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Kima… a place where earth meets sky

Ridge running - Kima Trophy, 2012. ©iancorless.com


Alone out there, Kima is a small race not many in the trail running have heard about. Capped at just 250 runners, the race represents a true skyrunning experience over rough, rocky terrain set in a relatively unknown area in the central Italian Alps, known more for mountaineering than for trail running.  “Just” 52 kilometres long, it crosses seven passes with a massive 8,400m of ascent and descent. Moraine, snowfields and exposed crests feature largely on the course, with fixed ropes at key points. Pure skyrunning.


Clearly, it’s not a race for everyone. Some mountaineering skills are required, a lot of stamina on the uphill and a good technique on the downhill are indispensable.


The course can only be reached on foot or by helicopter.  The area is renowned for climbing and no doubt this is one aspect that attracts skyrunners like Kilian Jornet, winner here in 2010 and 2012, to come back year after year.


A biennial event since 2008, the race dates back to 1994 when Ilde Marchetti contacted Marino Giacometti, skyrunning founder, to create a race to commemorate her brother, nicknamed “Kima”, a mountain guide who had died in a rescue attempt. Fabio Meraldi, mountain guide and legendary skyrunner, won the first edition of the race in 1995 and for many years was race director. He’ll be on the course to support the runners.


Emanuela Brizio, winner in 2008 & 2010. © LongLight


Sunday markes the 20th anniversary of the creation of the race committee and 17 editions of the race. In the first race back in 1995, 70 competitors took part with the first man (Meraldi) closing in 6h29’41”and the first woman (Alexia Zuberer) in 8h34’02”. Throughout all those years the race featured on the international or national skyrunning calendar.  A Mini Kima was introduced for children in 2003 to stimulate interest in the sport and develop “home grown” talent.


Over the years, many strong runners have passed through here - some fast, some slower and many world champions too. The first skyrunning world champions Bruno Brunod and Corinne Favre will be there on the course on Sunday and, competing, recently crowned world champions Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg.


Sunday represents the 4th of the Skyrunner® Ultra Series which will conclude in Montana, USA with The Rut on September 13.


This small iconic race has a lot of appeal and is on the bucket list for runners looking for the ultimate challenge.  This is the case of Clarke McClymont, a surfer from New South Wales, Australia. An accomplished runner, he was fascinated by Kima when he was visited the race in 2012 and swore to come back. He will be on the start line.


Kima course. ©iancorless.com


Andorran Mathieu Lefort who likes to push boundaries, will be running. Motivated by the extreme, he’s organising a gruelling race over the seven highest peaks in Andorra (Els2900 Alpine Run). Briton Stu Air (SCOTT Sports) raced for the first time on snow at Ice Trail last year. Bitten by the skyrunning bug, he made Kima one of his main objectives. It’s runners like these that make up the Kima field, together with the strong Italians born and bred in the high mountains and the tough Spaniards that excel in them. Tough and challenging, Kima represents skyrunning 360°, a place where earth meets sky….


Kilian Jornet will lead the field on Sunday, clearly the race favourite, he won here in 2012 and the course record is his: 6h19’03” set in 2010. He’s currently ranked 11th in the Ultra Series which is led by Sage Canaday (Hoka One One), who will be heading for the Ultra Series final, The Rut. Briton Tom Owens (Salomon) ranked 2nd, has been training hard up on the Valmasino course and looks set for a strong performance after placing second here in 2012. Spaniards Manuel Merillas (Mammut), currently 3rd is among the podium contenders and Josè Francisco (AVIENTU), ranked 8th,are both attempting their first Kima. Italy’s Fulvio Dapit (La Sportiva), ranked 4th is looking to push his points here for The Rut final.  Other strong Italians include Paolo Gotti, winner in 2007 and 2008 and 8th at the last edition can count on his experience; Nicola Golinelli retired from the international circuit last year, but could perform well; Franco Sancassani, gave an excellent performance at Matterhorn Ultraks 46K with a 5th place despite taking a wrong turn on the course. He was 3rd in the 2012 edition of Kima.


Sadly several top runners are injured. Philipp Reiter (6th in 2012) has been nursing an injury for many months and Michel Lanne (5th) has recently suffered an injury at work. The Salomon Team will include team manager Gregory Vollet, who, in 2010 when he joined the company, got his first taste of skyrunning right here at Kima, coming an excellent 10th.


The Kima course will suit Emelie Forsberg, 2nd here in 2012. She likes it super-technical and that’s what she’ll get.


Nicola Golinelli. ©LongLight


Kasie Enman (Salomon) has been performing well over the season and getting experience on the tougher courses. She’s currently ranked 5th just behind Emelie. Italian Alessandra Carlini (Salomon) is second behind Anna Frost who heads the ranking. She is unquestionably a talent although the super-technical features of this race could penalise her. A strong podium contender is Italian Emanuela Brizio (Valetudo), twice Skyrunner® World Series champion, she won here in 2008 and 2010. Since last year she pulled out of the international scene but is still racing successfully in the Italian Series. For many years her course record stood firm until Nuria Picas won in record time in 2012 in 7h36’21”. Nuria Dominquez (Buff) will no doubt like the course and perform well.


Skyrunning legends Fabio Meraldi and Bruno Brunod will be there to support the runners and the event in which they both excelled. Meraldi won the first edition in 1995 (6h29’41”) and came 2nd in ’97,’98, 2001 and 1st equal in 2000.


Brunod came 3rd at Kima in 2000 and 2002.


After a season of difficult weather conditions across Europe and throughout the Series, the forecast for Sunday is positive - an important element that everyone will be looking forward to!


Skyrunner® Ultra Series current ranking


www.trofeokima.org


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