More than a thousand runners took off from Bagà, Catalunya, Spain on Saturday morning to attempt the 110-kilometer course of Ultra Pirineu. They did so under fair skies and pleasant temperatures throughout. Both races saw tight competition for nearly the entire route before the two winners–Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet–made decisive late race moves. Their races were highlighted by two newcomers to the 100+ kilometer race–Mira Rai and Zaid Ait Malek–who both finished second and two long-standing stars in Núria Picas and Miguel Heras.
Thanks for Salomon for its support in making our coverage of Ultra Pirineu possible.
2015 Ultra Pirineu Men’s Race
The front of the men’s race was full of great stories. For the first half of the race, Kilian Jornet, Zaid Ait Malek, Miguel Heras, and Miguel Caballero spent time ran together, enjoying the company. After dropping Caballero, Jornet was alternately joined by Ait Malek and Heras until Refugi Vents del Cadí at 96km. It’s there that Kilian decided to make his move, and boy did he ever! On the climb to Refugi Sant Jordi, he put six minutes or more on everyone in a mere 4 kilometers. There was no stopping Kilian (post-race interview) in his return to his hometown race after three years away. He reveled among old friend, fans, and fellow runners, made GoPro movies of his trek along the course, and made the most of his day.
Zaid Ait Malek (post-race interview) hasn’t raced much this year as residency issues meant he couldn’t leave Spain. He made the most of his fresh legs in taking second in his longest race to date. He looked strong and content the whole way and is now left to consider which distances he’ll focus on next year. While Miguel Heras has had some strong results in Spanish races the past year, he’d not made his mark on an international stage in a while. That changed as he ran an even race to take third despite not yet being at 100% after his injuries. Miguel Caballero might not be well known in the US, but he’s an international-level talent who ran in fourth throughout the day in a race that had surprisingly little carnage at the very front.
A bit further back, gastrointestinal issues resulted in an early drop from Italy’s Franco Collé. That drop mattered as it opened the door for Canarian runner Cristofer Clemente to move past Collé in the final Skyrunner World Series ultra rankings with Clemente’s fifth-place finish. Despite Clemente’s strong effort, he was leapfrogged in the World Series by Luis Alberto Hernando, who held true to his pre-race plans of running behind the leaders with an effort that would earn him the title despite having finished his first 100-mile race at Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc only three weeks earlier. Hernando had won the two previous editions of the race.
2015 Ultra Pirineu Men’s Results
- Kilian Jornet (Salomon) — 12:03:27 (pre- and post-race interviews)
- Zaid Ait Malek (Buff) — 12:12:23 (post-race interview)
- Miguel Heras (Salomon) — 12:20:35
- Miguel Caballero (La Sportiva) — 12:50:08
- Cristofer Clemente (Land) — 13:12:55
- Francesc Solé — 13:20:24
- Gerard Morales (Buff) — 13:29:25
- Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) — 13:29:43 (pre-race interview)
- Zdeněk Kříž — 13:30:13
- Cristobal Adell (La Sportiva) — 13:32:31
2015 Ultra Pirineu Women’s Race
The women’s race played out very similar to the men’s race. Emelie Forsberg, Núria Picas, and Mira Rai were all very near one another for the first 96 kilometers, although they ran together less than the men did. Forsberg was always in or with the leader while four-time defending champ Picas came back from an early deficit to run with Forsberg more than Rai did. While the Swede hadn’t run this long in a few years, she was able to make a late-race move that quickly distanced her from Picas. Rai stayed much closer until the very last kilometer. With her win (post-race interview), Forsberg also took home the Skyrunner World Series ultra crown.
Mirroring Ait Malek on the men’s side, Mira Rai (post-race interview) ran her longest race to date with great success. She held strong the entire race, to finish second both in Ultra Pirineu of the Skyrunner World Series final rankings. While Emelie often makes it looks easy out there, so, too, did Mira.
Núria Picas looked like she was working hard all day long. She maintained contact for much of the race, but dropped back quickly once she was out of contention for the win. Her quickly growing gap back from the leaders may have had just as much to do with her huge lead on the women behind her. A fierce competitor, Picas also got to show her human side at the event. When one of her young twin boys saw she wasn’t leading late in the race, he broken down crying. She stopped to take the time to console him. The finish, saw another side of the Catalana as she lead twenty youngsters across the finish line as she waved the Catalan independence flag. Her local pride was made for a celebratory rather than a downtrodden finish.
Behind the podium finishers, Gemma Arenas and Anna Comet ran in fourth and fifth, respectively, throughout the day. Arenas is a former 2:47 marathoner, who dove into trail running head first the past two years. She’s likely to finish at least two dozen trail races this year and her passion for the sport is evident out on the course. From Catalunya, Comet has a longer history with trail running and showed the world her prowess earlier in the year when she was second at Transvuclania.
2015 Ultra Pirineu Women’s Results
- Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) — 13:39:33 (pre- and post-race interviews)
- Mira Rai (Salomon) — 13:43:49 (post-race interview)
- Núria Picas (BUFF) — 14:13:01
- Gemma Arenas (Dynafit) — 14:45:18
- Anna Comet (Dynafit) — 16:36:18
- Roser Español — 17:38:28
- Anna Strakova — 17:51:47
- Elisabet Bertran — 18:08:19
- Judit Franch (Compressport/Inov-8) — 18:21:09
- Silvia Miralles — 18:39:39
2015 Ultra Pirineu Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
Thanks to Tim Peeters, Raül Racero, Marta Muixí, Xavi Marotell, and Alba Junyent for making the time and effort to provide coverage in the field as well as Mauri Pagliacci y amigos for translating our coverage into Spanish @iRunFarEs.