adidas Terrex and the 2019 UTMB Series of Races

I was recently in Chamonix for the UTMB series of events. I have to be honest, I have avoided Chamonix at the end of August for the last few years… The whole UTMB extravaganza just feels too overwhelming, there is no escape. So, I have chose to either have a holiday or work on smaller races.

This year I was asked by adidas to work on the event, documenting the experience of their Terrex Team as they prepared to tackle all of the events the UTMB offer, the exception coming with the crazy long PTL.

Working for a brand brings a whole new perspective and experience to an event like UTMB. Instead of chasing multiple runners over multiple locations, my priority would be to follow the favourites within each of the respective races – OCC, CCC and TDS. The UTMB would also be raced and followed by the whole Terrex Team but due to a prior commitment, I would skip the big loop around France, Italy and Switzerland.

UTMB needs no introduction, the series of races have arguably become a flagship for the sport. As UTMB has grown, so has the demand for people to race and for media to cover the event. This brings a whole set of challenges, especially for media. As a brand, adidas were required to pay a fee to allow myself and the film crew access to certain areas of the race, for example aid stations and finish line, and thus we could capture certain required images and also have the license to use them. UTMB provide live coverage of the event and it must be said, they do an incredible job using a helicopter, runners and mountain bikes to cover much of all the race routes. It is quite an incredible logistical problem and in addition, they provide live commentary with an ever-changing group of people providing on the spot analysis of the race. You can pretty much follow every race, start to finish live.

adidas and the UTMB

The team arrived in Chamonix one week before the UTMB main event and I arrived on the Monday. This meant the YCC started Tuesday, TDS Wednesday, OCC Thursday, CCC and UTMB starting Friday. You can do the math, that means long days, early starts, late nights and little sleep.

As a team, adidas had rented one huge chalet that would host the whole team, the hashtag #oneteam being a very important motto and ethos not only during race week but it is a hashtag that the team is using to bring the whole Terrex ethos together. It is very much ‘all for one, one for all!’ The chalet had two chefs who provided meals for the entire team and in so doing, dietary needs could be looked after and the need to try to find a restaurant in Chamonix was removed.

A team physio, Dave, was literally ‘hands-on’ everyday from morning to evening to keep the whole team in top condition. In the words of Team Manager, Robert, ‘without his immense treatments, day and night, someone like Luis may well have not raced!’

I am fortunate, after years covering races, I was well acquainted with much of the team; Luis Alberto Hernando, Sheila Aviles, Dmitry Mityaev, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Tom Evans and so many more. This always makes my job easier as to work closely with athletes, particularly in race week, there has to be trust and respect.

I was working alongside the adidas film crew who have been working on the Terrex brand for some time. A great group of guys who know how to work hard, laugh hard and find the time for a beer at the end of the day, no matter how long it may be. Big shout for Rapha, Andy, Patrick, Yannick and then man stuck to an editing stool, Bene. We had a separate chalet as the hours we work are not ideal when athletes are trying to sleep. Meal times were a family affair though and the athlete house was our hub for the week starting with an 0800 breakfast as and when applicable.

Behind the scenes is always fascinating. Looking at apparel, shoes and new development it was clear to see that adidas’ commitment to trail and mountain running is huge. They had specifically designed waterproof jackets and trousers for the team that complied with UTMB rules while still being light and packing small.

Athletes such as Yngvild Kaspersen and Tom Evans (Yngvild 2nd at Pikes Peak and Tom 3rd at Western States) were flown into Chamonix to be part of #oneteam even though they would not race. It was clear that adidas’ commitment to bringing everyone together is a high priority.

A signing in the UTMB expo allowed fans to get close, chat and get a signed photo from Tom, Luis, Holly and Sheila. The buzz was incredible.

Post the signings, we took Tom in to the mountains for a photo shoot. The most ransom moment of the whole week… A couple just married saw Tom, recognized him and then came for a wedding photo! The groom was running UTMB.

Over the course of the week, racers and non-racers would each continually give up their time to crew, support, follow and cheer on the team. A prime example being Ekaterina crewing for Dmitry during TDS to a stunning 2nd place. Two days later, Ekaterina would run UTMB and place 4th while Dmitry crewed her.

Filming and photographing brings its own challenges of long drives, big hikes and a relentless pace that leaves one drained and exhausted by the end but high on emotion. It’s always a tough call on who to follow? Many of the races had more than one adidas runner participating but from a story and media perspective, we would have to make decisions in advance. The TDS for example, our emphasis was on Dmitry. For CCC, Luis Alberto Hernando was our primary story. Needless to say, it’s incredible when it all comes together, Dmitry placed 2nd and Luis won CCC. To be able to see the journey unfold at close quarters and tell the story is quite special.

While we raced around with cameras, the remaining crew would chase around providing aid and support. Tom Evan’s quite rightly said, ‘I have raced and won CCC, I have also crewed on big races – I know how hard and tiring crewing is.’

But despite the long hours, the short nights and the relentless fatigue, nobody complained. On the contrary. As the week went on and the results came in, everyone was becoming hyped by the experience and results. It was infectious.

But nothing is perfect. Racing is fickle. While racing went well for Dmitry and Luis for example, others had a tough time. It’s here when the #oneteam ethos kicks in. We are all human, sometimes we are ahead and all is going well, other times, things don’t click, for whatever reason. As an athlete, that can be very hard. It takes months to prepare for an event and then on the day, for it not to come together as expected can be hugely disappointing. As one runner said, ‘I have let the team down…’ But the response was unequivocal, ‘You have let no one down!’

Sheila Aviles had stomach issues in OCC, Timothy Olson struggled at UTMB and finally had to withdraw and all along, the support from adidas and the team was 100%. 

Holly Page made a last minute decision to run CCC, battled through the first half of the race with terrible stomach problems only to come out of the other side and then race strongly over the latter stages for her first 100km finish. It was a story echoed throughout the whole week, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Being ‘In the arena’ to quote Roosevelt is what the sport of trail and mountain running is all about, ‘ The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’

Roosevelt in his quote sums up all adidas stand for with the Terrex Team.

A Day at UTMB – Following Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Our day started with an early alarm, a quick breakfast and a drive to Courmayeur – the plan to climb to Refuge Bertone and capture early content with Mont Blanc providing a stunning backdrop.

Plans hit a problem from the off with a long wait to get through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Once in Courmayeur it was gps time to navigate a route to the trail head. This was a constant theme of the whole week… Great gps software and gpx route are essential – we could plan to meet the runners as much as possible during a race.

We started our climb later than we would have liked but we pushed the pace – not that easy with a 15kg camera bag! Once there, the weather was perfect, the scenery magical and we knew we were going to get some great content. 

For Luis, we were aware we could capture him on the descent, chase after him and then capture him again after he had visited the aid station.

I positioned myself on the descent knowing that I would get a dynamic shot as Luis dropped in front of me taking a left turn with Mont Blanc behind him.

As Luis approached, disaster struck. A ‘runner’ who was spectating ran ahead of him ruining all my ‘pre’ shots. As I shouted for them to get out of the way, they then stopped directly ahead of me, right in the middle of my shot. I had to compromise… shit happens!

I then raced after Luis on the descent and then got to my second spot. This time all was good with clear shots and I then ran with him capturing more content before he raced off around the mountain.

Being early in the day, we decided to wait and capture the other adidas runners who were participating as the time gaps at this stage would not be too great. Later, it would be impossible if Luis ran the race we anticipated! Abi Hall, Macy were looking good but Holly Page was struggling with a bad stomach.

Dropping bag to the car via the twisty descent, we now had a 2-hour drive to Champex Lac. Luis was motoring and now in the lead. Race projections said he would arrive at 1425. Our navigator said we would arrive 1410.

Once again we used gps software to find an access point pre Champex Lac that would allow us to capture content on steep forest trails. Luis arrived like clockwork powering up the climb using poles to keep the momentum.

At Champex Lac he ran the footpath and roads around the lake allowing more opportunities before we went off-piste on a dirt road allowing for one last shot before we would then lose him only to re-connect at Trient.

Trient provided a shot before the aid station and then we drove out of Switzerland and back in to France before capturing Luis on the climb of the Col des Montets – our last opportunity before his arrival at the finish.

Now Luis was motoring and opening up a gap on the 2nd place.

At the finish, myself and Patrick (film crew) waited for Luis in the press area while the remaining adidas team watched the huge screens in the square.

Finally, Luis achieved his coveted UTMB victory. It was an emotional finish. His wife, Nieves, greeted him with open arms. The Terrex team mobbed him as soon as they could… A post-race drug test delaying that process for some time!

Back at the chalet it was time to download the day’s work and release the content.

#ONETEAM

There is no ‘I’ in team and that was personified during this intense UTMB experience. We all had roles but flexibility is key. Athletes became crew, office workers became car drivers and everyone became a supporter both in a physical and mental capacity. 

It was a real pleasure to be immersed with a brand and follow closely the whole process that make a race and team come together. Certainly, the UTMB and Chamonix experience made team bonds stronger.

On a personal note, to leave on Saturday am while the UTMB was underway was hard, especially with Ekaterina running. I have witnessed her growth in skyrunning over the last year’s and then to see her rise to 4th at UTMB not only made me really proud but also a little jealous and envious that I wasn’t available to capture that journey in images…. Next time!

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adidas Terrex Agravic Boa Shoe Review

adidas have been making Terrex shoes for years and Luis Alberto Hernando has been flying the adidas flag for most of them. It’s fair to say, that a runner such as Luis always gave the Terrex brand credibility.

However, I always felt he was a lonely figure fighting the big brands and teams from Salomon, The North Face, La Sportiva, Scott and so on!

Well, that is all changing. adidas with the Terrex brand are moving in to the trail world in a big way. Certainly Dmitry Mityaev and Ekaterina Mityaeva were the start of that process. Then Timothy Olson. Now, with the closing of 2018 and the start of 2019, Tom Evans, Holly Page, Sheila Avilés and many more are joining the line-up.

Listen to Tom Evans talk about his 3rd place at Western States HERE

 

I witnessed adidas’ plans at the recent Infinite Trails (here) in Austria and here did I not only get to see and try the new apparel, I also got to see some of the new shoes.

One of those shoes being the Terrex Agravic Boa. I was intrigued with this shoe as my initial test/ use of a previous adidas Boa shoe left me somewhat unconvinced.

I spent time at the Boa® stand (at the Infinite Trails expo), discussed the development of the Boa system and got a hands-on- feel of the Agravic. The development was marked but I couldn’t try the shoe as sizes were limited. Gladly that was rectified when Boa sent me a pair in the post.

First off, I love the look of the shoe is stealth black. This broken by a  camouflage black/grey/white section before the stark white of the shoes Boost cushioning. The black colour comes from a special dye process (see below) that is more ecologically sound.

They are light shoes with a wide toe box, reinforced toe protection and then a complex series of overlays that give the shoe structure which is all pulled together by the Boa® lacing system.

A notable feature is the shoes sock liner. This is arguably the most immediately comfortable shoes I have slipped on. One could easily use these shoes without socks the liner is so good. It is completely seamless so the risk to rubbing/ abrasion is greatly reduced. This also extends to the heal – a firm hold without rubbing is a winner.

Cushioning comes from adidas Boost technology and one can feel adidas’ road pedigree in these shoes. The cushioning is plush and responsive with 15mm at the front and 22mm at the rear. This gives an unusual 7mm drop. I say unusual as 6mm or 8mm is ‘standard’ in shoe drop across all brands.

The outsole is the amazing Continental rubber. The tread is by no means aggressive and this is certainly a trail shoe designed for fast running on non-muddy trails. But on hardpack trail and rocks, wet or  dry, the grip is excellent. I must add here that in my cycling days, Continental were always my tires of choice!

Specs:

  • Sock-like construction hugs the foot
  • Weight: 285 g (size UK 8.5)
  • Midsole drop: 7 mm (heel 22 mm / forefoot 15 mm)
  • Product colour: Core Black / Cloud White / Active Red
  • Regular fit
  • Boa® Closure System for micro-adjustment and secure and consistent hold
  • Abrasion-resistant textile upper
  • Continental™ Rubber outsole for extraordinary traction in wet and dry conditions
  • Responsive Boost midsole; Moulded sockliner

IN USE

These shoes are wonderfully comfortable. They feel so good as soon as you slip them on and this all comes from the sock liner. There is an immediate notable feel that the toe box is wide and spacious allowing for good toe splay. So, if you need wide trail shoes, add the Agravic to your check-out list.

My previous adidas Terrex shoes left me undecided or should I say, unconvinced by the Boa closure system. Have to say, the Terrex Agravic Boa® has changed that. The Boa® works great here and that is for two reasons:

  1. The adidas shoe is a much better fit and therefore this makes the work of the Boa® so much easier.
  2. The overlays that add structure are well placed and designed allowing the Boa® to pull tight, hold the foot and keep it secure.

I am experienced with the Boa® system, it has been the ‘go to’ on cycling shoes for years and my first experience with run shoes was way back in 2008, I think?

There will always be an argument that laces are easier, and yes, laces do a great job and it’s hard to argue against the tried and tested method. But the Boa® here has me hooked. Speed both on and off is great. Quite simply slide the shoe on, push ‘in’ the Boa button and turn. The laces pull tight and continue to pull tight until you stop. To loosen, pull the Boa® button and voila, the laces release immediately.

I had problems before getting a firm hold on my foot. Not here. The shoes have three lace points on left and three lace points on the right. As you tighten, they pull in. I really like my foot to be held well, especially on technical terrain and here in this Terrex Agravic Boa® I am very happy.

Toe box is roomy, but not too roomy. They are very comfortable upfront and the toe protection is adequate with a good bumper.

Boost cushioning is popular the world over and here one can really feel the plush comfort from adidas’ technology. The cushioning is in two sections : the camouflage section and the white section. I have to say, these are the most ‘road like’ trail shoes I have run in. On hard trail they just bounce along giving a great feel for the ground. It may come as no surprise, road miles are super comfy and I’d have no hesitation to run a road training session or race in these. The outsole may not thank me though!

The outsole by Continental is superb offering great grip and feel, wet or dry, on hard trails and rocks. The outsole is not aggressive though, so forget mud!

SUMMARY

The Terrex Agravic Boa® is a really great trail shoe for those looking for great comfort, cushioning, 7mm drop and a roomy toe box. It’s the type of shoe you can slip on and spend all day in without ever thinking about foot comfort.

Stand out features :

  • The sock liner – darn it is so comfortable.
  • The Continental outsole.
  • The Boost cushioning.
  • The shoe design, particularly in the overlays that hold the foot.
  • And yes, the Boa® system really shines here. For me, it’s a turning point (pun intended) that convinces me that I would happily use these shoes and this system on a regular basis. My laces never came lose. Adjusting on the go was quick and fast – faster than any other lacing system. But importantly my foot was held secure and tight when I needed it.

The shoe is for everyday trail running and happily takes road too. It’s not a shoe for mud, but that is obvious when one looks at the outsole.

This is a great adidas shoe and I am in no doubt that shoe has benefited from feedback from the ‘elite’ adidas Terrex team. It’s an exciting time to see what else adidas have in the line-up for 2019 and 2020.

adidas TERREX HERE

Terrex Agravic Boa HERE

BOA® HERE

adidas Terrex Agravic Boa information:

  • Boa® Fit System adjusts on the go. Sock construction keeps feet snug and comfortable.
  • Boost cushioning for mountain ready energy. All-day comfort on the fastest trails.
  • Continental™ Rubber outsole takes hold, even in wet conditions.
  • Dope dye colouring process saves at least 10 litres of water per product. Dope Dye is a coloring process which uses an innovative twist in manufacturing to conserve water and energy. By injecting color directly into raw materials, the Dope Dye process substantially reduces the eco-footprint of manufacturing, saving at least 10 liters of water for every pair of Dope Dye shoes made. The fibers and filaments are fully impregnated with pigment at the very beginning of the manufacturing process. Starting form a deep black raw material means there is no need to dye the product: less water, fewer chemicals and less energy are needed.

adidas Infinite Trails 2019 World Championships – Summary and Images

As events go, adidas Infinite Trails has set a new benchmark. I think it’s fair to say that the weekend of activity put together in Austria has elevated trail running to a whole new event. Imagine the best trail running race in the world, then add a three day running festival full of talks, workshops and demos. Then add the most incredible and seamless organization I have witnessed and to add the icing on the cake, Austria, the Austrian amphitheater of mountains and the event location of Bad Hofgastein – you have the makings of what will become an iconic event, mark my words.

Quite simply, adidas have stepped up their game in trail/ off road running. The TERREX brand has existed for some time, but the impact on the trail running community has been minimal. Even with the presence of Luis Alberto Hernando who has been flying the adidas flag for many years.

Dmitry Mityaev and Ekaterina Mityaeva have added to Luis’ trail prowess in recent years, particularly in skyrunning. But in 2018 something changed (probably earlier) as adidas signed many new athletes to the team – Timothy Olson, Yngvild Kaspersen, Tom Evans, Holly Page and Sheila Avilés to name but a few. This was clearly a statement from adidas, ‘we are coming!’

And coming to the trail world they are, Infinite Trails World Championships proved this.

Firstly, the event. The concept is simple but also unique. Teams of three come together, they can be all male, all female or mixed. On the Thursday at 6pm all runners run a mountain prologue – this year it was a 15km event with almost 1000m of vertical gain. The time for each team member is recorded and the team times are all added together. This creates a start time for ‘race day’ with the fastest team going first and then all other teams start based on their respective times to the fastest. It’s a chasing start and an algorithm is used to work out the order.

Race day is Saturday and kicks off at 0400 with loop 1. The race is made of 3 loops and each has its own challenges and distances. Loop 1 25km, loop 2 60km and loop 3 39km. But distance only tells part of the story. The trails and mountains in this area are truly beautiful, magnificent and yes, brutal. At times technical, each loop also has much vertical gain and descent. Without doubt, loop 2 is the highlight, not only visually but in severity.

One runner takes on loop 1, one loop 2 and one loop 3. The objective is to finish each loop as fast as possible, pass on to the next member of the team and then after the final loop 3 is completed, all three team members run a final 700m loop around the town of Bad Hofgastein, the fastest are World Champions.

But the weekend is not only about racing. This event is all about community, a coming together of like minded people in a stunning location and all enjoying some trail love.

As one runner said to me, ‘We have the stars of the sport here like Luis, Timmy and Jasmin, but we are all made to feel like rockstars.’

And that was the theme of the weekend. Most certainly the three person team format brings a whole new dynamic, but it was the events around the weekend that made me feel like I was at a ‘Glastonbury’ for running. There was an athlete panel talk, talks on Mindfulness, and nutrition. You could test run Terrex shoes. It was possible to create your own ‘tie died’ Terrex T shirt. Yoga classes were available and on the Friday before the race there was a brunch were all food and drink was provided free.

Race day needless to say was a full on day, with runners, staff and the village pretty much on standby for 24 hours.

Austria, like much of Europe was blessed with a heatwave that gave blue skies, perfect visibility but intense heat.

Runners on loop 1 were blessed with a 4am start, for all of them, they were done before the heat of the day really kicked in.

Loop 2 was a visual masterpiece of stunning views, relentless climbing and descending and some truly challenging technical terrain. Combined with the heat, loop 2 was brutal. Luis Alberto and Amy Hall lead the way for their respective teams and neither found it easy, so you can only imagine the carnage and pain behind. The 2019 Infinite Trails will be remembered for loop 2.

Each loop had its own cut off time. If a runner failed to arrive before the cut off, the next runner could leave but of course, they would be out of the ranking. For loop 2, this was 1900 hours and as the clock chimed, the severity of the second loop was obvious with many loop 3 runners leaving before the arrival on their 2nd team mate.

The atmosphere at the finish was electric with one of the most impressive start/ finish lines I have witnessed. Due to the nature of the event and the constant arrival and departure of runners, there was always a big crowd. As night came, it felt more like a rave than a race. Music screamed out, panels were illuminated and a constant light show welcomed the runners all the way through to the 1am cut off, remarkably the last team arrived just 20-seconds inside the closing of the race.

Of course, World Campions were crowned and the dream teams of Dmitry Mityaev, Luis Alberto Hernando and Timothy Olson were the male champions. Yngvild Kaspersen, Ekaterina Mityaeva and Jasmin Nunige were the female champions.

But as was said previously, everyone was made to feel a champion in an event that really marks a new era for trail running. In 2019, 200 teams toed the line, in years to come, I can see those numbers increase significantly and of course, the dream scenario would be to see teams come together from other brands. Imagine it if Salomon, The North Face, Scott, Nike, La Sportiva, inov-8 and so on, assembled teams of three to see, who are the Infinite Trails World Champions.

I for one cannot wait to see this concept grow and certainly, adidas with the Terrex brand will now be making significant impact in the trail running world. A true sign of this is shown at Western States.

While the whole Terrex team celebrated and embraced Austria, the UK’s Tom Evans toed the line of the iconic WSER in Squaw valley, USA. A new year signing to adidas, this was Tom’s first hundred miler. He crushed it, not only running under the iconic 15-hour mark put placing 3rd overall, a truly remarkable result.

If you love running, if you love trail, if you love the community of off-road running, then the Infinite Trails is for you. I cannot encourage you enough, get a team together, travel out to Austria and experience something truly special in 2020.

Race website HERE

Race Facebook HERE

FULL IMAGE GALLERY TO BE UPLOADED HERE

Disclaimer: I was employed to be an official photographer of the 2019 Infinite Trails. I was not employed as a journalist and I was not employed to write this article. The words are my own and my own thoughts of a truly great weekend. 

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Livigno Skymarathon 2018 | Alta Valtellina Skyrunning

Days in the mountains rarely get better. Than here in Livigno… The Livigno SkyMarathon really is a truly spectacular Skyrunning race that personifies less cloud, more sky!

Over a 34km course, the runners climbed over 2700m of vertical gain with much of the race taking place between 2500 and 3000m. Exposed mountain ridges, roped sections, via feratta an abundance of technical terrain and this course is a Skyrunner’s  dream.

Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri which took place in May, this race was always going to be exciting with valuable Migu Skyrunner World Series points available.

The day was all about Petter Engdahl, the young skier/ runner dominated the race from the front and although he had some close competition at times, he blitzed the course with an incredible performance finishing in 3:33:26 ahead of Pascal Egli 3:38:01 and David Sinclair from the USA, a surprise 3rd in 3:39:16.

The ladies’ race was a close run epic with Laura Orgue and Sheila Aviles trading blows throughout. It was touch and go who would win, eventually it was Laura 4:10:11 to 4:10:45. Elisa Desco, wife of RD Marco De Gasperi, made a great return to racing after her 2nd child to take 3rd. in 4:19:45.

The 2018 edition of the Livigno SkyMarathon was different to 2017 and therefore the times recorded this year are course records. Conditions were exceptional throughout the day with clear blue skies, sun, little to no wind and temperatures were kind until the early afternoon when they started to rise.

The talk post race was all about how incredible the course is. The opening flat miles providing a warm up before the first climb with no technicality. What follows are walls of rock with chains attached, scree slopes of rock and thin, narrow and exposed technical ridges that really place you in the sky. 

The high point of the course at 3000m in many respects brings an end to the very technical sections and then the course changes with plenty of single-track and of course climbing. The final drop from Monte Campaccio at 3007m is long with plenty of rocks and scree. The final 10km’s to the line sap the legs and mind – a Livigno finish is hard fought.

Yading SKY and KORA ULTRA 2018 Summary and Images – Yading Skyrunning Festival

The 2018 Yading Skyrunning Festival concluded today with two incredible races, the 29km Sky Race and the 46km Kora Ultra. Both races started in Shangri La at the same time and both concluded at the Monastery in the Yading National Park.

It turned out to be quite a day for both races!

The predicted snow came and with it wind, cold temperatures and snow flurries; the landscape turned into a winter wonderland. It made the conditions very difficult for the runners. Fighting the challenging terrain and at times bitter cold, the 2018 Ultra and Sky race will be remembered for many years to come.

It was a day when finally the ever-present Skyrunner, Oscar Casal Mir topped the podium after many years of commitment to the Skyrunner World Series. He was just behind Andy Wacker at the iconic prayer flag turn and then used his descending skills to clinch victory. Andy finished just over a minute later and rising Nepali star, Bed Sunuwar placed 3rd, particularly notable after placing 2nd in the previous day’s VK.

The ladies’ race turned out to be an epic battle between Holly Page and Ruth Croft. The duo were pretty much together throughout the race with Holly having the edge.

Ruth used her road skills on some of the earlier section but it was Holly who triumphed clinching victory. Sheila Aviles clinched the final podium spot in a very competitive race.

  1. Oscar Casal Mir 3:06:26
  2. Andy Wacker 3:07:30
  3. Bed Sunuwar 3:07:57
  4. Yongning Gao 3:11:27
  5. Finlay Wild 3:13:14
  1. Holly Page 3:32:04
  2. Ruth Croft 3:33:38
  3. Sheila Aviles 3:37:20
  4. Hillary Gerardi 3:42:36
  5. Lina El Kott Helander 3:45:57

In the Kora Ultra it was a record breaking day with both the male winner and female winner beating the 2017 times; truly remarkable when one considers the conditions. This was reflected in the words of Francois D’Haene, ‘I went 10-minutes quicker than last year and still came 4th!’

The talk though was all about the ladies’ winner, Miao Yao who obliterated the field and smashed the course record setting the new level at 5:50:28. For perspective, Mira Rai was a distant second in 6:32:40. Many of the elite men could feel the pressure, the speed and skill of this lady who placed 7th overall.

The men’s race was equally impressive, let’s face it, anyone who betters Francois D’Haene deserves respect, especially when setting a CR 4:49:02, that credit goes to Dongrenjia Jia. But also a great nod to 2nd and 3rd, Yousheng Guan and Ji Dong.

  1. Dongranjia Jia 4:49:02
  2. Yousheng Guan 5:04:10
  3. Ji Dong 5:13:54
  1. Miao Yao 5:50:28
  2. Mira Rai 6:32:40
  3. Qiao Wen 8:17:44

Yading, the impressive landscape and the mountains were the true stars of the festival though. It’s an incredible place to race, run or hike and will doubt make it to many a bucket list.

IMAGES available HERE

Limone Extreme 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

What an epic day in Italy!

The final race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series turned out to be an epic day.

Young gun, Jan Margarit and Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi went head-to-head in a full-on battle as they climbed and descended in the mountains that back onto Lake Garda. It was Margarit who dictated the pace on the early climb while De Gasperi followed just a minute or so back with Aritz Egea and Peter Engdahl.

However, De Gasperi closed to Margarit and the duo ran side-by-side for much of the race pushing each other all the way beyond the 20km mark. The final descent is renowned for its punishing technical running and it was here that De Gasperi opened a small gap, reversing the result from Dolomites SkyRace earlier in the year when Margarit dropped the Italian on the final descent.

Needless to say, De Gasperi’s win on home soil not only is a popular one but it also confirms De Gasperi’s skill and perseverance in the sport. He won’t mind me saying but he is twice the age of Margarit. 

Young German runner, Stefan Knopf was around 10th place on the first climb but ran a stunning 2nd half of the race to take the final podium place ahead of Peter Engdahl.

For the ladies’ Ragna Debats laid it all on the line knowing that she could win the series with a 1st or 2nd place. On the first climb, she pushed and pushed with Laura Orgue hot on her heels. Michelle Maier followed and in 4th was the orienteering world champion, Tove Alexandersson.

As the race progressed, Debats went through a bad patch allowing Maier and Alexandersson in to the first and second slots. Despite pushing, Debats found it difficultl to find her rhythms and when she finally did it was too late, the other two had leaped ahead.

Alexandersson gave it everything and opened up a gap of 4-minutes over Maier. Pushing the pace, she took several tumbles on the final descent and as she crossed the line in Limone she collapsed – her legs cut, her feet bloody, her hands and arms damaged. It was a seriously gusty run and one that wiped her out completely. 

Maier finished 2nd and Debats 3rd.

The big question would come around who would win the series? In many respects, it was Laura Orgue’s to lose. Unfortunately, Orgue had a bad day, a very bad day for her and Sheila Aviles finished ahead of her and in the process, took the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series title. 

Limone Extreme over the years has had many an epic battle, this year was no different.

It was a confirmation of experience and an introduction to new names and new faces. Marco De Gasperi and Sheila Aviles were crowned 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series champions and now as the Skyrunner season comes to an end, everyone looks ahead to 2018 and 2019 for a new era in Skyrunning.

Less Cloud, More Sky!

The COMBINED title was won by Jonathan Albon and Maite Maiora, the two most consistent athletes over all Skyrunning disciplines in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.

1 – Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 3h31’11”
2 – Michelle Maier (GER) 3h43’03”
3 – Ragna Debats (NED) 3h45’39”
4 – Holly Page (GBR) 3h51’46”
5 – Sheila Avilés Castaño (ESP) 3h54’20”

1 – Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 3h07’32”
2 – Jan Margarit Solé (ESP) 3h07’58”
3 – Stefan Knopf (GER) 3h10’51”
4 – Oriol Cardona Coll (ESP) 3h13’18”
5 – Petter Engdahl (SWE) 3h14’56”

Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace 2017 Summary – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

Uncompromising mountain running, ridges, scrambles, steep ascents, boggy ground and a bucket full of technical running made the 2017 Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ an epic race. The sodden ground was muddy and uncompromising, the weather wet and brutally cold. This race had epic written all over it and it drew comparisons with the Skyrunning classic, Zegama-Aizkorri.

The h finish line post-race was full of praise, many stating that it was a pure classic, a race they would return to and yes, one of the toughest 25km’s they have ever run! A sentiment echoed by race winner Stian Angermund-Vik who won the previous day’s Amores VK and who was the champion of the Ring of Steall in 2016

“A Tough and beautiful race. The weather was harsh today and I didn’t feel great but I rallied in the latter stages. I saw my teammate Tom Owens, he shouted encouragement at me and it spurred me on!”

Stian produced a stunning win in an incredible 3:24, a new course record. In the early stages, the race was all together with the USA’s Andy Wacker leading from the front by a small margin. He was followed though by all the favourites, Marco De Gasperi, Jan Margarit, Kiril Nikolov, Stian Angermund-Vik and many more, As the conditions took hold and the temperatures dropped dramatically with an icy wind, Angermund-Vik pulled away from the race. In-form Pascal Egli pursued and Kris Jones from Wales was paving the way for UK runners. It was all close and anything could happen. Egli held on for second in 3:26, just 1-minute later Jones finished and then young-gun Margarit finished 4th ahead of Kiril Nikolov in 5th,m their times 3:29 and 3:30.

In the ladies’ race, Laura Orgue, like Angermund-Vik, was looking for the double, VK and SKY victories. She lead the race to the top of the first climb but then lost the lead only to regain it and then pull away with a strong and convincing victory in 4:05.

“I loved this race, the terrain, the mountains and the challenge. It was a close race and I had to fight which is good. It feels very different to the other races on the SWS calendar and I think it may be my favourite – Ioved it!”

Sheila Aviles moved up from outside the top-3 as the race progressed, showing her form that gave her victory at Comapedrossa earlier in the year. Once in 2nd she stayed there and crossed the line in 4:05:51 just 40-seconds behind Orgue. The Spanish duo are now head-to-head in the SWS17 ranking with Limone Extreme in October the deciding race.

Oihana Azkorbebeitia finished 3rd, the USA’s Hillary Gerardi continued her strong streak of top performances for 4th and Maite Maiora was 5th after placing 2nd at CCC just 2-weekas ago, their times 4:15, 4:21 and 4:22.

This Skyrunning race route incorporated two lofty ridges within the Mamores, including the Devil’s Ridge, which provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead.

Full results HERE

Gallery 2

SkyRace® Comapedrosa Preview – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-6319

Andorra will host the fifth stage of the Skyrunner® World Series with the SkyRace® Comapedrosa coming just one week after the Skyrunning World Championships that took place in Spain.

Arinsal, a small ski resort within Andorra  will have 370 runners toe the line to take on the challenge of the 21 km course. The ascent involves a brutal 1,000 metre-high vertical wall over just 2 km which will test the best to the summit of the Comapedrosa at 2,942m the highest point in Andorra.

Starting with a paved road up to the  Coll de les Cases (1958M), a very straight road through a wooded area follows and from this point the runners will encounter a stretch of ridge with much height and little vegetation. Climbing  up to the Pic de les Fonts at 2748m the Pla de l’Estany follows.

Now the beautiful and challenging climb begins, a true vertical wall of more than 1000m of positive difference in about 2km. A VK within a race! Without  a marked path, the runners follow markers to the summit of Comapedrosa at2.942m.

The descent is by the traditional route through the Estany Negre and Comapedrosa refuge, until reaching Arinsal where the race started.

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-4913

Azara Garcia and Manuel Merillas are hot favourites after both gaining top 5 results at last weekends Skyrunning World Championships. However, Laura Orgue will race and arguably will be fresher after racing just the VK at the world championships. Oihana Kortazar will also be a podium contender with a strong battle coming from a quality line-up of top female Skyrunner’s that includes:

Yngvild KaspersenMarta MolistRagna DebatsAitziber IbarbiaSheila AvilesLaura Sola de MiguelNuria Dominguez and Ekaterina Mityaeva.

©iancorless.com_SWC2016-4891

In the men’s field, Manuel Merillas 4th in the recent World Championships and 2nd in the 2015 Sky rankings may well have a battle on his hands with Rémi Bonnet if the young Swiss is back on form?  Pere Aurell, 2015 race winner, will also defend his title.

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-0928

As in the ladies race, the men’s race has great depth:

Marc Casal MirPablo Villa GonzalesOscar Casal MirStian Overgaard Hassan Ait Chaouand Alexis Sevennec head up the competition with a strong presence coming fromand Andrej Fejfar, Pere Aurell (2015 race winner), Aritz EgeaPere Rullan, Alfredo Gil Garcia, Sintu Vives, Jessed Hernandez.

Course records are 2:46:42 by Pere Aurell and 3:21:15 by Oihana Kortazar.


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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