Matterhorn Ultraks Race Preview

image copyright Matterhorn Ultraks - www.

image copyright Matterhorn Ultraks – www.

On the Italian border of the Canton of Valais in the west of Switzerland, at the end of the 30 km-long Nikolaital, lies Zermatt, the village at the foot of the Matterhorn, the most photographed mountain in the world. Zermatt epitomizes their image of Switzerland; high alpine, awe-inspiring and original. Almost one-third of the 4,000-metre mountains in the Alps are grouped around this word-famous health resort, which has been visited by mountaineers from all around the world since the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. The hotels and restaurants are world-class, and the ski area is not only the highest in the Alps – it is also one of the best developed and most convenient in the world. The climate is of an excellent quality; with 300 sunny days a year, there is less rainfall than anywhere else in Switzerland. The air in Zermatt is clear, dry and clean, because, since 1947, only electric cars without a combustion engine are allowed to operate in the village. Things are a little different in Zermatt. Zermatt – A world of its own.

The ISF Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks is the penultimate race in the SkyUltra series. It will be a magical race, 46 km long with 
D+ : 3’600 m | D- : 3’600 m. It has a great combination of wild open spaces, high mountains and a course that will require a thrilling combination of speed and technique. The highest summit of Gonnergrat at 3100m will be a test for all, however, at the summit it offers incredible panoramic views and of course, the ever-present Matterhorn will dominate.

Want to race? limited places are still available at ultraks.com

Men

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Kilian Jornet comes to this race the outright favorite. At the ISF Skyrunning European Championships he came away with three gold’s in VK, Sky and Ultra. Post Trans D’Havet he moved over to Cervinia (Italy) and he is now preparing meticulously for his next ‘Summit’, a speed attempt up and down the Matterhorn itself. He will be prepared and adapted for everything that the Ultraks can throw at him.

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Breaking news just in, 14th August. Luis Alberto Hernando to join the line up at Ultraks. Of course this is great news. Luis is one person that has pushed Kilian Jornet throughout 2012. He placed second at Transvulcania, he pushed Kilian to the line at Zegama, placed third at Mont Blanc and of course, Kilian and Luis crossed the line together to be crowned European Skyrunning Champions at Trans D’Havet. One thing is for sure, Luis will push Kilian and all the other contenders for the top spot right to the line!

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Tofol Castanyer has had a troubled early 2013 with a series of injuries, however, a win at Salomon Four Trails and a second place at the recent Giir di Mont means he is coming back in form. If he has a good day, he will certainly be up at the front pushing with Kilian.

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Michel Lanne secured a joint win with teammate, Francois D’Haene at the Mont Blanc Marathon ultra event but then had to miss Trans D’Havet due to an injury.  Michel, along with Tofol, Philipp, and Cameron will dictate the early pace at the front and as his reputation confirms, he has all the ability and potential to make the podium. *injured

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Philipp Reiter romped to a great podium place at Ice Trail Tarentaise and was ready to repeat his performance or move up the podium at Trans D’Havet, however, a bad fall in the first 30% of the race unfortunately meant some time in hospital and recuperation. At this stage his recovery is progressing well and we hope that he will toe the line in Zermatt.

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Cameron Clayton has had a very impressive rise in the ultra world. He is young and races just one-way; hard! He applied that principal at Transvulcania La Palma and lead the race in the early stages but later faded to still secure a top placing. At Western States, his first hundred miler, he applied the same principal but came unstuck. Just the other weekend he raced at Speedgoat 50k but I am sure this was very much ‘getting back into racing’ race post Western. If he is making a trip from the US to Zermatt, you can be sure of one thing; he will turn up to run hard and win. Question is, will he be able to? Most certainly he has all the ability to mix it up at the front and push his peers. Cameron is an exciting addition to the race line up.

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Nicola Golinelli had a great race at Mont Blanc Marathon and then placed in the top fifteen at Dolomites Skyrace. It wasn’t a great race for him; he certainly would have expected to be at the front end of the race. So, with that in mind, Nicola will be looking to put the record straight at Ultraks.

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Florian Reichert and Didier Zago, both had similar stories to Arc’teryx teammate, Nicola Golinelli. Great racing and top ten placing’s at Mont Blanc and then below par performances in Canazei at the Dolomites Skyrace. Didier is experienced and will bounce back, Florian however is new to Skyrunning and once again found the Dolomites and its combination of steep gradients and snow another learning curve. However, he is a sub 2:30 marathon runner and the Ultraks course will suit his abilities.

Ben Abdelnoor is coming to Zermatt after an impressive win and new course record at the Lakeland 50 in the UK. For sure he is going to relish the opportunity to push against some of the best in the world. Joining Ben we have his new inov-8 teammate, Erik-Dagsson Haugsness. Erik from Norway placed fifth at Mont Blanc Marathon and is certainly a name to watch in the future.

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Tadei Pivk has consistently performed in 2013 with great results at Zegama and Dolomites Skyrace; without doubt he will be coming to Zermatt to move from third place on the podium to second or even the top. Watch this space, without doubt he will add spice to the front of the race.

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Stuart Air from the UK is starting to get a reputation for himself within the Skyrunning calendar. With little fanfare he turned up at the brutal Ronda dels Cims and placed thirteenth overall, he then followed this up with nineteenth at Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will participate at Matterhorn Ultraks as a guest for Scott Running. At 46km, the race may very well be a little too short and too fast for him, but it will be great to see how he performs.

The men’s field at Ultraks has great depth, Nicolas Pianet, Dai Matsumoto and representation from Russian Skyrunning, Diedre-Matxacuca, Euskal Herriko Mendi Lasterkarien Selekzioa and the FEEC will mean that an iconic and fast race awaits us.

Ladies

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Emelie Forsberg, how can you bet against her? Her rise in the sport is meteoric and after winning at San Francisco in late 2012, Emelie has rarely been off the top of the podium. Her 2013 result sheet is incredible and like Kilian, she is becoming a dominant leader in the sport. Her recent results and performance ability at any distance from VK to Ultra puts her way ahead of the competition at Ultraks. I honestly don’t see anyone coming close, particularly if Emelie decides to push.

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Silvia Serafini does offer a glimmer of hope at the front of the race and like Emelie, Silvia has also had a speedy rise in the sport. Just recently everything has started to click. A podium place at Dolomites Skyrace and while Emelie was dominating Trans D’Havet; Silvia topped the podium at Giir di Mont. For sure, Silvia will be Emelie’s biggest rival at Ultraks.

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Anna Lupton had a troubled performance at Zegama and then found some consistency at Mont Blanc Marathon. She has recently raced in Poland and will be coming to the Matterhorn with several weeks’ recovery and training, so, she may well perform as she would expect and add some pressure to the front of the race.

Ragna Debats, Aitziber Ibarbia Beloki, Anna Comet Pascua, Paloma Lobera Grau and Eugenia Miro Figueras all have the potential to make the podium and it will be interesting to see who has the strength on the day to push the outright favorites to the line.

LINKS: 

Skyrunning HERE

Race start list HERE

Matterhorn Ultraks website HERE

Race start 0700 am 24th August 2013.