Over the weekend a remarkable race unfolded in the principality of Andorra – the Ronda dels Cims 100 miler. As part of the 2013 Skrunner series it is total circumnavigation of the country by foot and all at altitude.
Recent heavy snowfalls meant the original course with 13,000m vertical climb was modified to ensure the safety of the runners. Seven extra kilometres were added to “compensate” the reduction in elevation, which in the end represented nearly one and a half times the height of Everest!
Three-hundred-and-fifteen runners lined up for the 7am start on Friday where initially good weather deteriorated in the afternoon. Nearly 50 km into the race at 2,572m, one of the highest points, swirling mists descended to the haunting sound of a bagpipe…By early evening the sky cleared and, just as programmed, the full moon lit the course.
Chorier has been the standout long distance expert over the last 4 years with superb wins at UTMF, Hardrock and solid placings at UTMB among his recent efforts.
In the Southern Hemisphere the Aussies were glued to their computer screens regularly hitting refresh to track the progress of Salomon runner Matt Cooper. For years he has excelled as being one of the most grounded and prepared athletes we know on the Aussie circuit.
His ability to focus on the mental aspects of running are without question and his love of the hills meant he was always made to race on a stage this big.
And he did not disappoint. After taking an early lead he settled into a group of 4 runners including eventual winner Chorier and was a close third behind Kenichi Yamamoto.
For over 30 hours Matty Coops did what he does best – he kept a pace that meant others would always be looking over their shoulder. His trademark strong finish was there for all to see as he started to move through the field and he reeled in 3rd place and very nearly 2nd place.
And of course he did it all with his customary smile on his face. Matt is a strong advocate of taking time out on every run to just stop and enjoy your surroundings – to get in touch with the mountain.
Talking of relaxed - Chorier never looked stressed at anytime. In fact, throughout the entire race he was composed and totally in command of his performance and the rest of the field. He was pursued by Yamamoto, Cooper, Armando Teixeira, Spaniards Pep Ballester, Aleson Orbegozo and Americans Jared Campbell, Ty Draney and Benjamin Lewis who all finished in the top ten.
Italy’s Francesca Canepa (Montura-Vibram), second at UTMB and Tor des Geants winner, proceeded with Emilie behind Nerea, at her own pace, focussing on her own race. At the first big summit 50 km she was on her own in the lead and powered on to finish what she describes as her “hardest race ever”, in 36h18’55”, she placed 16th overall.
Second was Olga Mankò from the Ukraine who closed in 38h19’47” and third, Emilie Lecomte in 39h30’14” who, with her 5th place in Transvulcania, now leads the SWS Ultra Series. Nerea later abandoned the race.
Later this week we see what fellow compatriot Brendan Davies can do at the next race on the Skyrunning Circuit – the Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix where Kilian Jornet will be looking to go back to back in his own back yard.
1. Julien Chorier (FRA) – Salomon – 28h41’06”
2. Kenichi Yamamoto (JAP) – Houdini) – 31h12’00”
3. Matt Cooper (AUS) – Salomon – 31h24’54
1. Francesca Canepa (ITA) – Montura-Vibrio – 36h18’55”
2. Olga Mankò (UKR) – 38h19’47”
3. Emilie Lecomte (FRA) – Quechua -39h30’14”