Tag Archives: Nuria Picas

Ultrarunning News from Around the Globe

In this month’s column we bring you news from the opening rounds of the Ultra Trail World Tour and the latest UTWT standings, as well as a selection of news from the blogs.

Vibram Hong Kong 100

The opening round of the 2017 Ultra Trail World Tour in Hong Kong had improved conditions with some milder temperatures and rain. Yanqiao Yan from China captured the win but a decent margin of twenty six minutes over Italian Daniel Jung. Sage Canaday was the top American in third place. Other notable finishers in this early season head to head were Didrik Hermansen 4th, Tim Tollefson 5th, Seth Swanson 6th and Julien Chorier 10th.

Nuria Picas returned to her winning ways in dominant fashion with an emphatic victory over China’s Linming Chen by some thirty five minutes and in the process besting the old course record by over forty minutes.DSC_5103
New Zealand athlete and Hong Kong based Marie McNaughton took third place in what appears to be her fastest time on this course.

 

 

 

Vibram Hong Kong 100

Men Time
1 Yanqiao Yun 09:35:11
2 Daniel Jung 10:01:35
3 Sage Canaday 10:03:50

 

Women Time
1 Nuria Picas-Albets 11:18:57
2 Linming Chen 11:53:47
3 Maria McNaughton 12:26:19

Tarawera Ultramarathon

American Jim Walmsley cruised to victory unchallenged in an incredibly fast record time of 7:23 leading from virtually the get go. Walmsley was more than forty five minutes ahead of second placed Jonas Buud who is no slouch when it comes to fast trails.

Tarawera Ultramarathon

The final spot on the podium was for New Zealand’s Sam McCutcheon. Other notable finishers in this hotly contested race in New Zealand were Gediminas Grinius in 5th, Matt Flaherty 7th and Michael Wardian 8th.

In a similar vein the women’s race was won by leading from the front, Camille Herron beating second place Magdalena Boulet by around twenty four minutes. It was a narrow margin for third placed Cecilia Flori who was only ninety seconds behind Boulet. Fiona Hayvice who won last year in 10:34 finished sixth in 10:06 such was the step up in competition this year. Fernanda Maciel took 7th and Sophie Grant 10th.

Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km

Men Time
1 Jim Walmsley 07:23:32
2 Jonas Buud 08:10:58
3 Sam McCutcheon 08:12:35

 

Women Time
1 Camille Herron 08:56:00
2 Magdelena Boulet 09:20:13
3 Cecilia Flori 09:21:42

Transgrancanaria

Trangsrancanaria is the first UTWT race of the season in Europe with a distance of 125km and with 8,000 metres of ascent it is a serious early season challenge. The runners traverse from the north of the island to the south and the massed crowds on the beach of Maspalomas.

This year’s men’s winner was a richly deserved Pau Capell in a fast time of 13:21 beating Didrik Hermansen’s winning time from 2016 by a huge twenty minutes. Lithuanian Vaidas Zlabys placed second fourteen minutes later with Hermansen settling for third place this year.

Other top ten finishers included Diego Pazos 8th, Andy Symonds 9th and Timothy Olson 10th.

The women’s race was dominated by Spain’s Azara Garcia in her first race of over 100 kilometres. A challenging last 40 kilometres where she had difficulty eating and drinking made the closing efforts more intriguing but Garcia still managed to eclipse second place Andrea Huser by over forty five minutes. In third place was Melanie Rousset less than fifteen minutes behind.

Other top ten finishers Ildiko Wermescher 5th, Juliette Blanchette 7th, Lisa Borzani 8th and Manuela Vilaseca 10th.

Transgrancanaria

Men Time
1 Pau Capell 13:21:03
2 Vaidas Zlabys 13:35:38
3 Didrik Hermansen 13:50:06

 

Women Time
1 Azara Garcia 16:25:20
2 Andrea Huser 17:15:45
3 Melanie Rousset 17:30:40

 

News from the blogs

Kilian Jornet

In the continuing adventure ‘Summits of My life’ Jornet recently announced he will once again go back to Everest. On his return he has a full bag of trail racing, Marathon du Mont Blanc, Hardrock and UTMB amongst others. Somewhere in all this racing he will travel to the UK to take on the famous Bob Graham Round.

http://www.kilianjornet.cat/en/blog/2017-calendar/ 

Manuela Vilaseca

Brazilian ultra runner and mountain biker, Manuela “Manu’ Vilaseca trains hard and invariably finishes top ten in some of the tougher mountain races such as UTMB and Transgrancanaria. ‘Catch me if you can’ is Manu’s catch phrase!   More regular updates on her athlete Facebook page.

http://manuvilaseca.com/site/

Andrea Huser

Find out more about Andrea Huser on her Facebook page.  Swiss athlete Huser loves the mountains. Looks like this year she will spend some time in the US in preparation for Western States at the end of June.

Francesca Canepa

Italian Francesca Canepa looks like she is heading to Croatia to compete in the 100 miles of Istria a UTWT event. Checkout her Facebook page to keep up to date.

Gediminas Grinius

Lithuanian athlete Gediminas Grinius came on the scene about two years ago at Lavaredo Ultra Trail and has continually impressed showing it was not a fluke performance. I like his mantra ‘Time is Time’ so don’t look for his blog which is not regularly updated but check out his Facebook page for updates. He is currently running in the US.

Mike Wardian

Does he really need an introduction… Mike races practically every weekend and sometimes both days or indeed in the morning and then in the evening. He is scheduled to run Western States at the end of June and then Hardrock three weeks later. Even with MW’s prodigious racing calibre that is a tall ask…. bring it on!!

http://mikewardian.com

UTWT Standings

Here is a recap on scoring for UTWT events. These are points awarded to the winner of the various category races.

Three rounds of this year’s Ultra Trail World Tour have been raced, Vibram Hong Kong 100 (Pro), Tarawera Ultramarathon (Pro) and Transgrancanaria (Series).

 

Place Series with Bonus Series Pro Challenger
1st 1300 1000 700 400
2nd 1124 865 605 346
3rd 1021 785 550 314
4th 948 729 510 292
5th 891 685 480 274

Leading the way after three races are Didrik Hermansen with 1,295 points and Azara Garcia with 1,000 points. IMG_2256Transgrancanaria as a Series race commands more points than the Pro races (Vibram HK and Tarawera). Critically, later on in the season Marathon des Sables and UTMB are the only two Series with Bonus races and could prove crucial to who wins the 2017 UTWT.

 

Up and coming races

Marathon des Sables – April 7th-17th

100 Miles of Istria – April 7th-9th

Patagonia Run 2017 – 145k – April 7th-8th

Madeira Island Ultra Trail – April 22nd

Penyagolosa Trails – April 22nd

Thames Path 100 – April 29th – 30th

 

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ULTRARUNNING NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE

In this month’s column we bring you news from the third round of the Ultra Trail World Tour, the latest UTWT standings as well as a selection of news from the blogs.

Transgrancanaria

Norway’s Didrik Hermansen and France’s Caroline Chaverot improved on their 2015 second places to win the 2016 edition of this race and in the process both smashing the course records by a considerable margin.

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Didrik Hermansen climbing towards Garanon aid station

Two different race tactics were employed, Hermansen running with the lead group, biding his time and then charging at just over the halfway mark, whilst Chaverot, showing supreme confidence in her ability, charged from the front and just kept increasing that lead as the miles went by.

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Caroline Chaverot coming into Ayaguares 

Gediminas Grinius had a solid race beating his time from last year by thirty eight minutes and adding to his tally of UTWT points and ranking. In joint third was Catalan Pau Capell, running with Switzerlands Diego Pazos for much of the second half of the race.

In the women’s race Chaverot’s lead was nearly a whole two hours ahead of Switzerland’s Andrea Huser followed shortly by Spain’s Uxue Fraile Azpeitia.

Transgrancanaria – 125km

Men Time
1 Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48
2 Gediminas Grinius 13:45:08
3 – tied Pau Capell 14:11:02
3 – tied Diego Pazos 14:11:02

 

Women Time
1 Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40
2 Andrea Huser 17:21:43
3 Uxue Fraile-Azpeitia 17:28:05

 

News from the blogs

Nuria Picas

Nuria Picas dropped from Transgrancanaria in Artenara (33km) citing a psoas muscle injury to her left leg. It looks like Nuria will be in Soller, Mallorca in the middle of March helping Tofol Castanyer with his training camp over three intense days.  One thing is for sure the trails are fantastic in Mallorca and Soller is a really beautiful place to be based.

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Nuria giving fellow Buff athlete Yeray Duran encouragement for the last 25km of TGC 

http://nuriapicas.com/home/

Caroline Chaverot

Obviously excited from her success at Transgrancanaria Caroline was very prompt in her race report, written the same day as she finished. In French, its worth translating and reading – After Teror, I find that I’m way ahead of last year, since I will make all the next climb, which is beautiful at sunrise, at night.’

http://carochav.blogspot.co.uk/

Emelie Forsberg

Emelie Forsberg had a well-publicized ski accident in early February where she tore her cruciate ligament meaning that she will be out of trail running action this season. Her rehab continues with measured amounts of isometric exercises and cycling on a turbo trainer. We wish her a speedy recovery.

http://www.emelieforsberg.com/category/blog-english/

Anna Frost

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Anna loves those La Palma trails – She will be back there this May

Look out for Anna Frost in the Lake District, UK when the rest of the Salomon team meet for the Salomon Advanced Week in April. Anna also has Transvulcania and Hardrock 100 on her schedule as well a trip to Bhutan in October among other things.

https://frostysfootsteps.wordpress.com/

Didrik Hermansen

Didrik’s Facebook account confirmed that he took it easy as he worked his way up the field at Transgrancanaria before taking first place on the downhill towards Ayaguares with around twenty five kilometres to go. What was not apparent was the back and forth that he and Gediminas Grinius had had leading up to this point. View www.irunfar.com postrace interview for a more in depth analysis.

Hermansen also held a contest to guess his TGC finish time. Fredrik Olmqvist guessed to within eight minutes. Given that Hermansen blew away the old course record by forty two minutes, it was a well-informed guess!

Gediminas Grinius

A thoughtful piece from Gediminas about potentially overtraining leading into Diagonal des Fous in 2015 – ‘was a disaster, which I never would like to repeat’ at Diagonal des Fous and refocusing for 2016. Grinius tells us about his race plans for 2016 starting with Vibram HK – ‘A’ race and third place, Transgrancanaria – ‘B’ race not bad as he came second,  3R (rock and roll and recreation), Lavaredo in June ‘B’ race, UTMB – obviously an ‘A’ race and Diagonal des Fous – ‘A+’ race again ‘Put all in – revenge!’  We can’t wait to see how his seasons pans out.  What’s clear is that Grinius wants to re-balance his running commitments with the rest of his life.

https://d2g2.wordpress.com/

Tim Tollefson

Tim Tollefson had a character building race at Transgrancanaria. Finishing in 101st place in a time of 19:37:14 it was surely not the plan from the outset. Tollefson’s Facebook post shortly after the race says it all ‘It was absolutely stunningly gorgeous. Objectively if I could’ve appreciated that I would’ve been happy but since I was in so much agony I’d look up and see the view and say “oh that’s cool” and then go back to realizing how horrible this is’ and the reason ‘My quads were shot and blister ridden feet felt like hamburger meat’. Thanks for the insight Tim and massive congratulations on gutting it out for the finish.

 

UTWT standings after three races

Men Points
1 Gediminas Grinius 402
2 Pau Capell-Gil 381
3 Jonas Budd 377

 

Women Points
1 Silvia Trigueros-Garrote 333
2 Dong Li 319
3 Caroline Chaverot 235

 

The next event in the UTWT calendar is Marathon Des Sables in Morocco from April 10th to 15th.  This will be the 31st edition of this challenging multi-stage event covering 250km.  A whole host of quality North African athletes, including several past winners will be taking it out from the front. The notable International athletes competing are: Elisabet Barnes, Erik Clavery, Laurence Klein, Meghan Arbogast, Jason Schlarb, Marco Olmo and Sondre Amdahl.

2016 TRANSGRANCANARIA RACE REPORT

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Caroline Chaverot cruising into Ayagaures 107km

 

Two different tactics were employed at the 125km Transgrancanaria this weekend. Go out hard from the gun and keep charging or hang with the lead group and wait for the moment to charge. Fortunately both strategies ended with wins and course records for France’s Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40 and Norway’s Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48 respectively.

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Didrik Hermansen running strong into Ayagaures 107km

 

For Chaverot it was an inspired performance showing absolute confidence in her ability and sheer guts to take it out from the front and just keep charging knowing that you have a strong field behind you ready to pounce at any slip up. After 125km of ultimately controlled running by Chaverot her lead was nearly two whole hours ahead of Switzerland’s Andrea Huser in 17:21:43.  In third place and only seven minutes behind was Spain’s Uxue Fraile Azpeitia in 17:28:05.

On the other hand Hermansen played it conservatively, at first running his own race but keeping in the lead pack and then pushing harder and then harder still to take the lead. His was a race of guts as well, knowing that he had some really strong guys behind him that he had overtaken but who could quite easily reel him back in with any momentary slip up in pace. But he didn’t slow up and once he had that lead he took it all the way, again with total confidence in his ability. His finish time of 13:41:48 created a new course record by a whole forty two minutes. Lithuanian and 2015 Transgrancanaria champion Gediminas Grinius came in a strong second in a time of 13:45:08.  In joint third were Catalan Pau Capell, winner of the Advanced race in 2015, with Switzerland’s Diego Pazos both in a time of 14:11:02.

AF3-PERFIL-TRANSGC

As the clock chimed 11PM in Agaete the seventeenth edition of the Transgrancanaria started on the north west of the island of Gran Canaria. The amassed runners would have a challenging race ahead of them with not only 125km of technical running but a mixture of temperatures to deal with along their journey. The night time journey would be cold with strong winds and low cloud cover followed by 25C dry and arid heat as the midday sun rose through the afternoon. For many a second night would be part of their journey as they attempted to finish within the 30 hour cut off at 5AM on Sunday morning.

Artenara is at 33km and is a crucial point in the race. Frenchman Aurelian Collet (3:49 elapsed) had built a lead of one minute ahead of # Capell, Pazos, Grinius and Longfei Yan followed by Jordi Gamito-Baus and Andy Symonds a further minute behind. All in fairly close contention at not even the midway point.

By contrast Chaverot reached Artenara with an elapsed time of 4:13 and a twenty one minute lead over Emelie Lecomte. Nuria Picas followed very shortly but was to drop out at this point with a psoas injury.

At Teror (56km) Collet was in with 6:09 elapsed followed by Pazos two minutes later. Grinius & Hermansen were in third and sixh places and running strongly only two and eight minutes back from Collet. Julien Chorier was in a top ten position but was rattled by not being able to pick up some supplies at this aid station.  Chaverot’s lead at Teror had built up to thirty nine and forty four minutes over a second and third placed Huser & Azpeitia.

As daylight broke, the runners reached (82km) past Roque Nublo and onto the checkpoint in the woods of Garanon.

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Aurelian Collet leading coming into Garanon at 82km

Still in the lead was Collet at a fast pace (9:35 elapsed) seven minutes ahead of Grinius who looked like he was working hard.

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Gediminas Grinius chasing for the lead at Garanon 82km

Hermansen was now on his charge and was only two minutes behind Grinius and was moving comfortably climbing up to the aid station.

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Andy Symonds & Jonas Budd reach Garanon 82km

 

The course this year had rerouted its last twenty five kilometres to make for a better finishing route and runners were treated to a slightly technical but more enjoyable finishing experience. At the small village of Ayaguares (107km) situated next to a dam and just prior to another ascent was the penultimate aid station. The runners came in and did a mini switchback through the aid station before heading back and then over the dam wall and onwards and upwards. Hermansen arrived first, coolly running into the aid station with 12:17 on the clock. As Grinius was literally two minutes behind, Hermansen made a very quick exit to try and extend his short lead. Grinius conscious of the twenty five kilometres left and the effort he would need to chase down Hermansen decided to make sure he refuelled well and stayed in longer. Collet was in third, look tired and five minutes down followed by Capell and Pazos who were running together in fourth and fifth.

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Pau Capell & Diego Pazos running together at Ayagaures

Andy Symonds was in sixth looking comfortable with an easy running stride. The wait for Chaverot wasn’t long as she arrived with 13:34 elapsed.  Looking fresh and with plenty of zip she cruised in and out of the aid station amid loud cheers.

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Andrea Huser consolidating second place – Ayagaures

But the wait for a second place Huser was long, 1:40 and she looked tired but made sure to refuel properly by walking out of the aid station. Azpeitia was ten minutes down on Huser and obviously made up ground in those final kilometres but not enough to take second.  All credit to Huser.

 

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Uxue Fraile Azpeitia staying strong for a third place and podium finish – Ayagaures 

Hermansen’s win followed his second place here last year and his win at Lavaredo. He goes on to Western States and hopefully UTMB later this year. He is on the up and we look forward to seeing him again on the big stage.

 

Chaverot was clearly in a race of her own. Phenomenal pace and guts to take it out from the front which is fast becoming her trademark method.  Again, like Hermansen she won at Lavaredo last year and was second at TGC.

Is this the forming of a new guard?

Men’s Results

1 Didrik Hermansen 13:41:48
2 Gediminas Grinius 13:45:08
3 Pau Capell 14:11:02
4 Diego Pazos 14:11:02
5 Andy Symonds 14:14:55
6 Jonas Budd 14:21:39
7 Julien Chorier 14:24:59
8 Vaidas Zlabys 14:30:17
9 Javier Dominguez-Ledo 14:39:46
10 Jordi Gamito-Baus 14:48:27

Women’s Results

1 Caroline Chaverot 15:23:40
2 Andrea Huser 17:21:43
3 Uxue Fraile-Azpeitia 17:28:05
4 Silvia Trigueros-Garrote 18:31:54
5 Adriana Vargas 18:35:21
6 Sophie Grant 18:43:22
7 Alexandra Clain 18:43:24
8 Lucinda Sousa 18:46:42
9 Dong Li 19:20:40
10 Denise Zimmerman 19:49:05

 

2016 TRANSGRANCANARIA RACE PREVIEW

The third race in the Ultra Trail World Tour takes place this coming weekend. Transgrancaria is a 125km traverse of the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands from North to South.

GRINIUS GARANONLast’s years race saw Lituanian Gediminas Grinius and the Catalan Nuria Picas take out the wins with a new men’s course record of 14:23:27 and a second successive win at Transgrancanaria for Picas in 16:53:27. Both are returning for this year’s raceIMG_0209

Men’s race

Here are the top ten from last year with their finish times and relative UTWT ranking. Seven return this year to race Transgrancanaria.

TGC 2015 Name Time UTWT Ranking 2015 TGC – 2016
1 Gediminas Grinius 14:23:27 2nd Returning TGC 2016 – 3rd Vibram HK 2016, 1st UTMF 2015, 4th WSER 2015.
2 Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07 9th Returning TGC 2016 – 1st Lavaredo 2015.
3 Antoine Guillon 14:39:35 1st Returning TGC 2016 – 1st Diagonal des Fous 2015, 3rd Vibram HK 2015.
4 Sondre Amdahl 15:06:37 4th Returning TGC 2016 – 2nd Vibram HK 2015, 4th UTMF 2015
5 Cyril Cointre 15:28:22 5th Returning TGC 2016 – 10th Tarawera 2016, 4th Vibram HK 2015.
6 Anton Krupicka 15:29:49 89th
7 Remi Queral 15:59:11 37th
8 Freddy Thevenin 16:07:06 3rd Returning TGC 2016 – 3rd Diagonal des Fous 2015
9 Marco Zanchi 16:25:13 29th Returning TGC 2016 – 8th Lavaredo 2015
10 Piotr Hercog 16:30:45 21st

 

Other men’s contenders

Pau Bartolo Roca – Spain – 6th Tarawera 2015, 9th TNF 100 2015, 1st CCC 2014

Jonas Budd – Sweden – 1st Tarawera 2016, 1st Ultra Vasan 2015

Pau Capell Gil – Spain – 4th Vibram HK 2016, 6th CCC 2015

Sebastien Chaigneau – France – 3rd UTMF 2013, 1st TGC 2013, 1st TGC 2012, 3rd TGC 2011

Julien Chorier – France – 6th WSER 2015, 8th TNF 100 2015, 2nd TGC 2014

Franco Colle – Italy – 1st The Rut 2015, 2nd Mont Blanc 80k 2015, 1st Tor Des Geants 2015, 2nd Eiger Ultra 2014

Aurelien Collet – France – 3rd Diagonal des Fous 2014

Yeray Duran – Spain – 5th Vibram HK 2016, 3rd Lavaredo 2015, 4th TGC 2014

Christophe Le Saux – France – 7th Eiger Ultra 2015  – TGC Advanced

Arnaud Lejeune – France – 2nd UTMF 2015, 8th UTMB 2013, 8th UTMB 2012

Yan Longfei – China – 2nd Vibram HK 2016,1st Vibram 2015, 4th TNF 100 2015

Casey Morgan – UK – 10th TGC 2014

Seth Swanson – USA – 4th UTMB 2015, 2nd WSER 2015, 2nd WSER 2014

Tim Tollefson – USA – 2nd CCC 2015

Javi Dominguez – Spain – 5th Diagonal des Fous 2014, 7th TGC 2014, 3rd UTMB 2013

Miguel Heras – Spain

Fulvio Dapit – Italy

Stefano Trisconi – Italy

Jordi Bes Ginesta – Spain

Marco Molinari – Italy

Matt Moroz – Hong Kong

Joe Grant – USA – on start list but not running

Kim Collison – UK

 

Women’s race

Here are the top ten from last year with their finish times and relative UTWT ranking. Like the men seven return for this year to race Transgrancanaria.

TGC 2015 Name Time UTWT Ranking 2015 TGC – 2016
1 Nuria Picas 16:53:27 1st Returning TGC 2016 – 3rd Tarawera 2015, 1st Diagonal des Fous 2015, 1st UTMF 2014, 2nd UTNB 2014, 1st TGC 2014, 1st TNF100 2014
2 Caroline Chaverot 17:16:48 4th Returning TGC 2016 – 1st Lavaredo 2015, 1st Eiger Ultra 2015
3 Dong Li 18:15:55 2nd Returning TGC 2016 – 1st Vibram HK 2016, 2nd Vibram HK 2015, 1st TNF 100 2015. 4th Mont Blanc 80k 2015.
4 Andrea Huser 18:37:53 5th Returning TGC 2016 – 3rd Diagonal des Fous 2015, 2nd Eiger Ultra 2015, 7th Lavaredo 2015, 7th UTMB 2014
5 Manu Vilaseca 18:42:59 8th Returning TGC 2016 – 5th Lavaredo 2015, 10th UTMB 2015, 5th UTMF 2014, 8th Lavaredo 2014
6 Ester Alves 19:11:45 23rd
7 Lucinda Sousa 19:25:46 21st Returning TGC 2016
8 Aliza Lapierre 19:58:48 7th
9 Raquel Rivero Delgado 20:24:16 54th
10 Silvia Trigueros 20:38:18 10th Returning TGC 2016 – 3rd Vibram HK 2016, 4th UTMB 2015, 5th UTMB 2013

 

Other Women’s contenders

Lisa Borzani – Italy – 2nd Vibram HK 2016, 3rd Vibram HK 2015, 10th Laveredo 2015.

Emelie Lecomte – France – 2nd Diagonal des Fous 2015, 7th Eiger Ultra 2015, 5th Transvulcania 2013.

Denise Zimmerman – Switzerland – 3rd UTMB 2015, 6th Lavaredo 2015, 5th Eiger Ultra 2015, 7th Diagonal des Fous 2014, 3rd Eiger Ultra 2014.

Uxue Fraile-Azpeitia – Spain – 1st UTMF 2015, 2nd UTMB 2015, 5th UTMB 2014, 6th TGC 2014, 4th Eiger Ultra 2015, 3rd Diagonal des Fous 2014

Rory Bosio – USA – on start list but not running

 

UTMB RESULTS

XAVIER THEVENARD & NATHALIE MAUCLAIR REIGN SUPREME AT UTMB 

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Xavier Thevernard – Tetes aux Vents

Xavier Thevenard claimed his second UTMB title to go with his triple crown of UTMB, TDS and CCC triumphs. Running his race throughout he watched as potential threats dropped by the wayside. His lead by the time he reached the cheering crowds in Chamonix was forty-eight minutes.

Nathalie Mauclair won a race of attrition to finally triumph at UTMB arriving in Chamonix in the early evening to the mass of fans lining the streets.

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Nathalie Mauclair – Notre Dames des Gorges

Men’s Race

On a warm (28C) Chamonix evening 2,300 runners assembled for the thirteenth edition of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. As seems to be typical of UTMB there are many that run the first five miles to Les Houches at a sprint and this year was no exception. Hitting the front was Erik Clavery, followed by a lead pack that included Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer and Miguel Heras.

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Erik Clavery leading the pack into Les Houches

Sage Canaday, Julien Chorier, Thevenard were running within them-selves in a second pack followed by a very comfortable looking Ryan Sandes. Only Thevernard was to finish. Canaday stumbled and required stitches just before Courmayeur, Sandes was having an off day and Chorier dropped much later.

Thevenard and the three Spaniards were to make it as a lead group and push the pace along and by the time they arrived at Courmayeur (78km) there was good breathing space between them and now fifth place American Seth Swanson. Thevenard was out first from Courmayeur to head up the next big climb to Refuge Bonatti. Castanyer, Heras followed shortly with Hernando last out.

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Luis Alberto Hernando – Courmayeur

Swanson was to push hard and with Castanyer, Heras dropping he found himself in a solid third place. By the time they reached Tetes Aux Vents (159km) Thevenard had a fifty-six minute lead over a battling Hernando who was only meters ahead of Swanson. It looked like Swanson was to take second, but a fast moving David Laney (eleven minutes behind at Tetes Aux Vents) made up a ton of time on this final downhill section into Chamonix. A speeding Laney ran out of trail to catch Hernando.

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David Laney – Tetes aux Vents

Women’s Race

It was heralded on a paper to be a fantastic contest, Nuria Picas, Caroline Chaverot, Stephanie Howe, Uxue Fraile Azpeitia, Fernanda Maciel, Francesca Canepa and Darcy Africa and of course Nathalie Mauclair.

The heat and brutal course conditions took their toll. Picas and Canepa were first to drop. Chaverot moved to second being tracked by a dogged Mauclair.

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Caroline Chaverot arriving in Courmayeur

But Chaverot, in her debut 100miler was having her own issues and eventually had to drop. This left the door wide open for a tough and resilient Nathalie Mauclair, to consolidate her race and reach Chamonix for a well deserved win.

Her lead over second placed Fraile was seventy-four minutes. Switzerland’s Denise Zimmerman passed Spaniard Silvia Trigueros to take the final podium spot.

UTMB Results  

Men
1 Xavier Thevenard 21:09:15
2 Luis Alberto Hernando 21:57:17
3 David Laney 21:59:42

 

Women
1 Nathalie Mauclair 25:15:33
2 Uxue Fraile Azpeitia 26:29:35
3 Denise Zimmerman 27:33:52

 

All images are copyright – Ian Campbell Photography 

 

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′