Diagonale Des Fous 2013 (Raid de le Reunion) Race Preview

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La Diagonale Des Fous 2013 – 164km – 9900m D+

21st edition of the Diagonale des Fous – 17th to 20th of October 2013 –

Start at 11pm from St Pierre (Ravine Blanche)

The Diagonale Des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) literally translated, as the Diagonal of Fools is renowned as one of the toughest 100-mile challenges available on the racing calendar. It’s a leg busting 164-km’s with 9900m of positive incline. To put this in context, it took Kilian Jornet 26 hours and 33 minutes to complete the course in 2012. Emilie Lecomte, the long distance specialist, won the ladies race in 33 hours 03 minutes and in doing so placed tenth overall. Starting at 2300 hours on Thursday October 17th, the challenge is not only the terrain and the distance but also battling through several nights without sleep.

It’s a tough race!

Kilian Jornet describes it as a crazy, crazy place! He said very few places have fans that are as crazy and as passionate about running as those on Reunion Island. So passionate are the fans that Kilian actually had a bodyguard for the 2012 edition, just so that he could eventually get away from the adoring fans.

Located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, La Reunion (previously called Ile Bourbon) has a population of just under 1 million. Reunion is French and is one of the twenty-seven regions of France. This is reflected in the statistics of those who enter the race. For example, the 2013 edition has 2168 registered runners, 1230 come from the island itself, 775 from France and the remainder from nations all over the world. To put this in perspective, Switzerland have the next highest participation rate with just 24 runners and the UK has no participants at all. To say that this is an iconic French race would be an underestimation.

The Island is 39 miles long and 28 miles wide and covers 970 square miles. In size, it is very similar to Hawaii.

The Piton de la Fournaise on the east of the island rises more than 2631m and is an active volcano. It last erupted in 2010. The Piton des Neiges is the highest point on the island at 3070m however this volcano is no longer active. Reunion also has three calderas: the Cirque de Salazie, the Cirque de Cilaos and the Cirque de Mafate. The last is accessible only on foot or by helicopter.

The climate in Reunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, and hot and rainy from November to April. Precipitation levels vary greatly within the island, with the east being much wetter than the west. There is more than 6m of rain a year on some parts of the east and less than 1m a year on the west coast. (Info from Wikipedia)

Male Contenders

©copyright .iancorless.com._1140768 Kilian Jornet, winner of 2012 edition in a time of 26:33 returns after a hectic and busy season. He has raced and won at all distances from VK to 100-km and in addition he has achieved great success and results with his Summits of my Life project. Reunion will be his first and only 100-mile race of the year, however, this comes on the back of an extremely busy 3 weeks of racing; 100-km at UROC, VK in Limone and then the SKY race in Limone, the latter two events just a few days ago. Kilian has incredible powers of recovery and no doubt is the out and out favourite for the 2013 race.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera raced at Reunion in 2012 and had a mixed race. He was encouraged repeatedly by his fellow teammate, Kilian, but he eventually dropped from the race. Iker is a different runner in 2013, his incredible win at Tor des Geants (330km) will certainly put him in a great place to push Kilian all the way to the line.

Oscar Perez at Ronda dels Cims

Oscar Perez at Ronda dels Cims

Oscar Perez another long distance specialist was the 2012 winner of Tor des Geants and this year placed 2nd to Iker Karrera. He is extremely patient and understand his own pace and ability. You may very well see him relatively low down in the field for the early stages but watch him start to move up and push hard in the latter third. Podium potential for sure.

Eugeni Rosello Sole like Oscar Perez is another runner who likes races that are long, tough, technical and hard. Eugeni won the ‘The Spine’ in the UK earlier this year and placed 2nd overall at the 216-km Hexenstleg Ultra. In 2011 Eugeni placed 10th overall at Tor des Geants. So his pedigree over the long distances is not in question, however, he may not quite have the speed to fight for the podium.

Francois D'Haene leading Kilian Jornet at Ice Trail Tarentaise

Francois D’Haene leading Kilian Jornet at Ice Trail Tarentaise

Francois D’Haene is a consistent and talented runner over multiple distances. In 2012 he had an excellent performances at Transvulcania La Palma but arguably his highlight was winning the shortened TNFUTMB. He has been relatively quiet in 2013 however a recent win at the ultra distance event at Mont-Blanc Marathon shows he is in great shape in addition, he went head-to-head with Kilian Jornet at Ice Trail Tarentaise and finished 2nd.

Kaburaki ©iancorless.com

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki loves long distance races and gained some great exposure earlier this year when he won Bighorn 100-mile race. He is a specialist at the TNFUTMB having raced multiple times and securing a highest placing of 3rd in 2009. In addition, Tsyoshi placed 2nd at the 2009 Western States 100. He may not have his 2009 form but for sure, if he is feeling good, he will be up at the front pushing for a podium place.

Antoine Guillon placed second behind Kilian Jornet in the 2012 edition of the race just +1:10 behind. Experience counts for everything on Reunion and although competition is high for this year’s race, one has to assume that Antoine will be chomping at the bit to go one place higher in 2013. Antoine has been 2nd at TDS twice and placed 5th, 6th and 8th at TNFUTMB in past years.

Mico Clain like Antoine Guillon was at the 2012 Reunion race and finished 6th 31:31. That is some way off the pace of the front-runners, however, any race that last 164-kms has ups and downs and Mico has proven he has the staying power, he just needs a good year and a top 5 is possible.

David Pasquio placed 7th in 2012 in a time of 31:56. His current form over the longer distances is unknown, although he has raced regularly, his longest race  (on file) was Ecotrail de Paris in March, his time of 06:02 being very impressive.

George Erick Nirlo 9th in 2012 finished just 1 minute behind David Pasquio and therefore gets a nod in my predictions as a rank outsider.

Watch out for Xavier Carabi Garcia, Jordi Sole Mestre, James Irvine, Paul Janssens, Alain Simon, Didier Mussard, and Richard Hallgren.

Ladies Contenders

Emilie Lecomte ©iancorless.com

Emilie Lecomte comes to the race as the 2012 champion. Without doubt a specialist at long distances, She is the current record holder for the fastest time by a lady on the GR20 in Corsica and earlier this year she placed 3rd lady at the tough, Ronda dels Cims. She has had injury recently and had to miss TNFUTMB so one has to assume that she will be in great shape for the 2013 Diagonal des Fous. Favourite for sure!

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair has been a revelation in 2013, she stormed onto the scene with a top placing at Transvulcania La Palma and has then gone on to perform at the highest level over multiple distances. She targeted the IAU Trail Championships in 2013 and came out on top! Diagonal des Fous will be a very different experience for Nathalie and I am sure she will be as interested in how the experience goes, just as we are.

Alexandra Rousset placed 4th in 2012 almost 6-hous behind Emilie and her current form is unknown (by me anyway). Needless to say, she has performed at the highest level before and she can do it again…

Estelle Carret 5th in the 2012 edition was some way off the pace in 42:19 but in any long race, finishing counts and this is reflected with top 5 places. Estelle has had a strong 2013 with a 5th at TDS and string of 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th places in shorter races.

Geraldine La Chapelle and Cecile Ciman placed 12th and 13th respectively in 2012 and return in 2013 looking to make the top 10.

Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.comFinally, Emelie Forsberg! Yes, can you believe I have waited this long to mention Emelie? The main reason for this is that Emelie has had a long season. She has performed at the highest level over multiple distances from VK to 100-km and has not only excelled but won most of these races. Emelie has recently run and won at UROC 100-km and in the process been crowned Skyrunner World Series Ultra Champion. On Sunday, Emelie raced at Limone Extreme Sky race not only looking for the win but the Skyrunner World Series Sky title, however, fatigue began to show and she finished 3rd behind a storming Stevie Kremer and the ever consistent, Antonella Confortola. Diagonal des Fous is Emelie’s first 100-miler and as such will be a distinct learning curve. We all know that she has the ability to win any race she sets her mind too, however, Diagonal is being added to what has already been an incredible season. Emelie has nothing to prove and as such, I don’t want to add any additional pressure. Emelie has openly said, she wants to do this race for the experience and challenge. If she feels good she will push on. If she feels bad, she will save herself and drop.

Ones to watch: Alexandra Clain, Angela Laino, Jessica Poirier, Sandrine Renault, Karine Roulet, Alexandre Smith and Hilda Souprayen Ramaye.

To complete the Grand Raid one must combine mental and physical capacities. Both vary considerably and unexpectedly during the race.

Interesting stats:

Organizing The Grand Raid means solving complex logistical problems. For each competitor, either a champion or a glorious anonymous, volunteers are there to help, comfort, feed and encourage them all.

Table 1 gives you an idea of our chief caretaker’s shopping list. No other event on the island requires mastering such logistics.

tableau1This is what it takes to feed the competitors over the four days of the race but volunteers often are on duty longer to get things ready. They too, need food and drink!

Camp beds, tents, tables, medical equipment, food and drinks, computers, generators etc. How are things brought up to each assistance point?

Transport by helicopter is needed to many of those points. At the Piton des Neiges, we even set up a radio relay transmitter to allow the various checkpoints to communicate during the duration of the race!

tableauHelicopters cannot do everything! 
An impressive fleet of vehicles is needed throughout the week of the race: lorries, vans, 4wheel drive, all sorts of vehicles are used, not to forget 12 buses to transport competitors to the start!

Website HERE

The race can be followed LIVE HERE

Tor des Geants 2013 – Race Preview

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Today is the day. The Tor des Geants begins and 757 brave souls will depart to tackle 330km’s in an individual way. Sounds funny doesn’t it, an individual way, but you see, the organization do not impose any compulsory stages. You start and it is the first to the finish. The runner who completes the race in the shortest time is the outright winner and therefore, this race is not only about putting one foot infront of the other, it is also about when you stop and for how long. It is a tactical race.

Map

The race is the first of its kind to cover an entire region. Taking place in the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Ayic Regional Park, the route takes in the spectacular paths at the foot of the highest ‘Four Thousanders’ in the Alps.

It is a unique race. It is survival!

Young American, Nickademus Hollon, the youngest ever runner ever to complete the infamous ‘Barkley’ has been specifically training in the area for months and just yesterday he said:

“Tomorrow I embark on probably one of my greatest ultra-running adventures to date. The Tor des Geants. 330km (205miles) and 24,000m (79,000ft) of elevation gain. I’ll be honest with you all, my minimum goal is 72hrs, that’s 4hrs beneath the previous years course record. To do this I’ll need my mind, body and spirit all aligned. Quite like the magic that possessed me during the fifth loop of the Barkley Marathons this year. I’ll be calling on that again shortly. I ask that you all be the wind at my back and help propel me forward : ) This will hopefully be a great leap forward for the United States in the Spain dominant European running world. Thank you all for your past and continued support!”

The Tor des Geants will start on the 8th September at 1000am and the imposed deadline of 1600 hrs September 14th is in place. A maximum allotted time of 150 hours.

Participants must have the following mandatory equipment:

◦       A backpack

◦       A supply of water (1 liter minimum)

◦       ACup

◦       Food supply/reserve

◦       Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries

◦       Survival blanket

◦       Whistle

◦       Adhesive elastic tape for making bandages or a strapping (mini 80cm x 3 cm)

◦       Water-proof gear for protection against bad weather conditions in the mountains

◦       Running trousers or leggings covering at least the knees

◦       Hat or bandana

◦       gloves

◦       phone

◦       altimeter

◦       warm clothing

The Route

The race starts and finishes in Courmayeur. The route takes place through the two High Aosta Valley roads. Participants, can choose their speed and must complete the race in less than 150 hours. Runners are partially independent and more than 40 supply points are available throughout the route

Measuring 330 km long with 24,000 vertical meters, the route takes the High Road No. 2 to the lower valley. The return is the Haute Route No. 1 to Valdigne and Courmayeur. It crosses in particular the natural park of Mont Avic National Park Gran Paradiso. During the race the runners will pass 25 passes at over 2000 meters, 30 lakes and reach a high point of 3300 meters.

Winning times from 2012:

Oscar Perez 75h 56m 31s

Francesca Canepa 85h 33m 56s

Who should you watch?

First things first. 330km is a long way and anything can happen. 757 runners are listed on the start sheet and of course I don’t know all of them or even pretend to. I have selected several people that I know and who do well over this type of terrain and distance. Without doubt I will miss several names, so, if you know a ‘one to watch’ let us know on the reply form below.

The Men

Last year’s winner, Oscar Perez is back and gets no1 billing. He knows the route, the course and knows how to manage the race, come out the other side and win.

Gregoire Millet, 2nd in 2012 is back and will be looking to go one place higher and top the podium. He was only three hours behind Oscar last year and I am sure he will have been looking at his stretgy and thinking, how can I make up three hours? Less sleep maybe…

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux is also back. Like Oscar, he knows the course like the back of his hand and he knows how to manage his effort. He placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 84:09:46 and 3rd in 2012 in 80:14:14.

Pablo Criado Toca at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Pablo Criado Toca placed 3rd in 2011 and returns this year. His time of 89:43:07 is a long way from Oscar’s 75:56:31 but as I keep saying, anything can happen and experience is paramount in a race like this.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is the big name joining the fold and as many of you will know, this Salomon athlete is meticulous in his planning. Iker however isn’t coming to this race fresh. He recently raced and won the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (160km and 10,000m+) in 24:54:56 which was just on the 24th August. For sure, great prep but that must leave you tired? Iker is one to watch and potentially win at Tor.

We have mentioned Nickademus Hollon, he hasn’t raced here before and he has been very open about the challenge ahead. However, he has been in the mountains for weeks and been all over the course. He knows what he is doing! Without doubt, Tor des Geants is as much about the brain as the legs and Nickademus is a master of this. He has proven it with a finish at Barkley. I think we will see Nickademus create a surprise in the Aosta valley.

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata won TDS last weekend and like Francesca Canepa, he attempts the double! It’s a tough ask, particularly when you look at the competition at the front. He’s a great guy and if anyone can pull something out of the bag, it is Arnau but he is going to feel his TDS efforts for sure.

Of course I have to mention Bruno Brunod. I don’t think Bruno will contest the win but a legend of Skyrunning deserves a tip of the hat. I wonder; what can he do…? I also wonder if we may well see Kilian Jornet pop up on route to offer some support and encouragement.

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, a surprise package may very will come from Brit, Stuart Air. Stuart placed in the top 20 at Ronda dels Cims and then Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will be pretty much unknown to all the others in the race but he has grit, determination and he comes to this race prepared. A surprise package for sure!

Other names to watch: Franco Collè, Mario Gazzola and Patrick Bohard.

The Ladies

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa pulled off the remarkable double in 2012. She placed 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at the shortened TNFUTMB and then just 7 days later, turned up at Tor des Geants and won in 85:33:56. Francesca has had a great year and her win at the tough Ronda dels Cims is surely a great sign for Tor. However, she dropped from last weeks TNFUTMB. Francesca is odds on favorite.

Patricia Penza placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 102:25:42 and placed 3rd last year in 97:06:15. It’s all about experience and being able to put one foot infront of the other. Patricia may not be the fastest but she can last the distance and time and sometimes that is all it can take to win!

Giuliana Arrigoni placed 3rd in 2011 and was just a minute slower that Patricia Penza. Pretty sure she will be back to move up the podium and be one place higher than Patricia in 2013.

Sonia Glarey is back after a strong 2nd place in 2012, her time of 96:59:54 was nearly twelve hours slower than Francesca, but if Francesca is not 100% we may see that gap close and a real battle unfold.

Nerea Martinez  ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez is also on the start list but I had heard rumours of injury. This has not ben confirmed. If she is in good shape and fresh I predict a podium place.

Australian, Samantha Gash is also on the start sheet. This will very much a departure for Samantha. However, she is used to long days and repetitive days on the trails. The Tor course though is something very different to what she has experienced in the past. It may well just be a big learning curve but she does have the grit to push, survive and make it to the front of the race. It’s an exciting prospect and one the Europeans won’t be expecting.

Other names to watch: Moses Lovstad, Giuliana Arrigoni, Cecile Bertin, Fedrica Bifana, Patrizia Cantore and Janet Ng.

Live Tracking:

Ronda dels Cims – important update

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Important update for race participants – Ronda dels Cims, Andorra

Please check the essential items HERE

UPDATE

Spring is late, very late! After regular inspections of the course some small modifications have been made to ensure safety. The intention of the race organisation is to maintain the original route as much as possible, however, safety is paramount. Alternative routes may be applied in case of thunderstorms.

In certains sections it will be necessary to walk because of snow and high altitude. Where applicable these sections will be marked and additional staff will be available.

Ultimately, a magnificent and unforgettable experience lies ahead; a big party.

Additional equipment required:

Please ensure you have ALL mandatory kit as specified in article 21 of the rules.

Crampons for snow

In view of the exceptional snow coverage of this year, you are recommend to equip yourself with crampons. They will allow you to progress safely on hardly sections. Numerous models are available, our shops associates (Carving, Roc Vertical, Altitud, Sensació) are able to supply you. You can also acquire in our information chalet before the race.

RACE PREVIEW HERE

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Press Release from Skyrunning:

The second Ultra Series race tours Andorra’s highest peaks featuring some of the world’s best endurance athletes.

 

Ronda dels Cims is not just rated as the world’s toughest 100 miler – it’s a fact! 

 

With 13,000 metres vertical climb across 15 summits between 2,400m and 3,000m altitude, it’s not a race for the faint-hearted. The second race in the Skyrunner® Ultra Series after Transvulcania in May, it represents skyrunning’s first event at this distance, drawing inspiration from the technical mountain heritage that distinguishes skyrunning. Due to late and heavy snow falls, much of the course will be on snow, and safety measures are being taken by the organisers.

 

Lizzy Hawker’s much anticipated participation dissolved with the sad news of her injury and that she will be unable to take part. 

 

Featuring in the women’s élite field are Spaniard Nerea Martinez (Salomon Santiveri), winner of this year’s Transgrancanaria, she set the Ronda dels Cims record in 2012 in 35h31’21’’Emilie Lecomte (Quechua) winner of the 2012 Diagonale des Fous hundred-miler and 5th at Transvulcania;  Salomon’s Julia Boettger from Germany was third at Diagonale des Fous;  and team mate Hiroko Suzuki from Japan was 2nd in the UTMF.  Italy’s Francesca Canepa (Team Vibram) placed 2nd at the UTMB behind Lizzy Hawker.

 

Salomon’s Julien Chorier, winner of the Hardrock 100 in 2011 and last year’s UTMF where he placed 2nd this year, heads the men’s field.  Strongly favoured is Spaniard Salvador Redondo, second in last year’s Ronda dels Cims and Andorra’s own Xavier Teixido, (FAM) placed 6th in the 112 km distance, the Andorra Ultra Trail. From Japan, Kenichi Yamamoto, 1st in the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (160km) and 3rd at the UTMF.

 

Americans Jared Campbell (La Sportiva) won the Hardrock in 2010, placing 13th

last year and Dave James, 2012 US 100 Mile National Champion and long distance specialist should enjoy the distance, but will he enjoy the altitude? AustralianMatt Cooper (Salomon) was 5th in TNF100. 

 

Italy’s Bruno Brunod is a living skyrunning legend.  After a long break from running he’s back to try his hand at the ultra distance.  Bruno’s mighty curriculum includes winning the first World Champion title in 1998 from where he went from strength to strength leaving a trail of wins and records behind him including the standing Matterhorn ascent and descent which superstar Kilian Jornet will attempt this year.   

 

Fellow countryman Nico Valsesia (Salomon Agisko) fears no distance.  He comes from a series of great adventures, which include 2nd and 5th places in the 4,800 km coast to coast RAAM bike race and crossing the world’s largest salt lake in Bolivia.  This year he will attempt ISF President, Marino Giacometti’s skybike record from Genoa to the summit of Mont Blanc.

 

Talking of records, the incredible men’s race record was set by Spaniard Miguel Heras in 2011 in 30h04’28”. It’s unlikely any records will be broken this year with snow still lying on the course.  The organisers are well prepared with 400 volunteers, extra signage and the athletes will be equipped with chips and GPS.

 

More than 300 runners will compete in the race, which is programmed to take place on the longest day and lit by the full moon creating an unforgettable atmosphere.

 

Ronda dels Cims organisers, Gérard Martinez and Valérie Lafleur are convinced that “this fifth edition will mark our history. The athletes will never forget their participation in Andorra. We are working hard to provide an exceptional experience for runners and their companions. The competition is hard, but it has a human dimension that makes it extraordinary”.

Tor des Géants – Francesca Canepa

Just a week after a stunning second place at the shortened UTMB, Vibram athlete Francesca Canepa turned up at the start of the 2012 Tor des Geants not really knowing what lay in store… lets face it, it is one hell of a challenge!

The route of the 2012 Tor des Géants ran along the Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 of the Valle d’Aosta, with the start and finishing line in Courmayeur, and it covered a total of around 336km (200 miles), with an altitude range of 24,000 metres. The landscape at the foot of the region’s Four-Thousanders makes the route especially spectacular.
Along the route they had a number of rest, rescue and refreshment points, as well as seven larger bases that divided the route up into seven sectors:
  • Courmayeur – Valgrisenche 49 km 3996 D+
  • Valgrisenche – Cogne 56 km 4141 D+
  • Cogne – Donnas 44 km 3348 D+
  • Donnas – Gressoney St Jean 53 km 4107 D+
  • Gressoney St Jean – Valtournenche 39 km 2601 D+
  • Valtournenche – Ollomont 44 km 2702 D+
  • Ollomont – Courmayeur 48 km 2880 D+

The Tor des Géants combines long distance but does not impose any compulsory stages. The winner will be the runner who completes the race in the shortest time and therefore the decisions on when and when not to sleep may very well be the difference between being on top of the podium or not.

The Tor des Géants is the first race of this kind to cover an entire region. It runs along the paths at the foot of the highest Four-Thousanders in the Alps and through the Gran Paradiso Natural Park and the Mont Avic Regional Park. It is a unique race.

Francesca Canepa

So, post UTMB I caught up with Francesca and interviewed her about her race and expectations for the Tor des Géants. You can read that HERE

At this current moment in time I have not had the opportunity to catch up with Francesca but it is important to say that for someone who was going into the race tired and using it as possible ‘training’ she performed remarkably.

Not only did she win the ladies race but she was 7th overall with a total time of 99:13:56. The race winner was Oscar Perez in a time of 75:56:31.

You can read more about Francesca on her blog site HERE

Information on the Tor des Géants HERE

VIBRAM HERE

Article on RUN247