The women’s race of the 2014 edition of the Transvulcania Ultramarathon is shaping up to have two favorites–Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg–the two previous women’s Transvulcania champions. Behind them, there’s a group of women with experience at finishing near the front of the TVU field including Núria Picas, Uxue Fraile, and Maud Gobert. There’s also a strong delegation of Americans–Krissy Moehl, Jodee Adams-Moore, and Alicia Shay–all of whom are making their La Palma racing debuts. Other women from around the world will fill out the top places at this weekend’s race, the first in the Skyrunner Ultra Series, which we’ll be covering live starting at 6 a.m. local time (WEST) on Saturday, May 10, which is 11 p.m. (MDT) on Friday, May 9 in the U.S.
Want to know which guys will are racing, too? Read our Transvulcania men’s preview.
Women, For the Win
Anna Frost’s (2012–post-race interview, race report) and Emelie Forsberg’s (2013–post-race interview, race report) Transvulcania wins were representative jewels in respective yearlong periods in which each woman dominated the ultra scene. (Enjoy our pre-Transvulcania interview with Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg!)
Frost is a bit removed from that absolute domination and has quite openly suffered from multiple health issues in the last year that have greatly reduced her racing. When she did race last year, she was clearly not at 100%. For example, she took eighth at The North Face 50 last December after winning in 2010 (post-race interview) and 2011 (post-race interview). Frost has been on La Palma for a while training and will be competitive if she’s back to her old self.
Forsberg, on the other hand, was nearly unbeatable on the trails last year. For most of the year, when she was excited about a race, she’d go out and win it. She may have tired a bit late in the year. Yes, Forsberg isn’t long removed from her skimo season, but that didn’t stop her from winning TVU last year when she pulled away from Núria Picas late in the race.
In fact, all indications are that Forsberg is better prepared for running as she steps to this year’s Transvulcania starting line as she began her running training a little earlier this year. [May 7 Update: Emelie informs us that she has run less ahead of this year’s race than last year’s. In addition, she did just minorly strain a calf muscle while training a couple days ago, but she say that she’s fine for this weekend.] Given Frost’s sub-standard (for her) 2013 season and the recent end to Forsberg’s ski season, it figures that Núria Picas, the runner up from the past two Transvulcanias could be a favorite. Heck, she’s already shown she’s in great early-season form with a win at Transgrancanaria (post-race interview) and another win at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji (post-race interview) just two weekends ago. That’s the thing… she won a 105-mile mountain race just two weeks before Transvulcania. Both before and after UTMF, Picas was unsure as to whether she’ll race TVU on such a short turnaround. Even if she does run (we’ll keep you updated), she’s unlikely to bring her A-game. Still, a tired Picas is a good bet for a podium finish. [May 6 Update: Núria Picas has decided not to race Transvulcania just two weeks after winning the 105-mile Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. (post-race interview)]
It will be an upset if a women from outside this group wins the race on Saturday. Cassie Scallon would be a contender for the win this weekend but she won’t be racing as she fractured her leg and underwent surgery last week.
Other Women in Contention
The three top contenders mentioned above all have experience at Transvulcania. Another woman with TVU experience is Basque runner Uxue Fraile who was 70 minutes off the lead in fifth in 2012 before taking third at 30 minutes behind winner Forsberg last year. Fraile’s 2014 started with a rough go at the 125k Transgrancanaria where she finished in fifth with Nerea Martinez, more than two and a half hours after Núria Picas crossed the line.
[Added May 6] While not officially on the entrants list, we’ve received confirmation that Catalunya’s Emma Roca (pre-race interview) is racing Transvulcania and that she’s feeling good, especially after winning the Ultra Trail Barcelona just two weekends ago. Emma is more or less a lock for the podium of any ultramarathon she runs. As evidence, her third-place finishes at the past two editions of TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (2013 post-race interview). A rare exception to her podium lock, taking fourth behind Núria Picas, Anna Frost, and Emelie Forsberg at the 2012 Cavalls del Vent. Regardless, watch for Emma to run intelligently and take of any carnage late in the race.
Frenchwoman Maud Gobert has a shot to reach the podium in any ultra she runs. Back in 2011 she won both the IAU Trail World Championships and 73k Grand Trail des Templiers, while she took third at the 2012 TNF EC 50 behind Forsberg and Stephanie Howe. Late last year, Gobert won the 75k La SainteLyon in France. Earlier this year, she was fifth at the 46k Trail du Ventoux, a race she won in 2011 and took second at in 2012. Also in 2012, Gobert was sixth in her only Transvulcania.
Little known in the U.S., Italy’s Silvia Serafini has been racing at a top level in Europe the past two years. Most notably, she was fifth at Templiers in 2012 and second at the 46k Matterhorn Ultraks in Switzerland last August. Some may recall that she was also fifth at the TNF EC 50 in December 2012. [May 8 Update: Silvia Serafini will not be racing Transvulcania.]
Jodee Adams-Moore (pre-race interview with Krissy Moehl) has the highest upside potential among the American women running Transvulcania this year. She was fourth woman a few weeks ago at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, her 50-mile debut. It will be no surprise if Jodee remains amongst the leaders midrace; her test will come in the later stages. While it’s a long shot given her inexperience at the distance, Jodee has the potential to race her way onto the podium.
Now, if Krissy Moehl (pre-race interview with Jodee Adams-Moore) is to make the podium, she’ll do so in a manner quite different from Adams-Moore. It will take one of Krissy’s ultra-reliable efforts… and any adversity, such as hot temperatures, that can be thrown at the field. Moehl won’t lose her cool. Given her results over the past two years, a fourth or a fifth would be a solid day for Ms. Moehl.
American Alicia Shay might be an even more dangerous wildcard than Adams-Moore but for the fact that she injured her leg skiing this winter and did so badly enough to miss the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. A former track and road-running standout, last year Shay won the Red Hot Moab 33k and took third at the Chuckanut 50k. She lives and trains amongst the increasingly speedy trail crew in Flagstaff, Arizona. [May 8 Update: Alicia Shay won’t be racing as she’s still recovering from a injury suffered while skiing.]
A few other runners who are likely to help fill out the women’s top 10:
- Federica Boifava (Italy) — 2nd 2013 Lavaredo Ultra Trail; 5th 2013 Trans d’Havet
- Alessandra Carlini (Italy) — 3rd 2011 Lavaredo Ultra Trail; 2nd 2013 Mont Blanc 80k
- Maite Maiora (Spain-Basque) — 5th 2013 Zegama Marathon, 4th 2013 Dolomites Skyrace
- Anne-Lise Rousset (France) — 3rd 2014 Trail du Ventoux
- Zoe Salt (UK) — 3rd 2013 Marathon des Sables
- Mary Grace Spalton (U.K.)
- Hiroko Suzuki (Japan) — 2nd 2012 and 5th 2013 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji
Call for Comments
- Which of the trio of Emelie Forsberg (skiing season, calf strain?), Anna Frost (health issues of 2013), and Núria Picas (recent UTMF win) will best overcome their respective obstacles in making a go at the win?
- Who do you think are the likely women’s podium finishers from this field?
- Know of anyone listed above who’s definitely not racing? Anyone that we may have overlooked?