International Skyrunning Federation Launches New VK OPEN Championship

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

For lovers of the Vertical Kilometer® – a new championship launches today promoted by the International Skyrunning Federation.

The VK OPEN Championship features nine races in six countries concentrated in Europe, birthplace of the discipline, stretching from Italy, Spain and Portugal in the Mediterranean, via Bulgaria and north to Scotland and Norway in the Arctic Circle.

All the races have two things in common: the ISF Certified Course Label and parameters that fit the VERTICAL discipline: 1,000m vertical climb over five kilometers distance. The only way is up.

The VK OPEN will see top specialists battle for the final which will be held at the Grèste de la MugheraVK in Limone, Lake Garda, Italy on October 15, 2021.

In launching the new VK OPEN, the ISF wants to highlight the importance of this longstanding and highly popular VERTICAL, alongside the SKY and SKYULTRA disciplines. Marino Giacometti, ISF President, comments, “Vertical Running has always been in our DNA and the new VK OPEN will attract the top athletes to test themselves at the best uphill performance and, of course, against each other.”

As the name suggests, the Skyrunning VK OPEN is open to all athletes. No age restrictions are in place unless limited by race organizers due to high altitude or technical terrain.

The VK OPEN Champion title will be awarded to the male and female winners at the final together with cash prizes which will be announced shortly. The *ranking is based on two races plus the final. All five races will award points down to the 20th position, while the final will award double points down to the 40th position.


Vertical Terme di Bognanco, Italy, site of the 2019 European Championships. Photo: @jsaragossa

The Vertical Kilometer® was invented in 1994 by the skyrunning founders and is governed by the International Skyrunning Federation which, since 2020 is classifying all the races that fall within the parameters with an official Certified Course Label.

The first Vertical Kilometer® took place in Cervinia, Italy, on August 20, 1994 on the lower slopes of the Matterhorn. The simple formula, together with the relatively accessible challenge of racing 1,000m uphill, has seen the popularity of the VK, as it is also known, spread far and wide, counting several hundred races worldwide. Double and triple VK’s are also recognized in the ISF regulations.

Given the current COVID-19 situation, the concept of the Skyrunning VK OPEN means athletes can select races closer to home. Eventual travel restrictions that impact participation in multiple races will be taken into consideration.


Mamores VK, Scotland, a perfect 5 km x 1,000m vertical climb. Photo:

2021 VK OPEN Championship calendar

June 5 – Parangalitsa VK, Bulgaria – 4.7 km distance / 960 meters of climb
July 4 – KV Sierra Nevada, Spain – 4.7 km distance / 1,050 meters of climb
July 16 – DoloMyths Run VK, Italy – 2.1 km distance / 1,000 meters of climb
August 6 – Blåmann Vertical, Norway – 2.7 km distance / 1,044 meters of climb
August 28 – KM Vertical de Câmara de Lobos, Portugal – 3.3 km distance /1,000 meters of climb
September 10 – Vertical Terme di Bognanco, Italy – 3.5 km distance / 1,100 meters of climb
September 18 – Mamores VK, Scotland – 5 km distance / 1,000 meters of climb
October 8 – Santana Vertical Kilometer®, Portugal – 4.8 km distance / 1,003 meters of climb
October 15 – Grèste de la Mughéra Vertical Kilometer® – FINAL, Italy – 4 km distance / 1,094 meters of climb

Ranking Information:

  • Skyrunning races with a mass-start may have only one winner. Eventual ties may be broken based on a photo-finish or other control system. In the event neither of the previous options are resolved, the final decision will be made by the jury.
  • Races that time each runner or have an individual start may have a tie.
  • All race winners will receive free entry and accommodation at the final.
  • In case of a tie, the best result at the final will be considered for the prize money.