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The Masters are first – at the Royal Ultra SkyMarathon

Spain’s Pere Aurell wins the race and the gold for the Masters. ©

The first Masters Skyrunning World Championships for over-forties athletes took place today at the Royal Ultra SkyMarathon in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Piedmont, Italy. Official teams from 17 countries participated, where Brazil, Portugal and Czech Republic came out on top.

The selected venue was pure skyrunning. Tough, technical and immensely spectacular overlooked by 3,000m peaks, the 55 km course with a gruelling 4,141m vertical climb crosses seven summits.

The spectacular course of the Royal Ultra SkyMarathon, site of the first Masters Skyrunning World Championships. ©

The first three men overall were all over 40 – which says a lot about their incredible performances and the new Masters category. World titles and medals were spread across three categories stretching from 40 year-olds to over-56 year olds.

Spain’s Pere Aurell, 40, took the gold for his category and also won the open race. He participated in the last edition in 2019. “I started quite slow as I know the course and planned to increase the pace as the kilometres passed. I was in second behind Luca [Arrigoni]. On the downhill to Lake Serrù, I put my foot on the gas and overtook him. I’m so happy to engrave my name in the history of skyrunning being the first to win the Masters World Championships!”

Andy Symonds takes the bronze for the UK and was third overall. ©

Second man was Italy’s Luca Arrigoni, 42, taking the silver and, in third, for the bronze, Andy Symonds, 42, representing the UK who raced here in 2019. “Knowing the course was key today. I knew where to push and where to be careful, but I didn’t expect such a terrifying first downhill. This return from the injury was not as easy as I expected – my left leg was perfect, but the right one was useless!”

The fastest woman in the Masters was Italian Chiara Giovando, 44, who was second overall in the race and took the gold for her category, commented “I had a big crisis after six hours into the race. I fell a couple of times, I was tired, and my body kept saying stop, but then my mind kicked in and told me to push to the finish, and I did. I’m still learning how to run these long races, proving you’re never too old for skyrunning!”

Fifty year-old Anna Strakova from the Czech Republic takes the gold for her category.©

Anna Strakova, 50, from the Czech Republic is a five-time winner of the Sierre-Zinal. With three small children and no high altitude training she was happy to take home a gold medal for her category. She finished fifth overall in the women’s field. “I really enjoyed the race and I’m happy with my result. It was really tough but the incredible views from the top made the suffering worthwhile!”

Adding to the atmosphere at the stunning lakeside finish line were the bands of the Italian Military Air Force and the Italian Infantry Corps and, along the course ibex looking down from above and the sound of marmots cheering on the runners. The ninth edition of the race was supported by Montura, Iren, Gran Paradiso National Park, Piedmont Region, and Ceresole Council.

A happy trio with Melanie Rousset, silver, Chiara Giovando, gold and Sofia Roquete, bronze for the over-forty category. ©

Partner of these first Masters Skyrunning World Championships was Millet, the French outdoor equipment and apparel company. The partnership highlights skyrunning’s mountaineering heritage and the launch earlier this year of the first collection dedicated to the discipline.

Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Open Race results


  1. Pere Aurell (ESP) – 7h08’09”
  2. Luca Arrigoni (ITA) – 7h13’11”
  3. Andy Symonds (GBR) – 7h38’36”


  1. Marina Cugnetto (ITA) – 8h39’21”
  2. Chiara Giovando (ITA) – 8h47’02”
  3. Marcela Vasinova (CZE) – 8h55’07”

Full race results

Medal count

Royal Ultra SkyMarathon website

Millet website