It was a perfect day in the mountains for the iconic Monte Rosa SkyMarathon in Alagna Valsesia, Italy, on June 17, which saw the men’s record fall with an incredible performance by Italians William Boffelli and Tadei Pivk.
After last year’s difficult conditions, sunny weather prevailed with blue sky and plenty of snow on the upper stretches of the course which reaches Europe’s highest refuge at 4,554m altitude where the temperature was a cool -11°C. The concomitant race, the AMA VK2, a double Vertical Kilometer® to 3,200m altitude was on snow for the last 700m of the ascent. Athletes from 28 countries took place in the events.
Racing in teams of two for safety, 334 athletes surged from the village square at dawn to head up the classic course to the summit of Monte Rosa and back for 35 km with a massive 7,000m vertical climb between ascent and descent.
William Boffelli is the first man to have won this legendary race four times with different partners. His team mate today was last year’s winner, Tadei Pivk. Together they broke the men’s team record to close in 4h29’20”, ten minutes off the previous record set in 2018 by Boffelli together with Franco Collé. The men’s individual record of 4h24’ set in 1994 by Fabio Meraldi is still standing.
The winning men’s team also set the all-time fastest ascent to the summit in 3h06’ for which they will be awarded the Skyrunning 4000 Trophy.
On his poker of victories Boffelli commented,“I must say thanks the various partners I had overs the years as more than half the merit is theirs. I must also thank Franco Collé who was supposed to run with Tadei, but wasn’t in shape and who paired us. Today Tadei was very strong and kept pushing on the downhill to try to break the record. Meraldi’s still stands, but we beat the previous one!”
“This race is really special for me – a unique experience today with tons of supporters on the course who cheered us along the way. I almost felt like Moses!” he added.
Tadei Pivk added, “I wanted to come back to this amazing race and teaming up with William was simply perfect. We kept pushing each other in key moments and this is what I love about this formula – racing in pairs gives you more strength than running alone.”
Second was the French-Italian duo Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz and Daniel Antonioli. They battled with Boffelli-Pivk for most of the climb with only five minutes separating them at the summit. The gap increased on the downhill after Dunand-Pallaz dislocated his shoulder while sliding on the snow. Luckily, Brazilian athlete Rafael Aquino Leal, a surgeon, intervened and, with a professional touch, put his should back in place allowing them o cross the finish line in 4h36’26”, also under the previous record.
The first foreign team in the men’s category was from the UK with Kim Collison and Josh Wade in 5h33’ taking sixth place. “Absolutely stunning!” was their comment. “We’ll be back next year with more Brits!”
The women’s race went to Italians Elisabetta Negra and Giulia Zanovello, who crossed the finish line in 6’42’33”, stunned. Their last attempt was over eight hours. “This year I felt much better than in the past. I trained more and harder and it showed, but the biggest boost was the excitement for my recent wedding!”
Germans Anna Michel and Tanja Löwenhagen took second in 6h56’16”, while Spaniards Nuria Domínguez and Yolanda Fernández Del Campo took third.
Predictions were right for the AMA VK2 where Italian Marcello Ugazio, Skyrunning World Championships silver medallist, proved once more to be the fastest man on the 9 km uphill only course with 2,000m vertical climb. He beat French runner Julien Michelon by more than three minutes. Third man to reach the 3,200m summit was Italian Mattia Bertoncini.
The women’s race saw Italian Corinna Ghirardi finally take the win after two past second places. Race favourite from France, Iris Pessey, had to settle for second today, not in her best shape. “I’m really happy for this unexpected first place. I pushed really hard below the snowline and kept wondering when Iris would catch me, but I arrived at Indren without seeing her. I was first!” Ghirardi commented.
Third woman was local runner Sabrina Bendotti. With skyrunning in her DNA, she is the niece of Gisella Bendotti, standing record holder of the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon.
The AMA Organising Committee once more celebrated the legend with a successful event and wish to thank the Mountain Guides, the Alpine Rescue Service and all the volunteers – on and off the mountain – together with sponsors: MICO; Guidi, SCARPA, NORTEC, SAIS Compensati, NAMEDSPORT, NATURAL BOOM, Baglione and their institutional partners: Piedmont Region, Vercelli Province, Alagna Valsesia and Gressoney la Trinité Councils, Monterosa 2000 SpA and Consorzio Monte Rosa Valsesia.
Stay tuned for next year’s date and to write your skyrunning bucket list with the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon events at the top.
Monte Rosa SkyMarathon results
- Pivk-Boffelli (ITA) – 4h29’20”
- Dunand-Pallaz (FRA) – Antonioli (ITA) – 4h36’26”
- Perolini-Thedy (ITA) – 5h21’14”
- Tanara-Lorenzi (ITA) – 5h28’08”
- Valzer-Vaira (FRA) – 5h31’01”
- Negra-Zanovello (ITA) – 6h42’33”
- Michel – Löwenhagen (GER) – 6h56’16”
- Fernández Del Campo-Domínguez (ESP) – 8h07’59”
- Zbijowska – Baszczynska (POL) – 6h38’57”
- Joguet – Limouza (FRA) – 6h55’59”
AMA VK2 results
- Ugazio Marcello (ITA) – 1h41’34”
- Michelon Julien (FRA) – 1h44’46”
- Bertoncini Mattia (FRA) – 1h45’32”
- Alex Déjanaz (ITA) – 1h47’05”
- Filippo Curtoni (ITA) – 1h52’50”
- Corinna Ghirardi (ITA) – 2h02’33”
- Iris Pessey (FRA) – 2h08’17”
- Sabrina Bendotti (ITA) – 2h17’16”
- Sangalli Barbara – (ITA) – 2h18’14”
- Natalina Neuenschwander (SUI) – 2h27’57”