Tromsø SkyRace® 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® Extreme Series

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Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend with the Tromsø SkyRace® the first race of three in the new Skyrunner® Extreme Series which also includes the iconic Trofeo Kima and the soon to be iconic, Salomon Glencoe Skyline in the UK.

A double whammy weekend of running that starts with the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and concludes with the Tromsø SkyRace® is the brainchild of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. Needless to say, the dynamic Skyrunning duo have something quite special in store.

On Friday, 15 countries will participate in the tough, challenging, leg hurting, lung busting Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® as they climb 1000 vertical meters over the short distance of 2.7km. Starting on the shores of the sea, the race really does encompass the ethos of ‘sea-to-sky’ perfectly and concludes at the altitude of 1044m at Store Blåmann.

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Double Skyrunning World Champion (SKY and VK) Stian Angermund is without doubt the hot favourite for victory after two incredible performances in Spain. Running on home soil, Stian will without doubt be fired up to impress. Strong competition will come from Ferran Teixodo, Hannes Perkmann, Rolf Einar Jensen, Allan Spangler, Pieter Schnapps and Ferran and Jordi Lorenzo.

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Laura Orgue took silver medal in the Skyrunning World Championships just 2-weeks ago for the VK distance and last weekend she held off a charging Oihana Kortazar at the SkyRace Comapedrosa to take a stunning victory. Laura has said she is feeling a little tired but without doubt, she is the favourite for victory in Tromso. Yngvild Kaspersen, like Stian, will be running on home soil and although the VK is not her speciality, we can expect a top performance. Other strong competition will come from Natalia Tomasiak and regular VK competitor, Therese Sjursen.

Saturday’s Hamperokken SkyRace® is a beast of a course and has some of the most technical and challenging sections ever witnessed in a Skyrunning race. Designed by Kilian and Emelie the race has been instrumental in inspiring the new Extreme Series which harks back to the early pioneering days of Giacometti, Meraldi and Brunod.

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Covering a ‘new’ distance of 53km (the old distance was 45km) and 4600m of vertical terrain, the race really is a challenge for those taking part. This is reflected in the 2015 winning time of Jonathan Albon’s 6:08:41. Jonathan will return this year no doubt looking for a repeat victory as he starts his ‘Extreme’ journey in 2016.

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Arguably Jonathan’s biggest threat will come from the UK’s Tom Owens who is on fire at the moment. Tom placed silver at the Skyrunning World Championships for the SKY distance and last weekend took a stunning victory at the SkyRace Comapedrosa where he said post race, “I felt brilliant today, my legs were superb!” If Tom makes the journey to Norway, he will push Jonathan, no doubt!

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For me though, the one to watch will be Finlay Wild. Finlay spent his teens and early twenties mountaineering in summer and winter throughout Scotland and abroad. His local mountain Ben Nevis provided an obvious running challenge and he went on to win the Ben Nevis Race six times. In 2012, Finlay set new course records on Glamaig, Glen Rosa Horseshoe and Sliochmay. In 2013 he set a new record on Scotland’s Cullin Ridge knocking 15-minutes of the old record to set a benchmark time of 2:59. He may very well be the real surprise package of the race!

Also watch out for Andrew Fallas, another Scottish runner relatively unknown in Skyrunning circles but the ‘Extreme’ element is bringing the fell/ mountain runners into a new playground.

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Norwegian Rolf Einar Jensen made the podium at the Tromso race in 2015 and with race experience, local knowledge and an ability to run fast over this technical terrain, one can expect him to equal if not better his past results. Equally, Eirik Haugsness who won the first edition of the Tromso race 2-years ago brings experience to the start line. It’s going to be tight up at the front and Philipp Reiter will add to the pressure.

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Luke Nelson is flying over from the USA, he is a prolific ultra runner and an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit in the USA. This year Luke is looking to compete in the Extreme Series. Matt Cooper from Australia has experience of Trofeo Kima and once again will return this year, to the Italian classic; Tromso kicks off his ‘Extreme’ campaign and he will make his presence felt.

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Sota Ogawa makes up the last of the top men who will contest the podium after placing 9th at Sai Kung 50k in 2015.

Surprises will no doubt come from the UK’s Jim Mann who is an experienced fell runner and winner of the 2015 Dragons Back Race. Also watch out for Konrad Rawlik who has just married the ladies hot favourite for victory, Jasmin Paris.
ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort will also run along with Zigor Iturrieta, Christophe Le Saux and Alfred Gil Garcia amongst others. It’s going to be a cracking race!

Finally a notable mention in the men’s race for Tim Shieff. Tim is one of the worlds most successful ‘Freerunners’ and is an expert in Parkour. In 2009 he was crowned World Champion after winning the Barclaycard World Freerun Championships. Although Tim is new to Skyrunning, he has completed the Skyrunning UK’s V3K and in a recent chat, Tim told me, ‘running is my new passion and particularly Skyrunning. The technical courses that Skyrunning offer are a great extension of Freerunning and Parkour.’  I wonder, could Tim surprise everyone like Jonathan did last year?

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The ladies race has less depth but Jasmin Paris from the UK, in my opinion, will make an impact on the circuit in a huge way in 2016. Last year she placed 2nd behind Emelie Forsberg at Glencoe Skyline and just a couple of weeks ago, Jasmin took the bronze medal at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ULTRA distance. This all came on the back of minimal training due to her recent wedding. Jasmin’s legs may well feel a little tired in Tromso but the course, the technical sections and all the climbing will suit her… watch out ladies!

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Martina Valmassoi recently placed well at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and comes to Tromso with plenty of high mountain experience. Both Natalia Roman Lopez (who placed 7th at the recent High Trail Vanoise and 26th at Transvulcania) and Kathrin Shambeck (who was 53rd at Matterhorn Ultraks last year and 27th Transvulcania in 2013) will also look to make the top-5.

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Malene Blikken Haukoy may well be a dark horse after a victory at Homindal Rundt 70k in 2015 and her 3rd place at the Tromso race in 2015. 

Both Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® and the Tromsø SkyRace® are capped for safety and environmental reasons. It’s an important element of running in such a stunning part of the world and they are both ecologically sustainable.

Gnarly, gruelling, technical, beautiful and challenging; Skyrunning goes EXTREME this weekend, don’t miss it!

Course records are 6:08:41 and 7:09:54 for the men’s and ladies’ races held by Jonathan Albon and Emelie Forsberg, will we see a new benchmark set in 2016?


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)
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SkyRace® Comapedrosa 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

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SkyRace® Comapedrosa – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

The SkyRace® Comapedrosa really did personify everything that a Skyrunning race should be today as the Skyrunner® World Series 2016 moved at a fast pace. The race route was tough, technical, had loads of climbing and plenty of time up in the sky at altitude. In many respects, it’s a course of two halves – the early stages weave up steep forest paths and then in the latter half, after summiting the highest point of the course, the iconic peak of Comapedrosa, the terrain becomes almost permanently rocky and technical.

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Laura Orgue and Tom Owens were champions of the day and with two new course records! What makes the result of the dynamic duo more impressive is that they both achieved ‘silver,’ just last weekend at the Skyrunning World Championships organized by the ISF.
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The tiny ski-resort of Arinsal in Andorra hosted 370 runners as they toed the line to cover the 21.2km course with a vertical ascent of over 2,000m+. Much of the pre-race talk had been about ‘the wall,’ a technical 1000-metre vertical climb over the short distance of just 2km to the summit of the Comapedrosa at 2,942m, the highest peak in the principality of Andorra.

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Aritz Egea lead the race on the climbs and reached the summit of Comapedrosa with Tom Owens, Oscar Casal Mir and trailing Alexis Sevennec. Egea who has not been inform of late struggled to keep the second place after Owens passed him on the last long technical descent but the revelation came from Hassan Ait Chaou who closed from outside the top-5 to take 2nd on the podium. ©iancorless.com_Comapedrosa2016-7090

Egea held on for 3rd and post-race said, “I’m very happy with third. This year has been a little complicated for me, I’ve not been very motivated, so this a good surprise. The course is really, really tough but I love this kind of race, especially the steep climbs.” ©iancorless.com_Comapedrosa2016-7048

Tom Owens had contemplated not racing but sometimes last minute decisions work, “I was un-decided if I should run?” said Owens. “Today I felt great, sometimes it’s nice to race with no expectation. I was 6th or 7th on the first climb but running on those ridges was just brilliant. The descents were great for me…and move quite quickly and pull back places.”

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Pull back places Owens did and on that final descent he gave it everything and moved up from the 3rd to take victory in a new CR, knocking 6-minutes of the old record of 2:46:42.

Owens continued, “My weakness is on the steep climbs. The other guys would just pull away… then I eased back on the second climb. We all pretty much reached the summit of the second climb at the same time and from there I knew I had to concentrate.”

Surprisingly, the top three in the male podium all crossed the finish line today under the previous CR, a true sign of a fast, furious and highly competitive race.

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Laura Orgue ran an impressive time of 3:12:27 in the ladies’ race beating the previous CR of 3:21:15 held by Oihana Kortazar who would place 2nd. Like Owens, Orgue had achieved a silver medal just last weekend in the Skyrunning World Championships and although victory and CR were hers, she complained of not being her normal self. A VK specialist, Orgue loves to climb but today it was the worst part of her race… the other female runners must be terrified if she has a good day!

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Oihana Kortazar, placed 2nd and was also very happy to beat her own course record, no doubt due to the blistering pace of Orgue, “In this race I prefer the ascents to the descents, which are very, very technical. Andorra has some really tough terrain and I welcome the challenge. My next race is Matterhorn Ultraks in Zermatt.”

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Third was Àngela Castelló in 3:20:13. As with the male podium, the top three in the female podium all came in under the previous CR.

Attention now turns to next weekend and the first race in the EXTREME series, the Tromso SkyRace.

 

Provisional Race Results

Male:

  1. 1.Tom Owens 2:40
  2. Hassan Ait Chaou 2:41
  3. Aritz Egea 2:44

Female:

  1. Laura Orgué 3h14′
  2. Oihana Kortazar 3h17′
  3. Angela Castello 3h20′


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

Livigno SkyMarathon® and Santa Caterina Vertical KM – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

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Anticipation mounts for two events new to the Skyrunner® World Series this weekend with World Champions and Series’ leaders in both the Sky and VK disciplines toeing the start line – Lauri van Houten writes a preview of the action

The locations are both well-known ski resorts and now that the snow has almost all gone, they will host participants from no less than 22 nations in the spectacular Italian Alps.

The events will see 10 of the top athletes take on both races – the first being the short steep Santa Caterina Vertical KM on Friday, June 24, followed by Sunday’s Livigno SkyMarathon® – both valid for the Skyrunner® World Series rankings.

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Among the intrepid athletes lining-up for the double challenge are Skyrunning World Champions Elisa Descoand Oihana KortazarLaura Orgué, Vertical World Champion and winner of both the 2015 Vertical and Sky Series, will be aiming “just” for the VK.

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“After four months since my fibula fracture I’m already back competing. However, I’m not ready for the Sky distance yet, but eager to try the VK. I’m aware I’m not on my best form, but just to get a bib for the World Series is especially exciting,” she comments. “Competing makes me feel alive and certainly I’ll give it everything”. 

Friday’s VK starts in the village of Santa Caterina and heads 1,000m skywards to the summit of the Cresta Sobretta over a short, steep 3 km course. The records to beat are 35’29” for the men and 43’32” for the women.

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On Sunday the events move to Livigno, or ‘Little Tibet’ as it’s known, the location of the Livigno SkyMarathon® – 34 km long with 2,600m vertical climb.  The route weaves through untamed nature in the Stelvio National Park traversing the Swiss/Italian border with technical sections and stretches above 3,000m altitude – all in true skyrunning style designed by the magic hand of top runner Marco De Gasperi, on this occasion, in the role of race organiser.

We’re incredibly satisfied and proud to be on the World Series. It has always been a dream to have a race of this level in our mountains. To have two is absolutely incredible,” he states. “As organisers we’re still young, but we’re driven by passion and a desire to deliver two top class events.”

Judging by the top class line-up, he should, indeed, be proud.

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Among the top runners competing in the events are:

Santa Caterina Vertical KM – June 24, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Lombardy, Italy

World Champions Laura OrguéElisa Desco and Oihana Kortazar. More top names include Christel Dewalle from France and Italian Antonella Confortola. In the men’s field:  Italians Urban Zemmer andMarco Moletto;  Slovenian Nejc Kuhar; new-entry Ondrej Fejfar from the Czech Republic; Slovenian Nejc Kuhar; Ferran Teixido from Andorra;  from France, William Bon Mardion and Alexis Sevennec;  Pascal Egli from Switzerland and Rolf Einar Jensen from Norway.

Livigno SkyMarathon® – June 26, Lombardy, Italy

Italian Tadei Pivk and American Megan Kimmel head the current Sky Series ranking, followed by, in the men’s field:  Spaniards Aritz Egea, Hassan Ait Chaou, Alfredo Gil Garcia, Sintu Vives, Jessed Hernandez andJokin Lizeaga;  from Andorra, brothers Oscar and Marc Casal Mir and André Jonsson from Sweden, new to the skyrunning circuit and loving it!

In the women’s field: Spaniards Oihana Kortazar, Aitziber Ibarbia and Italian Elisa Desco.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

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

 Facebook/iancorlessphotography

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Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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Zegama-Aizkorri 2016 Race Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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Zegama is Zegama! Ask anyone about Zegama-Aizkorri and the answer will be, ‘Zegama? well, Zegama is Zegama!’

Yes, it is a unique race! The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 roles on from Transvulcania Ultramarathon on the island of La Palma and now transfers to mainland Spain, the Basque country – Zegama!

Due to it’s location, early season date and unpredictable weather, Zegama-Aizkorri has seen many epic battles. Catalan mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet has won the race an incredible six times. The combination of challenging terrain, vertical gain and descent and typically bad weather fall into the Catalans hands perfectly. It’s a race where strength of mind must be matched by the strength of the body.

A quiet and sleepy place, Zegama is transformed on race weekend into a mecca of mountain running. The course is reassuringly predictable, however, as past editions have shown, the weather adds the variety and a glorious sunny warm edition can be followed with a snowy, wet and miserably cold edition.

Taking in a loop over the Arratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri. Otzaurte provides an early indication of form on the day but it’s on the legendary climb of Sancti Spiritu where thousands of spectators line the trail where the action starts to unfold.

Taking in the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region; Arratz, Aizkorri, Akategi and Aitxuri the highest at over 1500m. Zegama-Aizkorri is a classic mountain marathon distance race with 5472m of vertical gain.

A ridge run at altitude leads to the final summit. Scrambling over rocks the final descent arrives which leads to the roads of this sleepy town, now transformed into a hub of colour and noise.

Zegama is Zegama!

******

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The race is notable for it’s history and one man alone has shone brightly at Zegama – Kilian Jornet. Many thought the Catalan would not run in Zegama in 2016 due to his exploits in mountaineering and his ‘Summits of my Life’ project, not so – Kilian will run!

‘Kilian posted on Twitter on May 17th, ‘Last long training before Zegama done, 13h 6500m in technical terrain 🙈🙈🙈’

Needless to say, Kilian is the favourite!

In all honesty, as one would expect, the quality of the line up at Zegama is exceptional, particularly in the men’s race. The ladies race is without doubt one of the weakest line-ups in recent years – Emelie Forsberg is injured, Laura Orgue is injured, Elisa Desco is injured, and the race is also missing, pocket rocket, Stevie Kremer amongst others.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando just blitzed the Transvulcania course once again and although you can’t rule him out, I can’t help but think he will just miss that extra few percent (due to fatigue) of energy needed and required to top the podium. He will fight all the way to the line though and he will unleash a breakneck descent for potential victory.

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Remi Bonnet has looked for an opportunity to race Kilian for sometime. Yes, he is that keen… he has been tipped by many, me included, that he may well be ‘the next big thing’ in the world of Skyrunning. He is an incredible talent in the VK discipline and as he showed at the Rut in Limone, he is also an incredible talent at the Sky distance. Remi could well push Kilian all the way to the line but I will still give KJ the nod for victory.

©iancorless.com_DolomitesSkyRace2015-1920Tadei Pivk was a man on fire in 2015 and was champion of the Skyrunner World Series. He has already started his 2016 well with races in Italy and a recent 2nd place at Yading SkyRun in China. Tadei love Zegama- Aizkorri and he always finds the form to make an impact on the podium.

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Saul Padua is a VK specialist and a very good one! He recently won the Transvulcania VK and in 2015 he dipped his toe in the Sky distance, in particular the Dolomites where he lead the charge to the summit only to loose his lead on the descent. I can’t help but feel that Zegama will be a similar scenario – he will run top-5 early on but potentially will loose places on the long descent to the line. If the weather is bad and it looks as though it may be, I think that will impact on his race even more.

Marc Lauenstein is yet to be confirmed as running but if he does, he could really shake things up. He recently won the Three Peaks in the UK ahead of Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens. The UK fells are actually the perfect training ground for Zegama, so, if Marc runs – watch out!

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Manuel Merillas like Tadei has illuminated the Skyrunner World Series with a string of world-class performances over multiple distances. He was 3rd at Limone behind Remi Bonnet and Tadei and at Lantau 2 Peaks he placed 2nd behind Remi relegating Tadei to 3rd. For sure, Manuel will be in the mix for a podium place.
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Marco De Gasperi needs no introduction to any follower of mountain or Skyrunning. The guy is a legend, he has been there and done it and still manages to pull out great results from the bag. you can never rule the Italian out but younger and faster competition keep coming, making racing at a high level increasingly harder. No longer running

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Tom Owens is yet to be confirmed as participating although he is on the start list. Tom is made for Zegama with a strong background in fell running. The terrain and mountains in this region of the Basque country offer the Scot a unique playground and what that he embraces. His recent podium place at the Three Peaks in the UK shows he is in form.

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Aritz Egea is the ever consistent Skyrunner with a string of victories, podium places and top-10 results. He does have the ability to win Zegama, he just needs a little luck. Expect him to go out hard, potentially lead the race early on with the hope of clinging on to a lead to the finish.

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Ionut Zinca like so many listed above has the potential to win and almost certainly make the podium. An ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit with consistent results at Zegama, the Dolomites, Limone and so many more, if Ionut is on form, we can certainly expect him to push throughout the race for the top slot.

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Zaid Ait Malek raced Transvulcania and therefore may well be a little tired for Zegama. However, he knows how to run this race and has placed well within the top-10, I don’t see him winning but top-5 is possible.

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Jokin Lizeaga and Eirik Haugsness head up the leading runners for a top-10 placing along with Pere Rullan, Pablo Villa (tbc), Hassain Ait Chaou, Jessed Hernandez and Nil Cardona.

LADIES

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Megan Kimmel heads up the ladies race after a recent victory at Yading SkyRun and an impressive 2015 Skyrunner World Series season. To say Megan has been on fire would be an underestimation and it was actually a real surprise that she did not win the 2015 Skyrunner World Series – a below par performance at Limone Extreme ruined her chances. But her string of victories, particularly at the Dolomites SkyRace when she beat Laura Orgue elevated her to ‘hot’ for all the Skyrunning races – watch out!

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Yngvild Kaspersen is the female equivalent of Remi Bonnet. In 2015, her first racing season, she rose through the ranks with a series of impressive runs both in the VK and Sky distance and she was rewarded with victory in Hong Kong at the Lantau 2 Peaks in horrendous conditions. If conditions in Zegama are wet, cold, miserable and slippery underfoot, Yngvild may well shine and take victory!

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Maite Maiora is an ever-present on the Skyrunning circuit and only races one way; hard! Over the winter she took time out for an operation and therefore her training may well have been compromised. On her day, Maite is without doubt podium potential and in and amongst this ladies field, I think she has every chance of a top-3 slot.

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Azara Garcia won Zegama and then had a string on injury issues which leaves many question marks about her form? If she is fit and well, then we can expect Azara to give Megan a race.

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Oihana Kortazar is yet to be confirmed as running but she recently raced the marathon distance in Transvulcania. A lady who knows the mountains and trails of Zegama very well, I would expect a podium place.

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Anna Comet raced Transvulcania and had to pull out with an injury. Although her name is on the start list I question if she will run? My gut feeling though is that this race is maybe too short for her skills; a longer race suits her better.

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The same applies for Portugal’s Ester Alves. A great long distance runner who can handle technical trail, the short sharp shock of Zegama may well be too much of an ask for a podium place. Top-10 is a distinct possibility for both.©iancorless.com-9069Kima2014_

Paula Cabrerizo and Nuria Dominguez head up the charge behind the three ladies above, both have all the ability to make the podium and yes, a victory is possible.

Marta Molist Codina, Aitziber Iberia and Eva Maria Moreda Gabaldon form the next wave of contenders and of course, we have to anticipate surprise performances that we just can’t account for. Alicia Shay placed 4th at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and although on the start list, she will not run.

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA

SkyMan SA  is pleased to present a new Main Partner, Migu Xempower, a Chinese exercise and health management platform which also counts a rich experience in organising marathons, city and mountain races for millions of runners.

The well-established, SkyUltra and Vertical format is joined by the Extreme Seriespresented by Alpina Watches, which more than ever expresses the true spirit of skyrunning defined not only by distance, but vertical climb and technical difficulty.

Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

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

Skyrunner® World Series Follow on:

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Instagram (@iancorlessphotography) 

Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

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View the Zegama galleries from 2014

Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2016 Preview – Skyrunner® World Series

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The island of La Palma one more prepares for the biggest weekend of the year:

Transvulcania!

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The Skyrunner® World Series 2016 kicked off just last weekend in China with the Yading SkyRun, now, it’s the big start for the European calendar and what a start. Transvulcania has become one of THE races to do. It’s reputation for stunning organisation, the majestic and beautiful trails of ‘La Isla Bonita’ and yes, a world-class field that that sets the bar.

Over the years, since 2012, the race distance has always been a point of conjecture. Now though, many of us are happy to say the races sits somewhere between 73-75km, which is approximately 46-miles that includes 3000+m of vertical gain.

It is a stunning race and one that is completely logical for a runner’s perspective. The point-to-point journey from sea to summit and back to sea personifies Skyrunning. The trails, although not overly technical, are some of the best trails to run on – they are stunning!

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Starting at Fuencaliente lighthouse, runners basically climb for 50km (with a drop down to El Pilar) to the caldera and the impressive Roques de los Muchachos. Many have considered this huge and impressive cauldron to be a Volcano, it is not, it is actually a large water erosion crater.

The trails, the landscape and the stunning vistas are beyond impressive. Depending on weather systems, an inversion can take place and therefore the runners run ‘above the clouds.’

Since 2012, the race has been transformed, directly attributable to Skyrunning, the ISF and the vision of Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten. 2016 once again steps up the reputation of the race with a stunning line up, yes, to coin a phrase, the field is stacked!

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando is the two time defending champion and returns in 2016. His performance in 2015 was off the scale and his course record was beyond impressive. Lies really has become a star of the sport but yet still remains a relatively low key character despite being a Skyrunning World and European Champion and having placed on the podium at UTMB. Luis is without doubt the outright favourite, he knows the course like the back of his hand. He became a father in 2015 and clearly stated that he would race less in 2016 to place an emphasis, that can only mean one thing, the races he does do he will be fired up for and at 100%.

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Sage Canaday has been close but no cigar many times on the island of La Palma. His achilles heel in comparison to the pure Skyrunners is his descending ability and unfortunately for Sage, Transvulcania drops from the high point of the course right down to the sea (2400m) in one 18km drop that not only requires 100% attention but great skill. Therefore, Sage has always employed the tactic of run hard from the start, build a buffer and then hopefully hold on. On the podium twice before, Sage missed 2015 and now he is back – can he topple Luis?

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Andy Symonds for me is the one who has all the potential to not only make the podium but push Luis all the way to the one and possibly pass him. Andy was there in 2012 when Dakota Jones took top honors ahead of Kilian Jornet. It signified a break through for Andy and what followed was disaster and series of issues and problems. He finally made a comeback in 2015 and he gained some notable success especially at Mont Blanc 80km, ELS2900 and most recently at Transgrancanaria. A move from Salomon to Scott has rejuvenated Andy and he has a new enthusiasm for the sport, he is back and I think Andy can win.

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Miguel Heras is an enigma, at times inspirational and at other times frustrating, His injury woes are a continual saga and it is just impossible to predict if he will run well or not. All I can say is, if he is on form he will be up there and he has every chance of contesting the podium as he did at Ultra Pirineu in 2015. However, the odds are increasingly stacked against him with such a young and talented field, but this is Miguel Heras – you cannot rule him out!

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Ricky Lightfoot like Andy Symonds has all the potential to win Transvulcania. Just last weekend he placed 2nd at the Three Peaks in the UK sandwiched between two fellow Salomon teammates. Ricky works full time, has a family and therefore often has to fit races in at last minute and occasionally he has to cancel at last minute. He can run with the best as he proved at the IAU World Trail Championships and his fell running background sets him up perfectly for anything technical.

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Cristofer Clemente placed 7th in 2015 but went on to have a very sold 2015 Skyrunning season. He’s a quiet guy who sits below the radar and therefore is often able to surprise. His 2nd place at The Rut was arguably his best performance of 2015 and although he is maybe not always a podium contender, he is consistent if nothing else – exactly what you need for the Skyrunner World Series.

Adam Campbell is somewhat a surprise entry; I didn’t see that one coming. Since his stunning Hardrock performances, Adam took a lower profile and took to skis and ski mountaineering – no bad thing, Kilian and many others have been doing that for years. Adam’s last experience at Transvulcania in 2013 was a character building lesson in persistence and survival. His finish despite huge problems earned him respect. He has the race skills and speed for Transvulcania and if he finds his run legs, he will be a contender.

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Mike Murphy is a fellow Canadian of Adam Campbell and although you will not see his name mentioned or talked about in any previews, take note, he is one to watch! Mike is one of the gutsiest and committed athletes I know. He doesn’t race much but when he does it is at 110%. We discussed his participation at Transvulcania in 2015 and I know he has been preparing for this showdown.

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Zaid Ait Malek is a runner who embraces life and the trails. He loves life and he loves running. Even though he won Matterhorn Ultraks in 2014 one could arguably say his best performance was placing 2nd to Kilian Jornet at Ultra Pirineu in 2015. Zaid does have a habit of blowing hot and cold though. I hope he has a good race in La Palma.

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Stephan Hugenschmidt placed 5th in 2014 and the stage was set for stardom, what followed, didn’t actually follow the script that many had written. Despite a win at the TransAlpine and other wins in smaller races, the ‘big’ victory didn’t follow which leaves a huge question mark for Transvulcania 2016. My gut feeling says that we will see him top-5 again!

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Fulvio Dapit loves to run and run regularly, the distance of Transvulcania will suit him as will the technical aspects – he is a pure Skyrunner. On his day, we can really expect him to contend the top-5, however, he is prone to stomach issues which can often ruin his racing.

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Gerard Morales like his Buff team mates of Zaid and Pau has the potential to be top-10 but may just lack the additional oomph and speed to penetrate the top-5.

Pau Bartolo won TCC in 2014 and although on his day we can expect him around the top-10, I don’t see him making any inroads on the top-5.

Sylvain Court leaves a huge question mark for me? He was the winner of the IAU World Trail Championships on home ground in Annecy. Was it home advantage a purple patch? I don’t know, I really don’t. However, the trails around Annecy need respect and Sylvain did beat a tired Luis Alberto Hernando that day – what do you think?

Nicolas Martin however placed 3rd at CCC, 2nd at Templiers and was 7th in Annecy at the IAU World Trail Championships and that balance of results elevates him to a potentially higher overall placing at Transvulcania over Sylvain.

Chris Vargo had a tough 2015 but prior to this had excellent 2013 and 2014 seasons. The hard packed single-track that Transvulcania offers will suit Chris, however, the black soft sand, technical trails around the Caldera and the 18km drop to the sea may suit him less?

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Vajin Armstrong is a top class runner from the Southern Hemisphere who has all the potential to be top-10 and if he has a good day, he may come close to 5th but I don’t see the podium as a possibility.

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Vlad Ixel has raced Transvulcania before and was forced to withdraw as his shoes fella apart…. at the time of dropping, he was in and around the top-10 and looking good. Based in Hong Kong he ha regularly has a string of top quality results and like Vajin Armstrong I see him in the top-10.

Benoit Cori is a two times winner of Templiers and a recent winner of the SainteLyon night race. Two of Frances biggest races outside of the UTMB. Although Benoit can obviously run, I don’t see him beating the like of Luis, Andy, Ricky, Miguel, Sage and Zaid on a cause such as this – I may be wrong?

Ones to watch:

Julien Codert has placed 6th at Transvulcania previously.

Yeray Duran is from the Canaries and will be fired up for this race.

Aurelian Collet another French runner who like running French races.

Ion Azpiroz

Florian Reichert – been training on the island and looks fired up for a good race.

Marcin Swierc

Marco Ranchi

Nuno Silva

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and finally a huge nod of the hat for Bruno Brunod who is along with Marino Giacometti, the father of Skyrunning. In recent years he has run and raced the Tor des Geants. I for one will be interested to see how the legend performs on these wonderful trails.

 

LADIES

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Anna Frost heads up the ladies’ race and I have to say, if ‘Frosty’ is on form she will win the race. No disrespect to the other ladies but Frosty knows and loves this course, holds the course record and when in beast mode; is unstoppable. But will she be 100% fit? Her ability to climb hard, descend fast is un-matched by any other lady in the field with the exception of Mira Rai. Frosty missed the race last year with injury but won Hardrock 100, a race she will go back to this year.

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Mira Rai just placed 2nd at the Three Peaks in the UK. A clear sign of pure class… fell running is far removed from what she is used to. Mira’s story is an inspirational one and along with Jo Meek, I believe that Mira has all the potential to contest the top of the podium. Mira in my opinion will get the edge over Jo due to her technical ability – the 18km descent is going to be a crucial element of the race.

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Jo Meek had some tough times with injury but she returned in late 2015 placing 2nd at Everest Trail Race and then 8th at TNF50. I would say in both of those races she was on the comeback trail and although Transvulcania will throw some significant obstacles at her, I do believe her natural fast speed will be a huge advantage. I can’t help think that Jo will adopt a Sage Canaday approach, pushing hard in the early stages when she can run looking to build a time buffer and then when the trails get gnarly, she will do her best to consolidate. A bonus for Jo is the final push from Tazacorte to the finish. If in contention, Jo will have the speed to close out the race.

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Ida Nilsson is my dark horse for the race and top tip for the podium. I can hear you all say now, Ida who? Believe me and trust me, barring injury or problems, Ida will be contesting the podium.

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Anna Comet finished 2nd at Transvulcania last year and had a great year of Skyrunning. I think it’s fair to say that Anna may well have raced too much in 2015. I think she learnt that lesson and will race less in 2016. The podium is there for the taking and I have no reason not to see Anna top-5.

Alicia Shay falls a little in the Jo Meek category. She is a fast runner who is looking to find her trail feet. Transvulcania offers a good mix and does allow the ‘runner’ to perform as Sage Canaday has shown. Alicia will be looking to follow in Sage’s footsteps but I do think she is in for a European learning curve. I see Jo and Alicia leading the race early on, what happens from the Caldera to the sea with all come down to bravery and adaptation.

Uxue Fraile will start steady and work her way through the field. She knows how to race this course and races tactically. It’s one of caution. She allows the other ladies to race hard and then detonate and then she does what she does best, close with great skill and consistency and picks up the pieces for a top-5. Her 2015 was stunning with a win UTMF and 2nd at UTMB. I do believe though that Transvulcania is not long enough or hard enough for Uxue to win.

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Christel Dewalle is the known un-known if that makes sense. A VK specialist, Christel has had good results in many ultras and her inclusion into Transvulcania is an interesting one. My gut reaction tells me that we may well see a surprise.

Gemma Arenas is a runner who may well drift under the radar but her 4th place at Ultra Pirineu confirms her ability.

Magdalena Laczak was 5th last year and went on to improve throughout 2015. In many respects she is a dark horse.

 

©iancorless.com_Rut2015-7699Hillary Allen may well be the hottest property from the USA in regard to Skyrunning. She may not be the fastest of the American ladies but she can handle and embraces the technical trail. Hillary proved this at Mont Blanc 80km and on home soil at The Rut.

Anne-Lise Rousset placed 5th in 2014 and she has the potential to place in a similar position in 2016. Considering the competition, she would need a stunning run (or others to have a bad run) to make the top-3.

Jodee Adams-Moore will be between top-5 and top-10 based on previous form but she does have the potential for a break through performance. Had Transvulcania not contained the Caldera and the 18km drop to Tazacorte, I would rate Jodee’s chances higher.

Kristina Pattison was 6th at Mont Blanc 80km and Transvulcania in 2015 and therefore along with Hillary Allen, is the best prospect for an American breaking the top-5.

Ones to watch:

Manu Vilaseca

Zoe Salt

Gabriela Sanchez Cabezas

Adrian Vargas

Juliette Benedicto

 *****

The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series is brought to you with a new management company, Geneva based SkyMan SA.

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15 Ways to become a better Skyrunner

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“Skyrunning, to me, is racing over the sort of terrain that tests your technique and mental toughness just as much as it tests your physical fitness. The sort of routes that you look at on a map, or gaze up at from the valley and wonder what if… In the UK most of these sorts of routes have until now been limited to FKT attempts by keen individuals. At its best Skyrunning brings real racing to real mountains.”

– Es Tressider

Skyrunning has boomed in recent years and with one season coming to a conclusion and the announcement of the 2016 season imminent. I asked three runners to provide their top-5 tips on becoming a better Skyrunner.

Sarah Ridgway

Is a former Welsh international runner specialising in mountainous terrain. Her love of gnarly conditions helped her secure the woman’s record for the classic Snowdon Horseshoe in a time of 1hr 43min. Sarah works as a guide in her business Run Snowdonia (www.runsnowdonia.co.uk), which involves anything from taking people for scenic guided runs, a hard training session or instructing people on how to run safely in the mountains.

Eirik Haugsness

Is a personal trainer, inov-8 athlete and has raced the Skyrunner World Series for the past 3-years. A specialist over the VK and SKY distance, Eirik has achieved world-class results in Mont-Blanc Marathon, Dolomites SkyRace, Matterhorn Ultraks and was the winner of the inaugural Tromso SkyRace.

Jayson Cavill

Is a UK based runner who has embraced the challenge that Skyrunning brings and has been an ever-present participant in the Skyrunner UK series. He has raced at Glen Coe Skyline and Mourne Skyline MTR amongst others and in 2015 won the Lakeland 50.

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SARAH RIDGWAY

As a runner I am mostly drawn to the mountains, in particular exposed rocky ridges and classic routes that showcase the beauty and uniqueness of an area. Races that fall under the SkyRunning banner provide that experience for me: I know I’m going to have a challenging and rewarding day out.

Be specific

Study the course and train to mimic what you will encounter on race day. If the race involves a fast 9km flat prior to a Grade 3 scramble ascent, then do a 10km road race and get out in the hills as soon as possible after and do some scrambling. Get out and recce the course, but if you can’t, design a route that replicates it in your nearest wild place.

Prepare for the roller-coaster

Get used to big climbs, big descents, followed by another big climb, big descent… repeat. Get time on legs in the bank and develop strength to be able to adjust and adapt to a wide variety of terrain.

Don’t fight it

The more efficient you are in managing rough terrain the less energy you expend, which leaves more energy for simply getting the hard-enough job of the distance itself done. If you tend to “fight” a certain terrain or gradient and avoid running on it, commit to improving your technique and getting better at it.

Don’t be a fair-weather runner

Race-day date doesn’t change and the weather will do whatever it likes. If you don’t feel at ease running in driving horizontal rain encased in thick clag then you’ll feel anxious and have less energy to deal with the task at hand.

Refine your kit and fuel

Respect the kit requirements and learn how to use your gear before race day. Don’t just think about meeting the base requirement, pack things that will actually help you if things go pear-shaped: For example, if the forecast is dire, don’t scrimp on weight and go for your flimsy lightweight waterproof. Don’t neglect nutrition: practice eating and know what works for you and when to get it in.

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EIRIK HAUGSNESS

Skyrunning for me it is about going to the mountains with no more equipment than you really need, then go up and down again as fast as you can, but in the same time enjoy the nature and the surroundings as much as possible while you are running.

The top 5 absolute must-have Skyrunning skill tips and how to obtain them.

1 . Be able to handle variation in terrain and weather conditions.

Outreach and run in different kind of terrain, everything from soft ground, hard packed surface, easy terrain and technical terrain. And make sure to train in all kinds of weather conditions. Weather will change quickly in the mountains and the surface that your run on will change with the weather.

2. Build up your engine to cope with the uphill’s.

If you really want to enjoy Skyrunning it is an advantage to have a strong heart and a set of well working lungs -most of the time spent in a race is in the climbs. Your heart and lungs can you easily sculpt trough structured cardio training with intervals and speed sessions with a higher heart rate. A couple of regular 4×4 intervals during the week are a great way to start.

3. Make sure to have strong legs for the downhill’s . 

Getting to the top of a mountain is challenging, but to get back down quick and in one piece can be just as hard. Strong legs and ankles will help you to get the job done. Step inside a gym ones or twice a week during the winter and build up your leg strength with weights or just use simple body weight exercises. 20- 30 min effort is more than enough – If you throw 15 min, or so, of balance and stability training too, you will be on the safe side. It is boring but worth every minute!

4. Learn how to pace your self during a race!!

Even it is a short uphill only race or a long sky/ ultra race, picking the right pace from the beginning to the end is essential for the running experience. It is always a lot more fun to have power left in the end of a race then to suffer from the first hour and out. Pacing is something you learn a lot from experience, but if you know your own fitness level it should be possible to pic a running pace that suits you without years of experience. Be patient and listen to your body is the only way to get this right.

5. Find a good nutrition and hydration strategy and stick to it.

Skyrunning races can be short, 35 min or even less, or they can last more than a day. When you enter a long Sky Race or a Sky Ultra race a good nutrition and hydration strategy becomes important. You normally need about 60 grams of carbohydrate and a half –one liter of water every hour to work at your best. This might seam like an easy task, but to get this done during a race when your heart is beating like a drum and the adrenalin is rushing trough your body is far from easy, whit the result that you run on empty long before the finish line. Practise eating and drinking in training! And find out witch solid and liquid nutrition that works for you long before race day! Testing and failing is the way to get this right. On race day: Discipline is the key! – Eat and drink at least every 20minute if your race is expected to last two hours or more.

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JAYSON CAVILL

As a relative newbie to the world of Ultra and trail running, well running of any kind that didn’t involve carrying any webbing or rifle and stomping along in boots from past Army years, the announcement of UK Skyrunning races provided an opportunity for me to reach out of my comfort zone. My skill set lies more with mid-distance ultra races and more “runnable” terrain, though I have always enjoyed being in and around mountains given the opportunity. I felt that this was an great chance to get me into some of the UK`s more extreme areas not just to race in but spend time training and exploring.

As the courses are all marked I felt that this offered a level playing field for those who didn’t know the routes inside out. The Garmin Mourne Skyline race was a great example of this. Unfortunately I had never even heard of the Mourne mountains before, but turned up for the race and had one of the best times; the course marking was superb and the dramatic scenery of steep granite clad mountains dropping to the sea blew me away.

Now, I absolutely love the thrill of being able to travel swiftly through these stunningly rugged and often intimidating areas – all in the UK. I think due to the nature and remoteness of these races the feeling between runners becomes more about camaraderie than competitiveness. The mountains become your competition: they will exploit your weaknesses whether mental or physical. If you haven’t had much experience with this before, then here are a few things I have done which would compliment and extend any normal trail race preparation.

  1. Get used to extremely long and very steep climbs – both up and down. It sounds obvious but really is key because with the best will in the world that short stepped run will be reduced to a walk, so don’t be afraid to practice hard, steep walking – The best place to practice is in the mountains but can still be done on any short climbs, long flights of stairs – anything you can find that is steep. Carrying extra weight, i.e. a large rucksack will help with building strength.
  1. Feel confident on technical terrain, not necessarily fast, but comfortable. The more relaxed you stay the less energy you waste. Again time in the terrain helps, though you can build up some foundation first with ankle strengthening and co-ordination exercises. Take things a step further than just balancing on one foot: stand on a wobble cushion and do various movements such as one legged squats to introduce instability. Single leg jumps on and off a box are great too. My favourite is using the slackline as this works so many different elements and can help reduce that disco leg you may get traversing Crib Goch!
  1. Have at least a basic level of mountain skills. I feel that it is important I take responsibility for my own safety, not just for during the race but when out training. The mountains are inherently dangerous and we all get (slightly) lost or disorientated from time to time. There are some great courses run by the FRA (Fell Running Association) for navigation, independent training days/camps or you could join other more experienced people for recce days and learn from them. Some race organisations offer these so look out for details on their own websites or pages.
  1. Prepare yourself for the mountains mentally. Being in this environment can throw up some additional challenges; you can suddenly be alone in the fog thousands of feet up, or climbing non-stop hands on knees for over a hour, down a quick descent then back on another hour long climb, so progress can feel slow and painful. Be ready for these situations, be honest with yourself and what your fears are, imagine how you will feel and think through how you will overcome any negative thoughts – visualise and keep that end goal and sense of achievement at the front of your mind.
  1. Don’t just run but climb. Some of the races require climbing or scrambling, and, in a race situation the adrenaline is pumping and you are suddenly changing mind-set from runner to climber. Spend some time practicing the specific climbs or more challenging ones – obviously there is another layer of safety and planning required here so take a guide or someone experienced enough if you need it. There are also lots of indoor climbing walls in the UK so why not have some fun indoors over the winter.

The 2016 Skyrunner World Series will be announced the first week of December HERE and the Skyrunning UK Series will be announced on Monday 23rd November HERE.

The UK series has a new structure for 2016 with prize money, points per race and an overall championship with great prizes on offer, more information available HERE.