Ultra168 is off to Europe to mix with the greats at Transvulcania and Zegama

Imagae courtesy of ISF

We recently received some exciting news at Ultra168 – we have been invited to join the worlds best runners when they come together in May to compete over two whole weeks of extreme mountain running as part of the Skyrunner®  World Series in Europe. The first of these races is the Transvulcania on the Spanish Island of La Palma off the Atlantic coast of North West Africa. The following week the whole camp moves to the iconic mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees for the infamous Zegama-Aizkorrie Mountain Marathon.

Marcus will be continuing his jet set lifestyle and will be our sole representative on the ground whilst the rest of us stay home and duke it out on the North Face 100 course. He will be joining the likes of Anton Krupicka, Geoff Roes, Miguel Herras, Max King, Anna Frost, Nikki Kimball, Sebastien Chaigneua, Dakota Jones, Mike Wolfe and Ian Sharman amongst others as they do battle to find out who is the best of the best.

Whilst ultrarunning is still a growing sport in Australia, this year sees the 20th anniversary of the International Skyrunning Federation. With its heart beating strong in the mountain ranges of Europe, its global reach has now extended to most continents on the planet. Who can forget the epic duel of Kilian running down Marco de Gaspari in the final yards at last years final race on the slopes of Mt Kinabalu in Asia.

Image courtesy of International Skyrunning Federation

The first of these races – the Transvulcania traverses the island of La Palma from sea level to over 2400 m summit of a volcano and includes over 8500 meters of climbing and descent in as little at 83 kilometers of running !

The second race moves to mainland Europe and the strangely named Zegam-Aizkorrie Marathon. Last year, again Kilian was able to dominate by mere seconds of English mountain goat Tom Owens.

As always, we will be bringing our own unique view of these races along with all the latest star studded interviews, gear reviews and awesome pictures from some pretty special landscapes.

Below are copies of the ISF’s Media Releases for both races.

Transvulcania 2012

Never in the history of endurance sport has such a number of world-class runners gathered together at a single event. After weeks of anticipation, the International Skyrunning Federation announces the final line-up of theTransvulcania Ultra Marathon, valid for theSkyrunner® World Series ranking and first of the five Ultra Series races.

Image courtesy of ISF

The star-studded entry list reads as follows:  the three winners of the 2011 TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, Spaniards Kilian JornetIker Karreraand Frenchman Sebastien Chaigneau; Americans Mike Wolfe, 2011 TNF Endurance Challenge 50M Championship and 2nd Western States 100; Geoff Roes, 2010 Western States 100 and 2011 Ultra Race of Champions;  Anton Krupicka, 2nd 2010 Western States 100;  Dakota Jones, 2nd 2011 Hard Rock 100 Endurance Run and 2nd 2011 TNF Endurance Challenge 50M Championship;  Rickey Gates, 2011 Canadian Death Race;  France’s Erik Clavery, IAU Trail World Champion;  Britain’s Andy Symonds, La Course de Templiers 2011.

The mammoth line-up continues with top French runners: François D’Haëne,Thomas LorblanchetThierry BreuilYann Curien.  Americans Joe Grant andIan SharmanCsaba Németh, Hungary; Florent Troillet, Switzerland; Gustavo Reyes, Argentina; Giuliano Cavallo, Italy;  Philipp Reiter, Germany.

The glittering women’s field counts 2011 TNF Endurance Challenge 50M Championship winner, Anna Frost from New Zealand; IAU Trail World ChampionMaud Gobert from France; Americans Darcy Africa, 2011 Hard-Rock 100;  Nikki Kimball, 3rd 2011Western States 100 and 2007 TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®;Kasia Zajac from Poland, Zugspitz Super Trail 2011.

With such strong competition, the 7h32’13” race record set last year by Spaniard Miguel Heras could take a beating. The question is, by whom?

The strong international team participation includes major industry players:

Adidas, Arc’teryx, Asics, Montrail, New Balance, Pearl Izumi, Platinium Sigvaris, Salomon, The North Face.

The 500 runners face a daunting 8,525m ascent and descent over the 83 km course which starts at sea level on the Atlantic coast and travels along the island’s backbone to the summit of the volcano at 2,423m before descending back to the sea and finishing in the town of Los Llanos.

From sea to sky, the Transvulcania Ultra Marathon perfectly embodies the skyrunning philosophy and unquestionably represents one of the most spectacular of the 20 races on the 2012 Skyrunner® World Series.  Given the VIP entry list, it could be nothing less than the race of the century.

Image courtesy of ISF

A star-studded world class entry list is announced by the Zegama-Aizkorri Maratòn, one of the most popular skyrunning events – valid for the Skyrunner® World Series champion title. 

 The line-up stars last year’s winners, Kilian Jornet and 2011 Skyrunning World Champion, Oihana Kortazar, both from Spain; Britain’s Tom Owens, just 30” behind Jornet last year;  and, at his first SkyMarathon attempt, America’s Max King, 2011 World Mountain Running Champion.

Image courtesy of International Skyrunning Federation

Americans getting their first taste of the SkyMarathon and European style racing will also include: Rickey Gates, Mount Washington Road Race 2011; and ultra distance specialists, Nick ClarkJoe Grant,  Dakota Jones, Anton Krupicka and Mike Wolfe.  Two Briton’s living in the US, Nick Clark and Ian Sharman, will give the shorter, more technical Zegama race a crack.

The extraordinary line-up continues with top French runners:  Michel Rabat among the favourites, Thierry BreuilSebastien Chaigneau, Erik Clavery, François  d’HaeneMichel Lannes, Thomas Lorblanchet; also Csaba Németh, Hungary; Florent Troillet, Switzerland; Gustavo Reyes, Argentina.  Look out for new entry, Greek Dimitris Theodorakakos, who willtest his skills in this exceptionally strong field.

Many of the international runners heading for Zegama in Spain’s Basque Country will have competed in the Transvulcania Ultra Marathon just one week before – a short recovery time for most, but an irresistible challenge to race the 42 km course with a gruelling 5,472m vertical ascent and descent

Favourites in the women’s field are led by last year’s winner, Oihana Kortazar, running on home ground, followed by fellow countrywoman,Mireia Mirò.  “Fresh” from the Transvulcania Ultra Marathon, New Zealand’s Anna Frost, American long distance specialist Nikki Kimball andMaud Gobert fromFrance will compete.  Also from France, Corinne Favre, past Skyrunning World Champion; Russian Zhanna Vokueva and Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg complete the élite women’s line-up.

Image courtesy of ISF

This incredible field world class runners look set to deliver plenty of action and perhaps take a shot at the long standing records:  3h54’18“ by Briton, Rob Jebb (2005) and 4h38’19“ by Italian, Emanuela Brizio (2009).

Major industry players are represented with strong international teams including:

Adidas, Arc’teryx, Asics, Innov8, Montrail, New Balance, Pearl Izumi, Salomon, The North Face.

One of the key factors that have world-class runners coming back year after year to Zegama is the enthusiastic participation of 8,000 spectators along the course, cheering every single runner every single step along the way.

Follow news and updates on www.skyrunning.com and on Facebook and Twitter.  Race website: www.zegama-aizkorri.net

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