Ultra Pirineu is the current iteration of the previous Cavalls del Vent. While the distance has changed from an approximately 85-kilometer circuit of the Cavalls del Vent trail circuit (with a start and finish in the town of Bagà) to what’s now an 110-kilometer course that visits the valley of Cerdanya to the north and sports some 6,800 meters (22,000 feet) of climbing.
Over 1,000 runners will tackle this course, plus more in the weekend’s other shorter-distance events. The Ultra Pirineu course is known for being less technical than some of its other Spanish counterpart races, so while there’s a lot of climbing, the trail allow allows for runners to really move.
Ultra Pirineu serves as the final race in the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division. Cristofer Clemente, of the Canary Islands, has an overwhelming lead (253 points). Since Cristofer’s closest competition isn’t racing, he should enjoy his victory lap. There are also a few other men from the Ultra series division top 10 who are racing and looking to move up their rankings, including Spain’s Roger Viñas (180 points), Poland’s Marcin Świerc (129 points), Portugal’s Nuno Silva (121 points), and Peru’s Remegio Huamán (121 points) who are third through sixth in the rankings at the moment. It will be interesting to see how these four shake out. Points are doled out to first through 30th men as follows, 100-88-78-72-68-65-62-59-56-53-50-47-44-41-38-35-32-29-26-23-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-6-4-2, with a 20% points bonus as this is the final race in the series.
On the other hand, the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division women’s race is quite close, with Anne Lise-Rousset (276 points), who leads the ranking, not racing this weekend. Second through sixth women in the series are however, and that’s Hillary Allen (228 points), Gemma Arenas (224 points),
Ida Nilsson (200 points), Kristina Pattison (186 points), and Anna Comet (182 points). Women’s points are awarded for first through 15th like this, 100-88-78-70-62-54-48-42-36-30-24-18-12-6-3, again with the 20% final-series-race bonus. As you can see, anything can and may go in the women’s series race this weekend.
The race starts at 7 a.m. CEST on Saturday, September 24th. That’s 11 p.m. MDT on Friday, September 23 in the States. We’ll be there covering the race live, so stay tuned.
I don’t think Cristofer Clemente (Canary Islands) (pre-race interview) even needs to finish Ultra Pirineu to be crowned this year’s Skyrunner World Series Ultra division champion, but something tells me he’s still going to give it on his victory lap. His Skyrunning races this year have been a 10th place at Transvulcania, a win at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, and a win at The Rut 50k. Cristofer finished fifth here last year.
Spain’s Miguel Heras (pre-race interview) has three finishes at Ultra Pirineu, a win in 2011, a third in 2013, and another third last year. It was just a month ago when we saw him running near the front of UTMB past Courmayeur before dropping.
Update September 20: Pau Capell is not racing as he’s decided to focus on next month’s IAU Trail World Championships.
Pau Capell (Spain) is coming off a big high, a win at the 2016 TDS. Elsewhere this year, he’s been third at Transgrancanaria, the winner at Ultra Trail Australia, and sixth at Lavaredo Ultra Trail.
Here we get to the fascinating part of this list, because these are the guys who’ve been battling each other in Skyrunning races all season and who are stacked up close in the current men’s standings. There’ll clearly be some shake-ups by the end of the weekend. Spain’s Roger Viñas sits in third in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra division courtesy of his ninth at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, sixth at High Trail Vanoise, and eighth at The Rut 50k. He was also 11th at the Buff Epic Trail, which served as the Skyrunning World Championships. We also saw him run to 19th at Transvulcania, but his points there were thrown out because he’s got three other higher-scoring finishes in the series so far.
Marcin Świerc’s (Poland) is fourth in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra division as a result of a 14th at Transvulcania and second at High Trail Vanoise.
Nuno Silva (Portugal) occupies the fifth spot presently in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra division. He’s finished fifth at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and 10th at High Trail Vanoise to earn those division points. He also competed in the Skyrunning World Championships at the Buff Epic Trail, finishing off the mark in 50th place.
Peruvian runner Remigio Huamán created a stir at this race last year, where he ran with the leaders for the race’s first marathon before being DQed at a mandatory-kit check when he wasn’t carrying the required jacket. So far this year, he’s been seventh at Transvulcania and eighth at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, which has placed him in sixth place so far in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra division men’s rankings.
Fulvio Dapit (Italy) sits in eighth place in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra division rankings courtesy of a 15th place at Transvulcania and a fourth at High Trail Vanoise. He just ran Trofeo Kima about a month ago, too, taking 11th.
Francesc Solé (Spain) is a four time Ultra Pirineu finisher, with his best finishes being second and sixth in 2014 and 2015, respectively. He just dropped fairly early in UTMB a month ago after finishing seventh there in 2015. He ran to fifth place at High Trail Vanoise earlier this year.
More Men to Watch
Update September 20: Núria Picas is not racing.
Núria Picas (Spain) is on the women’s entrants list, and as a local and five-time finisher of this race–including four wins–we’ve got to list her at the top. She was supposed to start UTMB last month, but took a DNS pass the week of the race when an ankle injury she’d been nursing wouldn’t heal in time. She was deeply fatigued here last year, and it seemed like she had to grind out her third-place finish. She’s been almost entirely off the international-racing radar since then.
The USA’s Hillary Allen (pre-race interview), this girl is on Skyrunning fire this year. He current second place in the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division is courtesy of a fifth at the stacked Transvulcania, second at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, and third at the The Rut 50k. The series is scored best of three, and she’s got three races scored already, so she’ll be looking to improve one of her scores with this season finale. At the Buff Epic Trail, this year’s Skyrunning World Championships, Hillary was seventh.
Update September 20: Ida Nilsson is not racing due to injury.
Sweden’s Ida Nilsson (Sweden) is probably the favorite to take home the win at Ultra Pirineu and the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division. Something of a phenom who really popped onto the international Skyrunning scene this year, when she’s won Transvulcania (interview) and The Rut 50k handily.
Gemma Arenas (Spain) sits third position in the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division as a result of her sixth place at Transvulcania, win at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, and fourth place at High Trail Vanoise. At the Skyrunning World Championships at the Buff Epic Trail, Gemma finished ninth. She was fourth here at Ultra Pirineu last year. We last saw her a month ago start and drop from UTMB.
Kristina Pattison’s (USA) (pre-race interview) fifth place in the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division right now is from taking sixth at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, fifth at High Trail Vanoise, and fourth at The Rut 50k. At the Skyrunning World Championships at the Buff Epic Trail, Kristina took sixth.
Sitting in Skyrunner World Series Ultra division sixth place presently is Anna Comet (Spain) after taking fifth at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira, third at High Trail Vanoise, and eighth at The Rut 50k. Anna was fifth at Ultra Pirineu last year.
I believe this will be Cristina Bes’s (Spain) first participation in a Skyrunner World Series race this year. In 2015, she took second at TDS. She finished fourth here in 2013. Cristina ran close to the front of UTMB past Courmayeur a month ago before she dropped back and, then, out of the race.
Manu Vilaseca (Brazil) has two top 10’s at UTMB under her belt, an eighth in 2013 and 10th last year. The 100-mile distance seems to be her sweet spot, and she appears to slow down relative to her competition at shorter distances. Her other races this year include 16th at Transvulcania and 15th at the Buff Epic Trail, the Skyrunning World Championships.
More Women to Watch
The second article in a two-part series about the hip-hinge position for efficient running.