Limone was my first Skyrace and for a long time has represented the most intense and competitive race of the year. Being the last in the season it is where every serious athlete attends and races for their final placing in the series. This year was no exception with many extra points available to decide the overall ranking.
Having not been back to Limone since that first race 5 years ago, it was with much nostalgia arriving directly from the OCRWC in the UK. Not wasting anytime, I went straight up to look at the course, in particular the downhills which I felt would be key. The 27km course with 2600m of elevation gain was new for this this year featuring two big climbs and a mix of terrain from rocky ridge to pathless forest.
The weather forecast was favorable but after the false promise of rain at the Buff Epic skyrace I tried to not get my hopes up. The start was rescheduled to try and miss the worst of the weather but rain it did, resulting in a big smile on my face.
I chose to use poles for the initial 1000m of climb before dropping them off and attacking the rest of the course without. I am not sure attacking is the right word though. I have often found that after 600m of pushing on a climb my body starts to rebel and wants a downhill to recover. Once I push past this barrier my running from then on is weaker. I was hoping that poles would buy me some extra meters but without fail I started to struggle after 600m of up, from here it would be a grind.
Reaching the top I was still in touch with my main rivals but was on the backfoot. Luckily my descending was on point and I soon caught one of the favourites, Oriol Cardona. Craftily spotting many places to cut the zig zags I was really hammering but now had Oriol stuck to my back. After 500m of descent it was time to turn around and head uphill for another 1000m. It turns out that this was a pivotal moment in my race, stick with Oriol and go all in or play it safe at let him go.
I let him go joining Daniel Antonioli for the majority of the climb instead. I had blown it and didn’t have the uphill speed or push required. Nearing the top I dropped Daniel and started hunting on what was mostly downhill from here.
I was in 5th but my two biggest rivals were long gone. Surprisingly I caught and passed Jan Margarit who I figured was the race favourite and started creating a gap. On the downhill proper now I really felt like I was hammering and was sure I could catch one more. Unfortunately it wasn’t until I was at the bottom that I caught a glimpse of Christian Mathys in third. I was out of course and settled for fourth.
This is likely one of the most fun skyraces I have done, perhaps because of the cooler conditions or because I found the downhills so enjoyable. Finishing fourth is never the hoped for outcome of a race but I feel everything considered, this is the position I deserved. It has been a great skyrunning season and a pleasure to compete, check back to read a full blog on how the entire series went and find out what overall position I got.