Limone Extreme 2015 – Race Preview

 

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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.

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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.

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MEN

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

LADIES

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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Watch out for Azara Garcia (winner at Zegama-Aizkorri) Oihana Kortazar and Martina Valmassoi who podiumed at the RUT ultra.

VK

Could Remi Bonnet and Laura Orgue do the ‘Limone Double?’ It is very possible and what a story that would make.

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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?

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Martin Anthamatten and Stian Angermund may well infiltrate the podium places. Particularly Stian, he loves a VK as he showed at Tromso.

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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.

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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.

Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace 2015 – Race Preview

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600 athletes will take on the iconic Skyrunning Dolomites SkyRace on Sunday 19th July as the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series picks up pace hot on the heels of Zegama-Aizkorri. Azara Garcia and Tadei Pivk took top honours in Spain and they return to Italy looking for maximum points in the hope to win the 2015 series.

It’s going to be a serious battle though and one that will be hard fought.

The line up for the 2015 edition of the race is seriously impressive and we can guarantee a hot race both for the men and ladies as they race to the summit of Piz Boe and then descend as fast as possible back to the stunning Canazei.

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Christel Dewalle (4th last year) has been injured recently but turned up at the last min in Val d’Isere just last weekend and raced the VK and made the podium. It’s an ominous sign, Christel is a fierce competitor over the shorter distances and you can expect her to contest the front of the race ‘IF’ her level of fitness is back on track.

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Azara Garcia nailed Zegama-Aizkorri and therefore one has to expect her to be firing on all cylinders in Canazei. She raced the VK at Ice Trail Tarentaise last weekend but was out of the top 5, is that a sign that she may not be in 100% form?

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Megan Kimmel ran a stunning race at Mont-Blanc Marathon last year and may well be a surprise package. She doesn’t race in Europe often and this therefore will make her a dark horse. One to watch!

Anna Comet Is on the start list but I don’t think she will run after placing 5th at Ice Trail Tarentaise just last weekend. She said it was a below par performance and that she said she felt tired the whole race. No surprise after 2 great performances at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and Mont-Blanc 80km.

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Emelie Forsberg (2nd last year) has won Transvulcania Ultramarathon and last weekend won Ice Trail Tarentaise convincingly. If Emelie races (likely I think) she has all the potential to make the podium but if she does, it will be because she can descend so well. This race is a pure up and down race and a short one (22km) for Emelie. She will have a real fight on her hands to make the podium. Expect a blistering descent as we saw at Mount Marathon in Alaska recently.

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Laura Orgue (last years winner) may very well be the first lady to the summit of Piz Boe. Her climbing ability is quite incredible as she has shown time and time again on the VK circuit. However, her descending is not as good as some of the other ladies in the race and that is what makes this race so exciting. Should Laura be first to the summit, will she have enough of a gap to hold off the challengers? One year on from last years race and I am sure Laura has worked on this. A hot contender for victory and defending champion!

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Elisa Desco climbs and descends with the best in the world and is a consistent performer over the Sky distance. This race at 22km is an ideal distance for her but I think she would like some flatter run sections to use her speed. At Zegama-Aizkorri she had a tough race and gave it everything, expect no less here!

Hanny Allston is the surprise package from the Southern Hemisphere and all my Aussie friends have been telling me ‘keep an eye on this lady!’ So, keep an eye on this lady. Hanny has had success early season and she will be looking to build on that in a European race.

Mira Rai is the Nepalese sensation who just won the Mont-Blanc 80km on the back of a string of other top 5 places. An incredible talent, this 22km race will almost certainly test her. Fast and furious is what is required and the learning curve may well be a steep one. One thing is for sure, Mira’s talent and smile will sine through.

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Oihana Kortazar another hot contender for the podium who loves to race shorter distances. She can climb and descend with the best as her performances at Zegama-Aizkorri in recent years have shown. She placed 3rd at the latest edition behind Azara Garcia and Paula Cabrezo.

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Kasie Enman is the last hot contender and key podium challenger. Kasie has been racing in the US recently and just had a joint victory with Stevie Kremer at one of the latest US Skyrunning races – White Face SkyRace. Kasie won Trofeo Kima in 2014 and was pushing the pace in all the other Skyrunning races. An abundance of speed is key and the addition of great technical skills make Kasie a potential winner.

Magdalena Kozielska (5th last year) is not someone I know a great deal about. But the numbers speak for themselves, 5th last year!

Finally, Stephanie Jimenez (7th last year) is a consistent performer and strong performer over the shorter distance races. The Dolomites SkyRace is a stacked field and although we can expect a performance that adds to pressure to the front of the race, it would take a great performance to impact on the podium.

Maite Maiora may run? This hasn’t been confirmed yet. If she does, I would add her to one of the hot contenders for victory. In the last 18 months, Maite has learnt to race over the longer distances as well as excelling over the shorter distances. She placed 3rd last year in Canazei.

This race is too close to call! Below is a list of the entire elite field, I may have missed someone?

 

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Manuel Merillas (4th last year) raised heads in 2014 and in 2015 we are all fully attentive of this young talent. A great run at Zegama-Aizkorri compensated Manuel for a below par performance at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. His recent 2nd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Ice Trail Tarentaise (last weekend) confirmed his ability. However, does the Dolomites come too close from a big effort in Val d’Isere? I would normally tip Manuel for the win, especially in a race this short, I just wonder though if he will have that extra 5% missing?

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Aritz Egea (8th last year) is on fire this year and his performances have gone up a notch. He has an outside chance of a podium place (3rd) here at the Dolomites and if he has one of those days, he may well win. But the competition is fierce.

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Michel Lanne produced a stunning run at Mont-Blanc Marathon last year and embraces a pure mountain race with the best of them. I do think that 22km is an ideal distance for him, maybe a little too short? He is a contender for sure.

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Alexis Sevennec (5th last year) is always there or thereabouts and we can expect his presence to be felt almost certainly within the top 10, I am just not sure he has all that that is required to add pressure to the top 3 in this field but top 5 as last year is possible.

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Ionut Zinca is one of the hot favourites for the victory as he was 2nd behind Kilian Jornet. A consistent performer over the Sky distance, he has the climbing and descending ability to dominate this race has he has done in the past. Odds on favourite for victory!

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Tadei Pivk (3rd last year) nailed Zegama-Aizkorri and that elevates his odd for Canazei as a likely contender for the podium. Can he win? Of course he can.

Pere Rullan was a surprise 3rd place at Zegama-Aizkorri and with valuable SWS points gained, we can be sure that he will be looking to keep that consistency going in Canazei.

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Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (7th last year) may well push the front of the race. He excels at going uphill extremely quickly as he has proven at multiple VK’s on the circuit, particularly in Canazei. In addition, he raced the Dolomites SkyRace in 2014 and placed 7th.

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My last hot favourite for the podium and victory is Brit, Tom Owens (12th last year). This race has Tom’s name written all over it. Straight up, straight down, as fast as you can. It’s just like a fell race which Tom excels at. Recently though, Tom has been racing the longer Skyrunning events which may impact on his short distance speed? I still think though that he is a podium contender and potential winner should all things go well.

Like the ladies’ race, the Dolomites SkyRace is bringing in a plethora of top male talent. There are 10 names below to keep an eye on and a full elite start list is listed below this post just in case I have missed anyone.

  • Hassan Ait Chaou
  • Jokin Lizeaga
  • Inaki Uribe-Etxebarria
  • Jessed Hernandez
  • Francesc Soler
  • Nil Cardona
  • Paolo Longo
  • Blake Hose  will not run
  • Martin Gaffuri
  • Dai Matsumoto

As per usual you will be able to view images from the race with results and report on this website.

Follow on Facebook at facebook.com/iancorlessphotography on Instagram @iancorlessphotography on Twitter @talkultra 

Skyrunning.com is the official resource for all things Skyrunning and you can access the website HERE, Facebook page HERE and Twitter HERE

*****

Lauri van Houten from the ISF writes about Friday’s VK below and your can read the ISF post HERE:

Tomorrow’s Vertical Kilometer® is headed by reigning world champion and 2014 record holder, Laura Orguè, fresh from her win at the recent Face de Bellevarde VK. The men’s field is led by Urban Zemmer, on the top rung of the 2014 ISF ranking.

The deep women’s field continues with Emelie Forsberg together with Salomon team mates Oihana Kortazar, Stephanie Jimenez, Kasie Enman and Paula Cabrerizio, the new Skyrunning European Vertical Champion; and top names Christel Dewalle (adidas) and Azara Garcia (Compressport) among others.

Urban Zemmer is accompanied on the La Sportiva team by top vertical specialists, Nejc Kuhar, Marco Moletto, Nadir Maguet and William Bon Mardion. Salomon will contribute Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and Remi Bonnet, and other top runners include Ferran Teixido (FEEC), Saul Padua Rodriguez, Eirik Haugsness (inov8) and many more…

*****

Elite Start List for the SkyRace:

CHRISTEL DEWALLE
AZARA GARCIA DE LOS SALMONES MARCANO
MANUEL MERILLAS
LUCA CARRARA
MATTEO PILLER HOFFER
PAOLO LAZZARA
MICHELE VICARIO
FABIO DELLA PIETRA
ANDREA DE BONA
OSCAR CASAL MIR
MARC CASAL MIR
MEGAN KIMMEL
EVA MARÍA MOREDA GABALDÓN
ANTONIO ROLDAN MERCADAL
JAN HAVLICEK
ANETA KOCOURKOVA
IVONA KREJCIRIKOVA
TOMAS LICHY
PETR MIL
HASSAN AIT CHAOU
DABID GARCIA
IBAN LETAMENDI
JOKIN LIZEAGA
IÑAKI URIBE-ETXEBARRIA
NAHIA QUINCOCES
AITZIBER IBARBIA
LEIRE AGIRREZABALA
ELENA CALVILLO
UXOA IRIGOIEN
ARITZ EGEA
JESSED HERNANDEZ
PERE RULLAN
PERE AURELL
FRANCESC SOLER
NIL CARDONA
ERIC MOYA
FRANCESC MARTI
DIEGO ARROYO MAZORRA
PALOMA LOBERA
ANNA COMET
MARTA MOLIST CODINA
RAGNA DEBATS
PAOLO BERT
LISA BUZZONI
CHIARA GIANOLA
PAOLO LONGO
MICHELE TAVERNARO
CHRISTIAN VARESCO
MAGDALENA KOZIELSKA
ALEXANDER CHERVYAKOV
NADEZDA KOROLYATINA
EVGENY MARKOV
DMITRY MITYAEV
EKATERINA MITYAEVA
NATALIA NESCHERET
STANISLAV SABOKAR
EMELIE FORSBERG
BLAKE HOSE
MICHEL LANNE
THORBJORN LUDVIGSEN
LAURA ORGUE
TOM OWENS
MIRKO BERNER
ELISA DESCO
MARTIN GAFFURI
ALEXIS SEVENNEC
IONUT ZINCA
HANNY ALLSTON
ANDREAS KLINGLER
TADEI PIVK
MARIA DIMITRA THEOCHARIS

 

Ice Trail Tarentaise 2015 – Skyrunning European Championships

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Emelie Forsberg & Luis Alberto Hernando

2015 Skyrunning European Champions

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Luis Alberto Hernando and Emelie Forsberg do the double! Skyrunning World Champions (2015) and now 2015 Skyrunning European Champion at the Ice Trail Tarentaise, Val d’Isere.

Following on from respective Transvulcania Ultramarathon victories, the dynamic duo of Hernando and Forsberg once again showed the Skyrunning ultra runners that they are the ones to beat.

Hernando was pushed close by rising star Manuel Merillas whereas Forsberg had a clear run to the line despite finding the conditions tough.

Magdalena Laczak fulfilled her potential by taking the 2nd place on the ladies podium and it was a blast from the past Anna Strakova put in a final surge for the final podium spot.

In the men’s race, Fulvio Dapit looked certain to take the final podium place but complained his legs were shot on the final climb.  Clement Molliet seized an opportunity and relegated Dapit off the podium.

RACE LEADERS

1 – Luis Alberto  HERNANDO 07:43:00

2 – Manuel MERILLAS MOLEDO 07:50:27

3 – Clement MOLLIET 07:54:29

WOMEN RACE LEADERS

1 – Emelie FORSBERG 09:17:21

2 – Magdalena LACZAK 09:30:37

3 – Anna STRAKOVA 09:48:46

More news and a detailed race report to follow.

Here is a selection of images from the day all ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Pivk and Garcia crowned champs at Zegama-Aizkorri 2015

Image ©FabioMenino

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Press release by isf ©laurivanhouten

Today, the Basque town of Zegama hosted the 2015 Skyrunning European Championships and it was unsurprisingly the host country that came out tops with a gold, two silver and two bronze medals in this iconic race. Italy took the gold for the men’s title with Tadei Pivk cruising to the finish in 3h51’11”.  The women’s European Champion is Azara Garcia who closed in 4h41’23. A last minute appearance by Kilian Jornet recently arrived from Nepal added to the excitement of a stellar field.

The first half of the race at the famous Sancti piritu aid station, saw Ionut Zinca comfortably in the lead with Aritz EgeaTadei Pivk and Pere Rulan hot on his heels, followed by Manuel Merillas and Kilian Jornet. At the final summit, the group remained intact. It was the descent that changed the game. Tadei was alone with Kilian and, feeling comfortable, took his chance to accelerate the pace. “I knew this was my chance. I thought if I accelerate here I can do it. On the last bends I looked back and was alone. I still can’t believe it,” he commented.

The men’s line-up finished with Manuel Merillas 2nd and Pere Rullan 3rd completing the gold, silver, bronze medals for Spain.

The stacked women’s field started without Maite Maiora, one of the favourites, due to injury. Another strong favourite, Oihana Kortazar led the field and looked strong to the final summit, followed by Paula Cabrerizio, Azara Garcia and Elisa Desco. Again, the descent was the decider. Elisa Desco, 2014 winner and World Champion, gave it her all, possibly too much, and collapsed at the finish line in 6th position.  It was to be Azara Garcia’s day, crowned European Champion and taking the gold for Spain. Paula Cabrerizio and Oihana Kortazar were a close second and third respectively. Emelie Forsberg, with the Transvulcania win just a week earlier still in her legs, raced bravely to finish 4th.

Yet again the Zegama-Aizkorri, now in its 14th year, was dampened by the weather, but not the spirit of the crowds cheering on the runners, every single one of them, every part of the way along the 42 km and 5,472m ascent and descent.

Today’s race represented not only the European Championships for the Sky category, but scored points for the Skyrunner® World Series ranking.

The two 2015 Skyrunning European Champions, Tadei Pivk and Azara Garcia, were awarded a prestigious  Alpina Horological SmartwatchOfficial Watch of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and European Championships.

2015 European Skyrunning Championship – SKY

Spain – 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

Italy – 1 gold

European Skyrunning Champions – SKY

Tadei Pivk, (Crazy Idea/Compressport)

Azara Garcia (Compressport)

Race results

Men

  1. Tadei Pivk (ITA) – Crazy Idea/Compressport – 3h51’11”
  2. Manuel Merillas (ESP) – Mammut – 3h51’47”
  3. Pere Rulla (ESP) – 3h52’50”
  4. Aritz Egea (ESP) – EMF – 3h59’27”
  5. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) – SCOTT Sports/ Compressport – 3h5948”

Women

  1. Azara Garcia (ESP) – Compressport – 4h41’23”
  2. Paula Cabrerzo (ESP) – 4h43’44”
  3. Oihana Kortazar (ESP) – Salomon – 4h44’57”
  4. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon – 4h49’38”
  5. Federica Boifava (ITA) – Montura – 4h51’32”

Limone Extreme 2014 Race Preview

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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.

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Vertical Kilometre

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.

©iancorless.comIMG_2050Canazei2014 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.

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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.

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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.

©iancorless.comIMG_3879Stevie Kremer will push and push and look to gain an advantage as will Christel Dewalle, Antonella ConfortlaEmelie 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.

 

SKY RACE

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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, 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.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_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.

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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.

©iancorless.com_IMG_5986aSierreZinal_inov8_2014_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 WyattAlexis Sevennec, Thorbjorn LudvigsenDavid Schneider and Nicola Golinelli.

Look out for:

  • Didier Zago
  • Matheo Jaquemond
  • Fabio Bazzana
  • Florian Reichert
  • Oli Johnson
  • Gary Priestley
  • Hassan Ait Chau
  • Marco Moletto
  • Marc Pinsach

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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.

©iancorless.com©iancorless.com-3368 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ones to watch:

  • Deborah Cardone
  • Elisabet Beltran
  • Marta Molist
  • Paloma Lobera
  • Anna Kosova
  • Azara Garcia
  • Leire Agirrezabala

Links

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Follow on Skyrunning

Images and photography HERE and HERE

SKYRUNNING HERE

Kilian and Emelie ROCK THE RUT 2014

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The general consensus seemed to be that The Rut offered a 50k course that mixed up the best of American trail running with a combination of pure European style Skyrunning.

‘The Rut is the first Ultra Series final to be held in the USA and was designed and organized by world-class ultra runners Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe specifically to fit Skyrunning parameters. The Rut 50K counts 6,080m vertical meters ascent and descent with the highest point reaching the 3,403m summit of Lone Peak in Montana’s aptly named Big Sky resort.’ Said Lauri van Houten, ISF. The summit was also the destination of Friday’s Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer®1,000m vertical climb and at just under 4.6 km long, Mike Foote briefed the runners pre-race, ‘This is a true mountain course so please treat it with the respect it deserves!’

In truth, one could say that the 50K course was a true leveller.

It allowed the fast trail runner’s, Sage Canaday and Ellie Greenwood for example to go head-to-head against the Skyrunners; Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Add to the mix runners like Kasie Enman who have delved into both worlds and succeeded and we had a great event to watch and follow.

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©JordiSaragossa

Using the ‘Transvulcania’ approach, Sage pushed hard from the gun, pulling away he opened up a gap of 3-minutes on Kilian Jornet. However, as the terrain kicked up, Mr KJ started to close. It was 90-seconds, then level and then a gradual lead. Slowly but surely, Kilian pulled away showing a consummate display of running ability, not only on easy trails, but also on the tough, steep and technical. At the line, Kilian was victor. Another incredible win to his list of palmares accumulated in 2014. The only blip coming at Transvulcania where he placed 2nd after stepping off ski’s just days earlier. Another Skyrunner® World Series title in the bag and I have to ask the question once again, ‘Is Kilian Jornet THE most rounded athlete in the world?’ His achievements and humility blow my mind.

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©JordiSaragossa

Emelie Forsberg by comparison ran a race that I could have scripted. Frustrated by the ‘detour’ at Trofeo Kima, Emelie used her emotions to grab the Rut by the horns and push from the off. Pulling away from the rest of the ladies, Emilie’s victory was never really in question. Kasie Enman closed a little in the latter stages but settled for the bridesmaid position, a priority holding off Anna Frost in third. Outright speed didn’t help Ellie Greenwood who ran a great race for 4th. Ultimately, the mountain, the technicality and the altitude became a leveller.

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Like Kilian, Emelie rounds out another year with a Skyrunner® World Series victory. They are the King and Queen of the ultra Skyrunning world. Mixing raw athletic ability and gift with the animal instincts of an Ibex. They are not unbeatable, but just now, they are both at the top of their game.

Results from ©ISF

Sage struggled with the technical second half favoured by Kilian, closed second in 5h20’27”. Kilian finished a fast 5h09’33”. Manuel Merillas (Mammut), a new young talent from Spain leading the Series, climbed from 4th position at 30 km to finish third in 5h29’20”. Britain’s Tom Owens (Salomon) was an excellent 4th and American Paul Hamilton (The North Face) last year’s race winner, took 5th

Emelie Forsberg was race winner in 6h32’42”. Kasie closed in 6h38’05” and Anna in 6h49’25”. Canadian Ellie Greenwood was 4th and American Hilary Allen, 5th. Series leader, Italian Alessandra Carlini, took 8th.

 

Ones to watch for 2015:

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Rising star, Spanish runner Manuel Merillas fulfilled early season potential as displayed at Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Dolomites Skyrace and Kima with 3rd place. I don’t need to tell you, he is one to watch for the future.

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Tom Owens once again came away with another top-5 and confirmed himself as the top British mountain runner in the world. Nobody has pitted themselves against such top quality fields and come away with the goods like Tom. It was a hark back to 2012 when Tom pushed Kilian close on several occasions. 2014 is very much the comeback year after a disastrous 2013 with injury, I can’t help but think that Tom will step up another level in 2015.

©iancorless.com-9583Kima2014_Kasie Enman has paved the way for running mums! Sounds a touch corny I know but Kasie returned to top flight running in ‘14’ just 10-months after her 2nd child. We all wondered how it would go… Kasie included. In her first race, Zegama-Aizkorri, Kasie was at the front pushing. We all thought, hold on a minute, that wasn’t the plan. She did eventually succumb to the distance and pressure from ladies behind; however, it was an indicator of what was to come. Race after race, Kasie has improved and recently secured a victory at Trofeo Kima. With 2014 in her system, I am excited to see what 2015 will hold.

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Anna (Frosty) Frost needs no introduction and to be honest, Frosty shouldn’t really be in my ‘ones to watch’ as we all know her ability. However, pre May 2014, Frosty had a tough time finding form, health and equilibrium. I am pleased to say after a resounding Transvulcania win and CR, a 2nd at the Skyrunning World Champs, a victory at Speedgoat 50k and now 3rd at The Rut that Frosty is back… watch out ladies in 2015! And Frosty, keep the racing as you have in ‘14’. Less is more.

©iancorless.com-0303Kima2014_Finally, Alessandra Carlini has worked real hard in 2014 and did top the ranking. Considering this lady lives on the Italian coast with no mountains to train on, her performances have been excellent. If Alessandra can work on some specific training for 2015 she may well be a force to reckon with.

Skyrunning has blossomed and grown. We only need to look at the ‘Likes’ on the Skyrunning FB page to the explosion that his happening before our eyes. The runners want high and technical. The fans want high and technical and the development and spread of the National Series is showing that Skyrunning is here to stay… it may have been around for 20-years, it’s not our fault that everyone is just catching up. Yes, that was the vision of Marino Giacometti back in ‘89’ when he scaled Monte Rosa.

2015 will soon be here and with it new adventures and new experiences for all.

Less cloud, more sky!

Skyrunner® Ultra Series final results 2014 

Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon) – 308 points
  2. Sage Canaday (Hoka One One) – 284 points
  3. Manuel Merillas (Mammut) – 250 points

Women

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 308 points

2nd equal: Anna Frost (Salomon) Kasie Enman (Salomon) – 294 points

The Rut 2014 – Race Preview

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It only seems like weeks ago that I was writing a preview for the Skyrunner® World Series first ultra on La Palma: Transvulcania. Here I am, four races done and dusted and the final event looms. It has been quite a year and one that has seen some highs and lows for the runners. Going into the last event, it’s all to fight for both in the ladies and men’s races.

The Rut 50k organised by the Mike’s – Foote and Wolfe will no doubt be a great season closer. These guys have fully understood the needs of Skyrunning event and as such have provided an event that will test each and every runner.

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The top-5 men and top-4 ladies currently ranked in the Skyrunner® World Series will go head-to-head in Montana and we look set for an exciting battle. In addition, a plethora of top world talent will also toe the line amongst 500-entrants.

The current rankings have rising star, Manuel Merillas at the head followed by Tom Owens, Kilian Jornet, Sage Canaday and then Fulvio Dapit. For the ladies, Alessandra Carlini tops the table after completing 3-races in the series.

So who is going to win?

Well, I suppose we need to think about 2-scenarios, winning the race and winning the series. For the men, the series will arguably come down to a battle between Jornet and Canaday (I will go for Jornet) and for the ladies, Frost, Enman and Forsberg are the contenders (I will go with Forsberg). Alessandra Carlini of course could potentially win the race… but this is unlikely when one considers the depth.

 

MEN

©iancorless.comIMG_2670Canazei2014_kilianKilian Jornet, do I need to say anymore? He’s won everything other than 2nd at Transvulcania. KJ has set FKT’s, set course records, obliterated Hardrock 100, smashed Trofeo Kima and now The Rut is waiting! Win and Skyrunner® World Series champ.

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday wants to beat Kilian badly, really bad. I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but Sage would love to beat the master of the mountains. Form looks good but I think Sage will fall into the Ellie Greenwood category and may just lack the extra technical skills needed to beat Kilian. Considering the competition, Sage is not guaranteed 2nd (or 1st) for that matter.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_ Manuel Merillas is just getting better and better. He has been making us take a 2nd look on repeated occasions and his recent 2nd at Kima and closing within 1-minute of Kilian shows the talent is just waiting to be exploited. He will be in the mix for sure.

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Tom Owens nearly pulled out of Ice Trail Tarentaise because he thought he was around 15th – 20th. That is until I told him that all the other runners were not in his race… he finished 3rd. Phew! Prior to this, Tom ran a great Transvulcania and just a couple of weeks ago once again ran a great Kima. The Rut will suit Tom and he may just push Sage… podium material!

Adam Campbell is back. After his stunning Hardrock I can’t help but think Adam will mix it up in Montana. I see Tom, Sage and Adam having quite the battle for the podium. Of course, this assumes that Kilian is somewhere down the trail running for victory. If not, this race may well be wide open. Adam is fast, not as fast as Sage but arguably he is better on the technical stuff.

Alex Nichols had a great run at Speedgoat but the rest of his Skyrunning exploits have been below par, especially when one compares to 2013. On paper, The Rut should suit Alex; his combination of speed, endurance and climbing ability is a perfect mix for this course.

Ricky Gates is forever consistent and on his day can compete with the best. I’m not really sure of his current form? He forever seems to be on a road trip taking things relaxed, so, he may well be a surprise package.

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Fulvio Dapit is a true mountain runner who is always in the mix. He may not be a podium contender in this field but 4th or 5th are just waiting for him. Just 2-weeks ago Fulvio had a strong run at Kima. His form is good.

Paul Hamilton was 2nd at Speedgoat and I know little else? He was a surprise then and he may well be a surprise at The Rut?

Philipp Reiter is racing but is on his way back from injury. It almost certainly means he won’t have that extra 5-10% needed to be fighting up at the front but somewhere 5th – 10th is a distinct possibility.

Jason Delaney has speed. Will probably stick with Sage and will use his speed to take advantage of the fast sections.

Ones to watch:

Luke Nelson

Oscar Casal Mir

Marc Casal Mir

Galen Burrell

Greg Vollet

Catlow Shipeck

 

LADIES

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Emelie Forsberg has had a tough 2014. Falling at Transvulcania ruined that race. An injured hand from the fall impacted on Zegama and then things clicked with victories at Ice Trail Tarentaise and the 80km in Chamonix. Matterhorn Ultraks didn’t quite go to plan and although Emelie placed 2nd at Trofeo Kima, the race was an emotional rollercoaster after going off course for 1-hour. The emotion showed! For that reason, I see Emelie producing a dominant performance here in Montana. I think she will push hard, unleash the frustrations of Kima and have a dominant win and take the Skyrunner® World Series title.

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Kasie Enman has impressed all year. 2014 has been the comeback year after a 2nd child and what a comeback… Kasie has consistently been top-5 and just 2-weeks ago won Kima ahead of Emelie. Have to say, up to marathon distance is where Kasie excels so I see a potential 3rd or 4th here!

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Anna Frost smashed Transvulcania and looked awesome. Placing 2nd to Emelie at Chamonix 80k was another top result and I am pleased to say, Frosty has been relatively quiet since. This is great news… after so much injury; this lady finally is picking the races to perform at and not wiping herself out by racing too much. Her solid victory at Speedgoat 50k on paper suggests that The Rut will be a Frosty/ Forsberg showdown. Take your pick!

Ellie Greenwood has speed and talent in buckets but may well lack that extra 10% in technical and climbing ability. Especially in comparison to the ladies listed above. So, I see Ellie in the mix and battling with Kasie for 3rd.

Kaitlin McDonald was 2nd at The Rut last year and therefore gets a nod for a possible top-5. By that I mean 5th! I see the top-4 places going to the ladies above.

Alessandra Carlini has had a great year and run consistently. For someone who lives on the coast with no mountains to train on, she has done amazingly well. In the field though, 5th would be a great result and it would round out a quality 2014 season.

Hilary Allen is not a lady I know but her result at Speedgoat 50k (4th) must make her a one-to-watch here. Like Kaitlin, she may well take 5th, it would take something special to dislodge Forsberg, Frost, Enman or Greenwood from the first 4-places.

Helen Cospolitch has always been a consistent performer but has had a quiet time recently after injury issues. This may well be just an easing back into racing… nice to give her a nod though.

Emily Linton 4th at The Rut last year may well place 6-10th.

Links:

Skyrunning HERE

Rut 50K HERE

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Trofeo Kima 2014 – Race Images and Results

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What an epic Skyrunning Trofeo Kima. We have come to expect it I guess, but this year was just a classic for so many reasons. Man in form, Kilian Jornet (interview HERE) illuminated the mountains of the Valmasino with a stunning performance and new course record: 6:12:20.

I suppose it would be fair to say that we never expected anyone other than Kilian to win! However, the Catalan did have some great competition in the early stages from Nicola Golinelli and then as the race progressed, up and coming talent Manuel Merillas applied some pressure. He actually closed the gap to within 1-minute. However, nobody closes like Kilian and he upped a gear; applied the pressure and once again not only established himself as the top of the ultra, trail and mountain running world but set a new course record so that we can’t forget!

Ever present, Franco Sancassani closed out the podium in 3rd place with another top quality and consistent performance just 10-min behind Merillas.

©iancorless.com-9376Kima2014_The ladies race, a little like the men’s race had an outright winner written all over it before the start; Emelie Forsberg. No disrespect to the other ladies in the race, but Kima is made for Emelie. At the top of the first summit B.tta Roma (2894m) Emelie descended with a smile on her face and the joys of the terrain clearly expressed. When I next saw her, some time later at P. Qualido (2647m) at over halfway around the course, Emelie was in 4th place after going off course and loosing 1-hour. The happy face was gone and tears of frustration ran down her face, however, she pushed hard and gave a ‘pursuit’ master class. At the line, she made 2nd. Incredible!

Kasie Enman, although intimidated by the terrain ran a solid race and produced a top-notch win that the crowds appreciated. On the finish line, Kasie summed the race up, ‘That is the most crazy race I have ever run, wow, soooo technical.’

Emanuaela Brizio, past course record holder and two times Kima winner rounded out the podium with another consistent performance. In the last edition of the race, Emanuela finished 3rd, this time just 15-seconds behind Emelie who was 2nd.

The 17th edition of the race was run in dry conditions, however, low cloud made visibility very difficult at times, not only for the runners but also spectators. It’s the mountains! They are always the boss and we are thankful that once again that allowed us to play!

Results

MEN

  1. Kilian Jornet 6:12:20
  2. Manuel Merillas 6:28:33
  3. France Sancassani 6:38:14

LADIES

  1. Kasie Enman 7:53:42
  2. Emelie Forsberg 8:22:17
  3. Emanuela Brizio 8:30:52

RACE DAY IMAGES