It only seems like weeks ago that I was writing a preview for the Skyrunner® World Series first ultra on La Palma: Transvulcania. Here I am, four races done and dusted and the final event looms. It has been quite a year and one that has seen some highs and lows for the runners. Going into the last event, it’s all to fight for both in the ladies and men’s races.
The Rut 50k organised by the Mike’s – Foote and Wolfe will no doubt be a great season closer. These guys have fully understood the needs of Skyrunning event and as such have provided an event that will test each and every runner.
The top-5 men and top-4 ladies currently ranked in the Skyrunner® World Series will go head-to-head in Montana and we look set for an exciting battle. In addition, a plethora of top world talent will also toe the line amongst 500-entrants.
The current rankings have rising star, Manuel Merillas at the head followed by Tom Owens, Kilian Jornet, Sage Canaday and then Fulvio Dapit. For the ladies, Alessandra Carlini tops the table after completing 3-races in the series.
So who is going to win?
Well, I suppose we need to think about 2-scenarios, winning the race and winning the series. For the men, the series will arguably come down to a battle between Jornet and Canaday (I will go for Jornet) and for the ladies, Frost, Enman and Forsberg are the contenders (I will go with Forsberg). Alessandra Carlini of course could potentially win the race… but this is unlikely when one considers the depth.
Kilian Jornet, do I need to say anymore? He’s won everything other than 2nd at Transvulcania. KJ has set FKT’s, set course records, obliterated Hardrock 100, smashed Trofeo Kima and now The Rut is waiting! Win and Skyrunner® World Series champ.
Sage Canaday wants to beat Kilian badly, really bad. I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but Sage would love to beat the master of the mountains. Form looks good but I think Sage will fall into the Ellie Greenwood category and may just lack the extra technical skills needed to beat Kilian. Considering the competition, Sage is not guaranteed 2nd (or 1st) for that matter.
Manuel Merillas is just getting better and better. He has been making us take a 2nd look on repeated occasions and his recent 2nd at Kima and closing within 1-minute of Kilian shows the talent is just waiting to be exploited. He will be in the mix for sure.
Tom Owens nearly pulled out of Ice Trail Tarentaise because he thought he was around 15th – 20th. That is until I told him that all the other runners were not in his race… he finished 3rd. Phew! Prior to this, Tom ran a great Transvulcania and just a couple of weeks ago once again ran a great Kima. The Rut will suit Tom and he may just push Sage… podium material!
Adam Campbell is back. After his stunning Hardrock I can’t help but think Adam will mix it up in Montana. I see Tom, Sage and Adam having quite the battle for the podium. Of course, this assumes that Kilian is somewhere down the trail running for victory. If not, this race may well be wide open. Adam is fast, not as fast as Sage but arguably he is better on the technical stuff.
Alex Nichols had a great run at Speedgoat but the rest of his Skyrunning exploits have been below par, especially when one compares to 2013. On paper, The Rut should suit Alex; his combination of speed, endurance and climbing ability is a perfect mix for this course.
Ricky Gates is forever consistent and on his day can compete with the best. I’m not really sure of his current form? He forever seems to be on a road trip taking things relaxed, so, he may well be a surprise package.
Fulvio Dapit is a true mountain runner who is always in the mix. He may not be a podium contender in this field but 4th or 5th are just waiting for him. Just 2-weeks ago Fulvio had a strong run at Kima. His form is good.
Paul Hamilton was 2nd at Speedgoat and I know little else? He was a surprise then and he may well be a surprise at The Rut?
Philipp Reiter is racing but is on his way back from injury. It almost certainly means he won’t have that extra 5-10% needed to be fighting up at the front but somewhere 5th – 10th is a distinct possibility.
Jason Delaney has speed. Will probably stick with Sage and will use his speed to take advantage of the fast sections.
Ones to watch:
Oscar Casal Mir
Marc Casal Mir
Emelie Forsberg has had a tough 2014. Falling at Transvulcania ruined that race. An injured hand from the fall impacted on Zegama and then things clicked with victories at Ice Trail Tarentaise and the 80km in Chamonix. Matterhorn Ultraks didn’t quite go to plan and although Emelie placed 2nd at Trofeo Kima, the race was an emotional rollercoaster after going off course for 1-hour. The emotion showed! For that reason, I see Emelie producing a dominant performance here in Montana. I think she will push hard, unleash the frustrations of Kima and have a dominant win and take the Skyrunner® World Series title.
Kasie Enman has impressed all year. 2014 has been the comeback year after a 2nd child and what a comeback… Kasie has consistently been top-5 and just 2-weeks ago won Kima ahead of Emelie. Have to say, up to marathon distance is where Kasie excels so I see a potential 3rd or 4th here!
Anna Frost smashed Transvulcania and looked awesome. Placing 2nd to Emelie at Chamonix 80k was another top result and I am pleased to say, Frosty has been relatively quiet since. This is great news… after so much injury; this lady finally is picking the races to perform at and not wiping herself out by racing too much. Her solid victory at Speedgoat 50k on paper suggests that The Rut will be a Frosty/ Forsberg showdown. Take your pick!
Ellie Greenwood has speed and talent in buckets but may well lack that extra 10% in technical and climbing ability. Especially in comparison to the ladies listed above. So, I see Ellie in the mix and battling with Kasie for 3rd.
Kaitlin McDonald was 2nd at The Rut last year and therefore gets a nod for a possible top-5. By that I mean 5th! I see the top-4 places going to the ladies above.
Alessandra Carlini has had a great year and run consistently. For someone who lives on the coast with no mountains to train on, she has done amazingly well. In the field though, 5th would be a great result and it would round out a quality 2014 season.
Hilary Allen is not a lady I know but her result at Speedgoat 50k (4th) must make her a one-to-watch here. Like Kaitlin, she may well take 5th, it would take something special to dislodge Forsberg, Frost, Enman or Greenwood from the first 4-places.
Helen Cospolitch has always been a consistent performer but has had a quiet time recently after injury issues. This may well be just an easing back into racing… nice to give her a nod though.
Emily Linton 4th at The Rut last year may well place 6-10th.
Rut 50K HERE
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