Stage 5 of the 2021 Pyrenees Stage Run may well just be the ‘best’ one. Of course, it’s all subjective and when all stage have their highlights, it’s hard to choose. However, if you love tough mountain days, stage 5 is a doozy!
The predicted bad weather came early with persistent rain and at times, strong winds. However, it didn’t deter from the type 2 fun, actually, it added to it!
Leaving Arinsal, it was straight climb all the way to the Refugi Compadreose (2260m) and the first aid station. It was here the rain came and the temperature dropped with just 5km covered.
A short flat section and then the climb to Portella de Baiau at 2756m and the highest point of the PSR. The terrain was challenging, slippery and difficult – just perfect! The lakes providing some visual splendour in the great wet mist.
The scree descent was a highlight of the day, however, for some, it would be terrifying… It’s like skiing on rocks!
Rolling terrain, technical single-track and finally the next aid station at La Molinassa (1806m) with 16km covered. The elapsed time on watches reflecting how difficult the run so far had been.
Now easy running all the way to Àreu aid station and 24.7km.
From here, the Coll de Tudela beckoned at 2240m, a straight VK (vertical kilometre) in 5km. Just perfect at 25kmm in a 40km day.
From the summit the run down to Boldís Sobirà at 1488m was non-technical and arguably some of the easiest running of the day. Over the next 4km, there was some small rollercoaster terrain before the sharp, steep and technical drop to the line at Tavascan (1140m) – what a day!
Tomorrow, stage 6 is 26.34km with 1635m+ crossing the Natural Park of Alt Pirineu in the middle of magnificent forests, and ending up to Esterri d’Aneu, close to the National Park of Aigüestortes i Sant Maurici.
The Pyrenees Stage Run would not be possible without the main sponsorship of Turga Active Wear, Garmin, Puigcerdà, Encamp (And) Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror and bifree sports.
Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.
Winter running, day or night, is special that provides a very different experience to running in the hopefully warm, dry, sunny and balmy days of Spring, Summer and Autumn. In all honesty, winter running for me and many others is often preferable, just a shame we can’t have the same amount of daylight hours as Summer brings.
All running, particularly in the mountains, remote areas and particularly if going ‘solo’ brings an element of danger that must be managed. Winter and extreme conditions do increase risk from many aspects and this article is designed to help you make the correct decisions even before you start any running adventure.
No two runners are the same and experience and knowledge are a key bonus when it comes to any running, especially in challenging conditions. So, firstly, understand yourself and your level of experience. This will make your enjoyment and comfort on any adventure enhanced. As tip, start with short days and as your experience, knowledge and understanding increases, you can then venture farther and longer. Even contemplating multi-day/ fast packing adventures. Read an article HERE.
What am I doing?
Where am I doing it?
When I am doing it?
What are the options exist to cut short my adventure?
How remote will I be?
What are the risks involved?
What weather can I expect?
What is the worst-case scenario?
Preparation is key and assessing what ‘may’ happen on any adventure or run is crucially important to make sure that a day or multiple day’s activity remains safe.
Weather can change in minutes at any time of the year, especially in a mountain environment. In winter the changes can often be far more extreme, a cold dry day can suddenly become wet, windy with sub-zero temperatures. Hypothermia can hit in minutes. Understand this and prepare accordingly.
Solo adventures are invigorating; however, risks are increased significantly in this scenario. Sprain an ankle (or worse) and become immobilized in bad weather and this becomes a high-alert scenario. So, not only should you have equipment and apparel that will help you survive a situation like this, but you should also have technology to make you safe. A mobile phone (with enough battery) is compulsory and a tracking device, such as a Garmin InReach would be a perfect all-scenario safety device that with the press of a button can obtain SOS support. But remember, at all costs, emergency services are not a comfort blanket that allows you to cut corners. Prepare properly.
Running with a friend adds safety and a natural back-up scenario, so consider this. Women in particular may feel far more secure running in company.
When planning routes, think of short cuts, options to deviate to reduce distance/ time and never push on or let ego dictate. The trails and mountains will always be there. Turning back is a strength not a weakness.
Pace, particularly on longer adventures, will typically be slower in winter due to underfoot conditions and weather conditions. In cold, icy and sub-zero temperatures, sweating is not a friend, particularly should you be forced to move slower or stop, so, think about this and regulate pace to help minimize sweat rates.
Finally, it’s always wise telling family or friends when you are going on adventure, where you are going with proposed route and when you will return. This is a great back-up to have others looking out for you. Of course, this doesn’t need to happen for a daily 5 or 10km run.
The equipment you will use and how much equipment you will take will depend on the type of adventure you are undertaking and how long that adventure will take. This harks back to the ‘experience’ as outlined above. Needless to say, winter will almost always require you to carry more. If running on the road and in public places, make sure you can be seen with reflective items.
Keeping your core warm is essential and without doubt using a merino wool base layer (or similar) with an optional small zip neck for your body is key. Merino wool in particular has an ability to retain warmth, even when wet or damp. Top tip: Take a spare base layer in your pack on runs.
PROTECTION and WARMTH
As mentioned in the ‘Getting Layered’ article, you will need to adapt the body layers for the weather you will run in and the weather that you ‘may’ encounter. A mid-layer will provide warm and this can be made of a product like Polartec, Primaloft or Down. Consider balancing warmth, size and weight. On a personal note, I use a Polartec layer as my standard warmth layer and then carry a ‘treated’ Down jacket (this can get wet and still be warm) in my pack as an essential warmth layer. The final layer will be a waterproof with taped seams, this layer will protect from extreme wind and rain. Zips on mid and outer layers add weight but they are essential for being able to regulate temperature.
A hat is essential for retaining heat within the body, *“even if the rest of your body is nicely wrapped up, if your head is uncovered, you’ll lose lots of body heat — potentially up to 50% of it — in certain cold-weather conditions.” You can regulate temperature while running by simply adding and removing a hat. Wear a Buff or similar around your neck.
Protect your eyes, particularly in snow. You can get specific lenses designed to enhance vision in winter conditions.
Hands and feet are a huge problem area in winter, particularly if you suffer with Raynaud’s. Keeping your core warm immediately helps keep extremities warmer as the body naturally abandons extremities (hands and feet) to protect vital organs. For feet, just like the core, merino socks are superb starting point for warmth, even if wet. However, if you anticipate feet to get wet repeatedly and in sub-zero temperatures, you will need to think about other options. A good example being neoprene socks that are warm when dry and should you get feet wet, they are designed to retain warmth when wet by insulating the water between foot and sock. You need to be careful of trench foot should feet remain wet for too long. For hands, a merino liner sock is ideal as a starting point and then a mitt over the top adds warmth and insulation. Mitts are always warmer than gloves and if you do not require finger dexterity, they are always preferable for warmth. Consider having multiple mitts of different warmth levels to that you can adapt to the weather. Also consider longer socks that come higher than the ankle, especially important if running in snow. Top tip: Take spare gloves and socks on any run.
Shorts are not a good idea in winter, keeping leg muscles warm is essential for comfort and the ability to function properly, so, use tights. Ultimately, you may require multiple tight options starting with a simple Lycra product and moving up to insulated tights with wind blocker. Of course, carrying a waterproof pant with taped seams is also an essential for winter. Add them to your pack and do not compromise, you may not require them for over 90% of your runs, but when you need them you need them.
There is no definitive winter shoe and, in many scenarios, the shoe you usually run in will work fine. However, if you have snow and ice, you will almost certainly need to consider other options. There is an in-depth article HERE but for me, a winter ‘stud’ shoe is my go-to for all my runs. In simple terms, it is often a conventional run shoe with metal studs added to provide grip in ice and challenging conditions. They are a game changer. Winter shoes are often insulated so as to keep feet warmer. Top tip: Consider socks and consider that you may wear multiple socks or thicker socks, this may require that you a larger shoe but be careful, particularly in the propulsive phase as this can make the shoe bend differently behind the metatarsals.
You will almost certainly require a larger pack for winter runs. A 12-15 ltr is probably ideal for long days and if fastpacking, 20-30 ltr would be normal. Top tip: Use dry bags inside to protect key layers and where possible use several that are different coloured, so you know which is an insulating layer and which is an outer layer.
FOOD and HYDRATION
Just like on any run, calories and hydration are essential. Winter and in particular the cold can easily make you forget to drink, make it a habit. Cold and extreme weather will also burn more calories, so, keep the fire stoked. Plan runs that take in a cafe, hut or lodge stop. If you do the latter, you need to balance losing hard earn warmth and then going back out in the cold. This is where carrying a spare base layer can be a great idea. If in remote locations, you need to consider re-supplying. Importantly, streams that provide water in summer may well be frozen in winter. Also, bottles may well freeze if exposed to sub-zero conditions, so, consider insulated bottles, using warm water and maybe keeping bottles in a pack, wrapped in clothing to retain warmth and reduce freezing possibilities.
The more experience you have, the greater your winter challenge may be. Always have the correct equipment, for example, ice axe, crampons, rope, harness, hand spikes, snowshoes and so on. A Bivvy bag is an essential when in remote locations for safety, in addition, always carry a head torch as a just in case scenario should a run take longer than anticipated.
Read about a winter expedition to the Atlas Mountains HERE
EXAMPLE EQUIPMENT LIST
As a start point, you will be wearing the following applicable to the conditions:
In the pack:
Spare base layer.
Insulating layer (down or primaloft)
Waterproof layers, top and bottom.
Headtorch and spare batteries.
Bivvy bag/ space blanket.
Heat pads for hands and feet.
Embrace winter. It’s a great time of year to explore. Respect the conditions and if you follow the above, you will almost certainly have safer and more enjoyable outings. Accidents do happen at any time of the year, in winter, risks do increase so respect the conditions. Accept that you will go slower in winter.
Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.
Mountains dominate the life of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten. It’s not a job; it’s a passion that dominates 12+ hours of every day. They are the visionaries of the sport, Skyrunning. In 1989, Marino set a record running from the village of Alagna to the summit of Monte Rosa. It laid the foundations of the sport and now, 25-years after the first official event in 1993, Lauri and Marino return to the birthplace. Introducing Europe’s highest race. Following in the footsteps of the race where it all began in the Italian Alps, retracing the original course to the summit of Monte Rosa at 4,554m from the town of Alagna.
Iconic names such as Bruno Brunod and Fabio Meraldi are once again being talked about in the same breath as Kilian Jornet.
“Older generations were already Skyrunners. My grandfather crossed the mountains working for example. ‘We’ as Skyrunners added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunners have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says, “What I liked was going quickly to the summit. I felt the same when I was a kid in the pastures, I always ran up and down the summits that surrounded me. It is something I felt inside, something I liked.”
Marino was a visionary and many like to call him the ‘Father’ of Skyrunning.
“Skyrunning differs to other sports and this is the discipline we launched in the mid 1990’s. Skyrunning has always existed; all across the world it is just that it became a formalised sport. I therefore consider myself the father of Skyrunning for the aspect of race organisation because when it started 25-years ago nobody talked about this.”
So now, 2018, 25-years in the making, the sport’s founders present an exclusive new event, this time in teams of two, roped together to race in true skyrunning style across moraine, snow fields and glaciers for 35 kilometres with an astonishing 7,000m ascent and descent.
Marino and Bruno in the Aosta valley
Just as Bruno Brunod was Kilian’s hero. Kilian followed his dreams from the inspiration Bruno provided, Kilian is now the epitome of Skyrunning and along with Emelie Forsberg, the duo will line-up top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions aiming to challenge the incredible records set in 1994 by Italians Fabio Meraldi in 4h24’ and Gisella Bendotti in 5h34′.
Fabio Meraldi will be present at the race but not participating. Bruno Brunod unfortunately is unable to attend due to a prior commitment. Marco De Gasperi, the Italian legend, laid the foundations for his incredible Skyrunning career on the slopes of Monte Rosa when just at the age of 16, he was given special permission to run to the summit and back. He will also join the party in Alagna.
Marino and Fabio Meraldi at Trofeo Kima
Kilian Jornet confirms he will run the race with his partner, Emelie Forsberg. Lauri and Marino first met Kilian in 2006, “he impressed immediately,” Marino says. “He was a natural Skyrunner. We all know the history; he was born in the mountains and as such he has just developed in an organic way. As I said, a natural.”
A timely reminder of Fast and Light
The stage is set for 2018’s most spectacular Skyrunning event.
The course retraces 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.
Friday 22 June
0900 race office open
1800 Mandatory race briefing
Saturday 23 June
0600 Race start (the race has a 24-hour window for bad weather, so, the start may be postponed to Sunday 24 June.
1030 First athlete arrival
This race is unique and therefore experienced athletes will only take part. One may almost consider this to be an exhibition event. Athletes are responsible for their own safety and equipment but specific requirements are necessary. For example, from the Indren cable car, teams must be roped together via an approved harness. They must have two carabiners, micro metal crampons are essential and poles are required.
The race brings much experience from the ski and mountaineering world, and therefore, on first glance one may not recognise many of the names listed. Especially if looking at this from a ‘run’ perspective. Therefore, below I will concentrate on the names that crossover from the run/ Skyrunning world:
FORSBERG and JORNET
SYMONDS and OWENS
GERARDI and PAGE
– Hillary Gerardi
Lefort and Rozados
Paloncy and Mann
Tomasiak and Kaars Sijpesteijn
Zanchi and Fernando
and many more….
The 2018 Monte Rosa Skymarathon is a new moment for the sport… As races over the world increase and lines get crossed, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon goes back to the roots of Skyrunning in the place of it’s birth.
The torrential rain and thunderstorms from 2016 became a distant memory as finally, after two-years on an ‘alternative’ course, the Limone VK finally took place on the original route.
A day of blue skies and October warmth welcomed the runners as they assembled on the banks of Lake Garda ahead of the 6pm start.
As darkness arrived, they were released onto the mountain, the elite wave starting at 7pm.
Climbing 1100m, the course is a relentless 3km long with the glowing lights of Limone village and Lake Garda in the backeround – the darkness broken by the head torches of runners as they cover the distance as quickly as possible.
Starting at 60m altitude from Lugolago Marconi, the VK takes a straight line up the impressive mountains that back onto Limone culminating at the finish in Nembra via Dooso Dei Roveri. Rocky waterfalls, via ferratta, wooded forest and technical trail – the Limone VK has it all.
Philip Gotsh and Christel Dewalle won the race ahead of a strong field.
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 Glen Coe Skyline series of races are upon us – a stunning weekend of Skyrunning! From the short, sharp and brutal VK in the VK World Circuit, to the long, demanding and challenging ultra – this weekend will be the pinnacle event of racing in the UK in 2017 and sees three events in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series
With the exception of World Championship events or the Olympics, the Glen Coe Skyline events will without doubt have the greatest elite field ever assembled on UK soil of sky, trail and mountain runners. It’s a who’s who of the Skyrunning world with the best all assembled in one place in what will be an absolutely incredible weekend of racing.
Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Max King, Caroline Chaverot, Laura Orgue, Jan Margarit, Maite Maiora, Ragna Debats, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker, Pascal Egli, Bhim Gurung, Mira Rai and so many more will head to Scotland.
The highlight event is without doubt the brutal, demanding, challenging and yes, dangerous, Glen Coe Skyline Extreme Race™ which will see 264 vetted runners take on what has become one of the most challenging events in the world. It’s up there with Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Trofeo Kima. Following in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races the race fuses mountain running and alpinism, the extreme race is a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course. At 55km with 4,750m of vertical gain, this race personifies Skyrunning, it includes the most challenging Scottish mountain terrain with a traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge.
Ok, take a breath! Kilian Jornet will race on UK soil and on a course that it is fair to say, exactly his thing! It’s technical, pure Skyrunning, offers an incredible technical challenge – all things the Catalan loves. KJ needs no introduction to anyone, he just placed 2nd at UTMB, he won Sierre-Zinal and he summited Everest twice in one week and he won Hardrock 100 single-handedly, and that is just 2017. To see Jornet race this course in the UK is a dream come true.
But Jornet will have his hands full with Tromso SkyRace winner and GlenCoe Skyline 2016 champion, Jon Albon. Importantly, Albon is tied on SWS points with Nepalese runner Bhim Gurung. These two will have a race within a race, the first past the line will be the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champion for 2017.
Let’s not also forget that Tom Owens is running! Add to the mix USA legend Max King and world class competition – Hector Haines, Andre Jonsson, Cody Lind, Martin Gaffuri, Pere Aurell, Rolf Einar Jensen, Roger Vinas,Konrad Rawlik and the UK’s Oli Johnson – we have the most exciting race ever on UK soil!
For the ladies, Emelie Forsberg is back to a race that she loves! This race has figured highly on Forsberg’s calendar and she has meticulously prepared in 2017 by slowly coming back to racing after knee surgery in 2016.
Ragna Debats will push Forsberg every step of the way. The lady from the flatlands of the Netherlands is having a stunning year and recently won at the RUT in the USA and placed 2nd at Tromso SkyRace. Caroline Chaverot was unstoppable in 2016, won Hardrock 100 earlier this year but recently withdrew from UTMB after winning in 2016. If she is recovered and fit, she will be a contender for sure, however, the technical terrain will be a challenge.
Other top contenders will be Megan Kimmel from the USA who was unstoppable early season. Malene Bikken Haukoy, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Katie Schide, Kimberly Storm, Natalia Tomasiak, Martina Valmassoi, Zuzana Urbancova, Kelly Wolf,Ann-Marie Madden and the UK’s Beth Pascall.
The weekend kicks off with the Salomon Mamores VK™, an incredible leg burning and lung-busting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. It is also iconic as it is the UK’s only Vertical Kilometer®. Following the well-established ISF (International Skyrunning Federation( ‘VK’ format, 298 participants will follow a marked course climbing 1000m of vertical gain in less than 5km’s. Departing at timed intervals, it’s like an epic stage of the Tour de France as runners push their limits – the fastest overall time to the summit is the winner!
Stian Angermund-Vik heads up a world-class field for the men and Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race. Also watch out for Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker and Ondrej Fejfar in the men’s race.
Saturday brings us the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ which is a pure ‘classic’ following in the tradition of Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace. It consists of uncompromising mountain running with scrambling along mountain ridges. Traversing ridges are followed by technical ascents and descents, it’s a challenging race to push the most experienced Skyrunner to the limit. The Devil’s Ridge provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead, and in total four peaks will be summited.
Last year, in its inaugural event, the race was won by Stian Angermund-Vik and he returns to do battle again! He is going to have a battle on his hands with Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi coming to race on UK soil along with Pascal Egli, Jan Margarit, Kiril Nikolov, the Casal Mir brothers of Oscar and Marc, Rok Bratina, Andy Wacker and the UK’s Jayson Cavill and Ben Hukins. It is set to be an epic battle. Egli, Angermund-Vik, De Gasperi and Margarit have all been on fire in 2017 and to see them go head-to-head on Scottish soil will be amazing.
Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race but she also will have a fight on her hands. Laura recently won the RUT VK and SkyRace so comes to Scotland with great form. Maite Maiora though has been unstoppable in 2017 with victories across the Skyrunning calendar, just recently she placed 2nd at CCC. Sheila Aviles is a likely podium contender and yes, maybe even winner after a strong performance at Comapedrossa. Also watch Oihana Azkorbebeitia, Katrine Vilumsen and Laura Sola.
The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ uses remote runnable tracks, technical single track, and airy trackless ridges, the highlight and highpoint coming with a climb and traverse via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, leading to the summit of Ben Nevis. This is one seriously tough race, especially when one considers the demanding 120km course and 4000m + of vertical gain! Starting from the southern shore of the world-famous Loch Ness, the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ follows a route through remote Scottish Highland Glens, before finishing at the Skyline Scotland™ Event Centre in Kinlochleven.
Dmitry Mityaev heads up the men’s race and he will have a fight on his hand with local runner, Donnie Campbell. Lakeland 100 winner and 8th place at the 2017 CCC, Michael Jones, will also be one to watch. Csaba Nemeth and Nuno Silva add to an incredibly stacked male field.
For the ladies, Nepalese sensation Mira Rai will be a strong favourite, however, the ever-present and indestructible Andrea Huser will toe the line after recently placing 2nd at UTMB. This is going to be an epic battle! Also keep an eye on the USA’s Kristina Pattison and local lady, Rachel Campbell.
Skyrunning UK was created four years ago with the dream of bringing the best-of-the-best to UK soil, this weekend, that dream becomes a reality. I for one cannot wait!
The 4th edition of the Tromsø SkyRace®, the second race in the new 2017 Migu RunSkyrunner® World Series in the Extreme category took place today in Tromso, Norway.
The brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, you just know it’s going to be possibly one of the toughest races out there. What it lacks in high-altitude it makes up for with relentless tough climbs, technical terrain, exposed ridges, snow and downright toughness.
“It was crazy, but it was awesome! Certainly, one of the most difficult races in the world!”
Hundreds of runners departed from the new (2016) start and finish outside The Edge Hotel, Tromso. It must be noted, that this new start and finish adds 8km’s onto the 2014/2015 route.
The route takes in 2 mountain summits: Tromsdalstind (1.238m) and Hamperokken (1.404m) – the route very much looks like a figure eight and Tromsdalstind must be run twice; out and back! Covering approximately 56km with 4600m of elevation gain, this is not an easy race!
The race requires a level of skill, devotion and commitment that not every runner has – it is pure Skyrunning!
Skyrunner® World Series Extreme champion and Tromso winner Jon Albon once again dominated this course with a solid performance that left a world-class field chasing.
“The Hamperokken ridge is difficult. In contrast to last year, we seemed to go over the ridge more, I guess this was due to the dry conditions?” Albon said post-race. “This route was technically more challenging and slower. You need both hands on many occasions. It’s such a great race!”
Yading SkyRace winner and Royal Gran Paradiso champion, Bhim Gurung from Nepal put up a great fight for Albon. The duo much stronger than the rest of the competition. The technical nature of Tromso suits Albon and his obstacle racing background, whereas for Gurung it’s a new challenge. Something he learnt last year when he won the iconic Trofeo Kima in 2016 with a course record.
Albon crossed the line in 7:01:01 and Gurung 7:08:58 – it was that close! We then had to wait 20-minutes before France’s Michel Lanne placed 3rd. He had been at the front of the race all day and he went on to say afterwards, “Wow, what a race. This is why I love Skyrunning! I didn’t have the legs today but I ran this race on my mind. The views, the landscape, the terrain is just so amazing. I am looking forward to a return to Skyrunning – I hope to go to Glen Coe!”
Lavaredo winner Fabien Antolinos placed 4th and Reynaud Gael 5th, their times 7:32:06 and 7:32:46 to Lanne’s 7:27:26.
The ladies race was dictated by pre-race favourite, Maite Maiora who is having an incredible year. She arrived at Hamperokken ridge in 1st. Looking relaxed and composed but without doubt focused on the technical terrain.
Over the final half of the course Maite extended her lead and victory was never in doubt.
Ragna Debats followed looking good and Nuria Picas was in 3rd.On the descent, Picas passed Debats who was having some stomach issues. The first three ladies all close within 10-minutes. Maiora though was too strong and maintained a lead at the front and she went on to take victory in a new course record 8:21:21.
Debats rallied behind and her stomach issues improved allowing her to once again pass Picas. She was pushing Maiora but it wasn’t enough, she finished 2nd in 8:24:43 (also under the old course record) just over 4-minutes behind Maiora – a great battle! Picas rounded out the podium in 8:39:17 with Malene Bikken Haukoy and Maija Oravamaki placing 5th.
One thing is for sure, Kilian and Emelie have created something quite special in Tromso, it has set the stage for the Salomon Glencoe Skyline and the conclusion of the Skyrunner® Extreme Series a race that both Kilian and Emelie will participate in. The ‘Extreme’ series may not be for everyone but Skyrunner’s can dream to achieve the skill level and fitness required to take part in the ultimate mountain running experience.
Tom Owens is without doubt one of the most inspiring runners from the UK who performs consistently on the world stage. Fell runner, ultra runner and Skyrunner, Tom has pushed the world best.
Back in the day, Tom forged a reputation for himself with Andy Symonds at the Transalpine run where the duo were a formidable force. In recent years, Tom has mixed fell running and Skyrunning. In 2012, Tom placed 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at the iconic Trofeo Kima, he looked set to dominate the Skyrunning circuit but injury hit. Time away and keeping fit doing cyclocross, it was 2014 when the Glasgow based runner finally re-emerged at Transvulcania.
Transvulcania was a surprise return… renowned for running shorter races, Tom stepped up to 70+km – an unknown commodity. Class shone through and he placed 6th. A 3rd at Ice Trail Tarentaise and then 4th at Trofeo Kima and we all knew – Tom was back.
2015 started really well with a win overseas at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia, 6th at Matterhorn Ultraks and arguably his best result came with 4th in the IAU Trail World Championships in Annecy.
Roll on to 2016 and Tom focused on the Skyrunning Extreme Series that combined all the elements that make Tom, the great runner that he is. Technical trails, altitude, distance and an ability to adapt to an ever-changing landscape. Victory at Tromso SkyRace and 5th at Trofeo Kima set Tom up for a potential overall title.
Going into the Glencoe Skyline, a head-to-head being Tom and Jon Albon whet everyones appetites. On the day, Albon excelled and it was 2nd for the Scot.
As 2016 comes to a close, Tom is looking ahead to 2017. Not known for his ability to handle heat and humidity, I wondered why Costa Rica?
“It looks beautiful, exciting and warm! I always like to escape the Scottish Winter for a week big volume warm weather running in January or February – it seems to set me up well for the rest of the year.”
And what about the heat and humidity?
“The heat and humidity will be massively challenging. I’ve not worked out how to run well in these conditions. It will be my first big block of running in 2017 and so interesting to see how the body holds up. I also find running in sand really tough…”
Costa Rica may well prove to be much more of a test of running. We all know Tom can handle the rough and technical stuff – the river and bouldering sections will put the fell/ Skyrunner in the terrain that he loves. But Costa Rica will have sand too, albeit not soft sand. It may well be a whole new learning curve.
“It’s going to be real challenge for sure but that is what makes it interesting! I will be at a disadvantage against pure multi-day runners but I will embrace it. Running day-after day is not really a problem, I love the technical stuff but it’s the heat and humidity that will really test me as I have already mentioned. I have really suffered in such races with cramps (I’m a big sweater) such as at Transvulcania, Buffalo Stampede and the recent World Trail Champs.”
Scotland and the UK is not going to be the ideal place train for a Costa Rican race in February, I wondered if Tom had any specific training plans to be prepared?
“I’m looking forward to trying some different strategies to cope with the heat – I hope the TCC will help me with the some of the other objectives that will take place in remainder of the year. In regard to training, I will aim to get back into regular running mid/late December or early January and build up some endurance. Beyond Coastal Challenge I have no 2017 plans yet. I only ended the 2016 season a couple of days ago – it was a really long (from Feb till end October) and fun season but now i’m enjoying a break and not doing any planning at the moment.”
Competition in the men’s race will be fierce, the recent announcement of Sondre Amdahl’s participation will no doubt focus the mind of Tom and the other male competitors. But a physical and mental rest is required before thinking about 2017. One thing is for sure, Tom always races to win and he will be prepared come February.
About the race:
The Coastal Challenge is a multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.
Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.
Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.
The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.
The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series draws to a conclusion in Limone, Italy. The stunning Lake Garda and the mountains that back onto this iconic location provide a wonderful playground to Friday’s VK and Sunday’s SkyRace.
It’s been a long season of Skyrunning with many new races, new experiences and with four champions already announced – Jasmin Paris and Jon Albon for the EXTREME and Cristofer Clemente and Gemma Arenas for the ULTRA – VK and SKY champions will be confirmed in Italy.
VK starts – 1800 Friday Oct 14th/ 3.7km 1080m+
Ferran Teixido currently leads the 2016 VK ranking ahead of Jan Margarit Sole and Andrej Fejfar. All three will race in Limone looking for maximum points and the crucial 20% bonus. For the ladies, Laura Orgue leads Christel Dewalle and Maria Zorroza – as with the men, the top 3 contenders will race.
But the racing does not stop there, arguably, Limone Extreme VK has the best VK line-up of the year with a multitude of talent toeing the line. Marco Moletto, Hannes Perkman, Nejc Kuhar, Rolf Einar Jensen, Luka Kovacic and the unstoppable Urban Zemmer. It’s going to be a seriously competitive race but more top names will contest the top 3 podium places.
Pascal Egli and Alexis Sevennec will race hard along with Oriol Cardona Coll. Pere Rullan may also race after long injury problems and the possibility of Philip Goetsch racing against Remi Bonnet and Stian Angermund is a very exciting prospect. This may well be a course record year!
Racing in the ladies’ race is equally competitive, for sure, Laura Orgue and Christel Dewalle and pre-race favourites but Francesca Rossi, Serena Vittori, Oihana Kortazar, Beatrice Deflorian and Celia Chiron amongst others will push hard up the winding trails to the summit that looks over Lake Garda.
A unique feature of the Limone Extreme VK is that start time! Starting as darkness arrives, the runners ascend the 1000m under the illumination of head torches as lights of Limone glow in the background – it is a truly spectacular VK!
SKY – 11am Saturday Oct 15th/ 27km 2450m+
Tadei Pivk heads up the 2016 Skyrunner World Series ranking with Hassan Ait Chaou and Pablo Villa Gonzales in 3rd. Young gun, Jan Margarit Sole is placed 4th and he may will be a surprise contender for a top 3 placing but he will have a tough fight from the Casal Mir brothers, Oscar and Marc. In addition, Kiril Nikolov, Adrien Michaud, Alexis Sevennec and Andre Jonsson will run – victory could come from any of these top runners.
But as in the VK, the list does not stop there; Ondrej Fejfar, Aritz Egea, Albert Garcia, Rolf Einar Jensen and a potential victory may well come from Mr. Skyrunning, Marco De Gasperi. But ultimately, Remi Bonnet will return after a year plagued by injury. Last year he dominated the Limone SkyRace and VK, can he do it again?
If he does, he will have to beat the Skyrunning World Champion for the VK and SKY distance, Stian Angermund. Stian has been on fire in 2016 and is without doubt a favourite for victory! Salomon will also send Micha Steiner, Davide Magnini, Stian Aarvik and Stefan Knopf.
As stated, the line-up for the Limone Extreme SkyRace is extensive and dark horses will no doubt appear from the sidelines.
Megan Kimmel has been on fire in 2016 and leads the Skyrunner World Series ahead of Laura Orgue and Ragna Debats. Last year, Megan had a below performance at Limone and it lost her the Series title, I don’t think that will happen this year! Laura has had a long year of racing and has shown some fatigue at times, however, she has had an opportunity to recover recently and for sure she will push Megan all the way to the line.
Yngvild Kaspersen will also run and has great potential for a podium place. Caroline Chaverot (Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra-distance) is a surprise entry and my gut reaction is that this race will be too short for her? It will certainly be interesting to see how she performs – she is an incredible talent!
Celia Chiron, Sheila Castano, Aitziber Ibarbia, Michaela Mertova, Maria Zorroza and Nuria Dominguez all add to a stellar line-up!
Skyrunning was born in Italy, it only seems appropriate that the traditions and ethos created on the slopes of the snowy Alps should now be carried forward on new mountains and in new places such as the Creste Della Mughera mountains that back on to Limone sul Garda.
Race website here VK information here SkyRace information here
Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott Running, Compressport 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
Extreme! Yes, it was… that was the consensus as the Skyline Scotland’s Salomon Glencoe Skyline drew to a conclusion after only its 2nd edition.
Last year, Skyrunning superstar Emelie Forsberg, travelled to Scotland to take part in the first edition of the race. She placed 2nd overall and won the female category. After the race she said that ‘this’ race truly is one of the best races out there!
Cut to 2016 and Skyline Scotland developed a VK race and SKY race to join the Glencoe Skyline which had gained the approval from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) to be one of three races that would make a new ‘SkyExtreme’ category in 2016. This three race series also include Tromso SkyRace and the iconic, Trofeo Kima.
Many had said that Skyrunning in the UK was not possible.
Ask again – not one participant in the 2016 edition of the race would question the legitimacy of how extreme this race was.
Gaining Skyrunner® Extreme Series status also has a huge impact on the participants taking part. It’s fair to say, that the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the greatest fields ever assembled for a mountain race.
Coming into this edition, Jonathan Albon and Tom Owens were the hot favourites to take away the title of Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion and in the ladies race, Jasmin Paris after victory in Tromso was a likely female champion.
The race played out as expected with Tom Owens and Jon Albon pushing each other throughout the early stages of the race with strong competition coming from Marc Lauenstein, Finlay Wild and Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet. It was Jonathan Albon though that snapped the elastic pulling away for Tom Owens running on home soil. Pre-race predictions were blown out of the water and Jonathan crossed the line first in a blistering 6:33:52. To put this time in perspective, it is over 1-hour faster than the 2015 course with additional distance and vertical gain.
Tom Owens suffered with foot issues throughout the race but battled all the time. He finished 2nd in 6:37:21. Zegama-Aizkorri and Matterhorn Ultraks winner Marc Lauenstein, although not competing for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series title was always a potential contender for victory or the podium and he didn’t disappoint in finishing 3rd in 6:54:37. As Marc came to the end of one of the more technical sections of the race, the infamous Aonach Eagach, he said, “This is one seriously technical and challenging race!”
Local man and Ben Nevis expert, Finlay Wild placed 4th and Greg Vollet 5th, their times 7:00:57 and 7:10:19.
In the ladies’ race, Jasmin Paris lead from the gun and although Ruth Croft did catch her at one point, Jasmin placed her foot on the gas and pulled away becoming not only a convincing Salomon Glencoe Skyline winner but also a Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion. Quite incredible when you consider that just recently she placed 6th at UTMB. Jasmin’s time of 8:15:56 will be considered a CR for this new course.
Malene Bikken Haukoy ran a savvy race pacing herself in the early stages to move up through the field and eventually place 2nd in the ladies’ race in 8:23:04. Her podium finish in Tromso SkyRace also providing valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.
Sarah Ridgway is now the leader of the Skyrunning UK Series and her 3rd place on the ladies podium showed incredible consistency, her time 8:44:40.
Ruth Croft found today’s course a challenge after placing 2nd at Trofeo Kima recently. Despite difficulties though, Ruth ran a strong race gaining valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.
Martina Valmassoi rounded out the top 5.
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 making the crossing off the Aonach Eagach a wet one with limited visibility due to clag and mist.
As expected, the race had many dropouts due to the severe course and inclement weather in the latter half of the day. Ultimately though, the feedback and response has been incredible.
2016 was the start of really big things for the UK Skyrunning scene and the Salomon Glencoe Skyline is not only paving the way and setting the benchmark within the UK but also for Europe and farther afield.
Jonathan Albon 6:33:52
Tom Owens 6:37:21
Marc Lauenstein 6:54:37
Finlay Wild 7:00:57
Greg Vollet 7:10:19
Jasmin Paris 8:15:56
Malene Bikken Haukoy 8:23:04
Sarah Ridgway 8:44:40
Ruth Croft 9:10:33
Martina Valmassoi 9:14:37
Extreme Series ranking. Final* Men
1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 208 points
2. Tom Owens (GBR) – 205.6 points
3. Finlay Wild (GBR) – 164.4 points
4. Andew Fallas (GBR) – 143 points
5. Sota Ogawa (JAP) – 128.4 points