Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Summary and Images– Skyrunner® World Series

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The Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain. Now in its 4th edition, the race once again is in the Skyrunner® World Series – a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

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The day started well with wispy white clouds penetrating the blue of the sky, we all knew though that it wasn’t going to last… with 2 hours of running the sky turned grey, the rain arrived and low mist enveloped the mountains; the beautiful Matterhorn was gone!

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Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race and the first indication of how this mountain game of chess was going to play out. Christian Mathys was a surprise arrival pushing the pace closely followed by Marc Lauenstein (pre-race favourite) and Nepalese runner, Tirtha Tamang.

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In the ladies’ race, Megan Kimmel from the USA was already dictating the race and the pace opening up a substantial gap on a chasing Elisa Desco from Italy and Michaela Mertova who was looking very strong.

It’s a brutal opening 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

Megan Kimmel from the USA ran hard from the gun in 2015 setting the pace against a world-class field, “Anytime you get the rhythm in the up, the down, or the flat, the body is abruptly put into one of these other actions.  It is steep enough to grind you to a walk on a lot of the uphill and has fair bits of technical descent.”

A 1000m drop from the summit is broken by a small climb at Riffelalp and then Furi follows at 24km at 1880m. Two short sharp climbs follow, the first to Schwarzsee at 2583m and approximately 28km covered. Here Mathys was leading Tamang and Launstein followed minutes behind. It was difficult to tell if Lauenstein was going through a bad patch, he just smiled and pushed on.

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Kimmel picks up her race, “I was comfortably leading the race for the first 30k. When I mean comfortable, I mean it seemed fairly effortless in a racing sense.  I was moving with the terrain on the uphill’s and I was holding back on the descents because it was a long race with a lot of transitions.” Kimmel’s lead was substantial and she was running her own race. Behind, barring an accident, the other ladies were running for 2nd.

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A drop down to 2200m from Schwarzsee was followed with another 500m+ climb and then what follows is mostly a flat runnable plateau that gently weaves up, down and left to right all the way to Trift. Lauenstein had taken the lead now and was flying, Mathys chased but the gap was opening up with every minute that passed.

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A short kick up of 100 to 200m follows Trift and then a fast and furious drop of almost 1000m over a distance of 6km leads to the finish line in Zermatt and the assembled crowds. Lauenstein sealed victory in 4:47:01, just a few minutes outside Kilian Jornet’s course record. Mathy’s held on for an excellent 2nd in 5:51:56 and Tamang placed 3rd in 4:53:03. Once again Hassan Ait Chaou ran an excellent 4th place and last year’s winner and course designer, Martin Anthamatten finished 6th.

Kimmel, the 2015 Dolomites SkyRace winner, after strongly leading the ladies race for the whole race, clinched victory with 20+-minute lead to Michaela Mertova, their respective times 5:23:15 and 5:46:21. Cilia Chiron backed up her great Dolomites SkyRace performance with 3rd and Oihana Kortazar placed 4th. Elisa Desco who had run in 2nd place did not finish due to a fall.

Skyrunning is not just about the uphill and more often than not, it’s the downhill that determines the winner. Today was all about patience and consistency. Racing is often a mental journey as much physical, Kimmel and Lauenstein today proved this at the Matterhorn.

Results for all race HERE


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

Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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The stunning Matterhorn provides the stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain – the next race in the Skyrunner® World Series 2016. It’s a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race where the ever present lone peak of the Matterhorn shadows the race and runners with its majestic beauty.

Zermatt, located 1600m above altitude provides the focal point for this high altitude race. It’s a town of contrasts, tourists flood in to trawl the streets, shop and snap ‘selfies’ while in and amongst them, hardcore mountaineers head upwards with packs, ropes, cramp-ons and ice axes. Like a photo on a luxury box of chocolates, Zermatt is a beautiful place steeped in history. It’s a logical start and finishing place for such an iconic race.

Renowned for its tough opening kilometers, the Matterhorn Ultraks immediately heads to the sky via Sunnegga at 2260m all the way to the high point Gornergrat at 3130m. It’s a brutal 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

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2015 Champions, Martin Anthamatten and Elisa Desco return to Switzerland for the 4th edition of the race and as such they are the favourites. Desco just last weekend placed 3rd at Sierre-Zinal, the question mark will be, as she recovered? For Anthamatten, his last performance was at the Skyrunning World Championships.

It’s fair to say the men’s race is wide open, no doubt impacted upon by the recent Tromso SkyRace and next weekend’s Trofeo Kima. SWS race leader, Tadei Pivk is currently injured and that leaves an opening for valuable points.

Bhim Gurung who won the inaugural Yading race excelled at the high altitude in China and although this race tops out at 3100m in Switzerland, it will not register on the Nepalese runner’s radar. Strong competition and maybe the hot favourite will be Marc Lauenstein.

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Hassan Ait Chou has a solid history in Zermatt and his recent podium at the SkyRace Comapedrosa indicates that he may well be in for a good run. Pablo Villa, Oscar Casal Mir and Marc Casal Mir will also contend the podium along with Adrien Michaud.

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Lining up against Desco is Megan Kimmel who had a stunning race in 2015 only to later in the latter stages. Something tells me that won’t happen this year and for me, she is odds on favourite for victory!

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Oihana Kortazar leads the other podium contenders after a recent top placing at SkyRace Comapedrosa and Celia Chiron who placed 3rd at the Dolomites SkyRace will no doubt be looking for a repeat performance. Ragna Debats, Aziziber Ibarbia and Marta Molist are other top runners who will be at the ‘pointy’ end of the race!

Course records were set in 2013 by Kilian Jornet and 2014 by Stevie Kremer, their respective times 4:43:05 and 5:18:43.

Race day is Saturday 20th August and the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k race will get underway at 0730


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

4KVDA – 4K Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta

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3-9 September 2016

25,000 m D+ 200 miles Start and Finish CogneAosta Valley – Italy

BREAKING NEWS March 15th 2016

THE JUDGE ACCEPTS THE APPEAL OF VDA TRAILERS AND RESTRICTS THE 4K
Regarding the Tor des Géants ® – Regione Valle d’Aosta issue, The Ordinary Tribunal of Turin – Company Division has accepted the appeal presented by VdA Trailers.

The Tribunal of Turin considers the actions of the Region regarding Vda Trailers and the Tor des Géants® to be damaging and harmful and considers the 4K race organized by the Region to be harmful of the rights of VdA Trailers and of the normal operation of the Tor des Géants ®2016, since it overlaps it regarding route, length, altitude difference and duration.

Specifically, the Tribunale prohibits, effective immediately, the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from accepting registrations and collecting the related registration fees for the “4k Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta” event planned from September 3 – 9, 2016.

In addition, the Tribunal prohibits the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from making any reference to the “Tor” or the “Tor des Géants” in the presentation, promotion and publicizing of the “4k Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta” event, including the use of the expression and the brand of “Tor des Géants®”.

Finally, the Tribunal prohibits the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from engaging in any actions which might hinder the organization or execution of the Tor des Géants®, such as that, in particular, of issuing declarations aimed at leading people to believe that the Tor des Géants®2016 will not be held, or that it has been or will be replaced by another event organized by the Region, or to make declarations regarding the “limited safety” of the “Tor des Géants”.

This decree has become law with immediate effect.

The Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley is organising an endurance trail running event to be raced clockwise along the Alte Vie 1 and 2 high-mountain trails, at an altitude between 300 and 3,300 msl. A 350 km circuit with 25,000 m. elevation gain which starts and ends in Cogne, in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park.

It was the need to make the best use of all the various synergies involved and to focus particularly on the safety and spectacularity of the competition that prompted the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley to launch its own project, taking over the organisation of the event and actively involving the whole territory.

These are the main innovations:

  • Obligatory GPS device provided to every runner
  • Possibility of participating individually or in pairs
  • Greatest possible care taken in laying out the course
  • Obligatory small crampons, supplied in the race bag
  • Monetary prizes for those who finish in the first few places in the overallrankings according to the Itra Regulations
  • Alternative routes available in the event of bad weather
  • Random antidoping tests
  • Skin Tattoo with the route elevation profileThe competition can accept up to a maximum of 1,200 runners and is a semi self-sufficiency event. In order to enter, athletes must be at least 21 years old in 2016. Accompaniment is permitted, without transport service or transfer of material.The route highlights key elements of the Region’s rich historical, cultural and natural heritage: as well as the famous Fortress of Bard it touches on well- known tourist destinations such as La Thuile, Courmayeur, Breuil – Cervinia, Champoluc, Gressoney and Cogne, and also gives both athletes and spectators the chance to discover some rather less renowned but outstandingly beautiful spots.The most precious contribution will come from the over 2000 volunteers who will be supporting and assisting the athletes along the route and together with them at least 100 mountain experts. A compact group with a single grand objective: to ensure that the race is a unique and unforgettable experience for everyone and that it takes place in the safest possible conditions.

    Illustrious, silent spectators of the event, the majestic “4K” of the Aosta Valley: Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso.

    The race will take runners on an unforgettable journey amidst the marvels of the Aosta Valley Alps, in the company of warm, friendly crowds of spectators who will be lining the route to cheer them on. An extreme experience awaits them, a real physical, introspective and emotional voyage in which mental as well as physical endurance will be a decisive factor.

4K Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta is a tough, fascinating competition, raced in a breathtaking natural setting. Ready to accept the challenge?

Pre-registration opens on the 1st of March 2016 at 12 noon on the site http://www.4kvda.com and will close on the 25th march 2016 at 12 pm. The draw is due to take place on the 26th of March at 1 pm.

The registrations can be accomplished from the 27th march 2016 to the 20eth april 2016.

Individual participation fee: € 550,00

Contacts: info@4kvda.com

As a footnote, I am a little confused! the Tor des Geants despite rumours of being cancelled (?) has gained sponsorship from Montane and (according to the website) is still scheduled to take place in September. 2400m and 330km in the valley Aosta….

More news HERE

http://www.tordesgeants.it/en

Matterhorn Ultraks 2015 Race Summary

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The 3rd edition of the Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks Trail took place at the weekend in Zermatt. Once again, the sun and the stars of the Trail kept on shining all day long. The Swiss Martin Anthamatten imposed himself on the men’s main distance, part of the Skyrunner® World Series, while the Italian Elisa Desco won the female’s race. Nearly 1’800 participants took the start of the “16K”, “30K”, “46K” and “VZR”.

This year, the Spanish armada of the Trail couldn’t cope with the local runner and ambassador of the Matterhorn Ultraks, Martin Anthamatten. “To win such an important race here in Zermatt is a real dream. It’s for sure the greatest victory of my career”, commented the Valais winner after his race. He ran ahead the Spanish Manuel Merillas (4:54’32’’) and Aritz Egea (4:56’13’’). Just shortly ahead until he reached the Schwarzsee, Anthamatten finally managed to clearly step ahead over the last 20kms.

On the women’s side, the winner’s podium remained unchanged with the exception of the Italian Elisa Desco, who took her revenge on Stevie Kremer (USA). Second last year after the American, she managed the perfect race this year, imposing herself in 5h23’46’’ and only 59 seconds ahead of her rival, but still not breaking her record. The third place goes once again to the Spanish Maite Maiora (5:31’30’’). To note that the American Megan Kimmel dominated the race until the last quarter, she had to abandon a few kilometers from Zermatt.

_JKA4162In total, 1797 adults and 101 children of 58 nationalities and coming from 46 different countries took part in the third edition of the Matterhorn Ultraks Trail. When crossing the finish line, they all looked radiant after their experience within/through an outstanding mountain environment. It was unique! The barrier in Riffelalp with the sound of the alphorns echoing in front of the Matterhorn – This was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. I truly had tears in my eyes”, commented Antoine, participant of the “16K”. At the same time, the atmosphere was festive all through the day at the “Espace Ultraks”, where hundreds of spectators had come to support their favorite participant. Thanks to the video screen, they were able to follow the most significant moments from the heart of the village of Zermatt.

​« 46K » MEN
1. MARTIN ANTHAMATTEN (SUI) 4:45’11”532
2. MERILLAS MOLEDO MANU (ESP) 4:54’32”702
3. ARITZ EGEA (ESP) 4:56’13”303

​« 46K » WOMEN
1. DESCO ELISA (ITA) 5:23’46”293
2. KREMER STEVIE (USA) 5:24’45”578
3. MAITE MAIROA (ESP) 5:31’30”936

The inscriptions for 2016 will open during the month of September. Stay tuned: www.matterhorn.ultraks.com

Images by ® Juerg Kaufmann

Press Release by Matterhorn Ultraks race office

Matterhorn Ultraks 2015 Preview

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The 3rd edition Matterhorn Ultraks 46K kicks off on Saturday, August 22. As the name suggests, the magic Matterhorn mountain provides a stunning backdrop to this iconic race.

Stevie Kremer, 2014 world champion for the combined title and race winner of 2014, return to Zermatt and will look to defend her title. Recent success in America and 4th place at Sierre-Zinal shows the pocket rocket is in form!

Italian Elisa Desco, placed 3rd at Sierrie-Zinal just 2 weeks ago and has had a mixed 2015 so far. Placing 2nd here last year she will without doubt look to take the top slot.

Megan Kimmel is on fire on 2015 and is my hot tip for victory in Zermatt. A stunning victory at the Dolomites Skyrace and 2nd at Sierre-Zinal shows that the American not only has climbing and descending legs but also plenty of speed.

Maite Maiora, currently ranked third on the Skyrunner® World Series always is a strong and consistent performer, Azara Garcia de Los Salmones has struggled with injury and currently it is questionable if she will run. Paola Cabrerizo, placed 2nd at Zegama-Aizkorri and may well contend the podium, Anna Comet Pascua has been a revelation in 2015 and Eva Maria Moreda.

Stephanie Jimenez and Czech Anna Strakova along with Holland’s Ragna Debats are top 5 contenders.

Italy’s Tadei Pivk currently leads the SWS ranking with two straight wins in Zegama and Dolomites, without doubt he is a strong contender for the win.

Spain’s Manuel Merillas and Romanian Ionut Zinca however would love to beat Tadei in the pursuit for the top of the podium. Ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively in the SWS. Britain’s Tom Owens may well stir up the apple cart and has all the ability to win this race.

Aritz Egea was 3rd last year and is always a contender for the top-5. Sintu Vives and Jessed Hernandez are among other strong Spaniards and Moroccan Hassan Ait Chaou and Norwegian Eirik Haugsnes will place in the top-10 if all goes well/

Tromsø SkyRace® winner, Jonathan Albon may well be the surprise podium contender. He is an obstacle racing world champion who surprised everyone in Norway.  

The records to beat? Kilian Jornet’s 2013 time of 4h43’05” and Stevie Kremer’s 2014 record of 5h18’43”.

The 46 km course takes on a tough 3,600m of ascent and descent. The famous Gornergrat observation station marks the highest point of the race at 3,100m altitude, overlooking the Grenz Glacier and Monte Rosa, Europe’s second highest summit.  The entire course is overshadowed by the iconic Matterhorn peak. 

Nearly 700 runners from 34 countries will be toeing the line in Zermatt Saturday.

Some 2,000 participants from 44 countries will participate overall in the weekend’s four events – a 30% increase on last year’s figures.

 

Join us on Facebook and twitter for news and updates.

Current Sky ranking

Race website

Bruno Brunod – Meeting a Skyrunning Legend

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I left Val d’Isere yesterday in the shadow of the stunning Grand Motte. An exciting weekend of racing over, VK on Friday and Ultra on Sunday. This weekend I am in the Dolomites for the Dolomites VK and the legendary Dolomites SkyRace. With several days to kill but plenty of work to do, it was decided we would transit via Cervinia and the Matterhorn. After all it’s the home of Skyrunning.

Driving up through the valley leading to the impressive and dominating mountain, Marino (ISF President) pulls over to the right of the road and stops abruptly. “I think Bruno is working here?”

Bruno Brunod (along with Meraldi and of course Giacometti) is a legend in Skyrunning. He was and is the pioneer of the sport that Marino Giacometti created way back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. A builder by trade, Bruno moved away from running for 7 years but he is now back and in recent years he has run the Tor des Geants twice and returns again this year!

Monte Rosa, Aconcagua, Monte Elbert, Kilimanjaro and of course the Matterhorn. Bruno’s history in the sport has been a direct influence on the career on Kilian Jornet. In real terms, Bruno was instrumental in Kilian’s successful Matterhorn record in 2013. Bruno predicted (down to the minute) that Kilian would run 2 hours and 52 minutes. As we all know, Kilian hit the mark on the head (read my in-depth interview with Kilian HERE).

View Skyrunning records HERE

I have met Bruno before, but it was more in passing.

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Bruno and Marino embrace each other as brothers, old friends, partners in crime; a mutual appreciation for what both have achieved in life.

“I am just going to go for a run,” says Bruno.

The two chat and I seize an opportunity to finally capture a couple of impromptu portraits. Bruno is a simple man and some would say shy, certainly when a camera is concerned.

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It’s a case of seizing a moment but seizing a moment in a natural environment. In a ‘safe zone’ so to speak.

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Having started work at 0700, grafting on a mountain house for 12 hours, Bruno will now head off on to the trails for a 90 minute run.

Tor des Giants is not far away!

And with a ‘Ciao!’ he is gone.

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Ultra Running, Mountain, Trail and Skyrunning Review 2014

2014

Did that just happen?

Another year draws to a close and with it many races, many experiences and many highlights. I don’t need to tell you but our niche sport is progressing at an alarming rate: more runners, more races and more standout experiences, what a year!

It is no easy task being at the top of your game in our sport anymore. Competition is high at every race and past scenarios where a runner could return to a ‘fave’ race year-after-year and win it are long gone! I don’t think we will ever see a Scott Jurek or Ann Trason dominate the sport as they did in their times.

Runners at the top of the game now need to be specific, peak for races; recover and then re peak if they want to perform. The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) and the UTWT add to the complexity of the race calendar by adding a ‘series’ element to proceedings. The need to be at your best for a series requires planning, commitment, dedication and patience. It’s way to easy to burn out… a good year, maybe two good years and then boom, gone! We have seen this happen time-and-time again. Ask Geoff Roes, ask Anna Frost, Tony Krupicka and so on. The need to balance racing and recovery is now more than ever a key component of the ultra runners weaponry and so therefore when I review a year, I do it with a sense of hesitation.

For sure, I am going to write about several runners who have excelled, who have repeatedly blown my mind with stunning performances and against all logic have recovered, come back and won again. So as I write this, please keep in mind the above. A long ultra running life must come with balance.

Also, the following summary and notes are my highlights of 2014 so I welcome your thoughts and feedback..

2014 in summary

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Jo Meek followed on 2nd place lady in the 2013 Marathon des Sables (2013) with a course record performance in The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Showing meticulous preparation and dedication, Jo just gave us all a glimpse of what was about to come!

 

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Ryan Sandes and Nuria Picas laid out a stall at Transgrancanaria and put on two consummate displays of ultra running prowess. Nuria lead from the front showing all the ladies a clean pair of heals whereas Ryan played the waiting game and moved through the field slowly but surely to grasp the race by the scruff of the neck in the latter stages and take a superb victory.

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Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel did the DrakTraverse and in doing so they showed us that big projects in the mountains are just as exciting as racing. FKT’s love them or hate them are here to stay and I for one love the concept. Ultimately it gets back to why we all run. Ryan and Ryno with considerable help of Red Bull really put South Africa on the map and the fellas at The African Attachment produced a great film called Trevelyan to document the record.

UTMF (Ultra Trail Mt Fuji) confirmed that Nuria Picas was going to be the lady to beat in 2014. Nuria’s strength, powers of recovery and ability to push beyond the norm elevated her to a new level. Equally, Francois d’Haene showed us that he had recovered from Raid de la Reunion in 2013 and when it came to 100-miles in mountainous terrain he would be the man to beat.

Nikki Kimball on her way to victory in the 2014 MDS.

Nikki Kimball on her way to victory in the 2014 MDS.

Nikki Kimball arrived in Morocco and for the 2nd year running put an American on the top of the ladies podium and in doing so she confirmed her status as one of the best female ultra runners in the world.

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I mentioned Anna Frost above and after 12+ months in an ultra wilderness the ever smiling lady from New Zealand returned to the volcanic island of La Palma and produced not only one of the best comebacks in our sport but in the process set a new course record for the Transvulcania La Palma course.

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As Frosty made that comeback, up the trail in La Palma, Luis Alberto Hernando was having one of the best races of his life as he went toe-to-toe with Kilian Jornet. He pulled it off! He beat Kilian and in doing so he achieved something that so few have done. His emotions on the line in Los Llanos provided a special moment in the sport.

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Zegama-Aizkorri had all the excitement and buzz of previous years and Kilian started a winning streak that placed his career on an all time high. By comparison, Pocket Rocket, Stevie Kremer took top honours confirming that her 2013 results were no flook (never in question) and that a repeat performance for the Skyrunning World Series was on the cards

Ellie Greenwood did it… she won Comrades and achieved the ultimate tick for her own bucket list but inspired so many Brits, Canadians and Americans in the process. It was quite a run and one that Ellie will take to the grave as a defining moment of her running. Jo Meek followed up victory in January’s The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica with 5th in South Africa; the ultra community looked on and asked the question: who is Jo Meek?

Kilian Jornet obliterates the record for Denali in Summits of my Life (11:48) – nuff said!

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Luis Alberto Hernando bolstered by his Transvulcania performance laid it all on the line in Chamonix for the Skyrunning World Champions in the 80Km Ultra event. Collapsing on the finish line not only had Luis achieved a lifelong dream but he had relegated the almost unbeatable Francois d’Haene into 2nd place. Emelie Forsberg won the ladies race against Anna Frost and Kilian Jornet proved what an incredible athlete he is by working his craft in the VK and SKY race just days after setting a new Summits of my Life record on Denali. Elisa Desco became ladies SKY world champion in a highly competitive and exciting race and Laura Orgue confirmed her outright climbing ability and was crowned VK world champion.

Steve Birkinshaw

Steve Birkinshaw produced the ultimate FKT and broke a long-standing record for the Wainwrights (518km) in the English Lakes. Summiting 214 tops with an elevation gain/loss of 36,000m Steve set a new record of 6-days and 13-hours.

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Ice Trail Tarentaise in the stunning resort of Val D’Isere allowed Francois d’Haene to once again excel in the snowy and cold mountains of this tough, technical and amazing Skyrunning course. Running head-to-head with Luis Alberto Hernando (again) with less than 20km’s to go, Francois moved ahead and took top honours. Emelie Forsberg took a back-to-back victory at the race and confirmed that her ability at the 80km distance was unmatched.

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Hardrock 100 will go down in the history books as one of THE runs of all time. It was the most stacked field ever, it was a who’s who of ultra running and the prospect of Kilian Jornet finally getting an opportunity to test himself on what many consider to be the ultimate course was just way too exciting. Like a script from a screenplay, Kilian bided his time, pulled away, hung out waiting for Julien Chorier and then by his estimations ‘wasted’ 55-minutes in aid stations and still smashed the record. KJ’s victory guarantees an entry for next year when the course is run the opposite way; I wonder… could we see Kilian set two CR’s?

Western States was all about Rob Krar doing his thing and coming back for a repeat victory (14:53:22). This quiet unassuming man let his legs do the talking and produced what was the start of a trio of 100-mile successes. Max King in his first 100-miler set a blistering pace early on and eventually placed 5th… more on him later! Stephanie Howe was crowned ladies champion in 18:01:42.

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The Skyrunning Dolomites Skyrace was remarkable for two reasons. Laura Orgue progressed from a VK specialist to a SKY victor and remarkably Kilian Jornet, just 7-days after Hardrock ran the VK on Friday (placing top-10) and then won the SKY race on Sunday against the best in the world; ridiculous.

Sierre-Zinal, the epic mountain race in Switzerland was finally won by Pocket Rocket herself, Stevie Kremer after placing top-3 on two previous attempts. It was a defining moment for the little lady from Crested Butte and post race she said if she could only win one race, Sierre-Zinal would be it. A pattern is forming… yes, those two words: Kilian Jornet. Yes, he did it again!

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Trofeo Kima (Italy) only happens every 2-years and is arguably the jewel in the Skyrunning crown. It’s a kick-ass race of epic proportions and if I could only ever cover one race as a photographer, Kima would be it. Combining running, climbing, descending, chains, ropes, ladders and vertical drops it is a course that is made for Kilian Jornet. Needless to say the Catalan won and in doing so, he set a new course record. Emelie Forsberg look set to take the ladies crown but a lapse of concentration mid race took Emelie of course and loose approximately 1-hour. Despite chasing like a demon, Emelie could not pull back the time on ladies winner, Kasie Enman.

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The British Ultra Trail Championships crowned Jo Meek and Kim Collison as respective champions in two exciting races on the Lakeland 50 course.

Iker Karrera and Nura Picas won Buff Epic Trail in ‘testing’ conditions.

UTMB provided confirmation that Rory Bosio is one of the best female mountain runners in the world. Her 2013 course record performance was epic but as we all know, to come back and win again confirms the accolades. Nuria Picas placed 2nd and gets a nod here as her list of performances and results (on the UTWT) are off the scale. If anyone questioned who is the best 100-mile mountain runner in the world at the moment – Francois d’Haene backed up his incredible UTMF performance with an outstanding UTMB run against a stellar field.

Rob Krar backed up victory at WSER with a stunning Leadville 100 victory and set the stage for a repeat ‘Ultra Runner of the Year’ award.

Run Rabbit Run came pretty close after Leadville and to my surprise we saw Rob Krar toe the line. I was a little surprised. Rob has always been one of the more savvy runners on the circuit in that he peaks, recovers, trains and then re peaks. For Rob to run 100-miles so soon after Leadville was a surprise! Maybe the big prize bucks were a motivating factor? Anyway, what do I know… he took the win and the bucks! Nikki Kimball followed up 5th at WSER with the biggest payday victory of her career and she shed a few tears to show how much it meant.

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Skyrunning Limone Extreme confirmed Stevie Kremer as Skyrunner® Word Series Champion for the 2nd consecutive year but the big news came via Kilian Jornet. His victory in the VK confirmed him as Skyrunner® World Series Champion in all 3 Skyrunning disciplines – VK, SKY and ULTRA. If any of us needed confirmation of the Catalans all around ability, this was it!

Ultra Pirineu (Cavalls del Vent in the past) had Nuria Picas and Luis Alberto Hernando take top honours – unstoppable!

USA’s The Rut set the benchmark for Skyrunning in the USA with universal accolades about the course. It may come as no surprise that Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg took top honours and respective Skyrunner® World Series titles.

Raid de la Reunion became the Francois d’Haene show. He followed up his 2013 victory with a repeat consummate performance. Dare I say, ‘he makes 100-miles in the mountains look easy!’ Nathalie Mauclair also produced a quality back-to-back victory and along with great runs on the UTWT circuit set herself firmly at the top of the best female ultra runners in the world.

Doha finally became the venue for the 100km world championships and Ellie Greenwood backed up an incredible Comrades victory and placed herself on top of the world with a stunning performance. Big shout here too for the British ladies, Joasia Zakrzewski and Jo Meek who both placed in the top-5 ad took home team gold. Max King showed amazing depth of ability, speed and performance in taking the male victory ahead of some of the fastest men in the world.

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Iain Don Wauchope smashes the Salomon SkyRun record in South Africa and Landie Greyling tops the ladies podium.

Rounding out the year, Sage Canaday and Magdalena Boulet took top honours at San Francisco 50.

Phew…

Wait a minute! Kilian Jornet gets the last word. As I write this Mr Jornet is attempting another summit, Aconcagua. Only appropriate that we should end a year on a real high… Just below 7000m to be exact.

Get involved:

I am going to have missed races, missed performances and no doubt you will remind me of what they are. I welcome that. I’d love you all to comment (below) on what 2014 has meant to you and what/ who in your opinion deserves a tip of the hat.

MY 2014 AWARDS

  • Male ultra runner of the yearFRANCOIS D”HAENE (Rob Krar came close)
  • Female ultra runner of the yearNURIA PICAS
  • Best male performanceKILIAN JORNET for Hardrock 100
  • Best female performanceANNA FROST for Transvulcania La Palma and ELLIE GREENWOOD at Comrades
  • Best single stage raceTROFEO KIMA
  • Best multi day raceEVEREST TRAIL RACE
  • Best FKTSTEVE BIRKINSHAW, The Wainwrights
  • Biggest surprises of 2014ZACH MILLER and the rise of JO MEEK. The AUSSIES at the Skyrunning World Championships.
  • Stand out athlete of the year – KILIAN JORNET
  • Best cinematography – The African Attachment and Seb Montaz
  • Best film – Dejame Vivir

Anything else worthy of a mention?

Personal message:

On a personal note, 2014 has been an incredible year! I have travelled the world and in the process I have attended and worked on 31-races. From the humidity of Costa Rica, to the heat of the Sahara and the cold of the Himalayas, my job has afforded me the privilege to watch, observe and photograph the best runners in the world work their craft.

 

I am eternally grateful to each and every race, race director and of course I must give huge thanks to Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti from the ISF for the continued support and opportunities they have afforded me in allowing me the opportunity to work on and cover the Skyrunner® World Series.

 

I must also give a huge thanks to every single person who listens to my podcast, Talk Ultra, reads this website and ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ my respective Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I am eternally thankful.

 

Now roll on 2015 and lets do it all again!

CALENDAR 2015 – NOW AVAILABLE to order

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2015 calendar is now available to pre order.

Delivery will be guaranteed the first week of December.

The calendar has highlights from a great 2014 racing season and includes images of ISF president, Marino Giacometti, Maite Maiora, Stevie Kremer, Jo Meek, Marco De Gasperi, Luis Alberto Hernando, Emelie Forsberg, Zaid Ait Malek, Martin Gaffuri, Kilian Jornet, Francois D’Haene and Anna Frost.

Cost will be £20.00 inc post and package within UK.

(An additional £5.00 for postage outside UK.)

To pre order, please fill in this request form, importantly, please specify postage within UK or outside UK. You will receive an invoice via Paypal.

Payments are accepted via debit card, credit card or Paypal account.

Add a Talk Ultra Bumper Sticker?

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Lizzy Hawker announces Ultra Tour Monte Rosa #UTMR

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

I was fortunate to meet up with TNF athlete, Lizzy Hawker earlier this year in Zermatt. I was curious as to the health of Lizzy and also how she had been filling her time whilst away from the sport.

From an injury perspective, it is slowly does it. One step at a time in the hope that Lizzie’s injury woes are behind her. Lizzy said, ‘but I just need to be careful.’

Ironically, our chat in Zermatt was just days before the TNFUTMB, a race Lizzy has dominated in the past. Lizzy would be at the 2014 UTMB but in a role as an ambassador and not racing.

So, what has Lizzy been up to?

Well, to put it quite simply, Lizzy has been working hard to create a race of epic proportions, the ULTRA TOUR MONTE ROSA (UTMR).

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‘I have been working hard to develop a beautiful trail race around Monte Rosa on the Swiss / Italian border. We will hold a zero edition 4 day stage race in August 2015, and the full inaugural 150km ultra marathon in 2016,’ said Lizzy.

The website: www.ultratourmonterosa.com

all images ©alextreadway

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‘I first went to Zermatt at the age of 6, and that is where my love of the mountains started. The opportunity to create a race here and to share this love means a lot to me. Having explored the trails in this region extensively, I am convinced they are some of the most magnificent in the alps.’ As we all know, Lizzy has very much pioneered the way for trail and mountain running, particularly for women, so, to have this passion reflected back as a race director can only be a good thing. ‘My intention in founding this race is simply to give people an opportunity to explore these trails, and to experience the value of challenging themselves within the context of an ultra distance race. Running and racing has, over the years, given me so much, and this is what I would like to share with others now.’

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Crossing six high passes, this race will be a very tough event! Passing through Zermatt, the iconic Matterhorn will provide a backdrop as the race heads away accumulating over 10,000 m of ascent/ descent with an average altitude of 2000m.

‘It is a circumnambulation around the huge and imposing massif of the Monte Rosa. On often technical trails. It is firmly in the “hard” category. It is tough, beautiful and alluring!’

Lizzy is certainly in a reflective period of her career, summed up in her comments, ‘As race director, I would really like to encourage more women to participate and we will work towards achieving this in various ways. It will also be really important to us to support all our runners in their journey to reach the start line, and beyond, so that as many as possible can finish and enjoy their experience.’

Entry criteria for the ultra marathon will be tough, but Lizzy and her team will encourage participation and greater access through our stage race and provision of training camps.

More information will follow in due course and I will be looking to provide a full and in-depth interview with Lizzy in the coming days/ weeks.

Entry opens January 1st 2015

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2015 Race Route & Details:

RACE DATE20 – 23 August 2015 

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  • TOTAL DISTANCE: 150km
  • TOTAL ASCENT: +10,000m
  • AVERAGE ALTITUDE: +2,000m
  • COUNTRIES: Switzerland and Italy

 

STAGE I:  Grächen to Zermatt 

  • Date: Thursday 20 August
  • Start: Grächen (CH)
  • Finish: Zermatt (CH)
  • Distance: 33 km
  • Ascent / Descent: +2200m / -2000m
  • Time Limit: 12 hours

 

STAGE II:  Zermatt to Stafal 

  • Date: Friday 21 August
  • Start: Zermatt (CH)
  • Finish: Stafal (IT)
  • Distance: 38 km
  • Ascent / Descent: +2700m / -2500m
  • Time Limit: 14 hours

 

STAGE III: Stafal – Macugnaga

  • Date: Saturday 22 August
  • Start: Stafal (IT)
  • Finish: Macugnaga (IT)
  • Distance: 36.5 km
  • Ascent / Descent: +2700m / -3200m
  • Time Limit: 14 hours

 

STAGE IV: Macugnaga – Grächen

  • Date: Sunday 23 August
  • Start: Macugnaga (IT)
  • Finish: Grächen (CH)
  • Distance: 40 km
  • Ascent / Descent: +2600m / -2250
  • Time Limit: 14 hours

*PLEASE NOTE: 2016 will be the first edition and single stage!

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IMAGE GALLERY HERE all images ©alextreadway

LINKS

For more information, follow on Facebook HERE, Twitter HERE and via the website, HERE

You can sign up to the mailing list, HERE

2015 Registration is available HERE

Trail Magazin 6/2014 w/ Kilian Jornet & Emelie Forsberg

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German magazine, TRAIL has a 6-page feature on my interview and images of Kilian Jornet in edition 6/2014.

In addition, it has a photo of Emelie Forsberg and text on Trofeo Kima.

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You can purchase and download the magazine in PDF HERE