About talkultra

Talk Ultra is an ultra running podcast created by and hosted by Ian Corless. Ian is a runner, writer, photographer, blogger and reporter on all things to do with ultra running. This can be race reporting, interviewing, photographing, podcasting or reviewing equipment. Talk Ultra is a one stop resource for the ultra running world. www.talkultra.com

Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise 2015 Race Preview #ITT2015

 

©iancorless.comIMG_0945The stunning alpine village of Val d’Isère is the official home of the next two races in the Skyrunner® calendar, the Ice Trail Tarentaise which is the Skyrunning Continental Championship for the Ultra distance and the Bellevarde Vertical Kilometer the first VK in the Skyrunner® World Series.

Val d’Isere is a haven for alpinists wanting to test themselves on the iconic slopes of Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchavel; it is affectionately known as the ‘Le Trois Vallees’. The Ice Trail Tarentaise (ITT) starts and concludes in this beautiful mountain retreat.

The ITT has over 60 km’s above 2000m altitude and with a highest point of 3653m at ‘Grande Motte.’ In just a couple of years, the race has gained a reputation for being one of the most ‘extreme’ races in the Skyrunner® calendar, it is a race not to be taken lightly!

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Traversing glaciers, ascending and descending summits such as ‘Aiguille Pers’ at 3386m, ropes, ladders, way markers, peaks at over 3000m and 5000m +/- ascent and descent guarantees that not everyone will see the finishing tape. The ITT is very true to the heritage of Skyrunning and it harks back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when ISF President, Marino Giacometti pioneered a new form of Alpinism.

 

Who is running?

Men

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ITT has always had a high quality field assemble and 2015 is no different. Luis Alberto Hernando heads up the men’s field after his recent victory at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and placing 2nd at the IAU World Trail Championships. Luis ran ITT last year but pulled out whilst in 2nd place. I am convinced that we won’t see that happen this year and for me, Luis is the hot favourite for victory. He is without doubt in his element on tough courses (with snow) between the 50-100km distance.

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Manuel Merillas is a rising star in Skyrunning and had an incredible 2014. He placed 5th at ITT in 2014, which will most definitely provide him with a great deal of experience coming into the 2015 edition. The recent Transvulcania Ultramarathon did not go well for Manuel; he looked primed for the podium in the first half of the race but then struggled in the latter stages to finish outside the top 10. He showed amazing powers of recovery by bouncing back just 1 week later at Zegama-Aizkorri and placing 2nd. One to watch!

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Fabien Antolinus had a great race in 2014 and placed 2nd behind Francois d’Haene. He does however seem to blow hot and cold and can be a little unpredictable. For sure, he has all the skills and talent required to perform at the highest level. He may well be a podium contender but I don’t see him toppling Luis.

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Pablo Villa shot to our attention in 2014 when he had a great run at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. Shifting sponsors (now Salomon) he backed that performance up with 8th at the 2015 edition of the race. Pablo is a top 10 contender and should he have a great day, the top 5 may well be a possibility.

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Fulvio Dapit has all the potential to make the podium at ITT. On his day, he is a superb mountain runner and he excels when the terrain is ‘challenging.’ He placed 4th at ITT in the last edition. Recently though he had a tough performance at Lavaredo, however, he did pull out and that may well have saved his ITT performance.

French champion (2013), Sebastien Spehler had victories at TTN and 6000D in 2014. His recent form is a little unknown but he may well make the top 10?

Benoit Cori placed 13th at the IAU World Trail Championships and won Templiers in 2014. The ITT course is far removed from both those courses but Benoit obviously has speed.

Marcin Swierc is another runner who will make his presence felt in the top 10. He placed 8th at Mont-Blanc Marathon and 9th at Templiers and 4th at the recent Mont-Blanc 80km. So it is clear to see that he has speed and strength. ITT adds other aspects and his final result will very much depend on how he can handle snow, ice and additional technical running.

Christophe Perillat is not a runner I know a great deal about. However, he did place 2nd at the 2014 CCC. So with that in mind, he is no slouch in the mountains.

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Cyril Cointre may well start the race? I need to have this confirmed. If he does, he will be a contender at the front of the race. He races extensively, some may say too much but despite this, he always pulls out the results. Recently he finished ahead of Anton Krupicka at Transgrancanaria.

Franco Colle knows how to run in the mountains; look at his results at Tor des Geants. The ITT terrain will suit him but will it be too short and too fast? He certainly performed exceptionally well at Mont-Blanc 80k when he placed 2nd behind Alex Nichols.

Several other names on the start sheet jump out at me:

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Zigor Iturrieta has been there and done it in racing. I was last at a race with him in Nepal when he ran Everest Trail Race (he placed 3rd) and he always manages to pull out the stops for strong consistent results.

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Pavel Paloncy is a renowned adventure racer, 2-x winner of the UK’s Spine Race and recently raced The Dragons Back and would have placed well overall had it not been for a bad fall on day 1. Pavel is a strong and gritty runner. I do wonder though if this race may be too short and too fast for Pavel?

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Stuart Air from the UK has run well at ITT before and top 10 would be a great result.

Ones to watch:

Daniel Garcia, Jessed Hernandez, Robert Niewland, Pawel Dybek,

 

Ladies

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Emelie Forsberg has won ITT 2 x and I have no reason to doubt or question that she will do it again. It’s a course she loves, the terrain suits her and she has great memories. Last weekend she won and set a new course record in Alaska at Mount Marathon. It was 50-minute race but just today (Tuesday) she said her legs are tired! I think they will be okay for the weekend. Her performance and victory (off ski’s) at Transvulcania Ultramarathon in 2015 confirms that Emelie is the one to beat!

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Anna Comet Pascua is on fire at the moment. I witnessed Anna win Everest Trail Race at the end of 2014 and she said then that she planned to race the Skyrunning circuit in 2015. A podium place at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and then a follow up podium behind Mira Rai at Mont-Blanc 80km confirms that Anna is doing something right. Just as in La Palma, I don’t think Anna has the race to beat Emelie but anything can happen?

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It will not be an easy ride for Emelie and Maud Gobert will make sure of that. Maud placed 2nd at ITT in 2014 and although she races lees now than in the past, on her day she can still make her presence felt.

Anne Lise Rousset placed 4th at the IAU World Championships and although she has great potential for top 5 or maybe even the podium, I don’t see her coming close to Emelie on a course like this.

Magdalena Laczack however may well prove to be the dark horse of the race and is my top tip for 2nd place and should Emelie falter, Magdalena could possibly take the victory? Her 3rd place behind Emelie and Frosty at the Skyrunning World Championships (80km) in Chamonix confirms this.

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Nuria Dominguez is an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit and always gets the job done. She has placed top 10 at Transgrancanaria, Zegama-Aizkorri, Dolomites SkyRace, Trans D’Havet, Limone Extreme and so on. Top 5 is a distinct possibility and most certainly a podium contender on a good day!

Beth Cardelli is one of the strongest runners in the Southern Hemisphere and won one of the shorter races at ITT in 2013. Climbing and long distance running is her forte and I am sure if she is making the journey from Australia she will be fired up for a great run. Recently she placed 4th at Mt Difficulty and 3rd at Buffalo Stampede when Landie Greyling topped the podium.

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Ester Alves seems to be running everything at the moment. I would say ‘too much’ for her to have any potential for the podium at ITT but she may well make the top 5 and top 10 should be guaranteed if all goes well. Recently she placed 2nd behind Stevie Kremer at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira.

Ones to watch:

Ragna Debats, Frederica Boifava, Anna Strakova, Sarah Vieuielle and Virginie Govignon.

*****

The Ice Trail Tarentaise weekend is also renowned for the Bellevarde Vertical Kilometer, which was reintroduced in 2014.

The course is a tough one, which may include snow although this looks unlikely after recent high temperatures throughout Europe. This race may well prove to be very exciting, as Francois Gonon will run after his recent excellent CR on the vertical slopes in Chamonix.

Ones to watch:

Men

  • Francois Gonon
  • Nejc Kuhar
  • Marco Moletto
  • Ferran Teixido
  • Xavier Teixido
  • William Bon Mardion
  • Eirik Haugsness
  • Remi Bonnet

 

Ladies

  • Laura Orgue
  • Stephanie Jimenez
  • Emelie Forsberg (tbc)
  • Azara Garcia
  • Therese Sjursen
  • Erika Forni
  • Serena Vittori
  • Ekaterina Mityaev
  • Zhana Vokueva

Follow the racing in images and words on this website, on Facebook.com/iancorlessphotography on Twitter @talkultra and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

Race Tweets will come to you via @skyrunning_com and on the Skyrunning Facebook page.

Kilian and Emelie break records at Mount Marathon, Alaska.

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Dynamic duo, Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet both established new records over the weekend at Alaska’s Mount Marathon, one of the oldest races in the World.

Kilian posted on facebook after his record time of 41:48:

What an incredible experience, Mount Marathon Race in only 5km and 1000m up and down in technical terrain, with a fantastic atmosphere and level, is one of the most spectacular races I have done!

Taking place on Saturday, 4th July the race was full of drama and excitement. It’s like a huge party as many people get together to support all the runners. So many people said,  ‘We come year-after-year to cheer everyone on as they climb at the top of Mount Marathon.’

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Image ©marklester – ADN

Starting just 14m above sea level, the race is an explosive 5 km and reaches a high point of 921m over a very technical climb and descent. At the summit, fiords and glaciers can be observed but runners have no time to look around. A frantic descent leads the runners back to Seward town centre and it is from the summit that Kilian broke away from Rickey Gates and Jim Shine to gain victory:

‘Jornet delivered a rocketing downhill in his race debut, seized victory in the 88th edition of Alaska’s oldest and most prestigious footrace in 41 minutes, 48 seconds. That performance lopped 67 seconds off three-time champion Eric Strabel’s 2013 standard of 42:55.’ – ©adn

Emelie ran the first 400 meters with Allison Ostrander, who finished in second place. But, then, Forsberg started to feel good and pulled away tothe finish line, beating the speed record of the race with a chrono of 47’48”.

‘It was so cool. I was really not thinking I could do such a good time. I know I have been training well but also I have done some vertical kilometres in my training and never felt really rested to achieve well. So this was super cool. It is a very beautiful race. I love that the women have their own start, it is an amazing atmosphere.’  – Emelie Forsberg

Emelie  will now travel to Val D’Isere and participate in the Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise, a race that she has won on 2 occasions. Kilian will go to Hardrock 100 and look to repeat his 2014 victory and course record (preview HERE) but in the opposite direction.

Related Alaska Dispatch News

Great and gracious, Kilian Jornet conquers Mount Marathon in record fashion – HERE

Crown Emelie Forsberg the new queen of Alaska’s mountains – HERE

Photo’s men’s race HERE

Photo’s ladies race HERE

Watch the ladies race 2015

Watch the men’s race

HERE

Watch the 2013 record here (time 42:55)

Hardrock 100 2015 Race Preview #HR100

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The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultra marathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Range, USA.

The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range.

Entrants must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. The race has been held in early July of each year beginning in 1992, except for 1995 (too much snow) and 2002 (nearby forest fires). Each year’s race is run in the opposite direction of the previous year’s event (2008 was run in the clockwise direction, 2009 will be counter-clockwise). In order to complete the event, instead of crossing a finish line, runners are required to “kiss the Hardrock”, a picture of a ram’s head painted on a large block of stone mining debris.

This course offers a graduate level challenge for endurance runs. The course is designed to provide extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness. Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance.

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In 2014 Kilian Jornet made the course, dare I say, look easy! He took photos, waited for Julien Chorier and then finally took off and smashed the course record. Hos victory guaranteed him a slot for 2015 and so he’s coming back to go in the opposite direction and it would be fair to say that many of us are expecting a similar display. It’s important to clarify that the weather plays a crucial part in any great Hardrock performance, so if the weather gods are playing ball I certainly expect to see Kilian on top of the podium and I also will stick my neck out and say he will set a new CR and thus will hold the CR for both directions. On a final note though in regard to the Catalan, his preparation for 2015 has been very different to 2014, yes he has been logging some serious training hours and elevation but he has less time at elevation and we saw how he struggled at Aconcagua. A recent top 10 at Chamonix VK and just this last weekend he won and set a new CR at Mount Marathon in Alaska. The stage is set!

I would be talking about Anton Krupicka now, he finally got an entry in the race that he has always wanted to do and what happens? Injury strikes resulting in a no show for Anton.

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Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Step in Iker Karrera. Iker is a machine in tough and challenging races. His Tor des Geants performance a classic example of how he gets his head down and churns out the performance. He’s been 2nd at UTMB but I guess one of the most significant indicators comes from Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) when Kilian waited for Iker on the trails encouraging him to the line… Kilian went on to win! Iker can win Hardrock but I think it will be because Kilian looses it if you know what I mean!

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Adam Campbell was 3rd last year in 25:56 and then almost disappeared from the scene. It’s really difficult to say if Adam can repeat his 2014 performance, I personally think he can. He’s had great results before at long and gnarly races. He was 2nd at UTMF in 2012.

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Mike Foote has the race strategy for Hardrock 100. Expect to see him hanging back, taking it easy and then applying pressure and slowly making his way up through the ranks. The only problem with this strategy when Kilian is in the race is that he may very well leave himself far too much work to do but 2nd or 3rd on the podium is a distinct possibility. Mike also does know the Hardrock course; he raced in 2010. When you add that to his highest ever placing at UTMB, 3rd in 2012 it’s easy to see how Mike will pressure the front of the race.

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Karl Meltzer is back, he managed to sneak through the door and get a place. You can NEVER rule out Karl. His 5 victories at Hardrock provide him with a wealth of experience and as many an ultra runner has said, nobody hikes like Karl! Karl would be first to admit that if Kilian is ‘on a day’ then everyone else is running for 2nd, but you know what, Karl does have the race and experience for the podium. Don’t rule him out! Recently he won yet another 100 at Cruel Jewel keeping his long streak of winning a 100 miler every year for god knows how many years. In prep for Hardrock, Karl also spent 2 weeks on the AT with Scott Jurek.

A quick addition, I missed Troy Howard who has placed 2nd twice at Hardrock. I don’t think he’ll take the win or maybe even the podium against Kilian and Iker but you never know on 3rd place? He recently was 2nd at Wasatch (2014) and 2nd at Squaw Peak 50 (2015).

Who else is in with a shout?

Jared Campbell has tough and gnarly races for breakfast. He’s finished Barkley twice, this will be his 10th Hardrock and although he won the race in 2010 I don’t see him on the podium. But expect him to be near top 5!

Nick Coury has placed 5th and 6th at Hardrock in 2008 and 2013 respectively. Like Jared, he has the race for a top 10 but a podium.

Scott Jaime has placed 2nd and run the Hardrock almost as many times as Jared Campbell. He is a consistent performer reflected in placing 3rd on 2 occasions. Like Jared though, 5th – 10th is a likely result.

Ones to watch:

Jamil Coury, Matt Hart, Adam Hewey and Matt Hart.

On a final note, lets give a shout out to Bryon Powell from iRunFar. I think he’d be the first to admit that he won’t be contending the front of the race but since he got his slot he has trained real hard. Doing the job that we do, I know how hard it is just to get out for a run but to train too, that’s impressive!

Ladies

Darcy Piceu has top billing as a 3 time defending champion and as such, Darcy is an odds on favourite for a 4th victory. Course knowledge and experience are going to go such a long way and her recent victory (and CR) at Big Horn 50 shows that she is in great form.

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However, Darcy hasn’t raced Anna Frost at Hardrock before? I personally feel that if the weather is kind and Anna has no injury issues we may well see a dominating performance that will not only provide a female victory, a course record but a potentially significant performance that will dent the men’s race. That is a bold statement I know, but when Anna is on it, she is on it! She missed Transvulcania recently with injury and of course we all know the highs and lows of the past 30 months. But Anna has been out on the course for a month or so, done the training, adapted herself and as far as I know is fit and healthy.

If Darcy and Anna are firing on all cylinders then I think the rest of the ladies are running for 3rd. The Betsies (kalmeyer and Nye) are legends at Hardrock and between them have 28 finishes. They have the experience and that counts for a great deal in a race like this.

Darla Askew however has the speed but less experience (compared to the Betsies.) In comparison to Anna though, Darla has 2 Hardrock finishes and they were both on the podium! So it would be fair to say that a 3rd is likely again but the potential to leap frog and place 2nd or 3rd is a distinct possibility.

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Meghan Hicks has won MDS finished Tor des Geants and may well contend the top 5. Meghan knows how to get it done! The 2015 MDS didn’t go to plan event though she still placed well, at the time she was unsure if she would start Hardrock. I am pleased to see that Meghan is on the start list and I’ll be rooting for her.

Ones to watch:

Pam Reed, Liz Bauer, Suzanne Lewis and Missy Gosney.

******

Hardrock 100 is a small key race for a select few. However, in its history, Hardrock has always become a highly anticipated race that often plays out like a great boxing match. It is a constant frustration for me that we don’t get ALL the best ultra runners on the playing field at the same time. Pointless me saying this I know as that is one of the quirks of Hardrock.

However, can you imagine a ladies and men’s field of the depth that we see at Western States or Transvulcania arriving in Silverton?

The race starts on Friday 10th July

Race website HERE

Opening race description ©Hardrock100website

A little bit about Hardrock

In the early 1990s an ultra runner from Boulder CO, Gordon Hardman, wanted to create a 100 mile adventure run emphasizing two things: a. link the historic mining towns of Silverton, Ouray, Telluride and Lake City and b. offer each participant an adventure though the spectacular San Juan Mountains while challenging them with altitude, steepness and remoteness. Gordon placed a notice in Ultrarunning magazine soliciting the help of anyone who may be interested in helping pull this together. Within a year Gordon had enlisted a cadre of local runners with deep ties to the area who believed such a run was possible and voila..the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run was created.

From the beginning, the idea of celebrating the legacy and memory of the hardrock miners was paramount as was the idea that this run should be for those who wanted an extraordinary adventure. Careful attention was paid to developing a route which incorporated the foot trails, wagon roads and burro trails that were constructed for transporting materials to mining sites and hauling ore to market. The Hardrock Hundred follows those routes laid out by those miners who made their living in crags in hopes of making their fortune mining the minerals hidden between the peaks and hidden in the valleys The Hardrock Hundred has stayed true to those ideas to this day and is dedicated to the memory of those wild and tough individuals.

Why Silverton?

The initial idea of Hardrock was to rotate the start/finish of Hardrock between each of the 4 towns. Some demonstrated more excitement about hosting Hardrock than others, chief among those was Silverton. The idea of rotating the start/finish was abandoned and Silverton became the permanent home of the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.

Why alternate courses?

After the decision was made to keep the start/finish in Silverton, Hardrock developed the idea that run the course in alternating directions so that runners could experience all that the San Juans had to offer and wouldn’t get tired of the view! Many runners don’t consider themselves true “Hardrockers” till they have finished in both directions.

The “Hardrock” rock is a big deal-how come?

When Hardrock first started, one of the things we forgot to have is a finish line. When an early Hardrock runner asked how we would know when they were finished, run director, Dale Garland, looked around and found a rock in the ground and told all the runners to “touch” the rock to stop the clock. Touching turned to kissing and the small rock in the ground grew into the 2 ton boulder we have now. Today we have one of the most unique finishes in ultrarunning and are always amazed to see the flood of emotion and relief that kissing the Hardrock brings out in those complete their personal adventure of Hardrock. Over the years we have actually had 2 Hardrock rocks, both of which have enjoyed a very special and unique place in the lore of the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.

Scott Jurek and the #AT Appalachian Trail #FKT

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He needs no introduction; Scott Jurek is an icon in the sport of ultra running. He has won Hardrock 100, Spartathlon, Badwater 135, raced over 24 hours and of course he has won Western States an incredible 7 times in a row, 1999 – 2005.

Listen to my interviews from Talk Ultra HERE and HERE

All Scott Jurek content HERE

In recent years, his running has almost taken a back seat. He shot to ‘more’ fame in Chris McDougall’s book, ‘Born to Run’ and then he released his own book, Eat and Run’ which gave an insight into his Vegan lifestyle, something he has adhered to since 1999.

I was fortunate to spend time with Scott when he came over to the UK, we even managed a run on the Lakeland 100 course which was followed with an impromptu meet and greet and book signing. (Guardian HERE)

For many (me included) we wondered if Scott’s racing days were over? He had a recent attempt at Leadville 100.

Jurek admits his comeback at the Leadville 100-mile trail race “didn’t go entirely to plan“. He was closing on third place when stomach problems and nausea hit. Where years ago he “used to run through that stuff”, this time he lost places and finished eighth.

“Overall, I was happy just getting back on the horse and running another 100-miler,” he says, “to familiarize myself with what it takes.” 

Jurek also participated in Transgrancanaria but it all seemed a far cry from his full on racing days. Scott did say to me though on many occasions, I have more to give and Yiannis Kouras’ 24-hour record still holds a big attraction to me.

Jurek considers the 24-hour race “the pinnacle” of ultra running:

 “There’s nothing else like it – mentally it’s the most difficult.”

Cut to May 27th 2015 and with little fanfare, Scott announced via social media that he would take on the AT (Appalachian Trail).

“Embarking on a big adventure tomorrow, something I’ve always wanted to do. The time is now!” – May 27th via Facebook

Followers of my website and in particular those who follow my podcast, Talk Ultra, will know all about the AT via ‘Speedgoat’ Karl Meltzer’s talk and recent attempt.

It was a surprise to see Scott take this on!

He was very clear with no ambiguity, the record was his target! Jennifer Pharr Davis set the current record of 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes and as Speedgoat will tell you, that record is solid.

Rumors came out that Scott would target 42 days.

Not one for mincing his words, Scott’s good friend, Karl Meltzer said, ‘That ain’t gonna happen!’ This wasn’t out of a lack of respect; it was a simple assessment of the task at hand and the fact that Scott seemed to have considerably less research going into the event, certainly in comparison to Pharr Davis or Meltzer.

Ironically just 4 days into his attempt, Scott picked up some severe knee pain and although hitting some incredibly high daily targets, he slowly but surely got off pace. Something that Meltzer touched on in Talk Ultra podcast:

‘You miss a mile here and a mile there and then all of a sudden you are 20 or 30 miles behind pace and you then you just can’t get that back!’

Meltzer should know, he has one successful AT crossing under his belt and his recent attempt failed after he got behind pace. He does plan to ‘go again’ and 2016 looks likely but just as one would expect, Karl gave up 2 weeks of his time and met Scott on the trail. Running side-by-side the duo slowly but surely goy back on track and now with less than 400 miles to go, Scott may well just achieve what looked impossible.

Yesterday, July 2nd after 36 days, Scott crossed into New Hampshire. He has 400 miles +/- to go. When one considers that the current record stands at 46 days, if Scott maintains his current pace, a new record looks likely. 42 days was always a target and one has to wonder, will Scott put in a couple of really big days to get the job done?

Buzz Burrell on Facebook commented:

 “Scott Jurek is in New Hampshire now, bearing down on the AT … there is no easy way to do this … 100 milers are really hard, multi-days are even harder, and long trail thru-runs are … well…?”

Scott said via his own Facebook page:

“It’s been the rainiest June in Vermont in 130 years so it’s only fitting that my last few miles were in a torrential downpour. Yesterday was a rough one but I was pumped to cross my second to last state line this morning. Hello New Hampshire!’”- (Facebook page HERE)

Supported by his wife Jenny Jurek, the fkt will have no doubt been an epic journey and undertaking for her, something that Scott acknowledged on June 25th:

“Day 4 (he showed a photo of he and Jenny running) of the Appalachian Trail running across Fontana Dam, TN with the love of my life. Without her this journey would be impossible. She is my lifeline and makes sure this ship keeps heading north. Jenny inspires me to keep putting one foot in front of the other when it seems impossible. Hard to believe how far we’ve come, Day 30 today! This one is for you babe!”

So there you have it. Scott has been helped and followed by so many on this epic journey; runners, fans, photographers, press and it is countdown time. I for one am rooting for Scott as he clicks off those final miles.

It’s going to be an exciting week ahead.

If you wonder what impact a journey like this has on ones body. Take a look at these two photgraphs. The first image was taken on May 29th just 2 days after the start, the latter image taken July 2nd.

May 29th Scott Jurek

Both images are protected under copyright – ©scottjurek and ©markgodale

Following on from this post, today July 3rd

Marshall Ulrich posted on Scott’s FB page, and I quote:

Marshall Ulrich Diet is everything, I make no bones about saying Vegan and multiday doesn’t work, many of us discovered this long ago adventure racing, mountaineering and recently running across America, 3063 miles in 52 days, losing only 4 pounds eating anything and everything that my body told me to. Scott is losing muscle mass and has no real food (fats and protiens) to replace it. Having said that, I wish Scott all the luck in the world and I consider him a good friend. p.s. I used to be a vegetarian YEARS ago.

This certainly made me think. What are your thoughts on what Scott is achieving? Is he hampered or fuelled by a Vegan diet?

I have to say, whatever Marshall thinks, Scott is getting it done and that is seriously impressive! But I do wonder, does Marshall make a good point?

Update 5th July

Boy-oh-boy Marshall’s comments really kicked off a can of worms. First and foremost I posted Marshall’s comments as I thought it raised a legitimate question. My first question, although I never posted it was, ‘Is Scott getting enough calories?’ I never considered if those calories were vegan or not; just calories. But then Marsh made me think. Importantly, I want to clarify that I am just interested in the sport of ultra running and I am a fan of the sport and Scott.

I was interested in the debate that Marshall raised, for me, calories are calories, does it matter if they are vegan or not? So with that in mind, vegan triathlete Laura J Kline commented below and then went on to write a web post HERE. So for balance please read it. But I do take exception to the comment, ‘What I will never, ever understand is why anyone feels the need to bash the vegan lifestyle.’

I am not bashing the vegan lifestyle and I personally don’t think Marsh was, he was saying it is not the best way to fuel a thru run? I sit on the fence to the answer but love the thought processes involved.

Update 7th July via Runners World ©

As Jurek chronicles his trek on social media, many have noticed he’s lost a lot of weight.

“I know it’s a hot topic,” Jenny said while laughing. According to her, Jurek expected this to happen even with his voracious diet.

“You can’t not lose weight; thru-hikers get emaciated,” she said. His weight loss is not from a lack of eating or his vegan diet. Jenny makes him a fatty smoothie filled with three different kinds of proteins at every stop. She said other hikers have brought vegan desserts and pizza along the route as well.

To break the Appalachian Trail speed record for a supported thru-hike, Scott Jurek needs to summit Mt. Katahdin in Maine by 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, July 12. With just under 230 miles remaining, Jurek will need to average about 45 miles a day to make it.

contact above all ©runnersworld – original article HERE

ood luck Scott!

Tresidder and Lightfoot to race True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™

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Skyrunning UK is happy to announce that two of the UK’s top mountain runners; Es Tresidder and Ricky Lightfoot will participate in the first edition of the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™

Lightfoot is fresh from victory at USM – Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and considering that the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™ is a home race for him, it only seems correct that he toes the line against Tresidder and others.

‘It is fantastic to see a technical SkyUltra, in the Lake District being added to the UK series in addition to the 3×3. The course is very runnable for the most, but has the glorious ridgelines of Swirral Edge and Striding Edge; they really tick the box for Skyrunning.”

Lightfoot needs no introduction to mountain aficionados; he holds the course record for the infamous OTTER in South Africa, he was crowned IAU World Trail Champion and on home soil has dominated classic fell races like the 3 Peaks.

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To make sure Lightfoot doesn’t have thing all his own way, Es Tresidder will toe the line alongside the Salomon athlete and will no doubt push him all the way. In 2014, after several years completing a Doctorate in Environmental Architecture, Tresidder devoted his summer season to re-finding his form. He scored 8th place at the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k, and 9th at the Giir Di Mont and his goals for 2015 include the Scottish Island Peaks Race (Es’ team, sailing on ‘Obedient’ took top honours), Giir Di Mont, Glencoe Skyline, Els2900, and of course the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™.

“The True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™ takes in some of the best and most challenging terrain that the Lake District has to offer. After doing a few amazing SkyRace’s elsewhere in Europe, I’m really excited to see this sort of ultra-race, incorporating rough and technical ground, come to England.”

Tresidder has long been a strong mover in the mountains, having grown up in a mountaineering family. At the tender age of 16, Tresidder turned up in Snowdonia and bashed out a cracking time round the Snowdon Horseshoe of 1:41. In 2009, he had the opportunity to fully test his mettle on the Snowdon Horseshoe. Coupled with good luck from the weather gods and with running conditions just right, he laid down an FKT, taking in the summits of Crib Goch, Crib Y Ddysgl, Snowdon, Lliwedd W Summit and Lliwedd E summit returning to Pen Y Pass. The time: 1:25.08. It’s a time that stands to this day.

Needless to say, having Tresidder and Lightfoot going head-to-head on UK soil on UK mountains will be a sight to behold irrespective of if you are participating or watching.

Info:

True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra™ is part of the UK Skyrunning Series with the race-taking place on 12th September 2015. Starting in Ambleside it covers +50km with 4300m of ascent. Aimed at mountain runners with scrambling experience the race looks set to be a great addition to the UK Skyrunning series. Entry is £70.

http://www.lakesskyultra.uk

Lakes Sky Ultra social media:

Facebook: LakesSkyUltra

Twitter: @LakesSkyUltra

 

Race Directors’ Contacts:

Charlie Sproson 07989697487 @mountain_run

Andrew Burton 07880331559 @denefell

Marco De Gasperi set new #FKT ORTLES 2:36:49

Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.

Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal. Image ≠©iancorless.com

Content © http://www.boymountaindreams.com

Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi yesterday, 1/07/2015 set a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) for ORTLES.

Details are as follows:

Difficulty: EEA – AG – III – PD+
Distance: 19,5 kmElevation+: 2.045 m
Starting point: Solda (Stelvio , BZ)
Punti d’appoggio: Rifugio Julius Payer (3029 m)

He completed the full route in a time of 2:36:49 (tbc)

On his website, Marco explains:

Since I was young, I’ve never stopped dreaming.

Even today I find myself dreaming, and never more so than when the mountains capture my gaze. 

These dreams have always been the driving force in my life, whether I have experienced them in reality or they remain unrealised.

And to be honest, these unfinished dreams tend to mirror the regrets that I have in my life.  

Today I feel compelled to realise those dreams, and I’ll begin with the very first one, the one of a boy who dreamt of nothing else by racing over a mountain. 

Today my instinct has steered me to begin the story with a summit that means so much to the valley I’m from, the Ortles.

– ©marcodegaspei – BoyMountainDreams.com

The Ortles is one of the most impressive mountains within the southern Rhaetian Alps and represents the pinnacle of the Ortles-Cevedale massif. At 3,905 metres, it is the highest peak within the Bolzano province and the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/South Tyrol.

The common route is diverse and at times exposed. The glacier poses danger, littered with seracs and crevices, not to mention its gradient. Given the continual glacial retreat, the regular route over the Ortles has been affected, increasing its challenging nature.

Needless to say we congratulate Marco on once again pushing the boundaries and providing all of us the inspiration to explore in the mountains. Bravo Marco!

boymountaindreams

http://www.boymountaindreams.com/en.html

Karl meets Kilian ©suunto ©sebmontaz

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Many thought there would be some tension between Karl Egloff and Kilian Jornet. After all, Karl has broken 2 of Kilian’s records.

View the original Suunto post HERE

“Nothing was set-up,” says the film maker Seb Montaz. “It was really the first time they met. They were both excited to meet and I hope people see them laughing together – there was no rivalry.” – Seb Montaz

But I already knew the answer and Kilian summed it up himself when he said after Aconcagua:

‘Records are there to be broken!’

So what happened when the duo met up in Chamonix?

Video ©suunto ©sebmontaz

You can read my interviews with Kilian HERE and HERE and HERE

Read about Karl HERE

And listen to them both in my podcast HERE

How is your Posture? Part Trois – Marc Laithwaite

Image ©www.mbmyoskeletal.com

                                              Image ©www.mbmyoskeletal.com

Okay, so we’re now onto part 3 of the series and this week we are looking at exercises to correct anterior tilt of the pelvis, which creates the lordosis posture. If you’ve not yet read the last 2 week’s posts, you should read them first. Pt1 HERE and Pt2 HERE.

Why are these exercises important?

Anterior tilt occurs becuase specific muscles may be weak, tight or you simply don’t know how to activate / use them properly. The exercises will therefore strengthen, stretch or activate control of those muscles. By doing this, you will be more aware of correct posture / pelvic position and you will be better able to maintain correct posture / pelvic position during exercise and daily life.

What are the limitations of these exercises?

Don’t presume that by doing these exercises, you will automatically hold perfect posture whilst you are training and racing. The exercises will make it possible to CONTROL your posture, but you must consciously make it happen when you are exercising. I’ve seen many swimmers and runners completing endless drills in the pool or on the track, presuming it will impact on their performance. The reality is that they become awesome at performing the drills and it seems to make no difference to the actual stroke or running stride. The same applies to these exercises, you have to make the transfer happen in a practical setting. Drills and exercises are pointless unless you try to implement them when you actually exercising.

How do I implement them when exercising?

Simple, when running you should always try to run in a pelvic neutral position. The first step is being aware that you’re NOT in a neutral position, then you should be able to use your stomach muscles to rotate the pelvis into the correct position. It might help to do the same cycling, some simple posterior rotation mid ride can prevent hip flexors tightening too much.

What about open water swimming? How many of you get a bad back swimming in a wetsuit? Simple explanation, the stomach muscles are not strong enough and your lower back arches too much (bit like doing a BAD plank exercise and sagging in the middle). Couple this with the fact that a wetsuit gives you buoyant legs and a high head and your body is in a ‘U’ shape position in the water. You need to contract your abdominals and lift your stomach (GOOD plank) to straighten you out and get a level position in the water. The big issue is going from this position in a wetsuit to a complete opposition position leaning forwards on your aero bars, a postural nightmare.

Stop banging on, what are the exercises….

These are the simple exercises which should be done every day without fail. We thought the bext way to show you would be a little youtube video.

NEXT WEEK, we’ll look at the stitch and breathing issues. We’ll also have a look at some of those cramping issues and suggestions to stop calf cramps when swimming etc.

Please pardon by pelvic tilting, it’s not the best viewing. IF YOU FIND THE VIDEO TOO SMALL, click on the YouTube icon, bottom right hand of the video player, it’ll open in YouTube. HERE

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

Elisabet Barnes and the Sunset Relay

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Sunset Relay (sunsetrelay.com) is an event organized by Garnier Ambre Solaire in partnership with Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL). The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of the sun. As the name suggests it takes the form of a relay, in which participants race the sun for 96 hours / ~1300km. The line-up included top athletes, business people, bloggers, journalists and celebrities who would run, cycle, row, paddle or roller skate.

Staged in the mythical and beautiful Swedish Lapland during the midnight sun, three main sections forming a triangle constituted the course of this first edition: Luleå à Hemavan à Abisko à Luleå. I took part in the second section with six other trail runners (Olof Häggström, Sylvain Court, Jonathan Wyatt, Elina Usscher, Linus Holmsäter & Maud Gobert) and we were running the famous national trail Kungsleden (”King’s Trail”) northbound from Hemavan to Abisko. This trail is 430km long and offers a great variety of terrain, much of which is more technical than one might think for such a popular trail. In this part of Sweden there is still snow in June and with an exceptionally cold start to the summer it was too deep to run in places. We therefore had some last minute alterations to the route and a helicopter was on hand to help us get to the runnable sections.

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Kungsleden is an undulating path. Its highest point is the Tjäkta Pass at 1150 m above sea level. The ground is very varied including rock, trails in the woods with plenty of roots and stones, miles of narrow boards over swampy wetland, meadows, and stream crossings. Although challenging it made the journey on this trail interesting and varied. The views were simply stunning and with the midnight sun it was easy to lose track of time. Was it 2am or 12pm? It was impossible to say without a watch apart from the temperature being a bit cooler at night.

I thoroughly enjoyed the running on Kungsleden. Sweden is my home country and although I spent time in the north as a child skiing and walking in the mountains it was a long time ago. Travelling on this trail felt almost magical. I cherished this unique moment which seemed to encourage me to be present in the now, soaking up the beauty of the surroundings, listening to the roar of the water in the streams I passed and the birds singing in the trees. Occasionally I heard the sound of a branch cracking or leaves rattling on the ground as I disturbed some wildlife. I must admit that I was a bit worried about bears as I ran on the single track through those beautiful mountain birch woods by Abiskojaure Lake. However, it was probably very unlikely I would actually encounter any and all I saw were a few lemmings.

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It was a great privilege to get the opportunity to take part in this event. Aside from the experience of the trail running I met some wonderful people. I would love to go back for an ultra-trail event or maybe run Kungsleden in its entirety. It has been done before by at least a couple of Swedish runners and makes for a beautiful but demanding holiday…

For more information about Kungsleden, go to http://www.svenskaturistforeningen.se/en/Discover-Sweden/Facilities-and-activities/Lappland/kingstrail/

Videos from the event:

https://www.sunsetrelay.com/videos?filter=category&value=14

Photos:

https://instagram.com/sunsetrelay/

The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 5 2015 – The back is broken

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‘So what a week, what a journey, impossible to explain how tough, how mentally and physically challenging it was but also how spiritual it has been. Cut off from the world, no social media, no showers, just living in the wild with a group of equal enthusiasts.’ – Mike Evans

It’s over! The Berghaus Dragons Back has been broken. Mike Evans sums it up above, how do you compress the highs and lows of an incredible hard 5 days. For the tough and tireless 66 who completed the full race, the emotion (or lack of) was poignant in Carreg Cennen Castle. For some, it was just too much. I can understand it, 5 days of exhaustion, fatigue and stress and finally it’s over. The simple crossing of a line and a final ‘dib in’ and it was job done.

Some smiled, some laughed, some looked bemused at the assembled group who clapped and cheered; it was all too much and a lack of words summed up the the journey undertaken more than loud chants of yee-ha!

This select and hardy few may well have broken the back of the Dragon but it had been a a touch and go affair for all. Even race winner, Jim Mann said on the final finish line:

‘Dense cloud, rain, cold, difficult navigation, I could have done without that today!’

But slay the Dragon they did and at the evening awards ceremony, race director Shane Ohly summed it up very well:

‘It seems wrong that I have to countdown the finishers from 66 – 1 as it emphasises the top of the field and places a priority on them when in reality, everyone here is a hero.’

The racing and the finish line was full of stories. As you would expect, every single finisher (and non-finisher) had a very unique story to tell. Old to young, these stories will be discussed in time to come and as time passes, more will be revealed. For now, the journey is too raw, too sensitive, the enormity too big to understand. I said during the race that lives would be changed as the race progressed through Wales. I witnessed at first hand how the weak became strong and the strong became weak. It’s the nature of the event. It’s meant to be tough and those who didn’t complete this time, for whatever reason, will learn and I am sure will be back in 2017 for the next edition.

The final day was not without drama. A wet day, conditions proved to be very tough and post race many commented on how difficult the navigation had been in the white out conditions, driving rain and strong winds. It’s somewhat ironic that as Pavel Paloncy crossed the line first, the sun and dry weather followed him and all assembled were treated to a warm and sunny afternoon with incredible views. Paloncy would almost certainly have been a contender for a podium place had he not taken a bad fall on day 1 resulting in hospital treatment.

Mann will of course be remembered as the Dragon Slayer of 2015 but notably it was the year of the ladies with Paris, Pascall and Wraith featuring in the top 10 throughout the race and all 3 of them placing in the top 6 – Paris 2nd, Pascall 4th and Wraith 6th. Just like in the original race when Helene Whitaker showed the men a thing or two, 2015 had all the potential for a repeat performance and this was something Ohly touched on at the awards:

‘Despite the so called ‘advantages’ men have, ladies once again triumphed at the Dragons Back Race and I think that it is brilliant. All 3 ladies raced incredibly well and Paris had all the potential to win the race outright.’

Father and son team Glenn and Huw Davies in many ways provided me with a raw insight into the race. Having lost my father way too young I watched this duo battle the terrain as one. Joined together from beginning to end they witnessed each others highs and lows in a way that is beyond comprehension. Ever day I looked at them, envious of the time they were having together. What they shared is beyond special and I can only wish that I had had that opportunity in my life. When they finished in the castle it was a whirl of emotion for the duo; it all proved too much for young Huw (just 22), ‘I am real proud of my dad!’

It’s funny, all assembled, big to small, old to young suddenly got something in their eyes… maybe it was the wind or the midgies?

Joe Faulkner, legend that he is completed the very first Dragons Back Race and in 2012 he came back for more. Completing the 2015 event makes him quite the unique individual. He is the only person ever to complete all 3 Dragon Back Races. Wow! As a just reward, Ohly offered a tribute to Faulkner at the awards ceremony and acknowledged how instrumental he had been in Ohly’s own rise and development in the sport. As a nod of recognition, Ohly asked Faulkner to offer the awards to male and female winners; Jasmine Paris and Jim Mann.

Beer was flowing, spirits were high and as Paris and Mann sat down with awards in hand, the 2015 Berghaus Dragons Back race came to a close.

I can’t help but think there a great deal of runners (and marshals) today sitting, looking around and thinking, ‘What next?’ Races are like that, they make you, they break you, they inspire you and they take you to the lowest of the low and highest of the high. Plans are being made. What’s next?

It may very well be a new adventure, a new challenge, another race, maybe even recovery  but I know one thing,  all those who toed the line in the north of Wales a week a go will now be thinking of 2017 and contemplating coming back for more.

Like a Phoenix, the Dragon will rise from the ashes of 2015 and return in 2017.

Just one last question:

Can you tame the Dragon?

http://www.dragonsbackrace.com

Full results HERE

It’s extremely important to acknowledge the tireless help and devotion of all the volunteer marshals, kitchen staff and crew that made this race happen. They had their own ultra to undertake and events like this could not happen without them. In addition, sponsors provide an aid that facilitates the day-to-day functioning and feasibility of a race like this. Ohly pointed out his appreciation for Berghaus as a main sponsor, ‘Without them this event could not happen!’

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