Ring of Steall SkyRace 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF

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.

Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace® results


Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h04’34”
  2. Nadir Maguet (ITA) – 3h06’05”
  3. Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) – 3h’09’05”
  4. Alexis Sévennec (FRA) – 3h11’56”
  5. Pascal Egli (SUI) – 3h12’24”

Women

 

  1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) – 3h48’28”
  2. Victoria Wilkinson (GBR) – 3h54’01”
  3. Holly Page (GBR) – 3h57’57”
  4. Sheila Avilés (ESP) – 4h01’20”
  5. Laura Orgué (ESP) – 4h03’56”

 

Image galleries will be available HERE

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Ben Nevis Ultra 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF.

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.

Image galleries will be HERE

Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra results

Men

  1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 3h48’02”
  2. André Jonsson (SWE) – 4h00’35”
  3. Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP) – 4h01’21”
  4. Manuel Anguita (ESP) – 4h01’41”
  5. Andreu Simon (ESP) – 4h04’32”

Women

  1. Ragna Debats (NED) – 4h36’20”
  2. Gemma Arenas (ESP) – 4h50’32”
  3. Maria Mercedes Pila (ECU) – 4h50’36”
  4. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 4h52’46”
  5. Henriette Albon (NOR) – 4h53’04”

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Monte Rosa Skymarathon 2018 Preview

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

BREAKING NEWS

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
  • 1700 Awards

Detail

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.

ONES TO WATCH start list HERE

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.

 

A new era of the sport begins…

Race website HERE

Follow on

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

MONTE ROSA SKYMARATHON & ALAGNA-INDREN SKYRACE®

It’s here! A return to the roots and the beginning of a new sport when in the late 1980’s, Marino Giacometti, pioneered  fast and light on the slopes of Monte Rosa, a sport that would be called Skyrunning!

Mark the date, June 23rd 2018.

Introducing Europe’s highest race! The iconic Monte Rosa will once again host the ultimate test of fast and light, low to high and back again, a true race in the SKY! Celebrating 25-years of Skyrunning, the race returns to the Italian Alps retracing the original race route all the way to the summit of Monte Rosa at 4554m.

Monte Rosa SkyMarathon. ©actionmovie.it

 

MONTE ROSA SKYMARATHON & ALAGNA-INDREN SKYRACE® will be a spectacle like no other on the Skyrunning circuit. It’s an exclusive event brought to you be the founders of the sport.

Covering 35km’s and 7000m of vertical gain and descent, runners will cover snow fields, glaciers, moraine in true Skyrunning style! Runners will participate in teams of two, roped together.

It’s a personification of the sport. A return to the glory days of the early 90’s and for sure, it will become a spectacle like no other!


A shorter race for individual runners, the Alagna-Indren SkyRace® will also take place on the same day reaching 3,260m.

The events will attract 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’.

Marino Giacometti_Monte Rosa SkyMarathon_1994. ©Dario Ferro

Race information will be available HERE

Skyrunner’s throughout the world, for many years, have been waiting for a race such as this. Now it is here…!


The course

The route retraces the original route first completed in 1993 from Alagna Valsesia, 1,192m, via the Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2,396m, to the Indren cable car station at 3,260m. It continues towards the Gnifetti Hut, 3,647m, Colle del Lys, 4,250m, to summit at the Margherita Hut, 4,554m returning by the same course to Alagna.
The route ascends and descends along paths, ski runs and across glaciers in a loop for a total distance of 35 km and 3,490m vertical climb.

The course is on mountain trails with demanding uphill and downhill sections, over snow fields, glaciers with crevasses, exposed areas, steep pastures and scree, possibly subject to severe environmental and weather conditions, summiting at 4,554m.

A high level of physical preparation is required, high altitude mountaineering experience, knowledge of the risks of the terrain and the ability to manage eventual sudden changes such as strong winds and below zero temperatures.

Join the race of the year HERE

Ragna Debats to join the 2018 The Coastal Challenge #TCC2018

Ragna Debats had a stunning 2017 racing all over the world in multiple Skyrunning events and distances – surprising that someone born in the flatlands of the Netherlands can run so well in the Mountains. It was a full year and one that at times could have so easily pushed her over the edge. However, Debats managed her time well and concluded her racing year with an epic journey to Nepal.

A break over the Christmas period and a return to consistent training, Ragna now sets her sights on Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge. It will be a new challenge and one that should suit the Skyrunner well, the mixed terrain and technical challenges should suit her skill set.

In May, Ragna has her sights set on the IAU World Trail Championships.

I caught up with Ragna, with 1-month before Costa Rica it is all systems go.

You have had a great year – Skyrunning Champion, IAU World Trail top result and recently racing in Nepal – what has been a highlight?

For me personally, my highlights have been the Olympus Marathon where I won and set a new race record, High Trail Vanoise where I became EU Champ. The Rut, USA, I won and set a new race record too whilst having fun – a dream! However, I have enjoyed all of the races, 2017 was a great year!

Racing in Costa Rica will be very different but it will suit your skill set, what are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to racing in a completely new scenery! I can’t wait to see the tropical rainforests and the beaches, it is going to be incredible.

Are you doing any specific training for the heat, humidity in Costa Rica – if so, what?

I have just started training again after a break over Christmas. Basically, I am working towards the IAU World Championship in May and during January and February I will mainly focus on strength training and volume, Costa Rica will work well in this plan, however, adapting to the heat will be difficult.

You have just done a multi-day race in Nepal, is multi-day something you’d like to do more of in the future?

Nepal was a great experience, mainly on a humane level and because it was a real cultural adventure. From a running prospective I was a little disappointed, but Nepal offered so many new challenges it was always going to be a learning curve. Also, the race concluded a long and hard year of racing.

Do you have a plan or strategy for Costa Rica, or will you take each day as it comes?

I hope I will feel like when I ran the Pyrenees Stage Run in 2017 where I could push every day and enjoy the race from the beginning until the end. We shall see what happens!

You will have strong competition from Ester Alves, Elisabet Barnes and more… does that excite you?

Yes, definitely! I’m always looking for good competition and I will revel in it. It’s exciting. 

Tell me a little about your preparation for Costa Rica – what are you doing at the moment?

At the moment, I am just getting back to regular training sessions after my running break and my Christmas holidays in Holland. But I feel really motivated to get into a good shape for 2018.

What will a multi-day race bring you for your plans later in 2018?

I think it will give me a good base for the season. After the race, I will start with specific speed work which will lead into the world champs!

What are the plans for 2018?

Until May I will be mainly focused on the Trail World Championship and afterwards I will follow the ISF World Series and the ISF World Championship.

Finally, what is your lifetime, long-term dream race or goal?

I would love to win the UTMB, the Trail World Championship and to become the overall World Champion!

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

 

 

 

 

Skyline Scotland chosen for 2018 Skyrunning World Championships

Skyline Scotland has been confirmed as the venue for the 2018 ISF Skyrunning World Championships.

Athletes from all over the world will travel to Kinlochleven, Scotland to do battle over the long established distances of VK, SKY CLASSIC and SKY ULTRA during the month of September in 2018.

The Salomon Mamores VK provides a unique challenge unlike other races in the Vertical Kilometre World Circuit, maybe with the exception of Tromso, as runners run and climb 1000 vertical meters on terrain that is unique to Scotland. It is an incredible leg and lung bursting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. Early winding trails soon stop and wall of heather and bracken lead skywards before the terrain changes to rock.

The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace in just two editions has been hailed as one of the most challenging and rewarding, it has become a favourite in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series and for 2018 the worlds best will battle over uncompromising terrain that includes the Devil’s Ridge. Four peaks, technical terrain, ascents and descents and of course the unpredictable Scottish weather may well prove the ultimate challenge.

The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra will have a re-designed route for 2018 but it will retain the key chartteristics that made the inaugural 2017 edition special. Expect single-tracks, trackless ridges and a climb and traverse of Carn Mor Dearg Arete. Distance will be +/- 65km with 4000m+ of vert (tbc).

The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) have pioneered mountain sports in the sky and the 2018 edition of the Skyrunner World Championships will prove to be a special one, especially for runners in the UK.

The 2017 edition of Skyline Scotland arguably saw the greatest elite fields ever assembled on UK soil for a mountain race, the restive and honour that comes from holding a World Championships is a dream come true for Skyrunning UK and Ourea Events who are the organisers of Skyline Scotland.

Race Director Shane Ohly said, “Salomon Skyline Scotland has exploded from nothing, to the pinnacle mountain running event in the world in just three years. It’s a phenomenal rate of change and organising the event has been some journey! It will be an honour to be trusted with the Skyrunning World Championship in 2018 and I look forward to welcoming the world’s best mountain runners back to Scotland next September.”

Notably, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline will still take place on the same weekend, however, this event will not be in the ISF Skyrunning World Championships but the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.

Dates September 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th 2018

Importantly, from a UK perspective, SKYRUNNING UK will be looking to assemble a UK World Championship team made up of the best male and female Skyrunners. This will be based on ranking and past results. But, if you are interested and feel you have the appropriate skills, please email skyrunninguk@icloud.com

ISF HERE

Quotes ©ISF

Marino Giacometti, ISF President, commented, “We’re very proud and pleased to present the 2018 World Championships in the beautiful Scottish Highlands and, with the organisation of Skyline Scotland, we are confident the events will be a perfect showcase for skyrunning attracting the world’s best athletes for some intense competition on this technical terrain.

More news and updates will follow in the coming months.

Emelie Forsberg – Smiles and Miles; I am back!

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-03356

Emelie Forsberg is back! She has just won Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and with a stunning course record beating her 2014 time and once again confirming that many smiles and miles are ahead.

“About the pressure, yes, for sure, sometimes you can feel pressure. If you have been winning a lot of races, it’s like people expect you to do that. I was not in good running shape when I let my skis for the summertime. Some of my friends, who don’t run that much, they beat me a lot. I’m not the kind of skier that runs through the winter. I train with Ida Nilsson and she’s running a lot, which makes her in a great shape at the beginning of the season, but I can’t do that because then I’m not the ski mountaineer that I want to be. I just hope everyone realizes that I can’t be in a great shape in the beginning of the season.” – Emelie Forsberg

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-07148An accident while skiing has made the last 12 to 18 months tough. Surgery, rehabilitation and being patient are all tough things for an athlete to manage, especially one as active as Emelie. But Emelie was patient understanding the need for a full recovery and to come back strong. Working on her strength and core she came back slowly and fine honed her yoga skills, she event spent a month in India on an intensive course. Emelie has set the example for how elite runners should return from an accident and surgery.

I caught ups with her post her Glen Coe victory as she settled back into recovery in her Norwegian home before she once again started training for new targets ahead.

You can listen to the interview in Talk Ultra podcast HERE

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-02307

Ian: Before we come on to the race, I think the last time we spoke was about your rehabilitation from knee surgery and how you were managing that and of course, there’s been some ups and downs in that process, but you must feel now as though things are almost getting back to normal and the shape is there, the form is there, physically, mentally everything is good?

Emelie: Yes, everything is good now and yes, for sure, there has been a few ups and downs. I know what to do now when I switch from ski to running and my knee is working really well so it’s good. That is the short version…

Ian: Exactly. Well, it’s definitely working well because I saw you running up and down those fells and mountains in Scotland and it reminded me of exactly two years ago, when you came to Scotland and you won the race. You just ran that whole race with a big smile on your face and it seemed as though this year was — I was going to say the same, but I think probably even better.

Emelie: Yes, I think so because last summer I was only doing rehab and that was that. I wasn’t really in shape, but this year, my ski season went really well, but then, in the beginning of the summer, I didn’t really know… I had a lot of things going on. I have been writing a book and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be ‘only’ a runner for Salomon anymore? But everything has been working out like I want it to be recently, it takes time to try to figure everything out.

Ian: There’s a price to pay for being… and I’m going to use the word famous, you might not like me using that word, but famous in the trail, mountain and ultra-world, and you are. We can argue about the semantics of that word, but you are. That brings a lot of pressure, a lot of people looking on, a lot of people even criticizing or commenting or supporting and, of course, there’s lots of good and bad in that. But have you found in this period, this last 12 to 18 months, that there’s been some pressure there that you’ve tried to escape from? And I guess living in Norway helps with that.

Emelie: Yes, for sure it does, but I can be good and bad with pressure, I think like all the athletes. But I just made it clear for everyone now that I need to make my own plan because I am a skier and I’m a hobby mountaineer or whatever you call it –  light alpinism? I want to improve in that too, so I just made it clear for everyone that I want to take time to do mountains in that style and I want to take time to do my ski season, and then I want to take care of my running, as well. I think the balance now is much clearer for me and my sponsors, which is great.

About the pressure, yes, for sure, sometimes you can feel pressure. If you have been winning a lot of races, it’s like people expect you to do that. I was not in good running shape when I let my skis for the summertime. Some of my friends, who don’t run that much, they beat me a lot. I’m not the kind of skier that runs through the winter. I train with Ida Nilsson and she’s running a lot, which makes her in a great shape at the beginning of the season, but I can’t do that because then I’m not the ski mountaineer that I want to be. I just hope everyone realizes that I can’t be in a great shape in the beginning of the season.

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-07158

Ian: I guess in some ways, you’ve almost created a little bit of that pressure yourself, and that’s not a criticism, this is just the facts. If I think back to, say, 2012, 2013, 2014, you and I have often had those conversations, where you’ve come off skis and we’ve been talking about Transvulcania and you say to me, “I love that race and I really want to do it, but I’m not in shape and should I do it, shouldn’t I do it?” and you’ve done it and you’ve always done well.

But I think since 2014, the sport has changed and it’s been changing progressively year on year, now the sport is going faster, it’s changing completely and like you say, somebody like Ida Nilsson, who comes into Transvulcania with a lot more running, it’s very difficult for somebody like you, with such a high profile, to just step off skis and go into a race like that with expectation. Do you wish you could say, “You know, guys, I’m just going to run this because I want to run it and I might come 10th or I might come 20th, but give me a break.” Do you ever feel as though you want to do that?

Emelie: [laughs] Yes, I did that at Zegama. Zegama was really special this year because Kilian was trying his second attempt on the summit of Everest and I didn’t get any news until one hour before the race started. So, I didn’t sleep during the whole night. That was really, really hard. I can always run a race and do okay, but Zegama was really hard because of the stress, worry, lack of sleep and so on.

Ian: That’s an incredible pressure, a really incredible pressure. How do you deal with that?

Emelie: Yes, I just say to myself that in the end, it’s all about what I want to do. I cannot live a life through somebody else’s eyes and I just like to be honest, and if people are listening, they understand, I’m only human.

Ian: Absolutely. Following Zegama, you took a step back and maybe re-evaluated and this is the point where you say to yourself, “You know what? I have to do what I want to do because I know what I need to feel like, I know what training I need to do, I know what mental space I need to be in to perform.” In amongst that, you’ve already touched on the fact that you were writing a book, you’re a race director for the Tromso Sky Race. There’s all sorts of other things going on, but you said to me in Tromso, “I’ve sorted out my calendar now and I know exactly what I’m going to do.” That seemed like a really important process, where you got things clear.

Is that the type of thing now that you’re going to do moving forward and maybe communicate that with the fans, so that you don’t get that external pressure? You lay your calendar out early, or basically you say, “There is no calendar, leave me alone and I’ll tell you when the calendar’s available.”

Emelie: Yes, for sure, I will — it’s important to do the structure, especially as I said, that the beginning of the summer is really changing. Previously, many runners and my peers took a break during the winter and we all came to the races more or less with the same amount of running early in the season. Over the few years, I have realized that ski mountaineering is really important to me. I’m really excited and super motivated to do well there because I love the sport. It’s different from running and it’s something that makes me really happy and motivated to train for and focus on. I will try to or I will make a plan now in November for next year and let’s see if I share it or not. Things can happen and plans can change.

Ian: Okay. As the calendar changed, Salomon Glen Coe Skyline certainly became a priority. When I managed to get you over to the UK in 2014 to run the first edition, you said after that race, “Wow, this race is incredible.” Of course, my dream was not only to bring you back, but to bring Killian and to bring a world-class field. And we did it. This year we really, really did it. I think it’s been not only the best race in the UK, but worldwide. I think the quality of the field; the quality of the course was absolutely stunning. How important was it for you to come back? How important was it for you to come back with, say, Killian and the Salomon team?

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-02273

Emelie: First, it was really nice to come back because last year, I wasn’t there. I really loved it, the course, it’s amazing, it’s pure Skyrunning. Yes, for sure, was super nice to have Killian there because I knew that he was going to love the race, which he did. So, great to have a big team there, as well, to see what they were thinking about it.

Ian: Expectations of going into the race? I know what you’re like, I know that when you race, you want to perform well. No disrespect to 2014, but there was maybe yourself and a couple of other runners that could have potentially won the race. Whereas this year, it was completely different. There was plenty of really top female runners who could push you to the line. Does that bring external pressures on you or is that something that makes you bring your A-game to the race?

Emelie: [chuckles] 2014 was special because I had a really big week that week. I think I climbed Mont-Blanc four days before I was going there and I was just pushing really hard… I can’t remember? I was supposed to do another race after that, that I was training hard for. I knew that I was really strong, so I had the confidence to do that then. But this year, I haven’t been running long-distances because of my knee. But since OCC, which was like three weeks ago, my knee has felt good in longer training. I had like two weeks that I could do a bit more hours, which was really good. But two weeks is only two weeks. I knew that Megan Kimmel is super strong, Ragna Debats had a super good summer too and there was so many strong women there. I really wasn’t confident that I could do well and that I would be able to run well after four hours. I was more like, “I’m going to be happy with whatever.”

Ian: The opening miles of the race changed to 2014, because the initial edition was based at the ski center and we realized after year one that actually it brought you to Curved Ridge too quickly and it created a bottleneck for the field. Also, logistically, it wasn’t in the most ideal place for the race growing. So, we moved the race over to Kinlochleven, which means that you have probably a good hour of running before you get to the really first technical section, which is the climb of Curved Ridge. When you got there, you had Megan Kimmel right on your heels. The two of you were together. Were you surprised by that or did you expect it?

Emelie: Yes, for sure [chuckles] I expected that. I expected because she’s a fast runner and I thought that Ragna was going to be with us, as well. But it was Megan who was setting the pace. I just followed her and on the technical part, I was in the front and on the downhill, I was in the front too. But in the uphill, she pushed the pace a lot and I was a bit worried that it was too fast, actually, but I just tried to follow her. Sometimes, she had maybe 30, 40 seconds on me in uphill, but I knew that in the downhill, it was nothing. I just tried to keep my own pace, even though it was a bit fast. [chuckles]

Ian: Yes. Do you think Megan pushing the pace was a contributing factor to a course record?

Emelie: I think so. I think it could have been anyway, but it was a good time and it was good to push in the beginning, because that’s when you have the energy to push. Megan pushed the pace for sure.

Ian: I’ve got to say, I was surprised that Megan handled the technical section so well. Because she openly says that she’s not really a technical runner. I guess at the back of your mind, you knew that when it came to the real crunch moments, the Aonach Eagach Ridge for example, you could use your strength and maybe that’s where you could open up the gap and pull away?

Emelie: Actually, Megan, she’s a good climber…

Ian: Yes, I know, but she always says that she can’t do technical?

Emelie: No. The technical part, she was doing good, actually. She’s a very all-around runner, I would say. She can perform really well in technical races, like Dolomites and Zegama. But she can also win Mont-Blanc Marathon. She’s maybe one of the best all-around runners I know. So, I wouldn’t say that she’s bad on technical, that’s my opinion. In the end, I don’t think that I made a big gap, even though I kept the lead over the Aonach Eagach Ridge.

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-03304

Ian: Tell me the highlights of the course and tell me why this race is so special.

Emelie: First of all, I think I need to say that it’s not a race for everyone right now. I think anyone can run it if they train for it and get experience – the race is vetted anyway! But you should have a lot of respect for it. I do and I would never do a race like this if I wasn’t comfortable in climbing Degree III. Because it’s technical, which I really love.

We start with maybe 10K of running, until we come to Curved Ridge, which is the most technical par. Super steep and scrambling up. Then, we follow beautiful ridges with some ups and downs and big climbs. Then, we have a big downhill coming to kilometer 35, where is the aid station, the second one. After that, it’s a very steep climb, like a vertical. I was actually looking to my watch and I think I did the climb in 52 minutes, which I do the same time as the vertical.

Ian: The vertical, yes.

Emelie: Yes, it’s a steep vertical there. Then, the ridge starts, the Aonach Eagach Ridge, which is a beautiful ridge. People tell me that they feel like that’s a technical part, but I don’t see the technical part there. It’s a ridge, which is super nice to be there and run and I don’t see the difficulty there.

Ian: How does the Aonach Eagach Ridge compare to the ridge in Tromsø?

Emelie: For me, it’s about the same, actually. I know that some people find Aonach Eagach Ridge a bit more technical, but I think it’s more or less the same.

Ian: I’ve been along both and I have to say that the Aonach makes me feel a little bit more exposed than the ridge in Tromsø. I think it’s just those couple of down-climbing sections. Nobody likes down-climbing. [laughs] If you’re not a complete mountaineer, and I’m not, I can scramble, I can go along the ridges. But down-climbing really does make you think a little bit. I think maybe for me, it’s those couple of sections and there’s also the rock chimney that you go down, which I find is fine. But I know a lot of people after the race had said to me, “Oh, the chimney was just horrendous.” Because you’ve got to put one hand to either side and put your feet down underneath you. But I guess it just comes down to comfort and experience level.

Emelie: Yes, I see what you mean with the down-climbing. For sure, it’s not any down-climbing like that in Tromsø. That’s the difference. I guess it’s just as you say — I can see the difference, but more or less, for me, I would say it’s the same.

Ian: One of the things that I said to you after the race, and to Killian, was the similarities of Scotland with Norway. If I close my eyes, and apart from a couple of distinctive details, maybe like the midges [laughs], you could feel as though you’re in Norway at times. I guess that really appeals to both yourself and Killian because it feels like home.

Emelie: Yes, for sure. It is like home, but it’s new, so that’s really a cool feeling. The culture is different and the people. Trails are much better there in Scotland because when it’s not technical, you run on a super nice trail, I really like the contrast there, you can run really fast. In Norway, we don’t have too many that well-marked or big trails.

Ian:  With the victory and with the course record, do you feel as though one chapter of your running career is maybe ended and a new point is starting?

Emelie: [chuckles] Yes, in one way because, as I said, I wasn’t sure about how my endurance would be and I know that it’s my kind of race, I love the terrain. In one way, I can be hard to myself and say that win didn’t really matter because it’s so much your kind of a race, but then I know that I’m unfair to myself, that I should be proud of what I’ve done, but I also want to train on my weaknesses, which is to run fast for a longer time. Now, I actually will start to train for Les Templiers, which is a really runnable race, so that’s exciting. I know that it’s really hard for me to go out and run on the road but I will do that, I will find some flatter trails and try to do some speed work on them.

Ian: Okay. The other thing that you did in the UK was the VK. I actually really like that VK course, it’s very different to other VK courses because it starts off and it’s very runnable and then, all of a sudden, it just goes really, really, really steep and it’s very muddy, it’s very slippery. How was your experience of that?

Emelie: Yes, it reminded me of Norway, actually. I knew that it was a VK that would suit me pretty well and I like to do VKs because it’s good training, but I also have been saying for the last few years I’m not a vertical runner, but I have been improving in that and that’s also really cool.

Ian: You’ve said it’s like Norway, there are so many similarities in that VK to your VK in Tromsø. I know the final section is much rockier in Tromsø, but the early meters are so similar to Tromsø, that you could feel as though you were in either place.

Emelie: Yes, exactly.

Ian: How do you progress now? You’ve got Templiers, which is a very different race to Glen Coe. It’s not very technical, it’s going to be a fast race, you’re going to need to move quickly for that. You’ve got to be fast, you’ve got to be endurant for that one because it’s also quite a long race and then what follows that?

Emelie: After that, I will do San Francisco, actually. It has been a race that I wanted to do again. I had one good year there and one not so good year and now it’s actually two weeks earlier, so it fits my calendar better. That’s motivating, as well. It’s going to be the same training as for Les Templiers. I need to speed up and move fast.

Ian: Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m going from memory here, but you won San Francisco 50 on your first attempt/

Emelie: Yes.

Ian: It’s a good benchmark race, I guess. Things have moved on. I’ve not seen the elite field for San Fran yet, it’s probably a little bit too early, but because of the prize money that’s available, it’s going to be very competitive, we know that. Is there anything that you think that you need to do to get yourself in the shape that’s going to give you potentially a podium or a victory?

Emelie: Yes, I need to train flat.

Ian: I can hear the disappointment in your voice…

Emelie: No, actually it’s different and I know it’s not my favorite, but actually it’s really motivating for me because I always want to improve what is my weak side and I have been doing that with uphill running and I’m eager to do it now with my flat running, too, so I’m actually really excited for it. I know that I’m going to be like, “Why do I need to do this race when I run my tempo runs on a dirt, flat road?” But I’m actually motivated for it and it’s going to be really fun because Ida Nilsson, who I consider one of the best flat runners, will also run both races and we’re training together – she’s really pushing me, which is great.

Ian: And you ski together as well, yes?

Emelie: Yes.

Ian: What does 2018 and maybe 2019 look like for you? Do you have a bucket list of races or experiences that you’d like to tick off?

Emelie: I do, actually. I have three or four things that I have planned already for 2018, and one of them is a project in the Himalayas, which I want to do by myself and it’s going to be really exciting.

Ian: That sounds really good! Exciting.

Emelie: Yes.

Ian: My other question, which is actually related to that one. Any dreams of 100-mile race, say, Hardrock 100?

Emelie: Yes, yes, for sure. I think I said this before to you that I really like the distance. I’m fascinated about it. I did Diagonale des Fous for experience but I want to try to race it, I think I could do really well there. I want to wait for it though, maybe five, six years. It sounds a lot, but I know that it will be even better if I wait because I want to do so many shorter distances, up to 80K right now.

Ian: I think that’s a good idea. History shows that 100-mile runners are very, very good or in their peak once they get to mid-to-late 30s and even into their 40s. There’s no issue there and, of course, it’s more years running, more endurance, which you can then carry over to that long distance. You might as well maximize the speed that you have and the ability that you have up to the 80-kilometer distance. Pressured question, will we see you in Glen Coe next year?

Emelie: I really hope so.

Ian: I hope so, too.

Emelie: It really fits in my calendar, so I will be there.

Ian: What about Tromsø?

Emelie: I think so. We’re working with it now and I said that I need to step down a little because there are so many things to do there. I think it’s much better if there’s someone that has more time and take care of it. Kilian and myself are still part of the organization, but I cannot do as much work, so I think for next year, it will be even better than it has been before.

Ian: It’s so difficult to balance a busy life, training, racing and being a race director. You know both sides now, you understand the complexities of that.

I’m going to thank you so much for your time. It’s been great to have you back in the UK, great to have you win the race here in Scotland, great for you to have a course record and great to see you back to the shape you had before your accident.

Roll on Les Templiers and San Francisco 50!

©iancorless.com_GlenCoe2017-08184

 

SkyRace® Comapedrosa – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The tiny ski-resort of Arinsal was bustling as 300+ runners lined up to take part in the next stage of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series, the SkyRace® Comapedrosa. The weekend also would host the ISF Skyrunning Youth World Championships over a shorter 15km course.

The SkyRace® Comapedrosa’s full course is 21km in length with a vertical ascent of well over 2,000m. The most challenging part of the course, in addition to very technical terrain, was the 1000-metre vertical climb over 2km in length to the summit of Coma Pedrosa – the highest point of the course (and Andorra) at 2,942m.

Jan Maragrit Sole, winner of last-weekends Dolomites SkyRace set the pace from the off, Rui Ueda joined him and the duo forged ahead chased by Marco De Gasperi and last year’s 2nd place at Comapedrosa, Aritz Egea

I led the race from the beginning, I felt good and I decided to push,” said Maragrit Sole on the finish line. “I reached the summit of Coma Pedrosa in the lead and it was all downhill from there to the finish line. I feel great at the moment. The USA will be next and I will race at the RUT doing the VK and SkyRace!”

 

The surprise of the day was without a doubt Rui Ueda, who made the pace early on. He was later passed by Marco De Gasperi after the Italian Skyrunning legend made a stunning climb to the Coma Pedrosa summit which sits just under 3000m.He flew across the finish-line, beaming and looking incredibly fresh especially when one considers just last weekend he took a podium place in the Dolomites. Ueda held off a charging Zaid Ait Malek who ran a stunning descent. Adrien Michaud finished 5th and last year’s 2nd place Aritz Egea was just outside the top-5. De Gasperi ran 2:41:50 and Ueda 2:44:54.

The course is extremely hard – the climbs are like vertical kilometers. There is no flat running in Comapedrosa. This course suits the vertical specialist but at the same time what comes up must come down and Maragrit Sole not flew up but flew down and in the process set a new course record 2:35:36.

In the female field, few were surprised at race favourite Laura Orgué’s early charge and dominating the race from the front. She climbed hard using her VK skills and by the time she reached the summit at Coma Pedrosa she had a convincing lead over Sheila Aviles Castano, race surprise Takako Takamura, Megan Kimmel and Hillary Gerardi.

For Laura Orgué though, victory was not to be today. She gave it her all but on the descent a recurring stomach issue struck causing severe pain. She continued but struggled. Avilés Castano passed and took an incredible victory in 3:17:36. Orgue held on for 2nd in 3:19:29.

I Felt good today, particularly after last weekend’s victory in the Dolomites. I lead the race from the front and then on the descent the pain hit,” Orgue said post-race. “It really is annoying but the pain is terrible. It just slowed me down. I couldn’t push and gave way my hard-earned lead. Importantly I finished 2nd and I can take away positives of how strong I felt.”

Takamura finished an incredible 3rd in 3:26:43 and the USA’s Gerardi followed 2nd in the Dolomites last weekend with 4th here in 3:28:43. Pre-race favourite Megan Kimmel, also from the USA had a tough day but finished 5th in 3:33:22.

Next up is the Tromso SkyRace in Norway – the 2nd race in the Extreme category of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

all images ©iancorless.com

Image galleries will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

 

2017 #VK Vertical Kilometer Youth World Championships – ISF, International Skyrunning Federation

The KV Arinsal kicked of the 2017 ISF Youth Skyrunning World Championships in the Principality of Andorra following on from the success of the inaugural event held in Italy in 2016.

Sixteen countries (double the 2016 number) from four continents participated. Competing in three age group categories:

  • A (16-17 years)
  • B (18-20 years)
  • and U23 (21-23 years)

18 medals were at stake – Gold, Silver and Bronze.

The KV Arinsal is a 3.5 km long Vertical Kilometer® which started in the town of Arinsal and finished at Alt de la Capa summit, 2,570m altitude.

RESULTS

16-17 age group category A

Nicolas Molina (ESP), Arnau Cases (ESP), Diego Gomes (POR), Jana Aguilar (ESP), Erin Margill (USA), Andreu Sinfreu (AND).

18-19 year-old B category

Jan Margarit (ESP), Roberto Delorenzi (SUI), Luca Lizzoli (ITA), Giorgia Felicetti (ITA), Sora Takizawa (JPN), Irati Zubizarreta (ESP).

U23 category

Alex Oberbacher (ITA), Antonio Alcalde (ESP), Daniele Felicetti (ITA), Fatima De Diego (ESP), Claudia Sabata (ESP), Barbora Chica (CZE).

Countries competing in the 2017 Youth Skyrunning Championships are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Peru, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

The Youth Skyrunning World Championships are held annually in different countries with a view to developing and promoting the sport and to highlight young skyrunners, giving them an opportunity to shine on the international stage.

With thanks to the La Massana Ministry of Tourism, Federaciò Andorrana de Muntanysme (FAM) and SkyRace® Comapedrosa organisers Ocisport.

 

SKYRACE COMAPEDROSA Preview – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series 

Andorra will host the seventh stage of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series with the SkyRace® Comapedrosa coming just one week after the Dolomites SkyRace and VK that took place in Italy.

Arinsal, a small ski resort within Andorra will have 300+ runners toe the line to take on the challenging 21 km course that includes a brutal climb of 1000m to the summit of the iconic and beautiful Coma Pedrosa at 2942m. The climb even more difficult and spectacular due to its overall distance of just 2km – yes, it’s a 50% gradient!

The opening miles are road and ease the runners into winding forest trails all the way up to the Col de les Cases (1958M), a wooded area follows and from this point the runners will encounter a stretch of ridge. Pic de les Fonts at 2748m and the Pla de l’Estany follows.

Now the beautiful and challenging climb begins, a true vertical wall of more than 1000m of positive difference in about 2km. A VK within a race! Without a marked path, the runners follow markers to the summit of Comapedrosa at 2942m. Pure Skyrunning – Less Cloud, More Sky.

The descent is by the traditional route through the Estany Negre and Coma Pedrosa refuge, until reaching Arinsal where the race started.

2016 Youth Skyrunning World Championships, Italy. ©fabriziopoliti.it

The Skyrunning World Youth Championships will also take place on the same weekend. The first edition took place in 2016 in Italy and it was a great success. Two events, the KV Arinsal which is the classic Vertical Kilometre will take place on July 28 and the SkyRace will take place on July 30. On offer are 54 medals distributed across three age categories – 16-17yrs, 18-20yrs and 21-23yrs. Read ISF release here.

The Contenders Men

Aritz Egea is on form this year and had a great race at Comapedrosa in 2016. He has already placed 2nd at Livignio and Buff Epic and won Olympus Marathon. He is the hot favourite in Andorra.

Jan Maragrit Sole won the iconic 20th edition of the Dolomites SkyRace last weekend and I am unsure at this moment if he will race the Youth Championships or the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series? Either way he is a hot contender for victory.

Pere Aurell Bove had a great result at The Royal Gran Paradiso recently and although this event is considerably shorter and faster, he should be in the mix. He won the race in 2015.

Kiril Nikolov placed highly at Olympus Marathon and the shorter distance events suit him, he has proved this before at races like Limone.

Hassan Ait Chaou like Egea had a great race in Andorra last year and although his form doesn’t appear to be as good as 2016, you can’t rule him out!

Eugeni Gil Ocana is having a great 2017 with strong and consistent running, Comapedrosa will suit the Spanish runner. He is top-10 potential for sure and top-5 on a good day.

France’s Adrien Michaud may well stir up the front of the race but Benat Marmisolle is a likely podium contender after a strong and solid race at The Royal Gran Paradiso – the question will be if he has recovered?

Andorran brothers Oscar and Marc Casal Mir will be focused on this race and they know the course like the back of their hands.

Breaking news may well see a last-minute entry by Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi. If the Italian toes the line, I would predict a podium place and I have a feeling that victory is on the cards… De Gasperi has some great form now as we saw with his 3rd place in the Dolomites, just 45-seconds behind the winner.

It’s a stacked field and other names to watch are as follows:

Nicolas Bouvier Gaz, Brice Delsouiller, Jose Larralde, Jokin Lizeaga, Inaki Uribe-Etexbarria, Aitor Aiuria, Anartz Artola, Paul Riera, Sintu Vives, Ismail Razga, Pere Rullan, and many more runners from FEEC.

The Contenders Ladies

Laura Orgue just won the Dolomites SkyRace and is the defending champion at Comapedrosa. Orgue and Kimmel will have a real head-to-head battle for top honors.

Megan Kimmel is on fire this year and she loves the classic SkyRace distance. The 22km race will suit her down to the ground and as she has proven time and time again, she is the hot favourite victory.

Denise Dragomir had a very strong race in Livignio – she placed 2nd. She was strong on the climbs and fast on the descents which makes her a podium favourite.

Anne-Lise Rousset recently missed High Trail Vanoise through injury but if recovered with good training miles, she will be a definite contender for the podium.

Celia Chiron had a solid 2016 and it was a breakthrough year on the Skyrunning calendar. She has raced a great deal already in 2017 and I see her as a podium, top-5 for sure. *upadate: Celia will not run, confirmed 26th July. 

Hillary Gerardi has been a revelation in 2017 with a solid run in Livignio and just last weekend she placed 2nd at the Dolomites behind Laura Orgue. She is a good friend of Celia Chiron (the duo race together) so we may well see an interesting dynamic in the Comapedrosa race.

Anna Comet this year is racing shorter and faster races instead of the ultra-distance, she had a tough race in the Dolomites but it’s all learning curve – I think we will see an improved performance in Andorra.

Maria Zorroza is another contender for the top-5 and almost certainly the top-10, she will however have some strong competition from Aitziber Ibarbia and Oihana Azkorbebeita.

Laia Andreu rounds out the top-10 contenders and we can also expect Silvia Puigarnau, Paloma Lobera and Nuria Dominguez to be in the mix.

Race website HERE

2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series HERE