Livigno Skymarathon 2018 | Alta Valtellina Skyrunning

Days in the mountains rarely get better. Than here in Livigno… The Livigno SkyMarathon really is a truly spectacular Skyrunning race that personifies less cloud, more sky!

Over a 34km course, the runners climbed over 2700m of vertical gain with much of the race taking place between 2500 and 3000m. Exposed mountain ridges, roped sections, via feratta an abundance of technical terrain and this course is a Skyrunner’s  dream.

Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri which took place in May, this race was always going to be exciting with valuable Migu Skyrunner World Series points available.

The day was all about Petter Engdahl, the young skier/ runner dominated the race from the front and although he had some close competition at times, he blitzed the course with an incredible performance finishing in 3:33:26 ahead of Pascal Egli 3:38:01 and David Sinclair from the USA, a surprise 3rd in 3:39:16.

The ladies’ race was a close run epic with Laura Orgue and Sheila Aviles trading blows throughout. It was touch and go who would win, eventually it was Laura 4:10:11 to 4:10:45. Elisa Desco, wife of RD Marco De Gasperi, made a great return to racing after her 2nd child to take 3rd. in 4:19:45.

The 2018 edition of the Livigno SkyMarathon was different to 2017 and therefore the times recorded this year are course records. Conditions were exceptional throughout the day with clear blue skies, sun, little to no wind and temperatures were kind until the early afternoon when they started to rise.

The talk post race was all about how incredible the course is. The opening flat miles providing a warm up before the first climb with no technicality. What follows are walls of rock with chains attached, scree slopes of rock and thin, narrow and exposed technical ridges that really place you in the sky. 

The high point of the course at 3000m in many respects brings an end to the very technical sections and then the course changes with plenty of single-track and of course climbing. The final drop from Monte Campaccio at 3007m is long with plenty of rocks and scree. The final 10km’s to the line sap the legs and mind – a Livigno finish is hard fought.

Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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The stunning Matterhorn provides the stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain – the next race in the Skyrunner® World Series 2016. It’s a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race where the ever present lone peak of the Matterhorn shadows the race and runners with its majestic beauty.

Zermatt, located 1600m above altitude provides the focal point for this high altitude race. It’s a town of contrasts, tourists flood in to trawl the streets, shop and snap ‘selfies’ while in and amongst them, hardcore mountaineers head upwards with packs, ropes, cramp-ons and ice axes. Like a photo on a luxury box of chocolates, Zermatt is a beautiful place steeped in history. It’s a logical start and finishing place for such an iconic race.

Renowned for its tough opening kilometers, the Matterhorn Ultraks immediately heads to the sky via Sunnegga at 2260m all the way to the high point Gornergrat at 3130m. It’s a brutal 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

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2015 Champions, Martin Anthamatten and Elisa Desco return to Switzerland for the 4th edition of the race and as such they are the favourites. Desco just last weekend placed 3rd at Sierre-Zinal, the question mark will be, as she recovered? For Anthamatten, his last performance was at the Skyrunning World Championships.

It’s fair to say the men’s race is wide open, no doubt impacted upon by the recent Tromso SkyRace and next weekend’s Trofeo Kima. SWS race leader, Tadei Pivk is currently injured and that leaves an opening for valuable points.

Bhim Gurung who won the inaugural Yading race excelled at the high altitude in China and although this race tops out at 3100m in Switzerland, it will not register on the Nepalese runner’s radar. Strong competition and maybe the hot favourite will be Marc Lauenstein.

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Hassan Ait Chou has a solid history in Zermatt and his recent podium at the SkyRace Comapedrosa indicates that he may well be in for a good run. Pablo Villa, Oscar Casal Mir and Marc Casal Mir will also contend the podium along with Adrien Michaud.

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Lining up against Desco is Megan Kimmel who had a stunning race in 2015 only to later in the latter stages. Something tells me that won’t happen this year and for me, she is odds on favourite for victory!

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Oihana Kortazar leads the other podium contenders after a recent top placing at SkyRace Comapedrosa and Celia Chiron who placed 3rd at the Dolomites SkyRace will no doubt be looking for a repeat performance. Ragna Debats, Aziziber Ibarbia and Marta Molist are other top runners who will be at the ‘pointy’ end of the race!

Course records were set in 2013 by Kilian Jornet and 2014 by Stevie Kremer, their respective times 4:43:05 and 5:18:43.

Race day is Saturday 20th August and the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k race will get underway at 0730


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 Follow on:

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Skyrunning World Championships 2016 SKY – Images and Summary

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The Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees today provided a modern day coliseum where Skyrunning gladiators battled at the BUFF® Epic Trail Aigüestortes SKY event, the 2nd race in the 2016 Skyrunning World Series.

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The rugged BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 42KM is a point-to-point race with 3,200m positive climb in 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.

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It’s a highly challenging and extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit, the racing field was capped at 500.

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Starting at 0930 under chilly temperatures, the day remained dry but on all the summits temperatures dropped significantly and wind chill was high.

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Tom Owens was a driving force in the men’s race and the Brit reveled in the tough and technical terrain, something he loves. In the early stages he held strong but a charging Stian Argemund had other ideas. With a gold medal already in the bag from the previous day’s VK, Stian ran a calm and relaxed race and moved from 4th to 1st with over half distance covered. Owens, a downhill specialist said post-race, “I thought I would bring him back on the next descent and although I closed on him, as soon as the terrain pointed up, he would pull away. He was so strong on the climbs, no wonder he won the VK!”

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Stian did hold on to the finish (3:56:47) and in the process secured a 2nd gold medal at the 2016 games. Tom Owens took silver in 4:01:59 and Ismail Razga kept the Spanish home crown happy with bronze in 4:05:56.

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The ladies race was an exciting one and Spanish runner Maite Maiora secured one of the biggest victories of her life after also placing 3rd in the previous days VK.

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Azara Garcia, also from Spain, chased hard all day and came off so close in the final stages closing the gap to Maiora by less than 2 minutes, 4:42:15 to 4:44:04. Garcia was happy though, gold and silver to Spain!

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Elisa Desco from Italy seemed to struggle in the early stages of the race but rallied to eventually finish 3rd to receive the Bronze medal with a time of 4:46:43.

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SKYRUNNING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016 PREVIEW

 

LOGO_SKYRUNNING_WORLD_CHAMPS-768x778Every 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. 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.

It may come as no surprise that runners from all over the world will arrive in Spain and over the three races, the lineup of talent is second to none. The line-up has five previous world champions returning:

Luis Alberto Hernando

Luis Alberto Hernando

Luis Alberto Hernando, Laura Orgue, Oihana Kortazar, Augusti Roc and Elisa Desco.

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In 2014, Australia were a dominant force and surprised many with break through performances, once again they return with a super strong field. The Czech Republic, Japan and Portugal are also sending talented squads, for many, it may well be a first racing in Europe or the high mountains of the Pyrenees. In total, 35 different countries will be represented.

Events start on Friday July 22nd with the VK, on Saturday 23rd it is the ULTRA and closing events on Sunday 24th is the SKY distance.

Importantly, WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the Championships managed by FEDME, the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation and ISF member for Spain which will sanction the events and oversee them with their referees. The organisation will be in the capable hands OCI Sport, with whom the ISF has collaborated on a number of high-profile events including the 2012 SkyGames® in Andorra and Spain.

Needless to say, the number of athletes taking part is extensive and at this stage, we may well have some late additions. Below are many of the key runners who I anticipate to do well:

VK – For the short and steep specialists, the BUFF® EPIC TRAIL VK is 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. It is capped at 250.

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Ferran Teixido from Andorra is currently ranked highly on the SWS2016 and we can expect strong competition from Saul Antonio Padua, Andrej Fejfar, Augusti Roc, Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec and Pascal Egli.

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Laura Orgue just did the ‘double’ in the Dolomites winning both VK and SKY and will be hot favourite on home soil. However, Christel Dewalle will have other ideas and the race may well be a head-to-head between the two. Vanessa Ortega, Yngvild Kaspersen, Therese Sjursen and Ekaterina Mityaeva.

SKY – The rugged BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 42KM is a point to point with 3,200m positive vertical climb. Again, a highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit capped at 500.

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Is going to be fast and furious and the lineup is stunning with Tom Owens, Blake Hose, Manuel Merillas, Pascal Egli and Marcin Swierc pushing for the top slot. But strong competition will also come from Marc and Oscar Casal Mir, Pablo Villa, Jessed Hernandez, Alexis Sevennec, Dai Matsumoto and Artem Rostovstev.

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Elisa Desco, Yngvild Kaspersen, Azara Garcia and Maite Maiora form a stunning quad of talent but Oihana Kortazar, Ida Nilsson, Marta Molist, Ragna Debats and Katrine Villumsen will make sure that the run for the line is not an easy one. Dark horse is the UK’s Jasmin Paris – watch out.

ULTRA – The BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 105KM, with a grueling 8,000m elevation gain and a maximum gradient of 56%, is as tough as they come. Strict qualification standards will be enforced for participants, which are capped at 250.

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The ultra is the big one and I have to say the talent is what one would expect when a world title is at stake. Luis Alberto Hernando may well be the one to beat on home soil but Andy Symonds after recent success in Lavaredo will push him. As will Franco Colle, Majell Backhausen, Zaid Ait Malek, Cristofer Clemente and Ben Duffs. Miguel Heras is also toeing the line and if in form, watch out! Fulvio Dapit, Leonardo Diogo, Nuno Silva, Jan Bartas and Pau Bartolo are also strong contenders.

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The ladies race is equally editing with Caroline Chaverot being the lady to beat. She has been on fire this year! Ruth Croft made the podium at Transvulcania but arguably local lady, Nuria Picas is the one to upset the apple cart. A strong fight will come from Fernanda Maciel, Anna Strakova, Gemma Arenas, Hillary Allen, Ester Alves, Kristina Pattison, Soto Ogawa and let’s not forget Mira Rai who is returning from injury.

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World titles and medals will be awarded, crowning the champions of the Ultra, Sky and Vertical disciplines together with combined titles and country ranking. A total of twenty-seven medals and a €20,000 prize purse await the champions of these prestigious competitions.

Alpina Watches, 2016 Skyrunning World Championships Official Timekeeper, will award six prestigious Alpina Horological Smartwatches to the male and female champions of each category, Vertical, Sky and Ultra.

The Vall de Boí will also host the 2016 ISF General Assembly on July 22, which will be attended by members from far and near.

Check out details of the three World Championship courses here.

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Dolomites SKYRACE 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series

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At 22km long with 10km uphill and 12km downhill The Dolomites SkyRace is a tough Skyrunning race that perfectly shows the ethos of the sport – start low, get high and then return as quickly as possible. Piz Boe at 3152m is the high point of the course and what follows is a technical descent to the starting town of Canazei.

Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel hold the current course, their times 2:00:11 and 2:25:57 recorded in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Starting in Piazza Marconi, Canazei at 0830, 4 hours 30 minutes are allocated for participants to complete the course.

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From the gun Aritz Egea dictated the pace and lead a chasing trio of 2015 champion Tadei Pivk, Stian Overgaard and Martin Anthamatten. On the slopes leading up Piz Boe, Egea was relegated to 4th and a battle was on for victory.

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At the summit, Pivk took the lead and descended without fear as Anthamatten and Overgaard chased.

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Pivk was too strong though crossing the line in 2:03. Overgaard in his first Skyrunning race placed 3rd in 2:04 and 2015 Matterhorn Ultraks champion, Anthamatten placed 3rd.

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In the ladies’ race, Laura Orgue was always going to be the lady to beat, the only question mark would come on her ability to descend from the summit of Piz Boe… easier this year she broke her leg in a skiing accident.

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We should have no questions! From the beginning Orgue pushed the pace and the only lady in close contention was Elisa Desco. Orgue summited first and then held that lead all the way to the line besting Desco by 2-minutes, 2:28 to 2:30.

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Surprise of the day came in the ladies 3rd place, Celia Chiron who ran an incredible 2:32. Pre-race favourites Yngvild Kaspersen finished 5th and post-race said, “I had bad feelings today and my legs were just heavy.” It was a similar story for 2016 Transvulcania champion, Ida Nilsson.

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Attention now turns to this coming weekend, the Skyrunning World Championships will take place in Spain with VK, SKY and ULTRA races


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 Follow on:

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Livigno SkyMarathon® and Santa Caterina Vertical KM – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

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Anticipation mounts for two events new to the Skyrunner® World Series this weekend with World Champions and Series’ leaders in both the Sky and VK disciplines toeing the start line – Lauri van Houten writes a preview of the action

The locations are both well-known ski resorts and now that the snow has almost all gone, they will host participants from no less than 22 nations in the spectacular Italian Alps.

The events will see 10 of the top athletes take on both races – the first being the short steep Santa Caterina Vertical KM on Friday, June 24, followed by Sunday’s Livigno SkyMarathon® – both valid for the Skyrunner® World Series rankings.

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Among the intrepid athletes lining-up for the double challenge are Skyrunning World Champions Elisa Descoand Oihana KortazarLaura Orgué, Vertical World Champion and winner of both the 2015 Vertical and Sky Series, will be aiming “just” for the VK.

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“After four months since my fibula fracture I’m already back competing. However, I’m not ready for the Sky distance yet, but eager to try the VK. I’m aware I’m not on my best form, but just to get a bib for the World Series is especially exciting,” she comments. “Competing makes me feel alive and certainly I’ll give it everything”. 

Friday’s VK starts in the village of Santa Caterina and heads 1,000m skywards to the summit of the Cresta Sobretta over a short, steep 3 km course. The records to beat are 35’29” for the men and 43’32” for the women.

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On Sunday the events move to Livigno, or ‘Little Tibet’ as it’s known, the location of the Livigno SkyMarathon® – 34 km long with 2,600m vertical climb.  The route weaves through untamed nature in the Stelvio National Park traversing the Swiss/Italian border with technical sections and stretches above 3,000m altitude – all in true skyrunning style designed by the magic hand of top runner Marco De Gasperi, on this occasion, in the role of race organiser.

We’re incredibly satisfied and proud to be on the World Series. It has always been a dream to have a race of this level in our mountains. To have two is absolutely incredible,” he states. “As organisers we’re still young, but we’re driven by passion and a desire to deliver two top class events.”

Judging by the top class line-up, he should, indeed, be proud.

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Among the top runners competing in the events are:

Santa Caterina Vertical KM – June 24, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Lombardy, Italy

World Champions Laura OrguéElisa Desco and Oihana Kortazar. More top names include Christel Dewalle from France and Italian Antonella Confortola. In the men’s field:  Italians Urban Zemmer andMarco Moletto;  Slovenian Nejc Kuhar; new-entry Ondrej Fejfar from the Czech Republic; Slovenian Nejc Kuhar; Ferran Teixido from Andorra;  from France, William Bon Mardion and Alexis Sevennec;  Pascal Egli from Switzerland and Rolf Einar Jensen from Norway.

Livigno SkyMarathon® – June 26, Lombardy, Italy

Italian Tadei Pivk and American Megan Kimmel head the current Sky Series ranking, followed by, in the men’s field:  Spaniards Aritz Egea, Hassan Ait Chaou, Alfredo Gil Garcia, Sintu Vives, Jessed Hernandez andJokin Lizeaga;  from Andorra, brothers Oscar and Marc Casal Mir and André Jonsson from Sweden, new to the skyrunning circuit and loving it!

In the women’s field: Spaniards Oihana Kortazar, Aitziber Ibarbia and Italian Elisa Desco.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner®World Series Follow on:

 Facebook/iancorlessphotography

Twitter (@talkultra)

Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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Scott Kinabalu ENDURO – First Impressions

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Since 2012 I have been using Scott shoes, yes, Scott make run shoes in addition to bikes. I say that, because that is what I get when other runners look at my shoes and say, ‘Scott, oh, thought they made bikes?’

Since the original T2 Kinabalu, I have been a fan. I remember the original incarnation in 2012 which I used to run all over the Transvulcania course (Review HERE). Since the original model, the T2 Kinabalu has had a few tweaks and the current incarnation is the 3.0 HERE.

Scott launched the Kinabalu Supertrac (original look HERE) and this shoe went on to be my favourite shoe of 2015. I even went through many other shoes I had been testing to work out which shoe (for me) was the best. The ‘Supertrac’ won, see HERE.

As 2015 came to a close, Scott informed me of several new shoes, one being the Enduro.

Well, the Scott Kinabalu Enduro has arrived and here are our first impressions and look.

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One thing is for sure, there is no hiding in the male version. Bright yellow, these shoes from the off say that they mean business. The ladies version is also bright but considering that many women wear bright apparel, I’m sure the colours will appeal. Certainly the original reaction from Niandi (who will test the ladies shoe) was wow, I LOVE the colours.

The shoes are not light. In all honesty, they were both noticeably heavy when removed from the boxes. The ladies a UK 8 weighs 380g and the mens UK9.5 weighs 418g. That is heavy; no doubt about it and I have to say initially disappointing.

Looking at the shoe closely, you soon realise why. The whole upper of the shoe has a plastic coating on top of the mesh below.

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I have to say, I asked why? Why is it necessary to add some much structure and protection to the upper of the shoe? Scott call this: Protective-High-Abrasion-Casing.

I took a look at Scott’s website and the description is as follows:

The brand new SCOTT Kinabalu Enduro is the latest addition to the range. The seemless one piece upper offers protection and comfort for all day adventures while the eRide tuned midsole and VIBRAM outsole provide performance and stability during your run.

Seamless upper – perfect

Protection – great

Comfort – brilliant

eRide – works, so great.

Vibram – tried and tested, so great

I still have to question though, why so heavy? My only point of question on the excellent Kinabalu Supertrac was the weight. Here Scott have beefed up the Kinabalu and made it bullet proof, it’s obviously way to early to tell but on first impressions, if you want a shoe to last and get value for money from, this may be the one!

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Cushioning as you would expect from Scott is good with 28mm at the rear and 17mm in the forefoot. However, these two figures cause me a little confusion, why for 2016 are Scott releasing a shoe with an 11mm drop? They dropped the ‘Supertrac’ from the Kinabalu’s original 11mm drop to 8mm drop and this for me made perfect sense. 8mm is a perfect sweet spot that appeals to many a runner and when running long it’s not too low to cause any issues. Having said that though, after just 2 runs in the ‘Enduro’ they do feel comfortable and offer a great feel. I have said this before, the ‘rocker’ system that Scott uses does give the shoes a feeling of lower drop due to the rolling action. I must point out too that I do fore foot strike so that will also help.

eRide – “Dynamic stability is the body’s own way to run efficiently and safely over uneven terrain. The eRIDE TUNED midsole has strategic flex zones to provide asymmetric flexibility and enhance ground adaptation while a EVA foam provides cushioning.”

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The outsole sits somewhere between the T2 Kinabalu and the Supertrac and therefore it will be a great all rounder for those who may well be looking for a ‘one shoe does all’ scenario. Made by Vibram, the outsole uses ‘MEGAGRIP’ as witnessed on the Supertrac but this version is less aggressive. From repeated year long use of the Supertrac I can confirm that this outsole is tried and tested and a favourite. This version does feels stiffer and less supple than the Supertrac version, we shall see?

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Lacing is standard and incorporates the ‘lace bungee’ for storing excess lace after you have tied your shoes. It’s a very simple and effective way for removing something that may catch on branches or trail obstacles.

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Heel box is very plush and secure. Always a key feature of Scott shoes and it really does add a secure and confident feel to the shoes.

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Sizing feels a little larger than normal. I always take a UK9.5 and the ‘Enduro’ does feel just a little more spacious, so, if you are new to Scott or if you have used Scott in the past, you may just want to check on sizing. The toe box is a little narrower than the T2 Kinabalu 3.0 and Kinabalu Supertrac and this may be why they size a little larger? If you like a wide roomy toe box, this may not be the shoe for you?

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Technologies:

  • Lace Bungee
  • Protective-High-Abrasion-Casing
  • Seamless-One-Piece-Upper
  • Rock-Protection-Plate
  • Vibram-Megagrip

Initial Conclusion

Our initial reaction to the ‘Enduro’ was shock. We were surprised at how ‘protected’ this shoe is. But having run in them on just 2 occasions and reflected on what Scott are trying to do, I completely understand the the addition of this shoe to the Kinabalu range. This is not a shoe to replace the T2 Kinabalu or the Kinabalu Supertrac it’s a shoe to be used in addition. So, if you like the other 2 models you will like this.

I’m still perturbed that the shoe is 11mm drop and not 8mm but it runs well; so why worry?

What’s the shoe for?

Well I guess you can use the shoe for any running, from groomed trail, fire trail to mountains. But considering the protection that has been added to the ‘Enduro,’ one has to think that this is intended for the rough stuff; rocks, snow, ice, gravel, slate and so; anything that can really batter a shoe and reduce its life.

For perspective, I recently ran for 1-month in La Palma on the Transvulcania course, I used a brand new pair of Supertrac and I used them every day, at the end of the month I threw them away. I am not saying the ‘Supertrac’ was no good, on the contrary, I love the Supertrac but the trails out in La Palma are harsh and abrasive; it eats shoes. The Enduro may well be a good shoe for a course like that due to the key elements of:

  • Protective-High-Abrasion-Casing
  • Seamless-One-Piece-Upper
  • Rock-Protection-Plate
  • Vibram-Megagrip

We will be reporting back in a couple of months after long term testing and only then will we really know how the Scott Kinabalu Enduro stacks up.

Scott shoes are available HERE

 

Episode 101 – Mal Law, Jo Meek, Lucja Leonard

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This is Episode 101 of Talk Ultra. We speak with Jo Meek who is back in form after almost a year of injury. Mal Law talks about HIGH FIVE-0 and Lucja Leonard talks all about weight loss in Talk Training. Dare I say it, but the PED debate has started in ultra, trail and mountain running and we discuss what is happening! Speedgoat is here.

00:01:31 Show Start

00:08:30 NEWS

Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE

TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE

DRUGS, PEDs, EPO are becoming a reality in our sport READ HERE and your thoughts.

 

TNF50

1 – Zach Miller 6:12

2 – Dylan Bowman 6:20

3 – Ryan Bak 6:26

1 – Megan Kimmel 7:13

2 – Ellie Greenwood 7:23

3 – Larisa Dannis 7:25

MSIG LANTAU

1 – Francois D’Haene 5:42

2 – Eirik Haugsness

3 – Upendra Sunuwar

1 – Maud Gobert 7:08

2 – Marie McNaughton

3 – Rebecca Nakuwa

VULCANO ULTRA TRAIL 100k

1 – Cristofer Clemente 12:31 held off Joe Grant for the win

2 – Manuela Vilaseca 15:48 ran away with the ladies race ahead of Veronica Bravo

SAINT E LYON France

Benoit Cori (Templars winner) finished with Nicolas Martin joint 1st 5:07 and Corali Bugnare took out the ladies wins 6:32

HARDROCK 100 entries HERE 

WSER entries HERE

00:55:55 INTERVIEW with JO MEEK HERE

01:37:19 TALK TRAINING this week Lucja Leonard tells us how loosing weight and running changed her life HERE

02:04:09 INTERVIEW with MAL LAW and the HIGH FIVE-0 Challenge HERE

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

New South Wales

Coast to Kosciuszko | 240 kilometers | December 11, 2015 | website

Queensland

Kurrawa to Duranbah and Return – 50 km | 50 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website

Narawntapu 50 km | 50 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website

Victoria

Duncan’s Run-Hundred | 100 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Duncan’s Run-Hundred – 50 km | 50 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

53 km | 53 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Costa Rica

Moonrun Monteverde Ultra Trail | 62 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

French Guiana

100 Bornes du Père Noël | 100 kilometers | December 18, 2015 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Eisweinlauf | 65 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Lower Saxony

  1. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website
  2. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website
  3. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website
  4. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website
  5. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website
  6. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website
  7. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 100 KM| 100 kilometers | December 20, 2015 | website
  8. Lauf PSV Winterlaufserie 50 KM| 50 kilometers | December 20, 2015 | website

India

Haryana

Running And Living – 105.5 km | 105 kilometers | December 14, 2015 | website

Running And Living Marathon and a Half – 63.3km | 63 kilometers | December 14, 2015 | website

Madagascar

Nosy Be Trail – 60 km | 60 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Sweden

Blåfrusen Ultramarathon | 70 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website

USA

Arizona

Desert Solstice 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | December 19, 2015 | website

Desert Solstice 50K Run | 50 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

California

Malibu Canyon Trail Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Rodeo Beach 50 km | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Woodside Ramble 50K | 50 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website

Colorado

Sawmill 50K+ | 34 miles | December 12, 2015 | website

Florida

50K Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Ancient Oaks 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | December 19, 2015 | website

Deer Dodge 50K | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Deer Dodge 50 Miler | 50 miles | December 12, 2015 | website

Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic 50M | 50 miles | December 12, 2015 | website

Indiana

HUFF 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Massachusetts

Seth’s Fat Ass 50 | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Ohio

Bigfoot 50K | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

First Day of Winter 50K | 50 kilometers | December 20, 2015 | website

Oregon

Frozen Trail Runfest 50K | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Tennessee

Bell Ringer 50k | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | December 19, 2015 | website

Texas

Brazos Bend 100 Miler | 100 miles | December 12, 2015 | website

Brazos Bend 50 Miler | 50 miles | December 12, 2015 | website

Houston Running Festival 100K | 100 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Houston Running Festival 100 Mile | 100 miles | December 19, 2015 | website

Houston Running Festival 50K | 50 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Houston Running Festival 50 Mile | 50 miles | December 19, 2015 | website

Texas Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | December 12, 2015 | website

Texas Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | December 12, 2015 | website

Virginia

Hellgate 100K | 100 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website

Seashore Nature Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | December 19, 2015 | website

Washington

Deception Pass 50K | 50 kilometers | December 13, 2015 | website

03:01:20 CLOSE

03:04:20

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Website – talkultra.com

Can of worms! Desco, EPO, PEDs and TNF50

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It is the TNF50 this weekend in San Francisco. iRunFar as per usual did a race preview and what a line up! The $10,000 prize money a huge incentive to attract top runners for a last big push before a well earned end of season rest.

The iRunFar article was updated on Nov 27th with a last minute entrant: Elisa Desco from Italy.

I firmly believe that many in the San Francisco race would not know who Elisa was unless they followed WMRA (World Mountain Running) or Skyrunning. Elisa in recent years has performed exceptionally well in Skyrunning and in 2014 was crowned Skyrunning World Champion for the SKY distance in Chamonix.

iRunFar went on to say:

[Added November 27] Italian mountain runner Elisa Desco was just added to the entrants list. I don’t believe she’s raced longer than 46k before, I do think this is her first race in the U.S., and I know this will probably be the flattest trail race she’s participated in, but she is a likely podium favorite. She’s been a regular on the international Skyrunning circuit for years, and this year she finished third in the Sky division of the Skyrunner World Series, including a win of the just-over-a-marathon’s-distance Matterhorn Ultraks. From 2010 to 2012, Elisa served a two-year ban from the IAAF after she tested positive for EPO at the 2009 World Mountain Running Championships.

I was well aware of Elisa’s positive test and lets be clear here, since 2012 I have spent a great deal of time with Elisa and her husband, Marco De Gasperi. De Gasperi himself a 6x WMRA champion and legend in the world of mountain and Skyrunning.

Many a long night talking with Marco discussing the positive test. (I would like to be clear here and state that I am being as impartial as I possible can.) It’s a story of how Marco tried to fight to clear Elisa’s name, a story of what he considered major flaws with the testing procedure and a fight for honour. One that he eventually had to give up on. He wrote an article in 2011 on his own website. I provide a Google translation of that article, obviously this is not a perfect translation but you get the gist! HERE

From a USA perspective, Facebook exploded with a series of very angry posts. Ethan Veneklasen in particular commented on multiple channels:

I am DEEPLY disappointed to see that Elisa Desco (Italy) was added last week to the start list for this weekend’s North Face Endurance Challenge and is widely considered a favorite for the podium. From 2010-2012, Desco served a two-year ban from the IAAF for testing positive for EPO at the 2009 World Mountain Running Championships.

For the last several years, we have speculated about whether doping has arrived in our beloved sport. If there was any question before, let me be clear…that day has arrived! This is VERY, VERY sad indeed. 

On a related note, I am delighted to see that US Skyrunning is taking proactive steps to move the International Skyrunning Federation toward enforcing lifetime ban for convicted dopers.

The can of worms was well and truly opened. No bad thing! It’s good to get the PED debate out in our sport and ensure at this very early stage that PED’s are not tolerated or accepted in our sport.

I 100% agree that I do not and will not tolerate drugs in any sport and of course, in particular the sport I love, watch, follow and photograph.

However, is Elisa getting a fair deal? Has this turned into a witch hunt?

The facts are when Elisa tested positive, no lifetime ban existed for doping. She was sentenced for 2-years, she did her time and she is now back. This of course does pose the question, ‘should runners be allowed back?’

Elisa has been drug tested 2-times in the last 18-months (maybe more) and both tests were clean. To clarify, one of those tests were made at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix where she was crowned world champion.

Elisa may very well have taken PED’s? The ban would suggest so but Marco and Elisa 100% say not! Of course, Lance did the same and look how good a liar he was.

Should athletes receive lifetime bans? Yes, if we are 100% sure that they cheated, then yes! But I would want those tests to be 100% secure. I am not sure that is always the case and this has been discussed elsewhere. Questions have been raised about Elisa’s positive test! This is not a post to fight for Elisa, not at all. It’s a post to say that we sometimes need to take a step back and this case provides a great opportunity for debate and a catalyst for change.

Today, 5th December, Runners World have posted an article HERE and the headline says:

Ultrarunners Want Convicted Doper Out of Weekend Race

Powerful headline and some of the contents in the article make for interesting reading. 2014 race winner, Magdalena Boulet says: “I guess the kind way to say it is that I’m disappointed that the race organization allowed her into the elite field,” This was followed up with, “I don’t care if a doper served their ban and are technically eligible to race. If they still want to run for the love of the sport, they are welcome to, but I guarantee that they would slowly go away,”

Fellow podcaster, Eric Shranz commented, “For a sport that values camaraderie and inclusiveness, Desco will be on the outside of that group due to her past, and that’s a place she’s earned,” Schranz said. “But then again, maybe we need her to podium this weekend to really force an honest conversation about how we want to grow as a sport and how we’ll handle the PED problem.”

On publication of the Runners World article, Ethan Veneklasen who was very vocal on social media said via his Facebook page, “Very glad to see Runners World covering this important issue! Thanks to all who have contributed to helping get this discussion going. ‪#‎cleansport‬

I agree. This is a discussion that almost certainly needs to take place. Elisa unfortunately is now at the centre of this debate. Her presence in San Francisco is now compromised and should she decide to run, I can’t help but think it will result in an early withdrawal. This debate and all the negativity will have a huge impact on her and many reading this will say; good!

Four points are raised:

  1. Are The North Face making a mistake in allowing Desco to run? (TNF50 does not have drug testing or a policy re convicted dopers.)
  2. Should a positive test, irrespective of when that happened, mean that a runner should be banned of life?
  3. How do we confirm that a positive test is 100% positive?
  4. The ultra community have a voice, they are saying in this scenario, “Sure the rules say 2yrs and back in, but the community doesn’t!”

I often tell a story, when I was cycling at elite level. Caffeine was a banned substance. If I had too many espressos or too much Coke, I could run the risk of being positive in a test so I had to be careful. Now caffeine is okay and even gels are rammed with the stuff. You can take as much as you like and it does boost performance. But it’s legal now. What is okay and what is not ok becomes cloudy; my advice is stick to the rules. The athletes who really want to perform/ win will always look for an advantage. I just want that advantage to be a legal one. Of course in Elisa’s case the drug in question is EPO, you don’t accidentally take EPO! It would require planning, deception and money. Ultimately this is a completely different story and I firmly believe why the reaction has been so severe.

The positive test is what everyone jumps on, I get that. A definitive proof that Elisa doped!

Like I said, we all make mistakes and I get the ‘one strike and out’ scenario. However, my bank took £22 out of my account years ago. I told them they were wrong in no uncertain terms. ‘No!’ they relied. “It’s not possible for us to make this mistake.’ I battled on for 3-months. It wasn’t the money that was important, it was the principal. Eventually I had a letter from the bank confirming an error had been made due to an ‘anomaly.’

In the above scenario it was just £22. With drugs in sport and PEDS it may well be a ruined career and life ban. Of course, if we can 100% confirm that someone was cheating, lets ban them. I just want a ban to be 100% – are we there yet?

Ian Sharman, race director for the U.S. Skyrunner Series, is pushing for life bans for convicted dopers for all Skyrunning events globally: “This isn’t a reaction to an individual, but a response to the widespread doping uncovered recently in athletics in general. We can’t change our rules at this point without the rules being changed for the entire International Skyrunning Federation, so that’s where we’re aiming to make the change so we can send a clear signal that cheating isn’t acceptable,”

Anthony Forsyth commented on a Facebook in response to a comment I made:

“From my perspective the frustration is not towards Elisa, who is doing what she can, but towards TNF that are allowing her to race. There is a general consensus that we want a clean sport – on this we agree. But there is also a general consensus that those who have cheated, who have stolen prize money and results from other athletes, have had their opportunity to be a part of our sport, of our family, and have crapped with contempt on that opportunity. They are no longer welcome. The term witch hunt refers to the guessing of guilt. Guilt has been proven. Sure the rules say 2yrs and back in, but the community doesn’t. As I said, my vent is with TNF. In allowing her to race they have misunderstood our sport, our family and our values. They need to educate themselves. And people need to stop buying their stuff until they do.”

The above is a powerful statement and one that I get. Anthony is clearly saying here this has nothing to do with if ‘doing the crime, so do the time!’ It is so much more, it’s about how the community are not prepared to accept back someone into the sport even though they may now be clean. It is very much the scenario, one strike and you are out!

On a final note to add fuel to the fire. On December 2nd CONI posted:

The Public Prosecutor’s office of NADO ITALY defers 26 athletes and asks for two years of disqualification. Dismissal is suggested for another 39 cases

Read the article HERE

Dismissal for 39-cases including

DE GASPERI Marco for the disputed accusations (art. 2.3 and art. 2.4 of the Anti-Doping Sport Code);

DESCO Elisa for the disputed accusations (art. 2.3 and art. 2.4 of the Anti-Doping Sport Code);

What are your thoughts? Would love to hear them.

Read THIS by Scott athlete, Andy Symonds. He nails it for me!

UPDATE 18th December, ELISA DESCO speaks with competitor.com HERE

Limone Extreme SkyRace 2015 – Race Summary and Images

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Another season of Skyrunning concluded in Limone sul Garda with the Limone Extreme SkyRace, the final race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series. As expected, it was a day of high emotions that ultimately resulted in blood, sweat, tears and elation.

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Although race day conditions were ideal, a new course had been created after the thunderstorms of Thursday night and Friday morning. The resulting race although the same distance (23km) had an additional 800m of elevation and descent. Work it out! 23km and 2800m of elevation gain and descent, that can only mean one thing; pain!

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One thing became clear though post race, although this new course was tougher it had a unanimous nod from all the runners that the additional difficulty was a good thing; that’s Skyrunning for you!

Final races in a series can often have a forgone conclusion of who will be crowned respective male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions, not here in Limone. It was wide open and all to fight for.

Click on the images to view pre race photographs:

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In the men’s race, Remi Bonnet once again proved that we have a star in the making. He followed on from the previous nights VK victory with a world-class SKY performance that left every other runner in the race trailing in his wake. It was stunning to watch. This course is tough, don’t doubt it! Remi ran every step. He has an incredible style, almost shuffling as he moves from left-to-right foot in small movements. It’s incredibly effective and ultimately impossible to follow. Despite him winning the race outright, he could not follow up his Skyrunner® World Series victory for the VK distance as he did not have a result on a Continental race, had he had this, he may well have been the 2015 champion?

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Behind Remi, series leader, Tadei Pivk grabbed the bull by the horns and followed the young Swiss runner with 100% determination. His style on the climbs was in complete contrast to Remi; he almost fought the terrain! On the final long descent back down to the Lake and the finish line in Limone, I had expected Tadei to close the gap as he descends incredibly well. Alas no, the day was not for him but his 2nd place gave him the ultimate prize of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series title.

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Ever present Manuel Merillas, also a strong contender for the overall series ran a well paced race and moved from 6th, 5th and 4th to finally finish 3rd. It was a great result and ultimately secured his 2nd place in the Skyrunner® World Series rankings ahead of Martin Anthamatten who took the final podium slot despite finishing 13th on the day, no doubt carrying over fatigue from his recent victory in the USA.

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In the ladies race a hotly anticipated battle between Laura Orgue and Megan Kimmel really came to fruition and as always happens in these scenarios, somebody wins, somebody looses. Laura Orgue already had the Skyrunner® World Series title for the VK distance secure before Friday’s VK race and she made the very sensible decision not to race and save her legs for the following day and Saturday’s Sky race.

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Running at the front of the race, the VK specialist really embraced the additional 800m of vertical gain and used all her climbing skills to pull off a stunning victory. It was a gutsy ‘give it everything’ performance and one that Maite Maiora tried to spoil. They traded blows throughout the day and Laura managed to squeeze ahead and find those extra percentages of performance to finish just 17-seconds ahead of the La Sportiva runner.

Could Megan Kimmel finish 3rd and secure the world series title?

No! A tough day in the office and carried over fatigue from a recent victory in the USA’s Flagstaff race resulted in Megan feeling tired all day. Of course, the additional 800m of vert didn’t help. Megan finally finished 6th and just had to accept that ‘these things happen!’

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Oihana Kortazar followed up a great run from the previous days VK with the final podium place ahead of Elisa Desco and Yngvild Kaspersen.

A season comes to an end and with it we have memories, emotions and passion. The 2015 Skyrunner® World Series champions are:

Laura Orgue and Remi Bonnet are the SWS champions for the VK distance.

Laura Orgue and Tadei Pivk are the SWS champions for the SKY distance.

Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando are SWS champions for the ULTRA distance.

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Attention now turns to 2016 and the calendar of races that will once again secure the hearts and minds of the mountain running community.

Less Cloud, More Sky!

Results

  1. Laura Orgue 3:18:50
  2. Maite Maiora 3:19:07
  3. Oihana Kortazar 3:22:24
  4. Elisa Desco 3:28:00
  5. Yngvild Kaspersen 3:28:40
  1. Remi Bonnet 2:45:25
  2. Tadei Pivk 2:51:08
  3. Manuel Merillas 2:52:52
  4. Jokin Lizeaga2:53:55
  5. Aritz Egea 2:55:47

Moments from the finish line, click on images to view larger:

RACE DAY IMAGES – more images to follow as soon as wifi becomes available

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Skyrunning HERE