It’s big, bad and beautiful – this Saturday, August 3, the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series lands in Norway for the raw and rugged, Tromsø Skyrace. Once again, the most demanding course of the circuit has attracted an international field of top skyrunners, with a record-breaking 52 nationalities about to put their legs and lungs to the ultimate test.
The Toughest Race of the Calendar
It’s known as the toughest race in the calendar and being the brainchild of the king and queen of skyrunning, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, it’s no wonder why. The race follows the soul of skyrunning: a 57 km course, with 4,700m of vertical gain, that links the summits of Tromsdalstind (1238m) and Hamperokken (1404m). It features three torturous climbs, exposed ridges, scrambling sections over technical terrain, boulder fields and ice-cold river crossings. On top of that, runners will be up against the unforgiving Nordic weather: wet, wild and windy.
But rather than putting people off, these gnarly conditions have attracted skyrunners from all over the world to the 2019 edition. This year, 888 participants of a whopping 52 nationalities – making it the most international race of the series so far – will test themselves against the raw Norwegian nature and once again, the elite lineup is looking as strong as ever.
Gerardi Defends Title Against Stacked Field
The women’s race, in particular, is destined to be carnage. 2018 champion and course record holder, Hillary Gerardi, leads a strong American representation that includes, Brittany Peterson, who placed third last year and Hillary Allen, who returns to conquer the ridge she unforgettably fell from in 2017. Oihana Azkorbebeitia of Spain, Martina Valmassoi of Italy and Holly Page of Great Britain are all looking likely to give the Americans a good run for their money. Since overcoming a pre-season foot injury, Page has gone from strength to strength and her recent third-place finish at BUFF® Epic Trail, proves she’s back to her fierce self.
Everyone’s Got Their Eye on Åström
However, the real one to watch on Saturday will be Swedish “new girl” Johanna Åström. Her incredible second-place finish, after leading for almost three-quarters of the race at BUFF® Epic Trail, saw Åström beat both Page and Gerardi at her first-ever Skyrace. Not only is she back for more, Tromsø is Åström’s training ground and course designer, Emelie Forsberg, has been acting as her mentor. Åström is, therefore, no stranger to the technical terrain and rawness of the course and she has made her way onto the rest of the field’s radar.
“Johanna Åström, I don’t know well but she kicked ass at BUFF and I think this is her kind of terrain”, said defending champion Gerardi of the newcomer, “There is a really high level of competition this year though. Brittany, for example, is in great shape and she knows the course, so I think she will definitely be the one to watch out for. Holly is coming back strong and wants it bad so I think she will put up a good fight.”
“Johanna Åström is a new name to me”, explains USA’s Brittany Peterson, “I’m so excited to see how she performs on the Tromsø terrain after her performance at BUFF.” This will be the first race of the season for Peterson who chose Tromsø because “it’s the most technical race of the series.”
Albon Returns to Break His Own Course Record
As in the women’s field, 2018 champion, Jon Albon of Great Britain, will be back to defend his title on the course he knows and loves. After failing to break his 2017 record of 7h0’01” last year, Albon, who currently sits third in the overall ranking, will no doubt have his sights set on a new best time and, of course, maximum points!
“Tromsø is an old favorite. I love running in Norway, it’s so pure. You get to experience raw nature and get really stuck into technical terrain,” said the 2017 and 2018 champion,“I’ve got a lot of experience on the course, which helps, but you never know what could happen on the day. Of course, I’ll try my best and aim to win.”
Up against Albon is Zaid Ait Malek, who placed third behind Albon at BUFF® Epic Trail, by less than a minute. With one win already under his belt this season, the Spanish runner is proving to be a tough one to beat. Another USA runner who returns after a fifth-place finish here last year is Cody Lind.
The dark horse in the men’s field is Ander Iñarra. Until now, the Spanish runner has gone reasonably unnoticed. With a number of consistently good performances, Iñarra sits at number seven in the overall ranking – a very good outcome for the almost unknown runner, so far.