Kilian out duels De Gasperi to win 2011 Skyrunner Super Cup

In some international racing this weekend, Salomon Running continues its seasonal harvest of wins (Salomon might want to market an energy drink with the supportable claim that this stuff works!).
At the 25thKinabalu Climbathon, Kilian Jornet Burgada made good on the back-and-forth battle between him and Marco De Gasperi.  Inside Trail had a strong inkling that this was Jornet’s to lose.  First of all, Marco got the better of him in Sierre-Zinal, which had followed Killian’s win between the two at Giir di Mont.  So, based on that fairly logical train of thought, it was the Catalan’s turn.  Secondly, De Gasperi was the defending champ of Kinabalu.  This, in our eyes, does not make him the favorite, pointing to the historical difficulty it is generally to repeat amongst stiff competition, especially in the presence of a strong rivalry.  Last, Jornet’s DNF at the Trails Cavalls del Vent, with the suggestion that he was heading home to the Alps to preserve and revitalize his energies for Kinabalu and De Gasperi, put this pick in the bag.  I would argue the DNF played a quite favorable role in his win yesterday in Malaysia.
How did the race play-out?  The best pure climber of these kinds of slopes (hands-on-knees variety) is the Italian who did make it to the summit a good 4 minutes ahead of the Spaniard, Marco hitting the top in ~1:37 to Kilian’s 1:41, with the eventual third place winner and 2011 Skyrunner World Series winner Luis Alberto Hernando right on Kilian’s heels.
The descent was a different story.  Kilian, known for his descending skills, naturally made De Gasperi work.  Unfortunately, the 2011 Sierre-Zinal winner may have succumb to the pressure as he took a hard spill, which left the Italian pretty banged-up.  Although he was able to maintain his lead despite the fall, Kilian caught him in the home stretch, crossing the line at 2:37:04, ahead of De Gasperi who came in with a time of 2:37.48, just 44 seconds shy of the champion’s winning time.
De Gasperi’s CR still stands (2:33:56), as does his ascent CR (his 2010 1:35:29).  But the 2007 and 2009 Climbathon champ, Jornet Burgada, adds another title to his resume.  In fact, this win brings his 2011 5 wins on 5 continents project to a successful close.  Indeed, a stellar year for the Spaniard that has to have us all eagerly anticipating his 2012.
The 2011 Skyrunner Super Cup at the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon might also mark the end of the race using its current route that includes the epic 13,435-foot Kinabalu peak.  It is being reported that the Climbathon will introduce a new route said to be even more challenging.  Some runners who were asked about the course change expressed less than encouraging words.  De Gasperi, for instance, mentioned he would be disappointed and probably would choose not to return in the coming years if the race omits the Kinabalu summit.
In France, Salomon’s Andy Symonds successfully negotiated one of France’s great races, the 71km La Grande Course des Templiers, to put a nice win in his quiver.  Battling back from some injury, the British fell and mountain runner took control of the race in the final 20k and got the better of past champions Thierry Breuil – Team Adidas and Thomas Lorblanchet – Team Salomon.  Symonds winning time of 6:33:58 held-on comfortably over his two competitors who finished together at 6:45:10.
With Julien Chorier’s win at Le Grand Raid Reunion Island last weekend, Miguel Heras’ return to form at Trails Cavalls del Vent and Jornet Burgada’s win yesterday, 2011 continues, at this stage of the year, to see Salomon International running well.  No one needs to be reminded of TNFEC 50 San Francisco on Dec. 3rd,  where Heras is scheduled to return to defend his title.  This looks to be a huge showdown in the context of Salomon’s dominance, but more simply it just looks like a furious trail donnybrook is going to erupt in the bay area with the possibilities of Heras defending against the likes of Mackey, Wardian, and Roes.
Salomon’s Anna Frost will be in San Francisco in December, as well, defending her 2010 championship.
At the Skyrunner Super Cup yesterday, she had to settle for 2nd as local talent Danny Gongot took the win, thrilling her local supporters.  Despite being nine minutes back of American Brandy Erholtz at the summit, Gongot overtook the American for a spectacular win.  This pretty much highlights part of what we said in our women’s preview, that Erholtz probably has the chops to hang on the ascent (having won the Pikes Peak Ascent twice), but the descent might be a different story.  None the less, Erholtz’s 3rd means she is the first American ever to make the Climbathon podium.
We’ll definitely drink to that!

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