The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 3 2015 – Race Images

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It is day 3 of the Berghaus Dragons Back Race and despite a very long day for all the competitors yesterday (53.9km), today they have a whopping 68.3km to cover. Ouch!

Needless to say the runners are exhausted and this is reflected in the current drop out rate of 30% (+/-.) This will change as today progresses! Early morning good weather had been replaced with clag, drizzle and colder temperatures. It’s a difficult combination to contend with; navigation will be considerably harder due to a lack of visibility and of course colder temperatures and wet increases the risk of hypothermia.

It was going to be tough.

Starting in a timing window of  0600 – 0900, the runners looked in good spirits as they climbed up to the first control at Gau Craig (683m.) Today they finished with a final climb of Pumlumon Fawr (752m) but before that, they have 5 peaks to ascend and descend and a total of 10 controls to meet.

An epic day and one that confirms the Berghaus Dragons Back Race as one of  the (if not THE) toughest events I have worked on.

From the early action, as one would expect, male leader Jim Mann and female leader Jasmin Paris looked the strongest. However, it was long day with some challenging navigation and in these conditions, anything could happen.

Lizzie Wraith and Beth Pascall both looked strong as they tried to close the gap on Paris and notably, Jez Bragg appeared to be getting stronger as the race progresses but this only lasted for so long as unfortunately Bragg’s stomach caused him issues during the day which really impacted on his pace.

Mann continued his dominance producing another spectacular performance and Pascall rallied producing the fastest time for the ladies just a couple of minutes ahead of race leader, Paris.

Konrad Rawlik and Jez Bragg once again ran consistent performances and placed 2nd and 3rd men but they were both beaten by Pascall and Paris.

Bragg said post race, ‘My stomach flared up. It can do that every now and again. I usually have it under control but on multiple days like this it can become fragile. Have to say, this is a seriously tough race. It is relentless! It’s also great to see the top 3 ladies doing so well; they are so consistent.’

So, although Mann is providing everyone a masterclass performance at the Berghaus Dragons Back Race, the ladies trio of Paris, Pascall and Wraith are providing some serious inspiration for all.

Day 4 is going to be another long day and as I write this, another 13 runners have retired from the race. Cut off is 2300 hours and I will update more tomorrow and provide an insight into the day 4 route.

Results Day 3

  1. Jim Mann 9:12:03 – 25:02:47
  2. Beth Pascall 9:42:50 – 28:20:17
  3. Jasmin Paris 9:44:26 – 26:37:06
  4. Konrad Rawlik 10:01:53 – 27:26:16
  5. Jezz Bragg 10:07:37 – 28:28:41
  6. Damian Hall 10:18:31 – 28:13:47

Lizzie Wraith was 10:20:09 – 30:31:40

Overall results after 3 days:

  1. Jim Mann 25:02:47
  2. Konrad Rawlik 27:26:16
  3. Damian Hall 28:13:47
  1. Jasmin Paris 26:37:06 (2nd overall)
  2. Beth Pascall 28:20:17
  3. Lizzie Wraith 30:31:40

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Live Tracking: dragonsbackrace.com/live-tracking

How is your Posture? Part Deux – Marc Laithwaite

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So last week we introduced the subject of ‘lordosis’ or ‘anterior pelvic tilt’ and how it impacts upon runners and triathletes. In the blog I stated that from my experience, athletes with lordosis or anterior tilt are at high risk of suffering the following injuries or problems:

  1. Lower back pain (pretty much always a link between lower back pain and anterior tilt of the pelvis).
  2. Constant tightness in the hamstrings (certainly can’t touch your toes!).
  3. Possible pain or tightness in the front of the hip/groin area.
  4. Potential cramp or spasm in the quads (front of your thighs), more common running downhill.
  5. Running ‘stitch’ (bearing in mind that a stitch is a word used to describe and pain in the abdominal region when running!!).
  6. Problems breathing (can’t breathe deep and have to breathe rapid and shallow), sometimes but not always coupled with stitch.
  7. For triathletes, these problems are worse when running after cycling (when running immediately after cycling your hamstrings are tight, get quad cramps and breathing difficulties or stitches).

The aim of today’s blog is to explain the potential reason why each of the above happen, linked to lordosis posture.

Some basic things to understand:

In last week’s blog we discussed that the pelvis can tilt forwards or backwards, dictated by which muscles are pulling and in which direction. The 4 muscle groups we discussed were:

1. Core abdominals
2. Lower back
3. Hamstrings (rear of thigh – including glutes)
4. Hip flexors (front of thigh / hip)

when you have lordosis posture we said that the hamstrings and hip flexors are tight, as are the lower back muscles. The core abdominals are generally weak.

Why are muscles tight?

It’s important to understand why muscles are tight, as there is more than just one reason. If you stretch a muscle and make it longer, you will inevitably make it tighter. It’s simple to understand, imagine a muscle is like an elastic band. Pull the elastic band and lengthen it, it gets tighter. However, muscles can become tight because then are shortened, NOT lengthened. Initially this doesn’t make sense, think about the elasatic band, if you stop pulling it and allow it to shorten, then it relaxes. Generally muscles will get tighter when stretched and lengthened and relax when shortened, but not in every case.

Shorter and tighter

Imagine if you put your leg in a plaster cast for 6 months with your knee bent at 90 degrees. When you bend your knee, this shortens the hamstring. When the day finally arrives to have the cast cut off, it’s unlikely that you will be able to straighten your leg. The reason for this is that the hamstring muscle has spent so long in a shortened position, it’s now stuck at that length! Here’s the critical thing, if muscles spend a long time in a shortened position, they eventually get used to that length and it becomes relatively permanent. The irony is that they were initially shortened, which made them relax. They got used to that shortened position, adjusted in length and eventually that makes them feel tight!!

Confused?

Let’s simplify this, some muscles get ‘stretched’ which makes them feel tight and some muscles get ‘shortened’ which makes them feel tight. It just anterior-pelvic-tiltdepends on whether you lengthen it (stretch it) or shorten it (and leave it shortened for a long period of time). Check out our image which we used last week, here’s what happens to our 4 muscle groups:

1. Hamstrings get pulled upwards (stretched) and this makes them feel tight.
2. The hip flexors are shortened and over time they adjust in length (feel tight)
3. The lower back muscles shorten and over time they adjust in length (feel tight)
4. The abdominals are stretched (you won’t feel this like stretched hamstrings)

Why am I getting the symptoms you’ve written above?

Ok, so at the start of this blog I listed the possible symptoms of lordosis. I think the 4 points directly above explain the reason for lower back pain, tight hamstrings and tightness in the front of the hip / groin area. Let’s just take a closer look at the lower back pain. How does the lower back pain feel? Does it feel tight (like a tight hamstring) or is it more of a sharp, disabling ‘spasm’?

Spasm or cramp?

We’re going off into weird territory now, but this is a really worthwhile discussion. When a muscle contracts very sharply (often painfully), we refer to this as a ‘spasm’ or sometimes we call it a ‘cramp’. They may sound different to you, but we tend to use the words interchangeably for the same thing, largely because we’re confused and really don’t fully understand what’s going on.

When people get cramp in running races, generally they are in a state of fatigue and often they blame a lack of salts. It’s unlikely that loss of salt is causing cramp, but that’s a whole scientific discussion we’re not going to have in this blog. Back to the point, when people are knackered, they start to cramp. Whether it’s 22 miles into the marathon, 95 miles into a bike ride, it happens when you’re tired, ran out of fuel, feel dehydrated and generally in an all round bad state.

Here’s an interesting question then, why do people sometimes get cramp in their feet whilst they sleeping? How vigorous is your sleeping? Do you need to be waking at regular intervals to take on board electrolyte drinks? If you’re a triathlete, you may well have suffered from calves cramping during the swim, especially in open water. How dehydrated and fatigued can you really be during the early stages of a triathlon swim? That doesn’t make sense at all.

Geeks will love this…

I’m not pretending to give you the definitive answer to this question, but here is an opinion and some ideas. At this point let’s introduce the subject of ‘stretch receptors’ and the ‘stretch reflex’. You have receptors in your muscles and they detect how much and how quickly a muscle is stretching. If they believe a muscle to be stretching too much and too quickly, they trigger a contraction to protect the muscle. The best example of this (you will all have experienced the action of the stretch receptors), is running along happily and suddenly going over on your ankle. As you roll your ankle, the muscles on the outside of your lower leg contract and pull the foot back into position. You hobble for the next few steps, before realising that you got away with it and the ankle is still in one piece. What happened in that split second was not a conscious decision, you didn’t note that you had rolled your ankle or think about trying to correct it, the whole episode ‘just happened’, it was a contraction triggered by the stretch receptors.

What’s this got to do with cramp (or spasm for that matter)

When cycling, your hip flexors are in a shortened position (if your thigh is close to your stomach, hip flexors are shortened. The more aero, the more they’re shortened). Sometimes if i’ve been riding my bike for several hours, when i unclip, step off and stand upright, i get a ‘spasm’ in my hip flexors. I usually ‘crunch forwards’ immediately and then in goes. The likely cause of that small hip flexor spasm is the fact that the muscle has been working in a very short position for several hours. Over that time, the stretch receptors become accustomed to that shortened length. At the end of the ride I suddenly stand up vertical and the hip flexors lengthen dramatically. The stretch receptors are confused, causing a panic response which is a sudden sharp contraction (my little spasm) and it’s done to try and stop me lengthening the hip flexors too much or to quickly.

I’ve had this response before. My saddle height was too high which meant that I cycled with my toes pointing down slightly (posh term is planter felxtion, you can have that one for the next pub quiz). As my toes pointed down slightly, the calf was in a shortened position until the end of the bike ride. When I jumped off and started to run, the calf was suddenly lengthened and my stretch receptors (who had become comfortable with the shortened position during the bike) were alarmed by this sudden change, so reacted the only way they knew how, they initiated a sharp contraction (my calves cramped). It’s worth pointing out that most triathletes will cycle with a slightly ‘toes down’ position, so this problem is common.

Another example, a slightly shorter friend of mine, who is often referenced in this blog did the Ironman triathlon a few years ago. During the swim his calf kept ‘cramping’ and when he got out of the swim onto dry land, it cramped severely to the point where he could not walk! If fact, the cramp was so severe, he coudn’t run the marathon later in the race (to be fair, he probably wouldn’t have been able to run it under any circumstances). During open water swimming, the toes are pointed (it’s that plantar flextion thingy again), this means the calf is in a shortened and relaxed position. It’s probable that the stretch receptors become comfortable to that shortened position and perhaps become a little confused with this sorter length. When the calf is suddenly lengthened or sometimes when it isnt’t legnthened at all, this confusion in muscle length means that the stretch receptors trigger a sudden contraction. Sometimes the contraction is so strong, it can tear the calf muscle (or any other muscle), this is why severe ‘cramp’ as people often refer to it as, can lead to pain for several days.

How is this linked to the subject of lordosis?

In the original list of symptoms, we listed hip flexor cramps and quadricep cramps. Anterior tilt causes shortening of the hip flexors and the spasm I mentioned above, when I get off my bike is caused by lordosis / anterior tilt. In terms of quad cramps, one of the 4 quadricep muscles acts as a hip flexor. It’s called Rectus Femoris and if it’s tight, it tilts the pelvis forwards. In fact, there’s a strong research link between Rectus Femoris and back problems. If you have an enterior tilt of the pelvis (e.g. running after cycling) the Rectus Femoris muscle is in a shortened position. Running downhill encourages an anterior tilt of the pelvis and I’ve spoken to several people who in triathlon events, have suffered ‘cramp’ in the quads, in particular running downhill. It generally involves both legs completely locking.

Here’s the thing. All of the above scenarios are relatively common and advice tends to favour ‘salts and electrolytes’ to prevent the ‘cramp’. There is a real case of cramp or spasm caused by fatigue and dehydration, such as the 22 miles point in a marathon, but that’s not the simple answer. If you take the common example of cramping calves in open water swimming, there’s no way on earth that’s caused by fatigue or salt loss, all of the above can be explain by unnatural shortening of muscles and confusion of the muscle spindles and nervous system, resulting in a sudden contraction.

Okay, I haven’t touched on the stitch or breathing issues. I’d not anticipated on rambling so much. I could get 4 weeks out of this, it’s turning out better than expected. Next week we’ll talk about corrective exercises and ways to stop these problems. The following weeks, we’ll look specifically at breathing issues and the dreaded ‘stitch’.

If you suffer from calves cramping during swimming, hip spasms getting off the bike during long rides, quads cramping or any of the above, then reply and let us know with a single line. We can then tailor next weel’s exercises to the reponses and problems you have.

If you found this blog useful or interesting, we’d really appreciate a share, re-post or retweet on social media.

Until next week, stay relaxed.

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

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Skyrunning Mont-Blanc 80k 2015 Preview

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The 2014 edition of the Skyrunning Chamonix 80k proved to be a stunning and exciting race with Emelie Forsberg and Luis Alberto Hernando being crowned respective champions and in the process they also were crowned Skyrunning Ultra World Champions.

The 2015 edition of the race may not be a world championship but racing is expected to be just as fast and ferocious. Runners are travelling from all over the world to take part and as you may have expected we have a who’s who of Skyrunning toeing the line.

New for 2015 too is a tougher course! Yes, if the race wasn’t already tough enough. Changes have been made to avoid towns in favour of more secluded trails. It’s a stunning course with 6000m of vertical gain and it takes in Bel Achat, Brevent, Col de Montets, Buet, Col de la Terrasse, Tre les Eaux, Aiguillette des Posettes, Montenvers, Mer de Glace, Plan d’Aiguille and of course the wonderful finish in Chamonix.

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In the men’s race several names stand out. Dakota Jones fresh from a top placing at Transvulcania will be looking to establish a grip on the race and recently has been training in the area with 2014 ladies champion, Emelie Forsberg. Unfortunately Dakota is injured.©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_

Manuel Merillas is a rising star in the Skyrunning world after an incredible 2014. All looked to be going well at Transvulcania in May when he was racing with the front 5, however, it all became too much and he eventually finished outside the top 10. Manuel bounced back remarkably well placing on the podium just one week later at Zegama-Aizkorri. He is podium material for sure; he just needs to get his pacing right for the longer distance.

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Hardrock 100 champion (2013) and UTMF winner Sebastien Chaigneau needs no introduction to a French or Chamonix audience. His face is synonymous with the area after repeated runs at UTMB. He placed 2nd in 2009 and 3rd in 2011. He knows the trails in and around Chamonix so well. However, 2014 was a tough year for Seb, we can only hope that he is 100% fit for the 80km. If he is, he is without doubt one to watch.

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Alex Nichols is an ever present on the Skyrunning circuit and his confidence will be high after a top 10 placing at the IAU world trail championships in Annecy.

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Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz had a good run in Chamonix in 2014 and recently placed 10th at Transvulcania. I see him looking for a top 10 once again in the 80k and if his day goes well top 5 may be a possibility but I don’t see him contending the podium.

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Pablo Villa may well dish up a surprise? Since a breakthrough performance at Transvulcania in 2014, he moved to Salomon and that almost certainly has boded well. One to watch!

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My last tip is Cristofer Clemente who placed on the podium just last week at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and on the podium at Sai Kung MSIG 50k. He is on the up at the moment and his performance in Chamonix will all depend on his powers of recovery.

Catlow ShipeckPascal GiguetDavid PasquioFranco ColleDan DohertyStuart Air and Francois Favre are all names that will add fire to the front of the race.

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The ladies race all looks about 3 people with Dong Li, Mira Rai and Hillary Allen as the main contenders for the podium. The proximity of the IAU world championships in Annecy and Skyrunning’s Ice Trail Tarentaise (in 2 weeks) have impacted on who was available to take on this tough Chamonix course.

Mira Rai has had a sting of high profile victories recently and is without doubt a hot favourite. Mira burst onto the scene in 2014 with victory at the Mustang Trail Race. Recent results are 3rd at Buffalo Stampede, 1st at MSIG HK50 and MSIG Lantau 50.

Dong Li has all the potential to upset Mira’s plans for the top of the podium and in all honesty, a longer race may well fall into her hands. Dong Li won TNF 100 in Australia and placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria.

Hillary Allen is not a lady who I have met on the run circuit, however, I am aware of her 5th place at The Rut (50k) in 2014 and she also placed 4th at Speedgoat 50k. Past records show that 50k or 50 miles are Hillary’s preferred distance so this 80km may well stretch her. This is no ordinary 80k course.

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Racing starts in the early hours of Friday 26th June and you will be able to follow online via the Skyrunning Facebook page and on Twitter @skyrunnning_com

A list of entrants is available HERE

The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 2 2015 – Race Images

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What a day! Wales looked magnificent in bathed in glorious sunshine but as you can imagine, running 50km+ in intense heat over some of the most gruelling terrain is not a match made in heaven.

Runners struggled and buckled.

However, Jim Mann once again made what is extremely tough look relatively easy. He finished the day in 8 hours! At control 1, the summit of Cnicht, runners appeared in dribs and drabs due to the staggered start. Mann, starting last rocketed up and as he ran past us he was made aware of his time. His response was cal calculated, ‘Good, looks like I am gaining time!’ He then proceeded to come off the clearly defined trail and turned right down the scree slopes using his navigation skills to the full.

Ultimately, it was day that was all about the ladies; Jasmine Paris, Beth Pascall and Lizzie Wraith all embraced the terrain, the heat and the course and finished within the top 5. Jez Bragg also had a great day, ‘I’m feeling better today, the legs are feel good and I’m finding my pace.’

Unfortunately, Konrad Rawlik and Ed Catmur had tough days. Catmur fell while running in a strong position at the front of the race which resulted with a visit to hospital with a leg wound. Rowlock finished the day but looked dejected. He started the day 2nd overall but the terrain took its toll on his knees and he struggled.

‘Today was a tougher day than in 2012 as day 1 was made a little easier,’ said Shane Ohly race director. ‘It has been a very tough day, relentless some may say and of course the heat added to the severity.’

Camp 2 is in Llanelltyd in the grounds of Tymer Abbey. It’s quite the setting! Hot food is being consumed in vast quantities, cake and custard eaten in multiples of 2 or 3 and to top it all, as each runner finished, Ohly had an ice cream waiting for them.

Tomorrow is a big day. Read into that what you will but we can conform that the course will be 68km with 3700m+

My advise to the runners is sleep and sleep as soon as possible! They are going to need all the recovery time as possible.

Top 6 day 2

  1. Jim Mann 8:00
  2. Jasmin Paris 8:41
  3. Jez Bragg 9:03
  4. Konrad Rawlik 9:12
  5. Beth Pascall 9:29
  6. Damian Hall 9:42

Overall Results

  1. Jim Mann
  2. Jasmin Paris
  3. Konrad Rawlik
  4. Damian Hall
  5. Jez Bragg
  6. Beth Pascall
  7. Andre Jonsson
  8. Alexander Beaven
  9. Jonas Mollare
  10. Owen Rees

Ladies:

  1. Jasmin Paris
  2. Beth Pascall
  3. Lizzie Wraith

The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 1 2015 – Race Images

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MANN ON FIRE – Day 1 The Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2015

Jim Mann took the fire out of the Dragon and blazed a trail on day 1 of the Berghaus Dragons Back Race. Mann crossed the line to record a time of 7:49 almost 1 hour ahead of predicted time. Post race apparently was heard to say, ‘I was taking it easy today to safe myself!’ That is a worrying sign for the other competitors.

Andre Jonsson finished 2nd 11 minutes behind Mann; a great run! However, it was interesting to hear how Jonsson’s fatigue compared to Mann on the line. He has his work cut out if he hopes to topple Mann.

The weather is always a significant factor in any mountain race and it was an up and down day of rain showers, clag, cloud and sun. When the sun came out it was incredible to see; particularly for those runners who were on Crib Goch.

Jasmine Paris (8:11) placed 1st lady and crossed the line with Konrad Rawlik, Ed Catmur and Damian Hall just behind. Steve Birkinshaw was next to finish running day 1 as a single stage for the Berghaus relay team. The Spine female winner, Beth Pascall (9:07) looked strong all day and finished 2nd. Lizzie Wraith was 3rd lady in 10:06.

Day 1 camp is in Nant-Gwynant and as per all Ourea Events; all runners are looked after with homemade fresh food, constant tea and coffee supplies and an abundance of cake. In contrast to other Ourea Events, participants do not need to provide their own ten, Berghaus as race sponsor have provided large 8 man tents and runners sleep together similar to bivouac at the Marathon des Sables.

As I write this runners are still out on the course and therefore we can only update on retirements when the 2300 cut off has elapsed. However, one of the pre race favourites, Pavel Paloncy (Spine winner) took a fall and has had to retire.

Day 2 will have a staggered start with runners departing between a window of 0600 and 0900. Start times are based on finishing times from day 1.

All times are provisional and will be confirmed in due course.

 

The DRAGON has been unleashed #DragonsBackRace 2015

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The DRAGON has been unleashed and the 2015, 3rd edition of the #DragonsBackRace is underway. Here are a few images from the first summit of the day, as you can see, the rain is already here and the wind was blowing in strongly from the sea.

©iancorless.com_DragonsBack2015Day1-3996As in 2012, a Welsh male voice choir started the race and on the stoke of 0700 the runners were off! Running around the Conwy Castle walls they all have a tough day ahead that includes the Snowdon horseshoe route and the challenging Crib Goch. At just under 50km, it’s going to be a challenging first day.

Live tracking is available here: http://www.dragonsbackrace.com/live-tracking/

Followon Twitter – @DragonsBackRace @TheRealBerghaus @talkultra

Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ – Registration

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It is the day before the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ and runners are slowly arriving in Conwy, Wales to register ahead of one of the toughest challenges available over a multi-day format.

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Travelling from the north to the south of Wales via it’s spine, runners will depart at 0700 on Monday 22nd June and over 5 days they will look to endure (and conquer) everything that Wales has to offer. Long days, tough climbs and quad busting descents. Yes, the Dragons Back Race is arguably one of the toughest multi-day adventures in the world.

It’s going to be an extremely exciting week with runners travelling from all over the world to take part. We have some key runners taking part: Jez Bragg (The North Face) who just last weekend set a remarkable FKT for The Ramsay Round (interview HERE), Pavel Paloncy who has won The Spine, Ed Catmur, Charlie Sharpe, Andre Jonsson, Konrad Rawlik, John Duggan, Jim Mann and Joe Faulkner who has run and completed the 2 previous editions of the Dragons Back.

The ladies race may prove to be extremely exciting with a wealth of talented fast ladies: Jasmin Paris recently won the Fellowman, Lizzie Wraith is the current Lakeland 100 course record holder but recently has has some problems with Giardia, Beth Pascall the 2014 Spine winner, Carol Morgan, Kerstin Rosenqvist and Joanna Zakrzewski who is a prolific road racer particularly at the 100km distance and the iconic Comrades in South Africa.

Nerves are on edge in Conwy. Bags are being packed, labels are added, transponders attached to packs and race T shirts collected. It’s countdown time. If you have an opportunity why not come out and support the race. Tomorrow am will almost certainly be an impressive start.

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123 runners are registered to start and currently we have information that the following will not start the 2015 edition: Don King, Nick Mead (The Guardian), Adam Stirk, Achillefs Tsaltas, Debbie Brupbacher, Rod Sutcliffe and William Gane.

For the third edition of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™, members of the public will be able to follow the race live with GPS tracking of the competitors and a leaderboard of their positions as they pass through each checkpoint.
Award winning Slackjaw Productions will also be filming the event and publishing multiple 90 second videos on the event website as the race unfolds each day. 1992 winner Helene Whitaker will be presenting these films and providing expert commentary.
It is going to be exciting and compelling viewing, which all kicks off on Monday 22nd June.
Also, keep an eye on Twitter for updates from:
@DragonsBackRace and @TheRealBerghaus
@talkultra and on Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography
#DragonsBackRace

The Sunset Relay – 1300km in 96 hours

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A newcomer in the world of outdoor pursuits, the first edition of the Sunset Relay will take June 21 to 25 in Swedish Lapland.

The itinerary starts and finishes in Luleå, and form a big loop around and above the arctic circle. This new challenge will see over thirty participants on a journey under the Midnight Sun, covering 1300 kms in under 96 hours. Many outdoor sports will be on the menu, and the highlight of the itinerary will be the part running on the mythical Kungsleden (the ‘Royal Path’), a 430 km long trail to run in less than 43 hours!

Sunset Relay

An original concept, the Sunset Relay also aim to raise awareness of the dangers of sun exposure.

Inspired not only by the sport challenge but also by the messages conveyed by the event, many reknown sports men and women will be participating in the relay.
Amongst them you will find :

Jérôme Fernandez (FRA) handboll player in the French national team, with an impressive number of medals ( Olympics, World championships and European Championships)
Georg Kreiter (DE) World champion in Alpine skiing, downhill handisport
Youri Zoon (NL) World champion in kitesurfing

They will all particpate in the roadbike or adventure sports sections.
The section in trailrunning on Kungsleden will include some of the disciplines specialists:

Sylvain Court (FRA), new IAU World champion in trailrunning

©iancorless.com_MDS2015_1Elizabet Barnes (SWE), recent winner of the Marathon des Sables,

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Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) a legend runner, both on trails and mountain marathons, with an impressive track record and numerous medals.

Along with many other athletes and personalities, they will participate in this physical challenge. You will be able to follow them on their personal social media to learn more about the event, their impressions and the the messages around sun protection conveyed through the race.

Follow the event live on

sunsetrelay.com,

Twitter #SunsetRelay

 Instagram @SunsetRelay.

Participants:

Section 1 : Luleå -> Hemavan (roadbike)

• Nicolien SAUERBREIJ (NL) • Georg KREITER (DEU)
• Richard USSHER (NZ)
• Daniel DAUM (DEU)

• Bob DE JONG (NL)
• Juliette BENEDICTO (FR)

Section 2 : Hemavan -> Abisko (trail on Kungsleden)

• Olof HÄGGSTRÖM (SWE) • Sylvain COURT (FR)
• Jonathan WYATT (NZ)
• Linus HOLMSÄTER (SWE) • Elina USSHER (FIN)

• Maud GOBERT (FR)
• Elisabet BARNES (UK/SWE)

Section 3 : Abisko -> Luleå (adventure sports)

• Jérôme FERNANDEZ (FR) • Youri ZOON (NL)
• Aïda TOUIHRI (FR)
• Laura FOUNTAIN (UK)

• Vanina ICKX (BEL)
• Bob MAESEN (BEL)
• Vincent BANIC (BEL) • Tobias ÖSTRÖM (SWE)

ISF announce location for the 2016 World Championships

 The 2016 Skyrunning World Championships will be held from 22 -24 July in the Vall de Boí in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. The location will host a super-technical Ultra, a SkyMarathon® and a Vertical Kilometer® announce the ISF via a press release. 

It was here that in 2012 the SkyGames® were held, a spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

Skyrunning is not just about distance and vertical climb, but technical difficulty. The events here tick all those boxes, starting with the 105k Buff® Epic Trail. A gruelling 8,000m elevation gain and a maximum gradient of 56%, it’s not for the feint-hearted. Strict qualification standards will be enforced for participants, which are capped.  

The Buff® Epic Trail SkyMarathon® is a point to point over a rugged 42 kilometres with 3,200m positive vertical climb. Again, a highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit.

For the short and steep specialists, the Buff® Epic Trail Vertical Kilometer® is 4.7 km long with 1,380m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point. 

The 2016 Skyrunning World Championships title was awarded to Spain, the country that represents the greatest following of the sport and some of the greatest champions. Just take a look at the wealth of talent this country has provided: 

Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Augstí Roc, Manuel Merillas, Iker Karrera, Miguel Heras, Aritz Egea, Alfredo Gil, Jokin Lizeaga, Pablo Villa, Jessed Hernandez, among many others…. An equally strong women’s line-up includes Laura Orguè, Maite Maiora, Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar, Azara Garcia, Uxue Fraille, Nuria Dominquez, Emma Roca…

Spain also excelled in the highly successful 2014 Skyrunning World Championships held in Chamonix, taking the silver and the outright wins with Luis Alberto Hernando taking the Ultra World title, Kilian Jornet, both the VK & Sky and Laura Orguè the VK title.

FEDME, the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation and ISF member for Spain, will sanction the events and oversee them with their referees. The organisation will be in the capable hands OCI Sport, with whom the ISF has collaborated on a number of high-profile events including the SkyGames® in Andorra and Spain. 

WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the Championships.

A number of collateral events will complete the festive weekend, including a half marathon, a mini SkyRace® for children and a cultural trek.

Programme, race and entry details will be published at a later date. Subscribe to our newsletter for all the news and follow us on twitter and Facebook for updates.

Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2015 – Race Preview

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!

Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.

Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!

Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.

However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!

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Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?

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One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?

2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.

Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?

My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci

Ones to watch:

Denise Bourassa 7th last year

Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014

Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win

Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera

Claire Price UTWT entrant

 

The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.

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It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.

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Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.

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Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!

Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!

Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.

Okay, now it gets tricky.

Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.

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Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.

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Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!

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Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.

Ones to watch:

Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50

Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.

Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012

David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k

Joe Grant

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” – race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.” – ©wser website

Race day is Saturday June 27th

Race website HERE

2015 entry list HERE

Latest news HERE