Bagà, Spain, became a hub for ultra trail runners this past weekend as it was host to the 2023 Saloman Ultra Pirineu. Starting in Cadí Moixeró Natural Park, near the Spain-Andorra border, the surrounding trails and peaks set the scene for an exciting ultra-distance 100k race.
Runners were at the line early Saturday morning, before 5:00, as they prepared to negotiate 100k of rigorous trail with over 6,600m of positive elevation in the Catalan Pyrenees.
The race attracted more than 900 participants, with a mix of amateurs and elites.
Miguel Arsenio Edges Out Previous Winner Heras
With a culmination of solid results this year, Miguel Arsenio completed the course with a time of 10:37:50 and was able to edge out defending champion Miguel Angel Heras Hernandez to take his first Ultra Pirineu title.
Arsenio came into the race with a second-place finish earlier this year at the 100-mile race Transgrancanaria and several victories at shorter races this year, including MaXi-Race du lac d’Annecy (87k), Val d’Aran by UTMB (33k), and Trail de Raia (43k).
It was his win at the 100k race of Ultra Pirineu that would be the highlight for Arsenio.
In the men’s race, two-time winner (2015, 2022) Kilian Jornet was not at the start line, but there were many serious contenders regardless.
Another serious contender included Stian Angermund of Norway, who won UTMB OCC early this year. However, towards the end of the race, Angermund withdrew with an ill stomach.
Previous winner Heras was at the event looking to defend his title from 2022. Maintaining pace with Arsenio throughout most of the race, Heras began to fade towards the end and finished 15 minutes behind the winner in a time of 10:53:24.
Rounding out the men’s podium would be Rodrigo Monasor Romero de Tejada of Spain, with a time of 10:59:07.
Marta Molist Conquers Competition with Ease
Marta Molist came into Ultra Pirineu off of a stunning win at the 45k race Canfranc-Canfranc Maratón. The Spanish woman showed her top form at Ultra Pirineu, easily conquering the competition with a dominant performance.
Molist would complete the challenging course in a time of 12:30:16.
Molist would lead a Spanish 1-2, with compatriot María Mercedes Pila Viracocha finishing in second, half an hour behind Molist with a time of 13:04:24.
Ragna Debats from the Netherlands, born in Catalonia, with a time of 13:12:20, would be rounding out the podium.
Nuria Picas, last year’s winner of Ultra Pirineu 100k, who also set the women’s record, came in hoping to beat her own record but was only able to manage fifth.