Get ready for a fierce competition this Saturday at Gorbeia Suzien, the 11th race of the 2023 Skyrunner® World Series. The spirit of the Basque has once again attracted a stellar elite field consisting of both male and female overall ranking leaders, Iris Pessey and Antonio Martinez, who will have to fight hard to defend their leads in the overall ranking.
Last year’s SkyMasters will this year host the 11th and final premier race of the 2023 season. It all kicks off this Saturday at 09:00 am (local time) in Zeanuri, the heart of the Basque Country, known for its passionate spectators and beautiful landscapes. There will be a live broadcast of the entire race so fans from around the world can watch from home.
The 32 kilometre skyrace course, which counts 2,400 metres of elevation gain, begins in the town of Zeanuri and runs through the national park of Gorbeia, to the summit of Gorbeia itself at 1,500 metres before returning to the centre of Zeanuri where streets will be lined with cheering crowds.
As the final premier race, this is the last chance for athletes to gain top points towards the overall ranking and we can expect all the big names to be there.
The women’s lineup
The current overall ranking leader, Iris Pessey of France (team Scott Running) will compete to secure her top spot and is looking for a better performance than 2022.
Pessey comments: “It’s nice to be back in Gorbeia. Last year I did not enjoy the race because of health issues so I’m excited to race it feeling fit and fast. I hope to perform better than in Zermatt, which was the big grey spot for me this season, so I want to turn things over and make things good again for myself. I believe I am in a more consistent shape than last year to finish the season strongly. Last year I really enjoyed the vibe and hype from the people and organisation of Gorbeia.”
Up against Pessey will be the 2023 Trail Running World Champion, Clementine Geoffray, also of France (team Evadict), who could steal the top spot if she wins at Gorbeia; Marcela Vasinova of the Czech republic; the 2023 Matterhorn Ultraks Extreme winner, Anastasia Rubtsova; Ikram Rharsallaof Spain (team Millet); and a group of strong Basque women including Oihana Azkorbebeitia (team Merrell), Irati Zubizarreta and Onditz Iturbe (both team Basque Selection).
The men’s lineup
The men’s race looks equally exciting, if not more, than the women’s. All top four men of the overall ranking will stand behind Saturday’s starting line. For the current men’s overall ranking leader, Antonio Martinez of Spain (team Scarpa), a good position here is crucial as just 30 points separate him and the second.
Martinez comments: “This season has been incredible, way better than I could ever have imagined. Let’s see if I can continue that good level for the last races of the year. I’ve only run Gorbeia once, it was 6 years ago. I had a lot of fun in that course and I’d like to repeat that this weekend.”
Martinez will go head-to-head with Frederic Tranchand of France (team Scott running) and Manuel Merillas of Spain (team Scarpa / Land Trail) – both are joint second place. Zaid Ait Malek and Alejandro Forcades (team Nnormal), both of Spain will also be there as well as the 2023 Schlegeis 3000 Skyrace winner, Sebastien Poesy of France and Gianluca Ghiano of Italy (both team Brooks).
The race starts this Saturday, 23rd of September at 09:00 am local time.
Prize money shall be awarded equally to the top 10 males and females.
The top 10 will also qualify for the 2023 SkyMasters, the final race of the season. This is only as long as they complete or have completed a further 2 races of the season and the SkyMasters. More information on the rules can be found on the Skyrunner® World Series website.