Trail Team Esprit Montagne

With the passion for running in the mountains, we also came up with the idea for a Trail Team Esprit Montagne. Not to participate in a lot of races and achieve results with the team, but rather for fun with friends in the mountains. If we happen to make it onto the podium or even win a race now and again, that will be a nice bonus. But we are just as happy to run a beautiful route, climbing and scrambling through the mountains, alone or with friends. The adventure in the mountains keeps challenging us.

The team

The sponsoring means that they can stay the night here for free if they come here to train and that I will try to assist them at races if I happen to be in the area. These are the team members that enjoying scampering in the mountains as often as possible.


Renée Cardinaals

Renée Cardinaals

Talented mountain goat

‘In 2016, I fell in love with trail running, but when I went running in the mountains for the first time last year, I was immediately sold. The experiences at various small races, the Skyrunning national championship in Switzerland and the Skyrunning world championship in Scotland have left me not wanting to do anything else. For me, skyrunning and trail running are both a battle and a collaboration with the elements of nature, which offers me a physical and mental challenge. I love a good dose of vertical metres, technical paths and getting good and lost from time to time. In 2019, I want to move towards 20 to 30-kilometer and 2000-3000 D+ skyrunning races to gain experience and to train a bit more to build up speed’.

‘Living in the flatlands, feeling alive in the mountains’

The youngest member of the Team Esprit Montagne family and only woman, but a true super talent in the mountains. She only recently discovered running in the mountains, but she has taken to it with a lot of class. She earned her first silver medal in her very first Skyrunning 2018 national championship, therefore qualifying for her first Skyrunning World Cup in Scotland. At the world cup, she earned a respectable 25th place in a very competitive field. At the Vertical KM world cup, she even finished in an impressive 18th place. What is particularly impressive is the way in which the 23-year-old Wageningen native prepares for races, training and route scouting and organizes her ‘trail career’.

Winner Torgon Trail 17km 2019

Winner L’Ultra Verticale du Môle 2019

2nd Trail des Hauts Forts 23km, 2018

3rd Montafon-Arlberg Marathon, 2018

Renske Dickhout

Renske Dickhout

Downhill lover

‘Even before I could walk, my parents took me into the mountains in the summer. Beautiful memories of camping, hiking days with heavy shoes and (not) sleeping in mountain huts. What I also know well is that we were never allowed to run on the mountain paths. Nowadays I’m doing it anyway!
I think running is a wonderful way to move through the mountains. Here I feel happy and strong, at the same time I feel that as a human being I’m actually really small and humble in this environment. For me this is the most beautiful backdrop for a trip or a race, for wandering and getting lost and for my favorite activity; run down fast. If I do not walk in the mountains, I’ll be in the Ardennes, Eifel or just in the Netherlands. I’m not averse to competitions, currently races of up to 55-60 km and everything below it. I try to get the best out of it and I’m curious about what’s possible.’


Since May 2019, Renske is the 2nd lady in the team. Although she has been running for a while, she still has to discover what she is capable of in the mountains. One thing is already certain, she can go down! Preferably as fast as possible she runs down behind her boyfriend Kaj.


2nd Torgon Trail 17km 2019

Thomas Dunkerbeck

Thomas Dunkerbeck

Ultra climber

We first met at the first Vertical KM national championship in Fully in October 2013 and we immediately clicked. So, when he announced in early 2014 that he wants to work towards being among the world’s best in the sport of Skyrunning, I actually called him immediately and told him that he would never succeed if he trained only in that flat landscape and so he should come here to train as often as possible. That led to a sponsor and friendly relationship that has translated into many sleepovers, hikes, trails and, in particular, more and more climbing and scrambling in the mountains.

His passion is increasingly for races with tracks that are long, steep, inhospitable and difficult. And in between he looks for long climbing trips in which the focus is not on speed, but on adventure with friends.

winner EMI Extreme 2019

Winner EMI 2016, 2017 & 2018

Winner Dead Sheep 2018

Netherlands Champion Ultra Skyrunning 2018

Kaj Derks

Kaj Derks

All-round ibex

‘I’m Kaj Derks, I live in Berg en Dal, the Netherlands, which by Dutch standards is the perfect training environment. Without ever having seen an athletics track from up close, I started running to improve my physical condition for Alpine adventures. Since then, my priorities have shifted to running, but an annual Alpine adventure is still on the schedule. Running in the mountains presents me with new worlds with every step I take, new solutions for every obstacle on a ride and a warning to be careful on every peak. To me, running in the mountains is  mainly a primary means of transport from point A to point B, but the faster you go the more fun it is. Finishing is more meaningful when you have travelled the entire distance yourself. And although a competitive streak is not one of my main characteristics, I can really run a race in good time. If I have my way, I’d like to turn up the heat a bit.

Kaj was the surprising winner of EMI 2015, where he bounds through the mountains in his now-familiar cheerful way. Since then, he has also become a member of Team Esprit Montagne. Although he has had some trouble with injuries in the subsequent years, he has certainly earned his place in Dutch skyrunning. In fact, he runs all distances, as long as it offers him the chance to “climb high & play hard”. But, he also still has time for a good old-fashioned trip through the mountains with a backpack, food and a tent. Whether it’s with his brother in the snow in the Alps or the more adventurous routes, such as the Drakenberg Traverse or Nolans 14, a good time is guaranteed.

Winner EMI, 2015

2nd Devils Trail Nijmegen 33km, 2018

3rd Ketelwald Trail 30km, 2018


Alke Staal

Alke Staal

Wannebe Vertical KM Specialist

Starting with mountaineering and then discovering a passion for skyrunning by the images from the FC Fully and participating for the first time in 2012. Considering that the running isn’t very fast, its’s mainly the vertical kilometers that I enjoy the most, with a trip to a somewhat longer Skyrace now and again. In the winter, this translates into alpine skiing races that are often short and all uphill. But what I still like most are the long days of climbing and clawing through the mountains, preferably with friends, but I am perfectly happy alone, as well.

I also get a lot of enjoyment out of helping with the national teams during national championships and European championships in trail running and skyrunning, and organizing events such as the Esprit Montagne Invitational and setting up the Skyrunning National Championship. It gives me just as much satisfaction seeing somebody deliver an amazing performance and that can also help someone achieve that. That’s also why we sponsor these athletes.