Tromsö Skyrace 2015 Preview – “Soul running between the sky and the sea!”

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It’s the 2nd edition of the Tromsö Skyrace and although the 2 race directors won’t thank me for adding a spotlight onto them, one has to admit that Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet as RD’s really does add a plus to an event.

If you were a cynic, you may well think that the race just uses the two Skyrunning stars as a vehicle for promotion! If you do, you could not be more wrong! Just a glance at Facebook this last 2 weeks has provided us all with a real insight into how ‘hands-on’ Kilian and Emelie have been in getting this race off the ground and ready for an increased audience.

The duo brings a true love of the mountains and a desire for technical terrain to a larger audience and with the Tromsö Skyrace the challenge is a tough one! Edition 1 had many a runner saying that it was the most extreme and technical 45km’s they had ever run. That I am sure would place a big smile on Kilian’s and Emilie’s’ faces. Using inspirational race like Trofeo Kima as an influence on the Tromsö Skyrace, the race is set to be a classic that will run for a great deal of time.

Located in Tromsö, Norway, the race embraces the wilderness and 24-hour days with fjords and glaciers as a backdrop. In the words of Kilian and Emelie, it is “Soul running between the sky and the sea!”

In summary:

  • Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg: two world-class race ambassadors
  • Tromsö, a remarkable landscape
  • Three races
  • International yet familiar race
  • Eco-responsive race

300 runners in total will arrive in Tromsö for what I am sure will be an amazing, awe inspiring experience that they will hold and cherish for a long time to come. After all, the race does take place in the Norwegian Arctic Circle.

“First we just started to talk about how cool it was that in the north we can run 24 hours in light during the summer. And then we started to talk about what we think Skyrunning is and how we would like a race that includes all the key ingredients; trails, summits, ridges off trail aid stations, a consideration for the environment and so on! We decided to make a course that comes close to the city but still has all the key ingredients that we want in a race, summits, wilderness and technical parts! We are so happy about the route!”

 

Friday will start with a Blamann VK, 2.6km in length and 1044m of vertical gain make this race a true challenge for those who like to push themselves on a steep gradient.

The Tromsdalstind Skyrace has 19km length and 1600m elevation and the key race for the weekend is the Hamperokken Skyrace which is part of the Ultra Skyrunner® World Series and has 42km length and 4100m of vertical gain.

So who is running?

VK

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Nejc Kuhar heads up a strong VK race and as Skyrunner® World Series leader for the VK distance he is a firm favourite for the title in Tromsö.

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However, Eirik Haugsness and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen are almost certainly going to want to represent themselves highly and what is a ‘local’ race.

Rising star, Remi Bonnet will also be a key contender as will Ferran Texeido but the dark horse may well be Stian Hovind so keep an eye on him, he is my dark horse for the top of the podium.

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The ladies VK race is wide open and maybe not surprisingly, Emelie Forsberg may well be a hot favourite for victory.

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Azara Garcia will almost certainly contend the podium, as will Therese Sjursen and Ekatarina Mityaaeva.

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Mira Rai will also run but I think the Nepalese runner is still finding her feet in these short vertical races. I am sure she will be looking to the Ultra on Sunday for her best performance.

 

ULTRA

I fully appreciate that 42km is not an ultra, so please don’t email in and point this out! The Tromso Skyrace gains ‘ultra’ status due to the demanding course, technicality and because of the time it will take to complete the course. As we said earlier, this is NO easy race! If in doubt, the winning time from 2014 was 6:38:30!

Men

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Skyrunning World and European Champion for the Ultra distance, Luis Alberto Hernando will toe the line in Tromso and one has to say, he is the man to beat. He has been on fire in 2014 with victory and Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarentaise and 2nd place at the IAU World Trail Championships.

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Franco Colle equally has been a revelation in 2015. His victory at Tor des Geants in 2014 placed him on the radar for any race over 100-miles but this year he has nailed Mont-Blanc 80km and Ice Trail Tarentaise. One to watch!

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Last years winner, Eirik Haugsness is going to have his work cut-out to top the podium in 2015 but Tromso is a race that holds a special place for him and that always adds so those essential extra percentages when you need to dig deep.

Philipp Reiter has had a quiet 2015; no doubt university has placed a demand on his time. Tromso however will suit the young Germans skill set and I am almost certain we can expect to feel his presence at the front of the race.

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Cristofer Clemente adds to the front-end action and has consistently performed well in 2015 with a string of top 10 placing.

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Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet can never be ruled out of the front end action and I see that Canadian Adam Campbell is on the start list but I am not sure if he will run after a sterling effort at Hardrock 100.

Local talent will provide a huge surprise factor and here Emelie provides me with some valuable inside information:

Lars Eirik Skjervheim is a member of the Norwegian ski mountaineering team and a very good runner. He has had a struggle with an injury but if he is in good shape he could be on the podium, I think?

Ola Hovdenak was 2nd in 2014 and loves technical trail.

Sven Are Paulsen is a Tromsö X- country skier, that last year got really into Skyrunning! Top 10!

Kristian Ulriksen is a fast roadrunner from Tromso; lets see how he handles the technical trails.

And finally,

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Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz, Zigor Iturrieta (in hospital for an operation), Florian Reichert, Jan Bartas and Stu Air will all figure in or around the top 10 and my dark horse tip goes to Dan Doherty who may well be the surprise package of the whole race.

 

Ladies

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Mira Rai may well excel in the tough and challenging conditions of Tromso. Her victory at Mont-Blanc 80km was a revelation but recent races at the Dolomites VK and Dolomites Skyrace were mixed. Maybe they were too short? Tromso may well be short in distance but in time, it’s a long race that will play into Mira’s hands.

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Maite Maiora is a Skyrunning specialist and specializes in the Sky distance. However, she nailed Transvulcania in 2014 and that therefore elevates her up the ‘one-to-watch’ to THE one to watch.

Australian rising star, Lucy Bartholomew will also run the race and this will be a big test. But I strongly believe it’s a test that she will rise too. The podium may well be a long shot this early in her career but I don’t think she will be too far off.

Malene Hakoy is a Norwegian ski mountaineer, she won Hornidal runt this year and placed second overall… one to watch!

Hilde Aders placed top 10 in the Dolomites VK and placed 2 in Hornidal Runt this year.

Finally, a real dark horse shout out for Shiri Leventhal; I am sure she won’t thank me for pointing a spotlight at her but she made the podium at Everest Trail Race a few years ago and may well be a surprise package. Also, Heather Ohly from the UK may well make an impact on the top-10.

Needless to say, Tromsö Skyrace is going to over a seriously exciting weekend of running in an amazing part of the world and what almost certainly will be and incredible course.

I can’t wait!

You can follow the race in words and images here at iancorless.com on Facebook HERE on Twitter @talkultra and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

also follow Skyrunning via the official facebook page HERE on Twitter HERE and via the website HERE

Tromso Skyrace logo

Dolomites SkyRace 2014 Race Preview

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Hot on the heels of the Dolomites VK, just 2-days later, a super stacked field of elite and non-elite runners will tackle the incredible slopes of the Dolomites. Starting in the town of Canazei, the Skyrunner® World Series Dolomites SkyRace® has for many years represented an ideal playground for the world’s top athletes.  The steep technical course and spectacular panoramas it offers has runners coming back for more time and again.  On Sunday, 600+ runners will start the race. Last year, Kilian broke the male ascent record set by Augusti Roc to Piz Boe and Emelie Forsberg broke the female descent record set by Angela Mudge.

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The quality of runners, particularly in the men’s field is very deep and therefore a surprise could come from anywhere.

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Kilian Jornet has just run 100-miles and as you read this he will be toeing the line in the Vertical Kilometer. Kilian says he feels good but he is absolutely sure that the running and winning of Hardrock 100 will impact on his performances in the Dolomites. I can understand his caution… however; we are talking about Kilian Jornet so topping the podium in Canazei is a distinct possibility.

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Tadei Pivk had a great race last year taking the 3rd podium place and a repeat performance on a course he knows well is a distinct possibility. Marco De Gasperi will not race this year due to injury so does that open the door for Tadei?

Ionut Zinca and Alexis Sevennec rounded out the top-5 last year over 7-minutes behind a storming Kilian Jornet. Both Ionut and Alexis appear to be in great form at the moment. Ionut in particular is currently lying 4th in the Skyrunner® World Series so he will be looking for more valuable points.

Zaid Ait Malek - Haria Extreme

Zaid Ait Malek – Haria Extreme

Aritz Egea and Zaid Ait Malek are extremely strong performers over the SKY distance and we have seen them both excel at races such as Zegama-Aizkorri and last years, Limone Extreme. At the Skyrunning World Champions in Chamonix, Aritz ran a great race with a top-10 finish. However, Zaid had a bad day at the office after looking like podium potential in the early stages.

Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8

Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8

Eirik Haugsness had the race of his life at the Skyrunning World Championships producing an excellent top-10 performance in the wet and cold conditions. Eirik has all the potential for a repeat top-10 performance in this super stacked field and should things go well, a top-5 is a distinct possibility.

Bernard Dematteis and Martin Dematteis are an exciting addition the SkyRace and they will be looking to bring fast running and vertical climbing ability to contest with the front of the race. They showed everyone a clean pair of heals in Transvulcania running one of the shorter races and it’s fair to say that this duo will potentially cause some fireworks in Canazei.

David Schneider has been quiet this year and may well just sneak under the radar. We saw some excellent performances from David in 2013 and this will be his first Skyrunning race for 2014, I expect he will want to make an impact.

Who else is hot!

Thorbjorn Ludvigsen

Nicolas Pianet

Matheo Jacquemoud

Miguel Caballero

Manuel Merillos

Jordi Bes Ginesta

Fabio Bazzana

 

Ones to watch:

Etienne Van Gasse

Oscar Casal Mir

Marc Casal Mir

Hassan Ait Chau

Dabid Garcia

Inake Uribe

Es Tressider

Espen Mikkelsen

Matteo Piller Hoffer

Marco Viscentini

Gionni Morocutti

Michele Zannier

Marco Errath

Marco Marcuzzi

Mirco Lazzara

Michele Vicario

Marco Segrado

Andrea De Bona

Eric Diaz

David Lopez

Dani Tristany

Alfredo Gil

Paolo Bert

Michele Tavernaro

Aleksander Ivakin

Just Sociats

Pere Aurell

Josep Vines

Pere Rullan

Antonio Roldan

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg decided not to run the Vertical Kilometer as she felt she needed a little more recovery and easier running after her victory at the tough (and long) Ice Trail Tarentaise just last weekend. This is a wise move and on this pure Skyrunning course, Emelie is hot favourite for the win.

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Maite Maiora placed 4th behind Emelie last year almost 11-minutes back, however, Maite is a different runner this year and I personally think we can expect to see her pushing closer to the front.

Antonella Confortola is spreading her works from her favourite VK distance and tackling the slopes of Piz Boe. Antonella will be a contender for the podium as will the other VK specialist, Laura Orgue. Laura doesn’t seem to run many races outside the VK distance, however, when she does she performs at the highest level. These two ladies will bring an interesting dynamic to the race. 

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Stephanie Jiminez is a pure short distance mountain runner and VK specialist and the Dolomites SkyRace will suit her skill set. Stephanie will be in the mix, pushing all the other ladies to the line.

Victoria Wilkinson from the UK is an exciting prospect. A string of top quality results and performances on home soil bode well for a strong performance here in the Dolomites. The biggest question marks will come in adaptation to altitude and the tough, long, steep and technical terrain that this course offers.

Celine Lafaye has had a quiet 2014 but can’t be ruled out of a top-5 performance. I am just not sure of her current form?

 

Ones to watch:

Leire Agirrezabala

Uxoa Irigoien

Paola Romanin

Maria Dimitria Theocharis

Laia Andreu Trias

Montse Martinez Guerrero

Anna Comet

Lisa Buzzoni

Chiara Gianola

Eva Moreda

 

Race Results from 2013:

Men

1. JORNET KILIAN (ESP) SALOMON SANTIVERI – 2h00’11”

2. DE GASPERI MARCO (ITA) GS FORESTALE – 2h00’14”

3. PIVK TADEI (ITA) CRAZY IDEA – 2h04’10”

4. ZINCA IONUT (ROU) VALETUDO SKYRUNNING – 2h07’26”

5. SEVENNEC ALEXIS (FRA) CRAZY IDEA – 2h07’58”

Women

1. FORSBERG EMELIE (SWE) SALOMON 2h26’52”

2. SERAFINI SILVIA (ITA) SALOMON AGISKO – 2h36’55”

3. DOMINGUEZ NURIA (ESP) TEAM ESPANA – 2h37’41

4. MAIORA MAITE (ESP) TEAM ESPANA – 2h37’58

5. WISNIEWSKA DOMINIKA (POL) – TEAM POLAND – 2h40’30”

 

Skyrunning HERE

Dolomites SkyRace HERE

 

Limone Extreme Race Preview – the 2013 Skyrunner VK and SKY World Series final.

ISF Logo 2013 ORNG+GREY TRANS

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.

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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

MEN’S RACE

Kilian Jornet ©iancorless.com

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.

Luis Alberto Hernando ©iancorless.com

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.

Tofol Castanyer ©iancorless.com

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 ©iancorless.com

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

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

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.

LADIES RACE

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com

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 ©iancorless.com

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 ©iancorless.com

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 ©iancorless.com

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 ©iancorless.com

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

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 3rd Joan 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

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.

LINKS

Follow the action as it unfolds on twitter @talkultra on Facebook HERE and via this website.

Skyrunning HERE

Limone Extreme HERE