Johanna Åström and Daniel Antonioli take home the title at the incredible Matterhorn Ultraks « EXTREME ». Top athletes label the brand new 12th race of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series the most challenging course of their skyrunning career.
Alpinists, Steindl and Anthamatten, Join the Lineup
If “Skyrunning” was in the dictionary, today’s race would be it’s definition. The first edition of theMatterhorn Ultraks «EXTREME» was pure skyrunning from start to finish – a race ran with the head, not with the legs.
The 25 km course with 2,876m of vertical gain featured all the ingredients of a gruelling day in the mountains: ridge running over glaciers, climbs that required the use of fixed ropes, steep scree fields and an incredible lineup of skyrunnings finest – all drawn to the technicality, magestic views of the Matterhorn and double points awarded to the top 20 of the last SuperSky Race of the series.
Among the impressive elite lineup were some big names in the world of mountaineering, including local runner and alpinist, Andreas Steindl, who currently holds the world record for Zermatt to the Matterhorn and back, and Martin Anthamatten, mountaineer and architect of today’s skyrunning masterpiece.
Antonioli Surpasses Expectations
Although course designer, Anthamatten, was a favourite to win, the Swiss mountain guide was unable to fight off the strong international field and finally finished in fourth position. Instead, today’s winner was 2019 Italian winter triathlon champion and skyrunning newcommer, Daniel Antonioli who crossed the finish line with an outstanding time of 3h30’15”, 30 minutes faster than the estimated winning time.
“It was a great pleasure for me to be here for the first time and even more so to win for the first time. This was a very technical race with a lot of climbing and steep descents, which are my strengths. Before the race my strategy was to stay with Martin Anthamatten for as long as possible because I know he is the father of this course and he really knows how to tackle the terrain, then, at the end, I planned to just open the engine and go full speed to the finish line. Fortunately the race was short because I could feel them gaining on me at the end. I still have two races before the SkyMasters but the level this year is so high, I cannot predict how the season will end.” said champion, Antonioli who already has a second place finish under his belt this season.
Swiss runner Christian Mathys, managed to pull off a suprising second place finish just 20 seconds behind Antonioli, beating even the likes of Zaid Ait Malek of Spain in the final downhill. After an intense battle between Ait Malek, Anthamatten and Alexis Sévennec of France, it was Ait Malek who closed the podium, less than two minutes behind Antonioli. Anthamatten was able to widen the gap between himself and Sévennec on the final downhill, crossing the finish line of his own race in fourth position.
“It was a interesting race and competitive field. We ran together as a group of five, always pushing each other. Unfortunately, I missed out on the podium but the day was fantastic and I just wanted people to enjoy the course. My favourite part was after the Rothorn hut on the rocks and the traverse to the glacier. The last downhill was tough. I could see the podium was possible so I gave it my all but just before Eidelweiss, Zaid caught me. I knew he would come at some point. In the end it was a really close race between the top five and the weather worked to our advantage so we could do the full course.” said Anthamatten.
“This race is the spirit of skyrunning. I know Martin so I knew the kind of course he was capable of designing. When he said it was technical, I knew it would be technical. The first downhill where we had to ski on the loose rocks was great fun. I managed to get into first place here but the positions changed a lot. Daniel and the others passed me again after the second downhill and they were too strong for me to catch him after that.” commented fifth finisher, Alexis Sévennec.
The Battle Between Åström and Gerardi Continues
The women’s race was dominated, once again, by Sweden’s Johanna Åström. After her recent win at Tromsø Skyrace, Åström continues to prove she is not just fast at running, but also undefeated on highly technical terrain. Although Hillary Gerardi of the USA managed to steal the lead for a few minutes before the final downhill, Åström was not prepared to be beaten by anyone and crossed the finish line in first position after 4h12’51”.
“This race was incredible – the definition of skyrunning. I really had to think where to place my feet because it’s so technical from start to finish. It was a totally different experience to Tromsø because although Tromsø is also technical, there are many runnable parts. The ridge at the top was great, actually, Hillary overtook me at the top, just before the last downhill. She’s very good at technical so managed to gain on me then. I had some power left in the tank for the downhill though so could give a final push and create a gap. Before the season, I never expected to have two wins so this is another nice surprise for me.” said the female champion.
Although missing out on the win, Gerardi, who reached the top of the first climb in fourth position, five minutes behind Åström managed to close the gap considerably, finishing just two minutes behind Åström in second place.
“It’s great to have such a race that forces fast runners to also use their technical skills. The level of technicality was perfect for me today. I knew this race would be hard and I was slightly apprehensive about certain parts of the terrain beforehand but the organisers did a great job ensuring everything was safe and that runners were compliant with the safety precautions. It was another great battle with Johanna today. I almost managed to catch her on Platthorn but she took off in the downhill and I couldn’t keep up with her. She’s an amazing athlete and I feel very honoured to come second behind her.” said Gerardi.
Judging by the finishing times, the technical ability of the top two women of today was on another level of compared to the rest of the field. Denisa Dragomir of Romania secured her third position thirteen minutes behind Gerardi, followed by Elisa Desco of Italy in fourth and local runner, Marianne Fatton of Switzerland in fifth place.
Antonioli and Åström Climb Further Up the Rankings
With the results of today, Daniel Antonioli climbs to fifth position in the overall ranking after just two races. Johanna Åström is now in fourth overall and Hillary Gerardi sits in fifth place.
Due to its SuperSky Race status, the top ten male and female finishers of the Matterhorn Ultraks « EXTREME » have qualified for the season finale, the SkyMasters, in Limone on October 19th.
The next race of the season is Italy’s ZacUp Skyrace on the 15th of September.