2017 Skyrunning season kicks off in China - Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series

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Megan Kimmel, two-time Yadin Skyrun winner. ©iancorless.com / SWS

Megan Kimmel, two-time Yading Skyrun winner. ©iancorless.com / SWS

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series which features 22 races in 11 countries kicked off today with the highest race on the circuit –  the Yading Skyrun reaching 4,664m altitude on the Tibetan Plateau in China’s Sichuan mountains.

The 29 km race with a total climb of 2,345m, falls into the popular Sky Classic category which counts eleven races this year, five of which are valid for the final ranking.

Last year’s winners Bhim Gurung from Nepal and Megan Kimmel from the USA were back for more and yet again, proved they’re on top of the world by winning the race in 3h06’51” and 3h33’55” respectively. For Gurung, it was a new record, bettering his 2016 time by 13’.

It’s my second time here and second time first. I’m very happy!” exclaimed Gurung. “It’s a very fast race. I was 5th at the summit, but made up on the downhill. I’m already looking forward to the next World Series races!”

Bhim Gurung wins Yading Skyrun for the second time and sets the record. ©iancorless.com / SWS

Bhim Gurung wins Yading Skyrun for the second time and sets the record. ©iancorless.com / SWS

Kimmel, who holds the 2016 Sky Classic champion title, closed 13’6” over her 2016 time, but placed an excellent 8th overall. “Once again, the weather was great so I was able to enjoy the day”, Kimmel commented. “I felt pretty good for the shape I’m in and glad to be here again.”

With 216 runners at the start line, the competition, especially in the men’s field, was tough with the top five finishing within 15 minutes of each other.

However, in the first 19 km of the race, all uphill to the Chonggu temple at almost 4,000m, Gurung was just in 5th place, with American Andy Wacker leading and boasting a good 20-minute advantage over Switzerland’s Pascal Egli and China’s Duo Ji.

From the lowlands to the highlands, Dutch woman Ragna Debats takes 2nd at Yading Skyrun. ©iancorless.com / SWS

From the lowlands to the highlands, Dutch woman Ragna Debats takes 2nd at Yading Skyrun. ©iancorless.com / SWS

True to tradition, skyrunning is also about the downhill and this where Gurung’s skills came into play, crushing the competition and crossing the finish line in record time, leaving Ji disappointed after a year’s training for the win.

In the women’s race, Kimmel was on her own out front from start to finish. Dutch woman Ragna Debats closed in 2nd , bettering her 2016 3rd place while Nepalese runners Sunmaya Budha and Laxmi Purna had their high hopes dashed to take 4th and 5th after a first-rate 3rd position by Denmark’s Katrine Villumsen.

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series moves to warmer climes next week to the island of La Palma in the Spanish Canary islands with the Transvulcania Ultramarathon, first race in the Ultra category.

Bhudist prayer flags decorate the Yading Skyrun course. ©iancorless.com / SWS

Bhudist prayer flags decorate the Yading Skyrun course. ©iancorless.com / SWS

Provisional race results
Men

  1. Bhim Gurung (NEP) – 3h06’51”
  2. Andy Wacker (USA) – 3h08’23”
  3. Duo Ji (CHN) – 3h08’49”
  4. Pascal Egli (SUI) – 3h09’27”
  5. Oscar Casal Mir (AND) – 3h14’40”

 Women

  1. Megan Kimmel (USA) – 3h33’55”
  2. Ragna Debats (NED) – 4h06’42”
  3. Katrine Villumsen (DEN) – 4h13’21”
  4. Sunmaya Budha (NEP) – 4h29’08”
  5. Laxmi Neupane Purna (NEP) – 4h33’46”

Full results

2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series provisional ranking

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Run, Compressport and Scott Sports.

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