SALMON SKYRUN package for International runners 2015

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Embrace an opportunity to not only take part in one of South Africa’s toughest races but also be privy to a VIP package that will allow you to experience the journey of a lifetime.

Following on from a successful inaugural experience in 2014, Salomon SkyRun are now offering a very exclusive package for 15 very lucky individuals in 2015.

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The Salomon SkyRun is a true mountain running experience on an unmarked course in the stunning Witteberg Mountains just off the southwest corner of Lesotho. Offering a variety of tough and challenging terrain, SkyRun is a self-supported and self-navigation journey of 100-kms.

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Leaving the town of Lady Grey behind, the beauty and remoteness engulfs each and every runner. It is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.

BIG NEWS a $10,000 prize purse is available for the first male to go under 12-hours or the first lady to go sub 14-hours 30-minutes.

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View race images HERE

To experience first hand the journey of SkyRun, listen to Episode 75 of Talk Ultra HERE. It is a special show that discusses in detail the route, the experiences of South Africa and has in-depth chat with Gary Robbins who placed second in the men’s race. The show also has interviews with ladies first and second place, Landie Greyling and Julia Boettger. In addition the show brings sounds of SA and interviews the race directors, Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.

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An evening in Lady Grey post race allows some rest and recovery before the 3-hour transfer journey to the stunning Moketsi Game Ranch.

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Moketsi is a jewel. A five star resort offering luxury accommodation on a full board basis.

 

Moketsi provides an opportunity to experience wildlife on a personal level that is seldom scene or experienced. Go on safari in custom made Land Rover vehicles, drink a ‘sundowner’ as the sun departs the day and if you are lucky, experience the reserve ‘on foot’ under the guidance of the Ranch Manager, Gustav.

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The Ranch covers some 6,000 hectares (65 km²) of beautiful grassland plains and contrasting mountain landscapes in a unique and comfortable setting for an exclusive and private experience. It may even be possible to run up Moketsi mountain… can you set an FKT?

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Moketsi has a large variety of game with four of the Big Five (including Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard). The varied landscape, range of animals, birdlife and luxurious accommodation make for a true outdoor experience.

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Leaving the quiet seclusion on Moketsi Game Ranch, a 90-minute transfer to Bloemfontein and an internal flight to Cape Town will awaken the senses to the bustle of South Africa’s second largest city. Hooking up with the local run scene, you will climb Lion Head, run up and down Table Mountain.

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By contrast you will relax on the wine route visiting vineyards, watch the penguins at Boulders Colony and chill in Hout Bay with some quality seafood.

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 The Salomon SkyRun International Package is a once in a lifetime experience that is available at an incredible price.

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Package (excludes flights to South Africa)

£975.00 (€1250 or $1750)

Only 15-places are available for this incredible experience distributed as 5 to the USA/Canada, 5 to Germany and 5 to UK/ Europe.

Package includes:

  • Transfer from Bloemfontein to Lady Grey
  • Race entry
  • 2 nights pre race lady grey bed and breakfast one night post race
  • 2 nights Moketsi Game Ranch fully inclusive
  • Flight from Bloemfontein to Cape Town
  • 3 nights in Cape Town bed and breakfast all transfers and transport

The trip starts from Bloemfontein with a transfer to Lady Grey on Thursday 19th Nov and finishes with departure from Cape Town on Nov 28th.

Please note that all arrivals must be in Bloemfontein on Thursday 19th November 2014 by 3pm.

Included:

  • All meals as specified in Package (note race entry includes a meal at race briefing and a meal at finish line as well as Breakfast/ Brunch before prize giving)
  • All transfers in aircon Vehicles and domestic airfares as stipulated in package
  • Area Permit to traverse Conservancy
  • All accommodation is per person on a sharing basis as applicable. Single supplement applies.

Excluded:

All meals not stipulated in package

All beverages except at Game Lodge

International flights: into and departing South Africa – arrival Bloemfontein, departure Cape Town.

How to book:

To book a place a non-refundable 25% deposit secures your place. Full balance is due, on or before 1st August 2015. Please specify your booking country.

PACKAGE PLACES ARE AVAILABLE FROM DEC 8th 2014

Episode 75 – Skyrun, Robbins, Greyling, Boettger

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Episode 75 of Talk Ultra is all about the Salomon Skyrun and South Africa. We bring an interview with the ladies winner Landie Greyling. We also talk with the ladies 2nd place, Julia Boettger. Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall and discusses in-depth his race and co hosts the show. We bring sounds from Moketsi Game Ranch, experiences from Cape Town and talk Skyrun with Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.
This weeks show is a little different to our usual episodes.
Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall in the race and he co-hosts providing an in-depth insight into the race, his experiences of South Africa and he even set an FKT on Table Mountain.
We bring you sounds and interviews from Moketsi Game Reserve and race directors, Michael de Haast and Adrian Saffy talk Skyrun and South Africa.
Listen to Hyenas, growl with lions and dance to some quality ‘SA’ tunes.
Experience South Africa….
Images from SA and the Skyrun are available on this website HERE and you can view images from the whole trip HERE
Links:
Website – talkultra.com

Julia Boettger prepares for the Salomon SkyRun

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger loves and excels at long and hard races. Raid de la Reunion, Tor des Geants and epic solo journeys ‘just for fun’ show all of us what a multi-talented ultra runner she is.

In 2014, Julia started the season placing 2nd at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and what followed was a series of top quality results that reached a peak with an outright victory at Andorra Ultra Trail – Ronda dels Cims.

In just one week, Julia will toe the line at the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa. I caught up with Julia to find out how she feels and how the preparation has gone.

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How have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?

I had a great season with mixture of racing and running my own projects. The last successful race I did was the Transalpine Run which was unusual for me but we I had fun. It made a change to all the long distance runs I did during the summer.

 

How’s training going – have you done anything specific for SA?

Well for the moment I am doing a lot of long runs in the mountains. It has been hard to keep up motivation for training, as this season has been very long. However, I always really enjoy being out in the mountains all day. I have had to keep in mind to speed up or to do more elevation so that it is specific for the SkyRun.

Maybe you have been brushing up on your navigation and looking at some maps?

I already run most of the time with maps and on new trails etc. So I’m not too bad with navigation or orientation. But I think in a race it will be different.

Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?

Yes. South Africa is a completely different country, which I do not know at all. Weather, landmarks etc. will be completely different from my local terrain: the Alps.

The course sounds extreme, particularly if the weather turns. Have you researched the course?

Not yet. I will speak to my friend Stephan Repke who did the race two times and I will ask him about race specifics and the course. 

Michael De Haast has put up a great price purse should somebody post a great time, is that an incentive for you?

I just learned about this incentive … but no – this run will be a big adventure for me and the goal is to get to the finish line and to survive. If I can do it in a course record (which I don’t think so) it will be fantastic.

Have you been to SA before?

No. It will be my first time. I am looking forward to new experiences. People, landscape, and animals – everything will be different, new!

South Africa is one of the places I have always wanted to explore and to learn about. To run in nature, to experience the original freestyle trail running of the Salomon SkyRun will be inspiring. I like to challenge myself on long distance courses and the SkyRun will be definitely be a different kind of ultra distance challenge. But beside the race I am glad to have the opportunity to meet local people and to spend some time with them.

La Course des Templiers – 2013

Nuria Picas Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

Millau, Southern France. The iconic ‘La Course des Templier’ has often been regarded as the Holy Grail of Trail in France. Salomon athlete and Brit, Andy Symonds won the race a couple of years ago and it made him a household name. Of course living in France and speaking the lingo did help.

The Great Race of the Knights Templar was founded in 1995 with a humanitarian purpose. To financially support an orphanage in Chad

Sighting the Leadville Trail 100 miler in the US as an influence, Odile and Gilles Bertrand decided to embark on this adventure in March 1995. The project was launched and a date was selected, the last Sunday of October.

But the format of 100 miles as at the Leadville race was considered too long and Odile and Bertrand decided to offer a more appealing distance of 65 km.

In October 1995 before the fortress of St. Eulalie de Cernon 500 runners assembled and the first edition was undertaken. La Course des Templiers gave birth to trail running in France. This first edition of Templiers was won by Patrick Fox and Corinne Favre.

Race start 2012 ©iancorless.com

Race start 2012 ©iancorless.com

THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS

. Distance: 72 km – altitude: 3200 m +
. Departure: 5:15 (note time change), Millau, Millau Plage road (attention, 1h 20 ‘night in the morning) and arrive in Millau, Millau Beach Road 1.2 km from city center
. 4 stations (Peyreleau, St André de Vézines, Pierrefiche, The Cade)
. Registration limited to 2500 runners

A weekend of racing – Festival de l’Endurance

The Templiers race is part of the Festival de l’Endurance. The main event takes place on Sunday, the Grande Course – THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS is steep and rocky, so steep that the race organisers place ropes in many areas so that runners can ease their way through rough spots without falling.

To add to that magical ambiance, it helps to know that Nant was one of many points in a network of secret trails built by the Knights Templar, the monastic, international military order formed at the end of the First Crusade with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar, known for their architectural skills and fighting alongside Richard I were the first warrior monks and were prevalent in that part of France until their downfall in 1307.

The race route uses the secret paths of the Templars which ncludes two long tunnels that had been used as shortcuts to beat enemies to strategic locations. The region has become a popular tourist attraction primarily due to the success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

2013 RACE

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB

The 2012 edition of the race concluded the Skyrunner World Series but not this year! However, a quality field is assembled. Miguel Heras (Salomon) just missed out on the win last year so he will be looking for the top of the podium. However, he will have a re match with TNFUTMB winner, Xavier Thevenard (Asics). Thomas Lorblanchet, teammate of Xavier will also return, he has won this race several times before and without doubt be at the front of the race. Julien Rancon will be looking to repeat his victory but Michel Lanne may well be the favourite, he had some time way from the sport with a new baby and an injury but he is back.

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier winning TNFUTMB

The ladies race has the return of Nuria Picas (Buff) Nuria dominated the race last year ahead of Emelie Forsberg and Lizzy Hawker. Nuria has gone from strength to strength and after placing second at TNFUTMB and then shortly afterwards winning Cavalls delVent once again, she is for me, the outright favourite for the ladies race. Julia Bottger (Salomon) will also participate, however, I can’t help but feel it will be a little too short for her.

Nuria Picas winning Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas winning Templiers 2012 ©iancorless.com

The main event takes place on Sunday.

You can see images from the 2012 race HERE

Philipp Reiter and Juilia Boettger to race The Coastal Challenge, 2014

Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Nine incredible editions of The Coastal Challenge and in the words of race director, Rodrigo Carazo, ‘believe me, the 10th is going to be extra special’.

The Coastal Challenge has not been without some premier names from the ultra world in past editions, Scott Jurek raced in 2009 and Dave James has been a regular attendee for multiple years.

However, the 2014 edition of the race is going to see the race create a higher profile in the world of multi day racing. The announcement of Salomon sponsored duo, Philipp Reiter and Julia Boettger joining the race apparently is only the first of several big announcements that are due in coming weeks.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Rodrigo Carazo confirmed to me that the TCC is a passion for him and for the 10th edition of the race he wanted to ensure something special. When I asked him about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia he said, “It has always been a long term aim to have elite runners at The Coastal Challenge. We have had Scott Jurek in a past edition! It’s great to have Philipp and Julia join us and it will be great to see how they perform. However, TCC is all about enjoyment, participation and inclusion. Every participant will be treated the same. We will be one big happy family.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

It also appears that Philipp and Julia are only the first two names to be announced, I asked Rodrigo did he have any other surprises for us?

“Well, we have already made public that Brit, Jo Meek (interview HERE) will join us in Costa Rica. Jo was 2nd lady overall at the 2013 Marathon des Sables, so that will add some interest to the race. Also, we have some other ‘names’ from the ultra world to announce in the coming weeks. We are just making final preparations. It is all very exciting.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Of course, Philipp and Julia need no introduction to the ultra running community. Philipp Reiter despite his youth has been competing on the ultra and Skyrunning calendar for several years with repeated impressive results. He has won the Zugspitze several times and just this year he won the 100km race. He is also a repeated winner at the multi day Transalpine race. However, Philipp is gaining a higher profile for consistently strong performances in the Skyrunner World Series.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

I asked Philipp what had enticed him to race in Costa Rica?

“It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.”

Philipp already has experience of multi day racing. For example, he has raced Transalpine several times and been incredibly successful. When I asked him about the challenge of Costa Rica and the rainforest environment he looked excited.

“Yes, so far I have done some stages races in summer (4-Trails, Transalpine Run) and also a few in winter (Pierra Menta, Tour du Rutor) so I know how it feels to have a race day by day in a row. But as I have never been to Costa Rica and the jungle there, it’s definitely going to be a new challenge for me. It’s a very different climate and the terrain will be a challenge. I am sure at times it will be tough!

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Of course one issue that may arise for those who live in Europe is the timing of the race, late January and early February, our weather is somewhat different to Costa Rica. I asked Philipp about cross training over the winter, as he is an experienced Ski Mountaineer. “Are you planning on doing any specific training for the TCC?”

“Yes, you are right, it’s the prime time of the SkiMo races and a lot of competitions take place. But for the Costal Challenge it’s not problem for me to skip these races. I usually have a lot of snow at this time of the year near my home and finding good trails can be difficult but I hope I can get some running in until January and maybe the ‘white gold’ will fall late this season? I recently saw some pictures of a guy from Norway cycling indoors with his down jacket on to prepare for the heat of Transvulcania (laughs) I am sure will also find a solution to prepare for the warm weather; running indoors in a Sauna?

On a final note, I asked Philipp what he was most looking forward to… the competition, a new place, travel or all those elements combined?

“It is more the experience in the jungle, a new area to explore, the wildlife and totally different nature.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger is without doubt a lover of longer distances and enjoys multi days in the mountains, she has placed 2nd at the extremely tough 160km Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island and just recently placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

“I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting”

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

And Julia is correct, it really is a great adventure that manages to combine many different elements. Runners have no need to be self sufficient, food is provided and all your belongings are transported to the next camp/ rendezvous point.

“It’s fantastic! It’s a great way to start a new year and a new season with some lovely running in beautiful locations. I am just fortunate to be able to do what I love. Running and then spending the rest of the day at a beautiful location, get some real food and not have to take care about anything else. Recovery will be so much easier for everyone each day.”

Like Philipp, Julia loves the mountains and technical terrain. The rainforests of Costa Rica do have some elevation but nothing like the Alps or Pyrenees. I asked Julia if she would do any specific training to prepare?

“Preparation will be different because the race is very early in the season. So for me it is hard to train in the mountains at this time of the year because we have a lot of snow. In winter I do a lot of cross country skiing and ski mountaineering. As the several stages of the race are not as long as the courses I normally do it will be easier to train for at this time of the year. I will do more running in the flat and get some speed work in.”

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

For many, a trip to Costa Rica is a once in a lifetime possibility. The ability to combine this trip with a passion for running is something that all participants will relish. Julia is no different!

“The combination of traveling to a new place, running on different trails and meeting new lovely people who are sharing our passion will make this very special. I think Costa Rica is a very interesting country with a lot of different aspects and surprises. So I am looking forward to this adventure, the warm sunny weather will also be a great break from cold misty weather in Germany.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Steve Diederich, the UK agent for The Coastal Challenge is excited about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia (and maybe more?) and although race entry is now closed, Steve has made several places available to coincide with this announcement. In addition, a 5% discount will be offered to the first five applicants. Steve had this to say, “The Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Race dates: 2nd to 9th February 2014

If you would like to attend the 2014 event and take advantage of a 5% discount, please email sarah@thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

 The Coastal Challenge website HERE

Ice Trail Tarentaise Preview

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Ice Trail Tarentaise sends the chills down our spines as we prepare ourselves for the third event in the ISF Skyrunner Ultra World Series.

The stunning alpine village of  Val d’Isère is the official home of the Ice Trail Tarentaise. The race starts and concludes at this beautiful mountain retreat and as the name suggests, it is also the source of the Isère River. The Isère flows through some of the most iconic mountain landscape available. It is a haven for alpinists wanting to test themselves on the iconic slopes of Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchavel. ‘Les Trois Vallées (The Three Valleys) is a ski region in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie département of France, to the south of the town of Moûtiers, partly in the Vanoise National Park. As implied by its name, the area originally consisted of three valleys: Saint-BonAllues, and Belleville. The skiing area has since been extended into a ‘fourth’ valley, the Maurienne valley. It is adjacent to Val Thorens, but can also be accessed using a long gondola lift from Orelle.

The Tarentaise valley and the Ice Trail Tarentaise in many respects personify what Kilian Jornet has been pursuing for years, the term ‘Alpinism’ is often perceived as climbing but it is so much more.

The race route has over 60 km’s above 2000m altitude and with a highest point of 3653m at ‘Grande Motte’ this is a race not to be taken lightly. Memories of the Tour de France flood into my mind when I discuss this region, however, other than the highest paved mountain pass at the ‘Col de L’Iseran’ at 2770m, no bicycles will be seen.

Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386 m, participants in the 2013 Ice Trail Tarentaise will no doubt have a full appreciation of what Kilian and others like him strive for when they coin the term, Skyrunning. You see, Skyrunning is Alpinism but without the clutter, it’s about being light and moving fast.

Ropes, ladders, way markers, peaks at over 3000m and 5000m +/- ascent and descent guarantees that not all those who toe the line will see the finish. It is a tough tough race; no doubt!

The inaugural event was due to take place in 2011 however severe weather left the organization with no choice but to cancel, however, the 32km ‘Altispeed’ did take place (no easy option). Despite extreme conditions Damien Vouillamoz won the race in just over three and a half hours and Virginie (Virg) Govignon in 5:14. Virg just recently took part in one of the shorter events at Ronda dels Cims placing third, Andorra is now her home and the passion and love for the mountains are strong.

The arrival of the 2012 edition was eagerly anticipated, the shortened version in 2011 had wet many appetites, and success rates had been around approximately 50%, what would a full course offer? Despite initial weather concerns the race went ahead. Francois D’Haene from Salomon and Anne Valero from Mizuno were respective winners in times of 8:16:35 and 11:20:13 respectively.

Just three years old and only in its second edition, the 2013 Ice Trail Tarentaise will now offer a challenge to elites and non-elites that only many could have wished for. Now part of the Skyrunner World Series, the Ice Trail Tarentaise will see a return of the 2012 winner, Francois D’Haene compete against Kilian Jornet, Philipp Reiter, Rickey Gates, Nico Valsesia, Jordi Bes Ginesta, Nicolas Pianet and Vincent Delaberre. For the ladies, the reigning champion, Anne Valero will not defend her title but don’t worry; the ladies field is extremely competitive. Emelie Forsberg, Anna Frost, Julia Boettger, Silvia Serafini, Shona Stephenson and Emilie Lecomte will do battle on the glaciers and peaks of the ‘Tarentaise’; only one will be crowned the ice queen.

MEN

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Kilian Jornet – Considering the nature of this course, it’s location, severity, difficulty and true ‘Alpinist’ routes one would be foolish not to tip Kilian Jornet as a favorite for this race. As Lauri Van Houten points out, “Alpinism is traditional mountaineering with the big boots and all the gear – Skyrunning is doing the same stuff faster without all the gear…. Kilian will love it’. The race in many respects reads like one of his ‘Summits’ attempts and as such will suit him perfectly. With incredible results already achieved in 2013; Transvulcania, Zegama and Mont Blanc Marathon, one can’t help but think that Ice Trail Tarentaise is a race that will not only show him at his best but also it will be a race that he is eagerly waiting for.

Francois D'Haene 2012 TNFUTMB copyright iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene 2012 TNFUTMB copyright iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene – returns as the 2012 champion and for sure that will be a great advantage. Francois had an extremely successful 2012 with a top placing at Transvulcania but I am sure his TNFUTMB win will be the one he remembers most. He is currently in great form and for sure he will be pushing Kilian at the front.

Philipp Reiter Transgrancanaria copyright iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter Transgrancanaria copyright iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter – has incredible talent and recently won his first ever 100km race in Germany. He his experienced in the snow and without doubt this will play a big advantage in a race so demanding. He has shown in the past at races such as the extremely technical, Trofeo Kima, that he has all around ability. This will all come into play on this extremely tough and challenging race.

Rickey Gates – has been a little quiet of late. He always has a much smaller and tighter calendar in comparison to other runners but when he races, you know he will be in great shape. Top placing’s at the 2012 Transvulcania and a win at Speedgoat will carry over to this year and provide Rickey with a great base to compete against his Salomon teammates.

Nico Valsesia – is not shy of long distances. Arguably he is known for long cycling events like riding across America in the ‘RAAM’. His recent form is unknown as he should have toed the line at the 170km Ronda dels Cims.

Jordi Bes Ginesta – is a Catalan ski mountaineer and mountain runner and one has to say that ‘Ice Trail’ will play to all his abilities. His palamares are excellent in SkiMo with top ten placing’s in Spanish Championships, European Championships and World Championships. He was eighth in the 2009 world Skyrunning Championships and although I don’t think he will fight for a top three place you should definitely see him within the top ten.

Fulvio Dapit – is no stranger to Skyrunning and will come into the Ice Trail Tarentaise with a clear understanding of what needs to be done to compete at the front of the field. Fulvio was 2011 winner at the tenth edition of Monterosa Skyrace, he placed seventh at 2012 Zegama and recently had some success at Sardinia Trail, however, his form coming to Val D’Isère is not clear. Not a podium contender but a possible top ten.

Nicolas Pianet – has been racing since March and most notably raced the ‘Trail de Faverges Icebreaker 44km’ he placed third behind Patrick Bringer but one can almost certainly assume it was a preparation event for Ice Trail. His most recent race was Mont Blanc Marathon, he placed eleventh behind a strong and dominant Kilian Jornet. Nicolas has potential to mix things up at Tarentaise but he won’t contend the podium.

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Vincent Delabarre – previous winner of TNFUTMB and currently leading courses on the UTMB route will come into this race with plenty of mountain and snow experience. Invaluable! He raced earlier in the year at Marathon des Sables, a somewhat different experience to what lies ahead in Val D’Isère.

LADIES

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Emelie Forsberg – tops my table for the ladies race, just the other weekend she finished second to a flying Stevie Kremer at Mont Blanc Marathon, however, although she was fairly and squarely beaten, illness played an issue on the day. This was confirmed when just two days later she set a new female record for Chamonix-Mont Blanc-Chamonix in 8hrs 10min. Like Kilian, her SkiMo and mountain background will see her perform to her strengths on the Ice Trail course. A clear favorite.

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Francesca Canepa – fresh from a dominant performance at Ronda dels Cims will feel at home on the trails of the Tarentaise valley. She likes tough, technical and hard races. Francesca also has speed when required; her second place to Lizzy Hawker at the shortened 2012 TNFUTMB proves this. It will certainly be interesting to see how Francesca performs against Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas on this demanding course.

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Julia Boettger – loves long, hard and technical races. Tor des Geants and Raid de la Reunion are just two notches in her impressive resume. However, her recent form is unknown, she missed the start of Transgrancanaria due to illness and a main target for the year, the 170km Ronda dels Cims had to be missed for personal reasons. The recent Lavaredo Trail also saw Julia miss the start line, so, she will either come to Ice Trail fresh and ready to perform or a little under raced. withdrawn, confirmation 09th July 2013

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Anna Frost – had a troublesome winter and missed a race she loves, Transvulcania. However, she is back on her way to full fitness. Her recent performances at the Mont Blanc VK and Marathon show that she is not in full fitness but reassuringly this means that Frosty is easing her way back into 2013 instead of pushing too hard too soon. Without doubt she is a class act and I have never seen anyone with an ability to push so deep when the need arises. Her performance at Cavalls del Vent in 2012 was a personification of this. If she wants to win Ice Trail, Frosty could find something within herself to give it a go. Anna has podium potential without a doubt.

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Nuria Picas – missed Mont Blanc Marathon and will arrive in Tarentaise fresher than some of her rivals. Rumor has it that Nuria is running the 2013 UTMB so a very different Nuria may well toe the line for the ultra races in the Skyrunning series than we saw in 2012. Without doubt she has speed and ability, her 2012 season was remarkable, however, twice in 2013 she has placed second to Emelie Forsberg; Transvulcania and Zegama. Maybe her training for TNFUTMB is taking the edge off the speed? If so, her endurance and her ability to survive over a longer event may well be the difference between first and second in the Tarentaise Valley. Nuria, providing she has no problems will be on the podium for sure and ultimately I see the race being between her and Emelie.

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Shona Stephenson – has loved the whole European experience. The Australia based inov-8 athlete has had a great 2013 so far with some great 100-mile results, particularly in Japan at UTMF100. Without doubt this ability to endure and dig deep will be essential in Val D’Isère. However, her experience of snow, ice and extreme cold is limited and without doubt this will be a big disadvantage. She has the ability to be at the front of the race but the whole experience may well just be one big learning curve that she needs to take a step back from and accept that what will be, will be.

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Emilie Lecomte – placed top five at Transvulcania and then placed third at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. She loves races that are tough, long and technical. The winner of the 2012 Raid de la Reunion and course record holder for the GR20 long trail in Corsica, Emilie will without doubt push hard at the front of this race. Her experience in Andorra was mixed; she was dominating the race over the first third but then struggled with fatigue and a lack of energy over the latter half. For Emilie to finish showed incredible guts and determination,  you will see Emilie show that same spirit here, if all goes well she may very well make the podium.

The Ice Trail Tarentaise has all the makings to be an incredible and exciting race, which will be nothing like what we have experienced before. The combination of altitude, ice, climbing and descending will almost certainly provide some shocks and surprises. Who are your picks to win the third ISF Skyrunning Ultra event?

Stats:

The Ice-Trail Tarentaise (ITT), for the record, counts 65 km with 5,000m vertical ascent and descent, reaches a high point of 3,653m and touches five peaks skimming the 3,000m mark in Val d’Isère July 14.  Snow is not an option!

Notes:

It’s true that mountains at 3,000m offer a challenge to all who set foot here.  This year’s heavy snowfalls add an element of adventure (and technique) to test the most skilled skyrunners.  However, recent warm weather has taken its toll and much of the snow has melted although stretches on snow will remain.

The organisers will issue a statement regarding the course and safety measures after a meeting held this afternoon so check for updates which will be issued on this site, Facebook and the race website over the next few days.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Ronda dels Cims, Andorra 170km Preview

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It’s only 170km’s long. Don’t worry; it only has 13,000m of vertical gain and loss. It’s 94% single track, 5% path/trail and 1% on road so you can make up some time! It has 13 aid stations, starts on Friday 21st June at 0700 and you have 62 hours to complete the event. Easy! I don’t think so…

Logo_Skyrunning_World_SeriesTwelve months ago on the island of La Palma, Skyrunning held a conference post Transvulcania La Palma and pre Zegama-Aizkorri. The conference was called, ‘Less Cloud, More Sky’. It assembled some of the best ultra runners from around the world, team managers, ancillary staff and journalists. The purpose was to help forge a direction for the sport. To cut a long story short, what was apparent was the need for technical courses that would attract and test the best runners in the world. Also, the 100-mile distance, for many, was perceived as the one distance that Skyrunning did not cover. Twelve months down the road, or should I say the trail and we have Ronda del Cims, now in its fifth year. Possibly one of the toughest, gnarly 100 mile races on the planet.

With less than a month to the start of one of the most important mountain competitions, the ‘Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord’, a series of races starting at 10km and culminating in the main event, the 170km Ronda dels Cims.

Over 2,000 athletes will arrive in Ordino, Andorra from June 20th to 23rd to participate in an event that for them will be a tough and life changing personal challenge. In simple terms, the races on offer are hard, technical and pure. They offer a total immersion in nature and as such, must be completely respected.

The 2013 edition of the race will be particularly challenging. Due to a harsh and prolonged winter, several peaks and mountain passes will almost certainly have snow. Believe me, the fifth edition of the Ronda dels Cims has all the makings of a classic. So. Lets look who are the likely contenders in the female and male race over the 170km distance.

LADIES

The ladies race has all the makings of being a classic. We have some very tough mountain ladies taking part, all in with a chance of winning this race!

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker (The North Face) needs no introduction. Unlike Emilie, Lizzy has no specialization. She is an out and out ultra runner and performs to the highest level on road, trail or mountains. A multiple champion at the TNFUTMB she will bring all that experience to Ronda dels Cims. In the latter half of 2012 she had a real purple patch with wins at a shortened TNFUTMB, Spartathlon and Run Rabbit Run. However, she did have injury issues over the Christmas period. They have now cleared up and to get 2013 rolling she raced at Annapurna 100k and won the ladies race. She then decided to break her own personal record running from Everest base camp to Kathmandu (319km/ 198m) in 63 hours and 08 minutes (here) smashing her previous record. Not content with running for 63 hours, Lizzy then raced the 277km Mustang Trail Race and was 2nd overall. However, just recently she entered the 24-hour championships and pulled out. Apparently all is well with Lizzy and her focus is now on Ronda dels Cims. I have to say, that Lizzy has not only the potential to win the ladies race but the race outright.

UPDATE June 6th, An email from Lizzy “As it turns out I’ve just had an MRI confirming a stress fracture in my foot. So, Hardrock would have been off the cards, and now I also have to pull out of Ronda del Cims.”

Francesca Canepa copyright iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa copyright iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Team Vibram) placed 2nd to Lizzy Hawker at the reduced TNFUTMB in 2012 but then just seven days later lined up at the Tor des Geants and won it. An incredible double. Like many other ladies in this race, she loves tough and technical. The distance will not be a problem for her and when in form, she can push Lizzy, Emilie, Nerea and the rest right to the line. A very exciting addition to the race.

Emilie Lecomte far right, Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Emilie Lecomte far right, Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Long distance specialist Emilie Lecomte (Quechua) from France comes to Andorra after a very successful 2012. She set a new course record on the GR20 long trail in Corsica and she won the tough and technical, 100m Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) on Reunion Island. She recently raced at Transvulcania La Palma and although placed 5th overall she was 2 hours behind race winner, Emelie Forsberg. Without a doubt, Ronda dels Cims is a completely different race to Transvulcania and for sure, Emilie will revel in the tough and technical aspects that this race brings.

Nerea Martinez copyright cmdsport.com

Nerea Martinez copyright cmdsport.com

Nerea Martinez (Salomon Santiveri) has already had a successful 2013. She won the 119km Transgrancanaria, won the Apuko 83km, won the Royal Raida 79km and just last month, won the 115km Ultra Trail Madeira. Wow! That is some start to 2013 and looking at her schedule, she has lots more planned! Without doubt she is in form but two of those races in the last two months, Transgrancanaria and Ultra Trail Madeira have been tough and long days out, 17h: 16m and 19h: 15m respectively. One has to question if these will leave Nerea a little jaded for Ronda dels Cims, if not, watch this space.

Julia Boettger copyright iancorless.com

Julia Boettger copyright iancorless.com

Julia Boettger (Salomon) is equally at home on the long tough trails. In 2012 she was on the podium behind Emilie Lecomte at Diagonal des Fous so she has all the required credentials, strength and mental fortitude to battle over a very tough and technical 170km. She was due to race Transgrancanaria earlier in 2013 but picked up a virus in the days before. She was due to race the 115km Penyagolosa Trails but she either did not start or pulled out. Ronda dels Cims will be her first big race in 2013 and without doubt she will arrive prepared for the battle. 

Update, 18th June. Julia has had to withdraw from the race for personal reasons.

Hiroko Suzuki (Salomon) gets a notable mention as another name to watch.  Hiroko placed 2nd in UTMF in 2012 and was 4th at Tor des Geants. Without doubt she has experience of long tough races and will be one to watch.

Karine Sanson will also perform to the best of her ability and push all the way.

MEN

Julien Chorier copyright mudsweatandtears.co.uk

Julien Chorier copyright mudsweatandtears.co.uk

The men’s field on paper has less depth than the ladies field. The out-and-out favorite is Julien Chorier. He excels on tough and technical terrain and as a previous winner of Hardrock 100, he will come to Ronda dels Cims understanding 100% what is required to win the race. In early 2012 he won the 100m UTMF in Japan. When TNFUTMB was shortened he left Chamonix and like Emilie Lecomte he made an attempt on the GR20 in Corsica. His plan was to break Kilian Jornet’s record time. However, the weather was against him. Just a few months ago he returned to Japan and this time he placed 2nd at UTMF. Renowned for meticulous preparation, he will be racing in Andorra with only objective, to win!

Jared Campbell copyright La Sportiva

Jared Campbell copyright La Sportiva

*Breaking news… no sooner had I done this preview and I was made aware that Jared Campbell (La Sportiva) would be toeing the line at Ronda dels Cims. Why has this now been confirmed? Well, he ‘tweeted’ this just a few hours ago… “The Andorra course (Ronda dels Cims) looks to be in primo condition! Is it bad that this gets me excited?”

Jared without doubt brings a whole new mix to the men’s race. He is notorious for tough and technical races. Without doubt he will embrace the course in Andorra and embrace the challenge it will bring. One of the very few to finish Barkley, Jared will tough this course out to the bitter end. He recently ran at Pocatello 50 and said he had tired legs but that will have been a training run for the end of June and then Hardrock 100.

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bruno

Bruno Brunod (Team Forte di Bard) is a legend in Skyrunning. Born in 1962 he has a list of achievements that we can only bow down to and acknowledge:

Record ascent and descent of Matterhorn from Cervinia in 3 hours and 14 minutes. Record of ascent and descent of the Monte Rosa from Gressoney in 4 hours and 45 minutes. Record ascent and descent of Aconcagua in 5 hours and 57 minutes. Record ascent of Kilimanjaro on the Marangu route in 5 hours and 38 minutes. Record ascent of Mount Elbert in 1 hours and 54 minutes. Just like Kilian Jornet, he is a true Alpinist. I have very little knowledge of his recent attempts and endeavors but his palmares alone mean that he should be respected and certainly he will be one-to-watch.

Matt Cooper copyright mattcooper.com.au

Matt Cooper copyright mattcooper.com.au

Matt Cooper (Salomon Australia) is currently training in Chamonix preparation for the race. He was 5th at TNF 100 in 2012 and may add an element of the unknown to the front of the race. He was due to race Bogong to Hotham in January but that race was cancelled. At Cradle Mountain Ultra (82k) he placed 3rd, recently won the 100k Alpine Challenge in 12:31 so he looks to be coming in to form.

Terry Conway at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Terry Conway at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Terry Conway (X-Bionic) from the UK is new to Skyrunning. In the UK he has had great success with wins and course records on the Lakeland 100 course but his recent trips to Europe to run at Cavalls del Vent and then La Course des Templiers gave no real indication of his ability to perform against much more competitive fields. In early 2013 he raced at Ultra Trail Barcelona and placed 3rd. He has been out on the Lakeland fells and mountains in recent months gaining time on his legs and accumulating as much vertical as possible. However, the trails in Andorra are a long way removed from those in the UK.

Dave James, The Coastal Challenge copyright iancorless.com

Dave James, The Coastal Challenge copyright iancorless.com

Dave James from the US has been immersing himself in Skyrunning recently. He raced at Transvulcania La Palma, Zegama-Aizkorri and now he will line up at Ronda dels Cims. Dave has a pedigree. He is a 100m US champion and has a fastest 100m time of just over 13 hours. However, he is just not used to the technical terrain that Andorra will throw at him. He is spending time on the course in the coming weeks. It will be a big learning curve buy he is under no illusions of what lies ahead.

Ty Draney copyright door5.com

Ty Draney copyright door5.com

Ty Draney (Patagonia Ultra Running Team) from the US is 38 years old and has over a decade of ultra running experience to fall back on. Way back in 2003 he placed 4th at Bear 100, a race that he then went on to win in 2008. He has placed top 20 at Hardrock 100 and most recently won Grand Teton 100m in 2009, placed 3rd at Grindstone 100m in 2010 and was 5th at The Bear in 2012. His recent form is open to question and a 27th placing at Gorge Waterfalls 50k in March leaves us with little indication of he will perform over 100+m tough mountain miles.

Finally, Nico Valesia (Salomon Agisko) I know little about. His most recent results are as follows: 1st Trail Bianco di Cesana 24 km,  1st Mini Trail di Gargallo,  2nd Trail Lago di Como 106 km,  2nd Trail del LAgo d’Orta 63 km,  7th Trail Oulx 48 km.

18th June, Nico has had to withdraw with an injury

One thing is for sure, Ronda dels Cims will be an incredible few days of ultra mountain trail running. Although I have highlighted the ‘elite’ runners one cannot rule out local talent who will have knowledge and experience of the trails, conditions and mountain. It will be very exciting!

Ones to watch:

Oscar Perez Lopez (2012 winner of the race), Uli Calmbach, Kenichi Yamamoto , Hugues Vos, Pep Ballester Gomes, John Todd, Amando Jorge Teixeira, Jean-Hugues Vos, Pep Ballester Gomes, Jordi Comas Corral, Jordi Codina Ventura and Marc Llucià Fleitas.

You will be able to follow the action unfold via Twitter, Facebook and via iancorless.com 

  • The race website is HERE
  • Skyrunning HERE

The North Face Transgrancanaria – Press Release

Trans Gran Canaria

The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2013 

  • More than 2500 runners from 30 different countries will take part in The North Face® Transgrancanaria, a race that aims to bring the mountain closer to everyone.
  • Marco Olmo, Sébastien Chaigneau, Miguel Heras, Ryan Sandes, John Tidd, Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Gustavo Reyes, Santiago Obaya, Marta Prat, Emilie Forsberg, Carlos Sá, Yeray Durán and Nerea Martínez are some of the great runners that will be fighting to win the race.

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The North Face® Transgrancanaria has become a real challenge for all the ultra race lovers. This Saturday 2nd March 2013, at midnight, one of the most anticipated ultra trail events in Europe will begin. Each year, more and more people come from all over the globe to Gran Canaria to face this race, now established as one of the most renowned mountain races in Europe.

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This ultra trail race, which besides will be marking the start of the great European season, celebrates its 10th anniversary and once more Gran Canaria will turn into the meeting point for the best ultra trail runners in the world, for whom the diversity of the landscapes and the sheer spots of the island make the race even more attractive. Among the great events of that kind that take place over the world, The North Face® Transgrancanaria is internationally well known for its complexity.

In this edition, 2170 people will take part in the 4 types of races available: 420 will be running the Transgrancanaria (119km), 350 will face the Advanced (83km), 700 will run the Transmaratón (42km) and 700, the Starter (24km).

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Some of the most famous professionals taking part in The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2013 are: Sebastien Chaigneau, current champion of the event, and other runners of his kind such as Ryan Sandes, Miguel Heras, Gustavo Reyes, John Tidd, Zigor Iturrieta, Philipp Reiter and Carlos Sa, all favourites to achieve the title.

Additionally, a real ultra trail legend will participate in the race, the Italian man, Marco Olmo, who keeps running the most difficult races at the highest level at his 64 years old. Others top runners such as Aitor Leal, the Llorens Brothers, Emelie Forsberg, Nerea Martínez and Julia Boettger, will attend the race, as they always do.

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

They all have the same goal to face the Nature and push their limits to their ends, challenging the mountains of the island to become the champion. Pablo Criado, Santiago Obaya, Chelis Valle, Lidia Gómez, Nuria Domínguez and Marta Prat are also some of the Spaniards that confirmed their participation. On the other hand, Yeray Durán, David Lutzardo, Carlos García, Evaristo Almeida and Esteban García, among others, will represent the Island. In the women category, the runners Esther Fernández, Diana de la Rosa and Yurena Castrillo, among others, will do the same.

The high level and motivation displayed each year by the hundreds of runners from over 30 different countries (such as Japan, France, Turkey, South Africa or USA) when taking up the challenge of The North Face® Transgrancanaria, together with the spectacular nature of the race itself provide the event with a great dose of emotion and competitiveness. That’s why the event can only bring surprises and experience that all participants, as well as the public attending the race, will remember.

The North Face® Transgrancanaria got to strengthen its commitment to society, doing its best so that the participation to the race grew bigger each year and also making possible for runners of all ages and conditions to take part. The children’s and junior categories were thought to get all the family involved in the project and to teach to the youngest ones the Sport and Nature values. 400 kids between 6 and 17 years old will run among the Kid, Infantil and Junior categories

This is the second consecutive year in which people with physical, mental or sensory impairment can participate in the Transcapacidad race. This race had a great reception and high turnout last year.

The increase in the number of participants to the race leads to an increase in the number of visitors who come to Gran Canaria to take part in The North Face® Transgrancanaria. This confirms that the event is an excellent way to promote the fact that Gran Canaria is a many-sided destination that counts with a great variety of landscapes that go from the coast to the mountains and that provides its visitors with a wide offer of leisure activities.

The North Face® Transgrancanaria is sponsored by The North Face®, Patronato de Turismo and Consejería de Deportes del Cabildo de Gran Canaria, organized by Arista and will be held with the co-production of Overstim, Sonocom and Loype, and the support of some companies from Gran Canaria. 

THE NORTH FACE® TEAM’S RUNNERS INFO SHEET

Seb Chaigneau copyright Ian Corless

Seb Chaigneau copyright Ian Corless

SEBASTIEN CHAIGNEAU (France)

Sébastien Chaigneau was born and brought up in the ‘flatlands’ of France (La Vienne) and from an early age he heard the call of the mountains, and he looked for the limits of the far horizon.

Over the last years, Sébastien has found his strength in ‘ultra-races’ and has achieved great successes, most particularly in the Libyan Challenge and the 2009 edition of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®. In 2010, he won the Chilean The North Face® Endurance Challenge and the Olympus Marathon. In 2011, he placed third in The North Face® Transgrancanaria and in The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®. And in 2012, Chaigneau became the champion of The North Face® Transgrancanaria, beating a time record, passing the finish line in a bit more than 13 hours.

ZIGOR ITURRIETA (Spain)

Zigor Iturrieta is one of Spain’s best mountain runners. He was born in Guipúzcoa, Basque Country. He has travelled around the world from race to race enjoying a long running career already at the age of 36.

In 2009, he participated in six races including a win at the Copa de Euskadi. This was the year he entered the world of ultra trail running – with great results: 4th in the Travesera Integral of the Picos de Europa, 5th in the Vent Cavalls, and 9th in the Ultra Trail Aneto.

2010 was one of his most successful years. Taking part in four races and three ultra trails, he premiered at the eighth edition of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® where he reached podium 3rd place with a time of 21 hours and 6 minutes. Zigor achieved first place win at The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2011 in Gran Canaria.

 

THE NORTH FACE® TRANSGRANCANARIA INFO SHEET

Name: The North Face® Transgrancanaria

Dates: March 1st, 2nd and 3d 2013

Organizer: Club Deportivo Arista

Place: Gran Canaria

Route: Agaete, Tamadaba, Artenara, Bentayga, Aserrador, Presa de Las Niñas, Presa de Chira, Garañón, Teror, Santidad, Tenoya, Plaza de la Música (nearby the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium)

Race categories:

–       TRANSGRANCANARIA: 119 km long, positive incline of 7.300+ meters. Duration: 30 hours. Starting time 00:00 from Agaete.

–       ADVANCED: 83 km long, positive incline of 4.700+ meters. Duration: 24 hours. Starting time: 06:00 from Agaete.

–       MARATHON: 42 km long, accumulated slope of 4.000 meters. Duration: 12 hours. Starting time: 10:00 from Garañón.

–       STARTER: 24 km long, accumulated slope of 1.800 meters. Duration: 10 hours. Starting time: 11:00 from Teror.

–       TRANS-INFANTIL: Playa de Las Canteras

–      KIDS: from 6 to 9 years old – 1500 meters long.

–      INFANTIL: from 10 to 13 years old – 2 km long.

–      JUVENIL: from 14 to 17 years old – 6 km long.