Tromsø SkyRace® 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend with the Tromsø SkyRace® the second race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series in the Extreme category which also includes the Royal Gran Paradiso and the Salomon Glencoe Skyline in the UK which will take place in September.

A weekend of Skyrunning starts with the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® on Friday and the Tromsø SkyRace® on Saturday – both races are designed by Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg.

Tough, challenging, leg hurting, lung busting, the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® climbs 1000 vertical meters over the short distance of 2.7km. Encompassing the sea-to-sky concept, the race starts on the shores of the sea and concludes at an altitude of 1044m at Store Blåmann.

Saturday’s Tromso SkyRace® is an inspiring course that has plenty of vertical, technical terrain, exposed ridges and demanding descents. It covers 53km and has 4600m of vertical terrain, the race really is a challenge for those taking part.

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The line-up for this year’s race is high quality and will include Skyrunner World Series Extreme 2016 Champion, Jon Albon. Albon was the winner of the race in 2015 ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando. A recent victory and course record at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira shows that Albon is in form.

Bhim Gurung won the Royal Gran Paradiso recently with a stunning descent in the final kilometers. He did the same earlier in the year at the Yading SkyRace in China. For sure, Gurung is a contender for the podium and the win.

Eirik Haugsness has had a quiet year so far and it’s difficult to know his current form? However, he did win the first edition of the race and knows the course well.

Rolf Einar Jensen is also racing on local ground and made the Tromso podium in 2015. He was also in the mix in 2016 and he will make his presence felt this year I am sure. Like Haugsness he has local knowledge and course experience.

Kiril Nikolov raced at Comapedrosa SkyRace last weekend and damaged his foot. At this stage, I am unsure if he will start the race and if he does, what impact last weekend will have on his performance. If he is fit and healthy, he will be in the mix for the top-10 and if he has a good day, top-5 is a distinct possibility.

Kim Collison had injury issues earlier in the year and withdrew from Scenic 113k. He did toe the line at the Royal Gran Paradiso but just for a finish. With some solid training, Collison will be in the mix here in Tromso. He likes rough and gnarly terrain, he has pace, he can climb and descend and technical exposed ridges cause no problem for him – one to watch!

Hector Haines is having a good year having placed in the top-10 at Transvulcania and the Royal Gran Paradiso. Like Collison, Haines can handle the ‘UK’ like Tromso terrain and he will almost certainly be a contender at the front of the race.

Michel Lanne is a great addition to the race and although he seems to have raced little in recent months, he loves mountain and technical terrain. He will almost certainly be a surprise addition to the elite men and quite rightly, his competitors should keep a keen eye on him – he has all the potential to win the race. In past years he has won Mont-Blanc 80km,Andorra Ultra Trail, 4th at Zegama and 5th at Trofeo Kima.

Pere Aurell is racing strong this year and looked great at the recent Royal Gran Paradiso – he made the podium. He has had some RnR recently and that will bode well for a strong race.

Matt Shyrock from the USA (Alaska) will be a dark horse in this field and to some of the Europeans may well be unknown. I am unsure if he has raced outside the USA and therefore how adapted he will be to the unique terrain Tromso offers. Having said that, Shyrock has excelled at the USA’s Rut (2nd and 3rd) and the climb and descent to Lone Peak does pose some similarities to Tromso. He has also placed 6th at Mt Marathon.

Fabien Antolinos may well throw a few surprises at this year’s race. He is having a good year so far with a solid victory at Lavaredo. From a Skyrunning perspective he has raced well at High Trail Vanoise, this will put him in a great place for Tromso.

Alexis Sevennec always races well on tough and challenging races. Kima, the Dolomites, Glen Coe – the transition and crossover from SkiMo puts him in a great place. He will be up there at the front.

Cody Lind has had a series of top-5 places recently notably at Broken Arrow SkyRace, Flagstaff SkyRace, Power of Four 55km and Moab’d Red Hot 55km – Tromso will test his ability on technical terrain,

Ones to watch:

Leo Viret, Roger Vinas, Martin Gaffuri, Jose Carlos Del Toro, Paul Riera, Alexis Toda Mas, Bjorn Verduijn, Eric Moya, Marc Puig , Marc De Leon and Javier Bodas.

 

LADIES

The ladies race is without doubt going to be an interesting race and we see a return to Skyrunning for Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg (?) kicks off her 2017 campaign.

Maite Maiora heads-up the female competition with victories at Zegama-Aizkorri, Livignio SkyRace and the recent Royal Gran Paradiso – she is on fire now and will be the one to beat. 

Megan Kimmel has equally been on fire with a victory in China at Yading SkyRace and victory in France at High Trail Vanoise. Last weekend Kimmel raced at Comapedrosa and had a below par performance not making the podium. She did comment post-race that longer races are suiting her now, so, the Tromso SkyRace should go well. However, the technical terrain may well interrupt Kimmel’s running form and speed.

Ragna Debats goes from strength-to-strength and this year has joined Kimmel and Maiora with a string of strong performances. She can mix speed with technical terrain and this will bode well for a strong performance in Tromso.

 

Emelie Forsberg will toe the line (*she is on the start list but may not run?) in her own race. Forsberg has been quiet in 2017 so far. She raced at Zegama-Aizkorri and was off the pace, she also did a road half-marathon but in the weeks and months between these races she has been focused on training – I think we will a fit and motivated Forsberg on the start line. For me, she is the potential winner of the race. *Emelie has confirmed she will run the VK and not the SkyRace.

Nuria Picas on her day is still one of the best female mountain runners in the world. It’s been sometime since Picas toed the line in a Skyrunning race and I for one am happy to see her back. She races hard and will most definitely push Debats, Kimmel, Maiora and the other ladies for a fast race – we may well see a course record this year and victory could be Picas’!

Hillary Allen is having an awesome summer racing in Europe. She consistently is in the mix at races of varying length be that the shorter classic distance or ultra. One thing that is important for the USA based runner is vertical and technical terrain – Tromso is not going to disappoint Allen and we may well see her have her best race so far.

Malene Bikken Haukoy is an ever-present at the Tromso SkyRace and has been on the podium. She also excelled at Glen Coe last year with a strong performance. Racing on home ground is always an advantage and top-5 is likely.

Japan’s Kaori Niwa was 8th at the 2016 UTMB maybe someone to watch as a dark horse.

Ones to watch:

Natalia Tomasiak, Kristina Pattison, Martina Valmassoi, Nuria Dominguez, Sarah Ridgway, Maija Oravamaki, Olga Lyjak, Natalia Nescheret and Desislava Hristova

Both Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and the Tromsø SkyRace® are capped for safety and environmental reasons. It’s an important element of running in such a stunning part of the world and they are both ecologically sustainable.

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

High Trail Vanoise Preview – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series arrives in Val d’Isere, France this wwekens for the High Trail Vanoise and the Face de Bellevarde VK (VK World Circuit) kicks off the action at 1600 on Friday when runners will climb this classic downhill ski route all the way to the summit.

Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi, held the record of 34:51 set on this course many years ago last year Xavier Gachet broke it! This year, Nejc Kuhar will be looking to set a new benchmark along with Marco Moletto. The young runner won’t have it all his own way though, Ferran Teixido, current leader in the SWS rankings will be looking for a strong performance and the ever-present Hannes Perkmann, William Bon Mardion and Marc Faccinhelli will push all the way to the summit.

For the ladies, Francesca Rossi ultimately may be the one to beat! Ekaterina Mityaev and Stephanie Jimenez will be putting on a hard-fought battle along with Corinne Favre and Jennifer Fiechter, but can they beat Laura Orgue’s time of 40:52?

High Trail Vanoise is the main event of the weekend – Ice, snow, glaciers, high altitude, the High Trail Vanoise course has it all. Crossing the iconic Col D’Iseran at 2764m is merely just a taster, at 67km in length, runners will climb and descend many 1000’s of meters with a total vertical gain of 5400m – the high point of the course is the impressive Grande Motte at 3653m.

Luis Alberto Hernando heads up the men’s field, he recently became IAU World Trail Running champion for a 2nd year in a row – Luis has excelled in Val d’Isere in recent years and he is without doubt the one to beat!

Nicolas Martin won the race last-year and apparently, HTV is a priority race for 2017. It’s going to be interesting to see Luis and Nicolas go head-to-head, a little like a few years ago when Francois d’Haene and Luis raced each other – that day Francois won.

Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz recently lead the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira but was pipped to the line by Skyrunner Extreme Champion Jon Albon, we can expect Aurelien to figure at the front of the race along with 3rd place at USM, Dmitry Mityaev who is having a strong year in the world series, he also knows HTV well having podium last year.

Remigio Huaman, Andre Jonsson, Daniel Garcia Gomez, Jan Bartas, Nuno Silva and Scott Hawker head up the competition for the front of the race but it’s a stacked field and we can’t rule any of the runners below making an impression on what is a very tough race – patience pays dividends!

Xavier Teixido, Alexey Kurochkin, Artem Rostovstev, Clement Ripoll, Marc Puig, Francesc Sole Duocastella, Lars Olaf Haaheim and Nicola Alfieri.

Megan Kimmel fresh from victory in Chamonix will be looking to for maximum points in France, her form is great now, she recently beat Transvulcania champion Ida Nilsson by over 10-minutes! Local French lady Anne-Lise Rousset may well have other thoughts though, she won the race last year with a dominant performance and she knows this course well – it will be a tough race! Travelling from the USA, Kristina Pattison will be looking to repeat her performance from last year and hopefully better it.

Ekaterina Mityaeva is moving un from the ‘classic’ distance in 2017 and has already showed some great results, particularly at USM recently. HTV will be a tough challenge but the podium is there for the taking. Nuria Dominguez, Manikala Rai, Eva Maria Moreda and Ildiko Wermescher are all names to watch.

But the greatest threat for the podium will come from Ragna Debats who recently won with a new CR in Greece, Francesca Canepa who took victory at the tough Scenic 113k, the USA’s Hillary Allen who won USM and Gemma Arenas who was the world series champion in 2016 – it’s going to be quite a battle!