Nikki Kimball to race the 150km Richtersveld Wildrun™

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Nikki Kimball, current female champion of the 254km Marathon des Sables and three-time Western States 100 miler winner will be taking part in the four day, 150km Richtersveld Wildrun™ held during the first week of June 2015 in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in South Africa.

Website HERE

Kimball, a resident of Boseman, Montana in the USA, is one of the most respected female ultra-runners in the world and her presence at the Richtersveld Wildrun™ is a fantastic opportunity for top South African runners to measure themselves against one of the best in the world.  

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A few of Kimball’s achievements include:

  • 1st female at Western States 100 miler in 2004, 2005 and 2007 (the only woman to win this race three times)
  • 1st female at the 166km Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in 2007
  • 1st female at her first ever attempt at the 7 day, 251km Marathon des Sables 2014.
  • The women’s supported speed record for completing the iconic Long Trail, a 438km hiking trail in Vermont, Canada. It took her 5 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes – one of the fastest five runners to accomplish this feat. 

Closer to home, Nikki finished the Comrades Marathon in 2010 in an impressive 7:26:37. She is over the moon to return to South Africa before she heads to another Western States 100 later this year:

“South Africa has had a special place in my heart since 2010 when I visited the country with teammates Kami Semick and Michael Wardian to race Comrades Marathon and raise money for Vukukhanye, an AIDS orphan charity in Chesterville near Durban,”   

While the distance of the Richtersveld Wildrun™ is what Kimball is used to racing non-stop, she is excited by the opportunity to explore the truly unique landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park – one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world.

 “During my one and only visit to South Africa in 2010, we never reached the lands near the border of Namibia.  Each of us wanted to explore the stark beauty of this area, and my one regret from our trip was the fact that we did not tour this area.  Thus when given the chance to run Richtersveld Wildrun™, I had to change my race schedule to include this amazing event.  I cannot wait to play in the arid beauty of this rocky, hilly, truly wild piece of Africa!”

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View image galleries of

Richtersveld Wildrun™  HERE

About the Richtersveld Wildrun™ 

The 150km Richtersveld Wildrun™ takes place in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park over four days from 2 to 5 June. Starting and finishing at Sendelingsdrif, runners will get to experience a world of geological splendour. From the heights of Hellkloof pass, to the granite slabs of Tatasberg, the green swathe of the Orange River, the gargoyles of Halfmens Ridge and the crystal fields of the Sendelingsdrif plateau – every kilometre is unforgettable and participants are sure to leave the Richtersveld changed people.  The Richtersveld experience is unlike any other in the world. Botanically, this area holds 40% of the world’s succulent species, many with incredible adaptations to the harsh mountain desert environment.

Wildrun™ stage races have become known as some of Southern Africa’s premier multi-day trail running events, and Owen Middleton, founder and managing director of the organising company, Wildrunner, is proud to see the interest in Wildrun™ events shaping up internationally, particularly with top-class runners such as Kimball.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Nikki on the start line this year! I have no doubt she will be enthralled and inspired by the magnificence of the Richtersveld mountains, the people and the event,” says Owen. “The Wildrun™ events offer a unique opportunity to run in truly wild places together with a limited field of 80 other adventurous and likeminded people.” 

Since its inception in 2014, the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has had amazing support from Boundless Southern Africa and marketing manager, Roland Vorwerk was equally excited about Kimball’s decision to join this adventure.

“We are looking forward to Nikki joining the field of runners experiencing the unique natural and cultural landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and meeting the communities associated with this innovative event. The Richtersveld Wildrun™ route includes many of the Park’s most spectacular features, and includes trails that very few people get to traverse.”

Peter McKuchane, general manager of Business Tourism in the Northern Cape said:

“We are excited to once again host the Richtersveld Wildrun™ and to welcome exceptional world-class athletes of the calibre of Nikki Kimball to our province. Athletes will have an opportunity to experience the incredible beauty and warm hospitality of the people of the Northern Cape.  The vast openness and rugged landscapes of this remote corner of the Northern Cape will create unforgettable memories for the participating athletes and visitors. We wish all the participants the best of luck in this destination of Extreme Adventure, Nature and Culture.”

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.

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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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