|The Ultra final – ladies first|
The final of the Skyrunner® Ultra Series raises the curtains on the 72 k Course des Templiers in Millau, France on October 28 with a larger-than-life start-line that has become the hallmark of skyrunning events.
Sunday’s race will pit the world’s top runners against each other and particularly the women’s field is set for battle with stars like Anna Frost, Nuria Picas and Emelie Forsberg competing for the Ultra Champion title. Maud Gobert, last year’s winner, will not only have to deal with the top three ranked runners but will face heavy-duty competition from Lizzy Hawker, Silvia Serafini and Francesca Canepa. The men’s title has, to all effects, already gone to Kilian Jornet who boasts 300 points – unattainable even if Andy Symonds wins.
Andy Symonds is of course a firm favourite for a repeat performance and other British runners feature strongly as podium contenders: Tom Owens, ranked 3rd in the recent World Series final in Malaysia, will no doubt excel, while Terry Conway, forced to retire at the Ultra Cavalls del Vent, is ready for another shot at a big international event.
Spain’s Miguel Heras who, like Conway, was a victim to the weather at the last event, is a consistent top performer. Of the French runners competing in the Ultra Series, Francois d’Haene, fourth at Transvulcania and 6th here last year is joined by Greg Vollet, while sadly Thomas Lorblanchet, second last year, and three-times race winner, is injured.
The end of the long racing season is taking its toll and counts several other notable absentees which include American Dakota Jones, Germany’s Philipp Reiter and Italy’s Giuliano Cavallo. (See Ultra Series ranking)
Look out for Stephanie Jimenez (France) and Fulvio Dapit (Italy), a husband-and-wife team but respectively Salomon and La Sportiva on the racing scene. Both are recent Ultra “converts” who are expected to perform well in this incredibly deep field which also includes past race winner, Nepal’s Dawa Sherpa, together with a long list of first-rate French runners.
With such a dazzling line-up let’s not forget all the 2,500 competitors who will face a total 3,200 metres of ascent and ascent along 73 kilometres together with a forecast of… zero temperatures. The steep rocky course along the secret paths of the Templars promises to close the season in the best possible way where everything can only be described as “ultra”.
Follow us on twitter and facebook for live coverage and updates from 5.15 on Sunday morning to the award ceremony where Kilian will claim his prize together with the women’s Ultra Champion – whoever that may be!