Skyrunning has been going through some changes over the past years. Before there were three world series titles up for grabs, Extreme, Ultra and Classic, now there is only one. It goes without saying that it was easier to win a world series title before, the competition was spread out and you could pick the series based on your strengths. Now you have to excel across the spectrum of different types of races within skyrunning and beat every single skyrunning athlete around, probably multiple times, in order to win.
The series had 16 races. 4 of which were bonus races giving 250 ranking points, the last being the final giving 250 points and the rest being normal, offering 100 points. To make a full score card of points your best two bonus races, two normal races and the final would count.
When it came to picking my races I looked at the ones that fitted in with my obstacle racing schedule, took me to places I had never been before, suited my strengths and weren’t extremely high over sea level.
In the end I chose MT. Awa Skyrace in Japan, Transvulcania in the Canary Islands, Buff Epic Trail in Spain, Tromsø Skyrace in Norway and The Sky Masters final in Limone Italy. Three new races and two I had been too before.
Mt. Awa was a shock to the system. Finishing skiing off-season training just one day before flying to Japan was maybe cutting it a bit fine but I was hoping the engine I had built over the winter would see me through. I put in a strong race but unfortunately my running legs let me down in the last kilometres into the finish. I came third behind Ruy Ueda and Oriol Cardona.
Transvulcania was up next and this was likely my poorest performance of the season. I was neither prepared for the distance, heat or height above sea level this race would offer. Well over 7 hours of pain after starting I finished fourth. Being a super skyrace I had missed out on the podium and some well needed bonus points.
Buff Epic Trail was next and another bonus race. I had to finish strongly here, and I hoped forecast rain was going to help. The rain never came but I ground my way through in the later stages of the race. Ruy exploded on the last climb and my body refused to catch Oriol who wasn’t so far ahead of me on the last top. I finished second.
Tromsø is my race and offers a refreshing change to southern European terrain. I had to win here but wasn’t feeling too confident at halfway in third. The hotter than usual weather wasn’t helping but I managed to pull it together and win.
My four races done I resisted the temptation to bolt on another to see if I could better my ranking. I was in fourth heading into Limone and knew that the results there would ultimately decide the final standings.
To win I would have to win Limone and hope that Ruy and Oriol were of the podium.
Limone came just one week after the obstacle racing world championships and my uphill speed just couldn’t match theirs, with my downhill speed not good enough to compensate. I finished fourth. Bumping me into third position overall.
As someone who has won Skyrunning world series titles before, I still stand by my statement that finishing third this year is my most prestigious achievement in skyrunning to date. Let’s hope I can come back stronger than ever in 2020. If you are interested in taking on a Skyrunnig world series race, the 2020 calendar is already out and includes some well loved classics as well as some exciting new courses.