The new Merrell Skyrunner® World Series race delighted skyrunners and fans around the world with an exciting high-altitude route over 3,000 meters above sea level, crossing historic mountains and with the majestic backdrop of the Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain.

Altitude and temperature seemed to be two key factors in determining who would succeed at Mexico Sky Challenge 35km. It was a topic discussed by the elite athletes often over the course of the week.

The runners started conservatively with an acknowledgment of the mammoth climb ahead. 1930m of elevation gain from the start to the summit of Cerro Tepoztecatl the first peak (3,120m), in just 12km.

There was significant positional change on the first climb in the men’s race. Abraham Hernandez of Mexico (team Corre Mejia) started the first climb in 20th position, but took the lead prior to the first summit, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes into the race. He was followed by fellow Mexican Miguel Perez (team Salomon) in second and Jose Manuel of Peru (team Merrell) in third. Hernandez and Perez would manage to hold their positions and finish one and two respectively. The battle for third went late, with the position changing several times. Johnny Luna-Lima of Brazil (team The North Face) ultimately finished third with a very fast final segment. Morgan Elliot of the USA (team Merrell) and Jose Manuel claimed fourth and fifth respectively.  

In the women’s race, local star, Karina Carsolio (team Black Diamond) managed to amass an impressive 5 minutes over second-placed Canadian Emma Cook-Clarke (team Arc’teryx) to the summit of the first peak. Cook-Clarke impressively caught Carsolio between Cerro Tepoztecatl and Cerro Azul. In just 5.5km, the section climbs 580m and descends 700m through technical terrain. Cook-Clarke was unable to hold the lead and she was caught by CarsolioCarsolio improved on this lead over the last 15km beating second-placed Kelly Wolf of the USA (team La Sportiva) and Cook-ClarkeRuby Lindquist (team The North Face) and Karina Andersen (team Dynafit), both of the USA rounded out the top 5.

Carsolio, the female winner comments:

“There were many factors that made this race so hard. It starts with a long and steep uphill and the heat today caused cramps for me from kilometre seven, but I knew I had to stay patient and not overdo it as the second downhill is very steep and technical so my strategy was to save my energy for that and give it my all. It worked well because Emma and I were switching positions and on that downhill I passed her and didn’t see her again. From here I go to Minotaur Skyrace in Canada and then Cordillera Blanca in Peru and my fourth race is Kima in Italy, so I’m excited for the rest of the Skyrunner World Series season.”

Full results can be found here.

The next race of the 2024 Merrell Skyrunner® World Series is Hochkonig Skyrace in Austria on the 1st of June.


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