Britons Jonathan Albon and Jasmin Paris topped the Extreme Series rankings to take home the Champion title at the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline, third and final race in Scotland, Sunday.
Certainly the toughest race on the Skyrunner® World Series, the 55 km course with a punishing 4,700m vertical climb over extremely technical terrain was a playground for today’s winners who made the severe test for the 217 runners look almost easy.
The Extreme Series, presented by Alpina Watches, was introduced this year to showcase the more technical skyrunning races in a stand-alone circuit with three races which launched with the Tromsø SkyRace® in Norway, the legendary Kima Trophy in Italy and concluded Sunday with Scotland’s first international skyrunning race, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline.
(Two out of the three races count for the final ranking where points are increased by 20% in the last race.)
Race winner and Series Champion, Jonathan Albon, is a 27-year-old Londoner who lives in Norway and appeared on the skyrunning scene in 2015 when he won the Tromsø SkyRace®, his first experience in the sport. A second place in this year’s race and a 7th in Kima put him on the second rung of the ranking behind Tom Owens. Yesterday, he seemed to cruise effortlessly over the rugged demanding terrain to close in an incredible 6h33’52”, slicing nearly an hour off last year’s time.
With respect to 2015 and only minimal course changes, the first eight men closed under the previous record, testimony to the incredible talent out there in what is probably the best assembled field in the country to date.
“The race course was a mix of scrambling, hiking, running, amazing views, nature…the weather. It was a ride from start to finish.” Albon exclaimed. “I realised I could be the Series’ champion on the last big climb when I saw Tom was struggling and Marc, who was second, had only done one of the Series’ races. I’m really happy for the title.”
Men’s race favourite and ranking leader Tom Owens led for most of the race and, although plagued by foot pain which eventually cost him his crown, he closed just four minutes behind Albon. Switzerland’s Marc Lauenstein (winner of the Sky Series’ Zegama and Matterhorn Ultraks 46K) placed third.
The women’s field was different story with 32-year-old Briton Jasmin Paris, the Tromsø race winner, who led the race comfortably, especially on the technical sections which she loves. She closed in 8h15’56” (but far from Emelie Forsberg’s 2015 record of 7h44’19” where she placed second overall).
“It was a great, great race,” she said. “I loved the race, the Series. I enjoy the energy you get. I really like that scambling, technical stuff. I don’t really like trail, flat running. I wasn’t feeling that confident as Ruth caught me at the end of the trail in the valley and I could see Malene behind me. I couldn’t really sit around and wait so I pushed and joined a couple of guys who ran with me to the end where they dropped me,” delivering her to the win and the Extreme Series champion title.
The podium was completed by Norwegian Malene Blikken Haukøy, second, who also places second in the final ranking, and Briton Sarah Ridgeway was third in the race.
Britons excelled in this first Extreme Series, evidently comfortable with the the harsh and extremely challenging terrain the Series offers. The men’s champions were Jonathan Albon, Tom Owens and Finlay Wild. The women’s podium starred Jasmin Paris with Norwegian Malene Haukøy and New Zealander Ruth Croft second and third respectively.
New names, new countries are heading the Series’ bill. All relatively new to the sport they hail not surprisingly from Northern or mountainous countries possessing an innate skill for this kind of running: demanding, technical – pure skyrunning.
The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline was part of a weekend of skyrunning events on the National Series calendar and counted runners from 26 countries.
The inaugural Extreme Series awarded not only the Champion titles but cash prizes together with the Alpina Watches awards.
Presenting Sponsor of the Extreme Series and Official Watch of Skyrunning, Alpina Watches, awarded a prestigious Alpina Horological Smartwatch to the champions, Jasmin Paris and Jonathan Albon.
Salomon Glen Coe Skyline results
1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 6h33’52”
2. Tom Owens (GBR) Salomon – 6h37’21”
3. Marc Lauenstein (SUI) Salomon – 6h54’37”
4. Finlay Wild (GBR) – 7h00’57”
5. Greg Vollet (FRA) Salomon – 7h 10’19”
1. Jasmin Paris (GBR) inov-8 – 8h15’56”
2. Malene Blikken Haukøy (NOR) – 8h23’04”
3. Sarah Ridgeway (GBR) – 8h44’40”
4. Ruth Croft (NZL) SCOTT Running – 9h10’33”
5. Martina Valmassoi (ITA) Salomon – 9h14’37”
Extreme Series ranking. Final*
1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 208 points
2. Tom Owens (GBR) – 205.6 points
3. Finlay Wild (GBR) – 164.4 points
4. Andew Fallas (GBR) – 143 points
5. Sota Ogawa (JAP) – 128.4 points
1. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 220 points
2. Malene Haukøy (NOR) – 193.6 points
3. Ruth Croft (NZL) – 172 points
4. Martina Valmassoi (ITA – 152.4 points
5. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 127.6 points
The Skyrunner® World Series heads for the magnificent Spanish Pyrenees next Saturday for the Ultra Series finals at the Salomon Ultra Pirineu where the top ranked runners will be aiming for the title.