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Mont Blanc magic. Mega line-up unveiled

The Mont-Blanc marathon course. © Gaetan Haugeard

Mont Blanc is a magic word.  For most of us, it evokes images of heroic ascents, extreme sports and massive white peaks like whipped cream – after which the famous dessert takes its name.

In fact, the crème de la crème of skyrunning will compete here in Chamonix in the World Series’ KM Vertical and Mont-Blanc Marathon on June 28 and 30 respectively.

Heading the bill are 2012 world champions Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg who will compete in both events here and will be taking on all three disciplines in the Series: VK, Sky and Ultra!

Joining the all-star line-up for the Marathon is Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando, 2011 world champion.  In excellent form this year, he came a close second to Kilian in Transvulcania and just 12” behind him at Zegama. This third confrontation will make for great competition, especially if we add Italy’s Marco De Gasperi who, after a period of injury, is now ready to challenge the two. If he holds out over the full distance, he looks set for the podium. Tofol Castanyer, 2010 world champion and winner of the CCC last year will also feature strongly among the top finishers.  With Tofol, that counts three skyrunning world champions in the men’s race and a total of six, between men and women, in the two events. France's own Nicolas Pianet, winner of the race in 2010 and 2011 and fourth last year, will face the strong competition together with Mikael Paséro, 2nd in the CCC behind Tofol.

Antonella Confortola, 2012 winner VK. © JMK consultThe women’s field is as deep as it is long, with two world champs heading the bill:  Emelie Forsberg and Oihana Kortazar.  Emelie, like Kilian, has started the season as she means to g on with two straight wins in Transvulcania and Zegama. The Marathon course, (42 km with 2,511m elevation gain and 1,490m loss), has probably not as much technical descent as she would like.  The fast course will no doubt suit American Stevie Kremer who is taking on the World Series for the first time this year, showing immense talent and potential with a gutsy third place in Zegama.

Oihana, not on top form in Zegama where she pulled from the race, could join them on the podium.  Add to the mix Anna Frost, 2012 Transvulcania winner.  Anna had to forego a repeat performance there with injury, but she’s ready to race again and will give it everything, as is her style.  In her first year of skyrunning, Italy’s Silvia Serafini ranked third overall in the World Series last year and 6th in Zegama after winning the Great Wall Marathon only a week before, is another strong contender.

The Mont-Blanc Marathon which sold out the 2,000 places many months ago, will be preceded by the KM Vertical on June 28th where 400 runners  will line up for a lung-busting 1,000 metres skywards over the short 3.5 km course.  Heading the start-list are Vertical world champions Urban Zemmer (La Sportiva) and Laura Orgué (Salomon).

Urban will be challenged not only by Kilian, last year’s winner in 36’07”, but current Vertical ranking leader, Marco Facchinelli (La Sportiva) and team mates Marco Moletto and Nadir Maguet; but also Nicola Golinelli and Florian Reichert, (Arc’teryx); Ben Bardsley, Brendan Davies, Robbie Simpson (inov-8); Matheo Jacquemoud (Crazy Idea); Oscar Casal and Joan Valls (FAM); Jose Lozano (FEEC) and Artem Rostovtsev (Russian Skyrunning) in the men’s field.

Vertical specialist Laura Orgué (Salomon) will face tough competition from team mates Emelie Forsberg, Oihana Kortazar and Anna Frost as well as last year’s race winner Antonella Confortola; Shona Stephenson, Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx);  Silvia Leal and Alba Xandri (FEEC).

Among the events over the weekend organised by the Club des Sports Chamonix, is the new Mont-Blanc 80K on June 28, the first time a race has been held on this course, although shortened due to snow on the course.  The race will represent a “test run” for the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships where the three events will be featured.

The VK and Marathon are not affected by the snow, although on some stretches of the latter, it will add an element of adventure in true skyrunning style.

2012 Mont-Blanc Marathon Results

Kilian Jornet (ESP) 3h38’24’’

Maude Mathys (SUI) 4h28’17’’

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