The 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon, the first race in the Ultra category of the Skyrunner World Series, brings together a group of strong female mountain runners led by 2013 champion and 2015’s easy favorite, Emelie Forsberg. We’ll also see other standouts like Anne-Lise Rousette, Ester Alves, and Alicia Shay give things a go. The 45.5-mile (73.3-kilometer) race and its 13,600 feet (4,100 meters) of ascent will cross the major volcano making up the island of La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands. The island’s tropical spring climate is sure to produce decent humidity and warm temperatures, which creates additional challenge.
Be sure to have a look at our Transvulcania men’s preview to see which men will be racing.
iRunFar’s coverage of the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon is brought to you by Salomon. Thank you, Salomon!
We expect these women to challenge for the top five:
Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) (pre-race interview) was the winner of the 2013 Transvulcania (post-race interview, race report), putting down an 8:13 finish that year. In 2014, she was forced to drop after an early fall cut her hand badly open. Since TVU last year, Emelie went on to win the Ultra category of the 2014 Skyrunner World Series, which involved winning Ice Trail Tarentaise, Trofeo Kima, and The Rut 50k (post-race interview). She additionally won the Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category, and Matterhorn Ultraks last year. She’ll be fresh off her skis from a win at the iconic Trofeo Mezzalama skimo race in Italy this past weekend. She has the most talent of the field on this sort of terrain, so Emelie’s only question mark is that it’s very early in the running season for her.
France’s Anne-Lise Rousset took fifth here last year, an hour back of champ Anna Frost’s 8:10. She won the 2014 CCC, the 100k sister to the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and was seventh at the Skyrunning World Championships in the Marathon category. She was also third at France’s early-season barnburner, the 2014 Trail Du Ventoux 46k, but just a couple minutes off the lead and in the thick of it with some of France’s leading mountain runners.
Poland’s Magdalena Łączak should challenge for top five in this field. She was sixth at the 2012 UTMB, third at the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category, 20 minutes behind winner Emelie Forsberg, and eighth at the 2014 Grand Trail des Templiers.
Ester Alves (Portugal) (pre-race interview) ran to eighth place at last year’s UTMB. In March of this year, she was sixth at Transgrancanaria, running a solid four hours faster than her 2014 eighth place there. In April, she won the Madeira Island Ultra Trail. And, last week, she won the four-day edition of the Gerês Trail Adventure stage race in Portugal. Phew, it’s early May and she’s already raced more than 350 kilometers! While Ester may have early-season fitness, the question is if she will be fresh enough for a strong day?
Alessandra Carlini (Italy) rounded out the women’s 2014 Transvulcania top 10 almost 1 hour, 40 minutes back of winner Anna Frost. She finished fourth in the Skyrunner World Series in the Ultra category last year with that TVU 10th place, a second at Ice Trail Tarentaise 65k, a sixth at Trofeo Kima, and an eighth at The Rut 50k. She was also 11th at the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships in the Ultra category. So far in 2015, she finished fourth at the MSIG Sai Kung 50k.
Alicia Shay (USA) stood out among a competitive women’s field when she finished sixth at the 2014 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships. Before that, she won the 2013 Moab Red Hot 33k and the 2014 Flagstaff Sky Race 39k. Given that Alicia has some serious foot speed from her days of high-level road running and the 5,000-foot-deep Grand Canyon that’s not far from her Arizona home, I think she’ll be well prepared for the pace and verticality of Transvulcania. I predict Alicia’s going to absolutely nail an ultra any day now, but I’m wondering if the technicality of Euro mountain running so early in her trail running career is the place for that?
South African Landie Greyling (pre-race interview) hit our radars for the first time when she finished ninth at the 2013 IAU Trail World Championships. Since then, she’s taken fifth at the 2014 Kepler Challenge, 10th at the stacked 2014 Zegama Marathon, and she just won the 2015 Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon, part of the Skyrunning Oceania Continental Championships, ahead of a bunch of the fast women from down under. Landie’s young and on her way up in our sport, I think.
Women to Watch
Here are more fast women to keep your eyes on:
- Yurena Castrillo Simón (Spain) – 8th 2014 Transgrancanaria Advanced 82k
- Anna Comet (Spain) – 12th 2014 Zegama Marathon, 9th 2014 Matterhorn Ultraks
- Judit Franch Pons (Spain) – 5th 2013 Cavalls del Vent, 3rd 2014 Transgrancanaria Advanced 82k
- Myriam Guillot Boisset (France) – 2nd 2014 Yishan 100km Mountain Trail Challenge
- Ariane Gutknecht (Switzerland) – Overall/women’s winner of 2013 Swiss Jura Nature Trail two-day stage race
- Naila Jornet (Spain) – Kilian Jornet’s sister, who we hear is planning to ‘run,’ not ‘race’
- Ángels Llobera (Spain) – 3rd 2014 Ultra Pirineu
- Lara Mustat (Italy) – Winner 2014 Skyrunner Italy Series in the Ultra category, prolifically successful in shorter-distance Italian mountain races the last three years
- Yannkik Navarro (France) – 11th 2014 Transgrancanaria
- Kristina Pattison (USA) – 6th 2014 The Rut 50k, 2nd 2014 Flagstaff Sky Race 55k, 10th TNF EC 50-Mile Championships
- Zoe Salt (United Kingdom) – Winner 2015 Iznik Ultra Marathon, 3rd 2013 Marathon des Sables
- Carrie Stafford (USA) – 2nd 2014 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile, 3rd 2014 Leadville Trail 100 Mile
On the List But Not Racing
2012 and 2014 Transvulcania champ and course-record holder Anna Frost of New Zealand is layed up with a hip injury, so she’ll be at the race cheering and supporting rather than racing.
Hong Kong’s Claire Price is registered, but isn’t racing. She won last weekend’s Canyons 50k, which took place on the Western States course. She’s in the U.S. for about 10 days of Western States training.
Call for Comments
- Who do you think are the likely women’s podium finishers from this field?
- Know of anyone listed above who’s definitely not racing?
- Who might we have overlooked? And who is particularly fit for this race? Let us know in the comments section!