Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2021 Summary

Elisa Desco on her way to victory and CR.

3500 participants, representing 50 nations, gave life back to Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Dolomites for a stunning four days of racing, Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 June, after the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to the 2020 edition of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail. It was good to be back!

Taking place in a UNESCO World Heritage location, the SkyMarathon, Cortina trail, the Ultra Dolomites 80km and the main event, the 120km Lavaredo Ultra Trail which represented the Italian stage of the Spartan Trail World Championship 2021.

UNESCO World Heritage location

Cortina d’Ampezzo (Belluno), hosted the 14th edition of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail and while it was not easy for Cristina Murgia and Simone Brogioni to return after a difficult year, they rallied and with a team of 600+ volunteers, the 2021 edition can be deemed a great success. It is obviously hoped that the 2022 edition can be a ‘normal’ edition with more participants and more nations.

The 2021 La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail, kicked off on Thursday evening with the Cortina SkyRace which 20 kilometers and 1000m of vertical gain that started and concluded in Cortina taking in a picturesque root with stunning views and trails.

Marta Fabris

Spaniard, Alex Garcia Carrillo won the men’s race setting a new course record and the Italian, Marta Fabris, took home the crown for the women.

Alex Garcia Carrillo

The Cortina Trail started the following morning at 0900, once again starting and concluding on Cortina, with a distance 48 kilometers and 2,600 meters of elevation gain, the route contained much of the final section of the 120km main event.

Elisa Desco in the early stages of the Cortina Trail

1200 competitors competed that led around the Tofane, touching Col Rosà and going up the Val Travenanzes, up to Col dei Bos. In the second half in the shadow of Averau and Nuvolau, the Giau pass, Forcella Ambrizzola, Croda da Lago refuge and then the finish in Cortina. Antonio Martínez Perez from Spain won for the men in 4:17:14 (new CR) ahead of Norwegian, Jo Forseth Indgaard and Fin, Mårten Boström, the duo completing in 4:23:41 and 4:26:31 respectively. Skyrunner, Elisa Desco from Italy, won for the women’s race with a new CR of 5:06:57 breaking the 2018 mark, set by Hillary Allen by almost 12-minutes. Ursula Paprocka 5:24:19, and Katarzyna Wilk 5:25:43 completed the podium.

Antonio Martínez Perez
Jo Forseth Indgaard

The main event, the La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail now in its 14th edition) started at 2300hrs on Friday evening and as mentioned, represented Spartan Trail World Championship for 2021. With 5800m of vertical gain and 120km’s, the task is arduous and hard for all who toe the line. A night of running is broken with the arrival of dawn at the stunning Tres Comes of Lavaredo welcomes the front runners. What follows are stunning trails in an amphitheater of rock and amazing views. The ever present and unique Dolomite mountains providing the most amazing background to modern day gladiators battling for their own personal victories.

Tres Cimes de Lavaredo
Hannes Namberger leading Andreu Simon Aymerich at Giau.
Sebastien Krogvig

Hannes Namberger, from Giau to Forcella Ambrizzola, changed gear and in the closing 6km he opened gap of almost three minutes after a long battle with Andreu Simon Aymerich to gain victory with a new course record in 12h 02m 12s. Sebastian Krogvig completed the podium, repeating his third place in 2017. For the women, Camille Bruyas from France, clinched a solid victory in 14:06:16 ahead of Katie Schide and Mimi Kotka, 14:28:21 and 14:51:09 respectively.

Camille Bruyas
Katie Schide

While the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120km event passed through its 9th hour, the Ultra Dolomites, now in in its 2nd edition started, with 4100 meters of elevation gain and 80km waiting from Sesto (Bolzano). Czech, Marek Causidis clinched victory in 8:10:26 and Martina Valmassoi won for the women in 9:21:11.

Stunning landscape

The Lavaredo Ultra Trail had a title sponsor of La Sportiva and was supported by other important brands – Parmigiano Reggiano, Buff, Petzl, La Cooperativa di Cortina, Rudy Project, Garmin, San Benedetto, Elleerre, Fabbrica di Pedavena, Eolo, Cortinabanca, Astoria, Reflexallen and Cortina Hospital.

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Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2021 Preview

After a year of standstill, racing returns to Cortina and the Dolomites with four races, over four days and approximately 4000 athletes from 50 countries for the Lavaredo Ultra Trail.

The action starts on Thursday evening with the 20km Skyrace which has 1000m of vertical gain and 330 participants.

Friday morning, 0800, the Cortina Trail kicks off over a distance of 48km and 2600m of vertical gain with 1350 runners

The main event, the La Sportiva Ultra Trail starts at 11pm Friday, 1350 runners have entered anticipating covering 120km’s with 5800m of vertical gain within 30-hours.

The final event, the Ultra Dolomites, has 80 km’s and 4100m of elevation gain with 780 athletes toeing the line in Sesto (Bolzano).

ONES TO WATCH

Marco De Gasperi, Matterhorn Ultraks

The main event, the La Sportiva Ultra Trail has Andreas Reiterer will try to bring the men’s LUT podium back to Italy after 8 years. Xavier Thevenard, the only athlete who has won all the Mont Blanc Ultra-Trail race distances, from 50 to 160 km is without doubt, the hot favourite. Also fighting for the lead positions are France’s, Germany’s Hannes Namberger and Spain’s Andreu Simon Aymerich and Tofol Castanyer. The Italian mountain running and skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi also toes the line.

Azara Garcia

Katie Schide ids on form at the moment, as is Spaniard, Azara García. The duo will almsost certainly lead a charge at the front followed Camille Bruyas, Mimmi Kotka, and Swiss Kathrin Götz, winner of the 2019 LUT.

All the races will have staggered starts, 400 athletes every ten minutes. Race bib numbers, which have been assigned on the basis of participants’ ITRA (International Trail Running Association) ranking, ensure that the fastest athletes start in the first grids, thus avoiding gatherings and overtaking as much as possible. 

The Cristallo and Tofane, Sorapiss, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Pomagagnon, Croda Rossa, Croda da Lago and Averau provide a world-class arena for the 2021 gladiators to do battle.

In addition to the title sponsor, La Sportiva, other important companies also support the event such as: Parmigiano Reggiano, Buff, Petzl, La Cooperativa di Cortina, Rudy Project, Garmin, San Benedetto, Elleerre, Fabbrica di Pedavena, Eolo, Cortinabanca, GVM Ospedale Cortina, Astoria and Reflexallen.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Scarpa SPIN Shoe Review

I have used Scarpa shoes and boots in the past and have always been impressed with the mountain pedigree the brand has. So, I was very welcome to receive the SPIN and the SPIN ULTRA for testing. 

The SPIN, in the words of Scarpa say, ‘… with more cushion and protection than the Atom, but a lighter, lower-profile design than the Neutron, the new Spin is the Goldilocks of our Alpine Running collection, for those who want both support and simplicity on rugged trails and craggy ridge lines.

I will discuss and write about the SPIN ULTRA at a later date.

The SPIN is noticeably light (252g for EU42) and flexible. From the first look one can immediately see that this is a race or fast training shoe designed for a mountain environment. For sure, it’s a trail shoe, but I would extend that to be a mountain/ alpine shoe. It has ‘skyrunning’ written all over it and certainly from initial outings it immediately felt like VK’s and SkyRace (sub 42km) terrain would sit perfectly in the SPIN list of ‘go to’ uses.

The upper is mesh and therefore very breathable, structure and support of the upper comes from welded PU overlay. One of the plus sides of this, as in other shoes using this method, there are no seams that can cause irritation or rubbing inside the shoe.

 The lacing is substantial with 5 sets of eyelets and the additional 6th eyelet should you wish to lace-lock. With a comfortable and padded auto fit tongue which extends slightly higher than other shoes I have tested, this is perfect for stopping any discomfort where the top of one’s foot joins the lower leg. There is a ‘lace-garage’ which is so obviously great, I have never understood why all run shoes do not use this method, or at least something similar.

 The heel is padded and plush and really holds the foot with comfort and security. Very noticeable when running or hiking uphill is the hold the shoe gives; it is very reassuring.

It has a ‘sock-like’ fit (SOCK-FITLW by Scarpa) which is just perfect as it provides a wonderful, secure and comfy hold of the foot.

The toe box is well shaped, allows for toe splay but the SPIN is more of a ‘precision’ shoe designed for technical trail and as such it has a narrower fit but not very narrow. Certainly, if you need or require a wide toe box, the SPIN is unlikely to be for you, but you should try it… It has a toe bumper which provides some protection from contact with rocks or debris.

With a 4mm drop one needs to be a more efficient runner. It’s a shoe with cushioning (24mm/20mm) but not excessively so, hence I see that is a shorter/ mid-distance shoe. The midsole is EVA and I would say is on the firmer side, but after several runs one can feel it soften without compromising the shoe. It has a rock-plate, and this works really well offering great protection via a H-EVA Plate.

 The outsole is Vibram which is known throughout the world. MegaGrip is extremely popular and although aggressive, it is not extremely aggressive. It can handle mud but not really sloppy stuff. Then again, very little shoes can do well at everything. If running in lots of mud, there would be better outsoles than this. But the MegaGrip is perfect for the SPIN intentions – mountains, ridges, trails, rocks in wet or dry conditions. The lugs are 4mm and quite spaced out. Grip is very good on a wide variety of surfaces, but it works best on rock, ridges, loose gravel and soft ground. You will see the the SPIN has cut outs in the sole and here you can clearly see the rock-plate. The cut aways help reduce weight and increase the flexibility of the shoe. This is noticeable, especially in the propulsive phase.

The SPIN comes with two foot beds. One minimalist and the other providing more cushioning and structure. This is a great idea! I personally used the more structured foot bed which secured the rear of my foot more. Switching between the foot bed really changes the feel of the shoe, so, if you prefer something more minimal. You will prefer the thinner of the two.

 Sizing is true to size, I use an EU44 and these fitted as expected.

IN USE

 The SPIN has great comfort and the sock-like fit is just perfect. The lacing system is superb at holding the foot and it is easy to adjust should you need. For example, I have a high instep, so I like to loosen my laces but not at the compromise of a secure foot hold. The addition of the the 6th eyelet allows for different lacing options; I didn’t need to lock lace as the foothold form the SPIN is so good. The lace garage is perfect for getting laces out of the way. One of the revelations is the heel area. It’s plush, extremely comfortable and is arguably the best hold I have had from any shoe. Climbing there is no movement or slipping. 

The upper is very breathable and my feet were comfy in either wet conditions or hot conditions. Drainage is good. The welded overlay is adequate and provides good stability. Toe bumper could be better, but it is a minor complaint.

On technical trail, foot roll is minimal, but the SPIN does have a wasp like (figure of 8) shape and so depending on your foot shape, you could have some roll? I had no roll at all. I got no issues with the SPIN rubbing my ankles, a problem I have had with other shoes on technical terrain, this is a real plus!

Cushioning is on the harder side and lacks life and bounce but that is compensated for with great flex, especially in the propulsive phase. Also, you have two foot bed options and the more padded/ supported option was a real boost for me. They are very comfortable shoes. 

The MegaGrip outsole works really well on a whole mix of terrain, wet or dry. But it works best on soft-ground, rocks and technical trail. Protection is very good but occasionally, you may find a stone getting in one of the gaps in the cutaways of the sole. It will not stay there, but if it is sharper, you may just feel it through the rock-plate.

CONCLUSION 

I have been using Scarpa for many years, the Charmoz a personal favourite. But I have never used a run shoe from the brand. The SPIN has been a revelation and certainly for runs up to 4-hours on technical/ mountainous routes, it’s a shoe I will use time and time again. The overall package is excellent combing lightweight, responsiveness, feel for the ground, cushioning, great comfort and excellent grip in most scenarios. It’s a shoe for faster training or racing in the mountains.  

Highlights come from excellent lacing, the sock-like fit, the shoes weight and the heel box.

There is little not to like in the SPIN. It is more of a precision shoe, but the fit is not as narrow as others, so, you would need to try them on to find out if they would work for you.

The only negative, for me, is the cushioning is a little hard and lacks a little life. It is a minor point and actually does not impair how the shoe performs, however, for some, it may influence how enjoyable the SPIN is to wear. 

Specs: 

  • 4mm drop
  • 252g for EU42
  • Upper Mesh w/ welded PU overlay
  • Insole H-EVA Plate
  • Midsole EVA-CM
  • Outsole Vibram Fixion/ MegaGrip
  • Cushioning 24mm/20mm
  • Sock like fit
  • Lace storage
  • Medium cushioning and protection
  • Choice of insoles

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2018 Race Summary and Images

The USM, Ultra Skymarathon Madeira – 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over, the next race in the the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.

The 2018 edition was arguably the greatest field ever assembled at the USM with a who’s who of elite mountain runners. Heading up the men’s field was last years winner, Jonathan Albon. For the ladies, it was difficult to pick a favourite byut gut instinct said that either Emelie Forsberg on the recent IAU World Trail Champion, Ragna Debats, was the favourite.

Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending, the USM course is a unique one – It’s not an ordinary Skyrunning course!

Experienced runners start a little slower for this race and Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats did just that, placing themselves away from the first three over the early sections of the course, there is a reason…

The USM has a brutal start, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m. Light rain followed the runners over the early miles until they broke through the cloud – on the other side, blue skies and a different day.

A section of via ferrata at around 6km was followed by a little descending and a final push for the highest point of the day. Dmitry Mityaev from Russia was the first to arrive no doubt feeling confident after a great result at Transvulcania recently. Marco De Gasperi and Franco Colle followed and then Andre Jonsson and Jon Albon.

Emelie Forsberg lead the ladies to the summit and Mira Rai pursued with Ragna Debats a little further back. Emelie was on a mission and looked strong, Mira unfortunately was suffering with stomach issues and eventually had to ease off opening the doorway for Ragna to pursue Emelie. Behind Hillary Gerardi, Ekaterina Mityaev, Nuria Picas and many others followed.

Descending over the summit, the cloud inversion was clearly visible – the landscape awe-inspiring. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t really change until they returned back to the coast. Franco Colle had dropped and now the men’s race had Dmitry leading Marco and Jonathan in 3rd- they were all close though. A descent to the sea was followed by a steep short climb and then another descent which was followed by a section of riverbed littered with boulders. Albon made his move, the obstacle course world champion was in his element and he pulled away from the other two with ease. Marco looked in trouble though and eventually he would ease back out of the top 5. Andre Jonsson though was revived, he moved from 4th and eventually would take a great 2nd ahead of the Russian and then Pau Capell and Dani Jung placed 4th and 5th.

Emelie lead through the riverbed but Ragna was close. With a tough climb to go, it was anyones race. Behind, Nuria Picas had moved from way back into 3rd and looked very strong. The battle at the front was intense and eventually Ragna opened a 1-min gap to finish ahead of Emelie.  Nuria Picas would hold on for 3rd.

“USM is one of if not the hardest races out there, I loved it last year and I loved it this year.” said Albon. “It is a course made for me with my obstacle course racing background and it was nice to race today tactically and it alcove together!”

 

For Ragna, “Emelie pushed hard and really wanted the win, she never gave up trying and it was so tough to finally make a move. It is so pleasing to win against such incredible competition.”

RESULTS:

  1. Ragna Debats 6:46
  2. Emelie Forsberg 6:47
  3. Nuria Picas 6:58
  4. Hillary Gerardi 6:59
  5. Ekaterina Mityaeva 7:01

 

  1. Jonathan Albon 5:48
  2. Andre Jonsson 5:55
  3. Dmitry Mityaev 5:57
  4. Pau Capell 5:58
  5. Dani Jung 6:07

RACE IMAGES AVAILABLE HERE

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