SportsShoes x Merrell at the Skyrunning World Series Finals
Written By: SportsShoes
Last year, our SportsShoes athlete Ben Mounsey and photographer David Miller accepted an invitation from Merrell to stay in the beautiful city of Bilbao in order to race and capture the action from the Skyrunner World Series Finals 2022.
Bilbao, located in the northern region of Spain, is famous for its golden beaches, Pintxos (local tapas) and the iconic Guggenheim museum. This region of Spain is known as the ‘Basque Country’, because its unique identity and individuality sets it apart from the rest of the country. Basque, also known as Euskera, is one of the world’s most unique languages in terms of its origins and has a fascinating history and heritage. It is not related to any other known languages spoken today.
Pictured: Ben Mounsey running high above the beautiful Bilbao.
The Gorbeia Suzien Skyrace is a circular 32km race that takes you deep into the heart of the Gorbeia National Park to visit the summit of Mount Gorbea (1,481m). Not for the faint hearted, this super-tough route is designed to push athletes to their physical limits, with steep uphill climbs, challenging technical terrain and extremely muddy descents. Starting and finishing in rural town of Zeanuri, the locals come together to create a unique atmosphere by showcasing their proud Basque culture and celebrating the sport of mountain running.
This edition of Gorbeia Suzien was particularly special as the world’s best sky runners were not only battling for the individual race win, but also for the much-coveted Skymasters World Series crown. In the men's competition, Nicolas Molina Augustin won both the race and the overall series. Noemie Vachon was first women to cross the line, whilst Lindsay Webster became the series champion after finishing in third place on the day.
Full results can be found here
Pictured: Nicolas Molina Augustin at the finish
Ben finished in an impressive 7th place overall and 1st place Vet in the 21km Skyrace, competing in some really challenging and muddy conditions. It was the perfect opportunity to test the new Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 Trail Running Shoes.
Ben Mounsey spoke about his race experience;
“I arrived at the race expecting hot sun and dry conditions, but instead it was like being back in England! The course was super-tough, the pace was relentless and there was every type of terrain you could imagine - from tarmac to extremely technical and rocky sections. There was so much extreme mud on the descent that it was comparable to a typical British fell race - so I really had no excuses, as both the course and the conditions suited me well! I wore the new Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 Trail Running shoes straight from the box and it's safe to say they were tested to their very limit”
David Miller added;
“The main thing I will take away from this experience is how the local inhabitants celebrate occasions like this. The community come together creating a unique atmosphere in which their culture is at the forefront of everything they do. They so masterfully bring this into the sport we love, celebrating all things Skyrunning.”
Pictured: (L) Jon Sanregret - the man who designed the Merrell Skyfire 2 & (R) Ben Mounsey puts them through a test!
All photos by @davidmillerphotography_