On Saturday, October 13, Vermonter Hillary Gerardi became the first American to podium in the Overall category at the Migu Skyrunning World Series.
Gerardi, who is originally from Saint Johnsbury and now lives in Chamonix, France, took 16th place in the last race of this year’s series, the Limone Extreme SkyRace, a 29K footrace in Lombardy, Italy, on Saturday. Gerardi was one of 927 competitors from 37 countries who competed. The runners tackled 2,500m of elevation gain on a technical course that required climbing with one’s hands at times.
Gerardi also finished the season as champion in the Sky Extra category, earning 440 points in series races over the course of the 2018 running season.
The top Overall ranking in the World Series is based on a runner’s top two finishes of the season in the Sky Classic and Sky Extra categories.
Gerardi took second place for the series in the Overall category, finishing the season with 390 points, just four points fewer than the world champion, Ragna Debats of Netherlands. Kilian Jornet was the Overall champion for the Men’s series.
Skyrunning is gaining popularity in the United States. It’s different from ultra running and it’s more technical than trail running. Often competitors spend portions of a race speed hiking up steep sections of trail or climbing, unroped, over 3rd and 4th class terrain.
The International Skyrunning Federation defines skyrunning as “mountain running above 2,000 meters where the minimum incline is six percent over the total distance and must include sections of 30 percent.” In other words, running on extremely technical high mountain trails. As Gerardi put it in September, “It’s not skyrunning if you don’t have to use your hands.”
Gerardi joined the World Series circuit in 2017 and in just one year has garnered attention for a slew of wins, including the Tromso Skyrace on Aug. 4 (where she took 10th place overall) and the Trofeo Kima, a grueling 52K race across snowfields, moraines and exposed crests with fixed ropes in Valmasino, Italy. Gerardi won Kima in 7 hours, 37 minutes and 29 seconds—just a minute shy of the course record. In 2014, another Vermonter, Huntington’s Kasie Enman, won the Kima race and went on to tie for second in the Skyrunning World Series Ultra category,
On September 13, Gerardi took the bronze for Team USA in the Vertical World Championships in Kinlochlevin. Gerardi was one of 15 American runners invited to compete on the first-ever complete U.S. Skyrunning Team.
She had a big win the same weekend that helped secure her title in the Sky Extra category in a 32K race up the technical and exposed Glen Coe Skyline in wet, rainy weather.
In order to win the Skyrunning World Series outright, Gerardi would have had to earn sixth place or better at Limone. She had previously placed eighth in the race twice.
This year’s second place win in the Overall category and first place finish in the Sky Extra category present big steps in Gerardi’s running career. In 2017, as a rookie, she finished in second place in the Sky Classic category. This is the first season she has made the podium for the Overall and Sky Extra divisions.
See the full season results for all runners across the Skyrunning World Series, here.
Photo Caption: On July 22, 2018, Hillary Gerardi took second place in the DoloMyths Run Skyrace in Canazei, Italy. Here, she tops out after climbing nearly 1,000 feet per mile for 10K. Photo by Mattia Rizzi.