Prende il via oggi in Irlanda la 22^ edizione della Valsir Wmra World Cup con la Seven Sister Skyline, gara di 30km, giunta alla sua 5^ edizione che si disputa a Dunlewey. Situata nelle aspre montagne battute dal vento di Derryveagh nella contea di Donegal, questa sarà la gara più a nord del circuito.

Il percorso

Il Donegal è un luogo mistico e magico, che vanta paesaggi selvaggi e incontaminati e un’incredibile costa con alcuni dei panorami più spettacolari d’Europa. Le montagne di Derryveagh sono la principale catena montuosa del Donegal. Comunemente conosciute come le “sette sorelle”, ciascuna delle sette montagne ha i propri nomi gaelici di Errigal (751 m), Mackoght Little Errigal (555 m), Aghla More (584 m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603 m), Aghla Beg (564 m), Crocknalaragagh (471 m) e Muckish (666 m). Come suggerisce il suo nome, il percorso di gara di 30 km con oltre 2134 m di dislivello totale, passa lungo le cime di tutte le “Seven Sisters” da Muckish a Errigal. Il percorso è rinomato per il suo fondo variabile e la sua straordinaria bellezza, insieme a un passaggi molto impegnativi su montagne aperte e selvagge. Esso ha anche molte caratteristiche meravigliose che lo rendono percorso unico in Irlanda. 

Highlights gara 2021

 

Gli atleti

Oltre a molti corridori di talento provenienti dall’isola d’Irlanda, ci si saranno anche diversi atleti elite internazionali. Questi includono Paddy O’Leary, residente negli Stati Uniti e nativo di Wexford, che ha gareggiato per l’Irlanda nei Campionati mondiali di corsa in montagna su lunga distanza 2019. Paddy è apparso anche nel film del 2021 “Coming Home – Ag Teacht Abhaile” sul suo tentativo di stabilire il record sul percorso “Wicklow Round” di 115 chilometri. L’uomo del Wexford dovrà vedersela con due giovani  compagni di squadra (team Seek Vert) Ruairi Long (IRL) e Matthew Mc Connell (IRL), entrambi abituati a salire sul gradino più alto del podio delle gare della Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA). Enda Cloake (IRL) entra in gara dopo essersi piazzato secondo alle qualificazioni di Ballyhoura per la squadra irlandese del Campionato Europeo e sarà sicuramente a caccia della vittoria. Nel mix ci sarà anche Shaun Stewart (IRL), uomo del posto e due volte vincitore della 55 km. La sua attenzione si è concentrata principalmente sulle corse multisport quest’anno, ma il richiamo di una gara di Coppa del Mondo di corsa in montagna WMRA sui sentieri di casa è difficile da superare. Altri forti contendenti includono Aiden McMooreland (IRL), Pearse West (IRL) e Luke McMullan (IRL).

Per quanto riguarda le donne, l’atleta della North Face Olivia Amber (USA) dovrebbe essere una forte pretendente per il podio. Amber è una sciatrice di fondo diventata mountain runner e trail runner che è arrivata terza all’iconico Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in California disputato il mese scorso. Ad attraversare l’atlantico per la Seven Sisters Skyline e non estranea alle corse in Irlanda è anche Kathryn O’Regan (USA) che è arrivata terza alla Gaelforce Mountain Run 22 km 2019 a Leenane. Insieme a loro c’è la forte atleta irlandese Sarah Brady (IRL) che ha appena vinto la 24 km Copper Skytrail in Galles.

Non sono solo gli élite che si daranno battaglia alla Seven Sisters Skyline. Corridori di montagna di molti livelli di abilità sono arrivati nelDonegal da tutto il mondo per questo impegnativo evento, inclusi atleti provenienti da Stati Uniti, Regno Unito, Spagna, Isola di Man, Paesi Bassi, Svizzera, Francia, Germania e Repubblica Ceca. Chissà se qualcuno potrà abbattere i record del percorso stabiliti nel 2021 da Ryan Stewart (Scozia) in 3:40:15 e Hannah Shields (Irlanda) in 4:56:07.

Ecco come seguire la gara live:

http://live.primaltracking.com/skychallenge22/

ENGLISH VERSION:

Now in its 22nd year, the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) World Cup kicks off this coming Saturday, May 21st with the 5th edition of the Seven Sisters Skyline 30 km in scenic Dunlewey, Ireland. Located in the rugged, windswept Derryveagh mountains of County Donegal, this will be the Northernmost race in the 2022 WMRA Mountain Running World Cup. 

The Terrain

Donegal is a mystical, magical place, which boasts wild rugged unspoilt landscapes, and an incredible coastline with some of the most spectacular views in Europe. The Derryveagh mountains are the major mountain range in Donegal. Commonly known as the “Seven Sisters”, each of the seven mountains have their own gaelic names of Errigal (751m), Mackoght a.k.a. Little Errigal (555m), Aghla More (584m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603m), Aghla Beg (564m), Crocknalaragagh (471m) and Muckish (666m).

Like its namesake suggests, the 30 km race route with over 2134m of total vertical climbing, runs along the top of all of the Seven Sisters from Muckish to Errigal. The technical course is renowned for its variabile terrain and amazing beauty, along with a route that is very demanding on wild open mountains. The route also has many wonderful features, and makes this course unique in Ireland. The miners path, Heart-attack Hill, Altan Castle, Mackoght with amazing views of Errigal.

The Athletes

In addition to many talented runners from the island of Ireland, several international elite mountain runners are expected to toe the starting line. These include U.S. resident and Wexford native Paddy O’Leary who competed for Ireland in the 2019 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. Paddy was also featured in the 2021 film “Coming Home – Ag Teacht Abhaile” about his fastest known time attempt on the self-navigated 115 kilometer Wicklow Round. 

The Wexford man will have to deal with two young challengers in Seek Vert teammates Ruairi Long (IRL) and Matthew Mc Connell (IRL), both regulars on the top step of Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) races. 

Enda Cloake (IRL) comes into the race having placed second at the Ballyhoura qualifier for the Irish European Championship team and will surely be in the hunt for the win. Local man and two-time winner of the 55 km event, Shaun Stewart (IRL) will also be in the mix. His focus has mostly been on multisport racing this year but the lure of a WMRA Mountain Running World Cup race on his doorstep is hard to pass. Other strong contenders include Aiden McMooreland (IRL), Pearse West (IRL) and Luke McMullan (IRL).

On the women’s side, North Face athlete Olivia Amber (USA) should be a strong contender for the podium. Amber is a cross country skier turned mountain and trail runner who finished 3rd at California’s iconic Lake Sonoma 50 Mile just last month. Also crossing the pond for Seven Sisters Skyline and no stranger to racing in Ireland is Kathryn O’Regan (USA) who finished 3rd at the 2019 Gaelforce Mountain Run 22 km in Leenane. Joining them is strong Irish runner Sarah Brady (IRL) is fresh off winning the 24 km Copper Skytrail in Wales.

It’s not just elites running Seven Sisters Skyline. Mountain runners of many ability levels are converging on Donegal from around the globe for this challenging event including athletes from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Isle of Man, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany and the Czech Republic. 

Tune in Saturday to see if anyone can challenge course records set in 2021 by Ryan Stewart (Scotland) in 3:40:15 and Hannah Shields (Ireland) in 4:56:07.

LIVE track of the race is available at: http://live.primaltracking.com/skychallenge22/ 

The Race

In spite of this event’s young age, the Seven Sisters Skyline has grown quickly and is on pace to become a bucket-list race for all mountain runners. In 2018 the race had just 120 participants for what was then a 21 km and 42 km pair of events. In 2021 there were over 200 participants for the 30 km in spite of the ongoing pandemic. This year there are over 650 registered across two events – a 30 km and 55 km – making it Ireland’s premier event, and biggest Mountain Running event ever on the Island.

According to race director Eunan Quinn, “As they say up here it’s different (Donegal), and this route is different to anything else in Ireland. A point to point route that is true mountain running on open wild unforgiving terrain. Everyone who competes in the event tells us how tough, demanding, energy sapping the course is. The terrain is varied with a little tarmac, gravel path, loose scree, rocky terrain, lots of soft boggy terrain and steep hills. With very little defined tracks or trails on the route full concentration is needed at all times, and one hill leads to the next with little or no flatter sections on the route.”

A GPX file for the 30 km World Cup course can be found at: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/104698709 

About the WMRA Mountain Running World Cup

With 12 Gold Label races across 6 countries and 9 locations, and a further 5 Silver Label races in 5 different countries, the 2022 World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) Mountain Running World Cup promises 5 months of quality racing in the mountains.

All World Cup events are World Athletics (WA) Permit Mountain Races. Races fall into one of 3 categories; Short Uphill, Classic Mountain and Long Mountain. As well as the overall World Cup standings, calculated from an athlete’s best 6 results, there will also be a classification for each category, calculated from an athlete’s best 3 results in that category.

Seven Sisters Skyline is a Silver Label World Cup event in the Long Mountain category. WMRA Long Mountain races are generally 21 km to 42 km in length.