Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM 2018 – Race Preview

The 2018 Skyrunner World Series arrives in Madeira for the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, USMfor short. It’s a 55km race with a whopping 4000m of vertical gain. Anna Frost, a regular on the island sums it up, “The place is incredible, it has diversity of nature, amazing vertical gain and of course, the sea provides stunning backdrop to amazing technical and mountainous terrain.”

 

Created specifically for the Skyrunner World Series, the USM is a serious challenge and includes tough terrain and at times, climbing expertise to grade 2 is required. The race, in many ways, is like no other race on the calendar. The sea provides an aspect rarely found in Skyrunning races as they more often than not, take place in-land, in mountainous areas. Leaving the town of Santana, the race heads into the mountains taking single-track, working a route that takes in the highest point of the island. From here, the route drops to the sea before finally climbing once again and returning to Santana for the finish. However, before the finish, runners must work their way up a river, boulder hopping; it’s a little spice to mix the racing up.

 Last year, Jon Albon won the race in style, “USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. It was relentless terrain of ups and downs; the variety is incredible, and I loved the river bed section. This race is up there with my all-time favourites. I will definitely be back!” 

For the ladies’ it was Hillary Allen who took the top honours, of course, our thoughts and best wishes go out to Hillary as she slowly but surely returns to fitness and racing after a horrific fall at Tromso SkyRace.

So, who are the 2018 contenders for victory?

One could say, that this year, the USM has the most stacked field ever in the history of the race. It’s a who’s who of the world’s best.

LADIES RACE

 Ragna Debats arguably tops the ladies’ field after her stunning victory at the World Trail Championships, add to this, a super solid 2017 season on the Skyrunning calendar, and she will be the one to beat.

Gemma Arenas has raced in Madeira before and has had great success; she won! Gemma knows the course, knows the challenges and will certainly be in the mix.

 Malene Haukoy like technical race, she as placed well in Tromso and Glencoe and the 55km of USM will suit her. One to watch for sure! 

Hillary Gerardi goes from strength-to-strength, she likes technical, she loves vert and therefore USM is made for her. Her recent success over the VK distance and top placing at Yading in China means she is in great shape.


Ekaterina Mityaeva like Hillary seems to get stronger with each race. She has just had atop placing at Transvulcania and I think it’s fair to say that the more challenging terrain of Madeira will suit her skills in contrast to the more runnable and faster, Transvulcania.

Emelie Forsberghas been away from the sport over the winter concentrating on Skimo and just this weekend will race Zegama. Zegama for Emelie, despite great success in the past may well be just a little short and fast for this early in the season, so, USM will suit her far more. She is one of the best in the business and you can never rule her out. 

Martina Valmassoi was missing for much of 2017 with injury, she is now back and recently had a victory! USM will no doubt be a push this early in the season, but Martina knows the course and has done well in the past.

Nuria Picas was always the one to beat in any Skyrunning race. In recent years, Nuria moved to the longer UTWT series and she excelled at the longer distance. In 2017 she raced Tromso and now in 2018, she runs USM for the first time. It’s Nuria Picas, so, expect something special.

Anna Mae Flynn and Brittany Peterson both raced Transvulcania and just missed the podium. It’s fair to say that USM is far more ‘European’ than Transvulcania… the trails more technical, rutted and challenging, therefore it will be interesting to see how the duo handle the change. One thing is for sure, they both know how to run, Transvulcania showed us that! 

Mira Rai would probably prefer a longer course than 55km, however, Mira is always one to watch and USM will be no different. One thing is for sure, she will smile her way around the course. 

MEN’S RACE

Jonathan Albon is the returning champ and based on his 2017 race and his overall SWS championship victory, it’s fair to say that he is the favourite for the 2018 win. His recent 4th at the World Trail Champs confirms good form and we all know he prefers technical and challenging terrain.

Dmitry Mityaev gets stronger and stronger, he did well in 2017 and just recently made the podium at Transvulcania, Dmitry will be in the mix in Madeira, for sure.

Marco De Gasperi was 4th in La Palma recently and admitted post-race that he didn’t take enough risks. This was primarily due to the races distance, he rarely races over 42km and Transvulcania’s 75km was an unknown. With USM being 55km, I think we will see a different Marco and is we all know, he is the Skyrunning master!

Pau Capell is an interesting addition to the race. He is without doubt a master over longer distances and as we saw in 2017, he can do welt Skyrunning after a top run at Transvulcania. He is a savvy and clever runner and I expect him to trade blows with the best in Madeira.

Andre Jonsson races everything and usually very consistently. He once led USM from the front only to be passed in the latter stages. I would anticipate he will have a similar tactic in 2018.

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Alex Nichols was a pioneer for American’s running in Europe on the Skyrunning circuit. In recent years he has moved to longer distances, in particular, 100-miles. He is a class act who manages to combine speed and technical ability – he is one to watch!

Cody Lind had a tough race in China with a below par performance. That will have no doubt knocked his confidence, but I think we wills him back at the front in Madeira and looking to impact on the front of the race for atop-5and maybe podium.

Franco Colle, Luis Fernandes, Daniel Jung, Armando Teixeira, Phillip Reiterand Fulvio Dapit make up the other main contenders for the male podium, it is going to be an exciting race!

Action starts on Saturday June 2nd at 0600.

 

Race website HERE

 

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Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and the 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit progresses with two stunning races on the island of Madeira this coming weekend.

The SVK – Santana Vertical Kilometer® 

The SVK (Santana Vertical Kilometer® ) covers a course 4.8km in length and a total vertical gain of 1003m and follows on from the most recent VK at Zegama-Aizkorri just last weekend where Stian Angermund-Vik and Laura Orgue took top honours.

The SVK takes place within the Madeira Natural Park, inside protected ecosystems areas that are part of the Natura 2000 Network – an ecological network that has the objective to contribute for ensuring biodiversity through the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the European Union. Starting near the Vale da Lapa at an altitude of about 780m, in the heart of the Laurissilva forest, a Natural World Heritage Site of Mankind, the course covers 4.8km. Participants can experience the amazing views of Madeira Island and feel nature at its most beautiful. The final part of the route consists of a very technical and demanding climb that culminates in an emblematic point called Encumeada Alta (1785m), in the central mountain, from where you can enjoy superb panoramic landscapes on the highest peaks of the island.

A total of 78 runners will take on this tough course with Saul Antonio Padua Rodriguez heading up the race. Other runners to watch are Ferran Teixido, Ekatarina Mityaeva, Anna Frost and more.

Runners depart at 1-minute intervals

The USM – Ultra Skymarathon Madeira® 

The main event of the weekend is the USM (Ultra Skymarathon Madeira®) – a technical mountain race that consists of steep slopes and trails covering a distance of 55km and 4000m of vertical gain.

Comprised of passages which require technical climbing expertise of grade 2, stunning mountain scenery, mountains, sea cliff landscape plus the addition of an up river boulder hopping scramble; yes, the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira is a unique race – It is no ordinary race and one that combines mixed elements in a wonderful natural playground.

“This place is incredible. The diversity of nature, the amount of vertical that you get immediately from the sea is breath-taking. The colour of the water is like nothing I have ever seen. I have stopped so many times to say “wow”! The organisers and community runners have made me feel at home already. I don’t want to ever leave…” – Anna Frost

The ladies race will have a tough battle with last years 2nd and 3rd place ladies, Hillary Allen and Anna Frost.

Add to the mix Elisabet Bertran Mesanes, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Eva Maria Moreda, Katarina Lovrantova and Laura Pratt Merino.

 

In the mens race it’s wide open, the hot favourite may well be 2016 Skyrunner World series Extreme Champion Jonathan Albon who will love the technical nature of the Madeira course. However, Italy’s Franco Colle will be tough competition along with Pere Aurell Bove, Dmityr Mityaeva, Nuno Silva, Roger Vinas and Xavier Teixido.

A full line-up of the start list can be viewed here.

Cristofer Clemente (6:00:28) and Gemma Arenas (6:59:51) took top honours in 2016, who will stand atop the podium in 2017?

The Madeira Ultra SkyMarathon®, now in its fourth year, embodies the sea-to sky concept that personifies Skyrunning.

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The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series features 22 races in 11 countries and will reward the champions in the various categories a € 60,000 end of season prize purse.

The Chinese company Migu Run, the creator and owner of an advanced online and offline exercise and health management platform, has been announced as the new long-term title sponsor of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series beginning in 2017.

The Series is structured in three categories, Sky Classic, Sky Extreme and Sky Ultra, counting 22 races in 11 countries stretching from April to October.

Note for 2017 the ‘new’

VERTICAL KILOMETER® WORLD CIRCUIT HERE

The rapidly expanding appeal of climbing 1,000 metres sky-high has prompted the creation of this circuit to showcase some of the best races across the world – for starters, sixteen races in eight countries.

The circuit is a Skyrunner® World Series spin-off, launching with double the number of races. They include the world’s shortest and fastest races, the first and only triple VK, some 20-year-old classics and some exciting new ones. With the aim of expanding in the future, the number of races may be increased throughout the season.

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira 2016 #SWS2016 – Race Images and Summary

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series arrived in Madeira, Portugal for the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira (USM) – a tough and challenging 55km ultra with 4000m of vertical gain. The 2016 edition had a minor change to 2015, an extra section that added more technicality and potentially more time… could the times of Ricky Lightfoot and Stevie Kremer be beaten?

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The USM course is a unique one. Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending. It’s not your ordinary Skyrunning course!

Departing the start line at 0600 on the dot, the runners disappeared down a darkened lane with only head torches for company, it was going to be a great day – the sky was clear and the stars were sparkling in the sky. Just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m straight up to the highest point of the island – pure Skyrunning.

The runners climbed and a section of via ferreta was the prelude to the new course addition, instead of following the stone steps to the off-path climb to the summit, runners dropped down once again to take in a technical descent and ridge climb. A final push to the summit; It wasn’t easy going. The sky was blue, the sun was beating down but despite the picture postcard, it was hard graft.

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Andre Jonsson (Sweden) and Dimitrios Theodorakakos (Greece) were the first to appear. The contrast between the two striking, Andre is tall and with an ultra runner beard. Dimitrios is stocky, well built and all power.

They matched each other step-by-step. A string of runners appeared all looking relatively calm and relaxed considering the severity of the course – it was early days!. At the summit of Pico Ruivo the ladies arrived, first was Anna Frost, closely followed by Gemma Arenas.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until a decisive phase around the 36km mark. Climbing from the sea and beach, Andre Jonsson continued to lead looking strong. However, Dimitrios looked to be struggling a little and Cristofer Clemente was closing. After 5km of ridge running and a technical descent, a riverbed with boulder hopping awaited. Cristofer made his move and passed Dimitrios and went in pursuit of Andre.

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The final long climb needed to be ascended and descended before the finish line and here the podium changed. Andre crumbled after leading the race all day:

“I had felt great, running within myself and in the riverbed I cooled down but then in the early section of the final climb I just had no energy, the heat hit and that was it!

Cristofer took the lead, opened a gap and won the race by a clear margin. Dimitrios held on for 2nd and local runner, Luis Fernandes went past Andre to take 3rd.

Gemma Arenas was almost in another race by the time the riverbed came and the final climb she held that margin to take a convincing victory. Anna Frost who had lead the race for much of the day was relegated to 2nd by Gemma but then faded to 3rd – a strong performance from US based Hillary Allen reeled ‘Frosty’ in and she sealed 2nd. Frosty said post race:

 “I really gave it everything today, on the ups and the downs, I just didn’t have that extra oomph but what a great (and tough) course!”

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The 3rd edition of the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira has been a great success. Despite a potentially more difficult course, both the men’s and ladies records were broken! The top 2 men and top 5 ladies all broke the previous records. This is extremely significant and reflects the quality of the male and female line-up – world-class runners pushing hard for victory and resulting in fast times. João Canning Clode, USM co-director and PR commented, “We didn’t expect to break the standing records but given the good weather this year and the strong competition, it was a welcome surprise.

Madeira is an amazing island with a tough and challenging course. The future looks bright for this new addition to the Skyrunner® World Series.

Results: (official times to follow)

  1. Cristofer Clemente 6:00:28
  2. Dimitrios Theodorakakos 6:09:06
  3.  Luis Fernandes 6:11:34
  1. Gemma Arenas 6:59:51
  2. Hillary Allen 7:13:12
  3. Anna Frost 7:17:00

Cristofer Clemente now takes over the Ultra Series ranking lead for the men and Gemma Arenas for the women. Look out for the next Ultra Series race with the new High Trail Vanoise in the renowned ski resort of Val d’Isère, France on July 10.

Later this month the Skyrunner® World Series will head for North Eastern Italy with the Santa Caterina VK and the Livigno SkyMarathon® on June 24 & 26.

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Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

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