On Friday, August 23, 250 of the world’s most technically skilled skyrunners, elite and non-elite, will be the first to take on the brand-new Matterhorn Ultraks «EXTREME». The sold-out first edition is the 12th race of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and the last – but certainly not least – SuperSky Race of the calendar. Known as the new and gnarly addition, it’s already become a pinnacle event of the 2019 season.
Adequate mountain and altitude experience required
Set in the stunning location of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps with views of the Matterhorn, the 25 km course including 2,876m of vertical gain has become a magnet for top athletes from Zimbabwe to the USA. Over 31 nationalities will participate in the SuperSky Race which awards double points to the top 20 male and females. Due to the level of technicality of the course, only those with enough mountain and altitude experience have been selected to take part, ensuring a high level of competition in both fields.
Extreme by name, extreme by nature. Designed by renowned Swiss mountaineers, the Anthamatten brothers, naturally, the race includes everything a classic skyrace should have, and perhaps even more. With 25% of the course being above 3,000m, technical sections and mountaineering segments, the high-altitude race is as extreme as its name implies.
“My goal was to design a course that provides a unique experience for the racer. The course features a long climb, followed by a technical couloir, a technical traverse, a second ascent, a second technical traverse, glaciers and a steep downhill with a nice ridge – all of this in an unusually wild area. To do well in this race, it is not enough to be a runner; you have to feel comfortable moving fast on technical terrain. If I were to describe this race in three words, they would be: real, technical, skyrunning. It’s like the lovechild of TropheoKima and Tromsø Skyrace with its own unique character.” said Martin Anthamatten of the new course.
The most technically-skilled women in the game
With such a profile it’s no wonder that four of the five top females of the 2019 Tromsø Skyrace have signed up to the challenge. New Tromsø Skyrace course record holder, Johanna Åström of Sweden is looking like the one to beat at the moment, however, with a technically-talented field including Holly Page of Great Britain, Hillary Gerardi of the USA, Emily Hawgood of Zimbabwe and Russia’s Elena Rukhlyada, anything could happen. As the day draws closer, top athletes express their excitement about the new course:
“I am stoked to see a legitimate skyrace that will challenge participants not just to be fast but also to use their technical skills.” says Gerardi, who is known as one of the strongest technical runners in the series.
“I chose the Ultraks «EXTREME» because it is in the shadow of the Matterhorn and it’s a SuperSky Race. Zermatt has been spoken about a lot at every race and it looks technical and exciting. This year, the ladies field has been strong, deep and competitive and I expect Zermatt to be no different.” says Hawgood.
Ueda, Bratina, Ait Malek and Antonioli step up to the challenge
The men’s field, too, has been drawn to the beauty and technicality of the course. This will be the fifth race of the season for Ruy Ueda of Japan who currently sits second in the overall ranking. Ueda will, no doubt, be aiming to make up for his fourth-place finish at his last SuperSky Race, BUFF® Epic Trail. “This is one of the most scenic races in the world. It’s the first time such an “extreme” race exists and I can’t imagine how technical it is. I’m looking forward to climbing the wall, running the ridge and racing new opponents.”
Zaid Ait Malek of Spain; Daniel Jung of Italy; young gun, Rok Bratina of Slovenia and Spain’s Marc Pinsach are some of the exciting names who will also take their place behind the starting line next Friday.
If you don’t remember the name Daniel Antonioli, it’s also worth taking note of it now. The previously unheard of Italian multi sportsman pulled off an incredible second-place finish at Livigno Skyrace and it’s looking like he could be the dark horse next week.
“I find the area around Matterhorn wonderful and I’m looking forward to running in this landscape. I’m expecting a beautiful race with breathtaking views and of course, I hope for a good performance. Livigno was the first time I took part in an international race and it was an unexpected result so now I aim for another good performance in a SuperSky Race to position myself high in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series overall ranking.” said Antonioli.
The Ultraks «EXTREME» is just one race that makes up the entire Matterhorn Ultraks event. With six races, including a kids race, spread out over an entire weekend, the mountains surrounding Zermatt will come alive with almost 3,000 runners of all levels.
The 12th race of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series will kick off on Friday 23. August at 8:30 am. Tune in to the official Skyrunning Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for the latest updates and results.