La Sportiva VK Boa® Shoe Review

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.

Dolomites VK, Italy.

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.

The Shoe

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.

In Use

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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#IRunAtHome – #YoCorroEnCasa – RUN VIRTUAL

#IRunAtHome / #YoCorroEnCasa

Pau Capell, Tofol Castanyer, Kilian Jornet and journalist, Albert Jorquera thought that it would be a good idea to all get together and run virtually, at home, at the same time with the Spanish run community. Ultra-trail runners love to spend long hours running in the mountains, but they wanted to emphasize that during this quarantine and isolation period, the most important thing is to get out of the house as little as possible and help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Listen to KILIAN JORNET

The four, together with Jordi Saragossa and Maria Fainé, decided to create the #YoCorroEnCasa (IrunAtHome) Challenge. With this challenge they wanted to bring a maximum number of people doing sports together in the home; distance did not matter, it could be 100 metres or maybe a marathon! The important aspect was the social side, the coming together as a community to share an experience.

To participate ‘officially’ in this ‘virtual run’ participants made a donation to #YoMeCorono – The team of doctors and researchers who had started pioneering clinical trials to define which drugs will immediately be used to treat the infected patients, prevent ongoing contagion and look for a vaccine against the virus.

It was a huge success with over 7400 participants.
The total raised was an incredible 82.940 Euros.
Every single euro was donated to charity.

This pandemic has deprived us all of so many privileges, running may seem insignificant now, but getting together to run in the mountains or on trails is not possible for most of us. We, as runners though are not willing to give up, we are going to fight Covid-19 together to stop it and fight to continue doing what we are passionate about.

So, come April 18th we want you to join us with the tag, #IRunatHome and in the process we will race funds for the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal.
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“Our amazing NHS staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to care for COVID-19 patients. And we want them to know the country has also got their back. We are so proud and in awe of NHS staff and volunteers as they work tirelessly to save lives! This means staying away from their homes and families, working day and night, to treat as many people as possible in need of care.”
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We have multiple confirmed elite runners who you can virtually run with.

Jasmin Paris

Damian Hall

Andy Symonds

Tom Evans

Holly Page

Finlay Wild

Tom Owens

Beth Pascall

And more joining daily.

Please help us spread the word and help us raise money by #IRunAtHome

April 18th 2020 starting 0900 GMT till 2100 GMT.

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DONATE TO THE NHS CHARITY HERE

REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE HERE

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Rules for entry

We appreciate that depending on where you are located, that it ‘may’ be possible to run outside by respecting social distancing. However, this challenge is all about ‘Staying Home’ and self-isolating and joining other runner’s in a challenge of #IRunAtHome

  • You must run in your home and/ or garden/ treadmill.
  • Any distance is acceptable.
  • Start at any time from 0900 and finish before 2100 hours.
  • To enter, please DONATE HERE at a specific charity page, all funds go directly to the charity.
  • Register to run HERE.
  • You will receive an email from Eventbrite, please check as you will be provided a link to download a Run Bib. Be creative with the bib! Add a number, name and decorate.
  • Encourage family members to take part, no age limit. The more runner’s, the better.
  • Spread the word. (Logos HERE)
  • Be creative, this is more about being social and sharing – share videos, photos and tell the world that #IRunAtHome

Luis Alberto Hernando and family shows how to be creative with #IRunAtHome

We thank adidas TERREX who will support with prizes of run shoes for the most creative runs and social media posts. Make sure you tag #IRunAtHome and use our Facebook and Twitter account.

Join us

 FACEBOOK HERE

TWITTER @IRunAtHome1

 
RUN VIRTUAL
#IRunAtHome

The Coastal Challenge 2020 #TCC2020 – Elite Line-Up Announced

The 2020 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! Six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain, 9413m of vertical descent – TCC is more than a challenge!

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2019 edition was won by Ida Nilsson with a record time and Pere Aurell for the men. The men’s CR is still held by the UK’s, Tom Evans.

 Hugging the coastline of the tropical Pacific, TCC is the ultimate multi-day experience that weaves in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of this Central American country.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulder, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long relentless beaches and finally finish in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay before departing for their journeys home via speedboat.

Irrespective of pace or effort, the Costa Rican coastline never stops providing inspiration. This is so much more than a race, It’s a journey, a running holiday and a voyage of discovery. Friendships made in the rainforests, on the beaches and in the camps are ones to last a lifetime – the race is one of survival, perseverance and enjoyment in equal measure.

 “This has been an incredible journey. It’s a stunning and magnificent part of the world and the course, terrain, views and the racing has been world-class. I have been blown away by everything – the final stage was just stunning, and it managed to compress the whole TCC experience in just 22km. I will be back to TCC and Costa Rica one day, guaranteed!” – Tom Owens, 2017 Champion

THE 2020 ELITE LINE UP

Brittany Peterson

Burst on the global scene in 2016 with a win at Moab Red Hot %%km, placed 3rd at Speedgoat 50km, 2nd at the Rut and then 4th at Transvulcania in 2018. A top-ranked Skyrunner, in 2019 Brittany moved to longer races and won the iconic Bandera 100km. However, all previous results were surpassed in June when she ran the race of her life to finish 2nd at Western States 100.

Kelly Wolf

Kelly won the 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail and in the process, elevated her profile to a whole new level in Europe. She has won at Tarawera, placed 3rd at Transvulcania, 4th at Ultra Trail Capetown and most recently has won Kendall Mountain Run and Deep Creek Trail Half Marathon. Combining speed, endurance and technical running ability, Kelly is going to be one to watch at the 2010 TCC.

Katlyn Gerbin

 Kaytlyn joins the line-up of the 2020 TCC with an extremely solid and consistent resume, known in Canada and the USA for a string of top performances, it was a podium place (2nd) at Transgrancanaria that introduced her to worldwide attention. Winner of the Pine to Palm 100 in 2016, Kaytlyn has mixed races distances for the last 3-years, excelling at 50km and 100km with victories at Gorge Waterfalls and Sun Mountain amongst others. In 2017 she won Cascade Crest 100 but her calling cards are 4th place and 2nd place at the 2017 and 2018 Western States.

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Julien Chorier

Julien is a true ambassador of the sport with a resume that many a runner would love to have just a tenth of. Name any iconic race and Julien will have raced it and most likely place on or around the podium. Career highlights are 1st at Hardrock 100, 1st at UTMF, 2nd at Transgrancanaria, 3rd at UTMB, 1st at MIUT and 6th at Western States. He is no stranger to multi-day racing having raced at Marathon des Sables Morocco and also, MDS Peru. It’s an honor to have Julien at the 2020 TCC. 

Jordi Gamito

Jordi should have toed the line at the 2019 TCC but injury prevented his participation. In 2020, he is back! He is a winner of the tough and challenging Everest Trail Race and has placed 3rd at the 2018 UTMB. In 2014, a 4th place at UTMB showed his potential to the ultra-running world and this was followed with 6th at Raid Ka Reunion. 3rd at the Eiger Ultra and 4th at Transgrancanaria. He is a big smile; infectious personality and he will embrace the challenge of Costa Rica.

Cody Lind

 Cody has been racing for some years but may well have only come on your radar after 2017 with a very committed foray in the Skyrunning circuit – He placed 8th at Tromso in 2017 and then followed the SWS circuit racing on iconic courses throughout the world. Recently he raced them Rut in the USA and came away with victory. Cody manages to mix speed and technical ability, it’s a perfect mix for the trails in Costa Rica

Andy Symonds (tbc)

 Andy is one of the UK’s greatest mountain runners. He has traditions in fell running and has mixed Skyrunning and ultra-running throughout a long and successful career. He recently placed 5th at UTMB after 3 attempts. He has raced Marathon des Sables and placed in the top-10 but Andy will always be considered a mountain specialist. He has won Lavaredo, placed 3rd at Marathon Mont Blanc, 5th at Transgrancanaria and has represented his country at many World Championships. The technical and demanding trails of Costa Rica with plenty of climbing and descending provide Andy a perfect playground.

Mauricio Mendez

Mauricio is a rising star from Mexico who is currently an Xterra World Champion. He joins TCC as somewhat as a dark horse but no doubt he will be the hope of the locals. He started running because of his Father and in his own words, is a dreamer!

The Race: 

  • Stage 1 34.6km 1018m of vert and 886m of descent
  • Stage 2 39.1km 1898m of vert and 1984m of descent
  • Stage 3 47.4km 1781m of vert and 1736m of descent
  • Stage 4 37.1km 2466m of vert and 2424m of descent
  • Stage 5 49.8km 1767m of vert and 1770m of descent
  • Stage 6 22.5km 613m of vert and 613m of descent
  • Total 230.5km
  • Vertical 9543m
  • Descent 9413m

Stage 1

It’s a tough day! Runners depart San Jose early morning (around 0530) for a 3-hour drive to Playa Del Rey, Quepos. It’s the only day that the race starts late and ‘in the sun!’. It’s the toughest day of the race, not because of the terrain or distance, but because of the time of day! The runners are fresh and feel great. That is until about 10km and then they realize the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution – mark my words! The 34.6km is very runnable with little vertical and technicality, it welcomes the runners to Costa Rica.

Stage 2

From here on in, it is early breakfast, around 0400 starts with the race starting with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb to start the day. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.

Stage 3 

It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to sea and a final kick in the tail before the arrival at camp. For many, this is a key day and maybe one of the most spectacular. Puma Vida.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a roller coaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rain forest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the line and the finish at 37.1km.

Stage 5 

The long day but what a beauty! This route was tweaked a couple of years ago and now has become iconic with tough trails, plenty of climbing, sandy beaches and yes, even a boat trip. The finish at Drake Bay is iconic.

Stage 6

The victory lap! For many, this stage is the most beautiful and memorable. In just over 20km, the route manages to include a little of all that has gone before. It’s a stage of fun and challenges and one that concludes on the beach as a 2018 medal is placed over your head – job done!

 The 2020 TCC starts in February as runners from all over the world will assemble in San Jose before transferring to the coast for stage 1 of the race starting on Saturday 8th. Year-on-year, the TCC has grown to be one of ‘the’ most iconic multi-day races. Once again, the elite line-up sets the bar, but the race is all about inclusion. Join the 2020 TCC and come experience Pura Vida!

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Episode 176 – SUB2 with Shane Benzie, Andy Symonds on UTMB and The Warriors Ultra Run

Episode 176 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Andy Symonds about UTMB. We also talk with Shane Benzie from Running Reborn about Sub2. Speedgoat is back to co-host and we discuss The Warriors Ultra Run.
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Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help!
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
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NEWS
Ian and Karl have a catch up about UTMB and Sub2.
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THE WARRIORS 00:13:28
On September 21st, over 30 ultrarunners, dressed in retro gang attire, travelled to New York City to participate in first-ever ‘The Warriors UltraRun’, an utterly unique race that stands to become one of the most unusual and unexpected events in the sport. Held in the middle of the night, this neon-drenched, 28-mile ultra took runners from the Bronx to Coney Island  ̶  and through two subway stations  ̶  recreating the escape route featured in the iconic 1979 cult film by Walter Hill. – https://thewarriorsultra.com

Read about the first edition HERE on Ultrarunning.com

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ANDY SYMONDS 01:07:28
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SHANE BENZIE 02:14:02
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03:05:58 close
03:10:35
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
Keep running!
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Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE
Website – talkultra.com
UP & COMING RACES go to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Maga Ultra SkyMarathon 2019 – ISF European Skyrunning Championships

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.”

View the full Image Gallery HERE

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.

The race

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.

View the full Image Gallery HERE

2019 Skyrunning European Championship medallists

Men
Gold: Cristian Minoggio (ITA) – 6h37’26

Silver: Manuel Merillas (ESP) – 6h52’03”

Bronze: Daniel Jung (ITA) – 7h0252″

Women
Gold: Ester Casajuana (ESP) – 8h19’11”

Silver:  Sandra Sevillano (ESP) – 8h33’35”

Bronze: Silvia Puigarnau (ESP) 8h41’11”

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adidas Terrex and the 2019 UTMB Series of Races

I was recently in Chamonix for the UTMB series of events. I have to be honest, I have avoided Chamonix at the end of August for the last few years… The whole UTMB extravaganza just feels too overwhelming, there is no escape. So, I have chose to either have a holiday or work on smaller races.

This year I was asked by adidas to work on the event, documenting the experience of their Terrex Team as they prepared to tackle all of the events the UTMB offer, the exception coming with the crazy long PTL.

Working for a brand brings a whole new perspective and experience to an event like UTMB. Instead of chasing multiple runners over multiple locations, my priority would be to follow the favourites within each of the respective races – OCC, CCC and TDS. The UTMB would also be raced and followed by the whole Terrex Team but due to a prior commitment, I would skip the big loop around France, Italy and Switzerland.

UTMB needs no introduction, the series of races have arguably become a flagship for the sport. As UTMB has grown, so has the demand for people to race and for media to cover the event. This brings a whole set of challenges, especially for media. As a brand, adidas were required to pay a fee to allow myself and the film crew access to certain areas of the race, for example aid stations and finish line, and thus we could capture certain required images and also have the license to use them. UTMB provide live coverage of the event and it must be said, they do an incredible job using a helicopter, runners and mountain bikes to cover much of all the race routes. It is quite an incredible logistical problem and in addition, they provide live commentary with an ever-changing group of people providing on the spot analysis of the race. You can pretty much follow every race, start to finish live.

adidas and the UTMB

The team arrived in Chamonix one week before the UTMB main event and I arrived on the Monday. This meant the YCC started Tuesday, TDS Wednesday, OCC Thursday, CCC and UTMB starting Friday. You can do the math, that means long days, early starts, late nights and little sleep.

As a team, adidas had rented one huge chalet that would host the whole team, the hashtag #oneteam being a very important motto and ethos not only during race week but it is a hashtag that the team is using to bring the whole Terrex ethos together. It is very much ‘all for one, one for all!’ The chalet had two chefs who provided meals for the entire team and in so doing, dietary needs could be looked after and the need to try to find a restaurant in Chamonix was removed.

A team physio, Dave, was literally ‘hands-on’ everyday from morning to evening to keep the whole team in top condition. In the words of Team Manager, Robert, ‘without his immense treatments, day and night, someone like Luis may well have not raced!’

I am fortunate, after years covering races, I was well acquainted with much of the team; Luis Alberto Hernando, Sheila Aviles, Dmitry Mityaev, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Tom Evans and so many more. This always makes my job easier as to work closely with athletes, particularly in race week, there has to be trust and respect.

I was working alongside the adidas film crew who have been working on the Terrex brand for some time. A great group of guys who know how to work hard, laugh hard and find the time for a beer at the end of the day, no matter how long it may be. Big shout for Rapha, Andy, Patrick, Yannick and then man stuck to an editing stool, Bene. We had a separate chalet as the hours we work are not ideal when athletes are trying to sleep. Meal times were a family affair though and the athlete house was our hub for the week starting with an 0800 breakfast as and when applicable.

Behind the scenes is always fascinating. Looking at apparel, shoes and new development it was clear to see that adidas’ commitment to trail and mountain running is huge. They had specifically designed waterproof jackets and trousers for the team that complied with UTMB rules while still being light and packing small.

Athletes such as Yngvild Kaspersen and Tom Evans (Yngvild 2nd at Pikes Peak and Tom 3rd at Western States) were flown into Chamonix to be part of #oneteam even though they would not race. It was clear that adidas’ commitment to bringing everyone together is a high priority.

A signing in the UTMB expo allowed fans to get close, chat and get a signed photo from Tom, Luis, Holly and Sheila. The buzz was incredible.

Post the signings, we took Tom in to the mountains for a photo shoot. The most ransom moment of the whole week… A couple just married saw Tom, recognized him and then came for a wedding photo! The groom was running UTMB.

Over the course of the week, racers and non-racers would each continually give up their time to crew, support, follow and cheer on the team. A prime example being Ekaterina crewing for Dmitry during TDS to a stunning 2nd place. Two days later, Ekaterina would run UTMB and place 4th while Dmitry crewed her.

Filming and photographing brings its own challenges of long drives, big hikes and a relentless pace that leaves one drained and exhausted by the end but high on emotion. It’s always a tough call on who to follow? Many of the races had more than one adidas runner participating but from a story and media perspective, we would have to make decisions in advance. The TDS for example, our emphasis was on Dmitry. For CCC, Luis Alberto Hernando was our primary story. Needless to say, it’s incredible when it all comes together, Dmitry placed 2nd and Luis won CCC. To be able to see the journey unfold at close quarters and tell the story is quite special.

While we raced around with cameras, the remaining crew would chase around providing aid and support. Tom Evan’s quite rightly said, ‘I have raced and won CCC, I have also crewed on big races – I know how hard and tiring crewing is.’

But despite the long hours, the short nights and the relentless fatigue, nobody complained. On the contrary. As the week went on and the results came in, everyone was becoming hyped by the experience and results. It was infectious.

But nothing is perfect. Racing is fickle. While racing went well for Dmitry and Luis for example, others had a tough time. It’s here when the #oneteam ethos kicks in. We are all human, sometimes we are ahead and all is going well, other times, things don’t click, for whatever reason. As an athlete, that can be very hard. It takes months to prepare for an event and then on the day, for it not to come together as expected can be hugely disappointing. As one runner said, ‘I have let the team down…’ But the response was unequivocal, ‘You have let no one down!’

Sheila Aviles had stomach issues in OCC, Timothy Olson struggled at UTMB and finally had to withdraw and all along, the support from adidas and the team was 100%. 

Holly Page made a last minute decision to run CCC, battled through the first half of the race with terrible stomach problems only to come out of the other side and then race strongly over the latter stages for her first 100km finish. It was a story echoed throughout the whole week, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Being ‘In the arena’ to quote Roosevelt is what the sport of trail and mountain running is all about, ‘ The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’

Roosevelt in his quote sums up all adidas stand for with the Terrex Team.

A Day at UTMB – Following Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Our day started with an early alarm, a quick breakfast and a drive to Courmayeur – the plan to climb to Refuge Bertone and capture early content with Mont Blanc providing a stunning backdrop.

Plans hit a problem from the off with a long wait to get through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Once in Courmayeur it was gps time to navigate a route to the trail head. This was a constant theme of the whole week… Great gps software and gpx route are essential – we could plan to meet the runners as much as possible during a race.

We started our climb later than we would have liked but we pushed the pace – not that easy with a 15kg camera bag! Once there, the weather was perfect, the scenery magical and we knew we were going to get some great content. 

For Luis, we were aware we could capture him on the descent, chase after him and then capture him again after he had visited the aid station.

I positioned myself on the descent knowing that I would get a dynamic shot as Luis dropped in front of me taking a left turn with Mont Blanc behind him.

As Luis approached, disaster struck. A ‘runner’ who was spectating ran ahead of him ruining all my ‘pre’ shots. As I shouted for them to get out of the way, they then stopped directly ahead of me, right in the middle of my shot. I had to compromise… shit happens!

I then raced after Luis on the descent and then got to my second spot. This time all was good with clear shots and I then ran with him capturing more content before he raced off around the mountain.

Being early in the day, we decided to wait and capture the other adidas runners who were participating as the time gaps at this stage would not be too great. Later, it would be impossible if Luis ran the race we anticipated! Abi Hall, Macy were looking good but Holly Page was struggling with a bad stomach.

Dropping bag to the car via the twisty descent, we now had a 2-hour drive to Champex Lac. Luis was motoring and now in the lead. Race projections said he would arrive at 1425. Our navigator said we would arrive 1410.

Once again we used gps software to find an access point pre Champex Lac that would allow us to capture content on steep forest trails. Luis arrived like clockwork powering up the climb using poles to keep the momentum.

At Champex Lac he ran the footpath and roads around the lake allowing more opportunities before we went off-piste on a dirt road allowing for one last shot before we would then lose him only to re-connect at Trient.

Trient provided a shot before the aid station and then we drove out of Switzerland and back in to France before capturing Luis on the climb of the Col des Montets – our last opportunity before his arrival at the finish.

Now Luis was motoring and opening up a gap on the 2nd place.

At the finish, myself and Patrick (film crew) waited for Luis in the press area while the remaining adidas team watched the huge screens in the square.

Finally, Luis achieved his coveted UTMB victory. It was an emotional finish. His wife, Nieves, greeted him with open arms. The Terrex team mobbed him as soon as they could… A post-race drug test delaying that process for some time!

Back at the chalet it was time to download the day’s work and release the content.

#ONETEAM

There is no ‘I’ in team and that was personified during this intense UTMB experience. We all had roles but flexibility is key. Athletes became crew, office workers became car drivers and everyone became a supporter both in a physical and mental capacity. 

It was a real pleasure to be immersed with a brand and follow closely the whole process that make a race and team come together. Certainly, the UTMB and Chamonix experience made team bonds stronger.

On a personal note, to leave on Saturday am while the UTMB was underway was hard, especially with Ekaterina running. I have witnessed her growth in skyrunning over the last year’s and then to see her rise to 4th at UTMB not only made me really proud but also a little jealous and envious that I wasn’t available to capture that journey in images…. Next time!

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Ultra Trail Mugello 2019 – Race Summary

Just 1-hour from Florence, the Ultra Trail Mugello is a perfect Spring race that allows one stunning trails with the option, of a short break to explore the majestic sights of Firenze.

The famous Mugello Race Circuit a great short stopping point, and if lucky, you may well find the track has an open day, allowing free access to see bikes scream around the track at high speed. On the back straight, the machines of pure power driven by men of steel can hit almost 400km before the brakes are slammed on reducing the speed to take the tight right hand bend – the drivers almost lying on the ground. It’s a sight to behold.

Over the Passo del Giogo and then a twisty descent to Moscheta and the Badia di Moscheta, the home of the Ultra Trail Mugello. The restaurant here most certainly a reason to visit in its own right, arguably, the best homemade pasta I have tasted with Ragu sauce to die for. Flanked by the Moscheta Abbey, the start and the finish of the 23 and 60km races, this is a stunning location. On site is a ‘Dormire’ providing limited accommodation for those lucky enough to obtain a room. The area has many notable marks in history, the most interesting for me was the inspiration for ‘Dante’ the author, and his book Inferno.

Nestled in a valley, it feels like one is submerged in verdant vegetation, with every shade of green possible.

The ‘Mugello’ team headed by Piero and Giovanni are warm and welcoming, immediately they make you feel at home and it’s easy to see why this race has grown over the years as a kick-start for many a racing year – it feels like home.

Organisation is superb with over 200 staff looking after some 700+ runners. It’s the attention to detail that matters. Everyone is important. A superbly marked route, incredible safety with mountain/ medical teams situated throughout the route; the UTM is a race that immediately makes you feel confident.

Runners arrive in Moscheta on Saturday, the day before the race, and a compulsory briefing by Piero and Giovanni sets the scene for the following day’s 0600 start for the 60km and 0900 start for the 23km.

****

The 60km Race

Course record holder, Luca Carrara of team Salomon dictated the early pace forging ahead with Riccardo Montani and the race favourite, Franco Collè winner of the Tor des Geants 2018. The early hours were shrouded in dense mist and rain, a stark contrast to the previous days glorious sunshine.

The trio worked together for much of the first ⅓ of the race and then Franco made his move. He pushed away looking calm and relaxed and soon opened a 7-minute gap on the two chasers.

Passing through Diacci and the impressive waterfall, the writing was on the wall and the question was now, who would place 2nd and 3rd? 

 

As the rain started to fall hard and ice fell from the sky, Riccardo was laying the foundations for the 2nd rung on the podium as he opened a gap on the course record holder, Luca.

But with 5km to go, disaster struck. Franco was plagued by stomach issues causing intense discomfort. He tried to push on but with the finish so close, he was forced to retire in a medical vehicle. This opened the door for the young Riccardo who elevated the new CR to 5:40 (10 minutes quicker) and obtained the cash price for his efforts. Luca came 2nd in 5:45 and in 3rd, Mirko Cocco.

Cecilia Pedroni of Team Serim ignored the reputation of the 2x UTM winner, Cristiana Follador Team La Sportiva, and started the race from the front. She quickly built a 2-minute lead and one wondered if a new champion was in the making?

With 35km of the route covered, Cristiana’s experience and course knowledge started to show. She had reeled in Cecilia and was now forging ahead of all the women and making an impact on the mens race. By Diaci, the lead was extended to 10-minutes and by the arrival at the monastery, her finish time was 6:58, 18-minutes ahead of Cecilia who ran a solid race for 2nd. Giulia Gallo rounded out the podium in 8:27.

The 23km Race

Gabriele Pace Team Salomon won the race in 2:01 with Jacopo Mantovani in 2:10:19 for 2nd and Gheduzzi 3rd just seconds later. The runners a long way off Marco De Gaperi’s course record of 1:51.

Denisa Dragomir of Team Serim was the pre-race favourite and she did not disappoint completing the distance in 2:12 arriving fourth overall. Local favourite, Geneva Cusseau raced hard, rallied by the competition from Denisa. She crossed the line for 2nd in 2:23, bettering her previous best for the route by a large margin.Giulia Marchesoni was 3rd in 2:28.

The race is included in the Skyrunning Italy series circuit and from a score increased by 25%, the winners are Riccardo Montani and Cristiana Follador.

 

UltraTrail 2019 60KM

1.Cristiana Follador (Team La sportiva) – 6:58:59

2.Cecilia Pedroni  (Team Serim) – 7:18:06

3.Giulia Gallo (Team UTR) – 8:27:22

 

1. Riccardo Montani (Team Salomon) – 5:40:20 (record percorso)

2. Luca Carrara (Team Salomon) – 5:45:45

3. Domenico Giosi (Team Columbia) – 6:11:46

 

Mugello Trail 2019 23 KM

1. Denise Dragomir (Team Serim) – 2:12:07 (record percorso)

2. Ginevra Cusseau (Team Prozis-Mugello Outdoor) – 2:23:14

3. Giulia Marchesoni (Atletica Clarina Trento) – 2:28:52

 

1’ Gabriele Pace (Team Salomon) – 2:01:40

2’ Jacopo Mantovani (Team Sasso Marconi) – 2:10:19

3’ Roberto Gheduzzi (Team Hoka One One) – 2:10:44

 

VIEW THE FULL IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

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Ultra Trail Mugello 2019 Preview

Images ©utm/ studiosisti

This weekend, the Ultra Trail Mugello (here) takes place in Italy, close to the stunning Florence. Three races, a ‘Mini Ultra Trail,’ a 22km ‘Mugello Trail‘ and the main event of the weekend, the 60km ‘Ultra Trail‘ all bring a 100% trail experience to the region.

The 60km event is a toughie with 3200 meters of elevation gain with semi-autonomous nature. It departs from the Badia di Moscheta, Firenzuola (FI) with 13-hours to complete the race. The first runner typically takes 6-hours.

Racing starts for the UTM on Sunday, April 28th at 0600. The last runner will need to be at the finish before 1900hrs.

The Ultra Trail del Mugello was the joint brainchild between ultra running enthusiasts and nature lovers proud of their land, and the Mugello Union of Mountain Municipalities. The Union manages 4 forests encompassing 110,000 hectares total. These parts are part of the patrimony of forests of Tuscany, and Italian region which accounts for 20% of all Italy’s forests.

The Union of Mugello Mountain Municipalities manages districts stretching from the outskirts of Florence to the border of Emilia Romagna and the province of Prato. The great ridgeline of the Apennines crosses each, and they are places rich in history, art and abundant nature. From these lands were born some of the greatest artists such as Giotto and Fra Angelico, and Dante drew inspiration from the lands, where he was exiled from Florence.

With this rich history in mind, a permanent trail was created for anyone who wishes to travel it, even outside of this event.

The host site of the Ultra Trail del Mugello is the Giogo-Casaglia district, which encompasses 6,800 hectares of regional forests. These forests house an explosion of colors and scents, with crystal clear waterfalls; it’s practically a one of a kind natural and wild landscape.

The forest fauna, thanks to regulations protecting these lands, is particularly rich both quantitatively and qualitatively. Home to numerous deer and roe deer, wild boar, skunk, weasel, badger, squirrel and many other fauna, it’s also become home again, since 1988, to a wolf population, thanks to reintroduction efforts to bring the environment back as it was in the past. There are also many birds of prey; in particular, in the Rovigo valley there exist Golden Eagle nesting grounds .

100% Trail is the slogan of the racecourse nestled in the heart of the Florentine Apennines; two races UTM and MT, with respective distances of 60km and 23.5km, and respective elevation gains of 3200m and 1280m.

The race only touches asphalt for 300 meters, whereas the bulk is run on single track, mule trails, and forest roads.

The route passes 7 mountain huts and bivouacs, which during the race will host refueling/refreshment points, as well as be the base of operations for safety personnel.

Ones to watch

60k Women
Cristiana Follador TEAM LA SPORTIVA
Cecilia Pedroni TEAM SERIM
60k Men
Franco Collé TEAM HOKA ONE ONE
Luca Carrara TEAM SALOMON ITALIA
Riccardo Montani TEAM SALOMON ITALIA
Michele Tavernaro TEAM LASPORTIVA
Giulio Piana TEAM MUD & SNOW ASD
Mirko Cocco
Michael Dola TEAM SCOTT ITALY
24k Women
Denisa Dragomir Team Serim
Ginevra Cusseau Prozis Team – MugelloOutdoor ASD
Camilla Magliano Team Salomon Italy
Lara Mustat Team Minerva ASD
Giulia Marchesoni Atletica Clarina Trento
24k Men
Mario Poletti Team Scott Italy
Gabriele Pace Team Salomon Italy
Roberto Gheduzzi Team Hoka One one

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Limone Extreme 2018 Race Summary and Images

Race report by Lauri van Houten, ISF

A star-studded final closed the intense 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series season in Italy, Saturday, October 13 at the Limone Extreme SkyRace®.

The event attracted 979 runners from 37 countries who gathered in the popular tourist resort on Lake Garda for the tenth and final race of the Sky Classic category. Here, the title was awarded along with the prestigious Overall ranking title.

LIMONE EXTREME SKYRACE® WINNERS
In a deeply stacked international field, youngster Davide Magnini not only took the win but crushed the record by almost eight minutes delivering a memorable performance. He covered the challenging and technically demanding 29 km long course with 2,500m vertical climb in 2h59’24”.

I’m really surprised by this result. Before the start, I thought I couldn’t finish the first climb, but I found my pace and my legs worked really well. I stayed focused all the time and beating the record held by a legend like Marco De Gasperi is simply humbling,” said the 21-year old Italian. Second man was Switzerland’s Rémi Bonnet, fresh from yesterday’s Vertical Kilometer® World Champion title at the same venue. Spaniard Oriol Cardana closed the podium.

The women’s race was won again by orienteering world champion Tove Alexandersson from Sweden who raced her first skyrunning race here last year. Known to give it her all, today’s win was no different.

“It was so tough for me today. I’ve had a long season with many orienteering competitions so I finished the season last weekend with seven races in four days. I wasn’t sure to come here because I was so destroyed,” said the winner. “When I started I felt terrible but I was just fighting, fighting all the way. I come from Sweden where there was snow and I’m not used to this heat so it was a fight from the start to the finish but now I’m so satisfied that I did it. I really enjoy these challenges and that’s what I love!”  She didn’t beat her own record but finished in 3h31’36”, just 25” short. Ragna Debats closed second, triumphant with her new Overall title. Third was Spaniard Sheila Avilés.

SKY CLASSIC CHAMPIONS
The Sky Classic category champions were Pascal Egli from Switzerland and Briton Holly Page. Egli commented, “It’s indescribable. I’m super-happy because I thought I might lose it if some people run really strong today, so I really tried to be smart and stay top ten and not to burn out in the end.

Because it is one year ago that my mother died, I thought I would be very weak emotionally, but I managed to hold on, so I dedicate this win to her. I love skyrunning because it’s an amazing community, so international and the most beautiful races!”

For Page, it was a climb to stardom after racing her first skyrunning race here last year.  “It was actually the best start of a race I’ve had of the season. I felt really good on the first climb which is unusual for me and I pushed really hard. After half way I was sick and had to keep stopping so it was more like survival,” said Page. “I came here last year, it was my first sky race and I never thought I’d be here one year later having won the Sky Classic. When I won the first race in China I thought it was amazing but that it would never happen again – and then I won again and again and just tried to stay consistent all season but it’s been very long. I’m looking forward to next year!”

The Sky Classic title was based on the five best results out of ten with an extra 50% bonus pointsawarded here.

OVERALL CHAMPIONS
After winning three races outright, the Catalan king of skyrunning, Kilian Jornet took the Overall champion title, unaffected by his sixth place in today’s race. He said, “This season I was coming back from an injury, so I didn’t have real goals, but I saw I could do the Skyrunning Overall because it was four races, possible with some long and some short races.  Today here in Limone I wanted to give it everything and actually with Petter had a nice 14 km of fighting. It’s good to see these guys coming from all over the world and very young. It was like looking at the next generation.

“After Glen Coe I had some problems, so I wasn’t able to run, just skiing and cycling. Today I came here and thought if I do top six I’ll win the Series even if Petter was first. That was my goal today. I knew he was super strong – he’s an amazing runner and very talented I’m so happy for him. Next season? I haven’t thought about that yet but I’m always in the game!”

Ragna Debats was overjoyed by her title, which she had to fight hard for. “I’m really, really pleased and even more pleased to get the Overall which is what I aimed for as I was second last year. I was a bit worried because this year I didn’t do any really good Sky races as I was training for the longer races. I started the year with a very long race so it was hard to get fast for the shorter races. I’m very pleased that I finally did and said to myself (mainly) that I can hard go hard if I want to!” The words of a true champion.

The Overall ranking took into account a maximum of the best two results in each category, Sky Classic and Sky Extra.

The 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series awarded an end of season bonus pool amounting to € 66,000 across the Sky Classic, Sky Extra and Overall rankings.

Eighteen races across three continents saw a selection of the best skyrunning events with the best runners, great champions and rising young stars. The 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series has come to a close and it’s time to look forward to the 2019 calendar.

A big thanks go to all the runners that took part, the teams, the race organisers and to our partners for their support with whom there will always be: Less cloud. More Sky!

Limone Extreme results
Men

  1. Davide Magnini (ITA) – 2h59’24”
  2. Rémi Bonnet (SUI) – 3h0414”
  3. Oriol Cardona Coll (ESP) – 3h06’07”
  4. Petter Engdahl (SWE) – 3h06’49”
  5. Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) – 3h09’56”

Women

  1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) – 3h31’36”
  2. Ragna Debats (NED) – 3h40’07”
  3. Sheila Avilés (ESP) – 3h45’28”
  4. Michelle Maier (GER) – 3h48’36
  5. Elisa Desco (ITA) – 3h53’30”

Results

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Ultratrack Supramonte #UTSS 2018

Ultratrack Supramonte, (UTSS) an outdoor event in the breathtaking landscape of the Supramonte of Baunei, considered one of the very few wilderness in Europe and the entire Mediterranean basin.

We will let you run on the paths of the shepherds, the true custodians of this harsh and wild territory, on the mule tracks overlooking the cliffs, built by the charcoal burners in the 19th century.

Sea, woods and a lot of rock, so hard limestone for the toughest trailers, but everyone can count thanks to the many distances of the race.

Race website HERE

UTSS 90km:

6am was the start to the 90km race. Spanish Isaac Riera (Top Ten in the CCC 2018) took an early lead and ran into the morning. Unfortunatly he fell and injured his thigh, so he had to withdraw at km30. After Isaac’s withdrawal, the strong Polish Runner Bartosz Gorcyca ran his own race. He increased the lead to his followers to impressive 2hours. He won in new Course record of 9h51min (old record: Nicola Bassi, 10h15). “I did not know how far the next runners were behind me. If I knew about the gap, I’d have slowed down” smiled Bartosz at the finish line. Behind him, Francesco Pompoli (ITA), Patrik Sondell of Sweden, last year 2nd place finisher Michele Lando and last year’s 43km winner Michael Geisler (AUT) fought over place 2 and 3. Positions changed frequently between Michael and Michele. “Michele was very strong uphill, but I catched him most of the time on the technical downhills” Michael said later. He had to pull out at km 60 due to Stomach issues. Michele had a nasty fall at km50 and had to slow down. Patrik and Francesco ran together for the whole race. They found a common pace and had a great day out in the Wilderness. At the end Patrik and Francesco finished together on second place. Then minute behind them also Michele Lando arrived at the finish line. Immediately after him, the first women arrived in 12:13:42. Corine Kagerer of Switzerland won the UTSS Sardinia the second time (she won also in 2017). Second place female goes to Norwegian Runner Abelone Lyng, who was super happy about her strong finish. Third place on the womens podium went to Ivana Bertasa of Italy.

TSS 43km:

Roberto Gheduzzi won the 43km Race. Behind Roberto and Overall second  place took the first female: Ginevra Cusseau, a strong obstacle racer and Trailrunner from Italy. She won this year already the Ultra Trail de Mugello (25km) and placed 16th at the Dolomites Skyrace (22km).

summary from Michael Geisler

Results: https://trailive.wedosport.net/classifica.asp?evt=47864

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