Royal Ultra SkyMarathon® Gran Paradiso Race Summary and Images – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

With a course profile that looks like a shark’s dental record and with 10-peaks to ascend and descend over a 55km course, the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series went EXTREME For the first time in 2017! 4287m of vertical gain awaited the runners in the stunning location of Ceresole Reale, Italy, a stunning mountain location towered over by the stunning 4000m peak of Gran Paradiso.

Starting at 0630, a stunning day of blue skies welcomed the runners, the early morning chill soon swept away with the arrival of the sun.

Andre Jonsson who last weekend placed 4th at High Trail Vanoise was showing incredible powers of recovery leading Zaid Ait Malek, Pere Aurell,  Bhim Gurung, Benat Marmisolle, The five ran together over the first high-peak in the National Park and the second peak coming at around 12km with 2-hours 15-minutes elapsed on the clock. They were separated by seconds matching each other’s moves.

By contrast, Zegama-Aizkorri and Livigno SkyMararhon champion Maite Maiora, was showing all the ladies a clean pair of heals. She took a grasp of the race very early on and despite being chased by Katie Schide, Ekaterina Mityaev and Natalia Tomasiak amongst other.

With 4-hours elapsed, the summit of Colle della Porta at 3002m saw a surge from Pere Aurell as he ran fast through the snow fields that followed the tough climb to the summit – Andre Jonsson, Bhim Gurung and Beat Marmisolle all followed with less than a minute separating them. Following and hoping to bridge the gap was Dimitry Mityaev, Zaid Ait Malek and Hector Haines.

Maite Maiora arrived in the same location, her lead was now extended beyond 30-minutes to Katie Schide and Ekaterina Mityaev following over 10-minutes back.

The race was now on in the men’s race, the quartet watching each other and at times changing lead like in a cycling peloton however Andre Jonsson was still pushing but the elastic wouldn’t snap. Passing Colle del Nivole they had a short decent and then climbed to Colle Della Rocca Bianche at 2670m. Again, less than a couple of minutes separated the four front runners but the long descent took its toll and with the final climb to Colle del Nel at 2551m to come, the pressure was on.

Andre Jonsson and Bhim Gurung took the lead but Jonsson started to feel the pressure and although Gurung complained of feeling tired, he unleashed his incredible descending ability on the final 1000m to drop to the line to open a huge gap and take victory just like he did earlier in the year in China at Yading Skyrace. Jonsson earned an incredible 2nd place 10-minutes back, 6:51:37 to Gurung’s 6:41:24. Pere Aurell fought cramps to finish 3rd and Benat Marmisolle held off a charging Cristofer Clemente to finish 4th.

Maite Maiora crossed the line in 8:05:28 having dominated the ladies’ race. It was a stunning victory and confirms her as one of the best female Skyrunners in the world. Katie Schide finished 2nd and Ekaterina Mityaev finished 3rd, 8:37:02 and 8:48:23 respectively.

The 55km course wound through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title, runners will compete with ibex and chamois. Starting at a lake at an altitude of 2000m, participants traversed five passes – the magnificent Gran Paradiso mountain provided a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraines, rocks, streams and snowfields provide an ultimate extreme challenge.

Next race in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series is the Dolomites SkyRace that will celebrate its 20th edition – a pure Sky Classic!

all images ©iancorless.com

A full image gallery will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com HERE

Royal Ultra SkyMarathon® Gran Paradiso – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

We go EXTREME! Yes, the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series kicks-off the Extreme category in Italy with the Royal Ultra SkyMarathon® Gran Paradiso – 55km, 4287m of vertical and the high-point coming at 3002m.

The course profile is a sharks tooth profile with no less than 10-peaks over the 55km course. Significant points coming at 5km, 12km, 25km, 27km and then a succession of repeated peaks over the final 15km before the final drop from just under 2600m to 1570m. It’s going to be brutal!

The 50km course winds through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title, runners will compete with  ibex and chamois. Starting near a lake at an altitude of 2000m, participants will traverse five passes – the magnificent Gran Parasido mountain will provide a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraines, rocks, streams and snowfields provide an extreme challenge.

Names to watch (alphabetical order):

MEN

Jan Bartas is a regular on the Skyrunning circuit and while he may not be a contender for the top-3, he will be in the mix for the top-10.

Cristofer Clemente has grown and grown as a trail and mountain runner. His performances in Skyrunning have elevated him to top the world stage and recently he produced a stunning run in the IAU world champs. He’s a favorite for the win.

Kim Collison is one of the UK’s best on his day. Recent injury problems have reduced his training and he is still unsure if he will be able to toe the line…

Bhim Gurung on his day can handle the distance and technical terrain and beat the best in the world. He can descend like a demon and he will be up at the front end for sure.

Hector Haines is slowly but surely coming a dominant force on the Skyrunning SWS. He excelled at Limone SkyRace and recently he had a great run at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. Hector may well win this race!

Andre Jonsson just had a great run at High Trail Vanoise and he will most certainly be a top-10 and on a normal day he would be top-5, however, I think he may be a little jaded after HTV.

Dimitry Mityaev placed 3rd at High Trail Vanoise and like Jonsson is almost certainly going to be tired in Italy, however, he has the strength to potentially dig-deep and make top-5.

Shane Ohly on his day has the potential to turn a few heads, he’s not likely to make the podium but in recent months he’s been showing some great form.

Pavel Paloncy is as strong as an ox and will trade blows with the best, however, on this course I think he will lack speed to contend for the podium.

Konrad Rawlik is a solid mountain runner who like Ohly has all the potential to mix it with the best in shooting for a top-10 slot.

Roger Vinas rose through the Skyrunning ranks in 2016 with a series of solid performances, he is a top-10 potential and if he’s on a good day he may well make an impact on the top-5.

Zaid Ait Malek raced recently in Spain so may well be tired, however, he has all the speed, endurance and skill to make the podium and yes, win the race!

LADIES

Sophie Grant has recently placed 10th a Tararwera Ultra, 4th at Transgrancanaria and 11th at Mont-Blanc 80km – the Royal will bring a whole new challenge to this British runner and she has all the potential to turn heads with a podium place.

Aitziber Ibarbia is a regular competitor in the SWS calendar and is without doubt a contender for the top-5 and a potential top-3.

Maite Maiora is the odds-on favorite for victory after winning Zegama-Aizkorri and the recent Livigno SkyMarathon.

Emanuele Manzoli placed 3rd at the Royal in 2015 and brings course knowledge and experience. A recent victory at  Trail Alta Vai Nure.

Ekaterina Mityaev is a new name and face in Skyrunning and she is excelling after moving up from shorter distance races to ultras. In 2016 she placed 4th at Ultra Pirineu and in 2017 she was 7th at Transvulcania, 2nd at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and she was 3rd at Mont-Blanc 80km – podium potential for sure!

Katie Schide is a relative unknown on Italian soil but she placed 7th at Speedgoat 50km in 2015 and won Antelop Island 50k. No results show for 2016 but 2nd at Moab’s Red Hot 55km in 2017 shows she is in form! Backed up in Livignio and recent racing in France.

Natalia Tomasiak was 7th at Glen Coe Skyline in 2016 and 6th at Trofeo Kima, A recent win at Stubai Ultratrail shows good form.

Zuzana Urbancova 8th at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and a string of other top-10 results confirm that a top-10 is a distinct possibility and top-5 is possible on a good day.

Susan Van Duijl and a whole host of other top female contenders will make this an exciting race.

Race information HERE

YADING SKYRUN 2017 RACE IMAGES and SUMMARY – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

Skyrunners Get High In China

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked-off this weekend in China with Yading Skyrun – a 29km ‘SKY CLASSIC’ event that set a new benchmark in high altitude sport.

Yes, Skyrunner’s got high in China with a personification of racing in the sky – 4700m to be exact!

Staring in the centre of Yading’s Shangri-La the race started at 0700 with a gradual downhill to ease the legs and mind into a gruelling day amongst some of the finest trails, mountain and sky that China has to offer. After 3.5km, the race will hit the lowest point – 2860m! To place this in perspective, most races in Europe ‘top-out’ at 2800m! From here, the only way was up – passing a small village, the race route hugs a single-track that weaves through the mountains and reaches the race summit at 4700m. Buddhist prayer flags make an iconic and memorable end to hours of climbing and what follows is a fast descent all the way back to Chonggu Temple and the finish line.

Yading is blessed with immense natural beauty, including the three sacred peaks (Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje) which loom over the National Park at an altitude of over 6,000m. From the 5th Dalai Lama through Joseph Rock this area has been a source of spiritual inspiration.

Featuring 22 races in 11 countries, the Yading Skyrun was a great start for the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series. The pure ethos of racing in the sky was personified by this season opener. Skyrunning was grounded as a high-altitude sport in the early 90’s and now, some 25+ years later, Skyrunning reaches new heights – 4700m to be exact!

Yading, located in China’s Sichuan province provided a perfect arena for modern day running gladiators to battle amongst the incredible landscape and high-altitude that this area has to offer.

Megan Kimmel approaching the 4700m summit of the race.

The ladies race was all about 2016 Yading champion Megan Kimmel. She returned to China from her home in the USA and showed the competition a clean pair of heals in what was a strong and stand out performance that will most definitely have the completion looking at the calendar ahead and wondering how do we beat this outstanding performer.

“I loved China last-year when I raced here. The team at China Mountain Trails are incredible and the races they offer are unique. I live at altitude but here I get to race really high. Don’t underestimate the difficulty that this brings. I am very happy to kick-off my Skyrunning year with this victory.”

Ragna Debats finished 3rd in 2016 and this year moved up one place finishing 2nd ahead of Katrine Villumsen – their times 4:06:42 and 4:13:21 to Kimmel’s impressive 3:33:55.

Andy Wacker, here leading the race eventually finished 2nd.

The men’s race was somewhat of a nail-biter and nobody could have predicted that Bhim Gurung would repeat his 2016 victory. USA based Andy Wacker (who placed 3rd in the previous day’s VK) lead the race at a relentless pace. At one point, he had opened up a large gap on the chasers – Pascal Egli, Duo Ji and Bhim Gurung. However, at the highest point of the race at 4700m and with just over 5km’s to go – Gurung unleashed a relentless downhill that reeled in all the competition. Skyrunning may very well be about the uphill, but as so many races have shown, (the Dolomites SkyRace a great example) what goes up must come down and Gurung was without equal in China. He crossed the line in a new course record  3:06:51. Wacker held on for 2nd in 3:08:23 and Ji edged out Egli for 3rd in 3:08:49.

Unlike many races in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series Yading was very unique due to the the high-altitude. It was noticeable amongst the elite athletes as they fought against oxygen debt. Lower down the field though, runners battled the conditions to achieve their own personal goals. China offered a very unique and awe-inspiring start to 2017 and for sure, China holds a bright future for new events with China Mountain Trails and Migu Run.

Attention now turns to the now iconic island of La Palma and the Transvulcania Ultramarathon which has become a flagship of the ‘SWS’ ever since the iconic 2012 edition – Less Cloud, More Sky! Follow the action from May 11th through to May 14th.

Also take place over the weekend in China:

The Yading VK started on May 1st starting at noon. Covering a distance of 7km the race had an elevation gain of 1072m – starting at 3992m and concluding at 5000m, a first for Skyrunning! Read the race report and view the images HERE.

Yading Kora Ultra winner, 敏 祁

The Yading Kora Ultra started alongside the Yading Skyrun and extended its race loop from the Chonggu Temple to take in the Kora pilgrimage route over 46km. The latter stages of the race were the final 5km’s of the ‘classic’ race from the 4700m summit all the way down the single-track  to the finish line at 3992m. With over 2,300m of elevation gain over the length of the course, and the finish line sitting at just over 4,000m, the race challenges beginners and elites alike. The race was fast and furious with Salomon Running International athlete Ida Nilsson taking an incredible victory in 6:05:02 and placing 6th overall. 妍星 马 placed 2nd in 7:52:30 and  Yasuko Nomura 3rd in 9:22:07. The men’s race was won by 2:16 marathon runner, 敏 祁 in 5:19:28. Francois d’Haene placed 2nd and 晶 梁 3rd, 5:28:07 and 5:48:13 respectively.

Yading Kora Ultra ladies winner, Ida Nilsson.

******

About the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series”. The Chinese company, Migu Run, under the name of Migu Xempower, was the Series’ main sponsor in 2016.

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series features 22 races in 11 countries and will reward the champions in the various categories a € 60,000 end of season prize purse.

The Chinese company Migu Run, the creator and owner of an advanced online and offline exercise and health management platform, has been announced as the new long-term title sponsor of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series beginning in 2017.

The Series is structured in three categories, Sky Classic, Sky Extreme and Sky Ultra, counting 22 races in 11 countries stretching from April to October.

Yading is the highest race of the circuit reaching 4,664m altitude. The Yading Skyrun will be organised by China Mountain Trails (CMT), a subsidiary of Migu Run, entrusted with spearheading the trail and mountain running events.

Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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The stunning Matterhorn provides the stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain – the next race in the Skyrunner® World Series 2016. It’s a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race where the ever present lone peak of the Matterhorn shadows the race and runners with its majestic beauty.

Zermatt, located 1600m above altitude provides the focal point for this high altitude race. It’s a town of contrasts, tourists flood in to trawl the streets, shop and snap ‘selfies’ while in and amongst them, hardcore mountaineers head upwards with packs, ropes, cramp-ons and ice axes. Like a photo on a luxury box of chocolates, Zermatt is a beautiful place steeped in history. It’s a logical start and finishing place for such an iconic race.

Renowned for its tough opening kilometers, the Matterhorn Ultraks immediately heads to the sky via Sunnegga at 2260m all the way to the high point Gornergrat at 3130m. It’s a brutal 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

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2015 Champions, Martin Anthamatten and Elisa Desco return to Switzerland for the 4th edition of the race and as such they are the favourites. Desco just last weekend placed 3rd at Sierre-Zinal, the question mark will be, as she recovered? For Anthamatten, his last performance was at the Skyrunning World Championships.

It’s fair to say the men’s race is wide open, no doubt impacted upon by the recent Tromso SkyRace and next weekend’s Trofeo Kima. SWS race leader, Tadei Pivk is currently injured and that leaves an opening for valuable points.

Bhim Gurung who won the inaugural Yading race excelled at the high altitude in China and although this race tops out at 3100m in Switzerland, it will not register on the Nepalese runner’s radar. Strong competition and maybe the hot favourite will be Marc Lauenstein.

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Hassan Ait Chou has a solid history in Zermatt and his recent podium at the SkyRace Comapedrosa indicates that he may well be in for a good run. Pablo Villa, Oscar Casal Mir and Marc Casal Mir will also contend the podium along with Adrien Michaud.

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Lining up against Desco is Megan Kimmel who had a stunning race in 2015 only to later in the latter stages. Something tells me that won’t happen this year and for me, she is odds on favourite for victory!

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Oihana Kortazar leads the other podium contenders after a recent top placing at SkyRace Comapedrosa and Celia Chiron who placed 3rd at the Dolomites SkyRace will no doubt be looking for a repeat performance. Ragna Debats, Aziziber Ibarbia and Marta Molist are other top runners who will be at the ‘pointy’ end of the race!

Course records were set in 2013 by Kilian Jornet and 2014 by Stevie Kremer, their respective times 4:43:05 and 5:18:43.

Race day is Saturday 20th August and the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k race will get underway at 0730


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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