photo by Stephan Gripmaster
It is Olympic year! If you are a trail runner, mountain runner, mountain biker or basically just a lover of the great outdoors then the festivities that are about to unfold in London may not be exactly what lights your fire!
Imagine bringing some 2000 athletes together in one place of which, 100 are the top ranked athletes representing 25 nations. No, I’m not talking about the Olympics, I am talking about the Sky Games.
photo by Stephan Gripmaster
An international competition of high mountain sports that are the Skyrunning World Championships. Held every four years with previous editions in Italy and Andorra, 2012 sees the games held in Romanesque Ribargoza in the Spanish Pyrenees.
The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) specifies that the games must be held in mountainous settings with a minimum height of 2000m. In addition to altitude a solid infrastructure for athletes is essential. Transport, hotels and restaurants are all key aspects that make the Games a success, something that Lauri Van Houten (ISF Executive Director & VP) and Marino Giacometti (ISF President) are experts at.
Credit Nancy Hobbs
Typically held over one long weekend, the 2012 games have a unique format as they are to be hold over two weekends, starting on June 29th and finishing on July 8th.
In the words of Marino Giacometti “The Sky Games represent a major sports event celebrated every Olympic year. The aim of this event is to promote ‘skysports’ on an international level”.
What are the Sky Games?
The Games consist of six separate competitions with the World Title available and five open categories.
SkyMarathon is a mountain running endurance event over the classic distance of 42km.
SkyBike is a high mountain Duathlon that consists of an 11km MTB – 10km run – 10km MTB
SkyRace a 21km running mountain race
VerticalKm is an ascent race with an elevation gain of 1000m over one VerticalKm
SkySpeed is a 200m speed race where four athletes run at the same time over a vertical course
SkyRaid is a relay race exclusively reserved for selected athletes from International delegations. This is Not an open category event
Apart from single race classifications athletes can also compete in the ‘Combined‘ where three of the four Sky Games races are scored. The SkyMarathon is compulsory and only two from the other three will count.
The Sky Games have a wonderful history with some fabulous participants, in 2008, competitors in the men’s field included Kilian Jornet and August Roc. In the ladies, Anotella Confortola, Corinne Favre and Gemma Arro participated with Kilian Jornet and Anotella Confortola taking the combined titles.
The Events 2012
SkyMarthon at Romanesque Ribargoza has a elevation gain of 3000m over the 42km distance. The first two km’s are straight but they then have the sudden climb to El Col de Salinas. At 12km the first descent awaits, a drop of 600m to reach the Llauset Dam and then a climb to the El Coll de Llauset which has a height of 2900m. This section from 19 to 23km is the last and hardest climb. At the summit the descent begins to the Coll de Salinas, from here the descent continues to Ginast and then the final stretch of some 2km’s is flat to the finish at Vitaller.
SkyRace starts and finishes in Vitaller. The distance of 21km’s has an elevation gain of 1350m. From the start the runners go to Montanuy and go to the Col de Forca where they then take a path to Castanesea and then an additional path to Cap de Casseretra and Pico Comadelo. Once at the peak they face a very steep descent to Ginast which is just 2km’s away from the finish in Vitaller.
VerticalK the total distance of this event is 3km covering an altitude gain of 1000m. Starting in Barruera it crosses the village then the race increases in incline basically going directly up to the finish point some 3km away.
SkySpeed starts at Taull Church and finishes at Pla de L’Ermita. At 200m in length and a vertical gain of 100m this race is hard and fast. The race is run in heats, four competitors head to head in each heat. This is an exciting race to watch.
SkyBike is a high mountain Duathlon with three disciplines – bike:run:bike. Starting at 1435m in Laspaules the route goes south. Finally reaching an altitude of 1900m they exchange bike for run shoes. The run includes some 30-40% gradients until reaching an elevation gain of 2500m. They then descend through the mountain crest. After the completion of 10km they then exchange run shoes for bike. Returning to the finish, they must cycle on technical trail, climb up gradients of 20% and descend to the finish in Laspaules.
Combined consists of five independently scored races: SkyMarathon, SkyBike, SkySpeed, VerticalK and SkyRaid although SkyRaid does not have an ‘open’ category. SkyMarathon is compulsory but the combined winner is scored from the other three events : SkyBike, SkySpeed, VerticalK with the two best results counting. So, a pure runner would usually compete in SkySpeed and VerticalK in addition to the SkyMarathon.
Some events have already been run with winners announced, such as the VerticalK and SkySpeed both run on June 30th. SkyBike took place on July 1st but all attention focuses on this weekend with main event, the SkyMarathon. The SkyMarathon not only is the most significant race within the Games but also will be crucial in the outcome of the Combined male and female winners. In addition to this, SkyRace and SkyRaid will also make a great weekend of racing.
- 7th July – 1100 – Vilas del Turbon – SkyRaid
- 8th July – 0730 for the Women and 0800 for the Men – Vilaller – SkyMarathon
- 8th July – 0830 – Vilaller – SkyRace
Results so far
photo by Stephan Gripmaster
- Didier Zago
- Jesus de la Morena
- Luis Albert Hernando
- Deboora Cardone
- Oihana Kortazar
- Silvia Leal
- Augusti Roc 35:51
- Raul Garcia 36:10
- Nicola Golinelli 36:16
- Oihana Kortazar 43:59
- Laura Orgue 44:29
- Mireia Miro 44:49
- Francesc Freixer 2:10:49
- Jesus de la Morena 2:10:52
- Didier Zago 2:11:20
- Nuria Picas 2:33:35
- Yolanda Magallon 2:57:56
- Montserrat Martinez 3:02:31
Currently, Oihana Kortazar is looking in a strong position for the female ‘Combined’ title (Oihana won at Zegama) and in the mens ‘Combined’ Didier Zago and Jesus de la Morena are both in contention.