By Doug Cassaro
Skyrunning. The name alone captured my imagination. I had never heard of skyrunning until I recently read a tweet by 2013 Ultra Grand Slam winner, Ian Sharman, on Twitter. He tweeted how the Skyrunning Series was coming to the US and that he would be in charge of directing it.
A quick Google search landed me at the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) website. “Whoa, so this style of running is for real”, I thought to myself. According to the ISF’s website,
Skyrunning “was the brainchild of Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ‘90’s.” Financial backing from Italian sportswear company, Fila, helped launch Skyrunning into a true international race series in mid-90s. Since then, it has attracted names like Killian Jornet, Sage Canaday, Timothy Olsen, Emelie Forsberg, Stephanie Howe, and Rory Bosio to challenge themselves on some of the most mountainous terrain in the world.
Skyrunning is broken down into three disciplines; Sky, Ultra, and Vertical. Each discipline offers their own challenges. Sky events are typically 22km to 50km in length and must have at least 4,300 feet of elevation gain. Races over the 50km mark are categorized as Ultras and are sure to pack plenty of climbing and descending. Vertical races are distances that do not exceed 5km and have at least 3,300 feet of elevation gain.
Due to its rise in popularity over the years, the Skyrunning Series has now landed in the US. There will be five Sky, five Ultra and four Vertical events in some of the most scenic locations across the country. Below is the exciting 2014 US Race Schedule, which totals 312 miles and over 100,000 feet of vertical gain!
1. COLORADO: Kendall Mt Run - 12 miles – Silverton – July 19
– 3,750ft elevation gain
2. COLORADO: La Maratona Verticale – 27 miles – Summit County – August 3
– 6,000ft elevation gain
4. WASHINGTON: Name TBC – 26 miles – Venue TBC – late September
– TBC elevation gain
5. ARIZONA: Flagstaff Endurance Runs - 23 miles – Flagstaff – October 4
– 9,500ft elevation gain
1. GEORGIA: Cruel Jewel – 56 miles – Blue Ridge – May 16
– 17,000ft elevation gain
2. UTAH: Speedgoat - 31 miles – Snowbird – July 19
– 10,000ft elevation gain
4. MONTANA: The Rut – 31 miles – Big Sky – September 13
– 10,000ft elevation gain
5. ARIZONA: Flagstaff Endurance Runs - 35 miles – Flagstaff – October 4
– 13,000ft elevation gain
1. NEW HAMPSHIRE: Name TBC – Mt Washington – Date TBC
Needless to say, Skyrunning is not for sea level dwellers. But, then again, what ultrarunner likes to run on the flats? The foundation of our sport is to explore places we’ve never seen and to push our bodies to the absolute limit. Signing up for any one of these events will surely accomplish both!