Tromso SkyRace 2017 on IRUN4ULTRA

Now in its fourth edition, the race has grown as one of the pinnacle races of Skyrunning. It’s not a race any runner can undertake. The course is 57km in length and a whopping 4600m of vertical gain – but this is only a small part of the story. Featuring two peaks, the Tromso SkyRace is by any standards – extreme! The Hamperokken ridge which is a key feature of the race is at the midpoint of the race and features an exposed, technical and at time knife edged arête that will require even the most experienced Skyrunner to use four-points of contact to traverse the ridge and its summit. Followed by snow fields, challenging terrain and a steep climb – this race is the ultimate challenge.

Read the full report and story HERE

You can view images from the race HERE

Tromso SkyRace® 2017 Summary – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 4th edition of the Tromsø SkyRace®, the second race in the new 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series in the Extreme category took place today in Tromso, Norway.

The brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, you just know it’s going to be possibly one of the toughest races out there. What it lacks in high-altitude it makes up for with relentless tough climbs, technical terrain, exposed ridges, snow and downright toughness.

“It was crazy, but it was awesome! Certainly, one of the most difficult races in the world!”

Hundreds of runners departed from the new (2016) start and finish outside The Edge Hotel, Tromso. It must be noted, that this new start and finish adds 8km’s onto the 2014/2015 route.

The route takes in 2 mountain summits: Tromsdalstind (1.238m) and Hamperokken (1.404m) – the route very much looks like a figure eight and Tromsdalstind must be run twice; out and back! Covering approximately 56km with 4600m of elevation gain, this is not an easy race!

The race requires a level of skill, devotion and commitment that not every runner has – it is pure Skyrunning!

Skyrunner® World Series Extreme champion and Tromso winner Jon Albon once again dominated this course with a solid performance that left a world-class field chasing.

“The Hamperokken ridge is difficult. In contrast to last year, we seemed to go over the ridge more, I guess this was due to the dry conditions?” Albon said post-race. “This route was technically more challenging and slower. You need both hands on many occasions. It’s such a great race!”

Yading SkyRace winner and Royal Gran Paradiso champion, Bhim Gurung from Nepal put up a great fight for Albon. The duo much stronger than the rest of the competition. The technical nature of Tromso suits Albon and his obstacle racing background, whereas for Gurung it’s a new challenge. Something he learnt last year when he won the iconic Trofeo Kima in 2016 with a course record.

Albon crossed the line in 7:01:01 and Gurung 7:08:58 – it was that close! We then had to wait 20-minutes before France’s Michel Lanne placed 3rd. He had been at the front of the race all day and he went on to say afterwards, “Wow, what a race. This is why I love Skyrunning! I didn’t have the legs today but I ran this race on my mind. The views, the landscape, the terrain is just so amazing. I am looking forward to a return to Skyrunning – I hope to go to Glen Coe!”

Lavaredo winner Fabien Antolinos placed 4th and Reynaud Gael 5th, their times 7:32:06 and 7:32:46 to Lanne’s 7:27:26.

The ladies race was dictated by pre-race favourite, Maite Maiora who is having an incredible year. She arrived at Hamperokken ridge in 1st. Looking relaxed and composed but without doubt focused on the technical terrain.

Over the final half of the course Maite extended her lead and victory was never in doubt.

Ragna Debats followed looking good and Nuria Picas was in 3rd.On the descent, Picas passed Debats who was having some stomach issues. The first three ladies all close within 10-minutes. Maiora though was too strong and maintained a lead at the front and she went on to take victory in a new course record 8:21:21.

Debats rallied behind and her stomach issues improved allowing her to once again pass Picas. She was pushing Maiora but it wasn’t enough, she finished 2nd in 8:24:43 (also under the old course record) just over 4-minutes behind Maiora – a great battle! Picas rounded out the podium in 8:39:17 with Malene Bikken Haukoy and Maija Oravamaki placing 5th.

One thing is for sure, Kilian and Emelie have created something quite special in Tromso, it has set the stage for the Salomon Glencoe Skyline and the conclusion of the Skyrunner® Extreme Series a race that both Kilian and Emelie will participate in. The ‘Extreme’ series may not be for everyone but Skyrunner’s can dream to achieve the skill level and fitness required to take part in the ultimate mountain running experience.

Tromsø SkyRace® 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend with the Tromsø SkyRace® the second race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series in the Extreme category which also includes the Royal Gran Paradiso and the Salomon Glencoe Skyline in the UK which will take place in September.

A weekend of Skyrunning starts with the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® on Friday and the Tromsø SkyRace® on Saturday – both races are designed by Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg.

Tough, challenging, leg hurting, lung busting, the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® climbs 1000 vertical meters over the short distance of 2.7km. Encompassing the sea-to-sky concept, the race starts on the shores of the sea and concludes at an altitude of 1044m at Store Blåmann.

Saturday’s Tromso SkyRace® is an inspiring course that has plenty of vertical, technical terrain, exposed ridges and demanding descents. It covers 53km and has 4600m of vertical terrain, the race really is a challenge for those taking part.

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The line-up for this year’s race is high quality and will include Skyrunner World Series Extreme 2016 Champion, Jon Albon. Albon was the winner of the race in 2015 ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando. A recent victory and course record at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira shows that Albon is in form.

Bhim Gurung won the Royal Gran Paradiso recently with a stunning descent in the final kilometers. He did the same earlier in the year at the Yading SkyRace in China. For sure, Gurung is a contender for the podium and the win.

Eirik Haugsness has had a quiet year so far and it’s difficult to know his current form? However, he did win the first edition of the race and knows the course well.

Rolf Einar Jensen is also racing on local ground and made the Tromso podium in 2015. He was also in the mix in 2016 and he will make his presence felt this year I am sure. Like Haugsness he has local knowledge and course experience.

Kiril Nikolov raced at Comapedrosa SkyRace last weekend and damaged his foot. At this stage, I am unsure if he will start the race and if he does, what impact last weekend will have on his performance. If he is fit and healthy, he will be in the mix for the top-10 and if he has a good day, top-5 is a distinct possibility.

Kim Collison had injury issues earlier in the year and withdrew from Scenic 113k. He did toe the line at the Royal Gran Paradiso but just for a finish. With some solid training, Collison will be in the mix here in Tromso. He likes rough and gnarly terrain, he has pace, he can climb and descend and technical exposed ridges cause no problem for him – one to watch!

Hector Haines is having a good year having placed in the top-10 at Transvulcania and the Royal Gran Paradiso. Like Collison, Haines can handle the ‘UK’ like Tromso terrain and he will almost certainly be a contender at the front of the race.

Michel Lanne is a great addition to the race and although he seems to have raced little in recent months, he loves mountain and technical terrain. He will almost certainly be a surprise addition to the elite men and quite rightly, his competitors should keep a keen eye on him – he has all the potential to win the race. In past years he has won Mont-Blanc 80km,Andorra Ultra Trail, 4th at Zegama and 5th at Trofeo Kima.

Pere Aurell is racing strong this year and looked great at the recent Royal Gran Paradiso – he made the podium. He has had some RnR recently and that will bode well for a strong race.

Matt Shyrock from the USA (Alaska) will be a dark horse in this field and to some of the Europeans may well be unknown. I am unsure if he has raced outside the USA and therefore how adapted he will be to the unique terrain Tromso offers. Having said that, Shyrock has excelled at the USA’s Rut (2nd and 3rd) and the climb and descent to Lone Peak does pose some similarities to Tromso. He has also placed 6th at Mt Marathon.

Fabien Antolinos may well throw a few surprises at this year’s race. He is having a good year so far with a solid victory at Lavaredo. From a Skyrunning perspective he has raced well at High Trail Vanoise, this will put him in a great place for Tromso.

Alexis Sevennec always races well on tough and challenging races. Kima, the Dolomites, Glen Coe – the transition and crossover from SkiMo puts him in a great place. He will be up there at the front.

Cody Lind has had a series of top-5 places recently notably at Broken Arrow SkyRace, Flagstaff SkyRace, Power of Four 55km and Moab’d Red Hot 55km – Tromso will test his ability on technical terrain,

Ones to watch:

Leo Viret, Roger Vinas, Martin Gaffuri, Jose Carlos Del Toro, Paul Riera, Alexis Toda Mas, Bjorn Verduijn, Eric Moya, Marc Puig , Marc De Leon and Javier Bodas.

 

LADIES

The ladies race is without doubt going to be an interesting race and we see a return to Skyrunning for Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg (?) kicks off her 2017 campaign.

Maite Maiora heads-up the female competition with victories at Zegama-Aizkorri, Livignio SkyRace and the recent Royal Gran Paradiso – she is on fire now and will be the one to beat. 

Megan Kimmel has equally been on fire with a victory in China at Yading SkyRace and victory in France at High Trail Vanoise. Last weekend Kimmel raced at Comapedrosa and had a below par performance not making the podium. She did comment post-race that longer races are suiting her now, so, the Tromso SkyRace should go well. However, the technical terrain may well interrupt Kimmel’s running form and speed.

Ragna Debats goes from strength-to-strength and this year has joined Kimmel and Maiora with a string of strong performances. She can mix speed with technical terrain and this will bode well for a strong performance in Tromso.

 

Emelie Forsberg will toe the line (*she is on the start list but may not run?) in her own race. Forsberg has been quiet in 2017 so far. She raced at Zegama-Aizkorri and was off the pace, she also did a road half-marathon but in the weeks and months between these races she has been focused on training – I think we will a fit and motivated Forsberg on the start line. For me, she is the potential winner of the race. *Emelie has confirmed she will run the VK and not the SkyRace.

Nuria Picas on her day is still one of the best female mountain runners in the world. It’s been sometime since Picas toed the line in a Skyrunning race and I for one am happy to see her back. She races hard and will most definitely push Debats, Kimmel, Maiora and the other ladies for a fast race – we may well see a course record this year and victory could be Picas’!

Hillary Allen is having an awesome summer racing in Europe. She consistently is in the mix at races of varying length be that the shorter classic distance or ultra. One thing that is important for the USA based runner is vertical and technical terrain – Tromso is not going to disappoint Allen and we may well see her have her best race so far.

Malene Bikken Haukoy is an ever-present at the Tromso SkyRace and has been on the podium. She also excelled at Glen Coe last year with a strong performance. Racing on home ground is always an advantage and top-5 is likely.

Japan’s Kaori Niwa was 8th at the 2016 UTMB maybe someone to watch as a dark horse.

Ones to watch:

Natalia Tomasiak, Kristina Pattison, Martina Valmassoi, Nuria Dominguez, Sarah Ridgway, Maija Oravamaki, Olga Lyjak, Natalia Nescheret and Desislava Hristova

Both Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and the Tromsø SkyRace® are capped for safety and environmental reasons. It’s an important element of running in such a stunning part of the world and they are both ecologically sustainable.

Gnarly, grueling, technical, beautiful and challenging; Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend, don’t miss it!

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM 2017 Summary – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

A little rain is never a great way to start a day, particularly when you have 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over – the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira, the next race in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series started today at 0600 from the town of Santana.

Hillary Allen had flown in from USA and after placing 2nd last year was looking for some sun and the top rung on the podium. Obstacle racing world champion and Skyrunner Series World Champion for the Extreme distance Jon Albon,  was looking for a little mud, colder temperatures and was more than happy with a little rain.

Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending, the USM course is a unique one – It’s not an ordinary Skyrunning course!

The USM has a brutal start to the day, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m. Head torches illuminated the trail and light persistent rain followed the runners until they broke through the cloud – on the other side, blue skies and a different day.

A section of via ferrata at around 6km was followed by a little descending and a final push for the highest point of the day. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz from France was the first to arrive and yes, it was somewhat of a surprise. He was closely followed by Russian Dimitry Mityaev and Jon Albon.

For the ladies, Hillary Allen was making her presence felt with a convincing lead of Ekaterina Mityaev and then Anna Frost followed some time later.

Descending over the summit, the cloud inversion was clearly visible – the landscape awe-inspiring. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until they returned to the coast.

A descent to the sea was followed by a steep short climb and then another descent which was followed by a section of riverbed littered with boulders. Albon made his move, the obstacle course world champion was in his element and he pulled away from the Frenchman with ease. At first opening a slender gap but on the steep climb that followed, the Englishman who lives in Norway but the hammer down realizing a course record was possible. Albon crossed the line obliterating the old record of 6-hours 28-second setting a benchmark 5-hours 45-minutes.

Dunand-Pallaz held on for 2nd also breaking the old course record in 5-hours 55-minutes and Mityaev placed 3rd in 6-hours 7-minutes.

Allen’s wish came true – in the closing kilometers from the river bed, she extended her lead over the Russian and took top honors in 7-hours 4-minutes, her time just outside the course record.

Mityaev placed 2nd but looked exhausted and dehydrated when she crossed the line – a great weekend double for her! The previous day she had won the Santana Vertical Kilometer. Frost was expected next but news came in she had withdrawn on the beach section therefore opening the doorway for Catalan runner Eli Bertran. Mityaev and Bertran finished in 7-hours 34-minutes and 8-hours 35-minutes respectively.

‘USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. It was relentless terrain of ups and downs, the variety is incredible and I loved the river bed section,” said Albon. ‘This race is up there with my all-time favourites. I will definitely be back!’

 

Attention now turns to Lugano next weekend were the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series continues with the Scenic Trail K113.

2017 Calendar HERE

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and the 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit progresses with two stunning races on the island of Madeira this coming weekend.

The SVK – Santana Vertical Kilometer® 

The SVK (Santana Vertical Kilometer® ) covers a course 4.8km in length and a total vertical gain of 1003m and follows on from the most recent VK at Zegama-Aizkorri just last weekend where Stian Angermund-Vik and Laura Orgue took top honours.

The SVK takes place within the Madeira Natural Park, inside protected ecosystems areas that are part of the Natura 2000 Network – an ecological network that has the objective to contribute for ensuring biodiversity through the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the European Union. Starting near the Vale da Lapa at an altitude of about 780m, in the heart of the Laurissilva forest, a Natural World Heritage Site of Mankind, the course covers 4.8km. Participants can experience the amazing views of Madeira Island and feel nature at its most beautiful. The final part of the route consists of a very technical and demanding climb that culminates in an emblematic point called Encumeada Alta (1785m), in the central mountain, from where you can enjoy superb panoramic landscapes on the highest peaks of the island.

A total of 78 runners will take on this tough course with Saul Antonio Padua Rodriguez heading up the race. Other runners to watch are Ferran Teixido, Ekatarina Mityaeva, Anna Frost and more.

Runners depart at 1-minute intervals

The USM – Ultra Skymarathon Madeira® 

The main event of the weekend is the USM (Ultra Skymarathon Madeira®) – a technical mountain race that consists of steep slopes and trails covering a distance of 55km and 4000m of vertical gain.

Comprised of passages which require technical climbing expertise of grade 2, stunning mountain scenery, mountains, sea cliff landscape plus the addition of an up river boulder hopping scramble; yes, the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira is a unique race – It is no ordinary race and one that combines mixed elements in a wonderful natural playground.

“This place is incredible. The diversity of nature, the amount of vertical that you get immediately from the sea is breath-taking. The colour of the water is like nothing I have ever seen. I have stopped so many times to say “wow”! The organisers and community runners have made me feel at home already. I don’t want to ever leave…” – Anna Frost

The ladies race will have a tough battle with last years 2nd and 3rd place ladies, Hillary Allen and Anna Frost.

Add to the mix Elisabet Bertran Mesanes, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Eva Maria Moreda, Katarina Lovrantova and Laura Pratt Merino.

 

In the mens race it’s wide open, the hot favourite may well be 2016 Skyrunner World series Extreme Champion Jonathan Albon who will love the technical nature of the Madeira course. However, Italy’s Franco Colle will be tough competition along with Pere Aurell Bove, Dmityr Mityaeva, Nuno Silva, Roger Vinas and Xavier Teixido.

A full line-up of the start list can be viewed here.

Cristofer Clemente (6:00:28) and Gemma Arenas (6:59:51) took top honours in 2016, who will stand atop the podium in 2017?

The Madeira Ultra SkyMarathon®, now in its fourth year, embodies the sea-to sky concept that personifies Skyrunning.

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The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series features 22 races in 11 countries and will reward the champions in the various categories a € 60,000 end of season prize purse.

The Chinese company Migu Run, the creator and owner of an advanced online and offline exercise and health management platform, has been announced as the new long-term title sponsor of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series beginning in 2017.

The Series is structured in three categories, Sky Classic, Sky Extreme and Sky Ultra, counting 22 races in 11 countries stretching from April to October.

Note for 2017 the ‘new’

VERTICAL KILOMETER® WORLD CIRCUIT HERE

The rapidly expanding appeal of climbing 1,000 metres sky-high has prompted the creation of this circuit to showcase some of the best races across the world – for starters, sixteen races in eight countries.

The circuit is a Skyrunner® World Series spin-off, launching with double the number of races. They include the world’s shortest and fastest races, the first and only triple VK, some 20-year-old classics and some exciting new ones. With the aim of expanding in the future, the number of races may be increased throughout the season.

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline 2016 by Chris Baynham-Hughes

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Chris Baynham-Hughes writes about his experience of participating in the 2016 Salomon Glen Coe Skyline, the final race in Skyrunner® World Series for the ‘Extreme’ category.

Judging by the way the internet has exploded over the past week with a constant stream of comment, videos and pictures on social and traditional media; I think it is fair to say that the Scotland Skyline events were a success. What a weekend of running! Kicking off with the first UK vertical kilometre (VK) on the Friday it was a fascinating spectacle – not just the breath-taking scenery, time trial format, facial expressions that silently screamed for the end to be in sight or the cruel, deceptively deep, bog early on in the course, but in the stripped down nature of the race; an ultimate mountain test.

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If the VK was the amuse bouche, then the Ring of Steall was the starter. 400 competitors toed the line for a spectacular course and the best of the weekend’s weather. Many had doubled up from the VK to take part in the Ring of Steall and didn’t regret it as the course simply kept on giving.

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As part of the event team I’d spent seven hours on the Friday up Munros playing with the radio repeater (test, move, test, repeat) until ultimately we had to give up and bring it down. The Saturday had consisted of seven and a half hours on Sunday’s course marking the route with Pin flags and signs ready for the main course… well, the main course and the desert all in one really.

The Glencoe Skyline had grabbed my attention from its conception. The combination of scrambling, exposed ridge lines and epic territory had me intrigued. Missing the first running of the event due to other commitments meant I could only read quotes from our sports most respected ambassadors such as Emelie Forsberg and blog postings from those that took part; they did nothing to dissuade me from wanting to run this race.

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Whilst my interest was piqued, it wasn’t without a tinge of doubt. I wasn’t concerned about the organisation or running of the event – I knew that with Shane at the helm as RD the event would be of the highest possible standard. My doubts came from not knowing the key elements of the route and thus a fear that it may not flow, that it may in some way be a little contrived; putting in gnarly sections because they were gnarly rather than because they fit in the flow of the journey.

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Having now run it I can state without a shadow of a doubt that this fear was totally unfounded. Not only that, I can do nothing but agree with the long line of people stating that it is one of the best if not the best race they’ve had the pleasure to run. It is truly stunning, a total cracker jack of a course that just keeps on testing and rewarding relentlessly for as long as you’re out there for. Everything fits; it feels like a natural journey and, frankly, does what it says on the tin, it takes in the skyline of Glencoe.

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Having raced too much over the year and not long since returned from completing UTMB I was not expecting much performance wise. Sometimes we need to turn the racer off and the adventurer on and I had entered for the adventure. Getting out in the mountains for the two days before hand had been part of that overall adventure, so by the time I started it felt like the victory lap, the one to savour.

That time on the hill had allowed me to see parts of the course at its best. The main thing that struck me was that the mountains in Scotland are familiar but somehow different; like an aging celebrity that has “had some work done”… but this is not just a misguided effort to freeze/ preserve what was there, this is “Wow, have you seen what they’ve done to their…” type work. I’m lucky in that I primarily play in Snowdonia; an area of true beauty. Hard slogs are generally rewarded by long ridgelines and the mountains generally find their limits within your vision, whereas the mountains of Scotland are not conquered quite so easily.

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Ok, so there are nice ridgelines enabling one to bag a number of tops, but there are also many tops that require a decent amount of descent and ascent for you to tick it off.  They stand alone as a mountain within a mountain and give away more to their half million year old volcanic heritage. The second thing I noticed was the sheer scale – not only are the a bit taller in general, but they stretch as far as the eye can see and beyond. The scale of the lochs and the frequently angry skies provide additional beauty and drama to frame this picture; inspiration on a massive scale.

The race starts with a fair trot out on the West Highland Way from Kinlochleven to one of the key features of this course; curved ridge. I’m not a climber so the grade III scrambles had been weighing a little in the back of my mind. One of the key reasons for the long trail run out was to spread the competitors as this section becomes a natural bottleneck and can cause frustration. My experience was very positive though. Yes it would have been great to have monkeyed up the rock faces at my own speed, but in the sections I had to wait I found there were no issues between the competitors waiting their turn and, frankly, the views were so stunning that I was quite happy to drink those in for a change.

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The support on the course was excellent. There were plenty of people out on curved ridge cheering, ringing bells, taking photos, giving hugs (to the people they knew I assume!) Don’t get me wrong, this was no Transvulcania with the whole local community out cheers, but it still had the feel of a world championship race. I’ve little doubt that this will build in successive years although I suspect it may be weather dependent.

Hitting the top the running was a delight. Technical, but very runnable undulating paths and single track descents were a joy to run. I don’t expect every year will include a helicopter hovering overhead filming, but it certainly added to the feeling like this race was special, like Skyrunning had really come to town.

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Joyous as this was there was always going to be some payback and the bump between us and the next section was steep and unforgiving on both sides of the top. The terrain became boggier underfoot on the climb and the descent was just the right gradient to encourage each competitor to trash their quads. The pockets of support continued before we hit a fast runnable section out to the second of the three main areas with Bidean Nam Bian as the main prize.

Having marked this section of the course I couldn’t wait to get to the ridge line and the incredible views. Sadly on the Sunday they were shorter lived as the mizzle came in determined not to reveal the surrounding beauty. This served me well over the tops allowing me not to be distracted and to knuckle down, but it also gave me another reason to be grateful for having been out on the course the day before.

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Again, this part of the course didn’t disappoint. Even the out and back that seemed so unnecessary whilst marking the course served its purpose perfectly. The section is one of those descents and ascents to ensure you earn the bagging of the next peak, but the primary purpose is to allow competitors to see how far/ behind they are of their rivals. I can only imagine that at the front of the race this is vital, but the opportunity to see other friends and rivals was certainly welcomed by me.

The subsequent descent along the ridge is spectacular and quick, but step off the ridgeline and you know you’re in different territory. This section caught a lot of people out as they slipped and over balanced their way down. The rock was now wet and for my money that made this the most dangerous part of the course once the stone steps came into play with a friction akin to ice. There was a clear exception to this in the form of Naila Jornet who dropped like a stone! Her hip movement and grace gave away her skiing background as she flew past scores of people on this 800+ metre straight descent.

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The aid station at the road crossing provided a huge boost and psyched me up for the big climb ahead up to the Aonach Eagach ridge – it also provided me with a finger of fudge; something I don’t think I’ve had since I was 12! The crowds were in full voice and I was still buzzing a couple of hundred vertical metres up the hill. Stretching back into the mizzle it was clear to see that competitors were tiring. The final big climb took chunks out of people as it demanded payment for admission to its playground.

Traversing the Aonach Eagach ridge was a pure delight. I can only imagine how spectacular it is on a clear day, but frequently either side of me just dropped off into the cloud I was occupying. The narrow band of rock floated in the clag as it was slowly soaked to add extra tension. Traversing exposed ridges at speed is about those few crucial first moves. Get them right and confidence starts to flow along with the speed. Get them wrong and the pace slows to a crawl as doubts get the better of you. Fortunately for me the first few moves went well and had all thrills and no terror.

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The roped support on key sections was a welcome comfort before the rocky/ boggy run off back to the West Highland Way and that that crucial left turn that signals the final straight (which is actually very bendy). I have a tendency to finish strong, like my mind won’t allow my legs to unleash until it knows it will finish. Naturally this didn’t stop me feeling like the path was twice as long as it had been on the way out, but at least it was primarily downhill and fast.

Crossing the line I piled into the water, desperate to rehydrate and make up for the lack of water source on the Aonach Eagach ridge. Entering the Ice factor climbing centre the warmth hit me in two ways, but the physical was nothing compared to the warmth provided by the sentiment and camaraderie of other competitors. Tucking into some post-race food, chatting and surveying the room the buzz was electric. Something very special went on in Glencoe that day; and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

Images from the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline are available HERE

You can read about the Salomon Mamores VK Here, the Salmon Ring of Steall Here and Salomon Glen Coe Skyline Here

The Skyrunning UK Series concludes on October 22nd at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Extreme! Yes, it was… that was the consensus as the Skyline Scotland’s Salomon Glencoe Skyline drew to a conclusion after only its 2nd edition.

Last year, Skyrunning superstar Emelie Forsberg, travelled to Scotland to take part in the first edition of the race. She placed 2nd overall and won the female category. After the race she said that ‘this’ race truly is one of the best races out there!

Cut to 2016 and Skyline Scotland developed a VK race and SKY race to join the Glencoe Skyline which had gained the approval from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) to be one of three races that would make a new ‘SkyExtreme’ category in 2016. This three race series also include Tromso SkyRace and the iconic, Trofeo Kima.

Many had said that Skyrunning in the UK was not possible.

Ask again – not one participant in the 2016 edition of the race would question the legitimacy of how extreme this race was.

Gaining Skyrunner® Extreme Series status also has a huge impact on the participants taking part. It’s fair to say, that the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the greatest fields ever assembled for a mountain race.

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Coming into this edition, Jonathan Albon and Tom Owens were the hot favourites to take away the title of Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion and in the ladies race, Jasmin Paris after victory in Tromso was a likely female champion.

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The race played out as expected with Tom Owens and Jon Albon pushing each other throughout the early stages of the race with strong competition coming from Marc Lauenstein, Finlay Wild and Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet. It was Jonathan Albon though that snapped the elastic pulling away for Tom Owens running on home soil. Pre-race predictions were blown out of the water and Jonathan crossed the line first in a blistering 6:33:52. To put this time in perspective, it is over 1-hour faster than the 2015 course with additional distance and vertical gain.

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Tom Owens suffered with foot issues throughout the race but battled all the time. He finished 2nd in 6:37:21. Zegama-Aizkorri and Matterhorn Ultraks winner Marc Lauenstein, although not competing for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series title was always a potential contender for victory or the podium and he didn’t disappoint in finishing 3rd in 6:54:37. As Marc came to the end of one of the more technical sections of the race, the infamous Aonach Eagach, he said, “This is one seriously technical and challenging race!”

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Local man and Ben Nevis expert, Finlay Wild placed 4th and Greg Vollet 5th, their times 7:00:57 and 7:10:19.

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In the ladies’ race, Jasmin Paris lead from the gun and although Ruth Croft did catch her at one point, Jasmin placed her foot on the gas and pulled away becoming not only a convincing Salomon Glencoe Skyline winner but also a Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion. Quite incredible when you consider that just recently she placed 6th at UTMB. Jasmin’s time of 8:15:56 will be considered a CR for this new course.

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Malene Bikken Haukoy ran a savvy race pacing herself in the early stages to move up through the field and eventually place 2nd in the ladies’ race in 8:23:04. Her podium finish in Tromso SkyRace also providing valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.

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Sarah Ridgway is now the leader of the Skyrunning UK Series and her 3rd place on the ladies podium showed incredible consistency, her time 8:44:40.

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Ruth Croft found today’s course a challenge after placing 2nd at Trofeo Kima recently. Despite difficulties though, Ruth ran a strong race gaining valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.

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Martina Valmassoi rounded out the top 5.

The Salomon Glencoe Skyline route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race traverses high and remote mountainous terrain, which is at times impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather. The day started in glorious sunshine but as predicted, a weather system arrived late morning making the crossing off the Aonach Eagach a wet one with limited visibility due to clag and mist.

As expected, the race had many dropouts due to the severe course and inclement weather in the latter half of the day. Ultimately though, the feedback and response has been incredible.

2016 was the start of really big things for the UK Skyrunning scene and the Salomon Glencoe Skyline is not only paving the way and setting the benchmark within the UK but also for Europe and farther afield.

RESULTS

  1. Jonathan Albon 6:33:52
  2. Tom Owens 6:37:21
  3. Marc Lauenstein 6:54:37
  4. Finlay Wild 7:00:57
  5. Greg Vollet 7:10:19
  1. Jasmin Paris 8:15:56
  2. Malene Bikken Haukoy 8:23:04
  3. Sarah Ridgway 8:44:40
  4. Ruth Croft 9:10:33
  5. Martina Valmassoi 9:14:37

Extreme Series ranking. Final*
Men
1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 208 points
2. Tom Owens (GBR) – 205.6 points
3. Finlay Wild (GBR) – 164.4 points
4. Andew Fallas (GBR) – 143 points
5. Sota Ogawa (JAP) – 128.4 points

Women
1. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 220 points
2. Malene Haukøy (NOR) – 193.6 points
3. Ruth Croft (NZL) – 172 points
4. Martina Valmassoi (ITA – 152.4 points
5. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 127.6 points

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