Royal Ultra SkyMarathon® Gran Paradiso Race Summary and Images – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

With a course profile that looks like a shark’s dental record and with 10-peaks to ascend and descend over a 55km course, the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series went EXTREME For the first time in 2017! 4287m of vertical gain awaited the runners in the stunning location of Ceresole Reale, Italy, a stunning mountain location towered over by the stunning 4000m peak of Gran Paradiso.

Starting at 0630, a stunning day of blue skies welcomed the runners, the early morning chill soon swept away with the arrival of the sun.

Andre Jonsson who last weekend placed 4th at High Trail Vanoise was showing incredible powers of recovery leading Zaid Ait Malek, Pere Aurell,  Bhim Gurung, Benat Marmisolle, The five ran together over the first high-peak in the National Park and the second peak coming at around 12km with 2-hours 15-minutes elapsed on the clock. They were separated by seconds matching each other’s moves.

By contrast, Zegama-Aizkorri and Livigno SkyMararhon champion Maite Maiora, was showing all the ladies a clean pair of heals. She took a grasp of the race very early on and despite being chased by Katie Schide, Ekaterina Mityaev and Natalia Tomasiak amongst other.

With 4-hours elapsed, the summit of Colle della Porta at 3002m saw a surge from Pere Aurell as he ran fast through the snow fields that followed the tough climb to the summit – Andre Jonsson, Bhim Gurung and Beat Marmisolle all followed with less than a minute separating them. Following and hoping to bridge the gap was Dimitry Mityaev, Zaid Ait Malek and Hector Haines.

Maite Maiora arrived in the same location, her lead was now extended beyond 30-minutes to Katie Schide and Ekaterina Mityaev following over 10-minutes back.

The race was now on in the men’s race, the quartet watching each other and at times changing lead like in a cycling peloton however Andre Jonsson was still pushing but the elastic wouldn’t snap. Passing Colle del Nivole they had a short decent and then climbed to Colle Della Rocca Bianche at 2670m. Again, less than a couple of minutes separated the four front runners but the long descent took its toll and with the final climb to Colle del Nel at 2551m to come, the pressure was on.

Andre Jonsson and Bhim Gurung took the lead but Jonsson started to feel the pressure and although Gurung complained of feeling tired, he unleashed his incredible descending ability on the final 1000m to drop to the line to open a huge gap and take victory just like he did earlier in the year in China at Yading Skyrace. Jonsson earned an incredible 2nd place 10-minutes back, 6:51:37 to Gurung’s 6:41:24. Pere Aurell fought cramps to finish 3rd and Benat Marmisolle held off a charging Cristofer Clemente to finish 4th.

Maite Maiora crossed the line in 8:05:28 having dominated the ladies’ race. It was a stunning victory and confirms her as one of the best female Skyrunners in the world. Katie Schide finished 2nd and Ekaterina Mityaev finished 3rd, 8:37:02 and 8:48:23 respectively.

The 55km course wound through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title, runners will compete with ibex and chamois. Starting at a lake at an altitude of 2000m, participants traversed five passes – the magnificent Gran Paradiso mountain provided a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraines, rocks, streams and snowfields provide an ultimate extreme challenge.

Next race in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series is the Dolomites SkyRace that will celebrate its 20th edition – a pure Sky Classic!

all images ©iancorless.com

A full image gallery will be uploaded to iancorless.photoshelter.com HERE

Episode 138 – Ryan Sandes and Hillary Allen

Episode 138 of Talk Ultra brings and we bring you a full and in-depth interview with Western States 2017 Champ – Ryan Sandes. We also bring you an interview with the USA’s Hillary Allen who is very much pioneering a path for female mountain runners in Europe. We have the news, ultra chat and this weeks co-host is the 2017 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes.
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00:18:26 NEWS
Firstly, as we record this Hardrock is kicking off. Going to be an exciting race this year… my predictions are for Caroline and Kilian taking the wins. You Elisabet? You have raced against Frosty, Nathalie is a teammate, you were at TCC with Jason – you have some real insight into the runners this year…
High Trail Vanoise and European Championships
Luis Alberto Hernando proves once again he is one of their best in the world by taking victory ahead of Arnaud Durand-Pallaz and Dimitry Mityaev and in the process becoming Skyrunning European Champion. For the ladies’ Megan Kimmel (on fire at the moment) took victory ahead of Ragna Debats and Mimmi Kotka. Ragna was crowned 2017 European Champion.
Buff Epic Trail (series of races)
Eugeni Gil beat Skyrunner World Series leader Aritz Egea (Classic distance) and Adrien Michaud was 3rd – times4:08,4:11and4:16.
Oihana Azkorbebeitia pipped Celia Chiron in a very close finish – just 26 seconds!5:07was the winning time. Laura Sola placed 3rd in5:10.
Ronda del Cims
Antoine Guillon and Lisa Borzani won the ‘classic’ 170km event which has a whopping 13,500m of vert! This year they had a new event, the Euforia which at 233k proved a challenge too far for many… Julian Morcillo and Nahuel Passerat took the victories.
Mount Marathon
Ever since Kilian and Emelie went and raced in Alaska, Mt Marathon is now a one-to-watch and this year Scott Patterson took the male win and Allie Ostrander for the women. Emelie Forsberg still holds the ladies’ record.

00:33:11 Lets go to an interview with HILLARY ALLEN
Badwater 135
Wataro Lino took the 2017 title in 24:56:19 ahead of Marco Bonfiglio and Harvey Lewis III. The almost ‘unbetable’ Pete Kostelnick finished 6th in 28:18 – he also had a below par IAU 24hr champs.
Sandra Villines was ladies’ champ ahead of Amy Costa and Pamela Chapman-Markle – times 34:34:43, 35:30:19 and 35:48:31 respectively.
IAU 24 HR Champs
Patrycja Berenznowska ran an incredible 160.5 miles to take the ladies win – wow! For the men, it was a nail biter with Yoshihiko Ishikawa beating Johan Steene by less than 1-mile! 166.26 to 166.61.
FKT news – Andrew Hamilton finishedthe Nolans14 in 53h 42m going north to south. Apparently he started with 30 miles already in his legs… he tagged the Mount of the Holy Cross first making it 15 peaks not 14.
WESTERN STATES
Well, Western was a surprise huh? I have written about my thoughts on Jim Walmsley but I welcome your outlook Elisabet?
It was a day of surprises and the ladies’ race was an open book with many of the pre-race favourites having bad days – only Magda Boulet rallied for 2nd behind an inspired Cat Bradley taking the win.
My thoughts on Jim Walmsley and Lighting The Fire HERE
Good friend Ryan Sandes ran a classy well placed race to take a huge victory – so well deserved.
01:50:24 Interview with RYAN SANDES
UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

96 km | 96 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
River Run 100 | 100 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website
River Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Victoria

You Yangs 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

La Chouffe Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Brazil

Ultraaratona dos Perdidos | 105 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

Bulgaria

65km Tryavna Ultra | 65 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Broken Goat 50K | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Ontario

50 Km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
GORE-TEX 50 Mile | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Quebec

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Pandora 24 Ultra X Trail 100M | 100 miles | July 22, 2017 | website

Finland

Lapland

135 km | 135 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website
55 km | 55 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

France

Corrèze

L’EDFi du Lac | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Le Tour du Cardant | 65 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Drôme

86km | 86 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Eure

Tour de France en Courant | 2750 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Haute-Garonne

52 km | 52 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website
52 km Relais | 52 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Hautes-Alpes

Sky Race Max de Montgenèvre | 57 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Sky Race Max de Montgenèvre | 57 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Isère

La Grande Course | 65 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website
Oisans trail tour relais 2 | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Oisans trail tour relais 4 | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Oisans trail tour relais 5 | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Jura

L’intégrale | 110 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Relais de 2 coureurs | 110 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Grand trail de la Vallée d’Ossau | 73 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Savoie

62 km Mad’ Trail | 62 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail du Beaufortain | 105 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon Juli | 108 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Brandenburg

Berliner MauerwegNachtlauf | 62 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Greece

Kronion Ultra | 70 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Iceland

Laugavegur Ultra Marathon | 55 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
The Iceland Trek | 84 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

India

Jammu and Kashmir

120 km | 120 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Back to Back Marathon | 84 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Back to Back Ultra | 78 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
Ultra Marathon | 39 miles | July 22, 2017 | website

Italy

Piedmont

Bettelmatt Trail – 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
BUT – 83 km | 83 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Sicily

Etna Trail | 64 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Südtirol Ultra Skyrace – 121 km | 121 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website
Südtirol Ultra Skyrace – 66 km | 66 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website

Veneto

Asolo 100 km | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Asolo 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Trans d’Havet Ultra | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Kenya

Amazing Maasai Ultra | 75 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Mauritius

Xtreme Dodo Trail | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Papua New Guinea

Kokoda Ultra Marathon | 96 kilometers | July 26, 2017 | website

Philippines

Catarman 2 Allen Northern Samar | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
TransCebu Ultramarathon 105 Km | 105 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
TransCebu Ultramarathon 55 Km | 55 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Portugal

Running Challenge Linhas de Torres | 100 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Romania

Marathon 7500 Elite | 90 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website
Ultransilvania | 101 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website

Russia

Golden Ring Ultra Trail T100 | 100 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website
Golden Ring Ultra Trail T50 | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Singapore

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Slovakia

Nízkotatranská stíhačka | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultra Sierra Nevada | 103 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
USN Trail | 62 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Aragon

Gran Trail Aneto-Posets | 109 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Vuelta al Aneto | 58 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Cantabria

Sweden

Swedish Alpine Ultra | 107 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Berne

Eiger Ultra Trail E101 | 101 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Eiger Ultra Trail E51 | 51 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Valais

Swiss Alps 100 | 160 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Swiss Alps 50 | 80 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Turkey

100 Miles | 100 miles | July 28, 2017 | website
75 km | 75 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
80K Ultra Maraton | 80 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
ORDU Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Buckinghamshire

Chiltern Ultra Challenge “Intro” 50km Ultra | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

City of Bristol

Kennet & Avon Canal Race | 140 miles | July 28, 2017 | website

Cumbria

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

East Riding of Yorkshire

The Montane Lakeland 100 | 100 miles | July 28, 2017 | website

Glasgow City

Clyde Stride Ultra Marathon | 40 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Hertfordshire

Fairlands Valley Challenge – 50km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

100 km | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Day 1 50km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Day 2 50km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Scotland

50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Shropshire

Wenlock Olympian Run | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Wenlock Olympian Walk | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

USA

Arkansas

Full mOOn 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

California

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website
Harding Hustle 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Tahoe | 136 miles | July 21, 2017 | website
Salt Point 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
San Francisco Ultramarathon | 52 miles | July 23, 2017 | website
Santa Barbara 100K | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Santa Barbara 100 Mile | 101 miles | July 14, 2017 | website

Colorado

Hardrock 100 Endurance Run | 100 miles | July 14, 2017 | website
High Lonesome 100 | 100 miles | July 28, 2017 | website
Never Summer 100km | 100 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Idaho

McCall Trailrunning 40 Mile Classic | 40 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Kansas

Psycho Psummer 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Maine

Down East Sunrise Trail Team Relay | 102 miles | July 21, 2017 | website

Maryland

Catoctin 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Rosaryville 50k Trail Runs | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Montana

50 Mile | 50 miles | July 14, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Seeley Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

Nevada

Tahoe Rim Trail 100M | 100 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Tahoe Rim Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Tahoe Rim Trail 50M | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

New York

50K | 50 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website

Oregon

44 Mile | 44 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
67 Mile | 67 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
Relay | 69 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50M | 50 miles | July 22, 2017 | website

Texas

60k | 60 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Vermont

Vermont 100k Endurance Race | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Race | 100 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Washington

50K | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Emory Corwine Memorial Ruck Race | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Kaniksu 50 | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage | 190 miles | July 14, 2017 | website
CLOSE
02:58:20
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I’m Ian Corless and she is Elisabet Barnes.
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Hardrock 100 2017 Preview

As races go, the Hardrock 100 has anticipation and attention way beyond its relatively diminutive size – less than 150 runners will toe the line in 2017! However, as those who have run the race confirm, Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and the Hardrock 100 route is something to embrace. If proof were needed, Kilian Jornet has run and won the race three times and he will be back again in 2017. For Kilian, the course is tough, beautiful, offers a challenge but maybe more importantly, it’s low-key. He can turn up, walk around, race and have little of the media and fan frenzy he would get in Europe, irrespective of the size of the race. Kilian’s Salomon teammate Anna Frost also confirms that this area of the USA is something pretty darn special – so much so she currently calls Durango her home.

It’s a high altitude race, with much of the race taking place above 3000m and the high point coming around 4200m. In total, the runners climb and over 10.000m whilst covering 100 challenging miles.

Last year, Anna Frost topped the ladies podium and Jason Schlarb and Kilian Jornet were the joint male winners, all three therefore are guaranteed an entry for 2017 and all three have confirmed participation but Anna Frost is still unsure if she will toe the line – more on that later.

It’s a constant frustration for me that we never see a fully stacked field at Hardrock. Don’t get me wrong, there is always plenty of class up at the front but it often feels that the winner will come from a small and select group of 4 or 5 runners. I think we all know that so many top elite runners would love to toe the line but the Hardrock lottery is against them – I guess it does add some charm and anticipation to the race.

MEN

I don’t think we will see Kilian Jornet hold hands this year but I do anticipate he will spend much of the race in the company of 1 or 2 runners until beyond the midway point – it’s a big day out for Kilian in an awesome place and he enjoys the company. Of course, he may be enticed by setting a super fast time? If he does, then we can expect him to hit the front alone maybe somewhere around half-way, if not, he may take the race by the horns in the final quarter. Whatever he decides, Kilian will win barring an accident.

Jason Schlarb has dined out on crossing the line at the 2016 Hardrock for one year and who can blame him. He has done something that so few can do, keep up with the Catalan. Earlier this year Jason raced The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica with a solid run and then he recently placed just inside the top-10 at Transvulcania. For the last month or so he’s been in the San Juans preparing and it’s fair to assume he will be ready for battle.

Read HERE

Listen HERE and HERE

Iker Karrera is an interesting addition to the 2017 line-up and after being a ‘one-to-watch’ at so many races in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, I can’t help but feel Iker’s been a little awol for the last 18-months and that leaves a question mark. Iker on his day is one of the best there is, especially at long distance races with loads of vert – he won Tor des Geants in 2013 for example. If he has the form that provided him with 2nd at UTMB in 2014 then we have an interesting race on our hands.

Karl Meltzer has won Hardrock five times and he’s back. He will be the first to admit he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Kilian but Speedgoat is a fox. He appears to have recovered well post his Appalachian Trail FKT and he’s been sensible by not rushing things. He won Zane Grey 50 which prompted me and Speedgoat to confirm, ‘there is life in the old dog yet!’ If he’s feeling good, he has the long game to put on a great race and few can keep up with Speedgoat’s hiking pace – an essential skill for Hardrock. The AT HERE

Mike Foote is another mystery for this years race. Not that I or you have to question who he is, the question is more about his form? Ever since he did his FKT project with Mike Wolfe, Foote seems to have raced a little on the back burner. Having said that, mountain races are his thing and he has a long list of impressive results at UTMB and he has been 2nd at Hardrock. He will start slow and then move up making up places and time in the final third.

Nick Pedatella was 4th at Hardrock in 2012 but I know little of his current form. Experience alone and a top-5 performance in the past makes him someone to make a note of.

Adam Campbell was 3rd at Hardrock in 2015 and 2014. As many of you will know, Adam was wiped out of 2016 with a near death accident. Read HERE. No pressure on Adam in 2017 and I’ll make no guesses or predictions, to see Adam toe the line will be a wonderful sight and one that he and many of us thought would not happen. Read HERE

Mr Hardrock, Joe Grant, is back again! The lottery gods love Joe and Joe loves Hardrock. He placed 2nd in 2012 and in many respects, that podium place set Joe up for the runner who he is today. I say runner, but I feel Joe goes beyond the tag of ultra-runner and I see him more of an adventurer. He’s taken on some huge challenges over the years, examples coming with the Iditarod, his Colorado 14ers FKT and expeditions via bike. Pretty sure Joe will treat Hardrock as another awesome adventure in the mountains and if things go well, we can see him in or around the top-5.

Other names to watch to be in and around the top-10 are: Mike Wardian, Coury brothers (Jamil and Nick), Grant Guise and Scott Jaime.

LADIES

Anna Frost has won the race the last 2-years and who would want to bet against her? Frosty when in form is unstoppable and when she is not in form, she can often dig deeper than any other runner I know. I was with Frosty in Costa Rica (Read HERE) and spending much time chatting – I was well aware that she was switching into a new phase of her life. At Zegama-Aizkorri she participated but was way off the top-10 and at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira she dropped. All things considered, I think Frosty’s prep for this years Hardrock is behind where she would like it to be and therefore she has three choices: 1. She will run because she loves the course and wants to irrespective of placing. 2. She will think that she can win it and be mentally prepared for the pain that will be required or 3. She’s over it and can’t get herself set up for the physical and mental challenge it will bring. Of course, the only descent thing to do was ask Frosty… “I’m doing Hardrock! It’s been a mental and physical battle this year but one I am winning right now. Definitely not on competitive form but I am doing HR because I love it! ….I’ll get it done! It deserves that.” So. it looks like it’s no1.

Caroline Chaverot is probably putting the fear of god in the ladies’ competition. In 2016 this French lady was unstoppable and for me was the stand out runner, male or female, in 2016. The depth of here ability incredible, her range (long or short) her skill (fast or mountainous) was unmatched. 2017 kicked off with a rough patch and an early withdrawal from Transgrancanaria, what followed was some quiet time away and then boom, she was back with victory at Maxi-Race Annecy and most recently, Lavaredo. Her victory at UTMB last year sets her up perfectly for Hardrock and I think she will win the race.

Nathalie Mauclair, also from France, can’t be ruled out of the podium places but her recent form seems a little below recent years. She was 2nd at Marathon des Sables earlier this year. Her record at Diagonale des Fous, champion in 2013 and 2014, is the best indicator of success in the San Juans.

The wild card goes to local girl, Hannah Green who has been training her butt off and is super strong and young. She may lack experience but has heart and if she can hold on and manage herself she could do it and be up on the podium. (Hot tip from Frosty)

Three time winner Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) gave Frosty a battle in 2015 with a really strong run – Frosty triumphed with a late surge. Missing the race last year, it’s fair to assume that Darcy will be fired up for a great run. She has the experience, no question, not sure she has the speed of an in form Frost, Chaverot or Mauclair.

Darla Askew is the last prime contender for a win and podium – she’s placed 2nd before and that is backed up with two 3rd places.

Ones to watch – Jamie Frink, Betsy Kalmeyer, Tina Ure and Rachel Bucklin.

Scenic Trail 113k Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series 2017

Scenic by name and scenic by nature, the longest race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series took place yesterday amongst the majestic mountains of Switzerland. Amongst an awe-inspiring backdrop, views throughout the 113km route stretch far and wide – the Alps, Lake Maggiore, the Appennines and the Po Valley.

Starting at midnight, the early hours of the race were under complete darkness, however, clear skies and full moon provided a spectacular ambience that added to the still and mild temperatures.

A 500m climb kicks off the race to Goal Di Lago and then after just 14km or so, a relentless climb, with little rest follows to Capanna Monte Tamaro at 31.6km. 

The arrival of dawn welcomed the runners and then the long push through the day starts – a shark tooth profile clearly showing how the 7400m of vertical gain will challenge the runners. 

The high-point of the race came at Gazzirola 2116m (81km) and one could say it’s all downhill from here. The reality is far from the truth, the course continually goes up and down all the way to the finish line at 415m alt.

An allocated 32-hours to complete the race sounded generous, however, as the race unfolded, it would soon become clear to finish, let alone within the cut-off, would be a challenge.

The race was predicted to have a hot day, and yes, it was! Temperatures reached over 30deg in a relatively cloud free sky. It was clear from the start that German Stephan Hugenschmidt was going to be the one to beat. He opened a gap immediately after the midnight start, it would have been a lonely night but Matthias Dippacher was matching step-by-step.

 Czech Marek Causidis pursued the duo and with just over a marathon covered, was trailing by 4-minutes as they climbed to Cuccheto at 1571m.

Benoit Guyot and Gael Droz followed together and then Gabriele Sborina just 1-minute later, the front runners all just spread over 30-minutes.

Lead lady and pre-race favourite Francesca Canepa, had lead the race from the start and had spent a lonely night. She arrived just outside the top-10 overall at the marathon mark with a 15-minute lead over 2nd lady Christiana Follador, also from Italy.

Helene Ogi had Follador in sight and Follador knew it, she repeatedly turned to check on the German runner. But Ogli was already looking tired under the strain of the relentless climbing.

Spain’s Laia Diez was in 4th but the strongest looking lady (besides Canepa) was Russian Yulia Baykova who caused a little confusion as she displayed a race number from one of the shorter races.

Over the following kilometers there was little change in the men’s race, with Hugenschmidt and Dippachern controlling the race, the only real point of note was the extent their lead. At the summit of Monte Boglia (with just over 10km to go) they had a 20-minute lead over Causidis and 30-minutes over Guyot who was now running alone in 4th pursued by Droz who was another 9-minutes back. 

Canepa arrived at this marker over 2-hours after the lead men but her lead was strong. However, it was all change behind with Follador, Ogli and Diez all crumbling under the pressure of Baykova who had moved up into 2nd and looked strong.

 Follador, Ogli and Diez had succumbed to the course and local favourite Denise Zimmermann filled the gap followed by Giuliana Arrigoni from Italy.

The finish line finally came 15-hours and 40-minutes after the start for Hugenschmidt and Dippacher – they crossed the line together, joint victors of a super tough race. Causidis held for 3rd, Guyot 4th and Droz 5th, their times 16:08:53, 16:20:04 and 16:27:35 respectively.

Canepa was first lady in 19:12:18 – yes, the race is that tough! Baykova placed a great 2nd in 19:43:05 and then Zimmermann, Arrigoni and Patricia Besomi placed 3rd, 4th and 5th in 20:46:48, 22:38:56 and 23:03:10.

Full image gallery available to view at iancorless.photoshelter.com

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

A little rain is never a great way to start a day, particularly when you have 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over – the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira, the next race in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series started today at 0600 from the town of Santana.

Hillary Allen had flown in from USA and after placing 2nd last year was looking for some sun and the top rung on the podium. Obstacle racing world champion and Skyrunner Series World Champion for the Extreme distance Jon Albon,  was looking for a little mud, colder temperatures and was more than happy with a little rain.

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

The USM has a brutal start to the day, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m. Head torches illuminated the trail and light persistent rain followed the runners until they broke through the cloud – on the other side, blue skies and a different day.

A section of via ferrata at around 6km was followed by a little descending and a final push for the highest point of the day. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz from France was the first to arrive and yes, it was somewhat of a surprise. He was closely followed by Russian Dimitry Mityaev and Jon Albon.

For the ladies, Hillary Allen was making her presence felt with a convincing lead of Ekaterina Mityaev and then Anna Frost followed some time later.

Descending over the summit, the cloud inversion was clearly visible – the landscape awe-inspiring. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until they returned to the coast.

A descent to the sea was followed by a steep short climb and then another descent which was followed by a section of riverbed littered with boulders. Albon made his move, the obstacle course world champion was in his element and he pulled away from the Frenchman with ease. At first opening a slender gap but on the steep climb that followed, the Englishman who lives in Norway but the hammer down realizing a course record was possible. Albon crossed the line obliterating the old record of 6-hours 28-second setting a benchmark 5-hours 45-minutes.

Dunand-Pallaz held on for 2nd also breaking the old course record in 5-hours 55-minutes and Mityaev placed 3rd in 6-hours 7-minutes.

Allen’s wish came true – in the closing kilometers from the river bed, she extended her lead over the Russian and took top honors in 7-hours 4-minutes, her time just outside the course record.

Mityaev placed 2nd but looked exhausted and dehydrated when she crossed the line – a great weekend double for her! The previous day she had won the Santana Vertical Kilometer. Frost was expected next but news came in she had withdrawn on the beach section therefore opening the doorway for Catalan runner Eli Bertran. Mityaev and Bertran finished in 7-hours 34-minutes and 8-hours 35-minutes respectively.

‘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,” said Albon. ‘This race is up there with my all-time favourites. I will definitely be back!’

 

Attention now turns to Lugano next weekend were the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series continues with the Scenic Trail K113.

2017 Calendar HERE

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 – Day 4

Mann on fire… reeling after navigational errors, giving away a ridiculous amount of time and losing his first place, today Jim Mann left camp at 0730 with just one purpose, ‘make them chase and make them chase hard!’

Mann set off at a ridiculous pace and despite a day of sun and high temperatures (25-degrees) he pushed and pushed breaking splits for his 2015 winning time. On the rolling terrain he rarely walked, constantly switching from running to fast, hands-on-knees hiking. He crossed the line for the 71km’s in 7:03:26. The question was, what would Marcus Scotney do?

The rolling terrain suited Scotney today allowing him to use his running prowess to stretch his legs and hopefully protect his lead on Mann in second. At all times he looked relaxed and focused. However, after the midway point, it was becoming clear that Mann, really was on fire. Scotney pushed to the line and crossed in 7:21:26.

Mann had almost done the impossible in clawing back his first place… wow!

Scotney’s 31:46:28 to Mann’s 31:54:34 now means that the last day of the 2017 Berghaus Dragons Back Race is going to be epic!

Or should I say, IT WAS going to be epic.

Post race, it transpired that Mann once again made a navigation error – he missed a ‘mandatory’ route.

The ‘officials’ have checked the route Mann took and have compared times and splits in comparison to race leader Scotney. It transpires that this section and route was actually slower than the mandatory route and that no advantage was gained. However, the officials have issued Mann with a ‘strike’ – he now has two! Should he get a strike on the last day he will be disqualified from the race. The whole situation was discussed with Scotney and no time penalty will be given.

Scotney however has gained a knee injury in stage 4 and it now looks unlikely he will be able to race the fifth day of the race, he has said he would like a ‘Dragon’ and should he start the last day it will be to complete!

Drama in Wales!

For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee had a tough day battling heat and dehydration and crossed the line in 9:51:25. Whereas Carol Morgan had a game changing day crossing the line in 9:14:18 – this eradicated much of the time gap Verjee had built up over the first three days, moved her up into 2nd place and leaves her just minutes from a potential 2017 victory.

Adding to the ladies mix is Caroline McIlroy who crossed the line in 9:24:09. She has spent much of the week in second place and now she is in third after Morgan’s impressive run. With just fifteen minutes between the top three ladies, the last day is going to be a tough one!

Verjee will start at 0800 on the last day and then Morgan and McIlroy will start with the time differences to first – the first lady of these three on the day 5 finish line will be the 2017 champion!

On a final note, 133 people started day 4 of the race – a 50% drop out rate.

  1. Marcus Scotney 31:46:28
  2. Jim Mann 31:54:34
  3. Neil Talbott 34:23:29

 

  1. Sabrina Verjee 40:37:38
  2. Carol Morgan 40:44:31
  3. Caroline McIlroy 40:52:53

Results HERE

YADING SKYRUN 2017 PREVIEW – 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series” kicks-off this weekend in China with the Yading Skyrun.

It is going to be a weekend of high altitude action as the Yading races personify the simple ethos of running in the Sky! The Yading Skyrunning Festval takes in numerous 6000m peaks through three races – VK, SKY CLASSIC and the Yading Kora Ultra. It will be a weekend that encapsulates challenge and reward.

The Yading Skyrun will start at 0700 on May 2nd and will cover a distance of 29km and is the only race of the weekend in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series. Staring in the centre of Yading’s Shangri-La the race will start with a gradual downhill. After 3.5km, the race will hit the lowest point in the race – 2860m! From here, the only way is up – passing a small village, the race route hugs a single-track. The summit at 4700m is covered with Buddhist prayer flags and what follows is a fast descent all the way back to Chonggu Temple.

The Yading VK starts the weekend on May 1st starting at noon. Covering a distance of 7km (unusally long for the VK format) the race will have an elevation gain of 1072m but starts at 3992m and concludes at 5000m. This is a first for Skyrunning! Alpine forests, prayer flags, a glacier lake and a high pass at 5000m concludes a lung and leg busting VK!

The Yading Kora Ultra also takes place at 0700 and takes in the Kora pilgrimage route over 46km.

This area of Yading is blessed with immense natural beauty, including the three sacred peaks (Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje) which loom over the National Park at an altitude of over 6,000m. From the 5th Dalai Lama through Joseph Rock this area has been a source of spiritual inspiration. With over 2,300m of elevation gain over the length of the course, and the finish line sitting at just over 4,000m, the race challenges beginners and elites alike.

           Tadei Pivk placed 2nd in the 2016 Yading Skyrun

The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

The Chinese company, Migu Run, under the name of Migu Xempower, was the Series’ main sponsor in 2016.

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.

Yading is the highest race of the circuit reaching 4,664m altitude. The Yading Skyrun will be organised by China Mountain Trails (CMT), a subsidiary of Migu Run, entrusted with spearheading the trail and mountain running events.

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.

Iznik Ultra 2017 Race Summary and Images

The 2017 edition of the Iznik Ultra in Turkey took place just this last weekend. It was an unusually cold year with a constant chill in the air, especially for those runners starting at midnight undertaking the tough and challenging 140km distance. With five events on offer – 140km, 90km, 50km, 15km and a 5km run designed to engage the local community – Iznik Ultra weekend is very much a family experience.

Surrounded by eight countries, the Republic of Turkey is ideally located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and this therefore makes it a country of significant geographical importance. On arrival in Istanbul one is immediately aware of the countries Muslim population, literally a mosque is every two to three hundred meters apart. But despite recent news warning of danger on visiting Turkey – I see nothing of the threat. Relaxing in Istanbul, talking with the locals – everything to me appears normal and this is my fifth visit to this beautiful place.

It is what I love about the Iznik race, the ability to stopover in Istanbul and explore. The blue Mosque named because of its blue Ottoman tile interior dates back to 1609, the Fire Tower stands 85m tall on the skyline near the Grand Bazaar and was built in 1828 by Mahmud 11, the Hippodrome known better as Sultanahmet Square was built by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in 203AD and served as a meeting place for politicians, for chariot races, wrestling, boxing and other athletic activities and this arena could hold some 100,000 spectators. It’s possible to have a history lesson on foot.

Iznik situated on the Lake Iznik in the province of Bursa is a short ferry boat and 1-hour drive from the bustling noise and colour of Istanbul.

Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influence has left several monuments for the tourist. The City Walls at 14,520 ft in circumference are used in the 2017 edition as a key feature of the 140km race. Coming after just 700m, under the illumination of artificial light, it provides an impressive spectacle.

An ancient theater, the Yenisehir Gate, St Sophia Cathedral (Orhan Ghazi Mosque) and the Green Mosque (Yesil Camil) named after the green tiles that adorn it.

Using the Lake as a backdrop, the 140km, 90km and 50km Iznik Ultra races basically cover part or the whole of the Lake as the race route weaving in and out of the mountains that surround the lake travelling in an anti-clockwise direction.  It is in the last 60km’s of the 140km and 90km races and all of the 50km that includes tough climbs and quad breaking descents.

Turkey is not known for ultra running. Despite it’s geographical location, it’s history and the multi-cultural influences placed upon it, ultra is a sport for the few. But over the years the Iznik races have grown and that is reflected in the number of races on offer and the increased participation. This is all down to race director Caner Odabasoglu and his MCR Racesetter team.

Accommodating, friendly and warm, the Turkish people embrace a sport that they know little about and welcome the runners with open arms. The locals, who’s priority is working the land, finding food to put on the table in many ways look on, not quite understanding why people would run, for fun!

Predominately trail, less than 20% of the course is road and these sections are purely used as a transition from one section of trail to the next. A course with demanding terrain, stunning views and quiet, small and un-spoilt villages. Terrain underfoot at times is rocky, rutted, muddy and often slippery. The climbs are tough and demand pacing, particularly if running the longer event is a real skill. Especially with some new sections added in 2016 that predicated a lengthy 10km road section.

In the 140km event, Elenena Polyakova, an ever-present in Iznik and racing in Turkey won the ladies race with a strong performance in what turned out to be very tough conditions after 17 hours – her time 20:22. Kemal Kukul dominated the men’s race with a course record 16:08. Full 140km results here.

Hasan Ozturk had a convincing 20+ minute lead in the 90km to take victory in 9:06. Aysen Sola won the ladies race in 10:22 and placed 5th overall. Full 90km results here.

In the 50km, Mehmet Aydingor took top honours in 4:57 with Asli Stercelik winning the ladies race in 6:20. Full 50km results here.

Race Website HERE

Turkey enlightens a natural curiosity in any adventurer with the wonderful Istanbul and Iznik by contrast, relaxes the mind and body with a kicked back and simplistic view on modern day life.

For this looking to combine the two, Turkey and the Iznik Ultra provide a great opportunity.

RESULTS for the 2017 edition of races available HERE