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Mexico and Costa Rica sweep the first North & Central American Championships

A steep climb to 3,473m, the highest race on the calendar, La Cumbre, Costa Rica. ©Luis Chaves

The successful first North & Central American Skyrunning Championships saw Mexico and Costa Rica split the medals at stake in the highest race on the calendar in Costa Rica, Sunday, April 2, 2023.

The lush forest of the Los Quetzales National Park was the spectacular scenario for the event with the steep course of La Cumbre SkyRace® taking athletes up a 1,465m vertical climb over 20 km to summit at a massive 3,473m altitude and back down over the same route featuring its own unique characteristics with fixed ropes in strategic positions, twisted roots underfoot and, at higher points, momentary fog in micro thermal inversions bringing cool winds to refresh the runners.

In this first ever Championship, athletes from Honduras, Mexico, USA and of course Costa Rica competed for the titles and medals with the men’s and women’s gold both going to Mexico.

Gold medallists Miguel Ángel Perez and Karina Carsolio, both from Mexico. ©Andrew Arbuckle

The men’s race had Costa Rica’s Steven Hernández take an early lead for the entire climb but Mexico’s Miguel Ángel Perez was hot on his heels and overtook him at the beginning of the downhill. The battle was not over as Perez had to fight the entire downhill to secure the gold medal. He closed in 1h51’09”, with just a 28” advantage. The silver was safe with Hernández and the bronze went to Juan Ramon Fallas, also from Costa Rica.

Gold medallist Perez declared: “Steven was in front and I didn’t think I could catch him but at the turnaround I passed him and kept going at top speed. As you can see, we were very close!

The women’s favourite didn’t disappoint with Mexico’s Karina Carsolio taking the gold. After winning Europe’s highest race, the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon, she now also dominates the highest race on the Skyrunning Championship calendar. She started hard and maintained a consistent lead to finish in 2h08’24” – sixth overall. Silver and bronze medals were hard fought between Yenny Susano also from Mexico and Andrea Sanabria from Costa Rica.

The women’s podium, Yenny Susano, silver, Karina Carsolio, gold, and Andrea Sanabria, bronze. ©Andrew Arbuckle

It was a very fast race,” Carsolio stated. “I loved the steep uphill and was expecting it to be more technical on the downhill because of the incline, but it hadn’t rained for days, so the dry terrain helped my speed. I felt strong and kept passing men. I felt almost like in a videogame!

 “At the top the views were fantastic! Huge trees and the birds singing, a lot of biodiversity, clean water… so beautiful!”

The event featuring the SKY discipline, a technical level 2 race, was organised by ISF Member FECODEM, the Costa Rican Federation of Mountaineering Sports. Edgar Usaga, FECODEM Executive Director, commented, “Skyrunning grew up in the European Alps but this is a break from the standard. There are other territories in the world, and the Americas specifically, where we have mountains that meet the technical difficulty and steep grades. Skyrunning keeps its features even with dense cloud forest.”

FECODEM President, Ricardo Arias was very proud to have welcomed top athletes from four countries and having represented the first North & Central American Championships. “The event we were so anxious to hold has come to an end. The first impression left us with satisfaction for having provided high-quality competition to North and Central America.

Edgar Usaga, Executive Director, FECODEM, the ISF Member for Costa Rica hosting the event. ©Andrew Arbuckle

“Very high-level athletes attended, showing the growth of skyrunning in the region. In addition, we are very grateful to the ISF for summoning the different nations to the Continental Championship, since this raises the competition in the country and prepares our athletes for other competitions not only on the continental level, but also worldwide.

“Finally, we’re very grateful to all the volunteers of the event, the press, FECODEM staff and especially, all the participants. There is peace of mind having offered a skyrace with all the characteristics that this entails and, of course, this experience motivates us to continue participating in ISF championships.

In celebrating the end of these first Continental Championships at the award ceremony, Neisa Condemaita, ISF delegate representing the Athletes Commission, concluded, “History was made here as the first Championships to be part of the new ISF ranking.”

The full race results of this first ISF Championship will be uploaded on the new ranking platform.

North & Central American Skyrunning Championships results – SKY

GOLD – Miguel Ángel Pérez Alvarado (MEX) 1h51’09”
SILVER – Steven Alonso Hernandez Salazar (CRC) 1h51’37”
BRONZE – Juan Ramon Fallas Navarro (CRC) 1h54’23”

GOLD – Karina Carsolio (MEX) 2h08’24″
SILVER – Yenny Susano Bermúdez (MEX) 2h29’31”
BRONZE – Andrea Sanabria Jimenez (CRC) 2h40’33”

Medal count