For Spaniards Eugeni Gil and Oihana Azkorbebeitia winning the Buff Epic Trail 42K boiled down to a matter of seconds. Some exciting sprints ensued with Gil overtaking ranking leader Aritz Egea in the last 5km and the Basque red-head, neck and neck with Frenchwoman Célia Chiron, taking the win in the last 500m. The spectacular Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees was the location for the action-packed fifth leg of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series Sky Classic category.
Eugeni Gil’s career has been on an upward spiral since finishing fifth last year at Matterhorn Ultraks. A regular member of the strong FEEC team, the 22-year-old skyrunner showed his strength some weeks ago finishing fourth in the Livigno SkyMarathon and now, success in Barruera. It wasn’t an easy win with strong competition and constantly changing weather – from rain and storms to heat and humidity. He crossed the crowded finish line in 4h08’24’’ with Egea second, in 4h11’52’’.
“I pushed hard on the climbs”, said Egea. “On the last one expected him to walk but he kept on running. I simply couldn’t keep up. I was really tired after the recent Olympus Marathon but that’s no excuse. Eugeni ran a great race and I can only congratulate him.”
The race winner commented, “For me, to win a World Series race at home in front of my parents and friends is just a dream.” Frenchman Adrien Michaud secured third place after a tough battle in the lead pack, while Spaniard Hassan Ait Chaou was fourth and Andorran Marc Casal Mir closing the top five.
If the men’s race was enthralling with hundreds of spectators unable to guess who was going to win until the last moment, the women’s outcome was even more so. Azkorbebeitia and Chiron arrived 500 meters from the finish line together where the Basque accelerated victory, closing in 5h07’28”. Chiron, lacking the strength to keep up, finished just 26” later. “I’m really tired but happy,” she said. “Now I need some rest to try to score more points in the next Series’ races.”
A delighted Azkorbebeitia remarked, “It’s been a tight race, a great battle all the time. I am really happy with the result.”
Spaniard Laura Sola, second only two weeks ago at Olympus Marathon and ranked fourth, closed the podium to secure valuable points for the final Sky Classic rankings. With five races out of eleven already contested, the leaders remain unaltered with Aritz Egea and Maite Maiora on top.
Italy will host the next two Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series races with next Sunday’s Royal Ultra Skymarathon Gran Paradiso, first race of the demanding Sky Extreme category on July 16 and on July 22 in Canazei, the Dolomites SkyRace®, sixth stage of the Sky Classic category.
400 participants took part in yesterday’s third edition of the Buff Epic Trail 42K, the location of last year’s Skyrunning World Championships where the standing records were set in 2016: Stian Angermund 3h56’47” and Maite Maiora 4h42’15”.
As the name suggests, the race is a point to point over a rugged 42 kilometres with 3,200m positive vertical climb. A highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit, it’s designed for skyrunners who love it demanding and fast.
The Buff Epic Trail 42K was one of the weekend’s three races in the Buff Mountain Festival which attracted some 1,000 runners.
Buff Epic Trail 42K race results
- Eugeni Gil (ESP) 4h08’24”
- Artiz Egea (ESP) 4h11’52”
- Adrien Michaud (FRA) – 4h16’47”
- Hassan Ait Chaou (ESP) – 4h23’47”
- Marc Casal Mir (AND) – 4h25’15”
- Oihana Azkorbebeitia (ESP) – 5h07’28”
- Célia Chiron (FRA) – 5h07’54”
- Laura Sola de Miguel (ESP) – 5h10’23”
- Paloma Lobera (ESP) – 5h48’55”
- Eva Bernat (ESP) – 5h49’25”