Mont Blanc Marathon summary

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130911_aThe Skyrunning Mont Blanc Marathon, part of the Skyrunner®  World Series weekend has really been a truly incredible experience. Mont Blanc, location of the 2014 Skyrunning World Champuionships, the 2013 event  was so much more than a test run for next year!

The VK on Friday was an exhibition of exploding lungs and legs full of lactic acid as 400 runners climbed 1000 vertical meters over a 3.8km course – follow HERE

Today however, Sunday, was the classic marathon with a stellar field toeing the line to tackle a tough but fast course over the Mont Blanc mountain range. Wet and misty weather from Saturday cleared to one of the most glorious days in the mountains I have had the pleasure to witness.

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Course records fall at the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon

If you have never seen the Mont Blanc mountain range, a photo may give an impression but the awe inspiring majesty of these enormous beasts is a sight to behold and remember. They are truly incredible.

At 0700 two thousand runners departed from the square in Chamonix. The early pace was relentless over the first 10km’s due to relatively flat and very runnable terrain.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130840A lead group of men sped past at Argentiere pushing the pace hard. As expected, the main protagonists of the day were present; Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi, Luis Alberto Hernando, Florian Reichert, Nicola Golinelli, Didier Zago, Alex Nichols, Tofol Castanyer and Salomon Team Manager, Greg Vollet amongst other.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140228First lady was Stevie Kremer. Pushing the pace hard very early on she shouted as she passed, “they are not far behind”. As it happened, at this early stage in the race she already had a ninety second lead over Emelie Forsberg.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040688On the trails the terrain changed and started to undulate. Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi along with Luis Alberto Hernando and Nicola Golinelli started to pull away from the rest of the filed. Stevie Kremer extended her lead from ninety second to three minutes and this pattern continued.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040722At the Col de Posettes the race was blown apart with Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasperi pushing each other stride-for-stride. Four minutes later Luis Alberto Hernando arrived. Nicola Golinelli was pursued by team mate Didier Zago and then we had Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert. The pace was relentless.

Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert

Alex Nicholls and Florian Reichert

Stevie Kremer flew down the descent and I waited… three, four, five, eight, ten and then Emelie came in sight… she was ten minutes and thirty seconds behind Stevie. Quite incredible! Emelie did say post race that she was having stomach issues, “I take nothing away from Stevie’s incredible performance, but today I just couldn’t push, I had no additional energy”.

Stevie Kremer on the Col de Posettes

Stevie Kremer on the Col de Posettes

From Tre les Champ at 1363m and approximately 32km into the course, the final 10km was all uphill! A relentless climb was broken with some relief just after Flegere before the final push  to the summit finish at Plangraz, 2016m.

First around the bend was Kilian Jornet. Waving to the crowds he approached the line, turned, gave his usual one arm wave and then bent double as he tried to recover from the effort, 3h30’41 a new course record!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140305Marco De Gasperi was second just over a minute later. the two sparring partners had pushed each other to the line and in the process had once again provided an incredible racing spectacle that we can only look upon in disbelief.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140332Luis Alberto Hernando completed the podium. Post race he expressed his thoughts, “I have been training for longer races and I found the early relentless pace difficult to keep up with. However, from half way I improved and felt good. Maybe I am a little tired?”.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140380Stevie Kremer absolutely dominated the ladies race and blew the old course record off the scale by some twenty five minutes, her time of 4h03’16 placed her within the top 20! As she approached the line she could finally relax and that incredible smile appeared on her face. It was a stunning performance and one that many of us will never forget.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140635Emelie Forsberg arrived twenty two minutes later, despite her issues during the race she smiled and waved to the crowds. Emelie in her meteoric rise in the sport has become a firm crowd favorite and the cheers from all who watched acknowledged this.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140709Celine Lafaye completed the podium closely followed by Silvia Serafini. The Mont Blanc Marathon really was a showcase event. The anticipation for the 2014 World Skyrunning Championships will now start in earnest, with the inclusion of an 80km event, the race weekend will provide participants the option to race over the three classic Skyrunning disciplines:

  • VK
  • Sky
  • Ultra

Notable mentions must go to the incredible performances from the inov-8 International Skyrunning Team and Arc’teryx, both placed runners in the top ten.

Attention now turns to the Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarantaise and the European Championships in July – Information HERE

Links:

  • Skyrunning HERE
  • Marathon Mont Blanc HERE

IMAGES FROM THE RACE AVAILABLE HERE

Results

1° Kilian Jornet 3h30’41 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Marco De Gasperi 3h31’42 –
3° Luis-Alberto Hernando-Alzaga 3h36’14

1° Stevie Kremer 4h03’16 NEW COURSE RECORD
2° Emelie Forsberg 4h25’10
3° Céline Lafaye 4h35

Mont Blanc Marathon Preview

affiche marathon 2012 hte def avec logo copie

The Race:

The Mont Blanc Marathon needs no introduction! Starting from the center of Chamonix (1035m) the race route over the classic marathon distance has has a positive vertical gain of 2511 meters and an elevation loss of 1490meters. 

The route climbs steadily towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of “les Bois” and Lavancher to reach Argentière at 1250m. Following a trail towards Le Planet the route traverses to the Balcon Nord before heading down towards Montroc. On leaving Montroc village runners take the trail towards Tré le Champ and go towards Col des Montets.

Crossing the “Col des Montets” at 1461m in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve runners take the old stage-coach route along the “chemin des Diligences”, the old stage-coach route to arrive at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine at 1260 m.

Climbing to the Col des Possettes at 1997m via a trail leaving from the Plan de l’envers progression is made onwards to the highest point of the course at the Aiguilles des Possettes (2201m). The climb and exhaustion is worth it… each participant is rewarded by a breathtaking panorama of the Mont Blanc range.

Facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ and the Mont Blanc range, the route Following the ridgeline of the ‘aiguillette’ and facing the ‘Aiguille Verte’ it is now time to descend in the direction of Tré le Champ.

A pretty trail toward le Tour, runners cross through a village, and then the Tour glacier. Taking a north-facing trail towards Montroc, cross through hamlets of the Frasserands and Tré le Champ. Now at the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, opposite the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbs up towards la Flégère (1875 m). Cross the magnificent Charlanon Comb (1812m) and then the gradient increases until just before the arrival at Planpraz at 2050 m giving one of the most beautiful views of the Mont-Blanc.

The race is done!

Results 2012:

Ladies:

2012: Maude Mathys (SUI) 4h28’17’’

Mens:

2012: Kilian Jornet (ESP) 3h38’24’’

Key players in the 2013 race

Without doubt the 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon has quality and depth in abundance in both the ladies and men’s fields. The second race in the Skyrunning World Series, we now have a clear indication of who is in form and who is coming in to form.  Stand out names are Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. After topping the podium at Transvulcania La Palma and Zegama-Aizkorri, will the Salomon duo remain on the top step when the race is completed on Sunday? 

Men:

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Kilian JornetSalomon Santiveri, without doubt is the out-and-out favorite for the race. Last years winner is in form and firing on all cylinders, it is his home playground and he knows the route like the back of his hand. Post his win at Zegama-Aizkorri were he had a head-to-head battle with Luis Alberto Hernando, Kilian he has done some shorter races and he has won all of them.

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Luis Alberto Hernando – Adidas is without doubt a great addition to the race. His second place at Transvulcania La Palma, followed up with a second place (just 12 seconds) behind Kilian Jornet at Zegama-Aizkorri fmeans that we have a battle on our hands! A couple of weekends ago he ran Haria Extreme and produced a strong and convincing performace. Without doubt a potential winner for the race.

Copyright iancorless.com

Copyright iancorless.com

Tofol CastanyerSalomon Santiveri, was forced to miss Zegama-Aizkorri due to injury so his form may not be 100%, however, he loves the mountains and he knows how to race.

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Marco De GasperiScott, despite dropping at half way at Zegama was showing some fine form. He was head-to-head with Kilian and pushing him. He has had some injury issues (hence the drop at Zegama) but he seems to be well on his way to a full recovery and is coming back strong. Kilian and Marco have 100% respect for each other and love to push each other to the line… we may very well see a repeat battle of the Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian battle at Zegama, re run over the course in Mont Blanc.

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Florian Reichert – Arc’teryx/ Inov-8, is new to Skyrunning but he has speed! Despite the odds, he pulled out a great first race at Zegama-Aizkorri and not only survived but also performed exceptionally well. With his duck over he will come to Mont Blanc with renewed confidence. Without doubt he will have worked on improving his technical running ability and descending. If he can add his natural speed to improved technique, he may well be one to watch!

Nicola GolinelliArc’teryx, always performs well in the mountains and Skyrunning events. He is the 2010 combined events champion. He will bring mountain skill and speed to the Mont Blanc course.

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Ben BardsleyInov-8, had a troubled race at Zegama-Aizkorri with a calf strain. At this moment in time we are unsure of his rehabilitation but his skills on the fells and regular trips and training in Chamonix will mean that if fit, he will be one-to-watch.

Brendan DaviesInov-8, has had an incredible 2013 with top placing’s at the super competitive Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand, a top five at UTMF 100 in Japan and then a win and new CR at TNF100 in Australia. He is fired up and his running is re-invigorated with sponsorship from the Inov-8 International Team. Fast over the marathon and 100km distance, hos only downfall at Mont Blanc may well be his ability over tough and technical terrain. He has all the ability to be top three and without doubt, he will not be aiming for anything else.

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Alex NicholsInov-8, scored a top 5 at the Sky Games in 2012, his first outing in a Skyrunning event. He said, “It was a learning curve’. He recently came over to Zegama-Aizkorri to race but pulled a muscle early in the race forcing him to drop. With Pike Peak on his doorstep in the US he has plenty of opportunity to practice ascending and descending, combined with natural speed he will be a force at the front of the race.

Scott DunlapInov-8, has already had a busy start to 2013, he PR’d at Boston Marathon with 2:44:35 and most recently he has run Silver State 50m in sub 10 hours. Scott has the potential for a good race but I don’t see him in contention at the front of the race.

Nicolas PianetNew Balance, winner of the race in 2010 and 2011 and fourth last year will have some stiff competition this year and will need to provide everything within himself to fight such tough competition.

Marc PinsachFEEC, just recently was joint first place at the 35kmVolta Cerdanya Ultrafons with no other than kilian Jornet. Marc, like Kilian, is a ski mountaineer and they have often competed together at the world and European championships. Ranked 8th in the World in 2010 in the ‘team’ race, 4th in the ‘world relay’ in 2011 and in 2012 he was 5th in the ‘European championship team’ event; all with Kilian as his partner. He has incredible ability and a true ‘Alpinist’ approach.

The depth and quality of the Mont Blanc Marathon field means that it is just not possible to review everyone, however, here is a list of other main contenders who may well shine in the Alps.

Male contenders:

Fabio Bazzana – Crazy Idea, Sota Ogawa – Salomon, Fabio Tonolo – Salomon Agisko, Giulio Ornati – Salomon Agisko, Daniele Cappelletti – Valetudo Skyrunning, Gyorgy Szabolics Istavans – Valetudo Skyrunning, Ryan Bak – Scott, Didier Zago – Arc’teryx, Marc Caros – FEEC, Just Sociats Asensio – FEEC, Jose Lozano Garcia – FEEC, Jordi Bes Ginesta – FEEC, Joan Valls Gomez – FEEC, Oscar Csal Mir – FEEC, Roberto Sancho Martinez – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Paloma Lobera Grau – Diedre-Matxacuca, Daniel Cazalla Lorite – Diedre-Matxacuca, Francesc Marti Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Eugenia Moro Bertomeu – Diedre-Matxacuca, Josep Cuadrat Besa – Diedre-Matxacuca, Artem Rostovtsev – Russian Skyrunning.

Ladies:

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Emelie Forsberg – Salomon, come to Mont Blanc as the outright favorite. In just one year Emelie has become a star of mountain running. Her 2012 season progressed and progressed and culminated with a stunning win at San Francisco 50. She started her 2013 season with win at Transgrancanaria running the marathon. A dominant performance at Transvulcania La Palma saw her not only stand victorious on top of the podium but she only missed Anna Frosts CR by minutes. Just a few weeks ago she again showed her form with a win at Zegama-Aizkorri. She will take some beating at Mont Blanc! However, she will not have an easy race. The ladies race is stacked.

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Stevie Kremer – Salomon Agisko, had her first outing in a Skyrunning event Zegama-Aizkorri and learnt many things… probably the most important thing is that she can believe in herself and that she really does have the ability to perform at the highest level against the best in the world. She took the race to the ladies at Zegama and I am 100% sure that we will see a repeat performance in the Alps. Definite podium place and without doubt she has all the ability required to stand on top of it.

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Silvia Serafini – Salomon Agisko, another star in the making! Silvia comes from a road background but she has adapted to the trails and mountain running exceptionally well. Like her teammate Stevie Kremer, she has every possibility to be on the podium. At Zegama-Aizkorri was having an incredible race running in the top four, unfortunately she twisted an ankle in the latter stages and although she finished she had dropped several places (6th) and was in pain. Providing she has no knock on effects Silvia will perform at the highest level and without doubt has the potential to be on the podium or top five.

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Oihana Kortazar – Salomon Santiveri, 2012 winner of Zegama-Aizkorri excels in the high mountains, particularly when the course is tough and technical. Her recent form is in question as she dropped at Zegama, however, you can never rule her out. She will want to prove something at Mont Blanc and put the record straight.

Shona Stephenson – Inov-8, is travelling from Australia as part of the Inov-8 International Skyrunning Team. She has had quite an incredible start to 2013 with impressive runs and results over a variety of distances and terrain. Shona was second at UTMF 100 in Japan, third at TNF100 in Australia and now Europe and the high mountains. Without doubt she has ability but this Mont Blanc course may well be a little too short and technical for her. I can’t help but think she will need some time in Europe not only to adapt to the pace but the terrain for Skyrunning mountain events.

Other lady contenders:

Stephanie Jiminez – Salomon Agisko, Natalie White – Inov-8, Sarah Ridgeway – Inov-8, Anna Lupton – Inov-8, and Tanya Pacheco.

One thing is for sure; Chamonix and Mont Blanc will see an incredible weekend of racing from June 28th to July 1st. Many participants in the marathon will also toe the line for the ‘VK’ on Friday. A lung-busting ascent from the center of Chamonix straight up to a measured 1000 m height gain over a course 3.5km long. Great to watch, painful to participate in.

Weekend Schedule:

Friday, June 28, 2013

– Mont Blanc Vertical KM, 400 places, starting from 4:00pm in the center of Chamonix.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

– Mont Blanc Cross, 1500 places, starting at 8:30am on the landing paragliders.

– Mont Blanc 10km, 800 places, starting at 9:00am on the landing paragliders.

– Mont Blanc Mini Cross, from 800m to 3km starting from 11:00am on the landing paragliders.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

– Mont Blanc Marathon, 2000 places, starting at 7:00am in the center of Chamonix.

Stats:

  • Limited to 2,000 competitors
  • Distance: 42.195 km / 26.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,511m Elevation loss: 1,490m
  • Start: 1,035m. Finish 2,016m
  • Max altitude: 2,201m (Aiguilles des Possettes)
  • 6 aid stations
  • 9h time limit

Content from Skyrunning.com re VK and  Mont Blanc 80k:

The Mont-Blanc Marathon which sold out the 2,000 places many months ago, will be preceded by the KM Vertical on June 28th where 400 runners  will line up for a lung-busting 1,000 metres skywards over the short 3.5 km course.  Heading the start-list are Vertical world champions Urban Zemmer (La Sportiva) and Laura Orgué (Salomon).

Urban will be challenged not only by Kilian, last year’s winner in 36’07”, but current Vertical ranking leader, Marco Facchinelli (La Sportiva) and team mates Marco Moletto and Nadir Maguet; but also Nicola Golinelli and Florian Reichert, (Arc’teryx); Ben Bardsley, Brendan Davies, Robbie Simpson (inov-8); Matheo Jacquemoud (Crazy Idea); Oscar Casal and Joan Valls (FAM); Jose Lozano (FEEC) and Artem Rostovtsev (Russian Skyrunning) in the men’s field.

Vertical specialist Laura Orgué (Salomon) will face tough competition from team mates Emelie Forsberg, Oihana Kortazar and Anna Frost as well as last year’s race winner Antonella Confortola; Shona Stephenson, Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx);  Silvia Leal and Alba Xandri (FEEC).

Among the events over the weekend organised by the Club des Sports Chamonix, is the new Mont-Blanc 80K on June 28, the first time a race has been held on this course, although shortened due to snow on the course.  The race will represent a “test run” for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships where the three events will be featured.

LINKS:

Skyrunning – HERE 

Mont Blanc Marathon HERE

Episode 36 – Ultrapedestrian Ras, Kremer, Calitz, Davies, Cardelli, Browy

Ep36

Episode 36 of Talk Ultra – Stevie Kremer and AJ Calitz talk to us from Zegama-Aizkorri. We speak to Brendan Davies and Beth Cardelli respective winners from TNF100 in Australia. An inspirational 15 minutes of fame with Eric Browy, Talk Training is about Knees with Mitch from StrideUK. Our interview is with UltraPedestrian Ras. Speedgoat (Karl Meltzer) is back, we have a blog, the news and of course, the up and coming races.

Show Notes:

00:00:45 Start
00:16:30 News with Speedgoat
00:24:50 AJ Calitz talks to Ian after his run at Zegama-Aikorri.

Trail runner Andre ‘AJ’ Calitz is a record-setting South African trail runner. Over the past two years he has won numerous local races, frequently setting new records on challenging courses. He is sponsored by the outdoor brand K-Way. In just the past six months Calitz ascended Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge a record 11 times between sunrise and sunset to win the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge. He then won the two-day Grootvadersbosch Trail Run, where he set new records on both days. At the end of August, running in wind and rain, Calitz won the 80-kilometre Hi-Tec Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (PUFfeR) and set a new record time of six hours, 59 minutes and 36 seconds, becoming the first runner to set a sub-7 hour time on the original, full-distance route. In 2012 Calitz placed second at The Otter, a 42-kilometre trail run on the iconic Otter Hiking Trail. Even more impressive was that Andre, together with race winner Iain Don-Wauchope, became the first runners to break the 4h30 barrier. Both runners broke the course record set last year by Ryan Sandes. Although Calitz is a relative newcomer to trail running, his pedigree is impressive. He has been a multiple All Africa Triathlon Champion, South African Duathlon and Triathlon Champion and South African Cycling Champion. He also holds silver medals for Two Oceans and Comrades finishes.

00:46:00 Back to News
00:50:20 Stevie Kremer talk to Ian after a stunning third place Zegama-Aizkorri.
Stevie Kremer, burst on the U.S. trail running scene  with a few notable races in Colorado. She moved to Italy in 2012 and performed beyond expectations at Sierre-Zinal with an incredible second place. Stevie finished seventh in the World Mountain Running Championships 8.8K uphill race on Sept. 2 in Temu-Ponte di Legno, Italy, and then won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge at the 42.2K Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland the following weekend.
01:04:35 News
01:07:25 Brendan Davies not only won the TNF 100 in Australia but he broke Kilian Jornet’s two year old course record.
I live in the Blue Mountains and work in Western Sydney. In my day job, I am a Special Education school teacher; kids call me Mr D.  I’ve been a school teacher for over 10 years and love it. It has been both a very challenging and rewarding career thus far. But I am a runner, always have been and always will be. I have recently been selected on the International Inov-8 team – a dream come true which will take me wider and further than I ever thought, to some of the most spectacular places on Earth like Mt Fuji and Mt Blanc. Another great honour was to be named by my ultra running peers and the governing body of ultra running in Australia – AURA, as the 2012 Australian Ultra Runner of the Year.
01:20:06 Beth Cardelli topped the podium in the ladies race at TNF100.
I really only started running after being involved with my husbands 2007 Sydney Trailwakler Team. We had a pretty slow time and I knew I could do the distance a lot faster. Since then I have focused on becoming a better runner. HERE
01:32:50 Back to News
01:43:50 BlogRob Krar on iRunFar HERE
01:48:40 Talk Training with Mitch from Stride UK
02:12:55 Interview with Ultrapedestrian Ras – website HERE
I expound my ideas, experiences, philosophies and half-assed schemes simply as documentation of the immense blessing that is my life. I am uneducated and underemployed, and in many ways not what is typically considered a productive member of society, and my words should be understood within this context.
02:51:55 Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat
02:59:00 15 Min of Fame with Eric Browy

After throwing away a scholarship and getting kicked out of college for partying too much, my guest enlisted in the Army in June of 2002. As soon as he arrived at his unit, he was deployed to Iraq in the beginning of 2003, here he truly learned the meaning of what a Soldier was and more than anything that just because someone was not his blood they could be his brother. His brother had been killed when he was younger and he had gone through life not expecting to every have that relationship with anyone again. He found that in the Army. After returning home, with less people than we departed with he struggled while being back at Ft. Hood, He didn’t admit that he had any problems, It was a difficult thing for him to handle all of the loss that had happened while being deployed so he just “soldiered on” and self-medicated himself with alcohol and partying in my non-working hours. In 2005 he was deployed again and he was injured in March  2006. Team RWB HERE
03:23:25 Races
03:27:00 Close
03:27:40
Links:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/Episode_36_UltrapedestrianRas_TNF100_Zegama_Eric_Browy.mp3

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Zegama Race Summary

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

It was close… oh so close! Seconds separated Kilian Jornet and Luis Alberto Hernando at the 2013 Zegama-Aizkorri. Post race in a chat with Kilian, we discussed the race and he was extremely satisfied to be pushed so hard in the latter stages of the race.

“I had relaxed and was running comfortably and then suddenly Luis appeared” Kilian said, “I had a race on my hands, we pushed each other very hard and it was only in the final kilometre that I surged and pulled away”.

Luis Alberto Hernando is the 2011 World Champion and is clearly in great form at the moment. Only a couple of weeks ago he participated in his first ultra, Transvulcania La Palma, and here he placed second again behind Kilian.

Kilian and Marco, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Kilian and Marco, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Marco De Gasperi, after some deliberation (ankle injury) toed the line and led the race to the 21 km check point with his sparring partner, Kilian Jornet. Kilian and Marco love to race each other and we have witnessed some tremendous battles over the years. However, Zegama would not see a repeat, Marco pulled out to ensure that he did not stress his injury any farther.

Luis Alberto Hernando worked his way through the field and pursued Kilian and finally caught him. What followed was a tremendous game of cat and mouse as the two pushed each other to the limit on the long and final descent.

Kilian pulled away in the final moments of the race to miss Rob Jebb’s 2005 course record by just 20 seconds, his finishing time 3:54:38. Luis Alberto Hernando finished just seconds later and Tadei Pivk produced a stunning run to finish third in 3:59:07.

It was really close.... Zegama 2013

It was really close…. Zegama 2013

The ladies race had all the makings of a classic. Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar, Silvia Serafini and Stevie Kremer would do battle on this classic mountain course.

World long course mountain running champion, Stevie Kremer pushed hard from the start and lead the race until over halfway but Emelie Forsberg paced herself extremely well. She took over the lead and then slowly pulled away to ultimately dominate the race for a stunning win in 4:48:12.

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

The first half of the race was fast and furious, but as time and distance progressed experience came through. In particular, Nuria Picas, the 2012 Skyrunner Ultra champion and fresh from her second place at Transvulcaniawho was out of the top five in the first half of the race. She moved through the field, hunted runners down and then passed Stevie Kremer on the descent to be place second.

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer (pre race interview here) running her first SkyMarathon performed superbly and without doubt is a star of the future. She openly said, “I need to work on my descending, it is what let me down today”.

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

As Nuria waved to the crowd she almost lost second place as Stevie burst around the corner of the finishing straight. The time gap shows how close it was at the finish, 4:49:55 for Nuria and 4:49:58 for Stevie. Without doubt we will be seeing Stevie on podium again throughout the 2013 calendar.

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A notable mention must also go to Silvia Serafini (pre race interview here). Silvia was having a stunning race and was in third place for much of the race, but she twisted her ankle on the final descent. She finally finished within the top ten but the frustration of what might have been was clear to see on her face and she fell to the floor after crossing the finish line.

Silvia Serafini copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini copyright Ian Corless

Zegama-Aizkorri is renowned for the severity of the course, the ability of the runners and the passion of the supporters. It’s a pleasure and a honour to witness the action unfold and the atmosphere is akin to a stage of the Tour de France.

The crowds and the passion, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

The crowds and the passion, Zegama 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Skyrunning is not just about fast ascents, but even faster descents – a technique that distinguishes the sport.  Many strong runners new to the sport, like Germany’s Florian Reichert, Japan’s Toru Miyahara and South African A J Caltiz, who excelled on the uphill, will be honing their skills on the downhill for the next Sky Series challenge in Chamonix on June 30 with the Mont-Blanc Marathon.

  • A full set of race images are available HERE
  • Images from the race briefing HERE
Kilan Jornet and Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Kilan Jornet and Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Race results

Men

1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon Santiveri) – 3h54’38”

2. Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) – 3h54’50”

3. Tadei Pivk (Crazy Idea) – 3h58’07”

Women

1.  Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) –  4h48’12”

2.  Nuria Picas (FEEC) – 4h49’55”

3.  Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 4h49’58”

Video Highlight:

Zegama – A race in images

An absolutely incredible day on the trails and mountains of Zegama. Congratulations to Emelie & Kilian. Stunning!

Zegama Briefing

Athletes assembled for the 2013 Zegama briefing. We have been  guaranteed good weather!

Zegama – pre race play on the trails

An easy hour or so on the very muddy trails on the final descent  at Zegama. With Alex Nichols, Dave James, Silvia Serafini, Stevie Kremer and Anthony Bethell.

Stevie Kremer – Zegama pre race interview

Stevie Kremer - copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer – copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer burst  onto the European running scene with a stunning second place at Sierre-Zinal in 2012. She followed this with a win at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships at Interlaken later that year.

Stevie is extremely modest and humble, she says that she shouldn’t really be a World champion… I don’t agree. She has immense talent. She most certainly has the potential to win at Zegama but it is her first big race of the year and her first big race against some serious competition. She may well use this to ease into 2013 and find her feet. Rest assured, once she has found them she will be a force to be reckoned with.

YouTube – HERE

Links:

  • Zegama-Aizkorri website – HERE
  • Skyrunning – HERE
  • Salomon Running – HERE
  • Salomon Agisko – HERE

Zegama – Aizkorri 2013 Preview

Zegama - Aizkorri

Zegama – Aizkorri needs no introduction to those who follow Skyrunning. It is a course that has created many a story over the years.

Located in a natural park, Aizkorri-Aratz, it brings respect and excitement to every mountain runner that toes the line.

Zegama Map iancorless.com

In July 2002, the Village Council decided to revitalise and bring life to the local area, in order to achieve these objectives the Zegama-Aizkorri Mountain Marathon Association was created. Today, the AIA-renovated Alpine Marathon has a reputation in the world as one of the world’s most prestigious mountain marathons.

Part of the Skyrunner World Series it is the ultimate mountain marathon test. In 2008 the European Championships were hold on this very course. When Kilian Jornet was asked about Zegama, he quite simply said:

“Zegama? It’s Zegama!”

Zegama Profile

In other words, nothing more needs to be said. It has a reputation that demands respect from the higher echelons of the mountain running world.

2012 Summary

Zegama followed just 7 days after Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 and therefore we almost had a re run of the La Palma race. Of course, conditions were a little different. The dry heat of La Palma was replaced by torrential rain, mud, cold and the occasional snow blizzard.

The American contingent who had raced well on La Isla Bonita transferred en-mass to mainland Spain with a couple of additions. Nick Clark representing Pearl Izumi and the ‘hot tip’, Max King. Max had everything in is his favour; speed and a mountain pedigree.

As it happened, the American contingent had a lesson on European mountain running and never got in contention. For many of them they could hardly stand up in the tough conditions and as Nick Clark crossed the line he exclaimed

“Now THAT is a mountain race!”.

It was a shock to the system. Dakota Jones victorious just a week earlier had taken the race easy, a pre-race plan as he had nothing to prove after topping the podium at Transvulcania. In comparison, Kilian Jornet had something to prove and now had some running in his legs… midway through the race he applied the pressure and once again proved that he is the king of the mountains.

In the ladies race Oihana Kortazar showed her dominance over this Sky distance and we started to get a glimpse of a star in the making, Emelie Forsberg. Nuria Picas also set her stall out for a year-long process of podium places over all distances, from marathon to ultra. Anna Frost tired after a dominating Transvulcania performance decided not to race at Zegama and keep some powder dry for another day.

2013

* PLEASE LOOK FOR UPDATES posted 26th April marked in BLUE

The 2013 race is going to see some great representation from top ranking teams: Salomon, New Balance, Adidas, La Sportiva, Arc’teryx, Valetudo Skyrunning, Inov-8 and Scott.

Zegama this year is two weeks after Transvulcania and although that would work well for additional recovery, it doesn’t necessarily work well for travel budgets, so, we wont have Sage Canaday, Timothy Olson, Anton Krupicka, Joe Grant and the ‘other names’ joining the Zegama party.

The Mens Race

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet will be a dominating force at Transvulcania La Palma and I see him on top of the podium, two weeks recovery is a life-time for Kilian and after his dominating performance in 2013 I see him replicating the win at Zegama. He has just flown around the Transvulcania La Palma course and set a new course record. Respect!

His sparing partner, Marco De Gasperi, a legend in mountain and Skyrunning unfortunately has now pulled out of the race with a knee problem. This is a great shame, we all love to see Kilian and Marco go head-to-head.

Marco De Gasperi copyright Ian Corless

Marco De Gasperi copyright Ian Corless

This almost certainly means that we will have a re run of the 2012 Zegama race and also the 2013 Transvulcania… Kilian’s main competition will now come from Luis Alberto Hernando. Luis was second behind Kilian at Zegama last year and is almost certainly in some of the best form of his life at the moment. He pushed hard at Transvulcania just over a week ago and was leading the race at the final summit, ultimately loosing his lead to Kilian on the descent. His race on the island of La Palma is even more impressive considering it was his first ultra.

Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Missing from Transvulcania and deciding to run the ‘Sky’ distance in 2013 is Andy Symonds. Andy comes from a traditional fell/ mountain running background and just like Tom Owens, he will love the conditions here. Both Andy and Tom have withdrawn from Zegama I am afraid. In an email from Andy Symonds, he says, “We’re both injured!! can you believe it.. Tom’s got some pretty bad tendon rumpture in his foot and I’m limping with a duffed iliopsoas… neither of us have run for several weeks (much more for Tom). And so, no Zegama this year.. booo.. :-(” A real shame not to have these two top performers at the race. Speedy recovery guys.

Andy Symonds copyright Ian Corless

Andy Symonds copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras missed Transvulcania due to injury so we currently have a question mark if he will run at Zegama. In form he is one of the best runners in the world, so, he will most definitely mix it up at the front. Tofol Castanyer recently raced the Three Peaks in the UK and had a good race but was not used to the ‘navigation’ element of UK fell running, he too has the potential to win, particularly when running on Spanish soil.

Tofol Castanyer copyright Ian Corless

Tofol Castanyer copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Michel Lanne from France had a great race over the tough and technical trail at Trofeo Kima in 2012 and has been racing regularly in the build up to this Spanish race. He will arriving in form and ready to take on the front of the race. Just this week he has been on the trails with Kilian.

Inov-8 have Alex Nichols and Ben Bardsley taking part and they may very well be two dark horses. Ben is well versed in fell and mountain running and will almost certainly come into the race a little under the radar… one person who knows and respects Ben’s ability is Andy Symonds. Expect a surprise! Also watch out for South African fast man, AJ Calitz, he may well struggle a little with the terrain, technicality and temperatures at Zegama. But a surprise can come from anywhere…

Other contenders are Michel Rabat, Nicholas Pianet, Dai Matsumoto, Toru Miyahara, Dawa Sherpa, Dave James and Daniele Capelletti.

The Ladies Race

Emelie, Frosty, Maud, Lizzy, Nuria copyright Ian Corless

Emelie, Frosty, Maud, Lizzy, Nuria copyright Ian Corless

The ladies race will be a battle royal and although the men’s field has a top quality field I can’t help but think that some real excitement and a nail biting finish will come from this select group of women. Of course, Oihana Kortazar is returning to hopefully repeat her 2012 victory. She will be fresh as she will have not raced at Transvulcania. However, I am going to go out on a limb and predict a podium place, if not a win for Stevie Kremer. Stevie (from the US and now living in Italy) may not be a name too familiar to many but believe me, she has all the class and ability to create some waves over the ‘Sky’ distance in 2013. She has just recently placed on the podium in a very tough race in Italy (overall podium, not the ladies) and after seeing her perform at Sierre Zinal and other races, I think Stevie will be the surprise package of Zegama.

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas once again had a great race at Transvulcania 2013 and will come to Zegama ready to push hard and go full speed for the win. She had an incredible 2012 season and performed over all distances always making the podium and in most cases, she stood on top of the podium. She is a true champion and a great ambassador for the sport.

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg had a superb race in 2012 and she will be back fighting for the podium. She can go downhill like no other and as she showed last year, she took the final descent at break neck speed and got on the podium. She is wiser, stronger and more experienced now. She is going to be fired up after her incredible run at Transvulcania and just missing Frosty’s CR by a couple of minutes. I think back 12 months when I first met Emelie, Zegama really was her first big race… boy she has come such a long way in twelve months. What does the future hold for her?

Trofeo Kima 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Trofeo Kima 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini is also another great potential for a podium place. I don’t see her on top of the podium… she is still very much a lady who likes speed and good running terrain BUT she is learning fast and has heaps of talent and ability. Just this last weekend, the 18th May, she set a new CR in The Great Wall run in China.

Silvia Serafini - copyright Ian Corless

Silvia Serafini – copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost gets a notable mention. She won’t be racing this year. She missed Transvulcania due to injury but just this last week has had some good news and she is now back on the trails, albeit slowly and one step at a time. She will be back!

Anna Frost 'Frosty' copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost ‘Frosty’ copyright Ian Corless

Emanuela Brizio will lead the rest of the ladies gunning for one of those coveted podium slots. Maud Gobert, Stephanie Jimenez, Debora Cardone, Sarah Ridgeway and Anna Lupton make up the main contenders for the 2013 edition.

Links

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: Skyrunning Xtreme – 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13