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

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2013 – Men’s Preview

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

UTMB logo. iancorless.com ©ultratraildumontblanc

What an exciting prospect the 2013 TNF UTMB is going to be! Just a few months ago it looked as though the 2013 edition was lacking some really strong top competition, but a surge of confirmed US entries has brought this race to life and to be absolutely honest, if a US runner doesn’t take top slot this year, then maybe they never will…

It’s a quality field and the list of top men has incredible depth. For the purposes of a preview I am going to highlight who I consider to be the contenders for the top three slots and then give notable mentions to those who most certainly stand a chance to make the top ten and if on a great day, they may make the podium.

So, who is going to win? Or should I say, whom do I think stand a chance of the podium? In no particular order, here are my contenders:

Favorites:

Jonas Buud, Anton Krupicka, Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Timothy Olson, Jez Bragg, Sebastien Chaigneau, Mike Foote, Mike Wolfe, Carlos Sa, Dylan Bowman, Gary Robbins, Yoshikazu Hara, Francois Faivre, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, Jean-Yves Rey and Arnaud Lejeune.

Preview:

Jonas Buud - UTMB 2012

Jonas Buud – UTMB 2012

Jonas Buud placed second last year over the shortened UTMB route behind Francois D’Haene. It was a great run and a superb confidence boost for this year’s race. His recent run at Comrades when he moved up through the field from around 40th to the podium was not only an incredible lesson in pacing but also how to execute a great race strategy. I am pretty sure that this will be something he will bring to Chamonix. Without doubt he has speed but the full UTMB is a very different race to the shortened version and in this field a podium place will be a great result.

Anton Krupicka, Cavalls del Vent, 2012 ©iancorless.com

Anton Krupicka, Cavalls del Vent, 2012 ©iancorless.com

What can we say about Anton Krupicka? With a long time out of the sport due to injury, his return seemed guaranteed at the end of 2012 when he placed 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at Cavalls del Vent. We had hoped to see Anton run at Tarawera but just a week or so before the race he pulled out due to a niggle. Racing Ronda dels Cims was on the cards but he decided an attempt at Nolans-14 was a better option; it didn’t go well leaving him in pieces on the trail. One thing that is guaranteed is that Anton is fit and can climb. His recent 2nd placing at Speedgoat is going to be a great boost and he has been in and around Chamonix for several weeks now training with Joe Grant who will be his support during the race. It may be Anton’s year?

Julien Chorier, Ronda dels Cims, 2013 ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier, Ronda dels Cims, 2013 ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier is meticulous in planning, knows the UTMB route very well and after watching him run and dominate the 2013 Ronda dels Cims, if he brings ‘that’ form to Chamonix, then he will win! He was consistent, strong and a machine. Julien has been on the podium at UTMB before, 2007 and 2008 but this was relatively early on in his run career (a former cyclist). Since then he has won Hardrock, UTMF, Raid de la Reunion and so on. He will bring his ‘A’ game to UTMB with just one position in mind. A hot favorite!

Miguel Heras, La Templiers 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras, La Templiers 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras has had a tough time recently with injury. Running UTMB was a big question mark, however, I heard just the other day that he has confirmed he will run. His training has been hampered for sure and it is impossible to say at this stage, how that will affect his race. His most recent notable performances came in 2012 with La Templiers and San Fran 50. Like Julien Chorier, he is meticulous in planning and outside of Kilian Jornet; I would have said that an in form Miguel Heras would be the stand out favorite for this race along with Julien.

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

A little like Julien Chorier, Timothy Olson picks his races, plans, trains, turns up and wins. Anyone who can win Western States two years on the run knows how to bring the ‘A’ game to the right race. Timothy placed well at Tarawera and Transvulcania but his notable words to me at the end of Transvulcania were, ‘it just needed to be longer, I was getting warmed up’. Racing at Speedgoat recently he placed in the top ten but that doesn’t reflect a lack of form, in fact the opposite, it shows focus; focus on the big target, which is now UTMB. He has been in Chamonix and getting out on the course and so will now fully understand what he needs to do come this Friday. Along with Anton, he is a key favorite for the outright win, the only thing I can see going against him is the lack of experience in a European 100-mile race particularly in the Mountains.

I am going to stick my neck out and say that in the 2013 UTMB we will see a new Jez Bragg. He will run UTMB in a way that he has never run it before. We all know he was the 2010 winner of the race but quite frankly, and no disrespect to Jez, it wasn’t the full race and that makes a big difference. In recent years things have not gone well for him and post 2012 UTMB we discussed certain health issues that may have affected his performance. With those issues under control and then his incredible run in New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail, Jez will mentally and physically be in a different place when on the start line this year and in the famous Speedgoat Karl words he will be thinking, ‘a 100-miles is not that far’.  Jez will have his best UTMB ever! Listen to Jez Bragg talk about UTMB kit HERE

Sebastien Chaigneau, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau has already had an incredible year. His win at the recent Hardrock 100 in a course record time (counter clockwise) is a dream come true for Seb. He actually only got the go ahead for that race just a couple of weeks before as he was a reserve, so, I can’t help but think his long term training was for UTMB but also meticulously preparing for the hope to participate at Hardrock. His early season win at Transgrancanaria and then 3rd place at UTMF will no doubt all take its toll. Seb has all the abilities and experience to win this 2013 edition, however, he may very well be just a touch jaded.

Mike Foote, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Mike Foote, UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Mike Foote placed third last year on the shortened course and by all accounts is in great shape and has been training really hard. However, he has been plagued by injury. His second place at Hardrock 100 in 2012 most certainly means that if he his 100% fit, he will mix it up at the front of the race and be in contention for the podium.

Teammate and great friend of Mike Foote is Mike Wolfe. Mike had a year to forget in 2012 after an incredible 2011. He has loads of skill, great fitness and can run like the wind when he needs to. After some time away to recoup, Mike has now found some form and fitness in 2013. He had a win at Pocatello 50 and recently raced to a podium slot at Lavaredo Trail in Italy. Most recently he set a ‘FKT’ on the John Muir Trail with teammate, Hal Koerner. Now no doubt this was great training and great preparation for a 100-miles in the mountains, but, and this is a big but, was it too close to UTMB?

Carlos Sa placed 4th at UTMB in 2012 and earlier this year won Badwater 135. I witnessed him run at close quarters at the Marathon des Sables where he consistently performed well and eventually finished 7th overall. UTMB is a very different race and with strong competition from ‘mountain men’, Carlos will need a great day to make the top three.

Another American joining the mix is Dylan Bowman. Dylan may well be the dark horse of the US contingent. For sure, European eyes will focus on Krupicka, Olson, Wolfe and Foote and therefore allowing Dylan a little more freedom and a little less pressure. They should take note; Dylan has had consistent top performances at Leadville and Western States. What Dylan’s resume of results lacks is experience on tough mountain courses and that will be the crux of how well he performs. Will he be able to take the ups and downs that the UTMB throws at him?  *update 26th August, pulled out due to injury

Finally, my last contender is Gary Robbins from Canada. He had time away from the sport after having some horrendous injuries that almost stopped his career. With patience and rehabilitation he came back to his nemesis, Hurt 100 and not only won, but also set a course record. He has experience of UTMB and finished outside the top fifty last year, so why pick him as a possible contender? He knows what it is about now and to be honest, a full course is probably much more preferable than a short course for Gary. Also, he placed 4th at UTMF earlier this year behind Hara, Chorier and Chaigneau… that’s good company to be running with!

Yoshikazu Hara was the surprise winner of the 2013 UTMF putting Julien Chorier and Sebastien Chaigneau in 2nd and 3rd respectively. He is coming to this years race prepared and may well cause a few shocks!

Francois Faivre trainer of the French cross-country ski team from the Jura region, was recovering from some health issues at the start of the season. After signing up for the cancelled Maxi Race and after withdrawing from the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, François felt he lost some form. He finished 9th in 2011 and 7th in 2012! UTMB without doubt is his main goal for the season.

D'Haene, Kaburaki (middle) Chaigneau UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

D’Haene, Kaburaki (middle) Chaigneau UTMB 2012 ©iancorless.com

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki is extremely experienced at UTMB and has placed from 3rd to 11th in five outings. This year he won Bighorn 100 with some incredible running in the latter stages of the race. The jury is out on 2013 and I will update with more info as and when I have it on Thursday.

Jean-Yves Rey was 6th last year and is very much a dark horse. In his early 40’s he has had some impressive results over the years, 3rd at the iconic Sierre-Zinal in 2000, winner of the CCC in 2009 but recently he started the Eiger Trail and did not finish, so, his form is unknown.

Finally, Arnaud Lejeune is in his early 30’s placed 8th at UTMB and 3rd at Raid de la Reunion in 2012. He also had a string of top results with wins in; Faverges Trail, Trail de Savoyards, Trail Glieres, Quecha Trail Fiz, Verdon canyon Challenge and the Guyan Trail at 186km long. A resident of Annecy, he has access to the UTMB terrain on a regular basis and this is a distinct advantage. However, 2013 seems to have been very quiet. He may be a surprise!

As mentioned, the race has no shortage of possible winners, for example:

Sebastien Buffard 10th at UTMB and then of course we have Marco Olmo won UTMB at the age of 59yrs and in doing so became a legend. He most certainly won’t win this year but he deserves a mention.

Marco Olmo, MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Marco Olmo, MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Other names to watch out for:

Vincent Delabarre, Siu-Keung Tsang, Jason Loutitt, Gustavo Reyes, Armando Jorge Teixeira, Zigor Iturrieta, Giuliano Cavallo, Minehiro Yokoyama, Vajin Armstrong, Paul Giblin, Adam Perry and Terry Conway.

The TNF UTMB has gained a reputation as being one of the most iconic 100-mile races in the world. With over 2,000 participants, I will have missed several contenders who will create a stir and surprise us. Do you know who they may be?

Get involved:

  1. Who is your prediction for the race?
  2. Who will have the greatest improvement?
  3. Who will shock us?

Links:

The North Face HERE

TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc website HERE

Western States Endurance Run Preview

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In a recent interview with Rob Krar about his incredible ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) on the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim we discussed the up and coming Western States. Humble and respectful he called it the Super Bowl of ultra running. You have to agree, Western States is the Super Bowl of 100-mile events.

 

June 29th in Squaw Valley, once again an incredibly talented male field will toe the line to do battle over probably the most iconic 100-mile race on the calendar. It may not be the hardest but it has history. Way back in ‘73’ when Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse went lame, he had two choices; not to take part in the iconic 100-mile horse race called the Tevis Cup or run it… now of course, way back then running the course was the most ridiculous idea ever. But Gordy, ever the maverick, brushed caution aside and tackled the heat to arrive in Auburn. The stage was set and the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run was created.

 

The race – Male

 

So, Ryan Sandes wont join the party due to injury, shame! However, the men’s field has enough quality names to make the 2013 edition of the race an exciting one. We have a champ and previous course record holder returning after a 16 year gap, we have last years champ and course record holder, we have the new and the old. This year could be an exciting race because of the variables and unpredictability of those involved.

copyright iancorless.com

Timothy Olson as the remaining champion and course record holder, of course gets top billing. His recent 4th place at Transvulcania La Palma was a real indicator that his form was coming. I went out for a run with him just days after the race and he was moving fast and effortless, no sign of a tough 80km race in his legs. He said, “I could have done with the finish line being a little farther away, I was just getting warmed up”.  Early 2013 season form wasn’t too shabby either with win at Bandera 50k, 2nd Ray Miller, and 2nd at Tarawera behind Sage Canaday in New Zealand. His relative silence post Transvulcania should worry the competition; he has been training and training hard. Can he go faster than his incredible 14:46:44 set in 2013?

 

Brit, Nick Clark in a recent interview with me ahead of this year’s race said, “I am running to win, I feel good this year. I have started my three week taper and I don’t know, maybe this could be my year!” Nick is super consistent over the 100-mile distance and demands respect from his peers. He ran 15:44 last year for 3rd place and almost certainly he is going to need to run that quick, if not quicker if he wants to be in contention for a podium place. Even more impressive is that Nick is taking on the Grand Slam. However, it’s one race at a time and he plans to run all of them as hard as he can. A win at Fuego Y Agua he says was so long ago that it has no real meaning for Western States but his 10th at Lake Sonoma recently was a little disappointing by his standards. However, as we keep saying, 100 miles is a different race altogether.

 

Sixteen years ago, Mike Morton set a course record at Western States and then disappeared into running wilderness. A combination of injury and work commitments took him away from the sport. However, just a couple of years ago he came back on the scene with a comeback not dissimilar to that of Robert Redford playing Roy Hobbs in the film, ‘The Natural’. Mike seems to be able to churn out 100-mile races in 13:11 and win them. He had an incredible 2012 with multiple 100-mile wins, a win and missing the CR at Badwater 135 and then setting an American 24-hour record of 172+ miles. He has been relatively quiet lately which can only mean one thing, he is preparing! You would say that age may well be against him, but this is Mike Morton… will 2013 have one of the greatest comebacks in sport ever, a win for Mike Morton? It is a distinct possibility!

 

Hal Koerner has been quiet recently and it is impossible to gauge what his form is like. Having said that, his reputation precedes him and his list of palmares confirms that he will always be in the mix. His win at the 2012 Hardrock 100 confirms that he can always pull something special out of the bag when required.

 

Ian Sharman has consistently improved at WSER and last year placed 5th with a great run. However, by Ian’s standards he has been very quiet lately. He pushed himself a little too hard in the latter stages of 2012, basically, one race too many and he has had some niggling knee issues. He went to Fuego Y Agua but didn’t run. He has had a couple of top 5 placing’s in recent months and most recently he raced a multi-stage race in the rainforests of Peru. Although lying in 2nd place overall he didn’t finish the last stage as he felt niggling pain in his troublesome knee. So, the jury is out. In addition, like Nick Clark, Ian will run the Grand Slam. His original intention was to run each race to the best of his ability and see what happens. He prepares well and understands the demands of each race so you can’t rule him out of the top 10.

 

Dave Mackey 4th in 2012 and in doing so broke Tsuyoshi Kaburaki’s ‘Masters’ time with 15:53:36. He has always raced consistently over the 100km distance but has never had quite the luck over the 100-mile distance. In early 2012 he was second at Bandera 100k behind a storming Sage Canaday but a great indicator of form is the recent San Diego 100. Dave was blazing a trail at the front of the race until he went of course at around the 60-mile mark. Although initially disappointing, this may actually be a blessing in disguise for WSER. He definitely has podium potential if his day goes well.

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Cameron Clayton young, brash and bold has laid it all on the line and said he plans to just run! No caution for the demands of 100 miles, he will go for glory. Cameron, like Sage Canaday is new to ultra running, he has enthusiasm to take on the best and see what happens. I have to say I like his approach. In an interview with him post Transvulcania (he placed 7th) he said then that his intentions for Western States would be to go for glory, “I may not get the chance to run at Western States again so I need to run for the win. If I don’t top the podium, that is fine, at least I will have tried”. So there you have it, WSER will be Cameron’s first 100 outing, it’s a fair prediction to say that we will see him at the head of the race in the early stages, question is, will he pull along some others or will they allow him to head on up the trail on his own?

 

Rob Krar like Cameron is new to the 100-mile distance but he is giving it 100% respect. He is a little daunted by the distance and as he said in my interview with him, “I just don’t know what to expect, my rim-t0-rim-to-rim is my longest ever run at just over 40 miles, Western States is a completely different experience”. Rob, like Mike Morton is also a come back story, originally a track and field athlete he ran 1500m and holds an impressive 1:06 for a half marathon. He has only ever run one road marathon and that was around 2:30, so, he has speed. His win and CR at Leona Divide 50 turned heads but his Grand Canyon double crossing time took breaths away… if he brings that speed to WSER anything is possible. He is a real unknown but I can’t help but think we will see a surprise!

 

Karl Meltzer needs no introduction! He has wanted to run at WSER for years and now he finally he has the chance, however, his build up has not been ideal with a problematic calf. Last week he told me that he is pretty sure it is all cleared up now and that he had just had 10 days of consecutive running. Karl said, “I finally feel that a top 10 place is now possible, we will have to see”. With over 30 wins at the 100-mile distance, Karl brings experience to the race. Just like Run Rabbit Run last year, he will allow the main contenders to head off up the trail and as he gets warm (around 60 miles) he will then slowly but surely start to pick them off. A podium place is unlikely but a top 10 is a distinct possibility. I certainly hope so! Top 10 will give him a guaranteed slot for 2014 and then he can run the Grand Slam.

 

Dylan Bowman placed 7th at 2012 WSER and has had a couple of great performances at Ray Miller 50 and Miwok 60k. Considering the depth of the 2013 field a top 10 placing is highly likely, the question is, can he embrace early season form and move into the top 5.

 

Jorge Maravilla and Joe Uhan placed 8th and 9th respectively at the 2012 race but both runners have had relatively quiet times lately. Jorge placed 3rd at UROC in late 2012 and recently was joint winner at the Great Wall Marathon in China with his Salomon teammates, but it’s difficult to predict what form Jorge and Joe will bring to this years race. It is fair to assume that no news is good news and that they will arrive on the start line ready to push hard.

 

The list could go on but here is a selection of other notable names that will almost certainly drift into the top 20 and of course, on a good day, they may even make top 10.

 

Yassine Diboun, Trent Briney, Andy Jones Wilkins, Gustavo Reyes, Nick Pedatella (also going for Gran Slam), Paul Terranova (ran the Grand Slam last year) and finally, Jacob Rydman.

 

Notable non-starters for the 2013 are as follows:

 

Ryan Sandes who pushed the pace at the front last year, placed 2nd overall and in doing so, also broke Geoff Roes old course record. Needless to say, we are all disappointed that Ryan can’t make it. He unfortunately twisted his ankle on a training run and needs to allow for recovery. Fellow South Africa, the Comrades King, Bruce Fordyce is also a no show due to injury. Bruce would not have contested the overall placing but to have 9x Comrades Marathon winner on the WSER course would have been special. He told me via email that he has carried over his place for 2014.

 

 

Notable no-racers:

The 2013 race has a quality field, however, we have notable omissions: Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Geoff Roes, Sage Canaday, Julien Chorier, Max King, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Joe Grant and so on.

 

The race – Female

 

With no Ellie Greenwood, no Lizzy Hawker, no Kami Semick, and no Krissy Moehl I have to say I can’t help but feel a little cheated with the ladies field. Don’t get me wrong, we have some great talent ready to toe the line but I do feel as though it’s about who is not here than who is…

 

Having said that, Rory Bosio was 2nd in 2012 and she returns this year as odds on favorite. At 28 years old she manages to go about her run life with very little fuss or exposure. She keeps herself to herself but she has some impressive results that we should all be shouting about. She has run WSER three times; 4th in 2010, 5th in 2011 and of course, 2nd in 2012. Do you see the progression! 2013 may very well be the year the she has a 1st next to her name. She placed 4th at Lake Sonoma recently and was 2nd at Way to cool earlier in 2013, not results that you would predict a WSER win on, but she knows how to run this race!

 

I am going to stick my neck out here and say that Cassie Scallon has every possibility of not only making the podium or winning the race! The only question mark comes from a fall she took at Cayuga Trails a couple of weeks ago. Had she not pulled out of that race and been in tip top form she would have been my prediction for the win. She earned her WSER slot at Lake Sonoma and after missing the race last year; I can’t help but feel that she will be fired up for this edition. Of course, she hasn’t run this race before and experience counts for a great deal!

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Talking of experience, Nikki Kimball has plenty. Nikki placed 5th in 2012 but look at her history; she won the race in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and she was 4th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2011. That his some history! Now in her early 40’s you may well say that age is against her but you just can’t rule her out. She has been troubled with injuries but without doubt the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma was a turning point for her, she finished that race in tears. Not because of pain but joy that things had gone well. Her recent form is difficult to predict as she too pulled out of Cayuga Trails.

 

Another newbie, Emily Harrison brings speed to the WSER arena. She has a marathon PB of 2:32 and although that may not be a prediction of a good Western States performance, it does show that the speed is available if needed. She earned her place at JFK50 when she placed 2nd behind Ellie Greenwood and recently she has had a win at Moab Red Hot 55k. Emily has the potential to pull something out of the back and may very well make the podium.

 

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd last year and it almost feels disrespectful to wait this long before mentioning her but she has had surgery and only returned to running in late April, early March of this year. Her form for WSER is an unknown but if one thing in her favor is that she will be fresh and keen to perform. That counts for a great deal when it gets hard.

 

Tina Lewis, Amy Sproston, Ashley Nordell and Meghan Arbogast all return after placing 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th respectively in 2012.

 

Certainly I see Ashley Nordell moving to a higher place for 2013 and she has the potential to make top 5 should all go well.

 

Tina Lewis placed best of the bunch in 2012 and although injury has caused serious issues in the build up to this years race, her win at Leadville in the latter half of last year has to mean that, if fit, she will improve on her 7th.

 

Amy Sproston won Ray Miller 50, Iznik Ultra 80k and was 3rd at Lake Sonoma all in the first half of 2013. A 100km champion she has speed and although 100 miles may not be her distance you have to say that in this ladies field, should things go right, a placing higher than 8th awaits.

 

Meghan Arbogast may well be a dark horse of the race… you just can’t rule her out! She proved this by beating Rory Bosio to the top slot at Way to Cool 50k. Last year she ran just under 20 hours (19:54) and I think she will need an ‘18’ time to contest the front of the race but she can do it, don’t rule her out.

Joelle Vaught has been top 10 at WSER before in 2010 when she ran 20:19. Certainly if she wants to place top 10 in 2013 she needs to be looking at sub 20. Her win at Pocatello 50 (to put things in perspective, she beat her own course record by just over 20 minutes) recently would suggest that a surprise may well come from Joelle.

 

Jennifer Benna recently turned up at Transvulcania La Palma and dropped early on saying that it just didn’t feel right. To travel that far and drop so early shows some real commitment to the bigger picture, that being WSER. She has already won a 100 this year at Zion 100 way back in April (probably why she didn’t feel great in May) I think Jennifer has the potential to make the top 10 but she will need a good day.

 

My final tip is Pam Smith, she has run WSER before and has placed 10th in 2010 and 2011. She hasn’t run under 20 hours but if she managed to match her previous best of 20:40, another top 10 may well just be hers, just!

 

Ones to watch:

 

Kerrie Bruxvoort, Denise Bourassa and Rhonda Claridge.

 

Provide us with your feedback:

  • What are your predictions for the men’s and ladies races?
  • Who will surprise us this year?
  • Will the course record go in either race?
  • Who isn’t racing that you had hoped would be?

LINKS:

WSER website HERE

The North Face Transgrancanaria – Press Release

Trans Gran Canaria

The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2013 

  • More than 2500 runners from 30 different countries will take part in The North Face® Transgrancanaria, a race that aims to bring the mountain closer to everyone.
  • Marco Olmo, Sébastien Chaigneau, Miguel Heras, Ryan Sandes, John Tidd, Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Gustavo Reyes, Santiago Obaya, Marta Prat, Emilie Forsberg, Carlos Sá, Yeray Durán and Nerea Martínez are some of the great runners that will be fighting to win the race.

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The North Face® Transgrancanaria has become a real challenge for all the ultra race lovers. This Saturday 2nd March 2013, at midnight, one of the most anticipated ultra trail events in Europe will begin. Each year, more and more people come from all over the globe to Gran Canaria to face this race, now established as one of the most renowned mountain races in Europe.

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This ultra trail race, which besides will be marking the start of the great European season, celebrates its 10th anniversary and once more Gran Canaria will turn into the meeting point for the best ultra trail runners in the world, for whom the diversity of the landscapes and the sheer spots of the island make the race even more attractive. Among the great events of that kind that take place over the world, The North Face® Transgrancanaria is internationally well known for its complexity.

In this edition, 2170 people will take part in the 4 types of races available: 420 will be running the Transgrancanaria (119km), 350 will face the Advanced (83km), 700 will run the Transmaratón (42km) and 700, the Starter (24km).

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Some of the most famous professionals taking part in The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2013 are: Sebastien Chaigneau, current champion of the event, and other runners of his kind such as Ryan Sandes, Miguel Heras, Gustavo Reyes, John Tidd, Zigor Iturrieta, Philipp Reiter and Carlos Sa, all favourites to achieve the title.

Additionally, a real ultra trail legend will participate in the race, the Italian man, Marco Olmo, who keeps running the most difficult races at the highest level at his 64 years old. Others top runners such as Aitor Leal, the Llorens Brothers, Emelie Forsberg, Nerea Martínez and Julia Boettger, will attend the race, as they always do.

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

They all have the same goal to face the Nature and push their limits to their ends, challenging the mountains of the island to become the champion. Pablo Criado, Santiago Obaya, Chelis Valle, Lidia Gómez, Nuria Domínguez and Marta Prat are also some of the Spaniards that confirmed their participation. On the other hand, Yeray Durán, David Lutzardo, Carlos García, Evaristo Almeida and Esteban García, among others, will represent the Island. In the women category, the runners Esther Fernández, Diana de la Rosa and Yurena Castrillo, among others, will do the same.

The high level and motivation displayed each year by the hundreds of runners from over 30 different countries (such as Japan, France, Turkey, South Africa or USA) when taking up the challenge of The North Face® Transgrancanaria, together with the spectacular nature of the race itself provide the event with a great dose of emotion and competitiveness. That’s why the event can only bring surprises and experience that all participants, as well as the public attending the race, will remember.

The North Face® Transgrancanaria got to strengthen its commitment to society, doing its best so that the participation to the race grew bigger each year and also making possible for runners of all ages and conditions to take part. The children’s and junior categories were thought to get all the family involved in the project and to teach to the youngest ones the Sport and Nature values. 400 kids between 6 and 17 years old will run among the Kid, Infantil and Junior categories

This is the second consecutive year in which people with physical, mental or sensory impairment can participate in the Transcapacidad race. This race had a great reception and high turnout last year.

The increase in the number of participants to the race leads to an increase in the number of visitors who come to Gran Canaria to take part in The North Face® Transgrancanaria. This confirms that the event is an excellent way to promote the fact that Gran Canaria is a many-sided destination that counts with a great variety of landscapes that go from the coast to the mountains and that provides its visitors with a wide offer of leisure activities.

The North Face® Transgrancanaria is sponsored by The North Face®, Patronato de Turismo and Consejería de Deportes del Cabildo de Gran Canaria, organized by Arista and will be held with the co-production of Overstim, Sonocom and Loype, and the support of some companies from Gran Canaria. 

THE NORTH FACE® TEAM’S RUNNERS INFO SHEET

Seb Chaigneau copyright Ian Corless

Seb Chaigneau copyright Ian Corless

SEBASTIEN CHAIGNEAU (France)

Sébastien Chaigneau was born and brought up in the ‘flatlands’ of France (La Vienne) and from an early age he heard the call of the mountains, and he looked for the limits of the far horizon.

Over the last years, Sébastien has found his strength in ‘ultra-races’ and has achieved great successes, most particularly in the Libyan Challenge and the 2009 edition of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®. In 2010, he won the Chilean The North Face® Endurance Challenge and the Olympus Marathon. In 2011, he placed third in The North Face® Transgrancanaria and in The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®. And in 2012, Chaigneau became the champion of The North Face® Transgrancanaria, beating a time record, passing the finish line in a bit more than 13 hours.

ZIGOR ITURRIETA (Spain)

Zigor Iturrieta is one of Spain’s best mountain runners. He was born in Guipúzcoa, Basque Country. He has travelled around the world from race to race enjoying a long running career already at the age of 36.

In 2009, he participated in six races including a win at the Copa de Euskadi. This was the year he entered the world of ultra trail running – with great results: 4th in the Travesera Integral of the Picos de Europa, 5th in the Vent Cavalls, and 9th in the Ultra Trail Aneto.

2010 was one of his most successful years. Taking part in four races and three ultra trails, he premiered at the eighth edition of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® where he reached podium 3rd place with a time of 21 hours and 6 minutes. Zigor achieved first place win at The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2011 in Gran Canaria.

 

THE NORTH FACE® TRANSGRANCANARIA INFO SHEET

Name: The North Face® Transgrancanaria

Dates: March 1st, 2nd and 3d 2013

Organizer: Club Deportivo Arista

Place: Gran Canaria

Route: Agaete, Tamadaba, Artenara, Bentayga, Aserrador, Presa de Las Niñas, Presa de Chira, Garañón, Teror, Santidad, Tenoya, Plaza de la Música (nearby the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium)

Race categories:

–       TRANSGRANCANARIA: 119 km long, positive incline of 7.300+ meters. Duration: 30 hours. Starting time 00:00 from Agaete.

–       ADVANCED: 83 km long, positive incline of 4.700+ meters. Duration: 24 hours. Starting time: 06:00 from Agaete.

–       MARATHON: 42 km long, accumulated slope of 4.000 meters. Duration: 12 hours. Starting time: 10:00 from Garañón.

–       STARTER: 24 km long, accumulated slope of 1.800 meters. Duration: 10 hours. Starting time: 11:00 from Teror.

–       TRANS-INFANTIL: Playa de Las Canteras

–      KIDS: from 6 to 9 years old – 1500 meters long.

–      INFANTIL: from 10 to 13 years old – 2 km long.

–      JUVENIL: from 14 to 17 years old – 6 km long.

El Cruce 2013

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El Cruce this year will celebrate the 12th edition. The format is a three day stage race from Chile to Argentina covering 30 – 40km per day.

Like other multi stage races such as the Marathon des Sables or The Coastal Challenge, runners will sleep in a ‘camp’ each evening. The camp is an important element of multi day racing as bonds are made and memories forged.

El Cruce Columbia

Event dates are 8-10th February for individual runners and 7-9th February for teams.

The ‘solo category‘ in 2013 has an impressive field assembled. It will be without doubt quite a race… Adam Campbell, Iker Karera, Max King and Francois d’Haene take on previous winners Gustavo Reyes and Nelson Ortega.

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The ladies race has Frosty (Anna Frost) hopefully toeing the line feeling refreshed after a winter of recuperation. This won’t be an easy race for her though… the presence of Emma Rocca, Oihana Kortazar and previous race winners Rosalia Camargo Guarischi and Cristina de Carvallho will mean that a battle ‘royal’ will be played out over the three race days.

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This years race sees runners race around the theme of a volcano for each stage. Apparently they will go around, up or down to make a loop. Given the name of ‘Through the Volcanoes‘ the race is billed as a tough three days. The three stages are as follows:

  • Villarica Volcano near Pucón, Chile.
  • Quetrupillan Volcano between Chile and Argentina.
  • Lanin Volcano

With plenty of vertical kilometres this race will certainly suit Iker Karera, Anna Frost and Oihana Kortazar but will Francois d’Haene after his success at UTMB and his top placing at  Transvulcania in 2012 push for the win or will the speed kings  Max King and Adam Campbell make a difference over the three days.

The Andes are a beautiful mountain range. Combined with three days of running and camp life in the evening, the 2013 edition will be a race to remember.

Website HERE

Full runners list available HERE

New Horizons for the ISF

Another important step marks the rapidly changing face of skyrunning as the ISF takes on the 100-mile distance.

The rule was approved at the ISF AnnualGeneral Assembly which took place in Spain on July 6 during the SkyGames®.   Members representing the 22 countries in person or by proxy attended the meeting, chaired by President, Marino Giacometti.

The new Secretary General was elected in the form of skyrunner Nina Dacanay from the Philippines who no doubt will bring, among her many qualities, competence and efficiency together with a strong passion for promoting the sport.

New blood on the Management Committee includes Evgeny Kolchanov (Russia), Ian Sharman (Great Britain) and Fabio Menino (Italy) – all three runners.   In fact, key runners were elected to stand on the Athletes’ Commission, namely Anna Frost (NZL) Joe Grant (USA) together with Fabio Menino and Ian Sharman.   Their input will be invaluable in the development and strategy of the sport and to represent a voice for runners everywhere.

The athlete has always represented the number one focus for the skyrunning management and, at the beginning of the season, a seminar was held on the island of La Palma, Spain, with a view to gaining insight from the sport’s principal players – what runners really want and how they would like to see the sport develop.  “Less Cloud. More Sky” was the title, emblematic of the new horizons skyrunning aims to explore.

Running legends representing different disciplines, countries and brands attended the three-day seminar from May 14 – 16, together with a number of the most representative media outlets from four continents.

Representing the ISF were president Marino Giacometti and VPs Lauri van Houten and Dr Sergio Giulio Roi.  The superstar athletes attending were: KilianJornet, Iker Karrera, Anna Frost, Seb Chaigneau, Maud Gobert, Francois d’Haene, Thomas Lorblanchet, Florent Troillet, Gustavo Reyes, Csaba Nemeth, GiulianoCavallo and Americans Anton Krupicka, Mike Wolfe, Geoff Roes, Joe Grant, Ian Sharman, Nick Clark, Nikki Kimball, Transvulcania winner Dakota Jones and World Mountain Running champions Max King and Marco De Gasperi…..

For a new generation of runners the skyrunning past, illustrated with slides and videos, was an eye-opener. The topics examined included:  the social media phenomenon, sponsorships and the industry – how these relate to the runners – and back to the industry; why a federation was created; how it interacts with the athletes; and the federation’s spirit and values.

The feedback from runners has proven invaluable in indicating the way forward and, just two months later, in giving runners a place and a voice on the Federation’s Management Committee and Athletes’ Commission.

Thanks to the success of “Less Cloud. More Sky” another seminar is programmed for 2013.