Tromsö Skyrace 2015 – Race Summary

©iancorless.com_Tromso2015-7188The mountains and fjords were lost in and amongst light persistent rain and cloud for the 2nd edition of the Tromsö Skyrace part of the ultra Skyrunner® World Series.

View race images HERE

Not even the 24-hour daylight could illuminate the proceedings, it was going to be a tough grey day. But despite the monotone, colour was in abundance; runners, race staff and marshals added that.

Anticipation worldwide for the Tromso Skyrace was high, and it’s clear to understand why. The race had 2 high profile race directors in Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, it had a world class field assembled and if offered arguably one of the toughest and most challenging 45km of any race, worldwide!

“It was crazy, but it was awesome! Certainly one of the most difficult race in the world!” – Greg Vollet

4600m elevation awaited the runners but that statistic is only part of the story. It’s the technicality that makes this race hard. Steep descents, challenging terrain and the ridge running at Hamperokken requires 110% focus. This IS NOT a race for everyone. It requires a level of skill, devotion and commitment that not every runner has. 2014 champion, Eirik Haugsness summed it up when he said:

“As you can see on my face – this race is an intense experience.”

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Intense it was and I can say, having climbed all the way to the final summit and located myself on the ridge to capture the front runners, the climb or the ridge did not disappoint. On the contrary, at times it was quite intimidating!

400 runners departed from Fjellheisen at 10am and they had to run what looks like a figure of 8 course that takes in 2 mountain summits: Tromsdalstind (1.238m) and Hamperokken (1.404m). Crossing snow fields, rivers, dense forest and of course technical ridges, the race was made even more challenging with the weather and the ‘slick’ conditions underfoot.

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Skyrunner® World and European Champion for the Ultra distance, Luis Alberto Hernando was the odds-on favourite for victory and it was no surprise that he dictated the pace from the front. His arrival at Hamperokken ridge in 1st place was no surprise, however, the proximity of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th was. They were only minutes behind! The charge was lead by Eirik Haugsness but Jonathon Albon was hot on his heels, as was Pascal Egli and Rolf Einar Jensen.

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Post race Haugsness commented that this group of 4 had agreed not to ‘race’ the ridge. It was a wise choice. It offers no room to pass and crossing from one end to the other is all about being comfortable with the challenge and doing so at ones own pace.

“At about 1100m the famous Hamperokken ridge proper starts, this is like a combination of the Aonach Eagach (Scotland) and Crib Goch Ridges (Wales) but with fewer escape paths. It is solid grade II scrambling in parts with a few very short sections that are maybe grade III” – Shane Ohly, RD for the Glen Coe Skyline

On the descent though Albon moved ahead and went in pursuit of Hernando.

“I was running with the group and I thought, I can go quicker than this so I did,” said Albon after the race.

Albon caught Hernando before the final climb and then slowly but surely opened up a gap as the Spaniard started to seize with tiredness and fatigue. Albon took victory 17-minutes clear and although he came to this race a relative unknown, his win has turned heads. Coming from an obstacle racing background where he has been a world champion, this course suited him perfectly. It was a stunning win and boy-oh-boy is great to see a Brit on top of the podium. Hernando held on for 2nd and Einar Jensen took the final podium place.

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The ladies race actually had a very similar feel to the men’s race. Race director, Emelie Forsberg had decided some time ago that she would run her own race and formulated a plan with co-race director Kilian Jornet and the team of marshals and helpers to facilitate that. Like Hernando, Forsberg is the current Skyrunner® World Champion and European Champion for the ultra distance, so although victory was a distinct possibility it was not guaranteed.

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Forsberg arrived at Hamperokken ridge in 1st just like Hernando but was closely followed by Maite Maiora and Mira Rai. Norwegian Malena Haukøy was in 4th place but looked strong and composed.

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Over the final half of the course Forsberg slowly extended a small lead and Mira Rai pursued. Maite Maiora took a tumble on the descent from Hamperokken and although she received no permanent injury, it did impact on her race causing her to slow. Rai moved into 2nd (who also fell) and local girl Malena Haukøy moved ahead of Maiora and took an excellent 3rd on the podium.

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111 runners completed the course before the midnight cut-off time. Of course the stories and experiences of an epic day in the mountains will continue to be revealed in the coming days and weeks. One thing is for sure, Kilian and Emelie have created something quite special in Tromso. It’s a race that harks back to the roots of Skyrunning. It’s alpinism without the clutter. But be warned, this race is not for everyone and as such, just like Trofeo Kima in Italy, you need to ensure that you are prepared for the challenge that the Tromso Skyrace will throw at you. Roll on 2016.

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As a footnote, it was incredible to see how Kilian and Emelie used their passion for running to provide this experience for all. Of course no event can happen without an incredible team of volunteers and helpers and at Tromsö they had this help in abundance. But Kilian was a man possessed. He was course marking, writing reports, taking photographs ensuring everyones safety on the route and to top it all off he was at the finish to welcome everyone with a smile and a medal. It was impressive to see. Bravo! And as Emelie would say:

‘All great races finish with a cinnamon bun!”

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 View race images HERE

Results

  1. Emelie Forsberg 7:09:54
  2. Mira Rai 7:23:09
  3. Malena Haukøy 7:31:29
  1. Jonathon Albon 6:08:41
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando 6:25:54
  3. Rolf Einar Jensen 6:28:51

Tromso Skyrace logo

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Tromsö Skyrace 2015 – Race Images

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What an incredible day in the mountains. Kilian and Emelie really did add some mountain meat to the bones of the Skyrunning calendar and the Skyrunner World Series.

It was a wet, grey, misty and claggy making mountain conditions difficult for all. In the ladies race, Emelie Forsberg came out on top in a highly competitive race and for the men, Jonathon Albon from the UK turned quite a few heads with an incredible performance.

Race summary to follow.

Results

1. Emelie Forsberg 7:09:54
2. Mira Rai 7:23:09
3. Malena Haukøy 7:31:29

1. Jonathon Albon 6:08:41
2.  Luis Alberto Hernando 6:25:54
3. Rolf Einar Jensen 6:28:51

Tromsø SkyRace 2014 – Join Kilian and Emelie

 

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Imagine it… who would you most like to design a Skyrunning course? I for one would say, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg. I’d then pinch myself and say, ‘nah, that will never happen. For sure they have the passion but they just won’t have the time!’

How wrong could I be!

Mark the date in your diary, September 6th 2014. The inaugural Tromsø SKYRACE will take place.

Tromso Skyrace logo

‘We wanted to start small and grow the event’ Emelie said in a recent interview. ‘Starting at sea level, the route will climb up three peaks on an out and back course  – Tromsdalstinden (1238m), Hamerokken (1404m) and then Tromsdalstinden again but via a different route.’

Tromsdalstinden: 1238m  Sálašoaivi or Sálaščohkka, is an iconic summit visible from Tromsø. The trail to climb the summit is not really technical, with a first part on grass hills and then a rocky large ridge. The downhill is on a steeper rocky trail before easy zig zags trail to the hut. The views from the summit, with Tromsø city and the fjords on the north and Hamperokken and Lyngen on the south made this mountain one of the most gorgeous landscapes of the area. 

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Hamperokken: 1404m Gáranasčohkka, is the highest mountain peak on the mainland peninsula west of the Ullsfjorden. The trail to climb the mountain starts around sea level and climbs to 1000m on a easy grass and rock slope to the first summit of the ridge, then it follows a 5 kilometers rocky ridge with some easy technical passages that can require to put the hands (mostly if it’s wet or raining!) Last 50m to the summit are a short scrambling to the top. The downhill is on a loose rock steep couloir until reach the valley. The summit designs a long ridge culminated by a thin characteristic aiguille. Being on the center of Ullsfjorden, the views of Lyngen on the east and all the Tromsø mountains around gives us a big wilderness feeling.

Racing over the classic distance of 42km’s, the course will have an elevation gain of 4300m. Grassy mountains, rocky ridges; Kilian clicked through images on his phone and showed me some of the more technical sections. ‘It’s a beautiful route’ he says, ‘it has some technical ridge running and the most amazing views. Emelie and I have run over this area many times and we knew we just had to have a race here!’

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It’s very different organising a race to running one but Emelie assured me, ‘we have a great team in place. You know, we are already race directors as we put on a Skimo race in Lyngen (north Norway) during the winter. However, if possible, both Kilian and myself will run the Tromso Skyrace; I will do the shorter race and Kilian will run the longer event.’

With just 100-places available, other elites runners will hopefully take part but that is not a priority. The dynamic duo want to encourage, promote and endorse running to a community of runners who may well have not attempted or completed such an event before. It’s about giving something back to the sport and I for one know only too well that the 100-places available will be gone in a flash…

Dakota Jones for example has just been announced as a participant in the first race.

Tromso is an island located within the Arctic Circle and in September the Northern Lights will illuminate the sky. Imagine it; rugged mountains, beautiful fjords and a race second to none with an epic backdrop.

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Emelie can’t contain her excitement as we speak, ‘It’s going to be so special and super exciting!’ Kilian concurs, ‘It will be an epic race and one that will grow. We love Skyrunning and the Tromso Skyrace will echo all that is good in a Skyrunning race.’

I joke with Emelie, ‘I assume the aid stations may well be the best in any race I have witnessed?’

Laughing Emelie replies, ‘For sure, the aid stations will be great but cinnamon buns and Yogi Tea will welcome every runner as they cross the line.’

Cinnamon Buns

Images ©tromsoskyrace

Details:

ENTER HERE

ENTRY OPENS 27th JULY at 19OO (Norway time)

6 – 7 SEPTEMBER 2014

Tromso, Norway
69° North
Skyrace 42km-4300m
Miniskyrace 19km-1600m

An ECO RACE – We are lucky to run in such wild nature, and for this we need to take care to keep this area wild and clean. When we run, we will keep need this in mind. We will try our best to keep the route clean. We will mark the course with biodegradable tape, just in case some is blown away by the wind or by any accident left behind. Aid stations will only be by huts and road crossings and will use reusable glasses. We will not have any paper publications, to protect the forests.

Race Website – HERE

Facebook – HERE