Towering high above the clouds at a 5,642m, Mt Elbrus is Europe’s highest peak. A dormant volcano located in the western Caucasus mountains, Russia, it represents one of the most formidable skyrunning challenges in the world. Ever since she first climbed Mt Elbrus 11 years ago, Russian skyrunner Oksana Stefanishina – a member of inov-8 Team Russia – has dreamt about setting records on its snowy slopes. Today (May 6) she did exactly that, re-writing the Fastest Known Time (FKT) record books, not once but twice.
Competing in the showpiece event at the 2015 Red Fox Elbrus Race Festival, Oksana lined up alongside 132 other top skyrunners on the start line at glade Azau (2,350m). Just 4hrs 49mins later she reached the summit of Mt Elbrus, setting a new women’s record time for the 14km ascent. First man to the roof of Europe was Vitaly ‘the monster’ Shkel (photographed above with Oksana) in a time of 3hrs 29mins. *Below is a video of the 2015 Red Fox Elbrus Race Vertical Km, held in the days prior to the showpiece skyrace.*
Oksana showed little fear on the descent to reach the finish line at glade Azau in a total race time of 6hrs 25mins 23secs, setting a new women’s record for the ascent and descent combined. There was no new records set in the men’s race, with Vitaly’s 2014 time of 4hrs 39mins 17secs for the ascent and descent still in tact.
During the race the temperature on the summit of Europe’s highest peak fell to -23°C, but felt -35°C due to winds of 35km/h. More details on the Red Fox Elbrus Race Facebook page.
Prior to breaking the two records on Mt Elbrus, Oksana said: “It was 2004 when I climbed Elbrus for the first time. It remains the hardest and most challenging climb in my memory. After that I hiked Elbrus many times with friends. It wasn’t until 2010 that I took part in the Elbrus race for the first time – my goal was just to reach the finish line and not to exceed the time limit! Since then I’ve raced on Elbrus a number of times. I always train very responsibly, following a training plan which involves running on all terrains, biking and running up stairs. I also do sessions in the gym to build my strength. Prior to the race on Elbrus I always go there three weeks in advance as the race is held at really high altitude so it is crucial to acclimatize.”