2016 Skyrunning



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Russia launches Series – 7,000m sky high

Marco De Gasperi, Elbrus Vertical Kilometer®

With all eyes on the Sochi opening ceremony, Russia announces their national skyrunning calendar today featuring no less than 15 races, split between the Sky and Vertical disciplines.  What? No Ultras?

What these races lack in distance they make up for in altitude, real altitude, with one race to the summit of Lenin Peak at 7,000m!  Where earth meets sky indeed.

No doubt you’ve heard of “pushing your limits to the max”, of the “ultimate challenge” and “are you tough enough?”.  The Skyrunner® Russia Series ticks all those boxes, and more.

Fifteen races - five Vertical Kilometers and, in the Sky category, four SkyRaces and six SkyMarathons - stretch from Kamchatka, the Western Sayan, Khamar-Daban, Altai, Ural to the Caucasus mountains.  Three of the events will also represent the Russian Skyrunning Championships.

The total distance of the fifteen races covers a mere 326 kilometers, the distance of a multiday ultra.  Here, distance is outshone by the imposing vertical climb totalling 26,100 metres with points where the incline exceeds 50 degrees. Add the effects of hypoxy for maximum effect.

Not only does Russia offer the most extreme skyrunning races on the planet, the sport is proud to have official recognition from the Russian National Ministry of Sports through the Russian Mountaineering Federation to which the Russian Skyrunning Association is affiliated.

Russian skyrunning events have featured for a number of years on the Skyrunner® World Series calendar with the Vertical Kilometer® and the SkyMarathon® on Mount Elbrus.

Marco De Gasperi, six times WMRA champion won the Vertical Kilometer race here in 2012 and, in 2013, the event was won by another Italian, Marco Facchinelli, ranked 6th on the ISF Vertical World Ranking. Mount Elbrus will again feature in Kilian Jornet’s Summits of my Life project, where he will attempt a record on the 5,642m summit this year.

Despite the difficulties Russians face to reach the mountains for training, let alone racing, given that they’re very far from any cities, their talent shines through with runners like Zhanna Vokueva and Vitaly Shkel who have excelled on the international scene, not to mention three athletes in the ISF Sky World Ranking and ten athletes in the Vertical ranking.

If you find the concept of running at such high altitude forbidding, here is some information to put you at ease.  Since 1992, the ISF (previously Federation for Sport at Altitude) carried out research at altitude on athletes in racing mode. Not just in the lab. Interestingly, no cases of high altitude sickness were encountered.  There is no question performance is limited due to hypoxy, but of course, it’s the same for everyone!  For example, the average speed at 4,200m, is 72% of that at sea level and, at 5,200m, it’s just 65%. Research at 7,000m has not been carried out yet, but FSA researchers calculated that it is theoretically possible to RUN at 7,000m.

These steep, even daunting races embody the beginnings of skyrunning in the early 90’s when events reached the summits of Mont Blanc, of Monte Rosa, Mount Kenya, Iztaccihuatl …and records were set on Shisha Pangma and Cho Oyu in Tibet.

In the meantime, while the Russian runners get their high in the incredibly challenging National Series and Championships, why not test yourself to see, not how far, but how high you can go?

Skyrunner Series Russia
Skyrunner® Russia Series


WESTERN SAYAN: Borus Race® - 26 km (490m – 2,280m) - Cheryomushki - October 4

ALTAI: Aktru SkyRace® - 22 km (1,300m – 3,200m) - Аktru - 14th June

KAMCHATKA: Avacha SkyRace® - 18 km (950m- 2,751m) - Avachinsky Volcano – August 16

KRASNAYA POLYANA: Sugar Marathon® - 30 km (1,400m – 3,189m) - Pseashkho Sakharny – September 13


CAUCASUS: Elbrus Vertiсal SkyMarathon® - 14 km (2,350m – 5,642m) - Аzau – May 9

URAL: Konzhak SkyMarathon® - 42 km (269m – 1,569m) - Krasnotour'ynsk – July 5

CAUCASUS: Elbrus Mountain Marathon® - 42 km (1,700m – 4,100m) – Baksan – August 5

URAL: Iremel SkyMarathon® - 45 km (282m – 1,582m) - Nikolaevka village – October 4

Vertical Kilometer

WESTERN SAYAN: Borus Vertical Kilometer® - (490m- 1,490m) – Cheryomushki – April 5

ALTAI: Aktru Vertical Kilometer® - (1,700m – 2,700m) – Аktru June 12

BEZENGHI, CAUCASUS: Bezengi Vertical Kilometer® - (1,900m – 2,900m) – Nalchik – July 27

KAMCHATKA: Avacha Vertiсal Kilometer® - (950m -1,950m) - Avachinsky Volcano – August 17

Russian Championships

CAUCASUS: Elbrus Vertiсal Kilometer® - (2,450m – 3,450m) - Аzau – May 7

BAYKAL LAKE: Chersky Peak SkyMarathon® - 43,5 km (600m – 2,090m) - Slydyanka – August 24

Vertiсal SkyMarathon

KYRGYZSTAN: Lenin Race Vertiсal SkyMarathon® - 14 km - (4,400m-7,000m) - Lenin Peak– July 29

Skyrunner® National Series

ISF Ranking

Check out the Skyrunner® Russia Series here and look out for the next National Series to be announced soon.

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