Emelie Forsberg – Smiles and Miles; I am back!

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Emelie Forsberg is back! She has just won Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and with a stunning course record beating her 2014 time and once again confirming that many smiles and miles are ahead.

“About the pressure, yes, for sure, sometimes you can feel pressure. If you have been winning a lot of races, it’s like people expect you to do that. I was not in good running shape when I let my skis for the summertime. Some of my friends, who don’t run that much, they beat me a lot. I’m not the kind of skier that runs through the winter. I train with Ida Nilsson and she’s running a lot, which makes her in a great shape at the beginning of the season, but I can’t do that because then I’m not the ski mountaineer that I want to be. I just hope everyone realizes that I can’t be in a great shape in the beginning of the season.” – Emelie Forsberg

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-07148An accident while skiing has made the last 12 to 18 months tough. Surgery, rehabilitation and being patient are all tough things for an athlete to manage, especially one as active as Emelie. But Emelie was patient understanding the need for a full recovery and to come back strong. Working on her strength and core she came back slowly and fine honed her yoga skills, she event spent a month in India on an intensive course. Emelie has set the example for how elite runners should return from an accident and surgery.

I caught ups with her post her Glen Coe victory as she settled back into recovery in her Norwegian home before she once again started training for new targets ahead.

You can listen to the interview in Talk Ultra podcast HERE

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Ian: Before we come on to the race, I think the last time we spoke was about your rehabilitation from knee surgery and how you were managing that and of course, there’s been some ups and downs in that process, but you must feel now as though things are almost getting back to normal and the shape is there, the form is there, physically, mentally everything is good?

Emelie: Yes, everything is good now and yes, for sure, there has been a few ups and downs. I know what to do now when I switch from ski to running and my knee is working really well so it’s good. That is the short version…

Ian: Exactly. Well, it’s definitely working well because I saw you running up and down those fells and mountains in Scotland and it reminded me of exactly two years ago, when you came to Scotland and you won the race. You just ran that whole race with a big smile on your face and it seemed as though this year was — I was going to say the same, but I think probably even better.

Emelie: Yes, I think so because last summer I was only doing rehab and that was that. I wasn’t really in shape, but this year, my ski season went really well, but then, in the beginning of the summer, I didn’t really know… I had a lot of things going on. I have been writing a book and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be ‘only’ a runner for Salomon anymore? But everything has been working out like I want it to be recently, it takes time to try to figure everything out.

Ian: There’s a price to pay for being… and I’m going to use the word famous, you might not like me using that word, but famous in the trail, mountain and ultra-world, and you are. We can argue about the semantics of that word, but you are. That brings a lot of pressure, a lot of people looking on, a lot of people even criticizing or commenting or supporting and, of course, there’s lots of good and bad in that. But have you found in this period, this last 12 to 18 months, that there’s been some pressure there that you’ve tried to escape from? And I guess living in Norway helps with that.

Emelie: Yes, for sure it does, but I can be good and bad with pressure, I think like all the athletes. But I just made it clear for everyone now that I need to make my own plan because I am a skier and I’m a hobby mountaineer or whatever you call it –  light alpinism? I want to improve in that too, so I just made it clear for everyone that I want to take time to do mountains in that style and I want to take time to do my ski season, and then I want to take care of my running, as well. I think the balance now is much clearer for me and my sponsors, which is great.

About the pressure, yes, for sure, sometimes you can feel pressure. If you have been winning a lot of races, it’s like people expect you to do that. I was not in good running shape when I let my skis for the summertime. Some of my friends, who don’t run that much, they beat me a lot. I’m not the kind of skier that runs through the winter. I train with Ida Nilsson and she’s running a lot, which makes her in a great shape at the beginning of the season, but I can’t do that because then I’m not the ski mountaineer that I want to be. I just hope everyone realizes that I can’t be in a great shape in the beginning of the season.

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Ian: I guess in some ways, you’ve almost created a little bit of that pressure yourself, and that’s not a criticism, this is just the facts. If I think back to, say, 2012, 2013, 2014, you and I have often had those conversations, where you’ve come off skis and we’ve been talking about Transvulcania and you say to me, “I love that race and I really want to do it, but I’m not in shape and should I do it, shouldn’t I do it?” and you’ve done it and you’ve always done well.

But I think since 2014, the sport has changed and it’s been changing progressively year on year, now the sport is going faster, it’s changing completely and like you say, somebody like Ida Nilsson, who comes into Transvulcania with a lot more running, it’s very difficult for somebody like you, with such a high profile, to just step off skis and go into a race like that with expectation. Do you wish you could say, “You know, guys, I’m just going to run this because I want to run it and I might come 10th or I might come 20th, but give me a break.” Do you ever feel as though you want to do that?

Emelie: [laughs] Yes, I did that at Zegama. Zegama was really special this year because Kilian was trying his second attempt on the summit of Everest and I didn’t get any news until one hour before the race started. So, I didn’t sleep during the whole night. That was really, really hard. I can always run a race and do okay, but Zegama was really hard because of the stress, worry, lack of sleep and so on.

Ian: That’s an incredible pressure, a really incredible pressure. How do you deal with that?

Emelie: Yes, I just say to myself that in the end, it’s all about what I want to do. I cannot live a life through somebody else’s eyes and I just like to be honest, and if people are listening, they understand, I’m only human.

Ian: Absolutely. Following Zegama, you took a step back and maybe re-evaluated and this is the point where you say to yourself, “You know what? I have to do what I want to do because I know what I need to feel like, I know what training I need to do, I know what mental space I need to be in to perform.” In amongst that, you’ve already touched on the fact that you were writing a book, you’re a race director for the Tromso Sky Race. There’s all sorts of other things going on, but you said to me in Tromso, “I’ve sorted out my calendar now and I know exactly what I’m going to do.” That seemed like a really important process, where you got things clear.

Is that the type of thing now that you’re going to do moving forward and maybe communicate that with the fans, so that you don’t get that external pressure? You lay your calendar out early, or basically you say, “There is no calendar, leave me alone and I’ll tell you when the calendar’s available.”

Emelie: Yes, for sure, I will — it’s important to do the structure, especially as I said, that the beginning of the summer is really changing. Previously, many runners and my peers took a break during the winter and we all came to the races more or less with the same amount of running early in the season. Over the few years, I have realized that ski mountaineering is really important to me. I’m really excited and super motivated to do well there because I love the sport. It’s different from running and it’s something that makes me really happy and motivated to train for and focus on. I will try to or I will make a plan now in November for next year and let’s see if I share it or not. Things can happen and plans can change.

Ian: Okay. As the calendar changed, Salomon Glen Coe Skyline certainly became a priority. When I managed to get you over to the UK in 2014 to run the first edition, you said after that race, “Wow, this race is incredible.” Of course, my dream was not only to bring you back, but to bring Killian and to bring a world-class field. And we did it. This year we really, really did it. I think it’s been not only the best race in the UK, but worldwide. I think the quality of the field; the quality of the course was absolutely stunning. How important was it for you to come back? How important was it for you to come back with, say, Killian and the Salomon team?

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Emelie: First, it was really nice to come back because last year, I wasn’t there. I really loved it, the course, it’s amazing, it’s pure Skyrunning. Yes, for sure, was super nice to have Killian there because I knew that he was going to love the race, which he did. So, great to have a big team there, as well, to see what they were thinking about it.

Ian: Expectations of going into the race? I know what you’re like, I know that when you race, you want to perform well. No disrespect to 2014, but there was maybe yourself and a couple of other runners that could have potentially won the race. Whereas this year, it was completely different. There was plenty of really top female runners who could push you to the line. Does that bring external pressures on you or is that something that makes you bring your A-game to the race?

Emelie: [chuckles] 2014 was special because I had a really big week that week. I think I climbed Mont-Blanc four days before I was going there and I was just pushing really hard… I can’t remember? I was supposed to do another race after that, that I was training hard for. I knew that I was really strong, so I had the confidence to do that then. But this year, I haven’t been running long-distances because of my knee. But since OCC, which was like three weeks ago, my knee has felt good in longer training. I had like two weeks that I could do a bit more hours, which was really good. But two weeks is only two weeks. I knew that Megan Kimmel is super strong, Ragna Debats had a super good summer too and there was so many strong women there. I really wasn’t confident that I could do well and that I would be able to run well after four hours. I was more like, “I’m going to be happy with whatever.”

Ian: The opening miles of the race changed to 2014, because the initial edition was based at the ski center and we realized after year one that actually it brought you to Curved Ridge too quickly and it created a bottleneck for the field. Also, logistically, it wasn’t in the most ideal place for the race growing. So, we moved the race over to Kinlochleven, which means that you have probably a good hour of running before you get to the really first technical section, which is the climb of Curved Ridge. When you got there, you had Megan Kimmel right on your heels. The two of you were together. Were you surprised by that or did you expect it?

Emelie: Yes, for sure [chuckles] I expected that. I expected because she’s a fast runner and I thought that Ragna was going to be with us, as well. But it was Megan who was setting the pace. I just followed her and on the technical part, I was in the front and on the downhill, I was in the front too. But in the uphill, she pushed the pace a lot and I was a bit worried that it was too fast, actually, but I just tried to follow her. Sometimes, she had maybe 30, 40 seconds on me in uphill, but I knew that in the downhill, it was nothing. I just tried to keep my own pace, even though it was a bit fast. [chuckles]

Ian: Yes. Do you think Megan pushing the pace was a contributing factor to a course record?

Emelie: I think so. I think it could have been anyway, but it was a good time and it was good to push in the beginning, because that’s when you have the energy to push. Megan pushed the pace for sure.

Ian: I’ve got to say, I was surprised that Megan handled the technical section so well. Because she openly says that she’s not really a technical runner. I guess at the back of your mind, you knew that when it came to the real crunch moments, the Aonach Eagach Ridge for example, you could use your strength and maybe that’s where you could open up the gap and pull away?

Emelie: Actually, Megan, she’s a good climber…

Ian: Yes, I know, but she always says that she can’t do technical?

Emelie: No. The technical part, she was doing good, actually. She’s a very all-around runner, I would say. She can perform really well in technical races, like Dolomites and Zegama. But she can also win Mont-Blanc Marathon. She’s maybe one of the best all-around runners I know. So, I wouldn’t say that she’s bad on technical, that’s my opinion. In the end, I don’t think that I made a big gap, even though I kept the lead over the Aonach Eagach Ridge.

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Ian: Tell me the highlights of the course and tell me why this race is so special.

Emelie: First of all, I think I need to say that it’s not a race for everyone right now. I think anyone can run it if they train for it and get experience – the race is vetted anyway! But you should have a lot of respect for it. I do and I would never do a race like this if I wasn’t comfortable in climbing Degree III. Because it’s technical, which I really love.

We start with maybe 10K of running, until we come to Curved Ridge, which is the most technical par. Super steep and scrambling up. Then, we follow beautiful ridges with some ups and downs and big climbs. Then, we have a big downhill coming to kilometer 35, where is the aid station, the second one. After that, it’s a very steep climb, like a vertical. I was actually looking to my watch and I think I did the climb in 52 minutes, which I do the same time as the vertical.

Ian: The vertical, yes.

Emelie: Yes, it’s a steep vertical there. Then, the ridge starts, the Aonach Eagach Ridge, which is a beautiful ridge. People tell me that they feel like that’s a technical part, but I don’t see the technical part there. It’s a ridge, which is super nice to be there and run and I don’t see the difficulty there.

Ian: How does the Aonach Eagach Ridge compare to the ridge in Tromsø?

Emelie: For me, it’s about the same, actually. I know that some people find Aonach Eagach Ridge a bit more technical, but I think it’s more or less the same.

Ian: I’ve been along both and I have to say that the Aonach makes me feel a little bit more exposed than the ridge in Tromsø. I think it’s just those couple of down-climbing sections. Nobody likes down-climbing. [laughs] If you’re not a complete mountaineer, and I’m not, I can scramble, I can go along the ridges. But down-climbing really does make you think a little bit. I think maybe for me, it’s those couple of sections and there’s also the rock chimney that you go down, which I find is fine. But I know a lot of people after the race had said to me, “Oh, the chimney was just horrendous.” Because you’ve got to put one hand to either side and put your feet down underneath you. But I guess it just comes down to comfort and experience level.

Emelie: Yes, I see what you mean with the down-climbing. For sure, it’s not any down-climbing like that in Tromsø. That’s the difference. I guess it’s just as you say — I can see the difference, but more or less, for me, I would say it’s the same.

Ian: One of the things that I said to you after the race, and to Killian, was the similarities of Scotland with Norway. If I close my eyes, and apart from a couple of distinctive details, maybe like the midges [laughs], you could feel as though you’re in Norway at times. I guess that really appeals to both yourself and Killian because it feels like home.

Emelie: Yes, for sure. It is like home, but it’s new, so that’s really a cool feeling. The culture is different and the people. Trails are much better there in Scotland because when it’s not technical, you run on a super nice trail, I really like the contrast there, you can run really fast. In Norway, we don’t have too many that well-marked or big trails.

Ian:  With the victory and with the course record, do you feel as though one chapter of your running career is maybe ended and a new point is starting?

Emelie: [chuckles] Yes, in one way because, as I said, I wasn’t sure about how my endurance would be and I know that it’s my kind of race, I love the terrain. In one way, I can be hard to myself and say that win didn’t really matter because it’s so much your kind of a race, but then I know that I’m unfair to myself, that I should be proud of what I’ve done, but I also want to train on my weaknesses, which is to run fast for a longer time. Now, I actually will start to train for Les Templiers, which is a really runnable race, so that’s exciting. I know that it’s really hard for me to go out and run on the road but I will do that, I will find some flatter trails and try to do some speed work on them.

Ian: Okay. The other thing that you did in the UK was the VK. I actually really like that VK course, it’s very different to other VK courses because it starts off and it’s very runnable and then, all of a sudden, it just goes really, really, really steep and it’s very muddy, it’s very slippery. How was your experience of that?

Emelie: Yes, it reminded me of Norway, actually. I knew that it was a VK that would suit me pretty well and I like to do VKs because it’s good training, but I also have been saying for the last few years I’m not a vertical runner, but I have been improving in that and that’s also really cool.

Ian: You’ve said it’s like Norway, there are so many similarities in that VK to your VK in Tromsø. I know the final section is much rockier in Tromsø, but the early meters are so similar to Tromsø, that you could feel as though you were in either place.

Emelie: Yes, exactly.

Ian: How do you progress now? You’ve got Templiers, which is a very different race to Glen Coe. It’s not very technical, it’s going to be a fast race, you’re going to need to move quickly for that. You’ve got to be fast, you’ve got to be endurant for that one because it’s also quite a long race and then what follows that?

Emelie: After that, I will do San Francisco, actually. It has been a race that I wanted to do again. I had one good year there and one not so good year and now it’s actually two weeks earlier, so it fits my calendar better. That’s motivating, as well. It’s going to be the same training as for Les Templiers. I need to speed up and move fast.

Ian: Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m going from memory here, but you won San Francisco 50 on your first attempt/

Emelie: Yes.

Ian: It’s a good benchmark race, I guess. Things have moved on. I’ve not seen the elite field for San Fran yet, it’s probably a little bit too early, but because of the prize money that’s available, it’s going to be very competitive, we know that. Is there anything that you think that you need to do to get yourself in the shape that’s going to give you potentially a podium or a victory?

Emelie: Yes, I need to train flat.

Ian: I can hear the disappointment in your voice…

Emelie: No, actually it’s different and I know it’s not my favorite, but actually it’s really motivating for me because I always want to improve what is my weak side and I have been doing that with uphill running and I’m eager to do it now with my flat running, too, so I’m actually really excited for it. I know that I’m going to be like, “Why do I need to do this race when I run my tempo runs on a dirt, flat road?” But I’m actually motivated for it and it’s going to be really fun because Ida Nilsson, who I consider one of the best flat runners, will also run both races and we’re training together – she’s really pushing me, which is great.

Ian: And you ski together as well, yes?

Emelie: Yes.

Ian: What does 2018 and maybe 2019 look like for you? Do you have a bucket list of races or experiences that you’d like to tick off?

Emelie: I do, actually. I have three or four things that I have planned already for 2018, and one of them is a project in the Himalayas, which I want to do by myself and it’s going to be really exciting.

Ian: That sounds really good! Exciting.

Emelie: Yes.

Ian: My other question, which is actually related to that one. Any dreams of 100-mile race, say, Hardrock 100?

Emelie: Yes, yes, for sure. I think I said this before to you that I really like the distance. I’m fascinated about it. I did Diagonale des Fous for experience but I want to try to race it, I think I could do really well there. I want to wait for it though, maybe five, six years. It sounds a lot, but I know that it will be even better if I wait because I want to do so many shorter distances, up to 80K right now.

Ian: I think that’s a good idea. History shows that 100-mile runners are very, very good or in their peak once they get to mid-to-late 30s and even into their 40s. There’s no issue there and, of course, it’s more years running, more endurance, which you can then carry over to that long distance. You might as well maximize the speed that you have and the ability that you have up to the 80-kilometer distance. Pressured question, will we see you in Glen Coe next year?

Emelie: I really hope so.

Ian: I hope so, too.

Emelie: It really fits in my calendar, so I will be there.

Ian: What about Tromsø?

Emelie: I think so. We’re working with it now and I said that I need to step down a little because there are so many things to do there. I think it’s much better if there’s someone that has more time and take care of it. Kilian and myself are still part of the organization, but I cannot do as much work, so I think for next year, it will be even better than it has been before.

Ian: It’s so difficult to balance a busy life, training, racing and being a race director. You know both sides now, you understand the complexities of that.

I’m going to thank you so much for your time. It’s been great to have you back in the UK, great to have you win the race here in Scotland, great for you to have a course record and great to see you back to the shape you had before your accident.

Roll on Les Templiers and San Francisco 50!

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REVIEW of 2016 in Trail, Mountain, Ultra and Skyrunning

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As a year comes to end, it’s always nice to be able to look back and appreciate some of the highlights that all come together that allows one to decide if it was a good or bad year. For me personally, 2016 was a cracker and I am truly thankful for all the opportunities that came up.

Looking back and deciding on what a highlight is, is of course a tricky thing. It’s very personal and it also requires a great memory. So, I will declare right from the off that these are ‘my’ highlights and yes, I am going to miss some key performances, runners, experiences and so on that should be in the list. So, please feel free to comment and remind me.

It would make sense to start in January and move through to December in a logical way… I am not going to do that, I am writing this off the cuff.

Jim Walmsley has been on fire in 2016 and ironically, despite an amazing run and course record at JFK50, FKT’s for the Rim-to-Rim and Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon and countless other victories, it will be his Western States performance that well and truly cements Jim as one of the most exciting runners to rise in 2016. He said pre Western States that he was there to win and win with a course record. He flew along the trails and at one point was almost 30-minutes under the record. As he passed 90-miles everyone was re-writing the history books and then boom! Jim went off course. I caught up with a full and in-depth interview with Jim and you can listen to that HERE and read it HERE. Jim for many is the male Ultra-runner of the Year with victories at Stagecoach Line 55km, Franklin Mountains Trail Run, Lake Sonoma, Mesquite Canyon, Moab Red Hot 55k, Bandera 100k and the recent JFK50. 2017 is going to be a very exciting one.

Rob Young set off on a journey Across the USA looking for a new record, fame, glory and an opportunity to raise a load of money for charity. Somewhere along the way he lost a grasp of reality, perspective and ruined what was a remarkable story be cheating and deceiving the whole ultra running community. Ultimately, Rob is a story of an individual who tried to do good and maybe we should ask what went wrong rather than preach about his morals.

That brings me on to Mark Vaz. What is it with FKT’s and delusional behaviour? Mark seemed to think that running from Land’s End to John O’Groats 31-hours quicker than anyone else for the 860-mile journey was a good idea. It’s not even a convincing lie. As many pointed out, the god of ultra -running, Yiannis Kouros, couldn’t have done it as quick as Mr. Vaz claimed… oh dear!

Pete Kostelnick by contrast embraced the FKT concept and showed the world that the claims made by Rob Young are possible by smashing a 30+ year old Guinness record out of the ether by running Across the USA a full 4-days quicker than anyone else. As records go, this is an absolute doozy and when you look deep and hard into this 40+ day journey, you soon start to understand the difficulty and complexity of running 70+ miles a day. You can listen to an in-depth interview with Pete HERE and read the story HERE. In addition, we must also add to this story, Pete’s incredible and record breaking run at Badwater 135. This achievement has been overshadowed by the USA run but as a stand alone run, it’s also a cracker.

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Karl Meltzer did it, he finally completed the Appalachian Trail in a new record breaking time after failing on two previous occasions.  His time was some 10-hours quicker than Scott Jurek’s set in 2015, however, Karl did run in the opposite direction and has said, post run, he feels that they are two records. Notably, Karl helped Scott in 2015 and Scott helped Karl in 2016. It’s a remarkable story and one that truly reflects our sport of ultra-running. Karl’s record of 45-days, 22-hours and 38-minutes now sits in the record books and well and truly establishes Karl as one of ‘the’ greatest ultra-runners in the world. This is also backed up with his 38 100-mile victories and 5 victories at Hardrock 100. Listen to the in-depth interview HERE and read HERE

Talking of Hardrock 100, Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb held hands and crossed the line together in 2016. It was a wonderful moment that split the ultra-running audience in two. Some would have preferred a race to the line while others discussed the wonderful gesture and statement this moment made. Whichever camp you sit in, it was back-to-back victories for Kilian and a career defining moment for Jason Schlarb. Something he discussed in my in-depth interview HERE. For equality, we also need to mention Anna Frost nailing a back-to-back ladies victory. As I understand it, these three Musketeers will all return in 2017.

Aaron Denberg got a bee in his bonnet about Hardrock 100 lottery and decided to create a law suit. Many believe Mr. Denberg makes some good points but questioned if his approach was the correct one? Hardrock 100 released statements and have since removed the payment of a fee by each runner to enter the lottery, something which was apparently illegal! This will run and run (pardon the pun) but ultimately, is Hardrock a victim of it’s own success?

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Caroline Chaverot for me, without doubt, female ultra-runner of the year. This French lady has been on fire all the way from victory in Transgrancanaria early in the year to a most recent win in Hong Kong on December 2nd. Along the way, Caroline won UTMB, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and won the IAU World Trail Championships in Portugal. Add to these incredible results, victories at Madirea Island Ultra Trail, Mont-Blanc 80km and the UTWT world title for 2016 and I lower my head and bow to Queen Caroline. Plus she has made the lottery for Hardrock in 2017… exciting!

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Adam Campbell survives a horrific fall and not only lives to tell the tale but has a remarkable recovery, listen to the interview HERE and read HERE

Lizzy Hawker sneaked from under the radar and once again picked up the gauntlet testing her personal boundaries and voyage of self-discovery. After years of injury, Lizzy completed the GHT (Great Himalayan Trail). A 1600km, east to west journey across Nepal. It was, as Lizzy promised, a “beautiful, rough, hard and unforgettable journey”. It was about many things, but also about trying to raise money to give opportunities to Nepali runners, particularly girls, for whom one chance can be a catalyst for much wider change.

Damian Hall set a new FKT on the UK’s South West Coast Path 10-hours, 15-minutes and 18-seconds for the 630-mile jaunt.

Jeff Browning, what a year…! Winner Hurt 100, 3rd at Western States, 4th at Hardrock 100 and 4th at Run Rabbit Run – that is some year, the WSER/Hardrock double a stand out and fastest combined time.

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Kilian Jornet won Hardrock 100 and attempted to summit Everest. The Summits Of My Life project continues on into 2017 after Kilian and his team decided to pull the plug on a 2016 attempt as weather detonated.

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Emelie Forsberg was quiet in 2016 after damaging her ACL and having an operation, she did however return to Trofeo Kima and put the record straight with a victory… she hopes the course record will come in 2018 when the race will take place once again. Emelie discussed her injury HERE

Beth Pascall went from strength-to-strength in 2016 and elevated the Lakeland 100 (UK) record to a whole new level by placing 4th overall. Listen to her interview HERE

Zach Miller did what he always does and lead from the front. At UTMB many predicted, me included, that it was going to be a story of glorious victory with a stunning ‘off-the-front’ performance or carnage with a monumental blow-up! In reality it was both, the blow-up came and he somehow managed to hold on for grim death to still get a top-10 place, he will win this race one day! Jump forward to December and Zach did it again at San Francisco 50. This time he had company and many are saying that ‘this’ race was one of the highlights of the year as Zach and Hayden Hawks traded blows at the front. Zach won with a course record and he took home the $10,000 prize. Hayden finished just 2-minutes back. Note that name! If you want to know what it’s like to put it ALL on the line, take a look at Zach’s final 2-minutes of that incredible 5:56:03 run.

Andrew Miller became the youngest winner of the iconic Western States and today, myself and so many others still know very little about this 20-year old. Certainly, Jim Walmsley had an impact on the kudos and plaudits that Andrew should have received. Running 15:39:36 at WSER takes some doing but I can’t help but think that Biology and chemistry are a priority as Andrew starts his sophomore year at Northern Arizona University. He will be back at WSER in 2017!

Kaci Lickteig has been nailing it and nailing it and finally got the Western States victory that she has longed for and then contrasted it with victory at the Bear 100. You can listen to Kaci’s post Western States interview HERE

Andrea Huser runs and races it would appear ‘every’ weekend. She is relentless. As I understand it, Andrea raced on thirteen occasions but I may have missed some/ She had victories at Raid de La Reunion Swiss Irontrail T201 Eiger Ultratrail 101km, Lavaredo, Trail d’Albertville, Trail Des Allobroges and Maxi-Race Annecy. Phew… any other year and the lack of Caroline Chaverot and Andrea would be female ultra-runner of the year.

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Luis Alberto Hernando won Transvulcania, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and became IAU World Trail Champion. That is a solid year and Luis has raced less having become a Dad. Had his feet not fallen apart at UTMB, he may well have been in the running with Jim for male ultra-runner of the year.

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Diego Pazos is a name to watch and has surprised many in 2016. He’s my heads-up for the future. He had a notable result at Transgrancanaria early in 2016 but what followed was quite incredible, his victory at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight!

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Didrik Hermansen won Transgrancanaria and then placed 2nd at Western States. That is solid and shows real diversity. What will 2017 hold for him? Listen HERE and as Sondre corrects me, Didrik ran 6:45 and 6:38 for 100k.

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Running Beyond Book was released in October and November to a worldwide audience and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish and of course is available in English. Containing 240-pages, this large coffee table books documents the sport of trail, ultra, mountain and skyrunning in images and words, HERE

Dan Lawson (UK) won the IAU 24 Hour European Championships in 2016 with a distance of 261.843 kilometres (162.702 mi).

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Jasmin Paris has elevated herself to a whole new level in 2016. This quiet and shy fell runner set new records for the UK’s ‘Rounds’ and in the process placed 6th at UTMB (her first 100) won Tromso SkyRace, won Glencoe Skyline, became the Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion 2016 and in addition to countless other races, also placed on the podium at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ultra distance behind Caroline Chaverot. Interviews with Jasmin Paris HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE

Joe Grant set a new record on the 14’ers in 31-days by cycling between trailheads and then summiting all the 14’ers (50+ of them) on foot to then return back to his cycle and then continue on his journey. He was self-sufficient for the whole trip. “I did set a speed record, but that wasn’t my goal,” says Grant, 33, an accomplished ultrarunner who finished second at the 2012 Hardrock 100. “The goal was to challenge myself and see the state, although the previous record served as a reference for how long I could take.” taken from trailrunningmag.

Megan Hicks also completed a ’14’ journey, the Nolans 14 in Colorado. She completed the journey in 57:19:19 to the summit of the 14th peak and then completed the journey back to the Fish Hatchery Trailhead in under 60-hours – 59:36. Her time is the fastest ever completed by a woman.

Nicky Spinks continues to inspire and while she may have lost her ‘Round’ records to Jasmin Paris, she went on to set a new benchmark with a record for a double Bob Graham Round – Nick is an inspiration! You can listen to an interview with her HERE

Ludovic Pommeret ran the most controlled and impressive UTMB ever moving from not being in contention to slowly but surely ticking off the runners ahead and taking the crown at the largest ultra in the world. Add to this victory four other victories and Ludovic is one to keep an eye on in ’17.’

Caroline Boller set new American Trail 50-mile record 5:48:01

Gina Slaby set new female 100-mile WR 13:45:49 for ‘any’ surface, Anne Trason had the previous record of  13:47:41 set in the early 90’s.

Skyline Scotland achieved a first with Glencoe Skyline achieving Skyrunner World Status in the Extreme category and as such, the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the best fields assembled on UK soil for a mountain race. HERE

Jon Albon transitioned from obstacle racing (something he still does and excels at) to Skyrunning and won the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Extreme category. We are going to see more of him in 2017! HERE

Samantha Gash ran across India in a project called ‘Run India’ as a means to create awareness and raise money. Covering over 3000km you can listen to her story in episode 125 of Talk Ultra out on Friday 16th December.

Ida Nilsson started the year with a win in Transvulcania, she took victory at The Rut and then in early December won San Francisco 50. Without doubt, Ida is a star of the future. Listen to Ida talk about Transvulcania HERE

Stu Leaney breaks Michael Wardian’s 50km treadmill record by just 7-seconds

Mina Guli ran 40-marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks to raise awareness for water, listen to the interview HERE

Jason Schlarb started his year by prepping for Hardrock 100 by skiing the course, listen to the interview HERE

Skyrunning and the world series (SWS) elevated to new heights with an increased circuit that traveled the globe and the addition of the new Extreme series.

And finally (maybe), Donnie Campbell just recently set a new Winter Ramsay Round record to finish a very solid year!

******

So what have I missed? 

I am well aware that I will have missed some key performances in 2016 and I welcome you commenting and letting me know. Of course, many performances, races or experiences will resonate on a personal level for you. I can think of many British performances that are worthy of a nod – Jo Meek’s 2nd at the CCC, Paul Giblin 5th at Western States, Joasia Zakrzewski’s medal at the 100k World Champs for example.

Be great to hear from you…

TROFEO KIMA 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Extreme is personified with the imminent running of the 2016 Trofeo Kima. Tough, challenging, technical, inspirational. memorable… KIMA is not for everyone! For over 20-years this race has been the example provided to the world of what a Skyrunning race can be. The vision of Marino Giacometti was way ahead of its time, but now, the world is catching up. Two years ago saw the creation of the Tromso SkyRace by ‘Kima’ stars, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Last year we witnessed the inaugural Glen Coe Skyline which incorporated elements of the other 2 races to create something quite unique for the UK.

In 2016, the three races combined to create a new challenge, the Sky Extreme Series – three races of which two must be completed to rank.

Kima covers 52km with 4200m of vertical gain and goes over 7 passes linked by refuges. Exposed crest, snow, ice, steep rocks, technical terrain and Via Feratta provides one of the ultimate challenges available.

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The recent Tromso SkyRace set the stage for 2016 with stunning victories by two Brits, Tom Owens and Jasmin Paris. Paris will mis Kima due to prior race commitments but her presence is confirmed for Scotland. Owens by contrast follows up his purple patch of running (silver at the Skyrunning World Champs, victory at SkyRace Comapedrosa and victory in Tromso) by running in Kima, a place where he last raced in 2012 when he placed 2nd behind Kilian Jornet. On recent form, Owens is without doubt the men’s favourite. He has pushed his stamina recently with many events and quality training but he just seems to be getting stronger and stronger!

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Jonathan Albon (UK) who won Tromso SkyRace ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando in 2015 and recently placed 2nd to Owens at the same race in 2016 has rejigged his racing plans and has decided that Kima is just too good too miss. He did say in his interview on Talk Ultra podcast (here) that he will use Kima as a learning curve but I still anticipate a top performance!

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Whilst on a UK theme, it’s important to acknowledge how the Extreme Series has really captured the hearts, minds and yes, legs and lungs of the Brits, primarily due to a race on home soil. Donnie Campbell winner of the Lakes Sky Ultra, 3×3 and many other races will test himself on Italian soil. He knows the challenge is the next logical step in his progress as a Skyrunner. Joe Symonds (*not confirmed), brother of Andy Symonds and winner of the 2015 Glen Coe Skyline will also get his Extreme campaign underway! 2015 Dragons Back Race winner, Jim Mann will also join the Kima party along with Glen Coe Skyline RD, Shane Ohly.

Main contenders for overall victory will come thick and fast from a world class line-up of experienced Skyrunner’s who know how to push to the limit on the ultimate terrain.

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Marco De Gasperi needs no introduction, the Italian was there in the beginning and still pioneers a true path in the sport.

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Sota Ogawa made the podium in Tromso and no doubt he will bring guts and determination to the Italian mountains for a repeat performance.

 

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Fulvio Dapit has raced Kima many times (6th in 2014), is arguably one of the most experienced Skyrunner’s on the start list and although he is unlikely to win the race, he will be in contention. However, he has become a new Dad recently; he may be tired!

 

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Bhim Gurung won the inaugural Yading SkyRace which kicked off the 2016 Skyrunner World Series. Just this last weekend he raced at Matterhorn Ultraks where he finished 7th. Kima’s technical terrain will be a challenge for the Nepalese runner but not the altitude.

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Eirik Haugsnes won the inaugural Tromso SkyRace and has performed consistently in technical and challenging races. A recent top-10 in Tromso once again shows he has the fitness for a repeat performance. *update 23rd August, Eirik has withdrawn from the race.

 

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Alexis Sevennec is a runner who mixes ski mountaineering and Skyrunning seamlessly. An ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit, he has always run well at the Dolomites SkyRace and most recently at SkyRace Comapedrosa.

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Manuel Merillas is a last minute entry to the race and after placing 2nd in 2014 behind Kilian Jornet, he is likely one of the hot favourites for a podium place. However, his results in 2016 have not been  as impressive as in 2014 and 2015, maybe Kima will be a turning point?

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Andre Jonsson was on fire early season and then had a couple of mixed races, particularly at the Dolomites SkyRace where he performed below expectation. At Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, Jonsson dictated the pace from the start and looked set for a great victory only to crumble on the final climb. It’s all a learning curve and Kima will no doubt be a huge test but it’s one that he is happy to take on.

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Florian Reichert has been racing on the Skyrunning circuit for years and has always been a consistent performer who has experienced Zegama, Transvulcania, Glen Coe and so many more races. He comes to Kima with experience and an understanding of the challenge ahead.

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Philipp Reiter is racing less these days due to commitments working for Salomon, however, he always has a great level of fitness and the more technical the terrain, the happier he is. He showed this at Tromso recently. Philipp would be the first to say that podium is unlikely but he will be in and around the top 10.

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Pablo Villa has raced a great deal at the moment, SkyRace Comapedrosa and just recently at Matterhorn Ultraks. Kima is a challenging race and Villa’s performance will depend on his powers of recovery.

Dani Garcia Gomez, Iban Letamendi, Paul Hamilton, Jan Bartas, Luca Carrara, Matt Cooper, Matt Lefort, Aaron Newell, Konrad Rawlik, Leo Viret, Situ Vives Bosch, Allan Spangler and Pieter Schaaps amongst others will also toe the line in what will be a very exciting men’s race.

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The ladies race has recently been brought to life with the announcement that Emelie Forsberg will use Kima as her comeback race from a very serious injury and operation. At Tromso SkyRace, Forsberg tested her knee and fitness on the VK course and came away with a victory in a 3 up sprint for the line. The last time Forsberg raced in Kima it ended in tears; all set for what looked like to be a course record run when disaster struck with a navigation error and a huge loss of time. Chasing like a demon, Emelie pulled back places and eventually finished 2nd behind Kasie Enman. Having seen Emelie run in Tromso, I personally feel that we are going to see an on fire Forsberg on the mountain passes, the only 2 questions I will have and probably Emelie has: 1. How will the knee hold up? 2. How will Emelie’s endurance be for a 7-hour outing? If the answer the these two questions is positive, I think we will see Emelie win the race.

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Emanuela Brizio won Kima in 2010, was 3rd in 2012 and 3rd in 2014. I have no reason to doubt that Emanuela will not be on the podium again, this year I think it will be 2nd but victory is a distinct possibility.

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Ruth Croft had a great result at Transvulcania earlier this year and just won the 30km event at Matterhorn Ultraks. Kima will be a complete learning curve for Ruth, I doubt if she will have ever experienced a course that offers so much technical running.

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Nuria Dominguez was 4th at Kima in 2014 and will no doubt be in the mix – a podium place is a distinct possibility,

Natalia Tomasiak was 4th lady at Tromso Skyrace and she can therefore handle the technical terrain and distance. Her finishing time though was over 60-minutes slower than race winner, Jasmin Paris. Therefore, it’s unlikely that Natalia can contest for the win but top-5 is possible.

Elizabeth Barker like Natalia ran Tromso and finished 7th. A top-10 is a possibility in Italy.

Zuzana Urbancova, Kristina Aluzaite, Elisabet Bertran Masenanes, Olga Lyjak, Tanya Pacheco, Kathrin Schambeck and Hana Krajnikova are all running and may well contest the top-10 or top-5 podium places.


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:

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

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® 2016 Summary and Images – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Starting from the sea and climbing directly to the 1044m of the summit of Blamann, the highest summit on Kvaloya island, the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® is everything a Skyrunning race should be and the route personifies the sea-to-summit concept.

Unlike other VK’s, this route is more like a mini mountain race as the terrain twists and turns with a variety of mixed terrain. The early stage of soft boggy ground soon give way to huge slabs of rocks that at times require low grade climbing to cover. The use of poles offer no advantage as the race most definitely requires scrambling and ‘hands-on’ climbing.

Just 20 minutes from Tromso, the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® is a race to embrace.

As expected, the newly crowned Skyrunning World Champion, Stian Angermund dictated the pace and the race on the steep slopes from the sea. In the early stages the course was shrouded by mist and cloud but as Stian zoomed up the climb, the mist lifted and above was a glorious day of blue skies and fluffy clouds. By the midway point, Stian had a clear lead over Andorran, Ferran Tpeixido and while other runners power walked with hand-on-knees, Stian ran looking relaxed but breathing hard.

At the summit, Stian crossed the line in 37:00 exactly, Ferran trailed by 31-seconds and David Thibaud placed 3rd in 39:50.

The ladies race turned into a ‘nail biter’ as last minute entry, Emelie Forsberg dictated the early pace obviously feeling feisty after a long recovery process from injury.

At the midway point, Emelie lead the way with Yngvild Kaspersen hot on her heals. Trailing by approximately 30 seconds, Laura Orgue and Hilde Alders pursued.

Laura was not having a good day though, the VK specialist was obviously tired from racing at the Skyrunning World Championships and last weekends victory at the SkyRace Comapedrosa.

Hilde though was on fire. She caught Yngvild and Emelie and in the closing stages it was a neck and neck race with Yngvild leading the way followed by Hilde and Emelie in third. It looked as though this would be the finishing order and then Emelie released an incredible sprint… taking a different line, she zoomed past the other two just as Hilde responded. It was like watching a sprint in the Tour de France.

Emelie crossed the line first in 44:49 (tbc), Hilde placed second and Yngvild 3rd, all separated just by seconds. Laura Orgue finished 4th having eased back.

Attention now turns to tomorrow and the Tromsø SkyRace® which will start at 0800.


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

Glen Coe Skyline goes EXTREME and makes Skyrunner World Series 2016

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The International Skyrunning Federation is pleased to announce that the Skyrunner World Series calendar will have a new addition to VK, SKY and ULTRA for 2016 and future years. See the full release and calendar HERE.

They are going Extreme!

Trofeo Kima has long been a pinnacle race for Skyrunning enthusiasts worldwide. A jewel in the Skyrunning crown and the words of Kilian Jornet sum it up so well:

“Picture a mountain terrain that has no paths, amidst glaciers; it is all crests, rocks, stretches of via Ferrata and all over a course that stretches 50-km. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering; pure Skyrunning!”

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The bi-annual race returns in 2016 and due to increasing demand for adventurous and demanding courses, the ISF have created a new series called SKY EXTREME.

Three countries, three awesome races, a real opportunity to embrace the ethos of where earth meets sky!

The series will start in Norway with the TROMSO SKYRACE in August, we will then move to Italy for TROFEO KIMA in late August and then the final race will be in the UK with Scotland’s GLEN COE SKYLINE in September.

Although it will be possible to race each race in its own right, to qualify for the series you will be required to run two races.

The rewards? Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion 2016.

“My vision of so many years ago is finally coming full circle,” said ISF President, Marino Giacometti. “I was ahead of my time! After our first records and races restricted to athletes-climbers on the summit of Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc, Trofeo Kima become the symbol of Skyrunning. Kima has always been for a select few but the growth and demand for more challenging races is now finally coming to fruition with the inspiration that Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg have provided. Tromso Skyrace and Glen Coe Skyline are great additions to the Skyrunner World Series and Sky Extreme is a new and exciting step for Skyrunning! ” 

Needless to say, the addition of EXTREME to the Skyrunner World Series is great news for a UK audience and UK based runners.

“I had a dream 2-years ago when Skyrunning UK was launched in the UK that in 3-years we would host a SWS event. That dream is now a reality and with it the worlds best will come to Scotland in September to race in the mountains of Glen Coe!”– Ian Corless, Skyrunning UK Director.

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You can follow Skyrunning on line HERE and HERE

You can follow the Skyrunning UK Series HERE and HERE

You can view the three Sky Extreme Races via the following links:

TROMSO HERE

TROFEO KIMA HERE

GLEN COE SKYLINE HERE

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Limone Extreme 2015 – Race Preview

 

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Limone Extreme brings to a close the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and what a year it has been! It only seems like 5-minutes ago that Luis Alberto Hernando and Emelie Forsberg crossed the finish line at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. Of course, these two Skyrunner’s concluded their ‘ultra’ years with Skyrunner® World Series titles at Ultra Pirineu. It was an incredible year for them both, they are the respective World, European and Skyrunner® World Series champions for the distance.

Limone has hosted the Skyrunner® World Series finals for the past 2-years and once again it will provide the arena to conclude the VK and the SKY distances. The VK is spectacular as it is run under the illumination of head torches as the runners climb 1000m under darkness.

The following day is the SKY race and what a race we have in store.

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Megan Kimmel and rising star Remi Bonnet head up a world-class field that is without doubt a who’s who of Skyrunning. It’s all to fight for.

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MEN

Remi Bonnet, although victorious at the RUT and Lantau 2 Peaks will not be able to contend the Skyrunner® World Series title even if he wins at Limone. Unfortunately, he does not have a +1 race as required in the ranking for 2015. On recent form, one has to say that he is the one to beat. Limone represents a perfect challenge for the young Swiss runner and the distance currently falls into his ‘perfect’ distance.

It’s going to be no easy race though!

Francois Gonon, Marco De Gasperi, Ionut Zinca, Manuel Merillas, Tom Owens, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen, Tadei Pivk, Thibault Baronian, Aritz Egea, Martin Anthamatten and a strong contingent from La Sportiva that includes Marco Moletto will all look to topple Bonnet from the top. Add last years’ winner Petro Mamu and Zach Miller from the USA and we have what may well be one of the most exciting races of the year.

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Manuel Merillas was in form in Hong Kong and scored valuable 2nd place points and when the race was over he said, the fight goes on! He is a fierce competitor and the Limone course will suit him.

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Tadei Pivk tops the SWS and he will be looking for a top drawer performance to maintain his foothold at the top of the rankings. He is going to have a tough battle on his hands but as he has proved in the past at Zegama, Dolomites and so on, he can do it!

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Aritz Egea will go out hard, lead from the front and try to hold on for grim life to the end. He has had a great year this year and with a series of top results. He will be in the mix at Limone but he will need a great run to make the podium.

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Marco De Gasperi had a bad day at Lantau 2 Peaks and was frustrated with his run. Here on ‘home-soil’ he will hopefully revel on the terrain and he will look to repeat his victory from 2012.

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Ionut Zinca was returning from injury at Lantau 2 Peaks and lacked that ‘zip’ that comes from racing regularly. With a race in his legs, he may well find that his form is back for a race in which he has performed well at before.

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Petro Mamu beat Kilian last year and that is no easy task, so he can’t be ruled out this year. However, even if he wins it will have no impact on the SWS series as he has not contended any other races. His journey to the shores of Lake Garda are for financial gain should he win the price purse.

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Zach Miller also will not contest the SWS but he is a runner who only knows how to run one way; hard and fast. His hold on for your life approach scares the hell out of me and maybe him sometimes, but it makes for exciting racing. I just wonder if this race is too short for his running style?

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Tom Owens loves running up and down fast and has all the skill sets required to excel on this Limone course. That is fell running for you! He had a good run at the RUT has been back home in Scotland lately doing what he loves most; running in the mountains.

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Martin Anthamatten won Ultraks, recently beat Joe Gray in the USA and is on fire. Could Limone be a great end to the year?

Current SWS rankings have Tadei Pivk topping the podium for the series with 366-points, Manuel Merillas 2nd with 332-points and Tom Owens 3rd with 268-points. The final race of the series has a bonus of 20% so who will come out on top?

LADIES

The SWS Ladies ranking currently is Laura Orgue, Elisa Desco, Maite Maiora and importantly Megan Kimmel in 4th – points are 364, 350, 322, and 300 respectively.

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Megan Kimmel has been on fire this year and is the odds on favourite for victory in Limone and in reality, she is the one to beat for the SWS. Her ability to hold her own uphill and then descend fast is what is setting her apart in 2015. The only glitch came at Matterhorn Ultraks when she ran out of steam while leading the race. The SKY distance though when at 20-25km is perfect for the American.

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Laura Orgue has been a revelation at the SKY distance. Always considered a VK specialist, she has grown into the longer distances and has performed exceptionally well. She is the eternal 2nd after Dolomites, the RUT and Lantau. Can she win in Limone? I anticipate Laura to lead the charge to the first summit, the question will come if she can hold on for the drop back to the lake.

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Elisa Desco may well upset the apple cart. She will need a perfect day and Megan to have a below par day. I don’t see that happening. Although placing 4th in Hong Kong, Elisa had an awful race due to the typhoon conditions.

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Maite Maiora has raced a great deal in 2015 and has always comes up with the results! She recently placed 3rd in Lantau 2 Peaks under tough conditions and she will be coming to Limone looking to make the podium once again. Don’t rule her out, she is a fierce competitor.

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Yngvild Kaspersen like Remi Bonnet is shaking up the SKY distance. It’s so great to see these 20-year olds rise in the sport. Her victories at Tromso and Lantau were quite spectacular, at Limone she will need a little luck on her side to take the top slot. Like Remi, Yngvild does not have a +1 and so therefore cannot qualify for the SWS.

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Stevie Kremer has won in the past here and been crowned SWS champion. 2015 has been a mixed year for the pocket rocket. For example, at Hong Kong she flew in the night before the race after almost 20-hours in the air. I guess it will be a similar story in Limone. The reality is, despite how talented you are, you can’t give those % gains away against this quality of field. Stevie will be in the mix for sure.

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Emelie Forsberg* and Kasie Enman will also race the SKY distance and as we all know, either of them could win. *My gut reaction is that Emelie will enjoy the run and let the ladies battle out the SWS and Kasie will push hard and finish just outside the top-3.

*As I expected, Emelie has decided not to race: “I decided not to! I prefer beeing super fresh before my winter season in both mind and body!”

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Watch out for Azara Garcia (winner at Zegama-Aizkorri) Oihana Kortazar and Martina Valmassoi who podiumed at the RUT ultra.

VK

Could Remi Bonnet and Laura Orgue do the ‘Limone Double?’ It is very possible and what a story that would make.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-3886

Remi for sure has the ability and skill to nail a tough VK and then less than 12-hours later run a SKY race and win. So yes, he is an odds on favourite for the win.

Francois Gonon though will most certainly create a stumbling block for him. Particularly after that impressive VK in Chamonix what seems like lifetime ago. However, the format in Limone is different. It’s not a time trial set off in 30-second intervals, it’s a mass start and therefore early positioning is critical. It may not suit the fast Scott runner?

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-3844

Martin Anthamatten and Stian Angermund may well infiltrate the podium places. Particularly Stian, he loves a VK as he showed at Tromso.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesVK2015-1042

We can’t talk VK without strong mentions for Urban Zemmer, William Bon Mardion, Nijc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet and Marco Moletto. These 5 runners all run for La Sportiva and they VK specialists. Urban has won here in the past. Can he do it again? Expect them all to figure in or around the top-5.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesVK2015-1172

As mentioned, Laura Orgue like Remi will be the odds on favourite for the victory. I don’t really see anyone beating her! She could save her legs for the following days SKY race but that is not her style, for me, she will go all out.

We can expect a strong challenge to come from Kasie Enman, Yngvild Kaspersen, Victoria Kreuzer, Beatrice Delflorian, Francesca Rossi and Serena Vittori.

All the action starts on Friday with a night time VK and then the SKY race takes place on Saturday.

Limone Extreme’s addition into the Skyrunner® World Series, has seen the race grow by 400% since 2012. 2015 will have 1,000 particpants in the two races (760 and 240 respectively).

You can follow the stories through words and images on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and on Facebook at facebook.com/iancorlessphotography.

In addition, the official Skyrunning Facebook page (here) and Twitter @skyrunning_com will have regular updates and news.

Episode 94 – Glen Coe Skyline and UTMB

TALK ULTRA LOGO

Episode 94 of Talk Ultra is all about the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and UTMB. We have some post race chats with Emelie Forsberg, Florian Reichert and RD, Shane Ohly about Glen Coe and then we have a full and in-depth interview with race winner, Joe Symonds. UTMB was a race of drama and instead of speaking to the top 3, we chat with Damian Hall and Richard Ashton, two Brits who finished in the top 50. Niandi Carmont is my co-host

00:09:30 NEWS

Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities https://iancorless.org/2015/04/28/nepal-appeal-nepalearthquake/

You will notice a few changes in episode 93 of Talk Ultra. Yes, we have some new music, a new logo and over the coming weeks and months we will start to add some new interview sections.

GLEN COE SKYLINE

1 – Joe Symonds 7:36:21

2 – Mark Harris 7:44:51

3 – Jayson Cavill 7:49:42

00:13:30 INTERVIEW FLORIAN REICHERT

1 – Emelie Forsberg 7:44:12 and 2nd overall

2 – Jasmin Paris 7:54:29

3 – Sarah Ridgway 9:21:44

00:25:15 INTERVIEW EMELIE FORSBERG

00:31:56 INTERVIEW SHANE OHLY

UTMB

1 – Xavier Thevenard 21:09:15

2 – Luis Alberto Hernando 21:57:17

3 – David Laney 21:59:42

1 – Nathalie Mauclair 25:15:33

2 – Uxue Fraille 26:29:35

3 – Denise Zimmerman 27:33:51

LEADVILLE

1 – Ian Sharman 16:33:54

2 – Kyle Pietari 18:16:04

3 – Juan Carlos Sagatsume 18:29:27

1 – Liza Howard 19:34:09

2 – Kara Henry 19:54:08

3 – Danielle Hilson 22:28:00

ULTRAVASEN

1 – Jonas Buud 5:45:08

2 – Max King 6:06:11

3 – Didrik Hermansen 6:08:10

1 – Jasmin Nunige 7:02:35

2 – Ida Nilsson 7:05:56

3 – Petra Kindlund 7:34:02

00:56:31 INTERVIEW

JOE SYMONDS

01:51:05 INTERVIEW

RICHARD ASHTON

02:26:54 INTERVIEW

DAMIAN HALL

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

New South Wales

Great North Walk 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Great North Walk 100 Miles | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Queensland

Glasshouse 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Glasshouse 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Victoria

Walhalla Wound-Up – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Austria

“GRAWE” 50km Lauf | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

“NKE Austria” 100km Lauf | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Wörthersee Trail-Maniac 114 K | 114 kilometers | September 18, 2015 | website

Wörthersee Trail Maniak 114K Superior | 114 kilometers | September 18, 2015 | website

Canada

Alberta

Lost Soul 100 Km Ultra | 100 kilometers | September 11, 2015 | website

Lost Soul 100 Mile Ultra | 100 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

Lost Soul 50 Km Ultra | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

British Columbia

50K Cody Claim Run | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Finlayson Arm 50k Fat Ass | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Golden Ultra | 80 kilometers | September 18, 2015 | website

Mount Robson 50km Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Ontario

Haliburton Forest Trail 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Haliburton Forest Trail 50 km Race | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Haliburton Forest Trail 50 Mile Race | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Sears Great Canadian Run – Toronto | 141 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Quebec

Chute du Diable 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Chute du Diable 80 km | 80 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Croatia

Ucka Trail – 73 km | 73 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Denmark

Nordjylland

100 Miles – Around the isle of Mors | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Ultra-Trail Côte d’Azur Mercantour | 140 kilometers | September 04, 2015 | website

Bas-Rhin

Grand Trail du HK ” The Magic Trail” | 52 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Bouches-du-Rhône

Grand Raid de Camargue | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Isère

Ultra Trail du Vercors | 88 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Lot

Figeac – Conques | 208 kilometers | September 17, 2015 | website

Trail Vallée Cere et Dordogne – 53 km | 53 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Pas-de-Calais

Trail de la côte d’Opale – 62 km | 62 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Rhône

La Nuit des Carbones – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 04, 2015 | website

Vendée

Bol d’Air – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Vosges

L’infernal Trail des Vosges – 160 km | 158 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

L’infernal Trail des Vosges – 72 km | 72 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia

P-Weg Ultramarathon | 73 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

Dorint-RUN50 | 50 kilometers | September 18, 2015 | website

Greece

Athens-Sparta | 245 kilometers | September 04, 2015 | website

Iceland

Run Iceland Adventure Trail | 110 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

India

Jammu and Kashmir

Khardung La Challenge | 72 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Tamil Nadu

Chennai Trail Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Ireland

Munster

Dingle Ultra Marathon | 50 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Kerry Way Ultra | 120 miles | September 04, 2015 | website

Italy

Aosta Valley

Tor des Géants | 330 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Liguria

Avatrail – 54 km | 54 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Sellaronda Trail Running | 56 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Veneto

Troi dei Cimbri | 53 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Japan

100 km | 100 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

53 km | 53 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

New Zealand

Marton-Wanganui Ultramarathon | 66 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Norway

Telemark’s Toughest | 81 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Poland

7 Valleys Run Ultramarathon of the Festival | 100 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Bieg 7 Dolin – Ultramaraton – 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Bieg 7 Dolin – Ultramaraton – 66 km | 66 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Portugal

180 km | 180 kilometers | September 04, 2015 | website

Romania

Ciucas X3 Ultramaraton | 105 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Dracula 106K | 106 kilometers | September 04, 2015 | website

Dracula 106K 2-Day Stage Race | 106 kilometers | September 04, 2015 | website

Vlad Tepes 52K | 52 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Singapore

Craze Ultra 100 miles | 100 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Craze Ultra 101 km | 101 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Craze Ultra 78 km | 78 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Slovenia

Marathon Celje-Logarska dolina – 75 km | 75 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Sunday Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Hout is Goud Day-Breaker | 80 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Spain

Catalonia

Ultra Trail dels Comtes d’Erill | 82 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Principality of Asturias

Ultra Trail Macizo de Ubiña “Los Güeyos del Diablo” | 64 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Switzerland

Valais

Trail des Dents-du-Midi – Trail découverte | 57 kilometers | September 18, 2015 | website

Vaud

Ultratour du Leman | 173 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Anglesey

Ring o’ Fire | 131 miles | September 04, 2015 | website

Argyll and Bute

Tiree Ultramarathon | 35 miles | September 06, 2015 | website

Buckinghamshire

Infinity Run – 100 miles in 24hrs | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Cumbria

Lakes Sky Ultra | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Gloucestershire

Cotswold Way Challenge Multistage Ultra | 57 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Northern Ireland

Titanic Quarter 101k | 101 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Titanic Quarter 50k | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Oxfordshire

Thames Path Challenge 100km | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Thames Path Challenge 50km | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Powys

10 Peaks Brecon Beacons – Long Course | 89 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

10 Peaks Brecon Beacons – Short Course | 58 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Shropshire

Double or Nothing | 70 miles | September 18, 2015 | website

Stockport

Bullock Smithy | 56 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Suffolk

Ultra Tour of Suffolk | 50 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

USA

Alaska

Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay | 175 kilometers | September 11, 2015 | website

Arizona

Paatuwaqatsi Run 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

California

Headlands 100mi | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Headlands 50mi | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Headlands 75mi | 75 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Los Pinos 50K | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Lost Sierra 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Robinson Flat 50k | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Tahoe 200 | 200 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

Colorado

Devil on the Divide 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Flaming Foilage Relay | 160 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

Hideaway Hundred 100 Miler | 101 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Hideaway Hundred 50K | 33 miles | September 06, 2015 | website

Hideaway Hundred 50 Miler | 50 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | September 18, 2015 | website

Solemates Silverton 100 Miler | 100 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Tommyknocker 100K | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Tommyknocker 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Florida

The Pinellas Trail Challenge | 46 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Wildcat 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Wildcat 100 Miler | 100 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Idaho

Moscow Mountain Madness | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Illinois

50K | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Double-Ender 25k | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Evergreen Lake Ultra and a Half | 51 miles | September 13, 2015 | website

Evergreen Lake Ultras | 34 miles | September 13, 2015 | website

The Hennepin Hundred – 100M | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

The Hennepin Hundred – 100M Relay | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

The Hennepin Hundred – 50M | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Kansas

Hawk 100 | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Hawk 50 | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Massachusetts

TARC Fall Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

TARC Fall Classic 50 M | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

The Rock Run | 50 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Michigan

Freak 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Hallucination 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

LSD 100K | 100 kilometers | September 11, 2015 | website

Peace, Love & 50 mile | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Minnesota

Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

Superior Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Missouri

Go! KT82 Trail Relay | 82 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Montana

The Rut 50K | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Nebraska

Bohemian Alps 50 Kilometer Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

New York

Shawangunk Ridge 74-Mile Trail Run/Hike | 74 miles | September 18, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Weymouth Woods 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Oklahoma

3 Half Marathons in 3 Days | 39 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

3 Marathons in 3 Days | 78 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Do-Wacka-Do 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

DoWackaDo 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

DoWackaDo Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Oregon

McKenzie River Trail Run | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Pennsylvania

Groundhog Fall 50K | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Pine Creek Challenge 100K | 100 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

Pine Creek Challenge 100M | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Tennessee

Stanky Creek 50K | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2015 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Utah

Red Rock Relay Zion Edition | 187 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

Vermont

Jay Peak 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Virginia

Iron Mountain 50 mile Trail Run | 50 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Odyssey 40 Mile Trail Ultra | 40 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

The Blude Ridge Relay | 208 miles | September 11, 2015 | website

The Ring – Massanutten Trail Circuit Run | 71 miles | September 05, 2015 | website

Washington

Day Two- (September 7) 50k | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

First Call Veterans Day 50K (September) | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

PCT Bunker to Bonneville 50K  | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Plain 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | September 12, 2015 | website

Volcanic 50 Mt St. Helens | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2015 | website

Wisconsin

Lake Michigan Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2015 | website

Wyoming

Sundance 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | September 12, 2015 | website

03:00:00 CLOSE 

 

 03:05:43

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Website – talkultra.com

The RUT 2015 Race Preview

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2015-3447

A stunning weekend of Skyrunning takes place this weekend at the aptly named ski resort, Big Sky in Montana.

Yes, it’s time to get in a RUT with the RUT series of races.

The Skyrunner® World Series 2015 continues at a pace with VK, SKY and ULTRA events taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.

As you can imagine, with 3 races on over, a high quality world-class field will come together in Montana to do battle in earth and sky.

Friday’s Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® has Laura Orgue and new sensation, Rémi Bonnet heading up the ladies’ and male fields on what will provide an epic Skyrunning battle as runners climb 1000m as fast possible.

Laura will have strong competition from Oihana Kortazar, rising star Yngvild Pedersen and the ever-present and persistent Maite Maiora.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-2169

For the men, Max King fresh from a podium place at Ultravasen will need all his whit’s about him to hold off fast running from Ricky Gates, Xavier and Ferran Teixido and David Magnani.

In the Sky race (25k) which will take place on Saturday, we have the ‘A” Team of ladies. Emelie Forsberg fresh from victory at the ground-breaking Salomon Glen Coe Skyline in the UK will be looking to hold off Hardrock 100 winner and recent Nolan’s 14 FKT record breaker, Anna ‘Frosty Frost.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-2299

But it is no 2 lady race, in actual fact, this 25km race has one of the finest ladies’ fields ever assembled with Laura Orgue, Maite Maiora, Oihana Kortazar, Stevie Kremer, Kasie Enman, Megan Kimmel, Yngvild Pedersen and Eva Maria Moreda; wow! That is one seriously stacked ladies’ field and one that is heavily biased towards Salomon. They may very well take a 1,2,3 on the podium?

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-2185

Would you like to pick a winner?

Megan Kimmel has been on fire recently despite a minor blip at Matterhorn Ultraks, Stevie Kremer as ever is a strong contender for the podium and Laura Orgue can climb like demon. I think the overall victory may well potentially come from one of these ladies, but who know? It’s wide open and that is great. Expect dome real Skyrunning fireworks.

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

In the 25km men’s race, Tadei Pivk, Tom Owens, Joe Gray and Marco De Gasperi head up a quality field and they will be looking to fight off strong competition from Ferran Teixido, Xavier Texeido, Sintu Yives and Jessed Hernandez. I’m going to stick my neck out and hope that Brit and fell running exponent Tom Owens takes out the win but Tadei has been a strong and dominant force over the Sky distance in 2015 and Joe Gray has been on fire lately..

©iancorless.com_Transvulcania2015-9333

Sunday proposes a 3000m+ Ultra over 50km’s and believe it or not, we may well see Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg do the ‘double’ and follow up Saturday’s 25km event with the Ultra. Hence why I didn’t pick them for the podium. In all honesty, Frosty and Emelie are currently better suited to the 50km event and if I were them, I’d keep my powder dry on Saturday and save it for an all explosive firework in the 50km.

In 2014, Emelie won this event ahead of Kasie Enman and Frosty placed 3rd. I think we can anticipate a similar result but with Frosty moving up 1 place and the final podium place being taken by the Mont-Blanc 80k 3rd place, Hillary Allen. We obviously can expect Ashley Erba and Kristina Pattison to disagree with this and without doubt they will be looking to shake up the podium.

©iancorless.com_ITT2015-9929

The men’s race is a little wide open but Italian Franco Colle may well be the favourite after a strong result at Mont-Blanc 80km and his recent run at Tromso Skyrace. Timothy Parr will contest the podium as will Josh Arthur and Luke Nelson. Not sure if Seth Swanson is going to run but after 2nd at Western States and 4th at UTMB (just last weekend) who would put it past him rocking up and winning this one?

It’s a big weekend of running in Montana and if anyone ever asked the question, ‘is Skyrunning on the up in the USA?’ – the answer is a definite yes! 1800 runners in total will participate in the RUT’s weekend of activities and of course a winner could come from anywhere! Expect some shocks, some surprises and maybe we will see a new star of Skyrunning shine?

The VK, SKY and ULTRA races also appear in the Skyrunner® US Series and points will be available for this series handled and co-ordinated by Ian Sharman.

It’s going to be an amazing weekend of running.

You can follow the stories through words and images on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and on Facebook at facebook.com/iancorlessphotography.

In addition, the official Skyrunning Facebook page (here) and Twitter @skyrunning_com will have regular updates and news.

*Note – Ricky Lightfoot, Dakota Jones, Michel Lanne and others were listed to run but as I understand it, they ill not start.

Tromsö Skyrace 2015 – Race Summary

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-7188The mountains and fjords were lost in and amongst light persistent rain and cloud for the 2nd edition of the Tromsö Skyrace part of the ultra Skyrunner® World Series.

View race images HERE

Not even the 24-hour daylight could illuminate the proceedings, it was going to be a tough grey day. But despite the monotone, colour was in abundance; runners, race staff and marshals added that.

Anticipation worldwide for the Tromso Skyrace was high, and it’s clear to understand why. The race had 2 high profile race directors in Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, it had a world class field assembled and if offered arguably one of the toughest and most challenging 45km of any race, worldwide!

“It was crazy, but it was awesome! Certainly one of the most difficult race in the world!” – Greg Vollet

4600m elevation awaited the runners but that statistic is only part of the story. It’s the technicality that makes this race hard. Steep descents, challenging terrain and the ridge running at Hamperokken requires 110% focus. This IS NOT a race for everyone. It requires a level of skill, devotion and commitment that not every runner has. 2014 champion, Eirik Haugsness summed it up when he said:

“As you can see on my face – this race is an intense experience.”

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-4645

Intense it was and I can say, having climbed all the way to the final summit and located myself on the ridge to capture the front runners, the climb or the ridge did not disappoint. On the contrary, at times it was quite intimidating!

400 runners departed from Fjellheisen at 10am and they had to run what looks like a figure of 8 course that takes in 2 mountain summits: Tromsdalstind (1.238m) and Hamperokken (1.404m). Crossing snow fields, rivers, dense forest and of course technical ridges, the race was made even more challenging with the weather and the ‘slick’ conditions underfoot.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-4585

Skyrunner® World and European Champion for the Ultra distance, Luis Alberto Hernando was the odds-on favourite for victory and it was no surprise that he dictated the pace from the front. His arrival at Hamperokken ridge in 1st place was no surprise, however, the proximity of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th was. They were only minutes behind! The charge was lead by Eirik Haugsness but Jonathon Albon was hot on his heels, as was Pascal Egli and Rolf Einar Jensen.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-4643

Post race Haugsness commented that this group of 4 had agreed not to ‘race’ the ridge. It was a wise choice. It offers no room to pass and crossing from one end to the other is all about being comfortable with the challenge and doing so at ones own pace.

“At about 1100m the famous Hamperokken ridge proper starts, this is like a combination of the Aonach Eagach (Scotland) and Crib Goch Ridges (Wales) but with fewer escape paths. It is solid grade II scrambling in parts with a few very short sections that are maybe grade III” – Shane Ohly, RD for the Glen Coe Skyline

On the descent though Albon moved ahead and went in pursuit of Hernando.

“I was running with the group and I thought, I can go quicker than this so I did,” said Albon after the race.

Albon caught Hernando before the final climb and then slowly but surely opened up a gap as the Spaniard started to seize with tiredness and fatigue. Albon took victory 17-minutes clear and although he came to this race a relative unknown, his win has turned heads. Coming from an obstacle racing background where he has been a world champion, this course suited him perfectly. It was a stunning win and boy-oh-boy is great to see a Brit on top of the podium. Hernando held on for 2nd and Einar Jensen took the final podium place.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-5085

The ladies race actually had a very similar feel to the men’s race. Race director, Emelie Forsberg had decided some time ago that she would run her own race and formulated a plan with co-race director Kilian Jornet and the team of marshals and helpers to facilitate that. Like Hernando, Forsberg is the current Skyrunner® World Champion and European Champion for the ultra distance, so although victory was a distinct possibility it was not guaranteed.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-5182

Forsberg arrived at Hamperokken ridge in 1st just like Hernando but was closely followed by Maite Maiora and Mira Rai. Norwegian Malena Haukøy was in 4th place but looked strong and composed.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-5129

Over the final half of the course Forsberg slowly extended a small lead and Mira Rai pursued. Maite Maiora took a tumble on the descent from Hamperokken and although she received no permanent injury, it did impact on her race causing her to slow. Rai moved into 2nd (who also fell) and local girl Malena Haukøy moved ahead of Maiora and took an excellent 3rd on the podium.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-5282

111 runners completed the course before the midnight cut-off time. Of course the stories and experiences of an epic day in the mountains will continue to be revealed in the coming days and weeks. One thing is for sure, Kilian and Emelie have created something quite special in Tromso. It’s a race that harks back to the roots of Skyrunning. It’s alpinism without the clutter. But be warned, this race is not for everyone and as such, just like Trofeo Kima in Italy, you need to ensure that you are prepared for the challenge that the Tromso Skyrace will throw at you. Roll on 2016.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-7205

As a footnote, it was incredible to see how Kilian and Emelie used their passion for running to provide this experience for all. Of course no event can happen without an incredible team of volunteers and helpers and at Tromsö they had this help in abundance. But Kilian was a man possessed. He was course marking, writing reports, taking photographs ensuring everyones safety on the route and to top it all off he was at the finish to welcome everyone with a smile and a medal. It was impressive to see. Bravo! And as Emelie would say:

‘All great races finish with a cinnamon bun!”

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-7095

 View race images HERE

Results

  1. Emelie Forsberg 7:09:54
  2. Mira Rai 7:23:09
  3. Malena Haukøy 7:31:29
  1. Jonathon Albon 6:08:41
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando 6:25:54
  3. Rolf Einar Jensen 6:28:51

Tromso Skyrace logo

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-7202 

Tromsö Skyrace 2015 Preview – “Soul running between the sky and the sea!”

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It’s the 2nd edition of the Tromsö Skyrace and although the 2 race directors won’t thank me for adding a spotlight onto them, one has to admit that Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet as RD’s really does add a plus to an event.

If you were a cynic, you may well think that the race just uses the two Skyrunning stars as a vehicle for promotion! If you do, you could not be more wrong! Just a glance at Facebook this last 2 weeks has provided us all with a real insight into how ‘hands-on’ Kilian and Emelie have been in getting this race off the ground and ready for an increased audience.

The duo brings a true love of the mountains and a desire for technical terrain to a larger audience and with the Tromsö Skyrace the challenge is a tough one! Edition 1 had many a runner saying that it was the most extreme and technical 45km’s they had ever run. That I am sure would place a big smile on Kilian’s and Emilie’s’ faces. Using inspirational race like Trofeo Kima as an influence on the Tromsö Skyrace, the race is set to be a classic that will run for a great deal of time.

Located in Tromsö, Norway, the race embraces the wilderness and 24-hour days with fjords and glaciers as a backdrop. In the words of Kilian and Emelie, it is “Soul running between the sky and the sea!”

In summary:

  • Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg: two world-class race ambassadors
  • Tromsö, a remarkable landscape
  • Three races
  • International yet familiar race
  • Eco-responsive race

300 runners in total will arrive in Tromsö for what I am sure will be an amazing, awe inspiring experience that they will hold and cherish for a long time to come. After all, the race does take place in the Norwegian Arctic Circle.

“First we just started to talk about how cool it was that in the north we can run 24 hours in light during the summer. And then we started to talk about what we think Skyrunning is and how we would like a race that includes all the key ingredients; trails, summits, ridges off trail aid stations, a consideration for the environment and so on! We decided to make a course that comes close to the city but still has all the key ingredients that we want in a race, summits, wilderness and technical parts! We are so happy about the route!”

 

Friday will start with a Blamann VK, 2.6km in length and 1044m of vertical gain make this race a true challenge for those who like to push themselves on a steep gradient.

The Tromsdalstind Skyrace has 19km length and 1600m elevation and the key race for the weekend is the Hamperokken Skyrace which is part of the Ultra Skyrunner® World Series and has 42km length and 4100m of vertical gain.

So who is running?

VK

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Nejc Kuhar heads up a strong VK race and as Skyrunner® World Series leader for the VK distance he is a firm favourite for the title in Tromsö.

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However, Eirik Haugsness and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen are almost certainly going to want to represent themselves highly and what is a ‘local’ race.

Rising star, Remi Bonnet will also be a key contender as will Ferran Texeido but the dark horse may well be Stian Hovind so keep an eye on him, he is my dark horse for the top of the podium.

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The ladies VK race is wide open and maybe not surprisingly, Emelie Forsberg may well be a hot favourite for victory.

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Azara Garcia will almost certainly contend the podium, as will Therese Sjursen and Ekatarina Mityaaeva.

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Mira Rai will also run but I think the Nepalese runner is still finding her feet in these short vertical races. I am sure she will be looking to the Ultra on Sunday for her best performance.

 

ULTRA

I fully appreciate that 42km is not an ultra, so please don’t email in and point this out! The Tromso Skyrace gains ‘ultra’ status due to the demanding course, technicality and because of the time it will take to complete the course. As we said earlier, this is NO easy race! If in doubt, the winning time from 2014 was 6:38:30!

Men

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Skyrunning World and European Champion for the Ultra distance, Luis Alberto Hernando will toe the line in Tromso and one has to say, he is the man to beat. He has been on fire in 2014 with victory and Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarentaise and 2nd place at the IAU World Trail Championships.

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Franco Colle equally has been a revelation in 2015. His victory at Tor des Geants in 2014 placed him on the radar for any race over 100-miles but this year he has nailed Mont-Blanc 80km and Ice Trail Tarentaise. One to watch!

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Last years winner, Eirik Haugsness is going to have his work cut-out to top the podium in 2015 but Tromso is a race that holds a special place for him and that always adds so those essential extra percentages when you need to dig deep.

Philipp Reiter has had a quiet 2015; no doubt university has placed a demand on his time. Tromso however will suit the young Germans skill set and I am almost certain we can expect to feel his presence at the front of the race.

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Cristofer Clemente adds to the front-end action and has consistently performed well in 2015 with a string of top 10 placing.

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Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet can never be ruled out of the front end action and I see that Canadian Adam Campbell is on the start list but I am not sure if he will run after a sterling effort at Hardrock 100.

Local talent will provide a huge surprise factor and here Emelie provides me with some valuable inside information:

Lars Eirik Skjervheim is a member of the Norwegian ski mountaineering team and a very good runner. He has had a struggle with an injury but if he is in good shape he could be on the podium, I think?

Ola Hovdenak was 2nd in 2014 and loves technical trail.

Sven Are Paulsen is a Tromsö X- country skier, that last year got really into Skyrunning! Top 10!

Kristian Ulriksen is a fast roadrunner from Tromso; lets see how he handles the technical trails.

And finally,

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Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz, Zigor Iturrieta (in hospital for an operation), Florian Reichert, Jan Bartas and Stu Air will all figure in or around the top 10 and my dark horse tip goes to Dan Doherty who may well be the surprise package of the whole race.

 

Ladies

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Mira Rai may well excel in the tough and challenging conditions of Tromso. Her victory at Mont-Blanc 80km was a revelation but recent races at the Dolomites VK and Dolomites Skyrace were mixed. Maybe they were too short? Tromso may well be short in distance but in time, it’s a long race that will play into Mira’s hands.

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Maite Maiora is a Skyrunning specialist and specializes in the Sky distance. However, she nailed Transvulcania in 2014 and that therefore elevates her up the ‘one-to-watch’ to THE one to watch.

Australian rising star, Lucy Bartholomew will also run the race and this will be a big test. But I strongly believe it’s a test that she will rise too. The podium may well be a long shot this early in her career but I don’t think she will be too far off.

Malene Hakoy is a Norwegian ski mountaineer, she won Hornidal runt this year and placed second overall… one to watch!

Hilde Aders placed top 10 in the Dolomites VK and placed 2 in Hornidal Runt this year.

Finally, a real dark horse shout out for Shiri Leventhal; I am sure she won’t thank me for pointing a spotlight at her but she made the podium at Everest Trail Race a few years ago and may well be a surprise package. Also, Heather Ohly from the UK may well make an impact on the top-10.

Needless to say, Tromsö Skyrace is going to over a seriously exciting weekend of running in an amazing part of the world and what almost certainly will be and incredible course.

I can’t wait!

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