Ultra Pirineu 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

Baga, the home of Ultra Pirineu is located in Catalonia; it may come as no surprise that the Catalans take support to the next level – Ultra running to Spain is like football to the UK.

110km in length, with 6800m of positive gain, the race takes place in the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park. The profile, a little like a jagged sawtooth blade that includes several key peaks, the highest coming very early in the race with just 14km covered at Niu, 2500m high. Comprised of primarily trail, it’s a tough and challenging race that has often been made considerably more challenging due to inclement weather! Not this year though, the sun gods were kind and shined throughout the race as clouds rolled in and out.

Established in 1983, the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park is the hub for the racing and it stretches more than 30km over the mountain ranges of Serra de Moixero and Serra del Cadi; both part of the Pre-Pyrenees.

The narrow streets of Baga and an enclosed medieval square form an incredible start arena.

Immediately it’s hand-on-knees and straight into the first and highest climb of the day. It’s a dangerous mountain to start a race with. The effort and commitment just to get to the top requires a 100% effort, and this is all coming in the opening hours of a very long day on an exceptionally tough course. Finally breaking the tree line, the rugged terrain reveals itself and the first peak, with refuge, finally will come into sight. In the men’s race, Cristofer Clemente dictated the early pace followed by Zaid Ait Malek, Pablo Villa, Luis Alberto Hernando and Dmitry Mityaev. Maite Maiora started the day as she would continue, from the front followed by Nuria Picas who won UTMB just 3-weeks ago.

Dropping down, a short climb at 28km, ‘Serrat’ leads to another long descent and an aid at ‘Bellver.’ A third of the race completed, a long and relentless series of climbing takes place over the following 25km’s through ‘Cortals’ and ‘Aguilo’ to the 2nd highest point of the race at 2300m, Pass de Gassolans. Clemente had now built up a lead but Pablo Villa was within 5-minutes and looking strong. Hernando though was looking tired and laboured. Maiora was still leading the ladies race and continued to smile while Picas pursued and Ekaterina Mityaeva was in 3rd place.

The race is all about economy of effort for those at the front of the race, it’s about effort management to sustain the energy to the line and hopefully victory. At 70km covered, the race may well be considered to be downhill to the finish in Baga, but no, the race has a series of false flats with a couple of brutal cardiac moments that arrive at 86km and 96km; the latter a technical ascent of 1000m to Sant Jordi at 1500m altitude. Clemente despite his small lead dropped from the race after twisting his ankle on multiple occasions. This opened the door for Villa and he seized it taking the biggest victory of his running career. Behind Hernando was struggling and Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz moved into a podium position pursued by the Russian Mityaev. But behind, Jordi Gamito was looking strong – it was going to be close! At the line Mityaev produced a stunning 2nd and Dunand-Pallz was 3rd. Hernado would finish 6th behind Gamito and Ivan Champs Puga but he would still retain the overall title for the SKY ULTRA 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.

For the ladies’ Maiora produced a stunning victory on what has been a remarkable year, she has been consistently strong over all distances. Last weekend she took the overall title for the Sky Extreme Migu Run Skyrunner World Series and just three weeks time at Limone, she may well be the combined champion too? Picas showed incredible recovery from UTMB to place 2nd in front of her home Catalan crowd. Mityaeva placed 3rd after another solid year in the Skyrunning ranks. Ragna Debats was crowned 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champion for the Sky Ultra discipline.

  1. Pablo Villa 12:30:19
  2. Dmitry Mityaev 12:33:46
  3. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz 12:44:15

 

  1. Maite Maiora 14:22:19
  2. Nuria Picas 14:41:45
  3. Ekaterina Mityaeva 15:41:17

https://livetrail.net

Sky Ultra 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series Champions

  • Ragna Debats
  • Luis Alberto Hernando

Race website HERE

Results HERE

A new SKY! – The 2017 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

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2017 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

A day to travelling and I have arrived in La Palma, the home of Transvulcania. It’s apt that I should be in the place where Skyrunning transformed itself in 2012. What has followed has been an epic journey and the sport has changed with the passing of each year.

As 2016 comes to a close, the announcement of the 2017 calendar once again brings new races, new changes – we are in for a seriously exciting year in the SKY!

The Skyrunner® World Series will consist of the Sky Classic category with eleven races, the new Extreme Series, introduced earlier this year, now with four races, and the Ultra Series with eight.

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SKY CLASSIC

May 2                     Yading Skyrun, 30 km, China
May 28                 *Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri, 42 km, Spain 
June 18                  Livigno SkyMarathon®, Italy
June 24                  Olympus Marathon, Greece
July 8                     Buff Epic Trail 42KM, Spain
July 22                   Dolomites SkyRace, 22 km, Canazei, Italy
July 30                   SkyRace Comapedrosa, 21 km, Andorra
August 26              *Matterhorn Ultraks «46K», Zermatt, Switzerland
September 2         The Rut 25K, Montana, USA
September 16       Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace, 29km, Kinlochleven, UK
October14           *Skyrunning Extreme – 23 km, Limone sul Garda, Italy

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SKY EXTREME

July 16                    Royal Gran Paradiso, 53 km, Ceresole Reale, Italy
August 5              *Tromsø SkyRace®, 53 km, Tromsø, Norway
September 17        Salomon Glen Coe Skyline, 55 km, Kinlochleven, UK
August 26              Matterhorn Ultraks «X-K», Zermatt, Switzerland – TBC subject to course

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SKY ULTRA

May 13                   Transvulcania Ultramarathon, 75 km, La Palma, Canaries, Spain
June 3                    Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, 55 km, Madeira, Portugal
June 9                    Scenic Trail 113K, Lugano, Switzerland
July 8                    *High Trail Vanoise, 68 km, Val d’Isère, France 
August 12               Devil’s Ridge Ultra 80K, Gobi Desert, China – TBC
September 3          The Rut 50K, Montana, USA
September 16        Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra, 100 km, Kinlochleven, UK
September 23       Ultra Pirineu, 110 km, Bagà, Spain

(*Extra 20% points)

Lauri van Houten provides the details for The 2017 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES

The ranking will be based on the five best results in the Sky Classic Series, two in the Extreme and three in the Ultra Series. The end of season bonus pool will rise to a total of € 60,000.

Who is the best all-round skyrunner? Based on the five best results in the three categories: one Ultra, one or two Extreme and two or three Sky Classic, a € 10,000 prize will be awarded to a men’s and women’s Overall Champion.

To accommodate the greater number of races, an extra 20 % points will be awarded in certain races on an annual rotation basis as follows: Sky Classic, three;  Extreme, one; Ultra one.

Notably, the Vertical Kilometer® will no longer be a part of the World Series but conduct its very own circuit. Details will follow soon.

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Maximum number of results taken into account

Classic:      5
Extreme:   2
Ultra:         3

Computing of overall ranking

  • Compete in at least one race in each category
  • Maximum 5 results counted as follows:
    – 4 between Classic and Extreme with at least 1 of each
    – 1 Ultra

prizemoney


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, featured 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

2017 will be bigger and better, join us in the SKY!

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

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Tresidder and Lightfoot to race True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™

©iancorless.com_USM2015-5601

Skyrunning UK is happy to announce that two of the UK’s top mountain runners; Es Tresidder and Ricky Lightfoot will participate in the first edition of the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™

Lightfoot is fresh from victory at USM – Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and considering that the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™ is a home race for him, it only seems correct that he toes the line against Tresidder and others.

‘It is fantastic to see a technical SkyUltra, in the Lake District being added to the UK series in addition to the 3×3. The course is very runnable for the most, but has the glorious ridgelines of Swirral Edge and Striding Edge; they really tick the box for Skyrunning.”

Lightfoot needs no introduction to mountain aficionados; he holds the course record for the infamous OTTER in South Africa, he was crowned IAU World Trail Champion and on home soil has dominated classic fell races like the 3 Peaks.

©iancorless.com_GlenCoeMay2015-6105

To make sure Lightfoot doesn’t have thing all his own way, Es Tresidder will toe the line alongside the Salomon athlete and will no doubt push him all the way. In 2014, after several years completing a Doctorate in Environmental Architecture, Tresidder devoted his summer season to re-finding his form. He scored 8th place at the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k, and 9th at the Giir Di Mont and his goals for 2015 include the Scottish Island Peaks Race (Es’ team, sailing on ‘Obedient’ took top honours), Giir Di Mont, Glencoe Skyline, Els2900, and of course the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™.

“The True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™ takes in some of the best and most challenging terrain that the Lake District has to offer. After doing a few amazing SkyRace’s elsewhere in Europe, I’m really excited to see this sort of ultra-race, incorporating rough and technical ground, come to England.”

Tresidder has long been a strong mover in the mountains, having grown up in a mountaineering family. At the tender age of 16, Tresidder turned up in Snowdonia and bashed out a cracking time round the Snowdon Horseshoe of 1:41. In 2009, he had the opportunity to fully test his mettle on the Snowdon Horseshoe. Coupled with good luck from the weather gods and with running conditions just right, he laid down an FKT, taking in the summits of Crib Goch, Crib Y Ddysgl, Snowdon, Lliwedd W Summit and Lliwedd E summit returning to Pen Y Pass. The time: 1:25.08. It’s a time that stands to this day.

Needless to say, having Tresidder and Lightfoot going head-to-head on UK soil on UK mountains will be a sight to behold irrespective of if you are participating or watching.

Info:

True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™ is part of the UK Skyrunning Series with the race-taking place on 12th September 2015. Starting in Ambleside it covers +50km with 4300m of ascent. Aimed at mountain runners with scrambling experience the race looks set to be a great addition to the UK Skyrunning series. Entry is £70.

http://www.lakesskyultra.uk

Lakes Sky Ultra social media:

Facebook: LakesSkyUltra

Twitter: @LakesSkyUltra

 

Race Directors’ Contacts:

Charlie Sproson 07989697487 @mountain_run

Andrew Burton 07880331559 @denefell

THE BUFFALO STAMPEDE brings Skyrunning to Australia

iancorless.com

“The purest form of mountain running … getting to the top of a mountain and back down again as quickly as possible. It’s the athlete versus the mountain. It’s not for the faint‐hearted. It’s definitely a significant challenge and the athlete needs to know what they are doing.’ Marcus Warner

For the very first time, Australia has a new trail running event which is part of the internationally prestigious Skyrunning brand that attracts top athletes to the top of the world, where earth and sky meet.

Officially launched today, the Buffalo Stampede in the Victorian alpine country is expected to attract a bumper field of talented local and overseas runners as it forms the foundation stone of a planned Australia‐New Zealand Skyrunning series.

©buffalostampede

©buffalostampede

To be staged on April 5 and 6 next year (2014), it is hoped that ultimately the Buffalo Stampede will join the elite list of Skyrunning World Series events like the Mont Blanc Marathon in France, Speedgoat 50 in the USA and the Mount Elbrus Vertical Kilometre in Russia.

Skyrunning as a recognised discipline traces its roots back to Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti and fellow enthusiasts who started pioneering races and records on famous European peaks like Mont Blanc in the 1990s.

Today the sport is managed by the International Skyrunning Federation and features superstars like Spanish alpine master Kilian Jornet.

Kilian Jornet, Matterhorn ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet, Matterhorn ©iancorless.com

Marcus Warner, the president of Skyrunning Australia and New Zealand, says the Buffalo Stampede embodies what Skyrunning is all about: “The purest form of mountain running … getting to the top of a mountain and back down again as quickly as possible. It’s the athlete versus the mountain. It’s not for the faint‐hearted. It’s definitely a significant challenge and the athlete needs to know what they are doing.’

The Buffalo Stampede, Warner says, will finally “put Australia on the map’’ of Skyrunning because it will finally convince overseas runners that Australia possesses the terrain to stage a serious mountain running challenge. “Elevation is really what drives the difficulty of it. [The organisers] have really sought out the most extreme mountain in Australia that really embodies Skyrunning because of how steep it is. Nearly 5000m [of elevation gain] over 75km is up there with some of the best races in the world. [Elite overseas runners] are going to go away pretty sore and pretty beat up from this race.’’

Lauri Van Houten, Executive Director of the ISF had this to say, “Of course we’re very excited about the launch of ANZ skyrunning in the capable hands of Marcus Warner and his associates and with the support of an ambassador like Anna Frost.  In global terms Skyrunning has been active in Malaysia and the Philippines for many years and more recently,  South Africa and China. Australia and New Zealand was included as an ISF member at our last General Assembly and, as the home of many great runners, they can’t help but make their mark on the sport!”

Mick Donges - ©buffalostampede

Mick Donges – ©buffalostampede

The Buffalo Stampede has been organised by Sean Greenhill from the respected outdoor adventure company Mountain Sports.

A passionate trail runner himself, Greenhill already stages popular trail running events like the Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon and the Sydney Trailrunning Series.

He chose Mount Buffalo National Park in Victoria as the venue for the Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon (75km) and Buffalo Stampede SkyMarathon (41.4km) because it is one of the few areas in Australia where he could satisfy the exacting Skyrunning rules about vertical gain.

No other runs in Australia over similar distances will have as much climbing as the Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon (4545m) and the Buffalo Stampede SkyMarathon (2924m).

“I can’t think of a marathon in Australia that comes within 500m of gain of the Mount Buffalo SkyMarathon,’’ Greenhill says. “They are, in terms of elevation gain over distance, the most difficult events of their kind in Australia.’’

And because it is the eroded magma chamber of an extinct volcano, Mount Buffalo boasts a spectacular granite terrain like no other peak in the Snowy Mountains.

Greenhill also chose Mount Buffalo because it allows him to start the Buffalo Stampede events in the beautiful town of Bright, which he loves for its alpine scenery, fine food, local produce, boutique beer and outdoor sports culture.

Trail to Cathedral ©buffalostampede

Trail to Cathedral ©buffalostampede

Clayton Neil, the manager for economic development with Bright’s Alpine Shire Council, said: “We see the Buffalo Stampede as a really strong addition to our events calendar that really aligns with where we are heading. It embraces being active in nature and living life outside. Bright has always been a popular place for people who love the outdoors and this event takes that to another level.’’

Although the Buffalo Stampede races will be among Australia’s toughest, they are open to entry from anyone, with no qualifying needed.

Up for grabs in the Buffalo Stampede are tickets to the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships to be held next June in the famed French alpine resort of Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc

A three‐day Buffalo Stampede training camp based in Bright will be hosted by top Australian trail runners Brendan Davies and Hanny Allston from January 17 to 19.

Brendan Davies  inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Brendan Davies inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Davies raced in the Skyrunning Mont Blanc Marathon this year and will be competing in the Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon in April in the hope of winning a ticket back to the slopes of Mont Blanc for the Skyrunning World Championships.

Davies, a Mountain Sports ambassador for the Buffalo Stampede, said: “The Skyrunning label brings with it a lot of credibility. It puts [Australia] on the world map as a destination for the world’s elite trail runners. For Australian runners, it gives us the capacity to dip our feet into the Skyrunning series without having to travel overseas. It’s just a plus for the sport. I see it as a real positive for everyone. I’m going to be going all out for that race.’’

Race Stats:

Ultra Stampede

  • 75.5km
  • Elevation gain 4545m
  • Elevation loss 4545m
  • Max altitude 1380m
  • 8 aid stations
  • 15 hour cut off

Stampede Marathon

  • 41.4km
  • Elevation gain 2924m
  • Elevation loss 1941m
  • Max altitude 1380m
  • 4 aid stations
  • 10 hour cut off

Go to www.buffalostampede.com.au for more details about the Buffalo Stampede.
Sean Greenhill is available for interviews on 0409 047 714 or via sean@mountainsports.com.au

LINKS

  • More information on Skyrunning available HERE
  • Buffalo Stampede on Facebook HERE
  • Buffalo Stampede on Twitter HERE
  • Race Website HERE
  • Skyrunning ANZ website HERE
  • Skyrunning ANZ on Facebook HERE
  • Skyrunning ANZ on Twitter HERE

Mont Blanc Marathon and inov-8

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130936

Team inov-8 placed five athletes in the top-10 men and women at the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon – a brutal Alpine route which included 2,511m of gruelling ascent and 1,490m of daredevil descent. Watch their story of exhaustion, elation and commitment.

Video by Dave MacFarlane (website)

on YouTube HERE

Read the Mont Blanc Marathon race report HERE

Read all about the inov-8 athlete retreat and apparel testing HERE

Images from Mont Blanc Marathon HERE

Inov-8 head for Zegama-Aizkorri

Shona Stephenson - Inov-8

Shona Stephenson – Inov-8

Natalie White, is the sports and marketing manager for UK Company Inov-8 who this year celebrate 10 years in the business. With less than one week to go to Zegama, I caught up with Natalie to discuss the brand and the expansion for the future. In 2013, Inov-8 has put together an International Skyrunning Team, it is a new departure for the brand, I asked how this has come about and why now?

 

NW: Yes, when I began at Inov-8 in Feb 2012 budgets had already been set so I had to focus on what people were telling me to do based on the budgets we had. However, in September 2012 I sat down with the European marketing manager and I said that we need to get involved in Skyrunning. It is a passion of mine anyway but all the high profile athletes are at these races and we as a brand needed to be involved. So, it made sense. I set up an International Skyrunning Team with runners from Australia, America, UK and France. Hopefully we are going to make an impact.

 

IC: It is an ambitious project and one that will test the financial strings as much as the runner’s legs. How do you go about putting something like this together, particularly in this current market?

 

NW: It takes some serious logistics. I also have a 101 other jobs to plan and budget for. I really need to manage my time well. It’s a case of getting a small International team and focusing and what needs the athletes have. Such as kit, what they expect from the brand, travel expenses and then budgeting all that. We shall review the total cost at the end of the year and then make adjustments for future years. I am a runner myself so I know what the runners want. I need to balance all the costs, hopefully everyone will be happy.

 

IC: Is part of the project also to develop new products such as clothing and shoes that you can take forward in future years?

 

NW: Yes! We have just sent our SS2014 workbook to print with some very exciting new products. I can’t talk about that yet…

 

IC: Your lips are sealed?

 

NW: Yes, we have our launch this month, in May. We are also working on other new products. It is all very exciting.

 

IC: In the past, as a company you have been renowned for your shoes and packs but you are moving into clothing?

 

NW: Yes we launched AW2013 running apparel and showed it in February 2013. Our athletes will be wearing our new mountain running wear in Zegama. I hope it will make retail outlets in July and August. It’s a very exciting time for the brand and the athletes.

 

IC: How have these products been designed? Do they all have athlete input?

 

NW: Yes, everything we do has runner feedback and athlete feedback. We put everything together, produce a product and then test it. Our athletes test it in training and our marketing team test the products. We go out at lunch and run on local trails. We debrief and then make adjustments as appropriate.

 

IC: You have mentioned the athletes. You have some real variety for 2013. Such as Brendan Davies and Shona Stephenson from Australia and then we have Americans, UK runners and then somebody like Joe Grant who is a Brit who lives in the US. Zegama will see the British runners head to Zegama… it is quite a mix.

 

NW: Yes, it is a mix. Prior to me joining we only had a small team of UK based athletes. To get more brand awareness across the world I thought we needed an International team. So, the best athletes from around the world put them in one team and then send them out to run in the Skyrunning series. We support them and help them travel the world to race. We want to help them achieve.

 

IC: Skyrunning is a very different sport to a lot of other running. UK runners in particular seem to adapt well particularly if coming from a fell running background… of course fell doesn’t have the altitude but it does have some tough terrain. How do you think Brendan and Shona will handle Skyrunning? It will be very different for them. How do you help them and help them adapt to the challenges?

 

NW: I speak with Brendan and Shona every other day via email and we have regular Skype chats. Because I have done plenty of Skyrunning I can help them. They are currently preparing with adjustments for altitude. They are in form. Look at the results from UTMF and TNF 100. Incredible! (Brendan just won and set a new CR at TNF100 in Australia, a record previously held by Kilian Jornet)

Brendan Davies - Inov-8

Brendan Davies – Inov-8

 

IC: How will Brendan and Shona recover from these high profile and demanding races and be ready for Skyrunning?

 

NW: To be honest, they both seem to recover very well. I don’t think recovery will be a problem. Of course flying and travel may impact but I think, fingers crossed, they will be fine.

 

IC: Zegama is the first race that you will attend, yes?

 

NW: Correct, yes.

 

IC: Zegama is the classic mountain race. It is famous for the terrain, the racing and a top quality field. What team will run?

 

NW: Alex Nichols from the US, he is in great shape. We have three UK runners, Ben Bardsley who is coming from a SkiMo season. He has actually been racing Kilian. He has been in the Alps doing some fastest known time attempts too. We have two ladies, Sarah Ridgeway and Anna Lupton. Sarah has been training on the Isle of Skye doing some ridge running. Ana Lupton is in good form too…. Hopefully everyone will be fit and healthy and will be able to have a great race!

Ben Bardsley - Inov-8

Ben Bardsley – Inov-8

 

IC: Yes, it is going to be a great way to kick off the series for Inov-8. I have just done a race preview and I think Ben and Alex are potential dark horses.

 

NW: Ben came into our office just the other week and he looks super fit and healthy. He is very keen for the first race. He is very appreciative to be part of this team. It’s a dream come true for him. He is very happy.

 

IC: As the season progresses the priorities will fall with the Sky marathon and Sky ultra series. What at the end of the year will mean that this year has been a success?

 

NW: Ultimately brand awareness. We have many plans and we will attend many races. After Mont Blanc marathon we will stay on in Chamonix to do product testing, photography, video and so on. It will be great to have everyone in the same place at the same time. It is taking some planning but I am sure it will be fine! We then have Alex Nichols at Pikes Peak and then we have a team at Ultraks in Switzerland. Shona and myself will race Ice Trail Tarantaise…. Not sure why I signed up for that! Speedgoat and UROC will see some American runners participate and then we will have a team at the last race in Limone, Italy. It will be a great finish to the year. It will be a case of having representation across the world with athletes in the overall rankings. All about developing the brand.

 

IC: Inov-8 has been going almost ten years. As a company it has achieved a great deal. From a shoe perspective you have always been highly respected. You understood the needs of particular terrain and developed products accordingly. For example, the mud claw, it is a classic. How will the brand develop in the future? Will you have any shoes developed specifically for Skyrunning?

 

NW: My lips are sealed!

 

IC: Okay, enough said. That is a yes then!

 

IC: If we look forward to 2014, do you have a plan to increase your team or do you think you will look after the team you have and help them progress.

 

NW: We will progress the team we have and build on that. We are always inundated with requests for sponsorship but it is just not possible to help everyone. We just don’t have the budget. We need to look after the people that we have currently. We need them to have the results and we need to help them achieve that.

 

IC: Much better to have a hardcore team of eight to ten who you can help, finance and support so that they can get results. No point having a team of thirty and no results.

 

NW: Exactly!

 

IC: Finally, you have Joe Grant on the team. Joe has done some crazy exploits such as the Iditarod Trail Invitational… a crazy event! 350 miles in sub zero temperatures. Do you plan to help progress ideas like this as a brand, for example, will you create projects that your athletes can undertake. I guess adventures which Inov-8 can help finance.

 

NW: Definitely, we have Ray Zahab from Canada who is currently taking on a challenge of crossing the Gobi Dessert. He is doing that in June this year and we are helping to support him. We love this sort of thing. Crazy challenges… the crazier the better!

 

IC: It creates a story and it creates a buzz. Ultimately that is great for you as a brand. You need your name out in the arena and that comes from inspiration. It filters back to consumers.

 

NW: Yes, exactly. We are all about making the brand the best it can be and ultimately providing the customers with the right footwear and clothing for them to achieve!

 

IC: Natalie, it has been great chatting with you and I am looking forward to Zegama this coming weekend. Best of luck for you and the team!

Calendar:

SKY
1. SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42k, Zegama – May 26
2. FRANCE: Mont-Blanc Marathon – 42k, Chamonix – June 30
3. USA:  Pikes Peak Marathon – 42k, Manitou Springs, Colorado – August 18
4. SWITZERLAND: Matterhorn Ultraks – 46k, Zermatt – August 24
5. ITALY: Limone Extreme SkyRace® – 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13

ULTRA
1. SPAIN: Transvulcania Ultramarathon – 83k, La Palma – May 11
2. ANDORRA: Ronda dels Cims – 170k, Ordino – June 21
3. FRANCE: Ice Trail Tarentaise – 65k, Val d’Isère – July 14
4. USA: Speedgoat – 50k, Snowbird, Utah – July 27
5. USA: Ultra Race of Champions “UROC” – 100k, Vail, Colorado – September 28

Links:

Race Elite 230 - Inov-8

Race Elite 230 – Inov-8

 

 

Tom Owens – Is the SKY the limit?

Tom Owens running a ridge at the stunning Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens running a ridge at the stunning Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens  is a British runner who I guess in ultra terms, as Tom keeps telling me, is not an ultra runner. But when you are on the podium repeatedly in Skyrunning races in 2012 and push Kilian Jornet, the term ‘ultra’ can be loosely used. I caught up with Tom just as he had finished a run in a gale force wind on the fells near his home in Scotland.

IC: Welcome Tom.

TO: Thanks Ian, great to be here.

IC: Thanks for finding the time to chat. So, you say you are not an ultra runner but it is fair to say that when we look at some of your 2012 races like Zegama and Trofeo Kima they are tough races aren’t they and when we look at how long it takes to cover these races they do drift into ultra category.

TO: Yes I agree with you. You are on your feet for a long time. A race like Zegama can take 4 hours and that is considered a ‘runnable’ Skyrunning race.

IC: Lets go back to what got you into running. You told me that at the age of 22 you ran London Marathon.

TO: Yes I was at University and I entered the ballot for the marathon not thinking I would get in. Ironically I got in first time. I did a little training and joined a cross country club. I had a year of running but it was very much a sideline. I was much more interested in Football and having a good time. I ran the marathon and then got addicted.

IC: In 2004 you ran 2:42 at London.

TO: Yes, correct. I learnt so much in the first two years. I met some great folk at Bristol Uni and I learnt how to train and recover. I was very pleased at the time.

IC: What do you mean pleased? Any of us would be ecstatic with 2:42 marathon.

TO: Funny, I didn’t know what time to go for so I wrote splits for 2:42 on my hand and it went well. My first time was hopeless and I bonked. I made changes for the second year but that was pretty much the end of my road running.

IC: Yes, you met Andy Symonds and I guess your friendship with Andy has dictated both your careers. You have almost run in parallel.

TO: I met Andy and he introduced me to hills. He is a great guy, super talented and enthusiastic. So he encouraged me to try hill races and I loved the vibe. Really different. Very challenging but no pressure. So varied. Andy encouraged me throughout and I kept with it.

IC: What would you say was the point when the focus started to shift? You lived in New Zealand and you met the Scottish team who were out for the world trophy. Was that a pivotal point?

TO: Yes it was I guess. I travelled and then I settled in New Zealand and it had a great running community. I lived in a brilliant city surrounded by hills. It’s an outdoor way of life and I ran more. With the World Mountain Running Champs taking place I saw Jonathan Wyatt and that inspired me. To have the English, Scottish and Welsh team over was brilliant. I hung out with them, did the ‘open’ race and yes, I guess I just continued that momentum in the UK.

Tom Owens behind 'Hernando' in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens behind ‘Hernando’ in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

IC: In 2007 you won your first British Championships beating Rob Jebb.

TO: Yes that was a surprise. A race up in Scotland. Wasn’t a big field but it was a tough race and it has two or three big hills. I can’t remember the distance but it took about 3 hours. I just pipped Rob by about 7 seconds on the line. It was a huge confidence boost. Luckily most races I do finish downhill so it gives me a chance to catch back up after loosing time on the climb.

IC: I guess this is a perfect opportunity to discuss and explain what fell running is. As an exponent of fell racing would you like to give us an overview.

TO: They are very low-key events. The race will visit checkpoints, typically hill summits or passes. You often start at a village hall or pub. You run to to the hills carrying basic equipment such as waterproof, whistle, compass and map and then you make your way to checkpoints as fast as you can. It’s often horrendous conditions; after all it is the UK. You can need map and compass work but you can ‘follow’ as I do. More often than not it is usually wet and very slippery. In a nutshell you basically go straight up and straight down as fast as you can

IC: It’s a key point isn’t it that fell running is not about sticking to the worn path, it’s about the quickest route from A to B.

TO: Yes. That is the beauty. You have a hill, you get up as quick as you can. That is often ‘hands on knees’ power walking and then the fun bit is hurtling down as quickly as you can in a direct line. I guess in the UK we are lucky. The hills are open and we can pretty much go where we want. Especially in Scotland with the right to roam act.

IC: You mentioned going up ‘hands on knees’ I think for most of us we can get our head around that, what I find with fell running is the coming ‘down’ is just crazy. It’s such a skill. Is that God given or do you have to practice.

TO: Like anything you need to practice. You have to get confidence on all terrain and build up ankle strength. If you relax it is so much easier. Particularly if you fall over, most of the time you get up and carry on. Racing is in the head, relax and enjoy it and the rest will follow!

IC: In 2007/ 2008 you got involved with Salomon and eventually you ended up adventure racing and multi stage racing. What was the process involved in that?

TO: I started as a reserve for the Saab/Salomon Adventure Racing Team. In 2008 adventure racing was a big sport. It was certainly one of Salomon’s big focuses. I would say it was probably the last year of racing too as the economy crashed. I was called up as a reserve and I raced a six-day race. Probably one of the best races ever…  two mountain days on foot, mountain biking, climbing, paddling and canyoning. In addition, every evening we had a trail race that was really competitive. It favored runners.

IC: Your team was 2nd overall, yes?

TO: Yes that is right. I was with Andy Symonds again and a guy called Ben Bardsley. We are mountain people. We lead for most of the race but lost time on the water.

IC: That combination of multi stage racing and time with Andy, was that instrumental in what brought you guys together to take on Transalpine.

TO: Yes, it was a race I had heard about. It looked amazing. Andy was in Scotland at the time and we trained together so it seemed logical that we should undertake this as a team and give it a go. Again, another brilliant race!

IC: The race is typically about 160 miles over 8 days and alternates direction?

TO: Yes, 8 days. It has two routes and they alternate. An easterly route and a route that is more western which is more alpine. Actually we did both. We did the west route in 2009 I think and the other the following year.

IC: And you won both!

TO: Yes, Andy and I run together so well and the format suits us. You run hard and then you get to recover and do it all again the next day.

IC: Just like that!

TO: Yes, it is a battering race. Definitely good that it is late in the year as you really need to recover afterwards.

IC: You see, you say that you are not an ultra runner but 8 days in the mountains on those tough courses running a marathon a day is ultra running. That is severe, head to the ground hard work.

TO: Yes, challenging days. Brilliant days. Some of the passes and tracks are breath taking. It’s a delight to be involved but you get it done as quickly as you can. It does take its toll. It definitely has an ultra element to it.

IC: In 2010 you raced ‘Giir di Mont’. You came 6th. Was that the point that Skyrunning really started to appeal or was it before that?

TO: To be honest the first Skyrunning race was 2006, it was La Plagna, A huge race. It was 55km with 3000m up and 3000m down. Certainly the hardest thing I had ever done at the time, I hadn’t been running long. In 2007 I did a couple more and similar in 2008. I started to build up and as more opportunities came I snapped them up.

Crowds supporting at a Skyrunning event copyright Ian Corless

Crowds supporting at a Skyrunning event copyright Ian Corless

IC: Well, we are at present day and 2012 was a stunning year. We seemed to bump into each other all year. Sometimes we saw each other consecutive weekends. What impressed me was right from Zegama to the very end you were always there or there abouts with Kilian Jornet. You pushed him. Great to see a Brit pushing at the front… from a world perspective also, Tom Owens became a name to reckon with. It must be great for you to have Kilian on your Salomon Team but also to be able to race him.

TO: I don’t actually think I pushed Kilian. I may have been second but he was usually 10 minutes clear.

IC: It’s all relative Tom!

TO: Certainly seeing Kilian at the start and finish is great. He is on another level. He is so dominant at all distances, VK to ultra. We can’t get close to him. He is so chilled and he recovers so quickly. I certainly can’t do it week after week. After a hard race I can’t walk for 4 to 5 days.

IC: If we look back at 2012 what was your highlights?

TO: To be honest I was really pleased with the year actually and the consistency. I did so much and it was never straightforward. I had some wonderful opportunities. The highlight though was Trofeo Kima in August. It’s a really technical Italian Skyrunning race that has passes, via ferrata and scrambling. It’s a small race but absolutely brilliant experience.

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

 IC: I have to say that it was a highlight for me too. I had never experienced a course like it. To be able to witness the action unfold and capture it on camera was really fantastic. You say it was a small race, you are right, the race is capped at around 125 people but it had a stacked field; Philipp Reiter, Kilian Jornet, Andy Symonds and more. What was obvious at the end was the level of fatigue you all had. That course required 110% concentration.

TO: Absolutely, it had so much rock hopping and you followed painted markers so you had to be focused not to go off course and also not to fall. The last descent was bonkers. A 2000m descent on slippery gnarly terrain. To be running that long on such technical terrain that included ladders, chains and ropes is a big concentration exercise. I was happy to get to the road at the end to be able to relax. It was full on.

IC: What are the plans for 2013? Is the Skyrunning series going to figure again?

TO: I really want to do the Skyrunning series again. Races like Zegama, Chamonix and the Matterhorn excite me. Also the race at Limone. All being well I will try some of those and also mix in some new races. It will be an adaptable schedule and I will see how I go and feel.

IC: What about UK races?

TO: I fancy the British Fell Running Championships, so that will be three, maybe four races in addition to everything else. I will try to mix it up like I did in 2012.

IC: Any temptation to move up to any longer distances or will you establish yourself around the Sky marathon distance.

SKY Marathon races for 2013
1. SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42k, Zegama – May 26
2. FRANCE: Mont-Blanc Marathon – 42k, Chamonix – June 30
3. USA:  Pikes Peak Marathon – 42k, Manitou Springs, Colorado – August 18
4. SWITZERLAND: Matterhorn Ultraks – 46k, Zermatt – August 24
5. ITALY: Skyrunning Xtreme – 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13

Tom Owens at Sierre Zinal being chased by Joe Symonds (Andy Symonds brother) copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens at Sierre Zinal being chased by Joe Symonds (Andy Symonds brother) copyright Ian Corless

TO: I think it would have to be a course I really wanted to do. I would like to try the Ice Trail Tarentaise. That looks brilliant. I am not sure of the distance but I will have to see. I am not avoiding them but I wouldn’t do an ultra for the sake of it!

IC: You know your skills and ability and as such you choose the races were you know you can perform.

TO: As long as I am enjoying it I run well. We shall see.

IC: Thank you so much for freeing up time to chat, Tom. I am really looking forward to seeing you at many races in the coming year.

TO: Thanks so much. It’s a pleasure. Keep up all the good work!

This article was first published on Mud, Sweat and Tears in March 2013.

Links

  • Skyrunning events can be found HERE
  • Salomon Running HERE
  • Tom Owens HERE

Philipp Reiter – new kid on the block?

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Just days before the 2013 edition of the TNF Transgrancanraia on the island of Gran Canaria, I spent several days with Ryan Sandes, Julia Bottger and Philipp Reiter. Philipp had literally just come of his skis and had hardly run for 3 months. In the 83km race he lined up against a strong field and by the time the race was over he had taken the 2nd spot on the podium behind Ryan Sandes, once again proving that his incredible 2012 was no accident.

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

IC: I am joined by, ‘wonder kid’ Philipp Reiter.

PR: Hi Ian.

IC: We went out on the trails yesterday and you immediately flew off. You were like a rabbit in headlights. For the last 2-3 months you have done no running. What is it that enables you to step off skis and start running as though you have never stopped?

PR: Yes you are right. I can step of skis and run immediately. You must remember that ski mountaineering is hard work and I do plenty of ascents so I am fit. If you stay fit in all kinds of sports then it’s not such a problem. Actually, it is good to have a break. I am keen and eager to run now.

IC: I get asked a lot about how significant skiing and ski mountaineering is in the winter. For example, Emelie Forsberg, Kilian Jornet, Nuria Picas and so on all put run shoes away for the winter months. What are the real benefits that it gives your running?

PR: It’s a different movement but it’s not as different as cycling for example. We do lots of elevation and that is great for fitness. As you say a break is good, as much for the mind as the body. Maybe it’s not as different as we think.

IC: What lies ahead in 2013 for you?

PR: I have Transvulcania La Palma in May and then I have a German race to do, the Zugspitze. I will attempt the Skyrunning series but not Andorra. That is much too long for me. I will also not do UROC. I think my highlight this year will be the Transalpine. I like the west route and it will be beautiful. They have changed some stage villages so we have 3 or 4 new stages.

Philipp Reiter stretching his legs on an evening run in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter stretching his legs on an evening run in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

IC: You mention Transvulcania. The 2012 edition was one of the highlights of the race year, it gad a stacked field. This year’s race again has an incredible field. In 2012 you had a difficult race at La Palma. Relatively early on you had issues with your leg but you soldiered on and still managed a top 20 finish. You crossed the line with Joe Grant. What is your mindset for 2013? You have made big improvements in the last 12 months; you must be looking forward to this year’s edition.

PR: Yes I had a big problem in 2012. I wanted to stop after 20km. I don’t know how I finished. It’s a big mystery. I have no real idea what happened. I had to sit down and I had tears. It was very unusual. But I pushed on and achieved a finish, so if I can get through the race like this then I am optimistic for 2013. Mentally I am strong. I am now sure that whatever comes my way I have the ability to push on. Also, running Transalpine in 2012 with Iker Karrera made me much stronger. I am no longer the new kid on the blog!

IC: 2012 was a year that I feel ultra running changed. I think Transvulcania was instrumental in this. The level of quality on a start line changed so many things. But I also feel the emergence of your self and Emelie Forsberg was significant. You personally had so many great results. Can you recap?

PR: I won Super Trail and I beat my own course record. I wanted to keep less than 7 hours and I did it. I then won Salomon 4 Trails and I beat Francois d’Haene and Thomas Lorblanchet. It was a great result. I won by 2 minutes over a 4-day stage race. It was incredible. In the Skyrunning ultra series I was 3rd overall against some of the best runners in the world. That was behind Kilian Jornet and Andy Symonds.

Philipp Reiter at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Also at Cavalls del Vent I was freezing for 7 hours out of 10 but I did not give up. I gained so much mental strength. Anything is possible. You just have to force yourself to go on and not give up. But the best result was the win with Iker Karrera at Transalpine. I wasn’t prepared for Transalpine. I was actually in Chamonix to watch TNF UTMB. The course got changed and Iker decided not to run. He said “do you want to start Transalpine with me tomorrow” I said, “yes of course”. We left and drove through the night. We arrived at midnight and then had to start the next morning. We had no time to get excited.

IC: That was crazy. I remember it well. The announcement came that the course was changed and then runners like Julien Chorier pulled out and decided to run the GR20 and then I heard that Iker, who had really focused on UTMB just thought I am not running a short distance and as you say, Transalpine was the alternative. I know you are only 21, if I think back to 21, that’s a long time… I remember that I had no fear. Do you feel that is your situation? Do you think, if I am given an opportunity I am going to say yes, because what is the worse that can happen.

PR: I definitely think lets just give it a go. As you say, I am 21 years old so if it doesn’t go well I can always go back and try again.

IC: When we talk about the runners you race against and the calendar you raced last year. You personally have such great potential ahead of you. I have said many times that I think you and Emelie are the future stars of the sport. You will lead the direction of the sport. Does that put a weight on your shoulders? Salomon as a sponsor, do they put pressure on you?

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

PR: I have no direct pressure on me from Salomon. It is more that I need to act professionally. It sort of happened without me realizing. For example, I love running, I would run anyway but I used to run and nobody would be interested but now I run and people want photographs and autographs. I need to be professional at all times. I literally could spend 2 hours each evening just answering emails. But that is the package and I accept it. I am very fortunate. I do ask myself do I really want it but then again, I guess I have no option now. I started my own website and then I think, do I really want it!

IC: Yes, we discussed this over dinner last night, the topic of social media. Yes, I am partially to blame. It’s my job to interview, chat, photograph and then distribute it. It benefits you, it benefits the races, it benefits the sponsors, and it is a complete package. But ultimately it has far more pluses than negatives. Do you ever think we will reach a point were things revert, or do you now see that your future lies in running?

PR: I would say at the moment that my studying has nothing to do with sport. I want to be a teacher of mathematics and biology. I will have training away from sport so I have options. I want to have a difference between a hobby, which is now becoming professional and my job afterwards. I post of Facebook and I write on my blog. I enjoy that. It is about me showing and sharing my experiences. I see myself as a speaker for the sport. It’s also funny. I get some great responses, I have funny comments and I love to have fun too and make the most of what I have. I like to create stories too such as running a vertical k indoors by running up and down stairs of a business premises. I like to create ideas.

The very serious Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

The very serious Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

IC: You almost seem to never take your self too seriously. For example, if I point a camera at you, you pull a funny face and smile. But the other side of that is that you are also very serious and precise. You have a duality to your personality. Do you find the balance comes easy?

PR: Training you have to be strict. I think the biggest lie would be that I think it is always fun… it’s not, sometimes I really do need to motivate myself to train. I have to talk to myself some days and force myself out of the door. You have to be focused and disciplined. I have no short cuts. You must put the time in and work hard. Natural ability helps but you must work and work hard. I have my fun side and I like to balance my hard work with fun. All work with no play is no fun at all. We don’t do this sport to get rich. We do it because we love it. We would run and be in completion without the professional side, it is also about meeting people and spending time with people I like such as Ryan Sandes, Julia Bottger, Miguel Heras and Emelie Forsberg. I really remember these special moments. I have met people from all over the world. I am very lucky.

IC: You mentioned you are not in the sport for money. I think that pretty much every elite ultra runner that I have interviewed has said the same thing. You have all come into the sport because of a passion. But it is changing; several races have big prize money. For example, $10,000 first prize, will that change the sport and do you think it will become more common.

PR: I’m not sure. Money changes sport for sure. I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that.

IC: I don’t think any of us know. I guess that is why we ask the question. Certainly we don’t want running or should I say ultra running to follow cycling. That would be a disaster. I don’t think we have any issues at the moment in our sport but you do have to think of the responsibility that we all have in the sport of controlling it. For example lets say I could give you two race options. A bucket list race with no prize money and a race you don’t like but with big prize money that you have a very good chance to win. Which would you choose?

PR: (laughs) Yes, I think I would choose the race with the money. I guess it’s a sad thing but we all need money.

IC: Without doubt we need money to survive and money is not always available in our sport so it does make sense that financial demands have a decision in your race choice.

When did you get into the sport Philipp, what did you do pre 2012?

PR: I have not been trail running very long. I came from ski mountaineering background. I started when I was about 14 yrs or 15yrs old. I had seen an advert for a race near my home and I asked my parents could I take part. They said of course but that I would need to train. I wasn’t sure I wanted to train but I thought, why not, lets give it a go. I managed to perform okay in a relatively small field and then I became addicted. I enjoyed it so much. Especially going to the bakery after the training sessions, it was a good motivation. I guess it was like a bribe. A local shop owner asked me if I wanted to do the next races for them. I thought I am trained now so I carried on. I made it to the National Team very quickly. That sounds impressive but not as impressive as you may think. During the off season I decided I needed to keep fit so I hiked with my poles and then one day I saw a guy running. I thought, okay, I will try that too!

IC: What year was this?

PR: 2009.

IC: So you see someone running and I guess 2010 was your first season running, the transformation has been so quick. Particularly on a world stage. You came to prominence in 2012 but you got Salomon German sponsorship based on your German results.

PR: Yes, in 2010 it was my first year. I tool part in the Transalpine and my partner for the race was already in the Salomon team. Salomon sponsored Transalpine and they like the fact that I was so young. I even look younger than I actually I am so thy asked would I like to join the team. Wow I thought, usually I have to do the asking so of course I said yes! I got famous in Germany at Zugspitze.

IC: So you progress in Germany and then you get onto the Salomon International team with Greg Vollet as a manager. We have spoken about Greg and his vision for the sport in the past. He definitely is a driving sport in the sport at the moment. Does he have a big involvement in your progression?

PR: Yes, definitely. Greg says that we must create our own image. He helps me achieve what I want but in a very careful way. We talk about everything. I am never forced to race, I really like that.

Philipp Reiter and Andy Symonds at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter and Andy Symonds at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

IC: So with the vision of Greg, Salomon as a sponsor and age on your side; what does the future hold for you? We spoke about Kilian in the past, he is only in his mid 20’s but he feels as though he has been around for decades because he has achieved so much. Do you see your progression as similar to Kilan’s and I remember you saying at Trofeo Kima that you said you want to ne Kilian, Do you still want to be him?

PR: I want to beat him! (laughs) What he has achieved is amazing. I want to do it step by step. This year I will do my first 100k. Next year I may go longer and of course I want to run the big races like UTMB or Raid de la Reunion. I have so many options ahead of me. I am just 21 so I don’t want to do too many things too soon. I want goals for the future.

IC: You have an old head on a young body. It’s great that you are patient and looking long term. Kilian had his bucket list and it is now pretty much ticked of. Do you have a list that you are building and when that list is ticked of, do you think you will move into a new realm like Kilian with his ‘Summits’?

PR: I don’t know. I have no idea what the future holds. As long as I am enjoying it and having fun I will continue. A day just has 24 hours. I have to study, I have sport and work but I have many things I would like to do that I don’t have time for. When I have achieved my goals, for sure I will continue with sport but I also want to be a father, I want a family.

IC: Philipp it’s been a pleasure speaking to you. It’s always fun. I’d like to wish you all the very best for 2013. It’s going to be a great year ahead. I can’t wait for Transvulcania La Palma.

PR: Thank you. It has been great fun.

This is part of a new series of interviews Skyrunning ‘The Interviews’ you can also view this on th ISF website HERE

TRANSVULCANIA LA PALMA 2013 Preview

Transvulcania 2013_Snapseed

Without doubt, the International Skyrunning Federation and the organization of the 2012 edition of the Transvulcania La Palma created a race that ultra runners throughout the world had been waiting for. A showdown! The best-of-the-best racing ‘head-to-head’ on a tough and technical mountain route on the island of La Palma.

Transvulcania Map

Profile Transvulcania La Palma 83km

Billed as the ‘race of the year’ the tough La Palma course did not disappoint. Both the ladies race and the male race created a topic of discussion, not only during and after the race but also before it… the build up, the media and the buzz was unparalled.

iancorless.comP1040783

The 2012 race is now history; Dakota Jones triumphed over the volcanic course and in doing so created a moment in ultra history that will be talked about for years to come. Anna Frost for the ladies produced a performance that was nothing short of miraculous. She smashed the female course record and confirmed herself as one of the most dominant forces in mountain running. So strong was her performance, she actually almost made the top 10 overall.

Dakota Jones, 2012 winner and course record holder copyright Ian Corless

Dakota Jones, 2012 winner and course record holder copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost, 2012 winner and course record holder copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost, 2012 winner and course record holder copyright Ian Corless

On May 11th, once again we will have one of the greatest ultra fields assembling in ‘La Isla Bonita’ to climb, sweat and survive over one of the most beautiful run courses I have had the pleasure to witness.

Ladies first

Anna Frost is returning in the hope to defend her title. Once again she will arrive on the island weeks in advance and prepare meticulously in the hope not only of taking out the win once again but maybe beating her own CR and creeping into the top 10. She has had a quiet winter and raced at El Cruce 3 day stage race for a 3rd lady place and just recently ran a relay with Rickey Gates at Tarawera ultra in New Zealand. *update 5th May, Anna is having some ongoing health issues and her presence in the 2013 Transvulcania is currently 50/50. Anna’s priority is her health and as much as we want ‘Frosty’ in the race,more importantly we want her healthy. Best wishes Anna.

**6th May – “I have decided not to race Transvulcania” Anna Frost has announced she will not run the 2013 Transvulcania – you can read a post HERE**

Frosty training on La Palma copyright Ian Corless

Frosty training on La Palma copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas will return to push Frosty to the limit. Nuria had an incredible 2012 and most certainly stepped up a notch. With incredible diversity and wins at iconic races such as Trofeo Kima and Cavalls del Vent, Frosty and the rest of the ladies will have their hands full stopping the Catalan charging over the course and taking the win.

Nuria Picas at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Missing from the 2012 race, Emelie Forsberg, now more relaxed at the 50-mile distance will join her friends and sparring partners to make an incredible three Musketeers at the front of the field. Emelie burst onto the 2012 race season and impressed with every race performance, she can run down hill like no other as she proved at Pikes Peak. She also placed 2nd or 3rd behind Frosty and Nuria for most of 2012 but she finished of the season with an incredible win at San Francisco. Emelie has all the potential to win at Transvulcania. She started 2013 with a win over the marathon distance at Transgrancanaria and recently raced Tarawera as a relay with Francois d’Haene.

Emelie Forsberg at Templiers copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg at Templiers copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini like Emelie has had an incredible rise in 2012. An incredible talent who is new to the longer distances may very well find Transvulcania La Palma a learning curve race. However, she has the ability, passion and dedication to push at the front. *Update May 5th via email: I decided together with Greg (Salomon International Team Manager) and Fabio (Team Manager) not to race at Transvulcania. I have to run the ‘Great Wall marathon’ the week after, and Zegama on the 26th.

Silvia Serafini at Royal Parks Ultra copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini at Royal Parks Ultra copyright Ian Corless

Emilie Lecomte is renowned for running long distance races and performing at the highest level. In 2012 she set a female record for covering the GR20 in Corsica and she finished the season with a win at Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island. Without doubt she has all the ability to make her presence known at the front end of the race. I just wonder if 80km’s is just a little too short for her?

Emelie Lecomte, Quecha. copyright www.ledauphine.com

Emelie Lecomte, Quecha. copyright http://www.ledauphine.com

Fernanda Maciel from Brazil has had some great results. In 2008 she was 4th at TNF 80k in California. In 2009 she won the TDS and in 2010 she placed 4th lady at UTMB. She may well be a dark horse in the ladies with no Frosty and Maud Gobert, Fernanda may well make top three and if she has a great day, she may take the top slot. In 2012 she was first at The North Face Transgrancanaria 123k. In June, she finished second at TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail. She placed  at the TNFUTMB and in October, she ran the 860k  Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Fernanda Maciel copyright The North Face

Fernanda Maciel copyright The North Face

Maud Gobert from France had a strong 2012 season and raced throughout the year but ultimately, the key performance came at the end of the year placing 3rd behind Emelie Forsberg at San Fran 50. After a quiet winter it will be interesting to see how she progresses. Maud was 6th at Transvulcania 2012 in 9:54:40. *Update 7th May, Maud will not race and go to Zegama two weeks later instead.

Maud Gobert copyright maudgobert.com

Maud Gobert copyright maudgobert.com

Notable mentions go to Tina Lewis *no longer racing, updated 1st May 2013,  Karine Sanson, Uxue Fraile and Lidia Gomez.

The Men

Boy oh boy… the men will have a battle. On paper, the 2013 race has all the makings of a classic. Kilian Jornet, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka, Timothy Olson, Mike Foote, Francois d’Haene, Philipp Reiter, Cameron Clayton, Thomas Lorblanchet, Sage Canaday, Tofol Castanyer, Gustav Reyes and so many more.

With no Dakota Jones (winner 2012) and no Andy Symonds (2nd in 2012) first roll call goes to Kilian Jornet. Kilian placed 3rd in 2012 after being in the lead with Dakota and Andy for the best part of 74k. However, in the final km’s just after the long hard descent to Tazacorte Port, Kilian was hit with fatigue and dehydration. He crossed the line and promptly passed out. It’s not often we see Kilian look ‘human’ but at Transvulcania he did. We must point out that only 7 days previous he had taken off his ski’s after a long racing season. The question is for 2013 will he allow himself more preparation time? It certainly looks as though he has. Nobody doubts Kilian’s ability and his incredible 2012 season confirms that he is the main favourite for Transvulcania.

Kilian pre race at the 2012 Transvulcania copyright Ian Corless

Kilian pre race at the 2012 Transvulcania copyright Ian Corless

Anton Krupicka injured for most of 2011 and 2012 returned with a bang in the latter half of 2012 and got a great 2nd place behind Kilian at Cavalls del Vent. His 2013 season was due to see him start his year at Tarawera in New Zealand but he pulled out just 10 days. He did say he had a hip injury that was very much on the mend but he didn’t want to take any risks. He will be arriving in La Palma in form, in shape and without doubt running with only one objective, to win the race!

Anton Krupicka at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Anton Krupicka at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Sage Canaday has burst on to the ultra scene and has pretty much left the community looking on in wonder. A 2:16 marathon runner he has introduced that speed to the longer races and although as he says himself, he is still learning he is dominating and setting course records. He blazed a trail at Bandera 100k and set a new CR in early 2013 and just recently set the trail on fire at Tarawera. Mid race he was over 12 minutes ahead but at the end that had been reduced to just 3 minutes. Transvulcania is a runnable course but the elevation may be more demanding on Sage and his learning curve may very well take a sharp swing in the ‘up’ direction. However, with his speed and ability he can win the race. In particularly, if Sage is in contention at Tazacorte Port, the final kilometers of the race include road and if Sage gets chance to use his speed it could be devastating.

Sage Canaday, of Boulder, raises his hands in victory, after winning the 52nd running of The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, with an official time of 58:27, in Pinkham Notch, NH, on June 16th, 2012. 1,200 runners raced up the 7.6 mile Mo

2012 Western States winner and course record holder, Timothy Olson is almost duplicating the racing calendar of Anton. They had planned to face up against each other at Tarawera and then follow with  Transvulcania and TNF UTMB. Timothy without doubt has all the potential to create a stir. With a new sponsorship deal with The North Face, 2013 looks like it will be an incredible year. He raced early on in 2013 at Bandera 50k and although he won the race his pace wasn’t fast (by his standards). Going in to Tarawera ultra he said he had trained well and that he was in form. He was! Trailing Sage Canaday by over 12 minutes at half way he reeled Sage in and at the finish was just 3 minutes behind to take 2nd place. I can’t help but feel that Timothy is just warming up and I am now moving him up to a ‘favourite’ for Transvulcania.

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Miguel Heras had a mixed early part to 2012 but finished it of with a podium place at La Course des Templiers and a win at San Francisco. In form he is most certainly one to beat and he will be mixing it with Kilian at the front end of the race… can he win? Absolutely. He raced the 119km Trangrancanaria but pulled from the race relatively early on. *Update 7th May, Miguel Heras will not start the 2013 Transvulcania.

Miguel Heras at Templiers copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras at Templiers copyright Ian Corless

Francois d’Haene, 4th at Transvulcania in 2012 and winner of the shortened TNFUTMB has all the potential to make the podium and even win the race. He just needs a perfect day. Like Kilian he has the advantage of already racing over the course. He will know how to pace himself. He raced at El Cruce early in 2013 and made the podium behind Max King. He has also just raced at Tarawera in New Zealand.

Francois d'Haene just after his win at UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Francois d’Haene just after his win at UTMB copyright Ian Corless

German, Philipp Reiter, like Emelie Forsberg created a name for himself in 2012 with consistently top-notch performances. At the 2012 edition of the Transvulcania he had a few issues early on, which cost him a top 10 place. However, he battled on and finished side by side with Joe Grant. He raced at the 83km Transgrancanaria in 2013 and placed 2nd behind Ryan Sandes. I spent several days with Philipp in Gran Canaria and he is definitely looking to arrive on the island of La Palma to improve on his 2012 placing.

Philipp Reiter stretching his legs on an evening run in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter stretching his legs on an evening run in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Thomas Lorblanchet figured well in the 2012 race but had a breakthrough moment when he took the win at Leadville 100 ahead of Tony Krupicka. He has secured a new sponsorship deal for 2013 with Asics so it will be interesting to see how he performs.

Thomas Lorblanchet image from Asics http://www.asics.fr

Thomas Lorblanchet image from Asics http://www.asics.fr

*Tofol is not racing. Apparently we had some confusing information and Tofol  had not planned to race at Transvulcania – apologies

Tofol Castanyer adds more Salomon weight to an already packed field. Tofol was the 2010 Skyrunning World Series champion. He always packs a punch when racing and his stunning performance at the CCC in 2012 proves this. He was 5th at Sierre-Zinal, he won at Giir di Mont Skyrace, 6th at Dolomites Skyrace and 3rd at Mont Blanc Marathon amongst others. He had a long 2012 season and suffered like many others at Cavalls del Vent. Without a doubt he will me a main contender at Transvulcania.

Tofol Castanyer at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Tofol Castanyer at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Adam Campbell had a mixed 2012. I was with him in the Pyrenees for an Arx’teryx media camp mid year and his plan was to race TNF UTMB. However, a recurring injury saw him return home and not race at the iconic 100-miler that ultimately was reduced to 100k. Once recovered he managed to set a new Guinness World Record for the marathon by running in a business suit and then at San Fran 50 he competed with the best, including Sage Canaday, however, he managed to go off course and gave away any chance of a win. Adam once again had an injury issue early season but he has assured me all will be good by May.

Adam Campell copyright Ian Corless

Adam Campell copyright Ian Corless

Joe Grant has just finished the 350 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in joint 2nd place in just over 6 days. Having interviewed him several times about this event before and after one can only speculate how his recovery will be. He has openly said that the 6 day experience was much harder than he anticipated but relatively quickly afterwards he felt recovered. In fact, he has already been for an easy run to start the build up for his run season. Joe races Transvulcania in 2012 and finished just outside the top 10. He will be looking to move in the field this year but his big objective is improving on his 2012 2nd place at Hardrock 100.

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Luis A Hernando is a Skyrunning specialist and was the 2012 Skyrunning World Series champion and ranked 2nd last year. He loves the mountains and technical terrain and excels at the ‘marathon’ distance. The question is not his ability to perform at the highest level but if 83km’s will be be too far?

Luis A Hernando and Tom Owens in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Luis A Hernando and Tom Owens in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Dave Mackey **update April 1st 2013 – Dave Mackey has withdrawn from the raceneeds no introduction. He has been running for years with a string of consistent results. He has also placed highly at Western States, 4th in 2012 with a masters record, so he will be coming to the island of La Palma with high hopes. At Bandera 100k 2013 he finished 2nd behind Sage Canaday but he will have been getting the miles in since then and you can be sure that he will be ready to mix it up and push hard against the best.

Dave Mackey copyright Ultra Pace Photos

Dave Mackey copyright Ultra Pace Photos

Dave James has a very strong reputation on the US ultra scene. He is a USATF national champion and has run some incredible times over the 100 mile distance, his PR is 13:06:52.. He has already had an an impressive 2013. He secured another win at the multi stage,  The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and then just one week later raced at Fuego Y Agua to get second place behind Nick Clark. He is racing The Lost Worlds Tuscany event and just 7 days later  the Causeway Crossing. he will head to La Palma for Transvulcania, just two weeks later he will race at Zegama and then the big one! Ronda del Cims in Andorra. A super tough 100 miler that has a profile that looks like JAWS dental records. Without doubt Dave will be competitive but he has a busy diary… he is going to need to keep some powder dry.

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Notable mentions also go to Gustav Reyes who placed 17th at Transvulcania, Armando Teixeira who was 2nd Transgrancanaria, 7th Cavalls Del Vent 2012 and 11th UTMB all in 2012  and Miguel Caballero who was 6th in the Skyrunning World Series last year. Also, Santi Obaya, Toti BesZigor Iturrieta.

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The surprise package may come from Marathon des Sables expert and champion, Mohamad Ahansal. Mohamad has just won his 5th ‘MDS’ and will be travelling to La Palma with great fitness. I for one will be very curious to see how he performs on this course and terrain.

Don’t hold your breath

2013 without doubt will once again be an iconic race. But don’t hold your breath… we have time to go yet and in that time we may even have more names to add.

The current records of 6:58:54 set by Dakota Jones in 2012 and 8:11:31 by Anna Frost are incredibly fast. However, we do have two incredibly talented and fast fields assembled. Will records fall in 2013? The 83km Transvulcania La Palma course course with 8525m of ascent and descent offers the perfect volcanic arena to watch one of the key races of 2013 unfold.

The growth of Skyrunning and ultra running has been incredible in just the last 12 months. Transvulcania La Palma has set the benchmark for all other races to follow. As 2010 Western States winner, Geoff Roes said:

“It was great to be at such a great race. It had everything you would want from a race. A point-to-point course with unique trail for the entire route. Tough climbs of mixed terrain. Amazing scenery. A finish line in the center of town with amazing crowds, it was like the Tour de France. It is certainly one of the most appealing events I have done. In my mind it has nothing lacking….”

I for one can’t wait to see what May 11th has in store.

Links

  • Visit the Transvulcania La Palma website HERE
  • Visit the ISF website HERE
  • Are you racing at Transvulcania and need some info? Take a look HERE

“Find out everything concerning this Isla Bonita” : www.visitlapalma.es

The new SWS Team Partners supporting the Series, Salomon, Arc’teryx. inov-8 and La Sportiva, are joined at Transvucania by:  adidas, Asics, Buff, Hoka, New Balance, Platinum Sigvaris, Salomon Agisko, Scott, The North Face and Quechua.

Transvulcania La Palma 2013 copyright Ian Corless

ISF 2013 World Ranking – Skyrunning

Crowds supporting at a Skyrunning event copyright Ian Corless

Crowds supporting at a Skyrunning event copyright Ian Corless

The ISF announces the 2013 World Ranking Races with 50 races selected from 14 countries and four continents which, at the end of the season, will establish the world’s 100 élite athletes in the three disciplines:  Sky, Ultra and Vertical.

The ranking is based on a consolidated formula also used in other sports but for the first time, adapted to mountain courses.  The formula comprises an exclusive ISF algorithm, which also takes into consideration factors such as the number of élite athletes participating and the winners’ advantage over the other top finishers.

The three best results in each category are counted with a correction factor for races with at least five élite athletes from the current year’s ranking present.  The fifty 2013 ranked races are based on:

2013 World Race Ranking – Sky

Tom Owens behind 'Hernando' in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens behind ‘Hernando’ in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

3 Peaks Race April 27 GBR
Elbrus Vertical SkyMarathon May 9 RUS
Maratòn Zegama-Aizkorri May 26 ESP
Ziria Cross Country SkyMarathon June 2 GRE
International SkyRace June 9 SUI
Maratón Alpino Madrileño June 16 ESP
Mont-Blanc Marathon June 30 FRA
Olympus SkyMarathon June 30 GRE
Kilian’s Classic July 7 FRA
Maratona del Cielo July 7 ITA
Challenge Irazu SkyMarathon July 14 COS
Dolomites SkyRace July 21 ITA
Fuji Mountain Race July 27 JAP
Giir di Mont SkyMarathon July 28 ITA
Course de Sierre Zinal August 10 SUI
Marathon du Montcalm August 17 FRA
Pikes Peak Marathon August 18 USA
Matterhorn Ultraks 46k August 24 SUI
The Ben Nevis Race September 7 GBR
Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon September 10 MAS
Skyrunning Xtreme September 13 ITA

SKY – races more than 22 km and less than 50 km long with at least 1,300m positive vertical climb (SkyRace® and SkyMarathon®)

2013 World Race Ranking – Ultra

Tom Owens running a ridge at the stunning Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens running a ridge at the stunning Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tarawera Ultramarathon March 16 NZL
Ultra Trail Mt Fuji April 26 JPN
Transvulcania Ultramarathon May 11 ESP
Ronda dels Cims June 21 AND
Zugspitz Ultratrail June 22 GER
Mont-Blanc 80 km June 28 FRA
Lavaredo Ultra Trail June 28 ITA
Western States Endurance Run June 29 USA
Ice-Trail Tarentaise July 14 FRA
Trans d’Havet July 27 ITA
Speedgoat 50K July 28 USA
Leadville Trail 100 Run August 18 USA
Le Grand Raid des Pyrenees August 23 FRA
CCC August 30 FRA
UTMB August 30 FRA
Run Rabbit Run September 13 USA
Ultra Race of Champions UROC September 28 USA
Cavalls del Vents September 29 ESP
La Diagonale des Fous October 18 FRA
Les Grand Trail des Templiers October 27 FRA

2013 World Race Ranking – Vertical

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Elbrus Vertical Kilometer May 7  RUS
Cara Amón Vertical Kilometer MAY 18 ESP
Orobie Vertical June 2 ITA
Mont-Blanc Vertical KM June 28 FRA
Chilometro Verticale Lagunc July 14 ITA
Dolomites Vertical Kilometer July 19 ITA
Gerania Vertical Kilometer September 8 GRE
Le Km Vertical Du Fully October 4 SUI
Xtreme Vertical Kilometer October 11 ITA
Kilometro Vertical del Puig Campana November 4 ESP

In January, the ISF published a first list of élite athletes based on the analysis of the results of the most significant races in 2012 in twelve countries in three continents.  At the end of the season the 2013 élite ranking will be published and, in 2014, the goal is to include one hundred races.

To give a global vision of who the world’s top athletes are, the ISF has devised a ranking system based on a number of variables including the number of élite athletes present at each event. In order to create a basis for 2013 for the Sky, Ultra and Vertical Kilometer® distances, a first list of élite athletes has been drawn up based on an analysis of the results of the most significant races in 2012 in twelve countries and three continents.From 2013 an exclusive algorithm will also be applied.  The 2013 ranking will be based on 50 selected races (20 Sky, 20 Ultra, 10 VK), with the aim of reaching 100 races in 2014.

The ISF 2013 World Ranking represents the first major step towards an instant panorama of the world’s top races and élite runners – an indispensable tool for athletes, organisers and sponsors alike.

ISF website http://www.skyrunning.com