Trofeo Kima 2014 in-depth race preview

--©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgP1060017trofeokima_kilian

Don your gloves, find your helmet and prepare for the jewel in the Skyrunning crown. Trofeo Kima is here! This is THE all-out, kick ass event that Skyrunning put on and as such it is often the most anticipated. You can’t just do Kima. As Kilian Jornet said in a recent interview, It’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.’

Famous throughout the mountain running world, Kima is run over seven mountain passes with 8400m of ascent/decent over the 52km course. It is an all out white-knuckle ride and not for the feint hearted. Biennial, the race has a capped field of just 250 and embraces the true spirit of Skyrunning created way back in ‘89’ when Giacometti (ISF President) first ascended and descended Monte Rosa. The fourth race in the 2014 Ultra Skyrunner® World Series, KIMA will provide, once again, a showcase for earth meeting sky – Skyrunning!

MEN

--©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgP1050995trofeokima_kilian

It may come as no surprise that man on fire and 2012 winner, Kilian Jornet is the one to beat on this course. In reality, Kima is one of the most perfect courses for the Catalan. His advantage over the rest of the competition is marked and other than a disaster on race day, I think we will see Kilian top the podium and should conditions be favourable, a course record may well be on the cards! To put the severity of this course into perspective, it took Kilian 6:28:52 in 2012 to cover the 52km course. (The record stands at 6:19:03 also set by Kilian.)

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Brit, Tom Owens had an incredible 2012 and pushed Kilian at many races. With over a year out of the sport, Tom is back in 2014 and although he has had a few blips, he is showing some of the fire and all out natural ability that saw him place 2nd at Kima at the last edition in a time of 6:39:28. Feeling tired at Sierre-Zinal Tom missed Matterhorn Ultraks and I can’t help but think that will pay dividends here. The last time he toed the line at Kima, he had this to say, ‘It’s the definition of Skyrunning.  Racing here is like being a kid, jumping nimbly from rock to rock and feeling full of energy.’

Paolo Gotti placed 8th in 2012 and was the winner in 2008 and 4th in 2010. It’s difficult to predict how Gotti will perform but he knows this course like the back of his hand and that is a huge advantage.

iancorless.orgP1050496trofeokima

Both Philipp Reiter and Michel Lanne placed 5th and 6th at the last edition of Kima. Philipp has been a little quiet recently with injury and although he is back running, he told me he is not in the best shape for Kima, so, he will have to miss it. Needless to say he is very disappointed. By contrast, Michel was runner up to Kilian at the Skyrunning World Championships and last weekend raced Matterhorn Ultraks and was having a great race until going off course. He dropped, saved his legs and we may well see him looking for pay back in Kima.

Nicola Golinelli effectively retired drop top level racing last year. However, he is still a highly competitive athlete and on this course, if in great shape, we can expect a top-5 performance. When you are racing fun with the pressure off a whole new experience can be enjoyed. One to watch!

Fulvio Dapit knows how to run in the mountains and has speed, experience and technical ability in abundance. Without doubt a contender for the podium should all things align. His recent victory at Dolomiti Extreme Trail can only be a good sign of things to come.

iancorless.orgP1050148trofeokima

Manuel Merillos is the new kid on the block and a hot talent. His recent 4th place at Dolomites Skyrace shows that he can trade blows with the best on a pure Skyrunning course. A definite contender for the podium!

Es Tressider is an interesting inclusion in to the line-up for this race and a runner that many of the other competitors will not be familiar with. In 2007 he set a record for the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye in 3:17:28. The ridge is Britain’s premier mountain traverse and is usually attempted by 2-people in one or two days. Crossing multiple peaks over 3000ft it’s the perfect training ground for Kima.

iancorless.orgP1050621trofeokima

Jordi Bes Ginesta on his day can trade blows with the best in the world. Hailing from a ski mountaineering background he as all the skill levels required for this tough and challenging course, Top-10 potential?

Greg Vollet team manager for Salomon can never be ruled out of the mix in a race like this. He won’t win it but top-10 is always a distinct possibility. The true global appeal of Skyrunning and Kima is reflected by the inclusion of Matt Cooper and Clarke McClymont. Matt had a great run at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and Clarke has been dreaming of Kima every since he watched the race 2-years ago.

Ones to watch: 

  • Pau Bortolo
  • Stuart Air
  • J Francisco Pinera
  • Carles Rossell
  • Yan Longfei
  • Jan Bartas
  • Phudorjee Lama Sherpa
  • Tim Stephens

Ricky Lighfoot is listed on the start sheet but may not be racing (tbc)

iancorless.orgP1050698trofeokima

LADIES

iancorless.orgP1050536trofeokima

Emelie Forsberg placed 2nd in 2012 and at the time it was her longest ever run. Leading the race to halfway, Emelie finally relinquished to Nuria Picas who went on to set a course record 7:36:21. Two years on and Emelie is a very different runner. Like Kilian, Kima will suit Emelie’s skill set and she is the outright favourite.

©iancorless.com_IMG_7150Ultraks2014_

Kasie Enman is currently on a European tour of Skyrunning races and Kima brings a conclusion to the trip. The technical aspects of the course, will not allow Kasie to use her outright speed. However, she is always in the mix and a podium place is a distinct possibility.

iancorless.orgP1050516trofeokima

Nuria Dominguez is a regular and consistent performer in the Skyrunner® World Series. In 2013 she had a string of top results: 3rd Dolomites Skyrace, 4th Trans D’Havet, 3rd at Matterhorn Ultraks and was ranked 4th in The Skyrunning World Championships. Nuria may well lack the speed of Emelie and Kasie but can more than compensate with experience of the montains.

Alessandra Carlini has had a sold 2014 and her recent 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise elevates the Italian to ‘one-to-watch’ at Kima. Living on the Italian coast she has very little opportunity to terrain on a mountainous course, however, this hasn’t proven to be too much of a disadvantage so far.

Emanuela Brizio past winner and course record holder and placed 3rd behind Picas and Forsberg in 2012. I doubt that Emanuela can win the race this year but 2nd place is up for grapes and if she has a great day, who knows. Forsberg only beat Brizio by 15-seconds last time!

Skyrunning legend Corinne Favre will also toe the line. Apparently she won’t be ‘racing’ but we must definitely tip a hat to the first lady of Skyrunning. She was the first world champion in 1998 and although the sport is very different today, Corinne can still hold her own. Don’t rule her out!

iancorless.orgP1050333trofeokima

Ladies to watch:

  • Judit Lamas Borras
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Rosa Vallas Tio
  • Zuzana Urbancova

Needless to say, Kima will have a plethora of Italian talent toeing the line who will without doubt have an impact on the top-10 results for the men and in particular the ladies.

Past racers who have excelled:

Franco Sancassani 3rd in 2012

Rodrigues Bodas 7th in 2012

 Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Trofeo Kima race summary

Less than 2 hours from Milan Bergamo airport and nestled in the peaks of Val Masino, every other year a race takes place. A race so severe, so difficult and so demanding that it has a restricted field of just 100.

The Trofeo Kima was established to honor the memory of mountain guide Perangelo Marchetti affectionately known as ‘Kima”. I can think of no better way to honor a mountain guide.

The race, 50km long and covering some 7 mountains passes is part of the Ultra Skyrunning series and is billed as ‘the one’. Starting in Filorea the race goes in an anti-clockwise direction. Preda Rossa at 1940m, Rifugio Ponti 2559m, Roma 2894m, Bivaccio Kima 2894m and Cameraccio 2950m and this is just the first full ascent and the highest point of the course.

Kilian Jornet ran the race for the first time in 2010 after UTMB was cut short due to bad weather. Desperate not to waist his training and a weekend he headed over to Italy from Chamonix and the next day, along with Heras tackled what he know calls an iconic race. Setting a new course record of 6:19:03 in the process.

The night before the race electrical storms entered the Val Masino and a deluge of rain fell making many wonder as we lay in bed if the race would actually go ahead. Morning came and with it a new day. Dry weather and an improving sky confirmed that the race could go ahead but with a 30 min delay.

Once underway Kilian Jornet soon made clear his intentions leading from Tom Owens, Andy Symonds, Franco Sancassani (3rd place 2007), Philipp Reiter and Michel Lanne.

In the ladies race Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas raced neck and neck with Emanuela Brizio (2008 and 2010 winner) chasing behind. Forsberg pushed ahead and at Cameraccio 2950m she took the lead and the prize money for the first lady to the highest point of the course.

At Camerozzo 2765m a super technical section in what already is a very technical race, Kilian descending by the chains securely bolted to the wall and had a lead of nearly 10 mins over Tom Owens.

Nuria Picas and taken the lead here and was looking super strong. Behind Emelie Forsberg and Emanuela Brizio now raced neck and neck.

In the men’s race Michel Lanne chased Francis Sancassani now in 3rd. Several minutes behind Andy Symonds and Philipp Reiter chased together.

Kilian used all his mountain skills and ran into the finish to win comfortably in 6:28. Tom Owens pulled of an impressive 2nd place after (in his words) a disappointing Sierre Zinal just two weeks ago to cross the line in 6:39. He said as he finished:

“Wow, so hard, so technical… an incredible race, you can’t describe what that course is like”.

Francis Sancassani sealed the men’s podium in 6:45.

Nuria Picas ran a wonderful race to finish first in a new Course Record of 7:36:21 some 10 mins faster than the previous best. Emelie Forsberg had to move up a gear in the final km’s to win a well earned second place in 7:46 from Emanuela Brizio who was just seconds behind.

I have witnessed many races and the Trofeo Kima stands out as the most incredible, the most beautiful and the most frightening I have ever seen. It’s an incredible race and with just 100 entries every other year it is one race that should make it to all ultra runners bucket list. It is a fitting tribute to KIMA.