This weekend saw the Skyrunning World Series head to Andorra for what was billed as the ‘the world’s toughest 100-miler’ with the race plotting a course through the Pyrenees covering 177km in total with an thigh-burning 12,200 metres of ascent- equivalent to nearly 1 ½ times the height of Everest!
The actual route of the race had to be altered slightly due to the recent poor weather that had left snow on the higher sections of the course and posed a safety risk for the race. The original 13000 metres of ascent was cut back to 12,200 with an extra 7km of distance tacked on to the course to compensate.
Three-hundred-and-fifteen runners lined up for the 7am start on Friday where initially good weather deteriorated in the afternoon. Nearly 50 km into the race at 2,572m, one of the highest points, swirling mists descended to the haunting sound of a bagpipe…By early evening the sky cleared and, just as programmed, the full moon lit the course.
Frenchman Chorier (Salomon) crossed the finish line after 28h41’06” hours on the course followed by Kenichi Yamamoto (Houdini) from Japan, in 31h12’00” and Australian Matt Cooper (Salomon), who finished a close third just twelve minutes later in 31h24’54”. Cooper had led for the first 12 km, with Chorier hot on his heels. From the town of Ordino, the course initially traversed lush forest and waterlogged trail which gave way to an alpine environment with long, steep climbs and short, sharp descents with some snowfields on the upper stretches.
Chorier looked relaxed. In fact, throughout the entire race he was composed and totally in command – of his performance and the rest of the field. He was pursued by Yamamoto, Cooper, Armando Teixeira, Spaniards Pep Ballester, Aleson Orbegozo and Americans Jared Campbell, Ty Draney and Benjamin Lewis who all finished in the top ten.
The women’s field was led early on by Frenchwoman Emilie Lecomte (Quechua), with Nerea Martinez (Salomon Santiveri), who set the 2012 Ronda dels Cims record in 35h31’21’’.
Italy’s Francesca Canepa (Montura-Vibram), second at UTMB and Tor des Geants winner, proceeded with Emilie behind Nerea, at her own pace, focussing on her own race. At the first big summit 50 km she was on her own in the lead and powered on to finish what she describes as her “hardest race ever”, in 36h18’55”, she placed 16th overall.
Second was Olga Mankò from the Ukraine who closed in 38h19’47” and third, Emilie Lecomte in 39h30’14” who, with her 5th place in Transvulcania, now leads the SWS Ultra Series. Nerea later abandoned the race.
- Julien Chorier (FRA) – Salomon – 28h41’06”
- Kenichi Yamamoto (JAP) – Houdini) – 31h12’00”
- Matt Cooper (AUS) – Salomon – 31h24’54
- Francesca Canepa (ITA) – Montura-Vibrio – 36h18’55”
- Olga Mankò (UKR) – 38h19’47”
- Emilie Lecomte (FRA) – Quechua -39h30’14”
Full race results