Marco De Gasperi – Vertical Kilometer® Hints ‘n’ Tips

Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and skyrunning. At the age of 16, he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of skyrunning.

The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Marco, now in his 40’s is still respected as one of the best in the world. He recently became a Skyrunner World Series champion and has established FKT’s (fastest known times) on iconic courses such as Monte Rosa where his career began.

Courmayeur – Monte Bianco record

Marco De Gasperi – Sognavo di diventare Skyrunner

Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic-Skiing, but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave his town, climb a peak and return in the same day.

At 12-years old, an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski-mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! With the announcement of a new VK2 circuit HERE in Italy, it is timely that Marco provides some ‘hints and tips.’

Hints and Tips

Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?

My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.

The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?

Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski-Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!

Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?

You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process, have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep climbs, I like to find a short hill that is steep, and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat.

Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?

Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible, but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.

You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?

Core and stability are very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.

In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?

I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30 to 50-minute bracket.

Other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?

You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian, but the records show that they have the fastest times.

Finally, Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?

  1. Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
  2. Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
  3. To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.

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First published January 2014

Tom Evans – Zero to 100

It was incredible. The preparation. The event. The course. The journey.

The process. The outcome.

I knew I always wanted to challenge myself over 100 miles…I just never expected it to be in this incredible race. I was privileged to have qualified to race so to have a Race Crew and Filming Crew follow my journey over the race to an unexpected end was amazing.

I had the immense pleasure to meet Tom at Marathon des Sables, he was a complete unknown who on day-1 of the race, rocked the apple cart and the Moroccan dominance of the race. Myself, the rest of the media and all the runner’s in the race were asking the question, “Who is Tom Evans?”

By the end of the MDS, we had an answer. He placed 3rd and in the process, the ultra-running world welcomed a new star in the sport. He was without a sponsor and still a captain in the army.

Post MDS, we discussed opportunities and how Tom could achieve his goals. I was fortunate that Tom decided to join me on my annual Lanzarote Training Camp. He joined us as a coach and ambassador.

It was easy to see Tom’s ability. Few on the camp could keep up with him and those that could went on to race well at the following Marathon des Sables. In particular, Gemma Game who made the podium.

Following our camp, Tom joined me in Costa Rica for The Coastal Challenge. I was keen to see him race once again over multiple days and this time without being in a self-sufficient manner. I arrange the elite field and I was determined to give Tom and the rest, a hard race. Hayden Hawks, Timothy Olson and Marcus Scotney amongst others toed the line.

Tom arrived to race and it was clear from the off, he had an agenda. He had researched the race, looked at the stages, checked the times and not only did he have ambitions to win the race, but also set a new course record. Hayden and Tom raced head-to-head day-after-day but victory and the CR was never in doubt, Tom dominated.

It was time to set the goals higher and work to higher objectives. Tom represented his country and placed 3rd at the world championships. He dipped his toe in skyrunning races going head-to-head with skyrunning world champion, Jon Albon. But all along, the big goal was CCC part of the UTMB races.

Just prior to CCC, Tom signed a deal with Red Bull. I was fortunate to join Tom at his family home in the UK and document his training.

At CCC, running the perfect race, Tom closed on the lead in the latter stages of the race, forged ahead and won the biggest race of his life. A sponsorship deal with adidas Terrex followed and the dream of Western States started to fall in to place.

Zero to 100 tells the story of Tom’s inaugural 100-mile race, the iconic Western States in the USA. To place in the top-10 here would have been an incredible result, but Tom went on to place 3rd and in the process run under 15-hours. He trained in Ethiopia to prepare and you can listen to the whole process in episode 174 of Talk Ultra listed below.

ZERO TO 100

Process not Outcome

Tom has always discussed his thoughts on training and racing and one element that always runs true is ‘Process not Outcome.’ His ability to focus on the prize, dedicate himself to the task and take running to a higher and higher level is all down to his dedication and professional approach.

In 2020, Tom will target new races, new goals and new experiences. One thing is for sure, after victory at Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand early in the year, Tom is in the perfect place to fulfil his dreams. I would expect no less…!

2020 calendar subject to change based around Covid-19

Over the past couple of years, I have documented Tom’s progress via my podcast, Talk Ultra, you can listen to the episodes below:

Tom Evans and the 2017 Marathon des Sables HERE

Episode 133 Podcast, Marathon des Sables HERE

Episode 152 Podcast, The Coastal Challenge HERE

Episode 174 Podcast, Western States HERE

__________

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New VK2 Circuit Announced

 

Exciting news from the FSA for a new VK2 circuit

The Vertical Kilometer® doubles in distance with a whole new circuit of five events all taking place in Italy, the home of skyrunning! The VK2 circuit is tailor-made for those who love vertical running and high altitude, the new circuit will bring those two elements together and yes, it will take your breath away, both visually and physically!

This new VK2 challenge brings together emblematic races, with three races that exceed an altitude of 3,000m. The circuit has 10,333m of ascent alone, with an average gradient of 30% and sections with over 50%.

The iconic Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc will provide participants the opportunity to test themselves in a truly alpine environment, fast and light, on snowfields with micro-crampons and in climbing sections with a harness and helmet.

The VK2 starts on June 20 from Alagna Valsesia with the AMA VK2 which reaches the altitude of 3,260m at Punta Indren, through pastures, stony ground and snowfields.

On June 28 the Double Vertical K2 at the highest fort in Europe on the summit of Mount Chaberton at 3,130m on the border with France.

On July 5, it’s the K2 Valtellina Extreme Vertical Race where you reach the summit of Cima Pisello at 2,272m.

In the spotlight, Mont Blanc with the UYN K2000 will be on August 1st. Starting in Courmayeur, the steep path climbs under the SkyWay cable car to Punta Helbronner at 3,460m to satisfy athletes and the public with breathtaking views.

The VK2 circuit concludes with the Gran Finale on 20 September with La Direttissima K2000 which starts from Piazza del Duomo in Trento to reach the 2,098m of the summit of Monte Bondone. Here, 25% extra points are up for grabs.

RANKING:

For the final ranking, the three best placements will be considered.  Each race assigns to the first 15 men and women, points to climb from 100 to 10 with 25% more at the Grand Finale. In all races, free entries and accommodation are assigned to the winners of the following race, and the VK2 Trophy is up for grabs, with cash prizes for the winners of the circuit.

For the many lovers of vertical, the VK2 represents a race towards the sky on steep paths, rocks and snowfields to run and climb in pure skyrunning style – all uphill!

CALENDARIO VK2

AMA VK2 – Punta Indren (3.260m) Alagna (VC)

DOPPIO VERTICAL K2 – Monte Chaberton (3.130m) Cesana (TO)

K2 VALTELLINA EXTREME VERTICAL RACE – Cima Pisello (2.272m) Talamona (SO)

UYN K2000 – Punta Helbronner (3.560m) Courmayeur (AO)

LA DIRETTISSIMA K2000* – Monte Bondone (2.098m) Trento (TN)

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The MIRA RAI Initiative

I was fortunate in November 2019 to visit the home of Mira Rai in a remote part of Nepal.

I first met Mira, in 2015 as she rose through the racing ranks in Europe. Her ensuing story of success on the trails and then giving back to her community is the stuff of dreams. From our first encounter, I knew she was special. She was strong, dedicated and had a strength of character based on survival, perfect for long-distance running. She spoke no English, had a huge infectious smile and laughed when we couldn’t communicate, simply saying “Namaste.”

My images and story of the journey is now available in Trail Runner Magazine in the USA. Spread over 5-spreads/ 10-pages.

I met her parents, walked the trails, visited her school, shared meals, fed the animals and shared a magical time in Bhojpur.

As I went through the doorway, the bright and intense outside light gave way to darkness. It took a while for my eyes to adjust. A small window on the left allowed some light to penetrate the darkness and behind a pillar, I could see the outline of a woman, a glowing fire and simmering pan to her right.

Mira Rai’s mother looked up and her smile broke the darkness. Huge white teeth with a gap in the middle provided the warmest welcome. She gestured to the floor and we sat.

“Namaste” was universally offered with hands pushed together, palm against palm as though praying. Three metal plates were laid out and large portions of sticky rice were added, then vegetables and small pieces of chicken. Dahl was added to a small bowl for each person and we enjoyed our first dahl baht.

We were deep in Nepal, isolated in the green verdant lands of Bhojpur, the home of Mira Rai.

Trail Runner Magazine available HERE

The Mira Rai Foundation HERE

VIEW THE FULL IMAGE GALLERY HERE

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the INTERVIEWS Season 1-Episode 2 : KILIAN JORNET – The Matterhorn SOML

Recorded in September 2013, this interview was undertaken in a hotel in Zermatt just days after Kilian set a new FKT for the Matterhorn.

It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks and just four days after Kilian Jornet’s successful attempt on the Matterhorn Summit record attempt from Cervinia. It has been quite a few days for this iconic mountain and although Kilian has excelled on both occasions, we all know, the mountain is still the boss.
Kilian arrives with Emelie Forsberg looking relaxed and fresh after a late breakfast. I congratulate him (and Emelie) once again on topping the podium at the Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks race and ask him how he feels, ‘I am a little tired but feel good. I was certainly tired in the race but I didn’t push too hard. I just did what I needed to do to win the race’.
Our conversation turns the TNF UTMB and we discuss how the race will unfold for the men and women. Kilian and Emelie are animated at the prospect of Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka and the other contenders going head-to-head. Emelie gets excited at the thought of Nuria Picas in the ladies race, it’s her first 100-mile race and of course Emelie knows the Catalan well. We could talk all day but eventually I settle down with Kilian in a quiet corner and we discuss the Matterhorn.

Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).

ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE

Download links will be added in due course.

Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.

ARRAN SKYLINE joins the 2020 Skyrunner UK and Ireland Series

ARRAN SKYLINE brought to you by Ultra Trail Scotland joins the Skyrunner UK & Ireland series for 2020.

The Ultra Trail Scotland team of Andrew Falconer, Noreen Devine and elite mountain runner, Casey Morgan bring an out-and-out pure mountain running experience that harks back to the heritage of skyrunning races in Italy.

READ MORE HERE

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Maga Ultra SkyMarathon 2019 – ISF European Skyrunning Championships

In a spectacular downpour that hit the village of Serina, near Bergamo, Italy, spirits were high as the six medals at stake for the Ultra at the 2019 Skyrunning European Championships were awarded to dominant Spanish podiums today at the Maga Ultra SkyMarathon.

Lauri van Houten, ISF, reports on the action from Maga Ultra SkyMarathon

The strong world-class field pushed the pace, smashing the standing records, with the top 13 men and 6 women finishing under the previous time.

The men’s gold medallist, Italian Cristian Minoggio, closed in 6h37’26” slicing an incredible 1h06’ off the previous record. “I still can’t believe it. Until I have the medal in my hand, I won’t believe it,” commented an ecstatic Minoggio. “It was a splendid race, a course I felt in my heart from the first to the last step. Now all I can do is repeat this performance at Veia!”

The silver went to Spain’s Manuel Merillas, who initially led the race, but was overtaken after the first summit halfway through the race by Minoggio. “I didn’t expect such a technical and demanding course, especially on the downhill. I loved it and congratulate Cristian who took the win.”

View the full Image Gallery HERE

Bronze medallist, Italian Daniel Jung, held a steady fourth throughout until third man, Sweden’s André Jonsson had to pull out after 45 km, leaving Jung in third. “I’m very satisfied,” said Jung. “It was a really tough race and spectacular at the same time with a very high level of competition. I hoped to do well, and a medal is the best way to celebrate!”

The women’s podium, all-Spanish, had Ester Casajuana up front from the gun. “The race was as beautiful as it was hard. I pushed from the first to the last meter and I’m really happy with this medal and also because two other Spaniards, two friends, won the other medals!” She finished in 8h19’11”, almost an hour faster than the standing record. The silver went to Sandra Sevillano and the bronze, Silvia Puigarnau. In second until km 30, last year’s winner, Italian Cecilia Pedroni had to settle for fourth, despite knocking 35’ off her own record time.

The race

Today’s Ultra discipline was disputed at the Maga Ultra SkyMarathon, a tough 50 km course with a gruelling 5,000m vertical climb across four mountains topping out at 2,512m altitude. In true skyrunning style, it features stretches with fixed ropes and exposed ridges. 15 nations participated in the race which counted 149 participants.

Race organiser, Davide Scolari, commented, “We’re very proud to have held the first event of the Skyrunning European Championships. We’d like to thank all the athletes, volunteers and sponsors for their enormous support, and we’re thrilled to have had such an important international field.”

Some 150 athletes representing official teams from 19 countries will fight for the 27 medals at stake in the Championships: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.

Titles and medals

Individual, national and combined titles are at stake awarding 27 medals. Today’s Ultra awarded six individual medals to the top three men and women finishers from Europe, while the national and combined titles must wait for the conclusion of all three disciplines on September 7.

The National titles are based on the best four results scored by Official National Team members in each race, counting at least one per gender. After today’s Ultra, the country ranking has Spain in the lead with 336 points; Italy 318; Czech Republic 246; Portugal 198; Austria 146.

The Combined title is based on the best results of the top three men and women in the Vertical and Sky races. WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the finals where the Vertical and Sky categories will be celebrated on Thursday, September 5 and Saturday, September 7 in Piedmont, Italy at the Veia SkyRace® in a spectacular amphitheater surrounded by the Swiss 4,000m mountains.

View the full Image Gallery HERE

2019 Skyrunning European Championship medallists

Men
Gold: Cristian Minoggio (ITA) – 6h37’26

Silver: Manuel Merillas (ESP) – 6h52’03”

Bronze: Daniel Jung (ITA) – 7h0252″

Women
Gold: Ester Casajuana (ESP) – 8h19’11”

Silver:  Sandra Sevillano (ESP) – 8h33’35”

Bronze: Silvia Puigarnau (ESP) 8h41’11”

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Seven Sisters Skyline 2019 Summary

Kasia Osipowicz and Damian Gielty take victory in the Seven Sisters Skyline, the third race in the 2019 Skyrunner UK & Ireland Series.

Despite a heat wave and glorious sunshine for a week, Ireland was shrouded in mist and light rain for the 2019 edition of the Seven Sisters Skyline. Some did say, ‘It’s Ireland, what did you expect?’ But for the skyrunner’s, the cooler temperatures and light winds were almost certainly preferable to the intense heat of the previous week.

The 50km route is a beast of a race that has very little obvious paths to run along, boggy ground and a great deal of vertical ascent. From the 0700 start, Adam Quinn, Jonny Steede and Damien Gielty dictated the pace opening up a substantial gap by the halfw point from Marek Wojnarowski, Lonan O’Farrell and a string of other close contenders.

The rocky and relentless climb to Muckish providing a challenge for all and it was the end of this section were the runners re-traced and headed via and out and back course, the two significant changes coming at the end with a circumnavigation and climb of Errigal and then a route around the River Clady before finishing in Dunlevy.

Damien Gielty proved too strong for the competition going solo and taking a strong victory in 6:32:56 ahead of Jonny Steede in 6:49:38. Initially it looked like Adam Quinn would place 3rd and after Errigal he held that position. However, he had sustained a serious head wound in a fall and took time out at the final checkpoint before carrying on to place 5th. This opened the doorway for Lonan O’Farrell who rounded the podium in 7:12:04.

For the women, Kasia Osipowicz was head and shoulders ahead of the the other women running the race solo from the start to the finish. Her time 8:42:47 providing her with victory and now the overall female lead in the 2019 Skyrunner UK & Ireland Series. Kasia has shown great consistency placing 2nd in the previous two races in the calendar and now a victory. Her points tally is 260.

Rachael Nolan and Bernadette O’Kane placed 2nd and 3rd, both producing solid and consistent runs to finish in 9:06:51 and 9:17:29.

Post-race, much of the comment was about the toughness and severity of the course. “I loved this course, it suited me with all the wet and boggy terrain,” said Kasia. “The mist kind of worked in my favour, you can’t see what is coming so you put your head down and get on with it. I loved the final climb up to Errigal, it was magical!”

IMAGE GALLERY HERE

The next race on the calendar is Snowdon Skyline in September and importantly, the male and female winners will not only get valuable points for the Skyrunner UK & Ireland Series but they will also be granted entry in the SkyMasters which will take place in Limone, Italy towards the end of October.

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Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso 2019 Summary

With 10-peaks to ascend and descend over a 55km course and 4141m of vertical gain, the Royal Gran Paradiso Ultra SkyMarathon is not an easy race, not by any stretch of the imagination. But add more snow, in comparison to the 2017 edition, searing heat and intense competition, it was fair to say that every runner who toed the line in the 9th race of the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series knew they had been in a tough edition of the race.

Starting at 0630, Andre Jonsson pushed the early pace ahead of Pere Aurell, Gautier Airiau,  Ruy Ueda, Cristian Minoggio, Hannes Hamberger, Dani Jung, Andy SymondsBenat Marmisolle and more. With the second peak coming at around 12km with just over 2-hours elapsed on the clock, they were all separated by minutes, each matching each others moves.

By contrast, in the women’s race, Myriam Guillot Boisset took a surprise strong lead ahead of pre-race favourite, Ragna Debats with Antoniya Grigorova chasing.

The summit of Colle della Porta at 3002m saw some key changes with the two early powerhouses of Andre and Pere showing signs of fatigue. It was Gautier Airiau who pushed the pace in the snow looking fast and impressive.

Now, we were seeing Cristian Minoggio and Ruy Ueda show their form as they worked through the field along with Hannes Hamberger, Andy Symonds and Dani Jung.

Myriam still led the women’s race but Ragna looked in control keeping her pace consistent, behind, Antoniya Grigorova chased followed by a group of four that included Oihana Azkorbebeitia and Silvia Puigarnau.

As the race moved into the latter third, Cristian Minoggio had taken the lead with Ruy, Gautier and Hannes hunting him down. Unfortunately Andre and Pere were now struggling, the duo both having bad days, but they did not give in, they both battled to the finish.

Ragna had now taken the lead for the women and the writing was on the wall, but, there was still a long way to go and the heat was getting hotter and hotter.

The 55km course wound through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title. After starting at a lake at an altitude of 2000m at 0630am, the participants had traversed five passes with the magnificent Gran Parasido mountain providing a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraine, rocks, streams and snowfields provided an ultimate extreme challenge but the end finally came to a conclusion next to the lake in Ceresole Reale.

Cristian Minoggio held off a late surge by Gautier Airiau, the duo crossing the line in 6:50:04 and 6:51:01 respectively.

Ruy Ueda completed the podium in 6:56:49 with Hannes Hamberger and Andy Symonds having a late surge to place 5th.

Ragna Debats flew over the course and in the process set a new course record, 7:52:40. Myriam Guillot Boisset most certainly was the courageous runner of the day having battle alone up front for so long, she obviously payed the price in the latter stage but her second place was well earned in 8:14:53. Third place went to Oihana Azkorbebeitia in 8:45:35 with Antoniya Grigorova and Silvia Puigarnau placing 4th and 5th.

FULL IMAGE GALLERY WILL BE LOADED HERE

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Monte Rosa Skymarathon 2019 AMA – Race Summary and Images

What a difference a day makes! The 2019 race should have taken place on Saturday, however, weather conditions through the Friday night made the high ground above 3000m dangerous and therefore the race was postponed to Sunday. The sister event, the AMA VK2 did take place – HERE.

Race departure on Sunday was brought forward to 0530 from the scheduled 0600 start, a loop of the village for the 400 runners from 25 countries provided a warm up before they were released onto the mountain. In essence, Monte Rosa SkyMarathon is a simple race. Start in Alagna, run to the summit of Monte Rosa and then return as fast as possible. With a positive incline of 3500m and a distance of 35km for the round trip, this event is extreme.

Runners run in teams of two and from a certain point on the course (weather and conditions dependent) they must rope together and use crampons. At key sections, they must also attach to fixed ropes using a via ferratta harness.

The early slopes are simple trail and then as one moves up the mountain, rocks and ridges giveaway to snow and ice. This year, due to Friday’s inclement weather, approximately 30-50cm of fresh snow had covered the upper sections making running and hiking considerably harder. Another factor to consider, the great weather on Sunday of ‘less cloud and more sky,’ brought with it plenty of sun.

As the day progressed, this sun heated the snow making for a very soft and tricky descent from the summit which was constantly monitored by the races’ mountain safety. Despite the sun, temperature at the summit was -5, with the strong wind, this felt like -20. It was cold.

The day was truly incredible, from the summit and throughout the course, the views were magnificent. In particular, the Matterhorn clearly visible.

Founded on the slopes of Monte Rosa in 1992 by Marino Giacometti, skyrunning is the epitome of moving fast and light in the mountains, Monte Rosa SkyMarathon is the flagship.

Marino Giacometti, founder of skyrunning also made the summit on race day – ‘for fun!’

Combining mountaineering, running and skimo, this race is alpinism without the clutter and as such, the assembled runners come from all three backgrounds.

In 2018, William Boffelli and Franco Colle blazed a trail up and down the mountain and until four day’s before the race, we were once again expecting the duo to lead from the front. However, Franco Colle had to withdraw from injury. This left William searching for a partner. Luckily, Jakob Herrmann stepped in – an experienced ski mountaineer who has partnered Kilian Jornet. It was a big ask of Herrmann, however, he stepped up to the mark and in 2018 style the duo were the first to the summit with a lead of 25- minutes ahead of Beccari and Felicetti. Known for strong uphills, Herrmann was tested on the descent as Boffelli set a blistering pace. ‘He is not used to running descents…’ Boffelli said, ‘…but he gave his all to keep up.’ Keep up he did. The team arrived back in Alagna in 4:51:58 some way of last years time and the fastest time recorded, however, in the conditions it was quite remarkable.

Beccari and Felicetti placed second ahead of Carrara and Montani, 5:10:41 and 5:30:02 the respective times.

The women’s race looked set to be dominated by Giuditta Turini and Laura Besseghini. The duo led from the start and were first to the summit. On the descent they were running so well and then Besseghini started to have problems, most likely from fatigue and the altitude. Unfortunately she took a fall and needed to be taken from the course.

This opened the door for Tomasiak and Solinska from Poland. They arrived at the finish ecstatic thinking they had placed second, only to be crowned champions. Just 16-seconds later, Witowska and Januszyk arrived for second. Quinteros and Campos completed the podium, the times for the top three were 6:38:14, 6:38:30 and 7:15:59.

It may have taken 25-years for skyrunning to return home to Alagna, but one thing is for sure, the AMA (Alagna – Monte Rosa – Alagna) is here to stay. In just two editions, it has become ‘the’ race to do like the iconic ‘Kima!’

While experience of the mountain may be required to participate, the dream to journey to a summit and back in less than one day is now well and truly alive. And if the summit is a step too far in 2020, there is always the AMA VK2 to whet the appetite.

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