Dolomites SkyRace 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-2169It’s a classic, no doubt about it and as such the Dolomites SkyRace personifies the ethos of the pure and simple act of starting low racing high and returning as quickly as possible – Skyrunning!

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The race is 22km long with 10km uphill and 12km downhill. Depending on the weather, the route may or may not have snow which only adds to the complexity of the terrain. The route changes constantly and on the ascent the runners must fight gravity trying to reach the high point of the course, Piz Boe at 3152m.

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From the summit, runners must defy gravity and drop like a stone with no fear, this race is often won on the descent!

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Piazza Marconi, Canazei is the start and finish point and 4 hours 30 minutes are allocated for participants to complete the course. Course records currently stand with Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel. Their times 2:00:11 and 2:25:57 recorded in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

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Added interest can be noted in the record for the ascent and descent, a key feature of this race. Augusti Roc Amador and Laura Orgue have recorded 1:16:47 and 1:29:30 of the ascent and Fabio Bonfanti and Angela Mudge hold the records for the descent, 00:43:35 and 00:58:47.

In 2015 Tadei Pivk (2:02:47) beat Ionut Zinca and Pascal Egli to the top of the podium. In the ladies’ race, Megan Kimmel (2:25:57) beat Laura Orgue and Elisa Desco with a stunning descent and a course record time.

What is in store for 2016?

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As one would expect, the line up in both the men’s and lady’s fields is stunning. Tadei Pivk heads up the men’s field after his victory in 2015 and his SWS 2015 title. He has been racing regularly in Italy and was the winner at Livigno SkyMarathon recently. However, he did play 5th at Zegama-Aizkorri.

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Tadei will definitely not have things his own way. A last minute entry by Remi Bonnet will almost certainly raise the Italians eyebrows. Remi raced the VK in Val D’Isere this past weekend and placed 3rd (28 seconds off the lead), not a position he is used to but he has been nursing an injury and may well not be in full shape in Canazei? That said, he is a formidable competitor over the SKY distance.

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Manuel Merillas, 4th at Zegama-Aizkorri always races consistently well over the SKY distance and almost certainly he will contest the top 5 and more than likely the podium. 

 

Marc Casal Mir, 2nd on the SWS ranking is a consistent performer but has never made the podium in Canazei. For sure he will be in contention but more likely in the top 10.

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Andre Jonsson has been somewhat of a revelation in 2016, he goes out hard, puts it all on the line and races full on. He currently lies 3rd on the SWS 2016 ranking.

Martin Anthamatten will also be one to watch, he had a great result at Matterhorn Ultraks and in the USA at the RUT series of races. The Dolomites will suit him!

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Saul Antonio Padua may well be the first to the top but he always falters on the descent, a key element of the Dolomites race, I wonder, this year can he string the two together?

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Other top names to watch out for are Francois Gonon, Alexis Sevennec, Aritz Egea, Dmityr Mityaev, Jan Magrit Sole, Hassan Ait Chaou, Daniel Garcia Gomez, Jessed Hernandez, Nil Cardona, Hector Haines and many more.

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With Megan Kimmel missing from the race, Laura Orgue heads up the ladies race after a stunning performance in 2015. Laura’s only problem may well come on the descent… over the winter months she picked up an injury and the Dolomites SkyRace will be the first big test.

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Laura though will have some serious competition from her Salomon teammates, Yngvild Kaspersen and Ida Nilsson. These two ladies are currently on fire and based on recent results they could take the top two spots? Yngvild won Zegama-Aizkorri and then went on the place 2nd at Mt Marathon in Alaska – for me, she is the favourite.

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Ida had a stunning Transvulcania Ultramarathon has gone from strength-to-strength. Ironically, Transvulcania was a long way for Ida, the shorter distance will suit her running history. It’s going to be exciting!

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-2244Elisa Desco, 3rd in 2015 is back on form after injury and victory in Livigno. Elisa has the up and down game and without doubt is likely champion on Sunday.

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2015 Zegama-Aizkorri champion, Azara Garcia has been looking for a return to form after prolonged injury and the Dolomites SkyRace may well be the opportunity to for her gain maximum points and challenge for the SWS ranking.
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Maite Maiora has also had injury but if she is fit she will definitely be a contender for the podium. Maite races hard with 100% commitment in 2014 she placed 3rd behind Laura Orgue and Emelie Forsberg.

Marta Molist currently lies 2nd on the SWS ranking and she will be looking to gain valuable points, however, Russian Ekaterina Mityaev will be looking to topple the Spanish runner.

Ragna Debats and Sheila Alves heads up the other likely contenders for the top 5 followed by Aitziber Ibarbia, Eva Maria Moreda Gabaldon, Celia Chiron and of course, we may well have a few last minute entries…

Watch this space!

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Kicking off proceedings on Friday, runners will take on the Dolomites Vertical Kiolmeter®. Starting at 0930 in Cisates just a short walk from the center of Canazei, runners will depart in groups of 20 with a time gap of 4-minutes separating the groups. Groups are categorized with slower runners departing early and elite runners departing last.

At 1100 the top runners as specified by the SWS ranking will depart.

Runners depart at an altitude of 1450m and reach the high point of Spiz 2465m with a total distance of 2.4km in length. The Dolomites VK is considered one of the toughest on the circuit due to the short, steep course and underfoot, much of the terrain is grass. Poles are not essential but recommended.

Course records date back to 2015 and 2014 when Philip Gotsch ran an incredible 32:38 and Laura Orgue ran 38:14.

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Ferran Teixido heads up the men’s race field and he currently leads the SWS ranking however, he did have a below par performance at Face Bellevarde in Val d’Isere. Francois Gonon, Nejc Kuhar, Marco Moletto, Jan Margarit, Dimitry Mityaeva, Mirko Cocco and Oriol Cardona Coll will push the Andorran runner all the way to the line. As is always the case in Italy and on the VK circuit, La Sportiva will send a strong and deep field. Urban Zemmer if confirmed running of course will be a clear favourite along with Remi Bonnet and Saul Antonio Padua.

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Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ field and is the current course record holder but will have strong competition from Maite Maiora and Yngvild Kaspersen. Ekaterina Mityaeva, Maria Zorroza and Aitziber Ibarbia will provide competition but the ladies start list is definitely impacted by the Skyrunning World Championships that will take place the following weekend.


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.

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Zegama-Aizkorri 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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Zegama is Zegama! Ask anyone about Zegama-Aizkorri and the answer will be, ‘Zegama? well, Zegama is Zegama!’

Yes, it is a unique race! The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 roles on from Transvulcania Ultramarathon on the island of La Palma and now transfers to mainland Spain, the Basque country – Zegama!

Due to it’s location, early season date and unpredictable weather, Zegama-Aizkorri has seen many epic battles. Catalan mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet has won the race an incredible six times. The combination of challenging terrain, vertical gain and descent and typically bad weather fall into the Catalans hands perfectly. It’s a race where strength of mind must be matched by the strength of the body.

A quiet and sleepy place, Zegama is transformed on race weekend into a mecca of mountain running. The course is reassuringly predictable, however, as past editions have shown, the weather adds the variety and a glorious sunny warm edition can be followed with a snowy, wet and miserably cold edition.

Taking in a loop over the Arratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri. Otzaurte provides an early indication of form on the day but it’s on the legendary climb of Sancti Spiritu where thousands of spectators line the trail where the action starts to unfold.

Taking in the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region; Arratz, Aizkorri, Akategi and Aitxuri the highest at over 1500m. Zegama-Aizkorri is a classic mountain marathon distance race with 5472m of vertical gain.

A ridge run at altitude leads to the final summit. Scrambling over rocks the final descent arrives which leads to the roads of this sleepy town, now transformed into a hub of colour and noise.

Zegama is Zegama!

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The race is notable for it’s history and one man alone has shone brightly at Zegama – Kilian Jornet. Many thought the Catalan would not run in Zegama in 2016 due to his exploits in mountaineering and his ‘Summits of my Life’ project, not so – Kilian will run!

‘Kilian posted on Twitter on May 17th, ‘Last long training before Zegama done, 13h 6500m in technical terrain 🙈🙈🙈’

Needless to say, Kilian is the favourite!

In all honesty, as one would expect, the quality of the line up at Zegama is exceptional, particularly in the men’s race. The ladies race is without doubt one of the weakest line-ups in recent years – Emelie Forsberg is injured, Laura Orgue is injured, Elisa Desco is injured, and the race is also missing, pocket rocket, Stevie Kremer amongst others.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando just blitzed the Transvulcania course once again and although you can’t rule him out, I can’t help but think he will just miss that extra few percent (due to fatigue) of energy needed and required to top the podium. He will fight all the way to the line though and he will unleash a breakneck descent for potential victory.

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Remi Bonnet has looked for an opportunity to race Kilian for sometime. Yes, he is that keen… he has been tipped by many, me included, that he may well be ‘the next big thing’ in the world of Skyrunning. He is an incredible talent in the VK discipline and as he showed at the Rut in Limone, he is also an incredible talent at the Sky distance. Remi could well push Kilian all the way to the line but I will still give KJ the nod for victory.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-1920Tadei Pivk was a man on fire in 2015 and was champion of the Skyrunner World Series. He has already started his 2016 well with races in Italy and a recent 2nd place at Yading SkyRun in China. Tadei love Zegama- Aizkorri and he always finds the form to make an impact on the podium.

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Saul Padua is a VK specialist and a very good one! He recently won the Transvulcania VK and in 2015 he dipped his toe in the Sky distance, in particular the Dolomites where he lead the charge to the summit only to loose his lead on the descent. I can’t help but feel that Zegama will be a similar scenario – he will run top-5 early on but potentially will loose places on the long descent to the line. If the weather is bad and it looks as though it may be, I think that will impact on his race even more.

Marc Lauenstein is yet to be confirmed as running but if he does, he could really shake things up. He recently won the Three Peaks in the UK ahead of Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens. The UK fells are actually the perfect training ground for Zegama, so, if Marc runs – watch out!

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Manuel Merillas like Tadei has illuminated the Skyrunner World Series with a string of world-class performances over multiple distances. He was 3rd at Limone behind Remi Bonnet and Tadei and at Lantau 2 Peaks he placed 2nd behind Remi relegating Tadei to 3rd. For sure, Manuel will be in the mix for a podium place.
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Marco De Gasperi needs no introduction to any follower of mountain or Skyrunning. The guy is a legend, he has been there and done it and still manages to pull out great results from the bag. you can never rule the Italian out but younger and faster competition keep coming, making racing at a high level increasingly harder. No longer running

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Tom Owens is yet to be confirmed as participating although he is on the start list. Tom is made for Zegama with a strong background in fell running. The terrain and mountains in this region of the Basque country offer the Scot a unique playground and what that he embraces. His recent podium place at the Three Peaks in the UK shows he is in form.

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Aritz Egea is the ever consistent Skyrunner with a string of victories, podium places and top-10 results. He does have the ability to win Zegama, he just needs a little luck. Expect him to go out hard, potentially lead the race early on with the hope of clinging on to a lead to the finish.

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Ionut Zinca like so many listed above has the potential to win and almost certainly make the podium. An ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit with consistent results at Zegama, the Dolomites, Limone and so many more, if Ionut is on form, we can certainly expect him to push throughout the race for the top slot.

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Zaid Ait Malek raced Transvulcania and therefore may well be a little tired for Zegama. However, he knows how to run this race and has placed well within the top-10, I don’t see him winning but top-5 is possible.

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Jokin Lizeaga and Eirik Haugsness head up the leading runners for a top-10 placing along with Pere Rullan, Pablo Villa (tbc), Hassain Ait Chaou, Jessed Hernandez and Nil Cardona.

LADIES

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Megan Kimmel heads up the ladies race after a recent victory at Yading SkyRun and an impressive 2015 Skyrunner World Series season. To say Megan has been on fire would be an underestimation and it was actually a real surprise that she did not win the 2015 Skyrunner World Series – a below par performance at Limone Extreme ruined her chances. But her string of victories, particularly at the Dolomites SkyRace when she beat Laura Orgue elevated her to ‘hot’ for all the Skyrunning races – watch out!

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Yngvild Kaspersen is the female equivalent of Remi Bonnet. In 2015, her first racing season, she rose through the ranks with a series of impressive runs both in the VK and Sky distance and she was rewarded with victory in Hong Kong at the Lantau 2 Peaks in horrendous conditions. If conditions in Zegama are wet, cold, miserable and slippery underfoot, Yngvild may well shine and take victory!

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Maite Maiora is an ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit and only races one way; hard! Over the winter she took time out for an operation and therefore her training may well have been compromised. On her day, Maite is without doubt podium potential and in and amongst this ladies field, I think she has every chance of a top-3 slot.

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Azara Garcia won Zegama and then had a string on injury issues which leaves many question marks about her form? If she is fit and well, then we can expect Azara to give Megan a race.

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Oihana Kortazar is yet to be confirmed as running but she recently raced the marathon distance in Transvulcania. A lady who knows the mountains and trails of Zegama very well, I would expect a podium place.

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Anna Comet raced Transvulcania and had to pull out with an injury. Although her name is on the start list I question if she will run? My gut feeling though is that this race is maybe too short for her skills; a longer race suits her better.

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The same applies for Portugal’s Ester Alves. A great long distance runner who can handle technical trail, the short sharp shock of Zegama may well be too much of an ask for a podium place. Top-10 is a distinct possibility for both.©iancorless.com-9069Kima2014_

Paula Cabrerizo and Nuria Dominguez head up the charge behind the three ladies above, both have all the ability to make the podium and yes, a victory is possible.

Marta Molist Codina, Aitziber Iberia and Eva Maria Moreda Gabaldon form the next wave of contenders and of course, we have to anticipate surprise performances that we just can’t account for. Alicia Shay placed 4th at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and although on the start list, she will not run.

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA

SkyMan SA  is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

The well-established, SkyUltra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Seriespresented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

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View the Zegama galleries from 2014