All good things must come to an end and it is no different for the Skyrunner Ultra World Series. The five series long championship is four races down with just one to go. An incredible start on the island of La Palma with Transvulcania La Palma and victories for Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg was followed with the tough and challenging 100-mile, Ronda dels Cims seeing Julien Chorier and Francesca Canepa shine. Ice Trail Tarentaise in Val D’Isère tested all with altitude, snow and ice and once again saw the ever present and dominant duo of Kilian and Emelie take convincing victories. Speedgoat 50k in Utah saw and impressive course record by Sage Canaday and a ladies victory by Steph Howe.
So with one race left. It’s all to fight for. Arguably one of the most impressive fields of 2013 will line up in Vail, Colorado for the 100-km, Ultra Race of Champions (UROC). The fifth and final event will not only see two champions from the race but also two Skyrunner Ultra World Series champions crowned (three events for five award points).
Let’s be clear, UROC is not a 100-km world championship race it is merely the final race in the Skyrunning ‘ULTRA’ world series and is such will be a decisive race in both the men’s and ladies overall classification.
UROC sees the race as a championship event for the sport of ultra distance running. This, I believe is a title they have imposed on themselves, for sure, they have a great line up and without doubt, the concept of an ultra race of champions rings true! The objective is to bring together annually the year’s best ultra runners in the first ever ‘formal’ ultra running championship event, but at the same time has the appeal of being open to one and all. It’s an admiral claim and one that ambassadors of the sport would seem at least in principal, to agree with.
“There is a growing demand for a trail ultra running event that celebrates and encourages as many top level runners as possible to come together on the same trail, on the same day, to compete in a true championship style race. In UROC, I think we finally have an event with a desire and a commitment to meet this demand. I can’t wait to toe the line in September with the field of elite runners this race draws.”– Geoff Roes, UROC 2011 Champions, UROC Elite Advisory Council Member, Two Time Ultra Runner of the Year.
“UROC is an amazing opportunity for the best in the ultra running sport to test themselves on a course that favors no one. May the best all around runner win.”– Max King
Of course, as ultra sport progresses, the desire for prize money progresses and UROC is do different. It has a very healthy set of cash prices available. The cash reward system is something that Skyrunning have had in place for some time and not only are prices award by the ISF at every Skyrunning race (VK, Sky and Ultra) they also award cash prices for the respective world champions, in each Skyrunning category.
Cash Purse: (awarded by UROC)
Champions Male/Female: $5000.00
Runner Up Male/Female: $2000.00
Third Place Male/Female: $1500.00
Fourth Place Male/Female: $1000.00
Fifth Place Male/Female: $500.00
Other Race Premiums will include $250 King/Queen of the Mountain, $250 First Male/Female to Copper MT Ski Area and $250 for the Winners of the Corporate Cup Challenge
The course in detail (please note, the 2013 route is a ‘new’ route)
Overall Distance: 100K
Course Type: Point-to-Point
- Section One (Mile 0 to Mile 13): Start in Breckenridge- Elevation 9600 feet. The race travels toward Peak 8 to an elevation of 11,000 feet.
- Section Two (Mile 13 to Mile 27): Breckenridge to Frisco- Elevation 9100 feet. The race travels over Ten-Mile range at an elevation of 12,408 feet on the Colorado trail between Peaks 5 & 6.
- Section Three (Mile 27 to Mile 40): Frisco to Copper Mountain Ski Area- Elevation 9712 feet. The race travels over Vail Pass at an elevation of 10,622 feet.
- Section Four (Mile 40 to Mile 45): Copper Mountain to Vail Mountain- Elevation 10,981 feet. The race travels from Vail Mountain at 9170 feet to Minturn, CO at an elevation of 7,861 feet.
- Section Five (Mile 45 to Mile 51): Minturn to Vail Mountain- Elevation 10,981 feet. The race travels from Minturn to Vail Mountain on the Game Creek Trail.
- Section Six (Mile 51 to Mile 62): Vail Mountain to Vail Village- Elevation 10,981 feet. The race travels from Vail Mountain to Vail Village at an elevation of 8150 feet.
Estimated Total Vertical Gain: 13,245 feet
Elevation loss: 12,379 feet
Maximum altitude: 12,408 feet or 3782 meters at the Ten Mile Pass between Peak 5 and Peak 6
Percent of paved road: 19%
Technical Features: The Ultra Race of Champions crosses 4 passes or peaks above 12,140 feet or 3700 meters.
Aid Stations: 9
Time Limit: 19 hours 30 minutes
Interactive Route Map – http://www.mapmyrun.com/us/breckenridge-co/uroc-vail-2013-route-112588745
Content taken from UROC website ©
THE 2013 RACE
Stacked! It’s a word we have used multiple times in 2013 but if ever a race was stacked, it’s the 2013 edition of UROC. In the men’s race I have thirty-two names of note! Yes, thirty-two.
- Max King
- Dave Mackey
- Sage Canaday
- Anton Krupicka (not racing due to injury)
- Dakota Jones
- Cameron Clayton
- Mick Donges
- Rickey Gates
- Pablo Crado Toca
- Gustavo Reyes
- Mike Wardian
- Luke Nelson
- Matt Flaherty
- Trent Briney
- Dylan Bowman
- Troy Howard
- Duncan Callahan
- Ty Draney
- Karl Meltzer (not racing)
- Adam Campbell (not racing)
- Paul Terranova
- Josh Arthur
- Ryan Burch
- Gary Gellin
- Michael Versteeg
- Justin Ricks
- Brian Tinder
- James Walsh
- Mike Wolfe
- Joe Grant (possibility of not racing tbc)
- Martin Gafurri
- Rob Krar
- Kilian Jornet
For the ladies race it is an equally impressive field with fifteen names that stand out and shine,
- Tina Lewis (not racing)
- Francesca Canepa
- Kristina Folcik
- Shannon Price
- Jen Benna
- Ashley Arnold
- Helen Cospolitch
- Michele Yates
- Devon Yanko
- Darcy Africa
- Tracy Hoeg
- Anita Ortiz
- Fernanda Maciel
- Steph Howe
- Emelie Forsberg
- Kerrie Bruxvoort
It would be quite possible to look at the lists above and say, take a pick. Anyone of the listed runners on the right day could come away with victory.
As with all previews, I have to put my neck on the line and look at the likely contenders.
Kilian Jornet has gone from strength to strength and just never really seems to have a bad day. His list of results and achievements in 2013 is second to none. Not only is he performing at the highest-level at all three disciplines in the Skyrunning calendar (VK, Sky and Ultra) but he is also setting record in his ‘Summits’ project. In actual fact, as I write this he is in Russia for an attempt at Mt Elbrus. So, how will Kilian perform at UROC? He will be at the front, pushing and without doubt will be highly competitive. Can he win? Of course, it’s Kilian. However, the lack of really high mountains, technical terrain and 19% of road will not play to the Catalans abilities.
If ever a course was made for Sage Canaday, this course is probably it. The mixture of trail, road and climbing ticks all the right boxes and we all know after a disappointing performance at Sierre-Zinal, Sage took some rest and has been extremely focused on performing in Vail. Add to this his win and course record at Speedgoat 50k and a top placing at Transvulcania; Sage is also in a great place for the overall Skyrunning World Series title.
Previous winner of UROC, Max King will be looking to repeat his 2012 performance. A world mountain running champion and 2:15 ‘ish’ marathon runner, Max, like Sage has the ability to win once again. However, he is mixed things up in 2013 and he is short on racing long. UROC at 100-km may just be a little too long?
Rob Krar until recently was relatively unknown, however his FKT at the rim-to -rim-to rim rectified that. Having secured a place at Western States at a previous race he went to his first 100-miler with respect. At the finish, he had placed top three and in doing so is now without doubt a one-to-watch. For sure, the 100-km distance will suit all aspects of Krar’s running abilities and he won’t mind 19% of road too… his background is well established in road running.
Dakota Jones recently pulled out of TNFUTMB and has been pretty quiet in 2013. However, if Dakota is turning up, you can guarantee he is running to win. Nobody would question that Dakota may very well be standing on top of the podium come the 28th.
Cameron Clayton will love the UROC course and as per usual he will be fired up and ready to race. He loves to push hard from the start and hold on. If he does this it at UROC, he will have no shortage of followers. However, the secret is to keep at the front! Cameron’s recent races have been a little mixed and he was nursing a foot problem. He came through Matterhorn Ultraks well and that must bode well for UROC.
Rickey Gates has already had a full season of racing and travelling. He is always a consistent top ten performer and as he has shown in Europe this year, he has had great results in France and Italy on some tough and technical European mountains.
Matt Flaherty has performed real well over 50m with a win at American River 50, fourth at Ice Age Trail and second at Cayuga Trail in June. He has been relatively quiet since then so maybe UROC is his ‘A’ race?
Dylan Bowman had a great Western States finishing just behind Ian Sharman; however, just recently he had to pull out of TNFUTMB with injury. The question mark for Dylan will be if he has the form after some time off.
Finally, Mike Wolfe. Wolfepaw is back, his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner was a great run. But turning up at TNFUTMB with all that running and time in his legs was just too much and he dropped relatively early on. With some RnR post Chamonix; with luck Mike will be fit and firing on all cylinders in Colorado.
I could go on… just look at the list above. So many names to choose from and so many could be in this preview, Mike Wardian for one has been a podium finisher at UROC before, don’t rule him out.
Emelie Forsberg has been dominant in 2013. Her performances and her ability over multiple distances and terrain are second to none. However, UROC will be her first 100km race, this will provide a new challenge for Emelie. Like Kilian, this course may well prove to be lacking altitude and technicality but Emelie does like to run fast, just as she proved at San Francisco last December.
Devon Yanko (Crosby-Helms) has had a quiet 2013, her only significant result was second at Chuckanut 50k. She has started a bakery and apparently that is the priority. But I am sure she will be coming to UROC with a win in mind. To be honest, Devon may well pull it off. She is a great marathon runner and the 100km distance suits her (4th at Comrades in 2012). The road section will allow her to push and that may very well be all she needs to make a decisive move. Her list of results is impressive, very impressive.
Francesca Canepa has had quite a 2013. With a win at Ronda dels Cims, top placing at Ice Trail Tarentaise and just recently a return win at the super tough, 330km, Tor des Geants. UROC for sure will be too fast and not hard enough for Francesca; she also may very well be just a little tired!
Helen Cospolich is a three times finisher at TNFUTMB, her best performance came in 2011 with 6th so she packs endurance punch. She recently returned to Mont Blanc but had to drop through illness. She has recently been training on the UROC course and has now covered the whole route; without doubt, Helen will be looking to put TNFUTMB behind her with a podium in Vail. In 2013 she already has had a string of top placing’s, second at Desert Rats, third at Miwok 60km, second at Silver Rush 50m and finally third at Power of Four 50km in early August.
Darcy Africa once again has had a string of top three places in 2013. At Telluride she placed second, second at Squaw Peak 50, third at Coyote Cohorts Backbone 68m but importantly she has won at Hardrock 100 (again) and Miwok 60km. Darcy has a little of everything and on her day could win at UROC.
Steph Howe has had two great results in 2013, victories at Speedgoat 50k and Gorge Waterfalls 50k. The big question mark comes if she can take that speed to double the distance?
Kristina Folcik will be smiling all the way around UROC that is for sure. She had a great race at Cayuga and will hope to bring that winning form to this race. She says on her blog (dangergirldh.com) that she is, ‘an ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life’.
Ashley Arnold placed 16th at Leadville 100 (won the ladies race) recently and 15th at White River 50m; so, one would think that she currently has the form to contend the podium. Ashley is certainly more consistent over the 50k and 50m distance so the 100km may just be a stretch for her considering the speed that this race will be run. Leadville is a very different race to UROC.
Kerrie Bruxvoort placed 1st at Run Rabbit Run 50 on Sept 13th so she must come to UROC a little tired and jaded. Earlier this year she placed 16th at Western States so that contrast between the two races is high. Despite this contrast, Kerrie has won Quad Rock 50 and Zane Grey this year, so, the 50m distance is her forte, can she stretch out her performance for those other twelve miles.
Tracy Hoeg has had a quiet 2013 but in 2012 she had repeated success over 50km and 50m with a fourth, two third places, a second place and a win. As far as I know, her results beyond 50-miles are sparse, so Tracy comes to UROC a relative potential dark horse.
Fernanda Maciel has been racing a lot in 2013 but she has been plagued with a few niggles. At the CCC she was having a great race but an old injury flared up causing her to drop. Certainly longer races suit her but this may just not be technical enough.
Finally, Anita Ortiz, Speedgoat winner from 2008 will join UROC. She has quite a pedigree but it is almost impossible to say what her current form is like. She has been a US Mountain Running Champion several times, won Western States and she has also won Pikes Peak, so, she has a great mix of endurance, speed and altitude adaptation; she may be a surprise on the day!
One thing is for sure, UROC will certainly be an exciting race and great way to end the Skyrunner Ultra World Series.
UROC website HERE
Leadville 100 kicks off at 0400 on Saturday morning and although the field may not be ‘stacked’, what it does have is the return of Ryan Sandes, the 2011 winner and the return of ultra running legend, Scott Jurek.
If you had doubts about how exciting this race may be, take a read of what Scott Jurek said in my re race interview, “You bet! I am here to do whatever it takes to run my best time and ideally win this race. I have put in the training. I am mentally prepared. My goal is to win…”
So, there you have it. If nobody else turned up to race, a Sandes/ Jurek smack down would be an interesting prospect by any body’s standards.
The Leadville 100 course is a 50-mile out and back all undertaken at high altitude with Hope Pass being the highest point on the course. When a race is almost 2-miles above sea level, the one thing you need to be sure of is the ability to run and race at altitude. Pacers are allowed and importantly they are allowed to ‘mule’ for the runner, a homage to the old mining days.
So, how will this race unfold?
Ryan Sandes is without doubt the number one favorite. After placing second at Western States last year, he was without doubt very excited at returning in 2013 and attempting to go one place higher. However, a sprained ankle in the build up ruled him out and he had no option to rest and recover. He refocused and placed his emphasis on Leadville. Ryan, like his teammate, Julien Chorier, does not do race after race. He focuses, prepares and turns up with the ‘A’ game switched on. Ryan is here to win Leadville and without doubt he is the hot tip for the race.
Scott Jurek has been away from competitive running for a few years. Many of us thought that his writing, love and promotion of vegetarian food and his work with Chris McDougall would keep him away from running competitively and therefore a new chapter in his life had started. Apparently not! For sure, he is in the latter years of his racing career and for many of us we had no real idea what his intentions would be. However in my pre race interview with him he made it apparently clear, he is here to race and win! Awesome. We are all excited to have Scott back on a 100-mile start line and it sounds as though Ryan and all the other contenders have a ‘race on’ with a legend of the sport. I can’t wait! To clarify, Scott can in this race, no doubt! Interview with Scott Jurek here
We have a race within a race at Leadville as Nick Clark and Ian Sharman line up for the third 100-miler in the four race ‘Grand Slam’. Now of course, if Nick or Ian were fresh, you would include them as potential winners of this race, particularly Nick who is used to the high altitude. Both of these guys are without doubt podium potential, of course, they are going to be little jaded and therefore this removes them from the top slot. However, you never know… it only needs other contenders to have a mediocre or bad day and Nick or Ian to have a great day.
Mike Aish ran Leadville in 2012 and was without doubt a dark horse. He was very clear pre race that he would run up front and see what happened. He warned it could go either way, victory or blow up. As it happened, he blew up! One year on he is wiser and older. He has changed his training and done more miles.
Michael Arnstein has ‘Sharmanesque’ speed on the flatter and faster courses. Leadville is a race suits him, he has experience with Leadville, eighth in 2012 and his best performance came in 2011 with fourth. He will need to be in great shape and in fine form to make the podium.
Mike Le Roux ran the Grand Slam last year and that puts him in a good place for this year. With just one race to concentrate on, he will be able to focus and race fresh. He placed third at Vermont 100 last year and as mentioned, this was part of the ‘slam’, so he is what it takes to most definitely get in the top ten and if all goes well, claw at the podium.
Nick Pedatella is also racing the Grand Slam but is some way behind Nick and Ian. His 23rd at Vermont and 28th at Western States are solid performances, but with two 100’s in the legs, the third can only be a little more jaded. Having said that, he will probably place in the top twenty.
Other names to watch:
Timo Meyer was sixth at Tarawera earlier in 2013, Craig Howie placed top ten at Leadville in 2012 and Andrew Catalano placed sixth in 2012.
Leadville is the biggest ultra in the US and therefore with no qualification criteria, the 1200 start list can throw up a few surprises.
The ladies race is wide open. In many respects, like the men’s race we have a few clear favorites but then the front-end competition drops off quite quickly. Tina Lewis, the 2012 champion is undecided if she will run. She has had a foot injury and only yesterday she posted on social media, “Alright, I have about 30 minutes to make the call – Pikes Peak Marathon or Leadville 100!!! Leaning towards being a dreamer, hopeful and taking chances!!” I don’t need to tell you, Leadville and Pikes Peak are a world apart and this is not a great sign for Tina’s mental approach, so, if she decides to run her performance is unpredictable. However, she is the defending champ and therefore the nod goes in Tina’s direction.
*update on Tina – “I am healthy and rested just not perfectly trained for the distance. Don’t we do this because we love it and Leadville is in my heart. I can just go out and try my best, right? I will aim to be smart and stop if my foot hurts.”
Denise Bourassa placed eighth at the 2013 Western States and therefore she is my hot tip for the win. She has had consistently good performances and the only question mark may come if WSER has left Denise a little jaded.
Ashley Arnold placed third at Leadville in 2010 and so therefore she is a tip for the top of the podium. She has all the experience required to run well.
Who else? Well, to be honest, it is wide open. One or two names shine out as contenders for the top ten but as stated, in a field of 1200 I think we will see many ladies names that we have not seen before.
Leadville 100 website HERE
Athlete Tracking HERE
In a recent interview with Rob Krar about his incredible ‘FKT’ (fastest known time) on the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim we discussed the up and coming Western States. Humble and respectful he called it the Super Bowl of ultra running. You have to agree, Western States is the Super Bowl of 100-mile events.
June 29th in Squaw Valley, once again an incredibly talented male field will toe the line to do battle over probably the most iconic 100-mile race on the calendar. It may not be the hardest but it has history. Way back in ‘73’ when Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse went lame, he had two choices; not to take part in the iconic 100-mile horse race called the Tevis Cup or run it… now of course, way back then running the course was the most ridiculous idea ever. But Gordy, ever the maverick, brushed caution aside and tackled the heat to arrive in Auburn. The stage was set and the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run was created.
The race – Male
So, Ryan Sandes wont join the party due to injury, shame! However, the men’s field has enough quality names to make the 2013 edition of the race an exciting one. We have a champ and previous course record holder returning after a 16 year gap, we have last years champ and course record holder, we have the new and the old. This year could be an exciting race because of the variables and unpredictability of those involved.
Timothy Olson as the remaining champion and course record holder, of course gets top billing. His recent 4th place at Transvulcania La Palma was a real indicator that his form was coming. I went out for a run with him just days after the race and he was moving fast and effortless, no sign of a tough 80km race in his legs. He said, “I could have done with the finish line being a little farther away, I was just getting warmed up”. Early 2013 season form wasn’t too shabby either with win at Bandera 50k, 2nd Ray Miller, and 2nd at Tarawera behind Sage Canaday in New Zealand. His relative silence post Transvulcania should worry the competition; he has been training and training hard. Can he go faster than his incredible 14:46:44 set in 2013?
Brit, Nick Clark in a recent interview with me ahead of this year’s race said, “I am running to win, I feel good this year. I have started my three week taper and I don’t know, maybe this could be my year!” Nick is super consistent over the 100-mile distance and demands respect from his peers. He ran 15:44 last year for 3rd place and almost certainly he is going to need to run that quick, if not quicker if he wants to be in contention for a podium place. Even more impressive is that Nick is taking on the Grand Slam. However, it’s one race at a time and he plans to run all of them as hard as he can. A win at Fuego Y Agua he says was so long ago that it has no real meaning for Western States but his 10th at Lake Sonoma recently was a little disappointing by his standards. However, as we keep saying, 100 miles is a different race altogether.
Sixteen years ago, Mike Morton set a course record at Western States and then disappeared into running wilderness. A combination of injury and work commitments took him away from the sport. However, just a couple of years ago he came back on the scene with a comeback not dissimilar to that of Robert Redford playing Roy Hobbs in the film, ‘The Natural’. Mike seems to be able to churn out 100-mile races in 13:11 and win them. He had an incredible 2012 with multiple 100-mile wins, a win and missing the CR at Badwater 135 and then setting an American 24-hour record of 172+ miles. He has been relatively quiet lately which can only mean one thing, he is preparing! You would say that age may well be against him, but this is Mike Morton… will 2013 have one of the greatest comebacks in sport ever, a win for Mike Morton? It is a distinct possibility!
Hal Koerner has been quiet recently and it is impossible to gauge what his form is like. Having said that, his reputation precedes him and his list of palmares confirms that he will always be in the mix. His win at the 2012 Hardrock 100 confirms that he can always pull something special out of the bag when required.
Ian Sharman has consistently improved at WSER and last year placed 5th with a great run. However, by Ian’s standards he has been very quiet lately. He pushed himself a little too hard in the latter stages of 2012, basically, one race too many and he has had some niggling knee issues. He went to Fuego Y Agua but didn’t run. He has had a couple of top 5 placing’s in recent months and most recently he raced a multi-stage race in the rainforests of Peru. Although lying in 2nd place overall he didn’t finish the last stage as he felt niggling pain in his troublesome knee. So, the jury is out. In addition, like Nick Clark, Ian will run the Grand Slam. His original intention was to run each race to the best of his ability and see what happens. He prepares well and understands the demands of each race so you can’t rule him out of the top 10.
Dave Mackey 4th in 2012 and in doing so broke Tsuyoshi Kaburaki’s ‘Masters’ time with 15:53:36. He has always raced consistently over the 100km distance but has never had quite the luck over the 100-mile distance. In early 2012 he was second at Bandera 100k behind a storming Sage Canaday but a great indicator of form is the recent San Diego 100. Dave was blazing a trail at the front of the race until he went of course at around the 60-mile mark. Although initially disappointing, this may actually be a blessing in disguise for WSER. He definitely has podium potential if his day goes well.
Cameron Clayton young, brash and bold has laid it all on the line and said he plans to just run! No caution for the demands of 100 miles, he will go for glory. Cameron, like Sage Canaday is new to ultra running, he has enthusiasm to take on the best and see what happens. I have to say I like his approach. In an interview with him post Transvulcania (he placed 7th) he said then that his intentions for Western States would be to go for glory, “I may not get the chance to run at Western States again so I need to run for the win. If I don’t top the podium, that is fine, at least I will have tried”. So there you have it, WSER will be Cameron’s first 100 outing, it’s a fair prediction to say that we will see him at the head of the race in the early stages, question is, will he pull along some others or will they allow him to head on up the trail on his own?
Rob Krar like Cameron is new to the 100-mile distance but he is giving it 100% respect. He is a little daunted by the distance and as he said in my interview with him, “I just don’t know what to expect, my rim-t0-rim-to-rim is my longest ever run at just over 40 miles, Western States is a completely different experience”. Rob, like Mike Morton is also a come back story, originally a track and field athlete he ran 1500m and holds an impressive 1:06 for a half marathon. He has only ever run one road marathon and that was around 2:30, so, he has speed. His win and CR at Leona Divide 50 turned heads but his Grand Canyon double crossing time took breaths away… if he brings that speed to WSER anything is possible. He is a real unknown but I can’t help but think we will see a surprise!
Karl Meltzer needs no introduction! He has wanted to run at WSER for years and now he finally he has the chance, however, his build up has not been ideal with a problematic calf. Last week he told me that he is pretty sure it is all cleared up now and that he had just had 10 days of consecutive running. Karl said, “I finally feel that a top 10 place is now possible, we will have to see”. With over 30 wins at the 100-mile distance, Karl brings experience to the race. Just like Run Rabbit Run last year, he will allow the main contenders to head off up the trail and as he gets warm (around 60 miles) he will then slowly but surely start to pick them off. A podium place is unlikely but a top 10 is a distinct possibility. I certainly hope so! Top 10 will give him a guaranteed slot for 2014 and then he can run the Grand Slam.
Dylan Bowman placed 7th at 2012 WSER and has had a couple of great performances at Ray Miller 50 and Miwok 60k. Considering the depth of the 2013 field a top 10 placing is highly likely, the question is, can he embrace early season form and move into the top 5.
Jorge Maravilla and Joe Uhan placed 8th and 9th respectively at the 2012 race but both runners have had relatively quiet times lately. Jorge placed 3rd at UROC in late 2012 and recently was joint winner at the Great Wall Marathon in China with his Salomon teammates, but it’s difficult to predict what form Jorge and Joe will bring to this years race. It is fair to assume that no news is good news and that they will arrive on the start line ready to push hard.
The list could go on but here is a selection of other notable names that will almost certainly drift into the top 20 and of course, on a good day, they may even make top 10.
Yassine Diboun, Trent Briney, Andy Jones Wilkins, Gustavo Reyes, Nick Pedatella (also going for Gran Slam), Paul Terranova (ran the Grand Slam last year) and finally, Jacob Rydman.
Notable non-starters for the 2013 are as follows:
Ryan Sandes who pushed the pace at the front last year, placed 2nd overall and in doing so, also broke Geoff Roes old course record. Needless to say, we are all disappointed that Ryan can’t make it. He unfortunately twisted his ankle on a training run and needs to allow for recovery. Fellow South Africa, the Comrades King, Bruce Fordyce is also a no show due to injury. Bruce would not have contested the overall placing but to have 9x Comrades Marathon winner on the WSER course would have been special. He told me via email that he has carried over his place for 2014.
The 2013 race has a quality field, however, we have notable omissions: Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Geoff Roes, Sage Canaday, Julien Chorier, Max King, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Joe Grant and so on.
The race – Female
With no Ellie Greenwood, no Lizzy Hawker, no Kami Semick, and no Krissy Moehl I have to say I can’t help but feel a little cheated with the ladies field. Don’t get me wrong, we have some great talent ready to toe the line but I do feel as though it’s about who is not here than who is…
Having said that, Rory Bosio was 2nd in 2012 and she returns this year as odds on favorite. At 28 years old she manages to go about her run life with very little fuss or exposure. She keeps herself to herself but she has some impressive results that we should all be shouting about. She has run WSER three times; 4th in 2010, 5th in 2011 and of course, 2nd in 2012. Do you see the progression! 2013 may very well be the year the she has a 1st next to her name. She placed 4th at Lake Sonoma recently and was 2nd at Way to cool earlier in 2013, not results that you would predict a WSER win on, but she knows how to run this race!
I am going to stick my neck out here and say that Cassie Scallon has every possibility of not only making the podium or winning the race! The only question mark comes from a fall she took at Cayuga Trails a couple of weeks ago. Had she not pulled out of that race and been in tip top form she would have been my prediction for the win. She earned her WSER slot at Lake Sonoma and after missing the race last year; I can’t help but feel that she will be fired up for this edition. Of course, she hasn’t run this race before and experience counts for a great deal!
Talking of experience, Nikki Kimball has plenty. Nikki placed 5th in 2012 but look at her history; she won the race in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and she was 4th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2011. That his some history! Now in her early 40’s you may well say that age is against her but you just can’t rule her out. She has been troubled with injuries but without doubt the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma was a turning point for her, she finished that race in tears. Not because of pain but joy that things had gone well. Her recent form is difficult to predict as she too pulled out of Cayuga Trails.
Another newbie, Emily Harrison brings speed to the WSER arena. She has a marathon PB of 2:32 and although that may not be a prediction of a good Western States performance, it does show that the speed is available if needed. She earned her place at JFK50 when she placed 2nd behind Ellie Greenwood and recently she has had a win at Moab Red Hot 55k. Emily has the potential to pull something out of the back and may very well make the podium.
Aliza Lapierre was 3rd last year and it almost feels disrespectful to wait this long before mentioning her but she has had surgery and only returned to running in late April, early March of this year. Her form for WSER is an unknown but if one thing in her favor is that she will be fresh and keen to perform. That counts for a great deal when it gets hard.
Tina Lewis, Amy Sproston, Ashley Nordell and Meghan Arbogast all return after placing 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th respectively in 2012.
Certainly I see Ashley Nordell moving to a higher place for 2013 and she has the potential to make top 5 should all go well.
Tina Lewis placed best of the bunch in 2012 and although injury has caused serious issues in the build up to this years race, her win at Leadville in the latter half of last year has to mean that, if fit, she will improve on her 7th.
Amy Sproston won Ray Miller 50, Iznik Ultra 80k and was 3rd at Lake Sonoma all in the first half of 2013. A 100km champion she has speed and although 100 miles may not be her distance you have to say that in this ladies field, should things go right, a placing higher than 8th awaits.
Meghan Arbogast may well be a dark horse of the race… you just can’t rule her out! She proved this by beating Rory Bosio to the top slot at Way to Cool 50k. Last year she ran just under 20 hours (19:54) and I think she will need an ‘18’ time to contest the front of the race but she can do it, don’t rule her out.
Joelle Vaught has been top 10 at WSER before in 2010 when she ran 20:19. Certainly if she wants to place top 10 in 2013 she needs to be looking at sub 20. Her win at Pocatello 50 (to put things in perspective, she beat her own course record by just over 20 minutes) recently would suggest that a surprise may well come from Joelle.
Jennifer Benna recently turned up at Transvulcania La Palma and dropped early on saying that it just didn’t feel right. To travel that far and drop so early shows some real commitment to the bigger picture, that being WSER. She has already won a 100 this year at Zion 100 way back in April (probably why she didn’t feel great in May) I think Jennifer has the potential to make the top 10 but she will need a good day.
My final tip is Pam Smith, she has run WSER before and has placed 10th in 2010 and 2011. She hasn’t run under 20 hours but if she managed to match her previous best of 20:40, another top 10 may well just be hers, just!
Ones to watch:
Kerrie Bruxvoort, Denise Bourassa and Rhonda Claridge.
Provide us with your feedback:
- What are your predictions for the men’s and ladies races?
- Who will surprise us this year?
- Will the course record go in either race?
- Who isn’t racing that you had hoped would be?
WSER website HERE
Without doubt, the International Skyrunning Federation and the organization of the 2012 edition of the Transvulcania La Palma created a race that ultra runners throughout the world had been waiting for. A showdown! The best-of-the-best racing ‘head-to-head’ on a tough and technical mountain route on the island of La Palma.
Billed as the ‘race of the year’ the tough La Palma course did not disappoint. Both the ladies race and the male race created a topic of discussion, not only during and after the race but also before it… the build up, the media and the buzz was unparalled.
The 2012 race is now history; Dakota Jones triumphed over the volcanic course and in doing so created a moment in ultra history that will be talked about for years to come. Anna Frost for the ladies produced a performance that was nothing short of miraculous. She smashed the female course record and confirmed herself as one of the most dominant forces in mountain running. So strong was her performance, she actually almost made the top 10 overall.
On May 11th, once again we will have one of the greatest ultra fields assembling in ‘La Isla Bonita’ to climb, sweat and survive over one of the most beautiful run courses I have had the pleasure to witness.
Anna Frost is returning in the hope to defend her title. Once again she will arrive on the island weeks in advance and prepare meticulously in the hope not only of taking out the win once again but maybe beating her own CR and creeping into the top 10. She has had a quiet winter and raced at El Cruce 3 day stage race for a 3rd lady place and just recently ran a relay with Rickey Gates at Tarawera ultra in New Zealand. *update 5th May, Anna is having some ongoing health issues and her presence in the 2013 Transvulcania is currently 50/50. Anna’s priority is her health and as much as we want ‘Frosty’ in the race,more importantly we want her healthy. Best wishes Anna.
**6th May – “I have decided not to race Transvulcania” Anna Frost has announced she will not run the 2013 Transvulcania – you can read a post HERE**
Nuria Picas will return to push Frosty to the limit. Nuria had an incredible 2012 and most certainly stepped up a notch. With incredible diversity and wins at iconic races such as Trofeo Kima and Cavalls del Vent, Frosty and the rest of the ladies will have their hands full stopping the Catalan charging over the course and taking the win.
Missing from the 2012 race, Emelie Forsberg, now more relaxed at the 50-mile distance will join her friends and sparring partners to make an incredible three Musketeers at the front of the field. Emelie burst onto the 2012 race season and impressed with every race performance, she can run down hill like no other as she proved at Pikes Peak. She also placed 2nd or 3rd behind Frosty and Nuria for most of 2012 but she finished of the season with an incredible win at San Francisco. Emelie has all the potential to win at Transvulcania. She started 2013 with a win over the marathon distance at Transgrancanaria and recently raced Tarawera as a relay with Francois d’Haene.
Silvia Serafini like Emelie has had an incredible rise in 2012. An incredible talent who is new to the longer distances may very well find Transvulcania La Palma a learning curve race. However, she has the ability, passion and dedication to push at the front. *Update May 5th via email: I decided together with Greg (Salomon International Team Manager) and Fabio (Team Manager) not to race at Transvulcania. I have to run the ‘Great Wall marathon’ the week after, and Zegama on the 26th.
Emilie Lecomte is renowned for running long distance races and performing at the highest level. In 2012 she set a female record for covering the GR20 in Corsica and she finished the season with a win at Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island. Without doubt she has all the ability to make her presence known at the front end of the race. I just wonder if 80km’s is just a little too short for her?
Fernanda Maciel from Brazil has had some great results. In 2008 she was 4th at TNF 80k in California. In 2009 she won the TDS and in 2010 she placed 4th lady at UTMB. She may well be a dark horse in the ladies with no Frosty and Maud Gobert, Fernanda may well make top three and if she has a great day, she may take the top slot. In 2012 she was first at The North Face Transgrancanaria 123k. In June, she finished second at TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail. She placed at the TNFUTMB and in October, she ran the 860k Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Maud Gobert from France had a strong 2012 season and raced throughout the year but ultimately, the key performance came at the end of the year placing 3rd behind Emelie Forsberg at San Fran 50. After a quiet winter it will be interesting to see how she progresses. Maud was 6th at Transvulcania 2012 in 9:54:40. *Update 7th May, Maud will not race and go to Zegama two weeks later instead.
Notable mentions go to
Boy oh boy… the men will have a battle. On paper, the 2013 race has all the makings of a classic. Kilian Jornet, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka, Timothy Olson, Mike Foote, Francois d’Haene, Philipp Reiter, Cameron Clayton, Thomas Lorblanchet, Sage Canaday, Tofol Castanyer, Gustav Reyes and so many more.
With no Dakota Jones (winner 2012) and no Andy Symonds (2nd in 2012) first roll call goes to Kilian Jornet. Kilian placed 3rd in 2012 after being in the lead with Dakota and Andy for the best part of 74k. However, in the final km’s just after the long hard descent to Tazacorte Port, Kilian was hit with fatigue and dehydration. He crossed the line and promptly passed out. It’s not often we see Kilian look ‘human’ but at Transvulcania he did. We must point out that only 7 days previous he had taken off his ski’s after a long racing season. The question is for 2013 will he allow himself more preparation time? It certainly looks as though he has. Nobody doubts Kilian’s ability and his incredible 2012 season confirms that he is the main favourite for Transvulcania.
Anton Krupicka injured for most of 2011 and 2012 returned with a bang in the latter half of 2012 and got a great 2nd place behind Kilian at Cavalls del Vent. His 2013 season was due to see him start his year at Tarawera in New Zealand but he pulled out just 10 days. He did say he had a hip injury that was very much on the mend but he didn’t want to take any risks. He will be arriving in La Palma in form, in shape and without doubt running with only one objective, to win the race!
Sage Canaday has burst on to the ultra scene and has pretty much left the community looking on in wonder. A 2:16 marathon runner he has introduced that speed to the longer races and although as he says himself, he is still learning he is dominating and setting course records. He blazed a trail at Bandera 100k and set a new CR in early 2013 and just recently set the trail on fire at Tarawera. Mid race he was over 12 minutes ahead but at the end that had been reduced to just 3 minutes. Transvulcania is a runnable course but the elevation may be more demanding on Sage and his learning curve may very well take a sharp swing in the ‘up’ direction. However, with his speed and ability he can win the race. In particularly, if Sage is in contention at Tazacorte Port, the final kilometers of the race include road and if Sage gets chance to use his speed it could be devastating.
2012 Western States winner and course record holder, Timothy Olson is almost duplicating the racing calendar of Anton. They had planned to face up against each other at Tarawera and then follow with Transvulcania and TNF UTMB. Timothy without doubt has all the potential to create a stir. With a new sponsorship deal with The North Face, 2013 looks like it will be an incredible year. He raced early on in 2013 at Bandera 50k and although he won the race his pace wasn’t fast (by his standards). Going in to Tarawera ultra he said he had trained well and that he was in form. He was! Trailing Sage Canaday by over 12 minutes at half way he reeled Sage in and at the finish was just 3 minutes behind to take 2nd place. I can’t help but feel that Timothy is just warming up and I am now moving him up to a ‘favourite’ for Transvulcania.
Miguel Heras had a mixed early part to 2012 but finished it of with a podium place at La Course des Templiers and a win at San Francisco. In form he is most certainly one to beat and he will be mixing it with Kilian at the front end of the race… can he win? Absolutely. He raced the 119km Trangrancanaria but pulled from the race relatively early on. *Update 7th May, Miguel Heras will not start the 2013 Transvulcania.
Francois d’Haene, 4th at Transvulcania in 2012 and winner of the shortened TNFUTMB has all the potential to make the podium and even win the race. He just needs a perfect day. Like Kilian he has the advantage of already racing over the course. He will know how to pace himself. He raced at El Cruce early in 2013 and made the podium behind Max King. He has also just raced at Tarawera in New Zealand.
German, Philipp Reiter, like Emelie Forsberg created a name for himself in 2012 with consistently top-notch performances. At the 2012 edition of the Transvulcania he had a few issues early on, which cost him a top 10 place. However, he battled on and finished side by side with Joe Grant. He raced at the 83km Transgrancanaria in 2013 and placed 2nd behind Ryan Sandes. I spent several days with Philipp in Gran Canaria and he is definitely looking to arrive on the island of La Palma to improve on his 2012 placing.
Thomas Lorblanchet figured well in the 2012 race but had a breakthrough moment when he took the win at Leadville 100 ahead of Tony Krupicka. He has secured a new sponsorship deal for 2013 with Asics so it will be interesting to see how he performs.
*Tofol is not racing. Apparently we had some confusing information and Tofol had not planned to race at Transvulcania – apologies
Tofol Castanyer adds more Salomon weight to an already packed field. Tofol was the 2010 Skyrunning World Series champion. He always packs a punch when racing and his stunning performance at the CCC in 2012 proves this. He was 5th at Sierre-Zinal, he won at Giir di Mont Skyrace, 6th at Dolomites Skyrace and 3rd at Mont Blanc Marathon amongst others. He had a long 2012 season and suffered like many others at Cavalls del Vent. Without a doubt he will me a main contender at Transvulcania.
Adam Campbell had a mixed 2012. I was with him in the Pyrenees for an Arx’teryx media camp mid year and his plan was to race TNF UTMB. However, a recurring injury saw him return home and not race at the iconic 100-miler that ultimately was reduced to 100k. Once recovered he managed to set a new Guinness World Record for the marathon by running in a business suit and then at San Fran 50 he competed with the best, including Sage Canaday, however, he managed to go off course and gave away any chance of a win. Adam once again had an injury issue early season but he has assured me all will be good by May.
Joe Grant has just finished the 350 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in joint 2nd place in just over 6 days. Having interviewed him several times about this event before and after one can only speculate how his recovery will be. He has openly said that the 6 day experience was much harder than he anticipated but relatively quickly afterwards he felt recovered. In fact, he has already been for an easy run to start the build up for his run season. Joe races Transvulcania in 2012 and finished just outside the top 10. He will be looking to move in the field this year but his big objective is improving on his 2012 2nd place at Hardrock 100.
Luis A Hernando is a Skyrunning specialist and was the 2012 Skyrunning World Series champion and ranked 2nd last year. He loves the mountains and technical terrain and excels at the ‘marathon’ distance. The question is not his ability to perform at the highest level but if 83km’s will be be too far?
Dave Mackey **update April 1st 2013 – Dave Mackey has withdrawn from the race –
needs no introduction. He has been running for years with a string of consistent results. He has also placed highly at Western States, 4th in 2012 with a masters record, so he will be coming to the island of La Palma with high hopes. At Bandera 100k 2013 he finished 2nd behind Sage Canaday but he will have been getting the miles in since then and you can be sure that he will be ready to mix it up and push hard against the best.
Dave James has a very strong reputation on the US ultra scene. He is a USATF national champion and has run some incredible times over the 100 mile distance, his PR is 13:06:52.. He has already had an an impressive 2013. He secured another win at the multi stage, The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and then just one week later raced at Fuego Y Agua to get second place behind Nick Clark. He is racing The Lost Worlds Tuscany event and just 7 days later the Causeway Crossing. he will head to La Palma for Transvulcania, just two weeks later he will race at Zegama and then the big one! Ronda del Cims in Andorra. A super tough 100 miler that has a profile that looks like JAWS dental records. Without doubt Dave will be competitive but he has a busy diary… he is going to need to keep some powder dry.
Notable mentions also go to Gustav Reyes who placed 17th at Transvulcania, Armando Teixeira who was 2nd Transgrancanaria, 7th Cavalls Del Vent 2012 and 11th UTMB all in 2012 and Miguel Caballero who was 6th in the Skyrunning World Series last year. Also, Santi Obaya, Toti Bes, Zigor Iturrieta.
The surprise package may come from Marathon des Sables expert and champion, Mohamad Ahansal. Mohamad has just won his 5th ‘MDS’ and will be travelling to La Palma with great fitness. I for one will be very curious to see how he performs on this course and terrain.
Don’t hold your breath
2013 without doubt will once again be an iconic race. But don’t hold your breath… we have time to go yet and in that time we may even have more names to add.
The current records of 6:58:54 set by Dakota Jones in 2012 and 8:11:31 by Anna Frost are incredibly fast. However, we do have two incredibly talented and fast fields assembled. Will records fall in 2013? The 83km Transvulcania La Palma course course with 8525m of ascent and descent offers the perfect volcanic arena to watch one of the key races of 2013 unfold.
The growth of Skyrunning and ultra running has been incredible in just the last 12 months. Transvulcania La Palma has set the benchmark for all other races to follow. As 2010 Western States winner, Geoff Roes said:
“It was great to be at such a great race. It had everything you would want from a race. A point-to-point course with unique trail for the entire route. Tough climbs of mixed terrain. Amazing scenery. A finish line in the center of town with amazing crowds, it was like the Tour de France. It is certainly one of the most appealing events I have done. In my mind it has nothing lacking….”
I for one can’t wait to see what May 11th has in store.
- Visit the Transvulcania La Palma website HERE
- Visit the ISF website HERE
- Are you racing at Transvulcania and need some info? Take a look HERE
“Find out everything concerning this Isla Bonita” : www.visitlapalma.es
The new SWS Team Partners supporting the Series, Salomon, Arc’teryx. inov-8 and La Sportiva, are joined at Transvucania by: adidas, Asics, Buff, Hoka, New Balance, Platinum Sigvaris, Salomon Agisko, Scott, The North Face and Quechua.
The Ultra distance races selected in 2012 were held in the following countries: Andorra, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Réunion, Italy, Spain, USA. The ranking is based on the best three results of the year – or two results, plus one from 2011, taking into account the top 15 men’s and 10 women’s results in each race.
The athletes are listed in alphabetical order according to their nationality.
Antolinos Fabien, Bringer Patrick, Buffard Sebastien, Camus Sebastien, Chaigneau Sebastien, Chorier Julien, Clavery Erik, Court Sylvain, Curien Yann, D’Haene Francois, Durand Maxime, Gault Emanuel, Guillon Antoine, Lanne Michel, Le Saux Christophe, Lejeune Arnaud, Lorblanchet Thomas, Martin Nicolas, Pasero Mikael, Pianet Nicolas, Rancon Julien
Conway Terry, Symonds Andy, Sharman Ian, Grant Joe (?)
Cavallo Giuliano, Dapit Fulvio
Kaburaki Tsuyoshi, Yamamoto Kenichi
Sherpa Dachhiri Dawa
Sa Carlos, Teixeira Armando Jorge
Bes Jordi, Castanyer Tofol, Jornet Kilian, Karrera Iker, Heras Miguel, Merillas Manuel, Perez Lopez Oscar, Sanchez Sebas
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Bowman Dylan, Clark Nicholas, Clayton Cameron, Foote Michael, Gates Rickey, Grant Joe, Jaime Scott, Jones Dakota, King Maxwell, Koerner Hal, Krupicka Anton, Mackey Dave, Maravilla Jorge, Meltzer Karl, Olson Timothy, Pedatella Nicholas, Tidd John, Tiernan Zeke, Wolfe Mike
Chastel Veronique, Combarieu Maud, Favre Corinne, Gobert Maud, Herry Karine, Lecomte Emilie, Martin Sandra, Motto Ros Sandrine, Valero Anne
Bottger Julia, Calmbach Andrea
Hawker Elisabeth, Greenwod Ellie
Canepa Francesca, Fori Katia
Fraile Uxue, Iruretagoyena Leire, Martinez Nerea, Picas Nuria, Roca Emma
Africa Darcy, Bosio Rory, Bruxvoort Kerrie, Claridge Rhonda, Howe Stephanie, Howard Elizabeth, Kimball Nikki, Lewis Tina, Moehl Kristin, Nordell Ashley
Updated January 16, 2013