SKYRACE COMAPEDROSA Preview – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series 

Andorra will host the seventh stage of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series with the SkyRace® Comapedrosa coming just one week after the Dolomites SkyRace and VK that took place in Italy.

Arinsal, a small ski resort within Andorra will have 300+ runners toe the line to take on the challenging 21 km course that includes a brutal climb of 1000m to the summit of the iconic and beautiful Coma Pedrosa at 2942m. The climb even more difficult and spectacular due to its overall distance of just 2km – yes, it’s a 50% gradient!

The opening miles are road and ease the runners into winding forest trails all the way up to the Col de les Cases (1958M), a wooded area follows and from this point the runners will encounter a stretch of ridge. Pic de les Fonts at 2748m and the Pla de l’Estany follows.

Now the beautiful and challenging climb begins, a true vertical wall of more than 1000m of positive difference in about 2km. A VK within a race! Without a marked path, the runners follow markers to the summit of Comapedrosa at 2942m. Pure Skyrunning – Less Cloud, More Sky.

The descent is by the traditional route through the Estany Negre and Coma Pedrosa refuge, until reaching Arinsal where the race started.

2016 Youth Skyrunning World Championships, Italy. ©fabriziopoliti.it

The Skyrunning World Youth Championships will also take place on the same weekend. The first edition took place in 2016 in Italy and it was a great success. Two events, the KV Arinsal which is the classic Vertical Kilometre will take place on July 28 and the SkyRace will take place on July 30. On offer are 54 medals distributed across three age categories – 16-17yrs, 18-20yrs and 21-23yrs. Read ISF release here.

The Contenders Men

Aritz Egea is on form this year and had a great race at Comapedrosa in 2016. He has already placed 2nd at Livignio and Buff Epic and won Olympus Marathon. He is the hot favourite in Andorra.

Jan Maragrit Sole won the iconic 20th edition of the Dolomites SkyRace last weekend and I am unsure at this moment if he will race the Youth Championships or the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series? Either way he is a hot contender for victory.

Pere Aurell Bove had a great result at The Royal Gran Paradiso recently and although this event is considerably shorter and faster, he should be in the mix. He won the race in 2015.

Kiril Nikolov placed highly at Olympus Marathon and the shorter distance events suit him, he has proved this before at races like Limone.

Hassan Ait Chaou like Egea had a great race in Andorra last year and although his form doesn’t appear to be as good as 2016, you can’t rule him out!

Eugeni Gil Ocana is having a great 2017 with strong and consistent running, Comapedrosa will suit the Spanish runner. He is top-10 potential for sure and top-5 on a good day.

France’s Adrien Michaud may well stir up the front of the race but Benat Marmisolle is a likely podium contender after a strong and solid race at The Royal Gran Paradiso – the question will be if he has recovered?

Andorran brothers Oscar and Marc Casal Mir will be focused on this race and they know the course like the back of their hands.

Breaking news may well see a last-minute entry by Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi. If the Italian toes the line, I would predict a podium place and I have a feeling that victory is on the cards… De Gasperi has some great form now as we saw with his 3rd place in the Dolomites, just 45-seconds behind the winner.

It’s a stacked field and other names to watch are as follows:

Nicolas Bouvier Gaz, Brice Delsouiller, Jose Larralde, Jokin Lizeaga, Inaki Uribe-Etexbarria, Aitor Aiuria, Anartz Artola, Paul Riera, Sintu Vives, Ismail Razga, Pere Rullan, and many more runners from FEEC.

The Contenders Ladies

Laura Orgue just won the Dolomites SkyRace and is the defending champion at Comapedrosa. Orgue and Kimmel will have a real head-to-head battle for top honors.

Megan Kimmel is on fire this year and she loves the classic SkyRace distance. The 22km race will suit her down to the ground and as she has proven time and time again, she is the hot favourite victory.

Denise Dragomir had a very strong race in Livignio – she placed 2nd. She was strong on the climbs and fast on the descents which makes her a podium favourite.

Anne-Lise Rousset recently missed High Trail Vanoise through injury but if recovered with good training miles, she will be a definite contender for the podium.

Celia Chiron had a solid 2016 and it was a breakthrough year on the Skyrunning calendar. She has raced a great deal already in 2017 and I see her as a podium, top-5 for sure. *upadate: Celia will not run, confirmed 26th July. 

Hillary Gerardi has been a revelation in 2017 with a solid run in Livignio and just last weekend she placed 2nd at the Dolomites behind Laura Orgue. She is a good friend of Celia Chiron (the duo race together) so we may well see an interesting dynamic in the Comapedrosa race.

Anna Comet this year is racing shorter and faster races instead of the ultra-distance, she had a tough race in the Dolomites but it’s all learning curve – I think we will see an improved performance in Andorra.

Maria Zorroza is another contender for the top-5 and almost certainly the top-10, she will however have some strong competition from Aitziber Ibarbia and Oihana Azkorbebeita.

Laia Andreu rounds out the top-10 contenders and we can also expect Silvia Puigarnau, Paloma Lobera and Nuria Dominguez to be in the mix.

Race website HERE

2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series HERE

Dolomites SkyRace Preview – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 2017 Edition

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

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

MEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOMEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Names to watch:

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

Full SWS Calendar available HERE

A Double Bill in Italy #VK and #SKY – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit

Skyrunning heads to Italy this weekend for a double bill of high mountain action organised by Alta Valtellina Skyrunning Experiences headed up by mountain running legend Marco de Gasperi.

Santa Catarina VK

Friday, the Santa Catarina VK takes place, the next race in the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit. Starting at an altitude of 1739m the course covers just 2.9km to reach 2739m in a lung and leg bursting race.

Covering a variety of terrain, the route is primarily free of technical difficulty as passes over pastures, grassland, ski routes, trails and slopes made of scree. However, the final section has fixed rope to the summit.

It’s a mass start race and the runners will depart at 1500 from the Centro La Fonte ski station.

Ones to watch:

It will come as no surprise that the La Sportiva team will be present in large numbers with Marco Moletto and Nejc Kuhar heading up the team. Both these runners are VK specialists and we can expect them to be fighting for the podium.

Saul Padua will of course be in the mix too along with Hannes Perkmann and Pere Rullan. Other string contenders are Ales Palko, Joan Freixa Marcelo, Marc Trassera Puyol, Eugeni Gil Ocana, Eduard Baquer, Josep Roset and Actor Aijuria. The ladies race is somewhat compromised after a succession of recent races, the last taking place just last weekend. Therefore, it looks likely that the battle for victory will be between Therese Sjursen, Francesca Rossi and Marianna Jagercikova.

Livigno SkyMarathon

On Sunday, the action moves to Living, approximately 90-minutes by car from Santa Caterina for the Livigno SkyMarathon, the next race in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series .

The Living race personifies pure Skyrunning with 2700m of vertical gain over a 34km course. Exposed mountain ridges, ropes, chains and most the course at altitudes of 2500 to 3000m, this course is not only one to participate in, but one to watch! It’s a classic.

The race takes place on the border of Italy and Switzerland and therefore captures the best of both worlds. Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri, the race will be a hot bed of action with valuable points at stake for the Migu Skyrunner World Series.

The race will start at 0800 on Sunday 18th June.

Ones to watch:

Oh, boy it’s a stacked field for the weekends main event with many of the world’s best Skyrunners toeing the line for battle. The 34km course is the perfect distance for those who will depart at 0800 on Sunday.

Hassan Ait Chaou had a great 2016 and will no doubt be a favourite along with his teammate Aritz Egea who recently has had a return to form. The Casal Mir brothers, Oscar and Marc will also be strong contenders with Marco Moletto.

But the biggest threat may well come from Bhim Gurung. He had an incredible run in China with a breakneck descent that gave him a superb victory.

Andre Jonsson, Adrien Michaud, Nuno Silva, Pascal Egli, Inaki Uribe-Etxebarria, Pere Rullan and a whole host of other top talent will be in contention for top-10 places. In total, 38 elite male runners are on the start list.

Maite Maiora after victory at the recent Zegama-Aizkorri is the outright favourite for the lady’s race – she will take some beating!

Celia Chiron (5th at Zegama) though has the potential to provide a good battle along with Aitziber Ibarbia, Michaela Mertova, Maria Zorroza, Natalie Roman Lopez, Hillary Gerardi, Addie Bracy, Katerina Matrasova and Katrine Villumsen.

Race information can be found HERE on the race website.

The Migu Skyrunner World Series can be found HERE and the Vertical Kilometer World Circuit can be found HERE.

RUN the RUT 2016 VK Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2707

The Skyrunner® World Series continues in Montana, the USA with three races at Run the Rut, today it was the Lone Peak VK. It may not be the steepest VK on the circuit but it certainly is dramatic with the finish line high in the sky and always visible. Well, that would have been the case had the VK route not been changed… Weather in this area can change in just 5-minutes and storms had been predicted for the afternoon. It’s always a tough call for a RD but Mike Foote took the cautions to heart and had his team mark an alternative route. He made a call at midday and decided on an alternative route that reduced the climb by 300m to 700m vertical gain and a distance of 2.3 miles.

The route was somewhat steeper and more direct in the early stages and followed the ethos and principals of Skyrunning perfectly, start low, get high! At the Bone Crusher, the runners should have gone to the impressive Alto ridge, here it gets steep, gnarly and technical with plenty of hands-on-knees action and scrambling with some via ferrata before the final sections of exposed rock and loose terrain to the summit. The re-route missed this section, dropped down a short descent and then once again climbed up through a steep section of loose rocks and scree. It was challenging but considerably less challenging than the original route.

The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm and tackling the early steep and slippery gradients. The route was wide though and overtaking was no issue.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2729

Ondrej Fejfar and Jan Margarit Sole pushed from the start and both looked very strong at the midway point before the more technical sections started. Ondrej looked in control though holding a good gap.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2879

In the ladies race Cynthia Arnold looked to be closing the gap on the expected victor and leader Laura Orgue. Laura looked less comfortable than normal, occasionally looking behind to see where Cynthia was but I think all along it was about doing enough to win and not expending too much energy. Maria Zorroza was running a strong race in 3rd but would she stay ahead of her team-mate Aitziber Iberia ?

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-0912

In the men’s race, Ondrej was in a class of his own on this shorter course and finished clear of Jan by 24 seconds.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-0935Scott Patterson was a surprise 3rd (he is a ski mountaineer) ahead of race director, Mike Foote who looked to be having a blast on his new course, Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet finished 5th.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2761Surprise of the day was expected winner, Ferran Teixido who finished 7th obviously having a below par day potentially due to the more runnable re-route and altitude?

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2796

In the ladies’ race Laura finished a strong 1st 41-seconds clear of Cynthia and Maria 3rd +2:16 back.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2875

Altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK, starting above 2000m it is very difficult for those with little or no adaptation. When combined with challenging terrain, this only adds to the problem. Unlike other VK’s the Lone Peak VK is unique with its mixture of surfaces. The loose and large rocks create many frustrations as often it stops participants getting a rhythm, this is contrasted by the early sections when it’s possible to find a good momentum despite the steep gradients.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s 28km event which starts at 0800, you can read a preview HERE. This event, as last year, will prove to be fast, the mixed terrain includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and at the summit of the iconic Lone Peak a gnarly and technical descent brings the runners back to the resort of Big Sky where the race started.  The race has 2375m of vertical gain with a low point of 2286m and a high point of 3403m. Ones to watch are Laura Orgue and Yngvild Kaspersen who will also have run the VK and Megan Kimmel who is the outright ladies favourite. In the men’s race, Marc Lauenstein and Dakota Jones head up a strong mens field.

Results:

1 Ondrej Fejfar 29:26

2 Jan Margarit Sole +00:24

3 Scott Patterson +1:07

4 Mike Foote +1:21

5 Greg Vollet +1:52

 

1 Laura Orgue 34:20

2 Cynthia Arnold +00:41

3 Maria Zorroza +2:16

4 Aitziber Iberia +3:33

5 Jenny Wolfe +3:59