Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2018 Race Summary and Images

The second race of the 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked today on the island of La Palma (La Isla Bonita). The stunning Fuencaliente lighthouse once again providing an epic backdrop as 1000+ head-torches rushed north for a 74km journey  of tough and challenging terrain on the islands iconic GR131 route. It was a day of mixed temperatures and the Route of the Volcanoes was bathed in glorious sun as the runners broke through a cloud inversion before heading to the mist, grey and damp of El Pilar. Pushing onwards, the wind increased causing a challenging chill that resulted in many runners reaching for wind proofs. As often happens on La Palma, push through the cloud and a new weather system awaits, it was no different for the 2018 Transvulcania. Running around the Caldera to Roques de Los Muchachos, intense heat and blue skies greeted the runners all the way. Dropping back down to the sea and Tazacorte Puerto, the only thing that remained was the final challenging climb to the finish in Los Llanos.

For the ladies’ 2016 and 2017 champion and pre-race favorite Ida Nilsson lead the charge and she never really looked back. It was a strong performance.

As often happens, the chasing group can change as the brutality of the Transvulcania route takes its toll. Monica Comas from Spain placed 2nd just 6-minutes behind Ida.

The American contingent of Kelly Wolf and Brittany Peterson placed 3rd and 4th ahead of Russia’s Ekaterina Mityaeva, their times 8:49, 8:59 and 9:13 respectively.

The men’s race proved to be a real revelation… despite the early efforts of Cody Reed, he faded around the 20km mark and then all the main contenders and protagonists made their moves. It was a close race and the long descent to Tazacorte Puerto was always going to be decisive. Pere Aurell Bove held a lead over Dmitry Mityaev, Thibaud Garriver, Marco De Gasperi and Xavier Thevenard. For perspective, it is arguably one of the closest top-5 the race has experience, 7:37, 7:38, 7:42, 7:44 and 7:47 respectively. It is fair to say, that for Pere Aurelio, this is one of the biggest victories of his career and one that he will savour for a long time.

Image gallery available HERE

Route Summary:

Leaving Fuencalientie lighthouse, black sandy trails lead to Los Canarios. From here, the route weaves in and out of pine forests – underfoot the trails are good, at times technical but it is as the runners break the tree line that the challenging volcano sections await. The arrival of the sun provides some clarity and the push begins to El Pilar and notable marker in the race progression.

At least 5km of relatively flat and easy running follow El Pilar. It provides an opportunity for the ‘runners’ to stretch their legs and either extend or reclaim lost time. A left turn and suddenly they are climbing again, high trees with a canopy of green shelter the runners and then from El Reventon the true splendor of this mountain range is exposed with Roques de los Muchachos visible in the distance.

The harder sections of technical running around the Caldera, combined with heat and altitude provided the next challenge. From the high point, dropping 2400+m in 18km requires legs and nerves of steel. Believe me, it’s one hell of a ride. The early sections are open and the heat hits hard. Tree cover finally arrives and underfoot the single-track changes from dusty sand perpetuated with rocks to sand trail covered with a blanket of pine needles. In the latter stage pine needles giveaway to rocks and then the final zig-zag steep path to the port follows.

At Tazacorte Puerto, a short run along the beach, a technical run through a gulley and then a relentless claim all the way to the finish line in Los Llanos would decide the overall winner of the 2018 Transvulcania La Palma

Transvulcania VK by Binter – 2018 Race Summary and Images

The island of La Palma today hosted the Winter Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® (VK) one of many VK’s in the 2018 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit.

Just last weekend in Italy the Trentapassi Vertical, rising 1,000m above Italy’s Lake Iseo took place and many of the runners who participated followed up with the VK in La Palma.

To clarify, a VK is a uphill mountain race that climbs for 1,000m over a course that is less than 5 km in length. Certain courses on the circuit do obtain special dispensation – Transvulcania one case in point.

The route here in La Palma covers over 1200m of vertical gain over a distance of 7.6km and re-traces sections of the Ultramarathon course and concludes at the forest lookout tower at an altitude of 1600m and stunning views of the Aridane valley and the north east of the island.

From sea to sky, today in La Palma, the BBinter Transvulcania VK provided a wonderful showcase for the sport as runners departed from Tazacorte Puerto. However, the usual glorious skies of blue and intense sunshine were replaced with cloud, grey and at times, light rain.

The line-up for the VK was impressive with Stian Angermund, Pascal Egli, Aritz Egea and Ondrej Fejfar heading up a world-class field.

Pascal Egli dominated with a strong performance ahead of Stian Angermund-Vik and Rui Ueda. Their times 47:55, 48:03 and 48:08.

Christel Dewalle set blistering pace and set a new course record ahead of Laura Orgue and Zuzana Krchova. Their times 56:52, 57:19 and 1:01:13.

Attention now turns to the main event of the weekend, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon that starts in the early hours of the morning on Saturday at Fuencalienti lighthouse. You can read the race preview HERE.

Full set of race images available HERE

Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2018 Race Preview

Transvulcania is upon us! Since 2012, the race has been an ever-present in the Skyrunner World Series and now it is acclaimed the world over as a pinnacle event. Taking place on the Isla Bonita (the beautiful island) of La Palma, the race personifies the pure ethos of Skyrunning. It is a wonderfully logical race route that starts next to the sea in the south of the island and concludes on the west of the island in the town of Los Llanos. The route offers 74km’s of amazing trails, wonderful views and technical trail and some real vertical ascent (4350m) and descent (4057m) that tests the legs, lungs and mind of the most experienced runner.

Taking place on the GR131, Rute del Bastion, the route starts low and climbs and climbs into the National Park of the Caldera de Taburiente. Runners then traverse the rim to Roques de Los Muchachos before dropping over 2400m in one leg busting drop of 18km’s to the sea and Tazacorte Puerto before a final push upwards to the finish in Los Llanos.

A decade of Transvulcania and La Palma magic. In 2009, just 378 runners toed the line, in 2018, 2000 runners will embark on the majestic journey. One only has to look at past winners of the race to understand the importance of Transvulcania on the world running map – Luis Alberto Hernando Kilian Jornet, Miguel Heras, Dakota Jones, Emelie Forsberg, Anna Frost and the 2017 champions, Ida Nilsson and Tim Freriks.

As in previous year’s the race has a stellar line-up of world-class talent and notably includes the Italian Skyrunning master, Marco De Gasperi. For Marco, this race will be a departure for him as he will arguably race one of the longest races ever in his remarkable career. He is, one of the first ever official Skyrunner’s who has pioneered and paved a way for the rest. His inclusion in the 2018 Transvulcania is an exciting prospect.

Competition will come from all sides, in particular Xavier Thevenard who comes to the race with incredible results, however, he has raced at Transvulcania before and has always seemed to just miss the performances shown at the UTMB series of events which he has dominated. Will 2018 be his year?

Zaid Ait Malek is a pure Skyrunner. He placed 3rd last year and this year may well place 2nd or take the top slot. The race is there for the taking and Zaid has all the skills to make it happen.

Jason Schlarb raced in La Palma last year and had a solid result. He knows the race now and will be finely tuned to move up the ranks and potentially break into the top-5.

Dmitry Mityaev has risen in the Skyrunning ranks over the last few year’s with a string of excellent performances. He has got better and better and it is fair to say we can expect a solid performance in La Palma. He prefers the longer distances, so, Transvulcania may well be ideal for the Russian.

Michel Lanne rarely these days but when he does, he always excels. He has won CCC and TDS and last-year had a great run in Norway at Tromso SkyRace. For me, on his day, Michel is a potential winner for Transvulcania.

Franco Colle was missing in 2017 from the Skyrunning ranks but he is back. A past winner of the Rut 50km, Franco is an experienced Skyrunner who will make his presence felt in La Palma.

With a stellar line-up, other contenders to watch are as follows:

Morgan Elliott – 2016 and 2017 Skyrunner National Series champion.

Cody Reed – 2nd Bandera 100km and winner of Mt Bachelor 50km.

Cole Watson – 1st Canyons Endurance Run 50km.

Daniel Jung – 2nd Hong Kong 100 in 2017.

Fulvio Dapit – Consistent Skyrunner with great experience. 

Pau Bartolo – 1st at Buff Epic Trail in 2017 and 1st TDS 2015.

Alfredo Gil – 8th Dolomites SkyRace.

Pere Aurell – 4th at The Rut and 3rd at Royal Gran Paradiso.

Thibaud Garrivier – 6th at OCC and Marathon du Mont-Blanc 2017.

Ivan Camps – 5th at Ultra Pirineu.

Francesc Sole – 7th at UTMB and 6th at Ultra Pirineu.

Peter Kienzl – Long distance runner won won 360 Transgrancanaria.

Stephen Wassather – 1st Silver State 50 and 4th Bandera 100km

Jan Bartas – 4th Devil’s Ridge and 8th High Trail Vanoise.

Plus many more…

The ladies’ race has the 2016 and 2017 returning champion and course record holder, Ida Nilsson. In all honesty, if Ida shows any potential of her 2017 form, she will be unstoppable in 2018. She knows the course and has the speed and skills.

Ekaterina Mityaeva like her husband, Dmitry, has grown in experience and stature over the last few years and we can expect her to bring that experience to La Palma. The podium is a distinct possibility! 

Anna Mae Flynn has won Speedgoat 50km and placed 3rd at Lake Sonoma 50, two races that indicate a solid performance at Transvulcania. However, racing in Europe is always different than the US. I still think we will see something solid from this lady.

Cassie Scallon has won Bandera 100km and so we know the distance will not be an issue. In 2017 she had two notable wins at Gorge Waterfalls and Nine Trails.

Brittany Peterson has won Moab Red Hot 55km and placed 2nd at the 50km event at Run Rabbit Run. She is a slid runner with a good skill set that should transfer over to Transvulcania well.

Kelly Wolf may well be a dark horse after her recent win at Tararwera in New Zealnd. Arguably though, her 2nd at Speedgoat 50km and victory at Flagstaff SkyRace is more indicative of a good performance in La Palma.

Francesca Canepa prefers the longer distance races and although she brings a wealth of experience I believe the Italian will lack the speed required to penetrate the top 5.

Emilie Lecomte like Francesca is a long distance specialist and although she will perform well, it is unlikely she has the speed for the podium.

Meredith Edwards placed 2nd at TDS which confirms that climbing is not an issue, the question mark will be does she have the speed required to make the podium?

Eva Moreda is a solid Skyrunner who placed 5th in the 2017 Skyrunner World Series.

Ildiko Wermescher 3rd at TDS, 2nd at Swissalpine T133 and 2nd Swiss Irontrail confirms that Ildiko can run and handle the vert, however, I think Transvulcania may well be around 30km too short for a podium performance.

Laura Besseghini won the 2016 Dolomite Sky Run and in 2017 won Valmalenco Ultra Trail.

Paloma Lobera potentially could impact on the top-10 but lacks the pace or speed for the podium. She placed 8th at Matterhorn Ultraks in 2017.

Zuzana Bartasova – 7th at Trofeo Kima in 2016.

Natalia Roman – 1st Ultratrack Supramonte 2016 and 2nd Mustang Trail Race 2017.

Juan Maria Jimenez – 10th UTMB and 7th Oman Desert Marathon

Maylis Drevon – 11th Transvulcania 2017 and 2nd Marathon du Mont-Blanc 80km.

Plus many more…

Race Website HERE

As a point of note, other races take place over the Transvulcania weekend:

In the marathon, a key name to watch out for is Ryan Sandes, and in the half marathon, Stian Angermund-Vik for the men and Laura Orgue for the ladies.

Action starts on Thursday with the Vertical Kilometer Transvulcania Binter starting in Tazacorte Puerto at 1700 hrs.

The main events take place on Saturday with Transvulcania starting at 0600 and it is estimated that the first finisher will arrive in Los Llanos around 1230pm.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales – www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Yading VK 2018 Summary and Images – Yading Skyrunning Festival

Lung busting, calf bulging and full-on max heart rate was the order of the day for the Yading VK, the first event of the 2018 Yading Skyrunning Festival taking place in the Yading National Park, China.

The VK is notable not only for its stunning location, but also for the altitude that the race takes place at… It is the only VK in the world to go from 4000m to 5000m.

The day started with blue skies and glorious sunshine but as the 11am start approached the sky started to turn grey and a few specks of the predicted snow started to fall. It was a day of very mixed weather, at times sunny and hot, at other times bitterly cold and snowing.

– Bed Sunuwar

From the gun, Nepali runner Bed Sunuwar dictated the pace and as he approached the glacial lake in the final 25% of the race, he looked set for victory. However, last years winner, Douji from China had different ideas.

– Douji

He passed the Nepali relegating him to second. France’s ultra-running legend Francois D’Haene placed 3rd using the VK as altitude training for a long season ahed and tomorrow’s Kora Ultra.

– Francois D’Haene

Lina Elkott dictated the pace and never looked in doubt of clinching victory. She made the altitude and 1000m of vertical gain look relatively easy.

– Lina Elkott

Hillary Gerardi who has raced extensively on the Skyrunning circuit for the last 18 months showed great form placing second ahead of the winner’s sister, Sanna Elkott.

– Hillary Gerardi

– Sanna Elkott

Times for this VK are considerably longer than more traditional VK’s which are usually under 5km’s. This race has special consideration and covers a distance of 7km.

Many competitors took part and the difficulty of the terrain and altitude could be seen on their faces.

Attention now turns to tomorrow am when the Yading SkyRace and Kora Ultra will take place. Both events start at 0700.

Top 3 Men and Women

  1. Douji
  2. Bed Sunuwar
  3. Francois D’Haene
  1. Lina Elkott
  2. Hillary Gerardi
  3. Sanna Elkott

IMAGES available HERE

Full timings and results will be posted at http://yadingskyrun.livetrail.run/

Yading Skyrunning Festival 2018

The “2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series” kicks-off this weekend in China with the Yading Skyrunning Festival – VK, SKY and ULTRA.

It is going to be a weekend of high altitude action as the Yading races personify the simple ethos of running Between earth and sky – Skyrunning! The Yading Skyrunning Festval takes in numerous 6000m peaks through three races – VK, SKY  and the Yading Kora ULTRA.

The Yading Skyrun will start at 0700 on April 30th and will cover a distance of 29km. Staring in the centre of Yading’s Shangri-La, the race will start with a gradual downhill. After 3.5km, the race will hit the lowest point in the race – 2860m! From here, the only way is up – passing a small village, the race route hugs a single-track. The summit at 4700m is covered with Buddhist prayer flags and what follows is a fast descent all the way back to Chonggu Temple. Last year, Nepalese sensation Bhim Gurung produced an incredible downhill run to come from behind and take victory.

The Yading VK starts on Sunday April 29th. Covering a distance of 7km (unusally long for the VK format) the race will have an elevation gain of 1072m but starts at 3992m and concludes at over 5000m. It is the highest VK on the circuit and arguably one of the most stunning! Alpine forests, prayer flags, a glacier lake and a high pass at 5000m concludes a lung and leg busting race. It’s a race that all must try once, the scenery, landscape and views are mind-blowing.

The Yading Kora Ultra also takes place on the same day as the SKY race and takes in the Kora pilgrimage route over 46km – the finishing section is the same route as the SKY race.

This area of Yading is blessed with immense natural beauty, including the three sacred peaks (Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje) which loom over the National Park at an altitude of over 6,000m. From the 5th Dalai Lama through Joseph Rock this area has been a source of spiritual inspiration. With over 2,300m of elevation gain over the length of the course, and the finish line sitting at just over 4,000m, the race challenges beginners and elites alike.

Athletes to look out for over the weekend taking part in one or multiple events are as follows:

Francois d’Haene

Andy Wacker

Cody Lind

Oscar Casal Mir

Marc Casal Mir

Pere Rullan

Eduard Hernandez Teixidor

Robert Krupicka

Finlay Wild

and more….

 

For the ladies:

Ida Nillson

Mira Rai

Sheila Aviles

Ruth Croft

Hillary Gerrardi

Holly Page

Nuria Dominguez

and more…

 

MONTE ROSA SKYMARATHON & ALAGNA-INDREN SKYRACE®

It’s here! A return to the roots and the beginning of a new sport when in the late 1980’s, Marino Giacometti, pioneered  fast and light on the slopes of Monte Rosa, a sport that would be called Skyrunning!

Mark the date, June 23rd 2018.

Introducing Europe’s highest race! The iconic Monte Rosa will once again host the ultimate test of fast and light, low to high and back again, a true race in the SKY! Celebrating 25-years of Skyrunning, the race returns to the Italian Alps retracing the original race route all the way to the summit of Monte Rosa at 4554m.

Monte Rosa SkyMarathon. ©actionmovie.it

 

MONTE ROSA SKYMARATHON & ALAGNA-INDREN SKYRACE® will be a spectacle like no other on the Skyrunning circuit. It’s an exclusive event brought to you be the founders of the sport.

Covering 35km’s and 7000m of vertical gain and descent, runners will cover snow fields, glaciers, moraine in true Skyrunning style! Runners will participate in teams of two, roped together.

It’s a personification of the sport. A return to the glory days of the early 90’s and for sure, it will become a spectacle like no other!


A shorter race for individual runners, the Alagna-Indren SkyRace® will also take place on the same day reaching 3,260m.

The events will attract top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions aiming to challenge the incredible records set in 1994 by Italians Fabio Meraldi in 4h24’ and Gisella Bendotti in 5h34’.

Marino Giacometti_Monte Rosa SkyMarathon_1994. ©Dario Ferro

Race information will be available HERE

Skyrunner’s throughout the world, for many years, have been waiting for a race such as this. Now it is here…!


The course

The route retraces the original route first completed in 1993 from Alagna Valsesia, 1,192m, via the Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2,396m, to the Indren cable car station at 3,260m. It continues towards the Gnifetti Hut, 3,647m, Colle del Lys, 4,250m, to summit at the Margherita Hut, 4,554m returning by the same course to Alagna.
The route ascends and descends along paths, ski runs and across glaciers in a loop for a total distance of 35 km and 3,490m vertical climb.

The course is on mountain trails with demanding uphill and downhill sections, over snow fields, glaciers with crevasses, exposed areas, steep pastures and scree, possibly subject to severe environmental and weather conditions, summiting at 4,554m.

A high level of physical preparation is required, high altitude mountaineering experience, knowledge of the risks of the terrain and the ability to manage eventual sudden changes such as strong winds and below zero temperatures.

Join the race of the year HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full results HERE

Gallery 2

Skyline Scotland 2017 – Glen Coe Skyline Extreme plus VK, SKY and ULTRA

The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline series of races are upon us – a stunning weekend of Skyrunning! From the short, sharp and brutal VK in the VK World Circuit, to the long, demanding and challenging ultra – this weekend will be the pinnacle event of racing in the UK in 2017 and sees three events in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

With the exception of World Championship events or the Olympics, the Glen Coe Skyline events will without doubt have the greatest elite field ever assembled on UK soil of sky, trail and mountain runners. It’s a who’s who of the Skyrunning world with the best all assembled in one place in what will be an absolutely incredible weekend of racing.

Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Max King, Caroline Chaverot, Laura Orgue, Jan Margarit, Maite Maiora, Ragna Debats, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker, Pascal Egli, Bhim Gurung, Mira Rai and so many more will head to Scotland.

The highlight event is without doubt the brutal, demanding, challenging and yes, dangerous, Glen Coe Skyline Extreme Race™ which will see 264 vetted runners take on what has become one of the most challenging events in the world. It’s up there with Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Trofeo Kima. Following in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races the race fuses mountain running and alpinism, the extreme race is a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course. At 55km with 4,750m of vertical gain, this race personifies Skyrunning, it includes the most challenging Scottish mountain terrain with a traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge.

Ok, take a breath! Kilian Jornet will race on UK soil and on a course that it is fair to say, exactly his thing! It’s technical, pure Skyrunning, offers an incredible technical challenge – all things the Catalan loves. KJ needs no introduction to anyone, he just placed 2nd at UTMB, he won Sierre-Zinal and he summited Everest twice in one week and he won Hardrock 100 single-handedly, and that is just 2017. To see Jornet race this course in the UK is a dream come true.

But Jornet will have his hands full with Tromso SkyRace winner and GlenCoe Skyline 2016 champion, Jon Albon. Importantly, Albon is tied on SWS points with Nepalese runner Bhim Gurung. These two will have a race within a race, the first past the line will be the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champion for 2017.

Let’s not also forget that Tom Owens is running! Add to the mix USA legend Max King and world class competition – Hector Haines, Andre Jonsson, Cody Lind, Martin Gaffuri, Pere Aurell, Rolf Einar Jensen, Roger Vinas, Konrad Rawlik and the UK’s Oli Johnson – we have the most exciting race ever on UK soil!

For the ladies, Emelie Forsberg is back to a race that she loves! This race has figured highly on Forsberg’s calendar and she has meticulously prepared in 2017 by slowly coming back to racing after knee surgery in 2016.

Ragna Debats will push Forsberg every step of the way. The lady from the flatlands of the Netherlands is having a stunning year and recently won at the RUT in the USA and placed 2nd at Tromso SkyRace. Caroline Chaverot was unstoppable in 2016, won Hardrock 100 earlier this year but recently withdrew from UTMB after winning in 2016. If she is recovered and fit, she will be a contender for sure, however, the technical terrain will be a challenge.

Other top contenders will be Megan Kimmel from the USA who was unstoppable early season. Malene Bikken Haukoy, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Katie Schide, Kimberly Storm, Natalia Tomasiak, Martina Valmassoi, Zuzana Urbancova, Kelly Wolf, Ann-Marie Madden and the UK’s Beth Pascall.

The weekend kicks off with the Salomon Mamores VK™, an incredible leg burning and lung-busting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. It is also iconic as it is the UK’s only Vertical Kilometer®. Following the well-established ISF (International Skyrunning Federation( ‘VK’ format, 298 participants will follow a marked course climbing 1000m of vertical gain in less than 5km’s. Departing at timed intervals, it’s like an epic stage of the Tour de France as runners push their limits – the fastest overall time to the summit is the winner!

Stian Angermund-Vik heads up a world-class field for the men and Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race. Also watch out for Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker and Ondrej Fejfar in the men’s race.

Saturday brings us the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ which is a pure ‘classic’ following in the tradition of Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace. It consists of uncompromising mountain running with scrambling along mountain ridges. Traversing ridges are followed by technical ascents and descents, it’s a challenging race to push the most experienced Skyrunner to the limit. The Devil’s Ridge provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead, and in total four peaks will be summited.

Last year, in its inaugural event, the race was won by Stian Angermund-Vik and he returns to do battle again! He is going to have a battle on his hands with Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi coming to race on UK soil along with Pascal Egli, Jan Margarit, Kiril Nikolov, the Casal Mir brothers of Oscar and Marc, Rok Bratina, Andy Wacker and the UK’s Jayson Cavill and Ben Hukins. It is set to be an epic battle. Egli, Angermund-Vik, De Gasperi and Margarit have all been on fire in 2017 and to see them go head-to-head on Scottish soil will be amazing.

 Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race but she also will have a fight on her hands. Laura recently won the RUT VK and SkyRace so comes to Scotland with great form. Maite Maiora though has been unstoppable in 2017 with victories across the Skyrunning calendar, just recently she placed 2nd at CCC. Sheila Aviles is a likely podium contender and yes, maybe even winner after a strong performance at Comapedrossa. Also watch Oihana Azkorbebeitia, Katrine Vilumsen and Laura Sola.

The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ uses remote runnable tracks, technical single track, and airy trackless ridges, the highlight and highpoint coming with a climb and traverse via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, leading to the summit of Ben Nevis. This is one seriously tough race, especially when one considers the demanding 120km course and 4000m + of vertical gain! Starting from the southern shore of the world-famous Loch Ness, the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ follows a route through remote Scottish Highland Glens, before finishing at the Skyline Scotland™ Event Centre in Kinlochleven.

Dmitry Mityaev heads up the men’s race and he will have a fight on his hand with local runner, Donnie Campbell. Lakeland 100 winner and 8th place at the 2017 CCC, Michael Jones, will also be one to watch. Csaba Nemeth and Nuno Silva add to an incredibly stacked male field.

For the ladies, Nepalese sensation Mira Rai will be a strong favourite, however, the ever-present and indestructible Andrea Huser will toe the line after recently placing 2nd at UTMB. This is going to be an epic battle! Also keep an eye on the USA’s Kristina Pattison and local lady, Rachel Campbell.

Skyrunning UK was created four years ago with the dream of bringing the best-of-the-best to UK soil, this weekend, that dream becomes a reality. I for one cannot wait!

Lone Peak VK Summary and Images – 2017 Vertical Kilometer World Circuit

The Vertical Kilometer World Circuit continues in Montana, tUSA with Run the Rut, today it was the Lone Peak VK. It may not be the steepest VK on the circuit but it certainly is dramatic with the finish line high in the sky, Lone Peak summit was always visible.

The route is steep and direct in the early stages following mainly expansive ski trails. At the Bone Crusher, the runners go to the impressive Alto ridge, here it gets steep, gnarly and technical with plenty of hands-on-knees action and scrambling with some via ferrata before the final sections of exposed rock and loose terrain to the summit.

The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm and tackling the early steep and slippery gradients. The route was wide though and overtaking was no issue. The mass start soon became single-file as the gradient took it’s toll. Mike Popejoy was the main protagonist Scott Patterson, race RD Mike Foote and JP Donovan following.

For the ladies, Laura Orgue was in her own race extending a convincing lead on the early slopes and once at halfway, she eased off the pressure knowing victory was secure. Behind, Jennifer Kunzman, Beth Shumante and Rachel Poulton followed.

Altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK, starting above 2000m is very difficult for those with little or no adaptation. When combined with challenging terrain, this only adds to the problem. Unlike other VK’s the Lone Peak VK is unique with its mixture of surfaces. The loose and large rocks create many frustrations as often it stops participants getting a rhythm, this is contrasted by the early sections when it’s possible to find a good momentum despite the steep gradients. The summit arrives at a lung busting 3400m altitude.

Through Bone Crusher, Laura Orgue was over 10-minutes clear of the competition but the men’s race was much closer with Mike Popejoy holding a 30-second lead over JP Donovan and then Mike Foote followed further back

In the final section to the summit, the terrain becomes much steeper and underfoot it is very lose. This played into JP Donovans skill set and he took the lead and victory, 21-seconds ahead of Mike Poejoy and Mike Foote finished 3rd another 18-seconds back.

Laura Orgue crossed the line in 54:29 and Jennifer Kunzman and Beth Shumnante placed 2nd and 3rd, their times 1:08:38 and 1:09:46 respectively.

Attention now turns to Saturday’s 28km event which starts at 0800, both Orgue and Donovan will try for the double! It will prove to be fast race, the mixed terrain includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and at the summit of the iconic Lone Peak a gnarly and technical descent brings the runners back to the resort of Big Sky where the race started.

Results:

1. JP Donovan (USA) – 47’27”

2. Mike Popejoy (USA) – 48’48”

3. Mike Foote (USA) – 50’06”

4. Scott Patterson (USA) – 51’18”

5. Jan Margarit Solé (ESP) – 51’41”

 

1. Laura Orgué (ESP) – 54’29”

2. Jennifer Kunzman (USA) – 1h08’38”

3. Beth Shumate (USA) – 1h09’46”

4. Rachel Poulton (USA) – 1h10’44”

5. Emily Kipp (USA)- 1h14’51”

RUN the RUT 2017 Race Preview

3-days, 3 races and 3 incredible experiences, Big Sky Montana hosts the Run the Rut weekend of racing. If ever a race weekend existed that should combine with a holiday experience, this is it, Big sky is located between the idyllic town of Bozeman and the iconic Yellowstone Park.

The isolated Lone Peak mountain provides a stunning backdrop for the Run the Rut races of VK, Sky and Ultra with all races climbing to its summit via technical ridge and difficult climb.

Utilizing what would be ski runs in winter, it’s easy to understand why the Rut has gained a reputation for providing a tough and technical test even for the most experienced runner.

The VK is the next race in the new VK World Circuit and this race takes place on Friday September 1st. The Sky Classic and Ultra continue the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series taking place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd respectively.

The Rut races have become flagship races in the USA. And are the only US based races in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series. This is primarily due to the technical nature of the trails. You see, access to open land and mountains is not the same as in Europe. Strict land management is in place and ‘off-trail’ races just don’t exist. The Rut have managed to work around this by using the Big Sky resort which does not have to comply with land permission issues.

Vertical K

The VK kicks off the action from the Big Sky Resort up to the summit of Lone Peak at an altitude just short of 3000m gaining 3,632 feet in just over three miles.

SkyRace

The SkyRace is the most pleasing race of the Rut weekend as the proportion of vertical gain and technical running all blend together in the most logical and pleasing course.

The men’s race has all the makings of a classic with some serious competition coming from Aritz Egea who is looking for 2017 SWS victory – he raced last weekend in Switzerland and will be tried.

But Jan Margarit is a man on form with victories at the Dolomites SkyRace and Comapedrosa, for me, he is the odds on favourite for victory! Remi Bonnet has won in the USA in past years and is the likely contender to give Margarit a tough run. However, Pascal Egli is having great year and he will no doubt be one to watch.

Eugeni Gil Ocana is on fire in 2017 and if he is not too tired after placing 2nd at Matterhorn Ultraks, he is a likely podium placed finisher. Expect strong competition to come from Julien Martinez, Oscar and Marc Casal Mir, Sintu Vives, Marc De Leon, Eduard Hernandez, Pere Rullan and Dai Matsumoto.

Laura Orgue is the hot favourite in the ladies’ race having raced well multiple times in 2017 – victory at Dolomites SkyRace and 2nd place in Comapedrossa. Hillary Gerardi has been a revelation in 2017 with a string of strong and consistent performances. Addie Bracy, Glykeria Tziatzia and Jennifer Asp (still not sure if she will run the Sky or Ultra) are also podium contenders.

SkyUltra 50km

The long course gains over 3000m of elevation and as with all the other races visits the summit of Lone Peak.

The men’s race is an interesting one with Luis Alberto Hernando missing UTMB to run here in the USA and gain valuable points for the SWS. Competition for the Spaniard will no doubt come from Italian Franco Colle who has excelled on this course in the past editions.

BREAKING NEWS (31st August)

I have also had conformation that Timothy Olson and Seth Swanson will also toe the line here at the RUT making the fight for the 50km very competitive. Olson is back to his old days with some great form as of late, he placed 10th at Transgrancanaria, 4th at Power of Four and he won Penyagolosa in Spain.

Equally, Swanson is back on a roll with 4th at San Fran 50 in December 2016, 6th at Hong Kong Ultra 100km early 2017 and 2nd at Lavaredo recently.

Matt Shyrock returns after success in the 2015 racenand a recent run at Tromso SkyRace. Pere Aurell Bove is having a great year but just last weekend raced in Switzerland at Matterhorn Ultraks – he will be tired! Australia’s Caine Warburton will be a contender for the podium as will Johan Lanz from Sweden, Russia’s Dmirtry Mityaev, Czech Republic’s Robert Krupicka and the Portugal’s Andre Rodriguez. Peru’s Remigio Huaman always runs strong and he along with Kiril Nikolov from Bulgaria round off the main protagonists for the podium.

The ladies’ race is headed up by Ragna Debats who won last weekend’s Matterhorn Ultraks. Ragna is on a roll at the moment and in great form but two 50km races in 7 days and a long-haul flight will no doubt take its toll.

 

Strong competition will come from Michelle Maier, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Kristina Pattison and Jennifer Asp.

*****

Race summaries and images will be posted on this website after each race.

Images at iancorless.photoshelter.com

FOLLOW ON

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography on Twitter @talkultra

and Instagram @iancorlessphotography