We lack altitude in the UK & Ireland, however, we have an abundance of wonderful technical terrain that is very unique and an envy of many a skyrunner. The Snowdon SkyRace is not only the personification of what a skyrunning race in the UK is but also what a skyrunner race should be on a world-stage. This has now been recognised with the race being added to the Skyrunner World Series (SWS) for 2021.
3150m of vertical gain over 40km, the race is a brutal challenge that equals and surpasses the best of what Europe has to offer. The iconic exposed arête of Crib Goch and the climb of Tryfan bring that all desirable element that makes the Snowdon SkyRace one that must be experienced.
In 2021 the SWS features 14 races in 11 countries and is supported by Merrell, also the presenting partner of the Snowdon Skyline weekend.
Snowdonia is widely regarded as a paradise for scrambling and technical trail running, boasting stunning scenery and terrain that can rival the skyrunning playgrounds of France, Italy and Spain.
A figure of eight route, it starts and concludes in Rhyd-Ddu with four key highlights, Snowdon, Glyder Fawr, Tryfan and Crib Goch. It’s a beautifully brutal route that challenges even the most talented skyrunner. Technical, tough, and a race that must be experienced.
“Since 2018 it has been our goal to host a round of the Skyrunner® World Series here in North Wales and show the skyrunning world what Snowdonia has to offer. The route is simply phenomenal, taking in the area’s most iconic ridges and Grade 1 scrambles, it’s sure to become an international classic and a very worthy addition to the World Series. I’m super excited by the prospect of the world’s best skyrunners racing over Crib Goch this October!”.
Michael Jones, RD.
This October, the world’s most technically adept Skyrunners from far and wide will descend upon Snowdonia to battle it out at the Snowdon SkyRace® for Skyrunner® World Series points, a unique 3D printed dragon trophy by DesignReal and a share of the following generous prize pool: €1,500 – €1,000 – €500 – €250 – €125 for 1st-5th female and male overall finishers, respectively!
Entries for the Snowdon SkyRace® are now live and with over half of them already snapped up, this race is likely to reach capacity well in advance of October! More event info and entry available here: www.snowdonskyline.com
Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.
Italian brand, La Sportiva, take running shoe specialization to the next level with the VK Boa®, a shoe that is specifically designed to go mountain as quickly as possible in the lightest package available.
To understand the shoe, you need to understand its purpose.
The VK in the name refers to Vertical Kilometer® a sport created on the slopes of Monte Rosa in 1994 by Marino Giacometti, the founder and creator of the sport, Skyrunning. Governed by the ISF, the International Skyrunning Federation, the sport is simple in concept – To cover 1000 vertical meters in a course that is less than *5km long with average incline of 20%. Double (2000m) and triple (3000m) VK’s also exist.
Initially created for scientific research the VK concept grew and it has become a staple in the calendar of skyrunning with its own specific calendar and relative world and European champions. Often, a VK would be added on to a race weekend that included another longer race, the Dolomites being a prime example where a VK would take place on Friday and a SkyRace on Sunday. Competitors often do both races. The world record stands at 28-minutes 53-seconds by Philip Goetsch set at one of the steepest VK’s in the world, Fully, which covers the 1000 vertical meters in a course that is only 1.92km long. The finish line is 1500m altitude.
The VK sport was created in Italy and the La Sportiva brand was born in Italy, the synergy between the two is obvious.
To create a specific shoe for VK not only shows the demand, especially in Italy, for such a shoe, but also the enthusiasm for the sport. The 2020 the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit, managed by SkyMan, was cancelled however, the ISF have confirmed the sport will continue and recently they announced a new 2VK circuit – HERE
La Sportiva VK Boa®
Like track spikes, the VK Boa is a very specific shoe.
It’s all about minimal weight, secure foot hold, grip and a package that turns the eye. I have to say, the classic black/yellow/red of La Sportiva has always appealed and here in the VK Boa® that is taken up a notch to make what I think is a really ‘sexy’ shoe.
The striking look pulls you in and then you pick the shoe up, at sub 200g for a standard UK8 (230g for a UK9.5) this shoe is amazingly light.
The upper is just one seamless sock with a narrow opening from which one inserts the foot. Three wide straps come across the shoe to create the foothold and structure and conventional laces have been removed to be replaced with the Boa® rapid closure system.
A minimal toe bumper offers toe protection.
The outsole is a story of two halves: the front using a black semi-aggressive grip with relatively small lugs (25) the rear has a different configuration in red.
Cushioning, as one would expect is minimal but surprisingly more than I expected.
Drop is 4mm.
The shoe is described as being ‘universal’, but I do feel some support under the arch.
Sizing is true to size.
Firstly, getting one’s foot into the shoe is a little tricky. This shoe is designed like a Formula 1 car and as such, excess is taken away. One you have your foot inside, take time to wiggle your foot, make sure your heel is in the correct place and ensure that you pull the upper up, just like a sock.
There is no tongue. Tightening the shoe is done from the Boa® closure by turning the dial. Do this slowly making sure the laces sit where you want them. Taking time here will ensure a great foothold, particularly on the important Navicular bone.
The heel box is really impressive and rightly so for a shoe that is designed for going uphill. A lack of secure hold at the rear and it would prove really problematic. I’d go as far to say that the VK Boa® has the most secure and tight-fitting heel box of any shoe I have tried.
The toe box area, just like socks, is free of any reinforcement and extremely slipper like. It is not narrow and not wide, but the freedom of movement offered by the bi-elastic mesh would make this shoe work for most people. La Sportiva call it Low Volume which is designed for a tight fit following foot shape.
The outsole is very clever, La Sportiva know that when doing a VK, the front of the shoe is used almost 100% with only occasional use of the shoe rear. The outsole reflects this with two different grips and notably there is ‘rock-guard’ only at the front of the shoe. The outsole is designed to have as many contact points as possible. Frixion Red is a combination of grip, long-lasting wear and shock absorption. VK’s take place on grass, rock, stone, scree, mud and even ice, the outsole does a great job of handling each of the conditions.
The cushioning is compressed EVA and I was surprised how much cushioning was in the shoe, but it is designed for softer ground where the requirement for shock absorption is reduced. Completely understandable for a shoe designed for VK’s.
This is a very specific shoe and as such will have a very reduced market. It’s not a shoe that can-do multiple tasks, having said that, they VK Boa® may work exceptionally well on a short mountain race but downhill support and comfort would be compromised.
This shoe is designed to go up.
Considering that most VK’s are completed in 30-minutes for the elite men, around 35/40 minutes for the elite women and then 60 to 90-minutes for mortals, you get a picture that this shoe needs to be light.
Light they are; super light! They really do fit like gloves and I am still surprised at how well they hold the foot. I have had mixed experiences with Boa® closure systems previously but on this shoe it all clicks together. The Boa® (L6 type) system is a logical closure step allowing the top of the shoe to be free of seams and additional stitching and the three straps, just like in cycling shoes, comes across the foot to create a really superior hold. It’s all about efficiency and it makes a really nice aesthetic.
The shoes are extremely flexible and notably they excel in three areas.
The hold in the heel area is superb, no, it is brilliant! The lack of slipping in the heel area for a shoe designed for going uphill is absolutely crucial and the VK Boa® may well be the best I have tried.
The soft and flexible upper manages to provide enough structure and support but allows the foot to move and bend in the propulsive phase without restriction. Crucial for a VK when pretty much the entire race or run will be undertaken on the front of the shoe.
The outsole is designed for purpose and I love the specific grip and rock-guard just for the front of the shoe where it is needed.
Precise, reactive, great foot hold, excellent proprioception and extremely flexible, the VK Boa® really is beautifully designed for the task it was created for.
This shoe is not for everyone and I applaud La Sportiva for creating such a specific shoe. Light and minimalist, they excel for the designed purpose and there is little to fault.
They look great, the Boa® system is a superb addition to the shoe that maybe is the best use of this product I have seen in a running shoe.
RRP is 170 euro, so, they are not cheap. However, such a specific shoe will have a long life as they will only be used for VK racing or training. More often than not, VK’s are located close or near cable cars, so, the need to run back down is not required. Having said that, if one does need to run down, the VK Boa® does lack some of the structure a conventional run shoe would have, so, that needs to be considered.
If VK’s and going uphill as fast as possible is your think, the La Sportiva VK Boa® are most definitely worth checking out.
Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE
Imagine you could predict your finishing time, calories required and hydration strategy for a race route, well in advance of toeing the line?
For many, it could prove to be a useful tool that would allow one to specifically prepare.
Now, the ISF have launched #MYSKRACE with the intention of providing essential information. Maybe just plain old curiosity to measure potential? to plan training? To train on the actual course? Or, to set race-day goals? #MYSKYRACE is a new tool with an exclusive algorithm designed to assist skyrunners.
Using the accredited CC list from the ISF, the first 20 races have been chosen.
Barr Trail Mountain Race – USA
Buff Epic Trail 42K – ESP
Buffalo Stampede 42K – AUS
Gorbeia Suzien SkyMarathon – ESP
Gran Sasso SkyRace® – ITA
Gran Sasso Vertical – ITA
Grèste de la Mughera VK – ITA
Hochkönig SkyRace® – AUT
Kilomètre Vertical® Face de Bellevarde – FRA
Kilometro Vertical de Canfranc – ESP
La Veia SkyRace® – ITA
Limone Extreme – ITA
Minotaur SkyRace® – CAN
Mt Awa Vertical Kilometer® – JPN
Ring of Steall SkyRace® – GBR
SkyRace® Comapedrosa – AND
Vertical Terme di Bognanco – ITA
ZacUP SkyRace® del Grignone – ITA
Zegama-Aizkorri – ESP
Zegama-Aizkorri Vertical Kilometer® – ESP
The iconic Zegama-Aizkorri, which should have taken place on the weekend of May 23rd, provides a perfect example of how the algorithm works. (You can get a free trial here #MYSKYRACEfree trial)
Using Kilian Jornet as an example, it comes as no surprise to anyone that he has gone beyond the “Best Performance” category in the #MYSKYRACE plan based on his Zegama-Aizkorri record.
In 2014, he set his 3h48’38” record, which, according to the #MYSKYRACE analysis, is almost 2 minutes faster than the “Best Performance” category! Check out his results on the table below
Based on the race GPX files, which, together with the runner’s biometrics and the addition of an exclusive algorithm, #MYSKYRACE calculates the personalised projected finishing time and the calories required of the individual. Designed for mid-pack and entry-category runners in mind, the new #MYSKYRACE plan by the International Skyrunning Federation provides a unique preview of a runner’s potential on a given race course.
As little or no training has been possible in many countries under lockdown, the initial course selection are all under four hours for the winning time with less than 2,500m vertical climb. As the race season progresses, more races will be added.
#MYSKYRACE brings benefits to race organisers too. Knowing the level of their participants is an important safety feature and can be useful to organise staged starts and finish time limits.
For peace of mind, insurance cover for both racing and training has been integrated to back up the scheme (at the present time only available in Europe).
To kick off the #MYSKYRACE project, try out our free trial first. The personalised plan can be bought with a choice of three races on the list for €10.
This is just the first step of the #MYSKYRACE plan which will be further developed throughout the season to benefit both runners and race organisers.
All images taken from the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri when Kilian Jornet beat Marco DeGasperi and Luis Alberto hernando with a course record time.
Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.
In a spectacular downpour that hit the village of Serina, near Bergamo, Italy, spirits were high as the six medals at stake for the Ultra at the 2019 Skyrunning European Championships were awarded to dominant Spanish podiums today at the Maga Ultra SkyMarathon.
Lauri van Houten, ISF, reports on the action from Maga Ultra SkyMarathon
The strong world-class field pushed the pace, smashing the standing records, with the top 13 men and 6 women finishing under the previous time.
The men’s gold medallist, Italian Cristian Minoggio, closed in 6h37’26” slicing an incredible 1h06’ off the previous record. “I still can’t believe it. Until I have the medal in my hand, I won’t believe it,” commented an ecstatic Minoggio. “It was a splendid race, a course I felt in my heart from the first to the last step. Now all I can do is repeat this performance at Veia!”
The silver went to Spain’s Manuel Merillas, who initially led the race, but was overtaken after the first summit halfway through the race by Minoggio. “I didn’t expect such a technical and demanding course, especially on the downhill. I loved it and congratulate Cristian who took the win.”
Bronze medallist, Italian Daniel Jung, held a steady fourth throughout until third man, Sweden’s André Jonsson had to pull out after 45 km, leaving Jung in third. “I’m very satisfied,” said Jung. “It was a really tough race and spectacular at the same time with a very high level of competition. I hoped to do well, and a medal is the best way to celebrate!”
The women’s podium, all-Spanish, had Ester Casajuana up front from the gun. “The race was as beautiful as it was hard. I pushed from the first to the last meter and I’m really happy with this medal and also because two other Spaniards, two friends, won the other medals!” She finished in 8h19’11”, almost an hour faster than the standing record. The silver went to Sandra Sevillano and the bronze, Silvia Puigarnau. In second until km 30, last year’s winner, Italian Cecilia Pedroni had to settle for fourth, despite knocking 35’ off her own record time.
Today’s Ultra discipline was disputed at the Maga Ultra SkyMarathon, a tough 50 km course with a gruelling 5,000m vertical climb across four mountains topping out at 2,512m altitude. In true skyrunning style, it features stretches with fixed ropes and exposed ridges. 15 nations participated in the race which counted 149 participants.
Race organiser, Davide Scolari, commented, “We’re very proud to have held the first event of the Skyrunning European Championships. We’d like to thank all the athletes, volunteers and sponsors for their enormous support, and we’re thrilled to have had such an important international field.”
Some 150 athletes representing official teams from 19 countries will fight for the 27 medals at stake in the Championships: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.
Titles and medals
Individual, national and combined titles are at stake awarding 27 medals. Today’s Ultra awarded six individual medals to the top three men and women finishers from Europe, while the national and combined titles must wait for the conclusion of all three disciplines on September 7.
The National titles are based on the best four results scored by Official National Team members in each race, counting at least one per gender. After today’s Ultra, the country ranking has Spain in the lead with 336 points; Italy 318; Czech Republic 246; Portugal 198; Austria 146.
The Combined title is based on the best results of the top three men and women in the Vertical and Sky races. WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the finals where the Vertical and Sky categories will be celebrated on Thursday, September 5 and Saturday, September 7 in Piedmont, Italy at the Veia SkyRace® in a spectacular amphitheater surrounded by the Swiss 4,000m mountains.
What a difference a day makes! The 2019 race should have taken place on Saturday, however, weather conditions through the Friday night made the high ground above 3000m dangerous and therefore the race was postponed to Sunday. The sister event, the AMA VK2 did take place – HERE.
Race departure on Sunday was brought forward to 0530 from the scheduled 0600 start, a loop of the village for the 400 runners from 25 countries provided a warm up before they were released onto the mountain. In essence, Monte Rosa SkyMarathon is a simple race. Start in Alagna, run to the summit of Monte Rosa and then return as fast as possible. With a positive incline of 3500m and a distance of 35km for the round trip, this event is extreme.
Runners run in teams of two and from a certain point on the course (weather and conditions dependent) they must rope together and use crampons. At key sections, they must also attach to fixed ropes using a via ferratta harness.
The early slopes are simple trail and then as one moves up the mountain, rocks and ridges giveaway to snow and ice. This year, due to Friday’s inclement weather, approximately 30-50cm of fresh snow had covered the upper sections making running and hiking considerably harder. Another factor to consider, the great weather on Sunday of ‘less cloud and more sky,’ brought with it plenty of sun.
As the day progressed, this sun heated the snow making for a very soft and tricky descent from the summit which was constantly monitored by the races’ mountain safety. Despite the sun, temperature at the summit was -5, with the strong wind, this felt like -20. It was cold.
The day was truly incredible, from the summit and throughout the course, the views were magnificent. In particular, the Matterhorn clearly visible.
Founded on the slopes of Monte Rosa in 1992 by Marino Giacometti, skyrunning is the epitome of moving fast and light in the mountains, Monte Rosa SkyMarathon is the flagship.
Marino Giacometti, founder of skyrunning also made the summit on race day – ‘for fun!’
Combining mountaineering, running and skimo, this race is alpinism without the clutter and as such, the assembled runners come from all three backgrounds.
In 2018, William Boffelli and Franco Colle blazed a trail up and down the mountain and until four day’s before the race, we were once again expecting the duo to lead from the front. However, Franco Colle had to withdraw from injury. This left William searching for a partner. Luckily, Jakob Herrmann stepped in – an experienced ski mountaineer who has partnered Kilian Jornet. It was a big ask of Herrmann, however, he stepped up to the mark and in 2018 style the duo were the first to the summit with a lead of 25- minutes ahead of Beccari and Felicetti. Known for strong uphills, Herrmann was tested on the descent as Boffelli set a blistering pace. ‘He is not used to running descents…’ Boffelli said, ‘…but he gave his all to keep up.’ Keep up he did. The team arrived back in Alagna in 4:51:58 some way of last years time and the fastest time recorded, however, in the conditions it was quite remarkable.
Beccari and Felicetti placed second ahead of Carrara and Montani, 5:10:41 and 5:30:02 the respective times.
The women’s race looked set to be dominated by Giuditta Turini and Laura Besseghini. The duo led from the start and were first to the summit. On the descent they were running so well and then Besseghini started to have problems, most likely from fatigue and the altitude. Unfortunately she took a fall and needed to be taken from the course.
This opened the door for Tomasiak and Solinska from Poland. They arrived at the finish ecstatic thinking they had placed second, only to be crowned champions. Just 16-seconds later, Witowska and Januszyk arrived for second. Quinteros and Campos completed the podium, the times for the top three were 6:38:14, 6:38:30 and 7:15:59.
It may have taken 25-years for skyrunning to return home to Alagna, but one thing is for sure, the AMA (Alagna – Monte Rosa – Alagna) is here to stay. In just two editions, it has become ‘the’ race to do like the iconic ‘Kima!’
While experience of the mountain may be required to participate, the dream to journey to a summit and back in less than one day is now well and truly alive. And if the summit is a step too far in 2020, there is always the AMA VK2 to whet the appetite.
After the successful relaunch in 2018 of the historic Monte Rosa SkyMarathon in the Italian Alps, the next edition will take place on June 22, 2019.
The 2018 event attracted some of the world’s top athletes in a field of 300 participants from 23 countries. They included skyrunning superstars Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, the men’s winners Franco Collé and William Boffelli and women’s winners Hillary Gerardi and Holly Page.
It is Europe’s highest race reaching the Margherita Hut at 4,554m altitude. A “mere” 35 kilometres long, it boasts a gruelling 7,000m ascent and descent over moraine, snow fields and glaciers. Due to the high altitude and challenging conditions, the event is open only to athletes with mountaineering experience. Above the snow line, they must wear harnesses, rope up and wear crampons.
Incredibly spectacular scenery is one of the attractions of the race, where from the summit of Europe’s second highest mountain, Monte Rosa, the 360° view takes in the major 4,000m peaks, including the Matterhorn.
The Monte Rosa SkyMarathon retraces the original course dating back to 1993. It was here that the sport of skyrunning was born and here where it will continue to thrive.
Stay tuned for entry dates and join us on June 22, 2019 for the race of the century!
Read about the 2018 edition on Sidetracked Magazine
For Marino Giacometti, it was a dream come true. The tears in his eyes showed it. It was here in Monte Rosa that a new sport was born just over 25 years ago, and in 2018 it was re-established – the sport of skyrunning. Start low, go high, reach a summit and then return as fast as possible. A sport free from the clutter of mountaineering equipment, a sport that is fast and light.
Monte Rosa SkyMarathon lived up to the hype and delivered beyond expectations. The ‘buzz’ in Alagna after the race was incredible. ‘This is a proper skyrunning race,’ was repeated time and time again. ‘Let’s have more of this Marino… let’s get back to the core values of the sport and yes, let’s go back 25-years!’
“Gale force winds, torrential rain, freezing cold and the occasional burst of sunshine tell the story of the 2018 Skyline Scotland series of events. For the first time, the ISF skyrunning world championships were held on UK soil combining of the classic VK, SKY and ULTRA distances. On the 4th day, the event center in Kinlochleven was transformed for the skyrunner world series, Glen Coe Skyline – 4 days, 4 events and 1000’s of runners; a truly memorable experience for running in the UK.”
I wrote a summary of the 2018 World Championships for IRUN4ULTRA
In three days of uncertain and often extreme weather conditions, the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships lit up the sky in the Scottish Highlands with a rainbow of nations and world class competition. Nine countries took medals and 26 National Teams scored points lead by Spain, UK and USA.
The third and final event of the Championships, the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace, saw a stacked field with 879 runners from 40 countries. Thanks to the extremely tough competition, records were smashed by new World Champions, Kilian Jornet from Spain and Tove Alexandersson from Sweden. The top ten men and seven women finished below last year’s record. The new records are 3h04’34” and 3h48’28”.
“It’s a wonderful race, I love coming here to Scotland. It’s technical, the track is beautiful, what I love when I’m racing,” stated Jornet. “Today was a great battle with Nadir. I managed to put 20” on him on the last part of the uphill. It’s great because when we look for racing we look for competition, for a fight, and that’s what it was today. When you think about skyrunning you think about races like this, you need to fight every step.
“What’s particular here is it’s very muddy, very wet, slippery. The terrain is similar to Norway. I fell in the mud on the last downhill. This year it was good for me, such a good field with so many strong people,” he concluded.
Second man, Italian Nadir Maguet, closed in 3h06’05” to take the silver medal. “I came here hoping to do well. Obviously when you see a start list with a very high level, you ask yourself how will it go. My dream was to race with Kilian, to feel strong, and that was how it went. I ran the whole race with him, mostly half a minute behind. In the second half of the race and on the last descent I tried to push but you know Kilian is strong on the downhill. It was impossible to catch him, I tried. The important thing is to dream and dream…I’m really happy with my second place.”
2016 Vertical, Sky and Combined champion and race record holder of the Vertical and Sky records set here last year was Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik. He closed the podium to take the bronze in 3h09’05’.
“It was awesome. As I said before this is my favourite race. This year I ran 15’ quicker,” he said. “This race is more technical than most…I love the ridges and the mud and everything. On the second ridge I just had to stop and look around it was so beautiful. I almost cried it was so amazing. I’m so happy to finish third. It was like a big dream for me.” For many, it was all about sharing a dream.
Tove Alexandersson, a multiple Orienteering World Champion from Sweden cut an incredible 19’ off the previous record to take the gold and the new Skyrunning World Champion title for the Sky category. “It was a bit more muddy and slippery than I expected but otherwise it was just perfect. I felt strong all the way. I didn’t have much time to see the views because it was quite technical. On the downhill you have to be so focussed. I think that’s my biggest strength so I had a good feeling.
“This is so much longer than orienteering. I won my first skyrunning race last year and I couldn’t move for an hour. This time I was more prepared to run a bit longer. I really wanted to come here and to be World Champion. Skyrunning is the best thing. I really enjoy the atmosphere and everything. I’m so happy that I came here to run the Sky race.”
Taking the silver was Briton Victoria Wilkinson. “It was hard work because I have not raced for four hours for quite some time and that meant I had to pace myself. I raced with Laura [Orgue] who won the race last year for some of the first part. She’s a good climber and I learned a lesson or two from her! I hadn’t run the Ring of Steall course before but I won the Ben Nevis race a couple of weeks ago which was good experience. I loved the race and I’m really happy to be second lady.”
The bronze went to top skyrunner Holly Page who took the medal for the UK. “I’m absolutely delighted. I wasn’t expecting that at all when I saw who was going to be here. At the top of the first climb I think I was 15th and I felt really unhappy and horrible. But then I got into a downhill and it ‘smelt’ like a fell race, it felt like home. I overtook lots of people on the downhill which gave me quite a confidence boost.
“It was quite rough and very muddy until the rocky technical bit which is the part I like. It was a great course. I occasionally looked round and thought ‘I’m so glad that the world has come to Scotland and seen these views.’ It was stunning.”
The course, 29 km long with 2,500m vertical climb is fast becoming a skyrunning classic in every sense, with steep ascents, scrambling sections, ridges, and…spectacular views.
Individual world titles and a total of 27 medals were awarded in the three disciplines as well as a combined title based on the best results of the Vertical and Sky races.
Marino Giacometti, ISF President awarded the medals after the events and at the final ceremony. “These World Championships was announced as a difficult challenge and I’m obviously extremely happy for the great participation… and to have survived the Scottish weather,” he said. “Now among the new world champions we have not only Kilian, but Jonathan Albon (an Obstacle racing champion), Tove Alexandersson (an Orienteering champion) and Nadir Maguet (a ski-mountaineering champion). I like to think that skyrunning inspires athletes from other sports too!”
He also expressed his thanks to SkyLine Scotland for the excellent organisation and for hosting the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in the Scottish “Skylands”, a new and spectacular international sports arena.
Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests were carried out at the Championships.
Cold, storms and wild and windy weather meant safety first and the adoption of Plan B at the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra valid for the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in Scotland today.
Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats took the gold for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Altogether 478 runners from 41 countries bravely faced the elements in the Scottish Highlands over a reduced course 47 km long with 1,750m vertical climb avoiding the summit of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. (The original course designed especially for the occasion was 52 km long with a vertical climb of 3,820m).
Albon, probably the most eclectic of the field, closed in 3h48’02” leaving a 12’ gap to second man André Jonsson from Sweden who took the silver. Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando, 2014 and 2016 Skyunning World Champion took the bronze just one minute later.
“It was definitely mountainous in the beginning but then we got on the trail and it was fast. I’m used to winning the extreme races, with loads of climb and steep up and down,” commented Albon. “About 10 km in, there was a really muddy section where I felt a bit more comfortable and took the lead without really trying to and didn’t look back. It would have been nice to win on the actual course but the weather is what it is and hard to predict. Obviously it would have been nice to go up Ben Nevis. I’ve never been up there…It was a good mix and it was fun!”
Jonsson added, ”I enjoyed the race a lot – especially the first part, the actual skyrunning part! I would have preferred to run on the original course but it was the same for everyone. I’m really happy about the silver medal though!”
For the lady from the flat lands of Holland, a top ranked skyrunner, Ragna Debats was very comfortable with the long fast stretches in the second half of the race. She took the well-deserved gold medal for her country with a 14’ advantage over her rivals, closing in 4h36’20”.
“I decided to start fast right from the beginning and see if anyone would follow me. I saw nobody was close to me so I just kept on going, reserving just a little energy just in case somebody came up behind me. I also fell into a big puddle with my head right in it so I got cold and was completely wet! It was funny though,” stated Debts. “I sprained my ankle some weeks ago and didn’t know if I could run. However, I got motivated again, my ankle cured and I started to prepare this race last minute. The medal means a lot to me, my season couldn’t be more perfect!”
For the silver and bronze it was a bitter battle to the end with four women competing for the medals. It was resolved in a tight sprint between Spaniard Gemma Arenas, second, and Maria Mercedes Pila from Ecuador, just four seconds later. Arenas was just in eighth half way through the race but gained hard on the group. “In the last ten kilometres we passed each other back and forth, alternating the second position. We’re all friends!” she said.
Natalia Tomasiak from Poland took fourth and Norwegian Henriette Albon (Albon’s wife) placed fifth. Nine different nations featured in the women’s top ten.
After yesterday’s first World Championships race with the Vertical and today’s Ultra, the first 12 medals out of the 27 at stake, went to eight nations. The country ranking is led by Spain with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The UK, Netherlands and Switzerland have one gold each.
The final showdown will take place tomorrow with the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace® with a super-strong international line-up headed by 2014 Skyrunning World Champion Kilian Jornet and 879 athletes from 40 countries. The Championship medals for nations will be awarded at tomorrow’s prize ceremony together with the Combined titles and medals based on the VK and Sky results.
Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests will be carried out at the Championships.
Mountains dominate the life of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten. It’s not a job; it’s a passion that dominates 12+ hours of every day. They are the visionaries of the sport, Skyrunning. In 1989, Marino set a record running from the village of Alagna to the summit of Monte Rosa. It laid the foundations of the sport and now, 25-years after the first official event in 1993, Lauri and Marino return to the birthplace. Introducing Europe’s highest race. Following in the footsteps of the race where it all began in the Italian Alps, retracing the original course to the summit of Monte Rosa at 4,554m from the town of Alagna.
Iconic names such as Bruno Brunod and Fabio Meraldi are once again being talked about in the same breath as Kilian Jornet.
“Older generations were already Skyrunners. My grandfather crossed the mountains working for example. ‘We’ as Skyrunners added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunners have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says, “What I liked was going quickly to the summit. I felt the same when I was a kid in the pastures, I always ran up and down the summits that surrounded me. It is something I felt inside, something I liked.”
Marino was a visionary and many like to call him the ‘Father’ of Skyrunning.
“Skyrunning differs to other sports and this is the discipline we launched in the mid 1990’s. Skyrunning has always existed; all across the world it is just that it became a formalised sport. I therefore consider myself the father of Skyrunning for the aspect of race organisation because when it started 25-years ago nobody talked about this.”
So now, 2018, 25-years in the making, the sport’s founders present an exclusive new event, this time in teams of two, roped together to race in true skyrunning style across moraine, snow fields and glaciers for 35 kilometres with an astonishing 7,000m ascent and descent.
Marino and Bruno in the Aosta valley
Just as Bruno Brunod was Kilian’s hero. Kilian followed his dreams from the inspiration Bruno provided, Kilian is now the epitome of Skyrunning and along with Emelie Forsberg, the duo will line-up top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions aiming to challenge the incredible records set in 1994 by Italians Fabio Meraldi in 4h24’ and Gisella Bendotti in 5h34′.
Fabio Meraldi will be present at the race but not participating. Bruno Brunod unfortunately is unable to attend due to a prior commitment. Marco De Gasperi, the Italian legend, laid the foundations for his incredible Skyrunning career on the slopes of Monte Rosa when just at the age of 16, he was given special permission to run to the summit and back. He will also join the party in Alagna.
Marino and Fabio Meraldi at Trofeo Kima
Kilian Jornet confirms he will run the race with his partner, Emelie Forsberg. Lauri and Marino first met Kilian in 2006, “he impressed immediately,” Marino says. “He was a natural Skyrunner. We all know the history; he was born in the mountains and as such he has just developed in an organic way. As I said, a natural.”
A timely reminder of Fast and Light
The stage is set for 2018’s most spectacular Skyrunning event.
The course retraces the original route from Alagna Valsesia at 1192m via the Bocchetta delle Pisse (2396m) to the Indren cable car station (3260m). From here the route continues upwards via the Gnifetti Hut (3467m), Colle del Lys (4250m) and then the summit, the Margherita Hut at 4554m. The route re-traces all the way back to Alagna along paths, ski runs, glaciers for a 35km loop and 3490m of vertical ascent.
Friday 22 June
0900 race office open
1800 Mandatory race briefing
Saturday 23 June
0600 Race start (the race has a 24-hour window for bad weather, so, the start may be postponed to Sunday 24 June.
1030 First athlete arrival
This race is unique and therefore experienced athletes will only take part. One may almost consider this to be an exhibition event. Athletes are responsible for their own safety and equipment but specific requirements are necessary. For example, from the Indren cable car, teams must be roped together via an approved harness. They must have two carabiners, micro metal crampons are essential and poles are required.
The race brings much experience from the ski and mountaineering world, and therefore, on first glance one may not recognise many of the names listed. Especially if looking at this from a ‘run’ perspective. Therefore, below I will concentrate on the names that crossover from the run/ Skyrunning world:
FORSBERG and JORNET
SYMONDS and OWENS
GERARDI and PAGE
– Hillary Gerardi
Lefort and Rozados
Paloncy and Mann
Tomasiak and Kaars Sijpesteijn
Zanchi and Fernando
and many more….
The 2018 Monte Rosa Skymarathon is a new moment for the sport… As races over the world increase and lines get crossed, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon goes back to the roots of Skyrunning in the place of it’s birth.