Matterhorn Ultraks 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The stunning Matterhorn provides the backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, the next race in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series – a 48km race with 3600m of positive and negative gain. A magical race, now in its 5th edition that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

Eight out of eleven Sky Classic races have been completed and Matterhorn Ultraks counts for a 20% bonus on points, so, it is all to fight for.

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 it’s majestic beauty.

Zermatt, located 1600m above altitude provides the focal point for this high altitude race, a beautiful place steeped in history. It’s a logical start and finishing place for such an iconic race.

Renowned for its tough opening kilometres, 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.

Aritz Egea has been on fire in 2017 and he is looking to better his 3rd place of 2015. He needs the points but it has been a long season.

Marco De Gasperi pioneered those early Skyrunning days with Giacometti in the early 90’s and he is still running head-to-head with the best in the world and matching them, he was recently pipped to the top-slot at Dolomites SkyRace and Comapedrosa.

2015 champion and designer of the course, Martin Anthamatten will be fired up for victory, especially after his recent success at the Red Bull 3000m vertical race – he is in great shape and knows the course like the back of his hand.

Jon Albon, Skyrunner World Series Extreme champion in 2016 and recent winner of the Tromso SkyRace is toeing the line here isn Switzerland. He is incredible talent but this race may well lack technicality for Albon to excel, he will be in the mix for sure, but the top-slot maybe a tough call?

 Aurelien Dunard-Pallaz had an incredible race at Ultraskymarathon Madeira – he lead the race from the front only to be passed in the latter stages by Albon. He also had a great run at High Trail Vanoise giving Luis Alberto Hernando a push all the way to the line. He has come of age in the Skyrunning Series this year and we may well see the Frenchman achieve another podium place in Switzerland.

Equally, Pere Aurell has stepped up to the plate in 2017 kicking off the season with a strong run at Yading SkyRace in China and then an excellent run at the Royal Gran Paradiso. Aurell has raced a great deal in 2017 and he may well be feeling some fatigue but he is strong and motivated.

Andre Jonsson just keeps racing and racing. He has had a gap from racing recently and we may well therefore Jonsson fresh for the Ultraks race. He is always in the mix and earlier this year he had some excellent top placings, the best coming at the Royal Gran Paradiso just 1-week after a great run at High Trail Vanoise.

Hassan Ait Chaou has always run well in Zermatt, particularly last-year when he pushed for the podium. This year his form seems a little below his 2016 levels but on this course I wouldn’t rule him out of something special on the day.

Murray Strain may well be a surprise package in the race and he will almost certainly not be on the radar of the top runners going valuable points – don’t be surprised if he makes the podium!

As always, the depth of talent in Zermatt is deep, surprises can come from anywhere, two names worth keeping an eye on are Benat Marmissolle and Marc Casal Mir.

Can anyone beat Kilian Jornet’s 2013 time of 4:43:05?

The ladies race will be an interesting one with Megan Kimmel, Stevie Kremer and Elisa Desco not racing – all ladies who have excelled in past edition, Kremer still holds the course record 5:18:43 set in 2014.

However, Ragna Debats is on fire in 2017 with a string of top results, the most recent coming in Tromso when she was just a few minutes behind Maite Maiora. Debats recovers well and I am sure she will be the lady to beat in Zermatt, the course will suit her, her run ability matches her technical and climbing ability.

Rising star Sheila Alves will have other ideas… her podium at Zegama-Aizkorri and recent victory at Comapedrosa has left her wanting more and she will almost certainly be Debats biggest rival.

Paloma Lobera and Michaela Mertova are podium contenders and then it is wide open. The potential threat from Megan Kimmel, Laura Sola, Aziber Ibarbia, Maria Zorroza and Ekaterina Mityaeva has disappeared in the last week due to injury or sickness.

The ladies race is wide open!

The 2017 edition of the race has had a slight course change adding an additional kilometre to the race, so, finish times will need to take this into consideration, particularly with course records.

The race starts 0730 on Saturday August 26th.

The Sky Classic ranking?

Five results out of eleven are counted for the final titles and end of season bonus prize for the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series category.

The Arc’teryx Advantage

The Arc’teryx advantage

Published in RUN247
Wednesday 8th August 2012
Tags Arcteryxs   |   TalkUltra   |   Ian Corless

TalkUltra’s Ian Corless reports back from the Arc’teryx Media Camp in the Pyrenees, and explains why Arc’teryx’s North American manufacturing facility gives them the edge when it comes to incorporating athlete feedback into their designs

The Arc’teryx advantage

About Arc’teryx

Mention the word Arc’teryx to any outdoor lover and you will typically get a one word answer that is drawn out as though the word is made of too many letters;  N  I  C  E  !
And they would be correct. Arc’teryx make nice kit. Just like Stellar Artois, it is reassuringly expensive.

The first big question is the name… explanation please! Named for ARCHAEOPTERYX LITHOGRAPHICA, the first reptile to develop the feather for flight, freeing itself from the constraints of the horizontal world.

Arc’teryx achieves an advantage with its products by merging un-rivaled designs with the highest quality and highest performing materials. They use innovation and unique assembling techniques to make durable products that perform in the intended environment for the intended sport. The Endorphin range is the epitome of this ethos.

I was very fortunate to be invited to the Pyrenees in July for a ‘media camp’ to review and test the new Endorphin running range for 2013. This media camp was arranged in conjunction with Skyrunning and the Skygames of which Arc’teryx are a partner and as such they had several Arc’teryx sponsored athletes taking part, Adam Campbell, Murray Strain and Nicola Gollinelli to name just a few who participated in the events.

The media camp assembled journalists from Italy, France, UK, Germany, Spain and Sweden and we all congregated after a lengthy transfer from Barcelona in Ribagossa. Nestled in a mountain hotel we spent a superb three days learning about the Arc’teryx brand, running in the mountains testing the Endorphin range and of course we had some wonderful relaxation time with great food and great company.

The Arc’teryx advantage

Photos: Departing for VerticalK. Arc’teryx athlete Adam Campbell

The Arc’teryx advantage

Arc’teryx have an advantage! They are one of only a few major outdoor industry outerwear brands to have its own domestic North American manufacturing facility. This allows them to readily develop proprietary manufacturing processes, enabling them to efficiently create superior features that other manufacturers simply cannot build. They are able to design a product one day, manufacture it the next day and then by the third day the product is being tested out on the trail or in the mountains. It is this level of immediate feedback that enables Arc’teryx to select the right fabrics, construction and weight to ensure that not only the garment performs to the best of it’s ability but importantly, so that you perform to the best of your ability! It’s a synergy of design, fabric, manufacturing and performance.

Adam Campbell explained in detail how he had specific demands for the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji in which he placed second overall.  A tough 100-mile run that had very specific equipment requirements.

Adam needed a lightweight race pack that could hold mandatory equipment and allow him to hydrate easily while on the move. He needed a lightweight waterproof jacket with hood and over trousers. All these items were manufactured to Adam’s exacting needs, all within one week. It is this on site facility of design, manufacture and immediate testing that allows these new innovations to transfer down to us, the consumer.

Working in conjunction with textile manufacturers, Arc’teryx are able to select and develop the highest performing and most durable materials that are specific to the demands of the sport in which the garment will be worn. It’s about finding that balance between weight, breathability, waterproofness and durability.

  1. GORE-TEX® Pro Shell
  2. WINDSTOPPER®
  3. Coreloft™ & Thermatek™ Insulation
  4. Fortius™ & Polartec® Softshell
  5. Phasic™ base layer fabrics
  6. MAPP Merino Wool
  7. 420ACT™ AC² pack materials
  8. Watertight™ zippers

Engineered to meet the needs of the most demanding athlete. Activity-specific patterning ensures complete freedom of movement, and each product is critically scrutinized and detailed for the intended end use.

  1. e3D patterning for enhanced range-of-motion
  2. Snowsports specific outerwear features
  3. Hoods with quick, one-hand adjustment
  4. Tri-Dex glove patterning
  5. Packs with articulated & breathable components

All these elements combine to ensure that Arc’teryx maintain an advantage over its competition. The synergy may make the products a little more expensive but believe me, when you see the difference; it is a price worth paying!

The Arc’teryx advantage

Photos: The author Ian Corless and the group at the top of the VerticalK

Testing in the Pyrenees

I can’t think of a better way to test a product than to put the stuff on and go and run it. Luckily the Arc’teryx staff very kindly provided all of us with the opportunity to run (walk) the VerticalK course as used in the Skygames. If you are new to Skyrunning and the races that they have, the VerticalK goes up 1000m with a typical gradient of some 30+% so effectively you cover a distance of around 3.5km and ascend 1000m. They are tough to do, particularly if you race them!

We congregated in the car park and with the help of Arc’teryx athletes as guides, we started on our way. A promise of a sumptuous picnic and cold drinks on our return was surely just a ploy to get us up the mountain…

Like a flock of canaries we took flight. Our citrus Motus SS shirts made us look like a professional team out on a training camp. Unfortunately the reality was quite different. No sooner had we crossed the main road, gone up a small alleyway, that the climb started. The laughter and chat soon subsided as, one by one, everyone started to power walk.

Steep climbing and rutted technical trail underfoot made the 1000m ascent good fun. We had great company, beautiful weather, stunning views and incredible scenery. Overhead birds soared. Giant birds, eagle like in groups of 3’s and 4’s. It was incredible.

In our own time we each made our ascent to the imaginary finish line. Several of us ascended higher to get a panoramic vista of the whole mountain range, it was an incredible view.

The 1000 m drop back down to the car park offered a different test. Not a demand on aerobic ability and fitness, but a test of technique, nerve and confidence. As promised, cold drinks and a picnic awaited!

SkyGames – Spanish Pyrenees

I am pleased to say that I am just doing my last minute prep and packing before heading out to the Pyrenees at the invite of Skyrunning partner Arc’teryx.

Arc’teryx will be present with a media camp where international journalists will get to know the company, the skyrunning partnership and to learn about and test the Endorphin line together with team athletes:  Adam Campbell (Canada), Murray Strain and Tessa Hill (Great Britain), Didier Zago (France) and Nicola Golinelli (Italy).

For the people of Ribargorza Románica a dream comes true as runners from across the world converge on the small towns dotted around this remote and relatively unknown area of the Spanish Pyrenees hosting the 2012 SkyGames®.

This evening, a turnout of 1,500 spectators is expected at the opening ceremony which will pay homage to the 19 countries participating with a parade of flags representing each nation. The organisers, OCI Sport, intend to get the events off with a bang by concluding the evening with a fireworks display spsotlighting the Romanic Church of Taüll, a World Heritage site and the surrounding mountains.

Forty medals, 14 world titles and 40,000 euros prize money are at stake in the skyrunners’ “high altitude Olympics”.   1,300 athletes will compete in the six disciplines held between June 30 and July 8, climaxing with theSkyMarathon, compulsory for the combined title.  Certainly, the super-strong Spanish team looks set to take the lion’s share of the medals, headed by reigning Skyrunner® World Series champions, Luis Alberto Hernandez and Oihana Kortazar and past world champion, Agustí Roc, as well as Mireia Mirò competing in the Vertical Kilometer.

Adam Campbell testing the Arc'teryx Endorphin lineAmong the other nations participating are France with past skyrunning world champion Corinne Favre and Didier ZagoNicola Golinelli from Italy;Zhanna Vokueva, Russia, Adam Campbell, Canada; Alex Nichols, USA;Murray Strain and Tessa Hill, Great Britain; Adel Ojeda from Venezuela; together with teams from Andorra, Bolivia, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Japan, Marocco, Mexico, Poland, Singapore and Switzerland.

Joan Peralada, President of the Association for Ribagorza Románica Development, commented;  “For two years, the residents have worked with determination to ensure the success of the event, amassing 300 volunteers and a 50-strong team of professionals to manage the races.  After a bleak winter where the ski facilities were closed and jobs lost, the SkyGames® have filled 7,000 hotel rooms creating a much-needed economic boost for the area and it’s future development.”

The six SkyGames® disciplines making up the mammoth event are:SkySpeed, 100 metres vertical climb with a 45% incline; Vertical Kilometer, the universally popular formula, here a mere 3.5 km with a 30% incline; SkyBike – a duathlon combining mtb and skyrunning to 2,000m altitude; SkyRaid – a multi-discipline team relay; the 21 km SkyRace with 1,350m vertical climb, reserved for runners aged 16-21.  The events conclude with an epic SkyMarathon reaching 3,100m altitude – valid for the combined points title.

The event is sanctioned by FEDME, the Spanish Federation for Mountain Sports.

Follow the events on twitter and Facebook and see www.ocisport.net for details.

RESULTS for Vertical K

Ladies race was won by Oihana Kortaza and the mens race was won by Augusti Roc