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Marco and Kilian ready to do battle at Sierre Zinal

Jonathan Wyatt, Sierre Zinal record holder. © Olivier Isabelle

Updated August 8, 2014

Switzerland’s Course de Sierre-Zinal will yet again present a spectacular duelling ground for some of the world’s top mountain runners. The race, 3rd in the SWS Sky Series, has made a name for itself over the past 40 years with a fast and furious course. Just 31 km, it rises steeply from Sierre with 2,200m vertical climb and descends 800m from the highest point at 2,425m to finish in Zinal. On August 10, 4,000 runners will take part in the various categories.

All eyes will be on Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasperi who will again do battle here. It was in 2011 that they raced neck and neck, with Marco taking the win in the second fastest time ever and Kilian third. Marco has won the race three times and Kilian twice. In 2012 Marco won but Kilian was absent. In 2013 Kilian was third and Marco was absent. A welcome come-back for the two, this will certainly be a race to watch.

Stevie Kremer, 2nd, Sierre Zinal. © Olivier Isabelle

There seems to be no limit to Kilian’s prowess in every distance. After diving straight into the Skyrunner® World Series off his skis, he was second at Transvulcania and won Zegama and the Dolomites SkyRace, the VK and Sky distances in the World Championships, the Hardrock 100-miler and the recent Giir di Mont in the Italian Series.

The race will certainly be fast, not just between Marco and Kilian, but with Juan Carlos Cardona 2nd last year and record holder Jonathan Wyatt who will  be pushing the pace up front. Jonathan’s course record was set back in 2003 in 2h29’12” and only Marco De Gasperi came close in 2011, just 1’06” off.

Marco De Gasperi, 2012 winner. © ISF

Romanian Ionut Zinca will be a strong contender, 2nd behind Kilian at the recent Giir di Mont; from Britain, Tom Owens, 3rd in the Skyrunning World Championships marathon and 3rd at the Ice-Trail along with Robbie Simpson, 4th here last year. Tough competition will be provided by Columbian Juan Carlos Cardona, 2nd in 2013, Spaniards Tofol Castanyer, Aritz Egea, Moroccan Zaid Ait Malek, American Alex Nichols and Switzerland’s Cesar Costa and David Schneider.

Last year’s winner, Italian Elisa Desco, recently crowned Skyrunning World Champion at the Mont-Blanc Marathon, will be back to defend her title. American Stevie Kremer, winner at Zegama and winner of the combined title at the World Championships, was second here twice, so she will be battling for the top slot.  Fellow American Kasie Enman will attempt her first Sierre-Zinal race. She recently came 2nd at Speedgoat 50K and 3rd in the combined events at the World Championships in Chamonix. Probably the strongest competition will come from Spaniard Laura Orguè, Vertical World Champion, she’s moving up to the longer distances with great success and an incredible double win at the recent Dolomites VK and SkyRace®. Nuria Dominguez will no doubt join them with a top placing.

The spectacular Sierre Zinal course. © Olivier Isabelle

The rest of the competition will come from 2012 winner Aline Camboulive, Christel Dewalle and Céline Lafaye from France and Switzerland’s Maude Mathys 3rd in 2012 and 2013. 

Anna Pichtrova (now Strakova) from the Czech Republic has won the event no less than five times and still holds the 2h54’26” record set in 2008.

Both records are up for stake and given the stacked field, could finally tumble.

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