“If you build it, they will come”
– the famous line from the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner.
The term has been used time and time again as a metaphor for reaching out, taking a risk and fulfilling a dream. Well, in 2018, Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten did just that! They harked back to the roots and the glory days of skyrunning and the race and mountain that created the sport that we all now know today.
It was in Alagna, on the slopes and summit of Monte Rosa that Marino pioneered the approach of ‘fast and light!’ It’s a simple concept, start in the town, go to the summit as fast as possible, turnaround and then run back.
1993, starting at 1192m in Alagna and reaching the Margherita Hut at 4554m and on the way passing Bochetta delle Pisse at 2396m, Indren Cable Car 3260m. Gnifetti Hut 3647m and finally the Colle del Lys at 4250m before the lung bursting summit.
It is pure skyrunning.
And today, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon retraces that pioneering route to spend time in less cloud and more sky.
It’s a route for the experienced only and unlike 1993, the race now requires teams of two, pioneered last year in the 1st edition. Snow fields, glaciers, exposed landscape the steep climb and descent of a couloir and all the time pushing the body and mind to the limit.
In the individual records date back to 1994 when skyrunning legends Fabio Meraldi and Gisella Bendotti completed the outa and back journey in 4:24 and 5:34 respectively.
Last year, 2018, the team of Franco Collé / William Boffelli completed in a stunning 4:39:59. The mixed pair team of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg completed in 5:03:56 – in the process, Emelie set the fastest time for woman.
The stage is now set for 2019 and the 2nd edition of the Monte Rosa Skymarathon, the route as in 2018 will be a full recreation of the 1993 original race with a total distance of 35km and 3500m+ and 3500m-.
From the Indren cable car station, teams (2-people) must be roped with: UIAA 105 approved harness, UIAA 101 approved 8 mm diameter dynamic rope 10m long, UIAA 128 approved rope with two carabiners, micro metal crampons must be worn and ski or cross country poles must be carried.
Top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions will arrive in Alagna aiming to challenge the incredible records set by those before them. But records only tell part of the story, for a skyrunner or ski mountaineer, this race is more than a race, it’s a journey through time, it’s the purest form of the sport, a hark back to the roots and just toeing the line is a great achievement.
New for 2019 is the AMA VK2 – The course starts and finishes in Alagna Valsesia, 1,192m. It passes by the Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2,396m and summits at the Indren cable car station, 3,260m for a distance of 11 km and a total 2,080m vertical climb. The race takes place on mountain trails with demanding uphill sections, exposed areas, steep pastures and scree and snow fields, possibly subject to severe environmental and weather conditions.
A list of entrants for both races can be found HERE
Due to the nature of the events, equipment requirements are strict HERE
FRIDAY 21 JUNE, PALAZZETTO DELLO SPORT, ALAGNA
10.00 Race Office opens
Registration, bib and race pack collection
18.00 Mandatory Briefing
19.00 Race Office closes
SATURDAY 22 JUNE, PIAZZA GROBER
6.00 Monte Rosa Skymarathon race start
In case of unfavourable weather conditions the race may be shortened to finish at Colle del Lys or postponed to Sunday, 23 June
08:30 AMA VK2 starts
10.30 Arrival of first athletes of Monte Rosa Skymarathon in Alagna.
On-site podium ceremony of first three men and first three women
16.00 Award ceremony – Palazzetto dello Sport
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After the successful relaunch in 2018 of the historic Monte Rosa SkyMarathon in the Italian Alps, the next edition will take place on June 22, 2019.
The 2018 event attracted some of the world’s top athletes in a field of 300 participants from 23 countries. They included skyrunning superstars Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, the men’s winners Franco Collé and William Boffelli and women’s winners Hillary Gerardi and Holly Page.
It is Europe’s highest race reaching the Margherita Hut at 4,554m altitude. A “mere” 35 kilometres long, it boasts a gruelling 7,000m ascent and descent over moraine, snow fields and glaciers. Due to the high altitude and challenging conditions, the event is open only to athletes with mountaineering experience. Above the snow line, they must wear harnesses, rope up and wear crampons.
Incredibly spectacular scenery is one of the attractions of the race, where from the summit of Europe’s second highest mountain, Monte Rosa, the 360° view takes in the major 4,000m peaks, including the Matterhorn.
The Monte Rosa SkyMarathon retraces the original course dating back to 1993. It was here that the sport of skyrunning was born and here where it will continue to thrive.
Stay tuned for entry dates and join us on June 22, 2019 for the race of the century!
Read about the 2018 edition on Sidetracked Magazine
For Marino Giacometti, it was a dream come true. The tears in his eyes showed it. It was here in Monte Rosa that a new sport was born just over 25 years ago, and in 2018 it was re-established – the sport of skyrunning. Start low, go high, reach a summit and then return as fast as possible. A sport free from the clutter of mountaineering equipment, a sport that is fast and light.
Monte Rosa SkyMarathon lived up to the hype and delivered beyond expectations. The ‘buzz’ in Alagna after the race was incredible. ‘This is a proper skyrunning race,’ was repeated time and time again. ‘Let’s have more of this Marino… let’s get back to the core values of the sport and yes, let’s go back 25-years!’
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Epic, it was just epic… Monte Rosa Skymarathon lived up to the hype and delivered beyond expectations. The ‘buzz’ in Alagna after the race was incredible. ‘This is a proper Skyrunning race,’ was repeated time and time again. ‘Let’s have more of this Marino… let’s get back to the core values of the sport and yes, let’s go back 25-years!’
For Marino Giacometti, it was a dream come true. The tears in his eyes showed it…! It was here in Monte Rosa that a new sport was born 25+ years ago and today it was re-established – the sport of Skyrunning. Start low, go high and reach a summit and then return as fast as possible but not cluttered with mountaineering equipment, this sport is fast and light.
The course retraced the original route from Alagna Valsesia at 1192m via the Bocchetta delle Pisse (2396m) to the Indren cable car station (3260m). From here the route continues upwards via the Gnifetti Hut (3467m), Colle del Lys (4250m) and then the summit, the Margherita Hut at 4554m. The route re-traces all the way back to Alagna along paths, ski runs, glaciers for a 35km loop and 3490m of vertical ascent.
Teams of two, roped together to raced across moraine, snow fields and glaciers for 35 kilometres with an astonishing 7,000m ascent and descent.
Of course, any mountain adventure is at the mercy of the mountain and the weather. Today, the weather and mountain gods looked down on an Alagna and smiled; it was a perfect day!
From the gun, Franco Colle and William Boffelli dictated the pace and they looked relaxed, comfortable and in control. They were pursued by Alberto Comazzi and Cristian Minoggio, however, Colle and Boffelli were just too strong. Throughout the race they pulled away, constantly working in unison to eventually return to Alagna in 4:39:59. Comazzi and Minoggio placed 2nd but over 20-minutes later, crossing in 5:03:26.
The big news was all about Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet. Forsberg just two days previously had summited Mont Blanc in a super fast time, and now she was here, with Jornet powering up from Alagana to the summit of Monte Rosa to return in 5:03:56, just 30-seconds off 2nd overall. However, their time blew the ladies fastest time out of the water – congratulations Emelie on the new record. For Jornet, it was a return to racing after time away from the sport with injury. The duo beamed after the race, “this is the sport of Skyrunning,” said Jornet. “The ambiance here is excellent, the route is incredible, it’s just a pleasure to be here.” Emelie had set her sights on the record before the race, “I wanted the ladies fastest time and with a requirement to have two in a team, I needed someone like Kilian to allow me to run a fast pace knowing that he could keep up. I lead all day and he followed.”
Tom Owens and Andy Symonds were 4th to cross the line, the duo beaming with happiness from the experience, although Symonds did say, “I just need to be in better shape next time”
The first female duo were regular Skyrunner’s, Holly Page and Hillary Gerardi, they crossed in 5:51:32 and were 12th overall.
Ultimately though, the general consensus post race was that Marino Giacometti, the race organisation team, Alagna and Monte Rosa were the real stars of the day. It may have been a return to 25-years ago, but many feel it’s a new beginning!
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The USM, Ultra Skymarathon Madeira – 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over, the next race in the the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
The 2018 edition was arguably the greatest field ever assembled at the USM with a who’s who of elite mountain runners. Heading up the men’s field was last years winner, Jonathan Albon. For the ladies, it was difficult to pick a favourite byut gut instinct said that either Emelie Forsberg on the recent IAU World Trail Champion, Ragna Debats, was the favourite.
Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending, the USM course is a unique one – It’s not an ordinary Skyrunning course!
Experienced runners start a little slower for this race and Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats did just that, placing themselves away from the first three over the early sections of the course, there is a reason…
The USM has a brutal start, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m. Light rain followed the runners over the early miles until they broke through the cloud – on the other side, blue skies and a different day.
A section of via ferrata at around 6km was followed by a little descending and a final push for the highest point of the day. Dmitry Mityaev from Russia was the first to arrive no doubt feeling confident after a great result at Transvulcania recently. Marco De Gasperi and Franco Colle followed and then Andre Jonsson and Jon Albon.
Emelie Forsberg lead the ladies to the summit and Mira Rai pursued with Ragna Debats a little further back. Emelie was on a mission and looked strong, Mira unfortunately was suffering with stomach issues and eventually had to ease off opening the doorway for Ragna to pursue Emelie. Behind Hillary Gerardi, Ekaterina Mityaev, Nuria Picas and many others followed.
Descending over the summit, the cloud inversion was clearly visible – the landscape awe-inspiring. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.
Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t really change until they returned back to the coast. Franco Colle had dropped and now the men’s race had Dmitry leading Marco and Jonathan in 3rd- they were all close though. A descent to the sea was followed by a steep short climb and then another descent which was followed by a section of riverbed littered with boulders. Albon made his move, the obstacle course world champion was in his element and he pulled away from the other two with ease. Marco looked in trouble though and eventually he would ease back out of the top 5. Andre Jonsson though was revived, he moved from 4th and eventually would take a great 2nd ahead of the Russian and then Pau Capell and Dani Jung placed 4th and 5th.
Emelie lead through the riverbed but Ragna was close. With a tough climb to go, it was anyones race. Behind, Nuria Picas had moved from way back into 3rd and looked very strong. The battle at the front was intense and eventually Ragna opened a 1-min gap to finish ahead of Emelie. Nuria Picas would hold on for 3rd.
“USM is one of if not the hardest races out there, I loved it last year and I loved it this year.” said Albon. “It is a course made for me with my obstacle course racing background and it was nice to race today tactically and it alcove together!”
For Ragna, “Emelie pushed hard and really wanted the win, she never gave up trying and it was so tough to finally make a move. It is so pleasing to win against such incredible competition.”
- Ragna Debats 6:46
- Emelie Forsberg 6:47
- Nuria Picas 6:58
- Hillary Gerardi 6:59
- Ekaterina Mityaeva 7:01
- Jonathan Albon 5:48
- Andre Jonsson 5:55
- Dmitry Mityaev 5:57
- Pau Capell 5:58
- Dani Jung 6:07
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The 2018 Skyrunner World Series arrives in Madeira for the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, USMfor short. It’s a 55km race with a whopping 4000m of vertical gain. Anna Frost, a regular on the island sums it up, “The place is incredible, it has diversity of nature, amazing vertical gain and of course, the sea provides stunning backdrop to amazing technical and mountainous terrain.”
Created specifically for the Skyrunner World Series, the USM is a serious challenge and includes tough terrain and at times, climbing expertise to grade 2 is required. The race, in many ways, is like no other race on the calendar. The sea provides an aspect rarely found in Skyrunning races as they more often than not, take place in-land, in mountainous areas. Leaving the town of Santana, the race heads into the mountains taking single-track, working a route that takes in the highest point of the island. From here, the route drops to the sea before finally climbing once again and returning to Santana for the finish. However, before the finish, runners must work their way up a river, boulder hopping; it’s a little spice to mix the racing up.
Last year, Jon Albon won the race in style, “USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. It was relentless terrain of ups and downs; the variety is incredible, and I loved the river bed section. This race is up there with my all-time favourites. I will definitely be back!”
For the ladies’ it was Hillary Allen who took the top honours, of course, our thoughts and best wishes go out to Hillary as she slowly but surely returns to fitness and racing after a horrific fall at Tromso SkyRace.
So, who are the 2018 contenders for victory?
One could say, that this year, the USM has the most stacked field ever in the history of the race. It’s a who’s who of the world’s best.
Ragna Debats arguably tops the ladies’ field after her stunning victory at the World Trail Championships, add to this, a super solid 2017 season on the Skyrunning calendar, and she will be the one to beat.
Gemma Arenas has raced in Madeira before and has had great success; she won! Gemma knows the course, knows the challenges and will certainly be in the mix.
Malene Haukoy like technical race, she as placed well in Tromso and Glencoe and the 55km of USM will suit her. One to watch for sure!
Hillary Gerardi goes from strength-to-strength, she likes technical, she loves vert and therefore USM is made for her. Her recent success over the VK distance and top placing at Yading in China means she is in great shape.
Ekaterina Mityaeva like Hillary seems to get stronger with each race. She has just had atop placing at Transvulcania and I think it’s fair to say that the more challenging terrain of Madeira will suit her skills in contrast to the more runnable and faster, Transvulcania.
Emelie Forsberghas been away from the sport over the winter concentrating on Skimo and just this weekend will race Zegama. Zegama for Emelie, despite great success in the past may well be just a little short and fast for this early in the season, so, USM will suit her far more. She is one of the best in the business and you can never rule her out.
Martina Valmassoi was missing for much of 2017 with injury, she is now back and recently had a victory! USM will no doubt be a push this early in the season, but Martina knows the course and has done well in the past.
Nuria Picas was always the one to beat in any Skyrunning race. In recent years, Nuria moved to the longer UTWT series and she excelled at the longer distance. In 2017 she raced Tromso and now in 2018, she runs USM for the first time. It’s Nuria Picas, so, expect something special.
Anna Mae Flynn and Brittany Peterson both raced Transvulcania and just missed the podium. It’s fair to say that USM is far more ‘European’ than Transvulcania… the trails more technical, rutted and challenging, therefore it will be interesting to see how the duo handle the change. One thing is for sure, they both know how to run, Transvulcania showed us that!
Mira Rai would probably prefer a longer course than 55km, however, Mira is always one to watch and USM will be no different. One thing is for sure, she will smile her way around the course.
Jonathan Albon is the returning champ and based on his 2017 race and his overall SWS championship victory, it’s fair to say that he is the favourite for the 2018 win. His recent 4th at the World Trail Champs confirms good form and we all know he prefers technical and challenging terrain.
Dmitry Mityaev gets stronger and stronger, he did well in 2017 and just recently made the podium at Transvulcania, Dmitry will be in the mix in Madeira, for sure.
Marco De Gasperi was 4th in La Palma recently and admitted post-race that he didn’t take enough risks. This was primarily due to the races distance, he rarely races over 42km and Transvulcania’s 75km was an unknown. With USM being 55km, I think we will see a different Marco and is we all know, he is the Skyrunning master!
Pau Capell is an interesting addition to the race. He is without doubt a master over longer distances and as we saw in 2017, he can do welt Skyrunning after a top run at Transvulcania. He is a savvy and clever runner and I expect him to trade blows with the best in Madeira.
Andre Jonsson races everything and usually very consistently. He once led USM from the front only to be passed in the latter stages. I would anticipate he will have a similar tactic in 2018.
Alex Nichols was a pioneer for American’s running in Europe on the Skyrunning circuit. In recent years he has moved to longer distances, in particular, 100-miles. He is a class act who manages to combine speed and technical ability – he is one to watch!
Cody Lind had a tough race in China with a below par performance. That will have no doubt knocked his confidence, but I think we wills him back at the front in Madeira and looking to impact on the front of the race for atop-5and maybe podium.
Franco Colle, Luis Fernandes, Daniel Jung, Armando Teixeira, Phillip Reiterand Fulvio Dapit make up the other main contenders for the male podium, it is going to be an exciting race!
Action starts on Saturday June 2nd at 0600.
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Skyline Scotland has been confirmed as the venue for the 2018 ISF Skyrunning World Championships.
Athletes from all over the world will travel to Kinlochleven, Scotland to do battle over the long established distances of VK, SKY CLASSIC and SKY ULTRA during the month of September in 2018.
The Salomon Mamores VK provides a unique challenge unlike other races in the Vertical Kilometre World Circuit, maybe with the exception of Tromso, as runners run and climb 1000 vertical meters on terrain that is unique to Scotland. It is an incredible leg and lung bursting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. Early winding trails soon stop and wall of heather and bracken lead skywards before the terrain changes to rock.
The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace in just two editions has been hailed as one of the most challenging and rewarding, it has become a favourite in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series and for 2018 the worlds best will battle over uncompromising terrain that includes the Devil’s Ridge. Four peaks, technical terrain, ascents and descents and of course the unpredictable Scottish weather may well prove the ultimate challenge.
The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra will have a re-designed route for 2018 but it will retain the key chartteristics that made the inaugural 2017 edition special. Expect single-tracks, trackless ridges and a climb and traverse of Carn Mor Dearg Arete. Distance will be +/- 65km with 4000m+ of vert (tbc).
The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) have pioneered mountain sports in the sky and the 2018 edition of the Skyrunner World Championships will prove to be a special one, especially for runners in the UK.
The 2017 edition of Skyline Scotland arguably saw the greatest elite fields ever assembled on UK soil for a mountain race, the restive and honour that comes from holding a World Championships is a dream come true for Skyrunning UK and Ourea Events who are the organisers of Skyline Scotland.
Race Director Shane Ohly said, “Salomon Skyline Scotland has exploded from nothing, to the pinnacle mountain running event in the world in just three years. It’s a phenomenal rate of change and organising the event has been some journey! It will be an honour to be trusted with the Skyrunning World Championship in 2018 and I look forward to welcoming the world’s best mountain runners back to Scotland next September.”
Notably, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline will still take place on the same weekend, however, this event will not be in the ISF Skyrunning World Championships but the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.
Dates September 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th 2018
Importantly, from a UK perspective, SKYRUNNING UK will be looking to assemble a UK World Championship team made up of the best male and female Skyrunners. This will be based on ranking and past results. But, if you are interested and feel you have the appropriate skills, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marino Giacometti, ISF President, commented, “We’re very proud and pleased to present the 2018 World Championships in the beautiful Scottish Highlands and, with the organisation of Skyline Scotland, we are confident the events will be a perfect showcase for skyrunning attracting the world’s best athletes for some intense competition on this technical terrain.”
More news and updates will follow in the coming months.
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Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg toed the line with one of the most ‘elite’ fields ever on UK soil for a mountain race. Yes, the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner Extreme Series stepped up a notch and went Extreme! In Scotland for the Salomon Glencoe Skyline.
‘This’ race truly is one of the best races out there!’ Was the consensus when runners finally made it to the finish line. To get across the tape though requires some endurance, skill and the technical ability to climb Curved Ridge and to cross the infamous ‘Aonach Eagach’ ridge.
In the words of Kilian Jornet, ‘What a cool race! Glencoe Skyline is absolutely one (the one) to do!”
Gaining Skyrunner® Extreme Series status has had a huge impact on this race and like Jornet says, this race has become ‘the one’ to do in addition to the iconic KIMA which will take place in 2018 and Jornet’s and Forsberg’s own, TROMSO SkyRace.
No question about it, the 2017 edition of the race had the greatest field ever assembled for a mountain race in the UK with a who’s who of elite runners with runners coming from all over the world to test themselves on the best course against the best runners.
Coming into this edition, Jornet was the hot favourite, how could he not be? The Catalan didn’t disappoint, he opened up a small gap while climbing Curved Ridge but it all came back together again with Jon Albon, Bhim Gurung, Andre Jonsson, Alexis Sevennec and the USA’s Max King keeping in contention. As they climbed to Aonach Eagach Jornet made his move extending away from Albon. Albon re-caught him though and apparently took Jornet by surprise. Jornet looked around and moved into the next gear pulling away from the 2016 Skyrunner Extreme Champion. By the time he reached the finish line, a new course record was his in 6:25:39!
Last years winner Albon was ‘first human’ in 2nd place in 6:31:45. Importantly for him though, 2nd place confirmed that he would also be the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion once again – a great result.
Alexis Sevennec placed 3rd, a race that for him is a little long (his words) but after racing the Mamores VK and Ring of Steel in 2016, he wanted a new challenge, 3rd on the podium 6:40:34 a great result.
Bhim Gurung placed 4th and Max King 5th. King went on to say, ‘This race is crazy, off-the-scale, mad, beautiful and just an outright challenge – it is amazing!’
In the ladies’ race, Emelie Forsberg lead from the gun and although Megan Kimmel pushed her close in the early stages, this race had Forsberg’s name written all over it! She won the first edition in 2015, missed 2016 with injury and now the comeback is complete. Forsberg beamed her amazing smile on the course and after it. ‘I so love this race and Scotland. It reminds me of Norway but it is also so different, just amazing!’ In the process, like Jornet it was a course record performance setting the new level at 7:53:30.
The USA’s Megan Kimmel is not known for her ability on technical terrain but here she excelled keeping on contact with Forsberg early on and then consolidating a strong 2nd place ahead of the indestructible Ragna Debats. The duo finished in 8:14:57 and 8:22:55 respectively.
Importantly, Maite Maiora who won the Royal Gran Paradiso and Tromso SkyRace did not run in Scotland as she already had the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series Extreme title secure with two victories.
Ever-present in the Extreme series, Malene Bikken Haukoy placed 4th and the UK’s Beth Pascall 5th, their times 8:26:53 and 8:34:14.
The Salomon Glencoe Skyline route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race traverses high and remote mountainous terrain, which is at times impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather. The day started in glorious sunshine but as predicted, a weather system arrived late morning bringing in cloud and clag, however, conditions remained dry. The crossing off the Aonach Eagach was considered the most challenging part of the route and although rocks were slippery, many considered conditions to be good.
The Salomon Mamores VK™ kicked off the Skyline Scotland weekend of racing with the UK’s one ever VK (Vertical Kilometre), part pf the new for 2017 Vertical Kilometer World Circuit. The pure ethos of ‘sea-to-summit’ provided all runners with a challenging 1000m vertical climb over a distance of 5km in a course that was split into thirds.
The first third was runnable trail that may well have lulled everyone into a false sense of security. What followed was a wall of vertical fell with no path, a line of red flags showed a direct line up a muddy green wall/
A stunning rocky ridge concluded the race with expansive views of the surrounding area that lead to the summit at 1000m+.
Scottish weather played its part as anyone would expect, glorious sunshine, heavy clouds, winds, rain and light showers provided and impressive and dramatic backdrop to the stunning climb.
Experienced Skyrunner, Stian Angermund-Vik (VK world champion) paved the way in the race looking strong, calm and relaxed to seal victory in 42:04. Sam Tosh was a surprise second squeezing ahead of last year’s winner, Frenchman, Alexis Sevennec, their times 42:38 and 42:44.
Laura Orgue from Spain, the pre-race favourite, once again showed her class with a strong and convincing performance to take the lead ahead of the UK’s Beth Hanson. Like in the men’s race a surprise second! Their times 52:22 and 52:26. Emelie Forsberg loosened her legs ahead of Sunday’s Extreme race placing 3rd in 52:50
Following the well established International Skyrunning Federation ‘VK’ format, participants followed a marked course gaining 1000m of height in less than 5km. Participants were set off at timed intervals with the winner having the fastest overall time to the summit.
The route does not include technical terrain that requires any technical scrambling or rock climbing experience, however, it’s tough!