Mt Awa Skyrace opens 2021 Skyrunner World Series

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Welcome back to the Skyrunner® World Series. Today, the circuit celebrated the start of the 2021 season with Japan’s Mt Awa Skyrace® being the first official, point-scoring event since 2019. The Skyrunner® World Series, presented by Merrell, now optimistically looks towards the rest of the season.

Despite the current situation, the Skyrunner® World Series is delighted to report that it’s back to business after reaching the first summit of the 2021 season.

Set in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Japan’s leading skyrace warmly welcomed a modest field of national skyrunners to its starting line. Although no international athletes were present due to the country’s health and safety policies, the event proved to be a success and has provided a glimmer of hope to the skyrunning world.

With the reigning champion and 2019 Skyrunner® World Series overall male winner, Ruy Ueda, unable to attend, this cleared the way for a new Japanese skyrunning star to step into the spotlight. That new star today was Yuya Kawasaki, who crossed the finish line in first place. No new records were set as the course was run on an alternative route due to bad weather conditions.

2021 Mt Awa Skyrace® champion, Takako Takamura
© Masataka Chiba / Mt Awa Skyrace®

In the women’s race, it was Takako Takamura who came out victorious. Japan’s leading female skyrunner placed third at Mt Awa Skyrace®  in 2019 and 12th in the 2019 Skyrunner® World Series overall ranking.

Today reminded me of being here in 2019 and this motivated me to push hard. This is my first SWS win and even though there are not as many elite athletes as before, I’m proud of it and I know I can win it again, even against the elite international athletes.” – Takamura.

Thanks to a great organisational team, Mt. Awa Skyrace® was able to go ahead whilst providing a safe environment for all runners and local spectators. Hiroaki Matsunga, Mt. Awa Skyrace® organiser explains:

“The hidden theme of the 2021 edition was to show strength and will to move forward and give dreams and hope to the world. I was able to pass the baton to the world as the opening race of the Skyrunner World Series. I hope to receive it again next year and share the greatness and potential of this sport with many people while considering the environmental burden.”

Points scored from Mt. Awa Skyrace® will go towards the 2021 overall ranking, powered by Merrell. The ranking is based on the four best results of each runner over the season.

The season will continue with the Hochkönig Skyrace® on June 5th in Maria Alm, Austria before visiting 11 other events in 9 countries. Due to local restrictions, Skyrace® des Matheysins and Madeira Skyrace®, two events that would have taken place early on in the year, have both been postponed. Skyrace® des Matheysins will now be the final race of 2021, ending the season on October 24th in St-Honore, France.

This weekend, unfortunately, the Minotaur Skyrace® in Canada, also announced the cancellation of their 2021 event due to COVID-19. The Skyrunner® World Series offers its full support to all fans, athletes and organisers who have been affected by these changes.

Although the current health context remains uncertain, the Skyrunner® World Series is determined to deliver the rest of the season, as safely as possible.

Today we have been reminded that the mountains are still there and the passion for the sport is still very much alive.