It’s the start of the Skyrunning season in the Sky Ultra division of the Skyrunner World Series, once again, with the Transvulcania Ultramarathon. The Beautiful Island, or La Isla Bonita if you speak español, of La Palma will host the ninth edition of this 46-mile (74.3-kilometer) point-to-point race. Starting at sea level, going up to 8,000 feet/2,420 meters above sea level with a total of 14,200 feet/4,350 meters of climbing will once again have one of the more competitive women’s fields of the spring the ultra scene.
You can also find out which top guys are racing in our men’s preview.
iRunFar will be covering the race, straight out from La Palma, at 6 a.m.Western European Summer Time on Saturday, May 13. That’s 11 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, May 12 in the US. Siguenos!
For the Podium
It was here in La Palma where Sweden’s Ida Nilsson (pre-race interview) made the big jump to the ultrarunning scene last year. She mastered this course, holding a 10-minute lead up to the highest point of the race, where we all asked if she was going to be able to keep that pace. She didn’t only keep the pace, but also expanded her lead and took the win. After that, she kept the winning streak in almost every race she showed up at, including the 2016 Marathon du Mont-Blanc, the 2016 The Rut 50k, and the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. She’s coming out from the ski-mountaineering season, but has just won the Yading Kora Ultra 46k in China last weekend.
Even though she has shown complete domination in longer distances, Andrea Huser (Switzerland) has some leg speed for these ‘shorter’ ultras. She was second at last year’s UTMB, and she won the overall race at the 2016 Swiss Irontrail, which is 201 kilometers long. But she’s also won the 98k 2016 Eiger Ultra Trail and the 77k 2016 Swiss Alpine Marathon. With this, we mean she’s a super-versatile runner and has the leg speed to be on the podium, being one of the strongest women of the world ultra scene at this moment. Of note, she won the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail just three weeks ago.
Anne-Lise Rousset from France was second at Transvulcania last year. She ran hard from the beginning as she’s used to, and was able to hold that pace until finish line. After her outstanding podium in La Palma, she was second (also behind Nilsson) at The Rut 50k, and this year was fourth at the Trail du Ventoux 46k in her home country.
All smiles Hillygoat, Hillary Allen (pre-race interview) from the USA was fifth last year in Transvulcania. She ended up third in the 2016 Skyrunner World Series ranking in the Sky Ultra division, as she finished second at the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and at the Ultra Pirineu in the Spanish Pyrenees as well as third at The Rut 50k behind winner Ida Nilsson and second-place Anne-Lise Rousset. We haven’t seen her race this year, but being fit, she’s one our candidates for the podium.
Cassie Scallon (USA) should be good for top five in this group of women. In 2016, her best performances were a win at the Bandera 100k and third at UltraVasan. We’ve always said that 50 miles is right in Cassie’s sweet spot for ultra-distance racing, so long as she can handle the vert that comes with Transvulcania’s territory, we expect her to contend.
United States’s Kristina Pattison raced in La Palma in 2015, where she finished sixth and this year, she could finish into the ladies top 10 again. She was fourth at The Rut 50k last year, too. Her fifth position at Ultra Pirineu took her to the same overall spot at the 2016 Skyrunner World Series in the Sky Ultra division rankings.
Eva Maria Moreda is, probably, a name we’re not used to calling in our previews. But her results show her as a solid candidate for the top 10, including a second place at the 2016 Skyrunning World Championships in the Buff Epic Trail, and same position at the 65k MiM from Penyagolosa Trails this year. She might jump to the big scene this Saturday.
Living in Spain but from the Netherlands, Ragna Debats comes to Transvulcania for the first time. She holds enough results to say she is a top-10 contender, but let me say, she might also jump closer to the podium. Third at the IAU Trail World Championships last year in Portugal and top 10 in the always-stacked Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon, last weekend in China she took second at the Yading Skyrun, where she finished third last year.
I don’t know if I should call Swedish Mimmi Kotka a dark horse for Saturday, as she is the winner of the 2016 CCC, one of UTMB’s sister races. Having said that, it’s the only main result I’ve found from her, aside from her top-10 finish at the 2015 IAU Trail World Championships. She should do great in this course.
Other Women to Watch
- Stephanie Case (Canada) – 2nd Tor des Géants 2016
- Sonia Escuriola (Spain) – 9th Ultra Pirineu 2016
- Corrine Malcolm (USA) – 6th The Rut 50k 2016
- Elisabet Margeirsdottir (Iceland) – 15th UTMB 2015
- Raquel Martinez (Spain) – 5th CCC 2016
- Helene Michaux (Canada) – 12th TNF EC 50 Mile 2015
- Ekaterina Mityaeva (Russia) – 4th Ultra Pirineu 2016
- Manikala Rai (Nepal) – 7th CCC 2016
- Zoe Salt (UK) – 13th Transvulcania 2015
You might see Azara García and Gemma Arenas’s names (both from Spain) floating around the Transvulcania scene this weekend, but they are both running the marathon-distance race. They’re affected with the rule of the Real Federación Española de Atletismo, which says that athletes selected for the Spanish team competing at the 2017 IAU Trail World Championships on June 10 in Italy are not allowed to race any race over 50k starting May 7.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- 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!