Skyrunning: Not Just for the Europeans

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International Skyrunning Federation announces creation of U.S. Skyrunning Series in 2014

Runners cresting the top of Angels Staircase 60K/35K, outside of Carlton, Washington. Photo by Yitka Winn

There is no shortage of challenging mountain races in the United States. But for the real deal—officiated, point-tallying, high-altitude championships governed by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF)—the majority of the fun has been over in Europe.

Until now.

In recent years, the ISF has incorporated a few U.S. races into its three Series divisions—Sky, Ultra and Vertical—but 12 of the 15 World Series races have been in Europe. The 2014 SkyRunning World Series will still have three U.S. races: the Speedgoat 50K, The Rut 50K and the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer. But even better than that, now North American runners can compete in an entire SkyRunning championship series without splurging on transatlantic flights.

The ISF just announced the creation of a U.S. Skyrunning Series for 2014. There will be five SkyMarathons (races in between 22K and 50K long with at least 1,300 meters/4,265 feet of elevation gain), five Ultra SkyMarathons (races over 50K) and four Vertical Kilometer races (shorter than 5K with at least 1,000 meters/3,280 feet of elevation gain).

The events are scattered across the country to showcase the mountain gems of the United States. Although most of the races are in the west—Colorado, Washington, Arizona, Montana and Utah—the eastern half of the country gets some representation too, with an Ultra race in Georgia and a Vertical Kilometer race in New Hampshire.

Elite runner and 2013 Ultra Grand Slam Champion Ian Sharman, who joined the ISF’s Athlete’s Council last year, will serve as director of the U.S. Skyrunning Series.

“Ever since I first saw Skyrunning at Transvulcania [83K in Spain’s Canary Islands],” he says, “it captured my imagination with the audacity and beauty of the courses and sheer difficulty of the races. The main priority is to include the most authentically Skyrunning-esque events and to allow easier access for North Americans to the competition and style of running seen in Europe.”

In the 1990s, Skyrunning experienced a brief heyday in the States, but the sponsorship slumped in 2000. Now that trail running is experiencing tremendous growth, the series is back with a vengeance.

Racer requirements for individual races are up to the race directors, but for most events, all you need is a willingness to take on a tough race. Anyone completing one or more races is automatically part of the series and eligible to score points toward the overall series. Each race will also have prize money, and the overall series winners can win money as well.

U.S. Skyrunning Ultra Series

  • May 16: Cruel Jewel 56-Mile, Blue Ridge, GA
  • July 19: Speedgoat 50K, Snowbird, UT
  • August 9: Angels Staircase 60K, Carlton, WA
  • September 13: The Rut 50K, Big Sky, MT
  • October 5: Flagstaff Endurance Runs 35-Mile, Flagstaff, AZ

U.S. Skyrunning Sky Series

  • July 19: Kendall Mountain Run 12-Mile, Silverton, CO
  • August 3: La Maratona Verticale 44K, Breckenridge, CO
  • August 10: Angels Staircase 35K, Carlton, WA
  • Late September: TBA Marathon, WA
  • October 5: Flagstaff Endurance Runs 23-Mile, Flagstaff, AZ

U.S. Skyrunning Vertical Series

  • Date TBA: TBA Vertical Kilometer (VK), Mt. Washington, NH
  • August 2: La Maratona Verticale VK, Breckenridge, CO
  • September 12: Lone Peak VK, Big Sky, MT
  • October 5: Flagstaff Endurance Runs VK, Flagstaff, AZ

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