The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and the 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit progresses with two stunning races on the island of Madeira this coming weekend.
The SVK – Santana Vertical Kilometer®
The SVK (Santana Vertical Kilometer® ) covers a course 4.8km in length and a total vertical gain of 1003m and follows on from the most recent VK at Zegama-Aizkorri just last weekend where Stian Angermund-Vik and Laura Orgue took top honours.
The SVK takes place within the Madeira Natural Park, inside protected ecosystems areas that are part of the Natura 2000 Network – an ecological network that has the objective to contribute for ensuring biodiversity through the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the European Union. Starting near the Vale da Lapa at an altitude of about 780m, in the heart of the Laurissilva forest, a Natural World Heritage Site of Mankind, the course covers 4.8km. Participants can experience the amazing views of Madeira Island and feel nature at its most beautiful. The final part of the route consists of a very technical and demanding climb that culminates in an emblematic point called Encumeada Alta (1785m), in the central mountain, from where you can enjoy superb panoramic landscapes on the highest peaks of the island.
A total of 78 runners will take on this tough course with Saul Antonio Padua Rodriguez heading up the race. Other runners to watch are Ferran Teixido, Ekatarina Mityaeva, Anna Frost and more.
Runners depart at 1-minute intervals
The USM – Ultra Skymarathon Madeira®
The main event of the weekend is the USM (Ultra Skymarathon Madeira®) – a technical mountain race that consists of steep slopes and trails covering a distance of 55km and 4000m of vertical gain.
Comprised of passages which require technical climbing expertise of grade 2, stunning mountain scenery, mountains, sea cliff landscape plus the addition of an up river boulder hopping scramble; yes, the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira is a unique race – It is no ordinary race and one that combines mixed elements in a wonderful natural playground.
“This place is incredible. The diversity of nature, the amount of vertical that you get immediately from the sea is breath-taking. The colour of the water is like nothing I have ever seen. I have stopped so many times to say “wow”! The organisers and community runners have made me feel at home already. I don’t want to ever leave…” – Anna Frost
The ladies race will have a tough battle with last years 2nd and 3rd place ladies, Hillary Allen and Anna Frost.
Add to the mix Elisabet Bertran Mesanes, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Eva Maria Moreda, Katarina Lovrantova and Laura Pratt Merino.
In the mens race it’s wide open, the hot favourite may well be 2016 Skyrunner World series Extreme Champion Jonathan Albon who will love the technical nature of the Madeira course. However, Italy’s Franco Colle will be tough competition along with Pere Aurell Bove, Dmityr Mityaeva, Nuno Silva, Roger Vinas and Xavier Teixido.
A full line-up of the start list can be viewed here.
Cristofer Clemente (6:00:28) and Gemma Arenas (6:59:51) took top honours in 2016, who will stand atop the podium in 2017?
The Madeira Ultra SkyMarathon®, now in its fourth year, embodies the sea-to sky concept that personifies Skyrunning.
The “2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series”
The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series features 22 races in 11 countries and will reward the champions in the various categories a € 60,000 end of season prize purse.
The Chinese company Migu Run, the creator and owner of an advanced online and offline exercise and health management platform, has been announced as the new long-term title sponsor of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series beginning in 2017.
The Series is structured in three categories, Sky Classic, Sky Extreme and Sky Ultra, counting 22 races in 11 countries stretching from April to October.
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.
From sea to sky, 1,000 metres high, the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series kicks off with a cracking new race on the magical island of La Palma, Spain. Transvulcania, renowned for the Ultramarathon, launches the Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® on May 8. Starting at sea level, it ascends the steepest, most technical section of the Ultra and offers incredible views of the Atlantic coast – for those with the courage to look down.
The course was designed to complement the SWS Transvulcania Ultramarathon (May 10) and the half and marathon distances. From the black Tazacorte beach, the 6.6 km single track course ascends the imposing cliff face with a 40% incline before settling into a “flatter” final section to finish at 1,160m altitude. The overall incline averages 30%.
The upper section of the course follows an ancient goat-herders’ path and finishes at the El Time antenna, (the last aid station of the Ultra), rewarding runners with incomparable views of the Aridane Valley and the ocean in the distance.
With the world’s top vertical specialists leading the way, entries open on Saturday, February 1st, limited to 200 places. Not for the faint-hearted, as the race slogan says, “Get ready to meet your fate”!
Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and Skyrunning. At the age of 16 he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of Skyrunning.
The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Today at 36-years old, Marco is still one of the few runners who can push Kilian Jornet all the way to the line. In 2013 he did just that with an incredible race at Mont-Blanc Marathon and once again at the Dolomites SkyRace.
Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic Skiing but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave the town, climb a peak and return in the same day.
At 12-years old an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.
Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! I chatted to the ‘legend’ while he was helping to coach future stars of the sport on a training camp in Portugal
Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?
My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.
The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?
Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!
Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?
You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep hills I like to find a short hill that is steep and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat
Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?
Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.
You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?
Core and stability is very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.
In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?
I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30-50 minute bracket.
Tricky question for you Marco, other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?
You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian but the records show that they have the fastest times.
Finally Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?
Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.
Marco De Gasperi is a true champion, not only on the trails and slopes of the mountains but also off them. A gentleman, professional and perfect ambassador for our sport, he gives of his time and experience freely.
As always, it’s a pleasure to speak and learn more about such a wonderful athlete. Thanks Marco!
The 2013 Skyrunner World Series comes to an end in Italy this coming weekend at the Limone Extreme amidst the stunning backdrop of Lake Garda. It has been an incredible year, three disciplines; VK, SKY and ULTRA have been raced throughout the world over a total of fifteen races (five in each discipline). The ULTRA championship was decided in Vail, Colorado where Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg were crowned Skyrunner Ultra World Champions. This coming weekend, world champions will be announced in the VK and SKY disciplines.
The Limone Extreme course was designed by Skyrunning legend, Fabio Meraldi. As one would expect, it is a true Skyrunning race with steep, sharp vertical over technical terrain. For example, the VK has 1,100m gain in 3km, climbing from the shores of Lake Garda, the race is extremely unique as it takes place as light fades and the course becomes illuminated by torches.
The SKY course by contrast is very similar to the course in Canazei. At 23.5km it is a short race, however, in contrast to the Dolomites race it does have less vertical ascent. Starting at Lake level runners will tackle 2002m of vertical ascent over a looped course. At the summit, stunning views of the surrounding area and lake are offered, however, participants will have no time to enjoy the view; a long and technical descent to the lake awaits. Often open and exposed, this course requires 100% concentration. Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi set the men’s record of 2:13:34 in 2012 and Deborah Cardone holds the ladies best in a time of 3:02:08.
THE SKY RACE
Kilian Jornet (Salomon) irrespective of his performance at Limone will be crowned World Champion. His three victories in previous races means he is unbeatable. It once again proves Kilian’s ability as a runner but also his ability over multiple distances. One thing is for sure though, he likes to win and he likes to race. The Limone Extreme course will suit his skill levels and it will also fulfill his desires to be at one with the mountain. Without doubt he is an outright favourite for the win.
With the absence of Marco De Gasperi due to injury, Kilian will have his hands full with Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas). Kilian and Luis have had an incredible season pushing each other to new levels and better performances as they both attempted to win the ULTRA and SKY series. Luis currently second overall on the SKY series will be looking to consolidate that position and coming from a recent win at Cavalls del Vent he will be looking to maybe topple Kilian and finish the series by topping the podium ahead of the Catalan.
Following Luis at Cavalls del Vent, Tofol Castanyer (Salomon) will join the party on Lake Garda. Tofol has had a very mixed season. Plagued with injury and bad luck, the latter half of his season has seen a return to form. The Limone course suits his natural abilities. *not racing 08/10/13
Alex Nichols (inov-8) has the skill level and speed to move up from 4th overall on the SKY series and move ahead of Jokin Lizeaga Mitxelena (EMF). The two are separated by just 32-points. It will require a top performance by Alex. In the past, Alex has often commented that his descending has let him down, however, just recently he flew down the descent at Pikes Peak proving that he has been working on this!
Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8
Unfortunately, Nicola Golinelli (Arc’teryx) who is currently 5th on the ranking will not perform due to injury; this leaves the door open for Erik Dagsson Haugsness (inov-8) to chase his teammate, Alex. Whatever the outcome, UK brand inov-8 will be extremely happy to have two runners in or around the top five in the first season competing in the Skyrunner World Series.
Zaid Ait Malek – Haria Extreme
One name to watch and look out for in the Limone race is Zaid Ait Malek. This quiet Moroccan has had an incredible season consistently making the podium, often behind Luis Alberto Hernando, however he is without doubt a star for the future. He raced earlier in 2013 at Zegama-Aizkorri and placed an excellent 4th but he has progressed and matured in the following months.
Finally, David Schneider is making a first time appearance for inov-8 at Limone Extreme and it shows how as a brand, inov-8 are looking to the future. They are already committed to a 2014 season and they are laying the foundation now. David is an accomplished runner and comes from a strong orienteering background. He attracted the attention of inov-8 with an 11th overall at the highly respected Sierre-Zinal race earlier this year. Limone will be a great initiation into Sky racing and the technicality it brings.
Other names to watch:
Dai Matsumoto, Ryan Bak, Florian Reichert, Eric Diaz Martin, Didier Zago
Fulvio Dapit, and Nicola Golinelli.
It is very much a Salomon showdown for Limone with Emelie Forsberg, Stevie Kremer and Silvia Serafini going head-to-head not only for the final race win but the overall title. In real terms, the outright world title will be decided between Emelie Forsberg and Stevie Kremer. These two pocket rockets have had an incredible season and excitement is most certainly building as we anticipate who will come out on top in Italy. Separated by just ten points, 288 to 278, Stevie and Emelie will have a battle royal ahead. I for one can’t wait to see how this one unfolds. Emelie has been Miss Consistent in 2013 showing a skill and ability level beyond her years.
Stevie Kremer has been equally impressive. Stevie produced maybe one of the performances of the year with an incredible win and course record at Mont Blanc Marathon. Stevie’s biggest issue may very well be out of her control, she can actually make the long trip from Colorado just two days before the race.
Silvia Serafini has blossomed into an incredibly consistent and dominant runner. She gives herself quite a punishing schedule, regularly racing and regularly winning at all disciplines. Currently 3rd in the SKY ranking with 226 points she would need a podium finish and Emelie and Stevie not to finish or finish outside of the points to move up the classification. Irrespective of overall positions, Silvia, racing in Italy will be looking to push as hard as possible and hopefully win the race outright. *injured 08/10/13
Oihana Kortazar returns to SKY racing after a quiet 2013 and has all the ability and talent to push her Salomon teammates all the way and don’t be surprised if she is on the podium at the finish. *not racing 08/10/13
Anna Lupton (inov-8) currently placed 6th overall will be looking for a strong and consistent performance to consolidate her 2013 season. The podium may just be out of reach but keep an eye on her.
Finally I am going to tip a hat to Brit, Tracy Dean. This will be her first ever Skyrunning race. Tracy is a strong fell runner and has recently represented GB at the world trail championships. I don’t think we will see her up at the front end but it will be interesting to see how she performs.
Other names to watch:
Maud Gobert and Tessa Hill.
THE VERTICAL KILOMETER
A race within a race! Our attention splits for the Limone VK, for once, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg are not in contention for the overall World title. However, they will both most certainly be looking for outright victory in the Limone race. Emelie and Kilian have not placed an emphasis on the VK circuit this year and therefore have not accumulated enough points to qualify, however, when they have raced the VK distance they have performed consistently well. Kilian won in Canazei and placed 2nd at Mont Blanc, Emelie by contrast was 4th at Mont Blanc and 2nd at Canazei; both will be up at the front in Limone.
Urban Zemmer leading at Canazei VK
The men’s race is a who’s who of VK racing with the top seven in the rankings performing. Marco Facchinelli is currently leading with 236-points followed by Ferran Teixido Marti Ventosa 2nd with 216-points. In 3rdJoan Freixa Marcelo, 180-points and then the real interest starts, Urban Zemmer, 2012 champion and current VK world record holder is chomping at the bit with 168-points. Interestingly, Marco Facchinelli will need to finish in the top three if he wants to keep the world title, however, should Urban Zemmer win and Facchinelli drop to 4th, the title could be Zemmer’s. It is going to be an interesting race.
Other names to watch:
Oscar Casal Mir 5th, Xavier Teixido Marti Ventosa 6th, Marco Moletto 7th. And in addition, Erik Dagsson Haugsness (inov-8) will compete in the VK in addition the SKY race.
Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK
Vanessa Ortega Trancon currently leads the VK series with 236-points closely followed by Alba Xandri Suets on 228-ponts and the 2012 VK champion, Laura Orgue is 3rd with 188-points. Brit Tessa Hill is 4th with 156-points and it is all to play for. The addition of Emelie Forsberg and Antonella Confortola will add an interesting element to this race as they are both more than capable of taking the 1st and 2nd places, if this happens, 3rd place and the points awarded will be very important in deciding who will be the 2013 Skyrunner VK World Champion.
An exciting weekend of racing is about to unfold; the VK takes place on Friday and the SKY race Sunday.
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