Transgrancanaria 125km 2017 Race Preview

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From the heat and humidity of Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge to the the Canary island of Gran Canaria and the Transgrancanaria 125km.

This is my fourth year working on the flagship 125km race and once again it appears in the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) calendar. The race starts on Friday evening, 24th February at 2300 hours’ local time. If it was ever in doubt, this race is a tough one! With over 8000m of positive gain, each and everyone of those 125km’s will be felt by the the time the runners reach the finish.

Starting on the north-west coast, the race travels south via the mountainous spine of Gran Canaria and then arrives at the finish, close to the sea in Maspalomas. The route is logical and therefore very appealing from a run aesthetic point of view. 

Over the years, the race has had some stellar performances and 2017 will see the return of the 2016 champions, Caroline Chaverot and Didrik Hermansen.

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Male Contenders

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Didrik Hermansen won the race last year with a high quality and well paced performance. He followed Transgrancanaria up with a stunning Western States and world-class 100km races. Didrik can mix running and climbing and therefore goes into the 2017 race as the hot favourite. Fellow Norwegian, Sondre Amdahl, tells me that Didrik is in great shape!

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-2824©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0660 The UK’s Andy Symonds ran a stunning race in 2016 and placed 5th – I have a felling he will be on the podium this year! His 2016 season was solid one with UTMB being his only blip. A win at Lavaredo, 2nd at Buff Epic behind Luis Alberto Hernando and 4th at Transvulcania confirms that Andy’s stepping stones to longer racing is working – 2017 will be his year and I also hear he will be racing at Marathon des Sables.

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Diego Pazos finished 3rd last year and what followed was a steady growth in the sport. I predicted he was a ‘one-to-watch’ for 2017 and I stand by that. His victory Mont-Blanc 80km confirmed that he is on the up.

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-2663 Antoine Guillon placed on the podium previously and I have no reason to doubt that he can provide a repeat performance. In real terms, the podium may well be decided by those who pace themselves and come strong in the latter stages. Antoine may well be one of these guys – he will be able to bring the ‘long game’ to the race, something he learned when he won Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) in 2015. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0072

Yeray Duran is Transgrancanaria regular and is very popular within Spain and the Canary Islands. Arguably, it was Transgrancanaria that elevated his profile. He had a tough race last year but that blip is not indicative of how Yeray runs – I think we will see him up there this year.
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Julien Chorier is always a tip for the podium and victory – he is one seriously classy runner. He was 2nd at Transgrancaria in 2014 and 7th last year. Mixing Hardrock and Western States shows that Julien can mix speed and climbing perfectly – one to watch for the top-5 for sure and maybe the podium!

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Timothy Olson has raced on the island before (2014) and placed 3rd. He arrived in advance of this years race to train and prepare, something he has done on many occasions for multiple races. Normally, I would be pushing Timmy for the win but for the past year or so, the form has been missing. So, it’s difficult to predict the outcome here in the Canaries. Can Timmy win? Absolutely! So, lets cross our fingers and hope that we see a return to 2013 when this guy was on fire! 

Pau Capell won the 85km event previously and last year held hands with Diego Pazoz and crossed the line for an equal 3rd place. He will be up there!

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Fabien Antolinus is a runner I first met at Les Templiers and since then he has continually impressed with his ability to mix speed and climbing to great results. Two years ago he was 5th at UTMB but for me, his performances at Ice Trail Tarentaise were stand out. He’s a top-5 contender for sure.

iancorless-com_etr2016-8828 Casey Morgan will keep UK interest high. He’s been up there at Transgrancanaria in the past and currently he is on a roll with a series of top quality victories. I last saw him race at Everest Trail Race and he was in great shape. He followed that race with another race victory in the Spanish mountains and just recently he raced in Hong Kong with great success.

Fulvio Dapit has come close in the past and is often let down with stomach issues. He won’t make the podium but he will be up in the top-10.

Ones to watch: 

  • Freddy Thevenin
  • Daniel Jung
  • Ben Duffus
  • Gerard Morales
  • Fritjof Fagerlund
  • Nicola Bassi
  • Dimity Mityaev

and many more…

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Female Contenders

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-6618This race has Caroline Chaverot’s name written all over it and no disrespect to the other female competitors but I don’t see anyone coming close to this French lady. Caroline was on fire in 2016 and was for me, THE, female ultra-runner of the year. She was unstoppable with a sting of high-profile victories. In summary, anyone who wins UTMB, becomes UTWT champion, becomes Skyrunning World Champion and IAU World Trail Champion all in one-year deserves the upmost respect. I think she will win the race by at least 1-hour!
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I am going to throw a curve ball in and put my neck on the line with a stunning performance expectation from the UK’s Beth Pascall. She will be somewhat of a dark horse over in Gran Canaria but she has all the potential to produce a shock. She has with the UK’s Spine Race and the shorter distance, Challenge Race. She obliterated the ladies’ record at the Lakeland 100 and won the Hoka Highland Fling. One to watch! *Update 21st Feb, Beth will not race due to an injury to her foot.

Andrea Huser never stops. She is like Michael Wardian and each time she runs I am amazed with her ability to recover and race again. She doesn’t have the speed of Caroline and therefore, providing Caroline has no problems. I don’t see the Swiss lady beating her. However, she has a list of results that makes the podium almost guaranteed – victories at Lavaredo, Diagonale des Fous and Swiss Irontrail and let’s not forget 2nd at UTMB behind Caroline!


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Azara Garcia and Gemma Arenas have set their tables out in Skyrunning races and we know that have speed and can climb with the best. However, 125km and 8000m of vertical is a long way and this may well be the downfall for the Spanish duo. Gemma probably has the edge over Azara as she has excelled at Ultra Pirineu with victory. For Gemma, I see 125km possibly being a real learning curve.

Lisa Borzani likes the long and mountainous races such as Tor des Geants and Ronda dels Cims – that will set her up well for this tough and challenging Transgrancanaria course. She may lack the speed but as others fade, she will continue to push strong. 

Manuela Vilaseca was 5th at Transgrancanaria two-years ago and in this line-up, I believe the podium is a possibility – a win would only really come should Andrea and Caroline have bad races.  

Ildiko Wermescher would be a long shot for the podium but a top-5 and certainly a top-10 is a distinct possibility. 2016 seemed to be a below par year but 2014 saw the German lady place 4th at Transgrancanaria.
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Debbie Martin-Consani is my dark horse for a shake up in the ladies’ rankings. Like Beth Pascall, she is a Lakeland 100 winner and she has excelled at other 100-milers and races like Spartathlon, she ha s also raced in a GB vest. Word on the street (or the hills) is that Debbie has been going up and down those Scottish mountains to prepare for this 125km race. 

Ones to watch:

  • Yulia Baykova
  • Jen Benna
  • Laura Barrera
  • Caroline Rohrl
  • Laia Diez

and many more…

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SCOTT Supertrac RC First Impressions

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Who doesn’t love a ‘sexy’ run shoe? I suppose it does pose the question, ‘Can a run shoe be sexy?’ For me, the answer is yes! Just as it was when I used to ride racing bikes – my bikes were always sexy, it was compulsory!

So, the new incarnation from SCOTT hit all the boxes, rung all the bells and well and truly gave my eyes a woo hoo when I first clapped eyes on them in May 2016.

I have to be clear here, I was involved and worked with the SCOTT elite athletes in La Palma photographing the new apparel and shoes to be launched later this year and early in 2017.

The SUPERTRAC RC shoe is arguably the racing flagship for the brand that has been known for years for making darn fine excellent bikes. Well, ever since 2012, SCOTT have also been making darn fine run shoes, it’s just taken a while to get the message out. The Kinabalu Supertrac is still one of my favourite shoes. So good was the shoe, it beat many others in my test HERE.

The new SUPERTRAC RC has in all honesty little connection to the beefy 8mm drop trail shoe as listed above, however, it does carry over some of the traits.

Noticeable points are:

  • Seamless upper and overlays
  • Form fitting performance tongue
  • Reinforced toe cap
  • Radilal ‘360’ traction
  • EVA cushioning

The RC looks completely different to the Kinabalu Supertrac and the back/yellow ‘RC’ colour combination reflects the ‘RC’ range from the road bike and mountain bike range. I like that, I like that connection. It very clearly states, ‘This is the best of what we offer!’

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For the Supertrac RC the stats are as follows:

  • 5mm drop
  • Forefoot cushioning height : 17.5mm
  • Heel cushioning height : 22.5mm
  • Cushioning : AeroFoam + (same as Supertrac inline)
  • Weight : 270g in US9 men with insole in (some brands weight them without insoles)
  • Outsole : Outdoor Industry award winning 360° geometry made in wet rubber compound.

The Supertrac RC is not the lightest shoe but it does have plenty of cushioning and protection with 17.5/22.5mm of AeroFoam.

At 5mm drop, the shoe is certainly designed for an efficient mid to forefoot striker in contrast to the 8mm drop Kinabalu Supertrac that most definitely is a more ‘forgiving’ shoe.

Ultimately though, the RC is all about the ‘new’ grip that has been tweaked and tweaked through 2016 with feedback both in training and racing from athletes such as Andy Symonds, Jo Meek, Marco De Gasperi, Ruth Croft and the SCOTT team manager, Martin Gaffuri. The 360° geometry made in wet rubber compound is a real, real winner! The outsole is made for racing and training on trails where rock (wet or dry) is in abundance. The outsole though has less depth to the lug than say the Kinabalu Supertrac and so therefore grip is not as secure in mud.

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Initially I was disappointed that the tongue was not gusseted. A gusseted tongue is becoming normal now on many shoes and for me just makes sense. The RC does though have a form fitting tongue and it does hold the foot nice and firm.

Seamless upper is a winner, in theory it should mean that you have no possibility for blisters or abrasion from any seams. I did have a slight issue with rubbing on one of my toes where the shoe bends in the propulsive face, however, I do think that it is due to the test shoe being slightly too big. I will know more with testing.

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Cushioning for me was a surprise and I have to say I was surprised by the relatively hard feel of the shoe. I had expected a more plush ride but that may well come with more runs. It’s still early days in the test and the is just an initial first impression.

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Heal box is snug and really does hold the foot secure. The toe box is really well protected and therefore ideal for rocky, technical and mountain runs. The lacing is very secure and does compensate for the lack of the gusseted tongue, however, I am really surprised SCOTT didn’t include a ‘lace locker‘ to store excess lace as they do on many of their other shoes. It’s just a little elastic that weighs nothing but is ideal for keeping loose lace ends out of the way… maybe it will be added to the shoes for when they go on sale in 2017?

This is a first impression review and without doubt, I think we are going to see the Supertrac RC appear on many trails and mountains in 2017. Lets face it, you’ll have no problem noticing them…! The combination of grip, good looks, cushioning and seamless upper is going to make the RC a winner. I will come back with a full and detailed review after another month of trail and mountain abuse.

Scott Supertrac RC HERE

Limone Extreme 2016 #SKY – Skyrunner® World Series

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series was up for grabs but news on the start line was one of drama… Tadei Pivk was unable to start after waking with a fever, Marco De Gasperi had been delayed in Milan on a flight from the USA and last year’s winner, Remi Bonnet decided not to start after taking a fall in training just days earlier. For the ladies’ race, a likely series win would come from Laura Orgue who needed to win the race or Megan Kimmel who needed to finisher in 2nd place should Orgue win.

At the finish line on the shores of Lake Garda, Alexis Sevennec once again proved his supremacy with another stunning victory! For the ladies, Megan Kimmel confirmed her incredible mountain running and descending ability to take not only the victory in Limone but also the Skyrunner® World Series title.

We have witnessed some spectacular performances in the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series and the final race in Limone Extreme provided a special close to the 2016 season.

Laura Orgue had not started the Friday VK in a hope to give an all-out effort for victory. Using her impressive abilities at climbing she led the way on the long steep and technical first climb. Celine Lafaye followed closely in second but where was Megan? Megan was way back and was either struggling or running a tactical race… it was the latter. As Laura pushed at the front, Megan slowly closed the gap and on the final decent that drops to the lake she opened up and finally pulled away to take victory in a time of 3:17:35 and with it the Skyrunner® World Series crown. “Last year I lost the series title at Limone and this year I ran cautiously in the early stages, I was just hoping not too cautiously. When I eventually closed on Celine I was feeling good and then Laura and myself were running side-by-side. I decided to go knowing that I mustn’t let Laura win and me placed 3rd otherwise the title would go to Laura – I pulled it off!”

Laura had run much of the race out front but looked relieved to finish just over a minute slower than Megan, her time 3:18:42. Celine Lafaye placed 3rd in 3:19:22 and Skyrunner® World Champion for the ULTRA distance and the 2016 UTMB champion, Caroline Chaverot, placed 4th. An incredible result for the lady who loves and excels at longer races. Quite a year for her and she has already said that Skyrunning will be an objective in 2017.

For the men, the non-start of Tadei Pivk did provide an opportunity for Hassan Ait Chaou to ‘take’ the title, however, he would have needed to run a great race and place on the podium. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and therefore Tadei Pivk once again (also in 2015) is the Skyrunner® World Series champion from his impressive results and consistency earlier in the year.

A race was left to run and Stian Angermund lead the charge early on ahead of Marco Moletto, no doubt reeling from missing victory the previous night in the VK by just 1-second. Although looking good early on, the efforts from the previous night and minimal recovery before the 11am start took its toll and both Stian and Marco faded opening the doorway for an in-form Alexis Sevennec who forged a final lone path to a stunning victory in 2:46:49. Brit, Hector Haines and started high up on the first climb and held on to arguably one of his best podium places stirring local heads with 2:51:41 2nd place. Bulgarian Kiril Nikolov took the final podium place in 2:52:04. Early protagonist, Marco Moletto who had looked a potential podium finisher placed 5th looking tired and Stian placed 7th.

The final ranking for the 2016 Skyrunner® World Series SKY distance has Tadei Pivk 1st, Hassan Ait Chaou 2nd and Kiril Nikolov 3rd. For the ladies’ Megan Kimmel is champion, Laura Orgue 2nd and Yngvild Kaspersen 3rd.

Roll on 2017!


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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Limone Extreme 2016 VK and SKY Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series draws to a conclusion in Limone, Italy. The stunning Lake Garda and the mountains that back onto this iconic location provide a wonderful playground to Friday’s VK and Sunday’s SkyRace.

It’s been a long season of Skyrunning with many new races, new experiences and with four champions already announced – Jasmin Paris and Jon Albon for the EXTREME and Cristofer Clemente and Gemma Arenas for the ULTRA – VK and SKY champions will be confirmed in Italy.

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VK starts – 1800 Friday Oct 14th/ 3.7km 1080m+ ©iancorless.com_Limone2015-7046

Ferran Teixido currently leads the 2016 VK ranking ahead of Jan Margarit Sole and Andrej Fejfar. All three will race in Limone looking for maximum points and the crucial 20% bonus. For the ladies, Laura Orgue leads Christel Dewalle and Maria Zorroza – as with the men, the top 3 contenders will race.

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But the racing does not stop there, arguably, Limone Extreme VK has the best VK line-up of the year with a multitude of talent toeing the line. Marco Moletto, Hannes Perkman, Nejc Kuhar, Rolf Einar Jensen, Luka Kovacic and the unstoppable Urban Zemmer. It’s going to be a seriously competitive race but more top names will contest the top 3 podium places.

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Pascal Egli and Alexis Sevennec will race hard along with Oriol Cardona Coll. Pere Rullan may also race after long injury problems and the possibility of Philip Goetsch racing against Remi Bonnet and Stian Angermund is a very exciting prospect. This may well be a course record year!

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Racing in the ladies’ race is equally competitive, for sure, Laura Orgue and Christel Dewalle and pre-race favourites but Francesca Rossi, Serena Vittori, Oihana Kortazar, Beatrice Deflorian and Celia Chiron amongst others will push hard up the winding trails to the summit that looks over Lake Garda.

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A unique feature of the Limone Extreme VK is that start time! Starting as darkness arrives, the runners ascend the 1000m under the illumination of head torches as lights of Limone glow in the background – it is a truly spectacular VK!

SKY – 11am Saturday Oct 15th/ 27km 2450m+
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Tadei Pivk heads up the 2016 Skyrunner World Series ranking with Hassan Ait Chaou and Pablo Villa Gonzales in 3rd. Young gun, Jan Margarit Sole is placed 4th and he may will be a surprise contender for a top 3 placing but he will have a tough fight from the Casal Mir brothers, Oscar and Marc. In addition, Kiril Nikolov, Adrien Michaud, Alexis Sevennec and Andre Jonsson will run – victory could come from any of these top runners.

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But as in the VK, the list does not stop there; Ondrej Fejfar, Aritz Egea, Albert Garcia, Rolf Einar Jensen and a potential victory may well come from Mr. Skyrunning, Marco De Gasperi. But ultimately, Remi Bonnet will return after a year plagued by injury. Last year he dominated the Limone SkyRace and VK, can he do it again?

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If he does, he will have to beat the Skyrunning World Champion for the VK and SKY distance, Stian Angermund. Stian has been on fire in 2016 and is without doubt a favourite for victory! Salomon will also send Micha Steiner, Davide Magnini, Stian Aarvik and Stefan Knopf.

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As stated, the line-up for the Limone Extreme SkyRace is extensive and dark horses will no doubt appear from the sidelines.

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Megan Kimmel has been on fire in 2016 and leads the Skyrunner World Series ahead of Laura Orgue and Ragna Debats. Last year, Megan had a below performance at Limone and it lost her the Series title, I don’t think that will happen this year! Laura has had a long year of racing and has shown some fatigue at times, however, she has had an opportunity to recover recently and for sure she will push Megan all the way to the line.

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Yngvild Kaspersen will also run and has great potential for a podium place. Caroline Chaverot (Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra-distance) is a surprise entry and my gut reaction is that this race will be too short for her? It will certainly be interesting to see how she performs – she is an incredible talent!

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Celia Chiron, Sheila Castano, Aitziber Ibarbia, Michaela Mertova, Maria Zorroza and Nuria Dominguez all add to a stellar line-up!

Skyrunning was born in Italy, it only seems appropriate that the traditions and ethos created on the slopes of the snowy Alps should now be carried forward on new mountains and in new places such as the Creste Della Mughera mountains that back on to Limone sul Garda.

Race website here VK information here SkyRace information here


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the

Skyrunner® World Series

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Ultra Pirineu 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series championship for the ULTRA distance will be decided in Spain this coming weekend at the Ultra Pirineu located 2-hours north of Barcelona in the Parc Natural del Cadí Moixeró.

A 110km race with 6800m of ascent, Ultra Pirineu is a seriously tough way to end a season. As the last race in the calendar, a 20% points bonus is available and therefore a good placing is required to guarantee a podium place for the 2016 series.

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Cristofer Clemente, recent winner of the RUT placed 5th at Ultra Pirineu in 2015 and this year is leading the Skyrunner® World Series ranking. He will be looking for a strong showing in the race but more importantly, he will be working out calculations to make sure that he retains his position at the top of the series.

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Roger Viñas has been a revelation in 2016 consistently racing and performing to accumulate points and place within the top-3 of the Skyrunner® World Series. His presence at Ultra Pirineu is two-fold just like Cristofer, have a good race but more importantly retain his position within the ranking.

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Legendary runner Miguel Heras, will toe the line and he is no stranger to the Ultra Pirineu. He placed 1st in the race in 2010 and 2011 and in 3rd in 2015. Miguel is one of the most talented runners in the world but is often prone to injury. When he is in-form, he is often unstoppable and he may well be looking for the good old days of 2010 and 2011 in 2016. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0586

Pau Capell has consistently grown as a runner over the past few years and this was confirmed with victory at the TDS and a strong performance at Transgrancanaria earlier this year – along with Cristofer, I see Pau being a potential winner of the race. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria2016-0993

Yeray Duran, although not contesting the Skyrunner® World Series is a potential winner of the race and like Pau has slowly but surely impressed over the last couple of years with strong and dominant performances. ©iancorless.com_HTV2016-2444

Dimitry Mityaev had a stunning race at High Trail Vanoise which unfortunately left him injured. However, if he is fit and has the form shown in France, he may well be a podium contender. ©iancorless.com_HTV2016-2710

Marcin Swierc currently is placed 4th in the Skyrunner® World Series and his placing and the placing of Roger Vinas and Cristofer Clemente may well be instrumental in his opportunity to move up and on to the podium – remember a 20% bonus is available.

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Nuno Silva (5th) Remigio Huaman (6th) and Fulvio Dapit (8th) are all top-10 contenders on the Skyrunner® World Series and with this race coming so late in the season, many possibilities are available for a jump upon the rankings.

Francesc Soler, Cristobal Adell and Toti Bes make up the other main contenders for the top-10 places.

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In the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson is without doubt the hot favourite for victory after showing fine form at the season’s opener in La Palma, Transvulcania! Recently, Ida backed this up with victory at the RUT. Ida does like to run and the relentless 6800m of vertical in Spain will test her. ©iancorless.com_Rut2015-7685

The USA’s Hillary Allen (2nd on ranking) is making the long journey to Spain to participate in the final race of the series in the hope to gain more points after placing 2nd at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and 3rd at the RUT.

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Gemma Arenas, like Hillary, has been consistently gaining points in the Skyrunner® World Series in 2015. She won in Madeira and last year placed 4th at Ultra Pirineu. A recent ‘dnf’ at UTMB may well leave Gemma feeling a little tired? It’s all to fight for in Spain.
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Anna Comet (6th) and Kristina Pattison (5th) have been ever-presents on the 2016 series and they have both placed consistently. Here in Spain, they may well find that little extra to move up the rankings and gain additional important points. Tina Bes will also be a contender for the podium.

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-6255 A huge ball may well come from Maite Maiora who usually prefers the SKY distance. In recent years she has raced longer distances and we have seen her on the podium at races such as Transvulcania. Recently she was crowned Skyrunning World Champion at the Buff Epic. The terrain here in Spain suits this fierce competitor.

As with any race, we can expect surprises. Action starts on Saturday and you can follow as the race unfolds via the usual social media feeds and live via tracking on the race website.


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

Social Media Logos

Facebook/iancorlessphotography
Twitter (@talkultra)
Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning
Twitter @skyrunning_com
Instagram @skyrunning

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Extreme! Yes, it was… that was the consensus as the Skyline Scotland’s Salomon Glencoe Skyline drew to a conclusion after only its 2nd edition.

Last year, Skyrunning superstar Emelie Forsberg, travelled to Scotland to take part in the first edition of the race. She placed 2nd overall and won the female category. After the race she said that ‘this’ race truly is one of the best races out there!

Cut to 2016 and Skyline Scotland developed a VK race and SKY race to join the Glencoe Skyline which had gained the approval from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) to be one of three races that would make a new ‘SkyExtreme’ category in 2016. This three race series also include Tromso SkyRace and the iconic, Trofeo Kima.

Many had said that Skyrunning in the UK was not possible.

Ask again – not one participant in the 2016 edition of the race would question the legitimacy of how extreme this race was.

Gaining Skyrunner® Extreme Series status also has a huge impact on the participants taking part. It’s fair to say, that the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the greatest fields ever assembled for a mountain race.

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Coming into this edition, Jonathan Albon and Tom Owens were the hot favourites to take away the title of Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion and in the ladies race, Jasmin Paris after victory in Tromso was a likely female champion.

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The race played out as expected with Tom Owens and Jon Albon pushing each other throughout the early stages of the race with strong competition coming from Marc Lauenstein, Finlay Wild and Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet. It was Jonathan Albon though that snapped the elastic pulling away for Tom Owens running on home soil. Pre-race predictions were blown out of the water and Jonathan crossed the line first in a blistering 6:33:52. To put this time in perspective, it is over 1-hour faster than the 2015 course with additional distance and vertical gain.

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Tom Owens suffered with foot issues throughout the race but battled all the time. He finished 2nd in 6:37:21. Zegama-Aizkorri and Matterhorn Ultraks winner Marc Lauenstein, although not competing for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series title was always a potential contender for victory or the podium and he didn’t disappoint in finishing 3rd in 6:54:37. As Marc came to the end of one of the more technical sections of the race, the infamous Aonach Eagach, he said, “This is one seriously technical and challenging race!”

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Local man and Ben Nevis expert, Finlay Wild placed 4th and Greg Vollet 5th, their times 7:00:57 and 7:10:19.

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In the ladies’ race, Jasmin Paris lead from the gun and although Ruth Croft did catch her at one point, Jasmin placed her foot on the gas and pulled away becoming not only a convincing Salomon Glencoe Skyline winner but also a Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion. Quite incredible when you consider that just recently she placed 6th at UTMB. Jasmin’s time of 8:15:56 will be considered a CR for this new course.

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Malene Bikken Haukoy ran a savvy race pacing herself in the early stages to move up through the field and eventually place 2nd in the ladies’ race in 8:23:04. Her podium finish in Tromso SkyRace also providing valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.

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Sarah Ridgway is now the leader of the Skyrunning UK Series and her 3rd place on the ladies podium showed incredible consistency, her time 8:44:40.

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Ruth Croft found today’s course a challenge after placing 2nd at Trofeo Kima recently. Despite difficulties though, Ruth ran a strong race gaining valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.

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Martina Valmassoi rounded out the top 5.

The Salomon Glencoe Skyline route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race traverses high and remote mountainous terrain, which is at times impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather. The day started in glorious sunshine but as predicted, a weather system arrived late morning making the crossing off the Aonach Eagach a wet one with limited visibility due to clag and mist.

As expected, the race had many dropouts due to the severe course and inclement weather in the latter half of the day. Ultimately though, the feedback and response has been incredible.

2016 was the start of really big things for the UK Skyrunning scene and the Salomon Glencoe Skyline is not only paving the way and setting the benchmark within the UK but also for Europe and farther afield.

RESULTS

  1. Jonathan Albon 6:33:52
  2. Tom Owens 6:37:21
  3. Marc Lauenstein 6:54:37
  4. Finlay Wild 7:00:57
  5. Greg Vollet 7:10:19
  1. Jasmin Paris 8:15:56
  2. Malene Bikken Haukoy 8:23:04
  3. Sarah Ridgway 8:44:40
  4. Ruth Croft 9:10:33
  5. Martina Valmassoi 9:14:37

Extreme Series ranking. Final*
Men
1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 208 points
2. Tom Owens (GBR) – 205.6 points
3. Finlay Wild (GBR) – 164.4 points
4. Andew Fallas (GBR) – 143 points
5. Sota Ogawa (JAP) – 128.4 points

Women
1. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 220 points
2. Malene Haukøy (NOR) – 193.6 points
3. Ruth Croft (NZL) – 172 points
4. Martina Valmassoi (ITA – 152.4 points
5. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 127.6 points

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Images available at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Salomon Mamores #VK Vertical Kilometre 2016 Results and Images

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The Salomon Mamores VK™ kicked off the Skyline Scotland weekend of racing with the UK’s first ever VK (Vertical Kilometre) race and what an incredible success… The pure ethos of sea to summit was personified with the Mamores VK that provided all runners with a challenging 1000m vertical climb over a distance of 5km in a course that was split into thirds. Skyrunning at its best!

The first third was runnable trail that may well have lulled everyone into a false sense of security. What followed was a wall of vertical fell with no path, just a line of orange flags leading to the sky.

As the fell submitted out, an arrow pointed left and the final section was a stunning rocky ridge that lead to the summit at 1000m+.

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The Scottish weather played its part too, throwing everything at the runners in a 4-hour time window; Sun, cloud, clag, rain and strong winds. It was the luck of the draw what you received, however, for 4-runnners, the weather could have thrown anything at them and they would have still flew up the course. Experienced Skyrunners, Stian Angermund (VK world champion), Alexis Sevennec and Francois Gonon took the top 3 spots with Sevennec pipping Angermund by just 7-seconds, 42:17 to 42:25. Francois Gonon placed 3rd 44:48 and Adrien Perret was 4th in 44:57.

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In the ladies race, Georgina Tindley pipping Stephanie Provan to the top slot by 33-seconds, 54:34 and 55:01 respectively. Zoe Procter was 3rd in 58:45.

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Following the well established International Skyrunning Federation ‘VK’ format, participants followed a marked course gaining 1000m of height in less than 5km. Participants were set off at timed intervals with the winner having the fastest overall time to the summit. The Salomon Mamores VK was the UK’s first VK and feedback has been incredible. This format is just what the UK needs to spice up racing for all abilities!

Whilst physically arduous, the Salomon Mamores VK™ route does not include technical terrain that requires any scrambling or rock climbing experience. As such, the race was suitable for any runner who is up for the challenge.

RESULTS HERE

 

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Speedgoat Karl Meltzer #AT Appalachian Trail FKT – Day 36-39 Update

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Can you smell the barn? Karl can! Yes folks, it’s on… no guarantees as anything can happen but Karl is in the final phase and all is looking good.

 

Day 36 Virginia

Today was a great day as Karl consistently jogged through the day. Billy, one of Karl’s many friends, joined the crew today. Terrain is mostly hills and farmland, today, Karl could be heard ‘mooing’ at cows as he ran past… the trail is affecting his mind! Currently they are in Southern Virginia near the Tennessee and North Carolina borders. Picking up speed is really helping Karl’s morale as he enters this crux phase. It’s all about head down and push on now. After 1800-miles it would be easy to be negative but Karl is keeping super positive and yes, he is still joking. Today he knocked off 57.5 miles. Let’s be serious here, most of us would be happy with that for just 1-day, never mind after 36-days after relentless fatigue.

Day 37 Virginia

The day started with great spirits, maybe the best mood of this whole trip. It’s easy to understand why, he is ahead on the trail and on record pace. He passed through Grayson Highlands State Park today, a place in southwest Virginia. This area is known for its free-roaming wild ponies. Cheryl is back with the team and she and Billy hiked in to crew Karl. Temperatures are cooler and running conditions are good. Karl, as required to complete the FKT is now maintaining 50-miles per day. His attitude is really positive and like I said in the last few days, he can smell the barn! All the positivity is also boosting the crew; the next 4-days are crucial.

Day 38 Virginia / Tennessee

Cheryl and Billy left Karl today, it was a potential down moment but Karl got on with the job, the end is in sight and he knows he is in the home straight. The trail is becoming more difficult as Karl heads south. Hills have become mountains and the 50-mile a day target becomes harder but Karl is prepared. Blinkers are on and despite a tough day, Speedgoat covered 55.6 miles. He’s getting it done!

Many thanks to Red Bull, Speedgoat, Eric and the crew for the support and help.

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Day 39 Tennessee 

Speedgoat arrived in Tennessee last night. No need to tell you, he is on a mission and as I have said on many occasions, Karl has known, right from day 1 what he needed (needs) to do to break this record. Aid stops are now just an inconvenience; he wants to get back on the trail. David Horton joined him on the trail today, a real plus and a great boost. David very much pioneered what was possible on the AT. Scott and Jenny Jurek are here now too. Scott will be instrumental in helping Karl achieve his lifelong goal. Karl stopped short of his daily target but there is no concern that this will impact on his record attempt. The record is looking good and if I were a betting man, I’d say Karl has got this… he has some flexibility on time and if required, he can push on with very little break in the last days. We discussed this before the attempt and he said, ‘if it’s required, I can do it!’

karl

Image ©karlmeltzer/ redbull

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As I write this, Karl has approximately 237-miles to go to arrive at Springer Mountain. To break the record for the Appalachian Trail he must arrive there before 1:07 PM (local time) on Sunday. Eric is still crewing with Senior and Scott and Jenny Jurek are helping him along….

RUN the RUT 2016 VK Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series

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The Skyrunner® World Series continues in Montana, the USA with three races at Run the Rut, today it was the Lone Peak VK. It may not be the steepest VK on the circuit but it certainly is dramatic with the finish line high in the sky and always visible. Well, that would have been the case had the VK route not been changed… Weather in this area can change in just 5-minutes and storms had been predicted for the afternoon. It’s always a tough call for a RD but Mike Foote took the cautions to heart and had his team mark an alternative route. He made a call at midday and decided on an alternative route that reduced the climb by 300m to 700m vertical gain and a distance of 2.3 miles.

The route was somewhat steeper and more direct in the early stages and followed the ethos and principals of Skyrunning perfectly, start low, get high! At the Bone Crusher, the runners should have gone to the impressive Alto ridge, here it gets steep, gnarly and technical with plenty of hands-on-knees action and scrambling with some via ferrata before the final sections of exposed rock and loose terrain to the summit. The re-route missed this section, dropped down a short descent and then once again climbed up through a steep section of loose rocks and scree. It was challenging but considerably less challenging than the original route.

The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm and tackling the early steep and slippery gradients. The route was wide though and overtaking was no issue.

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Ondrej Fejfar and Jan Margarit Sole pushed from the start and both looked very strong at the midway point before the more technical sections started. Ondrej looked in control though holding a good gap.

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In the ladies race Cynthia Arnold looked to be closing the gap on the expected victor and leader Laura Orgue. Laura looked less comfortable than normal, occasionally looking behind to see where Cynthia was but I think all along it was about doing enough to win and not expending too much energy. Maria Zorroza was running a strong race in 3rd but would she stay ahead of her team-mate Aitziber Iberia ?

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In the men’s race, Ondrej was in a class of his own on this shorter course and finished clear of Jan by 24 seconds.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-0935Scott Patterson was a surprise 3rd (he is a ski mountaineer) ahead of race director, Mike Foote who looked to be having a blast on his new course, Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet finished 5th.

©iancorless.com_Rut2016_VK-2761Surprise of the day was expected winner, Ferran Teixido who finished 7th obviously having a below par day potentially due to the more runnable re-route and altitude?

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In the ladies’ race Laura finished a strong 1st 41-seconds clear of Cynthia and Maria 3rd +2:16 back.

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Altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK, starting above 2000m it is very difficult for those with little or no adaptation. When combined with challenging terrain, this only adds to the problem. Unlike other VK’s the Lone Peak VK is unique with its mixture of surfaces. The loose and large rocks create many frustrations as often it stops participants getting a rhythm, this is contrasted by the early sections when it’s possible to find a good momentum despite the steep gradients.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s 28km event which starts at 0800, you can read a preview HERE. This event, as last year, will prove to be fast, the mixed terrain includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and at the summit of the iconic Lone Peak a gnarly and technical descent brings the runners back to the resort of Big Sky where the race started.  The race has 2375m of vertical gain with a low point of 2286m and a high point of 3403m. Ones to watch are Laura Orgue and Yngvild Kaspersen who will also have run the VK and Megan Kimmel who is the outright ladies favourite. In the men’s race, Marc Lauenstein and Dakota Jones head up a strong mens field.

Results:

1 Ondrej Fejfar 29:26

2 Jan Margarit Sole +00:24

3 Scott Patterson +1:07

4 Mike Foote +1:21

5 Greg Vollet +1:52

 

1 Laura Orgue 34:20

2 Cynthia Arnold +00:41

3 Maria Zorroza +2:16

4 Aitziber Iberia +3:33

5 Jenny Wolfe +3:59

Matterhorn Ultraks 46k 2016 Race Summary and Images– Skyrunner® World Series

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The Matterhorn provides a stunning backdrop for Switzerland’s Matterhorn Ultraks race, a 46km Skyrunning race with 3600m of positive and negative gain. Now in its 4th edition, the race once again is in the Skyrunner® World Series – a magical race that provides a circular journey that starts and concludes in the picture postcard mountain town of Zermatt.

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The day started well with wispy white clouds penetrating the blue of the sky, we all knew though that it wasn’t going to last… with 2 hours of running the sky turned grey, the rain arrived and low mist enveloped the mountains; the beautiful Matterhorn was gone!

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Wild expansive space, high mountains and the 3100m Gornergrat provides the high point of the race and the first indication of how this mountain game of chess was going to play out. Christian Mathys was a surprise arrival pushing the pace closely followed by Marc Lauenstein (pre-race favourite) and Nepalese runner, Tirtha Tamang.

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In the ladies’ race, Megan Kimmel from the USA was already dictating the race and the pace opening up a substantial gap on a chasing Elisa Desco from Italy and Michaela Mertova who was looking very strong.

It’s a brutal opening 14km to open any race and as such, those opening km’s can be decisive in who crosses the finish line first.

Megan Kimmel from the USA ran hard from the gun in 2015 setting the pace against a world-class field, “Anytime you get the rhythm in the up, the down, or the flat, the body is abruptly put into one of these other actions.  It is steep enough to grind you to a walk on a lot of the uphill and has fair bits of technical descent.”

A 1000m drop from the summit is broken by a small climb at Riffelalp and then Furi follows at 24km at 1880m. Two short sharp climbs follow, the first to Schwarzsee at 2583m and approximately 28km covered. Here Mathys was leading Tamang and Launstein followed minutes behind. It was difficult to tell if Lauenstein was going through a bad patch, he just smiled and pushed on.

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Kimmel picks up her race, “I was comfortably leading the race for the first 30k. When I mean comfortable, I mean it seemed fairly effortless in a racing sense.  I was moving with the terrain on the uphill’s and I was holding back on the descents because it was a long race with a lot of transitions.” Kimmel’s lead was substantial and she was running her own race. Behind, barring an accident, the other ladies were running for 2nd.

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A drop down to 2200m from Schwarzsee was followed with another 500m+ climb and then what follows is mostly a flat runnable plateau that gently weaves up, down and left to right all the way to Trift. Lauenstein had taken the lead now and was flying, Mathys chased but the gap was opening up with every minute that passed.

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A short kick up of 100 to 200m follows Trift and then a fast and furious drop of almost 1000m over a distance of 6km leads to the finish line in Zermatt and the assembled crowds. Lauenstein sealed victory in 4:47:01, just a few minutes outside Kilian Jornet’s course record. Mathy’s held on for an excellent 2nd in 5:51:56 and Tamang placed 3rd in 4:53:03. Once again Hassan Ait Chaou ran an excellent 4th place and last year’s winner and course designer, Martin Anthamatten finished 6th.

Kimmel, the 2015 Dolomites SkyRace winner, after strongly leading the ladies race for the whole race, clinched victory with 20+-minute lead to Michaela Mertova, their respective times 5:23:15 and 5:46:21. Cilia Chiron backed up her great Dolomites SkyRace performance with 3rd and Oihana Kortazar placed 4th. Elisa Desco who had run in 2nd place did not finish due to a fall.

Skyrunning is not just about the uphill and more often than not, it’s the downhill that determines the winner. Today was all about patience and consistency. Racing is often a mental journey as much physical, Kimmel and Lauenstein today proved this at the Matterhorn.

Results for all race HERE