One of the most intense weekends of skyrunning lies ahead with all four disciplines – Vertical, Sky, Extreme and Ultra, contested by the world’s top athletes. The venue is right in the heart of the Scottish Highlands where three of the events are valid for the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series’ rankings.
Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg are among the top athletes competing in this spectacular playground together with top ranked runners in each of the categories. Points in the Overall ranking are also at stake, where a mix of the disciplines are scored.
Star of the show, Sunday’s Salomon Glen Coe Skyline represents the third and final of the Sky Extreme category, not only the toughest race in the UK – but the on the entire Series. The 55 km distance comes into perspective only when the 4,700m vertical climb over challenging mountain terrain is added. The organisers describe the course as “Soaring ridges, exposed traverses and precipitous drops. Fast and light over rough and technical terrain. A fusion of alpinism and mountain running. Welcome to Skyrunning.”
Here, Jornet and Forsberg will be in their element, but not without solid competition from ranking leaders Jonathan Albon, 2016 Sky Extreme champion and last year’s race winner. Ragna Debats is aiming for the women’s title.
“As it’s one of the most fantastic courses I’ve experienced, I can’t wait for this Sunday’s Glen Coe Skyline race,” said Albon. “I’m also looking forward to pushing hard to win the Sky Extreme title once again. After a long season, it will be great to complete my fifth out of the five races required for the overall ranking.“
Dutch woman Debats is flying, leading the Extreme and Overall rankings and second on the Sky and Ultra. She will be racing with her husband Pere Aurell and comments, “We’re very much looking forward to the race! We expect the conditions to be very extreme and the course very technical with lots of scrambling – a real adventure and a tough competition. It’s the last race of the Extreme Series, so it will be decisive and the competition will be very high.”
The stacked international line-up also includes: Men – Tom Owens (GBR), Bhim Gurung (NEP), André Jonsson (SWE), Pere Aurell (ESP), Hector Haines (GBR), Alexis Sevennec (FRA), Benat Marmissolle (FRA), Cody Lind (USA) and women – 2016 Skyrunning World Champion for the Ultra, Caroline Chaverot (FRA), Megan Kimmel (USA), Ekaterina Mityaeva (RUS), Malene Blikken-Haukoy (NOR), Katie Schide (USA), Zuzana Urbancova (CZE).
Preceding the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline Saturday, September 15, two events will take place in Kinlochleven, the venue location. The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace will literally steal the show, boasting a line-up of skyrunning world champions and more. With 29km distance and 2,500m vertical climb, the competition ticks all the boxes of a traditional skyrunning race, among the most popular in the sport. It is valid for the Sky Classic ranking.
Among the men, Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) Vertical and Sky champion, was race winner here last year. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) is also aiming for the title, as is Kiril Nikolov (BUL). Expected to do well are brothers Marc and Oscar Casal Mir (AND), Jan Margarit (ESP), Eugeni Gil (ESP), Pascal Egli (SUI).
World Champions Maite Maiora (ESP) and Laura Orgué (ESP) will be joined by ranking leader Hillary Gerardi (USA) and top-ten athletes from Spain, Sheila Aviles, Oihana Azkorbebeitia and Laura Sola.
Concluding the weekend’s mega show is the inaugural Salomon Ben Nevis Utra – 118 km with 4,000m vertical climb, the course starts on the shores of Loch Ness and summits Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis to finish at Kinlochleven. Toeing the lakeside start will be Russian Dmitry Mityaev, ranked second, and Nepal’s Mira Rai, who, after a long injury, is ready to race.
Kicking off the events is Friday’s Salomon Mamores VK on the new Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit which will see not only some of the best specialists in the world compete, but some, including Emelie Forsberg and Laura Orgué, doing a “double”. “I‘m competing in both races, Vertical and Sky because I’m following both circuits,” said Orgué. “It will be tough because the Sky race is long and a lot of athletes are coming. I’m excited to compete in a new place, so technical and with scrambling sections. The fight for the Overall Sky Classic is on! There’s only two races left and several options so for me, this is the nicest part of the competition. Let’s play!”
A total of 1,500 participants from 30+ countries will gather in Kinlochleven for the four events. Whatever the weather, there won’t be a dull moment, which, of course, will add to the challenge. Let the action begin!
MIGU RUN SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES
Saturday 16 September – Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace
Saturday 16 September – Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra
Sunday 17 September – Salomon Glen Coe Skyline