French skyrunner, Beñat Marmissolle, breaks course record and Ragna Debats fights off fierce female field at the 14th race of the 2019 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
The 2019 edition of Pirin Ultra Skyrace® was a perfect illustration of the difference between ultra running and skyrunning. Although the course covered a distance of 66 km with 4,400m of vertical gain, the competition was fast and fierce from the get-go with only six minutes between the first and fifth male and the entire men’s podium finishing within the 2018 record.
Epic Win for Marmissolle
The race was led by a strong group of runners from early on. Kiril Nikolov of Bulgaria, Ander Iñarra of Spain, Beñat Marmissolle of France, Borja Fernández of Spain, Marc Casal Mir of Andorra and André Jonsson of Sweden fought for the victory until the very last kilometers. As the race unfolded, the outcome became increasingly unpredictable, especially when the first four men, lead by Marmissolle, took a wrong turn and got lost just 7 km from the finish line. As the streets of Bansko filled with spectators eagerly anticipating the winner, everyone was surprised to see Marmissolle of France back in the lead and approaching the finish line in first position.
The 2019 race champion pulled off what can only be described as an epic and emotional victory after pursuing his dream of winning a Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series race for years. Despite the detour, Marmissolle still managed to not only come first, but also break the 2018 course record by almost five minutes. Overcome with emotion, the French runner collapsed on the floor with tears of joy flowing from his eyes.
“It’s a dream come true for me. I never thought that I had the level to win a Migu Run Skyrunner World Series race. There was a stacked field with a lot of good runners and I was far from being the favourite. A group of us took a wrong turn and went in the wrong direction but I was determined to win,” said Marmissolle, who came second here in 2018, “Last year I loved the race because it’s such a savage course inside a beautiful national park.You are alone for much of the time without people surrounding you like at many other races. The landscape is beautiful and I had such a good memory of last year that I wanted to return and experience this course again.”
Ander Iñarra, who also took a wrong turn, impressively followed in second position, just three minutes behind the winner. Local legend, Kiril Nikolov, closed the podium with a time of 7h42’11” – two minutes faster than Pere Aurell’s previous record.
“It’s always special to race at home with all the people I know watching and cheering for me.” said Nikolov, who received a hero’s welcome at the finish line in his home country.
Champion, Ragna Debats, keeps it in the family
2019 female race champion, Ragna Debats, followed in the footsteps of her partner, Pere Aurell, who won the same race back in 2018. Debats took the lead from Virginia Pérez in the first downhill, fighting off a fierce field of women to cross the finish line with a time of 9h08’45”. Although seven minutes short of the course record, this race had a significant meaning for the Dutch athlete.
“This was a really personal win for me, especially because of Pere’s success here last year. In the last 100 meters before the finish, I had an emotional moment remembering Pere’s victory. He had a great race and that made it even more special. The Bulgarian mountains surprised me. The course was even more beautiful than I expected with some technical downhills.” said Debats.
Second went to Marcela Vasinova of the Czech Republic. Unlike in the close men’s race, the 2019 Austrian Skyrunner® National Series champion crossed the finish line 32 minutes after Debats.
“I only started running competitively last year and this was the hardest race of my career so far,” said Vasinova, “It was an honour to race together with Ragna and extremely motivating. I am really looking forward to the SkyMasters in Limone and to competing against the best skyrunners in the world.”
Local runner, Antoniya Grigorova of Bulgaria, was the third woman to cross the finish line, almost 38 minutes behind Debats in first.
The last race of the season will be Sky Pirineu on the 5th of October in Bagà, Spain.
Pirin Ultra Skyrace® 2019 Results:
1. Ragna Debats (Merrell) NED – 9h08’45”
2. Marcela Vasinova (Dynafit) CZE – 9h40’01”
3. Antoniya Grigorova (Xco Sports / Scarpa) BUL – 9h46’29”
4. Cecilia Pedroni (Team Serim) ITA – 10h17’41”
5. Virginia Pérez (Berg Outdoor) ESP – 10h22’05”
1. Beñat Marmissolle (Aviron B. O. M. Taldea) FRA – 7h39’06”
2. Ander Iñarra (Euskal Sel.) ESP – 7h41’52”
3. Kiril Nikolov (Xco Sports / Scarpa) BUL – 7h42’11”
4. Borja Fernández (Scott Running) ESP – 7h42’45”
5. Marc Casal Mir (Team Andorra) AND – 7h44’24”