Mont Blanc Marathon Preview

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The Race:

The Mont Blanc Marathon needs no introduction! Starting from the center of Chamonix (1035m) the race route over the classic marathon distance has has a positive vertical gain of 2511 meters and an elevation loss of 1490meters. 

The route climbs steadily towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of “les Bois” and Lavancher to reach Argentière at 1250m. Following a trail towards Le Planet the route traverses to the Balcon Nord before heading down towards Montroc. On leaving Montroc village runners take the trail towards Tré le Champ and go towards Col des Montets.

Crossing the “Col des Montets” at 1461m in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve runners take the old stage-coach route along the “chemin des Diligences”, the old stage-coach route to arrive at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine at 1260 m.

Climbing to the Col des Possettes at 1997m via a trail leaving from the Plan de l’envers progression is made onwards to the highest point of the course at the Aiguilles des Possettes (2201m). The climb and exhaustion is worth it… each participant is rewarded by a breathtaking panorama of the Mont Blanc range.

Facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ and the Mont Blanc range, the route Following the ridgeline of the ‘aiguillette’ and facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ it is now time to descend in the direction of Tré le Champ.

A pretty trail toward le Tour, runners cross through a village, and then the Tour glacier. Taking a north-facing trail towards Montroc, cross through hamlets of the Frasserands and Tré le Champ. Now at the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, opposite the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbs up towards la Flégère (1875 m). Cross the magnificent Charlanon Comb (1812m) and then the gradient increases until just before the arrival at Planpraz at 2050 m giving one of the most beautiful views of the Mont-Blanc.

The race is done!

Results 2012:

Ladies:

2012: Maude Mathys (SUI) 4h28’17’’

Mens:

2012: Kilian Jornet (ESP) 3h38’24’’

Key players in the 2013 race

Without doubt the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon has quality and depth in abundance in both the ladies and men’s fields. The second race in the Skyrunning World Series, we now have a clear indication of who is in form and who is coming in to form.  Stand out names are Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. After topping the podium at Transvulcania La Palma and Zegama-Aizkorri, will the Salomon duo remain on the top step when the race is completed on Sunday? 

Men:

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Kilian JornetSalomon Santiveri, without doubt is the out-and-out favorite for the race. Last years winner is in form and firing on all cylinders, it is his home playground and he knows the route like the back of his hand. Post his win at Zegama-Aizkorri were he had a head-to-head battle with Luis Alberto Hernando, Kilian he has done some shorter races and he has won all of them.

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Luis Alberto Hernando – Adidas is without doubt a great addition to the race. His second place at Transvulcania La Palma, followed up with a second place (just 12 seconds) behind Kilian Jornet at Zegama-Aizkorri fmeans that we have a battle on our hands! A couple of weekends ago he ran Haria Extreme and produced a strong and convincing performace. Without doubt a potential winner for the race.

Copyright iancorless.com

Copyright iancorless.com

Tofol CastanyerSalomon Santiveri, was forced to miss Zegama-Aizkorri due to injury so his form may not be 100%, however, he loves the mountains and he knows how to race.

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Marco De GasperiScott, despite dropping at half way at Zegama was showing some fine form. He was head-to-head with Kilian and pushing him. He has had some injury issues (hence the drop at Zegama) but he seems to be well on his way to a full recovery and is coming back strong. Kilian and Marco have 100% respect for each other and love to push each other to the line… we may very well see a repeat battle of the Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian battle at Zegama, re run over the course in Mont Blanc.

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Florian Reichert – Arc’teryx/ Inov-8, is new to Skyrunning but he has speed! Despite the odds, he pulled out a great first race at Zegama-Aizkorri and not only survived but also performed exceptionally well. With his duck over he will come to Mont Blanc with renewed confidence. Without doubt he will have worked on improving his technical running ability and descending. If he can add his natural speed to improved technique, he may well be one to watch!

Nicola GolinelliArc’teryx, always performs well in the mountains and Skyrunning events. He is the 2010 combined events champion. He will bring mountain skill and speed to the Mont Blanc course.

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Ben BardsleyInov-8, had a troubled race at Zegama-Aizkorri with a calf strain. At this moment in time we are unsure of his rehabilitation but his skills on the fells and regular trips and training in Chamonix will mean that if fit, he will be one-to-watch.

Brendan DaviesInov-8, has had an incredible 2013 with top placing’s at the super competitive Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand, a top five at UTMF 100 in Japan and then a win and new CR at TNF100 in Australia. He is fired up and his running is re-invigorated with sponsorship from the Inov-8 International Team. Fast over the marathon and 100km distance, hos only downfall at Mont Blanc may well be his ability over tough and technical terrain. He has all the ability to be top three and without doubt, he will not be aiming for anything else.

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Alex NicholsInov-8, scored a top 5 at the Sky Games in 2012, his first outing in a Skyrunning event. He said, “It was a learning curve’. He recently came over to Zegama-Aizkorri to race but pulled a muscle early in the race forcing him to drop. With Pike Peak on his doorstep in the US he has plenty of opportunity to practice ascending and descending, combined with natural speed he will be a force at the front of the race.

Scott DunlapInov-8, has already had a busy start to 2013, he PR’d at Boston Marathon with 2:44:35 and most recently he has run Silver State 50m in sub 10 hours. Scott has the potential for a good race but I don’t see him in contention at the front of the race.

Nicolas PianetNew Balance, winner of the race in 2010 and 2011 and fourth last year will have some stiff competition this year and will need to provide everything within himself to fight such tough competition.

Marc PinsachFEEC, just recently was joint first place at the 35kmVolta Cerdanya Ultrafons with no other than kilian Jornet. Marc, like Kilian, is a ski mountaineer and they have often competed together at the world and European championships. Ranked 8th in the World in 2010 in the ‘team’ race, 4th in the ‘world relay’ in 2011 and in 2012 he was 5th in the ‘European championship team’ event; all with Kilian as his partner. He has incredible ability and a true ‘Alpinist’ approach.

The depth and quality of the Mont Blanc Marathon field means that it is just not possible to review everyone, however, here is a list of other main contenders who may well shine in the Alps.

Male contenders:

Fabio Bazzana – Crazy Idea, Sota Ogawa – Salomon, Fabio Tonolo – Salomon Agisko, Giulio Ornati – Salomon Agisko, Daniele Cappelletti – Valetudo Skyrunning, Gyorgy Szabolics Istavans – Valetudo Skyrunning, Ryan Bak – Scott, Didier Zago – Arc’teryx, Marc Caros – FEEC, Just Sociats Asensio – FEEC, Jose Lozano Garcia – FEEC, Jordi Bes Ginesta – FEEC, Joan Valls Gomez – FEEC, Oscar Csal Mir – FEEC, Roberto Sancho Martinez – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Paloma Lobera Grau – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Francesc Marti Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Eugenia Moro Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Artem Rostovtsev – Russian Skyrunning.

Ladies:

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Emelie Forsberg – Salomon, come to Mont Blanc as the outright favorite. In just one year Emelie has become a star of mountain running. Her 2012 season progressed and progressed and culminated with a stunning win at San Francisco 50. She started her 2013 season with win at Transgrancanaria running the marathon. A dominant performance at Transvulcania La Palma saw her not only stand victorious on top of the podium but she only missed Anna Frosts CR by minutes. Just a few weeks ago she again showed her form with a win at Zegama-Aizkorri. She will take some beating at Mont Blanc! However, she will not have an easy race. The ladies race is stacked.

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Stevie Kremer – Salomon Agisko, had her first outing in a Skyrunning event Zegama-Aizkorri and learnt many things… probably the most important thing is that she can believe in herself and that she really does have the ability to perform at the highest level against the best in the world. She took the race to the ladies at Zegama and I am 100% sure that we will see a repeat performance in the Alps. Definite podium place and without doubt she has all the ability required to stand on top of it.

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Silvia Serafini – Salomon Agisko, another star in the making! Silvia comes from a road background but she has adapted to the trails and mountain running exceptionally well. Like her teammate Stevie Kremer, she has every possibility to be on the podium. At Zegama-Aizkorri was having an incredible race running in the top four, unfortunately she twisted an ankle in the latter stages and although she finished she had dropped several places (6th) and was in pain. Providing she has no knock on effects Silvia will perform at the highest level and without doubt has the potential to be on the podium or top five.

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Oihana Kortazar – Salomon Santiveri, 2012 winner of Zegama-Aizkorri excels in the high mountains, particularly when the course is tough and technical. Her recent form is in question as she dropped at Zegama, however, you can never rule her out. She will want to prove something at Mont Blanc and put the record straight.

Shona Stephenson – Inov-8, is travelling from Australia as part of the Inov-8 International Skyrunning Team. She has had quite an incredible start to 2013 with impressive runs and results over a variety of distances and terrain. Shona was second at UTMF 100 in Japan, third at TNF100 in Australia and now Europe and the high mountains. Without doubt she has ability but this Mont Blanc course may well be a little too short and technical for her. I can’t help but think she will need some time in Europe not only to adapt to the pace but the terrain for Skyrunning mountain events.

Other lady contenders:

Stephanie Jiminez – Salomon Agisko, Natalie White – Inov-8, Sarah Ridgeway – Inov-8, Anna Lupton – Inov-8, and Tanya Pacheco.

One thing is for sure; Chamonix and Mont Blanc will see an incredible weekend of racing from June 28th to July 1st. Many participants in the marathon will also toe the line for the ‘VK’ on Friday. A lung-busting ascent from the center of Chamonix straight up to a measured 1000 m height gain over a course 3.5km long. Great to watch, painful to participate in.

Weekend Schedule:

Friday, June 28, 2013

– Mont Blanc Vertical KM, 400 places, starting from 4:00pm in the center of Chamonix.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

– Mont Blanc Cross, 1500 places, starting at 8:30am on the landing paragliders.

– Mont Blanc 10km, 800 places, starting at 9:00am on the landing paragliders.

– Mont Blanc Mini Cross, from 800m to 3km starting from 11:00am on the landing paragliders.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

– Mont Blanc Marathon, 2000 places, starting at 7:00am in the center of Chamonix.

Stats:

  • Limited to 2,000 competitors
  • Distance: 42.195 km / 26.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,511m Elevation loss: 1,490m
  • Start: 1,035m. Finish 2,016m
  • Max altitude: 2,201m (Aiguilles des Possettes)
  • 6 aid stations
  • 9h time limit

Content from Skyrunning.com re VK and  Mont Blanc 80k:

The Mont-Blanc Marathon which sold out the 2,000 places many months ago, will be preceded by the KM Vertical on June 28th where 400 runners  will line up for a lung-busting 1,000 metres skywards over the short 3.5 km course.  Heading the start-list are Vertical world champions Urban Zemmer (La Sportiva) and Laura Orgué (Salomon).

Urban will be challenged not only by Kilian, last year’s winner in 36’07”, but current Vertical ranking leader, Marco Facchinelli (La Sportiva) and team mates Marco Moletto and Nadir Maguet; but also Nicola Golinelli and Florian Reichert, (Arc’teryx); Ben Bardsley, Brendan Davies, Robbie Simpson (inov-8); Matheo Jacquemoud (Crazy Idea); Oscar Casal and Joan Valls (FAM); Jose Lozano (FEEC) and Artem Rostovtsev (Russian Skyrunning) in the men’s field.

Vertical specialist Laura Orgué (Salomon) will face tough competition from team mates Emelie Forsberg, Oihana Kortazar and Anna Frost as well as last year’s race winner Antonella Confortola; Shona Stephenson, Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx);  Silvia Leal and Alba Xandri (FEEC).

Among the events over the weekend organised by the Club des Sports Chamonix, is the new Mont-Blanc 80K on June 28, the first time a race has been held on this course, although shortened due to snow on the course.  The race will represent a “test run” for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships where the three events will be featured.

LINKS:

Skyrunning – HERE 

Mont Blanc Marathon HERE

Zegama Inov-8 team are ready!

The Inov-8 International Skyrunning Team are ready for Zegama – Anna Lupton, Sarah Ridgeway, Ben Bardsley and Alex Nichols along with team manager, Natalie White are excited to be racing at this iconic race.

It also sees the launch of the new Inov-8 Mountain Running Wear.

The team have been testing new products such as the Wind Shell 60 jacket for the ladies and the Wind Shell 70 jacket for the men. In addition, they have also been using the Base Elite ‘T’s and 3/4 tights.

Zegama will be the first race for Inov-8 using this new apparel.

Inov-8 head for Zegama-Aizkorri

Shona Stephenson - Inov-8

Shona Stephenson – Inov-8

Natalie White, is the sports and marketing manager for UK Company Inov-8 who this year celebrate 10 years in the business. With less than one week to go to Zegama, I caught up with Natalie to discuss the brand and the expansion for the future. In 2013, Inov-8 has put together an International Skyrunning Team, it is a new departure for the brand, I asked how this has come about and why now?

 

NW: Yes, when I began at Inov-8 in Feb 2012 budgets had already been set so I had to focus on what people were telling me to do based on the budgets we had. However, in September 2012 I sat down with the European marketing manager and I said that we need to get involved in Skyrunning. It is a passion of mine anyway but all the high profile athletes are at these races and we as a brand needed to be involved. So, it made sense. I set up an International Skyrunning Team with runners from Australia, America, UK and France. Hopefully we are going to make an impact.

 

IC: It is an ambitious project and one that will test the financial strings as much as the runner’s legs. How do you go about putting something like this together, particularly in this current market?

 

NW: It takes some serious logistics. I also have a 101 other jobs to plan and budget for. I really need to manage my time well. It’s a case of getting a small International team and focusing and what needs the athletes have. Such as kit, what they expect from the brand, travel expenses and then budgeting all that. We shall review the total cost at the end of the year and then make adjustments for future years. I am a runner myself so I know what the runners want. I need to balance all the costs, hopefully everyone will be happy.

 

IC: Is part of the project also to develop new products such as clothing and shoes that you can take forward in future years?

 

NW: Yes! We have just sent our SS2014 workbook to print with some very exciting new products. I can’t talk about that yet…

 

IC: Your lips are sealed?

 

NW: Yes, we have our launch this month, in May. We are also working on other new products. It is all very exciting.

 

IC: In the past, as a company you have been renowned for your shoes and packs but you are moving into clothing?

 

NW: Yes we launched AW2013 running apparel and showed it in February 2013. Our athletes will be wearing our new mountain running wear in Zegama. I hope it will make retail outlets in July and August. It’s a very exciting time for the brand and the athletes.

 

IC: How have these products been designed? Do they all have athlete input?

 

NW: Yes, everything we do has runner feedback and athlete feedback. We put everything together, produce a product and then test it. Our athletes test it in training and our marketing team test the products. We go out at lunch and run on local trails. We debrief and then make adjustments as appropriate.

 

IC: You have mentioned the athletes. You have some real variety for 2013. Such as Brendan Davies and Shona Stephenson from Australia and then we have Americans, UK runners and then somebody like Joe Grant who is a Brit who lives in the US. Zegama will see the British runners head to Zegama… it is quite a mix.

 

NW: Yes, it is a mix. Prior to me joining we only had a small team of UK based athletes. To get more brand awareness across the world I thought we needed an International team. So, the best athletes from around the world put them in one team and then send them out to run in the Skyrunning series. We support them and help them travel the world to race. We want to help them achieve.

 

IC: Skyrunning is a very different sport to a lot of other running. UK runners in particular seem to adapt well particularly if coming from a fell running background… of course fell doesn’t have the altitude but it does have some tough terrain. How do you think Brendan and Shona will handle Skyrunning? It will be very different for them. How do you help them and help them adapt to the challenges?

 

NW: I speak with Brendan and Shona every other day via email and we have regular Skype chats. Because I have done plenty of Skyrunning I can help them. They are currently preparing with adjustments for altitude. They are in form. Look at the results from UTMF and TNF 100. Incredible! (Brendan just won and set a new CR at TNF100 in Australia, a record previously held by Kilian Jornet)

Brendan Davies - Inov-8

Brendan Davies – Inov-8

 

IC: How will Brendan and Shona recover from these high profile and demanding races and be ready for Skyrunning?

 

NW: To be honest, they both seem to recover very well. I don’t think recovery will be a problem. Of course flying and travel may impact but I think, fingers crossed, they will be fine.

 

IC: Zegama is the first race that you will attend, yes?

 

NW: Correct, yes.

 

IC: Zegama is the classic mountain race. It is famous for the terrain, the racing and a top quality field. What team will run?

 

NW: Alex Nichols from the US, he is in great shape. We have three UK runners, Ben Bardsley who is coming from a SkiMo season. He has actually been racing Kilian. He has been in the Alps doing some fastest known time attempts too. We have two ladies, Sarah Ridgeway and Anna Lupton. Sarah has been training on the Isle of Skye doing some ridge running. Ana Lupton is in good form too…. Hopefully everyone will be fit and healthy and will be able to have a great race!

Ben Bardsley - Inov-8

Ben Bardsley – Inov-8

 

IC: Yes, it is going to be a great way to kick off the series for Inov-8. I have just done a race preview and I think Ben and Alex are potential dark horses.

 

NW: Ben came into our office just the other week and he looks super fit and healthy. He is very keen for the first race. He is very appreciative to be part of this team. It’s a dream come true for him. He is very happy.

 

IC: As the season progresses the priorities will fall with the Sky marathon and Sky ultra series. What at the end of the year will mean that this year has been a success?

 

NW: Ultimately brand awareness. We have many plans and we will attend many races. After Mont Blanc marathon we will stay on in Chamonix to do product testing, photography, video and so on. It will be great to have everyone in the same place at the same time. It is taking some planning but I am sure it will be fine! We then have Alex Nichols at Pikes Peak and then we have a team at Ultraks in Switzerland. Shona and myself will race Ice Trail Tarantaise…. Not sure why I signed up for that! Speedgoat and UROC will see some American runners participate and then we will have a team at the last race in Limone, Italy. It will be a great finish to the year. It will be a case of having representation across the world with athletes in the overall rankings. All about developing the brand.

 

IC: Inov-8 has been going almost ten years. As a company it has achieved a great deal. From a shoe perspective you have always been highly respected. You understood the needs of particular terrain and developed products accordingly. For example, the mud claw, it is a classic. How will the brand develop in the future? Will you have any shoes developed specifically for Skyrunning?

 

NW: My lips are sealed!

 

IC: Okay, enough said. That is a yes then!

 

IC: If we look forward to 2014, do you have a plan to increase your team or do you think you will look after the team you have and help them progress.

 

NW: We will progress the team we have and build on that. We are always inundated with requests for sponsorship but it is just not possible to help everyone. We just don’t have the budget. We need to look after the people that we have currently. We need them to have the results and we need to help them achieve that.

 

IC: Much better to have a hardcore team of eight to ten who you can help, finance and support so that they can get results. No point having a team of thirty and no results.

 

NW: Exactly!

 

IC: Finally, you have Joe Grant on the team. Joe has done some crazy exploits such as the Iditarod Trail Invitational… a crazy event! 350 miles in sub zero temperatures. Do you plan to help progress ideas like this as a brand, for example, will you create projects that your athletes can undertake. I guess adventures which Inov-8 can help finance.

 

NW: Definitely, we have Ray Zahab from Canada who is currently taking on a challenge of crossing the Gobi Dessert. He is doing that in June this year and we are helping to support him. We love this sort of thing. Crazy challenges… the crazier the better!

 

IC: It creates a story and it creates a buzz. Ultimately that is great for you as a brand. You need your name out in the arena and that comes from inspiration. It filters back to consumers.

 

NW: Yes, exactly. We are all about making the brand the best it can be and ultimately providing the customers with the right footwear and clothing for them to achieve!

 

IC: Natalie, it has been great chatting with you and I am looking forward to Zegama this coming weekend. Best of luck for you and the team!

Calendar:

SKY
1. SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42k, Zegama – May 26
2. FRANCE: Mont-Blanc Marathon – 42k, Chamonix – June 30
3. USA:  Pikes Peak Marathon – 42k, Manitou Springs, Colorado – August 18
4. SWITZERLAND: Matterhorn Ultraks – 46k, Zermatt – August 24
5. ITALY: Limone Extreme SkyRace® – 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13

ULTRA
1. SPAIN: Transvulcania Ultramarathon – 83k, La Palma – May 11
2. ANDORRA: Ronda dels Cims – 170k, Ordino – June 21
3. FRANCE: Ice Trail Tarentaise – 65k, Val d’Isère – July 14
4. USA: Speedgoat – 50k, Snowbird, Utah – July 27
5. USA: Ultra Race of Champions “UROC” – 100k, Vail, Colorado – September 28

Links:

Race Elite 230 - Inov-8

Race Elite 230 – Inov-8

 

 

Zegama – Aizkorri 2013 Preview

Zegama - Aizkorri

Zegama – Aizkorri needs no introduction to those who follow Skyrunning. It is a course that has created many a story over the years.

Located in a natural park, Aizkorri-Aratz, it brings respect and excitement to every mountain runner that toes the line.

Zegama Map iancorless.com

In July 2002, the Village Council decided to revitalise and bring life to the local area, in order to achieve these objectives the Zegama-Aizkorri Mountain Marathon Association was created. Today, the AIA-renovated Alpine Marathon has a reputation in the world as one of the world’s most prestigious mountain marathons.

Part of the Skyrunner World Series it is the ultimate mountain marathon test. In 2008 the European Championships were hold on this very course. When Kilian Jornet was asked about Zegama, he quite simply said:

“Zegama? It’s Zegama!”

Zegama Profile

In other words, nothing more needs to be said. It has a reputation that demands respect from the higher echelons of the mountain running world.

2012 Summary

Zegama followed just 7 days after Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 and therefore we almost had a re run of the La Palma race. Of course, conditions were a little different. The dry heat of La Palma was replaced by torrential rain, mud, cold and the occasional snow blizzard.

The American contingent who had raced well on La Isla Bonita transferred en-mass to mainland Spain with a couple of additions. Nick Clark representing Pearl Izumi and the ‘hot tip’, Max King. Max had everything in is his favour; speed and a mountain pedigree.

As it happened, the American contingent had a lesson on European mountain running and never got in contention. For many of them they could hardly stand up in the tough conditions and as Nick Clark crossed the line he exclaimed

“Now THAT is a mountain race!”.

It was a shock to the system. Dakota Jones victorious just a week earlier had taken the race easy, a pre-race plan as he had nothing to prove after topping the podium at Transvulcania. In comparison, Kilian Jornet had something to prove and now had some running in his legs… midway through the race he applied the pressure and once again proved that he is the king of the mountains.

In the ladies race Oihana Kortazar showed her dominance over this Sky distance and we started to get a glimpse of a star in the making, Emelie Forsberg. Nuria Picas also set her stall out for a year-long process of podium places over all distances, from marathon to ultra. Anna Frost tired after a dominating Transvulcania performance decided not to race at Zegama and keep some powder dry for another day.

2013

* PLEASE LOOK FOR UPDATES posted 26th April marked in BLUE

The 2013 race is going to see some great representation from top ranking teams: Salomon, New Balance, Adidas, La Sportiva, Arc’teryx, Valetudo Skyrunning, Inov-8 and Scott.

Zegama this year is two weeks after Transvulcania and although that would work well for additional recovery, it doesn’t necessarily work well for travel budgets, so, we wont have Sage Canaday, Timothy Olson, Anton Krupicka, Joe Grant and the ‘other names’ joining the Zegama party.

The Mens Race

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet will be a dominating force at Transvulcania La Palma and I see him on top of the podium, two weeks recovery is a life-time for Kilian and after his dominating performance in 2013 I see him replicating the win at Zegama. He has just flown around the Transvulcania La Palma course and set a new course record. Respect!

His sparing partner, Marco De Gasperi, a legend in mountain and Skyrunning unfortunately has now pulled out of the race with a knee problem. This is a great shame, we all love to see Kilian and Marco go head-to-head.

Marco De Gasperi copyright Ian Corless

Marco De Gasperi copyright Ian Corless

This almost certainly means that we will have a re run of the 2012 Zegama race and also the 2013 Transvulcania… Kilian’s main competition will now come from Luis Alberto Hernando. Luis was second behind Kilian at Zegama last year and is almost certainly in some of the best form of his life at the moment. He pushed hard at Transvulcania just over a week ago and was leading the race at the final summit, ultimately loosing his lead to Kilian on the descent. His race on the island of La Palma is even more impressive considering it was his first ultra.

Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Missing from Transvulcania and deciding to run the ‘Sky’ distance in 2013 is Andy Symonds. Andy comes from a traditional fell/ mountain running background and just like Tom Owens, he will love the conditions here. Both Andy and Tom have withdrawn from Zegama I am afraid. In an email from Andy Symonds, he says, “We’re both injured!! can you believe it.. Tom’s got some pretty bad tendon rumpture in his foot and I’m limping with a duffed iliopsoas… neither of us have run for several weeks (much more for Tom). And so, no Zegama this year.. booo.. :-(” A real shame not to have these two top performers at the race. Speedy recovery guys.

Andy Symonds copyright Ian Corless

Andy Symonds copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras missed Transvulcania due to injury so we currently have a question mark if he will run at Zegama. In form he is one of the best runners in the world, so, he will most definitely mix it up at the front. Tofol Castanyer recently raced the Three Peaks in the UK and had a good race but was not used to the ‘navigation’ element of UK fell running, he too has the potential to win, particularly when running on Spanish soil.

Tofol Castanyer copyright Ian Corless

Tofol Castanyer copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Michel Lanne from France had a great race over the tough and technical trail at Trofeo Kima in 2012 and has been racing regularly in the build up to this Spanish race. He will arriving in form and ready to take on the front of the race. Just this week he has been on the trails with Kilian.

Inov-8 have Alex Nichols and Ben Bardsley taking part and they may very well be two dark horses. Ben is well versed in fell and mountain running and will almost certainly come into the race a little under the radar… one person who knows and respects Ben’s ability is Andy Symonds. Expect a surprise! Also watch out for South African fast man, AJ Calitz, he may well struggle a little with the terrain, technicality and temperatures at Zegama. But a surprise can come from anywhere…

Other contenders are Michel Rabat, Nicholas Pianet, Dai Matsumoto, Toru Miyahara, Dawa Sherpa, Dave James and Daniele Capelletti.

The Ladies Race

Emelie, Frosty, Maud, Lizzy, Nuria copyright Ian Corless

Emelie, Frosty, Maud, Lizzy, Nuria copyright Ian Corless

The ladies race will be a battle royal and although the men’s field has a top quality field I can’t help but think that some real excitement and a nail biting finish will come from this select group of women. Of course, Oihana Kortazar is returning to hopefully repeat her 2012 victory. She will be fresh as she will have not raced at Transvulcania. However, I am going to go out on a limb and predict a podium place, if not a win for Stevie Kremer. Stevie (from the US and now living in Italy) may not be a name too familiar to many but believe me, she has all the class and ability to create some waves over the ‘Sky’ distance in 2013. She has just recently placed on the podium in a very tough race in Italy (overall podium, not the ladies) and after seeing her perform at Sierre Zinal and other races, I think Stevie will be the surprise package of Zegama.

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas once again had a great race at Transvulcania 2013 and will come to Zegama ready to push hard and go full speed for the win. She had an incredible 2012 season and performed over all distances always making the podium and in most cases, she stood on top of the podium. She is a true champion and a great ambassador for the sport.

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg had a superb race in 2012 and she will be back fighting for the podium. She can go downhill like no other and as she showed last year, she took the final descent at break neck speed and got on the podium. She is wiser, stronger and more experienced now. She is going to be fired up after her incredible run at Transvulcania and just missing Frosty’s CR by a couple of minutes. I think back 12 months when I first met Emelie, Zegama really was her first big race… boy she has come such a long way in twelve months. What does the future hold for her?

Trofeo Kima 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Trofeo Kima 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini is also another great potential for a podium place. I don’t see her on top of the podium… she is still very much a lady who likes speed and good running terrain BUT she is learning fast and has heaps of talent and ability. Just this last weekend, the 18th May, she set a new CR in The Great Wall run in China.

Silvia Serafini - copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini – copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost gets a notable mention. She won’t be racing this year. She missed Transvulcania due to injury but just this last week has had some good news and she is now back on the trails, albeit slowly and one step at a time. She will be back!

Anna Frost 'Frosty' copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost ‘Frosty’ copyright Ian Corless

Emanuela Brizio will lead the rest of the ladies gunning for one of those coveted podium slots. Maud Gobert, Stephanie Jimenez, Debora Cardone, Sarah Ridgeway and Anna Lupton make up the main contenders for the 2013 edition.

Links

Calendar

SKY
1. SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42k, Zegama – May 26
2. FRANCE: Mont-Blanc Marathon – 42k, Chamonix – June 30
3. USA:  Pikes Peak Marathon – 42k, Manitou Springs, Colorado – August 18
4. SWITZERLAND: Matterhorn Ultraks – 46k, Zermatt – August 24
5. ITALY: Skyrunning Xtreme – 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13