Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace 2015 – Race Preview

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600 athletes will take on the iconic Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace on Sunday 19th July as the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series picks up pace hot on the heels of Zegama-Aizkorri. Azara Garcia and Tadei Pivk took top honours in Spain and they return to Italy looking for maximum points in the hope to win the 2015 series.

It’s going to be a serious battle though and one that will be hard fought.

The line up for the 2015 edition of the race is seriously impressive and we can guarantee a hot race both for the men and ladies as they race to the summit of Piz Boe and then descend as fast as possible back to the stunning Canazei.

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Christel Dewalle (4th last year) has been injured recently but turned up at the last min in Val d’Isere just last weekend and raced the VK and made the podium. It’s an ominous sign, Christel is a fierce competitor over the shorter distances and you can expect her to contest the front of the race ‘IF’ her level of fitness is back on track.

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Azara Garcia nailed Zegama-Aizkorri and therefore one has to expect her to be firing on all cylinders in Canazei. She raced the VK at Ice Trail Tarentaise last weekend but was out of the top 5, is that a sign that she may not be in 100% form?

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Megan Kimmel ran a stunning race at Mont-Blanc Marathon last year and may well be a surprise package. She doesn’t race in Europe often and this therefore will make her a dark horse. One to watch!

Anna Comet Is on the start list but I don’t think she will run after placing 5th at Ice Trail Tarentaise just last weekend. She said it was a below par performance and that she said she felt tired the whole race. No surprise after 2 great performances at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and Mont-Blanc 80km.

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Emelie Forsberg (2nd last year) has won Transvulcania Ultramarathon and last weekend won Ice Trail Tarentaise convincingly. If Emelie races (likely I think) she has all the potential to make the podium but if she does, it will be because she can descend so well. This race is a pure up and down race and a short one (22km) for Emelie. She will have a real fight on her hands to make the podium. Expect a blistering descent as we saw at Mount Marathon in Alaska recently.

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Laura Orgue (last years winner) may very well be the first lady to the summit of Piz Boe. Her climbing ability is quite incredible as she has shown time and time again on the VK circuit. However, her descending is not as good as some of the other ladies in the race and that is what makes this race so exciting. Should Laura be first to the summit, will she have enough of a gap to hold off the challengers? One year on from last years race and I am sure Laura has worked on this. A hot contender for victory and defending champion!

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Elisa Desco climbs and descends with the best in the world and is a consistent performer over the Sky distance. This race at 22km is an ideal distance for her but I think she would like some flatter run sections to use her speed. At Zegama-Aizkorri she had a tough race and gave it everything, expect no less here!

Hanny Allston is the surprise package from the Southern Hemisphere and all my Aussie friends have been telling me ‘keep an eye on this lady!’ So, keep an eye on this lady. Hanny has had success early season and she will be looking to build on that in a European race.

Mira Rai is the Nepalese sensation who just won the Mont-Blanc 80km on the back of a string of other top 5 places. An incredible talent, this 22km race will almost certainly test her. Fast and furious is what is required and the learning curve may well be a steep one. One thing is for sure, Mira’s talent and smile will sine through.

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Oihana Kortazar another hot contender for the podium who loves to race shorter distances. She can climb and descend with the best as her performances at Zegama-Aizkorri in recent years have shown. She placed 3rd at the latest edition behind Azara Garcia and Paula Cabrezo.

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Kasie Enman is the last hot contender and key podium challenger. Kasie has been racing in the US recently and just had a joint victory with Stevie Kremer at one of the latest US Skyrunning races – White Face SkyRace. Kasie won Trofeo Kima in 2014 and was pushing the pace in all the other Skyrunning races. An abundance of speed is key and the addition of great technical skills make Kasie a potential winner.

Magdalena Kozielska (5th last year) is not someone I know a great deal about. But the numbers speak for themselves, 5th last year!

Finally, Stephanie Jimenez (7th last year) is a consistent performer and strong performer over the shorter distance races. The Dolomites SkyRace is a stacked field and although we can expect a performance that adds to pressure to the front of the race, it would take a great performance to impact on the podium.

Maite Maiora may run? This hasn’t been confirmed yet. If she does, I would add her to one of the hot contenders for victory. In the last 18 months, Maite has learnt to race over the longer distances as well as excelling over the shorter distances. She placed 3rd last year in Canazei.

This race is too close to call! Below is a list of the entire elite field, I may have missed someone?

 

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Manuel Merillas (4th last year) raised heads in 2014 and in 2015 we are all fully attentive of this young talent. A great run at Zegama-Aizkorri compensated Manuel for a below par performance at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. His recent 2nd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Ice Trail Tarentaise (last weekend) confirmed his ability. However, does the Dolomites come too close from a big effort in Val d’Isere? I would normally tip Manuel for the win, especially in a race this short, I just wonder though if he will have that extra 5% missing?

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Aritz Egea (8th last year) is on fire this year and his performances have gone up a notch. He has an outside chance of a podium place (3rd) here at the Dolomites and if he has one of those days, he may well win. But the competition is fierce.

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Michel Lanne produced a stunning run at Mont-Blanc Marathon last year and embraces a pure mountain race with the best of them. I do think that 22km is an ideal distance for him, maybe a little too short? He is a contender for sure.

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Alexis Sevennec (5th last year) is always there or thereabouts and we can expect his presence to be felt almost certainly within the top 10, I am just not sure he has all that that is required to add pressure to the top 3 in this field but top 5 as last year is possible.

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Ionut Zinca is one of the hot favourites for the victory as he was 2nd behind Kilian Jornet. A consistent performer over the Sky distance, he has the climbing and descending ability to dominate this race has he has done in the past. Odds on favourite for victory!

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Tadei Pivk (3rd last year) nailed Zegama-Aizkorri and that elevates his odd for Canazei as a likely contender for the podium. Can he win? Of course he can.

Pere Rullan was a surprise 3rd place at Zegama-Aizkorri and with valuable SWS points gained, we can be sure that he will be looking to keep that consistency going in Canazei.

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Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (7th last year) may well push the front of the race. He excels at going uphill extremely quickly as he has proven at multiple VK’s on the circuit, particularly in Canazei. In addition, he raced the Dolomites SkyRace in 2014 and placed 7th.

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My last hot favourite for the podium and victory is Brit, Tom Owens (12th last year). This race has Tom’s name written all over it. Straight up, straight down, as fast as you can. It’s just like a fell race which Tom excels at. Recently though, Tom has been racing the longer Skyrunning events which may impact on his short distance speed? I still think though that he is a podium contender and potential winner should all things go well.

Like the ladies’ race, the Dolomites SkyRace is bringing in a plethora of top male talent. There are 10 names below to keep an eye on and a full elite start list is listed below this post just in case I have missed anyone.

  • Hassan Ait Chaou
  • Jokin Lizeaga
  • Inaki Uribe-Etxebarria
  • Jessed Hernandez
  • Francesc Soler
  • Nil Cardona
  • Paolo Longo
  • Blake Hose  will not run
  • Martin Gaffuri
  • Dai Matsumoto

As per usual you will be able to view images from the race with results and report on this website.

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Lauri van Houten from the ISF writes about Friday’s VK below and your can read the ISF post HERE:

Tomorrow’s Vertical Kilometer® is headed by reigning world champion and 2014 record holder, Laura Orguè, fresh from her win at the recent Face de Bellevarde VK. The men’s field is led by Urban Zemmer, on the top rung of the 2014 ISF ranking.

The deep women’s field continues with Emelie Forsberg together with Salomon team mates Oihana Kortazar, Stephanie Jimenez, Kasie Enman and Paula Cabrerizio, the new Skyrunning European Vertical Champion; and top names Christel Dewalle (adidas) and Azara Garcia (Compressport) among others.

Urban Zemmer is accompanied on the La Sportiva team by top vertical specialists, Nejc Kuhar, Marco Moletto, Nadir Maguet and William Bon Mardion. Salomon will contribute Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and Remi Bonnet, and other top runners include Ferran Teixido (FEEC), Saul Padua Rodriguez, Eirik Haugsness (inov8) and many more…

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Elite Start List for the SkyRace:

CHRISTEL DEWALLE
AZARA GARCIA DE LOS SALMONES MARCANO
MANUEL MERILLAS
LUCA CARRARA
MATTEO PILLER HOFFER
PAOLO LAZZARA
MICHELE VICARIO
FABIO DELLA PIETRA
ANDREA DE BONA
OSCAR CASAL MIR
MARC CASAL MIR
MEGAN KIMMEL
EVA MARÍA MOREDA GABALDÓN
ANTONIO ROLDAN MERCADAL
JAN HAVLICEK
ANETA KOCOURKOVA
IVONA KREJCIRIKOVA
TOMAS LICHY
PETR MIL
HASSAN AIT CHAOU
DABID GARCIA
IBAN LETAMENDI
JOKIN LIZEAGA
IÑAKI URIBE-ETXEBARRIA
NAHIA QUINCOCES
AITZIBER IBARBIA
LEIRE AGIRREZABALA
ELENA CALVILLO
UXOA IRIGOIEN
ARITZ EGEA
JESSED HERNANDEZ
PERE RULLAN
PERE AURELL
FRANCESC SOLER
NIL CARDONA
ERIC MOYA
FRANCESC MARTI
DIEGO ARROYO MAZORRA
PALOMA LOBERA
ANNA COMET
MARTA MOLIST CODINA
RAGNA DEBATS
PAOLO BERT
LISA BUZZONI
CHIARA GIANOLA
PAOLO LONGO
MICHELE TAVERNARO
CHRISTIAN VARESCO
MAGDALENA KOZIELSKA
ALEXANDER CHERVYAKOV
NADEZDA KOROLYATINA
EVGENY MARKOV
DMITRY MITYAEV
EKATERINA MITYAEVA
NATALIA NESCHERET
STANISLAV SABOKAR
EMELIE FORSBERG
BLAKE HOSE
MICHEL LANNE
THORBJORN LUDVIGSEN
LAURA ORGUE
TOM OWENS
MIRKO BERNER
ELISA DESCO
MARTIN GAFFURI
ALEXIS SEVENNEC
IONUT ZINCA
HANNY ALLSTON
ANDREAS KLINGLER
TADEI PIVK
MARIA DIMITRA THEOCHARIS

 

Sierre-Zinal 2013 Race Summary

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What a race the 2013 and 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal proved to be. It was an exciting nail biter in the men’s race with a new star and the old guard shining. For the ladies, we had a new lady on top of the podium, a repeat performance for second and third and the UK showing how to be consistent and perform at the highest level.

Men’s race

Marc Lauenstein (Suisse) 2:32:14 took home the win from Juan Carlos Cardona (Colombia) who was Kilian Jornet’s pre race prediction by just 16 seconds in what proved to be a fitting climax to an incredible race. Cardona looked as though he had the race won but Lauenstein pulled something special out of the bag in the closing stages. Very little is known about Marc, however, he is a Swiss orienteering competitor and he won silver at the 2005 and 2006 World long distance orienteering championships.

Mountain running legend and Sierre-Zinal course record holder, Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) proved that experience and pure class can outwit the competition for a 3rd place in a time of 2:33:44.

Although entered in the race for some time, Kilian Jornet decided to run only in the days before the race. He was already at the Matterhorn and preparing for his next ‘Summit’. The temptation to drive from Italy to Switzerland was too great, and although he may very well have raced for ‘fun’ he placed fourth in 2:33:59. After the race he tweeted, “Super, super, happy today with Sierre-Zinal. I was here to enjoy the race and I feel super good. Finished in an unexpected 4th with my best crono!”

Robbie Simpson from the UK proved what an incredible talent he is, running for inov-8 he placed 5th in 2:35:32. It’s a world-class performance in a world-class field. A star of the future!

As you will see from my pre race summary, the 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal was such a tough race to call. Stars like Tofol Castanyer (7th), Rickey Gates (9th), Sage Canaday (17th); all proved that predictions are a fickle area to delve into, particularly in a relatively short and tough mountain race like Sierre-Zinal.

Sage Canaday runs a 2:16 marathon and has had repeated victories in 2012 and 2013. Many of those victories have come with course records. Just recently he won Speedgoat 50k ahead of runners like Anton Krupicka, Max king and Timothy Olson. Now of course here at Sierre-Zinal he may well have been running on ‘jaded’ legs. It is a distinct possibility. Post race he said, “Total muscle failure. Mountain racing in Europe is totally different from the US ultra-trail scene.” It does beg a question, are some of the top guys racing too much or do they need to be more specific in training? Certainly Rickey Gates has proven here that US male runners can perform in Europe, as did Anton Krupicka at Cavalls del Vent in the latter part of 2012. What are your thoughts?

On a final note, Cesar Costa (Martigny) has placed second at Sierre-Zinal three times before. For sure, many of us thought that 2013 may well have been his opportunity, however, he finished in thirteenth with a time 2:42:11.

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Ladies race

Placing 2nd at Sierre-Zinal in 2012, her first European race, I firmly placed my prediction on Stevie Kremer taking out the win after a stunning twelve months racing. At the finish line, Stevie didn’t disappoint, however, the top spot was not hers. In a repeat of 2012, Stevie placed second, 3:03:12 and Maud Mathys placed third, 3:04:13. It was like déjà vu.

One thing that did change though was the top slot on the podium. Unnoticed by me on the start sheet, Elisa Desco produced a career enhancing performance and she once again proved that after some time away from the sport that good things come to those who wait. Marc De Gasperi (2012 Sierre-Zinal winner) summed it up when he tweeted, “No words enough to say how much YOU deserve this victory! Brava, brava, brava!!!”

Kenyan, Hellen Musyoka set the early pace but in the end placed 4th with a time of 3:04:47 and GB mountain running legend, Angela Mudge proved that experience is what really counts when it comes to Sierre-Zinal with a great fifth place in 3:07:21.

Victoria Wilkinson from Bingley Harries in the UK produced a sterling run to place sixth overall and this was ahead of some sterling competition. For example; 2013 Speedgoat 50k winner, Stephanie Howe placed 11th, Lizzy Hawker 14th (admittedly training for UTMB), Zhana Vokueva 15th and Celine Lafaye 18th.

Without doubt, it was an exceptional weekend of racing and of course, from a UK perspective, it is great to see Robbie Simpson, Angela Mudge and Victoria Wilkinson flying the flag at the front of the top European races.

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You can actually watch all the action from the 2013 Sierre-Zinal here:

http://www.rts.ch/video/sport/athletisme/5125770-revivez-la-40e-edition.html