Vertical K records fall

Urban Zemmer, new VK world record holder. ©ISF

Both the men’s and women’s world records in the Vertical Kilometer® tumbled yesterday in the fourth Vertical Series race in Fully, Switzerland.

It was a race among champions where boundaries were pushed to the limit. Italy’s Urban Zemmerrocketed 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 by fellow countryman Manfred Reichegger who was second in 30’42”.  Slovenian Nejc Kuhar was third in31’00” and Italian Marco De Gasperi, fourth in31’37”.

Christel Dewalle, new VK world record holder. © ISFIn the ladies’ field the top four all closed under record time. French runner Christel Dewalle was first in 36’48” followed by Axelle Mollaret in37’44” and third, Maude Mathys from Switzerland in 37’56, all beating the previous world record set two years ago by Italian Valentina Belotti in38’50”.

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.  (As a matter of interest, the maximum vertical gain in cycling, 1,850m, was established by Marco Pantani in 1998).

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.

Leading the Vertical Series to date are:


1. Urban Zemmer (ITA) – 200 points

2. Nejc Kuhar (SLO) – 178 points

3. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 168 points


1. Laura Orgué Vila (ESP) – 172 points

2. Silvia Leal Augé (ESP) – 150 points

3. Zhanna Vokueva (RUS) – 148 points

The Arc’teryx Advantage

The Arc’teryx advantage

Published in RUN247
Wednesday 8th August 2012
Tags Arcteryxs   |   TalkUltra   |   Ian Corless

TalkUltra’s Ian Corless reports back from the Arc’teryx Media Camp in the Pyrenees, and explains why Arc’teryx’s North American manufacturing facility gives them the edge when it comes to incorporating athlete feedback into their designs

The Arc’teryx advantage

About Arc’teryx

Mention the word Arc’teryx to any outdoor lover and you will typically get a one word answer that is drawn out as though the word is made of too many letters;  N  I  C  E  !
And they would be correct. Arc’teryx make nice kit. Just like Stellar Artois, it is reassuringly expensive.

The first big question is the name… explanation please! Named for ARCHAEOPTERYX LITHOGRAPHICA, the first reptile to develop the feather for flight, freeing itself from the constraints of the horizontal world.

Arc’teryx achieves an advantage with its products by merging un-rivaled designs with the highest quality and highest performing materials. They use innovation and unique assembling techniques to make durable products that perform in the intended environment for the intended sport. The Endorphin range is the epitome of this ethos.

I was very fortunate to be invited to the Pyrenees in July for a ‘media camp’ to review and test the new Endorphin running range for 2013. This media camp was arranged in conjunction with Skyrunning and the Skygames of which Arc’teryx are a partner and as such they had several Arc’teryx sponsored athletes taking part, Adam Campbell, Murray Strain and Nicola Gollinelli to name just a few who participated in the events.

The media camp assembled journalists from Italy, France, UK, Germany, Spain and Sweden and we all congregated after a lengthy transfer from Barcelona in Ribagossa. Nestled in a mountain hotel we spent a superb three days learning about the Arc’teryx brand, running in the mountains testing the Endorphin range and of course we had some wonderful relaxation time with great food and great company.

The Arc’teryx advantage

Photos: Departing for VerticalK. Arc’teryx athlete Adam Campbell

The Arc’teryx advantage

Arc’teryx have an advantage! They are one of only a few major outdoor industry outerwear brands to have its own domestic North American manufacturing facility. This allows them to readily develop proprietary manufacturing processes, enabling them to efficiently create superior features that other manufacturers simply cannot build. They are able to design a product one day, manufacture it the next day and then by the third day the product is being tested out on the trail or in the mountains. It is this level of immediate feedback that enables Arc’teryx to select the right fabrics, construction and weight to ensure that not only the garment performs to the best of it’s ability but importantly, so that you perform to the best of your ability! It’s a synergy of design, fabric, manufacturing and performance.

Adam Campbell explained in detail how he had specific demands for the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji in which he placed second overall.  A tough 100-mile run that had very specific equipment requirements.

Adam needed a lightweight race pack that could hold mandatory equipment and allow him to hydrate easily while on the move. He needed a lightweight waterproof jacket with hood and over trousers. All these items were manufactured to Adam’s exacting needs, all within one week. It is this on site facility of design, manufacture and immediate testing that allows these new innovations to transfer down to us, the consumer.

Working in conjunction with textile manufacturers, Arc’teryx are able to select and develop the highest performing and most durable materials that are specific to the demands of the sport in which the garment will be worn. It’s about finding that balance between weight, breathability, waterproofness and durability.

  1. GORE-TEX® Pro Shell
  3. Coreloft™ & Thermatek™ Insulation
  4. Fortius™ & Polartec® Softshell
  5. Phasic™ base layer fabrics
  6. MAPP Merino Wool
  7. 420ACT™ AC² pack materials
  8. Watertight™ zippers

Engineered to meet the needs of the most demanding athlete. Activity-specific patterning ensures complete freedom of movement, and each product is critically scrutinized and detailed for the intended end use.

  1. e3D patterning for enhanced range-of-motion
  2. Snowsports specific outerwear features
  3. Hoods with quick, one-hand adjustment
  4. Tri-Dex glove patterning
  5. Packs with articulated & breathable components

All these elements combine to ensure that Arc’teryx maintain an advantage over its competition. The synergy may make the products a little more expensive but believe me, when you see the difference; it is a price worth paying!

The Arc’teryx advantage

Photos: The author Ian Corless and the group at the top of the VerticalK

Testing in the Pyrenees

I can’t think of a better way to test a product than to put the stuff on and go and run it. Luckily the Arc’teryx staff very kindly provided all of us with the opportunity to run (walk) the VerticalK course as used in the Skygames. If you are new to Skyrunning and the races that they have, the VerticalK goes up 1000m with a typical gradient of some 30+% so effectively you cover a distance of around 3.5km and ascend 1000m. They are tough to do, particularly if you race them!

We congregated in the car park and with the help of Arc’teryx athletes as guides, we started on our way. A promise of a sumptuous picnic and cold drinks on our return was surely just a ploy to get us up the mountain…

Like a flock of canaries we took flight. Our citrus Motus SS shirts made us look like a professional team out on a training camp. Unfortunately the reality was quite different. No sooner had we crossed the main road, gone up a small alleyway, that the climb started. The laughter and chat soon subsided as, one by one, everyone started to power walk.

Steep climbing and rutted technical trail underfoot made the 1000m ascent good fun. We had great company, beautiful weather, stunning views and incredible scenery. Overhead birds soared. Giant birds, eagle like in groups of 3’s and 4’s. It was incredible.

In our own time we each made our ascent to the imaginary finish line. Several of us ascended higher to get a panoramic vista of the whole mountain range, it was an incredible view.

The 1000 m drop back down to the car park offered a different test. Not a demand on aerobic ability and fitness, but a test of technique, nerve and confidence. As promised, cold drinks and a picnic awaited!

SkyGames – 2012 summary

July 8, 2012

Skyrunners worldwide celebrated their own games today with the final events of the 2012 SkyGames®.  Six skyrunning disciplines stretching over two weekends had 1,300 participants and twenty nations competing for the forty medals and 14 world titles at stake.

Host country Spain dominated throughout with a formidable contingent including no less than three skyrunning world champions in their ranks.  Luis Alberto Hernando and Nuria Picas were crowned 2012 SkyGames® World Champions in the combined category.  The title was based on the highest points scored in the SkySpeed® (100m ascent), the Vertical Kilometer® (1,000m ascent) and the SkyMarathon®.

Both champions clinched the title by winning the compulsory SkyMarathon® outright today – a tough, 42 km race with a punishing 3,000m vertical climb.

The final medal count had Spain soaring ahead with 7 gold medals, 6 silver and 4 bronze, followed by France, Italy, Japan, Andorra and Venezuela.

Japan's Dai MatsumotoThe ranking points, based on the best results of three men and one woman per nation, read as follows:  Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Greece, Andorra, USA, Great Britain, Poland and Switzerland.

New entries we’ll no doubt be seeing more of were Alex Nichols (USA) who, in his first SkyMarathon®, placed an excellent 6th, and Japan’s Dai Matsumoto(6th in the 2006 Andorra SkyGames®) placed 2nd in today’s SkyRace®.  Look out for him in the World Series’ races coming up soon.

The six SkyGames® disciplines: SkySpeed, 100 metres vertical climb with a 45% incline; Vertical Kilometer, the universally popular formula, here a mere 3.5 km with a 30% incline;  SkyBike – a duathlon combining mtb and skyrunning to 2,000m altitude;  SkyRaid – a multi-discipline team relay; the 21 km SkyRace with 1,350m vertical climb, reserved for runners aged 16-21.  The events concluded with an epic SkyMarathon reaching 3,100m altitude – valid for the combined points title.

Medal count

  • Spain – 7 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze
  • France – 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze
  • Italy – 1 gold, 1 bronze
  • Japan – 1 gold
  • Andorra – 1 silver
  • Venezuela – 1 silver

After months of preparation, an invasion of thousands, and the spectacular week-long celebrations, the people of the small towns scattered around Ribagorza Románica will return to their quiet ways, welcoming tourists to the Romanic Churches for which they are famed and, possibly, feel just a little nostalgia for the stirring sports events that have touched citizens and participants alike.

The event was sanctioned by FEDME, the Spanish Federation for Mountain Sports.

Follow the events on twitter and Facebook.  Official website: for details.

Sky Games 2012

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.
This Weekend

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

  1. Didier Zago
  2. Jesus de la Morena
  3. Luis Albert Hernando
  1. Deboora Cardone
  2. Oihana Kortazar
  3. Silvia Leal
  1. Augusti Roc 35:51
  2. Raul Garcia 36:10
  3. Nicola Golinelli 36:16
  1. Oihana Kortazar 43:59
  2. Laura Orgue 44:29
  3. Mireia Miro 44:49
  1. Francesc Freixer 2:10:49
  2. Jesus de la Morena 2:10:52
  3. Didier Zago 2:11:20
  1. Nuria Picas 2:33:35
  2. Yolanda Magallon 2:57:56
  3. 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.
For full details go to