As the sun shone above the beautiful Spanish Pyrenees at 9 am this morning, 1,000 skyrunners tore through the town of Bagà en route to claim the last remaining points and qualifying places for the final race of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series. The brand new Sky Pirineu course, with 37 km and over 2,757m vertical gain, proved to be a roaring success, drawing a stacked field to its spectacular course and delighting Catalan fans by streaming the race via live TV broadcast from 10 am until the finish.
For the second time this season, 21-year-old Jan Margarit, took his place behind a Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series starting line and, for the second time, he finished as a champion. Although running much of the race together with his Salomon teammate, Stian Angermund, Margarit managed to stay in control throughout. Even when the overall ranking leader, Oriol Cardona, passed him on the downhill, the Spaniard kept his cool, giving one final push that would carry him over the finish line in first place. With a time of 3h17’09”, the local star becomes the first winner of the brand new course, proving himself a serious contender to win the last and most challenging race of the series next month.
“It’s always nice to race at home. The atmosphere on the course and in the town was indescribable today. I wanted to do well here for my friends and family who I knew would be waiting for me at the finish line. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t feel exceptionally strong going into the race. From the beginning, I actually thought Oriol would win. When we reached the summit and I could see him coming closer to me, I just prayed he wouldn’t catch up. When he eventually did pass me on the downhill, I was certain this would be the end but I was able to keep it together and on the final flat, I pushed hard to take back the lead. It feels good to have won but it feels better knowing that second and third place went to two equally-deserving athletes and friends.” said Margarit, who’s next race will be the SkyMasters in two weeks. “Limone is one race I really want to win. I know the level will be high and it’s likely to be my hardest race of the season but I will try. To be able to win there you can’t afford to perform at 90%. You must arrive being 100% prepared.”
Second place went to Norway’s Stian Angermund who finished less than one minute behind the winner. Angermund, who has now qualified for the SkyMasters, describes his delight at returning to the official skyrunning circuit:
“The course was beautiful and it was such a satisfying fight with Jan and Oriol. It feels really good to be back racing such a high level in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series and to be surrounded by this atmosphere and good friends again. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I will make it to the SkyMasters this year. Limone is such a special course that always pushes me to my limits and I know this year would be even harder.”
After stealing the lead from Margarit for a few minutes in the last downhill, Oriol Cardona, had to settle for third place today. The overall ranking number one closed the men’s podium with a time of 3h23’52” following yet another fight with Japan’s Ruy Ueda for the last podium position. With 500 points, Cardona remains at the top of the leaderboard.
With all eyes on the main favourites, Emelie Forsberg and Holly Page, Ainhoa Sanz shocked the entire field to take the lead from the beginning and claim her victory with an impressive two-minute lead over Page in second. Sky Pirineu was the first race of the series for Ainhoa, who’s race resume includes a third-place European Skyrunning Championship finish and first place at the 2019 Spanish Mountain Running Championships. The former cross-country runner, described her win as: “a real shock, taking into consideration the level of competition here today.” With a time of 4h01’44”, like Margarit, Ainhoa, becomes the first female Sky Pirineu champion and sets the bar extremely high for next year’s contenders.
In true Holly Page style, the British athlete fought with every muscle and bone in her body to take home a respectable second-place finish. This now moves Page into the overall top five before the SkyMasters.
Carrion Takes on Forsberg for Third Place… and Wins
After taking on the skyrunning legend, Emelie Forsberg, and fighting for third place until the end, a very tough and talented Gisela Carrion of Spain, closed the podium with a time of 4h14’09”. Forsberg, although holding onto third place for much of the race, finally finished in fourth, thirteen minutes behind the leading woman.
“It’s been such a long time since I did my last skyrace so even though I’m not in the best shape of my life, it feels very good to be back here. Racing with Holly was great. She’s so strong at the moment so I was really happy to be able to keep up with her for so much of the race. I’m looking forward to training more on the downhill now.” explained Forsberg.
After 6 months, 15 races and countless emotional moments and unexpected victories, the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series approaches the final race of the 2019 season: the SkyMasters. 112 athletes have now qualified, including Forsberg and Angermund, who qualified today. On Saturday the 19th of October, the world’s leading skyrunners will gather on the shores of Limone sul Garda. Here, not only will one male and female take home the title of SkyMasters champion, but the world’s best skyrunner and overall season winner will also be crowned. Stay tuned for the most important appointment of the season.