Julia Boettger prepares for the Salomon SkyRun

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger loves and excels at long and hard races. Raid de la Reunion, Tor des Geants and epic solo journeys ‘just for fun’ show all of us what a multi-talented ultra runner she is.

In 2014, Julia started the season placing 2nd at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and what followed was a series of top quality results that reached a peak with an outright victory at Andorra Ultra Trail – Ronda dels Cims.

In just one week, Julia will toe the line at the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa. I caught up with Julia to find out how she feels and how the preparation has gone.

 *****

How have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?

I had a great season with mixture of racing and running my own projects. The last successful race I did was the Transalpine Run which was unusual for me but we I had fun. It made a change to all the long distance runs I did during the summer.

 

How’s training going – have you done anything specific for SA?

Well for the moment I am doing a lot of long runs in the mountains. It has been hard to keep up motivation for training, as this season has been very long. However, I always really enjoy being out in the mountains all day. I have had to keep in mind to speed up or to do more elevation so that it is specific for the SkyRun.

Maybe you have been brushing up on your navigation and looking at some maps?

I already run most of the time with maps and on new trails etc. So I’m not too bad with navigation or orientation. But I think in a race it will be different.

Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?

Yes. South Africa is a completely different country, which I do not know at all. Weather, landmarks etc. will be completely different from my local terrain: the Alps.

The course sounds extreme, particularly if the weather turns. Have you researched the course?

Not yet. I will speak to my friend Stephan Repke who did the race two times and I will ask him about race specifics and the course. 

Michael De Haast has put up a great price purse should somebody post a great time, is that an incentive for you?

I just learned about this incentive … but no – this run will be a big adventure for me and the goal is to get to the finish line and to survive. If I can do it in a course record (which I don’t think so) it will be fantastic.

Have you been to SA before?

No. It will be my first time. I am looking forward to new experiences. People, landscape, and animals – everything will be different, new!

South Africa is one of the places I have always wanted to explore and to learn about. To run in nature, to experience the original freestyle trail running of the Salomon SkyRun will be inspiring. I like to challenge myself on long distance courses and the SkyRun will be definitely be a different kind of ultra distance challenge. But beside the race I am glad to have the opportunity to meet local people and to spend some time with them.

Francesca Canepa speaks to Carreras de Montana

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa has recently spoken to Sergio Garasa at Carrerasdemontana on the alleged accusation of cheating at the 2014 Tor des Geants. Francesca was accused of using a car for a section of the Tor course and missing a checkpoint. Tor des Geants race officials have disqualified Francesca for missing the check point. Of course, many stories are on the internet and several publications have commented on the story.

The allegation of cheating came from runner, Paolo Rossi.

Here in this interview, Francesca provides an insight. Of course, this story may well run and run.

However, this is not the first allegation of cheating at an ultra and Francesca is not the only runner to be implicated. Franco Colle, this years Tor winner had accusations made against him last year. Accusations were made against Emilie Lecomte at the 2014 Ronda dels Cims (read HERE ). Ronda dels Cims responded HERE but ultimately I don’t think we are getting the full picture from some aspects of our sport. Pretty sure this will not be the last incident.

Other posts – read HERE and HERE

Our sport is changing, prize money is increasing but importantly, people have cheated even when no money is at stake. Ego’s need feeding and I am sure we can all recollect a story from the past… remember the gentleman who got a bus in the UK to cut out part of a road race? Or the guy who missed out a huge chunk of London Marathon by jumping the barriers?

I wonder, will ‘Spot Trackers’ or similar become part of mandatory kit? I know they are not fool proof but I am pretty sure we need to be aggressive now, nip it in the bud and avoid some of the issues that other sports have had.

I’d like to point out that I know Francesca in a professional capacity and I also know her manager, Renato. I have followed, watched and photographed and interviewed Francesca for over 2-years and I have seen her perform at the highest level against top quality fields.

I know only the facts that have been circulated in the media and of course, we now have Francesca speak in English in this video interview to at least provide an insight in her own words.

All video content ©Carrerasdemontana

Francesca posted on Facebook and says:

These past few days have been the most difficult and absurd of my life and I hope it is not difficult to understand that my thoughts have turned to stone. It is impossible for me to accept that I need to defend myself for something that, not only I never committed, but neither thought could be done by others.

To cheat makes no sense in our races and it makes no sense in life. 
My opinion has always been that if it is necessary to take a shortcut, maybe it would be more appropriate to take the easier route.

I have no need for shortcuts, I have never taken them and I do not want to take them in any area of my life.

In these two interviews I have stated, not my version of the truth, but the FACTUAL truth.
Ayone who has taken my silence as an admission of guilt does not know me.

I do not care. 

The only thing I know is that I will always be able to walk with my head held high and look people in the eye with a clear conscience.
Not everyone can do the same. 

Thanks to everyone who, with a message, a word or even a thought, has chosen to believe in me.

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

You can watch the video interview, in English, HERE

A video interview and article in Italian was published at aostasera.it HERE

Here is a Google translate. Of course please keep in mind how a translation like this can somehow confuse the message and some finer points:

all content copyright ©aostesera.it

“I win all over the world without any problem and yet they are three years here I feel level accusations of all kinds: those of the past have been too much. Wrong, defamatory, offensive and bad.” The rain this night did not help Francesca Canepa to let off some steam accumulated yesterday afternoon, nor to freshen the air of the Tor des Giants, become heavy after the events that led to the withdrawal first and then to the disqualification of his official “Queen “. Today in Gressoney told us his version of the facts, again rejecting all allegations of irregularities and assuming legal action, even against the organization. “I will do everything possible in appropriate locations to protect my image – explained clearly still furious – this thing for sure does not go well, because this accusation has soiled my image has harmed me, my family and all that c ‘is around. “

The reconstruction of yesterday
The race of the winner of the last two editions has stopped at the base of life Donnas, where yesterday came shortly after 13 His coach, Renato Jorioz, informs immediately the rumors circulating now uncontrolled since early morning: “They say you took your car in Cogne, maybe there is a complaint by another athlete, risks disqualification. “Canepa bursts into tears for the voltage and is waiting to see what is happening. After two hours, then there is an official communication of the direction of travel, hand-delivered by two commissioners. “The process of disqualification in progress: the investigations are ongoing. The Clerk of the Course, having completed the necessary investigations, notify the disciplinary decisions taken. “At the risk of being stopped later, he decided to wait for further communication, however, come only after the 18 “Acquired officially the documentation relating to checks carried out by the race stewards Canepa was disqualified by the jury for not being transited at the control point Les Goilles in Cogne. “Meanwhile, dropped the ice between the athlete and the direction of travel. “It was not possible to explain the organization – says Canepa – because none of them asked us for our opinion. Nobody answered the phone when you were called.”

But what happened between the base life of Cogne and shelter Dream?
To reconstruct what happened we must go back a few hours. The yellow life begins at the base of Cogne, where the lead comes at 3 in the morning. Within an hour of entering and leaving the order trivel, Collé, Perez, Guillon, Rossi, Hollon, Le Saux. Then comes the first of the women, Francesca Canepa, who slips into the hall at 4.23: time to eat a little bit, rest a moment at 4:57 and is ready to restart. Hollon the preceding five minutes, Rossi follows her to the other five. The next point of that lap, with a swipe of the chip, it is the refuge Dream Berdzé at the base of the Fenêtre, a meeting point between the valleys of Cogne and Champorcher. First, however, there is a control point in Les Goilles, 2 km above Lillaz. “I made the journey as always – says Canepa – are transited to the point of Les Goilles, just that at that time there was no one outside. Then I took tea alone, because it was there, and I continued to dream. “

Accusations of Rossi
Al Rifugio Dondena, however, Paolo Rossi crosses Francesca Canepa, who stopped to sign autographs for the kids, and they start to rain the first allegations. “How was the trip from Cogne to Lillaz in the car?”, Attacks him, convinced that he was in front from Cogne and never to be exceeded. Canepa replica bewildered: “If you have any problems please contact the organization.” The voices of the quarrel began to circulate, as well as the hypothesis of a possible exposure to Rossi. In reality Canepa is output from the base life before him, the tables give the reason, he never passed because it was already in front of him. Maybe Rossi has not seen Canepa out, but may have seen the car away from the parking lot of his coach. With him was the doctor Marco Patacchini. “We took the private road to climb to the refuge – explains Jorioz – and we were also stopped by Forestry. In the car it was just us two. “In any case, at the end Rossi decides not to submit the complaint, the organization instead proceed with further verification, then that will lead to the disqualification of Francesca Canepa.

A loss of image for the Tor
Cuts of course, fights at high altitude, disqualifications: it is not the first time that the Tor des Giants is tinged with yellow. In 2010, at the end of the first edition, the mountaineer Abele Blanc was accused of having benefited from a shift to shorten the route. The following year the Swiss Marco Gazzola was disqualified even after you’ve already crossed the line and celebrated the victory, having missed the last inspection, the refuge Bertone, a few km from Courmayeur: his admission of guilt helped to quell the controversy . A similar dispute, without disciplinary action, however, the regularity of the steps to controls, was moved against Franco Collé last year, guilty of having shortened the path near the Rifugio Dondena. Yesterday on the grill is over Francesca Canepa, furious with an organization that after this latest episode is summoned and questioned by many. This morning, the Spanish athlete Salvador Calvo Redondo, who retired yesterday in Chardonnay, commented harshly the incident on his facebook page. “I broke the boxes, this has become a circus. If what happened last year was pathetic, this has passed.”

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

Tor des Geants 2013 – Race Preview

tordesgeant-_logo_net

Today is the day. The Tor des Geants begins and 757 brave souls will depart to tackle 330km’s in an individual way. Sounds funny doesn’t it, an individual way, but you see, the organization do not impose any compulsory stages. You start and it is the first to the finish. The runner who completes the race in the shortest time is the outright winner and therefore, this race is not only about putting one foot infront of the other, it is also about when you stop and for how long. It is a tactical race.

Map

The race is the first of its kind to cover an entire region. Taking place in the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Ayic Regional Park, the route takes in the spectacular paths at the foot of the highest ‘Four Thousanders’ in the Alps.

It is a unique race. It is survival!

Young American, Nickademus Hollon, the youngest ever runner ever to complete the infamous ‘Barkley’ has been specifically training in the area for months and just yesterday he said:

“Tomorrow I embark on probably one of my greatest ultra-running adventures to date. The Tor des Geants. 330km (205miles) and 24,000m (79,000ft) of elevation gain. I’ll be honest with you all, my minimum goal is 72hrs, that’s 4hrs beneath the previous years course record. To do this I’ll need my mind, body and spirit all aligned. Quite like the magic that possessed me during the fifth loop of the Barkley Marathons this year. I’ll be calling on that again shortly. I ask that you all be the wind at my back and help propel me forward : ) This will hopefully be a great leap forward for the United States in the Spain dominant European running world. Thank you all for your past and continued support!”

The Tor des Geants will start on the 8th September at 1000am and the imposed deadline of 1600 hrs September 14th is in place. A maximum allotted time of 150 hours.

Participants must have the following mandatory equipment:

◦       A backpack

◦       A supply of water (1 liter minimum)

◦       ACup

◦       Food supply/reserve

◦       Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries

◦       Survival blanket

◦       Whistle

◦       Adhesive elastic tape for making bandages or a strapping (mini 80cm x 3 cm)

◦       Water-proof gear for protection against bad weather conditions in the mountains

◦       Running trousers or leggings covering at least the knees

◦       Hat or bandana

◦       gloves

◦       phone

◦       altimeter

◦       warm clothing

The Route

The race starts and finishes in Courmayeur. The route takes place through the two High Aosta Valley roads. Participants, can choose their speed and must complete the race in less than 150 hours. Runners are partially independent and more than 40 supply points are available throughout the route

Measuring 330 km long with 24,000 vertical meters, the route takes the High Road No. 2 to the lower valley. The return is the Haute Route No. 1 to Valdigne and Courmayeur. It crosses in particular the natural park of Mont Avic National Park Gran Paradiso. During the race the runners will pass 25 passes at over 2000 meters, 30 lakes and reach a high point of 3300 meters.

Winning times from 2012:

Oscar Perez 75h 56m 31s

Francesca Canepa 85h 33m 56s

Who should you watch?

First things first. 330km is a long way and anything can happen. 757 runners are listed on the start sheet and of course I don’t know all of them or even pretend to. I have selected several people that I know and who do well over this type of terrain and distance. Without doubt I will miss several names, so, if you know a ‘one to watch’ let us know on the reply form below.

The Men

Last year’s winner, Oscar Perez is back and gets no1 billing. He knows the route, the course and knows how to manage the race, come out the other side and win.

Gregoire Millet, 2nd in 2012 is back and will be looking to go one place higher and top the podium. He was only three hours behind Oscar last year and I am sure he will have been looking at his stretgy and thinking, how can I make up three hours? Less sleep maybe…

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux is also back. Like Oscar, he knows the course like the back of his hand and he knows how to manage his effort. He placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 84:09:46 and 3rd in 2012 in 80:14:14.

Pablo Criado Toca at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Pablo Criado Toca placed 3rd in 2011 and returns this year. His time of 89:43:07 is a long way from Oscar’s 75:56:31 but as I keep saying, anything can happen and experience is paramount in a race like this.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is the big name joining the fold and as many of you will know, this Salomon athlete is meticulous in his planning. Iker however isn’t coming to this race fresh. He recently raced and won the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (160km and 10,000m+) in 24:54:56 which was just on the 24th August. For sure, great prep but that must leave you tired? Iker is one to watch and potentially win at Tor.

We have mentioned Nickademus Hollon, he hasn’t raced here before and he has been very open about the challenge ahead. However, he has been in the mountains for weeks and been all over the course. He knows what he is doing! Without doubt, Tor des Geants is as much about the brain as the legs and Nickademus is a master of this. He has proven it with a finish at Barkley. I think we will see Nickademus create a surprise in the Aosta valley.

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata won TDS last weekend and like Francesca Canepa, he attempts the double! It’s a tough ask, particularly when you look at the competition at the front. He’s a great guy and if anyone can pull something out of the bag, it is Arnau but he is going to feel his TDS efforts for sure.

Of course I have to mention Bruno Brunod. I don’t think Bruno will contest the win but a legend of Skyrunning deserves a tip of the hat. I wonder; what can he do…? I also wonder if we may well see Kilian Jornet pop up on route to offer some support and encouragement.

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, a surprise package may very will come from Brit, Stuart Air. Stuart placed in the top 20 at Ronda dels Cims and then Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will be pretty much unknown to all the others in the race but he has grit, determination and he comes to this race prepared. A surprise package for sure!

Other names to watch: Franco Collè, Mario Gazzola and Patrick Bohard.

The Ladies

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa pulled off the remarkable double in 2012. She placed 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at the shortened TNFUTMB and then just 7 days later, turned up at Tor des Geants and won in 85:33:56. Francesca has had a great year and her win at the tough Ronda dels Cims is surely a great sign for Tor. However, she dropped from last weeks TNFUTMB. Francesca is odds on favorite.

Patricia Penza placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 102:25:42 and placed 3rd last year in 97:06:15. It’s all about experience and being able to put one foot infront of the other. Patricia may not be the fastest but she can last the distance and time and sometimes that is all it can take to win!

Giuliana Arrigoni placed 3rd in 2011 and was just a minute slower that Patricia Penza. Pretty sure she will be back to move up the podium and be one place higher than Patricia in 2013.

Sonia Glarey is back after a strong 2nd place in 2012, her time of 96:59:54 was nearly twelve hours slower than Francesca, but if Francesca is not 100% we may see that gap close and a real battle unfold.

Nerea Martinez  ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez is also on the start list but I had heard rumours of injury. This has not ben confirmed. If she is in good shape and fresh I predict a podium place.

Australian, Samantha Gash is also on the start sheet. This will very much a departure for Samantha. However, she is used to long days and repetitive days on the trails. The Tor course though is something very different to what she has experienced in the past. It may well just be a big learning curve but she does have the grit to push, survive and make it to the front of the race. It’s an exciting prospect and one the Europeans won’t be expecting.

Other names to watch: Moses Lovstad, Giuliana Arrigoni, Cecile Bertin, Fedrica Bifana, Patrizia Cantore and Janet Ng.

Live Tracking:

Hiroko Suzuki pre race interview Ronda dels Cims 2013

Hiroko Suzuki, Ronda dels Cims copyright iancorless.com

Hiroko Suzuki (Salomon) gets a notable mention as another name to watch.  Hiroko placed 2nd in UTMF in 2012 and was 4th at Tor des Geants. Without doubt she has experience of long tough races and will be one to watch.

YouTube HERE

Links:

Salomon Running HERE

Ronda dels Cims HERE

Tor des Géants – Francesca Canepa

Just a week after a stunning second place at the shortened UTMB, Vibram athlete Francesca Canepa turned up at the start of the 2012 Tor des Geants not really knowing what lay in store… lets face it, it is one hell of a challenge!

The route of the 2012 Tor des Géants ran along the Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 of the Valle d’Aosta, with the start and finishing line in Courmayeur, and it covered a total of around 336km (200 miles), with an altitude range of 24,000 metres. The landscape at the foot of the region’s Four-Thousanders makes the route especially spectacular.
Along the route they had a number of rest, rescue and refreshment points, as well as seven larger bases that divided the route up into seven sectors:
  • Courmayeur – Valgrisenche 49 km 3996 D+
  • Valgrisenche – Cogne 56 km 4141 D+
  • Cogne – Donnas 44 km 3348 D+
  • Donnas – Gressoney St Jean 53 km 4107 D+
  • Gressoney St Jean – Valtournenche 39 km 2601 D+
  • Valtournenche – Ollomont 44 km 2702 D+
  • Ollomont – Courmayeur 48 km 2880 D+

The Tor des Géants combines long distance but does not impose any compulsory stages. The winner will be the runner who completes the race in the shortest time and therefore the decisions on when and when not to sleep may very well be the difference between being on top of the podium or not.

The Tor des Géants is the first race of this kind to cover an entire region. It runs along the paths at the foot of the highest Four-Thousanders in the Alps and through the Gran Paradiso Natural Park and the Mont Avic Regional Park. It is a unique race.

Francesca Canepa

So, post UTMB I caught up with Francesca and interviewed her about her race and expectations for the Tor des Géants. You can read that HERE

At this current moment in time I have not had the opportunity to catch up with Francesca but it is important to say that for someone who was going into the race tired and using it as possible ‘training’ she performed remarkably.

Not only did she win the ladies race but she was 7th overall with a total time of 99:13:56. The race winner was Oscar Perez in a time of 75:56:31.

You can read more about Francesca on her blog site HERE

Information on the Tor des Géants HERE

VIBRAM HERE

Article on RUN247