Episode 117 – Debbie Martin-Consani, Jonathan Albon, Martin Yelling

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This is Episode 117 of Talk Ultra and it’s a packed show. We talk with Jonathan Albon who last year won the Tromso SkyRace and this year placed 2nd. Debbie Martin-Consani talks about running long and her recent CR at the North Downs Way 100 in the UK. We also speak to my fellow podfather and good friend, Martin Yelling, about his inspiring, ‘Long Run Home.’ The News and Niandi co-hosts.

Karl is on the AT and he is now through the first week and everything seems to be going well. Each week I will post a 7-day update on my website, days 1-7 are HERE

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is going to be available from October in Italy with Germany, Spain and the UK following – HERE

00:07:24 NEWS

TROMSO SKYRACE HERE

Jasmin Paris 8:43:53

Malena Haukøy 9:10:20

Martina Valmassoi 9:44:02

Tom Owens 6:45:15

Jonathan Albon 6:53:25

Finlay Wild 6:55:03

The VK which was run the day before saw Stian Angermund confirm his form from the Skyrunning World Championships with a strong victory and Emelie Forsberg won a nail biting sprint for the line to show us all she is on her way back. Read and view images HERE.

00:16:07 INTERVIEW JONATHAN ALBON

SIERRE ZINAL

It was a Kenyan victory for Petro Mamu ahead of the UK’s Robbie Simpson and Francesco Puppi from Italy was 3rd. In the ladies race, Michelle Maier took a great victory in 2:58 ahead of Lucy Wambui Murigi and Elisa Desco was 3rd.

TRANSROCKIES

120 miles over 6 stages and victory went to David Laney/ Ryan Ghelfi in the men’s race and Amanda Basham/ Keely Henninger for the women.

NORTH DOWNS WAY 100

Male:

  1. Neil Kirby 16:46:21
  2. James Poole 17:20:27
  3. John Stocker 18:03:26

Female:

  1. Debbie Martin-Consani 18:34:54 (6th overall)
  2. Annabelle Stearns 21:41:32
  3. Wendy Shaw 22:33:55

00:50:14 INTERVIEW DEBBIE MARTIN-CONSANI

MONTANA BRIDGE RIDGE RUN

This 20 mile race gets a mention as Jim Walmsley of Western States fane was apparently flying ahead of course record and then…. a lack of confidence saw him backtrack, WSER is obviously haunting him. Turns out he was on the correct course, he turned around and this time won but missed the record.

Gonzalo Calisto, 5th at 2015 UTMB tests positive for EPO – Compressport have now released a statement which is a really positive sign. Read HERE.

ANGELES CREST 100

Guillaume Calmaettes 19:14

Dominick Layfield 19:30

Dominick Grossman 19:57

Jenny Welch 26:51

Maria Lourdes Rivera 27:02

Selina Nordberg 28:54

SRI CHIMNEY SELF-TRANSCENDENCE 3100mile

It was the 20th edition of the 3100m journey and Yuri Trosteny completed the distance first in  46 days and just 94-minutes faster than Asprihanal Aalto. Asprihanal won the race in 2015 in a record 40 days. This time he came from behind and on one day he ran 86 miles to try to steal victory – 94 minutes super close! Yuri ran consistently more than 63 miles everyday!

When this show comes out it will be the Matterhorn Ultraks in Switzerland and then the week after it’s UTMB with a super stacked field and the iconic Trofeo Kima in Italy.

01:56:30 INTERVIEW MARTIN YELLING

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Northern Territory

Alice Springs 60K Ultramarathon | 60 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

Belgium

Flanders

Oxfam Trailwalker Belgium | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Bulgaria

Orehovo Ultra | 52 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Persenk Ultra | 157 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Wild Boar Ultra | 104 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Black Spur Ultra – 100km | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Black Spur Ultra – 100km Relay | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Black Spur Ultra – 50km | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Squamish 50 | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Squamish 50/50 | 130 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Squamish 50K | 50 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

TrailStoke Ultra | 60 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Ontario

Iroquoia Trail Test – 50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Quebec

Trans Vallée | 67 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Finland

Eastern Finland

100 km | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

Ultra-Trail Côte d’Azur Mercantour | 140 kilometers | September 02, 2016 | website

Ariège

Ultra du Montcalm | 65 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Grand Raid des Pyrénées – le Grand Trail | 80 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Grand Raid des Pyrénées – l’Ultra | 160 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Grand Raid des Pyrénées – Tour des Cirques | 117 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Isère

La Traversée Nord | 85 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

L’Echappée Belle Intégrale | 144 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Ultra Tour des 4 Massifs | 160 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Ultra Tour des 4 Massifs – 90 km | 90 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Loir-et-Cher

100km des Etangs de Sologne | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

50km de la Sologne des Rivières | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Savoie

Courmayeur Champex Chamonix (CCC) | 98 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) | 166 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Orsières – Champex – Chamonix (OCC) | 53 kilometers | August 25, 2016 | website

Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL) | 290 kilometers | August 22, 2016 | website

Sur les traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) | 119 kilometers | August 24, 2016 | website

Tour de la Grande Casse | 63 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Vienne

Trail des Castors – 80 km | 80 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Germany

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

75 km | 75 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Saarland

RAG-Hartfüßler – Trail 58 km | 58 kilometers | August 28, 2016 | website

Iceland

Fire and Ice | 250 kilometers | August 29, 2016 | website

The Iceland Trek | 84 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

India

Uttarakhand

Uttarkashi 135 | 135 miles | August 26, 2016 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Achill Ultra Marathon | 39 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

Kerry

Kerry Way Ultra | 120 miles | September 02, 2016 | website

Longford

Longford Ultra Marathon | 63 kilometers | August 28, 2016 | website

Wicklow

Wicklow Coastal Ultra Trail Marathon | 50 kilometers | August 28, 2016 | website

Japan

Hakusan Geotrail 100 K | 100 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

Hakusan Geotrail 250 K | 250 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

Kenya

Tsavorun | 84 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Morocco

65 km | 65 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

New Zealand

Great Naseby Water Race 100 km | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Great Naseby Water Race 160 km | 160 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Great Naseby Water Race 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Great Naseby Water Race 60 km | 60 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Great Naseby Water Race 80 km | 80 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Norway

styrkeprøven True West | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Peru

80 K | 80 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

80K Relay | 80 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Réunion

Cimasarun | 55 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Romania

Dracula 106K | 106 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Dracula 106K 2-Day Stage Race | 106 kilometers | August 26, 2016 | website

Vlad Tepes 52K | 52 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

South Africa

Namaqua Quest | 110 kilometers | August 24, 2016 | website

Peninsula Ultra Fun Run | 80 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Spain

Aragon

8K | 78 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Sweden

Fjällmaraton Bydalsfjällen 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

UltraVasan 90K | 90 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Switzerland

Grisons

Swiss Irontrail T141 | 147 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Swiss Irontrail T81 | 89 kilometers | August 19, 2016 | website

Obwald

MOUNTAINMAN Ultra | 80 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Valais

Ultra Tour Monte Rosa | 117 kilometers | September 01, 2016 | website

Ultra Tour Monte Rosa – Stage Race | 117 kilometers | September 01, 2016 | website

Vaud

Ultra Trail du Barlatay | 87 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Anglesey

Ring o’ Fire | 131 miles | September 02, 2016 | website

Buckinghamshire

Ridgeway Challenge | 86 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

East Sussex

100km | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

England

Ultra Great Britain | 200 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Greater London

T184 | 184 miles | August 26, 2016 | website

Hertfordshire

Chiltern Way Ultra 100k | 100 kilometers | August 28, 2016 | website

Chiltern Way Ultra 200k | 200 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Moray

Speyside Way Race | 36 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Sheffield

Ultra Tour of the Peak District | 60 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

USA

California

100K | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

100M | 100 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

50M | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Bulldog 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Castle Peak 100K | 100 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Diablo Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Tamalpa Headlands 50K | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Colorado

Devil Mountain 50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Devil Mountain 50 Mile Ultra | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Leadville Trail 100 Run | 100 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Silverton Alpine 50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Georgia

Yeti Snakebite 50K | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Yeti Snakebite 50M | 50 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

Idaho

Standhope 60K | 60 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Michigan

Marquette Trail 50 Kilometer | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Marquette Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Montana

Fool’s Gold 50M | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Fool’s Gold 50 Miler | 50 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Ghosts of Yellowstone | 100 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Ghosts of Yellowstone 100M | 100 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Mystery Ranch 50K Endurance Run | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Rampage the Roots Montana’s Ultra Challenge 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Nebraska

50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Nevada

51 km | 51 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

Black Rock City 50km | 50 kilometers | August 30, 2016 | website

Marlette 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

Ruby Mountain Relay | 184 miles | August 19, 2016 | website

New Hampshire

100 Miler | 100 kilometers | August 21, 2016 | website

50 Miler | 50 miles | August 21, 2016 | website

New York

Twisted Branch Trail Run | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Oregon

Hood to Coast Relay | 199 miles | August 26, 2016 | website

Where’s Waldo 100k Ultra | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Pennsylvania

Baker Trail UltraChallenge | 50 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

Rhode Island

100 miles | 100 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

South Dakota

50 km | 50 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Lean Horse Half Hundred | 50 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

Lean Horse Hundred | 100 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

Texas

Habanero Hundred 100k | 100 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Habanero Hundred 100 miler | 100 miles | August 20, 2016 | website

Habanero Hundred 50k | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Reveille Peak Ranch – 60km | 60 kilometers | August 27, 2016 | website

Utah

Skyline Mountain 50K | 50 kilometers | August 20, 2016 | website

Washington

200 Mile S2S | 200 miles | August 26, 2016 | website

Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | August 27, 2016 | website

03:07:19 CLOSE

 

03:11:03

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Website – talkultra.com

Kilian Jornet and Everest FKT

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Last weekend I was in Tromso, Norway for the Tromso SkyRace. The race was the first race in the new Skyrunner® Extreme Series.

Created a couple of years ago by Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, the first edition in 2014 was a low key affair with a handful of participants, last year the race was added to the Skyrunner® World Series and now this year, the race has reached maturity with an additional 8km and ‘Extreme’ status.

The race is an extension of Kilian and Emelie’s day-to-day life in the mountains and I guess this is what is so special about the event (in addition to a stunning course), it is the proximity that the dynamic duo have with all the participants. They are really ‘hands-on!’

In and around all the planning and the energy for a race, there is time to chill, relax and take time out with friends. Both of them find that an important aspect of a sport they love and the quiet of Norway allows for a ‘normal’ life.

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With a VK on Friday and then the main events on Saturday, the duo have no rest. In particular, one manages to gain a full perspective of the energy of Kilian. He marks the course (with others), checks the course, runs around doing errands and then when the race is underway he is out ahead of the runners reaching the highest point of the course only to cheer runners on (and photograph them) and then to get back to the finish line and welcome each and everyone home! Of course, they have an incredible team of volunteers; it’s a group effort.

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Race day and packing was over close to midnight and then the following morning at a leisurely breakfast I assumed Kilian was sleeping or packing. I asked Emelie, ‘Is Kilian preparing for his trip to Nepal?’

The answer, ‘No, he has already gone!’

It puts everything into perspective. Kilian is a man who has an abundance of energy that few can fathom.

I have fond memories thinking back to September 2012. I was in northern Spain and it was the day before Cavalls del Vent. Sitting at a table for a pre-race dinner was Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Emelie Forsberg, Terry Conway and others… Kilian revealed his ‘Summits of my Life’ project and of course, we all asked, what will be the final?

‘Everest!’ was the response.

The table was quiet. I remember hearing Anton saying, ‘So cool man!’ and then without thinking, speaking on impulse I said, ‘Will you use oxygen?’

The table went quiet, all eyes looked at me and then Kilian.

Kilian replied quietly, ‘Of course not… that would be doping!’

That moment has stuck with me and I often think of it and now, after a series of successful and incredible summits, Kilian is in Nepal getting ready for the ultimate one.

I have to say, I, like many others have had worries and concerns about the ‘Summits’ program. Let’s be clear here, I don’t doubt or question Kilian’s ability. What I do say and have always said, if you do anything enough times, it will eventually go wrong or something will happen. Kilian has already experienced loss and tragedy on this project. The death of Stephan Brosse was certainly a wake up call  but Kilian understands the risks and I think back to a quote of his when he said:

 “You have to go look for happiness in life, find it in the things that make you feel alive. Life is not something to be preserved or protected, it is to be  explored and lived to the full.”

I like to think that I have that freedom of thought but I lack the ability to go with it. It makes a huge difference.

“On the track, there is no risk so we time ourselves to get a benchmark. In the mountains, it is different. We try to become one with the mountain by finding new limits. It’s an emotion, from the heart, very connected to risk.”

Everest is the final test in the project and will probably be the most demanding challenge of the project and, indeed, of his life. He has broken records on mountains around the world and the final part of this personal project is an incredible one; an attempt to establish a ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) for ascending Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 8,848m. Kilian is taking on this challenge his own way, in the most pure and minimalist manner possible.

“Everest will probably be one of the most demanding climbs I’ve ever faced. It will be a great learning experience, from how my body reacts to the high altitude to how to apply the Alpine approach to the mountain. I’ve been preparing for this challenge for months and I’m keen to get started. The Summits of My Life project has always taken me to my limits and this time it won’t be any different,” Kilian Jornet on his blog post here.

Denali, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro have seen records fall to Kilian. Altitude is going to be a key issue, something that he struggled with when ascending Aconcagua. In a recent post on the Suunto website (here) Kilian says, “The highest I have been is 7700 m, I was feeling good then, but there is a big difference after 8200 m and after 8500 m. It’s really important to be well acclimatized to around 6000 m. So I will spend many nights at around this altitude. And then it’s important I go to around 8000 m before the attempt.”

Weather, conditions, adjustment and I guess an element of luck are all going to play a major factor in a successful FKT on this Himalayan monster. There are no guarantees here! Kilian although clear, focused and meticulously prepared seems to understand that he may well need more than one attempt, “It’s a big mountain, and we have a long term perspective. We will try this year, but probably we will need to come again next year.”

With a proposed attempt date for September, the ascent will be made on the north side, via either Norton-couloir or Horbein-couloir depending on conditions. The Hornbein Couloir is a notable narrow and steep couloir high to the west on the north face of Mount Everest in Tibet, that extends from about 8000 m to 8500 m elevation, 350 metres below the summit. For the first 400 m vertical, the couloir inclines at about 47 degrees, and the last 100 m is narrower and steeper with about a 60 degree average incline. The Norton Couloir or Great Couloir is a steep gorge high on the north face of Mount Everest in Tibet, China, which lies east of the pyramidal peak and extends to within 150 m below the summit.

Everest_Kilian

As one would expect, Kilian will travel ‘fast and light’ with no oxygen and he will carry everything he needs in a pack.

“This is so I can move more quickly. With light equipment we can advance quicker, although we know this increases the risk. We’re aware of this risk and we’re taking it because ultimately this is the way we like to approach the mountain.” (Summits of my Life blog)

The Everest expedition is made up of Jordi Tosas, an Alpine climber who knows the area well, as well as the cameramen and guides Sébastien Montaz-Rosset and Vivian Bouchez who has trained with Kilian in and around Chamonix.

“Whatever happens, if we don’t make it, for me it’s not a failure. On the contrary, it’s a lesson. I know that whatever happens we’ll return from Everest having learnt something.” – Kilian Jornet

Follow this incredible story as it unfolds:

Facebook: facebook.com/Summitsofmylife

Twitter: @summitsofmlylife

Credits:

Summits of my Life HERE

Suunto HERE

and Wikipedia

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Tromso SkyRace® 2016 Summary and Images – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Not even the 24-hour daylight could illuminate the landscape, the mountains and fjords were lost. Cloud shrouded the 3rd edition of the Tromsø SkyRace®, the first race in the new Skyrunner® Extreme Series.

Tromsø SkyRace®, is the brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, with 2 high profile race directors like this, it’s not necessary to ask, ‘how technical is the race?’ You just know it’s going to be possibly one of the toughest races out there. Previous editions have confirmed this, in 2015, Jonathan Albon won the race in a new course record 6:08:41 and Salomon Team Manager Greg Vollet said, “It was crazy, but it was awesome! Certainly one of the most difficult races in the world!”

Hundreds of runners departed from the new start (and finish) outside The Edge Hotel, Tromso. It must be noted, that this new start and finish adds 8km’s onto what was an already tough course. Running what looks like a figure of 8 drawing, the route takes in 2 mountain summits: Tromsdalstind (1.238m) and Hamperokken (1.404m) which must be run twice; out and back! Crossing snow fields, rivers, dense forest and of course technical ridges, 4600m elevation awaited the runners but that statistic is only part of the story. It’s the technicality that makes this race hard.

Steep descents, challenging terrain and the ridge running at Hamperokken requires 110% focus. This IS NOT a race for everyone.

“The Hamperokken ridge is difficult. For much of it I was using both my hands and feet for purchase. At one point of the razor edge ridge we had to jump a gap from one rock to another. It was funny to see how our little contingent had gone from racing to simply traversing this dangerous section together.” – Jonathan Albon

It requires a level of skill, devotion and commitment that not every runner has. Purists would say that Skyrunning may well finally be harking back to the glory days of the late 80’s or early 90’s when Giacometti, Meraldi, Brunod pioneered a new sport on the slopes of Monte Rosa and Mont-Blanc.

Skyrunner® World silver medalist for the SKY distance and recent winner at SkyRace Comapedrosa, Tom Owens was the odds-on favourite for victory and it was no surprise that he dictated the pace from the front. His arrival at Hamperokken ridge in 1st place was to plan, however, the proximity of 2nd Finlay Wild and 3rd Jonathan Albon confirmed that the race ahead was going to be a tough one!. They were only separated by seconds!

The ridge offers no room to pass and crossing from one end to the other is all about being comfortable with the challenge and doing so at ones own pace. On the descent the trio stayed together but Tom moved ahead approximately 300m from the top of the final summit and made his move. Jonathan and Finlay pursued but Tom was once again running the race of his life; he was just too quick. Last years’ winner Jonathan Albon held on for 2nd and Finlay Wild placed 3rd just behind, it was an incredible race and a Brit 1, 2, 3 podium.

Tom said post-race, “This is just like three of the hardest fell races you could ever run with a load of technical sections and the ridge was just incredible. Kilian and Emelie have created a beautiful (and hard) race. What a start to the Extreme Series!”

The ladies race was dictated by pre-race favourite, Jasmin Paris and she arrived at Hamperokken ridge in 1st. Looking relaxed and composed, Jasmin was running as hard as she needed still feeling jaded from recent FKT efforts and racing. Moving along the ridge she smiled, she was having fun.

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

Last year, Malene Blikken Haukoy placed 3rd and this year she was running a comfortable 2nd on home terrain. Her ony threat came from Martina Valmassoi but her lead was comfortable and she cruised to the line securing the 2nd podium slot.

Martina Valmassoi running one of the longest and hardest races of her life like the two ladies in-front of her looked settled for the final podium place and the finish line could not arrive soon enough.

Jasmin, Like Tom Owens reveled in the ‘British’ like conditions that Norway and Tromso provided, “It’s just an incredible race. I loved the ridge, it was so much fun and the terrain and temperatures made me feel at home. Now I am really looking forward to returning to Scotland for the Salomon Glencoe Skyline!”

One thing is for sure, Kilian and Emelie have created something quite special in Tromso, it has set the stage for Trofeo Kima, the Salomon Glencoe Skyline and the Skyrunner® Extreme Series. 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. For sure it’s Skyrunning but it’s Skyrunning with bells on, it’s alpinism without the clutter.

Results

Jasmin Paris 8:43:53

Malena Haukøy 9:10:20

Martina Valmassoi 9:44:02

 

Tom Owens 6:45:15

Jonathan Albon 6:53:25

Finlay Wild 6:55:03


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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Tromsø SkyRace® 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend with the Tromsø SkyRace® the first race of three in the new Skyrunner® Extreme Series which also includes the iconic Trofeo Kima and the soon to be iconic, Salomon Glencoe Skyline in the UK.

A double whammy weekend of running that starts with the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and concludes with the Tromsø SkyRace® is the brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Needless to say, the dynamic Skyrunning duo have something quite special in store.

On Friday, 15 countries will participate in the tough, challenging, leg hurting, lung busting Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® as they climb 1000 vertical meters over the short distance of 2.7km. Starting on the shores of the sea, the race really does encompass the ethos of ‘sea-to-sky’ perfectly and concludes at the altitude of 1044m at Store Blåmann.

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Double Skyrunning World Champion (SKY and VK) Stian Angermund is without doubt the hot favourite for victory after two incredible performances in Spain. Running on home soil, Stian will without doubt be fired up to impress. Strong competition will come from Ferran Teixodo, Hannes Perkmann, Rolf Einar Jensen, Allan Spangler, Pieter Schnapps and Ferran and Jordi Lorenzo.

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Laura Orgue took silver medal in the Skyrunning World Championships just 2-weeks ago for the VK distance and last weekend she held off a charging Oihana Kortazar at the SkyRace Comapedrosa to take a stunning victory. Laura has said she is feeling a little tired but without doubt, she is the favourite for victory in Tromso. Yngvild Kaspersen, like Stian, will be running on home soil and although the VK is not her speciality, we can expect a top performance. Other strong competition will come from Natalia Tomasiak and regular VK competitor, Therese Sjursen.

Saturday’s Hamperokken SkyRace® is a beast of a course and has some of the most technical and challenging sections ever witnessed in a Skyrunning race. Designed by Kilian and Emelie the race has been instrumental in inspiring the new Extreme Series which harks back to the early pioneering days of Giacometti, Meraldi and Brunod.

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Covering a ‘new’ distance of 53km (the old distance was 45km) and 4600m of vertical terrain, the race really is a challenge for those taking part. This is reflected in the 2015 winning time of Jonathan Albon’s 6:08:41. Jonathan will return this year no doubt looking for a repeat victory as he starts his ‘Extreme’ journey in 2016.

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Arguably Jonathan’s biggest threat will come from the UK’s Tom Owens who is on fire at the moment. Tom placed silver at the Skyrunning World Championships for the SKY distance and last weekend took a stunning victory at the SkyRace Comapedrosa where he said post race, “I felt brilliant today, my legs were superb!” If Tom makes the journey to Norway, he will push Jonathan, no doubt!

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For me though, the one to watch will be Finlay Wild. Finlay spent his teens and early twenties mountaineering in summer and winter throughout Scotland and abroad. His local mountain Ben Nevis provided an obvious running challenge and he went on to win the Ben Nevis Race six times. In 2012, Finlay set new course records on Glamaig, Glen Rosa Horseshoe and Sliochmay. In 2013 he set a new record on Scotland’s Cullin Ridge knocking 15-minutes of the old record to set a benchmark time of 2:59. He may very well be the real surprise package of the race!

Also watch out for Andrew Fallas, another Scottish runner relatively unknown in Skyrunning circles but the ‘Extreme’ element is bringing the fell/ mountain runners into a new playground.

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Norwegian Rolf Einar Jensen made the podium at the Tromso race in 2015 and with race experience, local knowledge and an ability to run fast over this technical terrain, one can expect him to equal if not better his past results. Equally, Eirik Haugsness who won the first edition of the Tromso race 2-years ago brings experience to the start line. It’s going to be tight up at the front and Philipp Reiter will add to the pressure.

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Luke Nelson is flying over from the USA, he is a prolific ultra runner and an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit in the USA. This year Luke is looking to compete in the Extreme Series. Matt Cooper from Australia has experience of Trofeo Kima and once again will return this year, to the Italian classic; Tromso kicks off his ‘Extreme’ campaign and he will make his presence felt.

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Sota Ogawa makes up the last of the top men who will contest the podium after placing 9th at Sai Kung 50k in 2015.

Surprises will no doubt come from the UK’s Jim Mann who is an experienced fell runner and winner of the 2015 Dragons Back Race. Also watch out for Konrad Rawlik who has just married the ladies hot favourite for victory, Jasmin Paris.
ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort will also run along with Zigor Iturrieta, Christophe Le Saux and Alfred Gil Garcia amongst others. It’s going to be a cracking race!

Finally a notable mention in the men’s race for Tim Shieff. Tim is one of the worlds most successful ‘Freerunners’ and is an expert in Parkour. In 2009 he was crowned World Champion after winning the Barclaycard World Freerun Championships. Although Tim is new to Skyrunning, he has completed the Skyrunning UK’s V3K and in a recent chat, Tim told me, ‘running is my new passion and particularly Skyrunning. The technical courses that Skyrunning offer are a great extension of Freerunning and Parkour.’  I wonder, could Tim surprise everyone like Jonathan did last year?

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The ladies race has less depth but Jasmin Paris from the UK, in my opinion, will make an impact on the circuit in a huge way in 2016. Last year she placed 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Glencoe Skyline and just a couple of weeks ago, Jasmin took the bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ULTRA distance. This all came on the back of minimal training due to her recent wedding. Jasmin’s legs may well feel a little tired in Tromso but the course, the technical sections and all the climbing will suit her… watch out ladies!

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Martina Valmassoi recently placed well at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and comes to Tromso with plenty of high mountain experience. Both Natalia Roman Lopez (who placed 7th at the recent High Trail Vanoise and 26th at Transvulcania) and Kathrin Shambeck (who was 53rd at Matterhorn Ultraks last year and 27th Transvulcania in 2013) will also look to make the top-5.

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Malene Blikken Haukoy may well be a dark horse after a victory at Homindal Rundt 70k in 2015 and her 3rd place at the Tromso race in 2015. 

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

Course records are 6:08:41 and 7:09:54 for the men’s and ladies’ races held by Jonathan Albon and Emelie Forsberg, will we see a new benchmark set in 2016?


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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Hardrock 100 2016 Preview

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Hardrock 100 2016 in many respects is all about two returning champions, Kilian Jornet and Anna Frost.

Kilian has won the last two editions and in the process has set two course records, 22:41 in 2014 being the fastest. Many, me included, wonder why he is returning… I think it’s simple; he just loves the race and the course.

Kilian has done little running this year but I don’t think it will make much difference, he always pulls a great result out of the bag and I see no difference for 2016. Long races of 100 miles plus though are difficult to nail time and time again, so Kilian may have a below par or bad year? If he does, Xavier Thevenard may be one to take over the charge.

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Xavier winning TNFUTMB

Xavier is the only runner to win CCC, TDS and UTMB – an impressive thing! However, he does blow hot and cold and can be quite unpredictable. In all honesty, he is most unpredictable when the pressure is on him. Although Hardrock is a key race, it doesn’t have the high media profile of races such as UTMB and therefore, Xavier may well have a great race.

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Jason Schlarb did Hardrock on skis over the winter and I think he will find running the race easier… He has all the potential to do well on this course as his 4th at UTMB has proven. As is always is the case, Jason will need the Hardrock gods on his side.

Jeff Browning has been on fire as of late and the 100 mile distance and the Hardrock course are made for him. However, he just made the podium at Western States! On the plus side, he will have had 19 days recovery post WSER and that is a good block of RnR. I don’t see Jeff beating an inform Kilian but if Kilian falters, watch this space!

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Nick Clark did the WSER and Hardrock double way back in 2011. At the time he was a beast who trounced 100 milers and intimidated those around him. Don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t meet a nicer guy! Nick has had a tough couple of years, directly attributable to the head-to-head with Ian Sharman going for the Grand Slam – Nick has never been the same since. Hardrock suits ‘Clarky’ though and I wouldn’t rule him out… I hope he finds some of that 2011 form when he placed 3rd and set the WSER/ Hardrock double record.

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson leaves me with a question mark. The ‘American Tarzan’ (see here) has had a tough time in the last 12 to 24 months. Like so many runners, he nailed it, had huge success and then faded. Timmy loves to run and I actually think in many respects it contributed to his lack of form. He just got tired… ask Geoff Roes about this. I remember sitting on the beach in La Palma after Transvulcania a year or so back. Timmy had been on the island for a month and racked up the miles and hours, he couldn’t resist going out. When the race came, he didn’t have the energy to race. He then went to Hardrock and gritted out a suffer fest for a finish. But he has been quiet since and I am pleased about this. With luck he has recharged his batteries and he will toe the line fighting fit. I really do hope so – he could win it, no doubt.

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Joe Grant has a love affair with Hardrock and ultimately I do believe that Joe was made for this course. Despite solid results elsewhere, Hardrock is where Joe shines. His 2012 2nd place is still a career highlight. Can he do it again? Well the answer has to be yes, can he beat Kilian – no? But with the KJ factor removed, Joe could come up with something special. The only stumbling block may be that Joe only just got is HR100 place as he was on the waitlist.

Other contenders for the top 10 are Scott Jaime, Ben Lewis, Nick Coury and Ryan Kaiser amongst others. I also have a sneaky feeling that a certain Bryon Powell will do well this year. He has been committed and focused on the goal.

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Anna Frost is back. I did wonder if she would return but I guess, like Kilian, the Hardrock bug has taken hold. Last year Frosty had a head-to-head battle with Darcy Piceu and she came out on top not only with victory but a 2nd fastest time of 28:22. I do think that Anna is winding down her ‘racing’ days (not participation I must add) and running is becoming not only an extension of her life but a vehicle for other things. Post Transvulcania this year she said, ‘I can’t believe I ran THAT fast last year!’ Hardrock though is a different beast and I think it suits Frosty’s current mindset. She has been out on the course training and for me, and many others, she is the odds on favourite for victory.

Bethany Lewis has a great set of results at the 100 mile distance and at races that draw great parallels with Hardrock. Victory at Bear 100 and Wasatch 100. Recent exploits with FKT’s have had success and this is why Hardrock will suit her, it’s a big day out in the mountains and it’s one she will embrace.

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Emma Roca may well be the lady who stirs things up. This lady needs know introduction, she has been there and done it time and time again and her variety of results are impressive. Western States, UTMB, Leadville and so on and so on. Emma has every chance to win this race!

Two third places and one second certainly means that Darla Askew knows how to run and hike the HR100 course. In all honesty, she is likely to place somewhere between 2nd and 5th, it just depends on how the race pans out and how the top contenders run – victory is a possibility but unlikely.

Betsy Kalmeyer placed 2nd in 2014 but she would do well to repeat that with the ladies listed above. However, the contenders for the top 3 is always a small pool from which to take water, it only needs a slip and Betsy will be waiting.

Other ladies who will have an impact on the top 5 (top 10) are: Liz Bauer, Betsy Nye, Tina Ure and Megan Hicks.

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Race Website HERE

Course Description – ©hardrock100

The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world.

The course is closed. That means that runners are required to follow the specified route.

Four legs, linking the Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton areas. The finish is in Silverton, the same location as the start. The course is 100 miles long, has a cumulative vertical gain of 33,050 feet of climb and 33,050 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 66,100 feet, and takes place at an average elevation of about 11,000 feet. The high point is 14,048 feet.

This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations will be located in the towns with less well-equipped aid stations in between. Runners are expected to be largely self-supporting between the towns.

This is not an orienteering event. We intend that you be able to concentrate primarily on running. However, remoteness, weather, animals, and people problems on the course make this problematic at best. We will mark the entire course before the run. However, long road sections and maintained trails may not be marked at all. Cross-country sections will be marked more intensely. We shall continue our trend over the past few years of less intense course marking with fewer flags along all course sections. The flags should be readily visible, even to those with red/green color blindness. The markers have reflective tags for night visibility. On some portions of the route we may place colored engineer tape. Chalk may be used to mark other sections, particularly roads in towns. Runners are responsible for knowing the prescribed course and following it whether or not markers are present.

The altitude range of this run (7,700 to 14,000+ feet) takes the runner through several climate zones. At the lower altitude, forests of aspen, pine, and spruce are common. Timberline is locally at about 11,800 feet, though this can vary greatly. Above timberline is alpine tundra and low vegetation interspersed with krummholz (low, stunted spruce, fir, and willow).

In the summer, animal life is abundant. You will almost certainly see elk in the high meadows, possibly with their young. Stay clear of elk: they can be ornery at times. Bears (black, not grizzlies) are present, though seldom seen. Mountain lions may also be encountered.

The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

Refer to the current Runners Manual for a full, accurate, and detailed course description.

Course Descriptions:

Order a copy of the Drake Mountain Map (official course map) from San Juan Mountains AssociationBuckskin Bookstore in Ouray, Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, or Rigs Adventure Coin Ridgway.
*Just the base map; does not include the Hardrock course specifically marked

Weather

The weather is a dominant factor for this run and can be at least as formidable as the terrain, remoteness, or high altitude. The run date is a compromise among competing weather factors. There is usually a period of a few days to weeks each year when the snow is generally gone, but the summer “monsoon” has not yet gotten into full swing – we’ve tried to hit this window. The usual “monsoon” pattern is a daily weather cycle, starting in the morning with blue skies. As the day warms up, thunderheads build up and around noon intense electrical thunderstorms may commence, continuing until late afternoon or evening, at which time the thunderstorms abate until the next morning.

The Colorado Mountain Club advises climbers in Colorado’s mountains to be off the peaks by noon. Since this may not fit in with your position on the course, you must use extreme caution. Always remember that the time limit is 48 hours. The long time limit is not only in recognition of the difficult terrain, but also allows runners to wait out thunderstorms or other life-threatening weather. You can hunker down in a valley for 2-4 hours and still finish; but, if you get fried by lightning your running career may end on the spot. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Take comfort in the fact that these thunderstorms are widespread. If you are pinned down, chances are that other runners are, too. Your position in the field will probably not change. Use the time wisely – eat, drink, stay warm, and rest. You will be able to run faster when the storm has passed. At the RD’s discretion, Aid Station Captains can hold runners if weather conditions are considered too dangerous and prevent runners from continuing if not carrying gear appropriate for conditions.

It is our general opinion that the first fatality we may have will be from lightning! Several runners in past years have had direct contact with lightning and there have been several more near misses. We would rather that there never be a fatality or injury. We will continually be giving you warnings, cautions, updates, and suggestions regarding the exposure you must face when attempting this run.

Prepare for any amount of snow! We could even have snowfall just before the run. In 1992 we went back to Handies Peak in August, just a month after the run, and found six inches of new snow on the ground! In 1997 we had an ice and snowstorm during the run. Remember, there have been avalanche fatalities in Colorado in every month of the year except September.

Zegama-Aizkorri 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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Zegama is Zegama! Ask anyone about Zegama-Aizkorri and the answer will be, ‘Zegama? well, Zegama is Zegama!’

Yes, it is a unique race! The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 roles on from Transvulcania Ultramarathon on the island of La Palma and now transfers to mainland Spain, the Basque country – Zegama!

Due to it’s location, early season date and unpredictable weather, Zegama-Aizkorri has seen many epic battles. Catalan mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet has won the race an incredible six times. The combination of challenging terrain, vertical gain and descent and typically bad weather fall into the Catalans hands perfectly. It’s a race where strength of mind must be matched by the strength of the body.

A quiet and sleepy place, Zegama is transformed on race weekend into a mecca of mountain running. The course is reassuringly predictable, however, as past editions have shown, the weather adds the variety and a glorious sunny warm edition can be followed with a snowy, wet and miserably cold edition.

Taking in a loop over the Arratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri. Otzaurte provides an early indication of form on the day but it’s on the legendary climb of Sancti Spiritu where thousands of spectators line the trail where the action starts to unfold.

Taking in the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region; Arratz, Aizkorri, Akategi and Aitxuri the highest at over 1500m. Zegama-Aizkorri is a classic mountain marathon distance race with 5472m of vertical gain.

A ridge run at altitude leads to the final summit. Scrambling over rocks the final descent arrives which leads to the roads of this sleepy town, now transformed into a hub of colour and noise.

Zegama is Zegama!

******

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The race is notable for it’s history and one man alone has shone brightly at Zegama – Kilian Jornet. Many thought the Catalan would not run in Zegama in 2016 due to his exploits in mountaineering and his ‘Summits of my Life’ project, not so – Kilian will run!

‘Kilian posted on Twitter on May 17th, ‘Last long training before Zegama done, 13h 6500m in technical terrain 🙈🙈🙈’

Needless to say, Kilian is the favourite!

In all honesty, as one would expect, the quality of the line up at Zegama is exceptional, particularly in the men’s race. The ladies race is without doubt one of the weakest line-ups in recent years – Emelie Forsberg is injured, Laura Orgue is injured, Elisa Desco is injured, and the race is also missing, pocket rocket, Stevie Kremer amongst others.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando just blitzed the Transvulcania course once again and although you can’t rule him out, I can’t help but think he will just miss that extra few percent (due to fatigue) of energy needed and required to top the podium. He will fight all the way to the line though and he will unleash a breakneck descent for potential victory.

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Remi Bonnet has looked for an opportunity to race Kilian for sometime. Yes, he is that keen… he has been tipped by many, me included, that he may well be ‘the next big thing’ in the world of Skyrunning. He is an incredible talent in the VK discipline and as he showed at the Rut in Limone, he is also an incredible talent at the Sky distance. Remi could well push Kilian all the way to the line but I will still give KJ the nod for victory.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-1920Tadei Pivk was a man on fire in 2015 and was champion of the Skyrunner World Series. He has already started his 2016 well with races in Italy and a recent 2nd place at Yading SkyRun in China. Tadei love Zegama- Aizkorri and he always finds the form to make an impact on the podium.

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Saul Padua is a VK specialist and a very good one! He recently won the Transvulcania VK and in 2015 he dipped his toe in the Sky distance, in particular the Dolomites where he lead the charge to the summit only to loose his lead on the descent. I can’t help but feel that Zegama will be a similar scenario – he will run top-5 early on but potentially will loose places on the long descent to the line. If the weather is bad and it looks as though it may be, I think that will impact on his race even more.

Marc Lauenstein is yet to be confirmed as running but if he does, he could really shake things up. He recently won the Three Peaks in the UK ahead of Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens. The UK fells are actually the perfect training ground for Zegama, so, if Marc runs – watch out!

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Manuel Merillas like Tadei has illuminated the Skyrunner World Series with a string of world-class performances over multiple distances. He was 3rd at Limone behind Remi Bonnet and Tadei and at Lantau 2 Peaks he placed 2nd behind Remi relegating Tadei to 3rd. For sure, Manuel will be in the mix for a podium place.
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Marco De Gasperi needs no introduction to any follower of mountain or Skyrunning. The guy is a legend, he has been there and done it and still manages to pull out great results from the bag. you can never rule the Italian out but younger and faster competition keep coming, making racing at a high level increasingly harder. No longer running

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Tom Owens is yet to be confirmed as participating although he is on the start list. Tom is made for Zegama with a strong background in fell running. The terrain and mountains in this region of the Basque country offer the Scot a unique playground and what that he embraces. His recent podium place at the Three Peaks in the UK shows he is in form.

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Aritz Egea is the ever consistent Skyrunner with a string of victories, podium places and top-10 results. He does have the ability to win Zegama, he just needs a little luck. Expect him to go out hard, potentially lead the race early on with the hope of clinging on to a lead to the finish.

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Ionut Zinca like so many listed above has the potential to win and almost certainly make the podium. An ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit with consistent results at Zegama, the Dolomites, Limone and so many more, if Ionut is on form, we can certainly expect him to push throughout the race for the top slot.

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Zaid Ait Malek raced Transvulcania and therefore may well be a little tired for Zegama. However, he knows how to run this race and has placed well within the top-10, I don’t see him winning but top-5 is possible.

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Jokin Lizeaga and Eirik Haugsness head up the leading runners for a top-10 placing along with Pere Rullan, Pablo Villa (tbc), Hassain Ait Chaou, Jessed Hernandez and Nil Cardona.

LADIES

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Megan Kimmel heads up the ladies race after a recent victory at Yading SkyRun and an impressive 2015 Skyrunner World Series season. To say Megan has been on fire would be an underestimation and it was actually a real surprise that she did not win the 2015 Skyrunner World Series – a below par performance at Limone Extreme ruined her chances. But her string of victories, particularly at the Dolomites SkyRace when she beat Laura Orgue elevated her to ‘hot’ for all the Skyrunning races – watch out!

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Yngvild Kaspersen is the female equivalent of Remi Bonnet. In 2015, her first racing season, she rose through the ranks with a series of impressive runs both in the VK and Sky distance and she was rewarded with victory in Hong Kong at the Lantau 2 Peaks in horrendous conditions. If conditions in Zegama are wet, cold, miserable and slippery underfoot, Yngvild may well shine and take victory!

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Maite Maiora is an ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit and only races one way; hard! Over the winter she took time out for an operation and therefore her training may well have been compromised. On her day, Maite is without doubt podium potential and in and amongst this ladies field, I think she has every chance of a top-3 slot.

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Azara Garcia won Zegama and then had a string on injury issues which leaves many question marks about her form? If she is fit and well, then we can expect Azara to give Megan a race.

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Oihana Kortazar is yet to be confirmed as running but she recently raced the marathon distance in Transvulcania. A lady who knows the mountains and trails of Zegama very well, I would expect a podium place.

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Anna Comet raced Transvulcania and had to pull out with an injury. Although her name is on the start list I question if she will run? My gut feeling though is that this race is maybe too short for her skills; a longer race suits her better.

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The same applies for Portugal’s Ester Alves. A great long distance runner who can handle technical trail, the short sharp shock of Zegama may well be too much of an ask for a podium place. Top-10 is a distinct possibility for both.©iancorless.com-9069Kima2014_

Paula Cabrerizo and Nuria Dominguez head up the charge behind the three ladies above, both have all the ability to make the podium and yes, a victory is possible.

Marta Molist Codina, Aitziber Iberia and Eva Maria Moreda Gabaldon form the next wave of contenders and of course, we have to anticipate surprise performances that we just can’t account for. Alicia Shay placed 4th at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and although on the start list, she will not run.

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA

SkyMan SA  is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

The well-established, SkyUltra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Seriespresented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the

Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

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View the Zegama galleries from 2014

2016 Skyrunner® World Series launches

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2016 Skyrunner® World Series launches
– new races, a new partner, all-round rebranding and website, the Series is set to reach new heights.

The Series’ new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA, is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

NEW WEBSITE HERE – http://skyrunnerworldseries.com

SkyMan SA brings a  breath of spring air across the Skyrunner® World Series just before the 2016 season kicks off and the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series launches. The series kicks off with Yading Skyrun in China, the course reaches a high point of 4664m in China’s Sichuan Mountains. Followed by a world-class line up at the stunning Transvulcania Ultramarathon, the race calendar expands to stretch across the globe. Six new races and a calendar that features twenty-three races in total, the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is set to be the best yet, especially with the new Extreme category that combines Tromso, Trofeo Kima and Glen Coe in an adrenaline packed trio of races that hark back to the roots of the sport pioneered by Marino Giacometti. This series is sponsored by Alpina Watches and is joined by the well established Sky, Ultra and Vertical formats.

Skyrunner® World Series is also delighted to count on the continued support of Alpina Watches, together with the three Official Pool Suppliers, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

©iancorless.com_IMG_8821Kima2014_Kilian Jornet, the sport’s best known figure and organiser of the Extreme Series’ Tromsø SkyRace® in Norway, comments:

“When I started to run I was inspired by the images of Bruno Brunod, Fabio Meraldi and Marino Giacometti climbing (and descending) technical ridges, passing climbers and alpinists with just a pair of running shoes – and amazing technical skills! I’m very glad that today there’s an Extreme Series with this alpine philosophy and, as an organiser, to share my passion for scrambling and travelling light on big mountains.”

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The Skyrunner® World Series is known for attracting the best athletes in the sport at each event. They compete for an end of season prize purse of €36,000, in addition to the prize purse of over €100,000 distributed across all races.

The Skyrunner® World Series is known for attracting the best athletes in the sport at each event. They compete for an end of season prize purse of €36,000, in addition to the prize purse of over €100,000 distributed across all races.

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-1300Mike Foote, world class trail runner and organiser of The Rut events in the rugged Montana mountains, adds:

“It’s an honour to be a part of the 2016 Skyrunner World Series. As the organisers of three events here in the United States, it is exciting to host many of the world’s best. I love the ethos of skyrunning. Steep, technical and dramatic courses inspire me as an athlete and it has been such a pleasure to also organize events with these traits here in my backyard.”

Iancorless.com and iancorlessphotography are once again pleased to announce that they will be the official photographer and media partner for 2016 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES.

You can follow through all the usual media channels, in particular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and make sure you follow all the ‘official’ Skyrunning feeds.

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2016 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

SKY
April 30: Yading Skyrun – 29 km, Sichuan – China
May 22: Maratón Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42 km, Zegama – Spain
June 26: Livigno SkyMarathon® – 30 km, Livigno – Italy
July 17: Dolomites SkyRace® – 22 km, Canazei – Italy
July 31: SkyRace® Coma Pedrosa – 22 km, Andorra
August 20: Matterhorn Ultraks 46K – Zermatt – Switzerland
September 3: The Rut 28K – Big Sky Montana – USA
October 15: Limone Extreme SkyRace® – 23 km, Limone sul Garda – Italy

EXTREME
August 7: Tromsø SkyRace® – 50km, Tromsø – Norway
August 28: Kima Trophy – 50 km, Sondrio – Italy
September 18: Salomon Glen Coe Skyline – 53 km, Glen Coe – UK

ULTRA
May 7: Transvulcania Naviera Armas Ultramarathon – 74 km, La Palma – Spain
June 4: Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira – 55 km, Madeira – Portugal
July 10: High Trail Vanoise – 68 km, Val d’Isère – France
September 4: The Rut 50K – Big Sky, Montana – USA
September 24: Salomon Ultra Pirineu – 110 km, Bagà – Spain

VERTICAL
May 5: Kilómetro Vertical Transvulcania Binter- La Palma – Spain
June 24: Santa Caterina Vertical Kilometer® – Sondrio – Italy
July 8: Kilomètre Vertical Face de Bellevarde – Val d’Isère – France
July 15: Dolomites Vertical Kilometer® – Canazei – Italy
August 5: Blamann Vertical – Tromsø – Norway
September 2: Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® – Big Sky, Montana – USA
October14: Limone Extreme Vertical Kilometer® – Limone sul Garda – Italy

Kilian Jornet’s new book – The Invisible Border

Kilian Jornet

“Three men and a mountain, three men and an impossible adventure. An expedition to the most untamed Nepal, that of distant horizons and most remote peaks, with improbable climbs, intrepid descents, challenges, risks, dangers and life and death decisions. An expedition that is both an investigation, an escape and a reunion, where emotions and feelings are multiplied and feeling under the skin; where words, silences and memories acquire new depths.”

 

With humility and simplicity, Kilian Jornet invites us on his second book to run, to go further and to dare to explore the invisible border that separates sadness to happiness, life and death.

“This second book is more of a personal quest in search of both physical and emotional boundaries.”

The book is available (HERE) in Catalan, Spanish and French. Unfortunately no English version is available yet. It is possible to sign up for news here

On Amazon HERE

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FAST and LIGHT Salomon SRTV – Skyrunning

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Watch the film, Fast and Light at the bottom of this article

A trickle of piano noise from the local music school weaves its way through open window shutters left ajar to allow some breeze… the heat of the day can be stifling. It feels and sounds like a scene in a movie. Cobbled streets, stone arches, a wonderful old square, the chatter of children playing and the smell of a freshly brewed cappuccino in the air.

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Biella, or should I say, the International Skyrunning Federation HQ (and home of Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti) is atop a hill in a walled village close to the Aosta valley, just over an hour from Chamonix and in close proximity to Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn. It seems the perfect location for the home of pure mountain running. Biella lies in the foothills of the Alps in the Bo mountain range near Mt. Mucrone and Camino.

It is midway through the 2014 season, between Ice Trail Tarentaise and Trofeo Kima, I spend time with Lauri and Marino in Biella at their home in the mountains (Casina) Corteno Golgi and at Trofeo Kima to get an inside look at what makes this couple tick and how the Skyrunning calendar and its logistics fall into place. The African Attachment with Greg Fell, Dean Leslie and Kelvin Trautman were also filming for Salomon Running. Today, 20th Oct the preview film will be made live. ‪#‎FastandLight‬ is for me a special moment. I hope you enjoy the film and the related articles and images that are currently published worldwide to coincide with the films release.

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Mountains dominate the life of Marino and Lauri. It’s not a job; it’s a passion that dominates 12+ hours of every day. You will see the dynamic duo at all the Skyrunner® World Series races every year. In total, that is 15-events in 3-disciplines, VK, SKY and ULTRA. But these worldwide events are just the visible face of what the ISF does! Behind the scenes it’s a frenetic highly pressured scene of telephone calls, emails, logistical planning and negotiations that make the Skyrunner® World Series tick.

“We moved here as the sports brand Fila were based here. In the 90’s they were a key sponsor for Skyrunning,” says Lauri van Houten, Executive Director for the International Skyrunning Federation, “When Fila folded, we were left with a dilemma; should we stay or should we go? Stay we did and it feels natural and relaxed to be here now.”

It’s a scenario far removed from 1989 when Giacometti set a record running from the village of Alagna to the summit of Monte Rosa. 25-years of mountain running and today, iconic names such as Bruno Brunod and Fabio Meraldi are once again being talked about in the same breath as Kilian Jornet.

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Bruno Brunod

“Older generations were already Skyrunners. My grandfather crossed the mountains working for example. ‘We’ as Skyrunners added more speed but in essence it has always been the same thing, Skyrunners have always existed.” Bruno Brunod says. 

“What I liked was going quickly to the summit. I felt the same when I was a kid in the pastures, I always ran up and down the summits that surrounded me. It is something I felt inside, something I liked.”

In 2012, Skyrunning went through a revival. After careful and strategic planning, the ISF launched the new Sky Ultra Marathon Series with Transvulcania La Palma and a seminar, ‘Less Cloud, More Sky.’ The sport moved up a notch and became something that runners all over the world aspired to. It’s been called the ‘the next big thing’ but as Giacometti explains:

“There is nothing new in Skyrunning. It is just now that everyone is catching up with our vision from so many years ago.”

BIELLA

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Biella is a wonderful place. Calm and relaxing, to me, it is typically Italian. Located opposite a music school, the ISF headquarters and home of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten resonate a calm and tranquility that seems far removed from the full-on days in and around and Skyrunner® World Series.
The sun shines and the daily bustle of Italian life provides a wonderful soundtrack that penetrates ones’ mind. Cars rumble over cobbled streets as they scoot off to work, mothers are heard chastising their child©iancorless.comIMG_5035ren as they amble to school. The click of an espresso machine and that wonderful noise as pressured water works its way through fresh coffee and the smell, oh the smell! Nothing beats a fresh coffee in the morning. It’s 7am and Marino is kicking off his day with a good strong shot of the dark stuff before donning glasses and opening his computer.

The office is adorned with memorabilia from 20+ years of travel and racing. The door plaque sums it up’ Skyrunners.’ In the corner, magazines are stacked in chronological order documenting a lifetime in sport.

Lauri joins us looking a little tired. Yesterday was another 18-hour day. It’s normal… it shouldn’t be but it is!

“What does a normal day look like for you Lauri?” I tentatively ask, knowing full well the answer.

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“How long have you got? I have no idea; I am speechless. I am a person that gets bored easy. This job is NEVER boring! I may have 5-spreadsheets open, 50 e-mails to look at, and a schedule of things to address and amend and then I need to coordinate with athletes, teams, team managers and race directors and media. My day starts with email. I often think oh my goodness and then the first forty or so emails arrive and then a daily grind starts. In addition to this, sometimes language is a challenge. I speak English, Italian, German but I have emails from Russia, Turkey, Greece, Afghanistan and so on. As I said, my day is never boring.”

Trofeo Kima is just around the corner. For many, me included, ‘Kima’ is the epitome of Skyrunning. Kilian Jornet sums it up well when he says:

“Picture a mountain terrain that has no paths, amidst glaciers; it is all crests, rocks, stretches of via Ferrata and all over a course that stretches 50-km. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering; pure Skyrunning!”

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Preparations are well underway for the race and in just 24-hours we will all need to travel to Milan for a press conference and then a journey will follow to the mountains, to Corteno Golgi and a stay at Marino’s mountain house, the ‘Casina’ before an onward journey to the Kima race itself.

“I m a hub, the person in the middle,” says Lauri. “But often you can’t plan how a day will unfold. I have a ‘to do’ list that obviously needs to get done but then things happen daily that need to be addressed immediately. It’s all about time management and you just can’t stick to a too rigid schedule as the guidelines constantly move and change. Kima is imminent and therefore many questions and problems arise. We also have a press conference in Milan, that requires work.”

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Marino looks over at us, he peeps over his glasses and smiles. My question. “Tell me where you come in Marino?” Seems to suggest that I am implying he does nothing.

“Now it’s difficult. We have so many races. I look at race profiles initially and it is easy to see from a quick glance what will and will not make a good Skyrunning race. Remember, my experience was mountaineering but we had to adapt my dreams for a worldwide audience. I look for mountains and mountains provide races and opportunities. I also need to consider locations, countries and how the schedule comes together.”

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The phone rings and Marino joins Fabio Meraldi in a conversation. Walking out of the office into the sunlight, Marino strides around the garden in animated discussion. The Italian sounds like bird song and with arms waving and gesticulating, plans are made for Kima and a series of interviews that will be filmed by The African Attachment on a new film about Skyrunning called, ‘Fast and Light.’

“Tell me about Trofeo Kima, because you designed this course, yes?”

“Kima is on the course of the Sentiero Roma. It’s a well known via ferrata route. It crosses the group of technical mountains in the area and passes through all the 7-refuges. We did the race in reverse for safety reasons but it is still a very technical race and ultimately it has become a beacon of Skyrunning. Ironically, for a Skyrunning race the course does not go to the summits! It is just not possible. However, it is a pure expression of Skyrunning.”

It is easy to look at the ISF calendar and see the Skyrunner® World Series and think easy! However, it takes 365-days to make those 15+ days happen. When one season ends, plans start immediately, if not before for the following season.

“We are no longer race organisers.” Lauri says, “We did in the past! We organised many races in logistically difficult places, such as Tibet, Mexico, Nepal and so on. I think we organised over 80-races! The World Series is a collection of races that we coordinate.”

Marino was a visionary and many like to call him the ‘Father’ of Skyrunning.

“Skyrunning differs to other sports and this is the discipline we launched in the late 1990’s. Skyrunning has always existed; all across the world it is just that it became a formalised sport. I therefore consider myself the father of Skyrunning for the aspect of race organisation because when it started 25-years ago nobody talked about this.”

Emails ping on arrival, the phone rings repeatedly and I suddenly realise that our day is going to be way too busy to continue discussing the working life of the ISF. Taking a place at my desk, I open my laptop and get on with my work in preparation for Kima. I sneak an opportunity pre lunch to stroll around the town, take in a cappuccino and photograph Biella. Lunch provides a break and in true Italian fashion, everything stops. It provides an opportunity to relax, take in a glass of wine and eat fresh and wholesome food in a meze style.

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“Marino is brilliant,” Lauri says as she pours white wine into my glass. “He took on the role of food shopping and preparation to allow me more time to work on logistics. It really is a life saver.”

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Marino is a fit man, he is lean, dark skinned from many hours outdoors and one may well think that is to be expected from someone who heads up the ISF and the sport of mountain running. It would be easy to assume that Marino spends 4 to 8-hours a day on the mountains, fulfilling his dreams and working his ISF role in and around his passion! In reality, Marino cycles or runs for 30-minutes a day. Somewhere deep inside I wonder, does he have regrets and then I find myself asking the question, “Do you regret the decisions you made all those years ago, to race direct and not race?”

“I made my choices. What can I say, for 2 to 3-years I was very disappointed with myself. I had run around Everest for example, but not to the top. Now I can’t go back. It’s a question of mountain mentality; I was born in a small valley, a small village with no sun in winter. You try to survive everyday and this forms your mentality. In my next life I hope to relax and enjoy simple pleasures.”

“But you must have dreams, aspirations. Do you have a bucket list; do you want to achieve anything else?”

“I want to go back to the mountains… it is just a dream! In 2016 I would like to go to the Everest North Face with Bruno and Kilian. I know it is impossible… but I can dream.”

It’s not often that I am stuck for words, but as I look into his eyes I feel sad. To me it seems as though Marino has given up on his personal dreams.

“Do you believe you can only live your dreams when you leave Skyrunning behind?”

“Skyrunning is our baby. But the baby has grown up. We would be lost without Skyrunning and we will be on board for as long as we can but obviously, in the near future we will hand over more duties to other people. Many of the people we work with are all very knowledgeable and passionate. That is stimulating and exciting. Skyrunning is here to stay, as we both are, have no fear!”

BIELLA gallery:

MILAN – Trofeo Kima press conference

Milan is not far away and it’s on our way to the ‘Casina’ thus making the Kima press conference logical and workable into a day of travel. We are late but Marino drives like an Italian! A clean white shirt, Armani jeans and Mr ISF looks pretty darn dapper. Lauri is dressed in black with large shades. I suddenly feel very British. Italians do ‘style’ with ease and of course, where better to look sharp than Milan. I have no choice, I am on a working trip and my wardrobe doesn’t extend to looking cool.

It’s hot in the city and the traffic irritates me after the quiet of Biella. Walking into a large office block we are escorted to the 4th floor and Kima delegates greet us. It’s all kisses and handshakes. Old friends meet new friends and the banter is relaxed.

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A large table with place names adds formality to the event. Marino takes his place and the conference begins. It’s a show for local press and global papers and all part of the valued process to promote the ISF, Skyrunning and give valued exposure to race sponsors.

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Post the conference, a meeting takes place and Kima is discussed. Great emphasis is placed on schedules in regard to the helicopter. Kima is so technical and demanding that a helicopter is the only way to transport media around the event. Bad weather; no media!

Helicopters are expensive but at Kima we often have 2-helicopters at our disposal for 8+ hours. It may well be why I enjoy the race so much. It’s an adventure. Believe me, to be afforded the opportunity to see the worlds best runners on arguably the best course is something I will never take for granted.

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“We have to do these press conferences, it’s important for all concerned but it’s a drain on our valuable time and for every hour, minute and second we are here, more and more emails and questions flood into our respective in-boxes,”Lauri says as we rush to the car for our onward journey to the Casina. “It has a knock on effect for tomorrow and the days after, what can you do?”

CASINA – Corteno Golgi 

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The ‘Casina’ is a mountain house in Corteno Golgi close to Marino’s birthplace of San Antonio. Spread over 2-floors it is almost two completely different buildings. Upstairs is all wood, a combination of rustic/ modern and a wonderfully relaxing place that has been heavily influenced by Lauri. Downstairs is the original building, un-touched for years and one that harks back to Marino’s past. The garage is a Skyrunning museum of ice axes, helmets, shoes, race bibs, clothing, videos and old slides.

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Surrounded by green fields and mountains on either side I suddenly see Marino in a new light. He his home! He points at peaks and explains his childhood; his passions and I suddenly feel very honoured and privileged.

“The African Attachment (TAA) arrive tomorrow Ian and you are going to be able to spend a couple of days in the mountains with Marino. They are filming a piece on Skyrunning and they want to take Marino back to his childhood, revisit old haunts and film Marino running in the mountains.”

I met Dean Leslie and Greg Fell from TAA at Transvulcania La Palma back in 2012 and since then we have kept in-touch and often crossed paths at races all over the world. I am excited at the guys arriving and the opportunity to work alongside them and shoot stills, a real perk of the job. Photographer, Kelvin Trautman is directing the film and although I haven’t met him before, we soon hit it off and I realise that what is in store; two awesome days in the mountains.

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The evening is amazing. The sky is adorned with clouds and as we climb with cameras, Marino runs to the instructions of Kelvin.

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Looking for ridges and technical lines, Marino embraces the challenge and is arguably having the most fun he has had in ages.

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Days don’t get much better than this… at the summit of Monte Padrio the light is incredible and as the sun disappears for the day we are rewarded with a colour palette of orange, red and gold. Marino is in silhouette on the Skyline and I realise I am in a moment, a moment that I won’t ever forget.

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Sleep is not something you need when working with the ISF. The following day starts early with a short drive and we are suddenly looking at Marino’s childhood home.

Marino's childhood home

Marino’s childhood home

Marino laughs as he recounts boyhood memories. “I used to go mushroom picking in this area.”

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Following him up the trail, Kelvin wants Marino to go back 50-years to those mischievous days as a boy. Immediately Marino finds a mushroom, he removes his Buff and ties a knot in one end to create a cloth bag. Moving left to right on the trail, the bag slowly fills with the rewards from the land.

“In the Valle Campo Vecchio I would go skinny dipping in the river.”

Marino may well have regretted this sentence as just an hour later he was running along grass banks barefoot and then submerging himself in the ice cold river water from the mountains.

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Today, Marino may well have fulfilled some of those dreams that he thought might not ever come back. It was special.

The warmth of the log burner in the Casina provided that ultimate feeling of contentment that one longs for after a day in the mountains. Marino’s body was aching, his legs heavy from the repeated running but beneath a tired façade I knew he had had a good. Red wine had been decanted to glasses and dinner was moments away.

As we relax into the evening, the Casina provided a very different ambiance to Biella. It’s more relaxed. The pressures and deadlines still exist, they have not gone away but the mountains and mountain life make us all realize why we are here. It provides perspective.

Eager to resume my questions from the previous day, I hold back. Now is not the time… it has been a great day, a great couple of days and we need to savour the moments.

“We have plans for some very exciting races at high altitude that will be very technical in future years.  2012 was an important stepping-stone. Less Cloud. More Sky was an important phase in the development of Skyrunning. One thing that was apparent is the desire from runners for technical and high altitude sport. So, here we are following our heritage for a new era.”

My concerns of talking shop are eroded away as Lauri brings our conversation to present day.

“So, am I correct in assuming that we won’t see races like Templiers or UROC in future ISF race calendars?” I ask.

“We needed to expand, to grow and introduce Skyrunning to a new audience. Templiers and UROC allowed this to a certain extent but we will go back to our roots moving forward. In America it is harder to find courses but we are working on this. UROC was a high altitude race just not technical. The Rut has shown we can find the correct style of course. We would love to do a race from Cervinia or Chamonix to the summit of Mont-Blanc but we can’t do this for everyone!”

“Do you think it is a happy coincidence that the revival of Skyrunning coincides with the rise of Kilian Jornet?”

“Absolutely, however, it is no coincidence. Bruno Brunod was Kilian’s hero. Kilian followed his dreams and the inspiration Bruno provided, Kilian is now the epitome of Skyrunning. When we first met Kilian in 2006, he impressed immediately. He was a natural Skyrunner. We all know the history; he was born in the mountains and as such he has just developed in an organic way. As I said, a natural.”

Kilian Jornet

Conversation turns to the day’s events; Lauri is eager to enquire how filming went. We laugh as Marino explains in detail his plunge in the ice-cold water of the river and how his fingers turned blue.

“Kelvin worked Marino hard today with his demands but it was great fun. This area, the mountains and the small village are all quite special. I can understand completely why Marino loves to escape here.”

Another fried mushroom is removed from the platter and added to my plate. To think, just this morning Marino was collecting these very mushrooms from his childhood haunts. He had prepared them in the traditional manner and the simple delicacy provided the perfect accompaniment to the surroundings and company.

The Casina gallery:

Filming with The African Attachment gallery:

TROFEO KIMA

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Emelie Forsberg looked into the lens of the TAA camera, smiled in a way that only Emelie can and with a nervous and infectious giggle whispered the words:

“Two years ago in my first year of racing I was fortunate to race at Trofeo Kima. I looked at this course and thought; really… you can run a race on this course?”

©iancorless.com-8663I too had found my first Kima experience equally mesmerising. My breath had been taken away by the drama and severity of the course. I had never seen anything quite like it and the impact was profound. Hopping from one section of the course to another via helicopter added some serious icing to the Kima cake.

A vertical wall of rock and suddenly a flash of red and white. Kilian appears, hand-over-hand as he descends via chains and then flies past us with a wave as though running a 5k. He looks so incredibly relaxed.

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Kasie Enman is the first lady and this provides some confusion. Emelie Forsberg had had a convincing lead; what had happened? Finally, Emelie arrives 5th lady, in tears but running like a demon. She had gone off course and lost almost an hour. Trying to claw back time she takes risks; 4th place, 3rd place and then 2nd, was it possible to take back victory?

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Unfortunately, no! Kasie Enman held on to a convincing lead and the records will show that the American was the 2014 Kima ladies champion. In the male race, Kilian Jornet had the race of his life and in doing so broke his own course record.

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Fabio Meraldi makes an appearance and like a long lost son is embraced into the arms and hearts of the Skyrunning throng:

“I remember the feeling, like a drug, feeling this moving energy… I still get goose-bumps just talking about it.”

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The party atmosphere continues and minutes after the award ceremony, clouds turn from grey to black and a warning clap of thunder alerts everyone that a change is coming. The heavens open and rain falls from the sky like a series of rods being thrown. It’s a biblical storm and we all look at each other and simultaneously shake our heads. Lauri relays our thoughts, “Wow, thank god this rain and storm did not arrive during the race.”

Another race over, another successful event but there is no rest. This evening a glass of red and a nice meal but tomorrow it’s back to the grind. Another race is only weeks away and like déjà vu the process will repeat itself.

“Lauri, and you, your dreams?”

“To expand Skyrunning and see the growth continue with the collaboration from those who love the sport as we do.”

“Will you ever be able to let go?”

“Why, why would I want to let go? This is my life: I love it. Maybe I would like less stress but I like challenges, I like work and I don’t like to be bored.”

I smile knowing full well that her words are true and that in all honesty, I already knew the answer.

“One thing is for sure, I won’t be in the Bahamas filing my nails everyday, I can guarantee that will never happen.”

 

The KIMA galleries:

******

FastandLight Salomon SRTV

Fast and Light is released on October 20th 2015 at 1600 via Salomon SRTV HERE

Credits and thanks

Quotes from Bruno Brunod, Fabio Meraldi, Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet are taken from the film, FAST and LIGHT. ©TheAfricanAttachment and ©SalomonRunning.

Many thanks to Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti the ISF and Skyrunning.

Many thanks to Trofeo Kima and all the staff.

All images and content ©iancorless.com

A series of articles will be published worldwide to coincide with the release of Fast and Light and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the editors and creatives involved in this process.

Look out for articles in: Adventure Types – Australia/ NZ, Canadian Running Magazine – Canada, Trail Chile – Chile, TRAIL Magazin – Germany, Ski Alper – Italy, Trail Run – Japan, Poland, ALERG – Romania, Running The Cape – South Africa, Outdoor Fitness Magazine – UK, Like The Wind – UK, Nature Trail – France, Spain and many more.

 

Ultra Pirineu 2015 Race Images and Summary

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Nuria Picas was looking to defend her ‘home’ crown in a race that she has won for the last 4-years. Luis Alberto Hernando, champion in 2013 and 2014 was returning looking to make it a triple but more importantly the Skyrunner® World Series title for the ultra distance was at stake. Add to the mix Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, the last time the duo raced here in Baga was 2012. Kilian won that year ahead of Anton Krupicka and Dakota Jones, Emelie placed 3rd behind Nuria Picas and Anna Frost.

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Starting at 0700 in the center of Baga, one has a full appreciation of how important running has become in Spain and I guess more importantly here in Catalonia. Kilian and Nuria are as important if not more important than football stars here in this part of the world. Autographs, photographs, shaking hands, pats on the back and the noise; wow the noise is incredible! Yes, they are the ‘Messi’ of the running world in these parts.

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The day was always going to be one full of drama and battles. We had a race within a race and as such one had to keep an eye not only on who was running in the top-3 but also who was running in the top overall rankings. Coming into Ultra Pirineu Franco Colle was 1st in SWS rankings followed by Cristofer Clemente in 2nd and Luis Alberto Hernando in 3rd. It was all up for grabs. For the ladies the battle was relatively straight forward; if Emelie won the race she would be SWS champion. If Mira Rai won the race, she would become champion.

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From the gun Emelie made her intentions clear and took hold of the race from the front and it stayed that way for the whole 110km. Although the story changed a little behind the dominant Emelie, the writing was on the wall; Mira Rai would place 2nd and Nuria Picas would place 3rd. At times Mira looked to close the gap and then it would extend whereas Nuria looked resigned to a solid 3rd place.

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The men’s race was a little more unpredictable! I say unpredictable but in all honesty, did we (I) ever think anyone other than Kilian Jornet would win the race? I know I shouldn’t say that; anything can happen in 110km but barring an accident or some unforeseen problem, I really didn’t see any other scenario playing out.

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In the early stages Jessed Hernandez, Miguel Heras and Zaid Ait Malek accompanied the Catalan over the undulating terrain. Kilian always looked relaxed and in control. The protagonists changed at the front of the race, Miguel and Zaid would take a turn to pace and all the time Kilian would run in 2nd keeping his powder dry. The elastic finally snapped with Zaid and Kilian taking the front and opening up a gap over Miguel.

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Behind the lead trio a battle was unfolding. Franco Colle SWS leader coming into the race dropped with sickness; his 2015 SWS chances over! Cristofer Clemente was running in 4th and Luis Alberto Hernando clearly tired from his 2nd place efforts at UTMB just 3-weeks earlier was running in and around the top-10 battling to win the SWS title.

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Miguel didn’t give in though, he found some internal strength with 85km’s covered and closed the gap to then take over the lead with Kilian as Zaid faded. Over the final km’s, Kilian put his foot on the gas on one of the final climbs and quickly opened up a 6-minute gap over Miguel. The writing was on the wall, Kilian would win the 2015 Ultra Pirineu and he would be welcomed by a home crowd like a long lost son.

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Behind the drama unfolded, Zaid refused to give in. He once again caught Miguel and this time pulled away and never looked back. He finished 2nd and produced one of the most impressive display finish line antics I have witnessed. Miguel took the final podium place and then attention turned to the SWS ranking.

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Cristofer Clemente finished 4th and Luis Alberto Hernando had to finish in the top-15 to take the SWS crown; he did it! It has been quite a year for Luis. A series of high ranking victories and podium places, 2nd at UTMB, Skyrunning European Champion and now the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series Champion. Bravo!

Attention now turns to Limone Extreme for the respective SWS titles in VK and SKY.

Results

  1. Kilian Jornet 12:03:27
  2. Zaid Ait Malek 12:12:23
  3. Miguel Heras 12:20:35
  1. Emelie Forsberg 13:39:33
  2. Mira Rai 13:43:49
  3. Nuria Picas 14:13:01

Skyrunner World Series Champions 2015

Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando

  

Full race results HERE