I suggest getting your comfy cushion out and have a rummage through the snack pocket of your ultra vest for left over fuel before you take on the endurance challenge of reading through this weeks edition of the trail round up. It’s been a jam hot jam packed one.
After feeling like I’ve spent one too many paragraphs on describing altered routes due to low snow of late things took a turn for the other side of the weather extreme spectrum this weekend as a heatwave swept in over the summits of the European mainland.
MARATHON DU MONT BLANC 90 km / 6220 m & 42 km / 2730 m.
As you can probably tell from the digits above the long version of this race is a rather brutal one even on a cool day. Last Friday as the runners were lining up to take on 90 k of technical terrain the temperatures in France were reaching a record high. Not ideal for long distance running in exposed terrain ...
Katie Schide decided to give the weather a helping hand and raised the heat on the trail with a blistering start out from Chamonix and it’s no wonder she felt the urge to push the pace as hot on her heals was last years CCC champion Miao Yao. It wasn’t long before the two at the front had gained a quiet comfortable gap to the rest of the field lead by run-photographer Martina Valmassoi who’s finally back in front of the camera after a long time off racing to nurse an injury. Somewhere around the third checkpoint I had a disco nap in front of the Glastonbury coverage and when I checked back in Miao Yao had been hit by a 45 minute penalty for missing a whistle which led to her dropping out. The same thing looked to have happened to her partner and Salomon team mate Qi Min in the men’s race. I have myself experienced momentary black outs when being faced with a kit check mid race and forgetting in which tiny pocket the whistle is located on my ultra vest so i can relate. I’m wondering if they were perhaps running in a prototype where the whistle had been forgotten? It seems a little bit harsh to sideline a runner for not carrying a banana fly weight item but i suppose rules are rules and all that jazz. With Miao out of the race and a 30 minute gap down to Valmassoi Schide could run the rest of the race pretty unthreatened to a First Lady finish in 13:04. Martina Valmassoi finished strong though and was only 20 minutes behind. Another 20 minutes down in third was Maryline Nakache in 13:46. Behind the podium the race with tight with just 7 minutes behind Manon Bohard in fourth, Giuditta Turini in fifth and Elizabeth Borgersen in sixth!
I am a bit sad that we didn’t get to see the form of Miao Yao ahead of UTMB, let’s hope she appears in a tune up race start list later in the summer. Great to see Martina back in crusher mode though and Schide is continuing to impress, she was second behind Courtney at MIUT just two months ago and after this weekends performance I’m holding her as one of my top favourites to win UTMB later in the summer.
1. Katie Schide (USA), 13:04:15
2. Martina Valmassoi (ITA), 13:23:12
3. Maryline Nakache (FRA), 13:46:37
4. Manon Bohard (FRA), 14:15:30
5. Giuditta Turini (ITA), 14:19:53
6. Elisabeth Borgersen (NOR), 14:22:01
The equally punchy 42 k version played host for the third installment in the Salomon Golden Trail Series and thus had a bit more of a stacked field than the longer race. Experienced mountain runner Silvia Rampazzo who was 6th at World Trail Champs just a couple of weeks ago took the lead up the first climb out of Cham. As the sun got hotter and hotter New Zealand’s Sky Running queen Ruth Croft was closing in on Rampazzo and somewhere after the half way mark she overtook the Italian runner and gradually extended her lead to repeat her victory from last year with 3 minutes to spare. In third place was the surprise from Zegama Eli Anne Dvergsdal who is quickly making herself a name to remember. Behind the top three was a trio of top sky runners Fanny Borgstrom, Eli Gordon and Meg MacKenzie.
Next stop in the Golden Trail Series is the technical Dolomyths Sky Run on July 21.
1. Ruth Croft (NZL), 04:34:44
2. Silvia Rampazzo (ITA), 04:37:57
3. Eli Anne Dvergsdal (NOR), 04:38:30
4. Fanny Borgstrom (SWE), 04:42:19
5. Eli Gordon (ESP), 04:45:26
6. Meg MacKenzie (RSA) 04:48:26
Full Results: https://mbm.livetrail.net
LAVAREDO ULTRA TRAIL 120 km / 5800 m
The Dolomites were basking in the same heatwave sun as the french alps and the runners setting out for a long arduous loop up and down one too many summits around Cortina must have been pretty pleased to at least get to start during the slightly cooler dark hours. You would think that 30 + degrees even on high altitude would slow a race pace down considerably but I think the threat of the looming heat of the day made for some speedy running to cover as much ground as possible during the night leading to reasonably fast finishing times. Last years third lady Kathrin Götz was running in the top five for most of the first half where we saw big names like Magdalena Boulet and Caroline Chaverot drop and when the sun started to rise above the iconic Tre Cime she moved into first place. Through the hottest part of the day she kept climbing strong and over the last technical 20 k before a final descent down to Cortina her lead continuously expanded. She improved on her time from 2018 with three minutes as she bagged not only the title but also a sub 15. Incredible running in such extreme heat! In second place, 25 minutes behind Götz was last years TDS champion Audrey Tanguy from France. Third lady home, ten minutes behind was local lass Francesca Pretto she was the Lavaredo runner up back in 2017 and matched her time from that year almost to the second. In fourth was Norwegian runner Kirsten Amundsgaard who won the 65 k version of Ultra Trail Cape Town in 2017 and placed 13th at OCC last year. She beat the mighty Maite Maiora with nearly 40 minutes. Amongst the UK runners Sophie Grant ran a well executed race starting slow but gradually moving her way up the field to finish in a very respectable 9th in what was a stacked field in this weekends first of two UTWT races.
1. Kathrin Götz (SUI), 14:59:52
2. Audrey Tanguy (FRA), 15:24:10
3. Francesca Pretto (ITA), 15:34:28
4. Kristin Amundsgaard (NOR), 15:48:30
5. Maite Maiora (ESP), 16:29:09
6. Alessandra Boifava (ITA), 17:04:49
WESTERN STATES 100, 100 miles / 5486 m
If there’s one race that is known for bringing the heat both in competition and Fahrenheit it’s this 100 miler of 100 milers. This year though it seemed like the heat was concentrating on Europe and the creme de le creme of American ultra running could race in unseasonal cool and comfortable temperatures. That doesn’t mean that the race itself was not a hot one though because what went down was possibly one of the closest top 10 in States history. Pre-race fave Courtney Dauwalter took the race out in a, for Courtney, conservative pace before cranking up the gear to that of course record speed around mile 30. Some half an hour behind her was a tight lady train led by Clare Gallagher followed by Kaci Lickteig, Amanda Basham, Brittany Peterson and Kaytlyn Gerbin who were taking turns to lead the chase. About 70 miles in reports from the trail brought the news of Courtney limping her way along California street and at the next aid station she was visibly in pain. Two miles later Dauwalter dropped out of the race. Gallagher who had up until then been pretty certain this was a race divided into two groups of Courtney and The Rest now found herself in the lead. That was a position she decided to take seriously and for the miles that followed Clare pushed the pace. She was not the only one chewing off the miles rapidly though, Brittany Peterson had got the news of what was happening up front and entered chase mode. With 15 miles to go she had nine minutes up to Gallagher and at mile 94 the two entered the aid station together. They did not leave together though as Clare did an in and out and set off in a pace you are more likely to see in a 6 mile race rather than at the 6th last miles of a 100. Determined to win she pushed herself to the second fastest time in the race history and got 11 minutes on Brittany over the last 10 k into the finish. What a comeback to racing from the amazing Clare Gallagher who spent the weeks leading up to the race hiking in Alaska to raise awareness for the cause of protecting the Arctic Refuge. A Shero on and off the trails and such a deserving winner! Behind Gallagher and Peterson the 2016 Western champ Kaci Lickteig had worked her way up to third position over the last half of the race and she crossed the line in her fastest Western time to date. This was Kaci’s seventh finish at States and she says she is determined to get to ten! UK’s Beth Pascall on the other hand ran her debut at WS100 and what a first race she executed! Working her way up the field after a conservative start she finished forth just ten minutes behind Kaci. Chapeau! Seven minutes behind Pascall were Camelia Mayfield and Kaytlyn Gerbin who battled it out for fifth and sixth with a sprint finish around the track in Auburn which Mayfield won.
For more coverage and interviews with the podium finishers head over to irunfar! The interview with Clare is a treat!
1. Clare Gallagher 17:23:25
2. Brittany Peterson 17:34:29
3. Kaci Lickteig 17:55:55
4. Beth Pascall 18:06:51
5. Camelia Mayfield 18:13:31
6. Kaytlyn Gerbin 18:13:33
OLYMPUS MARATHON, 44 km / 3200 m
As you probably guessed by a glance at the vert gain per k this is not your average marathon. The 7th race on the Sky Running World Series takes the runners up a mountain that looks so intimidating the old Greeks were sure it must be the home of the gods. Judging by this weekends finishing times they weren’t far off the truth ...
With a field a bit less stacked than usual, probably due to the clash with Marathon Du Mont Blanc, this was always going to be a battle between course record holder Ragna Debats and this years controversial comeback queen Elisa Desco (Desco served a IAAF ban after testing positive for EPO). Debats started the race well ahead of her course record pace from 2017 but after 3 and a half hours of running uphill it was getting clear that it might still not be enough as Desco was closing in on the lead. The Italian runner was the first female to reach the summit and she managed to hold off a fighting Debats over the long and technical descent into the finish line for a new course record time of 5:14:18. Ragna still managed to beat her time from last year with a 5:15:54 finish. Five minutes behind the top two was Anne-Lise Rouset and in forth place with 5:32 was local runner Dimitra Bika. In UK news Katie-Kaars Sijpesteijn had a great race and managed to get revenge on a disappointing run at the world champs by bagging 7th place in 5:50.
1. Elisa Desco (ITA) 5:14:18
2. Ragna Debats (NL) 5:15:54
3. Anne-Lise Rouset (FRA) 5:20:04
4. Dimitra Bika (GRE) 5:32:34
5. Mayi Mujica (ESP) 5:40:59
Full Results not available yet but should be appearing here; https://olympus-marathon.com/index.php/en
Next up in the sky running series is the BUFF Epic Trail in two weeks time, that has a great starting field so rest assured you’ll read more about that in next weeks previews!
INFINITE TRAILS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Last year the inaugural Infinite Trails event had to be cancelled due to snow and thunderstorms, this year, yes you guessed it right, the very opposite kind of weather gave the runners an extra challenge as they had to battle not just Austrian rocks but severely hot temperatures.
This event created by the team behind Adidas Terrex is a unique one. Runners compete in teams of three but it all kicks off with a mass race over 15 k and 1000 m of vertical gain which defines the starting times for the following days relay. The main race day consists of three unique loops over 25, 60 and 39 km with the objective of finishing each loop as soon as possible before all runners in the team join each other for a 700 m finish around the town of Bad Hofgastein.
Adidas Terrex first team consisting of Ekaterina Mityaeva, Jasmin Nunige and Yngvild Kaspersen were the winners of the women’s race. In second was another Adidas Terrex team consisting of Sheila Aviles, Abby Hall and Kim Schneider and third team was Arch Max with runners Alba Xandri, Rosen Espinosa and Silvia Puigarnau.
Fastest female on the first 25 k loop was unsurprisingly the blisteringly fast Sheila Aviles, Ekaterina Mityaeva dominated on the long middle loop and Holly Page, who Adidas Terrex surprisingly enough did not put in any of their official teams, crushed the field of the marathon distanced loop with a time over nine minutes faster than her competition.
It would be interesting to see this expand and feature not only Adidas teams. Imagine a throw down where the biggest sponsors would put their best runners against each other. For Adidas to achieve that level of competition they’d probably have to make sure that future events doesn’t take place during the biggest racing weekend of the year though ...
1. Adidas Terrex 8, 15:48:22
2. Adidas Terrex 1, 15:53:11
3. Arch Max 17:15:30
It’s a bit of a quiet one next week and there aren’t any main international races to go in-depth on. In the alps the peak season continues with UTMB tuner-up-ers HIGH TRAIL VANOISE and LA MONTAGN’HARD and on the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel in Aosta Valley it’s time for the LICONY TRAIL. Dolomites are serving up ORTLER SKY TRAILS and the Pyrenees are hosting COURSE DES REFUGES and In Scotland the time has come for the 116 k long GREAT GLEN ULTRA.
IN OTHER NEWS
Caroline Chaverot dropped out of Lavaredo during the race’s early hours and a couple of days afterwards the sad announcement came that she is giving up her professional trail running career.
It’s hard to put into words how influential Caroline has been for the sport of female trail running. Over the years she has been pushing both the pace and boundaries showing that women placing in the OA top 10 in international races is not a one time fluke occurrence but a proof of how consistency and passion raises the bar for what is possible.
Over her long spanning career the 42 year old Swiss/French runner and alpinist has won pretty much every big race on the trail circuit. UTMB, Hardrock, Templiers, Lavaredo, Eiger, Transgrancanaria, Madeira Ultra Trail the list of top performances is endless.
In an ideal world it would have been great to see Chaverot end her journey as a professional athlete with a finish at the race where she is still the current record holder (with an incredible time of 13:40) this weekend but the injury that has been keeping her on a 50/50 finishing rate over the last couple of years put an early end to what has been an incredible career as a trail athlete. We will miss you Caroline! Here’s to hoping that you will still be involved the sport you’ve helped develop so much and fingers crossed for a Ultra Trail Du Chaverot race in the making!
That’s all trailheads! Back in a few!