|Looking back over the 2012 skyrunning season, it was, to say the least, an intensive year. It was a year of major transition from the past format of main races and trials, to the introduction of the Ultra distance and separate circuits. The transition was complicated and not without difficulties but it paved the way for a completely revised 2013 format.
The season saw triumph and tragedy, great champions, bright young stars, new races and spectacular locations.
At the beginning of the season in May, the introduction of the Ultra Series wrote a new page in skyrunning history. The Transvulcania Ultra Marathon not only perfectly embodied skyrunning’s “sea to sky” concept, but had probably the deepest field of world class runners to date, including American legends like Anton Krupicka, Geoff Roes, Rickey Gates, Mike Wolfe Joe Grant and 21year-old Dakota Jones who went on to win the race. Dakota, Tony and Joe came back for more…
The more gruelling courses typical of European skyrunning have almost surprisingly gone down well with the American runners, giving us the conviction to keep it “tough and technical“ rather than provide a watered-down version to appeal to a wider public – something to look forward to on the other side of the Atlantic next year together with a selection of the best that Europe has to offer…and our first 100-miler.
The 2012 SkyMarathon® Ultra Series has represented the first and most important encounter among top European and American Ultra runners with a level so high that all the mens’ race records in the Series were broken! Legendary ultra runners competing in the Series (apart from those mentioned above) include: Kilian Jornet, Ikker Karera, Andy Symonds, Dawa Sherpa, Francois D’Haene, Erik Clavery, Seb Chaigneau and among the women: Nuria Picas, Anna Frost, Lizzy Hawker, Maud Gobert, Darcy Africa, and Nikki Kimball.
Kilian Jornet the sport’s top star, yet again gave a command performance taking not only the World Series combined title, but also the Ultra Series title, totalling seven outright victories and two third positions in all three disciplines. 2011 World Series champion Luis Alberto Hernando placed second and Britain’s Tom Owens moved steadily up the ranking to take third position. Ultra Series’ runner-up was Andy Symonds and Germany’s Philipp Reiter placed third.
It’s in the women’s field that the most rapid revolution lies however. Young, talented runners with no skyrunning history debut and rise to glory in just one season and, note, women are finishing in the top ten overall, closing the gender gap. Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg is one of these ladies. Twenty-five years-old, she ran her first skyrunning race just this year and in only one season conquered the World Series combined title in a field stacked with highly competitive Spanish runners like Nuria Picas, Blanca Maria Serrano and Nuria Dominguez.
Nuria Picas has finally shown that talent and determination go a long way by winning some of the toughest races on the Series. She finished second after Forsberg in the World Series combined ranking and won the Ultra Series outright. Anna Frost, after a superb start at the Transvulcania Ultra, was plagued by injury throughout the season but fought tenaciously for a second position in the Ultra ranking where Forsberg placed third.
Alongside Forsberg, another star was born: 23 year-old Italian, Silvia Serafini who, like Forsberg, began skyrunning just this year, testing her skills in all three disciplines to climb to third position in the world ranking.
Two world records highlighted the Vertical Kilometer® Series on the gruelling course in Fully, Switzerland with1,000 metres elevation gain over just 1.9 km distance. The men’s record of 30’42” set by Italian Urban Zemmer is just a short step from climbing at 2,000 metres per hour – upwards! French runner Christel Dewalle set the women’s record in 36’48”. Overall Vertical Kilometer® Series champions were Urban Zemmer and Spain’s Laura Orgué.
In 2012, prize money amounting to €140,000 (including the Series’ final prizes) was awarded to 148 athletes. The figures are still small for the huge effort and incredible performances involved, but as the sport grows, prize money will do like-wise. Complimentary accommodation, travel subsidies and promotion are more ways that a top runner can benefit – and so will the sponsor. Major industry players are now investing in trail running and many brands have top runners and teams participating in the Series. See Team ranking
Media coverage of skyrunning events reached new heights this year from print to websites, blogs and social media, to videos, podcasts and television on a global level. A big thanks goes to all those who followed the skyrunning heroes through thick and thin, in heat and cold and darkness, breaking news in real time and capturing high-flying emotions in images, text and videos.
Look out for the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series calendar to be announced next week. We’ll be focussing on new events and personalities, a worldwide ranking for runners and races, regulations and safety issues as well as the announcement of the 2013 European and 2014 World Championships.