In August 2021, Manuel Merillas set two records:
Mont Blanc FKT in 6h 35′ 22″
Monte Rosa FKT in 3h 59′ 18″
On his feet the new Golden Gate Kima RT.
MONT BLANC FKT
It is one of those routes that every experienced hiker dreams of. Starting from Courmayeur, climbing to the summit of Mont Blanc and then returning to the village to celebrate. It usually takes months of preparation and at least one night in the hut, for many it is the feat of a lifetime.
For some skyrunning legends, however, that route is just a 49.6-kilometre run with a positive (and negative) altitude difference of 3,750 metres to be completed in the shortest possible time.
The history of this route and its Fastest Know Time is a long one. The route was opened for the first time on 1 August 1890 by Luigi Graselli, John Bonin and Achille Ratti, the future Pope Pius XI, together with guides Joseph Gadin and Alexis Proment. From pioneers to the present day, the route is now covered by sky runners. Those who have the strength want to challenge it.
In 2015 Marco De Gasperi, now Scarpa’s trail running product manager tried his hand at it. At the time he wore the colours of the Rome Forestry team and had to deal with a record from twenty years earlier that belonged to the legendary Fabio Meraldi (6h45’24”).
Seven years ago, De Gasperi flew over the trails between Courmayeur (1,224 metres above sea level) and the summit of Mont Blanc (4,810 metres) and descended to the Courmayeur square in 6h43’52”, climbing and descending the Via Normale Italiana or Via Ratti, passing by the Gonella refuge and the Dôme du Goûter.
A record that seemed unbeatable until Manuel Merillas, a Spanish athlete born in 1991 and a member of the Scarpa team, put it in his sights. Wearing the Golden Gate Kima RT, the shoes with the carbon fibre plate immersed in the sole and capable of saving 2% of the athletes’ energy, he ran at breakneck speed between rocks and ropes at a monstrous average of 7’55” per kilometre, after having set off at 4 am with a headlamp from the centre of Courmayeur: he was flying at 3’19” per kilometre. In the end, he managed to stop the clock at 6h35’32”, more than eight minutes ahead of De Gasperi’s previous record.
The record came thanks to an excellent performance. Merillas started surrounded by a staff of friends and mountain guides (Denis Trento should be mentioned) who secured the athlete in the most hostile sections and in particular on the glacier and arrived at the summit two minutes later (4 hours 15 minutes) than De Gasperi did in 2015. On the descent, he made up the difference and arrived in Courmayeur stopping the stopwatch hands on the new record.
“I’ve lived in the mountains all my life and achieving this great result makes me extremely proud of the road I’m on,” he said at the finish line, beaming with adrenaline. De Gasperi applauded him with the rare and pure sportsmanship that goes hand in hand with the spirit of mountain running: “I have clearly lost something that used to belong to me, but now there is the happiness of seeing the wish of a friend come true, even before that of an athlete whom I respect”.
Credits: Giacomo Meneghello
A closer look at the Golden Gate Kima RT
The Golden Gate Kima RT is a technical fell running shoe designed to reduce fatigue. The carbon plate enclosed in new-generation foam heightens the elastic response of the arch of the foot, reducing the physical effort of running without compromising precision on uneven terrain.
Accurate and supportive, the Golden Gate Kima RT is designed and tested for maximum performance on the most technical trails, but also performs well on less demanding unpaved tracks.
Upper: Fabric and Film
Lining: Stretch Textile
Stack: Heel 22mm/ Toe 16mm – Drop 6mm
Weight: 290g (1/2 pair Size 42)
Sole: Presa TRN-03