The Sky Running World Series kicks of on the 26th May with the annual Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. Despite only starting in 2004 this race has become a classic and has been a permanent feature on the Skyrunner® World Series.

The consistently deep field attracts runners from far afield and the best of the best contend for the podium over the 42km course and 5,472m of ascent and descent.

It is not surpricing considering the race is in Spains Basque region that the star-studded line-up is headed by super-strong Spaniards Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando. The contenders also include Frenchmen Michel Lanne, Michel Rabat, Nicolas Pianet and Andorran Oscar Casal. At his first Zegama attempt, Italian Tadei Pivk is a strong podium candidate and fellow countrymen Fulvio Dapit, Daniele Cappelletti and Fabio Bazzana won’t be far behind. Dapit has performed consistently well here finishing five times in the top ten.

In their first Zegama American Alex Nichols and Japan’s Toru Miyahara and Dai Matsumoto together with a three-man team from Russian Skyrunning will no doubt enjoy the tough competition and lung-bursting ascents. With the absence of Brits Tom Owens and Andy Symonds who won’t be able to replesent Salomon’s International Trail Racing Team due to injury the British mantal is paced to Team Inov-8 Runner Ben Bardsley. Ben is well known for his strong climbing ability so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Since 2012 the women’s field has shot to the headlines with new stars, new records and the “chicking” phenomenon with the gender gap slowly closing. Superstars leading the field are a string of world champions: Emelie Forsberg (2nd in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks 2012), Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar (2012 winner, 2nd in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks 2013) and Emanuela Brizio (2009 record holder). Featuring up front will also be Silvia Serafini fresh from her win in China in the Great Wall Marathon.

Among the contenders will also be Franchwomen Maud Gobert and Stephanie Jimenez. Look out for American Stevie Kremer (2nd at Sierre Zinal and Long Distance World Champion), an explosive package with a lot of promise who is taking on the Series this year.

The UK also gets represented by Team Inov-8’s Anna Lupton and Sarah Ridgway.

SWS Team Partners Salomon, Arc’terxy, inov-8 and La Sportiva will compete with strong teams. Runners from 16 countries have registered.

After several years of very wet and cold weather, a race day with good conditions could see the long-standing records challenged: 3h54’18” by Rob Jebb (2005) and 4h38’19” by two-time world champion, Emanuela Brizio (2009). The event is being streamed from 9am click here to watch

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