This Sunday, 22nd September, skyrunning’s top long-distance athletes will battle it out at Bulgaria’s Pirin Ultra Skyrace® for the 14th race of the 2019 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
The 66 km route with 4,400m of vertical gain, starts and finishes in Bansko, Bulgaria – an old historical town at the foot of the Pirin Mountains. Held in the heart of Pirin National Park, Pirin Ultra Skyrace® is known for its untamed wilderness and demanding course on technical ridges above 2,500m, leading to the highest point of the race – Kuklite peak at 2,686m.
Race director, Dimitar Dimitrov, describes the course as “beautiful and long with some fast and technical sections. It is alpine terrain with peaks, alpine lakes and some incredible wildlife, including eagles and vultures. We expect a great event with more than 500 runners from 39 countries. Conditions look good with sunny and calm weather for the race, however, temperatures are unlikely to reach above 13 degrees.”
Eyes on the Prize for Ragna Debats
The spectacular and unique course has attracted some big names who excel at longer distances. 2019 Transvulcania and Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso champion, Ragna Debats of the Netherlands, will be aiming to score maximum points towards the leaderboard in anticipation of the SkyMasters next month. She currently sits third in the overall ranking. After a podium finish in 2018, Antoniya Grigorova of Bulgaria, will again take her place behind the starting line on home soil and is expected to do well. Italy’s Cecilia Pedroni, Virginia Pérez Mesonero of Spain, Mary Gilie of Great Britain and Andrijana Erdec of Croatia are a few more names in the elite female field, all of whom are known to go the extra mile.
Nikolov and Jonsson Return to Conquer the Beast
The men’s race is a lot more unpredictable. Germany’s Hannes Namberger has proven his capabilities this season with a top 10 finish in all three long-distance skyraces – Madeira, Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso and Transvulcania. A win here for Namberger could bring him into the overall top 10.
With that being said, it certainly won’t be easy with the likes of André Jonsson of Sweden and Kiril Nikolov of Bulgaria, to contend with. Both runners were defeated by the unforgiving terrain in 2018 but return in hope of conquering the beast this year.
“I’m really excited about this race because it’s in Bulgaria,” said local runner, Nikolov, “I know the course well, however, I wasn’t able to finish last year. What makes it such a challenging course if the run-ability of the track. You shouldn’t try and fight the terrain but just follow it. It’s very long and if you start too fast, you’ll end up paying for it later.”
“I like this distance of skyrace and with a disappointing DNF last year, I wanted to come back and do it right,” said Sweden’s André Jonsson. “I’ve struggled a lot this season and this is my last chance to do something good in the series so I hope that my legs and head will be with me on Sunday.”
2018 runner up, Beñat Marmissolle of France will also be a top contender for the podium. He’s currently number seven in the overall ranking and has been going from strength to strength this season. With a long list of strong athletes, including young and rising star Peter Fraňo of Slovakia, Daniel Brambillo of Italy, who placed sixth in ZacUP Skyrace last weekend, and Borja Fernández of Spain, it’s anybody’s race on Sunday and the podium is highly unpredictable at this stage.
Pirin Ultra Skyrace® 2019 Elite Athlete List
Ragna Debats – NED (Merrell)
Ceciclia Pedroni – ITA (Team Serim)
Antoniya Grigorova – BUL (Xco Sports)
Virginia Pérez Mesonero – ESP (Berg Outdoor)
Marcela Vasinova – CZE (Alpsport)
Nuria Domínguez – ESP (Tuga)
Natalia Roman – ESP (Trail Maniacs)
Mary Gillie – GBR
Andrijana Erdec – CRO (AK Koprivnica)
André Jonsson – SWE (Sportsgym/Peak Performance)
Kiril Nikolov – BUL (Xco Sports)
Hannes Namberger – GER (Dynafit)
Peter Fraňo – SVK (Team Salomon)
Ander Iñarra – ESP (Euskal Sel.)
Beñat Marmissolle – FRA (Aviron B. O. M. Taldea)
Borja Fernández – ESP (Scott Running)
Raul Butaci – ROU (Uglow)
Marc Casal Mir – AND (Team Andorra)
Danilo Brambilla – ITA (ASD Falchi Lecco)