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It’s getting to that time of the year when the ultra trail legs have just began to recover from months of high mileage and the temptation to sign up for a last minute leg stretcher before the snow and mud lies thick is lurking behind my every web browser move. To distract myself and you dear reader from the lure of spontaneous Gurnsey circuits and 12 hour mountain marathons in the dark i give you last weekends performances from a bunch of late season shredders who chose to extended their trail summer with a trip to the Spanish sun.
SKY PIRINEU, 37 km / 2757 m
With just one race left to score points for a ticket to the Skyrunner World Series final at Limone Extreme later this month it was a field full of fierce and eager runners at the start line of this weekends Sky Pirineu. However it was not one of the familiar names who stole the show as former cross country runner Ainhoa Sanz had quiet the day out in Spanish mountains! Sanz took a big lead early in the race and managed to hold off pre race favourite Holly Page and comeback queen Emelie Forsberg all the way to a two minute surprise victory!
“It was a real shock, taking into consideration the level of competition here today” Ainhoa said after the race. Holly Page and Emelie Forsberg ran in tow for the first half of the race before Page started to pull away on the technical descents of the later miles, recent Glen Coe champion Georgia Tindley was threatening to catch up with Forsberg but sadly had to drop out with a pesky hip and left the chase to Gisela Carrion. The strong Spanish runner did not manage to catch up with Holly but after a fierce battle Carrion overtook Emelie on the last kilometre and finished third in 4:14:09, eleven minutes behind Page and 50 seconds ahead of Forsberg who though she was pipped to the podium was very happy with her first race back on the sky series since giving birth.
“It’s been such a long time since I did my last SkyRace so even though I’m not in the best shape of my life it feels very good to be back here. Racing with Holly was great. She’s so strong at the moment so I was really happy to be able to keep up with her for such a big part of the race. I’m looking forward to training more on descending now”
1. Ainhoa Sanz (ESP), 4:01:44
2. Holly Page (GBR), 4:03:29
3. Gisela Carrion (ESP), 4:14:09
4. Emelie Forsberg (SWE), 4:14:59
5. Eli Gordon (ESP), 4:17:35
ULTRA PIRINEU 94 km / 6200 m
Monica Comas dominated on the longest course of the Salomon Pirineu race weekend. The Andorran runner took control of the race early on and kept extending her lead down to Mimmi Kotka and Montse Martinez running in second and third over the day. When Comas crossed the finish line after 12 and a half hours of running the gap down to the chasing duo had grown to 45 minutes. This was Monica Comas’ first big win in an international race, that is not to say that she’s has been without success in her previous races though, she finished second behind Hillary Allen at Cortina Trail in June and more recently 7th in a stacked field at OCC.
Mimmi Kotka did not have a great start to the weekend with travel delays and lost luggage leading to her having to race in borrowed kit but she still managed to have a decent day out there and after battling with Martinez for most of the day she ran home second place with a late kick. I think this is Martinez longest race to date, last year she was a frequent top ten visitor on the Sky Running series but this year she’s taken a step back from international scrambling and chosen to run on home turf resulting in a 3rd at Reventon Trail El Paso and 4th at Pennyagolosa.
1. Monica Comas (AND), 12:31:10
2. Mimmi Kotka (SWE), 13:15:59
3. Montse Martinez (ESP), 13:18:16
4. Iron Tiricz (HUN), 14:03:53
5. Simone Schwarz (GER), 14:08:30
TRANSJEJU 110 km / 4800 m
AUDREY TANGUY is rounding up a stellar 2019 by taking on this relatively new Korean race around the volcanic island of Jeju put on by the race director of Translantau.
She’s not the only elite out to finish on a late-year-high, Ultra Trail Mt Fuji champion and Hong Kong 100 runner up FUZHAO XIANG could give Tanguy a challenge for the win.
Judging by the photos from last year this looks like a stunner of a race and I think there’s a big possibility that we will get to watch this event grow over the coming years.
CENTURION AUTUMN 100, 100 miles / 1500 m
The fastest of Centurions 100 mile races rounds up the Grand Slam series this weekend and in the combined rankings there is just 8 minutes separating KAREN DOAK and REBECCA LANE ahead of Saturdays finale. Outside of the slam they are up against some further competition as there are plenty of Centurion vets and other strong 100 mile sheros on the list of registered runners.
Like last years winner LAURA SWANTON who complemented her A100 win with podium places in the three other Slam races. She started her 2019 with a victory at the gruelling Arc of Attrition back in January and followed that up with another win at the Devon Coast to Coast.
AMY SARKIES is debuting on the 100 mile distance but has had great success on 50 milers with a win at last years Wendover Woods and a third at Lakeland.
Another contender with a record of great 50 mile performances is EDWINA SUTTON, she attempted her first 100 at SDW earlier in the year but had to drop out due to a foot injury and is likely to want redemption on Saturday.
Other races taking place this weekend is the UTWT discovery race LEMKOVYNA ULTRA TRAIL in Poland, the 50 mile long LAKES IN A DAY in north England, THE NORTH FACE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE in Chile and in France it is time for the ULTRA TRAIL DE BEAUJOLAIS VERT.
Before I go back to browsing the dark web of late season registration buttons I want to give a massive shout out to Roundup’s own GILL ‘TARMAC SLAYER’ BLAND who battled some strong coastal head winds on her way to a victory at Bournemouth Marathon last weekend. ATTA GIRL!