Dolomites SkyRace Race Summary and Images – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The Migu Run Skyrunner World Series 2017 continued a pace with the 20th edition of the Dolomites SkyRace. It was always going to be a memorable one and the race didn’t disappoint!

Thunderstorms, rain and low cloud resulted in a delayed start by 30-minutes. It was hoped that this delay would allow the weather to clear. The rain did stop but the cloud came lower. Unfortunately, the final section of climb to the summit of Piz Boe at 3252m was pulled from the race for safety reasons. This resulted in less kilometers and less vertical gain and ascent.

Course records of course don’t count in situations like this, the previous bests held by Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel. Neither of these stars were running today, however, defending champions Tadei Pivk and Laura Orgue, respective 2016 winners were expected to dictate the race.

Laura Orgue did not disappoint, her 4th from the previous day’s VK soon forgotten, the Spaniard dictated the pace and looked strong throughout. At the new summit of the race her margin of lead was in the minutes and all she needed was a sold descent to Canazei to seal victory once again – she did it! Laura’s time 2:36:29 almost 90-seconds quicker than rising Skyrunning star, Hillary Geraldi from the USA who produced a stunning descent to go past early 2nd placed runner Hilde Alders who held on for 3rd, their times 2:37:55 and 2:39:55.

Silvia Rampazzo placed 4th, Zuzana Krchova 5th, Magdalena Kozielska 6th, Oihana Azkorbebetia 7th, Stephanie Jimenez 8th, Katrine Villumsen 9th and Paola Gelpi rounded out the top-10.

In the men’s race, VK and Sky specialist Remi Bonnet dictated the pace on the climb and has a substantial gab over David Magnani, Martin Anthamatten, Ruy UedaMarco De Gasperi, Jan Margarit and who’s who of Skyrunning talent. Pre-race favourite, Tadei Pivk, was in the latter half of the top-10 and not looking good!

 

At the high-point of the course the wild and rough descent to the line follows. It’s not for the feint hearted and Remi Bonnet was forced to reduce his pace protecting an injury that almost kept him out of the sport in 2016. This opened the doorway for David Magnani and Marco De Gasperi.

However, it was Jan Margarit who seized the bull by the horns and in his own words, “I ran the fastest descent that I could!” Fast it was, he moved from 5th to take the lead. The pressure was now on with a neck-for-neck race to the line, it was so close but Margarit held on by just 22-seconds to beat Magnani to the line, De Gasperi followed in 3rd just 23-seconds later. It was the close! A real race and just 45-seconds separated the top-3 runners – 2:06:20, 2:06:42 and 2:07:05. All credit to Skyrunning legend De Gasperi who is twice the age of the duo ahead of him.

Remi Bonnet held on for 4th, Martin Anthamatten 5th, Pascal Egli 6th, Martin Stofner 7th, Tadei Pivk 8th, Yuy Ueda 9th and Nadir Maguet rounded out the top-10.

It was a day like no other, fast racing, unpredictable weather and the confirmation of Skyrunning legends and the rise of new ones – just how a 20th edition of a race should be.

Attention now turns to this coming weekend and the Comapedrosa SkyRace in Andorra, in addition to a 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series race, the Skyrunning Youth Championships will also take place.

 

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

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.

TROFEO KIMA 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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You cannot look at Trofeo Kima with the eyes of a pure runner; It’s beyond running! For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line.

The race is arguably the pinnacle of the Skyrunning calendar and as such it has gained a reputation as one of the most demanding and challenging races in the world. At 52km in length the distance is not intimidating, however, 8,400m of ascent and descent put the race in perspective.

Passing over seven passes of the Sentiero Roma, a well-known GR route, the race in its current form is the brainchild of the International Skyrunning Federation president, Marino Giacometti. So tough is Kima that it has a capped field of just 250 participants and the race is held every other year to add to its allure.  This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. This is confirmed in the words of the previous course record holder, Kilian Jornet:

‘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 52-km. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering; pure Skyrunning!’

Kima takes place on mountain paths that are unmarked. Simple flickers of colour show the way through rock, granite, snow and ice. Sections of the course are so severe that fixed ropes and chains provide the only secure way to traverse vertical walls of rock or exposed ledges. Needless to say, a head for heights, an ability to look after oneself and excellent fitness make each runner’s journey on the Sentiero Roma one that they will never forget. Scaling incredible terrain on foot and at times by hand, participants will reach a high point of 2,950m at Cameraccio Pass. It is the challenging terrain that truly sets the race apart, as Giacometti describes: ‘Kima crosses the group of technical mountains in the area and passes through all of the seven refuges situated on the route. It’s a very technical race and ultimately it has become a beacon of Skyrunning’

‘Kima’ was the nickname of Pierangelo Marchetti, who with friends founded the first helicopter equipe in Italy. The mountains were Perangelo’s life; he loved them and he embraced them. Unfortunately, on July 8th 1994, while attending a rescue mission via helicopter, Pierangelo’s life was taken. Trofeo Kima was created in his memory to ensure his love and dreams of the mountains would live on.

During the 20-year history, Kima has seen the best in the world perform over this challenging course. Now part of the Skyrunner® Extreme Series, Kima is one of three ‘extreme’ races that provides points for an overall Sky Extreme Series title where two out of three races must be completed. The first race in the series was Tromso SkyRace, the second Trofeo Kima and the third being the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline in Scotland.

For many, this iconic Skyrunning and mountain running race is still unknown. It’s like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. With each edition, one link in the securing chain is removed and the extreme beauty of Kima is being revealed to an audience of adrenaline junkies. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.

This year, Tom Owens was riding high after a string of successful results and many had tipped him as the pre-race favourite. However, a day of intense heat and clear skies most definitely played with the rule book throwing several curve balls.

In the ladies’ race, the 2016 Kima will no doubt be remembered as the return to top level racing for Emelie Forsberg. Recent surgery on her knee after an ‘acl’ injury had deprived Emelie (and us) of her presence in a race. A couple of forays into shorter races had tested her fitness and recovery but could Emelie stand 7+ hours on ‘this’ course.

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Early action came from Alexis Sevennec and Leo Viret who dictated the pace up the very long first climb pursued by Marco De Gasperi and Nepalese runner, Bhim Gurung.

©iancorless.com_TrofeoKima2016-0996Constantly fighting the terrain and each other, Sevennec and Viret lead the race for much of the way with Gurung moving up into 3rd place after Qualido. In the latter stages of the race though, De Gasperi made a move as Sevennec and Viret faded. Gurung joined the Italian Skyrunning legend and in the closing stages the two dueled to the line… in the closing stages it was Gurung who made the break crossing the line to a stunning victory and new course record time of 6:10:44. De Gasperi crossed the line also under the old course record of Kilian Jornet a spent force. He dropped to the ground exhausted from the effort and heat. Vireo closed 3rd and Sevennec smiled his way across the line in 4th. Tom Owens finished 5th after a tough and hard day in the office – his first at Tromso and 5th here still securing his place at the top of the Sky Extreme Series.

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The ladies race was all about come back girl Emelie Forsberg and she didn’t disappoint. Leading the race from beginning to end, Emelie smiled her way to the line, pretty in pink! Yes, this was one of those great comebacks that even Emelie questioned, “I planned to take it easy early on and not push too hard. My operation removed some of my hamstring and this has made my leg weaker so I need to be careful. But everything felt good today and I am so happy, this was not about winning a race, although that is great! It was about coming back with no problems and feeling good.”

©iancorless.com_TrofeoKima2016-2490Emelie finished in 7:49:06 outside Nuria Picas’s course record time of 7:36:21. Ruth Croft from New Zealand pursued Emelie all day and had a great run often hovering around 10-minutes behind.

©iancorless.com_TrofeoKima2016-2542At the line the gap was 17+ minutes and Ruth confirmed that her skills on such technical terrain are not good enough in comparison to Emelie. Kima legend and previous winner of the race, Emanuela Brizio upheld her incredible history with this race crossing the line in 3rd, 8:21:42.

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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.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

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Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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Trofeo Kima is featured in my new book, RUNNING BEYOND (information here)

RunningBeyond_JKT

RACE IMAGES ©iancorless.com / SWS

TROFEO KIMA 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Extreme is personified with the imminent running of the 2016 Trofeo Kima. Tough, challenging, technical, inspirational. memorable… KIMA is not for everyone! For over 20-years this race has been the example provided to the world of what a Skyrunning race can be. The vision of Marino Giacometti was way ahead of its time, but now, the world is catching up. Two years ago saw the creation of the Tromso SkyRace by ‘Kima’ stars, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Last year we witnessed the inaugural Glen Coe Skyline which incorporated elements of the other 2 races to create something quite unique for the UK.

In 2016, the three races combined to create a new challenge, the Sky Extreme Series – three races of which two must be completed to rank.

Kima covers 52km with 4200m of vertical gain and goes over 7 passes linked by refuges. Exposed crest, snow, ice, steep rocks, technical terrain and Via Feratta provides one of the ultimate challenges available.

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The recent Tromso SkyRace set the stage for 2016 with stunning victories by two Brits, Tom Owens and Jasmin Paris. Paris will mis Kima due to prior race commitments but her presence is confirmed for Scotland. Owens by contrast follows up his purple patch of running (silver at the Skyrunning World Champs, victory at SkyRace Comapedrosa and victory in Tromso) by running in Kima, a place where he last raced in 2012 when he placed 2nd behind Kilian Jornet. On recent form, Owens is without doubt the men’s favourite. He has pushed his stamina recently with many events and quality training but he just seems to be getting stronger and stronger!

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Jonathan Albon (UK) who won Tromso SkyRace ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando in 2015 and recently placed 2nd to Owens at the same race in 2016 has rejigged his racing plans and has decided that Kima is just too good too miss. He did say in his interview on Talk Ultra podcast (here) that he will use Kima as a learning curve but I still anticipate a top performance!

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Whilst on a UK theme, it’s important to acknowledge how the Extreme Series has really captured the hearts, minds and yes, legs and lungs of the Brits, primarily due to a race on home soil. Donnie Campbell winner of the Lakes Sky Ultra, 3×3 and many other races will test himself on Italian soil. He knows the challenge is the next logical step in his progress as a Skyrunner. Joe Symonds (*not confirmed), brother of Andy Symonds and winner of the 2015 Glen Coe Skyline will also get his Extreme campaign underway! 2015 Dragons Back Race winner, Jim Mann will also join the Kima party along with Glen Coe Skyline RD, Shane Ohly.

Main contenders for overall victory will come thick and fast from a world class line-up of experienced Skyrunner’s who know how to push to the limit on the ultimate terrain.

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Marco De Gasperi needs no introduction, the Italian was there in the beginning and still pioneers a true path in the sport.

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Sota Ogawa made the podium in Tromso and no doubt he will bring guts and determination to the Italian mountains for a repeat performance.

 

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Fulvio Dapit has raced Kima many times (6th in 2014), is arguably one of the most experienced Skyrunner’s on the start list and although he is unlikely to win the race, he will be in contention. However, he has become a new Dad recently; he may be tired!

 

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Bhim Gurung won the inaugural Yading SkyRace which kicked off the 2016 Skyrunner World Series. Just this last weekend he raced at Matterhorn Ultraks where he finished 7th. Kima’s technical terrain will be a challenge for the Nepalese runner but not the altitude.

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Eirik Haugsnes won the inaugural Tromso SkyRace and has performed consistently in technical and challenging races. A recent top-10 in Tromso once again shows he has the fitness for a repeat performance. *update 23rd August, Eirik has withdrawn from the race.

 

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Alexis Sevennec is a runner who mixes ski mountaineering and Skyrunning seamlessly. An ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit, he has always run well at the Dolomites SkyRace and most recently at SkyRace Comapedrosa.

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Manuel Merillas is a last minute entry to the race and after placing 2nd in 2014 behind Kilian Jornet, he is likely one of the hot favourites for a podium place. However, his results in 2016 have not been  as impressive as in 2014 and 2015, maybe Kima will be a turning point?

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Andre Jonsson was on fire early season and then had a couple of mixed races, particularly at the Dolomites SkyRace where he performed below expectation. At Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, Jonsson dictated the pace from the start and looked set for a great victory only to crumble on the final climb. It’s all a learning curve and Kima will no doubt be a huge test but it’s one that he is happy to take on.

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Florian Reichert has been racing on the Skyrunning circuit for years and has always been a consistent performer who has experienced Zegama, Transvulcania, Glen Coe and so many more races. He comes to Kima with experience and an understanding of the challenge ahead.

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Philipp Reiter is racing less these days due to commitments working for Salomon, however, he always has a great level of fitness and the more technical the terrain, the happier he is. He showed this at Tromso recently. Philipp would be the first to say that podium is unlikely but he will be in and around the top 10.

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Pablo Villa has raced a great deal at the moment, SkyRace Comapedrosa and just recently at Matterhorn Ultraks. Kima is a challenging race and Villa’s performance will depend on his powers of recovery.

Dani Garcia Gomez, Iban Letamendi, Paul Hamilton, Jan Bartas, Luca Carrara, Matt Cooper, Matt Lefort, Aaron Newell, Konrad Rawlik, Leo Viret, Situ Vives Bosch, Allan Spangler and Pieter Schaaps amongst others will also toe the line in what will be a very exciting men’s race.

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The ladies race has recently been brought to life with the announcement that Emelie Forsberg will use Kima as her comeback race from a very serious injury and operation. At Tromso SkyRace, Forsberg tested her knee and fitness on the VK course and came away with a victory in a 3 up sprint for the line. The last time Forsberg raced in Kima it ended in tears; all set for what looked like to be a course record run when disaster struck with a navigation error and a huge loss of time. Chasing like a demon, Emelie pulled back places and eventually finished 2nd behind Kasie Enman. Having seen Emelie run in Tromso, I personally feel that we are going to see an on fire Forsberg on the mountain passes, the only 2 questions I will have and probably Emelie has: 1. How will the knee hold up? 2. How will Emelie’s endurance be for a 7-hour outing? If the answer the these two questions is positive, I think we will see Emelie win the race.

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Emanuela Brizio won Kima in 2010, was 3rd in 2012 and 3rd in 2014. I have no reason to doubt that Emanuela will not be on the podium again, this year I think it will be 2nd but victory is a distinct possibility.

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Ruth Croft had a great result at Transvulcania earlier this year and just won the 30km event at Matterhorn Ultraks. Kima will be a complete learning curve for Ruth, I doubt if she will have ever experienced a course that offers so much technical running.

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Nuria Dominguez was 4th at Kima in 2014 and will no doubt be in the mix – a podium place is a distinct possibility,

Natalia Tomasiak was 4th lady at Tromso Skyrace and she can therefore handle the technical terrain and distance. Her finishing time though was over 60-minutes slower than race winner, Jasmin Paris. Therefore, it’s unlikely that Natalia can contest for the win but top-5 is possible.

Elizabeth Barker like Natalia ran Tromso and finished 7th. A top-10 is a possibility in Italy.

Zuzana Urbancova, Kristina Aluzaite, Elisabet Bertran Masenanes, Olga Lyjak, Tanya Pacheco, Kathrin Schambeck and Hana Krajnikova are all running and may well contest the top-10 or top-5 podium places.


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.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Livigno SkyMarathon® and Santa Caterina Vertical KM – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

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Anticipation mounts for two events new to the Skyrunner® World Series this weekend with World Champions and Series’ leaders in both the Sky and VK disciplines toeing the start line – Lauri van Houten writes a preview of the action

The locations are both well-known ski resorts and now that the snow has almost all gone, they will host participants from no less than 22 nations in the spectacular Italian Alps.

The events will see 10 of the top athletes take on both races – the first being the short steep Santa Caterina Vertical KM on Friday, June 24, followed by Sunday’s Livigno SkyMarathon® – both valid for the Skyrunner® World Series rankings.

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Among the intrepid athletes lining-up for the double challenge are Skyrunning World Champions Elisa Descoand Oihana KortazarLaura Orgué, Vertical World Champion and winner of both the 2015 Vertical and Sky Series, will be aiming “just” for the VK.

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“After four months since my fibula fracture I’m already back competing. However, I’m not ready for the Sky distance yet, but eager to try the VK. I’m aware I’m not on my best form, but just to get a bib for the World Series is especially exciting,” she comments. “Competing makes me feel alive and certainly I’ll give it everything”. 

Friday’s VK starts in the village of Santa Caterina and heads 1,000m skywards to the summit of the Cresta Sobretta over a short, steep 3 km course. The records to beat are 35’29” for the men and 43’32” for the women.

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On Sunday the events move to Livigno, or ‘Little Tibet’ as it’s known, the location of the Livigno SkyMarathon® – 34 km long with 2,600m vertical climb.  The route weaves through untamed nature in the Stelvio National Park traversing the Swiss/Italian border with technical sections and stretches above 3,000m altitude – all in true skyrunning style designed by the magic hand of top runner Marco De Gasperi, on this occasion, in the role of race organiser.

We’re incredibly satisfied and proud to be on the World Series. It has always been a dream to have a race of this level in our mountains. To have two is absolutely incredible,” he states. “As organisers we’re still young, but we’re driven by passion and a desire to deliver two top class events.”

Judging by the top class line-up, he should, indeed, be proud.

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Among the top runners competing in the events are:

Santa Caterina Vertical KM – June 24, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Lombardy, Italy

World Champions Laura OrguéElisa Desco and Oihana Kortazar. More top names include Christel Dewalle from France and Italian Antonella Confortola. In the men’s field:  Italians Urban Zemmer andMarco Moletto;  Slovenian Nejc Kuhar; new-entry Ondrej Fejfar from the Czech Republic; Slovenian Nejc Kuhar; Ferran Teixido from Andorra;  from France, William Bon Mardion and Alexis Sevennec;  Pascal Egli from Switzerland and Rolf Einar Jensen from Norway.

Livigno SkyMarathon® – June 26, Lombardy, Italy

Italian Tadei Pivk and American Megan Kimmel head the current Sky Series ranking, followed by, in the men’s field:  Spaniards Aritz Egea, Hassan Ait Chaou, Alfredo Gil Garcia, Sintu Vives, Jessed Hernandez andJokin Lizeaga;  from Andorra, brothers Oscar and Marc Casal Mir and André Jonsson from Sweden, new to the skyrunning circuit and loving it!

In the women’s field: Spaniards Oihana Kortazar, Aitziber Ibarbia and Italian Elisa Desco.

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

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Zegama-Aizkorri 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zegama is Zegama!

******

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

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

Needless to say, Kilian is the favourite!

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

MEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LADIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

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Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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View the Zegama galleries from 2014

Scott Kinabalu ENDURO – First Impressions

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Since 2012 I have been using Scott shoes, yes, Scott make run shoes in addition to bikes. I say that, because that is what I get when other runners look at my shoes and say, ‘Scott, oh, thought they made bikes?’

Since the original T2 Kinabalu, I have been a fan. I remember the original incarnation in 2012 which I used to run all over the Transvulcania course (Review HERE). Since the original model, the T2 Kinabalu has had a few tweaks and the current incarnation is the 3.0 HERE.

Scott launched the Kinabalu Supertrac (original look HERE) and this shoe went on to be my favourite shoe of 2015. I even went through many other shoes I had been testing to work out which shoe (for me) was the best. The ‘Supertrac’ won, see HERE.

As 2015 came to a close, Scott informed me of several new shoes, one being the Enduro.

Well, the Scott Kinabalu Enduro has arrived and here are our first impressions and look.

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One thing is for sure, there is no hiding in the male version. Bright yellow, these shoes from the off say that they mean business. The ladies version is also bright but considering that many women wear bright apparel, I’m sure the colours will appeal. Certainly the original reaction from Niandi (who will test the ladies shoe) was wow, I LOVE the colours.

The shoes are not light. In all honesty, they were both noticeably heavy when removed from the boxes. The ladies a UK 8 weighs 380g and the mens UK9.5 weighs 418g. That is heavy; no doubt about it and I have to say initially disappointing.

Looking at the shoe closely, you soon realise why. The whole upper of the shoe has a plastic coating on top of the mesh below.

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I have to say, I asked why? Why is it necessary to add some much structure and protection to the upper of the shoe? Scott call this: Protective-High-Abrasion-Casing.

I took a look at Scott’s website and the description is as follows:

The brand new SCOTT Kinabalu Enduro is the latest addition to the range. The seemless one piece upper offers protection and comfort for all day adventures while the eRide tuned midsole and VIBRAM outsole provide performance and stability during your run.

Seamless upper – perfect

Protection – great

Comfort – brilliant

eRide – works, so great.

Vibram – tried and tested, so great

I still have to question though, why so heavy? My only point of question on the excellent Kinabalu Supertrac was the weight. Here Scott have beefed up the Kinabalu and made it bullet proof, it’s obviously way to early to tell but on first impressions, if you want a shoe to last and get value for money from, this may be the one!

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Cushioning as you would expect from Scott is good with 28mm at the rear and 17mm in the forefoot. However, these two figures cause me a little confusion, why for 2016 are Scott releasing a shoe with an 11mm drop? They dropped the ‘Supertrac’ from the Kinabalu’s original 11mm drop to 8mm drop and this for me made perfect sense. 8mm is a perfect sweet spot that appeals to many a runner and when running long it’s not too low to cause any issues. Having said that though, after just 2 runs in the ‘Enduro’ they do feel comfortable and offer a great feel. I have said this before, the ‘rocker’ system that Scott uses does give the shoes a feeling of lower drop due to the rolling action. I must point out too that I do fore foot strike so that will also help.

eRide – “Dynamic stability is the body’s own way to run efficiently and safely over uneven terrain. The eRIDE TUNED midsole has strategic flex zones to provide asymmetric flexibility and enhance ground adaptation while a EVA foam provides cushioning.”

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The outsole sits somewhere between the T2 Kinabalu and the Supertrac and therefore it will be a great all rounder for those who may well be looking for a ‘one shoe does all’ scenario. Made by Vibram, the outsole uses ‘MEGAGRIP’ as witnessed on the Supertrac but this version is less aggressive. From repeated year long use of the Supertrac I can confirm that this outsole is tried and tested and a favourite. This version does feels stiffer and less supple than the Supertrac version, we shall see?

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Lacing is standard and incorporates the ‘lace bungee’ for storing excess lace after you have tied your shoes. It’s a very simple and effective way for removing something that may catch on branches or trail obstacles.

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Heel box is very plush and secure. Always a key feature of Scott shoes and it really does add a secure and confident feel to the shoes.

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Sizing feels a little larger than normal. I always take a UK9.5 and the ‘Enduro’ does feel just a little more spacious, so, if you are new to Scott or if you have used Scott in the past, you may just want to check on sizing. The toe box is a little narrower than the T2 Kinabalu 3.0 and Kinabalu Supertrac and this may be why they size a little larger? If you like a wide roomy toe box, this may not be the shoe for you?

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Technologies:

  • Lace Bungee
  • Protective-High-Abrasion-Casing
  • Seamless-One-Piece-Upper
  • Rock-Protection-Plate
  • Vibram-Megagrip

Initial Conclusion

Our initial reaction to the ‘Enduro’ was shock. We were surprised at how ‘protected’ this shoe is. But having run in them on just 2 occasions and reflected on what Scott are trying to do, I completely understand the the addition of this shoe to the Kinabalu range. This is not a shoe to replace the T2 Kinabalu or the Kinabalu Supertrac it’s a shoe to be used in addition. So, if you like the other 2 models you will like this.

I’m still perturbed that the shoe is 11mm drop and not 8mm but it runs well; so why worry?

What’s the shoe for?

Well I guess you can use the shoe for any running, from groomed trail, fire trail to mountains. But considering the protection that has been added to the ‘Enduro,’ one has to think that this is intended for the rough stuff; rocks, snow, ice, gravel, slate and so; anything that can really batter a shoe and reduce its life.

For perspective, I recently ran for 1-month in La Palma on the Transvulcania course, I used a brand new pair of Supertrac and I used them every day, at the end of the month I threw them away. I am not saying the ‘Supertrac’ was no good, on the contrary, I love the Supertrac but the trails out in La Palma are harsh and abrasive; it eats shoes. The Enduro may well be a good shoe for a course like that due to the key elements of:

  • Protective-High-Abrasion-Casing
  • Seamless-One-Piece-Upper
  • Rock-Protection-Plate
  • Vibram-Megagrip

We will be reporting back in a couple of months after long term testing and only then will we really know how the Scott Kinabalu Enduro stacks up.

Scott shoes are available HERE

 

Can of worms! Desco, EPO, PEDs and TNF50

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It is the TNF50 this weekend in San Francisco. iRunFar as per usual did a race preview and what a line up! The $10,000 prize money a huge incentive to attract top runners for a last big push before a well earned end of season rest.

The iRunFar article was updated on Nov 27th with a last minute entrant: Elisa Desco from Italy.

I firmly believe that many in the San Francisco race would not know who Elisa was unless they followed WMRA (World Mountain Running) or Skyrunning. Elisa in recent years has performed exceptionally well in Skyrunning and in 2014 was crowned Skyrunning World Champion for the SKY distance in Chamonix.

iRunFar went on to say:

[Added November 27] Italian mountain runner Elisa Desco was just added to the entrants list. I don’t believe she’s raced longer than 46k before, I do think this is her first race in the U.S., and I know this will probably be the flattest trail race she’s participated in, but she is a likely podium favorite. She’s been a regular on the international Skyrunning circuit for years, and this year she finished third in the Sky division of the Skyrunner World Series, including a win of the just-over-a-marathon’s-distance Matterhorn Ultraks. From 2010 to 2012, Elisa served a two-year ban from the IAAF after she tested positive for EPO at the 2009 World Mountain Running Championships.

I was well aware of Elisa’s positive test and lets be clear here, since 2012 I have spent a great deal of time with Elisa and her husband, Marco De Gasperi. De Gasperi himself a 6x WMRA champion and legend in the world of mountain and Skyrunning.

Many a long night talking with Marco discussing the positive test. (I would like to be clear here and state that I am being as impartial as I possible can.) It’s a story of how Marco tried to fight to clear Elisa’s name, a story of what he considered major flaws with the testing procedure and a fight for honour. One that he eventually had to give up on. He wrote an article in 2011 on his own website. I provide a Google translation of that article, obviously this is not a perfect translation but you get the gist! HERE

From a USA perspective, Facebook exploded with a series of very angry posts. Ethan Veneklasen in particular commented on multiple channels:

I am DEEPLY disappointed to see that Elisa Desco (Italy) was added last week to the start list for this weekend’s North Face Endurance Challenge and is widely considered a favorite for the podium. From 2010-2012, Desco served a two-year ban from the IAAF for testing positive for EPO at the 2009 World Mountain Running Championships.

For the last several years, we have speculated about whether doping has arrived in our beloved sport. If there was any question before, let me be clear…that day has arrived! This is VERY, VERY sad indeed. 

On a related note, I am delighted to see that US Skyrunning is taking proactive steps to move the International Skyrunning Federation toward enforcing lifetime ban for convicted dopers.

The can of worms was well and truly opened. No bad thing! It’s good to get the PED debate out in our sport and ensure at this very early stage that PED’s are not tolerated or accepted in our sport.

I 100% agree that I do not and will not tolerate drugs in any sport and of course, in particular the sport I love, watch, follow and photograph.

However, is Elisa getting a fair deal? Has this turned into a witch hunt?

The facts are when Elisa tested positive, no lifetime ban existed for doping. She was sentenced for 2-years, she did her time and she is now back. This of course does pose the question, ‘should runners be allowed back?’

Elisa has been drug tested 2-times in the last 18-months (maybe more) and both tests were clean. To clarify, one of those tests were made at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix where she was crowned world champion.

Elisa may very well have taken PED’s? The ban would suggest so but Marco and Elisa 100% say not! Of course, Lance did the same and look how good a liar he was.

Should athletes receive lifetime bans? Yes, if we are 100% sure that they cheated, then yes! But I would want those tests to be 100% secure. I am not sure that is always the case and this has been discussed elsewhere. Questions have been raised about Elisa’s positive test! This is not a post to fight for Elisa, not at all. It’s a post to say that we sometimes need to take a step back and this case provides a great opportunity for debate and a catalyst for change.

Today, 5th December, Runners World have posted an article HERE and the headline says:

Ultrarunners Want Convicted Doper Out of Weekend Race

Powerful headline and some of the contents in the article make for interesting reading. 2014 race winner, Magdalena Boulet says: “I guess the kind way to say it is that I’m disappointed that the race organization allowed her into the elite field,” This was followed up with, “I don’t care if a doper served their ban and are technically eligible to race. If they still want to run for the love of the sport, they are welcome to, but I guarantee that they would slowly go away,”

Fellow podcaster, Eric Shranz commented, “For a sport that values camaraderie and inclusiveness, Desco will be on the outside of that group due to her past, and that’s a place she’s earned,” Schranz said. “But then again, maybe we need her to podium this weekend to really force an honest conversation about how we want to grow as a sport and how we’ll handle the PED problem.”

On publication of the Runners World article, Ethan Veneklasen who was very vocal on social media said via his Facebook page, “Very glad to see Runners World covering this important issue! Thanks to all who have contributed to helping get this discussion going. ‪#‎cleansport‬

I agree. This is a discussion that almost certainly needs to take place. Elisa unfortunately is now at the centre of this debate. Her presence in San Francisco is now compromised and should she decide to run, I can’t help but think it will result in an early withdrawal. This debate and all the negativity will have a huge impact on her and many reading this will say; good!

Four points are raised:

  1. Are The North Face making a mistake in allowing Desco to run? (TNF50 does not have drug testing or a policy re convicted dopers.)
  2. Should a positive test, irrespective of when that happened, mean that a runner should be banned of life?
  3. How do we confirm that a positive test is 100% positive?
  4. The ultra community have a voice, they are saying in this scenario, “Sure the rules say 2yrs and back in, but the community doesn’t!”

I often tell a story, when I was cycling at elite level. Caffeine was a banned substance. If I had too many espressos or too much Coke, I could run the risk of being positive in a test so I had to be careful. Now caffeine is okay and even gels are rammed with the stuff. You can take as much as you like and it does boost performance. But it’s legal now. What is okay and what is not ok becomes cloudy; my advice is stick to the rules. The athletes who really want to perform/ win will always look for an advantage. I just want that advantage to be a legal one. Of course in Elisa’s case the drug in question is EPO, you don’t accidentally take EPO! It would require planning, deception and money. Ultimately this is a completely different story and I firmly believe why the reaction has been so severe.

The positive test is what everyone jumps on, I get that. A definitive proof that Elisa doped!

Like I said, we all make mistakes and I get the ‘one strike and out’ scenario. However, my bank took £22 out of my account years ago. I told them they were wrong in no uncertain terms. ‘No!’ they relied. “It’s not possible for us to make this mistake.’ I battled on for 3-months. It wasn’t the money that was important, it was the principal. Eventually I had a letter from the bank confirming an error had been made due to an ‘anomaly.’

In the above scenario it was just £22. With drugs in sport and PEDS it may well be a ruined career and life ban. Of course, if we can 100% confirm that someone was cheating, lets ban them. I just want a ban to be 100% – are we there yet?

Ian Sharman, race director for the U.S. Skyrunner Series, is pushing for life bans for convicted dopers for all Skyrunning events globally: “This isn’t a reaction to an individual, but a response to the widespread doping uncovered recently in athletics in general. We can’t change our rules at this point without the rules being changed for the entire International Skyrunning Federation, so that’s where we’re aiming to make the change so we can send a clear signal that cheating isn’t acceptable,”

Anthony Forsyth commented on a Facebook in response to a comment I made:

“From my perspective the frustration is not towards Elisa, who is doing what she can, but towards TNF that are allowing her to race. There is a general consensus that we want a clean sport – on this we agree. But there is also a general consensus that those who have cheated, who have stolen prize money and results from other athletes, have had their opportunity to be a part of our sport, of our family, and have crapped with contempt on that opportunity. They are no longer welcome. The term witch hunt refers to the guessing of guilt. Guilt has been proven. Sure the rules say 2yrs and back in, but the community doesn’t. As I said, my vent is with TNF. In allowing her to race they have misunderstood our sport, our family and our values. They need to educate themselves. And people need to stop buying their stuff until they do.”

The above is a powerful statement and one that I get. Anthony is clearly saying here this has nothing to do with if ‘doing the crime, so do the time!’ It is so much more, it’s about how the community are not prepared to accept back someone into the sport even though they may now be clean. It is very much the scenario, one strike and you are out!

On a final note to add fuel to the fire. On December 2nd CONI posted:

The Public Prosecutor’s office of NADO ITALY defers 26 athletes and asks for two years of disqualification. Dismissal is suggested for another 39 cases

Read the article HERE

Dismissal for 39-cases including

DE GASPERI Marco for the disputed accusations (art. 2.3 and art. 2.4 of the Anti-Doping Sport Code);

DESCO Elisa for the disputed accusations (art. 2.3 and art. 2.4 of the Anti-Doping Sport Code);

What are your thoughts? Would love to hear them.

Read THIS by Scott athlete, Andy Symonds. He nails it for me!

UPDATE 18th December, ELISA DESCO speaks with competitor.com HERE

Lantau 2 Peaks (Hong Kong) 2015 Race Preview

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Exciting and vibrant Hong Kong hosts the Lantau 2 Peaks this coming weekend, the 4th race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series. Following on from the RUT 25km and just 3 weeks before the series final in Limone, the Lantau 2 Peaks is going to be a very exciting race!

Located at Citygate, Tung Chung the race has a total distance of 23km’s and an elevation gain of 1987m. It’s a very tough course that will involve and require plenty of hands-on-knee action. The race website warns:

Please make sure you do hill training before competing in this category as you will be climbing some of the biggest peaks in Hong Kong.

Estimated winning time for the 23km is 3 hours which puts the course into perspective, especially when one also considers the cut-off time is 8 hours.

Lantau 2 Peaks profile

 

MEN

Ionut Zinca, Remi Bonnet, Marco De Gasperi, Tadei Pivk, Manuel Merillas, Aritz Egea, Hassan Ait Chaou, Iban Letamendi and Greg Vollet head up a world-class field and as one can imagine, it will be a battle royal for top honors.

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-5142Remi Bonnet is the new kid on the block and showed everyone a clean pair of heals at the RUT VK and SKY race with 2 stand out performances. The race here in Hong Kong will suit his racing style, particularly coming so close after the challenging USA course.

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Tadei Pivk placed 2nd at the RUT behind Remi Bonnet and just seconds ahead of Marco de Gasperi. Tadei has had a great 2015 with stand out performances at Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace. He will be looking to get ahead of the rest of the field and score another 100% points to lead the world series ranking going into Limone Extreme.

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Marco De Gasperi can never be rules out in ‘any’ SKY race. The 20+km distance is Marco’s forte and it’s a distance that he excels at. His recent FKT’s and 3rd place performance at the RUT show that he has plenty of great form.©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-1901

Ionut Zinca adds even more firepower to the front of the race and he is an ever-present on the Skyrunner® World Series and one who consistently places on the podium. The battle here in China is a tough one but Ionut has the race to most certainly take one of the top-3 slots and of course, he can win the race!

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Manuel Merillas was a rising star in 2014 and he has followed that up in 2015 with another string of tope performances. He has been a little quiet lately which will mean that he comes to Lantau with fresh legs. Considering the quality of this field it’s extremely difficult to say who will and who will not make the podium. Manuel for sure is podium material but we already have 4 runners listed above who potentially will take those slots… like I said, it’s going to be quite a battle!

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Aritz Egea rounds up the hot favourites for the podium. Like Ionut Zinca, Aritz is a strong and consistent performer on the Skyrunner® World Series. Expect him to go out hard and potentially lead the race in the early stages. The question mark will come if he can hold on to that lead?

LADIES

Just like in the men’s race, the ladies race has a plethora of top female talent who in 2015 have excelled in the SKY distance: Laura Orgue, Yngvild Kaspersen, Stevie Kremer, Maite Maiora, Elisa Desco, Azara Garcia, Martina Valmassoi and Hanny Alston.

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Elisa Desco in many respects heads up the ladies as arguably the most rounded athlete for this course. Her mixed ability to descend as well as she climbs makes her a hot contender to top the podium. Her recent victory at Matterhorn Ultraks confirms this. However, Elisa has had a mixed year?

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Laura Orgue is a VK specialist who has started to race more often at the SKY distance. Strong performances at the RUT and the Dolomites have elevated Laura as ‘one-to-watch’ and I expect a podium placing here in Hong Kong. Climbing ability has sometimes been let down by descending, however, Laura is improving with every race.

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Stevie Kremer has been racing in Europe less in 2015 and as a result has increased her profile within the USA. No stranger to Hong Kong, Stevie will be without doubt a force at the front of the race. In the early stages we can expect her to be up at the front with Laura as they charge up the climbs. My gut reaction says Laura, Elisa and Stevie may well be 1,2,3 but in what order?

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Yngvild Kaspersen like Remi Bonnet is Salomon’s new secret weapon(s) for the future. Without doubt a star in the making, Yngvild has consistently run strong performances over VK and SKY distance. She won the Tromso SkyRace and placed 2nd in the VK just 1-second behind Emelie Forsberg. One to watch!

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Maite Maiora has raced a great deal in 2015 and Lantau 2 Peaks adds to an already impressive list. On her day, Maite can run with the best and win. For me though, this has been a long season and the edge required for victory may well be missing. Don’t get me wrong though, she will be in the mix.

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Azara Garcia won at Zegama-Aizkorri and looked set for an incredible 2015. Injury hit though. If fully recovered, Azara may well topple the whole race and come out with victory despite my 1, 2, 3 predictions. Without doubt she will be fresh and hungry.

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Martina Valmassoi raced at the RUT and made the podium for the ultra distance; her 1st ultra! She comes to Hong Kong as a potential contender for a top placing. The question will come down to how fast she can turn the legs over? By all accounts, she is a great descender!

Hanny Allston rounds up the top contenders. The Aussie orienteer has turned heads recently and comes to Hong Kong as a potential dark horse who may well create quite a stir.

Needless to say, I have previewed the elite runners who are travelling to China to participate on the Lantau 2 Peaks race. Without doubt, local talent will figure in the overall results. So, if you have an ear to the ground and know of any hot tips for the win, please let us know.

Race website HERE

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