support you got. Knowing you, you would have quite happily got out of your van, started in the square and returned with no fuss. Marino Giacometti made a very good point, these record attempts do need to be verified, it does need an element of proof that you do go to the top and do come back down. Of course we are not questioning your honesty. But for future records a structure needs to be in place. I guess if we set a standard for the future it can only be a good thing. Does that mean for future attempts such as Elbrus in Russia, will you start to incorporate this system.

KJ: Yes, I know I need someone to do the chrono and I am aware I need someone at the summit. For Mont Blanc, I had people from the Tourist Office to confirm my attempt and I had guides at the summit. I also have the gps files on my Suunto. At the Matterhorn it wasn’t an issue, we had everyone in place and it was almost taken out of my hands. For example, Marino Giacometti did the chrono in Cervinia but the guides etc. were fully behind the attempt and they verified the route. My chrono was radioed to all the guides on the mountain so my progress could be monitored. It is important to be true. It is just like doping control… it is about integrity, my intentions are 100%, it is important to do a record in the correct way. I am aware that many ‘FKT’s have no control, I personally believe in the people but when you see the world and see the problems, I am aware of the issues of how people can not be honest.

IC: What was great about this attempt, because you had a team of people up the mountain, we had time checks back that meant that we could Tweet and Facebook times to the world. This was so exciting. Social media became alive following you. I think we stopped so many people from working. They wanted to follow. It is interesting from my perspective because it is what I do, but I guess the concept of someone running up and down a mountain and that message being sent around the world, some may think, why is that interesting? But it is so exciting; the updates had people glued to your progress. Can you relate to it or do you just think about the mountain?

Video courtesy of Seb Montaz ©sebmontaz

KJ: When I am on the mountain. I am 100% focused. I need to be in my moment and think about where I put my feet, how fast do I go. If my mind wanders I will loose time or maybe my life, so I was super focused on moving as quickly as possible. It is just the mountain and I. The social media and the photography I leave to others. For example, Seb was in the helicopter but I never saw or heard it even though he was so close. This is because I needed to be 100% committed. I think this is nice. In racing I think for the last three years I have managed my effort and therefore I don’t need to focus as much but this was completely different. It was like the first time I raced ten years ago when I was super focused. It is a super nice feeling.

IC: Certainly social media has made what you are doing so accessible which is great for us but it is also great for you and everyone else involved. I guess now your energy focuses on Russia and Mt Elbrus?

KJ: Yes, I need to relax a little first…

IC: You said that to me last time, when I interviewed you in the Dolomites. You told me you wouldn’t race for a month and then you went to Sierre-Zinal.

KJ: Ah yes, I was close to Sierre-Zinal, it was just the other side of the Matterhorn, so it was good training. Plus it was the 40th edition. Now I take a couple of weeks with no racing but I will train a lot, I love that; I need to do it to be alive. I will train but not race until UROC in the US. I will focus on Elbrus for the next few weeks; I want to go to Russia before UROC, maybe the 15th September. I will plan around that date and train at altitude.

IC: So does that mean you will do the Elbrus summit before UROC?

KJ: Yes, I think so. After UROC I have Skyrunner World Series, Limone Extreme and the then Diagonale des Fous, so, after this I want a break.

IC: You say a break, does that mean ski mountaineering?

KJ: It means one week of no training and then I will be in the mountains for November and December but I won’t race.

IC: Okay, we will follow you and see if you do race… Kilian it has been fantastic for you to give me so much time to talk about the Matterhorn. It’s great to get such an insight. Finally, when are we going to see the full edited Seb Montaz movie of this year or the recent summit?

KJ: We are working on it and of course we will work more after Elbrus. November and December will see much of the work being done in edit, so we hope before the end of the year. Maybe late December?

IC: Perfect. Thank you so much for your time.

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

The Matterhorn – A history and perspective

“It is a technical mountain. Bruno Brunod has a record of 3:14:44. It is a technical route that is not difficult BUT if I fall, I will die! I need to know the route very well, I need to spend time on the mountain, and I need to learn every step.” Kilian Jornet, July 2013.

Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French) or Just the Matterhorn is a mountain on the border between Switzerland and Italy. At 4,478 meters (14,690 ft) high, it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. It consists of four steep faces, striking above the glaciers that surround it. Overlooking the town of Zermatt it is an iconic mountain and possibly ‘the’ most photographed mountain in the world. It is a mountain that dreams are mad of. Kilian Jornet is no different, “I have been dreaming about this record since I was 15”.

Ironically, the Matterhorn was one of the last great Alpine peaks to be climbed and the first ascent by Edward Whymper in 1865 brought an end to the ‘Golden age of alpinism (The period between Alfred Wills ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Whymper’s ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, this period saw many peaks in the Alps have first ascents)

Since 1865 to 1995 it has been described as one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps, over five hundred lives have been lost in this 130yr period. I guess the first ascent in 1865 showed us the danger potential when four climbers fell to their deaths on the descent.

The Matterhorn has two distinct summit, both situated on a 100-metre-long rocky ridge: the Swiss summit with a height of 4,477.5 meters (14,690 ft) on the east and the Italian summit with a height of 4,476.4 meters (14,686 ft) on the west. Their names originated from the first ascents, not for geographic reasons, as both are located on the border. Each summer a large number of mountaineers try to climb the Matterhorn via the northeast Hörnli ridge, the most popular route to the summit.

Small patches of snow and ice cling to the faces of the Matterhorn, but the faces are steep and regular avalanches occur. Snow hurtles down the four sides and accumulates on the glaciers at the base of each face.

Four main ridges separate the four faces of the Matterhorn and therefore it offers four distinct routes.  The least difficult technical climb and by far the most popular is the Hörnli Ridge, which lies between the east, and north faces and it faces the town of Zermatt. The Zmutt Ridge (west), between the north and west faces is, according to Collomb, “the classic route up the mountain, it’s the longest ridge and also the most disjointed.

The Lion Ridge, lying between the south and west face is the Italian normal route.  It is the shortest route on the mountain and has fixed ropes in place but many think it to be a far superior climb, particularly when compared to Hörnli Ridge. Furggen Ridge is the final offering, it is the hardest offering and in good conditions is not too difficult, and it does however have a reputation.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1000082J.J and J.P Maquignaz made the first ascent of the Italian ridge as it is climbed today in 1867 but Kilian Jornet had his eyes on Bruno Brunod’s record set in 1995 when he did Breuil-Cervinia to the Matterhorn summit and back in an astonishing time of 3:14:44. In addition, Bruno also has the record for climbing the Matterhorn, again from Breuil-Cervinia just to the summit in a time of 2:10.

Back in 1995, Skyrunning president, Marino Giacometti and Executive Director, Lauri Van Houten were not only present but also helped finance Bruno’s attempt. Lauri still says how the thought of it, “brings shivers down my back”.  Lauri and Marino both acknowledge the danger and undertaking that Kilian had given himself. “I remember standing in the square in Cervinia and about 3 hours 10 min had elapsed. There was a real buzz and noise and then somebody shouted, he’s coming! We all ignored it; we thought it couldn’t be possible… but minutes later Bruno appeared. It was a magical moment, one I will never forget”, says Lauri.

Bruno is very much considered the father of Skyrunning. His exploits, to this day seem to go beyond human limit. Without doubt, Kilian Jornet is in the same mold and in real terms, Bruno has lead the way for what Kilian now wants to achieve with his Summits project. Kilian’s final Summit will be Everest. Bruno himself attempted Everest; he however gave up when at a height of 8.200mt (26,900 feet) due to very hard weather conditions.

Bruno’s passion and time is now focused on his construction company, however, just recently he joined Kilian on the Matterhorn as he prepared for his Matterhorn attempt. Two masters together discussing the mountain. Without doubt, Bruno played a big part in the successful attempt by Kilian and ironically he predicted a time of 2:52:00. Maybe Bruno knows Kilian better than Kilian?

Bruno’s records:

  • Matterhorn uphill and downhill from Cervinia in 3:14
  • Monte Rosa uphill and downhill from Gressoney in 4:45
  • Aconcagua uphill and downhill in 5:57
  • Kilimanjaro uphill on the Marangu Route in 5:38
  • Mount Elbert uphill in 1:54
  • Three times winner of the Becca di Nona SkyRace (2002 – 2003 – 2004)

See ISF recognised records at skyrunning.com

The Matterhorn ©iancorless.com all rights reserved

The Matterhorn ©iancorless.com all rights reserved

READ THE KILIAN JORNET INTERVIEW, pre MATTERHORN HERE

CREDITS:

Firstly, a big thank you to Kilian Jornet, for his time, his patience and his inspiration.

Interview conducted by Ian Corless ©iancorless.com no reproduction or quoting without prior permission, all rights reserved.

Images provided by: iancorless.com, Lauri van Houten (ISF) or Seb Montaz – all protected under © copyright. No reproduction without permission.

Video ©sebmontaz

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200896714474535

The Matterhorn – Kilian Jornet

Image taken by Kilian Jornet, Friday Aug 2nd w/ Emelie Forsberg at the summit of the Matterhorn copyright: Kilian Jornet

Image taken by Kilian Jornet, Friday Aug 2nd w/ Emelie Forsberg at the summit of the Matterhorn copyright: Kilian Jornet

“It is a technical mountain. Bruno Brunod has a record of 3:14. It is a technical route that is not difficult BUT if I fall, I will die! I need to know the route very well, I need to spend time on the mountain, and I need to learn every step.” Kilian Jornet, July 2013.

Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French) or Just the Matterhorn is a mountain on the border between Switzerland and Italy. At 4,478 meters (14,690 ft) high, it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. It consists of four steep faces, striking above the glaciers that surround it. Overlooking the town of Zermatt it is an iconic mountain and possibly ‘the’ most photographed mountain in the world. It is a mountain that dreams are made of. Kilian Jornet is no different, “I have been dreaming about this record since I was 15”.

Ironically, the Matterhorn was one of the last great Alpine peaks to be climbed and the first ascent by Edward Whymper in 1865 brought an end to the ‘Golden age of alpinism (The period between Alfred Wills ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Whymper’s ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, this period saw many peaks in the Alps have first ascents)

Since 1865 to 1995 it has been described as one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps, over five hundred lives have been lost in this 130yr period. I guess the first ascent in 1865 showed us the danger potential when four climbers fell to their deaths on the descent.

The Matterhorn has two distinct summit, both situated on a 100-metre-long rocky ridge: the Swiss summit with a height of 4,477.5 meters (14,690 ft) on the east and the Italian summit with a height of 4,476.4 meters (14,686 ft) on the west. Their names originated from the first ascents, not for geographic reasons, as both are located on the border. Each summer a large number of mountaineers try to climb the Matterhorn via the northeast Hörnli ridge, the most popular route to the summit.

Small patches of snow and ice cling to the faces of the Matterhorn, but the faces are steep and regular avalanches occur. Snow hurtles down the four sides and accumulates on the glaciers at the base of each face.

Four main ridges separate the four faces of the Matterhorn and therefore it offers four distinct routes.  The least difficult technical climb and by far the most popular is the Hörnli Ridge, which lies between the east, and north faces and it faces the town of Zermatt. The Zmutt Ridge (west), between the north and west faces is, according to Collomb, “the classic route up the mountain, it’s the longest ridge and also the most disjointed.”

The Lion Ridge, lying between the south and west face is the Italian normal route.  It is the shortest route on the mountain and has fixed ropes in place but many think it to be a far superior climb, particularly when compared to Hörnli Ridge. Furggen Ridge is the final offering, it is the hardest offering and in good conditions is not too difficult, however, it has a reputation.

J.J and J.P Maquignaz made the first ascent of the Italian ridge as it is climbed today in 1867 but Kilian Jornet has his eyes on Bruno Brunod’s record set in 1995 when he did Breuil-Cervinia to the Matterhorn summit and back in an astonishing time of 3:14:44. In addition, Bruno also has the record for climbing the Matterhorn, again from Breuil-Cervinia in a time of 2:10.

Back in 1995, Skyrunning president, Marino Giacometti and Executive Director, Lauri Van Houten were not only present but also helped finance Bruno’s attempt. Lauri still says how the thought of it, “brings shivers down my back”.  Lauri and Marino both acknowledge the danger and undertaking that Kilian has given him self. “I remember standing in the square in Cervinia and about 3 hours ten had elapsed. There was a real buzz and noise and then somebody shouted, he’s coming! We all ignored it; we thought it couldn’t be possible… but minutes later Bruno appeared. It was a magical moment, one I will never forget”, says Lauri.

Bruno is very much considered the father of Skyrunning. His exploits, to this day seem to go beyond human limit. Without doubt, Kilian Jornet is in the same mold and in real terms, Bruno has lead the way for what Kilian now wants to achieve with his Summits project.

Bruno attempted Everest (the final summit for Kilian) he however gave up when at a height of 8.200 mt (26,900 feet) due to very hard weather conditions.

Bruno’s passion and time is now focused on his construction company, however, just recently he joined Kilian on the Matterhorn as he prepared for his Matterhorn attempt, I wonder, will we see a comeback!

Bruno’s records:

  • Matterhorn uphill and downhill from Cervinia in 3:14
  • Monte Rosa uphill and downhill from Gressoney in 4:45
  • Aconcagua uphill and downhill in 5:57
  • Kilimanjaro uphill on the Marangu Rout in 5:38
  • Monte Elbert uphill in 1:54
  • Three times winner of the Becca di Nona skyrace (2002 – 2003 – 2004)

August 21st 2013 at 1500 hours from the church in Cervinia, Kilian Jornet will depart on what I, and many others consider to be his ultimate challenge. The history books will show if his attempt was successful, ultimately though we want Kilian home safe. It’s about being on the edge and deciding what ‘your’ summit is, at this current moment, Kilian’s summit is Breuil-Cervinia to the Matterhorn summit and back in less than 3:14:44.

God speed Kilian!

Ice Trail Tarentaise Preview

image_1873

Ice Trail Tarentaise sends the chills down our spines as we prepare ourselves for the third event in the ISF Skyrunner Ultra World Series.

The stunning alpine village of  Val d’Isère is the official home of the Ice Trail Tarentaise. The race starts and concludes at this beautiful mountain retreat and as the name suggests, it is also the source of the Isère River. The Isère flows through some of the most iconic mountain landscape available. It is a haven for alpinists wanting to test themselves on the iconic slopes of Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchavel. ‘Les Trois Vallées (The Three Valleys) is a ski region in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie département of France, to the south of the town of Moûtiers, partly in the Vanoise National Park. As implied by its name, the area originally consisted of three valleys: Saint-BonAllues, and Belleville. The skiing area has since been extended into a ‘fourth’ valley, the Maurienne valley. It is adjacent to Val Thorens, but can also be accessed using a long gondola lift from Orelle.

The Tarentaise valley and the Ice Trail Tarentaise in many respects personify what Kilian Jornet has been pursuing for years, the term ‘Alpinism’ is often perceived as climbing but it is so much more.

The race route has over 60 km’s above 2000m altitude and with a highest point of 3653m at ‘Grande Motte’ this is a race not to be taken lightly. Memories of the Tour de France flood into my mind when I discuss this region, however, other than the highest paved mountain pass at the ‘Col de L’Iseran’ at 2770m, no bicycles will be seen.

Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386 m, participants in the 2013 Ice Trail Tarentaise will no doubt have a full appreciation of what Kilian and others like him strive for when they coin the term, Skyrunning. You see, Skyrunning is Alpinism but without the clutter, it’s about being light and moving fast.

Ropes, ladders, way markers, peaks at over 3000m and 5000m +/- ascent and descent guarantees that not all those who toe the line will see the finish. It is a tough tough race; no doubt!

The inaugural event was due to take place in 2011 however severe weather left the organization with no choice but to cancel, however, the 32km ‘Altispeed’ did take place (no easy option). Despite extreme conditions Damien Vouillamoz won the race in just over three and a half hours and Virginie (Virg) Govignon in 5:14. Virg just recently took part in one of the shorter events at Ronda dels Cims placing third, Andorra is now her home and the passion and love for the mountains are strong.

The arrival of the 2012 edition was eagerly anticipated, the shortened version in 2011 had wet many appetites, and success rates had been around approximately 50%, what would a full course offer? Despite initial weather concerns the race went ahead. Francois D’Haene from Salomon and Anne Valero from Mizuno were respective winners in times of 8:16:35 and 11:20:13 respectively.

Just three years old and only in its second edition, the 2013 Ice Trail Tarentaise will now offer a challenge to elites and non-elites that only many could have wished for. Now part of the Skyrunner World Series, the Ice Trail Tarentaise will see a return of the 2012 winner, Francois D’Haene compete against Kilian Jornet, Philipp Reiter, Rickey Gates, Nico Valsesia, Jordi Bes Ginesta, Nicolas Pianet and Vincent Delaberre. For the ladies, the reigning champion, Anne Valero will not defend her title but don’t worry; the ladies field is extremely competitive. Emelie Forsberg, Anna Frost, Julia Boettger, Silvia Serafini, Shona Stephenson and Emilie Lecomte will do battle on the glaciers and peaks of the ‘Tarentaise’; only one will be crowned the ice queen.

MEN

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Kilian Jornet – Considering the nature of this course, it’s location, severity, difficulty and true ‘Alpinist’ routes one would be foolish not to tip Kilian Jornet as a favorite for this race. As Lauri Van Houten points out, “Alpinism is traditional mountaineering with the big boots and all the gear – Skyrunning is doing the same stuff faster without all the gear…. Kilian will love it’. The race in many respects reads like one of his ‘Summits’ attempts and as such will suit him perfectly. With incredible results already achieved in 2013; Transvulcania, Zegama and Mont Blanc Marathon, one can’t help but think that Ice Trail Tarentaise is a race that will not only show him at his best but also it will be a race that he is eagerly waiting for.

Francois D'Haene 2012 TNFUTMB copyright iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene 2012 TNFUTMB copyright iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene – returns as the 2012 champion and for sure that will be a great advantage. Francois had an extremely successful 2012 with a top placing at Transvulcania but I am sure his TNFUTMB win will be the one he remembers most. He is currently in great form and for sure he will be pushing Kilian at the front.

Philipp Reiter Transgrancanaria copyright iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter Transgrancanaria copyright iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter – has incredible talent and recently won his first ever 100km race in Germany. He his experienced in the snow and without doubt this will play a big advantage in a race so demanding. He has shown in the past at races such as the extremely technical, Trofeo Kima, that he has all around ability. This will all come into play on this extremely tough and challenging race.

Rickey Gates – has been a little quiet of late. He always has a much smaller and tighter calendar in comparison to other runners but when he races, you know he will be in great shape. Top placing’s at the 2012 Transvulcania and a win at Speedgoat will carry over to this year and provide Rickey with a great base to compete against his Salomon teammates.

Nico Valsesia – is not shy of long distances. Arguably he is known for long cycling events like riding across America in the ‘RAAM’. His recent form is unknown as he should have toed the line at the 170km Ronda dels Cims.

Jordi Bes Ginesta – is a Catalan ski mountaineer and mountain runner and one has to say that ‘Ice Trail’ will play to all his abilities. His palamares are excellent in SkiMo with top ten placing’s in Spanish Championships, European Championships and World Championships. He was eighth in the 2009 world Skyrunning Championships and although I don’t think he will fight for a top three place you should definitely see him within the top ten.

Fulvio Dapit – is no stranger to Skyrunning and will come into the Ice Trail Tarentaise with a clear understanding of what needs to be done to compete at the front of the field. Fulvio was 2011 winner at the tenth edition of Monterosa Skyrace, he placed seventh at 2012 Zegama and recently had some success at Sardinia Trail, however, his form coming to Val D’Isère is not clear. Not a podium contender but a possible top ten.

Nicolas Pianet – has been racing since March and most notably raced the ‘Trail de Faverges Icebreaker 44km’ he placed third behind Patrick Bringer but one can almost certainly assume it was a preparation event for Ice Trail. His most recent race was Mont Blanc Marathon, he placed eleventh behind a strong and dominant Kilian Jornet. Nicolas has potential to mix things up at Tarentaise but he won’t contend the podium.

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Vincent Delabarre – previous winner of TNFUTMB and currently leading courses on the UTMB route will come into this race with plenty of mountain and snow experience. Invaluable! He raced earlier in the year at Marathon des Sables, a somewhat different experience to what lies ahead in Val D’Isère.

LADIES

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Emelie Forsberg – tops my table for the ladies race, just the other weekend she finished second to a flying Stevie Kremer at Mont Blanc Marathon, however, although she was fairly and squarely beaten, illness played an issue on the day. This was confirmed when just two days later she set a new female record for Chamonix-Mont Blanc-Chamonix in 8hrs 10min. Like Kilian, her SkiMo and mountain background will see her perform to her strengths on the Ice Trail course. A clear favorite.

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Francesca Canepa – fresh from a dominant performance at Ronda dels Cims will feel at home on the trails of the Tarentaise valley. She likes tough, technical and hard races. Francesca also has speed when required; her second place to Lizzy Hawker at the shortened 2012 TNFUTMB proves this. It will certainly be interesting to see how Francesca performs against Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas on this demanding course.

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Julia Boettger – loves long, hard and technical races. Tor des Geants and Raid de la Reunion are just two notches in her impressive resume. However, her recent form is unknown, she missed the start of Transgrancanaria due to illness and a main target for the year, the 170km Ronda dels Cims had to be missed for personal reasons. The recent Lavaredo Trail also saw Julia miss the start line, so, she will either come to Ice Trail fresh and ready to perform or a little under raced. withdrawn, confirmation 09th July 2013

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Anna Frost – had a troublesome winter and missed a race she loves, Transvulcania. However, she is back on her way to full fitness. Her recent performances at the Mont Blanc VK and Marathon show that she is not in full fitness but reassuringly this means that Frosty is easing her way back into 2013 instead of pushing too hard too soon. Without doubt she is a class act and I have never seen anyone with an ability to push so deep when the need arises. Her performance at Cavalls del Vent in 2012 was a personification of this. If she wants to win Ice Trail, Frosty could find something within herself to give it a go. Anna has podium potential without a doubt.

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Nuria Picas – missed Mont Blanc Marathon and will arrive in Tarentaise fresher than some of her rivals. Rumor has it that Nuria is running the 2013 UTMB so a very different Nuria may well toe the line for the ultra races in the Skyrunning series than we saw in 2012. Without doubt she has speed and ability, her 2012 season was remarkable, however, twice in 2013 she has placed second to Emelie Forsberg; Transvulcania and Zegama. Maybe her training for TNFUTMB is taking the edge off the speed? If so, her endurance and her ability to survive over a longer event may well be the difference between first and second in the Tarentaise Valley. Nuria, providing she has no problems will be on the podium for sure and ultimately I see the race being between her and Emelie.

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Shona Stephenson – has loved the whole European experience. The Australia based inov-8 athlete has had a great 2013 so far with some great 100-mile results, particularly in Japan at UTMF100. Without doubt this ability to endure and dig deep will be essential in Val D’Isère. However, her experience of snow, ice and extreme cold is limited and without doubt this will be a big disadvantage. She has the ability to be at the front of the race but the whole experience may well just be one big learning curve that she needs to take a step back from and accept that what will be, will be.

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Emilie Lecomte – placed top five at Transvulcania and then placed third at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. She loves races that are tough, long and technical. The winner of the 2012 Raid de la Reunion and course record holder for the GR20 long trail in Corsica, Emilie will without doubt push hard at the front of this race. Her experience in Andorra was mixed; she was dominating the race over the first third but then struggled with fatigue and a lack of energy over the latter half. For Emilie to finish showed incredible guts and determination,  you will see Emilie show that same spirit here, if all goes well she may very well make the podium.

The Ice Trail Tarentaise has all the makings to be an incredible and exciting race, which will be nothing like what we have experienced before. The combination of altitude, ice, climbing and descending will almost certainly provide some shocks and surprises. Who are your picks to win the third ISF Skyrunning Ultra event?

Stats:

The Ice-Trail Tarentaise (ITT), for the record, counts 65 km with 5,000m vertical ascent and descent, reaches a high point of 3,653m and touches five peaks skimming the 3,000m mark in Val d’Isère July 14.  Snow is not an option!

Notes:

It’s true that mountains at 3,000m offer a challenge to all who set foot here.  This year’s heavy snowfalls add an element of adventure (and technique) to test the most skilled skyrunners.  However, recent warm weather has taken its toll and much of the snow has melted although stretches on snow will remain.

The organisers will issue a statement regarding the course and safety measures after a meeting held this afternoon so check for updates which will be issued on this site, Facebook and the race website over the next few days.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE