Marmot Dark Mountains 2015 – Provisional results and Images

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The heavens opened the day before the Marmot Dark Mountains and the promise of a snowy course disappeared with each rain drop.

In many respects it was a shame. Many, including me, was excited by the prospect of a night time race with cold chilly temperatures, a clear sky and a layer of the white stuff. However, it was not to be!

More importantly, the 2015 Marmot Dark Mountains took place with no rain… yes, no rain! Conditions were less than perfect though. The ground was sodden with the previous days torrential rain and melted snow and although the evening started relatively calm the wind increased hour-by-hour and by the early hours of the morning, the wind and wind chill was having an impact on everyone.

Taking place in the Howgills, runners started to race at 1900-hours with elite duo Alex Pilkington and Tim Higginbottom first off! Kim Collison and Adam Perry departed at1940-hours and it was immediately apparent that they were on a mission!. Completing the top trio, Steve Birkinshaw partnered with Jim Mann and they departed at 2000-hours chasing the other runners down.

What followed was a masterclass of navigation and speedy running from Collison and Perry. They blazed a trail around the Howgills and the ‘projected’ best case scenario finish time of 11-hours was blown out the fells when the finish line dibber confirmed a time of 8-hours and 34-minutes. Quite incredible.

Higginbottom and Pilkington had had some problems early on finding a control. Equally, Birkinshaw and Mann had also had a  problem. However, Birkinshaw said after the race that his form was just not up to running at the required pace. Hardly surprising after his Wainwrights record.

There were four linear courses that follow the standard Elite, A, B and C format of ordinary mountain marathons and two score format courses. Feedback post race was excellent and a dry night on the fells was extremely welcome.

Results below are provisional and will be confirmed by Ourea Events asap.

Elite

1st Kim Collison / Adam Perry 08:34:54

2nd Steve Birkinshaw / Jim Mann 10:41:46

A

1st and 1st Mix Catherine Litherland / Ross Litherland 09:49:54

2nd Andy Thompson / Rob Brown 10:10:35

3rd Chris Baynham-Hughes / Max Wainwright 10:51:05

1st Women and 4th Steph Jones / Sally Ozanne 11:26:51

1st and 1st Vet Bryan Stadden / Andy Creber 09:15:33

2nd and 2nd Vet Tim Martland / Jim Allen 09:51.35

3rd Jamie Rennie / David Rennie 10:02:02

C

1st Greg Weatherhead / Kevin Drew 07:55:21

2nd James Parratt / Neil Garrido 09:21:14

3rd and 1st Mix Emma Van Der Gucht / James Pawson 09:34:30

Long Score

1st David Adcock / Ben Turner 404 in 10:00:33

2nd and 1st Mix Digby Harris / Kirsty Hewitson 295 in 09:55:28

3rd and 1st Female Jo Gillyon / Catherine Evans

4th and 1st Vet Simon Caldwell / Carmen Elphick

Short Score

1st, 1st Mix, 1st Vet Jonathan Aylward / Kate Boobyer 235 in 07:38:37

2nd and 2nd Mix Scott Collier / Anne Edwards 235 in 07:42:15

3rd Darryl Watton and Andy Bell

The Howgill Fells are hills in Northern England between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. The fells are bounded by the River Lune to the north by upper reaches of the River Lune and to the east by the River Rawthey. The Howgill Fells include two Marilyns: The Calf – 2,218 ft (676 m) and Yarlside – 2,096 ft (639 m) and a number of smaller peaks, including five Hewitts. Parts of the southern Howgill Fells lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, though they have been within the modern county of Cumbria since the county boundary changes in 1974. They were originally shared by the West Riding of Yorkshire and WestmorlandThe name Howgill derives from the Old Norse word haugr meaning a hill or barrow, plus gil meaning a narrow valley. – wikepedia

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Episode 79 – Amdahl Pascall Kimball

Ep79

Episode 79 of Talk Ultra is another packed show! We speak with HK100 2nd placed runner, Sondre Amdahl. We also speak to the female winner of the UK’s, The Spine, Beth Pascall. Nikki Kimball discusses her incredible 2014 season with victory at Marathon Des Sables, top-5 at Western States Endurance Run and winning Run Rabbit Run. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer.

00:05:11 NEWS
 
HK100
 
Long-Fei Yan 9:52:42
Sondre Amdahl 9:59:46
Antoine Guillon 10:30:02
Pui Yan Wyan Chow 12:24:56
Dong Li 12:39:54
Lisa Borzani 12:50:38
00:13:27 INTERVIEW
 
Sondre Amdahl check out his website HERE
 
The Spine
 
Pavel Paloncy 79:34 and Beth Pascall 90:59 –  It is the longest non-stop foot race in the UK, set against the unforgiving British winter. 268 miles of ice, snow, cold and savage winds. You have 7 days to complete the race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm.
 
01:08:45 INTERVIEW
 
Beth Pascall
 
HURT 100
 
Michael Arnstein 21:29
Alex Nunn 21:47
Nick Hollon 22:42
Amy Sproston 26:22
Alicia Woodside 28:10
Kiyomi Kuroda 31:22
 
02:04:38 BLOG
Sondre Amdahl – Diagonale des Fous race report – HERE
 
02:05:30 INTERVIEW
 
Nikki Kimball – Finding Traction film HERE
 
03:05:10 UP & COMING RACES
 

Argentina

Columbia Cruce de los Andes | 90 kilometers | February 05, 2015 | website

Queensland

Beerwah at Night – 50 km | 51 kilometers | January 25, 2015 | website

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 100km | 100 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 50km | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Chad

TREG | 170 kilometers | February 06, 2015 | website

Chile

El Cruce Columbia | 103 kilometers | February 05, 2015 | website

Costa Rica

Coastal Challenge | 250 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

France

Tarn

La Ronde Givrée | 62 kilometers | February 01, 2015 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon Januar | 108 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Brandenburg

HallenMarathon 50km Ultra-Lauf | 50 kilometers | January 25, 2015 | website

Hesse

Rodgau 50km Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

India

Thar Desert Run – 100 miles | 100 miles | February 06, 2015 | website

The Great White Rann – Run of Kutch – 135 Miles | 135 miles | February 06, 2015 | website

The Great White Rann – Run of Kutch – 160 km | 160 kilometers | February 06, 2015 | website

The Great White Rann – Run of Kutch – 50 km | 50 kilometers | February 06, 2015 | website

The Great White Rann – Run of Kutch – 80 km | 80 kilometers | February 06, 2015 | website

Kenya

Kimbia Kenya 100 km | 100 kilometers | January 30, 2015 | website

Kimbia Kenya 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 30, 2015 | website

New Zealand

The James Mountain Stampede Ultra | 50 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Nicaragua

Survival Run: Nicaragua | 70 kilometers | February 04, 2015 | website

Oman

Wadi Bih Run | 72 kilometers | February 06, 2015 | website

Réunion

Transvolcano | 52 kilometers | January 25, 2015 | website

Thailand

The North Face 100® – Thailand | 100 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

The North Face 100® – Thailand – 50 km Solo | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Arc of Attrition | 100 miles | February 06, 2015 | website

Lancashire

Marmot Dark Mountains™ – Elite Course | 53 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Milton Keynes

Quadzilla | 164 kilometers | February 05, 2015 | website

Surrey

The Pilgrim Challenge North Downs Way Multistage Ultra | 66 miles | January 31, 2015 | website

USA

Alabama

Mountain Mist 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Arizona

Coldwater Rumble 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | January 24, 2015 | website

Coldwater Rumble – 52K | 52 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Coldwater Rumble – 52 Mile | 52 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Race Across Arizona – Beeline and Beyond (4 Marathons) | 106 miles | February 06, 2015 | website

Race Across Arizona – Border to Border (15 Marathons) | 405 miles | January 28, 2015 | website

Race Across Arizona – Valley of the Sun (4 Marathons) | 106 miles | January 30, 2015 | website

California

Folsom South Side Trail 38 Mile Run | 38 miles | January 24, 2015 | website

Folsom South Side Trail 50K Run | 50 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Fort Ord Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Ordnance 100K | 100 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Race Across California – Desert Challenge (4 Marathons) | 107 miles | January 23, 2015 | website

Spooner’s Cove 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | January 25, 2015 | website

Colorado

Frozen Dead Guy 50km | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Florida

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys | 199 miles | February 06, 2015 | website

Skydive Ultra 100M Run | 100 miles | January 31, 2015 | website

Skydive Ultra 50 km Run | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Skydive Ultra 50M Run | 50 miles | January 31, 2015 | website

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Minnesota

Arrowhead 135 mile Winter Ultramarathon | 135 miles | January 26, 2015 | website

New York

The Beast of Burden Winter 100 Miler | 100 miles | January 24, 2015 | website

North Carolina

North Carolina Fat Ass 50k | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Ohio

Run for Regis 50K | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Texas

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile | 100 miles | January 31, 2015 | website

Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile | 50 miles | January 31, 2015 | website

Winter Festival Goat 50K | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Winter Festival Goat 50 Mile | 50 miles | January 31, 2015 | website

Utah

Snowshoe Festival 50K | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Washington

Lake Youngs NUTS 50K Run | 50 kilometers | January 31, 2015 | website

Venezuela

Ultra Laguna de Urao | 65 kilometers | January 24, 2015 | website

Virgin Islands (USA)

St. Croix Scenic 50 km | 50 kilometers | January 25, 2015 | website

 
CLOSE

03:19:19

Links:

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Hernando, Jones and Olson for Transvulcania La Palma 2015

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It’s only January and already the world of Skyrunning is hotting up with the announcement that 2014 Transvulcania La Palma champion and Skyrunning Ultra Distance World Champion, Luis Alberto Hernando will return to the island to defend his crown.

Luis Alberto Hernando had an incredible 2014 and his return to Transvulcania is eagerly anticipated. A true champion, the tough and challenging course is one that he relishes, however, Luis will not have things his own way!

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Salomon Running new signing, Dakota Jones won the race in 2012 and he is back once again to test himself. Dakota raced in 2014 but had a disappointing race (his words) placing 10th. With a new team and definite plan to race theSkyrunner® World Series and Skyrunner® Continental Series, I think it is fair to say that the American will push Luis all the way to the line.

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Timothy Olson loves the trails on the island of La Palma. In the past couple of years he has made the island his families home as he prepares meticulously for the race. Timothy is very clear, a podium place is a main objective. He came close in 2013 with 4th place and last year he placed 8th.

More athletes will be announced in the coming weeks and months as we all anticipate the 2015 Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma.

 Check out the Skyrunner® World Series calander HERE

Check out the Skyrunner®  Continental Series 2015 HERE

Check out Skyrunning HERE

Transvulcania La Palma website HERE

ShAFF OIA Industry Hangout – Ian Corless shortlisted

ShAFF-Logo_2012

This year’s Industry Hangout looks to build on the success of last year’s, bringing together more industry professionals from a range of film makers, photographers, media and commissioning organisations.

This year’s Industry Hangout will also feature the first year of an annual award for Contribution to Adventure Film and Photography. Images, both moving and static, have become increasingly important in the outdoor industry and the award looks to recognise outstanding contribution in the calendar year Jan 1stDecember 31st 2014. While there are multiple awards for individual films it is hoped that this new award will encompass not just film makers and photographers but also those working to promote and distribute adventure film and photography. The award is sponsored by the Industry Hangout sponsors, the Outdoor Industries Association, and features a custom made bowl designed and made by legendary climber Johnny Dawes. The award will be presented at the beginning of the hangout by OIA CEO Andrew Denton.

Voting for the award is only open to industry professionals invited to the Industry Hangout with a shortlist of nominees drawn up after extensive consultation throughout the industry.

Check out the ShAFF website HERE

“Needless to say I am really honoured and flattered to be shortlisted for an award. I guess I am also somewhat embarrassed to be called a ‘legend’ as I am definitely not and it also makes me feel old! All of the names below are well known within the adventure world and for me to be associated let alone shortlisted is extremely satisfying. I love what I do and I do what I love.” – Ian Corless

The Shortlist:

Martyn Ashton: For Road Bike Party 2

Martyn Ashton is often described as a mountain biking legend and has been credited with turning trials from a niche form of riding into the sport it is today. After the phenomenal success of his Road Bike Party, Martyn was working on the sequel when an accident during a trials display  left him paralyzed from the waist down. Not giving up however Martyn completed Road Bike Party 2 with the help of  Danny MacAskill and Chris Akrigg. “Road Bike Party 2″ was released on 10/Dec/2013, and like the first episode became a success making it one of the most influential bike films of 2014 with more than 7.5 Millions views and 66.000 likes in the first month alone.

BMC TV: For adventure film and photography distribution

Over the last year the BMC has really embraced the digital world and through their BMC TV channel have both commissioned and made accessible a range of videos covering all aspects of the outdoors. Through sponsorship the BMC has helped finance films on hill walking, climbing and mountaineering throughout 2014 and has provided a platform for several exclusive projects.

Ian Burton: For As the Crow Flies

Ian Burton broke the stranglehold of Alastair Lee and Paul Diffley in picking up the coveted People’s Choice Award at Kendal Mountain Festival for his film As the Crow Flies. With no chance of re-shoots in a constantly moving expedition from Land’s End to John O’ Groats in a straight line Ian used the latest technology to shoot through the night on record breaking kayak legs and created the atmosphere and feeling of an exhausting project. The finished film reaffirms the value of “live” expedition filming after a period of more “glossy” productions taking the awards

Lisa Cook: For promotion of adventure film and photography

The most reluctant nominee on the shortlist Lissa Cook handles publicity and promotion for a portfolio of clients that put adventure film and photography in fron of literally tens of thousands of people annually. As PR for Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, Buxton Adventure Festival, Steep Edge and the European Outdoor Film Tour Lissa probably watches more films a year than anybody in the country and is instrumental in the organisation of the festivals themselves.

Ian Corless: For adventure photojournalism

Another legend in his sport, Ian Corless is the name trail and ultra runners turn to whenever they want the latest news, views, reviews and interviews from around the world. With 78 episodes already produced, Ian’s Talk Ultra is the most respected podcast available for runners and his Skyrunning reports have been groundbreaking. As a photographer, journalist, and broadcaster Ian Corless has been the pre-eminent name in endurance running in 2014

Alastair Lee: For the Brit Rock Tour

2014 saw multiple award winning film maker Alastair Lee take a new direction; taking a series of short films on tour around the UK rather than a single “blockbuster” as in the previous 3 years. The response was astounding with packed audiences up and down the country following the Rheged Premiere. With over 5000 “bums on seats” the tour broke all known records for an adventure film tour. Through co-hosting with community groups the tour also helped raise funds for numerous causes including Mountain Rescue.

Steep Edge/Vertebrate Publishing: For Distribution of adventure film and photography

Since joining the Vertebrate stable Steep Edge has rapidly become the dominant distribution platform for downloading and streaming adventure films, froviding access via computer and mobile to hundreds of films for thousands of people. Covering a wide range of sports and activities Steep Edge regularly update with the latest trends and most watched films promoted through social media. Vertebrate Publishing, meanwhile, have continued their domination of the outdoor book market and produced the stunning Jon Griffith volume Alpine Exposures.

John Summerton: For promotion of adventure photography

When John Summerton and his team produced the first edition of Sidetracked magazine the whole adventure world took notice. In a single issue the publication changed the face of adventure publishing, raising the bar on content and production quality. Universally acclaimed the magazine has gone on to build on its initial success with equally high standard second and third issues.

Stu Thompson: For The Ridge

With over 27 and a half million hits The Ridge has been the adventure hit of the year. The stunning film of Danny MacAskill taking on the infamous Cuillin Ridge on Skye took the world by storm and cemented Stu Thompson and Cut Media’s position as one of the world’s leading film producers. Taking on the natural features of the knife edge ridge as opposed to man made obstacles opened up the film to a new audience of outdoor enthusiasts and maintained MacAskills position as a world leader.

Lukasz Warzecha: For Wild Women

Where do you start with trying to recount the influence of Lukasz Warzecha in 2014? From amazing images from the Ice Climbing World Cup to a National Geographic assignment on Skye his images his been everywhere. In producing the Wild Wome series, however, he highlighted the talents of some of the UKs leading female adventure athletes while encouraging greater participation in front of and behind the lens.

Marmot Dark Mountains™ Howgills 2015 – Race Preview

Marmot Dark Mountain - FINAL (BLACK)

Marmot Dark Mountains™ is the only overnight winter mountain marathon and the 3rd edition of the race will take place on Saturday 24th January in the Howgills.

The Howgill Fells are hills in Northern England between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. The fells are bounded by the River Lune to the north by upper reaches of the River Lune and to the east by the River Rawthey. The Howgill Fells include two Marilyns: The Calf – 2,218 ft (676 m) and Yarlside – 2,096 ft (639 m) and a number of smaller peaks, including five Hewitts. Parts of the southern Howgill Fells lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, though they have been within the modern county of Cumbria since the county boundary changes in 1974. They were originally shared by the West Riding of Yorkshire and WestmorlandThe name Howgill derives from the Old Norse word haugr meaning a hill or barrow, plus gil meaning a narrow valley. – wikepedia

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This year’s elite course is a tough one, with a potential 3000m of elevation gain and an optimum distance of 53km. Famous for their steep rounded hills, the Howgills will be a tough challenge. Having viewed weather forecasts the organisers have issued a stern warning to all the competitors about the challenging nature of the terrain and event.

Needless to say, mandatory kit will be checked prior to the event.

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Marmot Dark Mountains™ is a true test of mountain craft for experienced mountain runners. Challenging terrain, night navigation and a wintery environment will test each runner over the variety of courses available: Elite, A, B, C, Short Score and Long Score.

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“Marmot Dark Mountains™ takes the classic two-day mountain marathon format and gives it a new… darker twist.” said Race Director, Shane Ohly. “Rather than two days of running with an overnight camp in between, Marmot Dark Mountains™ packs everything into one winter’s night!”

Steve Birkinshaw

Three of the UK’s leading teams are of particular interest in the 2015 event: Steve Birkinshaw and Jim Mann, Chris Near and Tim Higginbottom and Kim Collison and Adam Perry.

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Runners will start to race at 1900-hours and  Chris Near and Tim Higginbottom will be first off! The dynamic duo have won practically every elite mountain marathon and they have held various long distance mountain running records. In 2014, Near and Higginbottom missed the race due to last minute illness, they will be looking for victory in 2015.

Steve Birkinshaw needs no introduction. His incredible Wainwrights record in 2014 was a highlight of the year for many a trail, mountain, fell and ultra runner. Steve’s partnership with Jim Mann is fitting as Mann holds the record for the winter Bob Graham Round. Birkinshaw won the 2014 event when partnered with Tom Gibbs, so the pressure will be on! Birkinshaw and Mann start at 2000-hours chasing the other runners down.

Kim Collison and Adam Perry will be a tough pair to beat and setting off at 1940-hours. Collison won the first Marmot Dark Mountains in 2013 (running with Alex Pilkington) and finished the 98km Fellsman with Perry in first place last year. The duo are evenly matched and are considered favourites by many!

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Offering a range courses to suit a range of abilities, every year there has been a small but steady increase in the number of participants.

“The event kicks-off on the Saturday evening with the longest classes setting off first for dusk-to-dawn racing. The shorter classes will set off later in the evening with the aim of most competitors finishing within an hour or so of each other the following Sunday morning. This makes for an exciting finale as all the courses and most of the competitors converge on the finish as dawn breaks.”

There are four linear courses that follow the standard Elite, A, B and C format of ordinary mountain marathons and two score format courses.

This year there will be two manned checkpoints in the Howgills that competitors on the various courses may visit and the organisers intend to post updates to the event website as the night of racing unfolds.

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Follow the race at Ourea Events HERE

Marmot Dark Mountains HERE

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Vibram® Hong Kong 100 2015 – Race Preview

Hong Kong 100 Logo

The Hong Kong 100 course starts in Pak Tam Chung on the east side of Hong Kong’s New Territories and winds its way west along coastal paths, across beaches, through ancient villages, over hills and through valleys before finishing after the descent of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak (at 957m). The 100km journey climbs over 4,500m and much of the climbing is in the second half of the course.

Hong Kong 100

The first race in the new UTWT 2015 calendar (Ultra Trail World Tour.) The UTWT have progressed in 2014 and they have started to assemble not only a solid of list of races but also an ever expanding list of racers who will take part. Francois d’Haene and Nuria Picas were crowned 2014 champions and nobody would doubt the credibility of either athelete or the impressive results they both had last year.

A series must start somewhere and HK100 may not have a stacked field but the next race in New Zealand,Tarawera, will see a more international runners and ever expansive field.

Hong Kong 100 course_profile

Current course records are held by Ryan Sandes and Claire Price; 9:54:57 and 11:58:04 respectively.

Ladies (alphabetical order)

Liza Borzani – incredible double at TDS and Tor des Geants

Francesca Canepa – Ever consistent performer, hot favourite for HK100 and looking to make amends after that DQ at Tor des Geants

Stephanie Case – Is a little unknown really in terms of recent form, she had a good UTMB in 2013 but other than that?

Dong Li – won the recent MSIG Lantau 88k.

Marie McNaughton – is from New Zealand and I have been told by many Southern Hemisphere friends that she is one to watch. I have to say, I know little about her. Marie did place 2nd at TNF100k a month or so ago.

Claire Price – Current course record holder and a hot favourite with Francesca Canepa. Claire raced at Mont Blanc 80k  in 2014 and seemed to struggle? However, this is home soil and she knows how to race here.

Nora Senn – Won the race in 2012 and that makes her podium material again this year.

Men

Sondre Amdahl – is a real rising star. He has had some incredible results recently, highlights being two top-10 finishes at UTMB and Transgrancanaria. He is a little intimidating to watch though… I have never seen anyone have such determination in their eyes.

Cyril Cointre – is the first of the ever present WAA trio (Christophe Le Saux and Antoine Guillon the other two) and although he wont win he will be up there (top-5?) You have to respect the quantity of races this trio do!

Jordi Gamito – has all the potential to rock the apple cart and place top-5. He is relatively unknown and that will play into his hands.

Antoine Guillon – as above

Yoshikazu Hara – Is a mystery, on paper a raw talent who could quite easily win the race. However, his 2014 was troubled apart from an incredible 24-hour which was not that long ago. Jury is out – 1st or 10th?

Vlad Ixel – would have been my tip for the win but he recently rolled an ankle so I am not even sure he will race. If he does and he is 100% in form, he could very well blitz this race! Keep an eye on him.

Dave James – I know Dave well. I have seen him race in Costa Rica looking fit, mean and dedicated and then I have seen him struggle. His 2014 was troubled with injury so HK100 is a question mark. He has the speed and is great at 100-miles, so, if he can string it together he is one to watch.

Christophe Le Saux – makes up the WAA trio. He will make his presence felt but not podium potential.

Jeremy Ritcey – On a good day he could win this race. However, his current form is unknown and leaves a question mark.

Stone Tsang – was 2nd in 2013 and for me, along with Vlad (if fit) is a potential winner.

There is a plethora of local talent, both male and female who will mix it up so expect plenty of surprises.

Race website HERE

UTWT HERE

 

Nikki Kimball – ‘Hints ‘n’ Tips’ Marathon des Sables #MDS2015

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Nikki Kimball is one of the most highly respected ultra runners in the world, Her running CV is beyond comprehension. It all started in 2000 with a win at Escarpment Trail Run 30k at the age of 29.

In 2004, Nikki had a break through moment with victory at the iconic Western States. Nikki also won again in 2006 and in 2007 she did the ultra double winning Western States and UTMB in the same year.

An ever present in the world of ultra running, Nikki has often been referenced as a true pioneer of the sport. In 2014 Nikki ran the Marathon des Sables for the first time and won! The Marathon des Sables is 30-years old this year so I wondered, what knowledge could Nikki pass on before the 2015 edition.

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It’s been a while Nikki, when did we last speak?

No, we spent a week together in Morocco.

Exactly… April, not that log ago I guess. A great place to start: was that your first multi day race?

I have done Jungle Marathon in Brazil, very similar to MDS but a lot less comfortable due to humidity. I did that in 2009. You need to carry all your gear just like MDS and I have done Transrockies too which is like summer camp.

I knew you had done Transrockies but not the Jungle Marathon.

 Oh yeah, Transrockies is a vacation.

 What enticed you to Morocco and MDS, great way to start a year?

Yes, I guess. I thought it would be great training for Western States. That was my initial goal. The UTWT helped me get me to Morocco so I must thank them. I had wanted to do MDS for some time but the financial side was an issue. I got the opportunity and wow; it was just awesome. It was so much more than what I expected. I was overwhelmed by the race. It is so professional, so impressive it is quite mind blowing. It was an incredible week of running.

So many have a perception of what MDS is. From a UK perspective it is an expensive race… USA also. The entry fee is high; I guess travel from the UK is okay but less so from the USA. It costs thousands of pounds and dollars. I am often asked: why does it cost so much? But having experienced it, it is the biggest circus I have ever seen.

Oh yeah. It’s amazing. The logistics are amazing. They have full medical teams and so on… There is a good reason why race entry is so much. It is beyond impressive. It is an unbelievable undertaking.

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From your perspective, the ‘Batchens’ (Lisa-Smith and Jay) are heavily involved as USA agents. Lisa-Smith has won the race. Did you speak with them pre race?

Oh for sure. I stayed with them and asked every question possible.

So you came well prepared?

Yes I think so. I also spoke and spent time with 2013 ladies winner, Meghan Hicks, so, between Lisa and Meghan I was well looked after. They understood the race and they could pass that on. You know, the feel of the race. Races have a feel and MDS definitely has a unique feel.

 Great that you should get advice from the other Americans who have won the race?

Oh yeah, we all live relatively close together so it was great.

 Talk me through the 2014 race. Give me some highlights!

Wow, the first couple of days were fun. I didn’t push it hard and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I was kind of having some depression problems prior to MDS. I have major depression anyway and I was kind of not doing too well going into the race. I remember on the first day… I was climbing a dune and I could see nothing but sunshine and happy people. My mood lifted. It was just amazing. The depression broke and it was really instrumental to setting the stage for the race. Day two and three was easy and then I guess it was the long day that I made my move. I had planned beforehand that I would try to win the race that day.

 Yes I remember pre race when we chatted that you said you would make a push that day. You expected Laurence Klein to be faster on the short days but the long day would play into your skill set and 100-mile experience.

I have never had a race go so well. It went perfect. Exactly to plan; easy couple of days and then ramp it up. I’m really happy with how it all went.

Did you get nervous early on? You know, thinking that you were giving time away to Laurence or did you have complete confidence?

I had confidence that I was racing the best way for me and that my strategy would give me my best performance. I had no idea how Laurence would race. I couldn’t control her pace, so I just ran my own race. I didn’t know I would beat Laurence but equally I wasn’t convinced I would loose to her either. After day two one of the French reporters asked me, “At this point do you think that you could possibly beat Laurence?” Big mistake… I was polite but I thought, ‘I will show ya!’

Well it’s a French race and Meghan won in 2013 so I guess they were hoping they would have a French lady back on the podium.

I guess so.

You upset the apple cart. Once the long day was done, did you just consolidate?

Absolutely! I have just completed sixteen years of ultra running. That is a long time. Once I took that lead on the long day, I knew I had no need to push. I could just defend and race smart. I don’t even know how many ultras I have done… but I know I don’t need to destroy myself.

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Great tactic. No extra points or extra prestige for winning by more hours. A great lesson for us all here!

I knew I had races coming up so I wanted to be sensible.

It’s a new year and MDS is not far away… the 30th edition. Runners are now suddenly panicking. The race is just months away. So may questions. What rucksack, what shoes, what sleeping bag, what food, tell us about bivouac and so on. What tips do you have for everyone that worked for you?

I had a very light sleeping bag and that was all I needed. I was warm in that but I do believe 2014 was a warm year. It didn’t really get cold at night, so, you may need to be careful on that. If you are racing and want to be competitive then weight is everything. You must go as light as possible. I didn’t have a sleeping pad, no luxuries, and no creature comforts. But if you want to ‘complete’ it makes sense to have a few comforts but don’t go crazy, remember you have to carry it!

How about food, what strategy did you use. You need a minimum calorie allowance.

Yes, I carried the minimum.

How did you break those calories down? It’s always a big debate; fat v carbs, dried food, bars, liquid, gels and so on. What did you do?

I took advice from Lisa and Meghan and a woman called Susan Hunt who had done loads of research on MDS. I went with what I thought would work for me. That is what you have to do. For me, I did one freeze-dried meal at night, which provided good calories. I rolled out all my food before I went to Morocco and mad it as small as possible and then put it in new bags. I just added water and then put them back in the sun to warm it so I didn’t need a stove. I also took a great deal of calories in peanut oil. It’s oil that lasts (it doesn’t go rancid) and it has loads of calories.

How did you carry that peanut oil?

I decanted it to small plastic bottles. I had over 1000 calories of peanut oil and I added it to my food. It was easy calories. If I go to MDS again I would take more. It worked really well.

So you had 1000+ calories to last the week?

Yes, I wasn’t eating 1000 calories of oil a day but I would definitely take much more for another trip or race like this. It’s great; just add to food and it really works.

 

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What did you do for breakfast?

I had dehydrated potatoes but it didn’t really work for me. I don’t eat a high carb diet anyway so it was a struggle. They tasted great for a couple of days and then I couldn’t stand it. I was throwing my breakfast away, crazy.

Yes, so many struggle with what they thought was safe food and then they can’t eat it. I remember Meghan saying she had a favourite bar that she loved. It was a bar she could eat anytime, so she took them to MDS. After day one (I think) she couldn’t face them! It is funny how your palette changes so quickly when under stress.

Exactly. I’m not sure how you find out what works though? I think variety is good. You need to play safe to a certain extent.

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What would be a breakfast choice now?

I would still take potato but only for a couple of days and then I would take some other freeze-dried option.

On the trail each day, how did you get calories?

I ate dried mango. I loved them and I never got sick of it. They were really great. I also had little packets of ‘Vespa’ for amino acid. That helped too. I knew I would burn my own fat for calories. You can’t race on 2000 calories alone so you will burn fat. I didn’t need to eat all that much really.

Great point! You have already mentioned you don’t eat much carb so am I correct to assume that you have a low carb and low sugar diet. You look to be fat adapted.

Not always but yes, for the last few years I have raced this way. I let myself go a little in the off-season but when I am racing I need to be 100% on my nutrition game. It’s all about balance, running is important but not all consuming.

I guess you prepared for MDS when the New Year started, what was training like. Did you do anything specific so that you knew you would be performant in Morocco?

When I signed up for MDS, I got invited to India to do a run. That wasn’t planned so I had to fit that in. This race was in February. It was a 100km in the heat in a salt desert on the Pakistan border; that was perfect! It was a great jump-start. I had no heat training at all really from that point onwards but I did run in the snow and that worked great. Running in the snow is very similar to the sand and dunes.

Yes, sand and snow very similar feel when running.

Yes, I have been running in the snow this winter and it has reminded me of MDS. Obviously running in the cold isn’t ideal but snow-running technique was brilliant. I have however always run well in the heat. My Western States performances confirm this.

What about back-to-back runs, speed sessions and running with a pack?

I didn’t run with a pack at all… I had one of those WAA packs and they are incredible. It fit me like a glove. I recommend people train with a pack but I do ski mountaineering and I always use a pack so I don’t need to adapt. I am 100% used to it.

I mentioned speed work and back-to-back runs. I guess you have been running so long that running a multi day is second nature?

Yes. I did no back-to-backs or speed. I have been doing this running thing for years.

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You have an incredible running history. You’ve won Western States and UTMB and so many other incredible races, so where does MDS fit. Is it one of the best?

Oh yes. It’s up there. It was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect it to be as fun and as challenging as it was. As I mentioned, I was a little depressed pre race and so therefore I was a little down. But the race kicked me out of that and I had a ball. I’d love to go back some day. It was a wonderful learning curve too. I met so many amazing people. It holds a special place in my heart.

I agree, MDS is quite special; I feel fortunate to witness the race from the outside looking in. Documenting each participant’s journey through images and words. Final question; how difficult do you rate MDS?

It’s no easy race if you are pushing at the front. But it’s as easy or as hard as you want it to be. The cut offs are generous and that provides so many with an opportunity, which is great. But if you are looking to be at the front, you have to be fit, dedicated and focused. It’s not the hardest race I have done but it is also not the easiest.

*****

Nikki will race The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica (HERE) in February and will hopefully peak for the 2015 Western States.

Nikki has a new film about to be released called FINDING TRACTION that documents her journey on the Long Trail (see Here)

If you require any photography, words or articles re Marathon des Sables please email using the contact form below.

 

 

FASTER DOWNHILL RUNNING? Tom Addison gives his top 10 Hints ‘n’ Tips

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inov-8 athlete and 2014 English Fell Running Champion Tom Addison is one of the best downhill runners in the business.

To help others improve their downhill running speed he is giving away his secrets with these top-10 go-faster tips.

Tom, a Great Britain and England international in mountain, trail and fell running, says:

There is no greater adrenalin buzz in running than nailing a downhill. It’s a battle of you against the terrain, and to win that battle feels amazing.

Being able to descend with confidence is crucial, especially when racing. You can be the best in the world at running uphill, but if you can’t descend then it will seriously hamper your chances of winning races, be that on the fells, mountains or trails. I have had to work hard to improve my downhill skills but that dedication to doing so paid off when I won last year’s English Fell Running Championships for the first time.”

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Here are Tom’s top-10 tips to improve downhill running speed.

Switch off your brain

Runners worry about falling, slipping and hurting themselves, which is understandable. However, to think like this will only slow you down. It’s not easy, but what you have to do is, at the top of the hill, switch off your brain and let your legs take control. The less your brain is working, the better. Empty it of fear and you will run downhill faster. Because it has less time to think about things, my brain switches to no-fear mode much easier when I’m racing. So, when training downhill I often pretend that I’m racing, tricking the mind!

Keep strides long

The most common mistake runners make – and I’m guilty of doing so myself when tired – is shortening their stride. Longer strides equal faster downhill running. I practice downhill running a lot and the focus is always on maintaining a longer stride. It takes time and a degree of bravery to improve your downhill running but the end benefits are huge.

Lean forwards

Whenever you can, especially on gradual downhill, lean forwards. This will lengthen your stride and ensure your brakes remain switched off. On steeper descents, I try to lean forward but tiredness can mean I lean back slightly. This does in turn give you a little more control in your downhill running but you won’t go as fast.

Look ahead and pick the best lines

Rather than looking directly at the terrain under your feet, look slightly ahead at what’s coming in two strides’ time. When racing, think more about your route choices and the lines you are going to take. I am always looking for the best, fastest lines, though these may not always be the most direct. Avoiding wet rocks in favour of a grassier, albeit slightly longer, alternative route can be quicker. I try and recce race routes in advance so I know the fastest lines and various alternatives.

Do repetitions in training

Find a gradual off-road downhill gradient and do sprint repetitions down it, ensuring you use a long stride length. Each repetition should be about a minute to a minute and a half in effort. Jog back up the hill after each repetition to recover. I try and do 10. Ensure you stretch well, especially your hamstrings, both before and afterwards.

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Bend your legs

Try not to run downhill with straight legs, as this could potentially result in knee complaints. Your legs should be slightly bent, which will in turn give you more spring in your step.

Squat for strength

Leg strength is crucial for fast downhill running. One exercise I use a lot is the squat. Put your back against a wall, with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Push off your toes and force your back hard against the wall. Keep your knees at 90-degrees and hold for as long as possible. Yes, it hurts!

Pretend you’re a windmill!

It’s important not to forget that your arms also have a key role to play if you want to run downhill faster. Push them out, as high and wide as you feel comfortable, and use them to aid your balance. You might think you look a bit silly doing so but it definitely works. Imagine you are on a tight rope, what would your arms do? Now replicate that when running downhill.

Trust your feet and footwear

If you don’t have trust in your own feet and your footwear then you are in trouble. I like shoes with a really aggressive tread and wear inov-8’s X-TALON, MUDCLAW and OROC shoes when wanting the best grip.

Adapt your technique to the terrain

Be ready to adapt your technique to the different terrains you encounter on a downhill. Loose rock and scree can often work with you as it moves forward under your feet – just ride it! Wet rock is the most difficult to negotiate – the less time your feet are in contact wet rock, the better, so stay light-footed and springy. When running downhill through mud, dig your heels in a bit more.

 

Tom with his inov-8 team members at the Skyrunning Limone Extreme 2014.

Tom with his inov-8 team members at the Skyrunning Limone Extreme 2014.

 article by ©inov8

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Read a review of the NEW Ultra 270 shoes HERE

Read a review of the NEW Race Ultra Vest (2015) HERE

X-Talon 212 Shoe review HERE

Read more tips and stories from inov-8 athletes at HERE

Anna Frost and Samantha Gash : 2-weeks and counting #TCC2015

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The Coastal Challenge 2015 (#TCC2015) is point-to-point race starting in Quepos and finishing in the stunning Drakes Bay close to the border of Panama. The 230km route weaves in and out of the Talamancas (a coastal mountain range in the south west corner of the country) providing a true multi terrain experience.

Participants are required to balance the distance, severity of the terrain and a tropical climate to reach the finish line. Jungle, rainforest trails, mountain trail, single track across ridge lines, highlands and coastal ranges lead into pristine beaches, rocky outcroppings, reefs, river valleys, river and estuary crossings to provide an ultimate journey.

I caught up with two of the male contenders for overall victory in the 2015 edition just the other day:  Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer (read HERE.) Today we have a catch up with Anna ‘Frosty Frost and Samantha Gash.

Anna Frost - Salomon

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You have been back home in the Southern Hemisphere over the Christmas period, what have you been doing to prepare for TCC?

Well, it only seems like yesterday the 2014 race season finished. So I have been having a break and catching up with family and friends after a long race season away from home. It has been a wonderful hot summer so I have naturally been getting used to the heat and enjoying some beach runs and swims! It is a perfect time to be in the mountains on overnight adventures so I have taken the opportunity to get some long days back to back. 

You managed to experience the TCC race in 2014 without racing, how beneficial has that been in preparation for the 2015 race?

 I learnt a lot about the course and was able to see the challenges without putting myself through them. Although nothing really prepares you like the experience itself. I hadn’t expected such long beach sections so I have been making the most of living beside the beach and doing most of my runs there. 

Your mum is joining you out in TCC. That’s going to be quite special. Are you planning making this a holiday race?

Yes, my mum is joining me which will be fabulous to be able to share this part of my life with her. Stages races are so social and exciting everyday so for spectators to get involved is really nice for everyone. I got my travel blood from my parents so she is definitely looking forward to seeing somewhere new and in a new way through my race. (Im not sure what you mean by a holiday race) I am not fully back into race mode or training hard as I have a long season ahead, but this race will most definitely give me a good base to kick start the year.   

Any tips for all those taking part?

Drink lots of water, anytime you go past water submerge yourself to fully cool down, drink some replacement fluids afterwards and even in the morning and then drink some more water. It is so hot there…we are all going to need it. 

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Samantha Gash

Sam Gash

You have been back home after South Africa, what have you been doing to prepare for TCC?

I spent Christmas and New Years in New Zealand with my partner and fellow ultra running friends. It was only my second overseas trip in four years that didn’t revolve around a race! We spent everyday outside, running some incredible trails and hiking hard up some mountains. Although it wasn’t planned to be so, it was great training for TCC. 

You had a wonderful no racing multi day experience in South Africa. Great preparation for TCC but have you recovered?

To be honest I wouldn’t say I have recovered 100% yet. I get more tired after a run and mentally my mind isn’t yet committed to doing long runs for the purpose of training. It would be easier to be hard on yourself for feeling weaker whilst climbing hills and weary after a 20km run, but it is to be expected after what we experienced – both from a running and preparation perspective.

You have multi day racing dialled. What for you are the secrets of racing/ running day after day?

Be strategic in how you attack each stage. I personally like to think of the entire race as an arch as opposed to separate stages. There will be times where you may choose to run more conservatively to complete the entire arch. Nutrition and how you choose to recover between the stages is also important. So, I will aim to get some rest after each days run in addition to a good nights sleep. 

Any other tips for all those taking part?

Have fun, look around and get to know the other competitors. These are the things you will probably remember more than how you placed. 

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The 2015 #TCC2015 starts on January 31st and finishes on February 7th. Daily reports and images will be available on this website and you can follow Facebook and Twitter#TCC2015

The Coastal Challenge Facebook page is HERE and the race website is HERE

Route book and profiles available on PDF Here

Top images of Anna Frost – ©paulpetch.co.nz

Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl prepare for The Coastal Challenge 2015

Karl MeltzerThe 11th edition of The Coastal Challenge 2015 (#TCC2015) is just weeks away. For those in the know, the TCC is a gruelling multi-stage race that takes place along the tropical Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. The 230km route weaves in and out of the Talamancas (a coastal mountain range in the south west corner of the country) providing a true multi terrain experience.

A point-to-point race, the course starts in Quepos and finishes in the stunning Drakes Bay close to the border of Panama. Simple in concept, the TCC provides an extreme challenge that tests each individual runner. Participants will need to balance the distance, severity of the terrain and tropical climate to reach the finish line.

If you enjoy long distance running and adventure then The Coastal Challenge is for you and will prove to be a tremendously rewarding achievement. Jungle and rainforest trails, mountain trail and single track across ridge lines, highlands and coastal ranges; pristine beaches, rocky outcroppings and reefs, river valleys, river and estuary crossings. It’s an amazing course.

Following on from the incredible 10th edition line up (2014) that included Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Julia Boettger, Veronica Bravo and men and ladies victors; Michael Wardian and Jo Meek, race director, Rodrigo Carazo has once again provided a stunning line up for 2015.

Two of the male contenders for overall victory in the 2015 edition are Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer. I caught up with them to find out how training has gone in the final build up to the race.

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Speedgoat Karl Melter – Hoka One One, Red Bull

Karl, you have your mojo back! Is the TCC directly attributable for that? 

I definitely have my mojo back.  I am looking at the TCC as a great week of running, with some harder runs, some good runners to run against, and to hopefully not get ‘chicked!’ Which I suspect I will.  The race has motivated me to come to Zion Canyon and run some multi-long days in January which is great.  I also look at it as an interesting test of my fitness.  I’ve had 3 decent months so far, with the exception of a mildly aggravating neuroma, which will never go away, so I will just continue to run and manage it.

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You are no stranger to running day after day having done the AT (Applachian Trail) and Red Bull Pony Express, have you done anything specific in training for TCC? 

The AT and the Pony Express trail, being much longer days than the TCC really aren’t that comparable.  The Pony was a cakewalk because it was not a race. The AT was just about surviving the distance daily.  The TCC is much shorter and faster each day,   The real key is recovery, so I suspect, I’ll be sleeping plenty and resting a great amount after each day to see how that pans out.

***

I’ve been toying with recovery the past month after long runs. I will likely take in some Ultragen and remain motionless for about 30 min. Eat more. Take a nap with legs elevated for about 2 hours. Then go for a walk about 1-2 miles to loosen the legs again… then eat again!  At least that’s the plan for now. I”m sure it depends on what’s going on too, but the nap is important as well as the walk later in the day.

Any other tips for all those taking part?

Don’t drink as much beer as I will.  :-)  Enjoy more than anything and try and plan to be the “chaser”, not the “chasee” after day 3.  I’m hoping to be the guy who gains momentum after day 3, rather then going out with the fast guys on day 1 and frying myself.  It’s far more entertaining for me to run that way.

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Joe Grant – Buff, Arc’teryx, inov-8

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You have been back home training in the snow on skis and the ‘phat’ (fat) bike. Will that all work well for your run legs at TCC?

I find that both the ski and biking help develop a lot of power while minimizing the impact on the body you get from running. I can get a lot of vertical in, have a good long day of training where I feel tired, but not banged up. At this point in the year, I think it’s a very sustainable practice and will set me up nicely for spring/summer racing. TCC will definitely be a bit of a shock to the system, particularly the heat, but that’s partly why I’m interested in the race as it will be a great early season training boost.

Are you doing any specific preparation for the heat of TCC?

I did go down to Arizona to visit my uncle over the New Year. I was hoping to get a bit of heat training in down there in the desert, more of a mental thing really to break out of the winter cycle back home. The weather was surprisingly cold though and I only got one warm day of running in shorts. Heat is certainly my biggest concern for the race.

Joe Grant

Multi day racing will place different demands on you in comparison to one long push (like in a 100-mile) do you have any thoughts or strategy for TCC?

I’m approaching the race like a demanding week of training with slightly longer mileage and more intensity. What I’ve found in multi-day races (in a single push) is that even a small amount of sleep and rest can do wonders for recovery. I’ll just need to remind myself during the race, that even if I’m feeling particularly bad on one day, good food and solid rest can really turn things around on the next. It’s a patience game and being able to spread your effort out evenly over the course of the 6 days.

Any tips for anyone taking part in a similar event?

I’d recommend really paying attention to all the little details that can improve your comfort and recovery during the week. It’s easy to be too tired to clean your shoes or tend blistered feet or chaffing after a strenuous stage, but taking care of those little things will pay off. It’s worth having clean, dry clothes to change into particularly at night to get good rest and feel ready to tackle the next day.

 

The 2015 #TCC2015 starts on January 31st and finishes on February 7th. Daily reports and images will be available on this website and you can follow Facebook and Twitter #TCC2015

The Coastal Challenge Facebook page is HERE and the race website is HERE

Route book and profiles available on PDF Here