This weekend’s Transvulcania ultramarathon will see a convergence of women who excel in long, mountainous races. The volcanoes of La Palma will offer them a beautiful and amply challenging proving ground with approximately 14,000′ (4,200m) of climb over 51.6 miles (83 km). We’ll jump right into the ladies preview. (We published a Transvulcania men’s preview yesterday.)
The pre-race favorite is Anna Frost (Salomon) of New Zealand. She’s won the past two TNF EC 50 Miles in San Francisco (post-race video interviews from 2010 & 2011) and has spent the past few weeks training on La Palma. Until another woman shows she can beat Frosty over 50 miles, she’s the one. However, Spain’s Mònica Aguilera (Salomon) is the Transvulcania defending champion and course recorder (10:00:03 ’11) and she’s back on the entrants list. That said, she’s not mentioned in the Skyrunning Federation’s preview, so it’s not clear that she’s racing. If she is, she’ll be a threat having finished out 2011 with three victories and not having raced much, if at all this year.
A pair of American women are making the trek across the Atlantic to race this weekend. From Colorado, Darcy Africa (Pearl Izumi) has battled injury this winter and spring as she prepares to run the Rocky Mountain Slam (Bighorn, Hardrock, Leadville, and Bear 100s) this summer. She finished seventh at the Way Cool 50k and Lake Somona 50 Mile this spring after taking third at last year’s TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Mountain ultrarunner par excellence Nikki Kimball (The North Face) will be joining Darcy in the mountains. Kimball has been running conservatively this spring, but recently ran 4:20 on a flat trail 50k. She could open things up this weekend ahead of racing Western States next month.
France’s Maud Gobert (Adidas) is the reigning IAU World Trail Challenge champion after her win at Connemara, Ireland last year. This year, she’s already logged a win and a second place at approximately 50k races. For those unfamiliar with Gobert, she’s won a ton of trail races, including ultras, but the vast majority of those are 70k and below, although she did win the CCC (98k) in 2010 and was fifth woman at last year’s TNF UTMB. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Germany’s Julia Böttger (Salomon), who may have taught Kilian Jornet, “more kilometers, more fun!” Böttger specializes in stage races, long single-stage ultras, and weeks-long runs across the Alps. Böttger’s Salomon teammate Kasia Zajac hails from Poland. Zajac won last year’s 69k Zugspitz Supertrail and was eighth at the 2010 TNF EC (pre-race interview). Frenchwoman Corrine Favre (Salomon) has twice won the Skyrunner World Series (’05 and ’08) and won the Pikes Peak Marathon on her first try (’05). Favre is experienced in all aspects of mountain sports, having won a three-week-long, 540-mile (870km) stage race in the Himalaya, taken part in high-alpine mountaineering in those same mountains, and ski mountaineered on podium-reaching teams at the world championships.
As with the men, there are a couple of top women’s contenders with whom I’m not familiar. In particular, I don’t know much about Andrea Calmbach (Salomon – 3rd at the 100k Zugspitz Supertrail ’11), Regine Enenkel (Salomon – 7th woman at Transvulcania ’11), or Nuria Picas Albets (winner of the 85k Cavalls del Vent ’11). Please leave a comment letting us know about these women.
Additional Women’s Previews and Interviews
- Anna Frost pre-race interview – BackCountryRunner.Co.Nz (English)
Call for Comments
- How much will these women take off the course record of 10:00:03?
- Who are we missing as potential contenders?
- Have anything to add about one of the top women? Please leave a comment!