Spartathlon 2013

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SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.

A man is indeed able to cover 250 km in less than two days and in fact in less than 40 hours. After the success of the project, the architect of the feat, John Foden, began to envision the establishment of a race that would bring long distance runners to Greece from around the world to run on the trail of the ancient runner Pheidippides. The next year a multinational team of British, Greek and other enthusiastic supporters of the idea, led by Michael Callaghan, a philhellene, organized the First International Spartathlon (Open International Spartathlon Race), wherein the name for the race combines the Greek words for Sparta and Feat.

The race was held with the approval and supervision of the Athletics Federation with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries and included the participation of women. The organizational success of this inaugural race and its broad appeal were decisive to the subsequent establishment of the annual race.

Accordingly, in 1984 the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded. Since then a yearly race has been organized each September. Why September? Because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides run to Sparta.

Information taken from http://www.spartathlon.gr ©Spartathlon.gr

The Race

The 2013 edition of the race will start on Friday 27th September with 350 participants and for any last minute dropouts; this entry list will be topped up from a waiting list of 160 runners.

UK entrants:

  • Mark Woolley
  • Robert Pinnington
  • Lindley Chambers
  • Claire Shelley
  • James Adams
  • Drew Sheffield
  • Martin Ilott
  • Philip Smith
  • Mathew Mahoney
  • Mimi Anderson *
  • Paul Ali
  • Mike Blamires
  • Cat Lawson
  • Steve Scott
  • Pat Robbins
  • Martin Bacon
  • Mark Hines
  • Laurence Chownsmith
  • Robbie Britton *
  • Jonathan Hall
  • Peter Johnson
  • James Elson

Countries represented:

Sweden, Poland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, France, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Malta, United States, Uruguay, Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and of course Greece.

Spartathlon, for many is a bucket list race. It has a magic that cannot be found at other races. The distance, strict cut-off times, the heat and so on all add to the drama. The course is conducted point-to-point and elevation ranges from sea level to 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), over tarmac road, trail and mountain footpath. Aid stations are placed every 3 to 5 km and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is run under police and medical supervision with doctors, physiotherapists, and emergency vehicles being on call throughout the 36-hour race duration. The race is very demanding.

The course is not the most spectacular and 153 miles of roads may not appeal to many, particularly if coming from a trail or mountain running background. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has run this race and not loved it. For sure, the Greeks, French, Japanese, German and now a growing UK participation love this race and demand is continuing to grow.

Lizzy Hawker raced in 2012 and not only won the ladies race in 27:02:17 but placed third overall. The outright winner was Stu Thoms from Germany in 26:28:19.

For the 2013 edition of the race, all entrants are of interest. For many, Spartathlon is a journey about completion and not competition. However, two people are of interest and for opposite reasons. Firstly, Robbie Britton from the UK is coming to Spartathlon for the first time but he is potentially an exciting prospect for the overall with a solid 100-mile result at the South Downs Way 100 in a time of 15:43:53 and 239.008km at the World 24-hour championships. Robbie has said in his blog, “I’m right excited about getting to Sparta now and can’t wait for the great challenge of this historic race. We’ve got a solid British team heading out there; including a few Grand Union Canal Race winners, one of whom is attempting a double Spartathlon and it should be a great atmosphere out there. After a strong showing from the Brits at UTMB and The Grand Slam of Ultra Running, I guess we best put a bit of effort into Spartathlon now too…” Bog here

Secondly, Mimi Anderson will be doing Spartathlon her own way in 2013… she raced in 2011 and surprised herself with her performance. So much so, this year she is coming back to do it twice! Yes, twice.

Mimi’s press release:

‘Marvellous’ Mimi Anderson, the 51 year-old grandmother from Smarden in Kent who is a triple long distance running Guinness World Record holder and already the legendary finisher of several ‘doubles’ of extreme long distance races for which the one-way normal run would be beyond most mere mortals, is about to attempt probably her most daring double – a two-way run of the iconic Spartathlon race held in Greece each year.

Traditionally there are about 20 runners from the UK each year and Mimi first ran the race in 2011 when she finished 3rd lady overall and the 1st UK finisher in 32 hours 33 minutes 23 seconds. She has decided to return in 2013 and having completed the normal race on her previous visit, she will be attempting the double this year (a distance of 306 miles), which is believed to have only ever been done once before. It has certainly never been done by anyone from Britain and no female has ever attempted it.

Mimi’s plan is to do the race first then, all being well, start the return leg at midnight on Saturday night.  She will be running the race itself to achieve the best time she can and then attempting the return leg in in the same tough 36 hours maximum time allowed for the race.

Her husband Tim and friend Becky Healey will be crewing for her during the event and the reason for starting the return leg at midnight on the Saturday is to enable the crew to get some sleep – otherwise it becomes too dangerous for them to be driving safely!

Mimi will be running to raise money for her usual cause – the 10 Million Metres Campaign, which was set up by Alex Flynn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago.  People can donate on the Justgiving site at www.justgiving.com/marvellousmimi1

The 2013 event for sure will be exciting for all involved and for those watching. If you would like more information, please go to the race website.

Links:

All entrants can be viewed here

Live Tracking for race day here

Trans D’Havet – RACE SUMMARY

Trans D’Havet was the concluding race in the ISF European Skyrunning Championships. Following on from the VK and SKY race in Canazei last weekend, the 80km Trans D’Havet was always going to be a test of many aspects of human will and the power to dig deep and find something from within. However, little did we know how deep some people are able to go?

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Runners assembled in Piovene Roccchette for the 0100am start. It was quite a site, local revelers were dancing and drinking while around them, lycra clad runners milled around waiting for the off. The arrival of Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Nuria Picas, Emelie Forsberg and Philipp Reiter created some additional buzz as locals and participants in the race looked for a photo opportunity or an autograph.

With five minutes to go, it was already 27 degrees, it was going to be a very hot race! Missing from the start line was Luis Alberto; he had unfortunately received some devastating personal news. After some contemplation, he decided to run. Goodness knows what he felt like. Of course we can only guess and this is not the place to pursue that thought. With his decision to race confirmed, on the stroke of one, the masses disappeared into the dark.

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The route is a spectacular one, which winds through the Piccole Dolomiti between the Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige on the Pasubio and Carega group. These mountains are the setting for some of the bloodiest battles in the First World War. Starting with 1000m altitude to Mount Summano the course goes up and down taking in, Forte Rione on Monte Novegno, Monte Alba and Passo Xomo. Taking in fifty-two tunnels that have total distance of some 6km the course offer much variety. With over halfway completed, runners pass Monte Cornetto and then the final big climb to the highest point of the course at 2238m, leaving the Passo Campogrosso runners climb to the Faccaroli refuge. From here the course looks to be downhill but 12km of ups and downs await before the finish line in Valdagno.

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Luis Alberto and Kilian Jornet started together and finished together. Matching each other over every meter of the 80km course, it would maybe appear that a decision was made to race the rest of the field but not each other. They had occasional time gaps but that was more due to natural breaks and feed stations. Ultimately, the decision to cross the line together was the correct one, the statement made in the finishing straight said far more that any one individual victory. Today was ’really’ about trail and Skyrunning. Kilian has a photo book titled, ‘Trail running for me is not about running’ and today both he and Luis proved it. It was an honor to witness that moment.

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Csaba Nemeth from Hungry was doing a great job in the European Championships and his efforts paid off, his consistent pace and strong climbing in the growing daily temperatures secured him a third place. Podium prospect Philipp Reiter unfortunately had to pull out of the race after falling and damaging his knee.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1160274The ladies race was always going to come down to a battle between Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg. Emelie has had a stunning 2013 and her calendar of late has seen her race multiple times and place 2nd at Mont Blanc Marathon, 1st at Ice Trail Tarentaise, 2nd at Dolomites VK, 1st at Dolomites Skyrace and then of course she was coming to Italy to tackle 80km’s with over 5000m+ of vertical gain and ascent against a fresh Nuria.

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Emelie had a small gap in the early stages but as per usual, both Emelie and Nuria ran together again, on the final big climb from Campogrosso, Emelie had a two-minute lead and then extended that, continually pulling away. With the throttle open, the gap extended and she scored a convincing victory. Equally impressive, once again she placed 10th overall.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1170625 Nuria arrived in Valdagno and looked to be a spent force. The temperatures were now around the mid 30’s and the combination of heat and pace had cooked her. She said after the race. ‘The miles just didn’t tick past today. I had to push for everyone and it was a tough day’.

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©copyright .iancorless.com._1070726The third podium spot actually turned out to be an exciting battle. Taken by Uxue Fraile, less than a minute after Nuria, this confirmed the stranglehold by Spain both in the men’s and ladies events over the ultra distance.

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The ISF Skyrunning European Championships have been a great success. We have seen some incredible racing over VK, Sky and Ultra and the locations, terrain and temperatures have been varied; what more could you want!

Full results and classifications of how the European rankings stand will be posted later today.

Results:

Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (Spain) 08:59:47
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) 08:59:49
  3. Casaba Nemeth (Hungary) 09:43:25

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) 10:21:32
  2. Nuria Picas (Spain) 10:33:34
  3. Uxue Fraile (Spain) 10:34:20

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Trans D’Havet HERE

RACE DAY IMAGES HERE

Skyrunning European Championships

The ice at Ice Trail Tarentaise hasn’t even melted and just 48 hours later we ae looking ahead to the third edition of the European Skyrunning Championships which start this coming Friday, the 19th. with the Vertical Kilometer®. The series of events will have seven world champions representing sixteen nations.

Please Note:

A course recce for Trans D’Havet will take place on Tuesday July 23rd and Wednesday July 24th. You can download a PDF document with information HERE

On July 25th at 1500 we will have an introduction to Skyrunning with Salomon athlete, Philipp Reiter. This will involve a ‘live’ interview followed with Q&A and then ISF President, Marino Giacometti and Dr Roi (Sky Doc) will provide a small talk and answer questions. Information available HERE

Schedule:

The Dolomites will again host two of the events in the three-year history of the Championships.  The record on the unforgiving Vertical Kilometer® course just 2,1 km long, stands at 33’16” by world record holder Italian Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola in 39’13” back in 2008 when the course was inaugurated.

The classic Dolomites SkyRace® favoured by the world’s top runners offers a new challenge after record-breaking performances here this year by Kilian Jornet in 2h01’52”, and the three top women, Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg, American Kasie Enman and Spaniard Mireia Mirò – all under record time.  Forsberg’s record stands at 2h26’00”. The challenging and often technical course represents one of the toughest proving grounds for the relatively short distance: 22 km but with 1,750m climb to the summit of the Piz Boè which, at 3,152m altitude, towers above the start and finish of the race in Canazei.

The much anticipated Ultra is embodied by the Trans d’Havet, a point to point 80 km long with 5,500m vertical climb traversing the Piccole Dolomiti in the Veneto Region.  The route, technical in stretches, includes 6 km of tunnels dating back to the First World War, created by General D’Havet, to whose name the race is dedicated. At the launch this year, the men’s winning time was 10h58’44”, no doubt destined to fall with the top European runners participating here in 2013.

Participants

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Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg will test their powers of recovery and just five days after impressive victories in what many are now considering an iconic Skyrunning race, the Ice Trail Tarentaise, they will toe the line for all three events in the European Championships.

It is going to be difficult to bet against them, certainly Kilian has the ability, powers of recovery and experience to top the podium in all three events. However, Luis Alberto Hernando has pushed Kilian close in three events already in 2013 and he will most certainly be keen to move one place on the podium higher.

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Nuria Picas missed Ice Trail Tarentaise so that she could save all her energy for the ultra race, she desires the Euoropean Championship crown and keeping in mind Emelie Forsberg’s recent calendar and the fact that she will have participated in the VK and Sky race the weekend before, one has to say that Nuria may well be the favourite for the Trans d’Havet race.

Michel Lanne joint winner of the Mont Blanc Mrathon Ultra race will almost certainly be a hot favourite at Trans d’Havet along with an in-form Philipp Rieter who took third place at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

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The Sky distance race will be extremely competitive, Nicola Golinelli (4th Mont-Blanc Marathon) Florian Reichert (9th at Mont Blanc), Tadei Pivk (3rd at Zegama), Matheo Jaquemoud, Augusto Roc (three time world champion), Didier Zago and Dimitris Theodrakakos will go head-to-head for the title.

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However, so will Kilian Jornet. On this course, I don’t see Kilian loosing, however today, 17th July, we have had confirmation that Kilian’s favourite sparring partner, Marco De Gasperi will toe the line. Not only is this great news for the race but it is great news for us. No doubt after the head-to-head battle at Mont Blanc we will see a repeat performance on the slopes os Canazei.

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The ladies Sky race will be equally competitive with Emelie Forsberg, Celine Lafaye (2nd Mont Blanc), Maite Mayora Elizondo and Silvia Serafini as strong favourites. However, nobody will have an easy run with strong competiton coming from Zhanna Voueva, Laura Orgue, Stephanie JiminezRagna Debats to name but a few.

Maite Mayora Elizondo at Haria Extreme

Maite Mayora Elizondo at Haria Extreme

The Vertical at Canazei is regarded as one of the toughest. It is incredibly steep, to put this in perspective, even Kilian Jornet used ‘poles’ in 2012. Without doubt Kilian is a strong favourite but the men’s field has real quality and ‘VK’ specialists; Urban Zemmer will lead the charge for the title, closely followed by Marco Facchinelli, Tadei Pivk, Didier Zago, and Augusti Roc.

Antonella Confortola will be the hot favourite for the ladies. Emelie Fosberg will push hard but she is still learning in the VK as is Zhana Vokueva. Tessa Hill from the UK is slowly becoming a VK specialist and she stated at Mont Blanc that she was already seeing a progression from her 2012 form. The ever present Corinne Favre is always a contender, as is Laura Orgue. Sivia Serafini, Celine Lafaye, Maite Mayora Elizondo and Ragna Debats will double up with the Sky race and have every possibility to make the podium in both races.

Antonella Confortola

Antonella Confortola

To date, the sixteen countries entered are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.

The winning formula?  Easy: the European Skyrunning Championships are open with individual titles at stake in each discipline. Ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Coverage and imagery will be provided by iancorless.com via Facebook Talk Ultra and Twitter

European Skyrunning Championships 2013

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Italy will host the third edition of the biennial championships. The Vertical and Sky disciplines will take place in Canazei, Trento, on July 19 & 21. The Ultra distance, for the first a championship discipline – will be celebrated in Vicenza, on July 27. The skyrunning “hall of fame” is unveiled

The third edition of the European Skyrunning Championships kicks off in Italy with not just Europe’s best, but no less than seven world championsrepresenting sixteen nations.  The events will mark the first European Ultra title, as well as the Vertical and Sky distances.

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Taking on all three disciplines will be super-champs Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, for whom only the sky is the limit.  A number of other athletes will take on the three-race challenge but mostly the specialists are aiming for medals in their preferred categories.

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The strong Spanish team includes 2011 Skyrunning World Champion Luis Alberto Hernando who will take on the Ultra with 2012 Ultra Champion Nuria Picas.

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Nuria Picas copyright iancorless.com

The twelve team members also include three-time World Champion, Agustì Roc and Vertical Champion Laura Orguè

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Italy will be aiming at the Vertical and Sky distances with a robust line-up headed by Vertical World Champion Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola who took third at the recent KM Vertical in Chamonix. The Italian squad is supported by Nicola Golinelli (4th Mont-Blanc Marathon), Marco Facchinelli currently heading the SWS Vertical Series together with Marco Moletto (ranked 4th).  Silvia Serafini (4th in Mont-Blanc Marathon), will race both distances while Stephanie Jimenez will take on the SkyMarathon®.  

Many more world-class names have signed up to represent their county in the European Championships.  Among them, the strong French team: Michel Lanne, Emilie Lecomte, Matheo Jacquemoud, Didier Zago, Celine Lafaye and Corrine FavrePhilipp Reiter and promising “new” skyrunner Florian Reichert (Germany); Ferran Teixido and Oscar Casal Mir (Andorra); Zhanna Vokueva (Russia); Csaba Nemeth (Hungary); Ionut Zinca (Rumania); Tessa Hill(Great Britain).  

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The Netherlands are not new to skyrunning after their first experience at the 2012 SkyGames®.  They are led by Ragna Debats, 5th at Mont-Blanc Marathon. New entries include a very strong representation from the Czech Republic with no less than thirteen team members they are determined to make an impression on the international skyrunning scene.

To date, the sixteen countries entered are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Rumenia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.

The events kick off on July 19 in Canazei, Trento, Italy with the Vertical Kilometer®, followed by the Dolomites SkyRace® on July 21.  The Ultra distance will be disputed at the Trans d’Havet just six days later in the nearby Veneto Region on July 27.

With such a deep field in every category, records are likely to tumble.

The record on the unforgiving Vertical Kilometer® course, just 2,1 km long, stands at 33’16” by Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola39’13”, back in 2008 when the course was inaugurated at the SkyGames® .

Antonella copyright iancorless.com

The Dolomites SkyRace® favoured by the world’s top runners offers a new challenge after record-breaking performances last year by Kilian Jornet in2h01’52 and Emelie Forsberg, in 2h26’00. The challenging and often technical course represents one of the toughest proving grounds for the relatively short distance:  22 km but with 1,750m climb to the summit of the Piz Boè which, at 3,152m altitude, towers majestically above the start and finish of the race in Canazei.

Moving on to the much anticipated Ultra, the Trans d’Havet is an 80 km point to point with 5,500m vertical climb traversing the Piccole Dolomiti in the Veneto Region.  The route, technical in stretches, includes 6 km of tunnels. 

Course records at last year’s launch were: 10h58’44” by Daniele Palladino (ITA) and Francesca Canepa (ITA) 11h44’45’’.

The winning formula?  Easy: the European Skyrunning Championships are open with individual titles at stake in each discipline. Ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Vertical

Dolomites Vertical Kilometer®, Canazei, Trento, July 19

Sky

Dolomites SkyRace®, Canazei, Trento, July 21

Ultra

Trans d’Havet, 80k, Piovene R, Piccole Dolomiti, Vicenza – July 27

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Skyrunning Website HERE