With the alps gearing up for UTMB in a fortnight it was a quiet one on the European trails this weekend BUT on the other end of the pond however it was high rip-tide on both sides of the border!
LEADVILLE TRAIL 100, 100 miles / 4800 m
4800 meter of elevation gain might not sound like a lot for a 100 miler on rocky ground but if you factor in that the entirety of this legendary course runs between 2800 - 3850 m above sea level one quickly realises that despite what those those gain-digits want you to believe this is not an easy ride.
This years women’s race was dominated by two former Western States winners who had very different lead ups to the race. Magdalena Boulet lives on sea level in Berkeley California and said that she had only two weeks of proper altitude training prior to the race whilst Cat Bradley who is a part of the Boulder massive regularly eats 2000 meter climbs in the Rockies for breakfast. What Boulet might lack in oxygen intake she sure makes up for in experience though and this weekend she showed us all what years of consistency brings to the game of ultra-running. Magda took the lead from the start but was not running safe as Bradley kept the gap close and at the half way mark only 6 minutes were separating the two at the front. With her strategy of pushing on the downhills and hiking as many of the ups as possible Boulet managed to pull away over the last fiddy and crossed the finish line as the 2019 Leadville champ in 20:18:06 with 28 minutes down to Cat Bradley in second. In third was Samantha Wood who managed to bag a coveted sub 24 finishing with her time of 23:52:04.
1. Magdalena Boulet 20:18:06
2. Cat Bradley 20:45:48
3. Samantha Wood 23:52:04
So good to see a strong race from Magda lead to a well deserved win and incredible to witness a 46 and a 27 year old battle it out on long distance trails, i can’t think of another physically demanding sport where that could happen. Thank you for the show Boulet and Bradley!
SQUAMISH 50, 50 miles / 3048 m
Last years we saw Courtney Dauwalter set a new record in hot temperatures on the 50 mile course of Gary Robbin’s increasingly popular race weekend (I mean a hug and trucker from this Barkley legend at the finish would be more than enough to have me hit the registration button if I was on the right continent). The 2019 runners had better conditions and though unsurprisingly no one got close to Dauwalters 8:22 it was still a speedy race at the front with just 20 minutes separating the top 3 shredders. Jeanelle Hazlett took the race out fast and held the lead from the first checkpoint all the way across the finish line. Cat Jones and Svenja Espenhahn were running close to Hazlett for the fist 20 k but when the latter dropped out with a bad stomach and Jones took a fall the gap grew and over the final miles Jenny Quilty managed to catch up and overtake the position of second lady. Quilty held on to her place on the podium and finished in 9:28, fifteen minutes behind Hazlett’s winning time and 5 minutes ahead of Catrin Jones in third.
Quilty‘s race weekend did not stop there as she went on to take third in the 50 k race the following day finishing 17 minutes behind the winner Tara Holland and just one minute after Halley Van Dyke. With that performance Jenny obliterated Kaytlyn Gerbin’s record on the 50/50 combo from 2016 with over 40 minutes AND as if that was not enough won the double up category overall. A weekend well spent for Jenny Quilty! Now i wonder what she’s doing with her second Trucker cap ......
1. Jeanelle Hazlett 9:13:46
2. Jenny Quilty 9:28:15
3. Catrin Jones 9:33:54
1. Tara Holland 6:15:41
2. Halley Van Dyk 6:31:54
3. Jenny Quilty 6:32:18
The running version of Europe’s biggest long distance ski race is getting used to international visitors as the rumours of it’s flawless organisation and fast flat course spreads across the Trail World. As I was visiting Sweden last weekend I could watch the event live on tv and the Scandi version of Salomon’s cycling camera crew did a much better job at following not only Jim Walmsley’s bouncy footsteps up front but also delivering a constant split screen of footage from the women’s race.
Alexandra Morozova took control of the race from it’s first and most technical part across the boggy moorlands of Salen and when the single track eventually turned into a dirt road for the second half she continued to look strong. Even though the Russian runner was not close to her course record time of 6:43 she could run an unthreatened race at the front and crossed the finish line in Mora with nearly half an hour down to Stina Hoglund in second. Jenny Ramstedt finished third in 7:56.
1. Alexandra Morozova 7:11:07
2. Stina Hoglund 07:39:33
3. Jenny Ramstedt 07:56:44
Ultravasan was not the only big sporting event on TV during my brief visit to Sweden. Over four days last week the main national tv channels were airing LIVE from the ORIENTEERING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in Norway. It might not sound like an ideal sport to watch on tv but OH MAN every day delivered a thriller, the racing was so tight and it was intriguing to watch the runners turn up to the posts from different directions in the woods and see their chosen routes between the stations via gps on a graphic map on the screen.
The staggered starts made each contestant have to run their own race without any knowledge of how their competitors were doing, pushing themselves visibly to their very limit and a trend of collapsing across the finish line was soon established during the first day. The coverage was a great display in emptying the tank to the last drop and I’m no longer surprised by how old orienteering gals who turn to trail running seem to perform great on the punchy paced sky running series. Just two weeks ago we saw former Orienteering World Champion Judith Wyder take second place at a stacked Sierre-Zinal and the 2019 WOC champ Tove Alexandersson has had great success at her trail attempts with two consecutive wins at Limone Extreme and a top of the podium at last years Ring O’ Steall. With that in mind let’s take a look at the results of the individual races, remember these names folks, chances are they’ll be in a trail round up not far from now;
1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE), 1:09:00
2. Lina Strand (SWE), 1:15:16
3. Simone Aebersold, 1:15:50
1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE), 38:20
2. Simone Aebersold (SUI), 38:25
3. Natalia Gemperle (RUS), 40:05
Next week the Golden Trail Series continues and with most of Trail Europe locked up tapering ahead of UTMB they’re taking things West with PIKES PEAK MARATHON.
Last years winner and current record holder Megan Kimmel will be back to defend her title and though Kimmel had a great start to the year with a second place at Mt Awa, win at Yading Skyrun and a podium at a stacked Transvulcania things hasn’t gone her way of late. She was visibly disappointed with 10th place at Zegama and DNF’ed at Marathon du Mont-Blanc in July. She has had a good couple of months off racing since the latter though so chances are she is well recovered and hungry to finish her year off with a win.
Two weeks ago, having just recovered from a second place at Dolomyths, Maude Mathys won Sierre-Zinal in a record breaking time. With Pikes Peak having a very similar course (up then down but with switchbacks replacing the straight ups of SZ) everything is speaking for her having a great race this weekend.
Eli Anne Dvergsdal suffered from a cold at the week of Sierre Zinal and did not start, judging by her gram she is back in racing form and having won Zegama earlier in the summer she should be equally suited as Mathys to give Pikes Peak a good hammering.
Silvia Rampazzo took second ahead of Dvergsdal at Marathon du Mont Blanc and was third at Sierre Zinal where she alongside Mathys and Judith Wyder broke the 6 hour barrier and just like the runners above this is a race that should be well suited for her.
Ragna Debats started her year with a win at Marathon Des Sables which she followed up with second place at The Coastal Challenge, more recently she took the win at Transvulcania and finished second at Olympus Marathon. I don’t know what she has been up to since then but fingers crossed she’s been tuning in for high altitude and will be able to fight for a win this weekend.
The Skyrunning series does not care about looming alpine hypes and stay in Europe for the brand new MATTERHORN ULTRAKS EXTREME. The extreme part of this name should not be taken lightly as the 25 k very technical course racks up a whopping 2900 m of elevation and runs above 3000 m for 25 % of the race. Johanna Åström broke the course record at the similarly challenging Tromso Skyrace three weeks ago and although that is a longer race i reckon she will be a main contender for the trophy. Hillary Gerardi is similarly strong on gnarly ground and along side Zimbabwe’s Emily Hawgood she will likely be one of Åström’s main challengers. Holly Page is also on the list of registered runners but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she is being sensible and saving her legs for a very competitive line up at CCC in two weeks.(knowing Page’s race enthusiasm she probably wont be through ...)
Talking about CCC i will be back with an in-depth UTMB preview later in the week so stay tuned trail heads!
Til then; live it up like you’re Magdalena Boulet crossing the finish line at Leadville 100;