This weekend sees the latest test for some of the world’s best mountain and trail runners – including Kilian Jornet and Anna Frost – as the Skyrunner® World Series heads to France and the stunningly tough Ice-Trail Tarentaise (ITT)…
The next skyrunning Ultra adventure unfolds with a world-class line-up and enough kilometres climb and snow to test the best. The Ice-Trail Tarentaise (ITT), for the record, counts 65 km with 5,000m vertical ascent and descent, reaches a high point of 3,653m and touches five peaks skimming the 3,000m mark in Val d’Isère July 14. Snow is not an option!
Heading the line-up are top stars Kilian Jornet, (leading the SWS Ultra ranking with Julien Chorier) after his win in Transvulcania has also put the Mont-Blanc Marathon under his belt. Salomon team-mate Francois D’Haene (2012 race winner, UTMB winner and 4th at Transvulcania 2012, won the new Mont-Blanc 80K last week in tandem with Michel Lanne) is of course starred as a strong favourite. Germany’s young Philipp Reiter, third in the 2012 SWS Ultra ranking, has been logging up experience and miles and is expected to perform well on this challenging, technical course.
Spaniard Jordi Bes, a Transvulcania top ten finisher, will no doubt do likewise here. American Rickey Gates is back in Europe for more skyrunning races after an excellent 10th place at Transvulcania in 2012. Italian Fulvio Dapit, a consistently strong performer in the Sky distance over the years is moving up to longer distances and will enjoy the terrain.
France’s own Nicolas Pianet, winner of the Mont-Blanc Marathon in 2010 and 2011, placed 11th in the face of the super-strong competition last week. The Ice-Trail will represent another challenge the athlete is up for.
As recent events have proven, the Skyrunner® World Series women’s field is ever more competitive. The 100-mile Ronda dels Cims winner, Francesca Canepa will face Nuria Picas (2102 SWS Ultra champion) together with World champion Emelie Forsberg, with Mont Blanc still in her veins after last weekend’s Vertical, Marathon and her personal record to the summit and back from Chamonix.
Anna Frost, 2012 Transvulcania winner and 6th in the Mont-Blanc Marathon, is well on the way to recovery after a long period of injury and, as usual, will giver her best. Australian Shona Stephenson, 9th at Mont-Blanc has been honing her skills in the high mountains. Emelie Lecomte, winner of the 2012 Diagonale des Fous and an excellent 3rd at Ronda dels Cims, will no doubt prefer the longer distance after her participation in the Mont-Blanc Marathon.
The are joined by Germany’s Julia Boettger, 3rd at Diagonale des Fous and winner of TNF 100 Philippines and the 2011 Zugspitz Ultatrail.
The ITT, effectively the second edition after the inaugural event in 2010 which suffered major changes due to bad weather, lies in the high mountains in the heart of the Killy Espace and the Vanoise National Park. The start and finish are in Val d’Isère, the internationally renowned ski resort.
The race may be new, but skyrunning has celebrated a number of key events here since 1996 including seven Vertical Kilometres between 2,000m and 3,000m altitude over a 3km course.
Marco De Gasperi set the standing world record on this course in 2002 in 34’51”. In 2001 and 2002. two ISF “24 Hour Record” events were carried out here reaching a record 7,575m altitude set by Italian Adriano Greco.
It’s true that mountains at 3,000m offer a challenge to all who set foot here. This year’s heavy snowfalls add an element of adventure (and technique) to test the most skilled skyrunners. However, recent warm weather has taken its toll and much of the snow has melted although stretches over snow will remain.
The organisers will issue a statement regarding the course and safety measures after a meeting held Monday afternoon so check for updates which will be issued on this site, Facebook and the race website over the next few days.
More than 500 runners will join the big names in this challenging contest -Europe’s highest race in true skyrunning style – where earth meets sky.