All good things must come to an end… at least for this year! The 2014 Skyrunner® World Series concludes this weekend in the mountains that surround Lake Garda.
On Friday the VK will commence as the light fades and darkness surrounds the mountains. Sunday the SKY race takes place over a course of 23.5km’s and 2000m +/-. Two races, one great weekend of running and at conclusion we will have newly crowned male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions for both VK and SKY distances.
As one would expect, these two races are attracting a who’s who of the Skyrunning world.
In the VK, La Sportiva and Salomon are fielding two very strong teams. Illuminated by the glow of head torches, a very interesting battle will unfold.
Urban Zemmer is the outright favourite after winning Limone Extreme in 2013 and in the process winning the Skyrunner® World Series. However, La Sportiva teammates, Nejc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet, Marco Facchinhelli and Marco Moletto will be looking to pull rank and gain valuable points.
Kilian Jornet has been training hard and as we all know, can never be ruled out when it comes to head-to-head racing uphill. Add to the mix, Marco De Gasperi and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and the Limone Extreme VK looks set to be a classic.
For the ladies, 2013 Skyrunner® World Series champion, Laura Orgue, like Zemmer is the outright favourite. This lady has been unbeatable uphill in 2013 and I don’t think Limone will be any different.
Stevie Kremer will push and push and look to gain an advantage as will Christel Dewalle, Antonella Confortla, Emelie Forsberg, Sara Longoni, Francesca Rossi, Beatrice Delflorian and surprise entrant, Julia Bleasdale. Julia is an exciting prospect from the UK and I am extremely keen to see how this Olympian performs.
Do you want to bet against Kilian Jornet? No, me neither. Kilian has excelled in 2014 and other than placing 2nd to Luis Alberto Hernando at Transvulcania; the Catalan has won every rave (VK’s excluded). Kilian has been training hard and Limone will see one chapter close for 2014 before the transition to skis and another Summit attempt in December.
Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.
Marco De Gasperi if fit is potentially the one person to push Kilian all the way to the line and if firing on all cylinders, may well take the glory away from the Salomon runner. I personally have waited all year for this head-to-head to happen and the prospect is exciting.
Waiting in the wings is a plethora of Skyrunning talent who will be looking to upset the apple cart and history shows that anything can happen.
Manuel Merillas is hot property at the moment and after strong performances in the Skyrunner® World Series, his presence at Limone adds an exciting element to proceedings. Recent top-3 performances at Trofeo Kima and The Rut add weight to a very strong case that we see a surprise on the shores of Lake Garda.
Ionut Zinca had a great result at Limone last year and recently placed well, once again at Dolomites Skyrace. I would anticipate Ionut having a great race, he’s a fierce competitor and top performer.
Zaid Ait Malek won the Matterhorn Ultraks and is without doubt a contender for the podium at Limone. However, Aritz Egea has performed consistently all year and at just under 24km’s, the Limone course plays to his strengths.
Michel Lanne had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships and a glimmer of that strength will intimidate the competition.
Alex Nichols is one again making the long journey from the USA and has great potential to mix it with the best, however, 2014 has been a tough year and his current form is unknown.
Tadei Pivk will also be a hot contender for the top-5.
Did we say THIS FIELD IS STACKED…. !
Rounding out the hot contenders for the top-5 places are Jono Wyatt, Alexis Sevennec, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen, David Schneider and Nicola Golinelli.
Look out for:
Hassan Ait Chau
Stevie Kremer already has the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series sewn up, so, this will take the pressure off and allow Stevie a trouble and stress free run. As we all know though, she probably will still nail it and has every chance of taking away the victory.
Elisa Desco, Emelie Forsberg and Laura Orgue will do everything in their respective powers to ensure that Stevie does not have another victory. In all honesty, the ladies race is wide open. Laura Orgue has displayed pure class going up hill and certainly, the first half of the Limone course will suit her racing style. I expect to see Laura to be leading at the summit; the question will come if she can hold of the charging train of Forsberg, Desco and Kremer. Very few ladies can go downhill like Emelie Forsberg and if she is in contact during the 2nd half of the race, Emelie will potentially take top honours.
Elisa Desco is a very rounded athlete uphill and downhill, at 23.5kms the distance will suit the Italian and with valuable points at stake, we can expect a 100% committed effort for victory.
Maite Maiora started the year with a bang at Transvulcania and has continued to bang the drum all the way throughout 2014. For sure, Maite stepped up a level this year and along with Desco, Forsberg and Kremer, she has been a force to be reckoned with. The podium is a distinct possibility but it’s going to be a battle.
Victoria Wilkinson had a great race at the Dolomites Skyrace and has continued to excel on the UK Fell running scene. The podium may just be out of reach but top-5 is a distinct possibility.
Anna Lupton has been missed in 2014 with injury. Arguably, Anna has been the UK’s most consistent performer in previous Skyrunning events and it’s great to see her back on a start line.
Tessa Hill has been a little quiet in 2014 but has committed herself to Limone and has recently posted, ‘My main way of preparing for this is to get as much climb in the legs as possible and then top things up on the bike.’
Julia Bleasdale is a British Olympian who raced the 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics. She placed 8th in both finals. Julia tipping her toes into the Skyrunning world is a great boost for the sport and Skyrunning in the UK. However, Julia understands the challenge ahead, “I hear so many great things about Skyrunning, but I do not underestimate the strength required to compete in this extreme discipline! So I am delighted to mix things up at the end of the season for variety. I love running in the mountains as they give you depth in your strength, but track athletes cannot transform themselves in just a few weeks to be ready for this!”
Stephanie Jiminez excels at the Sky distance and Limone will suit the skill set of the Salomon athlete. Her experience sets her apart from the competition and on her day, she can beat the best in the world.
Episode 69 of Talk Ultra and this weeks show is going to be a little different… we are recording live from a RV in the middle of Minneapolis. My co host is Kurt Decker from Twin Cities Running Co. This weeks interviews are quite special, we speak with Italian Mmountain running legend, Marco De Gaspreri and man of the moment, Kilian Jornet. The news a blog and the up and coming races.
Kilian Jornet is without doubt the man of the moment and may well, the decade? I caught up with him in Zermatt, the day before Matterhorn Ultraks. It coincided almost to the day of his 2013 Matterhorn Summit. In the last 12-months he has progressed to a new level in my opinion. Here are his thoughts…
*This interview was recorded live and does contain some background noise – apologies
UP & COMING RACES
New South Wales
Great North Walk 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
Great North Walk 100 Miles | 100 miles | September 13, 2014 | website
Glasshouse 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
Glasshouse 100 Mile | 100 miles | September 13, 2014 | website
Kuranda to Port Douglas Ultra Trail Marathon | 64 kilometers | September 07, 2014 | website
Surf Coast Century | 100 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
Walhalla Wound-Up – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 14, 2014 | website
“GRAWE” 50km Lauf | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
“NKE Austria” 100km Lauf | 100 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
Wörthersee Trail-Maniac 114 K | 114 kilometers | September 19, 2014 | website
Wörthersee Trail Maniak 114K Superior | 114 kilometers | September 19, 2014 | website
Lost Soul 100 Km Ultra | 100 kilometers | September 05, 2014 | website
Lost Soul 100 Mile Ultra | 100 miles | September 05, 2014 | website
Lost Soul 50 Km Ultra | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2014 | website
Finlayson Arm 50k Fat Ass | 50 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
Meet Your Maker 50 Mile Trail Ultra & Relay | 50 miles | September 07, 2014 | website
Haliburton Forest Trail 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | September 06, 2014 | website
Haliburton Forest Trail 50 km Race | 50 kilometers | September 06, 2014 | website
Haliburton Forest Trail 50 Mile Race | 50 miles | September 06, 2014 | website
The North Face Ultra-Trail Harricana de Charlevoix (UTHC) – 65 km | 65 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
The North Face Ultra-Trail Harricana de Charlevoix (UTHC) – 80 km | 80 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
100 Miles – Around the isle of Mors | 100 miles | September 13, 2014 | website
Grand Trail du HK ” The Magic Trail” | 52 kilometers | September 07, 2014 | website
Trail du Gâtinais | 62 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
Ultra Trail du Vercors | 89 kilometers | September 06, 2014 | website
Espagnac – Conques : du 20 au 24 septembre 2013 | 208 kilometers | September 19, 2014 | website
Trail Vallée Cere et Dordogne – 53 km | 53 kilometers | September 07, 2014 | website
Trail de la côte d’Opale – 62 km | 62 kilometers | September 14, 2014 | website
Grand Trail du Sancy/Mont-Dore | 60 kilometers | September 07, 2014 | website
La Nuit des Carbones – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 05, 2014 | website
Bol d’Air – 50 km | 50 kilometers | September 07, 2014 | website
L’infernal Trail des Vosges – 160 km | 158 kilometers | September 12, 2014 | website
L’infernal Trail des Vosges – 72 km | 72 kilometers | September 13, 2014 | website
7 Valleys Run Ultramarathon of the Festival | 100 kilometers | September 07, 2014 | website
Bieg 7 Dolin – Ultramaraton – 100 km | 100 kilometers | September 06, 2014 | website
Bieg 7 Dolin – Ultramaraton – 66 km | 66 kilometers | September 06, 2014 | website
Since the creation of the Mont-Blanc Cross in 1979, the Mont-Blanc Marathon in 2003, the Vertical Kilometer in 2011 and the Mont-Blanc 80KM in 2013, the Club des Sports de Chamonix has never ceased to improve events. This year with the Skyrunning World Championships, the organisers once again confirm the quality of the event and announce new changes: a bigger race expo, the creation of a bridge at Tre Le Champs to secure the road crossing, a new finish line for the Cross and Marathon, and finally a more in-depth Web TV diffusion.
At the end of June 2014, 6500 runners and over 13000 of their supporters are expected in Chamonix for the Mont-Blanc Marathon weekend. The race expo that reunites sports manufacturers and the different trail races found throughout the world will open their doors on the Place du Mont-Blanc on June 26, 27 & 28 2014. The expo provides an area to purchase last minute items for the race and to also discover the latest summer trends.
The race-bib pick-up (previous years at the ENSA gymnasium) will be positioned at the Place du Mont-Blanc square in a big tent especially erected for the occasion.
Race-bib pick up at the Place du Mont-Blanc in Chamonix
Thursday June 26, 2014: 10:00am – 20:00
Friday June 27, 2014: 3:00am – 4:00am for the 80KM and 10:00am – 20:00 for the other races
Saturday June 28, 2014: 7:00am – 20:00
Sunday June 29, 2014: 5:00am – 6:30am
Friday June 27, 2014:
Place du Triangle de l’Amitié
4:00am : Start of the MONT-BLANC 80KM
18:00 – midnight : Meal offered to runners of the 80KM (sports complex)
16:00 : Start of the VERTICAL KM
From 18:00 onwards: Meal offered to runners of the Vertical KM (sports complex)
20:30: Awards ceremony
Saturday June 28, 2014
Paragliding Landing Field
8:30am: Start of the MONT-BLANC CROSS
9:00am: Start of the MONT-BLANC 10KM (start in 3 waves)
11:30am: Mini- Cross (starts depending on age categories)
12:00pm: Mini-Cross Raffle
Richard Bozon Sports Complex
From 11:00am onwards: Buffet for Mont-Blanc Cross (free for runners of the cross)
From 18:30 onwards: Pasta Party for the Mont-Blanc Marathon
Place du Triangle de l’Amitié
15:30: Award ceremony for the Mont-Blanc 10KM
16:00: Award ceremony for the Mont-Blanc CROSS
16:30: Award ceremony for the Mont-BLanc 80KM
Sunday June 29, 2014
Place du Triangle de l’Amitie
7:00am: Start of the MONT-BLANC MARATHON
17:00: Raffle for the Mont-Blanc Marathon
Richard Bozon Sports Complex
From 11:00am onwards: Buffet for Mont-Blanc Marathon (free for marathon runners)
New Finish Line & New Viewpoints!
The large mass of people the past few years at the finish line (Planpraz at Brevent) for the Mont-Blanc Marathon & Cross no longer offered a satisfactory experience for runners nor the public.
The finish line will now be on the plateau just before the top of the cable car station of Planpraz (near the paragliding take-off area).
To reach the finish line runners will take-on one final ‘wall’….the public will be in close proximity to support the athletes in their last effort as they benefit from the most beautiful view of the Mont-Blanc range.
Follow the events live via WebTV
In 2012, 10,000 connections were registered during the Vertical KM. In 2013 there were 125,000 connections during the weekend (diffused live for an average of 3 hours per day).
This year the organizers once again will be offering WebTV for users with a complete program, events diffused live, official presentations of athletes each evening, exclusive interviews with the world’s best, and many other surprises.
Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and Skyrunning. At the age of 16 he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of Skyrunning.
The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Today at 36-years old, Marco is still one of the few runners who can push Kilian Jornet all the way to the line. In 2013 he did just that with an incredible race at Mont-Blanc Marathon and once again at the Dolomites SkyRace.
Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic Skiing but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave the town, climb a peak and return in the same day.
At 12-years old an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.
Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! I chatted to the ‘legend’ while he was helping to coach future stars of the sport on a training camp in Portugal
Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?
My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.
The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?
Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!
Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?
You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep hills I like to find a short hill that is steep and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat
Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?
Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.
You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?
Core and stability is very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.
In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?
I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30-50 minute bracket.
Tricky question for you Marco, other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?
You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian but the records show that they have the fastest times.
Finally Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?
Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.
Marco De Gasperi is a true champion, not only on the trails and slopes of the mountains but also off them. A gentleman, professional and perfect ambassador for our sport, he gives of his time and experience freely.
As always, it’s a pleasure to speak and learn more about such a wonderful athlete. Thanks Marco!