June is proving to be a very special month for UK Company, Inov-8. Celebrating ten years in the business, 2013 has seen the company create an International Skyrunning Team bringing together runners from all over the world to take part in the Skyrunning World Series. Inov-8 started the 2013 campaign in Zegama-Aizkorri and will now follow with what will be a truly international field at the Mont Blanc marathon and Vertical Kilometer.
Natalie White, team manager for the brand has been influential in coordinating and bringing all this together, “Prior to me joining Inov-8 we only had a small team of UK based athletes. To get more brand awareness across the world I thought we needed an International team. So, the best athletes from around the world put them in one team and then send them out to run in the Skyrunning series. We support them and help them travel the world to race. We want to help them achieve”.
Brendan Davies and Shona Stephenson will arrive in Chamonix from Australlia. Brendan Davies (AUS), has had an incredible 2013 with top placing’s at the super competitive Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand, a top five at UTMF 100 in Japan and then a win and new CR at TNF100 in Australia. He has been fired up with an opportunity to race in Europe.
Shona Stephenson (AUS), like Brendan has had quite an incredible start to the year too, with impressive runs and results over a variety of distances and terrain. Shona was second at UTMF 100 in Japan, third at TNF100 in Australia and now she will race Europe and the high mountains for the first time.
Alex Nichols (USA), unlike his Australian teammates has experience of Skyrunning, he scored a top 5 at the Sky Games in 2012, his first outing in a Skyrunning event. He said, “It was a learning curve’. With Pikes Peak on his doorstep in the US he has plenty of opportunity to practice ascending and descending, combined with natural speed he will be a force to be reckoned with in Chamonix.
Also flying in from the USA is Scott Dunlap (USA). Scott has already had a busy start to 2013, he PR’d at Boston Marathon with 2:44:35 and most recently he has run Silver State 50m in sub 10 hours.
Sarah Ridgeway, Anna Lupton and Natalie White all arrive from the UK and complete the International field. Natalie is fulfilling two roles as team manager and competitor. In 2012 she won the mixed pairs in the two-day mountain marathon and has placed fourth in the Skygames.
Anna Lupton has two wins at the famous Three Peaks race and she will bring that skill and fell running ability to both the VK and Marathon courses.
Finally, Sarah Ridgeway lives and breathes mountain running, her home in Wales is the perfect training ground for courses like Mont Blanc. With Mt Snowdon on her doorstep, she will be adapted and ready to race.
The Mont Blanc Marathon is the second event in the Skyrunning World Series and will be preceded by the KM Vertical on June 28th where 400 runners will line up for a lung-busting 1,000 meters skywards over the short 3.5 km course.
Among the events over the weekend organised by the Club des Sports Chamonix, is the new Mont-Blanc 80K on June 28, the first time a race has been held on this course, although shortened due to snow on the course. The race will represent a “test run” for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships where the three events will be featured.
In addition to racing, inov-8 will host their first-ever athlete retreat in Chamonix, in the Alps, starting on Thursday. Twelve inov-8 athletes will attend over the nine days. They will test exciting new product and train at altitude alongside their international team-mates.
Brendan Davies looks ahead to brutal Alpine double-header and first-ever Inov-8 athlete retreat
Brendan said: “2013 has been an outstanding year for me so far. Winning the TNF 100km ultra in my own back yard in Australia was brilliant, on the back of my fifth place finish in the 100-mile Ultra Trail Mt Fuji.
“Now I’m ready to hit Europe for inov-8’s first-ever athlete’s retreat in the Alps and to race in the Mont Blanc Marathon.
“The experience of being around my fellow inov-8 team-mates is one I’ve been looking forward to all year.
“It will be an opportunity to soak up years and years of collective trail running experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
“The nine-day retreat will also give us the chance to test exciting new inov-8 shoes, clothing and packs, and provide valuable feedback. This can only have a positive affect on the performances of inov-8 wearers around the world.
“I can’t wait to get to Chamonix (France) and immerse myself in the camp, test the product and train in such stunning mountainous surroundings.
“Although I’ve raced on three previous occasions in Europe, this will be my first time in the Alps.
“Sunday’s Mont Blanc Marathon – which includes 2,511m of vertical gain and 1,490m of elevation loss – will be my first true mountain trail event.
“It is an iconic race and I’m looking forward to doing battle against the crème de la crème of global trail running. It is going to be something truly special.
“Although not my preferred terrain nor distance, I’ll be giving the race absolutely everything.
“I also plan to do the Mont Blanc Vertical KM race which, like the marathon, is part of the 2013 Skyrunner World Series.
“Friday’s lung-busting Vertical KM race starts in Chamonix and involves running as fast as possible to a measured 1,000m height gain over a course that is around 3.5km in distance.
“I’m more akin to running longer distances, so this short, steep seriously fast race will push me to the limit. I can’t wait!”
Inov-8 – HERE
Skyrunning – HERE
Mont Blanc Marathon HERE