The British runner Thomas Joly and the Argentinean Mayte won today the eighth Ultra Sierra Nevada (USN), the fearsome mountain race of 100 kilometres and 5,500 metres of positive difference in altitude, between Granada and Sierra Nevada, which in this edition was toughened by the cold of the night and the snow of the last ten kilometres of the course.
Nearly 300 participants took the start once again this year on the Paseo del Salón, at the foot of the Alhambra and Generalife Monumental Complex, in the centre of Granada, at 22.00 hours on Friday and with the atmosphere of the great occasions. The night was cold and it took its toll. And it was noticeable in the times of the participants.
The victory went to the British runner Thomas Joly, who achieved a time of 12 hours and 16 minutes in what was his second participation in the USN. In the women's category, the winner was the Argentinean Maite López, who lives in Cenes de la Vega, with a time of 17 hours and 7 minutes.
Parallel to the Extreme - which started on Friday at 8:15 in the morning - and the Ultra, two other modalities started on Saturday. At 6:00 a.m., the Trail started from the village of Beas de Granada, with 62 kilometres and 3,700 metres of positive height gain, and at 10:00 a.m., the Marathon distance started from Quéntar, with 40 kilometres and 2,700 metres of positive height gain. Thus, more than a thousand runners enjoyed a day of sport and mountaineering with a much milder climate amidst the imposing snowy landscapes of the sierra.
Another of the attractions of this edition of Ultra Sierra Nevada was the Ultratrail Championship of the Andalusian Athletics Federation, a title won by the athlete from Guadix (Granada) José María Pérez Hernández. Meanwhile, in the Trail-62K category, the fastest runners were the Latvian Gvido Kalnins (6:46) and the Swedish Anna Stahlkloo (9:06), and in the Marathon-40k distance, the Canarian Evaristo Almeida (4:05:58) and the British Eleanor Davies (4:09).
Wet feet and snow up to the knees in the debut of the EXTREMA
In its eighth edition, Ultra Sierra Nevada incorporated an important novelty to its programme: the EXTREMA modality, with a distance of 100 miles. Although the weather and the thickness of the snow in some areas of the route forced the organisers to activate a safety protocol, cutting out two dangerous sections: the high area on the ascent to the Veleta. In the end there were 155 kilometres for a challenge that physically and mentally emptied all the aspirants.
Ricardo Barrera, a runner from Alhendín, Granada, took first place with a time of 23 hours and 35 minutes: "It was very hard. During the first six hours I didn't have dry feet at any time, the snow was almost up to our knees. The cold was extreme, and if the distance is already extremely demanding, running 150 km in these conditions is wild. It was my third 100-mile race.
In the women's category, the big favourite, Ana Cristina Constantin, a very experienced runner based in Madrid, won the race, with a finishing time of 29 hours and 14 minutes: "The race has its charm, but you suffer a lot; your feet are wet for a long time. I'm used to doing long races; it's harder for me to negotiate the days off with my boss because I work in the hotel and catering business. Sometimes I take a little bit off my salary in exchange for being able to come and do competitions".
Ultra Sierra Nevada closes its big weekend with the Half Marathon
On Sunday, the eighth edition of Ultra Sierra Nevada will come to an end. And it will do so with its most accessible distance, the Half Marathon, a 25-kilometre race with 2,100 metres of positive difference in altitude between the town of Pinos Genil and Pradollano. Another 400 participants will take part in the event.
PHOTOS: BlackCoffeeStudio / TerraIncognita Sport