The pinnacle of the skyrunning calendar, Trofeo Kima, has gained a reputation as one of the most demanding and challenging races in the world. At 52km in length the distance is not intimidating, however, 8,400m of ascent and descent put the race in perspective. You cannot look at Trofeo Kima with the eyes of a pure runner; It’s beyond running!
Passing over seven passes of the Sentiero Roma, a well-known GR route, the race in its current form is the brainchild of the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) president, Marino Giacometti. So tough is Kima that it has a capped field of just 300 participants and the race is held every other year to add to its allure.
Sections of the course are so severe that fixed ropes and chains provide the only secure way to traverse vertical walls of rock or exposed ledges. Taking place on mountain paths that are unmarked, just the red/white flicker of GR markers show the way along with flags added by the race team. Rock, granite, snow and ice make an incredible playground for athletes with a head for heights, exposure and adventure.
The 23rd edition of the Kima Trophy will be remembered amongst one the most beautiful ever. Overnight rain cleared to an amazingly beautiful cold day with strong winds and ice was present on the course.
Much of the talk was about Kilian Jornet who returned to the race after missing the 2016 edition. Already a winner of this race and record holder before, would he beat the 2016 record of 6:10:44 set by the Nepalese Bhim Gurung? Kilian ran with Alexis Sevennec for much of the race. The two raced shoulder to shoulder until the final descent, 2000 meters drop from Passo Barbacan to the village of San Martino. Kilian launched a winning attack, that allowed him to cross the line in 6:09:19 – a new course record!
Alexis Sevennec placed a convincing 2nd in 6:11:59 ahead of 2018 Transvulcania winner, Pere Aurell in 6:20:50. Andre Jonsson, Leo Viret, and Petter Engdahl followed and rounding out the top ten was Andy Symonds, Cristian Minoggio, Cody Lind and Samuel Equy.
Hillary Gerardi did not beat the record of 7:36:21 set by Nuria Picas in 2016 but she produced an outstanding race! She has found her legs and lungs in 2018 and proving to be, ‘the one to beat,’ especially after victory in Tromso just weeks ago… On the first descent towards Bocchetta Roma, IAU World Trail Champion, Ragna Debats, had tried to make a difference and close the gap on Hillary, but she was too strong gaining a 5-minute lead. The victory looked set, but it was Robyn Owen from South Africa who closed on the leader and for a time they ran together, but Hillary kicked and came back and won in 7:37:29. Second place for Robyn in 7:39:01, a stunning result and certainly a name to look out for in the future! Nepalese Mira Rai, always a popular runner with the crowds placed 3rd and rounded out the podium in 7:41:46. Brittany Petterson, who had been in 2nd at the midway point, and the Italian Martina Valmassoi followed to round out the top-5!
For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line. This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. The race is like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.