Limone Extreme 2017 – VK Summary and Images

The torrential rain and thunderstorms from 2016 became a distant memory as finally, after two-years on an ‘alternative’ course, the Limone VK finally took place on the original route.

A day of blue skies and October warmth welcomed the runners as they assembled on the banks of Lake Garda ahead of the 6pm start.

As darkness arrived, they were released onto the mountain, the elite wave starting at 7pm.

Climbing 1100m, the course is a relentless 3km long with the glowing lights of Limone village and Lake Garda in the backeround – the darkness broken by the  head torches of runners as they cover the distance as quickly as possible.

Starting at 60m altitude from Lugolago Marconi, the VK takes a straight line up the impressive mountains that back onto Limone culminating at the finish in Nembra via Dooso Dei Roveri. Rocky waterfalls, via ferratta, wooded forest and technical trail – the Limone VK has it all.

Philip Gotsh and Christel Dewalle won the race ahead of a strong field.

TOP-3 MEN in Limone Vertical:
1. Philip Götsch ITA
2. Patrick Facchini ITA
3. Stian Angermund-Vik NOR

TOP-3 WOMEN in Limone Vertical:
1. Christel Dewalle FRA
2. Michelle Maier GER
3. Camilla Magliano ITA

Race director, Fabio Meraldi, a Skyrunning legend, was finally happy to have the original route run after two years of bad weather.

Tomorrow it is the main event of the weekend and the final race in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series – Limone Extreme. You can read a preview HERE. Action starts at 11am local time.

Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® 2017 Summary – Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit

Transvulcania VK – May 2017

The island of La Palma today hosted the 2nd Vertical Kilometer® (VK) in the new 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit.

The series started just last weekend in Italy with with the Trentapassi Vertical, rising 1,000m above Italy’s Lake Iseo with two new race records. Read the report HERE.

To clarify, a VK is a uphill mountain race that climbs for 1,000m over a course that is less than 5 km in length. Certain courses on the circuit do obtain special dispensation – Transvulcania one case in point.

The route here in La Palma covers over 1200m of vertical gain over a distance of 7.6km and re-traces sections the Ultramarathon course along the GR131 and concludes at the forest lookout tower at an altitude of 1600m with stunning views of the Aridane valley and the north east of the island.

The VK circuit is a Skyrunner® World Series spin off – previously, the Vertical Kilometer® discipline was included in the SWS, it now has its own category that will allow more races in an ever increasing market. In 2017 there are seventeen races in eight countries.

Featuring  the world’s shortest and fastest races, the first and only triple VK, some 20-year-old classics and some exciting new ones, the 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit will produce some very exciting races.

From sea to sky, up cliff faces, volcanoes, mountain summits and ski runs, this gravity-defying sport is for anyone ready to push their limits – today in La Palma, Transvulcania provided a wonderful showcase for the sport as runners departed from Tazacorte Puerto.

The line-up for the VK was impressive with Stian Angermund, Saul Padua, Ferran Teixido, Remi Bonnet and Ondrej Fejfar heading up a world-class field. Transvulcania Ultramarathon champion Luis Alberto Hernando, also toed the line along with Arley Luque, Jose Manuel Leon, Daniel Garcia, Diego Simon, Joan Freixa and many more.

Stian Angermund dominated with a strong and. course record performance ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando and Saul Padua. His time of 00:47:22. Hernando ran 48:39 and Padua 50:41.

Yuri Yoshizumi headed up the ladies’ competition with Virginia Perez, Daniella Moreno, Gabriela Sanches, Zuzana Kirchova and Zuzana Urbancova, and a return to racing for Stephanie Jimenez after giving birth to her first child recently.

Christel Dewalle from France was an entrant in the race but withdrew from the competition on Tuesday May 9th. This morning, May 11th, the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) released a communique that related to a doping infringement by Dewalle under WADA rules that related to the Skyrunning World championships in 2016. Dewalle has received a 4-month ban from the sport effective from May 8th and her results from said World Championships will be removed. See the communication HERE.

Yuri Yoshizumi pushed hard up this long course to clinch victory ahead of Stephanie Jimenez and Zuzana Kirchova, the times 00:59:28, 01:01:18 and 01:04:33 respectively.

Attention now turns to the main event of the weekend, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon that starts in the early hours of the morning on Saturday at Fuencalienti lighthouse. You can read the race preview HERE.

Kilian Jornet to take on the fastest #VK in the world – #Fully

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KM Vertical de Fully is the fastest VK in the world. Italian VK legend, Urban Zemmer holds the record – a stunning 29 minutes and 42 seconds recorded in 2014.

Overlooking the village of Fully , the very steep path measures exactly 1000 m in altitude. The course uses an old former railroad that has a gradient of 60% and a total distance 1920m. In other words, it’s super steep!

Every 100m, a marker is placed on the track to enable participants to count down the meters to go and to manage the pain and effort.

The arrival to “Garettes” is located 1500 meters above sea level.

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This weekend it will be the big showdown, Kilian Jornet will take on Urban Zemmer and Zemmer’s fellow La Sportiva teammate, Marco Moletto.

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Taking place on October 22nd, Kilian will start at 12:11:00, Marco Moletta 12:11:40 and then Urban Zemmer 12:12:20.

fully

It’s a tantalising prospect, 30 minutes of pure pain for the legs and lungs, who will come out on top and more importantly, will this competition bring out a new world record?

Kilian may not have conquered Everest in 2016, will he conquer Fully?

In the ladies’ race, VK specialist and record holder, Christel Dewalle will be the outright favourite. Just last weekend she won the VK at Limone Extreme and was crowned the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Champion of the VK distance. Christel’s record is 34 minutes 44 seconds also recorded in 2014.

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The full race start list is available HERE

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Limone Extreme 2016 VK and SKY Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series draws to a conclusion in Limone, Italy. The stunning Lake Garda and the mountains that back onto this iconic location provide a wonderful playground to Friday’s VK and Sunday’s SkyRace.

It’s been a long season of Skyrunning with many new races, new experiences and with four champions already announced – Jasmin Paris and Jon Albon for the EXTREME and Cristofer Clemente and Gemma Arenas for the ULTRA – VK and SKY champions will be confirmed in Italy.

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VK starts – 1800 Friday Oct 14th/ 3.7km 1080m+ ©iancorless.com_Limone2015-7046

Ferran Teixido currently leads the 2016 VK ranking ahead of Jan Margarit Sole and Andrej Fejfar. All three will race in Limone looking for maximum points and the crucial 20% bonus. For the ladies, Laura Orgue leads Christel Dewalle and Maria Zorroza – as with the men, the top 3 contenders will race.

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But the racing does not stop there, arguably, Limone Extreme VK has the best VK line-up of the year with a multitude of talent toeing the line. Marco Moletto, Hannes Perkman, Nejc Kuhar, Rolf Einar Jensen, Luka Kovacic and the unstoppable Urban Zemmer. It’s going to be a seriously competitive race but more top names will contest the top 3 podium places.

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Pascal Egli and Alexis Sevennec will race hard along with Oriol Cardona Coll. Pere Rullan may also race after long injury problems and the possibility of Philip Goetsch racing against Remi Bonnet and Stian Angermund is a very exciting prospect. This may well be a course record year!

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Racing in the ladies’ race is equally competitive, for sure, Laura Orgue and Christel Dewalle and pre-race favourites but Francesca Rossi, Serena Vittori, Oihana Kortazar, Beatrice Deflorian and Celia Chiron amongst others will push hard up the winding trails to the summit that looks over Lake Garda.

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A unique feature of the Limone Extreme VK is that start time! Starting as darkness arrives, the runners ascend the 1000m under the illumination of head torches as lights of Limone glow in the background – it is a truly spectacular VK!

SKY – 11am Saturday Oct 15th/ 27km 2450m+
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Tadei Pivk heads up the 2016 Skyrunner World Series ranking with Hassan Ait Chaou and Pablo Villa Gonzales in 3rd. Young gun, Jan Margarit Sole is placed 4th and he may will be a surprise contender for a top 3 placing but he will have a tough fight from the Casal Mir brothers, Oscar and Marc. In addition, Kiril Nikolov, Adrien Michaud, Alexis Sevennec and Andre Jonsson will run – victory could come from any of these top runners.

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But as in the VK, the list does not stop there; Ondrej Fejfar, Aritz Egea, Albert Garcia, Rolf Einar Jensen and a potential victory may well come from Mr. Skyrunning, Marco De Gasperi. But ultimately, Remi Bonnet will return after a year plagued by injury. Last year he dominated the Limone SkyRace and VK, can he do it again?

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If he does, he will have to beat the Skyrunning World Champion for the VK and SKY distance, Stian Angermund. Stian has been on fire in 2016 and is without doubt a favourite for victory! Salomon will also send Micha Steiner, Davide Magnini, Stian Aarvik and Stefan Knopf.

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As stated, the line-up for the Limone Extreme SkyRace is extensive and dark horses will no doubt appear from the sidelines.

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Megan Kimmel has been on fire in 2016 and leads the Skyrunner World Series ahead of Laura Orgue and Ragna Debats. Last year, Megan had a below performance at Limone and it lost her the Series title, I don’t think that will happen this year! Laura has had a long year of racing and has shown some fatigue at times, however, she has had an opportunity to recover recently and for sure she will push Megan all the way to the line.

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Yngvild Kaspersen will also run and has great potential for a podium place. Caroline Chaverot (Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra-distance) is a surprise entry and my gut reaction is that this race will be too short for her? It will certainly be interesting to see how she performs – she is an incredible talent!

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Celia Chiron, Sheila Castano, Aitziber Ibarbia, Michaela Mertova, Maria Zorroza and Nuria Dominguez all add to a stellar line-up!

Skyrunning was born in Italy, it only seems appropriate that the traditions and ethos created on the slopes of the snowy Alps should now be carried forward on new mountains and in new places such as the Creste Della Mughera mountains that back on to Limone sul Garda.

Race website here VK information here SkyRace information here


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the

Skyrunner® World Series

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Skyrunning World Championships 2016 VK – Images and Summary

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Every two years the Skyrunning world assembles at an iconic venue and racing commences in VK, SKY and ULTRA distances to announce a male and female champion in the respective distances for the Skyrunning World Championships. Two years ago, the endurance capital of the world Chamonix, hosted the championships and this year it is Spain.

The Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees will provide a modern day coliseum where Skyrunning gladiators will battle at the BUFF® Epic Trail Aigüestortes events. A spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kicking off a weekend of activity, the BUFF® EPIC TRAIL VK  started at 10am, a race for the short and steep specialists! At 2.8 km long with 1,030m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point.

250 runners started the race departing at 30-second intervals.

Dark and moody skies, occasional rain and even a little snow welcomed the runners as they climbed hard and fast to the finish line. For many, the cooler temperatures made for perfect running.

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Stian Angermund from Norway ran an incredible race and became the 2016 VK World Champion crossing the line in 34:16:09. Columbian runner, Sau Antonio Padua Rodriguez finished 2nd in 34:42:63 and Hannes Perkmann from Italy took the bronze medal in 34:44:01 making a truly ‘world’ podium.

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In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Christel Dewalle from France received the gold medal after crossing the line in 39:35:28. Laura Orgue from Spain took silver just over 1-minute later in 40:39:15 and Maite Maiora, also from Spain took bronze in 41:59:41.

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Running or Walking Efficiency when Climbing

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VK world record holder, Urban Zemmer

Recently I have produced a couple of articles about how to ensure that you are an efficient walker when participating in long or mountainous events. You can read them HERE and HERE.

The first article discusses Training to Walk for Ultra, Trail and Mountain Running and the second article is about Walking, Running and Climbing with Trekking Poles.

JOIN OUR YEARLY MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP IN LANZAROTE with MARATHON DES SABLES 2015 CHAMPION, ELISABETH BARNES – HERE

On December 15th, the University of Colorado Boulder released a document called, CU-Boulder researchers discover optimal range of slopes for extreme uphill running.

This article made me take a look and read in-depth for two reasons: first and foremost it ties in nicely with my previous two articles but more importantly and secondly, research into VK data dates back some 16-years and was pioneered by the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) who created the VK format as a racing discipline.

To clarify a VK is 1000m of vertical ascent and the objective is to climb the elevation gain as quickly as possible. The original context of the VK always was about research and data.

VK courses vary greatly but the ISF consider a true VK to be under 5km in length. To understand the variables, some VK’s, for example the Dolomites are just over 2km in length. By contrast, Limone Extreme is a considerably longer course with a less extreme gradient.

Fully, Switzerland has long been a testing ground for VK performance and a post from the ISF which was updated 22nd October 2012 adds some very clear and specific points to consider:

“Italy’s Urban Zemmer rocketed up the 1,000m vertical course, only 1.9 km long, in just 30’26”, 20 seconds faster than the standing world record set here in 2011.”

In addition, the ladies records tumbled:

“French runner Christel Dewalle was first in 36’48” followed by Axelle Mollaret in 37’44” and third, Maude Mathys from Switzerland in 37’56, all beating the previous world record set two years ago by Italian Valentina Belotti in 38’50.”

Notably, the ISF commented:

“The new men’s record nears a speed of 2,000 vertical metres per hour (precisely 1,971m) an incredible ground-breaking performance that the ISF has been monitoring for many years in a scientific research project… Depending on the course and type of start, poles are permitted and yesterday, most of the runners used them.  However, to date, the advantages of using poles has not been scientifically demonstrated.”

In 2014, the record for the VK was once again broken by Urban Zemmer at Fully, Switzerland with the incredible time of 29’ 42”.

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Remi Bonnet prefers to run a VK and never walks

So by simple logic (I am no scientist), it would suggest that the steepest course is the fastest as Fully is only 1.9km long. To quote, Run the Alps,The Vertical KM race in Fully, Switzerland is considered to be the fastest vertical kilometer course in the world. The race, held on a former funicular route, is home to both the men’s and women’s world records.”

You can watch a YouTube clip of the 2013 Fully race HERE

Watch the video of Fully and you will see varying techniques, some walk, some walk/ jog, some (most) use poles but one thing is consistent, the effort is almost maximal for all. Therefore, in a non-scientific look at Fully, the fastest performances come from the genetically gifted who have all the elements required for an optimum VK performance: lung capacity, V02max, lactate threshold, power to weight ratio, technique and so on.

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Marco de Gasperi like to mix running and walking

But what about the optimal slopes for uphill running as questioned by CU-Boulder. They posed the question:

“Imagine that you are standing in Colorado at a trailhead where the base elevation is 9,000 feet. Your friend challenges you to race to the summit of the mountain, which tops out at 12,280 feet, roughly 1,000 meters of elevation gain. There are several different trails that go to the summit. They are all steep and some are extremely steep. One trail averages a 10 degree incline and the sign says it is 3.6 miles long. A second trail averages 30 degrees, but is only 1.25 miles long. A third trail averages 40 degrees, but only 1 mile long. To get to the summit the fastest, which trail should you choose and should you walk or run?”

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Poles or no poles on a steep gradient?

This is a question that the ISF have asked and researched for many years. A paper titled, “Energy costs of walking and running uphill and downhill at extreme slopes” looks into this:

Davide Susta, Alberto E. Minetti*, Christian Moia and Guido Ferretti

Département de Physiologie, Centre Médical Universitaire, 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland, *Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager ST7 2HL, U.K.

The energy costs of walking and running (Cw and Cr, respectively, in J kg-1 m-1) increase with the slope uphill (up to +20%) and decrease with the slope downhill (down to -10%) (Margaria, 1938; Margaria et al, 1963). Outside this range, no measurements of Cw and Cr are available in the literature, even though walking and running on the mountains at greater slopes is becoming commoner and commoner practice in leisure and sport. We therefore set out to carry out the present study, the aim of which is to determine Cw and Cr on men walking and running at slopes up to +45% and -45% on the treadmill. After local ethical approval, 10 subjects (Skyrunners) were admitted to the study (age 32.6 + 7.5 years, body mass 61.2 + 5.7 kg, maximal O2 consumption 68.9 + 3.8 ml min-1 kg-1). They are all endurance athletes practicing mountain racing. O2 consumption at the steady state was measured by the open circuit method, using Leybold O2 and CO2 analysers and a Singer dry gas meter. Heart rate was measured by cardiotachography. Blood lactate concentration was determined after each run as a check for submaximal aerobic exercise.

Each subject performed up to three walking and three running trials at progressively increasing speeds on the level, and at the slopes of 10, 20, 30, 35, 40 and 45 % uphill and downhill. The duration of each trial was 4 min, and expired gas was collected during the 4th min of exercise. Minimum Cw on the level was: 

1.85 + 0.57 J kg-1 m-1 (n = 10) at the speed of 0.69 m s-1. During uphill walking, Cw increased with the slope, to attainthevalueof18.08+1.57Jkg-1 m-1 (n=9)atthespeedof0.69ms-1 andat the slope of +45%. During downhill walking, minimum Cw was lower at the slope of -10% (0.81 + 0.37 J kg-1 m-1, n = 9) than on the level. At slopes below -10%, it progressively increased. At -45%, it was 3.46 + 0.95 J kg-1 m-1(n = 5). Cr on the level was 3.40 + 0.24 J kg-1 m-1(n = 30). Cr increased with the slope, to attain 18.69 + 1.42 J kg-1 m-1(n = 6) at +45%. 

During downhill running, Cr decreased and attained its lowest value at the slope of -20% (1.73 + 0.36 J kg-1 m-1, n = 24). At lower slopes, it increased. At -45%, at speeds higher than 1.38 m s-1, it was equal to 3.79 + 0.57 (n = 7). The mechanical efficiency for vertical displacement was 0.216 + 0.015 at +45% and 1.078 + 0.275 at -45%. This data on the level and at slopes up to 20% correspond to those found by others on non-athletic subjects (Margaria, 1938). At higher slopes, the increases in Cw and Cr are such as could be predicted assuming that all energy is used to lift the body. By contrast, at -10% and -20%, both Cw and Cr are lower than in non- athletic subjects (Margaria, 1938), suggesting greater recovery of elastic energy at each step in the present athletes. At slopes below -20%, the increases in Cw and Cr are such as could be predicted assuming that all energy expenditure is for negative muscle contractions.

REFERENCES
Margaria, R. (1938). Atti Acad. Naz. Lincei 7, 299-368.

Margaria, R., Cerretelli, P., Aghemo, P. & Sassi, G. (1963). J. Appl. Physiol. 18, 367-370. This work was supported by a grant from the FSA- Federation.for Sport at Altitude

Referring back to the CU-Boulder research:

“Based on our research, we now know that choosing the second trail (30 degrees) and walking as fast as you can within your aerobic capacity is the fastest way to go,” Kram said. “For either running or walking, slopes between 20 and 35 degrees require nearly the same amount of energy to climb the hill at the same vertical velocity.”

This new study (HERE), which was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, is believed to be the first to examine the metabolic costs of human running and walking on such steep inclines (suggested by the CU-Boulder researchers.) However, I would question this and refer to research by the FSA – “Energy cost of walking and running at extreme uphill and downhill slopes.” Received 29 November 2001; accepted in final form 29 April 2002. You can download this detailed documentation HERE and it is essential reading.

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Who is the most efficient?

It would appear that gradients of 20-35 degrees require the same amount of effort and interestingly, CU-Boulder research found in a study:

“A vertical rate of ascent of just over 1 foot per second, is a pace that high-level athletes could sustain during the testing. At that speed, walking used about nine percent less energy than running. So, sub-elite athletes can ascend on very steep uphills faster by walking rather than running.”

In simple terms, this is something I have found out by attempting VK’s in my own time in and around events. More often than not, the effort required to run is so hard that it becomes counter productive. I have even found that including run sections to be counter productive as this raises my heart rate, increases lactate acid and requires me to recover while still climbing. However, if I maintain a constant effort walking, this produces the best results for me.

CU-Boulder research went on to say:

“The study examined 15 competitive mountain runners as they ran and walked on the treadmill at seven different angles ranging from 9 to 39 degrees. The treadmill speed was set so that the vertical rate of ascent was the same.  Thus, the treadmill speeds were slower on the steeper angles. The athletes were unable to balance at angles above 40 degrees, suggesting a natural limit on the feasible slope for a VK competition.”

In regard to the latter point, this in some respects relates to Fully, Switzerland and brings in another element, the use of poles and if poles allow a faster ascent when the gradient steepens. One only has to look at the Dolomites VK and Fully VK where poles are used by nearly all participants. The ISF plan to do a new test with and without ski poles, but it is not easy to do a serious test. Although not scientifically proven, it’s fair to say that using poles with gradients under 20% it will mean more Kcal and a reduced performance. However, with gradients steeper than 25 or 30%, the use of poles can correct style, etcetera and can improve the overall performance.

The CU-Boulder article is available to read in full HERE.

I can quote technical papers and research all day, however, as a runner you want to know the answer to the question, should I walk or should I run uphill and should I use poles?

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Irrespective of if you plan to run a VK or not, the research and thoughts provided by the FSA and CU-Boulder confirm that running or walking uphill provides an incredible workout. Importantly though, research confirms that walking should be a key element in any training plan, (*…walking used about nine percent less energy than running) especially if you are racing or training on hilly or mountainous terrain.

When participating in ultra events, reverting to periods of walking may well produce greater results and faster times. This is very evident when the terrain steepens; running will only expend more energy and produce slower times. The use of poles appears to benefit performance when gradients steepen, this is not scientifically confirmed.

On a final note though, many other factors come into play when looking at results and as with everything, there are exceptions. Urban Zemmer, Remi Bonnet, Laura Orgue, Christel Dewalle and so many more are able to run when others need to walk. We can’t choose our parents or our genetic pool. Ultimately, find out what works for you but practice makes perfect and the more climbing you do, the better and the faster you will become.

Embrace the mountains and going uphill.

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Christel Dewalle, ladies VK world record holder

Limone Extreme VK 2015 – Summary and Images

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Laura Orgue and Remi Bonnet are crowned 2015 Skyrunner® World Series Champions for the VK distance in Limone on the shore of Lake Garda at the 4th edition of the Limone Extreme race.

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Torrential rain and thunderstorms the previous night and morning of the VK resulted in a course change instigated by the race organisation for safety reasons. The resulting course was very different to the original route and considerably longer at 6km. Less steep, less technical and considerably more runnable. Of course this may very well have changed the dynamic of the race but the usual protagonists for the VK distance still performed at the highest level.

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VK specialist Urban Zemmer dictated the early pace showing his all around ability to run and drop his hands on his knees and grind out a fast pace on the steeper gradients. However, it was rising star of the sport, Remi Bonnet, who finally made his presence felt at the front. Too many observers this was expected after his recent performances at the RUT in the USA and his most recent victory at Lantau 2 Peaks in Hong Kong. Tromso VK winner, Stian Angermund placed 3rd ahead of Hannes Perkmann VK ever-present Jonathan Wyatt in 5th.

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In the ladies’ race, Laura Orgue already had the Skyrunner® World Series title sewn up based on previous victories. Despite this, her plan was to run the VK and SKY. However, in the days before the VK, Laura had picked up a virus and decided it was best to miss the distance she loves:

Hard decision today, I need to rest instead of race in the VK. I’m not feeling 100% so I have decided to recover for tomorrow’s SKY race of 23km and 2800m of elevation!”

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Last minute entrant and VK specialist, Christel Dewalle was the fastest lady on the day and lead from the front constantly trailed by Antonella Confortola, Maite Maiora and Norwegian rising star, Yngvild Kaspersen who moved up to 2nd in the overall rankings.

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The ladies’ positions remained this way all the way to the line with Spanish runner Oihana Kortazar taking the 5th spot.

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A total of 296-runners toed the line of the VK which started at the picturesque location of Marconi lakefront on the shores of Lake Garda. The overall elevation gain of the new route was 1200m+ in a distance of 6km.

Attention now turns the SKY race which will start today, Saturday at 1200 local time. This course has also been changed due to Thursday nights and Friday mornings excessive weather. The new route has an additional 800m of vertical gain which makes what was a tough race, exceptionally tough!

RESULTS

1-Christel Dewalle (50’48”)

2-Antonella Confortolla (53’12”)

3-Maite Maiora (53’46”)

4-Yngvild Kaspersen (54’58”)

5-Oihana Kortazar (56’27”)

 

1-Rémi Bonnet (43’51”)

2-Urban. Zemmer (44′)

3-Stian Angermund. (44’13”)

4-Hannes Perkmann (44’26”)

5-Jono Wyatt (44’43”)

 

Skyrunner® World Series ranking 2015:

  1. Laura Orgue
  2. Yngvild Kaspersen
  3. Maite Maiora

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  1. Remi Bonnet
  2. Nejc Kuhar
  3. Ferran Teixido

Limone sul Garda also provided a location for the Skyrunning AGM where the 2014 calendar, 2015 calendar and the future of the sport was discussed.

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Less Cloud, More Sky!

Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde 2015 – Val d’Isere

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Val d’Isere has a great history with the Vertical Kilometer, way back in ‘96’ the ISF were the first to organize a VK here!

A time lapse of 9-years and Val d’Isere re connected with the ethos of the VK using the Olympic Bellevarde Face in 2014. For many years, Marco De Gasperi held the VK world record here of 34-minutes and 41-seconds until the Italian was dethroned by a fellow countryman and VK specialist; Urban Zemmer.

The Vertical Kilometer has traditionally started at the foot of the Olympic Bellevarde face on “the board” in the heart of the Parc des Sports Charles Diebold in the center Val d’Isere.

The route then takes the greater part of what was the route of the men’s downhill Olympic Winter Games ski route (1992), won by Austrian Patrick Ortlieb.

It’s a tough course; 2.9Km’s in length and reaches an altitude of 2809m. Average gradients over the course are 35%, however, in places it reaches 63% as presented in the first hundred meters.

Including steep passages at 49% and 56% gradient, the sting comes with the famous passage of the Columbine at 55%. Followed by gentle slopes of the Great Wall (51%) a refreshment station is provided before the push to the line passing ‘Catherine Dent’ (50%) and then a finish loop passes the Bellevarde restaurant and the arrival is at a wooden start cabin at an altitude of 2809m.

Previous Records: 

Men: Marco DE GASPERI (ITA) en 34’51” (2003)

Women: Antonella CONFORTOLA (ITA) en 42’48” (2002) 

GONON and ORGUE shine on a sunny day in Val d’Isere

Following on from the Chamonix vertical kilometre, François Gonon today once again showed his competition a clean pair of heels to take victory in the 2015 Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde. Powering up the climb with hands-on-knees, Gonon was one of the few participants in the race not using poles. A disadvantage many thought but Gonon proved everyone wrong and won the race in true style in a time of 35:09.

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Yoann Sert placed 2nd and 2014 winner Nejc Kuhar placed 3rd but it was a close race, the duo were separated by seconds! 35:53 to 35:58.

VK races often have different start procedures. For example in Chamonix, runners depart every 30-seconds. In the Dolomites (next weekend) a series of small group starts will take place with approximately 25 runners per group. In Val d’Isere it was an individual start. This can prove difficult! Similar to the race of truth in the Tour de France, the runners must pace themselves and judge their effort over 1000m not knowing if they are gaining or loosing time.

In the ladies race, Laura Orgue one again showed supreme climbing ability in winning the ladies race and in doing so set a new course record! Antonella Confortola’s 2002 time of 42:48 has now been reset at 40:57.

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Christel Dewalle has been struggling with injury recently and although on the start list we were under the impression that she would not start. Her decision to race was a good one! Dewalle placed 2nd in 41:16 which also broke the old course record.

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The final ladies podium place went to Vanesa Ortega who completed the distance in 44:05.

Stats: 

  • Finish Elevation: 2 809 m
  • Length: 2 905 m
  • Altitude gain: 1000 m
  • Maximum Gradient: 63 %
  • Minimum Gradient: 15 %
  • Average Gradient: 35 %

The Vertical Kilometer Bellevarde Face is part of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and will be followed by the Ice Trail Tarentaise 2-days later (preview for the ITT HERE)

Ice Trail Tarentaise Race Report

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Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg excel at the ISF Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise. With 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.

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. Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386 m, participants in the 2013 Ice Trail Tarentaise will no doubt had 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.

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Val D’Isère, 0400 on Sunday 14th July, 600+ runners departed for one of the most challenging races they would ever experience. With a total distance of 65km’s, 5000m+  positive gain and over 60% of the course in snow, the race would ultimately be the most challenging Skyrunning race ever encountered by all the participants.

The 2012 race winner, Francois D’Haene dictated the early pace with Rickey Gates and Kilian Jornet. At Tignes after following a river trail and an early climb the field was already spreading out. Emelie Forsberg had opened a gap on the female competition and was already pulling away.

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Darkness was now being replaced by the arrival of a new day and blue skies, temperatures started to rise but temperatures did drop to as low as -3deg on the first big challenge of the day, the Grande Motte at 3653m, this would see participants climb 1800m  in under10km. The ascent included traversing a glacier (YakTrax compulsory) and then a 70deg climb that included sections of Via Ferrata. At the summit, km17, Kilian, Francois and Rickey continued to establish a lead over a chasing Fulvio Dapit and Philipp Reiter.

Christel Dewalle and Ronda dels Cims winner, Francesca Canepa pursued Emelie Forsberg but the pattern was set for the whole race. Emelie was in her element, and although she said post race that it was the hardest race she had ever done, she also admitted that she loved every step of it, ‘this is pure Skyrunning, it is what I love about this sport, the ability to combine mountains, snow, running and ice to combine together in one of the most challenging sports’.

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The descent from Col Fours at 2976m to Pont Neige at 2530m now had Francois D’Haene and Kilian Jornet establishing a lead over the rest of the field that would not be relinquished. A small section of road and a right turn at Cascade ultimately proved to be one of the hardest sections of the course. Climbing from 2700m to the Col Pers at 3009m and then Pointe Pers 3386m resulted in many runners failing to meet cut-off times or drop with fatigue at Cascade. Marcus Warner from Ultra168 said, ‘that broke peoples spirits, I have buried the feeling it created; I had to look inside and decide if I wanted to put myself through it. However, I found that inner strength and moved on. The terrain was hard pack snow on the north side to waist deep soft snow. It sucked life from within me, the final 300m was a treadmill of slate and scree, I felt I was going nowhere’.

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At the iconic Col de L’Iseran, the highest road in Europe the final challenge awaited, the 300m ascent to the Tunnel Lessieres at km56. It was in the final stages of this climb on the tough and technical rock section that Kilian moved ahead of Francois and pulled away to take another incredible win. Emelie Forsberg looked relaxed and comfortable, her lead was convincing and a victory was guaranteed. Christel and Francesca continued to hold second and third place and this format would not change to the finish line.

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The 2013 ISF Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise will be remembered in years to come as an iconic day in Skyrunning history. Along with Zegama-Aizkorri, Trofeo Kima and Canazei in the Dolomites, the ‘ITT’ will become a flagship event. It will test elites and non-elite runners to the limit and as many said post race, ‘km for km, that is the hardest race I have ever done’

RACE PHOTOGRAPHY HERE

RACE START IMAGES HERE

PRE RACE IMAGES HERE

PRE RACE INTERVIEW with EMELIE FORSBERG HERE

Men:

  1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon) 07:35:32 new course record
  2. Francois D’Haene (Salomon) 07:40:13
  3. Philipp Reiter (Salomon) 08:12:38

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) 09:11:11 new course record (and 10th overall)
  2. Christel Dewalle (Terre de Running) 10:08:58
  3. Francesca Canepa (Team Montura/Vibram) 10:31:59

Links:

FULL RESULTS HERE

Skyrunning HERE

Ice Trail Tarentaise HERE