Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc UTMB® 2016 Preview

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I won’t be at UTMB this year, Trofeo Kima is happening the same weekend in Italy and I wouldn’t miss this high octane extreme event for anything, especially when it only happens every other 2 years.

But UTMB has a stellar line up this year. It’s going to be a cracking race.

Just in case you didn’t know, UTMB is a 170km circular journey that starts and finishes in Chamonix passing through France, Italy and Switzerland with 10,000+ meters of vertical gain on non-technical trails. In 2014 Francois D’Haene of France set the men’s course record 20:11:44 and the female course record is held by Rory Bosio (USA) who ran 22:37:26 in 2013. Rory in the process ranked in the top-10 overall that year!

Recently, UTMB has hit the headlines after a top 10 finisher in the 2015 race, Gonzalo Calisto, was tested and found positive for EPO. This came to light in June when the IAAF added Calisto’s suspension to its website. However, UTMB were not notified of this positive test? In recent weeks and months, many investigations have been made and you can read them all on this website HERE. Ultimately, this positive test has raised alarm bells and certain aspects of the testing and notification procedure need to change. I hope UTMB will have testing once again this year and they provide data and information to the media.

Racing for the main starts on Friday August 26th at 1800hrs local time and it looks like a great weekend of weather is in store for spectators, it may be a little hot for the runners. Please also remember that many other events happen in and around the UTMB, the PTL, TDS and CCC.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando is in a good place! He is a new Dad, has raced less and when he has raced he has been in top form. A repeat win at Transvulcania and dominant performance at the Skyrunning World Championships for a gold medal and world title and suddenly you begin to see everything clicking into place. Luis dropped from the 2014 UTMB and then came back, one year later to place 2nd. Luis does always race from the front and hard, he tempered this in 2015 but it still may well be his achilles heel in 2016? I hope not, Luis would be a popular champion!

David Laney third at UTMB and 8th at Western States in 2015 are two very significant performances and bode well for a great 2016 UTMB. What doesn’t bode well is the most recent 20+ hour finish at Western States. It leaves a huge question mark on David’s current physical and mental ability to take on the big dance in Chamonix.

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Andy Symonds for me is the dark horse. It’s his first 100 miler and that is a huge disadvantage. But Andy knows how to race, prepares meticulously and I know he’s fired up for this race. In the past he has often played 2nd fiddle at the big races but a podium at Transgrancanaria, a victory at Lavaredo and 2nd (silver) behind Luis at the Skyrunning World Championships tells me that the time is right for the Brit who lives in France. Listen to the podcast here.

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Zach Miller is relatively easy to write about… we will see one of two performances: 1. An all guns blazing early race that potentially will open up a gap that he extends and holds on to take the biggest victory of his life! 2. As 1 but a major blow up that sees him lose the lead and drop substantial places or a resulting DNF. Think Max King at Leadville.

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Didrik Hermansen is a potential revelation in Chamonix and I do believe that he can win. I said that at Western States after I saw his run and victory at Transgrancanaria. He didn’t disappoint in the USA and he placed 2nd at WSER. UTMB is a different playground but this guy can run and hike – he is going to need all those skills in France, Italy and Switzerland. Listen to the podcast here.

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Jason Schlarb was fourth at UTMB in 2014, won Run Rabbit Run, completed Marathon des Sables. skied the Hardrock 100 course, won the Hardrock 100 with Kilian Jornet and here he is, in Chamonix, looking to do an epic double – you know what, I think he can do it! I’m not sure that he will have those extra percentages for victory, Hardrock may well have but pay to that. But I do see a potential top 5 and even the podium if the stars align. Listen to the podcast with him here.

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Gediminas Grinius 5th at UTMB in 2014 and what followed was quite a rise in the sport of ultra-running. Gediminas has an interesting back story of post-traumatic stress and it is running that helped. When you have been to hell, pain in an ultra is nothing. It’s worth remembering that this guy can dig deep. A win at Transgrancanaria, a win at UTMF and a string of top 2nd places certainly elevate GG for a top UTMB place. Listen to the podcast here.

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Tofol Castanyer won CCC and was 2nd at UTMB in 2014. He has a string of top performances and results but his recent form seems a question mark. On paper, he’s a podium contender but I said that last year and he didn’t finish. We will have to see?

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Ryan Sandes had a tough 2015 and has patiently come back in 2016 with a 3rd place in Tararwera and 4th place in Australia at the Ultra Trail. Ryan never likes to race a great deal preferring to train and prepare meticulously for key events. He has done that in the past, Western States for example only to not race at the 11th hour due to injury or illness. Apart from FKT records, Ryan’s career highlights are his win at Transgrancanaria and top results at UTMF and WSER. Ryan has been in Chamonix for some time training and I hope he will arrive at the line fresh. He has all the potential to shake up the podium. Listen to the podcast here.

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Fabien Antolinus is an under the radar runner who is known in France and not many other places. A top consistent performer at Templiers and the Ice Trail Tarentaise, Fabien backed this up last year with a 6th place finish at UTMB behind a doping Gonzalo Calisto, so, he finished 5th really. I see a potential repeat performance.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras could win, could finish in the top 10, may not start and if he does start, may not finish. Yes, Miguel is a class act when the stars align but neither he or us can predict when this will happen. A highlight for sure was his UTMB 2nd behind Xavier Thevenard in 2013.

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Javier Dominguez just had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto and Andy Symonds. He also placed 3rd at Lavaredo. Although he will be in the mix he is potentially a top 5-10 finisher.

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Julien Chorier has the long game, strength and persistence for a top UTMB performance. I’ve seen him time and time again grind out great results. His victory at Ronda dels Cims a few years back is still one of the most dominant performances of running I have seen. Julien has backed that up at Western States, Hardrock, Diagonale des Fous, UTMF and of course UTMB. His best UTMB was 3rd in 2008 and in 2013 he finished 6th.

Paul Giblin for me is a dark horse. Last year he missed UTMB and compensated with focusing on Western States in 2016, he placed 5th. That’s one of the UK’s best performances at the race. He’s a runner and the 10,000m of vertical may go against his natural abilities but don’t rule him out! Listen to the podcast here.

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You have to draw a line somewhere but we also need to consider, Diego Pazoz who has illuminated several races in 2016, most notably victory at the Eiger Ultra Trail and Mont-Blanc 80km.

He could be a huge surprise as could Stephan Hugenschmidt from Germany who has had many notable results.

Zdenek Kris finished 9th at Ultra Perineu in 2015 and recently placed 5th at the Skyrunning World Championships.

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Two Frenchmen, Arnaud Lejeune who was 2nd at UTMF in 2015 and Thomas Lorblanchet who has wins at Leadville and 4th at Western States will also mix things up.

Ryan Smith, Pau Bartolo, Jez Bragg, Aurelian Collet, Ludovic Pommeret, Armand Teixeira, Jordi Bes and Bertrand Collomb-Patton all have top 10 and certainly top 20 potential.

Needless to say there is a whole stack of other male talent that have experienced UTMB before somewhere in and around the top 50. Any of these runners who could make a breakthrough performance and venture into the high ranking top 20’s or even top 10. It’s what makes the race so interesting.

LADIES

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio holds the course record at UTMB – nuff said! Any lady that finishes in the top-10 overall rocks. But where has Rory been since her repeat victory in 2014? Well, believe it or not, she was filming a reality TV show… really, Rory is an actress! In 2015 she won the Atacama Extreme but other than that she has been relatively low key when racing. UTMB performances are backed up by 2nd, 4th and 5th at Western States so Rory needs no other boosting. I do wonder though if she is in the ‘A’ game frame of mind of 2013 and 2014? We will find out…

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Caroline Chaverot for me is the lady that will win UTMB 2016. Caroline is a machine who smiles from beginning to end and her performances over the last 18-24 months have blown me away. She does race a great deal and I think that went against her at UTMB in 2015 when she DNF’d. This year though I have noticed a difference… she obliterated the Transgrancanaria course, she obliterated the MUT in Madeira and she became Skyrunning World Champion at the Buff Epic Trail – 2016 is Caroline’s UTMB year!

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Nuria Picas has twice finished 2nd and I would normally talk Nuria up as the winner. Last year she dropped early and since has had very mixed performances. I do believe she has the UTWT curse of running and winning too many races in a short period of time which has left her drained. I have seen this in 2016 at Transgrancanaria and most recently at the Buff Epic Trail. Of course, Nuria may well have been savvy and kept her powder dry for Chamonix – I hope so! *August 24th, Nuria will unfortunately not run the 2016 edition due to an injury.

Magdalena Boulet will be there or thereabouts but for me, this course will not allow enough running which is Magda’s strength. No doubt she will be in the mix, her 2nd at CCC proved that but 170k and 10,000m is a big difference to CCC or Western States. Listen to the podcast here.

Uxue Fraille will be out of the mix early on and keep going and produce a solid finish. Uxue’s success is all about pacing and finishing. She lets the other ladies race and fade and then she sweeps them up in the final 1/3rd. Last year she placed 2nd at UTMB and she won UTMF.

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Jasmin Paris is one lady who may well win UTMB one day. I’d love to say that 2016 will be the year but I don’t think it will happen. Jasmin runs a great deal and therefore rarely ‘peaks’ for any one race. This is sometimes a good thing but also a bad thing. Although Jasmin can run long, this will be her first big 100+ miler and the Chamonix experience may well overwhelm her. This year she blitzed the Bob Graham Round FKT to a new level and a week after getting married took bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships and then won Tromso SkyRace. Personally, I feel Jasmin’s forte and skill set will be best suited to the Skyrunner courses where her fell and mountain running background really shines. She will do well at UTMB but this year will be a learning curve. Don’t get me wrong though, top 5 and certainly top 3 is possible. Listen to the podcast here.

Andrea Huser like Jasmin is a non-stop racer and for me always lacks that extra 5-10% when required due to a constant element of fatigue. Her string of top 2nd and 3rd places for me confirm this. In this 2016 field, Andrea can better her 2014 7th and potentially will make the top 5 and may even challenge the podium but I don’t see a victory.

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Fernanda Maciel is a another runner who mixes many sports, races regularly and is always in and around the action. Like Andrea Huser, I see her in the mix but not taking the top slot. If we look at recent results, the consistency is there – 4th at UTMB in 2010, 3rd at MDS, 3rd at Lavaredo 2016 and a string of other podium places at UTWT races. * Fernanda will not run 23rd August. News from her doctors: “They said I was in an advanced stage of injuries to my kidneys caused by my last 2 long races due to dehydration I suffered during the races. Now my blood tests from last friday done here in Chamonix seem normal but not 100% recovered, and of course I am thinking of the UTMB on friday… I’m really sad because they only told me it today!”

Emilie Lecomte has the long game, strength and tenacity for a 170km race but she lacks the speed of many of the other ladies. A top 10 is an almost guaranteed and as other ladies fade, we can expect Emilie to move up.

Francesca Canepa and Emilie Lecomte in many ways are similar runners and Francesca has a strong history with UTMB and Tor des Geants. On her day, she can be up there and in the mix. Recently her form has been questionable.

Amy Sproston has won Hurt 100 and placed 2nd at Western States. For me, Amy is a runner but then again, Hurt has some gnarly terrain on those 20-mile loops, so, is this the year that Amy puts UTMB demons to rest? Her history is not good with the race – three starts and only one finish when she placed 8th.

Aliza Lapierre is potentially the USA’s top contender behind Rory Bosio. Her list of results in all varieties of races bodes well for a solid UTMB. But at really specific races, Transgrancanaria for example the mountainous terrain has caused her to struggle a little. Aliza like to run and although UTMB has plenty of that, it also has plenty of hands-on-knee action.

Larisa Dannis likes a running race and like many of the American ladies the increased vertical causes an issue. On paper though, she has the racing pedigree for a top performance. you don’t get 2nd at Western States by accident.

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Ester Alves is a good friend and races too much (sorry Ester). One day, Ester will pick a race and prepare meticulously for it and then excel. I saw this earlier this year when she won and dominated The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. I think what worked there was it was the first race of the season and she could therefore be specific over the winter. What has followed is a string of races in many varied locations with a list of good results but no stand out results! Ester placed 8th at the 2014 UTMB so the potential is there!

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Gemma Arenas I know well in the Skyrunning circles but this will be her first 100 and it’s a tough one with strong competition. It will be a learning curve.

Like in the men’s race, curve balls will swing in and we can expect to see these ladies’ mixing it up, Silke KoesterNicky Spinks, Sally McRae, Sarah Willis, Sophie Grant, Frederica Boifava, Joelle Vaught, Alissa St. Laurent and Manu Vilaseca amongst others.

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Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Summary and Images– Skyrunner® World Series

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The Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain. Now in its 4th edition, the race once again is in the Skyrunner® World Series – a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

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The day started well with wispy white clouds penetrating the blue of the sky, we all knew though that it wasn’t going to last… with 2 hours of running the sky turned grey, the rain arrived and low mist enveloped the mountains; the beautiful Matterhorn was gone!

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Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race and the first indication of how this mountain game of chess was going to play out. Christian Mathys was a surprise arrival pushing the pace closely followed by Marc Lauenstein (pre-race favourite) and Nepalese runner, Tirtha Tamang.

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In the ladies’ race, Megan Kimmel from the USA was already dictating the race and the pace opening up a substantial gap on a chasing Elisa Desco from Italy and Michaela Mertova who was looking very strong.

It’s a brutal opening 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

Megan Kimmel from the USA ran hard from the gun in 2015 setting the pace against a world-class field, “Anytime you get the rhythm in the up, the down, or the flat, the body is abruptly put into one of these other actions.  It is steep enough to grind you to a walk on a lot of the uphill and has fair bits of technical descent.”

A 1000m drop from the summit is broken by a small climb at Riffelalp and then Furi follows at 24km at 1880m. Two short sharp climbs follow, the first to Schwarzsee at 2583m and approximately 28km covered. Here Mathys was leading Tamang and Launstein followed minutes behind. It was difficult to tell if Lauenstein was going through a bad patch, he just smiled and pushed on.

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Kimmel picks up her race, “I was comfortably leading the race for the first 30k. When I mean comfortable, I mean it seemed fairly effortless in a racing sense.  I was moving with the terrain on the uphill’s and I was holding back on the descents because it was a long race with a lot of transitions.” Kimmel’s lead was substantial and she was running her own race. Behind, barring an accident, the other ladies were running for 2nd.

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A drop down to 2200m from Schwarzsee was followed with another 500m+ climb and then what follows is mostly a flat runnable plateau that gently weaves up, down and left to right all the way to Trift. Lauenstein had taken the lead now and was flying, Mathys chased but the gap was opening up with every minute that passed.

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A short kick up of 100 to 200m follows Trift and then a fast and furious drop of almost 1000m over a distance of 6km leads to the finish line in Zermatt and the assembled crowds. Lauenstein sealed victory in 4:47:01, just a few minutes outside Kilian Jornet’s course record. Mathy’s held on for an excellent 2nd in 5:51:56 and Tamang placed 3rd in 4:53:03. Once again Hassan Ait Chaou ran an excellent 4th place and last year’s winner and course designer, Martin Anthamatten finished 6th.

Kimmel, the 2015 Dolomites SkyRace winner, after strongly leading the ladies race for the whole race, clinched victory with 20+-minute lead to Michaela Mertova, their respective times 5:23:15 and 5:46:21. Cilia Chiron backed up her great Dolomites SkyRace performance with 3rd and Oihana Kortazar placed 4th. Elisa Desco who had run in 2nd place did not finish due to a fall.

Skyrunning is not just about the uphill and more often than not, it’s the downhill that determines the winner. Today was all about patience and consistency. Racing is often a mental journey as much physical, Kimmel and Lauenstein today proved this at the Matterhorn.

Results for all race HERE


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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SkyRace® Comapedrosa Preview – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

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Andorra will host the fifth stage of the Skyrunner® World Series with the SkyRace® Comapedrosa coming just one week after the Skyrunning World Championships that took place in Spain.

Arinsal, a small ski resort within Andorra  will have 370 runners toe the line to take on the challenge of the 21 km course. The ascent involves a brutal 1,000 metre-high vertical wall over just 2 km which will test the best to the summit of the Comapedrosa at 2,942m the highest point in Andorra.

Starting with a paved road up to the  Coll de les Cases (1958M), a very straight road through a wooded area follows and from this point the runners will encounter a stretch of ridge with much height and little vegetation. Climbing  up to the Pic de les Fonts at 2748m the Pla de l’Estany follows.

Now the beautiful and challenging climb begins, a true vertical wall of more than 1000m of positive difference in about 2km. A VK within a race! Without  a marked path, the runners follow markers to the summit of Comapedrosa at2.942m.

The descent is by the traditional route through the Estany Negre and Comapedrosa refuge, until reaching Arinsal where the race started.

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Azara Garcia and Manuel Merillas are hot favourites after both gaining top 5 results at last weekends Skyrunning World Championships. However, Laura Orgue will race and arguably will be fresher after racing just the VK at the world championships. Oihana Kortazar will also be a podium contender with a strong battle coming from a quality line-up of top female Skyrunner’s that includes:

Yngvild KaspersenMarta MolistRagna DebatsAitziber IbarbiaSheila AvilesLaura Sola de MiguelNuria Dominguez and Ekaterina Mityaeva.

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In the men’s field, Manuel Merillas 4th in the recent World Championships and 2nd in the 2015 Sky rankings may well have a battle on his hands with Rémi Bonnet if the young Swiss is back on form?  Pere Aurell, 2015 race winner, will also defend his title.

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As in the ladies race, the men’s race has great depth:

Marc Casal MirPablo Villa GonzalesOscar Casal MirStian Overgaard Hassan Ait Chaouand Alexis Sevennec head up the competition with a strong presence coming fromand Andrej Fejfar, Pere Aurell (2015 race winner), Aritz EgeaPere Rullan, Alfredo Gil Garcia, Sintu Vives, Jessed Hernandez.

Course records are 2:46:42 by Pere Aurell and 3:21:15 by Oihana Kortazar.


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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

Social Media Logos

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

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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Instagram @skyrunning

 

SKYRUNNING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016 PREVIEW

 

LOGO_SKYRUNNING_WORLD_CHAMPS-768x778Every two years the Skyrunning world assembles at an iconic venue and racing commences in VK, SKY and ULTRA distances to announce a male and female champion in the respective distances. Two years ago, the endurance capital of the world Chamonix, hosted the championships and this year it is Spain.

The Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees will provide a modern day coliseum where Skyrunning gladiators will battle at the BUFF® Epic Trail Aigüestortes events. A spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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

Luis Alberto Hernando

Luis Alberto Hernando

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

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

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

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

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

VK – For the short and steep specialists, the BUFF® EPIC TRAIL VK is 2.8 km long with 1,030m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point. It is capped at 250.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

Check out details of the three World Championship courses here.

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High Trail Vanoise Ultra and Face de Bellevarde VK 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series


Skyrunning and the 2016 Skyrunner World Series arrives in France this weekend for an action packed double bill of VK and ULTRA. On Friday, the Face de Bellevarde VK kicks off in Val D’Isere to take on the steep slopes that lead to the summit way up in the sky.
Marco De Gasperi, Skyrunning legend has the record of 34:51 set on this course many years ago and this year, up and coming rising star, Remi Bonnet will be looking to set a new benchmark. The young runner won’t have it all his own way though, Ferran Teixido, current leader in the SWS rankings will be looking for a strong performance and the ever present, Urban Zemmer will push the young gun all the way to the summit. Marco Moletto, Hannes Perkman, William Bon Mardion and Pascal Egli will make up the main contenders in an impressive field.
For the ladies, Christelle Dewalle is the current SWS leader and ultimately the one to beat! Elisa Desco, Emily Collinge and Serena Vittori will push the French lady hard but can they beat Laura Orgue’s time of 40:52?
In both races, an incentive is on offer. Should a male or female break the old course records they will receive a cash prize of 2000 euros. If the runner is French, the opportunity to have a new BMW car is available for one year!


High Trail Vanoise is the main event of the weekend and it harks back to the golden days of when Giacometti, Brunod and climbed Monte Rosa and paved the way for this modern phenomenon called Skyrunning. Ice, snow, glaciers, altitude, the High Trail Vanoise has it all. Crossing the iconic Col D’Iseran at 2764m is merely just a taster, the high point of the course is the impressive Grande Motte at 3653m. It’s a tough race, 67km in length, runners will climb (and descend) 5400m to reach the finish line.


Cristofer Clemente heads up there men’s field after an impressive top 10 at Transvulcania and victory at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira. Nicolas Martin, Nuno Silva, Jan Bartas, Dimity Mityaev and the ever-present Fulvio Dapit will look to take top honours and maximum SWS points.


Gemma Arenas fresh from victory in Madeira will be looking to consolidate maximum points and set herself up for a good chance of winning the 2016 SWS. Local French lady Anne-Lise Rousset may well have other thoughts though! Anna Comet has been fighting injury issues but a finish in Madeira and some quality RnR will hopefully set her up for a strong run in France. Travelling from the USA, Kristina Pattison will be looking to repeat her top 10 performance from Madeira and work her way up the rankings ahead of the RUT in the USA.


Just as in the VK, prize money is on offer and the respective winners can expect 3000 euros or French runners will receive 1000 euro and a BMW for a year.
Alpina Watches, sponsored of the SWS will also offer a male and female watch for the Alpina Smart Time.

600 runners will take part in a stunning weekend of high intensity action.


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.

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MIRA – The Movie

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“MIRA” is a gem among the many ultrarunning movies that are currently available. It’s a simple story that pulls at the heart, inspires and at all times remains humble. The movie, like Mira started small and has grown.

In 2014, Mira was unknown, but through the insight of Trail Running Nepal, Richard Bull and Lizzy Hawker, Mira found a home and a story started to unfold. Like any flame, if you provide the right conditions, the flame will grow, increase and yes, even rage.

In February 2015, Lloyd Belcher started to work on this project. Like any project of this nature, it was a risk. Would Mira perform, would the film find the funding required to complete it. Lloyd sums it up so well when he recently said:

“Thank you to all who believed in the value of this project when we started filming in Feb 2015 without any money but a vision of how we wanted to reach girls in Nepal with Mira’s inspirational story. So many have joined us on this journey and given in so many ways.”

The film is the story about Mira, a Nepali village girl on her pursuit to becoming a world-recognised mountain runner while racing primarily in the 2015 Skyrunner World Series.

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I have to say, I have been more than fortunate to witness Mira’s growth, not only from the outside looking in but also on the trails as I have documented in words and images her inspirational rise in the sport.

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The ridges, mountains and technical trail of Tromso, the stunning Italian Dolomites and the Spanish mountains in and around Ultra Pirineu. Mira inspired through her humility, her no-nonsense approach and a very simple approach to life. When you watch MIRA you realise why.

Unlike many other running movies, MIRA is just a great story. It’s inspiring and at times heart breaking. A fascinating watch, Mira’s life journey is told on film; from growing up in  remote Nepalese countryside with poverty, a 2-year stint in the army and a brave solo move to Kathmandu. Victory at an impromptu 50km race made Richard Bull, stop, ask questions and suddenly help Mira (along with Lizzy Hawker) take the first steps on a compelling story to competing with the best in the world.

MIRA is a film for all, runner or not, it’s just great story telling!

Watch the trailer

But most importantly rent and watch the movie. Proceeds will directly benefit initiatives to empower Nepali girls to participate in sports. 

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The movie ‘Mira’ is now available online here

 https://vimeo.com/ondemand/miraraifilm

UTMB – Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc announce the elite field for the 2016 edition

UTMB

The 2016 edition of the UTMB will take place this August, for 13-years the race has made a rendezvous in the endurance capital of the world, Chamonix!

In preparation for the 2016 edition, the organisation have just announced the elite level competitors that will compete, head-to-head, with 7500 runners over the four races – CCC, OCC, TDS and UTMB.

The main event, the UTMB, is a 170km journey that takes in 3 countries with a total elevation gain of 10,000m. A time limit of 47 hours is provided to give the 2300 runners an opportunity to complete the journey.

So who is running?

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

LADIES:

  • Rory Bosio
  • Stephanie Howe
  • Caroline Chaverot
  • Magdalena Boulet
  • Andrea Huser
  • Alissa St Laurent
  • Francesca Canepa
  • Uxue Fraile
  • Frederica Boifava
  • Gemma Arenas Alcazar
  • Fernanda Maciel
  • Jasmin Paris
  • Cristina Bes Jineta
  • Pui Yan Chow
  • Meghan Arbogast
  • Denise Zimmermann
  • Emelie Lecomte
  • Ildiko Wermescher
  • Amy Sproston
  • Kerrie Wlad

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Now in anyones book, that is a quality ladies line-up. The most notable name missing is of course Nuria Picas. I have highlighted the hot favourites for overall victory and definite wild card of Jasmin Paris for a surprise podium place.

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MEN:

  • Luis Alberto Hernando
  • Tofol Castaner
  • Dylan Bowman
  • Zach Miller
  • Miguel Heras
  • David Laney
  • Stephan Hugenschmidt
  • Timothy Olson
  • Seth Swanson
  • Ryan Sandes
  • Jason Schlarb
  • Gediminas Grinius
  • Pau Bartolo
  • Jordi Bes
  • Tim Tollefson
  • Fabien Antolinus
  • Jorge Maravilla
  • Ryan Ghelfi
  • Ludovic Pommeret
  • Didrik Hermansen
  • Julien Chorier
  • Andy Symonds
  • Thomas Lorblanchet
  • Ryan Kaiser
  • Arnaud Lejeune

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WOW! That may well be THE elite field assembled in any race ever… It’s a seriously exciting line-up and just look at how many bold names are in that line-up! In all honesty, the whole list could be bold as victory could come from anywhere.

So with several months to go, we have already seen Caroline Chaverot and Didrik Hermansen lay down seriously strong performances at Transgrancanaria.

Elite line-ups for TDS, CCC and OCC are as follows:

Notable names in the TDS are Ruth Croft and Lisa Borzoi for the ladies and in the men’s race, Franco Colle, Pau Capell, Travis Macy and Sondre Amdahl amongst others.

TDS2016

CCC ones to watch: Jo Meek, Holly Rush and Manikala Rai fo the ladies and Sage Canaday, Michel Lanne and Freddy Thevenin amongst others for the men’s race.

CCC2017

OCC2017

Who in your opinion will make top 3 in the respective male and female races at the 170km UTMB event?

Please comment below:

SKYRUNNING 2016 CALENDAR announced

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The International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) is pleased to announce the 

2016 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

Taking Skyrunning to the next level with the best races, new events and what’s more, skyrunning is going EXTREME!

Kilian_TrofeoKima

In addition to the successful Vertical, Sky and Ultra formats, the ISF is pleased to announce the introduction of the Sky Extreme Series. Three countries, three super-technical races and runners worldwide will have a real opportunity to embrace the skyrunning ethos.

“When I discovered Skyrunning years ago it was the images of small runners traversing huge glaciers, scrambling rock ridges and descending steep snow fields. I’m really happy to see this new Series, with the most technical races –  the soul of skyrunning!” – Kilian Jornet

Sky Extreme kicks off on August 7, with the Tromsø SkyRace® in Norway, where Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg launched the first, made-to-measure SkyRace in the Northern territories.  The biennial Kima Trophy is back and the 2016 series will conclude with a new entry, the Glencoe Skyline. Set in the Scottish Highlands, it’s probably the toughest skyrunning race to date.

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The Sky Series counts extends to 8 races in 6 countries and goes to Mainland China with the Yading Skyrun which opens the season in April.  The highest race in the World Series, it reaches a breath-taking 4,700m altitude on the Tibetan Plateau in China’s spectacular Sichuan mountains.

More new races include the Livigno Outdoor Race Experience and Santa Caterina Vertical Kilometer® in Sondrio, Italy, designed by the magic hand of top skyrunner Marco De Gasperi. Summiting the highest point in the Principality of Andorra, the SkyRace® Comapedrosa represents a true skyrunning challenge, reaching nearly 3,000m elevation. New entry from Portugal, the Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira will  offer a challenging and technical 55k to the island’s highest point.

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An end of season prize purse to the value of €36,000 will reward the remarkable efforts of the athletes competing in the 2016 Series and the combined prize purse will be over €135,000.

“We’re glad we can give more back to the athletes. In this sport, the rewards don’t just come from touching the sky, but a tangible compensation for their incredible performance.”

– Marino Gicamoetti (ISF President and founder)

 

2016 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

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SKY                            

April 30           Yading Skyrun – 29 km, Sichuan – China

May 22           Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42 km, Zegama – Spain 

June 26          Livigno Outdoor Race Experience – 30 km, Livigno – Italy

July 17            Dolomites SkyRace® – 22 km, Canazei – Italy

July 31            SkyRace® Comapedrosa, 22 km – Andorra

Aug 20           Matterhorn Ultraks 46K – Zermatt – Switzerland

Sept 4             The Rut 25K – Big Sky, Montana – USA

Oct 22            Limone Extreme SkyRace® – 23 km, Limone Sul Garda – Italy

 

SKY EXTREME

August 7        Tromsø SkyRace® – 50 km, Tromsø  – Norway

August 28      Kima Ultra SkyMarathon® – 50 km. Val Masino – Italy

Sept 18           Glen Coe Skyline-  53 km, Glen Coe – Scotland

 

VERTICAL 

May 5             TVU Vertical – Tazacorte, La Palma – Spain

June 24          Santa Caterina Vertical Kilometer® – Sondrio, Italy

July 10            Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde – Val d’Isère – France

July 15            Dolomites Vertical Kilometer® – Canazei – Italy

August 5        Blamann Vertical – Tromsø  – Norway

Sept 2             Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® – Montana – USA

Oct 21            Vertical Kilometer® Grèste de la Mughéra – Limone Sul Garda -Italy

 

ULTRA

May 7             Transvulcania Ultramarathon – 75 km, La Palma – Spain

June 4            Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira – 55 km, Madeira – Portugal 

July 10            High Trail Vanoise – 68K, Val d’Isère – France

Sept 4             The Rut 50K, Big Sky, Montana – USA

Sept 24           Ultra Pirineu – 110 km, Bagà – Spain 

 

Skyrunner® World Series Ranking

Maximum number of results scored:

Sky Extreme: two best results

Ultra: three best results

Sky & Vertical: four best results

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EcoTrail Funchal 2015 – Madeira

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Arnaud Lejeune winning the 80km

The first edition of the ECOTRAIL Funchal took place today on the stunning island of Madeira.

For those who know, they will say, Madeira? wow, that is a hilly island for a race. I agree! It’s a very hilly island for a race.

Three events, 600+ people and community united are the key statistics from this inaugural edition.

Starting at 0600m the main event of the day, the 80km race (5400m of elevation gain) departed the centre of the town and under the illumination of head lamps the runners set out for what was without doubt a tough day and for many, night, on the trails of Funchal.

At 0900 the 40km event with 2500m of elevation gain departed from Algeria (Alegria) and finally at 1100, the 17km event with just 250m of vertical gain departed from Bico (PICO) de Barcelos.

Madeira is known for it’s great all year climate but race day proved to be a mix of glorious sunshine, cloud and light rain. However, the conditions for runners were perfect enabling the majority to run in conditions that were neither to hot or cold.

First edition races seldom have high quality fields but here in Madeira three world-class French runners toed the line:

Arnaud Lejeune – recent 2nd place at the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji

Julien Chorier – Champion of the Madeira Island Ultra Trail in 2014 and 6th at Western States in 2015.

Fabien Antolinos – 6th at UTMB 2015

Although Lejeune and Antolinus dominated the 80km event and Chorier won the 40km race, the ECOTRAIL Funchal is much more than elite names racing and setting records. The race is all about motivation and inspiration. This was reflected in the 17km event where local people arrived in their hundreds to take part and support

The race, the people and the island rely on tourism and without doubt, the ECOTRAIL race adds a great boost.

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The 80km and 40km races

The race started by following the main streets of the town heading east and then up to Curral dos Rameiros and Monte. Following trails, technical at times they head to the 1800m summit at Pico do Arieiro and then drop like stones to Allegria (this is the 40km start). Navigating through suburban streets a brutal uphill follows and then a descent to Ribeira Grande, Santo Antonio. At Levada Negra another steep climb awaits, unfortunately this is the nature of Madeira trails; they go up and down! From Pico de Buxo they drop downhill towards the sea and stunning views of Funchal. Following trails and paths they navigate to the finish in Funchal with a final stretch running along the coast and the finish in  Avenida do Infante.

17km

Starts from Pico de Barelo and takes in the final sections of the 80km and 40km events to finish on the Avenida do Infante in Funchal.

Race Results

In the 80km race, Arnaud Lejeune lead from the front and had a stunning day on the trails of Madeira. Despite a fall, he arrived in Funchal looking strong. Fabien Antoninus played the bridesmaid and as the latter stages of the race unfolded he obviously decided to take his foot of the gas and save some energy.

  1. Arnaud Lejeune 8:30:09
  2. Fabien Antoninus 8:49:46
  3. Leonardo Diogo 9:51:17

Ana Conclaves was the ladies winner in 12:43:24

All 80km results are HERE

In the 40km race, Julien Chorier raced in 2nd place for most of the day behind Marco Silva but at around 34km, he pulled away and took a strong victory on a course that he said was, ‘very tough challenging and technical!’

  1. Julien Chorier 4:29:55
  2. Marco Silva 4:33:57
  3. Virgilio Ornelas 4:46:07

 

All 40km results are HERE

The 17km race was all about fun and in many scenarios it provided a first race opportunity for many locals. No doubt, they will be inspired to look ahead to 2016 and maybe move up to the 40km distance.

  1. Marten Bostrom 59:36
  2. Francisco Freitas 1:03:39
  3. Jorge Pimenta 1:06:01

All 17km results HERE

At the time of writing results are slowly but surely coming in as all races have not finished. We will update this post with information as and when available.

You can check the ECOTRAIL Funchal website HERE

Logo EcoTrail Funchal Madeira

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Registration and pre-race click on an image and view the gallery

The early hours click on an image and view the gallery

Race images 1 click on an image and view the gallery

Race images 2 click on an image and view the gallery

Finish 1 click on an image and view the gallery

Finish 2 click on an image and view the gallery

Limone Extreme SkyRace 2015 – Race Summary and Images

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

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

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

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

Click on the images to view pre race photographs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Less Cloud, More Sky!

Results

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

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

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

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