Colorado runner seals international trail running title.
Stevie Kremer capped off her yearlong European odyssey in resounding fashion last weekend. The 29-year-old elementary school teacher from Crested Butte, Colo., spent the previous school year living and teaching in Trieste, Italy. Using that locale as her home base, Kremer ran in some of Europe’s historic trail running races before returning to the U.S. in August to resume teaching second grade at the Crested Butte Community School.
She made two more quick trips back to Europe after school started this fall, once to race in the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland on Sept. 14 (where she was fifth) and then to the Oct. 13 Limone Extreme trail race in northern Italy. That historic 23.5K race, the final race in the SkyRunner World Series Sky Series, starts on the edge of Lake Garda and sends runners on an abrupt climb of 6,500 feet over the first 8K (5 miles) to Rocchetta Pass before a dramatic descent back to the lake.
Pushed by Italy’s Antonella Confortola and Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg, Kremer stayed in contention on the climb, but she motored atop the pass and put 2 minutes on her rivals three-quarters through the race. She hammered the downhill back to the lake to close in a new course record of 2:46:13. Confortola was a distant second in 2:53:58, followed by Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg in third in 2:54:54.
The victory was Kremer’s third this year in the high-altitude Sky Series—she also won the Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix, France, and the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado—and it gave her enough points seal the circuit’s overall title.
“The first 8 kilometers were super tough in that they were steep, uphill technical kilometers,” said Kremer, who races for Salomon and the Italian club team Agisko that adopted her last year. “Antonella was actually in the lead for most of that time, although I tried keeping her in sight. It wasn’t until the flats appeared that I was able to pass her. On the downhill I kept telling myself to just push as hard as I could, that it would be over soon enough. If I didn’t push the hardest I could—even if that meant I may be passed—I’d be pretty angry with myself.
“I still can’t really believe that I won this race and the series, for that matter. It’s an amazing feeling and I’m just so lucky that I was even given the opportunity to compete in these race with such a great talent.”
Kilian Jornet, who hails from the Catalonia region of Spain, didn’t surprise anyone in the men’s field and cruised to the finish after staying with the lead runners until the summit, where he changed gear and sped down the steep rocky descent to finish in 2:17:03 and confirm his 2013 Sky Series champion title.
American Alex Nichols (Colorado Springs), competing in his first season of SkyRunning, took eighth in the Limone Extreme race (2:24) and wound up third in the series standings.
Although she had raced well in the U.S. for years, Kremer established herself as one of the world’s top trail runners over the past year and a half. In 2012, she was seventh in the World Mountain Running Championships 5.5-mile uphill race in Ponte di Legno, Italy, and won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge at the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland the following week, helping the U.S. win the team championship in each race.
In addition to her runner-up showing at the Sierre-Zinal race last year, Kremer took second in the Smarna Gora Mountain Race 10K in Slovenia in October, which helped her finish sixth in the World Mountain Running Association Grand Prix—the first time an American has cracked the top 10 in the 14-year history of that series.
Although she wasn’t able to defend her title at the Jungfrau Marathon this year, she had another great season on the international circuits. That includes a dominating win at the rigorous Mont Blanc Marathon on June 30, a record-setting win at the grueling 25-mile Hout Bay Trail Challenge in South Africa, a second straight runner-up finish at the 19-mile Sierre-Zinal trail race in Switzerland on Aug. 12 and a commanding, near-record win (4:17:10) at the Pikes Peak Marathon on Aug. 19 in Manitou Springs, Colo.
Kremer, who won the GoldenLeaf Half Marathon in Aspen on Sept. 21 for the fourth time, will be racing as part of Team USA at the Rocky Man adventure relay race in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in early November. That race includes surfing, mountain biking, stand-up paddling, jungle and beach running, paragliding and outrigger canoe paddling.
While her international odyssey has taken her to new heights, Kremer admits to being a bit homesick for her beloved mountain home.
“Although there are some hills and trails where I was living in Italy, I definitely missed living right in the mountains where trails surround me. Life is pretty darn good in Crested Butte in that way,” she said. “But I have had the amazing opportunity to travel to mountains all around Europe—something I would have never been able to do had it not been for this year abroad. The places I’ve been able to explore so far are absolutely amazing. Now it’s really great to be back in Crested Butte. I’m so incredibly fortunate to be part of a staff that is very supportive of me and allows me to pursue running while being able to teach as well.”
Limone Extreme Results
1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) Salomon, 2:17:03
2. Ionut Zinca (ROU) Valetudo Skyrunning Italy, 2:18:27
3. Aritz Egea (EMF), 2:18:53
4. David Schneider (AUT) inov-8, 2:20:40
5. Zaid Ait Malek, 2:21:09
1. Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko), 2:46:13
2. Antonella Confortola (GS Forestale), 2:53:58
3. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon), 2:54:54
4. Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx), 2:58;20
5. Leire Aguirrezabala (EMF), 2:58:54
Skyrunner World Series Sky Series Final Rankings
1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – Salomon
2. Luis Hernando (ESP) adidas Trail Running
3. Alex Nichols (USA) invo-8
4. Jokin Lizeaga (ESP) – EMF
5. Aritz Egea (ESP) EMF
1. Stevie Kremer (USA) – Salomon Agisko
2. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon
3. Silvia Serafini (ITA) – Salomon Agisko
4. Nuria Dominguez (ESP) – Buff
5. Anna Lupton (GBR) – inov-8