Cavalls del Vent 2013 – Race Preview

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The 2012 edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent turned out to be a classic race. It’s inclusion on the ISF Skyrunner World Series attracted a stellar field and fans around the world of true mountain running had a stunning display from the men’s and ladies races.

Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka and Dakota Jones inspired with stunning performances and the ladies race proved to be a thriller, with arguably the three best mountain runners in the world going head-to-head for the Ultra Cavalls del Vent crown. At the line it was local girl, Nuria Picas who took the crown from a charging Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg.

However, the event was marred with bad weather and unfortunately the loss of life. Teresa Farriol who had placed 14th lady in the 2011 event unfortunately came into difficulty during the night and although she received expert medical help, she passed away.

Our sport should be challenging and we all acknowledge accidents happen. Needless to say the mood after the 2012 race was subdued but safety has always been and always will be paramount at the Ultra Cavalls del Vent.

Article on the 2012 event HERE

Anton Krupicka race report HERE

The Race

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Now in its fifth edition, the UCdV will once again attract top mountain runners to participate in an ultra endurance mountain race crossing the mythical trek in the Cadi Moixero National Park. The route is 100km long and has a total elevation gain of 6668m, the highest point of the course coming at approximately 14km at Niu de L’Aliga (2400m). The course takes in eight huts and starts and ends in the quiet town of Baga. In comparison to previous editions, the route has been extended from 84km to 100km and the cut off time has also been extended to 28 hours.

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Potential Winners

One thing is for sure the 2013 edition of the race has nowhere near the stacked field of 2012. But what may be missing in depth is compensated for with quality, particularly in the men’s field. The ladies have a couple of stand out names and although not confirmed yet, Nuria Picas did say that she would return for her ‘home’ race.

Men

Tofol Castanyer, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Tofol Castanyer, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Tofol Castanyer has raced at Cavalls del Vent before, he placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 8:42 (for 84k) and in 2013 he unfortunately had to drop with hypothermia. So far, 2013 has been mixed with some injury issues and stomach problems in one or two races, however, his recent form at Transalpine should ring alarm bells for all his completion. Without doubt a hot favourite for the win.

Luis Alberto Hernando, Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando, Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando is a class act and 2013 has seen him move up the distances in a long-term bid to race at TNFUTMB. He has repeatedly played second fiddle to Kilian Jornet and has been one of only a small handful to really push the Catalan to the line.  He was seconds behind at Zegama-Aizkorri, finished joint first at Trans D’Havet and once again, just finished a minute or so in arrears at Matterhorn Ultraks. Luis can win Cavalls del Vent, no doubt.

Zigor Iturrieta, Trans D'Havet ©iancorless.com

Zigor Iturrieta, Trans D’Havet ©iancorless.com

Zigor Iturrieta like Tofol raced in 2011 and placed 5th overall. He has the potential for a strong performance here; the terrain and distance suit him. However, he has already raced a lot in 2013 and one has to wonder how fresh he will be.

Jordi Bes will be racing on home soil. He recently won the CCC and must come to Cavalls with high hopes of a podium finish. He knows the area well and placed 9th at the 2011 edition. One-to-watch for sure.

Gerard Morales Ramirez placed 10th and the 2011 edition and last year, in a much higher quality field placed 8th. He will come with high hopes of hopefully moving into the top five and if all things go well, maybe even a podium slot.

Felipe Artigue Rodriguez is a runner I know little about, however, he placed 10th overall at the 2012 edition of Cavalls del Vent at the knowledge will be extremely useful for 2013. I don’t see him as a contender for the podium but I am sure he hopes to improve on his overall placing.

Terry Conway (2nd place) Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Terry Conway (2nd place) Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, Terry Conway from the UK raced at Cavalls del Vent and was a victim of the bad weather. Since then, Terry has struggled with below par performances at Ronda dels Cims and the Lakeland 100. He didn’t finish either event. He recently secured a top fifty place at TNFUTMB and this will be a great boost for him. Providing he is fresh and recovered from TNFUTMB, he has all the potential of a good run and make the top ten.

Other names to watch out for: Carlos Santasusana Bayona and Pau Bartola Roca.

Cavalls del Vent 2012 ©iancorless.com

Cavalls del Vent 2012 ©iancorless.com

Ladies

Nuria Picas, Cavalls del Vent  ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas is not on the start list so I am going here from conversations with her post TNFUTMB. She confirmed for me that if her recovery was good, she would line up at her ‘home’ race and run. If she does, she is the outright favourite for the race win, even with a tough 100-miles in her legs from her circular tour of Mont Blanc and 2nd place!. Nuria is a class act, her 10:34 from the 2012 edition of the race smashed the previous course record and when you consider her consistency over all distances, not many ladies beat her. This year over the 80km distance and less she has consistently placed second to Emelie Forsberg, however, that will have no impact here!

Placing 6th at Cavalls del Vent in 2012, Laia Andreu Trias is the next lady with top billing. In 2013, she has won several races; La Vall de Nuria, Vertical Sobrepuny, Curse de Muntanya Sotabranques and Curs Mossos d’Esquadra, so, she has form. Should Nuria not run, Laia is a potential winner and for sure, a hot possibility for a podium place.

Teresa Nimes Peres has potential to make the top 10 and if she has a good day, she will be pushing for the top five and maybe even the podium. In 2013 she placed 8th at Trans D’Havet and in 2012 Teresa was 15th at La Grande Course des Templiers, 11th at Cavalls del Vent, 19th at TNFUTMB and 9th at Transvulcania.

Christina (Tina) Bes is a ski mountaineer and has a list of palmares the length of my arm. However, her ability as a runner in the mountains is relatively unknown to me. One thing I have learnt though is that a quality Ski Mountaineer very often makes a great mountain runner! A dark horse?

Finally, Natercia Martins Silvestre placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees in 2012 and was 2nd at Ultra Trail das Aldeias do Xisto. In 2013 she had a win at the Trail de Perialara 80km, so, she has form. It will be interesting to see what she can do in the Cadi Moixero National Park.

I am absolutely sure that the 2013 edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent will be an exciting race with many surprises. For sure, the addition of 16km will make a big difference to the final outcome.

If you’d like to follow the race, go HERE

 

 

Zegama Race Summary

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

It was close… oh so close! Seconds separated Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernando at the 2013 Zegama-Aizkorri. Post race in a chat with Kilian, we discussed the race and he was extremely satisfied to be pushed so hard in the latter stages of the race.

“I had relaxed and was running comfortably and then suddenly Luis appeared” Kilian said, “I had a race on my hands, we pushed each other very hard and it was only in the final kilometre that I surged and pulled away”.

Luis Alberto Hernando is the 2011 World Champion and is clearly in great form at the moment. Only a couple of weeks ago he participated in his first ultra, Transvulcania La Palma, and here he placed second again behind Kilian.

Kilian and Marco, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Kilian and Marco, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Marco De Gasperi, after some deliberation (ankle injury) toed the line and led the race to the 21 km check point with his sparring partner, Kilian Jornet. Kilian and Marco love to race each other and we have witnessed some tremendous battles over the years. However, Zegama would not see a repeat, Marco pulled out to ensure that he did not stress his injury any farther.

Luis Alberto Hernando worked his way through the field and pursued Kilian and finally caught him. What followed was a tremendous game of cat and mouse as the two pushed each other to the limit on the long and final descent.

Kilian pulled away in the final moments of the race to miss Rob Jebb’s 2005 course record by just 20 seconds, his finishing time 3:54:38. Luis Alberto Hernando finished just seconds later and Tadei Pivk produced a stunning run to finish third in 3:59:07.

It was really close.... Zegama 2013

It was really close…. Zegama 2013

The ladies race had all the makings of a classic. Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar, Silvia Serafini and Stevie Kremer would do battle on this classic mountain course.

World long course mountain running champion, Stevie Kremer pushed hard from the start and lead the race until over halfway but Emelie Forsberg paced herself extremely well. She took over the lead and then slowly pulled away to ultimately dominate the race for a stunning win in 4:48:12.

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

The first half of the race was fast and furious, but as time and distance progressed experience came through. In particular, Nuria Picas, the 2012 Skyrunner Ultra champion and fresh from her second place at Transvulcaniawho was out of the top five in the first half of the race. She moved through the field, hunted runners down and then passed Stevie Kremer on the descent to be place second.

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer (pre race interview here) running her first SkyMarathon performed superbly and without doubt is a star of the future. She openly said, “I need to work on my descending, it is what let me down today”.

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

As Nuria waved to the crowd she almost lost second place as Stevie burst around the corner of the finishing straight. The time gap shows how close it was at the finish, 4:49:55 for Nuria and 4:49:58 for Stevie. Without doubt we will be seeing Stevie on podium again throughout the 2013 calendar.

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A notable mention must also go to Silvia Serafini (pre race interview here). Silvia was having a stunning race and was in third place for much of the race, but she twisted her ankle on the final descent. She finally finished within the top ten but the frustration of what might have been was clear to see on her face and she fell to the floor after crossing the finish line.

Silvia Serafini copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini copyright Ian Corless

Zegama-Aizkorri is renowned for the severity of the course, the ability of the runners and the passion of the supporters. It’s a pleasure and a honour to witness the action unfold and the atmosphere is akin to a stage of the Tour de France.

The crowds and the passion, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

The crowds and the passion, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Skyrunning is not just about fast ascents, but even faster descents – a technique that distinguishes the sport.  Many strong runners new to the sport, like Germany’s Florian Reichert, Japan’s Toru Miyahara and South African A J Caltiz, who excelled on the uphill, will be honing their skills on the downhill for the next Sky Series challenge in Chamonix on June 30 with the Mont-Blanc Marathon.

  • A full set of race images are available HERE
  • Images from the race briefing HERE
Kilan Jornet and Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Kilan Jornet and Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Race results

Men

1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon Santiveri) – 3h54’38”

2. Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) – 3h54’50”

3. Tadei Pivk (Crazy Idea) – 3h58’07”

Women

1.  Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) –  4h48’12”

2.  Nuria Picas (FEEC) – 4h49’55”

3.  Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 4h49’58”

Video Highlight:

Los Llanos de Aridane – La Palma

Day 7 (Friday) Niandi and myself went sight seeing, cake eating and coffee drinking in the beautiful town of Los Llanos de Aridane. Los Llanos is the finish area for the Transvulcania La Palma.

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It’s a great place. It has a mixture of modern shops, traditional architecture and one has the opportunity to see local life unfold. Thankfully no signs saying “English Pub” or “English Breakfast served here”. It is as a Spanish town should be; Spanish!

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For me with all the pastel coloured buildings it has a feel of Cuba. Now I haven’t been to Cuba so I am make some serious assumptions here…. however, I am happy with my speculation!

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I left Niandi at surfing and answering emails at ‘Tasca El Patio‘. A great little cafe in one of the many side streets in Los Llanos. I went to KN Sports situated in the town. No matter how much sport kit I get I still love checking out whats available. These guys had a great selection of Salomon kit so I did wonder if I would be parting with some money….

In the store I was greeted like a celebrity. It was a real random moment. I was asked to be photographed with each of the staff one by one and the manager in front of a huge ‘Kilian’ poster. At first I was confused… I thought it must be because I was British. As it turned out they are big followers of Facebook and my blog. Funny!

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The relaxing morning was followed with Niandi taking some chill and relax time at our villa but I needed a fix. I went out for just a couple of hours on local trails in the late afternoon sun. Taking the LP13 trail I ran down the valley and went rock and boulder hopping.

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Our evening was spent with some friends in Tazacorte Port eating and drinking the local specialities. A perfect day in La Palma…

You can see a selection of images HERE

Terry has landed ! Cavalls del Vent

It’s a real busy weekend ahead and I have been so wrapped up in travel and prep for Cavalls del Vent that actually thinking about UROC – Ultra Race of Champions and Spartathlon hadn’t slipped my mind but finding the time to just provide an update was difficult! So I thought I would use the wee hours of the morning before breakfast to write something up.

I am in Baga with an hour or so before breakfast and the opportunity to head out on the Cavalls course at 0900 with Philipp Reiter, Emelie Forscberg, Terry Conway and maybe Kilian!

Terry and myself arrived yesterday and met Anna Frost’s sister, Sarah, at the airport to be good citizens and provide her with a lift. After a few comedy moments… the first being Terry deciding it was a good idea to rent a car from pepecar.com !

We hit the road and then ended up getting stuck at the ‘tolls’ by being completely in the wrong lane! Yeah Yeah, I know. I am used to the tolls in France but Spain is different. We finally managed to back up the traffic, ruin a toll gate by sticking Euro coins in a ‘card slot’ and then somehow managed to get in the correct lane after some subtle lane dodging.

We met Frosty, Dakota Jones, Philipp, Emelie and Tony K was hiding somewhere and had some chill time at a ‘secret’ Salomon holding camp (joke) 20 minutes away from the race village. Terry terrified Philipp telling him how good he is and how he was going to ‘take him down’ when it came to race day! (another joke)

An hour or so later Terry and myself finished off our journey providing Philipp and Emelie with a lift to our race hotel. We are at the foot of the mountains and dusk was just arriving!

Terry had some very unusual pre race prep. He laid out his Salomon Sense and then prepared dinner….. whoa! No way Terry. Not baby food tonight mate, we are going to the restaurant….

Dinner was pretty awesome. We met Philipp and then Emelie joined us with a new arrival at the hotel, Kilian Jornet. So, Terry had been in Spain approximately 3-4 hours and within that short space of time had met Frosty chatted with Dakota, missed Tony, chewed the fat with Philipp and Emelie and was now spending a couple of hours with Kilian over dinner as we discussed his ‘Summits of my Life’ project, talked about his recent Mont Blanc Crossing, his VO2 test the previous day (92 by the way… wow) and what his plans are at Cavalls, Raid de la Reunion and what 2013 has in store… pretty awesome!

So there you have it. We are in Cavalls, Terry is like a kid in a sweet shop and in an hour we will be on the Cavalls course seeing what lies in store for the race on Saturday.

Oh, UROC and Spartathlon…. I will be back later 😉