Friday, November 11, 2011

Trail Commentary

This is also published at the Trail Commentary blog.

The results are in. At least from a few revealing events that have transpired over the last couple of weeks. Let’s start with what our burrowing Euro Bureau correspondent has to report. The Skyrunner Series is officially finito. The European Skyrunning Championships took place in Alicante, Spain on Saturday, November 5th with the Vertical Kilometer® del Puig Campana. Talk about earning your post-race beverages: the course amounts to one thousand metres elevation gain over 3.650 km distance with inclines that reach 35.5%. The race starts at 380m in Finestrat, ascending to the summit of Puig Campana at 1,408m, which stands overlooking the Costa Blanca. The 8 km descent is done at what we would assume a much more leisurely pace.

Individual and team titles were at stake. The European final is combined with the Swiss International SkyRace® which took place on June 12. Points are added from both races for the combined title.

Ranking after the first leg in Switzerland on June 12:

1 SPAIN – 326 points
2 ITALY – 298
4 RUSSIA - 152
5 ANDORRA – 142
6 GERMANY - 92
7 FRANCE – 86

The men’s race was dominated by the Italians, smothering the podium with Urban Zemmer, Marco De Gasperi and Nicola Golinelli going 1st 2nd 3rd. Zemmer set a course record, covering the 3.6k and 1k vert gain in 35:43.

A course record occurred in the women’s race, as well, as Spain’s “new skyrunning promise” Laura Orgue went 44:01. Oihana Kortazar and Corine Favre, women’s Skyrunning regulars (Kortazar the 2011 women’s series champion) finished 2nd and 3rd.

Ranking after the European Skyrunning Championships del Puig Campana:

1 ITALY – 630 points
2 SPAIN - 628
3 FRANCE – 314
4 ANDORRA - 312
5 RUSSIA – 238
7 GERMANY – 88

Italy and Spain certainly have asserted their dominance in this style of racing. The battle among Kilian Jornet, De Gasperi and 2011 Skyrunning Series Champ Luis Hernando at the recent Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon/Skyrunner SuperCup, along with the scuffles at Giir di Mont and Sierre Zinal between Jornet and De Gasperi, remind us of this year long supremacy. As the European cold sets-in, allow us to tip our hat to the magnificent racing that took place in this epic series and look forward to 2012. Stay tuned!

Now just a few quick remarks about some of the domestic professional trail: For the foreseeable future I see Max King and Dakota Jones dominating their respective schedules. No need to explain my King hypothesis. He is the U.S. and mountain running world champ, and owns his USATF “jurisdiction.” I’m interested to see how he’ll fair in more ultra events and whether or not he’ll take a few deeper cuts at races on the Skyrunning calendar, going head-to-head with those guys, and even getting to the start of Pikes Peak with some timely fitness. This guy is young and has barrels of talent.

That last sentence can also be used to describe Dakota Jones. Here’s another guy, like Nick Pedatella, for whom I could make a case for UROY. He ends-up a little light on the typical criteria, but I say, what the hell: if the award is truly up for grabs, then let’s say he has a shot and that TNFEC San Francisco championship has much to say about that recognition.

Look at this Ultra Sign-up card for a glance at this 20 year-old’s 2011 results. To make a long story short, he was 2nd at the disturbingly difficult 2011 HR100, beat some stiff competition at both Moab’s Red Hot 50, and the Pocatello 50, and was 17th at Sierre Zinal. That last one (definitely not an ultra) is really impressive, in my humble opinion, in terms of this guy’s potential.

Of course he just beat Mackey’s R2R2R FKT. His write-up is great. I think it gives a nod to the entire sport of ultra running in that IF more and more talented runners entire the fray, records (FKT) will drop accordingly.

I will have more to say about Jones in an upcoming column that previews the San Francisco ultra mayhem. With his GC exploits, Jones is a clear favorite (recall he was off the front for much of the race last year before being swallowed-up by some of the sport’s bests). But I will leave you with a reminder to keep an eye on Mr. Geoff Roes’ blog. There is a direct correlation between his writing and running. He is loving life, if you ask me. Which could be terrifying for any ultra running peloton.


  1. A dark-horse contender for UROY could also be said of Vallejo, Ca resident Jorge Maravilla. 2011 was a huge breakout year for him, yet he still remains widely unknown. for instance, CR and win at the Mt. Diablo 65k (on a course with 10,000'+ of vertical gain, he posted the most impressive time for that course; a course that has also seen dominant performances from the likes of Scott jurek, Graham Cooper, Erik Skaden, ian sharman, chikara omine, and Jasper helekas). CR and win at the Bishop 100k (he broke Pear Izumi's Josh Brimhalls former CR time by ~1hour). And most impressively, in his first 100 mile race this past summer, he destroyed the field at the Tahoe Rim 100 with the 2nd fastest time ever recorded for that ridiculously tough course in 18:48. Just a few weeks ago, he won and broke the CR at the whiskey town 50k (CR was formerly held by Hal Koerner I believe) and what made that run so impressive is that they made the course more challenging this year with more climbing, yet he broke the CR by ~14min I wanna say. And finally, Jorge will be lining up at TNF 50 and while most folks won't have him on their radar for prediction picks, I wouldn't be surprised if he cracks into the top 5 in such a deep and talented field this year.

  2. correction: I was looking at the wrong results, Jorge just edged out Victor Ballesteros 2010 CR at whiskeytown.

  3. Great stuff, Jacob. Nice to see you were mixing it up with him at Mt. Diablo.

    SF should be pretty spectacular.