American Emily Schmitz Joins Elite Field For Skyrunning World Championships

Announcement from the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF). Learn more about how the American Trail Running Association helps to support Skyrunning. Above photo: Andy Wacker.

The 2020 Skyrunning World Championships are now ready to kick off after a year’s postponement. As planned, they will be held at the Buff Mountain Festival from July 9 to July 11, 2021 in Barruera, Vall de Boí, in the Spanish Pyrenees. The biennial World Championships will celebrate their sixth edition, the third in this spectacular location after 2012 and 2016.

The world-class line-up counts some 155 athletes from 23 countries who will confront each other in three skyrunning disciplines: VERTICAL, SKY and SKYULTRA.

Skyrunning World Championship

Emily Schmitz (center) at the 2019 World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina. Photo: Andy Wacker.

An experienced competitor at multiple European sky races, Emily Schmitz (Wauwatosa, WI) is scheduled to compete in the Buff Epic Trail 42K (SKY). Finishing 10th place, Schmitz was the top American woman at the 2019 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, won the 2019 21k Skymarathon Sentiero and was 9th at the 2019 21k Dolomyths Skyrace.

Elite American men scheduled to race include David Kilgore (New York, NY), Mike Popejoy (Flagstaff, AZ) and Ben Robinson (Lehman, PA). Kilgore was a member of the US Team at the 2019 Trail World Championship, finished 4th at the 2019 USATF 50K Trail Championship and took the bronze medal at the 2018 USATF 50K Trail Championship. Popejoy was a member of the US Team at the 2017 and 2018 NACAC Mountain Running Championships and won the 2020 Monument Valley Ultra (half marathon). Robinson won the 2021 Hyner Trail Challenge 25K, finished 2nd at the 2019 Ragged Mountain 50K and earned the silver medal at the 2019 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships.

Mike Popejoy at the 2017 NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Golden, Canada.

World titles and 27 medals will be awarded to Individuals and Official Teams as well as a Combined title based on the best results of the VERTICAL and SKY races.

The impressive list of International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) member countries participating with teams counts: Andorra, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

The events launch on Friday, July 9, 2021 with the VERTICAL discipline at the Buff Epic Trail VK, a 3.3 km-long Vertical Kilometer® with 1,030m vertical climb to heat up the atmosphere. The following day is the turn of the SKYULTRA with the Buff Epic Trail 68K counting 5,000m vertical climb, while the Skyrunning World Championships will conclude on Sunday, July 11 with the Buff Epic Trail 42K, with 2,900m vertical climb celebrating the SKY discipline.

David Kilgore. Photo by Jamil Coury.

The following are some of the top names competing in the three disciplines:

Friday, July 9, 2021 – Buff Epic Trail VK:


Mike Popejoy (USA) US Team, 2017 & 2018 NACAC Mountain Running Championships
David Kilgore (USA) US Team, 2019 Trail World Championships
Oscar Casal Mir (AND)
Manuel Da Col (ITA) 2021 Italian VK Champion
Ruy Ueda – (JPN) 2019 SWS Champion
Romeu Gouveia (POR) Santana VK 2019 winner
Manuel Merillas (ESP) 2nd 2019 MAGA European Championships, 2nd 2021 Livigno SkyMarathon
Daniel Osanz (ESP) multiple Youth Champion, 2019 VKWC Champion
Pere Rullan (ESP)
Roberto Delorenzi (SUI) multiple Youth Champion


Emily Schmitz (USA) 10th place, 2019 Long Distance World Mountain Running Championships
Marcela Vasinova (CZE) European Combined Champion
Iris Pessey (FRA) 2018 AMA VK2 winner
Viriginia Perez (ESP) Ultraks 46K 2018 winner
Fatima de Diego (ESP) 2017 VK Youth Champion
Lina El Kott Helander (SWE) 5th 2018 VKWC, Olympus VK winner, joint 2021 Monte Rosa SkyMarathon winner
Sanna El Kott Helander (SWE) joint 2021 Monte Rosa SkyMarathon winner

Skyrunning World Championships

Multiple Youth Skyrunning World Champion Daniel Osanz (ESP) will participate in the VERTICAL race. ©Luca Cironi

Saturday, July 10 – Buff Epic Trail 68K:


David Kilgore (USA) US Team, 2019 Trail World Championships
Marc Casal Mir (AND)
Luca Carrara (ITA ) Italian Champion
Luca Arrigoni (ITA) 5th 2019 MAGA European Championships
Luis Fernandes (POR) 10th 2019 MAGA European Championships
Miguel Heras (ESP) 2016 Ultra Pirineu winner
Manuel Anguita (ESP) 4th 2019 MAGA European Championships


Michaela Mertova (CZE)
Ildiko Wermescher (HUN)
Yukari Hoshino (JPN)
Ragna Debats (NED) 2018 Ultra World Champion, 2017 Ultra European Champion, 2018 SWS Overall Champion
Lucia Franco (POR)
Natalia Neschcheret (RUS)
Gemma Arenas (ESP) 2016 SWS Ultra Champion
Maite Maiora (ESP) 2016 SKY & Combined World Champion, 2016 2nd VK World Champion, 2017 SWS Extreme & Overall Champion, winner Ultra Pirineu, Royal & Tromsø

Youth World Champion and Skyrunner® World Series 2019 Champion Ruy Ueda (JPN) is a top contender in the SKY discipline. ©

Sunday, July 11, Buff Epic Trail 42K:


Ben Robinson (USA) 2nd place, 2019 USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships
Oscar Casal Mir (AND)
Daniel Antonioli (ITA) 2019 Ultraks Extreme winner, 2017 SNS Italy Sky Champion
Ruy Ueda (JPN) 2019 SWS Champion
Manuel Merillas (ESP) 2nd 2019 MAGA European Championships, 2nd 2021 Livigno SkyMarathon
Zaid Ait Malek (ESP) 3rd 2019 VEIA European Championships
Christian Mathys (SUI) 2021 Livigno Skymarathon winner


Emily Schmitz (USA) 10th place, 2019 Long Distance World Mountain Running Championships
Marcela Vasinova (CZE) 2019 European Combined Champion
Oihana Kortazar (ESP)
Lina El Kott Helander (SWE)
Sanna El Kott Helander (SWE)

For the first time, teams from Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Guatemala, North Macedonia and Peru will participate in a Skyrunning World Championship, highlighting the spread of skyrunning to new countries and the passion of new athletes ready to test their skills on the international stage with the best.

Skyrunning World Championships

The spectacular Vall de Boí in the Spanish Pyrenees, 2020 Skyrunning Word Championships venue. ©Diego Escobedo

The venue is located in the magnificent Vall de Boí, a spectacular natural arena and UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. In 2019, the BUFF® Mountain Festival attracted 3,000 athletes and 15,000 spectators, while this year 4,000 athletes are expected.

FEDME, the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation and ISF member for Spain, will sanction the events and oversee them with their referees. The organization will be in the capable hands OCI Sport, with whom the ISF has collaborated on a number of high-profile events. WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the Championships.

ISF President and skyrunning founder, Marino Giacometti, commented, “We’re very excited to be able to start racing again and to open the skyrunning season with the World Championships back in Vall de Boì. It’s also really inspiring to see countries from far and wide and our new member countries participating. At last – Less cloud. More sky!”

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