Limone Extreme brings to a close the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and what a year it has been! It only seems like 5-minutes ago that Luis Alberto Hernando and Emelie Forsberg crossed the finish line at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. Of course, these two Skyrunner’s concluded their ‘ultra’ years with Skyrunner® World Series titles at Ultra Pirineu. It was an incredible year for them both, they are the respective World, European and Skyrunner® World Series champions for the distance.
Limone has hosted the Skyrunner® World Series finals for the past 2-years and once again it will provide the arena to conclude the VK and the SKY distances. The VK is spectacular as it is run under the illumination of head torches as the runners climb 1000m under darkness.
The following day is the SKY race and what a race we have in store.
Megan Kimmel and rising star Remi Bonnet head up a world-class field that is without doubt a who’s who of Skyrunning. It’s all to fight for.
Remi Bonnet, although victorious at the RUT and Lantau 2 Peaks will not be able to contend the Skyrunner® World Series title even if he wins at Limone. Unfortunately, he does not have a +1 race as required in the ranking for 2015. On recent form, one has to say that he is the one to beat. Limone represents a perfect challenge for the young Swiss runner and the distance currently falls into his ‘perfect’ distance.
It’s going to be no easy race though!
Francois Gonon, Marco De Gasperi, Ionut Zinca, Manuel Merillas, Tom Owens, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen, Tadei Pivk, Thibault Baronian, Aritz Egea, Martin Anthamatten and a strong contingent from La Sportiva that includes Marco Moletto will all look to topple Bonnet from the top. Add last years’ winner Petro Mamu and Zach Miller from the USA and we have what may well be one of the most exciting races of the year.
Manuel Merillas was in form in Hong Kong and scored valuable 2nd place points and when the race was over he said, the fight goes on! He is a fierce competitor and the Limone course will suit him.
Tadei Pivk tops the SWS and he will be looking for a top drawer performance to maintain his foothold at the top of the rankings. He is going to have a tough battle on his hands but as he has proved in the past at Zegama, Dolomites and so on, he can do it!
Aritz Egea will go out hard, lead from the front and try to hold on for grim life to the end. He has had a great year this year and with a series of top results. He will be in the mix at Limone but he will need a great run to make the podium.
Marco De Gasperi had a bad day at Lantau 2 Peaks and was frustrated with his run. Here on ‘home-soil’ he will hopefully revel on the terrain and he will look to repeat his victory from 2012.
Ionut Zinca was returning from injury at Lantau 2 Peaks and lacked that ‘zip’ that comes from racing regularly. With a race in his legs, he may well find that his form is back for a race in which he has performed well at before.
Petro Mamu beat Kilian last year and that is no easy task, so he can’t be ruled out this year. However, even if he wins it will have no impact on the SWS series as he has not contended any other races. His journey to the shores of Lake Garda are for financial gain should he win the price purse.
Zach Miller also will not contest the SWS but he is a runner who only knows how to run one way; hard and fast. His hold on for your life approach scares the hell out of me and maybe him sometimes, but it makes for exciting racing. I just wonder if this race is too short for his running style?
Tom Owens loves running up and down fast and has all the skill sets required to excel on this Limone course. That is fell running for you! He had a good run at the RUT has been back home in Scotland lately doing what he loves most; running in the mountains.
Martin Anthamatten won Ultraks, recently beat Joe Gray in the USA and is on fire. Could Limone be a great end to the year?
Current SWS rankings have Tadei Pivk topping the podium for the series with 366-points, Manuel Merillas 2nd with 332-points and Tom Owens 3rd with 268-points. The final race of the series has a bonus of 20% so who will come out on top?
The SWS Ladies ranking currently is Laura Orgue, Elisa Desco, Maite Maiora and importantly Megan Kimmel in 4th – points are 364, 350, 322, and 300 respectively.
Megan Kimmel has been on fire this year and is the odds on favourite for victory in Limone and in reality, she is the one to beat for the SWS. Her ability to hold her own uphill and then descend fast is what is setting her apart in 2015. The only glitch came at Matterhorn Ultraks when she ran out of steam while leading the race. The SKY distance though when at 20-25km is perfect for the American.
Laura Orgue has been a revelation at the SKY distance. Always considered a VK specialist, she has grown into the longer distances and has performed exceptionally well. She is the eternal 2nd after Dolomites, the RUT and Lantau. Can she win in Limone? I anticipate Laura to lead the charge to the first summit, the question will come if she can hold on for the drop back to the lake.
Elisa Desco may well upset the apple cart. She will need a perfect day and Megan to have a below par day. I don’t see that happening. Although placing 4th in Hong Kong, Elisa had an awful race due to the typhoon conditions.
Maite Maiora has raced a great deal in 2015 and has always comes up with the results! She recently placed 3rd in Lantau 2 Peaks under tough conditions and she will be coming to Limone looking to make the podium once again. Don’t rule her out, she is a fierce competitor.
Yngvild Kaspersen like Remi Bonnet is shaking up the SKY distance. It’s so great to see these 20-year olds rise in the sport. Her victories at Tromso and Lantau were quite spectacular, at Limone she will need a little luck on her side to take the top slot. Like Remi, Yngvild does not have a +1 and so therefore cannot qualify for the SWS.
Stevie Kremer has won in the past here and been crowned SWS champion. 2015 has been a mixed year for the pocket rocket. For example, at Hong Kong she flew in the night before the race after almost 20-hours in the air. I guess it will be a similar story in Limone. The reality is, despite how talented you are, you can’t give those % gains away against this quality of field. Stevie will be in the mix for sure.
Emelie Forsberg* and Kasie Enman will also race the SKY distance and as we all know, either of them could win. * My gut reaction is that Emelie will enjoy the run and let the ladies battle out the SWS and Kasie will push hard and finish just outside the top-3.
*As I expected, Emelie has decided not to race: “I decided not to! I prefer beeing super fresh before my winter season in both mind and body!”
Watch out for Azara Garcia (winner at Zegama-Aizkorri) Oihana Kortazar and Martina Valmassoi who podiumed at the RUT ultra.
Could Remi Bonnet and Laura Orgue do the ‘Limone Double?’ It is very possible and what a story that would make.
Remi for sure has the ability and skill to nail a tough VK and then less than 12-hours later run a SKY race and win. So yes, he is an odds on favourite for the win.
Francois Gonon though will most certainly create a stumbling block for him. Particularly after that impressive VK in Chamonix what seems like lifetime ago. However, the format in Limone is different. It’s not a time trial set off in 30-second intervals, it’s a mass start and therefore early positioning is critical. It may not suit the fast Scott runner?
Martin Anthamatten and Stian Angermund may well infiltrate the podium places. Particularly Stian, he loves a VK as he showed at Tromso.
We can’t talk VK without strong mentions for Urban Zemmer, William Bon Mardion, Nijc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet and Marco Moletto. These 5 runners all run for La Sportiva and they VK specialists. Urban has won here in the past. Can he do it again? Expect them all to figure in or around the top-5.
As mentioned, Laura Orgue like Remi will be the odds on favourite for the victory. I don’t really see anyone beating her! She could save her legs for the following days SKY race but that is not her style, for me, she will go all out.
We can expect a strong challenge to come from Kasie Enman, Yngvild Kaspersen, Victoria Kreuzer, Beatrice Delflorian, Francesca Rossi and Serena Vittori.
All the action starts on Friday with a night time VK and then the SKY race takes place on Saturday.
Limone Extreme’s addition into the Skyrunner® World Series, has seen the race grow by 400% since 2012. 2015 will have 1,000 particpants in the two races (760 and 240 respectively).
You can follow the stories through words and images on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and on Facebook at facebook.com/iancorlessphotography.
In addition, the official Skyrunning Facebook page (here) and Twitter @skyrunning_com will have regular updates and news.