Photo Credit: Damiano Levati for Red Bull

A new addition to the 2017 race calendar, the Vertical Kilometer™ World Circuit hopes to capitalise on the growing popularity of uphill, vertical racing with the introduction of a competitive series.

A spin-off of the popular Skyrunner World Series, the VK World Circuit includes 16 vertical kilometre races around Europe (plus one in the US), raced as a series. The idea: gain points for your position in each race and compete for the overall series win. A mix of new courses and classic race routes, the race length actually varies from 1km to a max of 5km.

For us mere mortals, however, it’s not about racing but the simple (!) goal of reaching the summit to enjoy a nauseous mix of elation and total exhaustion.

Photo Credit: Damiano Levati for Red Bull

Why vertical?
For all but the accomplished skyrunner, the VK, as a single event, offers a whole new challenge. An awesome goal to train for. These are no ordinary uphill runs. We’re talking technical mountain scrambles up some of Europe’s trickiest ascents amid spectacular mountain passes. The average gradient is thought to be around 35%, but in some cases stretches to a whopping 50%.

And some of the climbs are pretty hairy, as this photo of Italy’s Trentapassi VK race demonstrates.

However, unlike other endurance events where the question of whether you’ll finish weighs heavily on your mind, with the vertical kilometre you know it’s doable – even if it means walking, or stopping for a mid-race lie-down (or a casual vomit).

When’s the next race?
The next Vertical Kilometer™ World Circuit race hits Spain on 26 May with the Zegama-Aizkorri before moving to Portugal in June with the Santana Vertical Kilometer™ race, a new course of 4.8km and 1003m vertical ascent. After that, the circuit heads to Spain, Italy and France before continuing around Europe.

Copyright Felipe Belo

Thinking of signing up for a VK? Let me know, I’d love to hear all about it!

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