The high altitude pressure is on. On May 4th, the 2019 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series makes its second stop at the Yading Skyrun. The highest course in the calendar will see past champions attempt to win back their titles 4,600m above sea level in the majestic mountains of China.
The spectacular race with 32 km and 2,819m vertical climb, begins just short of 3,000m in the center of Yading’s Shangri-La. The new route climbs for over 20km, hitting an altitude of 4,600m and passing multi-coloured Buddhist prayer flags en route to the finish line in Yading village.
After a years’ absence, Team Salomon’s Megan Kimmel (USA) and Bhim Gurung (NEP), both 2016 and 2017 Yading Skyrun winners, will return to the Sichuan mountains ready to compete against a strong field of international athletes to be crowned champions of the Chinese skies once again.
Right now, it’s looking likely to be an epic battle between Megan Kimmel (USA) and Ragna Debats (NED) Team Merrell. The last time these two went head to head against each other was at the original Yading Skyrun in 2017, where Kimmel put on an outstanding performance, flying over the course and beating Debats to the finish line by 30 minutes. The question is: with such a strong 2018 season for Debats, can Kimmel do it again?
“A lot has happened since 2017. Ragna has gotten stronger since the last time we ran so I can only hope that history will repeat itself.” says Kimmel, who placed second at the Mt. Awa Skyrace in Japan last week.
And let’s not forget “Yading pro”, Ruth Croft (NZL) Team Scott Running, who will surely give both Kimmel and Debats a run for their money. “This will be my third time in the area. There aren’t many races out there that give you the opportunity to race at 4,000m. I’ve raced Megan a lot and I find she has an aggressive racing style but I’ve never been up against Ragna so I’m looking forward to that.”
With the return of Nepalese skyrunner Bhim Gurung, 2018 men’s winner, Oscar Casal Mir (AND) Team Andorra, will have a tough time defending his title. Gurung, being no stranger to the extreme conditions and thin air of Yading could have a slight advantage over his opponents including Oriol Cardona(ESP) Team Dynafit, Marc Pinsach (ESP) Team Dynafit and Min Qi (CHN) Team Salomon.
“I’ve just spent 10 days at the Mustang Trail Race for altitude training running with some other great Nepalese runners. I hope this will help a little for the race. I am simply going to run my own race, the way I like it.” says Gurung, the 2016 and 2017 Yading Skyrun champion, who is looking forward to improving his strategy from previous years in order to win.
“This race is certainly not for the faint hearted. Running at such high altitudes is likely to affect all runners and should not be underestimated.” said Dr Daniel Brotons, sports medicine specialist, head of Unitat d’Esport I Salut del Consell Catala de l’Esport and doctor of Kilian Jornet. “At 4,600m there is already a high risk of altitude sickness systems such as headaches. The air has less oxygen, causing the heart rate to increase and shortness of breath during exercise. Athletes who live or train at high altitude, will have a better level of tolerance and their performance is less likely to be affected than those who live at sea level.”
Full list of elite athletes participating in Yading Skyrun: