Ultra Pirineu 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

Baga, the home of Ultra Pirineu is located in Catalonia; it may come as no surprise that the Catalans take support to the next level – Ultra running to Spain is like football to the UK.

110km in length, with 6800m of positive gain, the race takes place in the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park. The profile, a little like a jagged sawtooth blade that includes several key peaks, the highest coming very early in the race with just 14km covered at Niu, 2500m high. Comprised of primarily trail, it’s a tough and challenging race that has often been made considerably more challenging due to inclement weather! Not this year though, the sun gods were kind and shined throughout the race as clouds rolled in and out.

Established in 1983, the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park is the hub for the racing and it stretches more than 30km over the mountain ranges of Serra de Moixero and Serra del Cadi; both part of the Pre-Pyrenees.

The narrow streets of Baga and an enclosed medieval square form an incredible start arena.

Immediately it’s hand-on-knees and straight into the first and highest climb of the day. It’s a dangerous mountain to start a race with. The effort and commitment just to get to the top requires a 100% effort, and this is all coming in the opening hours of a very long day on an exceptionally tough course. Finally breaking the tree line, the rugged terrain reveals itself and the first peak, with refuge, finally will come into sight. In the men’s race, Cristofer Clemente dictated the early pace followed by Zaid Ait Malek, Pablo Villa, Luis Alberto Hernando and Dmitry Mityaev. Maite Maiora started the day as she would continue, from the front followed by Nuria Picas who won UTMB just 3-weeks ago.

Dropping down, a short climb at 28km, ‘Serrat’ leads to another long descent and an aid at ‘Bellver.’ A third of the race completed, a long and relentless series of climbing takes place over the following 25km’s through ‘Cortals’ and ‘Aguilo’ to the 2nd highest point of the race at 2300m, Pass de Gassolans. Clemente had now built up a lead but Pablo Villa was within 5-minutes and looking strong. Hernando though was looking tired and laboured. Maiora was still leading the ladies race and continued to smile while Picas pursued and Ekaterina Mityaeva was in 3rd place.

The race is all about economy of effort for those at the front of the race, it’s about effort management to sustain the energy to the line and hopefully victory. At 70km covered, the race may well be considered to be downhill to the finish in Baga, but no, the race has a series of false flats with a couple of brutal cardiac moments that arrive at 86km and 96km; the latter a technical ascent of 1000m to Sant Jordi at 1500m altitude. Clemente despite his small lead dropped from the race after twisting his ankle on multiple occasions. This opened the door for Villa and he seized it taking the biggest victory of his running career. Behind Hernando was struggling and Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz moved into a podium position pursued by the Russian Mityaev. But behind, Jordi Gamito was looking strong – it was going to be close! At the line Mityaev produced a stunning 2nd and Dunand-Pallz was 3rd. Hernado would finish 6th behind Gamito and Ivan Champs Puga but he would still retain the overall title for the SKY ULTRA 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.

For the ladies’ Maiora produced a stunning victory on what has been a remarkable year, she has been consistently strong over all distances. Last weekend she took the overall title for the Sky Extreme Migu Run Skyrunner World Series and just three weeks time at Limone, she may well be the combined champion too? Picas showed incredible recovery from UTMB to place 2nd in front of her home Catalan crowd. Mityaeva placed 3rd after another solid year in the Skyrunning ranks. Ragna Debats was crowned 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champion for the Sky Ultra discipline.

  1. Pablo Villa 12:30:19
  2. Dmitry Mityaev 12:33:46
  3. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz 12:44:15

 

  1. Maite Maiora 14:22:19
  2. Nuria Picas 14:41:45
  3. Ekaterina Mityaeva 15:41:17

https://livetrail.net

Sky Ultra 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series Champions

  • Ragna Debats
  • Luis Alberto Hernando

Race website HERE

Results HERE

Seminal UTMB 2017 – The Ladies Race

Nuri Picas running to the podium in Tromso earlier I’m 2017

The 2017 UTMB was billed as the ‘best ever’ and as the weather finally improves in and around Chamonix, life returns to normal for everyone and we all have an opportunity to step back and look how important this years race actually was.

I think it may well be a seminal edition and for many reasons.

I wrote about the men HERE.

The ladies race turned out to be far more unpredictable than the men’s with many of the pre-race favourites either having bad days and going slower than expected or dropping through illness or injury. This opened the doorway for an interesting top-10 and several unexpected names.

The TOP 10 Ladies

NO1

Nuria Picas 25:46:43 – Came into the race not a dark horse but with a question mark. Nobody doubted the ability of this lady, she has proven time and time again that she is a dominant force in mountain running over any distance. She dominated the UTWT rankings and has placed 2nd twice at UTMB. However, in the latter part of 2015 and pretty much throughout 2016 she was missing from racing. It appeared to me that a really tough calendar and race dominance had taken its toll. 2017 has been quiet and just recently I watched her race in Tromso at the Tromso SkyRace and she placed on the podium. It still left me with a question mark though on UTMB – would she have the endurance for 25-hours of running?Nuria set the pace in the ladies race and produced a dominant performance. She built a huge gap during the night and day and it was only in the latter 20% that the race took its toll forcing her to slow. The margin she had built up so important! At the end, this margin was reduced to less than 5-minutes! Nuria is back and like many long-term fans of the sport, Nuria’s victory is a welcome one. A seminal moment.

NO2

Andrea Huser 25:49:18 – Andrea races and races. She has a physical and mental strength un-matched. A race can start badly but she has the tenacity to push on and this year’s UTMB is no different. She started down the ranking, pushed on and with over half of the race covered took control and moved to 3rd and then second. She hunted Nuria Picas down as she slowed, almost a re-run of 2016 when she hunted Caroline Chaverot down. For two years running, 2nd at UTMB.

NO3

Christelle Bard 26:39:03 – Signifies the excitement and unpredictable nature of 100-miles. Although she has had success at CCC and TDS in past year’s, Bard was not really on my radar for a top-10. My fault, I should have done more research. Experience counts though and a steady start paid dividends as she slowly but surely moved through the field. In the final 80km’s or so she moved through the field from 10th to an eventual podium slot. A seminal year for this lady!

NO4

Kaori Niwa 27:31:39 – Was not a surprise after placing 8th last-year. The 100-mile distance is all about consistency and perseverance and this is how this lady excelled. As the distance and weather conditions took its toll, Niwa pushed on and reaped the rewards. A seminal year for this lady!

NO5

Kellie Emmerson 28:13:06 – Australian Emmerson was a surprise top-10 who I think (?) was running her first 100. She is proficient over the 100km distance and maybe the most significant indicator coming into the 2017 UTMB was her 4th at Tarawera earlier this year. Her race was well executed with patience and consistency and her 100km pace kicked in the latter stages to go past St Laurent.

NO6

Alissa St Laurent 28:13:43 – Had a tough race but persevered to finally have a strong and consistent race to place 6th. She certainly slowed as the race progressed and I am sure she will be frustrated with losing that 5th place in the closing stages.

NO7

Anna-Marie Watson 28:37:16 – What a breakthrough performance for Anne-Marie, last year we had Jasmin Paris from the UK in the top-10 and this year I was expecting Beth Pascall to step up to the mark but this was all surpassed by Watson. Her progress through the sport has been quite the surprise, go back to 2008 and she placed 124th lady at CCC – cut to the 2017 UTMB and she was 7th. Wow! That is some progress and the indicators are there, from 2015 she has a string of victories and top ranked places, 2nd at the 2015 MDS, 1st Cotswold Way Challenge, 1st at Cappadocia Ultra and most recently 1st at Gran Trail Courmayeur – a seminal performance.

NO8

Amy Sproston 28:44:08 – Has a running history the length of my arm and a string of notable runs, highlights coming over many varying distances. She has been top-10 at UTMB before – 8th in 2012. Notably she has also had great results at Western States, 2nd in 2016. So, matching her 2012 position is no surprise, it looks like she paced herself well with a slow first half and then making up ground in the second half. Notably, the USA’s top female finisher!

NO9

Mariya Nikolova 29:04:16 – This Bulgarian lady was 16th at UTMB in 2015 in almost 33-hours. 2017 is breakthrough year for her and her time of 29 hours a significant improvement even when one considers the shorter course.

NO10 

Robyn Bruins 29:41:11 – So, the Australian ladies have a seminal year, just like the USA men. Bruin placed 10th and in doing so arguably has one of the best results of her career. She is known in the Southern Hemisphere, but in Europe, no, she is a newbie. This result will no doubt kickstart a renaissance not only in her own running but the running of Emmerson who placed 5th.

NOTABLES:

Pre-race favourite and I think many pundits odds-on for victory, Caroline Chaverot, had a tough race and dropped at midway. Chaverot, like Picas in her hey-day has been unstoppable with many races and a recent victory at Hardrock 100 may well have just taken its toll. It could be a seminal UTMB for this French lady as she decides her plans and calendar moving forward.

As often happens, many of the pre-race favourites had a tough night, day and night at the 2017 UTMB.

Magdalena Boulet, 5th last year had a bad day, Juliette Blanchett 4th last-year dropped early, long distance specialist Emelie Lecomte dropped at Courmayer, Fernanda Maciel withdrew with eye problems from the wind, snow and rain and Stephanie Violett (formerly Howe) battled on for a finish but was not in the top-10 as I and many others expected.

So, a seminal year without doubt.

Tromso SkyRace 2017 on IRUN4ULTRA

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

Read the full report and story HERE

You can view images from the race HERE

Dolomites SkyRace Preview – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

Twenty years, yes, twenty years the Dolomites SkyRace has existed – It’s a classic, no doubt! The simple ethos of starting low and getting high as quickly as possible and returning makes this race an ever present on the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series. In twenty years, a family has been built reflected in the Dolomites VK which is usually two days before the SkyRace and the many Children’s race that are run the day before.

Shadowed by the stunning peak of Piz Boe at 3152m, the town of Canazei hosts the start and finish of the race. At 22km in length, the race has 10km of climbing and 22km of descending. In principal, it’s a simple race that is made complex with the variables of weather, snow, ice, technical terrain, altitude and speed. It’s important to climb strong, however, the descent often proves to be a key deciding factor. What goes up, must come down and with 12km to play with, an exceptional descender can make any lost ground on the 10km climb.

4-hours 30-minutes are allocated for participants to complete the course starting and concluding in the Piazza. It’s a fast race and course records currently stand with Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel, their times 2:00:11 and 2:25:57 recorded in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

IMPORTANTLY the 2017 edition of the race will be longer at 23.5km with an additional 200m of vertical gain.

Added interest can be noted in the record for the ascent and descent, a key feature of this race. Augusti Roc Amador and Laura Orgue have recorded 1:16:47 and 1:29:30 of the ascent and Fabio Bonfanti and Angela Mudge hold the records for the descent, 00:43:35 and 00:58:47.

In 2016 Tadei Pivk and Laura Orgue were the champions recording times of 2:03:38 and 2:27:42 respectively.

The 2017 Edition

The 20th edition has one of the best fields ever assembled in the history of the Dolomites SkyRace. Over 100 elite runners will toe the line and therefore it is impossible to look at each runner individually. We will therefore concentrate on the potentials for top-3 and we will also look at the likely contenders for the top-10 who may well male top-5 and on a good day, may make the podium.

Notably, past winners Megan Kimmel, Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet will not be running.

MEN

Tadei Pivk heads up the men’s race as the Skyrunner World Series past champion and defending champion of the Dolomites SkyRace. Tadei had injury issues earlier in the year but has now put them behind him with a great victory in Livigno SkyRace.

Marco De Gasperi is a legend in Skyrunning and recently just missed out on victory at Zegama-Aizkorri. Marco also came close to pipping Kilian Jornet for Dolomites victory a few years back and lost out in a head-to-head sprint for the line – could this be Marco’s year? It would be a popular victory!

Alexis Sevennec crosses between ski mountaineering and Skyrunning and excels at both. He has a solid history with the Dolomites race and in 2016 had great runs at Trofeo Kima and Limone.

Hassan Ait Chaou had a stunning 2016 and seems to be lacking that extra 5% this year, however, he can never be ruled out and the distance and format of the Dolomites race suits him.

Jan Margarit is one of the rising stars within the Salomon Team and has all the potential to have a great race here in Italy. He has been a little quiet in the 2017 so far – he will hopefully come fresh to Canazei.

Martin Anthamatten is past winner of the Matterhorn Ultraks and on his day, can go head-to-head with the best. Like Sevennec he is also a skier and ski mountaineer – the crossover with Skyrunning is a formula that has been proven to work.

 

Pascal Egli had a solid race earlier in the year in China at Yading SkyRun and has excelled at the Dolomites race in past editions. He is most definitely a contender for the top-5.

VK specialist Marco Moletto in many respects is a surprise entry for the SkyRace, however, we can expect to by one of the front contenders if not in the lead at the summit. The question will come in regard to his descending ability?

Remi Bonnet is now finding form after many injury issues in 2016. If we look back to 2015, this young Salomon runner was unstoppable at the VK distance and he scored impressive victories at Sky races at the USA’s Rut and Italy’s Limone. If he is in great shape, we can expect top-5 and a podium if not victory is a distinct possibility.

Micha Steiner has raced Dolomites on many occasions and is always in the mix for the top-10. Could this be the year for a break out performance?

Francois Gonon may well impact on the front of the race, on his day he can mix it with the best but I am currently unsure of his form? One to watch.

Kiril Nikolov raced in China earlier in the year recently had a solid race at the Olympus Marathon in Greece. Top-10 potential for sure.

Andre Jonsson keeps racing and racing an in the past two weekends placed 4th at High Trail Vanoise and last weekend placed 2nd at the Royal Gran Paradiso – both races long and tough. The pace at Canazei may well just be too much for a tired body but who knows… Andre could pull out a surprise performance.

Another VK specialist, William Bon Mardion is showing on the start list. Like Moletto, we can expect a strong performance in the first 10km’s of the race as they climb all the way to the summit of Piz Boe – how will the 12km drop to Canazei go?

Surprises could come from anywhere with a field that has so much depth and it may well be that I have missed some key names from the extensive start list. One thing is for sure, Saturday’s 20th edition is going to be an exciting race.

WOMEN

Laura Orgue returns as a past winner and the fastest female to the summit, The VK specialist who runs Sky races is the odds-on favourite for victory. However, she will have run the VK race the day before and that may just take the edge off?

Ragna Debats is on the start list and would almost certainly be a contender for the podium – she is having a great year! However, I believe she will miss the Dolomites and will be looking for some rest and recovery ahead of the Tromso SkyRace in early August.

Aitziber Ibarbia is always a contender at the Sky distance and we can expect her to make an impact at the front of the race.

Ekaterina Mityaev like Ragna Debats is on the start list and would be a contender for the top-5, however, she placed 3rd just last weekend at the Royal Gran Paradiso and I believe she will miss the Dolomites race.

Hillary Gerardi from the USA had a strong performance at Livigno SkyRace and went on to have some solid results at other races such as the Chamonix VK and Pierre Menta. I think she will be a surprise package in the race and will turn a few heads.

Addie Bracy also from the USA won the USA Mountain Running Championships in 2016, so, she has plenty of speed. Placing 10th at Zegama-Aizkorri would suggest that she still has something to learn on a real mountain. Dolomites will certainly test her but top-10 is on the cards.

Maria Zorroza finished just over 1-minute clear of Bracy at Zegama-Aizkorri and some 20-minutes off the winning time. Therefore, a top-10 is a distinct possibility and a top-5 would see her having a great day!

Norway’s Hilde Alders may well have a great race in Italy. The Dolomites course will suit the Mizuno sponsored runner.

Katrine Villumsen had a solid race behind Megan Kimmel and Ragna Debats in China earlier this year – if she has a good day, a top-5 is a distinct possibility and she may well just make the podium.

Ever-present Stephanie Jimenez has raced in Canazei many times and always is in the mix – I expect no different this year.

Anna Comet has been missing so far, this year in the Skyrunning calendar after concentrating on the IAU World Trail Championships – the Dolomites will see a return to her racing fast and light in a full-on mountain race.

Names to watch:

Laia Andreu, Victoria Kreutzer, Stine Haustreis, Lisa Buzzoni, Beatrice Delflorian, Francesca Rossi, Lara Mustat, Axelle Mollaret, Svetlana Buravova, Jennifer Asp, Chiara Gianola, Susanna Tervo, Lucia Dobrucka

Full SWS Calendar available HERE

Livigno SkyMarthon 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Skyrunner® World Series

Livigno SkyMarathon 2017 Race Summary

Days in the mountains rarely get better… the Livigno SkyMarathon really did provide a truly spectacular mountain experience that will be difficult to better – the weather, the course and the stunning town of Livigno all came together along with great organization to give everyone a memorable day.

The race really is a personification of pure Skyrunning. Over the 34km course, the runners climbed over 2700m of vertical gain with much of the race taking place between 2500 and 3000m.

Exposed mountain ridges, roped sections, via ferrata and abundance of technical terrain make the Livigno SkyMarathon a challenge – but a challenge to embrace.

Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri which took place in May, this race was always going to be exciting with valuable Migu Skyrunner World Series points available.

SWS World Champion Tadei Pivk, has had a troubled 2017 with injury, however, he was a last-minute entrant to the Livigno race having missed Zegama-Aizkorri. Pivk was the winner of Livigno in 2017 so he was soon tipped as a favourite for the win. Equally, Zegama-Aizkorri winner Maite Maiora, was tipped as the potential winner for the ladies’ race.

The duo started the race with a determination and a commitment and took the respective leads from very early on. Maiora looked invincible throughout the race, Pivk also looked strong and in control but Aritz Egea was tailing the Italian for much of the race.

At the line Pivk and Maiora were triumphant.

Egea pushed the 2017 champion close and on the line, it was just 2-minutes that separated them, 3:52:42 to 3:54:39. Third placed runner was Eduard Hernandez Texeido ahead of Eugeni Gil Ocana and Robert Krupicka, their times 4:00:39, 4:02:00 and 4:05:24 respectively.

Maiora was in a different league in the ladies’ race, her time of 4:37:30 incredible on this course. Denise Ionela Dragomir ran a strong 2nd throughout the race and her podium place never looked in doubt, she crossed the line in 4:43:21 ahead of Laia Andreu Trias who finished in 4:47:16.

The 2017 edition of the Livigno SkyMarathon was different to 2017 and therefore the times recorded this year are course records. Conditions were exceptional throughout the day with clear blue skies, sun, little to no wind and temperatures were kind until the early afternoon when they started to rise.

The talk post-race was all about how incredible the course is. The opening flat miles providing a warm up before the first climb with no technicality. What follows are walls of rock with chains attached, scree slopes of rock and slate, narrow and exposed technical ridges that really place you in the sky. The high point of the course at 3000m in many respects brings an end to the very technical sections and then the course changes over the second half with plenty of single-track and of course climbing. The final drop from Monte Campaccio at 3007m is long with plenty of rocks and scree. The final 10km’s to the line sap the legs and mind – a Livigno finish is hard fought.

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series now moves to Greece for the Olympus SkyMarathon which will take place on the weekend of June 24th.

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Santa Caterina VK 2017 Summary and Images – Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit

Michele Bosacci and Valentina Belotti were the 2017 champions of the Santa Caterina VK, the 6th race in the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit.

The route starts from Santa Caterina (1,739 m) and climbs 1000m to Costa Sobretta (2,739 m). Starting at 3pm in the centre of Santa Caterina, the runners departed en-mass. The early road section allowing for a fast getaway and then the 2.9km course soon pointed upwards as the runners fought position through a mixture of terrain – grassland, pastures, ski pistes and trails across scree slopes. The final section is equipped with a fixed rope to guarantee participants’ safety as they fought to the finish line.

Michle Boasacci dictated a song pace ahead of Nejc Kuhar, Patrick Facchin and race director Marco De Gasperi. However, despite a last minute surge by Kuhar, Bosacci had too large a gap before entering the final technical section of via feratta where it would have been almost impossible to pass.

Boascci took the victory in 34-minutes 56-seconds, Kuhar crossed 18-seconds later and Facchin held of De Gasperi finishing in 35:40 to the race directors 35:41.

For the ladies, Valentina Belotti had a convincing lead over 2nd placed lady, Susanna Saapunki and her victory never looked in doubt. She crossed the line in 41:26 in comparison to the Finish ladies’ 42:23.

Pre-race favourite and VK specialist Francesca Rossi finished 3rd despite nursing a knee injury, her time 43:08.

Attention now turns to Sunday for the 34km Livigno SkyMarathon, the next race in the Migu Skyrunner World Series.

Kilian Jornet to take on the fastest #VK in the world – #Fully

©iancorless.comIMG_5813Canazei2014_kilian

KM Vertical de Fully is the fastest VK in the world. Italian VK legend, Urban Zemmer holds the record – a stunning 29 minutes and 42 seconds recorded in 2014.

Overlooking the village of Fully , the very steep path measures exactly 1000 m in altitude. The course uses an old former railroad that has a gradient of 60% and a total distance 1920m. In other words, it’s super steep!

Every 100m, a marker is placed on the track to enable participants to count down the meters to go and to manage the pain and effort.

The arrival to “Garettes” is located 1500 meters above sea level.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesVK2015-1042

This weekend it will be the big showdown, Kilian Jornet will take on Urban Zemmer and Zemmer’s fellow La Sportiva teammate, Marco Moletto.

©iancorless.com_DOLOMITESVK2016-3395-2

Taking place on October 22nd, Kilian will start at 12:11:00, Marco Moletta 12:11:40 and then Urban Zemmer 12:12:20.

fully

It’s a tantalising prospect, 30 minutes of pure pain for the legs and lungs, who will come out on top and more importantly, will this competition bring out a new world record?

Kilian may not have conquered Everest in 2016, will he conquer Fully?

In the ladies’ race, VK specialist and record holder, Christel Dewalle will be the outright favourite. Just last weekend she won the VK at Limone Extreme and was crowned the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Champion of the VK distance. Christel’s record is 34 minutes 44 seconds also recorded in 2014.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesVK2015-0685

The full race start list is available HERE

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Limone Extreme 2016 #SKY – Skyrunner® World Series

iancorless-com_limonesky2016-8940-copy

The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series was up for grabs but news on the start line was one of drama… Tadei Pivk was unable to start after waking with a fever, Marco De Gasperi had been delayed in Milan on a flight from the USA and last year’s winner, Remi Bonnet decided not to start after taking a fall in training just days earlier. For the ladies’ race, a likely series win would come from Laura Orgue who needed to win the race or Megan Kimmel who needed to finisher in 2nd place should Orgue win.

At the finish line on the shores of Lake Garda, Alexis Sevennec once again proved his supremacy with another stunning victory! For the ladies, Megan Kimmel confirmed her incredible mountain running and descending ability to take not only the victory in Limone but also the Skyrunner® World Series title.

We have witnessed some spectacular performances in the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series and the final race in Limone Extreme provided a special close to the 2016 season.

Laura Orgue had not started the Friday VK in a hope to give an all-out effort for victory. Using her impressive abilities at climbing she led the way on the long steep and technical first climb. Celine Lafaye followed closely in second but where was Megan? Megan was way back and was either struggling or running a tactical race… it was the latter. As Laura pushed at the front, Megan slowly closed the gap and on the final decent that drops to the lake she opened up and finally pulled away to take victory in a time of 3:17:35 and with it the Skyrunner® World Series crown. “Last year I lost the series title at Limone and this year I ran cautiously in the early stages, I was just hoping not too cautiously. When I eventually closed on Celine I was feeling good and then Laura and myself were running side-by-side. I decided to go knowing that I mustn’t let Laura win and me placed 3rd otherwise the title would go to Laura – I pulled it off!”

Laura had run much of the race out front but looked relieved to finish just over a minute slower than Megan, her time 3:18:42. Celine Lafaye placed 3rd in 3:19:22 and Skyrunner® World Champion for the ULTRA distance and the 2016 UTMB champion, Caroline Chaverot, placed 4th. An incredible result for the lady who loves and excels at longer races. Quite a year for her and she has already said that Skyrunning will be an objective in 2017.

For the men, the non-start of Tadei Pivk did provide an opportunity for Hassan Ait Chaou to ‘take’ the title, however, he would have needed to run a great race and place on the podium. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and therefore Tadei Pivk once again (also in 2015) is the Skyrunner® World Series champion from his impressive results and consistency earlier in the year.

A race was left to run and Stian Angermund lead the charge early on ahead of Marco Moletto, no doubt reeling from missing victory the previous night in the VK by just 1-second. Although looking good early on, the efforts from the previous night and minimal recovery before the 11am start took its toll and both Stian and Marco faded opening the doorway for an in-form Alexis Sevennec who forged a final lone path to a stunning victory in 2:46:49. Brit, Hector Haines and started high up on the first climb and held on to arguably one of his best podium places stirring local heads with 2:51:41 2nd place. Bulgarian Kiril Nikolov took the final podium place in 2:52:04. Early protagonist, Marco Moletto who had looked a potential podium finisher placed 5th looking tired and Stian placed 7th.

The final ranking for the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series SKY distance has Tadei Pivk 1st, Hassan Ait Chaou 2nd and Kiril Nikolov 3rd. For the ladies’ Megan Kimmel is champion, Laura Orgue 2nd and Yngvild Kaspersen 3rd.

Roll on 2017!


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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SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

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La Sportiva BUSHIDO Review

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La Sportiva have been making shoes for a long time, 80+ years! So it feels somewhat crazy that it’s only now that I have slipped on a pair of La Sportiva shoes for a test. I travel a great deal, particularly in Italy and it’s fair to say that Italians are loyal to the Italian brand that are based just outside Canazei in the Dolomites. Adding to the irony, I have driven past the La Sportiva factory many times on my way to the Dolomites SkyRace, year after year.

To provide a perspective of the foothold (pun intended) that the brand has in this area, La Sportiva shoes are the ‘norm’ and yes, even Salomon take 2nd place. The brand is that big!

I digress, needless to say, 80+ years of history and a desire to bring technical footwear to consumers so we can enjoy the playground is the heritage that La Sportiva trade on.

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The BUSHIDO shoe (which means way of the warrior) is not a new shoe, not at all. But it is a popular shoe and one that I have been recommended time and time again. So, finally I took the plunge and grabbed a pair.

Like all shoes, different colour ways are available and the BUSHIDO comes in a pretty cool looking black and yellow. I unfortunately got a pair of turquoise and orange (?) – not my favourite colours. Oh vanity…

The BUSHIDO doesn’t look light and at 300g (give or take) they are certainly at the heavier end of shoes that I wear. But then again, everything is relative, this shoe looks like it means business and therefore, as in the way of the warrior, maybe the build quality and weight needs to reflect that?

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Slipping the shoe on I was really surprised with the hold the shoe had on my foot. It has a gusseted tongue which La Sportiva call an ‘Internal Slip-On Construction’ and I have to say that the BUSHIDO comes close to Salomon’s ‘Endofit’ as witnessed on the ‘Sense’ range for example. This is a huge compliment to the La Sportiva shoe. I test and wear shoes all the time and Salomon is still the benchmark in terms of how a shoe holds a foot.

Standing up things didn’t feel right? I did my usual walk around, flex the forefoot, bounce around a little and then I stopped. I asked myself the question internally, ‘are these shoes neutral and what is the drop?’

I checked – 6mm drop and neutral.

After running over 100 miles in these shoes I still really question these facts. The BUSHIDO for me does not feel neutral. Actually, I would almost go as far to say that they have a pretty aggressive arch support. I noticed it immediately and the more I ran in the shoes, the more I noticed it.

A 6mm drop should have had me feeling comfortable mid to forefoot striking but no, I felt as though the heal of the shoe was getting in the way. I haven’t had a low drop shoe feel this way before. It may well come from the 13mm to 19mm cushioning at the front and the rear? Yes, the BUSHIDO is a cushioned shoe. The Scott Kinabalu Supertrac (for example) has plenty of cushioning, loads of grip and an 8mm drop and they feel considerably ‘lower’ than the BUSHIDO. I use 8mm drop day-to-day and for long runs and I regularly use and run in 4mm drop for shorter/ faster sessions. However, the BUSHIDO never felt like a 6mm drop. I have found it difficult to pinpoint why but at all times I felt the heel was too pronounced.

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Running at first felt somewhat awkward and cumbersome with the shoe lacking flex and feel. It’s rare these days that shoe feels so stiff out of the box. I thought, a few runs and they will soften up. They never did…

I have to say, I was on a slippery slope. I had waited to try the BUSHIDO for quite some time and with every run I was realising that I disliked them more and more.

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The build quality is somewhat bullet proof: good toe protection in a TPU toe cap, a dual density compressed rock guard in the midsole, a TPU shank and IPS (impact brake system) and my conclusion? This shoe is completely over engineered and just doesn’t allow me to feel or enjoy the trail in a way that a good shoe should. For a ‘neutral’ shoe I felt as though I was being ‘guided’ with every foot strike as though my mind and my foot were saying, ‘let’s do this’ and then the BUSHIDO would step in and shout at me, ‘NO – YOU ARE DOING THIS!’

This relationship wasn’t going to last.

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The outsole is unique with round edges and has two different sections, black and white. In simple terms it’s two different compounds that provide grip on a multitude of surfaces. This works well on dry trail, rocks and gnarly terrain and they grip well on wet rock. However, the outsole won’t handle mud – it’s just not aggressive enough. The black compound is sticky and grips whereas the white compound is more durable provide traction for off camber and irregular trail. Underneath all this you may well just see a flicker of blue? This is the rock plate which protects you (and your foot) from anything sharp, irregular or nasty. Like I said this shoe is bullet proof but all of the above and 13/19mm cushioning make for an unresponsive shoe which lacks feel.

The TPU cradle adds to the problem. This cradle wraps up into the midsole and holds the foot firm. It provides a cradle which the foot sits in. This for me is not really a ‘neutral’ shoe. I want my foot to be free and neutral – not guided.

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In the rear of the shoe you can see a little orange piece of plastic which is called ‘STB Control’ – again, the word ‘control’ – I think you are beginning to realise that the BUSHIDO is fighting me and my feet. Also at the rear is another cage like system that holds my heel. More stability, more support designed to hold the foot and stop it rolling or losing control.

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The upper is soft and breathable and as I mentioned has the gusseted fit which really is the high point of the shoe. There are no seams so you could, if you wish, go sockless. The tongue is slightly padded adding to the comfort and should you really want to pull your laces tight, this will add some additional protection.

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On the sides of the upper there is some reinforcement going into the lace zone and the lace section is additionally reinforced allowing laces to be pulled as tight or as loose as possible. This area follows the theme of the shoe in my opinion – stability, reinforcement and guiding.

The heel cup is tight and secure and is too high potentially causing an issue on the achilles. My left heel rubbed on run one and continued to rub on every run after causing me to add some protection for the test runs.

The toe box has a narrower and more precision fit which works really well for me. The BUSHIDO is designed for the mountains and I don’t want my toes moving left to right when I need reassurance. Of course, if you need a wider toe box this may well not suit you so make sure you try them. Toe protection is excellent.

I wear a UK9.5 and these shoes were true to size. I think it would be easy to think that the BUSHIDO sizes small on first impressions but I would say no! The shoe is designed to fit and hold your foot and so therefore, my advice would be start off with like-for-like sizes and see how you get on.

In conclusion, I have to say that the BUSHIDO and myself just didn’t get on. The shoe has loads of pluses, in particular the sock like fit. On paper I should have liked the shoe – 6mm drop and neutral fit rings all the correct bells. But no! The BUSHIDO at all times felt over engineered, too supportive, lacking feel and I have to say, of all the shoes I have tested in the last few years, this is one shoe that I won’t go back to.

But, many runners out there like this shoe so maybe I am the odd one out? If you are looking for a durable shoe, with loads of protection, a low ‘ish’ drop and plenty of security and guidance – this is the shoe for you… the BUSHIDO does all these things well, maybe too well?

 

Specs from La Sportiva

Weight 300g

Upper AirMesh/ Thermal Adhesive Microfiber/ High Frequency Welded Ripstop/ TPU Toe Cap

Lining Mesh/ Highly breathable lateral mesh inserts/ Stretch AirMesh Tongue

Rear/ Front Cushioning 19mm/ 13mm

Drop 6mm

Cushioning midsole 32A

Midsole Compression Molded MEMlex/ 1.5mm Dual-Density compressed EVA Rock-Guard in forefoot/ TPU Shank Dual-Density FriXion® XT V-Groove™ with Impact Brake System™

With performance driven design, the Bushido is perfect for technical terrain and provides added stability over stones, roots and branches on the trail.  The “STB Control” construction utilizes a TPU frame that wraps under foot to provide maximum stability, responsiveness, and reduce overall weight.

  • Internal slip-on construction fits the foot like a sock without causing excessive pressure.
  • Outsole lugs have rounded edges and wrap over the midsole to provide added traction and enhance stability on off camber terrain.

La Sportiva website HERE

Skyrunning World Championships 2016 VK – Images and Summary

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Every two years the Skyrunning world assembles at an iconic venue and racing commences in VK, SKY and ULTRA distances to announce a male and female champion in the respective distances for the Skyrunning World Championships. Two years ago, the endurance capital of the world Chamonix, hosted the championships and this year it is Spain.

The Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees will provide a modern day coliseum where Skyrunning gladiators will battle at the BUFF® Epic Trail Aigüestortes events. A spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kicking off a weekend of activity, the BUFF® EPIC TRAIL VK  started at 10am, a race for the short and steep specialists! At 2.8 km long with 1,030m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point.

250 runners started the race departing at 30-second intervals.

Dark and moody skies, occasional rain and even a little snow welcomed the runners as they climbed hard and fast to the finish line. For many, the cooler temperatures made for perfect running.

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Stian Angermund from Norway ran an incredible race and became the 2016 VK World Champion crossing the line in 34:16:09. Columbian runner, Sau Antonio Padua Rodriguez finished 2nd in 34:42:63 and Hannes Perkmann from Italy took the bronze medal in 34:44:01 making a truly ‘world’ podium.

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In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Christel Dewalle from France received the gold medal after crossing the line in 39:35:28. Laura Orgue from Spain took silver just over 1-minute later in 40:39:15 and Maite Maiora, also from Spain took bronze in 41:59:41.

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