Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2018 Race Preview

Transvulcania is upon us! Since 2012, the race has been an ever-present in the Skyrunner World Series and now it is acclaimed the world over as a pinnacle event. Taking place on the Isla Bonita (the beautiful island) of La Palma, the race personifies the pure ethos of Skyrunning. It is a wonderfully logical race route that starts next to the sea in the south of the island and concludes on the west of the island in the town of Los Llanos. The route offers 74km’s of amazing trails, wonderful views and technical trail and some real vertical ascent (4350m) and descent (4057m) that tests the legs, lungs and mind of the most experienced runner.

Taking place on the GR131, Rute del Bastion, the route starts low and climbs and climbs into the National Park of the Caldera de Taburiente. Runners then traverse the rim to Roques de Los Muchachos before dropping over 2400m in one leg busting drop of 18km’s to the sea and Tazacorte Puerto before a final push upwards to the finish in Los Llanos.

A decade of Transvulcania and La Palma magic. In 2009, just 378 runners toed the line, in 2018, 2000 runners will embark on the majestic journey. One only has to look at past winners of the race to understand the importance of Transvulcania on the world running map – Luis Alberto Hernando Kilian Jornet, Miguel Heras, Dakota Jones, Emelie Forsberg, Anna Frost and the 2017 champions, Ida Nilsson and Tim Freriks.

As in previous year’s the race has a stellar line-up of world-class talent and notably includes the Italian Skyrunning master, Marco De Gasperi. For Marco, this race will be a departure for him as he will arguably race one of the longest races ever in his remarkable career. He is, one of the first ever official Skyrunner’s who has pioneered and paved a way for the rest. His inclusion in the 2018 Transvulcania is an exciting prospect.

Competition will come from all sides, in particular Xavier Thevenard who comes to the race with incredible results, however, he has raced at Transvulcania before and has always seemed to just miss the performances shown at the UTMB series of events which he has dominated. Will 2018 be his year?

Zaid Ait Malek is a pure Skyrunner. He placed 3rd last year and this year may well place 2nd or take the top slot. The race is there for the taking and Zaid has all the skills to make it happen.

Jason Schlarb raced in La Palma last year and had a solid result. He knows the race now and will be finely tuned to move up the ranks and potentially break into the top-5.

Dmitry Mityaev has risen in the Skyrunning ranks over the last few year’s with a string of excellent performances. He has got better and better and it is fair to say we can expect a solid performance in La Palma. He prefers the longer distances, so, Transvulcania may well be ideal for the Russian.

Michel Lanne rarely these days but when he does, he always excels. He has won CCC and TDS and last-year had a great run in Norway at Tromso SkyRace. For me, on his day, Michel is a potential winner for Transvulcania.

Franco Colle was missing in 2017 from the Skyrunning ranks but he is back. A past winner of the Rut 50km, Franco is an experienced Skyrunner who will make his presence felt in La Palma.

With a stellar line-up, other contenders to watch are as follows:

Morgan Elliott – 2016 and 2017 Skyrunner National Series champion.

Cody Reed – 2nd Bandera 100km and winner of Mt Bachelor 50km.

Cole Watson – 1st Canyons Endurance Run 50km.

Daniel Jung – 2nd Hong Kong 100 in 2017.

Fulvio Dapit – Consistent Skyrunner with great experience. 

Pau Bartolo – 1st at Buff Epic Trail in 2017 and 1st TDS 2015.

Alfredo Gil – 8th Dolomites SkyRace.

Pere Aurell – 4th at The Rut and 3rd at Royal Gran Paradiso.

Thibaud Garrivier – 6th at OCC and Marathon du Mont-Blanc 2017.

Ivan Camps – 5th at Ultra Pirineu.

Francesc Sole – 7th at UTMB and 6th at Ultra Pirineu.

Peter Kienzl – Long distance runner won won 360 Transgrancanaria.

Stephen Wassather – 1st Silver State 50 and 4th Bandera 100km

Jan Bartas – 4th Devil’s Ridge and 8th High Trail Vanoise.

Plus many more…

The ladies’ race has the 2016 and 2017 returning champion and course record holder, Ida Nilsson. In all honesty, if Ida shows any potential of her 2017 form, she will be unstoppable in 2018. She knows the course and has the speed and skills.

Ekaterina Mityaeva like her husband, Dmitry, has grown in experience and stature over the last few years and we can expect her to bring that experience to La Palma. The podium is a distinct possibility! 

Anna Mae Flynn has won Speedgoat 50km and placed 3rd at Lake Sonoma 50, two races that indicate a solid performance at Transvulcania. However, racing in Europe is always different than the US. I still think we will see something solid from this lady.

Cassie Scallon has won Bandera 100km and so we know the distance will not be an issue. In 2017 she had two notable wins at Gorge Waterfalls and Nine Trails.

Brittany Peterson has won Moab Red Hot 55km and placed 2nd at the 50km event at Run Rabbit Run. She is a slid runner with a good skill set that should transfer over to Transvulcania well.

Kelly Wolf may well be a dark horse after her recent win at Tararwera in New Zealnd. Arguably though, her 2nd at Speedgoat 50km and victory at Flagstaff SkyRace is more indicative of a good performance in La Palma.

Francesca Canepa prefers the longer distance races and although she brings a wealth of experience I believe the Italian will lack the speed required to penetrate the top 5.

Emilie Lecomte like Francesca is a long distance specialist and although she will perform well, it is unlikely she has the speed for the podium.

Meredith Edwards placed 2nd at TDS which confirms that climbing is not an issue, the question mark will be does she have the speed required to make the podium?

Eva Moreda is a solid Skyrunner who placed 5th in the 2017 Skyrunner World Series.

Ildiko Wermescher 3rd at TDS, 2nd at Swissalpine T133 and 2nd Swiss Irontrail confirms that Ildiko can run and handle the vert, however, I think Transvulcania may well be around 30km too short for a podium performance.

Laura Besseghini won the 2016 Dolomite Sky Run and in 2017 won Valmalenco Ultra Trail.

Paloma Lobera potentially could impact on the top-10 but lacks the pace or speed for the podium. She placed 8th at Matterhorn Ultraks in 2017.

Zuzana Bartasova – 7th at Trofeo Kima in 2016.

Natalia Roman – 1st Ultratrack Supramonte 2016 and 2nd Mustang Trail Race 2017.

Juan Maria Jimenez – 10th UTMB and 7th Oman Desert Marathon

Maylis Drevon – 11th Transvulcania 2017 and 2nd Marathon du Mont-Blanc 80km.

Plus many more…

Race Website HERE

As a point of note, other races take place over the Transvulcania weekend:

In the marathon, a key name to watch out for is Ryan Sandes, and in the half marathon, Stian Angermund-Vik for the men and Laura Orgue for the ladies.

Action starts on Thursday with the Vertical Kilometer Transvulcania Binter starting in Tazacorte Puerto at 1700 hrs.

The main events take place on Saturday with Transvulcania starting at 0600 and it is estimated that the first finisher will arrive in Los Llanos around 1230pm.

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High Trail Vanoise Preview – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series arrives in Val d’Isere, France this wwekens for the High Trail Vanoise and the Face de Bellevarde VK (VK World Circuit) kicks off the action at 1600 on Friday when runners will climb this classic downhill ski route all the way to the summit.

Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi, held the record of 34:51 set on this course many years ago last year Xavier Gachet broke it! This year, Nejc Kuhar will be looking to set a new benchmark along with Marco Moletto. 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 Hannes Perkmann, William Bon Mardion and Marc Faccinhelli will push all the way to the summit.

For the ladies, Francesca Rossi ultimately may be the one to beat! Ekaterina Mityaev and Stephanie Jimenez will be putting on a hard-fought battle along with Corinne Favre and Jennifer Fiechter, but can they beat Laura Orgue’s time of 40:52?

High Trail Vanoise is the main event of the weekend – Ice, snow, glaciers, high altitude, the High Trail Vanoise course has it all. Crossing the iconic Col D’Iseran at 2764m is merely just a taster, at 67km in length, runners will climb and descend many 1000’s of meters with a total vertical gain of 5400m – the high point of the course is the impressive Grande Motte at 3653m.

Luis Alberto Hernando heads up the men’s field, he recently became IAU World Trail Running champion for a 2nd year in a row – Luis has excelled in Val d’Isere in recent years and he is without doubt the one to beat!

Nicolas Martin won the race last-year and apparently, HTV is a priority race for 2017. It’s going to be interesting to see Luis and Nicolas go head-to-head, a little like a few years ago when Francois d’Haene and Luis raced each other – that day Francois won.

Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz recently lead the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira but was pipped to the line by Skyrunner Extreme Champion Jon Albon, we can expect Aurelien to figure at the front of the race along with 3rd place at USM, Dmitry Mityaev who is having a strong year in the world series, he also knows HTV well having podium last year.

Remigio Huaman, Andre Jonsson, Daniel Garcia Gomez, Jan Bartas, Nuno Silva and Scott Hawker head up the competition for the front of the race but it’s a stacked field and we can’t rule any of the runners below making an impression on what is a very tough race – patience pays dividends!

Xavier Teixido, Alexey Kurochkin, Artem Rostovstev, Clement Ripoll, Marc Puig, Francesc Sole Duocastella, Lars Olaf Haaheim and Nicola Alfieri.

Megan Kimmel fresh from victory in Chamonix will be looking to for maximum points in France, her form is great now, she recently beat Transvulcania champion Ida Nilsson by over 10-minutes! Local French lady Anne-Lise Rousset may well have other thoughts though, she won the race last year with a dominant performance and she knows this course well – it will be a tough race! Travelling from the USA, Kristina Pattison will be looking to repeat her performance from last year and hopefully better it.

Ekaterina Mityaeva is moving un from the ‘classic’ distance in 2017 and has already showed some great results, particularly at USM recently. HTV will be a tough challenge but the podium is there for the taking. Nuria Dominguez, Manikala Rai, Eva Maria Moreda and Ildiko Wermescher are all names to watch.

But the greatest threat for the podium will come from Ragna Debats who recently won with a new CR in Greece, Francesca Canepa who took victory at the tough Scenic 113k, the USA’s Hillary Allen who won USM and Gemma Arenas who was the world series champion in 2016 – it’s going to be quite a battle!

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.

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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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Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® #UTMB 2015 In-Depth RACE PREVIEW

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It’s the end of August and that can only mean one thing, UTMB. 

UTMB has become one of if not THE mountain races to do. In many respects it is almost a victim of its own success. More and more runners want to participate in the big circular dance around the Mont-Blanc but the trails can only take so many people.

I could enter into a debate about the points system but I won’t. I actually think it’s a solution to an ever increasing problem that UTMB organisation face and as such we all know the score, we know what we need to run the race and ultimately we have a choice.

Should points come from qualifying races? Yes, why not!

Should races pay a fee to supply those points? Yes, why not!

I know my last comment will create some debate but to be honest, the fee to ITRA is relatively small and the cost per head is minimal and the races that offer points gain entries. However, I do think another option exists for points.

Why not let all races provide points? Say 0.5 points for an easy trail race of say 50km and then points increase by 0.5 up to a maximum 4-points for a big mountain ultra. If you then want the points, you the runner pay for each 0.5 point you receive. That way, the person who wants/ needs the points pays and the race and other runners don’t pay. Seems logical to me and in actual fact, I think it would generate even more money for ITRA and the UTMB. I welcome your thoughts on that and boy oh boy what a way for me to start a preview on the 2015 race.

UTMB is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) and as such offers points to a larger circuit. Francois D’Haene and Nuria Picas were 2014 champions.

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Well, I was supposed to be in Chamonix for this race but at the 11th hour I have decided not to attend. It was a tough decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Particularly now that I am seeing all the social media posts of all the runners and spectators arriving in the endurance capital of the world.

The reality is I have been on the road since January with little or no break and next week I travel to the USA for over a week which is then followed by a succession of weekends travelling and providing photography and writing for a succession of races. I personally had great potential to break )ver training one may say), so, home I am staying and for once a relaxing weekend.

The main event starts at 1800 Friday 28th August. I always feel a little ashamed when I say the main event as a whole series of tough and challenging races take place during UTMB week. For example, the ridiculous PTL, the tough TDS, the challenging CCC and the OCC but I only have so much time and the UTMB draws the crowd and the most stacked field. For the first year, UTMB will not be a TNF event and the new sponsor Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail has a tough act to follow, I wonder if we will notice any difference?

One thing is for sure, the men’s and ladies’ races are stacked. Darn it, I used that word again! Let’s try again – A plethora of talent has arrived in Chamonix to do battle on this super tough and iconic 100+ mile course that circles Mont-Blanc.

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Tofol Castanyer made the podium last year and with no Francois D’Haene he for me has the nod for victory. He has been quiet lately no doubt keeping the powder dry and although not very experienced over 100-miles he is a super savvy and experienced mountain runner with the solid Salomon team who can offer support and backup.

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Luis Alberto Hernando should win UTMB but he won’t. Nothing would please me more to see Luis top the podium in Chamonix but the reality is, he is not a 100-mile runner (not yet anyway). Put him on a course from 50km-80km and he is unstoppable. Put him on a 100km course and he may or may not win but will podium. Put him on 100m route and he will go great for the first 80km and then fade. This is not helped by entering UTMB tired. He won Transvulcania, placed 2nd at the IAU World Trail Champs, won Ice Trail Tarentaise and then placed 2nd at Tromso Skyrace looking distinctly whacked at the end. That was only a few weeks ago and I just don’t see the recovery and training working in Luis’s favour. I hope I am wrong!

tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras, well who knows? If he is fit and on fire he could win and almost certainly podium. However, he is extremely injury prone and his performances could come with a flick of a coin. In 2015, Miguel has been much more low key, he has raced but without any pomp and circumstance and that was intentionally so. Placing 2nd behind Thevenard in 2013, Miguel WANTS to win the UTMB and this may well just be the year!

©iancorless.com_South Africa14-5983

The Salomon trio is rounded out with Ryan Sandes. This is a really interesting inclusion into the UTMB mix. Ryan can climb, can run fast and is endurant (Drakensberg Traverse) and therefore may well have the essential credentials to podium at the least and may well just win. Certainly, Salomon could repeat the trio of results that we have seen in pervious years. Ryan has had a mixed 6-months with injury, a last minute withdrawal from Western States and I therefore think he is going to be super focussed on this race. One to watch!

©iancorless.com.IMG_8711Transvulcania14

Sage Canaday enters the 100-mile distance for the first time and as great a runner as he is, I don’t see him making the podium. Controversial I know. He has the speed for sure. He has the climbing and descending but I have no reason to think he has the race plan or strategy for what will be at best a 20-hour race. Like Luis Alberto I would expect strength and dominance over the first 100km and then a fade. But he has been in Chamonix preparing and he is a student of the sport. He may very well have hidden himself away, changed everything about his training and come up with the perfect 100-mile training plan? A 5k track session (in 16min) just 3-days before the race suggest otherwise though.

tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com

Xavier Thevenard won the race (surprisingly) in 2013 and then seemed to implode with the pressure. Last year he took the attention of himself and ran the TDS and won it. In doing so, he became the only runner to have won the CCC, TDS and UTMB; impressive! So the facts speak for themselves, super talented and obviously can perform with the best if the pressure is off. Will the pressure be on for 2015 is the question? I think it will but less than in previous years and that may just allow him to run his own race and find his 2013 legs and head. Good luck.

Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier impressed the hell out of me a couple of years ago at Ronda dels Cims with a consummate performance. He loves the mountains and he can run fast too. He was 2nd to Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria in 2014 and 2nd to Kilian at Hardrock 100. A recent 6th at Western States shows us that all is in place for a great run and that’s why I give him a nudge over Gediminas.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747

Gediminas Grinius has been a revelation. His rise in the sport over the last 18-months has been remarkable and you know what, he could win UTMB. He ran a great UTMB last year (5th), won Transgrancanaria and placed 4th at Western States. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then he will close out super hard and fast.

Stephan Hugenschmidt is my dark horse and potential big surprise of the 2015 UTMB. He had a breakthrough 5th at Transvulcania, won Zugspitz and had a great result at Transalpine.

We are now in the territory of surprise packages and believe me, some of the fellas mentioned below will figure highly in the run for the podium and top-10.

Seth Swanson has been 2nd at Western States 2-years on the run and I still know very little about him. My head says he will need a UTMB run to find his legs before he can comeback and mix it up at the very front. However, nobody expected him to place 2nd at WSER and then go back and do it again!

 ©iancorless.com_likethewind-7570

Sebastien Chaigneau is the old guard of the race, the wily old fox that everyone loves. Seb has had a tough couple of years and as time has passed, the competition has got faster. I’d love him to find some of that old form, that 100-mile sparkle and dish out to the newbies.

Jeff Browning may well be the best prospect from an American perspective as he is a true mountain man. But he may well lack some of the essential European speed.

©iancorless.com_ITT2015-9929

Franco Colle won Tor des Geants and then earlier this year placed 2nd at Mont-Blanc 80km. In addition, he has been at the IAU World Trail Championships, ran (and won) a Skyrunning exhibition event in Cervinia and recently ran Tromso Skyrace. Potential dark horse for UTMB!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6975

Sondre Amdahl like Gediminas has been a revelation. He is committed, sometimes too committed but I love his passion. He prepared meticulously for Transgrancanaria and placed 4th, went out to the USA to prepare for WSER and placed 15th and has spent recent months preparing in Chamonix for UTMB. Top-10 potential and maybe around 5th if he has a great day.

 

Best of the rest

 

Francois Faivre – 7th at UTMB last year.

Carlos Sa – He could win it but more than likely a top-10.

Pascal Giguet – Top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km.

Ryan Smith – a Brit who may well be a real dark horse.

Robbie Britton – local lad, 3rd at the 24-hour and 7th at Tarawera. Placed just outside top-50 at UTMB last year but has been in Chamonix for months which will either mean he is in fine form or broken. I think the former. Good luck Robbie.

Yeray Duran – Always strong at Transgrancanaria.

Paul Giblin – another Brit with all the potential to spring a surprise.

Kim Collison – Another multi talented Brit who has speed and endurance.

Joe Grant – We all know Joe and what he can do.

Danny Kendall – The UK’s top MDS performer, not new to UTMB and this may well be his best year.

Jesse Haynes – Great at WSER but in Europe, who knows?

John Tidd – Won’t win but absolutely solid performer.

Stone Tsang – Every chance for a stunning or latter ‘teens’ performance.

Yoshikazu Hara – same as Stone?

 

I could go on….

 

LADIES 

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-7277

Neck on the line, this race is for Nuria Picas and I personally think she is going to have the race of her life and win it with a consummate performance. This is no way a reflection on the competition, just an observation of Nuria and an understanding of how this lady ticks. For the past 2-years, Nuria has raced a ridiculous schedule and still placed 2nd twice behind Rory Bosio. This year, Nuria has been quiet. Very quiet. A win at Transgrancanaria and then what? I will tell you, training and preparation. She will be on fire!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-4457

Caroline Chaverot though has also been on fire! In the last 18-months Caroline has exploded with a series of remarkable performances that would suggest a solid UTMB is on the cards. Her victories at Lavaredo and the Eiger confirm that she can perform on the big days out.

Nathalie Mauclair beat Caroline at the IAU Word Trail Championships but that really draws no comparison to UTMB. However, Caroline beat Nathalie at Lavaredo. Take your pick! On paper, I would say Nathalie will be better over the longer distance and time that UTMB will offer and her victories at Diagonale des Fous will put her in a great place both physically and mentally for that.

The upset may well come from Stephanie Howe and I am sure that TNF and the USA would like nothing more than Steph picking up where Rory Bosio left off. Stephanie’s 3rd at WSER left her feeling tired but by all accounts, she has prepared well for the circle of the big white mountain. She has the speed, I just wonder if she has the legs for the climbs and descents and a 24+ hour run in her?

iancorless.orgiancorless.orgP1060737vibramUTMBvibramUTMB

Francesca Canepa may make the podium? I have always been impressed how Francesca can race UTMB and then just a week later race Tor des Geants. One thing is for sure, I don’t think we will see Francesca at Tor this year after last years’ controversy. 2014 was a great year for the Italian (until Tor) and then it all seemed to go to bits. Understandable really. So coming into UTMB we have little to go on, other than 3rd at the Eiger but she was 30min of the winning time. UTMB may well be a redemption year!

©iancorless.com.IMG_9464Transvulcania14

Uxue Fraille has always impressed with her patience and calculated running. She is a diesel. Expect her off the pace early on and close well. She placed 5th last year and a repeat performance is a distinct possibility.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-5568

Fernanda Maciel is solid on the UTWT circuit and although I don’t see her taking the top slot on the podium, top-5 is a distinct possibility and if she has a great day, the podium may well be hers. Fernanda spent a great deal of time at altitude over Christmas (too long) and this tired her. Let’s hope she is recovered and ready to race hard in Chamonix.

Darcy Piceu is an interesting addition and after that ding-dong with Frosty at Hardrock I am really eager to see what she can do here in France. She placed 3rd in 2011 in just under 29-hours, she will need to run much faster than that this year! One thing is for sure, the distance and time on feet will be no issue, the question mark will be recovery post Hardrock?

©iancorless.com_USM2015-3127

Ester Alves from Portugal has already raced a great deal in 2015 with a string of top placing’s and I have no reason to think that a strong performance is a distinct possibility here. But by strong I mean top-10. A recent tumble at Ice Trail Tarentaise won’t have helped her preparation but she is strong and committed.

Lisa Borzani races and races and races. At TDS in 2015 she placed 2nd. I see her a consistent performance for a top-10 but not victory or the podium.

Nicole Struder ran 14:22 at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. That’s fast! But she will need to add 10-hours of running to that Rocky time at a minimum for UTMB and through in some serious mountains. So although I see her potentially having a good race, I don’t think that those USA trail legs will handle the European mountains.

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My dark horse for the ladies is Veronica Bravo. She is a super strong adventure racer, has the mind for the long game and 100% commitment. She may not win but I expect she may turn a few heads and UTMB race day looks like it will be a hot one; she loves the heat! Earlier this year she won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

Amy Sproston is a tough one to call. She won Hurt 100 but UTMB is a faster race with tougher competition.

Sally McRae may well offer the best prospects of a top USA performance outside those of Howe. Sally has been top-10 at WSER twice and although UTMB is a big step up from Western, she may well have the race to mix it up.

Gill Fowler from Australia may well rock the apple cart. She was 4th at Lavaredo, yes somewhat off the front pace but a top-10 at UTMB is on the cards.

 

Ones to watch

 

Shona Stephenson – Top-10 at UTMB before.

Sarah Morwood – 11th at UTMB previously.

Manu Vilaseca

Caroline McKay

Denise Bourassa

 

And so many more….

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Francesca Canepa speaks to Carreras de Montana

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa has recently spoken to Sergio Garasa at Carrerasdemontana on the alleged accusation of cheating at the 2014 Tor des Geants. Francesca was accused of using a car for a section of the Tor course and missing a checkpoint. Tor des Geants race officials have disqualified Francesca for missing the check point. Of course, many stories are on the internet and several publications have commented on the story.

The allegation of cheating came from runner, Paolo Rossi.

Here in this interview, Francesca provides an insight. Of course, this story may well run and run.

However, this is not the first allegation of cheating at an ultra and Francesca is not the only runner to be implicated. Franco Colle, this years Tor winner had accusations made against him last year. Accusations were made against Emilie Lecomte at the 2014 Ronda dels Cims (read HERE ). Ronda dels Cims responded HERE but ultimately I don’t think we are getting the full picture from some aspects of our sport. Pretty sure this will not be the last incident.

Other posts – read HERE and HERE

Our sport is changing, prize money is increasing but importantly, people have cheated even when no money is at stake. Ego’s need feeding and I am sure we can all recollect a story from the past… remember the gentleman who got a bus in the UK to cut out part of a road race? Or the guy who missed out a huge chunk of London Marathon by jumping the barriers?

I wonder, will ‘Spot Trackers’ or similar become part of mandatory kit? I know they are not fool proof but I am pretty sure we need to be aggressive now, nip it in the bud and avoid some of the issues that other sports have had.

I’d like to point out that I know Francesca in a professional capacity and I also know her manager, Renato. I have followed, watched and photographed and interviewed Francesca for over 2-years and I have seen her perform at the highest level against top quality fields.

I know only the facts that have been circulated in the media and of course, we now have Francesca speak in English in this video interview to at least provide an insight in her own words.

All video content ©Carrerasdemontana

Francesca posted on Facebook and says:

These past few days have been the most difficult and absurd of my life and I hope it is not difficult to understand that my thoughts have turned to stone. It is impossible for me to accept that I need to defend myself for something that, not only I never committed, but neither thought could be done by others.

To cheat makes no sense in our races and it makes no sense in life. 
My opinion has always been that if it is necessary to take a shortcut, maybe it would be more appropriate to take the easier route.

I have no need for shortcuts, I have never taken them and I do not want to take them in any area of my life.

In these two interviews I have stated, not my version of the truth, but the FACTUAL truth.
Ayone who has taken my silence as an admission of guilt does not know me.

I do not care. 

The only thing I know is that I will always be able to walk with my head held high and look people in the eye with a clear conscience.
Not everyone can do the same. 

Thanks to everyone who, with a message, a word or even a thought, has chosen to believe in me.

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

You can watch the video interview, in English, HERE

A video interview and article in Italian was published at aostasera.it HERE

Here is a Google translate. Of course please keep in mind how a translation like this can somehow confuse the message and some finer points:

all content copyright ©aostesera.it

“I win all over the world without any problem and yet they are three years here I feel level accusations of all kinds: those of the past have been too much. Wrong, defamatory, offensive and bad.” The rain this night did not help Francesca Canepa to let off some steam accumulated yesterday afternoon, nor to freshen the air of the Tor des Giants, become heavy after the events that led to the withdrawal first and then to the disqualification of his official “Queen “. Today in Gressoney told us his version of the facts, again rejecting all allegations of irregularities and assuming legal action, even against the organization. “I will do everything possible in appropriate locations to protect my image – explained clearly still furious – this thing for sure does not go well, because this accusation has soiled my image has harmed me, my family and all that c ‘is around. “

The reconstruction of yesterday
The race of the winner of the last two editions has stopped at the base of life Donnas, where yesterday came shortly after 13 His coach, Renato Jorioz, informs immediately the rumors circulating now uncontrolled since early morning: “They say you took your car in Cogne, maybe there is a complaint by another athlete, risks disqualification. “Canepa bursts into tears for the voltage and is waiting to see what is happening. After two hours, then there is an official communication of the direction of travel, hand-delivered by two commissioners. “The process of disqualification in progress: the investigations are ongoing. The Clerk of the Course, having completed the necessary investigations, notify the disciplinary decisions taken. “At the risk of being stopped later, he decided to wait for further communication, however, come only after the 18 “Acquired officially the documentation relating to checks carried out by the race stewards Canepa was disqualified by the jury for not being transited at the control point Les Goilles in Cogne. “Meanwhile, dropped the ice between the athlete and the direction of travel. “It was not possible to explain the organization – says Canepa – because none of them asked us for our opinion. Nobody answered the phone when you were called.”

But what happened between the base life of Cogne and shelter Dream?
To reconstruct what happened we must go back a few hours. The yellow life begins at the base of Cogne, where the lead comes at 3 in the morning. Within an hour of entering and leaving the order trivel, Collé, Perez, Guillon, Rossi, Hollon, Le Saux. Then comes the first of the women, Francesca Canepa, who slips into the hall at 4.23: time to eat a little bit, rest a moment at 4:57 and is ready to restart. Hollon the preceding five minutes, Rossi follows her to the other five. The next point of that lap, with a swipe of the chip, it is the refuge Dream Berdzé at the base of the Fenêtre, a meeting point between the valleys of Cogne and Champorcher. First, however, there is a control point in Les Goilles, 2 km above Lillaz. “I made the journey as always – says Canepa – are transited to the point of Les Goilles, just that at that time there was no one outside. Then I took tea alone, because it was there, and I continued to dream. “

Accusations of Rossi
Al Rifugio Dondena, however, Paolo Rossi crosses Francesca Canepa, who stopped to sign autographs for the kids, and they start to rain the first allegations. “How was the trip from Cogne to Lillaz in the car?”, Attacks him, convinced that he was in front from Cogne and never to be exceeded. Canepa replica bewildered: “If you have any problems please contact the organization.” The voices of the quarrel began to circulate, as well as the hypothesis of a possible exposure to Rossi. In reality Canepa is output from the base life before him, the tables give the reason, he never passed because it was already in front of him. Maybe Rossi has not seen Canepa out, but may have seen the car away from the parking lot of his coach. With him was the doctor Marco Patacchini. “We took the private road to climb to the refuge – explains Jorioz – and we were also stopped by Forestry. In the car it was just us two. “In any case, at the end Rossi decides not to submit the complaint, the organization instead proceed with further verification, then that will lead to the disqualification of Francesca Canepa.

A loss of image for the Tor
Cuts of course, fights at high altitude, disqualifications: it is not the first time that the Tor des Giants is tinged with yellow. In 2010, at the end of the first edition, the mountaineer Abele Blanc was accused of having benefited from a shift to shorten the route. The following year the Swiss Marco Gazzola was disqualified even after you’ve already crossed the line and celebrated the victory, having missed the last inspection, the refuge Bertone, a few km from Courmayeur: his admission of guilt helped to quell the controversy . A similar dispute, without disciplinary action, however, the regularity of the steps to controls, was moved against Franco Collé last year, guilty of having shortened the path near the Rifugio Dondena. Yesterday on the grill is over Francesca Canepa, furious with an organization that after this latest episode is summoned and questioned by many. This morning, the Spanish athlete Salvador Calvo Redondo, who retired yesterday in Chardonnay, commented harshly the incident on his facebook page. “I broke the boxes, this has become a circus. If what happened last year was pathetic, this has passed.”

Race Report – The North Face Transgrancanaria 2014

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

“The Canary Islands Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing announces Ryan Sandes as winner of The North Face Transgrancanaria 2014. The arguments explained by the South African runner has been accepted by the arbitral team and the disqualification has been corrected.”

Excitement on the trails almost faded into insignificance on the morning of Sunday Mar 2nd as a press release was released claiming that Julien Chorier would be crowned 2014 Transgrancanaria champion and that Ryan Sandes would be disqualified for a failure to comply with mandatory kit as specified in the race rules.

A couple of hours of frantic activity followed and eventually a resolution found! The incidence arose due to a misunderstanding in regard to a space blanket, which was translated into the word, ‘cover’ by the local race official. Ryan understood cover to mean jacket and produced the item from his pack. The official noted this as a noncompliance of race rules and of course the rest is now history. Discussions will go on in regard to this situation, certainly, errors were made. A simple discussion with Ryan and officials prior to any statement would most certainly have been preferable in contrast to the media frenzy that preceded the awards ceremony.

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ultimately, Ryan was crowned champion and Timothy Olson summed up everyone’s sentiment post the decision, ‘I’m really pleased to hear this. Great decision. Ryan is a great athlete and true professional. He’s a great ambassador.’

The Race

Transgrancanaria 2014 ©iancorless.com

Transgrancanaria 2014 ©iancorless.com

The 2014 Transgrancanaria was always going to be a great race, tough 125km technical course with vertical gain and loss to make the most seasoned trail runner squirm in pain. Add to the course a top-quality men’s and ladies field and we had the makings of a classic.

Pre race we had a couple of notable drops from the line-up, Nathalie Mauclair was expected to be a real presence in the ladies race but she decided her form was not where she needed it to be. Julia Bottger also dropped with a niggling leg injury. In the men’s race, Jez Bragg withdrew before making the journey to Gran Canaria due to a cold, in contrast, Jez’s TNF teammate, Mike Wolfe arrived in Gran Canaria only to come down with flu like symptoms in the days before the race. Miguel Heras’s injury problems continued and he too unfortunately didn’t make the race

Starting at midnight in Agaete, runners would endure tough, technical terrain and relentless climbing before arriving at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas in an expected winning time of 14-hours. At the toll of midnight, runners disappeared into the night. Conditions in comparison to the 2013 edition of the race were good; light rain, some mist and blustery winds caused little problems. Ryan Sandes and Sebastien Chaigneau ran smart races in the early stages allowing time to get in the flow. Ryan in particular showed incredible maturity and patience and gave a master class in how to work your way up through the field and finish in the top slot. For nearly half of the race, Ryan was just on the edges of the top-10, British runner Casey Morgan said post race, ‘He really knew what he was doing and he looked so relaxed and calm. For sure, he was running within himself and I was just waiting for him to take off.’ Take off he did, just after the 70km mark Ryan was lying in 4th-place and in contrast to the 3 –runners in front of him, he looked relaxed and on a mission. Moving up in to 3rd and then 2nd, Ryan finally took the lead with just under 20km to go. Pushing from the front, Ryan couldn’t be complacent… Julien Chorier and Timothy Olson were pursuing. At the line, Ryan had opened up a 9-minute margin confirming that not only is he one of the best ultra distance runners in the world but also that patience is a precious commodity in any race.

Sebastien Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau had looked like a potential winner early in the race. He was the defending champion after all and he knows the trails well. Like Ryan, Seb had paced himself well early in the race and then took over the lead. Running relaxed but with focus, Seb traded blows with Arnaud Julia (Buff) and local runner, Yeray Duran (Yeray placed 5th at CCC in 2013) was arguably a revelation and surprise of the day, despite his 3rd place at the 2013 edition of Transgrancanaria, against such strong competition in 2014, I personally thought he would finish lower down the top-10.

However, Seb dropped with dehydration and Arnaud dropped having run too hard in the early stages of the race. This allowed the two main protagonists and pre race favourites, Julien Chorier and Timothy Olson to take control of the race.

Arnaud Julia Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

 Timothy ran a smart race and respected the terrain and the competition. Taking over the lead at just over halfway, Timothy battled with Julien until Ryan passed them both. Post race, Timothy was very happy with his race, ‘It beat me up; I like that, that’s why I do them. It was a beautiful and technical course. It’s a race I will do it again’.

Timothy Olson Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier impressed me at the 2013 Ronda dels Cims and without doubt was a potential favourite for the top title here on the island of Gran Canaria. Meticulous in preparation, Julien would bring a clever strategy to the race and having run the whole race in or around the top-5, one just wondered ‘when’ he would make his move. With Timothy out in front, the stage had looked set for an American win, however, a charging Ryan Sandes changed that and when Timothy faltered in the latter stage, Julien pounced to take 2nd place just 2.5mins ahead of the American.

Julien Chorier Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

It was Ryan Sandes day. After a troubled 2013, 2014 is certainly looking to be a great year for the South African. In just two weeks he will attempt an FKT in South Africa and then attention will focus on the Holy Grail of ultra; Western States.

Nuria Picas & Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas & Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

*Notable mention to Brit, Casey Morgan who ran an incredible race for 10th overall

Ladies

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas came into Transgrancanaria as a pre race favourite and the Catalan did not disappoint. Starting slowly over the first 10km she took the lead ahead of Francesca Canepa and then never looked back. Pre race Nuria had said how important it would be to have reserves for the latter stages; however, Nuria didn’t need to worry. Her consistency of effort was superb. Without doubt, Nuria’s 2nd place at the 2013 TNFUTMB has provided incredible confidence in how to run long and technical trail.

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

With Nathalie Mauclair and Julia Bottger out of the race, in reality, 2nd place and 3rd place was always going to be a battle between Francesca Canepa and Fernanda Maciel.

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda looked to have 2nd place sewn up and post race, she told me, ‘I was told I had a 30-45 minute lead over Francesca and I think I became a little complacent. In the latter stages of the race the terrain became easier and more runnable which played into Francesca’s hands. We arrived at the last feed station together and Francesca didn’t stop.’

Needing to eat and hydrate may very well have cost Fernanda 2nd on the podium, we will never know, certainly missing the last feed was not an option!

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©Iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©Iancorless.com

Francesca had an incredible 2013 dominating long distance racing, however, she found the trail on Gran Canaria a little too technical for her style of running. For much of the day she ran in 3rd place but in the latter stages, Francesca found some extra energy, closed the gap on Fernanda and managed to take 2nd place by just under 3-minutes.

Attention will now turn to UTMF in Japan; many of the runners at Transgrancanaria will be present to do battle once again on very different terrain. I wonder, who will come out on top?

RESULTS

Ryan Sandes Salomon/Red Bull : 14:27:42

Julien Chorier  Hoka One One/ Compressport “14:36:28

Timothy Olson The North Face : 14:39:03

Yeray Duran : 15:06:54

Antoine Guillon WAA : 15:17:30

Sondre Amdahl : 15:28:35

Javier Dominguez Vibram : 15:46:06

Cyril Cointre WAA : 15:47:08

Dylan Bowman Peral Izumi : 15:59:13

Casey Morgan Salomon 16:00:31

Nuria Picas Buff : 16:44:55

Francesca Canepa Montura : 17:29:18

Fernanda Maciel 17:31:57

Ildko Wermescher Mammut :18:50:45

Uxue Fraile Vibram 19:21:00

Nerea Martinez Salomon 19:21:00

Magdalena Ostrowska-Dolegowska : 20:27:02

Ester Alves : 23:03:10

Laureda Tirepied : 23:10:44

Helen Allison : 23:40:48

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® race day images

Ryan Sandes and Nuria Picas were crowned 2014 champions of the The North Face® Transgrancanaria®

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) won the 2014 edition in 14 hours and 27 minutes  covering a total distance of 125km. Julien Chorier (Hoka One One/ Compressport) and the current two-time champion of the Western States 100; Timothy Olson (The Noth Face), came second and third with respectively.

Núria Picas (Buff), excelled amongst the female competition with a time of 16 hours and 44 minutes, followed by the Italian  Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) with 17 hours and 29 minutes and Fernanda Maciel (The North Face) came third just two minutes later.

A detailed race report will follow.

IMAGES of an exciting day of action:

All images ©iancorless.com : all rights reserved

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® 2014 Preview

Transgrancanaria2

The 2014 Transgrancanaria is just over a week away and for the first time the race will be part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) and the newly formed Spanish Ultra Cup.

Arguably the five races that make up the Transgrancanaria weekend (Transgrancanaria  (125 kilometers), Advanced (82), Marathon (44), Starter (30) and Promo (17.4). Promo aims to gain the attention of new runners to participate in ultra trail races.) Will see some of the first big showdowns, certainly at an elite level, of 2014.

The level of competition assembled for the main event, the 125km Transgrancanaria is extremely impressive. Starting in Agaete runners will endure some tough and technical terrain to arrive at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas.

This race will provide us with a great insight into some of the early season form of some of the best in the world! So, who is racing?

MEN

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau (The North Face) returns to defend his 2013 crown and after also being victorious at Hardrock 100 in the same year he will most definitely have a target on his back as ‘one-to-watch’. Hardrock certainly took plenty of energy out of Seb, when he attempted TNFUTMB just weeks later he dropped early saying he had nothing left. I am sure he will be focused and ready to take the Transgrancanaria on with 100% commitment.

Scott Jurek ©iancorless.com

Scott Jurek ©iancorless.com

Scott Jurek (Brooks) paced Seb Chaigneau at Hardrock 100 and it’s great to see that this legend of ultra running will toe the line for his first ever race in Spain. Scott needs no introduction. He has been quiet in recent years with writing his book and promotion, however, he recently returned to Leadville to race over the 100-mile distance and on a recent trip to the UK he told me, his years of competitive running are coming to a close but he still has some objectives and bucket list races he wants to tick off! European racing is very different to western States, Badwater and Spartathlon, however, Scott loves a challenge and I for one am going to be really interested to see how he stacks up against sold competition. Listen to Scott Jurek on Talk Ultra HERE

Timothy Olson ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson (The North Face) had a great 2013 and he understands European racing and courses. His experiences at Transvulcania La Palma and TNFUTMB will put him in a great place to not only understand the demands that the Transgrancanaria course will bring but also how to race it. This is still early season for Timothy and although I am sure he will be fit and raring to go, I don’t expect him to be at 100%. He has been putting in the training and regular runs up Mount Wilson will put him in a great place. Just the other day Timothy did 5k of vertical in 7-miles in 1:19:30 and then followed this with 24-miles and more vertical. Like Seb Chaigneau, Timothy has a date at Hardrock 100 later this year and I am sure his focus and emphasis will be placed on the big showdown. His recent 8th place at Sean O’Brien 50-mile (an hour slower than Dylan Bowman) shows that Timothy is biding his time and easing his way into 2014. Listen to Timothy Olson on Talk Ultra HERE

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) had a troubled 2013, ironically, I remember discussing his 2013 plans in Gran Canaria this time last year. At the time he chose to step down from the 125km race and run the 82km Advanced race, which he won. However, things did not go well afterwards, he got injured ahead of Western States which forced him to miss out and improve on his second place of 2012 and then later in the year he arrived at Leadville looking in fine form. Unfortunately midway through the race things took a bad turn forcing him to drop with back problems. Ryan did win Patagonian International Marathon 63km and place 9th at San Francisco 50 in December. So, with batteries recharged and plenty of running in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa, Ryan I am sure will be looking for a solid start to the year so that he can build and look ahead to a potential overall victory at Western States. Listen Ryan Sandes on Talk Ultra HERE

Dylan Bowman ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi) was all ready to go at TNFUTMB in 2013 but his plans flew out of the window with an unfortunate slip in training in the days leading up to the big race. Recovery was paramount in the second half of 2013 but Dylan looked objectively from the outside and turned this period into an opportunity to grow. Taking on a new run coach Dylan has progressed and for sure will be looking to make an impact in Europe during 2014 with a whole series of top races lined up against high quality fields. Gaining 5th place at San Francisco 50 behind a speedy and in form Rob Krar was a great sign and his recent victory at the Sean O’Brien 50-mile in 6:23:17 ahead of Mike Aish and Mike Wolfe bodes really well for his current form and his chances on the island of Gran Canaria. Listen to Dylan Bowman on Talk Ultra HERE

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) gave a master class of distance running at the Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims in 2013. Not only did he break the course record but each and every step of the way he looked calm, collected and in control. Following this up, Julien raced at TNFUTMB and I have to say based on his Ronda performance I tipped him as a hot favourite. However in the race he was fighting the sleep demons, despite this he still paced highly. He is meticulous in preparation and leaves nothing to chance. A previous winner of Hardrock 100, Julien will also return in 2014 what is already looking like a highlight’ race of 2014. A recent move from Salomon to Hoka One One is very interesting and I am really keen to see how Julien’s form is this early in the year.

Jez Bragg ©iancorless.com

Jez Bragg ©iancorless.com

Jez Bragg (The North Face) returned to main stream racing at the 2013 TNFUTMB having devoted pretty much the previous 12-months to his Te Araroa expedition. An expedition that he always knew would deplete him in ways he had never been depleted before. His 10th place (male) and 11th place overall was a rewarding run and most certainly confirmed that Jez was back. His recent performance and top-10 placing at HK100 again confirms that Jez will be going into 2014 with a full race schedule planned out and highlight being Western States 100. Transgrancanaria will provide a course that will suit Jez’s style of running; expect him to start steady and move his way up as the distance progresses. Listen Jez Bragg after Te Araroa HERE

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©iancorless.com

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©iancorless.com

Mike Wolfe (The North Face) placed 3rd at the recent Sean O’Brien 50-miler; a great sign. Mike would be the first to admit that he has had a troubled time since the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma. He struggled to find form but his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner in 2013 put Mike back on track. A slight blimp was trying to run TNFUTMB too quickly after the JMT but Mike had the sense to drop early and avoid causing any injuries and his decision was confirmed with a 6th place at San Francisco 50 in December. Mike always races hard and loves to perform, definitely one to watch! Listen to Mike Wolfe on Talk Ultra HERE

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb (Altra) took out the win at Run Rabbit Run in 2013 and in addition to a win at Pocatello 50 had top-3 places at Speedgoat 50, San Juan Solstice 50 and Leona Divide. The Transgrancanaria course is somewhat different to the above but Jason has great speed and endurance that will hopefully work well on this testing 125km course.

Miguel Heras ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras (Salomon) heads up the ‘local’ talent and like many of the above names has struggled with injury in recent years. Miguel’s 2nd place at TNFUTMB was a great moment for the fans but more importantly, Miguel. He needed that result. He followed this with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Cavalls del Vent. Looking back at ‘13’ one could say Miguel didn’t race many times, however, he did have 6-victories, a 2nd place and a 3rd. not bad eh! If Miguel is in top form, he is a potential winner of the 125km race; no doubt!

The quality of the men’s field really is quite impressive and in no particular order here are the other names to watch…

  • Arnaud Julia – 2nd at Transgrancanaria in 2009 & 2010 but more importantly the winner of the 2013 TDS.
  • Jorge Maravilla – recent win at Bandera 100k in 8:02:27 shows current great form.
  • Antoine Guillon – 8th at TNFUTMB in 2011 and 2nd at TDS in 2013.
  • Casey Morgan – top Brit mountain/ fell runner.
  • Christophe Le Saux – 16th at Transgrancanaria in 2013 and recent top placing at HK100.
  • Cyril Cointre – 8th at Transgrancanaria in 2013, 9th at UTMF 2013 and 11th recently at HK100.
  • Fulvio Dapit – 4th at Ice Trail Tarentaise in 2013.
  • Pascal Blanc – 3rd at Diagonale des Fous 2013 and 13th at HK100 in 2014.

LADIES

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) triumphant after a stunning win at HK100 in January must arrive in Gran Canaria as a hot favourite. At 125km it is probably till just a little too short for this long distance specialist, however, it has plenty of climbing and technical terrain, this will suit Francesca down to the ground. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this stunning lady… she never stops to amaze me! Her racing calendar is brutal and her powers of recovery are miraculous. Francesca’s victories at Ronda dels Cims, Eiger Ultra Trail and Tor des Geants in 2013 were stand out results, however, these results were interspersed with top results at Ice Trail Tarentaise, UROC, Speedgoat 50 and so on. Needless to say, Francesca is a hot tip! Listen to Francesca Canepa after Ronda dels Cims on Talk Ultra HERE

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair (Endurance 72) burst onto the ultra running scene at Transvulcania La Palma in 2013 with 4th place and never stopped. She became IAU World Trail Champion, won TDS and then crowned out an incredible year with victory at Diagonale des Fous. Nathalie’s combination of speed and endurance is a lethal combination and every lady at Transgrancanaria should most definitely place a target on this ladies back.

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas (Buff) has performed at the highest level in Skyrunning for years, her 2012 was a master class in mountain running. A change of tack in 2013 saw Nuria prepare meticulously for TNFUTMB (her first 100-miler) and this paid off with 2nd overall behind a storming Rory Bosio. Following TNFUTMB with repeat victories at Cavalls del Vent and Courses des Templiers showed that despite running long, Nuria did not loose speed. Meticulous in training and racing, Nuria will have her ‘A’ game in Gran Canaria and will need utmost respect from the female competition.

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) recently raced at HK100 and placed 5th overall; shows she has early season form. Like Francesca Canepa, Nerea loves long and tough races. One glimpse at her 2013 result sheet confirms this, her 2nd at Tor des Geants was a standout performance, however, in addition to this Nerea had 4-victories. One of which was the outright win at the 2013 Transgrancanaria. Amongst this level of competition I don’t see Nerea regaining the top slot but she will be pushing and looking for one of the ladies above to falter.

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel (The North face) always has a busy calendar; her recent victory at the Everest Trail Race will without doubt put her in a great place for this race. All that climbing at altitude has to be a great boost. Fernanda’s stumbling block will be speed, particularly in comparison to Nuria and Nathalie. Listen to Fernanda in Episode 48 of Talk Ultra HERE

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger (Salomon) has just returned from 2nd overall at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and is currently in Gran Canaria for a training camp. Like Nerea and Francesca, Julia loves tough, long and technical courses. A consistent performer at Diagonale des Fous and Tor des Geants, Julia’s climbing and endurance will be a great advantage over this 125km course. Listen to Julia Bottger on Talk Ultra HERE

Uxue Fraile (Adidas Trail Running) has had a great couple of years placing 5th at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 and then returning in 2013 to place 3rd. In addition, Uxue placed 5th at the 2012 Cavalls del Vent and then returned in 2013 to place 2nd overall behind Nuria Picas. Maybe not an out and out favourite for Transgrancanaria but on her day, she has the potential to pull something special out of the bag and place top-3.

One to watch:

Karine Sanson – 6th at Transvulcania La Palma 2013 and 8th at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

As you can see, the 125km Transgrancanaria is without doubt going to be a very exciting race. However, a race within a race will be contested with points up for grabs for the Spanish Ultra Cup.

Follow the race on facebook.com/talkultra and on twitter @talkultra

Pre race interviews, images and writing will be uploaded to this website (www.iancorless.com) in advance of, during and post the race.

An addition, we must also remember the other races that will take place over the weekend. Last year the 82km Advanced race had a great battle with Ryan Sandes and Philipp Reiter. Philipp returns this year looking to move up one step! He will have some great competition from Zaid Ait Malek.

Here are the Advanced participants:

National:

  • Chelis Valle Gallego
  • David Mundina Gil
  • Felipe Artigue
  • Gaizka Barañano Urquijo
  • Gerard Morales Ramírez
  • Juan Antonio Ruiz García (Juanan)
  • Juan María Jimenez Llorens
  • Pau Bartoló Roca
  • Pedro Bianco
  • Vicente Parra
  • Zaid Ait Malek
  • Ana Bustamante
  • Djanina Freitag
  • Elena Calvillo
  • Judit Franch Pons
  • Leire Aguirrezabala.
  • Lucía Pasamar Marquez

International:

  • Philip Reiter
  • Tim Ellis

Canary:

  • Cristofer Clemente Mora
  • Dani Santana García
  • Evaristo Almeida
  • Jesús Falcón Macías
  • Jose David Lutzardo Barroso
  • Jose israel Fernández Cáceres.
  • Jose Manuel León Medina
  • Francisco rodríguez Martín
  • Miguel Espino
  • Mari Carmen García Santana.
  • Yurena Castrillo Simón

Participants in the Marathon distance are as follows:

International:

  • Michael Kabicher
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Lúcia Franco
  • Marie Sammons
  • Nina Ingvarsson

National:

  • Zigor Iturrieta
  • Nuria Domínguez
  • Silvia Sos
  • Sonia Escuriola

Canary:

  • Dario Dorta
  • David reyes Lorenzo
  • Franscisco Rodríguez de Paz
  • Majid Belouati
  • Óliver Perera
  • Samuel Ortega Hernández
  • Leticia Rodríguez Navarro
  • Sandra Moreno Santiago
  • Yaiza Herrera

Ultra Race Of Champions (UROC) – A race in images

Gallery

This gallery contains 92 photos.

All images are available to purchase for personal or commercial use HERE

Ultra Race of Champions – UROC – Race Preview 2013

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All good things must come to an end and it is no different for the Skyrunner Ultra World Series. The five series long championship is four races down with just one to go. An incredible start on the island of La Palma with Transvulcania La Palma and victories for Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg was followed with the tough and challenging 100-mile, Ronda dels Cims seeing Julien Chorier and Francesca Canepa shine. Ice Trail Tarentaise in Val D’Isère tested all with altitude, snow and ice and once again saw the ever present and dominant duo of Kilian and Emelie take convincing victories. Speedgoat 50k in Utah saw and impressive course record by Sage Canaday and a ladies victory by Steph Howe.

So with one race left. It’s all to fight for. Arguably one of the most impressive fields of 2013 will line up in Vail, Colorado for the 100-km, Ultra Race of Champions (UROC). The fifth and final event will not only see two champions from the race but also two Skyrunner Ultra World Series champions crowned (three events for five award points).

Let’s be clear, UROC is not a 100-km world championship race it is merely the final race in the Skyrunning ‘ULTRA’ world series and is such will be a decisive race in both the men’s and ladies overall classification.

UROC sees the race as a championship event for the sport of ultra distance running.  This, I believe is a title they have imposed on themselves, for sure, they have a great line up and without doubt, the concept of an ultra race of champions rings true! The objective is to bring together annually the year’s best ultra runners in the first ever ‘formal’ ultra running championship event, but at the same time has the appeal of being open to one and all. It’s an admiral claim and one that ambassadors of the sport would seem at least in principal, to agree with.

“There is a growing demand for a trail ultra running event that celebrates and encourages as many top level runners as possible to come together on the same trail, on the same day, to compete in a true championship style race. In UROC, I think we finally have an event with a desire and a commitment to meet this demand. I can’t wait to toe the line in September with the field of elite runners this race draws.”Geoff Roes, UROC 2011 Champions, UROC Elite Advisory Council Member, Two Time Ultra Runner of the Year.

“UROC is an amazing opportunity for the best in the ultra running sport to test themselves on a course that favors no one. May the best all around runner win.”Max King 

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Of course, as ultra sport progresses, the desire for prize money progresses and UROC is do different. It has a very healthy set of cash prices available. The cash reward system is something that Skyrunning have had in place for some time and not only are prices award by the ISF at every Skyrunning race (VK, Sky and Ultra) they also award cash prices for the respective world champions, in each Skyrunning category.

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Cash Purse: (awarded by UROC)

Champions Male/Female:    $5000.00

Runner Up Male/Female:    $2000.00

Third Place Male/Female:    $1500.00

Fourth Place Male/Female:  $1000.00

Fifth Place Male/Female:     $500.00

Other Race Premiums will include $250 King/Queen of the Mountain, $250 First Male/Female to Copper MT Ski Area and $250 for the Winners of the Corporate Cup Challenge 

The course in detail (please note, the 2013 route is a ‘new’ route)

Overall Distance:  100K

Course Type:  Point-to-Point

Course details:

  • Section One (Mile 0 to Mile 13): Start in Breckenridge- Elevation 9600 feet.  The race travels toward Peak 8 to an elevation of 11,000 feet.
  • Section Two (Mile 13 to Mile 27):  Breckenridge to Frisco- Elevation 9100 feet.  The race travels over Ten-Mile range at an elevation of 12,408 feet on the Colorado trail between Peaks 5 & 6.
  • Section Three (Mile 27 to Mile 40): Frisco to Copper Mountain Ski Area- Elevation 9712 feet.  The race travels over Vail Pass at an elevation of 10,622 feet.
  • Section Four (Mile 40 to Mile 45):  Copper Mountain to Vail Mountain- Elevation 10,981 feet.  The race travels from Vail Mountain at 9170 feet to Minturn, CO at an elevation of 7,861 feet.
  • Section Five (Mile 45 to Mile 51):  Minturn to Vail Mountain- Elevation 10,981 feet.  The race travels from Minturn to Vail Mountain on the Game Creek Trail.
  • Section Six (Mile 51 to Mile 62):  Vail Mountain to Vail Village- Elevation 10,981 feet.  The race travels from Vail Mountain to Vail Village at an elevation of 8150 feet.

Estimated Total Vertical Gain:  13,245 feet

Elevation loss:   12,379  feet

Maximum altitude: 12,408 feet or 3782 meters at the Ten Mile Pass between Peak 5 and Peak 6

Percent of paved road: 19%

Technical Features: The Ultra Race of Champions crosses 4 passes or peaks above 12,140 feet or 3700 meters.

Aid Stations: 9

Time Limit: 19 hours 30 minutes

Interactive Route Maphttp://www.mapmyrun.com/us/breckenridge-co/uroc-vail-2013-route-112588745

Content taken from UROC website ©

THE 2013 RACE

Stacked! It’s a word we have used multiple times in 2013 but if ever a race was stacked, it’s the 2013 edition of UROC. In the men’s race I have thirty-two names of note! Yes, thirty-two.

  • Max King
  • Dave Mackey
  • Sage Canaday
  • Anton Krupicka (not racing due to injury)
  • Dakota Jones
  • Cameron Clayton
  • Mick Donges
  • Rickey Gates
  • Pablo Crado Toca
  • Gustavo Reyes
  • Mike Wardian
  • Luke Nelson
  • Matt Flaherty
  • Trent Briney
  • Dylan Bowman
  • Troy Howard
  • Duncan Callahan
  • Ty Draney
  • Karl Meltzer (not racing)
  • Adam Campbell (not racing)
  • Paul Terranova
  • Josh Arthur
  • Ryan Burch
  • Gary Gellin
  • Michael Versteeg
  • Justin Ricks
  • Brian Tinder
  • James Walsh
  • Mike Wolfe
  • Joe Grant (possibility of not racing tbc)
  • Martin Gafurri
  • Rob Krar
  • Kilian Jornet

For the ladies race it is an equally impressive field with fifteen names that stand out and shine,

  • Tina Lewis (not racing)
  • Francesca Canepa
  • Kristina Folcik
  • Shannon Price
  • Jen Benna
  • Ashley Arnold
  • Helen Cospolitch
  • Michele Yates
  • Devon Yanko
  • Darcy Africa
  • Tracy Hoeg
  • Anita Ortiz
  • Fernanda Maciel
  • Steph Howe
  • Emelie Forsberg
  • Kerrie Bruxvoort

It would be quite possible to look at the lists above and say, take a pick. Anyone of the listed runners on the right day could come away with victory.

As with all previews, I have to put my neck on the line and look at the likely contenders.

Males

Kilian Jornet has gone from strength to strength and just never really seems to have a bad day. His list of results and achievements in 2013 is second to none. Not only is he performing at the highest-level at all three disciplines in the Skyrunning calendar (VK, Sky and Ultra) but he is also setting record in his ‘Summits’ project. In actual fact, as I write this he is in Russia for an attempt at Mt Elbrus. So, how will Kilian perform at UROC? He will be at the front, pushing and without doubt will be highly competitive. Can he win? Of course, it’s Kilian. However, the lack of really high mountains, technical terrain and 19% of road will not play to the Catalans abilities.

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

If ever a course was made for Sage Canaday, this course is probably it. The mixture of trail, road and climbing ticks all the right boxes and we all know after a disappointing performance at Sierre-Zinal, Sage took some rest and has been extremely focused on performing in Vail. Add to this his win and course record at Speedgoat 50k and a top placing at Transvulcania; Sage is also in a great place for the overall Skyrunning World Series title.

Previous winner of UROC, Max King will be looking to repeat his 2012 performance. A world mountain running champion and 2:15 ‘ish’ marathon runner, Max, like Sage has the ability to win once again. However, he is mixed things up in 2013 and he is short on racing long. UROC at 100-km may just be a little too long?

Rob Krar until recently was relatively unknown, however his FKT at the rim-to -rim-to rim rectified that. Having secured a place at Western States at a previous race he went to his first 100-miler with respect. At the finish, he had placed top three and in doing so is now without doubt a one-to-watch. For sure, the 100-km distance will suit all aspects of Krar’s running abilities and he won’t mind 19% of road too… his background is well established in road running.

Dakota Jones recently pulled out of TNFUTMB and has been pretty quiet in 2013. However, if Dakota is turning up, you can guarantee he is running to win. Nobody would question that Dakota may very well be standing on top of the podium come the 28th.

Cameron Clayton ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton will love the UROC course and as per usual he will be fired up and ready to race. He loves to push hard from the start and hold on. If he does this it at UROC, he will have no shortage of followers. However, the secret is to keep at the front! Cameron’s recent races have been a little mixed and he was nursing a foot problem. He came through Matterhorn Ultraks well and that must bode well for UROC.

Rickey Gates has already had a full season of racing and travelling. He is always a consistent top ten performer and as he has shown in Europe this year, he has had great results in France and Italy on some tough and technical European mountains.

Matt Flaherty has performed real well over 50m with a win at American River 50, fourth at Ice Age Trail and second at Cayuga Trail in June. He has been relatively quiet since then so maybe UROC is his ‘A’ race?

Dylan Bowman had a great Western States finishing just behind Ian Sharman; however, just recently he had to pull out of TNFUTMB with injury. The question mark for Dylan will be if he has the form after some time off.

Finally, Mike Wolfe. Wolfepaw is back, his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner was a great run. But turning up at TNFUTMB with all that running and time in his legs was just too much and he dropped relatively early on. With some RnR post Chamonix; with luck Mike will be fit and firing on all cylinders in Colorado.

I could go on… just look at the list above. So many names to choose from and so many could be in this preview, Mike Wardian for one has been a podium finisher at UROC before, don’t rule him out.

Ladies

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg has been dominant in 2013. Her performances and her ability over multiple distances and terrain are second to none. However, UROC will be her first 100km race, this will provide a new challenge for Emelie. Like Kilian, this course may well prove to be lacking altitude and technicality but Emelie does like to run fast, just as she proved at San Francisco last December.

Devon Yanko (Crosby-Helms) has had a quiet 2013, her only significant result was second at Chuckanut 50k. She has started a bakery and apparently that is the priority. But I am sure she will be coming to UROC with a win in mind. To be honest, Devon may well pull it off. She is a great marathon runner and the 100km distance suits her (4th at Comrades in 2012).  The road section will allow her to push and that may very well be all she needs to make a decisive move. Her list of results is impressive, very impressive.

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa has had quite a 2013. With a win at Ronda dels Cims, top placing at Ice Trail Tarentaise and just recently a return win at the super tough, 330km, Tor des Geants. UROC for sure will be too fast and not hard enough for Francesca; she also may very well be just a little tired!

Helen Cospolich is a three times finisher at TNFUTMB, her best performance came in 2011 with 6th so she packs endurance punch. She recently returned to Mont Blanc but had to drop through illness. She has recently been training on the UROC course and has now covered the whole route; without doubt, Helen will be looking to put TNFUTMB behind her with a podium in Vail. In 2013 she already has had a string of top placing’s, second at Desert Rats, third at Miwok 60km, second at Silver Rush 50m and finally third at Power of Four 50km in early August.

Darcy Africa once again has had a string of top three places in 2013. At Telluride she placed second, second at Squaw Peak 50, third at Coyote Cohorts Backbone 68m but importantly she has won at Hardrock 100 (again) and Miwok 60km. Darcy has a little of everything and on her day could win at UROC.

Steph Howe has had two great results in 2013, victories at Speedgoat 50k and Gorge Waterfalls 50k. The big question mark comes if she can take that speed to double the distance?

Kristina Folcik will be smiling all the way around UROC that is for sure. She had a great race at Cayuga and will hope to bring that winning form to this race. She says on her blog (dangergirldh.com) that she is, ‘an ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life’.

Ashley Arnold placed 16th at Leadville 100 (won the ladies race) recently and 15th at White River 50m; so, one would think that she currently has the form to contend the podium. Ashley is certainly more consistent over the 50k and 50m distance so the 100km may just be a stretch for her considering the speed that this race will be run. Leadville is a very different race to UROC.

Kerrie Bruxvoort placed 1st at Run Rabbit Run 50 on Sept 13th so she must come to UROC a little tired and jaded. Earlier this year she placed 16th at Western States so that contrast between the two races is high. Despite this contrast, Kerrie has won Quad Rock 50 and Zane Grey this year, so, the 50m distance is her forte, can she stretch out her performance for those other twelve miles.

Tracy Hoeg has had a quiet 2013 but in 2012 she had repeated success over 50km and 50m with a fourth, two third places, a second place and a win. As far as I know, her results beyond 50-miles are sparse, so Tracy comes to UROC a relative potential dark horse.

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel has been racing a lot in 2013 but she has been plagued with a few niggles. At the CCC she was having a great race but an old injury flared up causing her to drop. Certainly longer races suit her but this may just not be technical enough.

Finally, Anita Ortiz, Speedgoat winner from 2008 will join UROC. She has quite a pedigree but it is almost impossible to say what her current form is like. She has been a US Mountain Running Champion several times, won Western States and she has also won Pikes Peak, so, she has a great mix of endurance, speed and altitude adaptation; she may be a surprise on the day!

One thing is for sure, UROC will certainly be an exciting race and great way to end the Skyrunner Ultra World Series.

Links:

UROC website HERE

Skyrunning HERE