inov-8 athlete retreat and apparel testing

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The taxi drive from my hotel in Chamonix to Les Praz was short and expensive. Not sure if it was because I am English or because I was travelling closer to Switzerland, anyway, the price was worth every penny. My arrival at three impressive chalets was awe-inspiring. Nestled in a secluded cul-de-sac, our vista was the Mont Blanc Mountain range. Despite the fading light and the arrival of darkness I had immediately decided this was a place I could live.

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My welcome was a little like a new kid arriving at school a week after school starts. Everyone had settled in and felt really comfortable. However, I had no awkwardness. The inov-8 team made introductions and within minutes we were all best mates. In reality, I knew many of the people either from interviews for Talk Ultra or from previous races. Alex Nichols from the US I had met in Zegama along with Anna Lupton (and Keith), Florian Reichert, Sarah Ridgeway and Natalie White (and Dave). Aussies Shona Stephenson and Brendan Davies (and Nadine) I had spoken to and interviewed multiple times, to meet them both face-to-face was a real pleasure. Dave MacFarlane was working on video, Lee Procter and I had FB’d, emailed and tweeted for months so it was great to put a face to the name. Matt Brown (and Rosamond), arguably the brains behind much of the new apparel, packs and accessories that we would be testing in the coming days fulfilled my ‘geek’ side. Robbie Simpson and Ben Abdelnoor, both names I was extremely familiar with but runners I had not met before. Scott Dunlap from the US, Megan Hess from IMG and journalist Andy Blow would all leave us early on either Monday or Tuesday and Florian Schopf concluded the introductions. Florian was from inov-8 Germany and as I would find out, was somewhat an expert on ‘Pose’ running. The party was complete.

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I love the dawn of a new day and no more so than when I can see a blue sky, white fluffy clouds and possibly one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world. I was up early, I needed to get at least three hours work under my belt before heading out on the trails with the ‘crew’.

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The ‘crew’ is my affectionate term for the athletes, staff, videographer and myself as photographer. Our days had a relatively simple format; we hike up to altitude, find beautiful vistas, create some great imagery of the athletes running in new apparel and then finish off with some training… And of course some fun!

The snow has really lingered in the Mont Blanc Mountain range. As the locals say, spring has arrived late! This does provide some benefits. Clear mountain trails are currently interspersed with snow and some sections offer great potential for long snow runs. I tell everyone about the American runner Jared Campbell who has this great technique for running, or should I say sliding in the snow.  You start running but if the snow is soft and the gradient steep you can basically use your shoes as skis. The look of doubt across all faces of course meant only one thing, I was going to have to do it.

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Nervous faces looked as I headed down a steep slope. I could hear the minds behind me think this guy is crazy. However, when they saw me bounce down the snow and start to slide, ski and then comfortably come to a controlled stop the realization and glee was clear. Suddenly the whole team followed. Laughter, screams and pure fun were the recipe on the trail menu card. The odd tumble was shrugged off with laughter and to draw a line under proceedings everyone lined up for an ensemble run down the slope. We may all be grown up adults but it’s days or should I say impromptu moments like this that make you fully understand and appreciate why we do what we do. Children again, our love for the outdoors was like a birth of new life. We each found something in those moments together that hadn’t been there before.

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‘That’s a beautiful trail and the vista behind is superb’, I said. It was decided, we would do a whole series of images of the different athletes wearing different combinations of apparel and accessories. First of was Ben, Megan from IMG needed a front cover shot for a magazine. Ben sprinted down single track moving from left foot to right foot spending incredible floating moments in the air. I love my job! Nothing like looking in the viewfinder and getting that buzz when you know you have captured a moment.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1050186Brendan was next, I asked him to run at me and jump over me. My intention to capture him in flight. These shots are tricky. You need everything to come together. Arms need to be balanced, legs dynamic and face composed and committed. Unbelievably we nailed it on the first run. YES. I looked in the camera and with excited glee as I passed the camera around and a unanimous acceptance of a special moment was confirmed.

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Shona and I moved up the trail to a technical section that would demand some serious concentration from both runner and photographer. Lying flat on a ridge with a wide-angle lens I would shout ‘go’! The Aussie downhill demon would take the break off and throw her self down the trail. ‘How was it Ian’, Shona would shout, ‘It was good but we didn’t get the one, can you go again’ I would reply. It’s the nature of the beast, some times you nail it, others you need to work on it but patience is rewarded and eventually the shots come.

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inov-8 really has nailed the new product range. I’m very fortunate to do what I do, I feel as though I have the boxes ticked, not only do I write, photograph and podcast about what I love but I also do the sport. Maybe not at the level I have done in the past but I am we’ll aware of the pluses and minuses of great product. I may be working on this project but I was also wearing and testing everything the athletes had to test. From functional T’s to long sleeve warm layers, wind shells and waterproof layers. Matt and the team have started with a blank canvas and didn’t start with paint but started with a pencil outline, like any great painting they have built up the layers over time only adding what needed to be added. Ultimately they have finished with some wonderful masterpieces of lightweight and minimalist running apparel. It’s an exciting and innovative line that will make competitors look and question.

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On our first day, the sun was shining and we could utilize the lighter products in the new inov-8 range, T shirts, shorts, windshell layers and of course hats and rags as accessories. The Race Elite Windshell layer in particular is a great product, weighing in at just 70g for men this is a product that you can take on every run. Once stuffed into its storage pocket (provided) it can be carried in the rear of your shorts, waist belt or pack. You can even carry it in your hand if need be. A perfect wind proof layer with 1/2 zip and small front napoleon pocket.

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Photography over it was time to run. Joining the Mont Blanc marathon course we made our way back to our chalet. The pace relaxed, at least for some (not me) we twisted and rock hopped on the trails to Les Praz. As the sun beat through the foliage, the ground beneath us tested our ability to adapt to the terrain. I was using inov-8 Roclite 245’s a relatively minimalist shoe for me but I loved the secure grip and contact with the ground. Brendan and Matt were using F-lites, the most minimalist shoe in the inov-8 range. Not a shoe for me but in the right hands, or should I say on the right feet they were a pleasure to watch as light steps, high cadence and forefoot running of the highest order confirmed why Brendan has that incredible turn of speed.

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A stream gushed with increased water flow from the melting snow up high and as we made a final turn to our chalet day one on the trails came to a close. It was time to chill, eat and drink a beer or three. Does it get any better?

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In short, the answer is yes! Day two we took a drive into Switzerland for a full day in the mountains. Snow was in abundance and the trails interspersed the white like a pencil line on a blank page. I asked Alex to do some shots on a rock cluster with a wide and expansive mountain backdrop. It only took us fifteen minutes but when completed we were alone.

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Heading up the trails we followed footprints and then ran across fields and mountainsides of snow turning a pinky/ red in places as the flowers and vegetation underneath stained the snow. In the distance we could see Dave setting up his camera, he had found a place to capture some action shots.

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A picnic lunch was followed be a series of set up shots. A rocky section with a waterfall offered the perfect combination of options to capture the runners jump, splash and rock hop. ‘Shona, will you run through the icy cold water and create some splashing?’ I asked, ‘Of course’ came the reply! To be honest, I already knew what the reply would be. Shona just loved her first European experience, the mountains; the trails the company was making her feel alive.

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Repeatedly she ran at my request and then the boys turned up. I asked them to stand on a ridge and look down. Four silhouettes and Shona splashing in the trail. It was a great image.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1140283Alex jumped the waterfall, my idea to capture him in full flight with a wide and expansive backdrop.

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Standing on high I asked four of the them to run down the trail and cross as stream as though on a group training run and then finally I found a ridge that allowed Brendan and Anna to open up the the throttle and capture them flying along the trail.

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Ok it’s a wrap and with those words excitement built at the peak in front of us. Someone coined the phrase ‘The Mini Matterhorn’ and so the quest began. Climbing upwards on technical trails an ascent of the Mini Matterhorn was begun. It become somewhat interesting as trails turned to snow.

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Ever tried running up steep snow? No? Neither had I or probably anybody else until this second day. It soon became apparent that slow was best and that you had to ‘toe’ the snow. Basically kick the snow with your toe, make a hole for your toe to sit in and then do the same and repeat. It was hard! Although nobody was in any danger the potential to loose grip was high and basically a pretty fast and cold high-speed return to the bottom was guaranteed. Yes, you got it. I made that trip!

The peak conquered our return to our vehicles was interesting. Blue skies and high temperatures were replaced with cloud and showers. In the distance thunder could be heard. It was absolute confirmation of the fragility and danger that mountains offer. I can’t stress this enough, never go unprepared. Race Elite Windshells offered a breathable and lightweight option to the wind and light drizzle but a prolonged wait back at the car park saw me reach for my Race Elite Stormshield 150 as the rain started to fall at a more considerable pace. A coke in one hand and an energy bar in the other I was satisfied with a safe and stunning day in the mountains.

Stormshell mensDo you get a buzz when you pick up a product and think, wow, that’s light? Imagine a fully waterproof seam sealed jacket that fits in a storage pocket the size of your hand that weighs only 150g and ticks all the boxes for the TNFUTMB. The Race Elite Stormshield 150 does this and no corners are cut. It is a pullover style product to reduce weight from a full-length zip and of course have fewer seams to reduce possible leaking. The hood has a reinforced brim so that you can adjust it for your needs and also it has several toggle cords so that you can obtain the correct tension. A waist drawstring, thumb loops and front pocket completes the package. It’s an incredible jacket and one that will set a benchmark.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1150625Day three was wet! Very wet. The close to day two of cloud and light drizzle had escalated during the night and we had a wash out! Perfect Dave and I smiled; we can now test the Stormshield and Thermoshell products and capture some images. You already know the answer to this… ‘Shona, do you want to run along the trail next to the river in the cold, hard, rain?’ I asked, ‘Of course’ came the reply.

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Brendan, Alex and Florian felt penned in and went out for a couple of hours to loosen legs and tag a summit. ‘Back by two’ Natalie confirmed with them and good to their promise at two we were in vehicles heading out for some cold, wet and misty imagery.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1140400Grey fluffs of broken damp mist moved through the valleys making the Mont Blanc mountain range look as though someone had taken a knife and removed the top of every peak and replaced it with a grey uniform line. Speckled in the monochrome were flashes of silver, it was illuminated by my remote flash. It was cold and we hadn’t headed upwards. It would have been crazy to go too high, as it happened we had no need. Our desire to meet the mist was realized when as a gesture of good will, the mist came to meet us. We were engulfed by dullness and we embraced it.

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Natalie, Brendan and Anna line out and I ask them to run in line along a stony path, the contrast of Stormshild jackets in blue and purple illuminated the monochromatic vista. A stony path and up the trail a tree bent over in silhouette as the mist engulfed it. One by one they ran towards me,  left to right foot, the inov-8 shoes providing a firm grip on wet and slippery rocks.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1150574©copyright .iancorless.com._1140501©copyright .iancorless.com.P1150461©copyright .iancorless.com.P1150616The rain slowly began to increase and with it temperatures dropped, ‘are we happy’ I pleaded, ‘a unanimous, YES, came back’. A short run and we were soon back in our vehicles and donning Race Elite Thermoshells to get warm.

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The Race Elite Thermoshell is a warm insulating layer for when conditions become very cold or for pre/post runs. It has ‘Revershell’ technology that allows for two insulating options. On one side the stitch-through design offers mapped breathability in key areas whereas on the reverse no stitching is visible offering 10% more warmth. It also provides a different colour option. Boasting permeable Primaloft on one side and wind proof Pertex Quantum on the other side the Thermoshell weighs only 260g for men and 220g for women.

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It felt like a Sunday back at the Chalet. Sitting around a large communal table we chatted, worked and nibbled snacks. Music played, ‘Beck’ providing a mellow soundtrack to a busy table. The boys; Brendan, Alex and Florian once again headed out for another run, it was Brendan’s third that day! ‘Don’t worry’ he said, ‘it will just be an easy recovery’.

Replete from a great meal, a few beers lubricated our minds and our tongues. It was time to tell Jokes. Poor Shona, I still think she is trying to work them out!

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My final day in the mountains arrived. My pick up would arrive at 1300; however, I was not going to waste time sitting around the chalet. The prospect of some great weather lay ahead with a glimmer of blue amongst the cloud around Mont Blanc. At 0930 we headed out on the trail and the climb up to the summit at the Mer de Glace. I knew I would need to turn back at some point but I was going to delay it as long as possible. We started out nice and easy with a walk. The walk became a power hike as we hit the early slopes to the summit and then those that could, ran. Those that could not run, jogged. And if like me you couldn’t jog, you put your hands on your knees and perfected the art of climbing while doing a walk similar to a scene from Monty Python. I would occasionally break momentum with a shout, ‘guys, this is a great spot, can I get you to run along here for me while I get some shots’.

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Upward the trail became increasingly rocky and with it, slippery. Months of snow were disappearing but it was leaving behind a potentially hazardous residue. ‘The trail gets really interesting here Ian’ said Alex, ‘some ropes, some chains and ladders’. Alex was right, double ladders worked up through the rock face providing some really excellent photo potential.

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All too quickly it was time for me to say adieu. I needed to leave and make my way back for a rendezvous with a bus back to the airport. As I said goodbye, flashes of blue, black and purple disappeared in the mist and suddenly I was alone.

Chamonix and the Mont Blanc mountain range is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. Beautiful, dramatic and dangerous, it’s a place that demands respect. I am extremely fortunate to have spent such a great time in such an exciting place. The Skyrunning VK and Marathon over the previous weekend had been a perfect entrée for my time with inov-8.

photo Matt Brown at inov-8

photo Matt Brown at inov-8

I want to sincerely thank Natalie, Lee and Matt for providing me with the opportunity to work and run in this idyllic environment. I also want to thank them for the opportunity to test such incredibly versatile new apparel.

Did I mention the new ultra race pack, waist belt and hand bottle?

No?

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Well, you are going to have to wait. But believe me, the above products are going to turn heads, create a stir and be seen on trails all over the world. More on that later though…

I used the following items whilst in Chamonix and I will provide a detailed review with images in the coming weeks:

CLOTHING:

  • Race Elite Windshell 70 HERE
  • Race Elite 150 Stormshell HERE
  • Race Elite 260 Thermoshell HERE
  • Race Elite 275 Softshell HERE
  • Race Elite 140 Trail Short HERE
  • Race Elite 195 3/4 tights HERE
  • Baselite 200 long sleeve HERE
  • Baselite 140 short sleeve HERE
  • Arm warmers
  • Hot Peak 60 HERE
  • Wrags HERE 
  • Prosoc HERE

SHOES:

Trail Roc 245 3mm drop HERE

trailroc 245 12 13 red blk

Trail Roc 255 6mm drop HERE

trailroc 255 12 13 ink orange

Roc Lite 315 9mm drop HERE

roclite 315 12 13

F-Lite 262 6mm drop HERE

f-lite-262-GREY-LIME-2-13LINKS:

Read the inov-8 Press Release HERE

http://www.inov-8.com/

About inov-8:

inov-8 is a fast-growing sports performance brand that manufactures innovative, lightweight gear for committed athletes wanting to run super-fast on all terrains and smash hardcore workouts.

Born in the UK in 2003, inov-8 now trades in 60 countries and boasts more than 80 shoes in its range, meeting the needs of athletes who want to push boundaries.

inov-8 sponsors a global team of athletes that represent committed competitors in mountain, trail and road running, functional fitness/CrossFit, as well as obstacle course racing. To learn more, visit our website at www.inov-8.com and blogsite at http://teaminov8.wordpress.com/team/

Mont Blanc Marathon Preview

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The Race:

The Mont Blanc Marathon needs no introduction! Starting from the center of Chamonix (1035m) the race route over the classic marathon distance has has a positive vertical gain of 2511 meters and an elevation loss of 1490meters. 

The route climbs steadily towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of “les Bois” and Lavancher to reach Argentière at 1250m. Following a trail towards Le Planet the route traverses to the Balcon Nord before heading down towards Montroc. On leaving Montroc village runners take the trail towards Tré le Champ and go towards Col des Montets.

Crossing the “Col des Montets” at 1461m in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve runners take the old stage-coach route along the “chemin des Diligences”, the old stage-coach route to arrive at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine at 1260 m.

Climbing to the Col des Possettes at 1997m via a trail leaving from the Plan de l’envers progression is made onwards to the highest point of the course at the Aiguilles des Possettes (2201m). The climb and exhaustion is worth it… each participant is rewarded by a breathtaking panorama of the Mont Blanc range.

Facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ and the Mont Blanc range, the route Following the ridgeline of the ‘aiguillette’ and facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ it is now time to descend in the direction of Tré le Champ.

A pretty trail toward le Tour, runners cross through a village, and then the Tour glacier. Taking a north-facing trail towards Montroc, cross through hamlets of the Frasserands and Tré le Champ. Now at the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, opposite the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbs up towards la Flégère (1875 m). Cross the magnificent Charlanon Comb (1812m) and then the gradient increases until just before the arrival at Planpraz at 2050 m giving one of the most beautiful views of the Mont-Blanc.

The race is done!

Results 2012:

Ladies:

2012: Maude Mathys (SUI) 4h28’17’’

Mens:

2012: Kilian Jornet (ESP) 3h38’24’’

Key players in the 2013 race

Without doubt the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon has quality and depth in abundance in both the ladies and men’s fields. The second race in the Skyrunning World Series, we now have a clear indication of who is in form and who is coming in to form.  Stand out names are Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. After topping the podium at Transvulcania La Palma and Zegama-Aizkorri, will the Salomon duo remain on the top step when the race is completed on Sunday? 

Men:

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Kilian JornetSalomon Santiveri, without doubt is the out-and-out favorite for the race. Last years winner is in form and firing on all cylinders, it is his home playground and he knows the route like the back of his hand. Post his win at Zegama-Aizkorri were he had a head-to-head battle with Luis Alberto Hernando, Kilian he has done some shorter races and he has won all of them.

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Luis Alberto Hernando – Adidas is without doubt a great addition to the race. His second place at Transvulcania La Palma, followed up with a second place (just 12 seconds) behind Kilian Jornet at Zegama-Aizkorri fmeans that we have a battle on our hands! A couple of weekends ago he ran Haria Extreme and produced a strong and convincing performace. Without doubt a potential winner for the race.

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Tofol CastanyerSalomon Santiveri, was forced to miss Zegama-Aizkorri due to injury so his form may not be 100%, however, he loves the mountains and he knows how to race.

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Marco De GasperiScott, despite dropping at half way at Zegama was showing some fine form. He was head-to-head with Kilian and pushing him. He has had some injury issues (hence the drop at Zegama) but he seems to be well on his way to a full recovery and is coming back strong. Kilian and Marco have 100% respect for each other and love to push each other to the line… we may very well see a repeat battle of the Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian battle at Zegama, re run over the course in Mont Blanc.

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Florian Reichert – Arc’teryx/ Inov-8, is new to Skyrunning but he has speed! Despite the odds, he pulled out a great first race at Zegama-Aizkorri and not only survived but also performed exceptionally well. With his duck over he will come to Mont Blanc with renewed confidence. Without doubt he will have worked on improving his technical running ability and descending. If he can add his natural speed to improved technique, he may well be one to watch!

Nicola GolinelliArc’teryx, always performs well in the mountains and Skyrunning events. He is the 2010 combined events champion. He will bring mountain skill and speed to the Mont Blanc course.

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Ben BardsleyInov-8, had a troubled race at Zegama-Aizkorri with a calf strain. At this moment in time we are unsure of his rehabilitation but his skills on the fells and regular trips and training in Chamonix will mean that if fit, he will be one-to-watch.

Brendan DaviesInov-8, has had an incredible 2013 with top placing’s at the super competitive Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand, a top five at UTMF 100 in Japan and then a win and new CR at TNF100 in Australia. He is fired up and his running is re-invigorated with sponsorship from the Inov-8 International Team. Fast over the marathon and 100km distance, hos only downfall at Mont Blanc may well be his ability over tough and technical terrain. He has all the ability to be top three and without doubt, he will not be aiming for anything else.

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Alex NicholsInov-8, scored a top 5 at the Sky Games in 2012, his first outing in a Skyrunning event. He said, “It was a learning curve’. He recently came over to Zegama-Aizkorri to race but pulled a muscle early in the race forcing him to drop. With Pike Peak on his doorstep in the US he has plenty of opportunity to practice ascending and descending, combined with natural speed he will be a force at the front of the race.

Scott DunlapInov-8, has already had a busy start to 2013, he PR’d at Boston Marathon with 2:44:35 and most recently he has run Silver State 50m in sub 10 hours. Scott has the potential for a good race but I don’t see him in contention at the front of the race.

Nicolas PianetNew Balance, winner of the race in 2010 and 2011 and fourth last year will have some stiff competition this year and will need to provide everything within himself to fight such tough competition.

Marc PinsachFEEC, just recently was joint first place at the 35kmVolta Cerdanya Ultrafons with no other than kilian Jornet. Marc, like Kilian, is a ski mountaineer and they have often competed together at the world and European championships. Ranked 8th in the World in 2010 in the ‘team’ race, 4th in the ‘world relay’ in 2011 and in 2012 he was 5th in the ‘European championship team’ event; all with Kilian as his partner. He has incredible ability and a true ‘Alpinist’ approach.

The depth and quality of the Mont Blanc Marathon field means that it is just not possible to review everyone, however, here is a list of other main contenders who may well shine in the Alps.

Male contenders:

Fabio Bazzana – Crazy Idea, Sota Ogawa – Salomon, Fabio Tonolo – Salomon Agisko, Giulio Ornati – Salomon Agisko, Daniele Cappelletti – Valetudo Skyrunning, Gyorgy Szabolics Istavans – Valetudo Skyrunning, Ryan Bak – Scott, Didier Zago – Arc’teryx, Marc Caros – FEEC, Just Sociats Asensio – FEEC, Jose Lozano Garcia – FEEC, Jordi Bes Ginesta – FEEC, Joan Valls Gomez – FEEC, Oscar Csal Mir – FEEC, Roberto Sancho Martinez – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Paloma Lobera Grau – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Francesc Marti Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Eugenia Moro Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Artem Rostovtsev – Russian Skyrunning.

Ladies:

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Emelie Forsberg – Salomon, come to Mont Blanc as the outright favorite. In just one year Emelie has become a star of mountain running. Her 2012 season progressed and progressed and culminated with a stunning win at San Francisco 50. She started her 2013 season with win at Transgrancanaria running the marathon. A dominant performance at Transvulcania La Palma saw her not only stand victorious on top of the podium but she only missed Anna Frosts CR by minutes. Just a few weeks ago she again showed her form with a win at Zegama-Aizkorri. She will take some beating at Mont Blanc! However, she will not have an easy race. The ladies race is stacked.

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Stevie Kremer – Salomon Agisko, had her first outing in a Skyrunning event Zegama-Aizkorri and learnt many things… probably the most important thing is that she can believe in herself and that she really does have the ability to perform at the highest level against the best in the world. She took the race to the ladies at Zegama and I am 100% sure that we will see a repeat performance in the Alps. Definite podium place and without doubt she has all the ability required to stand on top of it.

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Silvia Serafini – Salomon Agisko, another star in the making! Silvia comes from a road background but she has adapted to the trails and mountain running exceptionally well. Like her teammate Stevie Kremer, she has every possibility to be on the podium. At Zegama-Aizkorri was having an incredible race running in the top four, unfortunately she twisted an ankle in the latter stages and although she finished she had dropped several places (6th) and was in pain. Providing she has no knock on effects Silvia will perform at the highest level and without doubt has the potential to be on the podium or top five.

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Oihana Kortazar – Salomon Santiveri, 2012 winner of Zegama-Aizkorri excels in the high mountains, particularly when the course is tough and technical. Her recent form is in question as she dropped at Zegama, however, you can never rule her out. She will want to prove something at Mont Blanc and put the record straight.

Shona Stephenson – Inov-8, is travelling from Australia as part of the Inov-8 International Skyrunning Team. She has had quite an incredible start to 2013 with impressive runs and results over a variety of distances and terrain. Shona was second at UTMF 100 in Japan, third at TNF100 in Australia and now Europe and the high mountains. Without doubt she has ability but this Mont Blanc course may well be a little too short and technical for her. I can’t help but think she will need some time in Europe not only to adapt to the pace but the terrain for Skyrunning mountain events.

Other lady contenders:

Stephanie Jiminez – Salomon Agisko, Natalie White – Inov-8, Sarah Ridgeway – Inov-8, Anna Lupton – Inov-8, and Tanya Pacheco.

One thing is for sure; Chamonix and Mont Blanc will see an incredible weekend of racing from June 28th to July 1st. Many participants in the marathon will also toe the line for the ‘VK’ on Friday. A lung-busting ascent from the center of Chamonix straight up to a measured 1000 m height gain over a course 3.5km long. Great to watch, painful to participate in.

Weekend Schedule:

Friday, June 28, 2013

– Mont Blanc Vertical KM, 400 places, starting from 4:00pm in the center of Chamonix.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

– Mont Blanc Cross, 1500 places, starting at 8:30am on the landing paragliders.

– Mont Blanc 10km, 800 places, starting at 9:00am on the landing paragliders.

– Mont Blanc Mini Cross, from 800m to 3km starting from 11:00am on the landing paragliders.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

– Mont Blanc Marathon, 2000 places, starting at 7:00am in the center of Chamonix.

Stats:

  • Limited to 2,000 competitors
  • Distance: 42.195 km / 26.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,511m Elevation loss: 1,490m
  • Start: 1,035m. Finish 2,016m
  • Max altitude: 2,201m (Aiguilles des Possettes)
  • 6 aid stations
  • 9h time limit

Content from Skyrunning.com re VK and  Mont Blanc 80k:

The Mont-Blanc Marathon which sold out the 2,000 places many months ago, will be preceded by the KM Vertical on June 28th where 400 runners  will line up for a lung-busting 1,000 metres skywards over the short 3.5 km course.  Heading the start-list are Vertical world champions Urban Zemmer (La Sportiva) and Laura Orgué (Salomon).

Urban will be challenged not only by Kilian, last year’s winner in 36’07”, but current Vertical ranking leader, Marco Facchinelli (La Sportiva) and team mates Marco Moletto and Nadir Maguet; but also Nicola Golinelli and Florian Reichert, (Arc’teryx); Ben Bardsley, Brendan Davies, Robbie Simpson (inov-8); Matheo Jacquemoud (Crazy Idea); Oscar Casal and Joan Valls (FAM); Jose Lozano (FEEC) and Artem Rostovtsev (Russian Skyrunning) in the men’s field.

Vertical specialist Laura Orgué (Salomon) will face tough competition from team mates Emelie Forsberg, Oihana Kortazar and Anna Frost as well as last year’s race winner Antonella Confortola; Shona Stephenson, Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx);  Silvia Leal and Alba Xandri (FEEC).

Among the events over the weekend organised by the Club des Sports Chamonix, is the new Mont-Blanc 80K on June 28, the first time a race has been held on this course, although shortened due to snow on the course.  The race will represent a “test run” for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships where the three events will be featured.

LINKS:

Skyrunning – HERE 

Mont Blanc Marathon HERE