Another season of Skyrunning concluded in Limone sul Garda with the Limone Extreme SkyRace, the final race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series. As expected, it was a day of high emotions that ultimately resulted in blood, sweat, tears and elation.
Although race day conditions were ideal, a new course had been created after the thunderstorms of Thursday night and Friday morning. The resulting race although the same distance (23km) had an additional 800m of elevation and descent. Work it out! 23km and 2800m of elevation gain and descent, that can only mean one thing; pain!
One thing became clear though post race, although this new course was tougher it had a unanimous nod from all the runners that the additional difficulty was a good thing; that’s Skyrunning for you!
Final races in a series can often have a forgone conclusion of who will be crowned respective male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions, not here in Limone. It was wide open and all to fight for.
Click on the images to view pre race photographs:
In the men’s race, Remi Bonnet once again proved that we have a star in the making. He followed on from the previous nights VK victory with a world-class SKY performance that left every other runner in the race trailing in his wake. It was stunning to watch. This course is tough, don’t doubt it! Remi ran every step. He has an incredible style, almost shuffling as he moves from left-to-right foot in small movements. It’s incredibly effective and ultimately impossible to follow. Despite him winning the race outright, he could not follow up his Skyrunner® World Series victory for the VK distance as he did not have a result on a Continental race, had he had this, he may well have been the 2015 champion?
Behind Remi, series leader, Tadei Pivk grabbed the bull by the horns and followed the young Swiss runner with 100% determination. His style on the climbs was in complete contrast to Remi; he almost fought the terrain! On the final long descent back down to the Lake and the finish line in Limone, I had expected Tadei to close the gap as he descends incredibly well. Alas no, the day was not for him but his 2nd place gave him the ultimate prize of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series title.
Ever present Manuel Merillas, also a strong contender for the overall series ran a well paced race and moved from 6th, 5th and 4th to finally finish 3rd. It was a great result and ultimately secured his 2nd place in the Skyrunner® World Series rankings ahead of Martin Anthamatten who took the final podium slot despite finishing 13th on the day, no doubt carrying over fatigue from his recent victory in the USA.
In the ladies race a hotly anticipated battle between Laura Orgue and Megan Kimmel really came to fruition and as always happens in these scenarios, somebody wins, somebody looses. Laura Orgue already had the Skyrunner® World Series title for the VK distance secure before Friday’s VK race and she made the very sensible decision not to race and save her legs for the following day and Saturday’s Sky race.
Running at the front of the race, the VK specialist really embraced the additional 800m of vertical gain and used all her climbing skills to pull off a stunning victory. It was a gutsy ‘give it everything’ performance and one that Maite Maiora tried to spoil. They traded blows throughout the day and Laura managed to squeeze ahead and find those extra percentages of performance to finish just 17-seconds ahead of the La Sportiva runner.
Could Megan Kimmel finish 3rd and secure the world series title?
No! A tough day in the office and carried over fatigue from a recent victory in the USA’s Flagstaff race resulted in Megan feeling tired all day. Of course, the additional 800m of vert didn’t help. Megan finally finished 6th and just had to accept that ‘these things happen!’
Oihana Kortazar followed up a great run from the previous days VK with the final podium place ahead of Elisa Desco and Yngvild Kaspersen.
A season comes to an end and with it we have memories, emotions and passion. The 2015 Skyrunner® World Series champions are:
Laura Orgue and Remi Bonnet are the SWS champions for the VK distance.
Laura Orgue and Tadei Pivk are the SWS champions for the SKY distance.
Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando are SWS champions for the ULTRA distance.
Attention now turns to 2016 and the calendar of races that will once again secure the hearts and minds of the mountain running community.
Less Cloud, More Sky!
Laura Orgue 3:18:50
Maite Maiora 3:19:07
Oihana Kortazar 3:22:24
Elisa Desco 3:28:00
Yngvild Kaspersen 3:28:40
Remi Bonnet 2:45:25
Tadei Pivk 2:51:08
Manuel Merillas 2:52:52
Aritz Egea 2:55:47
Moments from the finish line, click on images to view larger:
RACE DAY IMAGES – more images to follow as soon as wifi becomes available
Laura Orgue and Remi Bonnet are crowned 2015 Skyrunner® World Series Champions for the VK distance in Limone on the shore of Lake Garda at the 4th edition of the Limone Extreme race.
Torrential rain and thunderstorms the previous night and morning of the VK resulted in a course change instigated by the race organisation for safety reasons. The resulting course was very different to the original route and considerably longer at 6km. Less steep, less technical and considerably more runnable. Of course this may very well have changed the dynamic of the race but the usual protagonists for the VK distance still performed at the highest level.
VK specialist Urban Zemmer dictated the early pace showing his all around ability to run and drop his hands on his knees and grind out a fast pace on the steeper gradients. However, it was rising star of the sport, Remi Bonnet, who finally made his presence felt at the front. Too many observers this was expected after his recent performances at the RUT in the USA and his most recent victory at Lantau 2 Peaks in Hong Kong. Tromso VK winner, Stian Angermund placed 3rd ahead of Hannes Perkmann VK ever-present Jonathan Wyatt in 5th.
In the ladies’ race, Laura Orgue already had the Skyrunner® World Series title sewn up based on previous victories. Despite this, her plan was to run the VK and SKY. However, in the days before the VK, Laura had picked up a virus and decided it was best to miss the distance she loves:
“Hard decision today, I need to rest instead of race in the VK. I’m not feeling 100% so I have decided to recover for tomorrow’s SKY race of 23km and 2800m of elevation!”
Last minute entrant and VK specialist, Christel Dewalle was the fastest lady on the day and lead from the front constantly trailed by Antonella Confortola, Maite Maiora and Norwegian rising star, Yngvild Kaspersen who moved up to 2nd in the overall rankings.
The ladies’ positions remained this way all the way to the line with Spanish runner Oihana Kortazar taking the 5th spot.
A total of 296-runners toed the line of the VK which started at the picturesque location of Marconi lakefront on the shores of Lake Garda. The overall elevation gain of the new route was 1200m+ in a distance of 6km.
Attention now turns the SKY race which will start today, Saturday at 1200 local time. This course has also been changed due to Thursday nights and Friday mornings excessive weather. The new route has an additional 800m of vertical gain which makes what was a tough race, exceptionally tough!
1-Christel Dewalle (50’48”)
2-Antonella Confortolla (53’12”)
3-Maite Maiora (53’46”)
4-Yngvild Kaspersen (54’58”)
5-Oihana Kortazar (56’27”)
1-Rémi Bonnet (43’51”)
2-Urban. Zemmer (44′)
3-Stian Angermund. (44’13”)
4-Hannes Perkmann (44’26”)
5-Jono Wyatt (44’43”)
Skyrunner® World Series ranking 2015:
Limone sul Garda also provided a location for the Skyrunning AGM where the 2014 calendar, 2015 calendar and the future of the sport was discussed.
Episode 97 of Talk Ultra has an interview with Andy Symonds about his return to running and top results after prolonged injury, we speak with Remi Bonnet rising star of the VK and SKY distance and Mariepaule Pierson is back from Atacama and tells us all about it. We have Talk Training, the News and Speedboat Karl.
00:01:30 Show Start
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE
TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE
LANTAU 2 PEAKS
1 – Remi Bonnet 2:14:07
2 – Manuel Merillas 2:24:29
3 – Tadei Pivk 2:26:39
1 – Yngvild Kaspersen 2:42:04
2 – Laura Orgue 2:49:58
3 – Maite Maiora 2:51:19
UTAT 105km/ 6500m +
1 – Andy Symonds 13:41
2 – Julien Chorier 14:20
3 – Omar Bouhrim 15:32
1 – Andrea Huser 15:47
2 – Francesca Canepa 19:34
3 – Geraldine Leroy 23:08
Other races are 68km, 42km and 26km
Max King 2-years in a row wins $30,000 – F***!
CROWN OF THE CONTINENT TRAVERSE
Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote run an incredible 600-mile FKT from Missoula to Banff. We will have both Mike’s on the next Talk Ultra to tell us all about it. Read HERE
LAKE TAHOE FKT
Krissy Moehl 47:29 new record by 2-hours Read HERE
1 – Brian Rusiecki 20:24
1 – Amy Rusiecki 23:36
FLAGSTAFF SKY RACE ULTRA
1 – Dan Kraft 5:49
2 – Gabe McGowan 5:54 ?
3 – Josh Arthur 6:00
1 – Ashley Erba 6:47
2 – Meredith Edwards 7:39
3 – Jen Benna 7:47
FLAGSTAFF SKY RACE SKY
1 – Martin Anthamatten 3:59
2 – Joe Gray 4:06
3 – Tim Parr 4:39
1 – Megan Kimmel 4:29
2 – Kristi Knecht 5:04
3 – Corinne Malcolm 5:12
TNF CHALLENGE WISCONSIN
1 – Tyler Sigi 5:55
2 – Dylan Bowman (went of course) 6:28
3 – John Knudson 6:49
1 – Molly Culver 8:10
2 – Christine Murphy 8:18
3 – Emily Kratz 8:22
LAKES IN A DAY
1 – Kim Collison 9:12:07
2 – Marcis Gubats 10:27:48
3 – Stuart Dickson 10:49:05
1 – Helen Leigh 11:00:10
2 – Sabrina Verjee 11:29:59
3 – Lucy Spain 11:58:48
02:11:42 TALK TRAINING
TALK TRAINING – BASIC STRENGTH TRAINING read the document HERE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
Watch out for Azara Garcia (winner at Zegama-Aizkorri) Oihana Kortazar and Martina Valmassoi who podiumed at the RUT ultra.
Could Remi Bonnet and Laura Orgue do the ‘Limone Double?’ It is very possible and what a story that would make.
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?
Martin Anthamatten and Stian Angermund may well infiltrate the podium places. Particularly Stian, he loves a VK as he showed at Tromso.
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.
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).
Hong Kong is a cacophony of noise, colour and experiences. Add heat and high humidity and it provides a very unique setting for the 4th race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series.
The race run by Action Asia Events starts and finishes in Tung Chung on Lantau Island and as the name suggests, takes in the 2 peaks; Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak. In just 23km’s the races climbs and drops a total of 3975m. ‘Steps’ offer unique terrain that signifies a Hong Kong race and ones’ ability to go up and down is taken to a new level by this demanding terrain.
Two days of great Hong Kong weather unfortunately deteriorated the day before the race and many of the elite runners’ worst fears came true on race day when rain continued to fall accompanied by gale force winds that were rated as a level-3 typhoon. It’s not that elite runners don’t like running in the rain; not all. However, slick stone steps with a layer of water are a potential accident waiting to happen in any scenario, add ‘racing’ to the max and pushing the pace require a leap of faith. The wind was so strong at times you would be lifted of your feet and thrown like a piece of rubbish on the trail.
Yes, the 2015 Lantau 2 Peaks was one to remember!
The race was ultimately about the rising of two stars; Remi Bonnet and Yngvild Kaspersen. Young guns having some fun with a smile and a passion. They really did show the rest of the field a master-class in running in the extremely tough conditions.
Runners had arrived in Hong Kong a couple of days before the race to check out the course, adjust to the humidity and explore a little of what Hong Kong has to offer. Two days of excellent weather unfortunately turned sour the day before the race as storms came in from the sea, torrential rain and the possibility of a typhoon!
The island of Lantau provides a very different race experience to what one can expect in Europe. Stairs (stone steps irregularly placed) provide a key element of the course not only going up but coming down. The wet adds an additional element and one that would test each and every runner on race day.
Starting in Tung Chunk at 0730, the runners had a fast and furious start over 2km’s before the climbing would start to the first peak of the day, Sunset Peak. The predicted typhoon hit in a force 3 making conditions ‘off-the-scale’ as rain flooded down the mountain creating impromptu rivers and waterfalls. Add to this gale force winds that would lift you off your feet and the stage was set for an epic battle.
For the men, Remi Bonnet pushed the pace from the gun ahead of Manuel Merillas and Aritz Egea, in pursuit Tadei Pivk, Marco De Gasperi and the remainder of the elite runners were spread out over the mountain. Yngvild Kaspersen like Remi set a blistering pace at the front, behind Laura Orgue pursued and then Elisa Desco and Maite Maiora.
Over Sunset Peak (3rd highest in Hong Kong) steps provided a sharp and sudden drop to CP1 and the 2nd climb to Lantau Peak at 934m. The hard steps, slick conditions and fierce competition made the course extremely challenging.
Pushing upward to Lantau, the trail closed in, opened up and then intersperses steps once again. The course requires a unique style of running (or hiking) as the irregular height and depth of the steps makes finding a rhythm awkward.
Pre race, Laura Orgue had said, “Hong Kong will be an absolutely different race to what we are used to.” She was correct. The combination of mixed terrain and inclement weather on race day all made for a unique challenge.
Remi Bonnet and Yngvild Kaspersen were leading the respective men’s and ladies’ races with two master-class performances, one could even say they made it look easy! At the summit of Lantau Peak, barring an accident they both would be crowned 2015 champions. But with a huge drop from the summit and slick conditions to contend with, the final rankings were still open.
With 23km’s covered and 1987m of vertical gain and more importantly maybe, 1988m of vertical loss, Remi arrived triumphant at Citygate in Tung Chung, a circular trip completed taking in the Lantau 2 Peaks in a time of 02:14:07. Manuel Merillas fought a hard battle for 2nd and Tadei Pivk took 3rd place ahead of a charging Greg Vollet. Artiz Egea who had run in 3rd place earlier dropped to 5th.
Yngvild Kaspersen won the race for the ladies in 02:42:04 and Laura Orgue held on to 2nd. Maite Maiora in the closing stages overhauled Elisa Desco on the descent and placed 3rd. Stevie Kremer placed 5th having struggled with jet lag having only landed in Hong Kong the night before the race after 24-hours of travel.
Remi Bonnet 2:14:07
Manuel Merillas 2:24:29
Tadei Pivk 2:26:39
Yngvild Kaspersen 2:42:04
Laura Orgue 2:49:58
Maite Maiora 2:51:19
Sky Series ranking provisional results (after Lantau 2 Peaks & US Continental Championships)
1. Tadei Pivk (ITA) Crazy Idea – 366 points
2. Manuel Merillas (ESP) Mammut/Compressport – 332 points
3. Tom Owens (GBR) Salomon- 268 points
3. Ionut Zinca (ROU) Valetudo – 268 points
5. Aritz Egea (ESP)E MF – 252 points
Exciting and vibrant Hong Kong hosts the Lantau 2 Peaks this coming weekend, the 4th race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series. Following on from the RUT 25km and just 3 weeks before the series final in Limone, the Lantau 2 Peaks is going to be a very exciting race!
Located at Citygate, Tung Chung the race has a total distance of 23km’s and an elevation gain of 1987m. It’s a very tough course that will involve and require plenty of hands-on-knee action. The race website warns:
Please make sure you do hill training before competing in this category as you will be climbing some of the biggest peaks in Hong Kong.
Estimated winning time for the 23km is 3 hours which puts the course into perspective, especially when one also considers the cut-off time is 8 hours.
Ionut Zinca, Remi Bonnet, Marco De Gasperi, Tadei Pivk, Manuel Merillas, Aritz Egea, Hassan Ait Chaou, Iban Letamendi and Greg Vollet head up a world-class field and as one can imagine, it will be a battle royal for top honors.
Remi Bonnet is the new kid on the block and showed everyone a clean pair of heals at the RUT VK and SKY race with 2 stand out performances. The race here in Hong Kong will suit his racing style, particularly coming so close after the challenging USA course.
Tadei Pivk placed 2nd at the RUT behind Remi Bonnet and just seconds ahead of Marco de Gasperi. Tadei has had a great 2015 with stand out performances at Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace. He will be looking to get ahead of the rest of the field and score another 100% points to lead the world series ranking going into Limone Extreme.
Marco De Gasperi can never be rules out in ‘any’ SKY race. The 20+km distance is Marco’s forte and it’s a distance that he excels at. His recent FKT’s and 3rd place performance at the RUT show that he has plenty of great form.
Ionut Zinca adds even more firepower to the front of the race and he is an ever-present on the Skyrunner® World Series and one who consistently places on the podium. The battle here in China is a tough one but Ionut has the race to most certainly take one of the top-3 slots and of course, he can win the race!
Manuel Merillas was a rising star in 2014 and he has followed that up in 2015 with another string of tope performances. He has been a little quiet lately which will mean that he comes to Lantau with fresh legs. Considering the quality of this field it’s extremely difficult to say who will and who will not make the podium. Manuel for sure is podium material but we already have 4 runners listed above who potentially will take those slots… like I said, it’s going to be quite a battle!
Aritz Egea rounds up the hot favourites for the podium. Like Ionut Zinca, Aritz is a strong and consistent performer on the Skyrunner® World Series. Expect him to go out hard and potentially lead the race in the early stages. The question mark will come if he can hold on to that lead?
Just like in the men’s race, the ladies race has a plethora of top female talent who in 2015 have excelled in the SKY distance: Laura Orgue, Yngvild Kaspersen, Stevie Kremer, Maite Maiora, Elisa Desco, Azara Garcia, Martina Valmassoi and Hanny Alston.
Elisa Desco in many respects heads up the ladies as arguably the most rounded athlete for this course. Her mixed ability to descend as well as she climbs makes her a hot contender to top the podium. Her recent victory at Matterhorn Ultraks confirms this. However, Elisa has had a mixed year?
Laura Orgue is a VK specialist who has started to race more often at the SKY distance. Strong performances at the RUT and the Dolomites have elevated Laura as ‘one-to-watch’ and I expect a podium placing here in Hong Kong. Climbing ability has sometimes been let down by descending, however, Laura is improving with every race.
Stevie Kremer has been racing in Europe less in 2015 and as a result has increased her profile within the USA. No stranger to Hong Kong, Stevie will be without doubt a force at the front of the race. In the early stages we can expect her to be up at the front with Laura as they charge up the climbs. My gut reaction says Laura, Elisa and Stevie may well be 1,2,3 but in what order?
Yngvild Kaspersen like Remi Bonnet is Salomon’s new secret weapon(s) for the future. Without doubt a star in the making, Yngvild has consistently run strong performances over VK and SKY distance. She won the Tromso SkyRace and placed 2nd in the VK just 1-second behind Emelie Forsberg. One to watch!
Maite Maiora has raced a great deal in 2015 and Lantau 2 Peaks adds to an already impressive list. On her day, Maite can run with the best and win. For me though, this has been a long season and the edge required for victory may well be missing. Don’t get me wrong though, she will be in the mix.
Azara Garcia won at Zegama-Aizkorri and looked set for an incredible 2015. Injury hit though. If fully recovered, Azara may well topple the whole race and come out with victory despite my 1, 2, 3 predictions. Without doubt she will be fresh and hungry.
Martina Valmassoi raced at the RUT and made the podium for the ultra distance; her 1st ultra! She comes to Hong Kong as a potential contender for a top placing. The question will come down to how fast she can turn the legs over? By all accounts, she is a great descender!
Hanny Allston rounds up the top contenders. The Aussie orienteer has turned heads recently and comes to Hong Kong as a potential dark horse who may well create quite a stir.
Needless to say, I have previewed the elite runners who are travelling to China to participate on the Lantau 2 Peaks race. Without doubt, local talent will figure in the overall results. So, if you have an ear to the ground and know of any hot tips for the win, please let us know.
New for 2015 and forming an integral part of the Skyrunner® World Series, the inaugural RUT 25km is considered by many to be a pure Skyrunning race. At times, the race offers extremely steep and technical terrain that demands and requires 100% respect. It’s not for the feint hearted.
Covering 25km (16.4 miles) what this race lacks in distance is made up for in technicality and challenge. With 7500ft of vertical gain this 25km course is basically the RUT 50km on steroids as it includes all 3 major climbs of its bigger brother. The high point comes at Lone Peak (11,166ft) and the combination of altitude, technical running and exposure makes this one seriously great race that guarantees a good, hard and painful time!
Like the VK, the 25km event had wave starts to reduce congestion and to promote good safety along the route. 4 waves started at 5-minute offsets with the elite runners heading off in wave 1 departing at 0800.
Overnight rain had disappeared by the morning leaving a bright, sunny but very cold morning. The summit of Lone Peak was shrouded in mist and cloud and would remain that way until the bulk of wave 1 runners passed the summit.
Following on from Friday’s VK victory, Remi Bonnet ran a clear race from the front and never really looked back. He opened a gap in the early stages and extended it as the race went on. Climbing up to Lone Peak summit he had over 4-minutes in Tadei Pivk and Marco De Gasperi who were pursued by Joseph Gray.
Remi’s victory never looked in doubt, even the very technical challenge of the descent could not dislodge his stranglehold on the race. At the finish he was a clear victor by over 3.5 minutes ((02:58:55) from Tadei Pivk and Marco De Gasperi who were separated only by 1-second, 3:02:32 and 3:01:33 respectively.
Joseph Gray finished 4th and looked very disappointed, so disappointed he didn’t collect his finishers medal. Pere Rullan and Martin Anthamatten rounded out the top-5.
Lady on fire Megan Kimmel once again pulled off another incredible Skyrunning victory in the ladies showing that she is ‘the’ lady to beat at the moment. In the early stages of the race she ran with the front group and eventually she pulled away with Laura Orgue, the Friday VK winner.
On the slopes of Lone Peak Megan was in the lead and then at the summit she made a move, just like in the Dolomites and build away for an incredible victory over a tired Laura Orgue; 3:35:02 and 3:40:49 respectively. Maite Maiora ran a sold race and had the race been 1-mile longer, she may possibly have taken 2nd place, her time of 3:41:06 showing how close it was.
The weather and altitude played a key factor in the 25km and on the line many of the runners expressed how technical the downhill section was. Showing incredible recovery from the VK, Yngvild Kaspersen closed ranks in the later stages of the race and took 4th place ahead of Emelie Forsberg and Stevie Kremer. Emelie intends to run all 3-races of runtherut this weekend.
Attention now turns to Sundays 50km event which will start at 0600 local time.
Starting at the Big Sky Resort base area, the Lone Peak VK offered Skyrunners a lung busting ascent to the summit of Lone Peak (11,166ft) in just a little less than 5k.
It may not be the steepest VK on the Skyrunner® World Series but it certainly is one of the most dramatic and the views from the summit are quite incredible.
In contrast to 2014, the first half of the VK route had a change based on operational concerns of Big Sky Resort. So this year, the sole hole biking trail is a no go and the route takes on a steeper and more direct route following the ethos and principals of Skyrunning.
Heading up Huntley Hollow and Calamity Jane ski runs the route headed up to the Bone Crusher and the impressive Alto ridge. Here it gets steep, gnarly and technical and the long haul, hands-on-knees grunt continued to the summit. The final sections had a potential for rockfall, exposure and other objective hazards.
Starting in waves, the elite runners departed first on the stroke of 1500 in a mass group. The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm, working out a good pace and then looking for a prime position before the more technical and challenging terrain started. Remi Bonnet and Laura Orgue pushed from the start and both looked very strong at the midway point before the more technical sections started.
In the ladies race Morgan Arritola looked to be closing the gap with 500m covered but Laura found the extra reserves to push on to the line. Ladies rising star, Yngvild Kaspersen ran a strong race and relegated ladies Tromso VK winner, Emelie Forsberg with a strong push for 3rd.
Remi Bonnet was in a class of his own on this course and finished clear of Matterhorn Ultraks winner, Martin Anthamatten and Ferran Teixido moved up from 4th place and 500m to 3rd at the line.
At the summit Remi Bonnet arrived first looking spent with the effort in a time of 45:58:04. It was a dominating performance and a confirmation of a star in the making. Holding on for 2nd was Martin Anthamatten and 3rd place was Ferran Teixido in 47:38:78 and 48:04:89. respectively.
In the ladies’ race Laura Orgue finished a strong 1st 1-minute clear of Morgan Arritola 2nd and Yngvild Kaspersen 3rd. Times were 52:20:36, 53:16:79 and 55:15:05.
The weather and altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK and when a race starts on or around 2000m, a runner’s altitude adaptation was always going to play a key part.
Attention now turns to Saturday and the 25km event. This event will prove to be fast and furious with mixed terrain that includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and the summit of the iconic Lone Peak.
Tromsö, Norway was shrouded in mist and low cloud today. Ironic considering that the previous days had glorious sunshine and blue skies. At 3pm, leaving the sea of the Ersfjord fjord runners faced a vertical climb of 1.044m reaching the top of Store Blåmann; the first VK in Tromsö.
It’s a technical course that mixes many different terrain types to make this an ultimate challenge for the VK specialist and novice. 117 runners made it to the top having crossed several sections on large rocks, boulders, scrambling sections and snow.
From the beginning of the race, a small group of strong athletes pushed at the front with local, Stian Angermund pushing ahead of Pascal Egli and Remi Bonnet. Slovenian Nejk Kuhar and the Norwegian Thorbjorn Ludvigsen chased hard but were loosing ground at the mid point. Angermund obviously wanted victory on home soil and sealed the top podium slot with a strong finish in a remarkable 35:20. Remi Bonnet moved up into 2nd an Pascal Egli completed the podium.
Yngvild Kaspersen from Tromsö followed up a great run at Dolomites SkyRace and pushed race director Emelie Forsberg all the way to the line. But Forsberg managed to win (43:41) by just 1 second after a sprint on the last rocky section before the summit. Maite Maiora took the final podium place.
Tromsö and race directors, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg pulled out all the stops to make this VK a very special occasion. It was like a group of friends assembling and undertaking a fun day of running in a very casual and informal way. But the planning and experience was well established ahead of the race and all went smoothly. Kilian post race said:
“Everyone was very positive and happy and I am really pleased we had no issues. It was a success!”
Many of the runners will now rest and look to do ‘the double’ and get ready for Sunday’s events; The Hamperokken SkyRace, part of the for the Ultra SkyRunner® World Series and the Tromsdalstind SkyRace of 21km. Both races will start at 10am.
1.Stian Hovind-Angermund 35:20 2.Remi Bonnet 35:42
3. Pascal Egli 36:05
The stunning alpine village of Val d’Isère is the official home of the next two races in the Skyrunner® calendar, the Ice Trail Tarentaise which is the Skyrunning Continental Championship for the Ultra distance and the Bellevarde Vertical Kilometer the first VK in the Skyrunner® World Series.
Val d’Isere is a haven for alpinists wanting to test themselves on the iconic slopes of Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchavel; it is affectionately known as the ‘Le Trois Vallees’. The Ice Trail Tarentaise (ITT) starts and concludes in this beautiful mountain retreat.
The ITT has over 60 km’s above 2000m altitude and with a highest point of 3653m at ‘Grande Motte.’ In just a couple of years, the race has gained a reputation for being one of the most ‘extreme’ races in the Skyrunner® calendar, it is a race not to be taken lightly!
Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386m, ropes, ladders, way markers, peaks at over 3000m and 5000m +/- ascent and descent guarantees that not everyone will see the finishing tape. The ITT is very true to the heritage of Skyrunning and it harks back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when ISF President, Marino Giacometti pioneered a new form of Alpinism.
Who is running?
ITT has always had a high quality field assemble and 2015 is no different. Luis Alberto Hernando heads up the men’s field after his recent victory at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and placing 2nd at the IAU World Trail Championships. Luis ran ITT last year but pulled out whilst in 2nd place. I am convinced that we won’t see that happen this year and for me, Luis is the hot favourite for victory. He is without doubt in his element on tough courses (with snow) between the 50-100km distance.
Manuel Merillas is a rising star in Skyrunning and had an incredible 2014. He placed 5th at ITT in 2014, which will most definitely provide him with a great deal of experience coming into the 2015 edition. The recent Transvulcania Ultramarathon did not go well for Manuel; he looked primed for the podium in the first half of the race but then struggled in the latter stages to finish outside the top 10. He showed amazing powers of recovery by bouncing back just 1 week later at Zegama-Aizkorri and placing 2nd. One to watch!
Fabien Antolinus had a great race in 2014 and placed 2nd behind Francois d’Haene. He does however seem to blow hot and cold and can be a little unpredictable. For sure, he has all the skills and talent required to perform at the highest level. He may well be a podium contender but I don’t see him toppling Luis.
Pablo Villa shot to our attention in 2014 when he had a great run at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. Shifting sponsors (now Salomon) he backed that performance up with 8th at the 2015 edition of the race. Pablo is a top 10 contender and should he have a great day, the top 5 may well be a possibility.
Fulvio Dapit has all the potential to make the podium at ITT. On his day, he is a superb mountain runner and he excels when the terrain is ‘challenging.’ He placed 4th at ITT in the last edition. Recently though he had a tough performance at Lavaredo, however, he did pull out and that may well have saved his ITT performance.
French champion (2013), Sebastien Spehler had victories at TTN and 6000D in 2014. His recent form is a little unknown but he may well make the top 10?
Benoit Cori placed 13th at the IAU World Trail Championships and won Templiers in 2014. The ITT course is far removed from both those courses but Benoit obviously has speed.
Marcin Swierc is another runner who will make his presence felt in the top 10. He placed 8th at Mont-Blanc Marathon and 9th at Templiers and 4th at the recent Mont-Blanc 80km. So it is clear to see that he has speed and strength. ITT adds other aspects and his final result will very much depend on how he can handle snow, ice and additional technical running.
Christophe Perillat is not a runner I know a great deal about. However, he did place 2nd at the 2014 CCC. So with that in mind, he is no slouch in the mountains.
Cyril Cointre may well start the race? I need to have this confirmed. If he does, he will be a contender at the front of the race. He races extensively, some may say too much but despite this, he always pulls out the results. Recently he finished ahead of Anton Krupicka at Transgrancanaria.
Franco Colle knows how to run in the mountains; look at his results at Tor des Geants. The ITT terrain will suit him but will it be too short and too fast? He certainly performed exceptionally well at Mont-Blanc 80k when he placed 2nd behind Alex Nichols.
Several other names on the start sheet jump out at me:
Zigor Iturrieta has been there and done it in racing. I was last at a race with him in Nepal when he ran Everest Trail Race (he placed 3rd) and he always manages to pull out the stops for strong consistent results.
Pavel Paloncy is a renowned adventure racer, 2-x winner of the UK’s Spine Race and recently raced The Dragons Back and would have placed well overall had it not been for a bad fall on day 1. Pavel is a strong and gritty runner. I do wonder though if this race may be too short and too fast for Pavel?
Stuart Air from the UK has run well at ITT before and top 10 would be a great result.
Ones to watch:
Daniel Garcia, Jessed Hernandez, Robert Niewland, Pawel Dybek,
Emelie Forsberg has won ITT 2 x and I have no reason to doubt or question that she will do it again. It’s a course she loves, the terrain suits her and she has great memories. Last weekend she won and set a new course record in Alaska at Mount Marathon. It was 50-minute race but just today (Tuesday) she said her legs are tired! I think they will be okay for the weekend. Her performance and victory (off ski’s) at Transvulcania Ultramarathon in 2015 confirms that Emelie is the one to beat!
Anna Comet Pascua is on fire at the moment. I witnessed Anna win Everest Trail Race at the end of 2014 and she said then that she planned to race the Skyrunning circuit in 2015. A podium place at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and then a follow up podium behind Mira Rai at Mont-Blanc 80km confirms that Anna is doing something right. Just as in La Palma, I don’t think Anna has the race to beat Emelie but anything can happen?
It will not be an easy ride for Emelie and Maud Gobert will make sure of that. Maud placed 2nd at ITT in 2014 and although she races lees now than in the past, on her day she can still make her presence felt.
Anne Lise Rousset placed 4th at the IAU World Championships and although she has great potential for top 5 or maybe even the podium, I don’t see her coming close to Emelie on a course like this.
Magdalena Laczack however may well prove to be the dark horse of the race and is my top tip for 2nd place and should Emelie falter, Magdalena could possibly take the victory? Her 3rd place behind Emelie and Frosty at the Skyrunning World Championships (80km) in Chamonix confirms this.
Nuria Dominguez is an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit and always gets the job done. She has placed top 10 at Transgrancanaria, Zegama-Aizkorri, Dolomites SkyRace, Trans D’Havet, Limone Extreme and so on. Top 5 is a distinct possibility and most certainly a podium contender on a good day!
Beth Cardelli is one of the strongest runners in the Southern Hemisphere and won one of the shorter races at ITT in 2013. Climbing and long distance running is her forte and I am sure if she is making the journey from Australia she will be fired up for a great run. Recently she placed 4th at Mt Difficulty and 3rd at Buffalo Stampede when Landie Greyling topped the podium.
Ester Alves seems to be running everything at the moment. I would say ‘too much’ for her to have any potential for the podium at ITT but she may well make the top 5 and top 10 should be guaranteed if all goes well. Recently she placed 2nd behind Stevie Kremer at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira.
Ones to watch:
Ragna Debats, Frederica Boifava, Anna Strakova, Sarah Vieuielle and Virginie Govignon.
The course is a tough one, which may include snow although this looks unlikely after recent high temperatures throughout Europe. This race may well prove to be very exciting, as Francois Gonon will run after his recent excellent CR on the vertical slopes in Chamonix.
Ones to watch:
William Bon Mardion
Emelie Forsberg (tbc)
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