TRAIL NEWS: Frozen Skies, Spine Race excitement + WS100 & Lavaredo previews

Cajsa, who is currently tearing up the trails in the Dolomites writes:

With the annual pagan festivities behind us we have now officially entered summer season, you know that time of the year when you can run up on altitude without having to carry a Tormund sized ice axe and you can roam through the night without three layers of alpaca threads on your torso ... or ... 


(Photo: Broken Arrow Skyrace)

(Photo: Broken Arrow Skyrace)

Some chieftain clearly forget to sacrifice their favourite gore-tex layer to the spirits of summer trails though as the runners out on this competitive double loop-er in Squaw had to share substantial parts of their course with alpine skiers. 

As mentioned in last week’s round up this is a race that is steadily gaining in popularity, partly due to its organisation and tune up friendly distance and partly because it lands a week before Western States in the calendar so the crew’s and pacers can have their own fun before the ‘aid station spreadsheet stress’ begins. With both Rory Bosio and Keely Henninger sidelined Megan Kimmel could run home a relatively unthreatened repeat victory on a reduced (2-3 k on each lap) but still technical and VERY snowy route. A great revenge on what Kimmel herself thought was a disappointing run at Zegama three weeks ago. 

Second lady also for the second year in a row was Rea Kolbi and in close third Kristina Trygstad-Saari. 

1. Megan Kimmel 5:09:40 (12 OA) 

2. Rea Kolbi 5:17:12

3. Kristina Trygstad-Saari 5:20:02

4. Taylor Nowlin 5:31:46

5. Christine Lundy 5:47:39

Full Results:


(Photo: Ian Coreless)

(Photo: Ian Coreless)

That there were a lot of pow out on the brutal and extremely technical route of Monte Rosa Skymarathon came to no ones surprise, in fact I think the attendees would have been a bit disappointed if they hadn’t got their annual fix of scrambling up and abseiling down the completely snow covered peak of Monte Rosa.

The extremity of this race requires the runners to pair up and be linked together by a rope and wear crampons from start to finish. Last year Emelie Forsberg teamed up with Kilian Jornet to break the course record at what was her last race before taking a pregnancy leave from Ultra running. This year in her absence there were still some outstanding performances from the female runners. Giuditta Turini and Laura Besseghini were in control of the all female team competition until the very last part of the descent where Besseghini took a fall after struggling with and had to be taken off course which opened the door for a battle between two Polish teams. Natalia Tomasiak and Katarzyna Solinska were the winning duo just 16 seconds ahead off Miska Witowska and Iona Kanuszyk. Third couple to the finish were Errakatxoroa Quincoces and Campos Odriozol from Spain. 

1. Natalia Tomasiak / Katarzyna Solinska 06:38:14

2. Miska Witowska / Iona Kanuszyk 06:38:30

3. Errakatxoroa Quincoces / Campos Odriozol 07:15:59

SPINE FUSION, 268 miles

(Photo: Spine Race)

(Photo: Spine Race)

At the time of typing there’s only one finisher in the summer version of the Classic Spine but I wanted to squeeze the news in here as we got another female Overall winner. Following the footsteps of Jasmin Paris incredible race from this winter and making history with another outstanding performance was Sabrina Verjee who today crossed the line as first runner in 82:19:07. That is the same Verjee who finished second at Dragons Back a mere three weeks ago and the month before that won The Fellsman. What an incredible first half of the year for Sabrina. I know she has well deserved her rest by now but i cant help but wonder what she will do next! 


It’s statesmas. That’s all, or that’s not all because whilst the creme de la creme of American trails sheros are oiling their 100 mile pace gears the European Alp season kicks off this Friday with the first of this weekends UTWT races

LAVAREDO ULTRA TRAIL 120 km / 5300 m 

The list of European elites lining up for this stunner of a circuit in the mountainous surroundings of Cortina D’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites goes deep.

Caroline Chaverot has had some solid blocks of training since her latest injury and raced successfully on the shorter route at Maxi Race in Annecy last month. She won this race back in 2017 but I’m not sure she will have recovered enough to be in the battle for a podium at this years LUT.

Audrey Tanguy had an incredible 2018 with a victory at TDS and two second places behind Mimmi Kotka at Marathon Du Mont Blanc and MIUT. This year she has so far been on the podium at MIUT as third lady and on the top at Translantau. Lavaredo should suit her well and im putting my money on her to return to Cortina first this Saturday.

Kathrin Gotz was third at this race last year, a performance she followed up with a win at Eiger Ultra Trail and a couple of podium positions at the sky running circuit. After a race heavy 2018 which culminated in a DNF at TDS she has taken a more conservative approach this year. She won Lago Maggiore last month but did not perform well at the Trail World Champs three weeks ago, that was not really a race long enough for Gotz though and i think she is more suited to the more technical trails of Lavaredo. 

Maite Maiora has a trail CV deep with wins at races similar to Lavaredo and has showed good 2019 form with a 4th place at MIUT. She could very well be in for a podium this weeken

Cat Bradley DNF’ed at Maxi Race last month but i don’t think that means we should consider the 2017 Western States champion  out of the competition this weekend. Bar an impressive 8th place at last years UTMB Bradley doesn’t have a great deal of European top 5’s in her resume maybe this is the year for that to change!
UK runners with a good chance to contend for a place on top ten are Sophie Grant, Anna-Marie Watson and Rachel Normand. 

WESTERN STATES, 100 miles / 

Okay on to the 100 of the 100’s. The rattler infested, bear frequented trucker cap friendly Western States. It is not the toughest of them all but when it comes to traditions and hype there is nothing quiet like it. There is a thorough preview of the women’s field by Megan Hicks over at irunfar (who will be out to cover the race live this weekend) so i wont go in too deep one the top contenders.

Courtney Dauwalter is back to defend her title as champion and with the year she’s had so far (wins at Tarawera and MIUT) I dare to say that i think she will be pretty unstoppable and probably run home another top 10 Overall. 

It is uncertain if Dewey’s 100 mile nemesis Camille Herron will be able to run at full strength, so far this year she has DNF’ed both Lake Sonoma and Comrades stating a hamstring niggle as the reason behind it. She has also DNF’ed at WS100 before so the odds are against Herron which might just play to her favour.  

Last years third lady Australias Lucy Bartholoigmew is also returning to squaw valley, she’s had a bit of  quiet year so far but I don’t think we should count this young gun out of the game. If she is in form she will be hungry to prove herself. 

Someone who doesn’t need to prove themselves on this course is the 2016 champion Kaci Lickteig, she will however want to confirm her return to top racing and with a win at Black Canyon 100 earlier in the year it looks like she’s in with a good chance of a podium place. 

In a similar position to Kaci is YiOu Wang who had an injury plagued 2018 and struggled to get back to her old form. This year she has been running strong though and looked great at Lake Sonoma 50 where she placed second. I will be keeping a close eye on UK’s biggest hope Beth Pascall. Pascall is great on alpine terrain but proved that she can also run fast on more runnable ground with a win at SDW 50 last month. I am also keen to see how Clare Gallagher will fare in her return to racing this weekend! 

Its also time for MARATHON DU MONT BLANC where the 42 km course is hosting the Salomon Golden Trail series and the 90 km ultra course is destined to have a big field of top runners too. Sadly i couldn’t find any confirmed lists of elite entries so we will have to wait and see who of the who’s who of trail running that are lining up for the two races in Chamonix this weekend. 

Now that’s what i call a jam packed weekend, you can follow  the WS 100 via irunfar‘s twitter, Lavaredo on UTWT’s socials and the Marathon Du Mont Blanc over at Salomon’s Golden Trail Series’ Facebook live page.