Skyline Scotland 2017 – Glen Coe Skyline Extreme plus VK, SKY and ULTRA

The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline series of races are upon us – a stunning weekend of Skyrunning! From the short, sharp and brutal VK in the VK World Circuit, to the long, demanding and challenging ultra – this weekend will be the pinnacle event of racing in the UK in 2017 and sees three events in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

With the exception of World Championship events or the Olympics, the Glen Coe Skyline events will without doubt have the greatest elite field ever assembled on UK soil of sky, trail and mountain runners. It’s a who’s who of the Skyrunning world with the best all assembled in one place in what will be an absolutely incredible weekend of racing.

Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Max King, Caroline Chaverot, Laura Orgue, Jan Margarit, Maite Maiora, Ragna Debats, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker, Pascal Egli, Bhim Gurung, Mira Rai and so many more will head to Scotland.

The highlight event is without doubt the brutal, demanding, challenging and yes, dangerous, Glen Coe Skyline Extreme Race™ which will see 264 vetted runners take on what has become one of the most challenging events in the world. It’s up there with Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Trofeo Kima. Following in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races the race fuses mountain running and alpinism, the extreme race is a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course. At 55km with 4,750m of vertical gain, this race personifies Skyrunning, it includes the most challenging Scottish mountain terrain with a traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge.

Ok, take a breath! Kilian Jornet will race on UK soil and on a course that it is fair to say, exactly his thing! It’s technical, pure Skyrunning, offers an incredible technical challenge – all things the Catalan loves. KJ needs no introduction to anyone, he just placed 2nd at UTMB, he won Sierre-Zinal and he summited Everest twice in one week and he won Hardrock 100 single-handedly, and that is just 2017. To see Jornet race this course in the UK is a dream come true.

But Jornet will have his hands full with Tromso SkyRace winner and GlenCoe Skyline 2016 champion, Jon Albon. Importantly, Albon is tied on SWS points with Nepalese runner Bhim Gurung. These two will have a race within a race, the first past the line will be the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champion for 2017.

Let’s not also forget that Tom Owens is running! Add to the mix USA legend Max King and world class competition – Hector Haines, Andre Jonsson, Cody Lind, Martin Gaffuri, Pere Aurell, Rolf Einar Jensen, Roger Vinas, Konrad Rawlik and the UK’s Oli Johnson – we have the most exciting race ever on UK soil!

For the ladies, Emelie Forsberg is back to a race that she loves! This race has figured highly on Forsberg’s calendar and she has meticulously prepared in 2017 by slowly coming back to racing after knee surgery in 2016.

Ragna Debats will push Forsberg every step of the way. The lady from the flatlands of the Netherlands is having a stunning year and recently won at the RUT in the USA and placed 2nd at Tromso SkyRace. Caroline Chaverot was unstoppable in 2016, won Hardrock 100 earlier this year but recently withdrew from UTMB after winning in 2016. If she is recovered and fit, she will be a contender for sure, however, the technical terrain will be a challenge.

Other top contenders will be Megan Kimmel from the USA who was unstoppable early season. Malene Bikken Haukoy, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Katie Schide, Kimberly Storm, Natalia Tomasiak, Martina Valmassoi, Zuzana Urbancova, Kelly Wolf, Ann-Marie Madden and the UK’s Beth Pascall.

The weekend kicks off with the Salomon Mamores VK™, an incredible leg burning and lung-busting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. It is also iconic as it is the UK’s only Vertical Kilometer®. Following the well-established ISF (International Skyrunning Federation( ‘VK’ format, 298 participants will follow a marked course climbing 1000m of vertical gain in less than 5km’s. Departing at timed intervals, it’s like an epic stage of the Tour de France as runners push their limits – the fastest overall time to the summit is the winner!

Stian Angermund-Vik heads up a world-class field for the men and Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race. Also watch out for Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker and Ondrej Fejfar in the men’s race.

Saturday brings us the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ which is a pure ‘classic’ following in the tradition of Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace. It consists of uncompromising mountain running with scrambling along mountain ridges. Traversing ridges are followed by technical ascents and descents, it’s a challenging race to push the most experienced Skyrunner to the limit. The Devil’s Ridge provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead, and in total four peaks will be summited.

Last year, in its inaugural event, the race was won by Stian Angermund-Vik and he returns to do battle again! He is going to have a battle on his hands with Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi coming to race on UK soil along with Pascal Egli, Jan Margarit, Kiril Nikolov, the Casal Mir brothers of Oscar and Marc, Rok Bratina, Andy Wacker and the UK’s Jayson Cavill and Ben Hukins. It is set to be an epic battle. Egli, Angermund-Vik, De Gasperi and Margarit have all been on fire in 2017 and to see them go head-to-head on Scottish soil will be amazing.

 Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race but she also will have a fight on her hands. Laura recently won the RUT VK and SkyRace so comes to Scotland with great form. Maite Maiora though has been unstoppable in 2017 with victories across the Skyrunning calendar, just recently she placed 2nd at CCC. Sheila Aviles is a likely podium contender and yes, maybe even winner after a strong performance at Comapedrossa. Also watch Oihana Azkorbebeitia, Katrine Vilumsen and Laura Sola.

The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ uses remote runnable tracks, technical single track, and airy trackless ridges, the highlight and highpoint coming with a climb and traverse via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, leading to the summit of Ben Nevis. This is one seriously tough race, especially when one considers the demanding 120km course and 4000m + of vertical gain! Starting from the southern shore of the world-famous Loch Ness, the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ follows a route through remote Scottish Highland Glens, before finishing at the Skyline Scotland™ Event Centre in Kinlochleven.

Dmitry Mityaev heads up the men’s race and he will have a fight on his hand with local runner, Donnie Campbell. Lakeland 100 winner and 8th place at the 2017 CCC, Michael Jones, will also be one to watch. Csaba Nemeth and Nuno Silva add to an incredibly stacked male field.

For the ladies, Nepalese sensation Mira Rai will be a strong favourite, however, the ever-present and indestructible Andrea Huser will toe the line after recently placing 2nd at UTMB. This is going to be an epic battle! Also keep an eye on the USA’s Kristina Pattison and local lady, Rachel Campbell.

Skyrunning UK was created four years ago with the dream of bringing the best-of-the-best to UK soil, this weekend, that dream becomes a reality. I for one cannot wait!

RUN the RUT 2017 Race Preview

3-days, 3 races and 3 incredible experiences, Big Sky Montana hosts the Run the Rut weekend of racing. If ever a race weekend existed that should combine with a holiday experience, this is it, Big sky is located between the idyllic town of Bozeman and the iconic Yellowstone Park.

The isolated Lone Peak mountain provides a stunning backdrop for the Run the Rut races of VK, Sky and Ultra with all races climbing to its summit via technical ridge and difficult climb.

Utilizing what would be ski runs in winter, it’s easy to understand why the Rut has gained a reputation for providing a tough and technical test even for the most experienced runner.

The VK is the next race in the new VK World Circuit and this race takes place on Friday September 1st. The Sky Classic and Ultra continue the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series taking place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd respectively.

The Rut races have become flagship races in the USA. And are the only US based races in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series. This is primarily due to the technical nature of the trails. You see, access to open land and mountains is not the same as in Europe. Strict land management is in place and ‘off-trail’ races just don’t exist. The Rut have managed to work around this by using the Big Sky resort which does not have to comply with land permission issues.

Vertical K

The VK kicks off the action from the Big Sky Resort up to the summit of Lone Peak at an altitude just short of 3000m gaining 3,632 feet in just over three miles.

SkyRace

The SkyRace is the most pleasing race of the Rut weekend as the proportion of vertical gain and technical running all blend together in the most logical and pleasing course.

The men’s race has all the makings of a classic with some serious competition coming from Aritz Egea who is looking for 2017 SWS victory – he raced last weekend in Switzerland and will be tried.

But Jan Margarit is a man on form with victories at the Dolomites SkyRace and Comapedrosa, for me, he is the odds on favourite for victory! Remi Bonnet has won in the USA in past years and is the likely contender to give Margarit a tough run. However, Pascal Egli is having great year and he will no doubt be one to watch.

Eugeni Gil Ocana is on fire in 2017 and if he is not too tired after placing 2nd at Matterhorn Ultraks, he is a likely podium placed finisher. Expect strong competition to come from Julien Martinez, Oscar and Marc Casal Mir, Sintu Vives, Marc De Leon, Eduard Hernandez, Pere Rullan and Dai Matsumoto.

Laura Orgue is the hot favourite in the ladies’ race having raced well multiple times in 2017 – victory at Dolomites SkyRace and 2nd place in Comapedrossa. Hillary Gerardi has been a revelation in 2017 with a string of strong and consistent performances. Addie Bracy, Glykeria Tziatzia and Jennifer Asp (still not sure if she will run the Sky or Ultra) are also podium contenders.

SkyUltra 50km

The long course gains over 3000m of elevation and as with all the other races visits the summit of Lone Peak.

The men’s race is an interesting one with Luis Alberto Hernando missing UTMB to run here in the USA and gain valuable points for the SWS. Competition for the Spaniard will no doubt come from Italian Franco Colle who has excelled on this course in the past editions.

BREAKING NEWS (31st August)

I have also had conformation that Timothy Olson and Seth Swanson will also toe the line here at the RUT making the fight for the 50km very competitive. Olson is back to his old days with some great form as of late, he placed 10th at Transgrancanaria, 4th at Power of Four and he won Penyagolosa in Spain.

Equally, Swanson is back on a roll with 4th at San Fran 50 in December 2016, 6th at Hong Kong Ultra 100km early 2017 and 2nd at Lavaredo recently.

Matt Shyrock returns after success in the 2015 racenand a recent run at Tromso SkyRace. Pere Aurell Bove is having a great year but just last weekend raced in Switzerland at Matterhorn Ultraks – he will be tired! Australia’s Caine Warburton will be a contender for the podium as will Johan Lanz from Sweden, Russia’s Dmirtry Mityaev, Czech Republic’s Robert Krupicka and the Portugal’s Andre Rodriguez. Peru’s Remigio Huaman always runs strong and he along with Kiril Nikolov from Bulgaria round off the main protagonists for the podium.

The ladies’ race is headed up by Ragna Debats who won last weekend’s Matterhorn Ultraks. Ragna is on a roll at the moment and in great form but two 50km races in 7 days and a long-haul flight will no doubt take its toll.

 

Strong competition will come from Michelle Maier, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Kristina Pattison and Jennifer Asp.

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Race summaries and images will be posted on this website after each race.

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Dolomites SkyRace Race Summary and Images – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The Migu Run Skyrunner World Series 2017 continued a pace with the 20th edition of the Dolomites SkyRace. It was always going to be a memorable one and the race didn’t disappoint!

Thunderstorms, rain and low cloud resulted in a delayed start by 30-minutes. It was hoped that this delay would allow the weather to clear. The rain did stop but the cloud came lower. Unfortunately, the final section of climb to the summit of Piz Boe at 3252m was pulled from the race for safety reasons. This resulted in less kilometers and less vertical gain and ascent.

Course records of course don’t count in situations like this, the previous bests held by Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel. Neither of these stars were running today, however, defending champions Tadei Pivk and Laura Orgue, respective 2016 winners were expected to dictate the race.

Laura Orgue did not disappoint, her 4th from the previous day’s VK soon forgotten, the Spaniard dictated the pace and looked strong throughout. At the new summit of the race her margin of lead was in the minutes and all she needed was a sold descent to Canazei to seal victory once again – she did it! Laura’s time 2:36:29 almost 90-seconds quicker than rising Skyrunning star, Hillary Geraldi from the USA who produced a stunning descent to go past early 2nd placed runner Hilde Alders who held on for 3rd, their times 2:37:55 and 2:39:55.

Silvia Rampazzo placed 4th, Zuzana Krchova 5th, Magdalena Kozielska 6th, Oihana Azkorbebetia 7th, Stephanie Jimenez 8th, Katrine Villumsen 9th and Paola Gelpi rounded out the top-10.

In the men’s race, VK and Sky specialist Remi Bonnet dictated the pace on the climb and has a substantial gab over David Magnani, Martin Anthamatten, Ruy UedaMarco De Gasperi, Jan Margarit and who’s who of Skyrunning talent. Pre-race favourite, Tadei Pivk, was in the latter half of the top-10 and not looking good!

 

At the high-point of the course the wild and rough descent to the line follows. It’s not for the feint hearted and Remi Bonnet was forced to reduce his pace protecting an injury that almost kept him out of the sport in 2016. This opened the doorway for David Magnani and Marco De Gasperi.

However, it was Jan Margarit who seized the bull by the horns and in his own words, “I ran the fastest descent that I could!” Fast it was, he moved from 5th to take the lead. The pressure was now on with a neck-for-neck race to the line, it was so close but Margarit held on by just 22-seconds to beat Magnani to the line, De Gasperi followed in 3rd just 23-seconds later. It was the close! A real race and just 45-seconds separated the top-3 runners – 2:06:20, 2:06:42 and 2:07:05. All credit to Skyrunning legend De Gasperi who is twice the age of the duo ahead of him.

Remi Bonnet held on for 4th, Martin Anthamatten 5th, Pascal Egli 6th, Martin Stofner 7th, Tadei Pivk 8th, Yuy Ueda 9th and Nadir Maguet rounded out the top-10.

It was a day like no other, fast racing, unpredictable weather and the confirmation of Skyrunning legends and the rise of new ones – just how a 20th edition of a race should be.

Attention now turns to this coming weekend and the Comapedrosa SkyRace in Andorra, in addition to a 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series race, the Skyrunning Youth Championships will also take place.

 

SKYRUNNING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016 PREVIEW

 

LOGO_SKYRUNNING_WORLD_CHAMPS-768x778Every two years the Skyrunning world assembles at an iconic venue and racing commences in VK, SKY and ULTRA distances to announce a male and female champion in the respective distances. Two years ago, the endurance capital of the world Chamonix, hosted the championships and this year it is Spain.

The Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees will provide a modern day coliseum where Skyrunning gladiators will battle at the BUFF® Epic Trail Aigüestortes events. A spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It may come as no surprise that runners from all over the world will arrive in Spain and over the three races, the lineup of talent is second to none. The line-up has five previous world champions returning:

Luis Alberto Hernando

Luis Alberto Hernando

Luis Alberto Hernando, Laura Orgue, Oihana Kortazar, Augusti Roc and Elisa Desco.

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In 2014, Australia were a dominant force and surprised many with break through performances, once again they return with a super strong field. The Czech Republic, Japan and Portugal are also sending talented squads, for many, it may well be a first racing in Europe or the high mountains of the Pyrenees. In total, 35 different countries will be represented.

Events start on Friday July 22nd with the VK, on Saturday 23rd it is the ULTRA and closing events on Sunday 24th is the SKY distance.

Importantly, WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the Championships managed by FEDME, the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation and ISF member for Spain which will sanction the events and oversee them with their referees. The organisation will be in the capable hands OCI Sport, with whom the ISF has collaborated on a number of high-profile events including the 2012 SkyGames® in Andorra and Spain.

Needless to say, the number of athletes taking part is extensive and at this stage, we may well have some late additions. Below are many of the key runners who I anticipate to do well:

VK – For the short and steep specialists, the BUFF® EPIC TRAIL VK is 2.8 km long with 1,030m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point. It is capped at 250.

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Ferran Teixido from Andorra is currently ranked highly on the SWS2016 and we can expect strong competition from Saul Antonio Padua, Andrej Fejfar, Augusti Roc, Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec and Pascal Egli.

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-5299

Laura Orgue just did the ‘double’ in the Dolomites winning both VK and SKY and will be hot favourite on home soil. However, Christel Dewalle will have other ideas and the race may well be a head-to-head between the two. Vanessa Ortega, Yngvild Kaspersen, Therese Sjursen and Ekaterina Mityaeva.

SKY – The rugged BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 42KM is a point to point with 3,200m positive vertical climb. Again, a highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit capped at 500.

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-0551

Is going to be fast and furious and the lineup is stunning with Tom Owens, Blake Hose, Manuel Merillas, Pascal Egli and Marcin Swierc pushing for the top slot. But strong competition will also come from Marc and Oscar Casal Mir, Pablo Villa, Jessed Hernandez, Alexis Sevennec, Dai Matsumoto and Artem Rostovstev.

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Elisa Desco, Yngvild Kaspersen, Azara Garcia and Maite Maiora form a stunning quad of talent but Oihana Kortazar, Ida Nilsson, Marta Molist, Ragna Debats and Katrine Villumsen will make sure that the run for the line is not an easy one. Dark horse is the UK’s Jasmin Paris – watch out.

ULTRA – The BUFF® EPIC TRAIL 105KM, with a grueling 8,000m elevation gain and a maximum gradient of 56%, is as tough as they come. Strict qualification standards will be enforced for participants, which are capped at 250.

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The ultra is the big one and I have to say the talent is what one would expect when a world title is at stake. Luis Alberto Hernando may well be the one to beat on home soil but Andy Symonds after recent success in Lavaredo will push him. As will Franco Colle, Majell Backhausen, Zaid Ait Malek, Cristofer Clemente and Ben Duffs. Miguel Heras is also toeing the line and if in form, watch out! Fulvio Dapit, Leonardo Diogo, Nuno Silva, Jan Bartas and Pau Bartolo are also strong contenders.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-3338

The ladies race is equally editing with Caroline Chaverot being the lady to beat. She has been on fire this year! Ruth Croft made the podium at Transvulcania but arguably local lady, Nuria Picas is the one to upset the apple cart. A strong fight will come from Fernanda Maciel, Anna Strakova, Gemma Arenas, Hillary Allen, Ester Alves, Kristina Pattison, Soto Ogawa and let’s not forget Mira Rai who is returning from injury.

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World titles and medals will be awarded, crowning the champions of the Ultra, Sky and Vertical disciplines together with combined titles and country ranking. A total of twenty-seven medals and a €20,000 prize purse await the champions of these prestigious competitions.

Alpina Watches, 2016 Skyrunning World Championships Official Timekeeper, will award six prestigious Alpina Horological Smartwatches to the male and female champions of each category, Vertical, Sky and Ultra.

The Vall de Boí will also host the 2016 ISF General Assembly on July 22, which will be attended by members from far and near.

Check out details of the three World Championship courses here.

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