Sunday’s torrential rain at the final race of the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix didn’t dampen the excitement and magic atmosphere of three days’ world-class competition….
3,400 athletes from 47 countries took part in the weekend’s events where the world’s top runners participated in three skyrunning disciplines for the prestigious World Champion titles, the Combined titles, and the Country ranking.
Coming out on top for the country ranking, based on the sum of three men and one woman, was host nation, France followed closely by Spain and Italy. New entries on the international skyrunning scene are confirmed here with Norway (4th) and USA (5th). Most significantly, strong performances were recorded by Australia, Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Holland, Japan and China – all countries to look out for in future competitions and underlining the pool of talent and international growth in the sport.
World Champions of the three disciplines are: Vertical – Spaniards Kilian Jornet and Laura Orguè; Ultra – Spaniard Luis Alberto Hernando and Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg; and Italian Elisa Desco; Sky – Kilian Jornet and Italian Elisa Desco.
Kilian Jornet yet again proved is prowess as king of skyrunning, taking the Combined title with straight wins in the VK and Marathon, while American Stevie Kremer (2013 Sky Series Champion) took the women’s title with a second place in the VK and a third in the Mont-Blanc Marathon.
An ecstatic Luis Alberto Hernando took the Ultra World title after a glorious win in Friday’s Mont-Blanc 80K which he led from start to finish. On his heels throughout the race, was last year’s winner, Frenchman Francois D’Haene, who crossed the finish 2nd just 3’40” later. New Australian talent has left its mark with no less than two top ten places in the men’s category, with 21-year-olds Ben Duffus and Blake Hose.
Emelie Forsberg and Anna Frost ran a strong race in a highly competitive women’s field, which included Nuria Picas, Uxue Fraille and Fernanda Maciel. Emelie’s time of 12h38” crowned her decisively queen of the Ultra distance, confirming her status at the top of the ISF Ultra ranking. Notably two completely new entries on the international scene: Poland’s Magdalena Laczak, 3rd , and China’s Li Dong, 9th. It is the first time that the Ultra distance has been disputed in a World Championship since its introduction by the ISF in 2012.
Champions past and present lined up for Saturday’s KM Vertical. Due to the steep, narrow course, the runners leave at intervals and are individually timed, making for tense moments at the summit, between joy and delusion as the times are displayed on the timing board. Spain’s Laura Orguè had the edge over stiff competition from Stevie Kremer, slicing 4 seconds off Christel Dewalle’s 2013 time, who came 3rd. For a moment, in the men’s field, it looked like Italian Bernard Dematteis had the title with time of 34’36”, but Kilian closed with a new record in 34’18” – 18” under last year’s record by Columbian Antonio Saul Padua, 4th. Italian Urban Zemmer, number one in the IS Vertical Ranking, was just one second behind Dematteis in 3rd position.
With torrential rain all day, Sunday’s Mont Blanc-Marathon, the highest section of the course was cut while maintaining 41km distance and 2,300m +/- elevation. Kilian dominated the race although Frenchman Michel Lanne pushed him throughout, finishing an excellent second.
The lead pack included Moroccan Zaid Ait Malek and Briton Tom Owens, who were challenged by Switzerland’s Marc Lauenstein. Tom gave it his all and accelerated to take the bronze for Great Britain. The women’s race was led by Azahara Garcia early on, followed by Italian Elisa Desco and Americans, Megan Kimmel, Stevie Kremer and Kasie Enma. In such a stacked field, Elisa believed she had no hope of winning, but in the second half of the race she took over the lead and found herself alone in the final stretches towards Chamonix, where she bagged the gold. Megan and Stevie were second and third respectively.
This third World Championship has underlined the enormous growth in the sport not only on a global level, but with very strong young talent from new countries able to compete at the highest level with the world’s best skyrunners. Apart from the two young Australians in the 80K top ten, it’s significant to note the performance of Spaniard Manuel Merillas, who raced the second half of the Marathon 1’40” faster than Kilian to finish 5th.
Marino Giacometti, ISF President who presented the top runners for each discipline before the events and awarded the medals, expressed his thanks to the Club des Sports for the superb organisation and for the support of the Comune of Chamonix, for hosting the World Championships in the most iconic and spectacular sports arena.
News of the next Skyrunning World Championships will be announced in early August. In the meantime, follow us for updates on Facebook and twitter.
At a glance
VK: Kilian Jornet ESP), Laura Orguè (ESP)
Ultra: Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP), Emelie Forsberg (SWE)
Sky: Kilian Jornet (ESP), Elisa Desco (ITA)
Mens’ combined titles (VK/SKY):
Kilian Jornet (ESP), Aritz Egea (ESP), Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (NOR), Eirik-Dagsson Haugsness (NOR), Gregory Vollet (FRA), Manuel Merillas (ESP)
Womens’ combined titles (VK/SKY):
Stevie Kremer (USA), Kasie Enman (USA), Maite Maiora (ESP) Azahara Garcia (ESP), Stephanie Jimenez (FRA)