The 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back Race concluded today in Llandeilo – five days of epic mountain racing over. By epic, we mean E P I C!
For those looking for one of the toughest races in the world, Wales and the Dragons Back Race is a perfect starting place. 223 runners toed the line in Conwy, just over 100 finished – yes, 50% of the field didn’t make the journey from the north to the south.
For the first two days the race was very much about 2015 champion Jim Mann dominating the race, for the ladies, Sabrina Varjee also built a very clear lead over her main rivals – Carol Morgan and Caroline McIlroy.
However, on day 3 it was all change for Mann. The 90-minute margin he had built over days 1 and 2 was wiped a way with two navigational errors and a charging Marcus Scotney. On day 4, the heat came and Mann used his 0730 start to press the pace and apply pressure. Scotney had a lead of almost 30-minutes, surely it was too much for Mann to pull back? Well yes, but he came close. The final days race was going to be brutal.
But the ladies race spiced up on day 4 with Verjee suffering in the heat and Carol Morgan having a great day – like the men’s race, it was all to fight for on the last day!
Morning in day 5 camp was one of mixed emotions, the end was in sight but a tough day was ahead and to add to the pressure, forecasts were predicting a scorching 30deg high.
The majority of the field started early at 0600 but all eyes were on the 0800 ‘chase’ starts. Scotney and Verjee would start on the stroke of 0800 and then 2nd placed runners, Mann and Morgan would depart as per their time deficits to the leader. The same applied for 3rd placed lady, McIlroy. Quite simply, the first man or woman across the line would be the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back winner.
Scotney had complained the previous night of a sore knee and had contemplated not starting day 5, however, on reflection, he decided it was better to fight and run with a chance of victory in comparison to leaving questions unanswered. He was flying, the terrain suited him and allowed him to stretch his legs. By CP2, Scotney was pulling away from Mann and Verjee and Morgan were equally matched with McIlroy losing time.
More good running to CP3 and then the climb to CP4 and the run along the high ground with the impressive Llyn Y Fan Fact to the right saw Scotney extend his lead. When Mann arrived at CP5 he was over 30-minutes back and barring Scotney having any problems, the race was his for the taking. Mann no doubt paying a price for a tough first 3-days and a hard chasing 4th day.
Scotney crossed the line in 6:12:09 1st and Mann came in much later (7:43:40) having eased off the gas knowing that his place for 2nd was secure. Neil Talbott who had started later than the 1st and 2nd placed runners had a long day chasing all in front of him, his 3rd place secure in 7:31:04 placing 2nd on the stage.
In the ladies’ race, Verjee although in the lead to CP5 was struggling with the heat, the fatigue of 4-days of tough racing and being chased by Morgan and McIlroy. She looked agitated, stressed and not her normal self. By contrast, Morgan at CP5 was relaxed and when asked how she felt, “I feel great – fantastic!”
The possible threat of a blazing run from McIlroy didn’t happen and the race was now between Verjee and Morgan.
Morgan hunted Verjee down and by CP6 had caught and passed her. It was all about putting her head down and pushing on. Victory was hers in 7:57:16 and with it, the title of Ladies 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back champion.
Verjee and McIlroy made it to the line, 2nd and 3rd places in 8:52:04 and 9:30:54 respectively. Like Mann, Verjee’s final thoughts maybe ones of disappointment with questions of what might have been…
It’s been a tough race for all concerned but when you race over 5-days with the highs and lows that this type of race can throw at you, it’s about how the runner manages all aspects of the race and not just one day. The 2017 edition will go down in history as one of the most compelling, particularly in the final 2-days.
Attention will now turn to 2019 and the next edition of the race but as Ourea Events rightly say, don’t forget it’s the Cape Wrath Ultra in 2018 for those who need their fix!
Mann on fire… reeling after navigational errors, giving away a ridiculous amount of time and losing his first place, today Jim Mann left camp at 0730 with just one purpose, ‘make them chase and make them chase hard!’
Mann set off at a ridiculous pace and despite a day of sun and high temperatures (25-degrees) he pushed and pushed breaking splits for his 2015 winning time. On the rolling terrain he rarely walked, constantly switching from running to fast, hands-on-knees hiking. He crossed the line for the 71km’s in 7:03:26. The question was, what would Marcus Scotney do?
The rolling terrain suited Scotney today allowing him to use his running prowess to stretch his legs and hopefully protect his lead on Mann in second. At all times he looked relaxed and focused. However, after the midway point, it was becoming clear that Mann, really was on fire. Scotney pushed to the line and crossed in 7:21:26.
Mann had almost done the impossible in clawing back his first place… wow!
Scotney’s 31:46:28 to Mann’s 31:54:34 now means that the last day of the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back Race is going to be epic!
Or should I say, IT WAS going to be epic.
Post race, it transpired that Mann once again made a navigation error – he missed a ‘mandatory’ route.
The ‘officials’ have checked the route Mann took and have compared times and splits in comparison to race leader Scotney. It transpires that this section and route was actually slower than the mandatory route and that no advantage was gained. However, the officials have issued Mann with a ‘strike’ – he now has two! Should he get a strike on the last day he will be disqualified from the race. The whole situation was discussed with Scotney and no time penalty will be given.
Scotney however has gained a knee injury in stage 4 and it now looks unlikely he will be able to race the fifth day of the race, he has said he would like a ‘Dragon’ and should he start the last day it will be to complete!
Drama in Wales!
For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee had a tough day battling heat and dehydration and crossed the line in 9:51:25. Whereas Carol Morgan had a game changing day crossing the line in 9:14:18 – this eradicated much of the time gap Verjee had built up over the first three days, moved her up into 2nd place and leaves her just minutes from a potential 2017 victory.
Adding to the ladies mix is Caroline McIlroy who crossed the line in 9:24:09. She has spent much of the week in second place and now she is in third after Morgan’s impressive run. With just fifteen minutes between the top three ladies, the last day is going to be a tough one!
Verjee will start at 0800 on the last day and then Morgan and McIlroy will start with the time differences to first – the first lady of these three on the day 5 finish line will be the 2017 champion!
On a final note, 133 people started day 4 of the race – a 50% drop out rate.
A day of drama in Wales as 2015 champion and 2017 race leader Jim Mann, makes a navigational error and not only loses his strong and convincing lead, but also gives away an additional 30-minutes… needless to say, on the finish line he was less than pleased with his navigational prowess.
The day started at 0600 as much of the field started early to maximise the time available to be back in camp before the 2300 cut-off. Forecast was for clear skies and sun and a tough day.
The first control at Pau Craig had a 2-hour guide and many were finding the early climb to just under 700m a challenge. For the lead ladies, Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan arrived together – Caroline McIlroy having started earlier. The men arrived in dribs and drabs – Marcus Scotney getting an early start and then the other main contenders arriving closer together, Neil Talbot first, then Jez Bragg and then finally Jim Mann who appeared to be flying on the tough/ steep terrain.
Myndd Moel followed at 683m and a series of false peaks before dropping down to the first road crossing at Llanllwyda.
The ladies were running strong holding their respective places with Verjee and Morgan running together. Morgan no doubt looking to open up a gap on McIlroy – the duo were only 30+ seconds apart on general classification.
At Cadair Idris, Mann made his error – he navigated south off the course. Unfortunately he ran for many km’s before navigating back north only to go off course again and lose more time and distance.
Scotney, who loves to run, started to extend his lead and claw back the 90-minutes of Mann’s lead.
It was the end of the day when the damage was really starting to come clear. Scotney arrived at Pumlumon Fawr (the last control) looking strong, relaxed and focussed. He said, ‘I feel good!’ )n hearing the news that Mann had gone off course, he no doubt found some new gusto for the final downhill run to the line on good fast terrain. He crossed the line in 7:54:33.
When Mann finally arrived, he was a long way back and pushing hard. Of course it can be a little confusing as the duo did not start at the same time. Crossing the line in 9:30:43 – the true extent of the damage was finally confirmed, Scotney had taken the overall lead by approx 26-minutes, 24:25:02 to Mann’s 24:51:08 elapsed time.
Neil Talbott, Jez Bragg and Ken Sutor once again had strong and consistent days finishing 9:31:55, 9:36:35 and 9:34:30 respectively.
Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan pretty much shadowed each other for most of the day. In the latter stages Verjee looked hot and bothered with her effort in the strong hot sun – she crossed the line in 11:01:05 and retained the overall lead in 30:46 :13 elapsed.
Morgan finished in 11:07:46 with an elapsed time of 31:30:13 but the ladies story was all about McIlroy who finished in 11:06:52 and therefore consolidating her lead for 2nd with an elapsed time of 31:28:44.
A calm morning and thick clag shrouded the runners as they departed Nantgwynant between 0600 and 0900 this morning – slower runners starting early and fast runners starting later.
At Cnicht (the first summit of the day) the weather started to clear around 1000 and then blue skies and glorious sunshine stayed with the runners throughout the day – on higher ground whips of cloud came in but it was a glorious day in Wales.
Descending and climbing from Cnicht, Moelyn Mawr was the next control and Jim Mann was slowly but surely reeling all the competitors in, having started last – the fox, he was chasing the rabbits.
Crossing the A496 road, Sabrina Verjee and Mann were taking a grip of the race, following on their day 1 performances with a confirmation they are in great shape.
Marcus Scotney, Neil Talbot and Jez Bragg were putting up a battle but Mann was just on fire. At the final summit, Diffwys, Mann descended like it was the beginning of the day, he ran fast and smooth and at the finish line he set the fastest time of the day – elapsed 15:20:25. However, Scotney who had started earlier was the first to cross the line, his elapsed time16:30:29. Neil Talbot 16:46:40 is holding off Jez Bragg in 4th.
For the ladies, Carol Morgan and Caroline McIlroy put up a battle to Verjee and this resulted in McIlroy gaining time on Morgan, 20:21:52 to 20:22:27. The battle for 2nd lady is now very close with just 35-seconds between them – Verjee by contrast extended her lead, her elapsed time 19:45:08.
Jim Mann, the 2015 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ Champion, today set out his stall with a strong and dominant performance that left all the other runners following in his wake as he dominated the tough, challenging and yes, intimidating day 1 of this race.
For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee also produced a strong performance despite pre-race concerns that a recurring calf injury may surface and scupper her plans.
The day started at 0700 at the impressive Conwy Castle to music and a male voice choir. The early climb to Conwy mountain saw everyone close together but a pattern was starting to form with Jim Mann, Marcus Scotney, Jez Bragg, Neil Talbot and Nickademus Hollon. Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan similarly set the pace for the ladies.
Carnedd Gwenllian, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd followed and the field started to spread out as Mann upped the pace – ahead of his 2015 times!
The climb of Tryfan was a significant marker in the race and Mann and Varjee arrived first in the male and female categories. Scotney followed Mann but was not looking his comfortable self.
Climbing up and over Tryfan and then Glyder Fach the descent to Pen-Y-Pass was the next key marker. After crossing the road the long, steady and at times technical climb took runners to the exposed ridge of Crib Goch. Here man took a slight lower line in the final sections and mixed a control at the start of the ridge… there was some confusion as a map instruction did cause for a question mark. Most certainly it was a mistake by Mann but not intentional. It was decided post race by the judges he would receive a 15-minute time penalty.
On the ridge Mann extended his lead ahead of Neil Talbot who had now moved into 2nd and Marcus Scotney. The summit of Snowdon followed and then the run in to the finish at Nantgwynant. Mann was 1st in 7:27 (this includes the 15-min penalty), Talbot was 2nd 7:54 and Scotney 3rd in 8:14.
For the ladies, Verjee continued to the lead the ladies and although she moved a little slower over the exposed ridge of Crib Goch, she extended her lead on the final run in crossing the line in 9:27. Morgan took a lower line on Grib Goch to avoid the strong winds and in the process held off Caroline McIlroy – their times 9:46 and 10:07 respectively.
Travelling from the North of Wales to the South via the ‘Dragons Back’ – the 2017 edition of the Berghaus Dragons Back Race looks set to have all the makings of a classic. A gigantic 315km route awaits the runners as they make the journey over multiple days.
Day 1 in its own right is a tough day in the mountains as the best of Wales provides a stunning backdrop and stage setter for the race. In past editions, the opening day has proved too much for many… will 2017 be the same? It’s expected that 30% of those who start will not begin day 2 – a frightening statistic!
Jim Mann, winner of the 2015 edition of the race has decided to return and defend his crown. After a tough 2016, Jim has recently returned to form after in ‘Winter Round’ record breaking run. Mann completed the Charlie Ramsay Round, the Paddy Buckley Round and the Bob Graham Round all within 1-month and set a new benchmark for the triple.
British ultra-running pioneer Jez Bragg toed the line in 2015 but was forced to withdraw through illness, no doubt he will look to put the record straight in 2017. However, Cape Wrath 2016 champion Marcus Scotney will want to make sure he continues a winning streak of Ourea Events multi-day success with a strong performance.
Nickademus Hollon from the USA is well known in the ultra-world but may well fly under the radar of the UK based runners. Hollon was the youngest runner to complete the infamous Barkley and has placed 2nd at the Tor des Geants. He loves a challenge and although the UK mountains may well be new to him, we can anticipate a strong performance.
Alistair Hubbard and Neil Talbot may very well be the other prime contenders to take top honors on this journey through Wales. Hubbard has won the expert category on the Great Lakeland 3-Day – a great build up race to the Welsh multi-day adventure.
With the absence of Jasmin Paris, the ladies’ race is open but many are tipping Carol Morgan as a potential favorite. Her recent victory at The Spine is a standout result and it confirms that she can keep pushing even when tiredness and sleep deprivation are prevalent.
Sabrina Verjee is a regular Ourea Event competitor and participated in the 2015 Dragons Back Race where she placed 14th overall. It’s fair to say that Verjee has improved since then and she recently won the Great Lakeland 3-Day.
Italian Emanuela Marzotto came to running late in life and has made up for lost time with a sting of back-to-back performances in the world’s biggest ultras and multi-day races. Her experience in the Marathon des Sables was no doubt instrumental in her success in winning the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. Without doubt, she will have her hands full racing against Morgan and Varjee in Wales.
A final nod goes to Canada’s Emily Compton who is a complete unknown on UK soil but she has accumulated a string of top-10 results dating back to 2012. Notable markers being 3rd at Vulcano Ultra Trail in 2013 and 5th at Yakima Skyline Rim 50k in 2016.
Action begins on May 20th when runners will arrive in Wales ahead of the May 21st start.
You can follow the daily action via this website in words and images and on Twitter – @talkultra and on Instagram – @iancorlessphotography
Episode 130 of Talk Ultra brings you some audio from The Coastal Challenge with Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb, Anna Comet and an in-depth chat with Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann. We also talk with UK based fell and mountain runner, Jim Mann.
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Courtney Dewaulter ran 250km (155.3 miles) to set a new American record beating Sabrina Littles best by more than 3-miles. Dewaulter will join Katlin Nagy, Traci Falbo, Jenny Hoffman and Pam Smith in Ireland for the IAU 24-Hour Championships. – That is a seriously strong ladies team!
What a stunning race that turned out to be a Pau Calpell and Azara Garcia show. The two respectively lead from the front to take great victories. Pau (13:21) smashing the old course record set by Didrik Hermansen who placed 3rd in this years edition. Second place went to Lithuanian, Vlaidas Zlabys (13:35) who is going to be one-to-watch this year! Although Azara won the ladies’ race (16:25), she was 1-hour slower that Caroline Chaverots 2016 time. Chaverot dropped at 30km not feeling good! Andrea Huser placed 2nd (17:150 and Melanie Rousset 3rd (17:30).
The Coastal Challenge
Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third. We caught up with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb for a post TCC chat.
00:25:10 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb
At TCC Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann were a constant inspiration to all competitors. Niandi caught up with them and ‘Coastal’ the dog, back in our hotel in San Jose.
01:30:14 INTERVIEW with CHERIE SORIA and DAN LADERMANN
Iditarod Trail Invitational
David Johnston once again won the 350-mile journey from Knik Lake to McGrath. Conditions this year were very tough with many drops. This is Johnston’s 5th victory – he finished in 5-days, 21-hours, 43-minutes. Second was Kyle Durand… 2-days later! I am not sure if any woman finishes, results don’t show this HERE
Red Mountain 55k
Once again saw ‘one-to-watch’ Hayden Hawks take another victory in 4:15. Rachel Cieslewicz won the ladies’ race in 5:38. Results HERE for the men and HERE for the ladies.
Way to Cool 50k
Cody Reed won in 3:16 and Megan Roche in 3:52 results HERE
Not many race results yet, still early in the calendar but if you are missing watching some of the top runners in the world, take a look at ski mountaineering. The cross over between mountain running and skimo is growing and growing – Kilian and Emelie have long been exponents but runners like Rob Krar, Nick Elson, Mike Foote, Jason Schlarb and so on are turning to skis over the winter months. Currently the iconic Pierra Menta is happening – it’s the Hardrock (on a much bigger scale) of skimo. Read here.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Jim Mann is a low-key highly accompolished fell and mountain runner in the UK. However, he like to keep a low-profile. Recently, Jim completed all 3 UK rounds in 1 month… in winter! On the 22nd January Jim set a new winter record for the Charlie Ramsay Round completing it in 22:23. Three weeks later (11th February) Jim completed the Paddy Buckley Round in 21:37. And then theBob Graham Round in 20:26. I had to chat with him!
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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.
Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 Entries Confirmed
The 4th edition of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race takes place this May 22nd-26th 2017. The original race first took place in 1992 before being rekindled in 2012 by Ouea Events – the brainchild of Shane Ohly.
‘The toughest mountain running race in the world’
The 2017 edition of the race, sold out in less than 14-days and now, with just under 3 months to go, Ourea Events have a definitive list of those who will toe the line – 23 nationalities will be represented at the 2017 event.
Ourea Events are also delighted to welcome back the Berghaus Relay team who are offered the unique opportunity to split the 5-day race between 5 of their staff, handing over the baton at each overnight camp.
Berghaus’s commitment to both the upcoming 2017 and 2019 editions of the race allows organisers to further cement the event’s world-class reputation in delivering a superb participant experience, live GPS tracking for a worldwide audience, and in daily releases of film footage and photography.
Congregating at the start line at 7am on May 22nd inside the walls of Conwy Castle, 270 participants will take a first step on one of the ultimate running tests not only in the UK but the world. They will embark south on an incredible journey along the mountainous spine of Wales the Dragons Back!
The 2015 route will remain mostly unchanged,and features one of the most punishing first days of any multi-stage race, tackling all but 3 of the 14 Welsh 3000s. Day 2 once again heads into some of the roughest and most arduous terrain in the UK; the craggy, heather-infested Rhinogs. “Think like a sheep” was advice anecdotally presented to 2015 participants by Race Director Shane Ohly in order to navigate through the myriad of faint trods. Statistically, if participants make it through both this and the following (longest – 68.3km) day, they are most likely to finish the full race.
A 60-strong event team, a large proportion of which are volunteers, who take responsibility for campsite builds, checkpoint placing, mountain safety, media coverage, catering, and much more make this event possible, without them, there would be no event!
National Trust Wales, the National Parks, and landowners are equally valuable to the smooth progress of the race.
A full preview of the race and who we can expect to feature in the overall rankings will follow, however, as a teaser, here is a few names to whet the appetite.
Jez Bragg will return after running in the 2015 event and Marcus Scotney, winner of the Cape Wrath Ultra will also toe the line. Carol Morgan will without doubt be a name to watch in the ladies’ race as will Sabrina Verjee – this is just the tip of the iceberg. A full preview to follow.
Winners of the 2015 event were Jim Mann and Jasmin Paris.
Jasmin Paris – The Berghaus Dragons Back Race
Jim Mann – The Berghaus Dragons Back Race
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Skyrunning reaches new heights in the UK this September with the Skyline Scotland series of events – VK, SKY and EXTREME. In just three years, Skyrunning in the UK has progressed from zero races to a well-established portfolio of races that bring the ethos and principles of pure Skyrunning onto UK soil.
In 2015, the Glen Coe Skyline provided a race that was considered by the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) as a pinnacle event and plans were hatched. In 2016 we saw the launch of the Skyrunner® Extreme Series – three races, three ultimate challenges and Glen Coe Skyline was included alongside Kilian Jornet’s and Emelie Forsberg’s Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Trofeo Kima.
In addition to this, Shane Ohly (Ourea Events) in conjunction with Skyrunning UK was well aware of the growth potential and possibilities that Glen Coe area has to offer, therefore, new for 2016 will be the UK’s first ever VK – Salomon Mamores VK. Yes, folks, 1000m of vertical gain in one push. In addition to this a new SKY distance race has been added, the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace.
The VK and SkyRace will have eligible points for the Skyrunning UK Series but not the Skyrunner® Extreme Series, that honour is given to the pinnacle event, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline.
Tromso and Kima are done and dusted and boy oh boy there has been some seriously exciting racing. At Tromso, it was a Brit 1,2,3 with Tom Owens, Jon Albon and Finlay Wild taking top honours. In the ladies’ race it was Jasmin Paris who topped the podium.
At Kima it was all change with Nepalese runner, Bhim Gurung taking top honours and Owens and Albon missing the top podium places. Finlay Wild was missing saving his energy for Scotland and Jasmin Paris ran UTMB and placed an incredible 6th. Emelie Forsberg made her return to high level racing after month and months of rehabilitation after ACL surgery. She won! It was a dream comeback for the Salomon runner and hopes were raised that the 2015 Glen Coe Skyline winner would return… Unfortunately, no. Emelie is taking her rehabilitation seriously and has now gone to India for 1-month to work on her yoga skills ahead of the 2016/17 ski mountaineering calendar.
So, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline is all to fight for from a male and female perspective with valuable Skyrunner World Series points up for grabs.
The men’s race is going to be a nail biter. Tom Owens racing on home soil must be the favourite, particularly after victory in Tromso. He placed just off the podium in Kima and so therefore overall position and the 20% bonus points that come with the final race will be crucial. Tom had a purple patch of running recently with back-to-back incredible results, maybe he was a little tired at Kima but I think he will be rested and fired up for the Scottish race.
Although not confirmed, Skyrunning and Trail Running Nepal are doing their best to obtain a visa to allow Bhim Gurung to race in Scotland. With a victory at Kima, his chances of sealing the SkyExtreme title are very high. His race in Kima against Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi was phenomenal. Also take into consideration he broke the course record set by Kilian Jornet. If Bhim makes it to Glen Coe it is going to be very exciting to watch.
Jonathan Albon was the 2015 champion at Tromso and placed 2nd this year. He ran Kima very much as a learning curve knowing full well that Glen Coe is a race that he can excel at. It’s all to fight for and the points combinations between Bhim, Tom and Finlay make the SkyExtreme champion an unknown…
This is Finlay Wild’s home ground and after placing 3rd at Tromso, home advantage here at Glen Coe is going to provide a great boost for the man who excels in the mountains.
Alexis Sevennec ran in the lead for much of Trofeo Kima only to relinquish a podium place in the latter stages of the race. However, he has points for the Extreme Series and with such a quality field here in Scotland, it’s all to fight for.
Marc Lauenstein and along with Stian should not be ruled out for overall victory at Glen Coe. This guy is on fire and with a victory at the iconic Zegama-Aizkorri and a recent victory at Matterhorn Ultraks, Marc is one to watch. This is Marc’s first Extreme race and he can therefore not qualify for the series.
What follows is a list of athletes that without doubt makes the Glen Coe Skyline THE most exciting and stacked field ever assembled on UK soil. Skyrunning UK had a plan 3-years ago to bring the world’s best to the UK. In 2016 we have achieved that. This line-up is world class. What is important to remember is that in many respects two races are taking place in Glen Coe – the race for the podium and the race for points so that one male and one female can be crowned Sky Extreme Champion 2016.
In alphabetical order:
Jan Bartas – Jan is a regular runner on the Skyrunning circuit and has recently raced at the Skyrunning World Champs where he placed 27th on the men’s race and most recently he raced Trofeo Kima.
Donald Campbell – racing on home soil. He had a below par performance at Kima but will look to put the record straight here.
Kim Collison had a great race at the Skyrunning World Championships and with a strong background in fell, mountain and and adventure racing he is without doubt another UK talent who will be a contender in the upper ranks.
Pascal Egli – A Skyrunner who will no doubt mix things up at the front of the race who will be looking for victory or podium place. – Injured
Mike Foote – The TNF athlete needs no introduction as he has been around the ultra-scene for years. He is best known for strong and consistent performances at UTMB and notably, he is the race director (along with Mike Wolfe) at the RUT VK, SKY and ULTRA – cancelled
Andrew Fallas raced at Tromso with a strong and consistent performance and will without doubt be one to watch. He recently had a below par performance at Matterhorn Ultraks.
Martin Gaffuri – Team Manager for the Scott Team is no slouch when it comes to racing and running in the mountains. Last year, Martin had a great run and placing at the super technical ELS2900 in Andorra, so, we can expect a sold run.
Eirik Haugsness – Won the inaugural Tromso SkyRace and followed with a strong performance in 2015. In 2016 he had a strong run in Tromso but below par for him. He missed Kima saving his strength for Scotland.
Gareth Hughes – Is a UK based runner who has performed consistently on the Skyrunning UK Series where he is one of the top performers, he will no doubt relish the opportunity to test himself against such a world-class field.
Rolf Einar Jensen – Was 3rd at Tromso SkyRace in 2015 and just off the podium in 2016. He is a strong runner who knows how to handle the tough, technical and challenging terrain that Scotland will offer. Tromso’s terrain and weather is very similar to Scotland – he’s one to watch!
Oli Johnson – Another UK based fell runner who excels on muddy, technical and boggy terrain. He’s had good results in the Skyrunner World Series in previous years and has also contested the Skyrunning UK Series with a strong performance at the V3K. – withdrawn
Andre Jonsson – Has been a revelation in 2016 with a string of strong results in the Skyrunner World Series. He raced Trofeo Kima just a couple of weeks ago and he’d be the first to admit that it was a learning curve… One that he loved. He will be in the mix in Scotland.
Ricky Lighftoot – Could very well win Glen Coe. He has all the skill sets to excel on this terrain as he has proven countless times in past years. Ricky though can’t contest the SkyExtreme title as this will be his first race. – withdrawn
Jim Mann – The Dragons Back 2015 champion raced at Tromso and Kima and under normal conditions he’d be a contender for the top places. However, life seems to be getting in the way for Jim and he’s using 2016 for experience.
Luke Nelson – Raced Tromso and just recently raced the VK and SKY race at the RUT in Montana. Luke loves the mountains and technical terrain and we can expect a strong performance.
Pavel Paloncy – Is a winner of The Spine race and comes from an adventure racing background. For sure he will be in the mix in Scotland but on this terrain over this distance, I think he will lack the speed to contend for the podium.
Konrad Rawlik – Ever consistent in the mountains and fells. We won’t see him on the podium but he will hover around the top-10.
Philipp Reiter – Tromso and Kima are ticked off for Philipp and if he was ‘just’ able to run and train he would have been a contender for the overall series. However, like for many of us, life and work has got in the way. However, don’t rule him out. This guy has natural talent and he will certainly be in the top-10 mix.
Christophe Le Saux – Has raised the series and as many of you may well know, this guy races a great deal! He’s a huge character, very friendly and although he won’t be in contention for the series podium, you can expect to see him around the top 10 to 20.
Joe Symonds – Last year’s Glen Coe Skyline winner has not raced at Tromso or Kima so will only be looking for Glen Coe glory. However, he will have his hands full as I am sure he is aware. He has the advantage of racing and winning last year, he also has home advantage.
Es Tressider in Glen Coe
Esmond Tressider – Es almost certainly could have contested the overall series had been available to race at Tromso or Kima. As it stands, he will only race Glen Coe but he is one to watch. Last year he was living and training in the flat lands despite a love of the mountains. That has changed recently and he has been able to train on more specific terrain.
Greg Vollet – Team Manager for Salomon often beats the athletes he manages… He comes from a professional mountain biking background and is known for his fast descending. Just last weekend he placed 2nd at The Rut 50k. Greg won’t be contesting the series but he will be in the mix at the front end of this race!
Notable mentions for Jayson Cavill and Ally Beavan who are racing on home soil who are solid performers in the Skyrunning UK series.
Do I need to say that the men’s race is going to be an incredible and exciting battle?
The ladies’ race has less depth. It’s often the case in all Skyrunning racing but in the SkyExtreme Series this is even more so due to the challenging nature of the courses.
Jasmin Paris is without doubt the favourite for the race victory and overall series title after her victory at Tromso. This is also helped by the fact that Emelie Forsberg (who won Kima) will not race. I have to say, I would have loved to see these two run against each other again on this course. In 2015, Emelie beat Jasmin. Jasmin’s biggest question mark will be her recovery from 6th place at UTMB? It was a few weeks ago but the deep fatigue from such a big race lies within and you only find out how tired you are when you try to race again…
Marlene Bikken Haukoy – Had a solid race once again at Tromso with a repeat podium place, she was also on the podium in 2015. Marlene is a rock solid racer with a string of top placed runs. Like I have said before, Norway is very similar to Scotland and we can expect her to on the podium.
Ruth Croft placed 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Trofeo Kima and has now decided to run in Scotland in the hope to gain valuable ranking points and with a 20% bonus there is everything to fight for. The battle for the series title between Ruth, Jasmin and Malena is an exciting one!
Sarah Ridgeway – Is currently 2nd in the Skyrunning UK Series and ultimately will be looking for a maximum of points to secure her 2016 title. However, she is extremely competitive and has experience of competing on a world-stage. Sarah won’t be phased by the competition in Scotland, on the contrary, she will love it. A podium place for sure but which one?
Beth Pascall is a force on the UK scene with some incredible performances at The Spine Race, Dragons Back and most recently she obliterated the Lakeland 100 female course record. Beth will relish the opportunity to mix things up with the other ladies and she may well pull of a surprise victory!
Naila Jornet Burgada – Kilian Jornet couldn’t make Glen Coe, apparently there is some big peak he is trying to set an FKT on in the Himalayas… Not to worry, Kilian’s sister, Naila will join us. Not a pure runner, Naila is very much a skier, ski mountaineer and rock climber, however, all these skills will come together on the Glen Coe course. It’s going to be great to see her take part!
Lizzie Wraith – Is a previous winner of the Lakeland 100, she made the podium at the Dragons Back Race and we can expect her to be in the mix for the top 5 and most likely the podium. Although not a pure Skyrunner, Lizzie has dipped her toe in the UK series and placed well at the Mourne Skyline MTR in Ireland.
Martina Valmassoi from the Salomon International Team has raced on the Skyrunning Circuit for 2-years now. Last she placed 3rd at The Rut and earlier this year she had a strong performance in Madeira. Just last week she raced at The Rut once again but dropped with stomach issues. Martina did race at Tromso with a solid performance so we can expect her to mix things up at the front in Scotland and of course she will be looking for valuable series points.