|Sierre Zinal – the stage is set|
Marco De Gasperi will be at the start line of Sunday’s Course de Sierre Zinal again, defending last year’s win. Without sparring partner Kilian Jornet he still has plenty of competition coming from Britain’s Tom Owens, Spaniards Luis Alberto Hernando and Tofol Castanyer as well as Portugal’s Cesar Costa, second last year, together with a host of super-strong contenders from various countries.
After several months layoff for health reasons, De Gasperi will again take up the challenge - minus Jornet who is training at altitude in the US for the Pikes Peak Marathon, next on the World Series calendar. De Gasperi’s time last year, 2h30’18” was just 98 seconds short of Jonathan Wyatt’s long standing record set in 2003.
Hernando, heading the World Series ranking, could possibly be feeling the strain of a very successful and intensive season’s racing, including the recent SkyGames® combined title. Owens, ranked third, fresh from his second place at Giir di Mont, may find the race a little short for his liking, while Castanyer, Giir di Mont winner, will no doubt prefer the 31 km distance - which boasts 2,200m elevation gain.
Aiming for a podium place will also be twenty-two-year-old new entry Mattheo Jacquemoud from France together with fellow countrymen Michel Rabat, Eric Clavery, and Yann Curien, Joe Gray and John Tribbia from America, Italy’s Nicola Golinelli, Saul-Antonio Padua from Columbia, following in his father’s footsteps Dimitris Theodorakakos, Greece, Britons Joe Symonds (brother of Andy) and Robbie Simpson…
In the robust women’s field it looks like Spain and France will dominate the podium with Oihana Koratazar, last year’s winner and reigning World Series champion looking for a repeat performance. Her time last year was 3h11’24” - still far from the incredible record of 2h54’26” set in 2008 by Czech Anna Pichrtova. More podium promises include Nuria Picas, recent SkyGames® champion, Blanca Maria Serrano (currently ranked second) and Nuria Dominquez.
The French ladies’ line-up counts Aline Camboulives, second last year , Celine Lafaye, third, past skyrunning world champion Corinne Favre and Maud Gobert. Others to look out for are Russia’s Zhanna Vokueva, currently ranked third, and Italy’s new skyrunning star Silvia Serafini.
1,279 runners from 15 countries are entered, including runners from ISF Skyrunning Associations from countries as diverse as South Africa to Hong Kong, Greece and Poland together with Japan’s Dai Matsumoto who is competing in the World Series races.
The 31 km course with a total 2,200m elevation gain is favoured by runners from many different backgrounds and offers a unique panorama of five 4,000 mountains – unquestionably one of the most spectacular on the Skyrunner® World Series calendar.