The skyrunning season isn’t over. Twenty countries head for the Euro Champs in Portugal

Spain’s Manuel Merillas, 2020 Skyrunning World Champion can’t wait for the Skyrunning European Champs. ©@jsaragossa

The biennial Skyrunning European Championships will celebrate their tenth edition featuring the SKY and SKYULTRA disciplines on November 19-20, 2021 in São Pedro do Sul, in the northern part of the country. Here, the demanding terrain rolls out a massive 20% uphill vertical climb in both races, challenging true skyrunners that like it tough and steep.

Despite difficult times due to the pandemic and some inevitable end-of season injuries, more than 100 athletes from 20 countries have registered, coming from European countries as diverse as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. Competing for the first time in a Skyrunning Championship are new entries Belgium, Kosovo, Montenegro and Ukraine.

Many world-class skyrunners will be competing here, including Skyrunning World Champions, silver and bronze medallists and top athletes from the Skyrunner® World Series.

The events kick off on Friday, November 19 with the SKYULTRA at the Pisão Extreme65 km long with 6,500m vertical climb.

2016 Skyrunning World Champion and race record holder Stian Angermund-Vik from Norway. ©LongLight

The appeal of this gruelling race will see the return of Skyrunning World Champion Stian Angermund-Vik who set the record in 2019 in 9h54’40”. The women’s record is 14h51’38” by Portugal’s Jocelina Ferreira. Only 30% of the participants manage to cross the finish line of this punishing course.

On Saturday November 20 it’s the turn of the SKY discipline with the highly popular Pisão Skyrunning35 km long with 3,500m vertical climb. The records were set by Spaniard Fran Salgueiro in 4h40’53” for men and Portugal’s Sabina Marques in 6h25’03” for women.

Joining Angermund-Vik will be top Spanish runners Manuel Merillas, Zaid Ait Malek, and Sandra Sevillano.  A big line-up from Italy, includes William Boffelli, Cristian Minoggio, Daniel Antonioli, Franco Collé, Giuditta Turini and Fabiola Conti; from Switzerland Roberto Delorenzi; Kiril Nikolov from Bulgaria and Tomas Farnik from the Czech Republic. Super-star Ragna Debats from the Netherlands has had to withdraw due to family reasons.

Angermund-Vik commented, “I’m looking forward to coming back to skyrunning. Skyrunning is the most awesome type of running. I like it technical and steep. I ran the Pisao Extreme ultra distance two times before but this year I’ll do the Sky – 35 kilometres with 3,500 fun vertical metres up and down!”

Bulgaria’s Kiril Nikolov is ready to fight to take home a medal. ©iancorless.com

At the recent 2020 Skyrunning World Championships in Spain, Merillas won a gold medal for the SKY discipline and a silver in the combined. “The race seems to be fun, a rugged short distance which is what I like the most. The terrain also looks challenging, so we need to be careful. Considering we’re at the end of the season, I feel good and I can’t wait to do the European Championships!” he said.

Franco Collé who placed fourth in the 2020 World Championships in the SKYULTRA and was winner of the 2018 Monte Rosa SkyMarathon, commented, “I don’t know how much energy I have recovered after Tor des Geants, but the motivation and will to run once more to represent Italy is huge, so I can’t wait to get to Portugal!”

Roberto Delorenzi is fresh from his win at the new VK OPEN in Limone, Italy and a bronze medal in the VERTICAL at the 2020 World Championships. After his silver in the last European Championships he’s back to fight for another medal.

I’m a bit worried about the race as it’s a bit longer than my usual ones. The calendar position of the event is strange as my head is almost on holiday, but I don’t want to take it lightly as I hope to replicate my 2019 podium position,” he said.

Zaid Ait Malek from Spain, bronze medallist at the 2019 Skyrunning European Championships. ©iancorless.com

Commenting on the up-coming events, João Paulo Queirós, the ISF Portughese Member of the Federação de Campismo e Montanhismo de Portugal (FCMP), stated, “It is an honour to hold the Skyrunning European Championships for the first time in Portugal. We don’t have high altitude, but have found some really technical routes for the Sky and SkyUltra disciplines in the centre of mainland Portugal.

 “Since 2018, Pisão Extreme has revived the ancient paths that villagers used before the arrival of roads. These championships are part of a strategy implemented by S Pedro do Sul to attract active tourists to a protected area where even some wolves have set up their home. November may be chilly here in the mountains, but the events will be run in the famous Portuguese sunshine which will also give the competitors a chance to shine,” he concluded.

The Skyrunning European Championships are open only to official national teams and will have a separate start from the event open to the public.

Fifteen medals across the two disciplines will be awarded together with the Skyrunning European Champion titles.

Race website