It’s a hot weekend in Val d’Isere! So hot that the ice Trail Tarentaise may well become the ‘Trail Tarentaise.’ Of course snow does still exist on the course but in comparison to 2014 and in particular 2013, this years #ITT will be very different.
Today, the top contenders were introduced to the assembled crowds. Luis Alberto Hernando has no 1 as the ‘hot favourite’ and Emelie Forsberg has no 2, as the 2x defending champion.
Racing gets underway at 0400 tomorrow (Sunday) and the first finisher in Val d’Isere is expected at approximately 11:30.
A 65km course with 5000m +/-runners will pass over Grand Motte 3633m, Col Fresse 2576m, Charvet, 2400m, Col de la Rocheure 2911m, Col Fours 2976m, Col Pers 3009m, Aiguille Pers 3386m, Col de L’Iseran 2700m and then through the Tunnel Lessieres 3000m before a fast descent to the finish.
It was a tough day in the mountains with low mist, persistent rain and at times, very cold temperatures. Francois d’Haene, runner up in 2013 and winner in 2012 was one again on top of the podium with a strong and dominant performance.
Equally, 2013 champion, Emelie Forsberg produced a great back-to-back performance and lead the ladies race from beginning to end.
Newly crowned Skyrunning Ultra World Champion, Luis Alberto Hernando was a key protagonist for much of the race but decided to drop in the latter stages. We can only assume that fatigue was an issue after his impressive performance in Chamonix!
Tom Owens from the UK ran at the from of the race all day and although he gave a place away in the latter stages to Fabian Antolinos from France (who placed 2nd), he was really pleased with a podium place.
Francesca Canepa had expected to be a force in the ladies race, however, an early fall took her out leaving the podium places wide open. Allessandra Carlini (Italy) and Maud Gobert (France) battled for much of the day and it was Carlini who managesd to sprint for the line and take 2nd.
Francois d”Haene 7:38
Fabian Antonilos 7:56
Tom Owens 8:02
Emelie Forsberg 9:25
Allessandra Carlini 9:42
Maud Gobert 9:42+
Attention now turns to Canazei and the Dolomites. This coming Friday is a VK and on Sunday it is the Dolomites Skyrace which will see both Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet race.
The stunning alpine village of Val d’Isère is the official home of the next two races in the Skyrunner® World Series: the Ice Trail Tarentaise and Bellvarde Vertical Kilometer. The ITT starts and concludes in this beautiful mountain retreat and as the name suggests, it is also the source of the Isère River. The Isère flows through some of the most iconic mountain landscape available. It is a haven for alpinists wanting to test themselves on the iconic slopes of Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchavel; it is affectionately known as the ‘Le Trois Vallees’.
The Tarentaise valley and the Ice Trail Tarentaise in many respects personify what Kilian Jornet has been pursuing for years, the term ‘Alpinism’ is often perceived as climbing but it is so much more.
The race route has over 60 km’s above 2000m altitude and with a highest point of 3653m at ‘Grande Motte’ this is a race not to be taken lightly. Memories of the Tour de France flood into my mind when I discuss this region, however, other than the highest paved mountain pass at the ‘Col de L’Iseran’ at 2770m, no bicycles will be seen.
Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386m, participants in the 2014 Ice Trail Tarentaise will no doubt have a full appreciation of what Kilian and others like him strive for when they coin the term, Alpinism.
Ropes, ladders, way markers, peaks at over 3000m and 5000m +/- ascent and descent guarantees that not all those who toe the line will see the finish. It is a tough-tough race, no doubt!
65km / 5000mD + –
Starting July 13, 2014 at 04:00 / Centre station Val d’Isère.
Luis Alberto Hernando
Luis Alberto Hernado is on a roll in 2014. Victor at Transvulcania La Palma and recently crowned Skyrunning World Champion for the Ultra distance in Chamonix, one has to say that Luis is the hot favourite for glory in Val d’Isère. Running with 100% commitment, Luis is a frightening force on any trail or mountain and his commitment is motivating. Tempered with a wonderful friendly nature, Luis is without doubt an increasingly popular choice by ultra, trail and Skyrunning aficionados. I for one hugely respect Luis’s ability and his approachable, modest and friendly nature. Luis has great experience of snow and ice and although the ITT field has depth, this may well be a re run of Hernando and d’Haene going head-to-head.
François d’Haene ran toe-to-toe with Kilian Jornet for the 2013 edition of the ITT and it was only in the latter stages of the race that Kilian clicked up a gear and pulled away for victory. Francois, like Luis is an extremely talented and likeable guy! I know this isn’t a personality contest but the addition of good characteristics helps. Francois produced a remarkable UTMF victory a couple of months ago and just last week placed 2nd behind Luis in Chamonix for the Skyrunning worlds. I have to say that I think that Francois may just have the edge of Luis on this course. One thing is for sure; it’s going to be real close and a great battle.
Ricky Lightfoot had to miss the Skyrunning worlds due to work pressure so I am really excited to se him toe the line in Val d’Isère. He’s an incredible talent and may well just slip under the radar at Tarentaise. In 2013 Ricky had a couple of incredible results, particularly at The Otter in South Africa and IAU World Trail Championships. In 2014, Ricky beat Tom Owens at the iconic Three Peaks fell race, so, we can expect a great performance.Withdrawn
Tom Owens ran his first ultra in May at Transvulcania La Palma and placed well within the top-10 with a world-class performance. At Zegama-Aizkorri the impact of Transvulcania took its toll and although Tom had a great run it was probably a little below expectation. Jump to one week ago and Tom made the final podium slot behind Kilian Jornet and Michel Lanne at the SKY distance in the Skyrunning World Championships. Ice Trail will be a real test and adventure for Tom but I think we can expect to see him in the mix.
Fulvio Dapit placed 4th at this race last year and I have no reason to think that an equal or better performance can be expected in 2014. The only question mark will come in regard to Fulvio’s recovery. He raced at Lavaredo Ultra Trail just 7-days ago and was a dominant force over the first half of the race.
Caine Warburton from Australia was one of the Aussie trio who placed in the top-10 in Chamonix. Needless to say, this has placed Caine from well under the radar to a ‘one-to-watch.’ Ice Trail Tarentaise however will be a very different race to the one experienced in the Skyrunning World Champs. Caine’s performance will come down to 2-key elements: recovery post Chamonix and his ability to run on snow and ice. He’s a top-10 contender.
Matt Cooper is another Aussie who raced in Chamonix but he had a below par performance, particularly if we compare it to his 2013 Ronda dels Cims performance. I personally think that Ice Trail may well suit Matt’s skill set and although the podium may be ambitious, a top-5 and certainly top-10 is a distinct possibility.
Pau Bortololo Roca has placed in and around the top-10 consistently at high-key races. In 2014, Pau has won 2-races: Ultra Trail Barcelona and Transgrancanaria 82km. Unless a disaster happens at the front of the race, I don’t see Pau a contender for the win but top-5 is a distinct possibility and should all things align, the podium is not out of reach.
Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz placed 7th at the 2013 CCC showing a skill level that will transfer to Ice Trail and place the Team Adidas runner a contender for top-10. A recent 11th place at the Maxi Race in Annecy and top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km shows he has great form. However, Aurelien may only race the VK? (tbc)
Ones to watch:
Marc Casal Mir – 21st at Transvulcania La Palma 2014.
Scott Hawker – 7th at Lavaredo Ultra Trail just 7-days ago.
Jordi Bes Ginesta – 17th at Transvulcania La Palma 2014.
I don’t wish to put a down on the ladies race but I just don’t see anyone coming close to Emelie Forsberg if she has anything like the form she displayed at the Skyrunning World Championships. Emelie showed everyone a clean pair of ‘Sense’ last year and dominated the ladies race by almost 1-hour. Her performance was so strong that the ever smiley and happy Swede ‘chicked’ most of the men’s field. Emelie is outright winner barring an accident and top-10 contender overall ((maybe even top-5!)
Maud Gobert is racing less these days, however, when she races she personifies that class is permanent as shown in Chamonix 7-days ago with another top quality performance. Maud may have all the potential to take either podium slot.
Anna-Lise Rousset placed 5th at Transvulcania La Palma in 2014 and will be looking to repeat that performance in Val d’Isère. In reality, 2nd or 3rd on the podium will be the target. Ice Trail will be a new challenge though; one can’t look at the distance of 65km and think it will be easy. It’s a whole new ball game.
Alessandra Carlini has moved up a level recently and although I see her offering no contest to Emelie, she will be in the mix fighting for the podium and most definitely a top-5 possibility. In 2014, Alessandra placed 2nd at MSIG Sai Kung 50 and 10th at Transvulcania La Palma.
Laia Andreu Trias has only two significant results that I am aware of and both of those come from Cavalls del Vent: 6th in 2012 and 3rd in 2013.
The 2013 Skyrunner World Series comes to an end in Italy this coming weekend at the Limone Extreme amidst the stunning backdrop of Lake Garda. It has been an incredible year, three disciplines; VK, SKY and ULTRA have been raced throughout the world over a total of fifteen races (five in each discipline). The ULTRA championship was decided in Vail, Colorado where Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg were crowned Skyrunner Ultra World Champions. This coming weekend, world champions will be announced in the VK and SKY disciplines.
The Limone Extreme course was designed by Skyrunning legend, Fabio Meraldi. As one would expect, it is a true Skyrunning race with steep, sharp vertical over technical terrain. For example, the VK has 1,100m gain in 3km, climbing from the shores of Lake Garda, the race is extremely unique as it takes place as light fades and the course becomes illuminated by torches.
The SKY course by contrast is very similar to the course in Canazei. At 23.5km it is a short race, however, in contrast to the Dolomites race it does have less vertical ascent. Starting at Lake level runners will tackle 2002m of vertical ascent over a looped course. At the summit, stunning views of the surrounding area and lake are offered, however, participants will have no time to enjoy the view; a long and technical descent to the lake awaits. Often open and exposed, this course requires 100% concentration. Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi set the men’s record of 2:13:34 in 2012 and Deborah Cardone holds the ladies best in a time of 3:02:08.
THE SKY RACE
Kilian Jornet (Salomon) irrespective of his performance at Limone will be crowned World Champion. His three victories in previous races means he is unbeatable. It once again proves Kilian’s ability as a runner but also his ability over multiple distances. One thing is for sure though, he likes to win and he likes to race. The Limone Extreme course will suit his skill levels and it will also fulfill his desires to be at one with the mountain. Without doubt he is an outright favourite for the win.
With the absence of Marco De Gasperi due to injury, Kilian will have his hands full with Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas). Kilian and Luis have had an incredible season pushing each other to new levels and better performances as they both attempted to win the ULTRA and SKY series. Luis currently second overall on the SKY series will be looking to consolidate that position and coming from a recent win at Cavalls del Vent he will be looking to maybe topple Kilian and finish the series by topping the podium ahead of the Catalan.
Following Luis at Cavalls del Vent, Tofol Castanyer (Salomon) will join the party on Lake Garda. Tofol has had a very mixed season. Plagued with injury and bad luck, the latter half of his season has seen a return to form. The Limone course suits his natural abilities. *not racing 08/10/13
Alex Nichols (inov-8) has the skill level and speed to move up from 4th overall on the SKY series and move ahead of Jokin Lizeaga Mitxelena (EMF). The two are separated by just 32-points. It will require a top performance by Alex. In the past, Alex has often commented that his descending has let him down, however, just recently he flew down the descent at Pikes Peak proving that he has been working on this!
Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8
Unfortunately, Nicola Golinelli (Arc’teryx) who is currently 5th on the ranking will not perform due to injury; this leaves the door open for Erik Dagsson Haugsness (inov-8) to chase his teammate, Alex. Whatever the outcome, UK brand inov-8 will be extremely happy to have two runners in or around the top five in the first season competing in the Skyrunner World Series.
Zaid Ait Malek – Haria Extreme
One name to watch and look out for in the Limone race is Zaid Ait Malek. This quiet Moroccan has had an incredible season consistently making the podium, often behind Luis Alberto Hernando, however he is without doubt a star for the future. He raced earlier in 2013 at Zegama-Aizkorri and placed an excellent 4th but he has progressed and matured in the following months.
Finally, David Schneider is making a first time appearance for inov-8 at Limone Extreme and it shows how as a brand, inov-8 are looking to the future. They are already committed to a 2014 season and they are laying the foundation now. David is an accomplished runner and comes from a strong orienteering background. He attracted the attention of inov-8 with an 11th overall at the highly respected Sierre-Zinal race earlier this year. Limone will be a great initiation into Sky racing and the technicality it brings.
Other names to watch:
Dai Matsumoto, Ryan Bak, Florian Reichert, Eric Diaz Martin, Didier Zago
Fulvio Dapit, and Nicola Golinelli.
It is very much a Salomon showdown for Limone with Emelie Forsberg, Stevie Kremer and Silvia Serafini going head-to-head not only for the final race win but the overall title. In real terms, the outright world title will be decided between Emelie Forsberg and Stevie Kremer. These two pocket rockets have had an incredible season and excitement is most certainly building as we anticipate who will come out on top in Italy. Separated by just ten points, 288 to 278, Stevie and Emelie will have a battle royal ahead. I for one can’t wait to see how this one unfolds. Emelie has been Miss Consistent in 2013 showing a skill and ability level beyond her years.
Stevie Kremer has been equally impressive. Stevie produced maybe one of the performances of the year with an incredible win and course record at Mont Blanc Marathon. Stevie’s biggest issue may very well be out of her control, she can actually make the long trip from Colorado just two days before the race.
Silvia Serafini has blossomed into an incredibly consistent and dominant runner. She gives herself quite a punishing schedule, regularly racing and regularly winning at all disciplines. Currently 3rd in the SKY ranking with 226 points she would need a podium finish and Emelie and Stevie not to finish or finish outside of the points to move up the classification. Irrespective of overall positions, Silvia, racing in Italy will be looking to push as hard as possible and hopefully win the race outright. *injured 08/10/13
Oihana Kortazar returns to SKY racing after a quiet 2013 and has all the ability and talent to push her Salomon teammates all the way and don’t be surprised if she is on the podium at the finish. *not racing 08/10/13
Anna Lupton (inov-8) currently placed 6th overall will be looking for a strong and consistent performance to consolidate her 2013 season. The podium may just be out of reach but keep an eye on her.
Finally I am going to tip a hat to Brit, Tracy Dean. This will be her first ever Skyrunning race. Tracy is a strong fell runner and has recently represented GB at the world trail championships. I don’t think we will see her up at the front end but it will be interesting to see how she performs.
Other names to watch:
Maud Gobert and Tessa Hill.
THE VERTICAL KILOMETER
A race within a race! Our attention splits for the Limone VK, for once, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg are not in contention for the overall World title. However, they will both most certainly be looking for outright victory in the Limone race. Emelie and Kilian have not placed an emphasis on the VK circuit this year and therefore have not accumulated enough points to qualify, however, when they have raced the VK distance they have performed consistently well. Kilian won in Canazei and placed 2nd at Mont Blanc, Emelie by contrast was 4th at Mont Blanc and 2nd at Canazei; both will be up at the front in Limone.
Urban Zemmer leading at Canazei VK
The men’s race is a who’s who of VK racing with the top seven in the rankings performing. Marco Facchinelli is currently leading with 236-points followed by Ferran Teixido Marti Ventosa 2nd with 216-points. In 3rdJoan Freixa Marcelo, 180-points and then the real interest starts, Urban Zemmer, 2012 champion and current VK world record holder is chomping at the bit with 168-points. Interestingly, Marco Facchinelli will need to finish in the top three if he wants to keep the world title, however, should Urban Zemmer win and Facchinelli drop to 4th, the title could be Zemmer’s. It is going to be an interesting race.
Other names to watch:
Oscar Casal Mir 5th, Xavier Teixido Marti Ventosa 6th, Marco Moletto 7th. And in addition, Erik Dagsson Haugsness (inov-8) will compete in the VK in addition the SKY race.
Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK
Vanessa Ortega Trancon currently leads the VK series with 236-points closely followed by Alba Xandri Suets on 228-ponts and the 2012 VK champion, Laura Orgue is 3rd with 188-points. Brit Tessa Hill is 4th with 156-points and it is all to play for. The addition of Emelie Forsberg and Antonella Confortola will add an interesting element to this race as they are both more than capable of taking the 1st and 2nd places, if this happens, 3rd place and the points awarded will be very important in deciding who will be the 2013 Skyrunner VK World Champion.
An exciting weekend of racing is about to unfold; the VK takes place on Friday and the SKY race Sunday.
Follow the action as it unfolds on twitter @talkultra on Facebook HERE and via this website.
Just five days to go to the 2013 Transvulcania La Palma on the island of La Palma in the Canaries. Without doubt one of the racing highlights of the 2013 calendar. It is a who’s who of ultra running and here is the current confirmed line up for May 11th.
Make sure you follow all the race build up by Talk Ultra. I will be uploading images and commentary to Facebook, Twitter and this website. In addition, I will be conducting pre race audio and video interviews.
On race day we will keep you informed of all the action, phone connections allowing. Rest assured, we will be providing all the information and excitement as this iconic event unfolds.