Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® 2017 Summary – Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit

Transvulcania VK – May 2017

The island of La Palma today hosted the 2nd Vertical Kilometer® (VK) in the new 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit.

The series started just last weekend in Italy with with the Trentapassi Vertical, rising 1,000m above Italy’s Lake Iseo with two new race records. Read the report HERE.

To clarify, a VK is a uphill mountain race that climbs for 1,000m over a course that is less than 5 km in length. Certain courses on the circuit do obtain special dispensation – Transvulcania one case in point.

The route here in La Palma covers over 1200m of vertical gain over a distance of 7.6km and re-traces sections the Ultramarathon course along the GR131 and concludes at the forest lookout tower at an altitude of 1600m with stunning views of the Aridane valley and the north east of the island.

The VK circuit is a Skyrunner® World Series spin off – previously, the Vertical Kilometer® discipline was included in the SWS, it now has its own category that will allow more races in an ever increasing market. In 2017 there are seventeen races in eight countries.

Featuring  the world’s shortest and fastest races, the first and only triple VK, some 20-year-old classics and some exciting new ones, the 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit will produce some very exciting races.

From sea to sky, up cliff faces, volcanoes, mountain summits and ski runs, this gravity-defying sport is for anyone ready to push their limits – today in La Palma, Transvulcania provided a wonderful showcase for the sport as runners departed from Tazacorte Puerto.

The line-up for the VK was impressive with Stian Angermund, Saul Padua, Ferran Teixido, Remi Bonnet and Ondrej Fejfar heading up a world-class field. Transvulcania Ultramarathon champion Luis Alberto Hernando, also toed the line along with Arley Luque, Jose Manuel Leon, Daniel Garcia, Diego Simon, Joan Freixa and many more.

Stian Angermund dominated with a strong and. course record performance ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando and Saul Padua. His time of 00:47:22. Hernando ran 48:39 and Padua 50:41.

Yuri Yoshizumi headed up the ladies’ competition with Virginia Perez, Daniella Moreno, Gabriela Sanches, Zuzana Kirchova and Zuzana Urbancova, and a return to racing for Stephanie Jimenez after giving birth to her first child recently.

Christel Dewalle from France was an entrant in the race but withdrew from the competition on Tuesday May 9th. This morning, May 11th, the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) released a communique that related to a doping infringement by Dewalle under WADA rules that related to the Skyrunning World championships in 2016. Dewalle has received a 4-month ban from the sport effective from May 8th and her results from said World Championships will be removed. See the communication HERE.

Yuri Yoshizumi pushed hard up this long course to clinch victory ahead of Stephanie Jimenez and Zuzana Kirchova, the times 00:59:28, 01:01:18 and 01:04:33 respectively.

Attention now turns to the main event of the weekend, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon that starts in the early hours of the morning on Saturday at Fuencalienti lighthouse. You can read the race preview HERE.

Yading VK – Summary and Images

Starting at 3992m and concluding at 5000m, the Yading VK covers a distance of 7km (unusally long for the VK format) and a total elevation gain 1072m.  This is a first for Skyrunning! Alpine forests, prayer flags, a glacier lake and a high pass at 5000m.

Without doubt, this is a special VK! The altitude makes this race something quite unique and very different to other VK’s around the world. It’s one to add to your bucket list!

Starting at midday en-mass, the anticipated winning time of approximately 75-minutes was obliterated by Duo Ji (吉 多) a local Chinese runner – his time of 1:01:48 stunning on a course of this length and altitude.

Pascal Egli placed 2nd and Andy Wacker 3rd in a close fought battle, their times 1:04:08 and 1:05:09 respectively.

In the ladies race, Ida Nilsson produced a dominant performance crossing the line in 1:19:45 and she placed 6th overall. Silke Bender and Angela Flynn placed 2nd and 3rd.

Full results here

Running or Walking Efficiency when Climbing

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VK world record holder, Urban Zemmer

Recently I have produced a couple of articles about how to ensure that you are an efficient walker when participating in long or mountainous events. You can read them HERE and HERE.

The first article discusses Training to Walk for Ultra, Trail and Mountain Running and the second article is about Walking, Running and Climbing with Trekking Poles.

JOIN OUR YEARLY MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP IN LANZAROTE with MARATHON DES SABLES 2015 CHAMPION, ELISABETH BARNES – HERE

On December 15th, the University of Colorado Boulder released a document called, CU-Boulder researchers discover optimal range of slopes for extreme uphill running.

This article made me take a look and read in-depth for two reasons: first and foremost it ties in nicely with my previous two articles but more importantly and secondly, research into VK data dates back some 16-years and was pioneered by the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) who created the VK format as a racing discipline.

To clarify a VK is 1000m of vertical ascent and the objective is to climb the elevation gain as quickly as possible. The original context of the VK always was about research and data.

VK courses vary greatly but the ISF consider a true VK to be under 5km in length. To understand the variables, some VK’s, for example the Dolomites are just over 2km in length. By contrast, Limone Extreme is a considerably longer course with a less extreme gradient.

Fully, Switzerland has long been a testing ground for VK performance and a post from the ISF which was updated 22nd October 2012 adds some very clear and specific points to consider:

“Italy’s Urban Zemmer rocketed up the 1,000m vertical course, only 1.9 km long, in just 30’26”, 20 seconds faster than the standing world record set here in 2011.”

In addition, the ladies records tumbled:

“French runner Christel Dewalle was first in 36’48” followed by Axelle Mollaret in 37’44” and third, Maude Mathys from Switzerland in 37’56, all beating the previous world record set two years ago by Italian Valentina Belotti in 38’50.”

Notably, the ISF commented:

“The new men’s record nears a speed of 2,000 vertical metres per hour (precisely 1,971m) an incredible ground-breaking performance that the ISF has been monitoring for many years in a scientific research project… Depending on the course and type of start, poles are permitted and yesterday, most of the runners used them.  However, to date, the advantages of using poles has not been scientifically demonstrated.”

In 2014, the record for the VK was once again broken by Urban Zemmer at Fully, Switzerland with the incredible time of 29’ 42”.

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Remi Bonnet prefers to run a VK and never walks

So by simple logic (I am no scientist), it would suggest that the steepest course is the fastest as Fully is only 1.9km long. To quote, Run the Alps,The Vertical KM race in Fully, Switzerland is considered to be the fastest vertical kilometer course in the world. The race, held on a former funicular route, is home to both the men’s and women’s world records.”

You can watch a YouTube clip of the 2013 Fully race HERE

Watch the video of Fully and you will see varying techniques, some walk, some walk/ jog, some (most) use poles but one thing is consistent, the effort is almost maximal for all. Therefore, in a non-scientific look at Fully, the fastest performances come from the genetically gifted who have all the elements required for an optimum VK performance: lung capacity, V02max, lactate threshold, power to weight ratio, technique and so on.

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Marco de Gasperi like to mix running and walking

But what about the optimal slopes for uphill running as questioned by CU-Boulder. They posed the question:

“Imagine that you are standing in Colorado at a trailhead where the base elevation is 9,000 feet. Your friend challenges you to race to the summit of the mountain, which tops out at 12,280 feet, roughly 1,000 meters of elevation gain. There are several different trails that go to the summit. They are all steep and some are extremely steep. One trail averages a 10 degree incline and the sign says it is 3.6 miles long. A second trail averages 30 degrees, but is only 1.25 miles long. A third trail averages 40 degrees, but only 1 mile long. To get to the summit the fastest, which trail should you choose and should you walk or run?”

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Poles or no poles on a steep gradient?

This is a question that the ISF have asked and researched for many years. A paper titled, “Energy costs of walking and running uphill and downhill at extreme slopes” looks into this:

Davide Susta, Alberto E. Minetti*, Christian Moia and Guido Ferretti

Département de Physiologie, Centre Médical Universitaire, 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland, *Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager ST7 2HL, U.K.

The energy costs of walking and running (Cw and Cr, respectively, in J kg-1 m-1) increase with the slope uphill (up to +20%) and decrease with the slope downhill (down to -10%) (Margaria, 1938; Margaria et al, 1963). Outside this range, no measurements of Cw and Cr are available in the literature, even though walking and running on the mountains at greater slopes is becoming commoner and commoner practice in leisure and sport. We therefore set out to carry out the present study, the aim of which is to determine Cw and Cr on men walking and running at slopes up to +45% and -45% on the treadmill. After local ethical approval, 10 subjects (Skyrunners) were admitted to the study (age 32.6 + 7.5 years, body mass 61.2 + 5.7 kg, maximal O2 consumption 68.9 + 3.8 ml min-1 kg-1). They are all endurance athletes practicing mountain racing. O2 consumption at the steady state was measured by the open circuit method, using Leybold O2 and CO2 analysers and a Singer dry gas meter. Heart rate was measured by cardiotachography. Blood lactate concentration was determined after each run as a check for submaximal aerobic exercise.

Each subject performed up to three walking and three running trials at progressively increasing speeds on the level, and at the slopes of 10, 20, 30, 35, 40 and 45 % uphill and downhill. The duration of each trial was 4 min, and expired gas was collected during the 4th min of exercise. Minimum Cw on the level was: 

1.85 + 0.57 J kg-1 m-1 (n = 10) at the speed of 0.69 m s-1. During uphill walking, Cw increased with the slope, to attainthevalueof18.08+1.57Jkg-1 m-1 (n=9)atthespeedof0.69ms-1 andat the slope of +45%. During downhill walking, minimum Cw was lower at the slope of -10% (0.81 + 0.37 J kg-1 m-1, n = 9) than on the level. At slopes below -10%, it progressively increased. At -45%, it was 3.46 + 0.95 J kg-1 m-1(n = 5). Cr on the level was 3.40 + 0.24 J kg-1 m-1(n = 30). Cr increased with the slope, to attain 18.69 + 1.42 J kg-1 m-1(n = 6) at +45%. 

During downhill running, Cr decreased and attained its lowest value at the slope of -20% (1.73 + 0.36 J kg-1 m-1, n = 24). At lower slopes, it increased. At -45%, at speeds higher than 1.38 m s-1, it was equal to 3.79 + 0.57 (n = 7). The mechanical efficiency for vertical displacement was 0.216 + 0.015 at +45% and 1.078 + 0.275 at -45%. This data on the level and at slopes up to 20% correspond to those found by others on non-athletic subjects (Margaria, 1938). At higher slopes, the increases in Cw and Cr are such as could be predicted assuming that all energy is used to lift the body. By contrast, at -10% and -20%, both Cw and Cr are lower than in non- athletic subjects (Margaria, 1938), suggesting greater recovery of elastic energy at each step in the present athletes. At slopes below -20%, the increases in Cw and Cr are such as could be predicted assuming that all energy expenditure is for negative muscle contractions.

REFERENCES
Margaria, R. (1938). Atti Acad. Naz. Lincei 7, 299-368.

Margaria, R., Cerretelli, P., Aghemo, P. & Sassi, G. (1963). J. Appl. Physiol. 18, 367-370. This work was supported by a grant from the FSA- Federation.for Sport at Altitude

Referring back to the CU-Boulder research:

“Based on our research, we now know that choosing the second trail (30 degrees) and walking as fast as you can within your aerobic capacity is the fastest way to go,” Kram said. “For either running or walking, slopes between 20 and 35 degrees require nearly the same amount of energy to climb the hill at the same vertical velocity.”

This new study (HERE), which was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, is believed to be the first to examine the metabolic costs of human running and walking on such steep inclines (suggested by the CU-Boulder researchers.) However, I would question this and refer to research by the FSA – “Energy cost of walking and running at extreme uphill and downhill slopes.” Received 29 November 2001; accepted in final form 29 April 2002. You can download this detailed documentation HERE and it is essential reading.

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Who is the most efficient?

It would appear that gradients of 20-35 degrees require the same amount of effort and interestingly, CU-Boulder research found in a study:

“A vertical rate of ascent of just over 1 foot per second, is a pace that high-level athletes could sustain during the testing. At that speed, walking used about nine percent less energy than running. So, sub-elite athletes can ascend on very steep uphills faster by walking rather than running.”

In simple terms, this is something I have found out by attempting VK’s in my own time in and around events. More often than not, the effort required to run is so hard that it becomes counter productive. I have even found that including run sections to be counter productive as this raises my heart rate, increases lactate acid and requires me to recover while still climbing. However, if I maintain a constant effort walking, this produces the best results for me.

CU-Boulder research went on to say:

“The study examined 15 competitive mountain runners as they ran and walked on the treadmill at seven different angles ranging from 9 to 39 degrees. The treadmill speed was set so that the vertical rate of ascent was the same.  Thus, the treadmill speeds were slower on the steeper angles. The athletes were unable to balance at angles above 40 degrees, suggesting a natural limit on the feasible slope for a VK competition.”

In regard to the latter point, this in some respects relates to Fully, Switzerland and brings in another element, the use of poles and if poles allow a faster ascent when the gradient steepens. One only has to look at the Dolomites VK and Fully VK where poles are used by nearly all participants. The ISF plan to do a new test with and without ski poles, but it is not easy to do a serious test. Although not scientifically proven, it’s fair to say that using poles with gradients under 20% it will mean more Kcal and a reduced performance. However, with gradients steeper than 25 or 30%, the use of poles can correct style, etcetera and can improve the overall performance.

The CU-Boulder article is available to read in full HERE.

I can quote technical papers and research all day, however, as a runner you want to know the answer to the question, should I walk or should I run uphill and should I use poles?

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Irrespective of if you plan to run a VK or not, the research and thoughts provided by the FSA and CU-Boulder confirm that running or walking uphill provides an incredible workout. Importantly though, research confirms that walking should be a key element in any training plan, (*…walking used about nine percent less energy than running) especially if you are racing or training on hilly or mountainous terrain.

When participating in ultra events, reverting to periods of walking may well produce greater results and faster times. This is very evident when the terrain steepens; running will only expend more energy and produce slower times. The use of poles appears to benefit performance when gradients steepen, this is not scientifically confirmed.

On a final note though, many other factors come into play when looking at results and as with everything, there are exceptions. Urban Zemmer, Remi Bonnet, Laura Orgue, Christel Dewalle and so many more are able to run when others need to walk. We can’t choose our parents or our genetic pool. Ultimately, find out what works for you but practice makes perfect and the more climbing you do, the better and the faster you will become.

Embrace the mountains and going uphill.

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Christel Dewalle, ladies VK world record holder

Limone Extreme VK 2015 – Summary and Images

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Laura Orgue and Remi Bonnet are crowned 2015 Skyrunner® World Series Champions for the VK distance in Limone on the shore of Lake Garda at the 4th edition of the Limone Extreme race.

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Torrential rain and thunderstorms the previous night and morning of the VK resulted in a course change instigated by the race organisation for safety reasons. The resulting course was very different to the original route and considerably longer at 6km. Less steep, less technical and considerably more runnable. Of course this may very well have changed the dynamic of the race but the usual protagonists for the VK distance still performed at the highest level.

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VK specialist Urban Zemmer dictated the early pace showing his all around ability to run and drop his hands on his knees and grind out a fast pace on the steeper gradients. However, it was rising star of the sport, Remi Bonnet, who finally made his presence felt at the front. Too many observers this was expected after his recent performances at the RUT in the USA and his most recent victory at Lantau 2 Peaks in Hong Kong. Tromso VK winner, Stian Angermund placed 3rd ahead of Hannes Perkmann VK ever-present Jonathan Wyatt in 5th.

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In the ladies’ race, Laura Orgue already had the Skyrunner® World Series title sewn up based on previous victories. Despite this, her plan was to run the VK and SKY. However, in the days before the VK, Laura had picked up a virus and decided it was best to miss the distance she loves:

Hard decision today, I need to rest instead of race in the VK. I’m not feeling 100% so I have decided to recover for tomorrow’s SKY race of 23km and 2800m of elevation!”

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Last minute entrant and VK specialist, Christel Dewalle was the fastest lady on the day and lead from the front constantly trailed by Antonella Confortola, Maite Maiora and Norwegian rising star, Yngvild Kaspersen who moved up to 2nd in the overall rankings.

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The ladies’ positions remained this way all the way to the line with Spanish runner Oihana Kortazar taking the 5th spot.

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A total of 296-runners toed the line of the VK which started at the picturesque location of Marconi lakefront on the shores of Lake Garda. The overall elevation gain of the new route was 1200m+ in a distance of 6km.

Attention now turns the SKY race which will start today, Saturday at 1200 local time. This course has also been changed due to Thursday nights and Friday mornings excessive weather. The new route has an additional 800m of vertical gain which makes what was a tough race, exceptionally tough!

RESULTS

1-Christel Dewalle (50’48”)

2-Antonella Confortolla (53’12”)

3-Maite Maiora (53’46”)

4-Yngvild Kaspersen (54’58”)

5-Oihana Kortazar (56’27”)

 

1-Rémi Bonnet (43’51”)

2-Urban. Zemmer (44′)

3-Stian Angermund. (44’13”)

4-Hannes Perkmann (44’26”)

5-Jono Wyatt (44’43”)

 

Skyrunner® World Series ranking 2015:

  1. Laura Orgue
  2. Yngvild Kaspersen
  3. Maite Maiora

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  1. Remi Bonnet
  2. Nejc Kuhar
  3. Ferran Teixido

Limone sul Garda also provided a location for the Skyrunning AGM where the 2014 calendar, 2015 calendar and the future of the sport was discussed.

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Less Cloud, More Sky!

Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde 2015 – Val d’Isere

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Val d’Isere has a great history with the Vertical Kilometer, way back in ‘96’ the ISF were the first to organize a VK here!

A time lapse of 9-years and Val d’Isere re connected with the ethos of the VK using the Olympic Bellevarde Face in 2014. For many years, Marco De Gasperi held the VK world record here of 34-minutes and 41-seconds until the Italian was dethroned by a fellow countryman and VK specialist; Urban Zemmer.

The Vertical Kilometer has traditionally started at the foot of the Olympic Bellevarde face on “the board” in the heart of the Parc des Sports Charles Diebold in the center Val d’Isere.

The route then takes the greater part of what was the route of the men’s downhill Olympic Winter Games ski route (1992), won by Austrian Patrick Ortlieb.

It’s a tough course; 2.9Km’s in length and reaches an altitude of 2809m. Average gradients over the course are 35%, however, in places it reaches 63% as presented in the first hundred meters.

Including steep passages at 49% and 56% gradient, the sting comes with the famous passage of the Columbine at 55%. Followed by gentle slopes of the Great Wall (51%) a refreshment station is provided before the push to the line passing ‘Catherine Dent’ (50%) and then a finish loop passes the Bellevarde restaurant and the arrival is at a wooden start cabin at an altitude of 2809m.

Previous Records: 

Men: Marco DE GASPERI (ITA) en 34’51” (2003)

Women: Antonella CONFORTOLA (ITA) en 42’48” (2002) 

GONON and ORGUE shine on a sunny day in Val d’Isere

Following on from the Chamonix vertical kilometre, François Gonon today once again showed his competition a clean pair of heels to take victory in the 2015 Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde. Powering up the climb with hands-on-knees, Gonon was one of the few participants in the race not using poles. A disadvantage many thought but Gonon proved everyone wrong and won the race in true style in a time of 35:09.

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Yoann Sert placed 2nd and 2014 winner Nejc Kuhar placed 3rd but it was a close race, the duo were separated by seconds! 35:53 to 35:58.

VK races often have different start procedures. For example in Chamonix, runners depart every 30-seconds. In the Dolomites (next weekend) a series of small group starts will take place with approximately 25 runners per group. In Val d’Isere it was an individual start. This can prove difficult! Similar to the race of truth in the Tour de France, the runners must pace themselves and judge their effort over 1000m not knowing if they are gaining or loosing time.

In the ladies race, Laura Orgue one again showed supreme climbing ability in winning the ladies race and in doing so set a new course record! Antonella Confortola’s 2002 time of 42:48 has now been reset at 40:57.

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Christel Dewalle has been struggling with injury recently and although on the start list we were under the impression that she would not start. Her decision to race was a good one! Dewalle placed 2nd in 41:16 which also broke the old course record.

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The final ladies podium place went to Vanesa Ortega who completed the distance in 44:05.

Stats: 

  • Finish Elevation: 2 809 m
  • Length: 2 905 m
  • Altitude gain: 1000 m
  • Maximum Gradient: 63 %
  • Minimum Gradient: 15 %
  • Average Gradient: 35 %

The Vertical Kilometer Bellevarde Face is part of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and will be followed by the Ice Trail Tarentaise 2-days later (preview for the ITT HERE)

Skyrunning World Championships – VK Images

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Starting at 1600 in the centre of Chamonix, runners from all over the world started  tackle 3.8km and 1000m’s of vertical gain with one objective; to be the fastest possible!

A route of pure ‘mountain’ spirit, that takes a straight and direct line from the center of Chamonix to the finish at Planpraz. The VK is a pure test of strength. Similar to a prologue in the Tour de France, runner’s start at timed 30-second intervals, the fastest to the summit is the winner!

The opening sections comprise of runnable trail, however, the last section becomes more technical with rocks and this requires more commitment with notably a few aerial passages equipped with cables and ladders.

Kilian Jornet and Laura Orgue were crowned respective world champions amongst highly competitive fields.

  1. Kilian Jornet 34:18
  2. Bernard Dematteis 34:36
  3. Urban Zemmer 34:47
  1. Laura Orgue 41:29 new CR
  2. Stevie Kremer 41:37
  3. Christel Dewalle 41:50

Full results available HERE

 

Eirik Haugsnes joins inov-8

bilde

 Prior to the Skyrunner World Series event in Chamonix, France, six weeks ago, Eirik Haugsnes was a relative unknown in the sport of athletic superhumans.

Two outstanding performances under the shadow of Mont Blanc, however, changed all that.

First the 32-year-old Norwegian, who lives in one of Europe’s most northerly outposts, far from the skyrunning hub, claimed the scalps of many top mountain runners when placing third in the brutal Mont Blanc Vertical Km race.

Less than 48 hours later Eirik was at it again, this time finishing fifth in the elite-stacked Mont Blanc Marathon, which sees athletes tackle over 2,500m of grueling mountain ascent.

Having never previously raced in the Alps or over the marathon distance, suddenly he found himself as one of the hottest properties in skyrunning.

It’s therefore no surprise to learn of inov-8’s delight at recruiting Eirik to their talented international team, beating off interest from rival brands in doing so.

“The weekend in Chamonix was an incredible one for me,” says Eirik, who wore inov-8’s X-Talon 190 shoes in the vertical km and Trailroc 245 footwear for the marathon.

“I’ve done a lot of uphill-only races in Norway over steep and technical terrain and knew the Mont Blanc Vertical Km would suit me.

“As a relative unknown I was given an early individual start time, while the guys expected to clock the fastest times set off later.

“I just went for it. I pushed hard right from the beginning and maintained that intensity all the way up the climb.

“To get the third fastest time (35:02) and be within 30 seconds of the winner (Saul Antonio Padua Rodriguez) was really pleasing.

“I wasn’t supposed to be doing the Mont Blanc Marathon two days later, but on the back of my result in the vertical km race I was offered a place.

“Again, I gave it absolutely everything in the race and maintained a really good pace.  The last 10km, however, were really tough. My body was in pain but I pushed through it.

“It was my first race over the marathon distance so to clock 3:47:59 and finish fifth over such a tough course was great.

“I also did it without any support. I had no team on the course to help me and drank only what was at the aid stations.

“I noticed inov-8 had a big team in Chamonix and was really impressed to see five of their runners place in the top-10 men and women for the marathon.

“I have always loved the brand, its philosophy and their big ambitions, so to now join the inov-8 team is really exciting for me.”

Living in Finnsnes, Troms, Eirik was brought up on a diet of cross-country skiing and was one of the best juniors in Norway, recording many podium places in national competitions.

In 2002, he achieved a then-world record for the fastest time skiing unsupported across Greenland, enduring terrifying whiteouts on route – something he says has aided his mental toughness for mountain running.

Eirik began running just five years ago and has since become one of the best mountain exponents in Norway, where many races are uphill-only, featuring ascent of between 500m and 1,800m.

This year, prior to his Chamonix double-header, he finished fifth in two very different races – first the Empire State Building Run-up in New York, which he completed in 11 minutes and four seconds, and then the 83km Transgrancanaria ultra-marathon on the Spanish Island of Gran Canaria, for which he clocked 8:55:24.

“The Empire State Building Run-Up involves scaling 86 floors and 1,576 steps as quickly as possible,” he said.

“In the town where I live the tallest building I could find has five floors. I did a lot of repetitions of those five floors in training!

“Before Transgrancanaria the only off-road races I had done were uphill races in Norway, so it was a totally new experience for me to be competing both up and down big mountains.

“I also went there having only trained in the snow, which every year covers our town between November and May – I think I live closer to the North Pole than the Canary Islands!

“I was therefore happy to finish fifth on the hard-packed trails, especially as for the last 30km I was totally wasted and running on empty.”

The Matterhorn Ultraks is part of the Skyrunner World Series and will see athletes battle it out over a stunning course that includes 3,600m of ascent.

And as for being the new kid on the skyrunning block, he adds: “I rise to it. I think it gives me an advantage. There are no big expectations on my shoulders, except those I put on myself.

 “I will continue to run for adventure and to challenge my limits.”

LINK:

inov-8 HERE

Dolomites Vertical Kilometer, 2013 Race Summary

©copyright .iancorless.com._1060855Just 12 hours before the start of the Dolomites Vertical Kilometer, Canazei was under heavy rain and thunderstorms. As we all looked up to the summit finish, the same thought passed through each end every mind; I hope it clears up for tomorrow!

Clear up it did and on the stroke of 10am, the Vertical Kilometer opened the 2013 ISF Skyrunning European Championships. Covering 1000 vertical meters in just 2.4km, Canazei is regarded as one of the toughest vk’s on the circuit and it most certainly did not disappoint.

A last minute entry from Saul Antonio Padua, winner of the VK in Mont Blanc added some last minute spice. He was here to win, no doubt, but he wasn’t going to have it easy. Kilian Jornet fresh from another victory, this time at the Ice Trail Tarentaise was looking in great form. Urban Zemmer who had a disappointing run at Mont Blanc was here to put the record straight and this course would suit his brute force. Tadei Pivk, fourth at Zegama would also be a contender, Augusti Roc and Kilian’s Chamonix-Mont Blanc-Chamonix buddy; Matheo Jacquemond would also be pushing at the front.

From the gun, Saul Antonio Padua placed his cards on the table and dictated the pace closely followed by all the contenders. Bent double, each and every runner battled the gradients. But Saul Antonio seemed to be too keen for the win… slowing from his effort, Urban Zemmer went past him and pushed hard. Closely followed Philip Gotsch and of course, Kilian Jornet. With 300m to go they were lined out moving in harmony, right leg, left leg as both arms worked together as though connected by a brace to help provide the force through poles to get up the gradient as fast as possible.©copyright .iancorless.com._1150164

Through the large inflatable arch at the Col, Kilian Jornet made his move, sprinting past the two contenders for the crown he produced an all out effort, relegating Zemmer to second and Gotsch to third.

The ladies started five minutes after the men and pre race favorite and 2012 winner, Antonella Confortola took the lead. Two poles outstretched in front of her she powered herself up the 1000m of elevation. If you ever need an example of how to use poles, watch Antonella.

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Emelie Forsberg is relatively new to VK but her all around ability and strength was shining through, her victory at last weeks Ice Trail Tarentaise was causing her no problems as she pursued Antonella. Iva Milesova was a surprise third place very closely pursued by Silvia Serafini. The first two podium places were guaranteed barring a disaster but the third place was up for grabs, could Silvia put in a surge and make up ground in the final 100-150 meters. A final turn confronted each participant with a vertical wall of grass. Iva surged as Silvia surged and the gap was held, the final podium place be rewarded to Iva Milesova.

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Attention now turns to Sunday and the Sky Race. Many VK runners will toe the line in Canazei come Sunday morning, will they have recovered and who are your predictions?

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1160546Spain and Italy head the European Skyrunning Championship with Kilian Jornet and Antonella Confortola doing the honours.

The final European Skryunning ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Follow Sunday’s second championship event with the Dolomites SkyRace® – a fast and technical 22 km course, it rises from Canazei to the 3,152m summit of the Piz Boè and back.  Snow will be among the technical features the all-star line up will look forward to – for some of the eighteen countries participating, a first.

RESULTS

  1. Kilian Jornet 32:43 – SPA – * new course record
  2. Urban Zemmer 32:50 – ITA
  3. Philip Gotsch 32:54 – ITA
  1. Antonella Confortola 41:02 – ITA
  2. Emelie Forsberg 43:01 – SWE
  3. Iva Milesova 43:09 – CZE

Vertical medal count

1. Italy 314 points

2. Spain 268 points

3. France 240 points

Full race results

More information at http://www.skyrunning.com

European Skyrunning Championships 2013

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Italy will host the third edition of the biennial championships. The Vertical and Sky disciplines will take place in Canazei, Trento, on July 19 & 21. The Ultra distance, for the first a championship discipline – will be celebrated in Vicenza, on July 27. The skyrunning “hall of fame” is unveiled

The third edition of the European Skyrunning Championships kicks off in Italy with not just Europe’s best, but no less than seven world championsrepresenting sixteen nations.  The events will mark the first European Ultra title, as well as the Vertical and Sky distances.

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Taking on all three disciplines will be super-champs Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, for whom only the sky is the limit.  A number of other athletes will take on the three-race challenge but mostly the specialists are aiming for medals in their preferred categories.

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The strong Spanish team includes 2011 Skyrunning World Champion Luis Alberto Hernando who will take on the Ultra with 2012 Ultra Champion Nuria Picas.

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The twelve team members also include three-time World Champion, Agustì Roc and Vertical Champion Laura Orguè

Silvia Serafini copyright iancorless.com

Italy will be aiming at the Vertical and Sky distances with a robust line-up headed by Vertical World Champion Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola who took third at the recent KM Vertical in Chamonix. The Italian squad is supported by Nicola Golinelli (4th Mont-Blanc Marathon), Marco Facchinelli currently heading the SWS Vertical Series together with Marco Moletto (ranked 4th).  Silvia Serafini (4th in Mont-Blanc Marathon), will race both distances while Stephanie Jimenez will take on the SkyMarathon®.  

Many more world-class names have signed up to represent their county in the European Championships.  Among them, the strong French team: Michel Lanne, Emilie Lecomte, Matheo Jacquemoud, Didier Zago, Celine Lafaye and Corrine FavrePhilipp Reiter and promising “new” skyrunner Florian Reichert (Germany); Ferran Teixido and Oscar Casal Mir (Andorra); Zhanna Vokueva (Russia); Csaba Nemeth (Hungary); Ionut Zinca (Rumania); Tessa Hill(Great Britain).  

Emilie Lecomte copyright iancorless.com

The Netherlands are not new to skyrunning after their first experience at the 2012 SkyGames®.  They are led by Ragna Debats, 5th at Mont-Blanc Marathon. New entries include a very strong representation from the Czech Republic with no less than thirteen team members they are determined to make an impression on the international skyrunning scene.

To date, the sixteen countries entered are: Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Rumenia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.

The events kick off on July 19 in Canazei, Trento, Italy with the Vertical Kilometer®, followed by the Dolomites SkyRace® on July 21.  The Ultra distance will be disputed at the Trans d’Havet just six days later in the nearby Veneto Region on July 27.

With such a deep field in every category, records are likely to tumble.

The record on the unforgiving Vertical Kilometer® course, just 2,1 km long, stands at 33’16” by Urban Zemmer and Antonella Confortola39’13”, back in 2008 when the course was inaugurated at the SkyGames® .

Antonella copyright iancorless.com

The Dolomites SkyRace® favoured by the world’s top runners offers a new challenge after record-breaking performances last year by Kilian Jornet in2h01’52 and Emelie Forsberg, in 2h26’00. The challenging and often technical course represents one of the toughest proving grounds for the relatively short distance:  22 km but with 1,750m climb to the summit of the Piz Boè which, at 3,152m altitude, towers majestically above the start and finish of the race in Canazei.

Moving on to the much anticipated Ultra, the Trans d’Havet is an 80 km point to point with 5,500m vertical climb traversing the Piccole Dolomiti in the Veneto Region.  The route, technical in stretches, includes 6 km of tunnels. 

Course records at last year’s launch were: 10h58’44” by Daniele Palladino (ITA) and Francesca Canepa (ITA) 11h44’45’’.

The winning formula?  Easy: the European Skyrunning Championships are open with individual titles at stake in each discipline. Ranking is based on the sum of the highest points scored in two out of three events.  The national title is based on the score of the first three men and one woman in all three events.

Vertical

Dolomites Vertical Kilometer®, Canazei, Trento, July 19

Sky

Dolomites SkyRace®, Canazei, Trento, July 21

Ultra

Trans d’Havet, 80k, Piovene R, Piccole Dolomiti, Vicenza – July 27

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Skyrunning Website HERE

VK images from Mont Blanc

Kilian Jornet copyright iancorless.comSimple really, start here and go up for 1000 vertical meters and then stop. Fastest wins… ! Nothing like a good old time trial to get the heart going.

Pioneered by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF), the Vertical Kilometer really is a fantastic sport. Entertaining to watch and of course due to the staggered start, one has the opportunity to see each runner in close detail. More news to follow on the race but here are the results and images from the day.

Resuts:

Men

1°Saul Antonio Padua Rodriguez 36’040 nouveau record
2°Kilian Jornet 36’23
3°Eirik-Dagssonn Haugsnes 36’32

Ladies

1°Christel Dewalle 43’03 record
2°Laura Orgue 44’23
3°Antonella Confortola 44’25
4°Emelie Forsberg 46’25

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LINKS:

Skyrunning HERE