Category Archives: ULTRA

Ultra Races

COURSE DE SIERRE – ZINAL

The 41st edition of Sierre Zinal takes place in the heart of Valais Alps on August 10, 2014. Sierre Zinal or the ‘Race of Five 4000m Peaks’ is a mountain marathon of 31km with 2,200m of ascent and 800m of descent.

Sierre Zinal has a very steeped tradition in European mountain running. The race starts in Sierre at 585m and traverses through forest and mountain trails.  The runners climb religiously for around 24km to the high point of Nava at 2,425m and then it’s a 700m+ descent to the finish at Zinal at 1,680m.  On the way they get to view five 4000m peaks, wow !!

Men’s Race

The men’s race is going to be a cracker with Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gaspari going head to head. They both have stunning records at Sierre Zinal but De Gasperi has the edge in both winning the race three times and by a three minute margin to Jornet’s best time.

Year Kilian Marco
2013 2:33:59 – 4th place
2012 2:31:36 – 1st place
2011 2:34:15 – 3rd place 2:30:18 – 1st place
2010 2:37:27 – 1st place
2009 2:35:30 – 1st place
2008 2:30:50 – 1st place

VK - Transvulcania

For sure it’s going to be exciting watching these two duel it out. But wait, what about the top three from 2013, Marc Laurenstein, Juan Carlos Cardona and Jonathan Wyatt. They are no slouches and what’s for sure is that they are not going to just let it be a two horse race. Wyatt is the course record holder (2:29:12) set in 2003 and he hasn’t lost much speed as ten years later in 2013 he turns in a very respectable 2:33:44 just pipping KJ for 3rd spot. Colombian Cardona with a 2:32:30 was super fast and the Swiss Laurenstein who won last year in 2:32:14 has the seventh fastest time.

So, you have got to expect to be running sub 2:34 to be a podium contender this year. There is enough talent here to push for that Wyatt course record.

My money is on KJ to take out the win for his third time. He has had a superb year so far and is super strong, but I don’t think the course record will go down.

Women’s Race

In recent years nobody has come close to breaking the course record held by Anna Pichrtova (2:54:26) set in 2008. Only last year’s winner Elisa Desco (2:58:33) has come remotely close. Desco returns this year and will be battling against the American sky runner, Stevie Kremer who will be having her third attempt at taking that coveted winner spot after two successive second places. However, in both attempts she has been just over 3:03-4 so will need to improve by a five minute margin to keep up with Desco. The Spaniard Laura Orgue would appear to be strong contender for the final podium spot.

VK - Transvulcania

I can’t see Desco not winning this. She is on form this year but Kremer with her recent win at Zegama should challenge strongly. We will see…

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photgraphy 

What do you think, is this going to be a replay of Zegama 2014 with KJ, Gasperi, Desco and Kremer taking 1st and 2nd places? 

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TNF LAVAREDO ULTRA TRAIL

Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2014 Pre Race Press Conference

Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2014
Pre Race Press Conference

See the link to http://www.irunfar.com preview on The North Face –  Lavaredo Ultra Trail.

All Images are copyright – Ian Campbell – photography

 

 

ZEGAMA RESULTS

Well how about that Kilian Jornet smashed the Robb Jebb course record from 2005 by a solid 6 minutes. Nobody guessed that one!  That takes his winning streak at Zegama to 5 in a row and 7 in total.  Kilian is just unbelievable on this course, he knows it inside and out and can run it comfortably hard, if there is such a thing.

But what about the top 4 this year all beating the Robb Jebb course record and the top 8 all under 4 hours. The standard just keeps getting raised.

Marco de Gasperi  a great sparring partner and friend of Kilian came in second just two minutes later and just barely 19 seconds ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando.  A thrilling race to follow and especially if you were tracking it via the live feed from www.irunfar.com.

In the women’s race it was the American Stevie Kremer back for some more podium entertainment at Zegama and this time she swapped third place for 1st place with a 4:46:43 shaving a cool 3 minutes off her time in 2013. Well deserved.

Elisa Desco took second place just two weeks after her win at Transvulcania VK and Maite Elizonda Mayora third place after her second place at Transvulcania Ultra.

Zegama 2014 Results

Men Women
Kilian Jornet 3:48:38 Stevie Kremer 4:46:43
Marco de Gasperi 3:50:38 Elisa Desco 4:50:20
Luis Alberto Hernando 3:50:57 Maite Elizonda Mayora 4:51:47

WINNING TIMES FOR ZEGAMA

The men’s and women’s course records go back to 2005 and 2009 respectively.

  • 3 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds (Rob Jebb) – 2005.
  • 4 hours, 38 minutes, 19 seconds (Emanuela Brizio) – 2009.

My prediction

Men Women
Kilian Jornet Emelie Forsberg
Luis Alberto Hernando Stevie Kremer
Tom Owens Nuria Picas

Mens Race

Lets talk about the mens race. A sub 4 hour time is pretty much de rigueur for the win. In fact, every year from 2007 onwards, with the exception of 2009 its been won by a certain Kilian Jornet, in under 4 hours. And why not 2009, because KJ didn’t compete!!!

How many people can compete with this speed? Not too many by the look of past results. If you take a glance at the previous years results since 2007 a sub 4 hour time has only been achieved 12 times, 6 times by KJ, and the other notable and most recent being Luis Albert Hernando, Tom Owens, Zaid Ait Malek and Tadie Pivk.

There are not too many capable of breaking that 4 hour barrier so for me the race is down to Kilian, Luis Alberto and Tom.

Will Luis Alberto be leading Kilian just as he did at Transvulcania?

Will Luis Alberto be leading Kilian just as he did at Transvulcania?

For the last two years the mens race has been between Kilian and Luis Alberto with Kilian coming out on top twice with last years race right down to the wire by just 12 seconds and only off the course record by 20 seconds!   Also worth noting is that the top 4 were under 4 hours in 2013.

Luis Hernando is just fresh from his victory at Transvulcania reversing the prior years race and beating Kilian. He looked in super form, can he carry he it through to Zegama or will Kilian regain his superiority and take out the win?

Womens Race

The women’s race is far more wide open and especially so due to recent performances by some of the leading contenders, Nuria Picas has raced and won hard in the last two months, Emelie Forsberg will no doubt be fresher due to her unlucky DNF due to injury at Transvulcania.

Nuria Picas at Transgrancanaria - Will she be as strong?

Nuria Picas at Transgrancanaria – Will she be as strong?

A sub 4hr 50mins has got to be the winning time. That’s still a long way off the course record of 4:38. There are not many out there that can break that 4:50 time barrier, in fact only 5 women from past results. The top 3 from 2013 all did so being Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas and Stevie Kremer but they would need to shave a cool 10 minutes off their times to come close to a course record. My money is on the same 1-2-3 as 2013 but with a slight change in the running order.

What else, but to wait in anticipation and excitement for a great race at Zegama! Let the racing begin………..

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography

 

ZEGAMA

Zegama is the first of the 2014 Sky Running Series and second race of the Sky World Series, the last being Transvulcania. 

Zegama takes place on May 25th and is marathon distance.   Just saying it is of marathon distance doesn’t really do the race justice. Lets look at some of the statistics of this race:

  • Distance : 42.195km
  • Vertical ascent : 5,472m
  • Max Altitude : 1,551m
  • Min Altitude : 296m
  • Technicality : 70%
  • Mountain route with potential for heat, strong winds, fog or rain.

Compare that to Transvulcania which had 4,415m of vertical ascent in its 73km and you suddenly see how tough this race is going to be coming just two weeks after TV.  Starting in Zegama the runners have an approx 17km sustained climb to Aratz at 1,400m, a short descent of about 4km to drop down 400m and then a steep climb of 500m+ in about 2km to Aikzorri the highest point of the course. From there its mostly downhill for 19km to the finish with a short climb to Andraitz at 1,400m thrown in for good measure.   A tough course compounded by the fact that shoe choice will be paramount.  Back in 2012 several of the American runners made the wrong shoe choice and paid for it when they hit the muddy climbs of Zegama!

Course Records

  • 3 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds (Rob Jebb).
  • 4 hours, 38 minutes, 19 seconds (Emanuela Brizio).

This is a tricky technical route across the mountains of the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri.  The last two years the mens race has been between Kilian Jornet and Luis Hernando with Kilian coming out on top twice with last years race right down to the wire and 12 seconds!

Luis Hernando is just fresh from his victory at Transvulcania reversing the prior years race and beating Kilian. He looked in super form, can he carry he it through to Zegama or will Kilian regain his superiority and take out the win?

2013 Race results
Men
1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon Santiveri) – 3h54’38”  – only 20 seconds off the course record !
2. Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) – 3h54’50”
3. Tadei Pivk (Crazy Idea) – 3h58’07”

Women
1. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 4h48’12”
2. Nuria Picas (FEEC) – 4h49’55”
3. Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 4h49’58”

2012 Race results
Men
1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon Santiveri) – 3h56’04”
2. Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) – 4h00’40”
3. Tom Owens (Salomon) – 4h06’05”

Women
1. Oihana Kortazar Aranzeta (Salomon) – 4h52’30”
2. Nuria Picas (FEEC) – 5h01’26”
3. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 5h01’57”

We will look at the confirmed entrants once they are confirmed.

Footnote : Kilian Jornet has always run this race in under 4 hours. Why would 2014 be any different?

  • 2013 – 3h 54′
  • 2012 – 3h 56′
  • 2011 – 3h 57′
  • 2010 – 3h 56′
  • 2009 – did not compete
  • 2008 – 3h 59′

TRANSVULCANIA COURSE CHANGE & TIME DIFFERENCES

Some people thought that the slight change in course this year over a 2km section past Tazacorte added about 2 minutes due to its less runnable nature.

2013 2014
Luis Alberto Hernando 6:58:31 6:55:41
Kilian Jornet 6:54:09 7:01:34
Sage Canaday 7:09:57 7:11:39

Kilian holds the course record from 2013 but if you take into account the slight course change and a factor of 2 minutes then Luis Alberto was inside that by at least 1 minute. It doesn’t change the facts and times but just shows how strong his run was this year. Not only did he best his time from 2013 by 3 minutes on the same course as last year it was probably 5 minutes.

Sage Canaday probably ran an equivalent time to last year.

Luis Alberto has obviously had a super strong winter and is someone to watch out for this season. I for one am looking forward to some more exciting encounters between these two.

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Luis Alberto Hernando – Winner Transvulcania 2014

All images are copyright : Ian Campbell – Photography

A STONKING WIN & COURSE RECORD BY ANNA FROST!

Transvulcania 2014 

The women’s race was just as exciting with Salomon athlete Anna Frost returning to top form to take out the win in a super fast time of 8:10:41 over second placed Maite Mayura Elizonda in 8:20:29. Anna sure loves this island, the people and this course!

_DSC2594

Anna Frost – Roque de Los Muchachos

Third place for the second year running was Uxue Fraile who must have had a tough last 21km as she dropped 5 minutes over second place from Roque de Los Muchachos or was because the first two were really flying!

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Maite Mayura Elizonda – Roque de Los Muchachos

Uxue Fraile

Uxue Fraile – Roque de Los Muchachos

At Roque de Los Muchachos Frost was strong and climbing well doing very little walking. She had 6 minutes on Elizonda who had a 23 minute lead on Fraile. That was to become 10 minutes and 28 minutes respectively.

Unfortunately Emelie Forsberg had to drop very early due to a severe hand injury from a fall at the start in Fuencaliente. I am sure it would have been a great race between the two F’s – Forsberg and Frost – and it would have been very exciting to see them both dice it out. Emelie’s time of 8:13:22 from when she won here last year would not have been fast enough so she would have had to be in really strong form to fight for the win. I am not sure that that would have happened by the look of how strong Frost was today.

Transvulcania 2014 - Womens podium

Transvulcania 2014 – Womens podium

Frost’s course record from 2012 of 8:11:30 was bettered by just under one minute on a course that has had a slight change adding about two minutes so maybe a comparable time of 8:08:41 is reasonable. That just shows that Anna is back on top form and fully recovered from her health issues of 2013 and looking to challenge for top honour’s this year. Can’t wait to see how she performs for the rest of 2014!

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography