Santana, 28th May 2022 – The pressure, humidity and sheer brutality of Madeira Skyrace was not enough to stop the top skyrunners who tackled the 55km course on Madeira Island today. Victories were claimed by Victoria Perez of Spain and Peter Fraňo of Slovakia, both putting on impressive performances at the second race of the 2022 Skyrunner® World Series season.
At 55 km with 4,000 meters of elevation, Madeira Skyrace is one of the longest race courses of the circuit. As if the gruelling first climb in the dark and the painfully steep 10 km decent that follows wasn’t enough of a challenge, skyrunners were also faced with wet and slippy trails after days of raining on the island and hot, heavy and humid air.
LJUNGDAHL AND FRAŇO GO HEAD-TO-HEAD
Arriving at the top of the first climb was “Skyrunning Rockstar” Sebastian Ljungdahl of Sweden, who fearlessly hurtled himself down the technical chain section that leads up to Pico Ruivo. Ljungdahl held onto the lead for most of the race although being chased by a group of fast skyrunners, one of which was Slovakian youngster Peter Fraňo (team Salomon) who was hot on his heels before finally catching up on the steep downhill section at km 30. The two ran side-by-side for a few kilometers on the beach before Fraňo pulled away on the final climb and arrived first at the finish line with a time of 5h47’37”. Ljungdahl followed in second place just two minutes after.
“Madeira Skyrace was my first skyrace in 2017 and that’s when I fell in love with the sport”, commented Fraňo, the 2022 champion and proud owner of the second 2022 SWS winner’s bib. “This is my biggest achievement yet. I’m surprised as there were many strong runners behind the starting line but everything went to plan today and it’s a day I will remember for a long time.”
Romanian athlete, Raul Butaci (Team Merrell), who placed seventh at Madeira Skyrace in 2019, closed the men’s podium with a time of 6h06’17”, almost 20 minutes behind Fraňo but six minutes ahead of local favourite Luis Fernandes. In fifth place was Dario Moitoso (Team Scott Running) of the Azores with a time of 6h14’27”.
PEREZ IS UNTOUCHABLE
Compared to the men’s race, there was a lot less pressure on the female champion Virginia Perez (team Boa Fit System), who led the race from start to finish. The 2022 SnowSky World Champion crossed the finish line in first place after 7h15’19”, a full 15 minutes ahead of the second women Anna Ongaro (team Prorunners Barcelona), who impressively worked her way through the ranks as the race went on.
“This was my first ultra,” said Ongaro, the newcomer, “I usually run around 25km to 30km so this was a lot longer than usual. The course was so beautiful and I had a great race. I’m really excited to qualify for the SkyMasters and very much looking forward to doing some more Skyrunner World Series this season.”
After an exciting race for top positions between Spanish athletes Silvia Puigarnau (team Brooks Running) and Sara Lizarralde (team Basque Selection) and Lauren Woodwiss of Great Britain, it was Puigarnau who took third place, eight minutes behind Ongaro in second. Fourth place went to Lizarralde with a time of 7h40’12” and Maud Combarieu of France (team Basque Selection) finished less than one minute behind in fifth place.
The top 20 men and women of Madeira Skyrace scored points towards the 2022 overall ranking with the top 10 qualifying for the SkyMasters on October 8th 2022 in the Basque Country.
Next up is Tier Two race, Mt Awa Skyrace, tomorrow in Japan which, due to the pandemic, is only open to national runners.
The circuit then moves onto Hochkönig Skyrace in Austria on the 4th of June.
Madeira Skyrace Top 5 Men
1. Peter Fraňo (SVK) Team Salomon – 5h47’37”
2. Sebastian Ljungdahl (SWE) Team Hälle – 5h49’42”
3. Raul Butaci (ROM) Team Merrell – 6h06’17”
4. Luis Fernandes (POR) Team Ludens Clube de Machico – 6h06’17”
5. Dario Moitoso (POR) Team Scott Running – 6h14’27”
Madeira Skyrace Top 5 Women
1. Virginia Perez (ESP) Team Boa Fit System – 7h15’19”
2. Anna Ongaro (ITA) Team Prorunners Barcelona – 7h30’36”
3. Silvia Puigarnau (ESP) Team Brooks – 7h38’51”
4. Sara Lizarralde (ESP) Team Basque Selection – 7h40’12”
5. Maud Combarieu (FRA) Team Basque Selection – 7h41’29”