Just how epic is this photo from renowned Salomon lensman Damien Rosso? There’s probably more mountainrunning-awesomeness per pixel on offer here than almost any other trail photo I’ve had the pleasure to cast my eyes on…
Alpine eye-candy © droz-photo.com
It is, off course, the Matterhorn. As seen from a high-altitude section of the mind-blowingly stunning Matterhorn Ultraks course. The race itself is just two years old but has already gained an almost mythical status amongst runners. A status that’s, undoubtedly, fully deserved. It’s not just the course itself, the whole organisation and vibe of the Zermatt event is exemplary and makes a trip there, not just a pleasure but also a pilgrimage for anyone who simply wants to experience racing in some of the most pristine mountain environments on the planet.
As the penultimate stop on the Skyrunning World Series Skyrace calendar, there was also some important duels taking place in the thin alpine air, especially on the women’s side, where Stevie Kremer continues her strangle-hold over the shorter distances, proving once again to be Emelie’s and every other female skyrunner’s nemesis when it comes to 50k and under. With the men, news of a resting Kilian Jornet probably elicited whoops of joy and dreams of glory from the other male athletes. It was Zaid Ait Malek, however, who took the honours on a beautiful days running under an almost cloudless and windless Swiss sky.
Below, you can read all the details in the official Skyrunning press release.
Speedy Stevie © droz-photo.com
Matterhorn Ultraks 46K – Stevie and Zaid take the day
Saturday’s Mattrhorn Ultraks 46K, had American Stevie Kremer take her third win in the Sky Series and consequently the title which she will claim at the final in October.
After an enormously successful season, starting with her win in Zegama followed by the Combined title at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix, and the recent Course de Sierre Zinal, she headed back to Colorado, ran the Pikes Peak Ascent and arrived back in Switzerland the night before the race with enough energy packed into her small frame to take the win in a deeply stacked field.
Her result is laudable not only for the number of races she has successfully run, but this was the longest in terms of distance and vertical, that she had ever attempted. “It was hard but amazing,” she commented. Her recipe? “It’s important to pace yourself!”.
The competition pushing the pace came from Elisa Desco, who for a while held the lead with Kasie Enman, Maite Maiora and Emelie Forsberg, last year’s winner. Emelie !was just 4 minutes behind the leaders at the Gornergrat 3,112m summit. She actually ran just 6” slower than last year (5h41’47”) but succumbed to the fast pace with Stevie closing in 5h18’43” and a new course record. Elisa Desco finished an excellent 2nd ,Maite Maiora 3rd and Kasie Enman 5th.
Moroccan Zaid Ait Malek was overjoyed with his first win in a World Series event. Many times he came close but with today’s win, he climbs up the ranking from 4th to 3rd. From the start to the summit, Basque runner Aritz Egea held a strong lead, challenged only by Zaid and Swiss runner Andrea Bundi on the descent. At 30 km into the race, Zaid was leading strongly, followed by Andrea and Aritz. Zaid finished in 4h45’01” just under two minutes short of Kilian Jornet’s 2013 record. Andrea closed in 4h52’21” and Artiz, 3rd, in 4h55’17”.
Marco De Gasperi, who was the only contender for the Sky Series title with Ionut Zinca, didn’t race for health reasons but was in Zermatt to support his wife, Elisa Desco. Kilian Jornet, with three straight wins, is now unofficially the Series winner and will collect the title at the final in October on Italy’s Lake Garda.
Six hundred runners toed the start line of Matterhorn Ultraks 46K, with 3,600m ascent and descent, it reaches a high point of 3,112m altitude at the Gornergrat observation point which overlooks the Grenz Glacier and Monte Rosa, Europe’s second highest summit, to the left and the Matterhorn on the right.
The incredible fascination of this iconic mountain continues to inspire from both sides. It was last year that Kilian Jornet, just days before the race, set the Matterhorn record on the Italian side. This year, in Zermatt to support Emelie and the rest of the runners, he took time off from racing. With perfect weather conditions on Friday, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to summit the mountain again, alone – his once again.
Sky Series ranking
1. Kilian Jornet (Salomon) – 300 points
2. Ionut Zinca (Valetudo Skyrunning Italy) – 226 points
3. Zaid Ait Malek (Buff) – 224 points
1. Stevie Kremer (Salomon) – 300 points
2. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 236 points
3. Maite Maiora (La Sportiva) – 234 points
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