The Sky Extreme Series kicks off Sunday with Italy’s Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso and a heavy-duty line-up looking for a new challenge. The three-race Series introduced last year, counts two out of three for the final rankings and end-of-season prizes in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
Set in the ex-Royal hunting grounds of the Gran Paradiso National Park near Turin, the course is 55 km long and boasts a severe 4,141m vertical climb crossing seven cols – common features shared with the legendary Kima Trophy with which it alternates as a biennial event.
For the first time on the World Series, the event has attracted 270 competitors from no less than 27 countries from as far afield as Australia, USA, Brazil and Ecuador.
Top ranked athletes from the Sky Classic and Sky Ultra categories will assemble on the unique high altitude start-line above a lake- on top of a dam.
World Champion and Sky Classic ranking leader, Spaniard Maite Maiora heads the women’s field after two epic wins in the recent Livigno SkyMarathon and Zegama-Aizkorri in May. Russian Ekaterina Mityaeva, fourth on the Sky Ultra ranking is a podium favourite and is joined by Pole Natalia Tomasiak and Spaniard Aitziber Ibarbia among others.
From Nepal, 2016 Kima winner, Bhim Gurung, currently ninth on the Sky Classic ranking is aiming to top the Sky Extreme rankings too. Russia’s Dmitry Mityaev leads the Ultra ranking but could find his first “extreme” just that, after a third place in the High Trail Vanoise just last weekend.
Moroccan Zaid Ait Malek, top runner in the mid and long distances will also be up front at his first attempt in the category. Spaniard Cristofer Clemente, 2016 Ultra Series winner will join them with compatriot Roger Vinas and many more to race over high passes, snowfields and moraines to compete with the ibex and chamois on their home ground.
Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso race director, Stefano Roletti commented, “It’s a great honour to be on the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and to launch the Sky Extreme Series. I’m sure that the magnificent nature of the Gran Paradiso National Park and the technical course will become the stage for an epic race – among the best in the world.
“The course is in excellent condition with residual stretches of snow including the steep descent to the Colle dei Becchi which will be equipped with fixed ropes. The weather forecast promises a sunny day with some light cloud which will be comforting to those “galloping” along the skyline. I’d like to welcome everyone on behalf of the organisation and look forward to Sunday for what promises to be a splendid event.”