It’s a classic, no doubt about it and as such the Dolomites SkyRace personifies the ethos of the pure and simple act of starting low racing high and returning as quickly as possible – Skyrunning!
The race is 22km long with 10km uphill and 12km downhill. Depending on the weather, the route may or may not have snow which only adds to the complexity of the terrain. The route changes constantly and on the ascent the runners must fight gravity trying to reach the high point of the course, Piz Boe at 3152m.
From the summit, runners must defy gravity and drop like a stone with no fear, this race is often won on the descent!
Piazza Marconi, Canazei is the start and finish point and 4 hours 30 minutes are allocated for participants to complete the course. 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.
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 2015 Tadei Pivk (2:02:47) beat Ionut Zinca and Pascal Egli to the top of the podium. In the ladies’ race, Megan Kimmel (2:25:57) beat Laura Orgue and Elisa Desco with a stunning descent and a course record time.
What is in store for 2016?
As one would expect, the line up in both the men’s and lady’s fields is stunning. Tadei Pivk heads up the men’s field after his victory in 2015 and his SWS 2015 title. He has been racing regularly in Italy and was the winner at Livigno SkyMarathon recently. However, he did play 5th at Zegama-Aizkorri.
Tadei will definitely not have things his own way. A last minute entry by Remi Bonnet will almost certainly raise the Italians eyebrows. Remi raced the VK in Val D’Isere this past weekend and placed 3rd (28 seconds off the lead), not a position he is used to but he has been nursing an injury and may well not be in full shape in Canazei? That said, he is a formidable competitor over the SKY distance.
Manuel Merillas, 4th at Zegama-Aizkorri always races consistently well over the SKY distance and almost certainly he will contest the top 5 and more than likely the podium.
Marc Casal Mir, 2nd on the SWS ranking is a consistent performer but has never made the podium in Canazei. For sure he will be in contention but more likely in the top 10.
Andre Jonsson has been somewhat of a revelation in 2016, he goes out hard, puts it all on the line and races full on. He currently lies 3rd on the SWS 2016 ranking.
Martin Anthamatten will also be one to watch, he had a great result at Matterhorn Ultraks and in the USA at the RUT series of races. The Dolomites will suit him!
Saul Antonio Padua may well be the first to the top but he always falters on the descent, a key element of the Dolomites race, I wonder, this year can he string the two together?
Other top names to watch out for are Francois Gonon, Alexis Sevennec, Aritz Egea, Dmityr Mityaev, Jan Magrit Sole, Hassan Ait Chaou, Daniel Garcia Gomez, Jessed Hernandez, Nil Cardona, Hector Haines and many more.
With Megan Kimmel missing from the race, Laura Orgue heads up the ladies race after a stunning performance in 2015. Laura’s only problem may well come on the descent… over the winter months she picked up an injury and the Dolomites SkyRace will be the first big test.
Laura though will have some serious competition from her Salomon teammates, Yngvild Kaspersen and Ida Nilsson. These two ladies are currently on fire and based on recent results they could take the top two spots? Yngvild won Zegama-Aizkorri and then went on the place 2nd at Mt Marathon in Alaska – for me, she is the favourite.
Ida had a stunning Transvulcania Ultramarathon has gone from strength-to-strength. Ironically, Transvulcania was a long way for Ida, the shorter distance will suit her running history. It’s going to be exciting!
Elisa Desco, 3rd in 2015 is back on form after injury and victory in Livigno. Elisa has the up and down game and without doubt is likely champion on Sunday.
2015 Zegama-Aizkorri champion, Azara Garcia has been looking for a return to form after prolonged injury and the Dolomites SkyRace may well be the opportunity to for her gain maximum points and challenge for the SWS ranking.
Maite Maiora has also had injury but if she is fit she will definitely be a contender for the podium. Maite races hard with 100% commitment in 2014 she placed 3rd behind Laura Orgue and Emelie Forsberg.
Marta Molist currently lies 2nd on the SWS ranking and she will be looking to gain valuable points, however, Russian Ekaterina Mityaev will be looking to topple the Spanish runner.
Ragna Debats and Sheila Alves heads up the other likely contenders for the top 5 followed by Aitziber Ibarbia, Eva Maria Moreda Gabaldon, Celia Chiron and of course, we may well have a few last minute entries…
Watch this space!
Kicking off proceedings on Friday, runners will take on the Dolomites Vertical Kiolmeter®. Starting at 0930 in Cisates just a short walk from the center of Canazei, runners will depart in groups of 20 with a time gap of 4-minutes separating the groups. Groups are categorized with slower runners departing early and elite runners departing last.
At 1100 the top runners as specified by the SWS ranking will depart.
Runners depart at an altitude of 1450m and reach the high point of Spiz 2465m with a total distance of 2.4km in length. The Dolomites VK is considered one of the toughest on the circuit due to the short, steep course and underfoot, much of the terrain is grass. Poles are not essential but recommended.
Course records date back to 2015 and 2014 when Philip Gotsch ran an incredible 32:38 and Laura Orgue ran 38:14.
Ferran Teixido heads up the men’s race field and he currently leads the SWS ranking however, he did have a below par performance at Face Bellevarde in Val d’Isere. Francois Gonon, Nejc Kuhar, Marco Moletto, Jan Margarit, Dimitry Mityaeva, Mirko Cocco and Oriol Cardona Coll will push the Andorran runner all the way to the line. As is always the case in Italy and on the VK circuit, La Sportiva will send a strong and deep field. Urban Zemmer if confirmed running of course will be a clear favourite along with Remi Bonnet and Saul Antonio Padua.
Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ field and is the current course record holder but will have strong competition from Maite Maiora and Yngvild Kaspersen. Ekaterina Mityaeva,Maria Zorroza and Aitziber Ibarbia will provide competition but the ladies start list is definitely impacted by the Skyrunning World Championships that will take place the following weekend.
Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott Running, Compressport 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.
iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:
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.
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.
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.
“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 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 children 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.
“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!”
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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!”
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.
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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
The evening is amazing. The sky is adorned with clouds and as we climb with cameras, Marino runs to the instructions of Kelvin.
Looking for ridges and technical lines, Marino embraces the challenge and is arguably having the most fun he has had in ages.
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.
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 laughs as he recounts boyhood memories. “I used to go mushroom picking in this area.”
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.
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.”
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:
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?”
I 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.
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?
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.
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.”
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:
Fast and Light is released on October 20th 2015 at 1600 via Salomon SRTV HERE
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.
The general consensus seemed to be that The Rut offered a 50k course that mixed up the best of American trail running with a combination of pure European style Skyrunning.
‘The Rut is the first Ultra Series final to be held in the USA and was designed and organized by world-class ultra runners Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe specifically to fit Skyrunning parameters. The Rut 50K counts 6,080m vertical meters ascent and descent with the highest point reaching the 3,403m summit of Lone Peak in Montana’s aptly named Big Sky resort.’ Said Lauri van Houten, ISF. The summit was also the destination of Friday’s Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® – 1,000m vertical climb and at just under 4.6 km long, Mike Foote briefed the runners pre-race, ‘This is a true mountain course so please treat it with the respect it deserves!’
In truth, one could say that the 50K course was a true leveller.
It allowed the fast trail runner’s, Sage Canaday and Ellie Greenwood for example to go head-to-head against the Skyrunners; Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Add to the mix runners like Kasie Enman who have delved into both worlds and succeeded and we had a great event to watch and follow.
Using the ‘Transvulcania’ approach, Sage pushed hard from the gun, pulling away he opened up a gap of 3-minutes on Kilian Jornet. However, as the terrain kicked up, Mr KJ started to close. It was 90-seconds, then level and then a gradual lead. Slowly but surely, Kilian pulled away showing a consummate display of running ability, not only on easy trails, but also on the tough, steep and technical. At the line, Kilian was victor. Another incredible win to his list of palmares accumulated in 2014. The only blip coming at Transvulcania where he placed 2nd after stepping off ski’s just days earlier. Another Skyrunner® World Series title in the bag and I have to ask the question once again, ‘Is Kilian Jornet THE most rounded athlete in the world?’ His achievements and humility blow my mind.
Emelie Forsberg by comparison ran a race that I could have scripted. Frustrated by the ‘detour’ at Trofeo Kima, Emelie used her emotions to grab the Rut by the horns and push from the off. Pulling away from the rest of the ladies, Emilie’s victory was never really in question. Kasie Enman closed a little in the latter stages but settled for the bridesmaid position, a priority holding off Anna Frost in third. Outright speed didn’t help Ellie Greenwood who ran a great race for 4th. Ultimately, the mountain, the technicality and the altitude became a leveller.
Like Kilian, Emelie rounds out another year with a Skyrunner® World Series victory. They are the King and Queen of the ultra Skyrunning world. Mixing raw athletic ability and gift with the animal instincts of an Ibex. They are not unbeatable, but just now, they are both at the top of their game.
Sage struggled with the technical second half favoured by Kilian, closed second in 5h20’27”. Kilian finished a fast 5h09’33”. Manuel Merillas (Mammut), a new young talent from Spain leading the Series, climbed from 4th position at 30 km to finish third in 5h29’20”. Britain’s Tom Owens (Salomon) was an excellent 4th and American Paul Hamilton (The North Face) last year’s race winner, took 5th
Emelie Forsberg was race winner in 6h32’42”. Kasie closed in 6h38’05” and Anna in 6h49’25”. Canadian Ellie Greenwood was 4th and American Hilary Allen, 5th. Series leader, Italian Alessandra Carlini, took 8th.
Ones to watch for 2015:
Rising star, Spanish runner Manuel Merillas fulfilled early season potential as displayed at Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Dolomites Skyrace and Kima with 3rd place. I don’t need to tell you, he is one to watch for the future.
Tom Owens once again came away with another top-5 and confirmed himself as the top British mountain runner in the world. Nobody has pitted themselves against such top quality fields and come away with the goods like Tom. It was a hark back to 2012 when Tom pushed Kilian close on several occasions. 2014 is very much the comeback year after a disastrous 2013 with injury, I can’t help but think that Tom will step up another level in 2015.
Kasie Enman has paved the way for running mums! Sounds a touch corny I know but Kasie returned to top flight running in ‘14’ just 10-months after her 2nd child. We all wondered how it would go… Kasie included. In her first race, Zegama-Aizkorri, Kasie was at the front pushing. We all thought, hold on a minute, that wasn’t the plan. She did eventually succumb to the distance and pressure from ladies behind; however, it was an indicator of what was to come. Race after race, Kasie has improved and recently secured a victory at Trofeo Kima. With 2014 in her system, I am excited to see what 2015 will hold.
Anna (Frosty) Frost needs no introduction and to be honest, Frosty shouldn’t really be in my ‘ones to watch’ as we all know her ability. However, pre May 2014, Frosty had a tough time finding form, health and equilibrium. I am pleased to say after a resounding Transvulcania win and CR, a 2nd at the Skyrunning World Champs, a victory at Speedgoat 50k and now 3rd at The Rut that Frosty is back… watch out ladies in 2015! And Frosty, keep the racing as you have in ‘14’. Less is more.
Finally, Alessandra Carlini has worked real hard in 2014 and did top the ranking. Considering this lady lives on the Italian coast with no mountains to train on, her performances have been excellent. If Alessandra can work on some specific training for 2015 she may well be a force to reckon with.
Skyrunning has blossomed and grown. We only need to look at the ‘Likes’ on the Skyrunning FB page to the explosion that his happening before our eyes. The runners want high and technical. The fans want high and technical and the development and spread of the National Series is showing that Skyrunning is here to stay… it may have been around for 20-years, it’s not our fault that everyone is just catching up. Yes, that was the vision of Marino Giacometti back in ‘89’ when he scaled Monte Rosa.
2015 will soon be here and with it new adventures and new experiences for all.
Race report: Ian Corless reports after the Ultra Cavalls del Vent – Spain, September 29, 2012
On a day of rain, cold temperatures and intense racing, ultra running and in particular ultra Skyrunning opened a new chapter in our sport with some really competitive racing by ‘the best’ in the world.
Unfortunately the whole experience was somewhat overshadowed by the news on Sunday morning that Teresa Farriol, aged 48, had passed away in the night due to a cardiac arrest brought on by hypothermia. It was hollow faces, dark eyes and tears in the race hotel as elite runners, race organisers and journalists pulled together. The prize presentation was cancelled and was replaced with a one minute silence in the crowded square.
Despite alternative race options available all over the world, many of the worlds best decided to head to Spain and race at the Skyrunning ‘Ultra Cavalls del Vent’, an 84.2km race with 6098m of altitude change.
Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones, Tony Krupicka, Tofol Castanyer, Miguel Heras, Joe Grant, Philipp Reiter, Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas and Emma Roccaall decided to do battle in what turned out to be an incredibly testing day.
At Refugio Niu de L’Aliga the race format was starting to unfold with Kilian leading the race, followed closely by Tofol and then several minutes back Miguel Heras. Dakota Jones and Philipp Reiter soon came into sight and then Tony Krupicka. Although minutes separated them all, one thing became apparent. It was cold!
Thick mist made visibility difficult and it was biting cold on hands. Kilian seemed in his element running in short sleeves but nearly all the other runners wore jackets. Including Tony!
Emelie Forsberg was the first lady to come into sight. Somewhat of a surprise… not because she didn’t have the ability but because the plan was to ease into her ‘first’ 50 miler. Frosty followed and then a very cool and relaxed looking Nuria Picas.
The cold and constant rain hit the race and the runners hard! Miguel Heras dropped, Tofol had hypothermia, Joe Grant had hypothermia and hundreds more runners had dropped from the race.
Tony Krupicka moved up through the field, moved ahead of Dakota and a format was set. Kilian and Tony swapping the lead and Dakota following.
At Gresolet, Kilian had a two minute lead. As he passed me I asked how he felt? “I am great, it was a little cold but now I am good. I am having fun!”
Tony approached “How you feeling Tony?” “I’m good man, Kilian is just playing with me… all good though!”
Some of the press with me at this point wondered if Tony would win? To be honest, no disrespect to Tony but Kilian seemed in control and was glad of company. Dakota was now some 30 min in arrears with Philipp Reiter in fourth. This order remained until the final climb when Kilian accelerated leaving Tony behind. Kilian crossed the line in a new CR of 8:42:22. Tony crossed the line in second, also beating the old CR too with 8:49:56 and Dakota finished in third in a time of 9:26:25.
Tony was stoked at the finish and rightly so. After the best part of two years of being out of the sport with injuries, his ‘return’ now seems to be confirmed. Speaking of his love for Skyrunning he said on the line “These are the races we want, vertical gain, tough gnarly climbs and altitude. We can’t get this at home, I love it”
Dakota was happy with third, but said he had hoped for better and that he never felt quite on his game!
Emelie Forsberg in the ladies race pushed ahead and at one point had a 15 minute lead, with Frosty and Nuria chasing. However the gap was closed and over the final two hours a battle started. My money was on Nuria, she had told me at ‘Kima’ that this was the race she wanted and I guess it showed. In the latter stages Emelie was dropped and Nuria ran into the finish, victorious in 10:34:42, beating her 2011 winning time by over an hour. Frosty finished in second 10:35:24 and Emelie jumped for joy in 10:39:51.
Frosty said “Everything hurts. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. I dug deeper that I have ever had to go, I am happy for Nuria and I am happy for me”
Emelie in only her second ultra and first 50 miler was elated. She told me “I felt really good and still do. My legs are not hurting but it was [my] mind… in the latter stages when I had to fight I couldn’t focus but I am super happy”
Cavalls del Vent was an incredible day. It showed us all what is great about our sport. Wonderful courses, great running, new runners showing potential for the future, established runners confirming that they are the best, a return to form for Tony and of course immense comradeship. In the hotel ‘Press Room’ I was surrounded by all of them… Kilian on the sofa chatting, Tony and Dakota on the web, Frosty and Emelie giggling, Philipp and Terry discussing the next time to pose naked. All individual, but all one.
The next event in the Ultra Skyrunning series is ‘Templiers’ in the South of France. The date is October 28th and rest assured I will be at the race to bring you images, stories and a podcast from the final race in the series.