Yading Skyrunning Festival, China
The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series kicked off in China in April with a weekend of high altitude action that harked back to the early and pioneering days of when ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) president Marino Giacometti, picked a peak and ran to its summit and returned as quickly as possible.
It was all about ‘fast-and-light’ and yes, it was also part science project as the effects of high-altitude and sport were documented in a series of stringent tests that took place all over the world.
Now in 2017, Yading Skyrunning Festival got truly high again with three events taking place in and amongst several of China’s 6000m peaks – Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang, and Chenadorje.
The Yading Skyrunning Festival started the weekend on May 1st at noon. Covering a distance of 7km (unusually long for the VK format) the race will have an elevation gain of 1072m. Notably, the VK started at an altitude of 3992m and concluded at 5000m – a first for Skyrunning! In the early stages, winding single-track made its way through the alpine forest before breaking through to clear vistas, blue skies and incredible 6000m snow capped peaks. A clack all lake provided flat running before the short, sharp and very steep push to the finish line via a high pass and a summit adorned with prayer flags. Local runner Duo Ji was the winner of the day in an incredible time of 1-hour, 1-minute and 48-seconds. He was closely pushed by Pascal Egli from Switzerland and Andy Wacker from the USA. Inge the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson from Sweden was head and shoulders above the competition running 1-hour, 19-minutes, and 45-seconds.
At 0700 the following day, the Yading Skyrun and the Yading Kora Ultra started side-by-side outside the hotel in Shangri La. In the early stages, both races would trace the same route all the way to the Chonggu Temple. It is here that the ultra would go left on an extended loop taking in the Kora pilgrimage route to culminate in a total distance of 46km. The Sky Classic race would go right and hug a single-track through the forest and open plains to finally reach a prayer flag adorned summit at 4700m. Here the 29km event would turnaround and retrace all the way back to the finish line at the Chonggu Temple.
The ultra race would also reach this 4700m summit but from the other side of the mountains – passing through a hole of prayer flags, the 49km race would then follow the remaining kilometers of the 29km race and conclude at the same finish line.
Megan Kimmel from the USA and Nepal’s Bhim Gurung were winners in the 2016 edition of the race and once again they repeated their performances. For Kimmel, it was a relatively easy victory as she pulled away from her closest completion, Ragna Debats. On the line, the margin for victory was a clear 30-minutes. Debats held off Swiss runner Katrina Villumsen who placed 3rd.
Although Gurung took the victory, at the 4700m turnaround this looked unlikely as he trailed Pascal Egli, Andy Wacko, Duo Ji and others. However, the altitude and the effort impacted on the competitions ability to perform and an incredible and relentless descent from Gurung saw him reel the competition in and take a stunning victory. Wacker placed 2nd and Ji 3rd, their times 3:08:23 and 3:08:49
With over 2,300m of elevation gain over the length of the course, and the finish line sitting at just over 4,000m, Kora Ultra was a unique challenge. Eyes were on UTMB winner and three-time Raid de la Reunion champion, Francois d’Haene from France. However, on the day it was 2:16 marathon runner 敏 祁 who stole the show with a solid performance clinching victory ahead of d’Haene and 晶 梁 finished 3rd.
In the ladies’ race, Ida Nilsson backed up a weekend double with a performance that was hours ahead of the 2nd placed lady. Her performance was so strong she placed 5th overall and certainly, she is a favorite for the next race in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series which takes place on the island of La Palma – the Transvulcania Ultramarathon.
Full results http://livetrail.net/histo/yadingskyrun_2017/
China, without doubt, provided a stunning arena for Skyrunning gladiators to do battle – this is an untapped part of the world to race. Later in the year, a second event will take place in Mongolia, the Devil’s Ridge race, also in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.
China Mountain Trails – http://www.cnmtntrails.com/yading-skyrun/