Limone Extreme 2015 – Race Preview

 

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

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

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

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

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MEN

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

It’s going to be no easy race though!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LADIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace 2015 – Race Preview

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600 athletes will take on the iconic Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace on Sunday 19th July as the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series picks up pace hot on the heels of Zegama-Aizkorri. Azara Garcia and Tadei Pivk took top honours in Spain and they return to Italy looking for maximum points in the hope to win the 2015 series.

It’s going to be a serious battle though and one that will be hard fought.

The line up for the 2015 edition of the race is seriously impressive and we can guarantee a hot race both for the men and ladies as they race to the summit of Piz Boe and then descend as fast as possible back to the stunning Canazei.

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Christel Dewalle (4th last year) has been injured recently but turned up at the last min in Val d’Isere just last weekend and raced the VK and made the podium. It’s an ominous sign, Christel is a fierce competitor over the shorter distances and you can expect her to contest the front of the race ‘IF’ her level of fitness is back on track.

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Azara Garcia nailed Zegama-Aizkorri and therefore one has to expect her to be firing on all cylinders in Canazei. She raced the VK at Ice Trail Tarentaise last weekend but was out of the top 5, is that a sign that she may not be in 100% form?

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Megan Kimmel ran a stunning race at Mont-Blanc Marathon last year and may well be a surprise package. She doesn’t race in Europe often and this therefore will make her a dark horse. One to watch!

Anna Comet Is on the start list but I don’t think she will run after placing 5th at Ice Trail Tarentaise just last weekend. She said it was a below par performance and that she said she felt tired the whole race. No surprise after 2 great performances at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and Mont-Blanc 80km.

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Emelie Forsberg (2nd last year) has won Transvulcania Ultramarathon and last weekend won Ice Trail Tarentaise convincingly. If Emelie races (likely I think) she has all the potential to make the podium but if she does, it will be because she can descend so well. This race is a pure up and down race and a short one (22km) for Emelie. She will have a real fight on her hands to make the podium. Expect a blistering descent as we saw at Mount Marathon in Alaska recently.

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Laura Orgue (last years winner) may very well be the first lady to the summit of Piz Boe. Her climbing ability is quite incredible as she has shown time and time again on the VK circuit. However, her descending is not as good as some of the other ladies in the race and that is what makes this race so exciting. Should Laura be first to the summit, will she have enough of a gap to hold off the challengers? One year on from last years race and I am sure Laura has worked on this. A hot contender for victory and defending champion!

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Elisa Desco climbs and descends with the best in the world and is a consistent performer over the Sky distance. This race at 22km is an ideal distance for her but I think she would like some flatter run sections to use her speed. At Zegama-Aizkorri she had a tough race and gave it everything, expect no less here!

Hanny Allston is the surprise package from the Southern Hemisphere and all my Aussie friends have been telling me ‘keep an eye on this lady!’ So, keep an eye on this lady. Hanny has had success early season and she will be looking to build on that in a European race.

Mira Rai is the Nepalese sensation who just won the Mont-Blanc 80km on the back of a string of other top 5 places. An incredible talent, this 22km race will almost certainly test her. Fast and furious is what is required and the learning curve may well be a steep one. One thing is for sure, Mira’s talent and smile will sine through.

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Oihana Kortazar another hot contender for the podium who loves to race shorter distances. She can climb and descend with the best as her performances at Zegama-Aizkorri in recent years have shown. She placed 3rd at the latest edition behind Azara Garcia and Paula Cabrezo.

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Kasie Enman is the last hot contender and key podium challenger. Kasie has been racing in the US recently and just had a joint victory with Stevie Kremer at one of the latest US Skyrunning races – White Face SkyRace. Kasie won Trofeo Kima in 2014 and was pushing the pace in all the other Skyrunning races. An abundance of speed is key and the addition of great technical skills make Kasie a potential winner.

Magdalena Kozielska (5th last year) is not someone I know a great deal about. But the numbers speak for themselves, 5th last year!

Finally, Stephanie Jimenez (7th last year) is a consistent performer and strong performer over the shorter distance races. The Dolomites SkyRace is a stacked field and although we can expect a performance that adds to pressure to the front of the race, it would take a great performance to impact on the podium.

Maite Maiora may run? This hasn’t been confirmed yet. If she does, I would add her to one of the hot contenders for victory. In the last 18 months, Maite has learnt to race over the longer distances as well as excelling over the shorter distances. She placed 3rd last year in Canazei.

This race is too close to call! Below is a list of the entire elite field, I may have missed someone?

 

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Manuel Merillas (4th last year) raised heads in 2014 and in 2015 we are all fully attentive of this young talent. A great run at Zegama-Aizkorri compensated Manuel for a below par performance at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. His recent 2nd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Ice Trail Tarentaise (last weekend) confirmed his ability. However, does the Dolomites come too close from a big effort in Val d’Isere? I would normally tip Manuel for the win, especially in a race this short, I just wonder though if he will have that extra 5% missing?

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Aritz Egea (8th last year) is on fire this year and his performances have gone up a notch. He has an outside chance of a podium place (3rd) here at the Dolomites and if he has one of those days, he may well win. But the competition is fierce.

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Michel Lanne produced a stunning run at Mont-Blanc Marathon last year and embraces a pure mountain race with the best of them. I do think that 22km is an ideal distance for him, maybe a little too short? He is a contender for sure.

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Alexis Sevennec (5th last year) is always there or thereabouts and we can expect his presence to be felt almost certainly within the top 10, I am just not sure he has all that that is required to add pressure to the top 3 in this field but top 5 as last year is possible.

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Ionut Zinca is one of the hot favourites for the victory as he was 2nd behind Kilian Jornet. A consistent performer over the Sky distance, he has the climbing and descending ability to dominate this race has he has done in the past. Odds on favourite for victory!

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Tadei Pivk (3rd last year) nailed Zegama-Aizkorri and that elevates his odd for Canazei as a likely contender for the podium. Can he win? Of course he can.

Pere Rullan was a surprise 3rd place at Zegama-Aizkorri and with valuable SWS points gained, we can be sure that he will be looking to keep that consistency going in Canazei.

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Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (7th last year) may well push the front of the race. He excels at going uphill extremely quickly as he has proven at multiple VK’s on the circuit, particularly in Canazei. In addition, he raced the Dolomites SkyRace in 2014 and placed 7th.

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My last hot favourite for the podium and victory is Brit, Tom Owens (12th last year). This race has Tom’s name written all over it. Straight up, straight down, as fast as you can. It’s just like a fell race which Tom excels at. Recently though, Tom has been racing the longer Skyrunning events which may impact on his short distance speed? I still think though that he is a podium contender and potential winner should all things go well.

Like the ladies’ race, the Dolomites SkyRace is bringing in a plethora of top male talent. There are 10 names below to keep an eye on and a full elite start list is listed below this post just in case I have missed anyone.

  • Hassan Ait Chaou
  • Jokin Lizeaga
  • Inaki Uribe-Etxebarria
  • Jessed Hernandez
  • Francesc Soler
  • Nil Cardona
  • Paolo Longo
  • Blake Hose  will not run
  • Martin Gaffuri
  • Dai Matsumoto

As per usual you will be able to view images from the race with results and report on this website.

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Skyrunning.com is the official resource for all things Skyrunning and you can access the website HERE, Facebook page HERE and Twitter HERE

*****

Lauri van Houten from the ISF writes about Friday’s VK below and your can read the ISF post HERE:

Tomorrow’s Vertical Kilometer® is headed by reigning world champion and 2014 record holder, Laura Orguè, fresh from her win at the recent Face de Bellevarde VK. The men’s field is led by Urban Zemmer, on the top rung of the 2014 ISF ranking.

The deep women’s field continues with Emelie Forsberg together with Salomon team mates Oihana Kortazar, Stephanie Jimenez, Kasie Enman and Paula Cabrerizio, the new Skyrunning European Vertical Champion; and top names Christel Dewalle (adidas) and Azara Garcia (Compressport) among others.

Urban Zemmer is accompanied on the La Sportiva team by top vertical specialists, Nejc Kuhar, Marco Moletto, Nadir Maguet and William Bon Mardion. Salomon will contribute Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and Remi Bonnet, and other top runners include Ferran Teixido (FEEC), Saul Padua Rodriguez, Eirik Haugsness (inov8) and many more…

*****

Elite Start List for the SkyRace:

CHRISTEL DEWALLE
AZARA GARCIA DE LOS SALMONES MARCANO
MANUEL MERILLAS
LUCA CARRARA
MATTEO PILLER HOFFER
PAOLO LAZZARA
MICHELE VICARIO
FABIO DELLA PIETRA
ANDREA DE BONA
OSCAR CASAL MIR
MARC CASAL MIR
MEGAN KIMMEL
EVA MARÍA MOREDA GABALDÓN
ANTONIO ROLDAN MERCADAL
JAN HAVLICEK
ANETA KOCOURKOVA
IVONA KREJCIRIKOVA
TOMAS LICHY
PETR MIL
HASSAN AIT CHAOU
DABID GARCIA
IBAN LETAMENDI
JOKIN LIZEAGA
IÑAKI URIBE-ETXEBARRIA
NAHIA QUINCOCES
AITZIBER IBARBIA
LEIRE AGIRREZABALA
ELENA CALVILLO
UXOA IRIGOIEN
ARITZ EGEA
JESSED HERNANDEZ
PERE RULLAN
PERE AURELL
FRANCESC SOLER
NIL CARDONA
ERIC MOYA
FRANCESC MARTI
DIEGO ARROYO MAZORRA
PALOMA LOBERA
ANNA COMET
MARTA MOLIST CODINA
RAGNA DEBATS
PAOLO BERT
LISA BUZZONI
CHIARA GIANOLA
PAOLO LONGO
MICHELE TAVERNARO
CHRISTIAN VARESCO
MAGDALENA KOZIELSKA
ALEXANDER CHERVYAKOV
NADEZDA KOROLYATINA
EVGENY MARKOV
DMITRY MITYAEV
EKATERINA MITYAEVA
NATALIA NESCHERET
STANISLAV SABOKAR
EMELIE FORSBERG
BLAKE HOSE
MICHEL LANNE
THORBJORN LUDVIGSEN
LAURA ORGUE
TOM OWENS
MIRKO BERNER
ELISA DESCO
MARTIN GAFFURI
ALEXIS SEVENNEC
IONUT ZINCA
HANNY ALLSTON
ANDREAS KLINGLER
TADEI PIVK
MARIA DIMITRA THEOCHARIS

 

Pivk and Garcia crowned champs at Zegama-Aizkorri 2015

Image ©FabioMenino

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Press release by isf ©laurivanhouten

Today, the Basque town of Zegama hosted the 2015 Skyrunning European Championships and it was unsurprisingly the host country that came out tops with a gold, two silver and two bronze medals in this iconic race. Italy took the gold for the men’s title with Tadei Pivk cruising to the finish in 3h51’11”.  The women’s European Champion is Azara Garcia who closed in 4h41’23. A last minute appearance by Kilian Jornet recently arrived from Nepal added to the excitement of a stellar field.

The first half of the race at the famous Sancti piritu aid station, saw Ionut Zinca comfortably in the lead with Aritz EgeaTadei Pivk and Pere Rulan hot on his heels, followed by Manuel Merillas and Kilian Jornet. At the final summit, the group remained intact. It was the descent that changed the game. Tadei was alone with Kilian and, feeling comfortable, took his chance to accelerate the pace. “I knew this was my chance. I thought if I accelerate here I can do it. On the last bends I looked back and was alone. I still can’t believe it,” he commented.

The men’s line-up finished with Manuel Merillas 2nd and Pere Rullan 3rd completing the gold, silver, bronze medals for Spain.

The stacked women’s field started without Maite Maiora, one of the favourites, due to injury. Another strong favourite, Oihana Kortazar led the field and looked strong to the final summit, followed by Paula Cabrerizio, Azara Garcia and Elisa Desco. Again, the descent was the decider. Elisa Desco, 2014 winner and World Champion, gave it her all, possibly too much, and collapsed at the finish line in 6th position.  It was to be Azara Garcia’s day, crowned European Champion and taking the gold for Spain. Paula Cabrerizio and Oihana Kortazar were a close second and third respectively. Emelie Forsberg, with the Transvulcania win just a week earlier still in her legs, raced bravely to finish 4th.

Yet again the Zegama-Aizkorri, now in its 14th year, was dampened by the weather, but not the spirit of the crowds cheering on the runners, every single one of them, every part of the way along the 42 km and 5,472m ascent and descent.

Today’s race represented not only the European Championships for the Sky category, but scored points for the Skyrunner® World Series ranking.

The two 2015 Skyrunning European Champions, Tadei Pivk and Azara Garcia, were awarded a prestigious  Alpina Horological SmartwatchOfficial Watch of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and European Championships.

2015 European Skyrunning Championship – SKY

Spain – 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

Italy – 1 gold

European Skyrunning Champions – SKY

Tadei Pivk, (Crazy Idea/Compressport)

Azara Garcia (Compressport)

Race results

Men

  1. Tadei Pivk (ITA) – Crazy Idea/Compressport – 3h51’11”
  2. Manuel Merillas (ESP) – Mammut – 3h51’47”
  3. Pere Rulla (ESP) – 3h52’50”
  4. Aritz Egea (ESP) – EMF – 3h59’27”
  5. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) – SCOTT Sports/ Compressport – 3h5948”

Women

  1. Azara Garcia (ESP) – Compressport – 4h41’23”
  2. Paula Cabrerzo (ESP) – 4h43’44”
  3. Oihana Kortazar (ESP) – Salomon – 4h44’57”
  4. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon – 4h49’38”
  5. Federica Boifava (ITA) – Montura – 4h51’32”

Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer – Results and Images

©iancorless.com.IMG_7644Transvulcania14What a stunning location and what an inspirational day of running. For the first time, La Palma and Transvulcania La Palma held an inaugural Skyrunning Vertical Kilometer® on the zigzag trails leading from the beaches of Tazacorte, onwards and upwards and into the clouds.

Purchase images HERE

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Hundreds of spectators turned out and lined the route in a scenario, not dissimilar to a scene in the Tour de France. Late evening heat, blue skies and a plethora of some of the best vertical runners in the world made the inaugural Transvulcania VK® an awe inspiring event.

It’s quite incredible when one looks up at the mountain that a trail weaves its way onwards and upwards. Weave it does and the views are quite incredible when one sees the beads of sweat and facial grimaces contrasted by the pastel coloured houses of Tazacorte behind.

Departing in 30-second or 1-minute intervals, runners departed the beach with just one objective; who could reach the finish line in the shortest time.

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Laura Orgue, Antonella Confortola, Emelie Forsberg would without doubt make an impact on the race, however, Elisa Dresco (wife of mountain running legend, Marco De Gasperi) used her speed and mountain skills to triumph on the day. Laura Orgue, Skyrunner® World Series VK Champion form 2013 placed 2nd and Azara Garcia de los Salmones Marcano 3rd.

Emelie Forsberg fresh from a very full ski season decided not to complete the whole distance preferring to use the event as a warm up for the ultra on Saturday.

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Kilian Jornet running on Spanish soil is treated like a hero, calm and relaxed, Kilian takes the pressure from adoring crowds in his stride and despite little running (Kilian like Emelie has just stepped off skis) placed 3rd. The day however went to the Dematteis brothers, Bernard and Martin who placed 1st and 2nd respectively. They produced to quality runs and reaped the just rewards.

On the podium, to the blasting sounds of AC/DC, the brothers provided us with some quality showboating proving that Skyrunning is without doubt a sport that not only requires grit, fitness and determination but it also requires passion, fun and humor.

Attention turns now to the main event, the Transvulcania La Palma ultra race that will start in the early hours of Saturday morning. Stay tuned for what will be an incredible event.

Results:

  1. Bernard Dematteis 47:23
  2. Martin Dematteis 48:26
  3. Kilian Jornet 49:33

 

  1. Elisa Desco 59:43
  2. Laura Orgue 1:01:10
  3. Azara Garcia de los Salmones Marcano 1:01:42

Images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Skyrunning HERE

Transvulcania La Palma HERE