SKYRUNNER WORLD SERIES 2019: Pere Aurell and Maria Koller crowned champions at Madeira SkyRace
Pere Aurell of Spain and German newcomer, Maria Koller, were the champions of the fifth race of the 2019 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series this weekend on the island of Madeira. Both athletes achieved their first victory at this pure skyrunning course after a tough and technical battle against some of the strongest names of the sport.
This weekend we also had an an incredible race at the Santana Vertical Kilometer that saw two fierce, young competitors, Daniel Osanz and Camille Caparros, draw first place and new male and female course records set. It wasn’t until minutes before the prize-giving ceremony that the winners were announced. The final decision to crown two male champions was made after ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) referees had to review the race footage.
MADEIRA SKYRACE 2019 (55K/D+4121m): Pere Aurell and Maria Koller take victory
It was a difficult day for running on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The sixth edition of the Maderia Skyrace, saw the fall of a giant and the rise of a new star on a spectacular and challenging course of 55km with 4,100m vertical climb from sea to sky. The men’s field included many big names in skyrunning but two, in particular, stood out. As soon as the race started, Dmitry Mityaev of Russia set the pace taking off at lightning speed with the equally powerful, Pere Aurell of Spain, hot on his heels – everyone was expecting a battle of two beasts.
After a climb of 1,400m, the men arrived at the first summit of the day with Mityaev in the lead. One minute behind was Weston Hill of New Zealand followed closely by Aurell, who had dropped back into 3rd position. French runner, Beñat Marmisolle, was in fourth. By the time the pack of men hit km 13, Marmisolle had climbed into second position behind Mityaev. Aurrell was less than a minute behind still looking strong and Italian runner, Dani Jung, had managed to catch up and join the leading group. At this moment, the athletes faced their next challenge: a new, risky and extremely technical section of via ferrata that would put their skyrunning capabilities to the test. In true skyrunning style, the leading men showed absolutely no sign of fear and rapidly scrambled up the rocky mountainside in the direction of Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of the island at 1,862m.
The chase continued until a cliffside section of the course between km 30 and 35. It was at this point that Mityaev, who later explained that he “had not recovered enough” after his recent second-place finish at the 74 km Transvulcania Ultramarathon three weeks ago, began to break down. This allowed the Spanish powerhouse, Aurell, in second position, to seize his opportunity and overtake.
Mityaev, finally decided to call it a day at km 42. The hot favorite to win surprised everyone by dropping out just 13 km short of the finish line but explained that pain in his glute and leg became too much for him to continue. From here on out it was an easy win for Aurell. After a fifth place finish in 2017 and a DNF last year, he finally crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 6h06’01” – an achievement he now shares with wife, Ragna Debats, who won here in Madeira in 2018. “I felt good from the beginning but I didn’t want to take any chances. Last year I also started strong but ended up having to drop out,” said the 2019 champion. “It was a great fight with Mityaev. We were always together, us two and Beñat, but in the downhill, I decided to take a risk and gain some advantage. This was my first race of the season and one I didn’t expect to win so it feels good.”
Mityaev later said that he was happy it was Aurell who won. “I respect him as an athlete and he deserved to win today. We are similar in some ways and I enjoy running with him. He’s a very strong and talented runner.”
In the women’s race, spectators looked on in astonishment when first-time skyrunner, Maria Koller of Germany, crossed the finish line in first position, beating elite favorites, Ekaterina Mityaeva of Russia and Takako Takamura of Japan with a time of 7h20’06”. “I came here with no expectations. Everyone told me how amazing Madeira is so I just wanted to see the course and enjoy running again as I was injured for a few months. It wasn’t until the second climb when someone told me I was in second position, that I realised how well I was doing. I felt good and had a lot of energy so I pushed and caught the first girl again at the third aid station.”
The young school teacher from Bavaria, Germany, comes from a background in short-distance sprinting but made the transition to mountain running in 2015. “I’ve done trail running before but this is my first Skyrace. Before today, it’s the only one I had planned for this year but these races are so rewarding and in the most sensational locations, I would like to do more in the future.” Even more impressive is that Koller managed to stay in the lead for almost the entire race. At one point, Ester Casajuana of Spain gathered enough strength and speed to overtake. The two women arrived at the second via ferrata section with Casajuana, two minutes ahead of Koller. However, Casajuana’s lead was short-lived and the new German superstar proved she was the strongest woman on the course this weekend.
Russian athlete and Dmitry Mityaev’s wife, Ekaterina Mityaeva, crossed the finish line in second place, 2’40” behind Koller – another solid performance for Mityaeva who also managed to maintained a top-three position for the duration of the race. Casajuana managed to close the podium with a time of 7h34’02” followed by Japan’s toughest female skyrunner, Takako Takamura in 7h42’12” and Roser Espanol of Spain placed fifth after 7h53’17”.
2019 Madeira Skyrace Results:
1. Maria Koller (GER) Dynafit – 7h20’06”
2. Ekaterina Mityaeva (RUS) Adidas Terrex – 7h22’46”
3. Ester Casajuana (ESP) Raidlight – 7h34’02”
1. Pere Aurell (ESP) Team Merrell – 6h06’01”
2. Beñat Marmissolle (FRA) – Aviron Bayonnais / Orhi Mendi Taldea – 6h08’44”
3. Daniel Jung (ITA) GORE / Scarpa – 6h12”20″
VERTICAL KILOMETER WORLD CIRCUIT 2019 : Daniel Osanz/Camille Caparros and Joana Soares wins
The 2019 Vertical Kilometer World Circuit was also celebrated this weekend and no one could have predicted the outcome of the third race of the circiuit. It wasn’t until minutes before the prize-giving ceremony that the winners were announced. The final decision to crown two male champions was made after ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) referees had to review the race footage.
An error in timing resulted in 25 seconds being added to French runner, Camille Caparros’, time. After discounting these 25 seconds it appeared that he and Daniel Osanz finished with exactly the same time of 41’15”. After further reviews, ISF referees and the race directors made the decision to announce both Osanz and Caparros as winners. The two fastest men of the day shared the first place podium position, the winner bib and will both be awarded 150 points towards the ranking. Santana VK is the first bonus race of the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit, therefore giving an extra 50% points to the top 20 male and female runners. “Of course I wanted to win“, said Osanz, “but a fair decision was made therefore I don’t mind sharing the podium. It was a tough race and I arrived not feeling my best this morning so I’m happy with my performance.”
This was the second consecutive win for the young Spanish runner who burst onto the scene at the Transvulcania VK earlier in the season with an impressive and unexpected win. Once again, Osanz has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. His next race will be the BEI K3 in Italy on July 27th – the only triple VK in the world. Benoit Gandolfi of France closed the men’s podium with a time of 42’37”, followed by fellow Frenchman, Yoann Caillot, in fourth with a time of 43’41” and Portuguese runner, Ricardo Gouveia, finished fifth with a time of 43’53”.
In the women’s field, it was Portuguese athlete, Joana Soares, who pulled off an incredible and unexpected win today, smashing Ruth Croft’s 2018 record by a whopping 51 seconds. Soares, who comes from a background in track and field, is new to the mountain-running scene but that didn’t stop the unknown star from turning up today with her sights set on the win. “This was my first time running this course and I really enjoyed it. It was an easy race for me today and I came here to win. I’d like to come back next year and see if I can do it again.”
After her recent victory at Transvulcania, French skyrunner, Jessica Pardin, was the favourite to win today. However, a rough start for the athlete saw her finish in second place, fifty seconds behind Soares. “It didn’t go as well as Transvulcania. I had no power in my legs at the start but it got better after the first few steps. It was beautiful weather and a beautiful place so I’m happy with second position.” Virgina Perez of Spain closed the podium with a time of 51’29” describing the race as ‘extremely steep and hard on the legs‘.
2019 Santana Vertical Kilometer® Results:
1. Camille Caparros (FRA) Team Raidlight – 41’15”
1. Daniel Osanz (ESP) Adidas Terrex – 41’15”
3. Benoit Gandolfi (FRA) – 42’37”
1. Joana Soares (PRT) ACD Jardim da Serra – 48’03”
2. Jessica Pardin (FRA) Team La Sportiva – 49’12”
3. Virginia Perez (ESP) Berg Outdoor – 51’29”