Less than 2 hours from Milan Bergamo airport and nestled in the peaks of Val Masino, every other year a race takes place. A race so severe, so difficult and so demanding that it has a restricted field of just 100.
The Trofeo Kima was established to honor the memory of mountain guide Perangelo Marchetti affectionately known as ‘Kima”. I can think of no better way to honor a mountain guide.
The race, 50km long and covering some 7 mountains passes is part of the Ultra Skyrunning series and is billed as ‘the one’. Starting in Filorea the race goes in an anti-clockwise direction. Preda Rossa at 1940m, Rifugio Ponti 2559m, Roma 2894m, Bivaccio Kima 2894m and Cameraccio 2950m and this is just the first full ascent and the highest point of the course.
Kilian Jornet ran the race for the first time in 2010 after UTMB was cut short due to bad weather. Desperate not to waist his training and a weekend he headed over to Italy from Chamonix and the next day, along with Heras tackled what he know calls an iconic race. Setting a new course record of 6:19:03 in the process.
The night before the race electrical storms entered the Val Masino and a deluge of rain fell making many wonder as we lay in bed if the race would actually go ahead. Morning came and with it a new day. Dry weather and an improving sky confirmed that the race could go ahead but with a 30 min delay.
Once underway Kilian Jornet soon made clear his intentions leading from Tom Owens, Andy Symonds, Franco Sancassani (3rd place 2007), Philipp Reiter and Michel Lanne.
In the ladies race Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas raced neck and neck with Emanuela Brizio (2008 and 2010 winner) chasing behind. Forsberg pushed ahead and at Cameraccio 2950m she took the lead and the prize money for the first lady to the highest point of the course.
At Camerozzo 2765m a super technical section in what already is a very technical race, Kilian descending by the chains securely bolted to the wall and had a lead of nearly 10 mins over Tom Owens.
Nuria Picas and taken the lead here and was looking super strong. Behind Emelie Forsberg and Emanuela Brizio now raced neck and neck.
In the men’s race Michel Lanne chased Francis Sancassani now in 3rd. Several minutes behind Andy Symonds and Philipp Reiter chased together.
Kilian used all his mountain skills and ran into the finish to win comfortably in 6:28. Tom Owens pulled of an impressive 2nd place after (in his words) a disappointing Sierre Zinal just two weeks ago to cross the line in 6:39. He said as he finished:
“Wow, so hard, so technical… an incredible race, you can’t describe what that course is like”.
Francis Sancassani sealed the men’s podium in 6:45.
Nuria Picas ran a wonderful race to finish first in a new Course Record of 7:36:21 some 10 mins faster than the previous best. Emelie Forsberg had to move up a gear in the final km’s to win a well earned second place in 7:46 from Emanuela Brizio who was just seconds behind.
I have witnessed many races and the Trofeo Kima stands out as the most incredible, the most beautiful and the most frightening I have ever seen. It’s an incredible race and with just 100 entries every other year it is one race that should make it to all ultra runners bucket list. It is a fitting tribute to KIMA.