Ronda dels Cims, Andorra 170km Preview

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It’s only 170km’s long. Don’t worry; it only has 13,000m of vertical gain and loss. It’s 94% single track, 5% path/trail and 1% on road so you can make up some time! It has 13 aid stations, starts on Friday 21st June at 0700 and you have 62 hours to complete the event. Easy! I don’t think so…

Logo_Skyrunning_World_SeriesTwelve months ago on the island of La Palma, Skyrunning held a conference post Transvulcania La Palma and pre Zegama-Aizkorri. The conference was called, ‘Less Cloud, More Sky’. It assembled some of the best ultra runners from around the world, team managers, ancillary staff and journalists. The purpose was to help forge a direction for the sport. To cut a long story short, what was apparent was the need for technical courses that would attract and test the best runners in the world. Also, the 100-mile distance, for many, was perceived as the one distance that Skyrunning did not cover. Twelve months down the road, or should I say the trail and we have Ronda del Cims, now in its fifth year. Possibly one of the toughest, gnarly 100 mile races on the planet.

With less than a month to the start of one of the most important mountain competitions, the ‘Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord’, a series of races starting at 10km and culminating in the main event, the 170km Ronda dels Cims.

Over 2,000 athletes will arrive in Ordino, Andorra from June 20th to 23rd to participate in an event that for them will be a tough and life changing personal challenge. In simple terms, the races on offer are hard, technical and pure. They offer a total immersion in nature and as such, must be completely respected.

The 2013 edition of the race will be particularly challenging. Due to a harsh and prolonged winter, several peaks and mountain passes will almost certainly have snow. Believe me, the fifth edition of the Ronda dels Cims has all the makings of a classic. So. Lets look who are the likely contenders in the female and male race over the 170km distance.

LADIES

The ladies race has all the makings of being a classic. We have some very tough mountain ladies taking part, all in with a chance of winning this race!

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker, 2012 UTMB copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker (The North Face) needs no introduction. Unlike Emilie, Lizzy has no specialization. She is an out and out ultra runner and performs to the highest level on road, trail or mountains. A multiple champion at the TNFUTMB she will bring all that experience to Ronda dels Cims. In the latter half of 2012 she had a real purple patch with wins at a shortened TNFUTMB, Spartathlon and Run Rabbit Run. However, she did have injury issues over the Christmas period. They have now cleared up and to get 2013 rolling she raced at Annapurna 100k and won the ladies race. She then decided to break her own personal record running from Everest base camp to Kathmandu (319km/ 198m) in 63 hours and 08 minutes (here) smashing her previous record. Not content with running for 63 hours, Lizzy then raced the 277km Mustang Trail Race and was 2nd overall. However, just recently she entered the 24-hour championships and pulled out. Apparently all is well with Lizzy and her focus is now on Ronda dels Cims. I have to say, that Lizzy has not only the potential to win the ladies race but the race outright.

UPDATE June 6th, An email from Lizzy “As it turns out I’ve just had an MRI confirming a stress fracture in my foot. So, Hardrock would have been off the cards, and now I also have to pull out of Ronda del Cims.”

Francesca Canepa copyright iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa copyright iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Team Vibram) placed 2nd to Lizzy Hawker at the reduced TNFUTMB in 2012 but then just seven days later lined up at the Tor des Geants and won it. An incredible double. Like many other ladies in this race, she loves tough and technical. The distance will not be a problem for her and when in form, she can push Lizzy, Emilie, Nerea and the rest right to the line. A very exciting addition to the race.

Emilie Lecomte far right, Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Emilie Lecomte far right, Transvulcania 2013 copyright Ian Corless

Long distance specialist Emilie Lecomte (Quechua) from France comes to Andorra after a very successful 2012. She set a new course record on the GR20 long trail in Corsica and she won the tough and technical, 100m Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion) on Reunion Island. She recently raced at Transvulcania La Palma and although placed 5th overall she was 2 hours behind race winner, Emelie Forsberg. Without a doubt, Ronda dels Cims is a completely different race to Transvulcania and for sure, Emilie will revel in the tough and technical aspects that this race brings.

Nerea Martinez copyright cmdsport.com

Nerea Martinez copyright cmdsport.com

Nerea Martinez (Salomon Santiveri) has already had a successful 2013. She won the 119km Transgrancanaria, won the Apuko 83km, won the Royal Raida 79km and just last month, won the 115km Ultra Trail Madeira. Wow! That is some start to 2013 and looking at her schedule, she has lots more planned! Without doubt she is in form but two of those races in the last two months, Transgrancanaria and Ultra Trail Madeira have been tough and long days out, 17h: 16m and 19h: 15m respectively. One has to question if these will leave Nerea a little jaded for Ronda dels Cims, if not, watch this space.

Julia Boettger copyright iancorless.com

Julia Boettger copyright iancorless.com

Julia Boettger (Salomon) is equally at home on the long tough trails. In 2012 she was on the podium behind Emilie Lecomte at Diagonal des Fous so she has all the required credentials, strength and mental fortitude to battle over a very tough and technical 170km. She was due to race Transgrancanaria earlier in 2013 but picked up a virus in the days before. She was due to race the 115km Penyagolosa Trails but she either did not start or pulled out. Ronda dels Cims will be her first big race in 2013 and without doubt she will arrive prepared for the battle. 

Update, 18th June. Julia has had to withdraw from the race for personal reasons.

Hiroko Suzuki (Salomon) gets a notable mention as another name to watch.  Hiroko placed 2nd in UTMF in 2012 and was 4th at Tor des Geants. Without doubt she has experience of long tough races and will be one to watch.

Karine Sanson will also perform to the best of her ability and push all the way.

MEN

Julien Chorier copyright mudsweatandtears.co.uk

Julien Chorier copyright mudsweatandtears.co.uk

The men’s field on paper has less depth than the ladies field. The out-and-out favorite is Julien Chorier. He excels on tough and technical terrain and as a previous winner of Hardrock 100, he will come to Ronda dels Cims understanding 100% what is required to win the race. In early 2012 he won the 100m UTMF in Japan. When TNFUTMB was shortened he left Chamonix and like Emilie Lecomte he made an attempt on the GR20 in Corsica. His plan was to break Kilian Jornet’s record time. However, the weather was against him. Just a few months ago he returned to Japan and this time he placed 2nd at UTMF. Renowned for meticulous preparation, he will be racing in Andorra with only objective, to win!

Jared Campbell copyright La Sportiva

Jared Campbell copyright La Sportiva

*Breaking news… no sooner had I done this preview and I was made aware that Jared Campbell (La Sportiva) would be toeing the line at Ronda dels Cims. Why has this now been confirmed? Well, he ‘tweeted’ this just a few hours ago… “The Andorra course (Ronda dels Cims) looks to be in primo condition! Is it bad that this gets me excited?”

Jared without doubt brings a whole new mix to the men’s race. He is notorious for tough and technical races. Without doubt he will embrace the course in Andorra and embrace the challenge it will bring. One of the very few to finish Barkley, Jared will tough this course out to the bitter end. He recently ran at Pocatello 50 and said he had tired legs but that will have been a training run for the end of June and then Hardrock 100.

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Bruno Brunod (Team Forte di Bard) is a legend in Skyrunning. Born in 1962 he has a list of achievements that we can only bow down to and acknowledge:

Record ascent and descent of Matterhorn from Cervinia in 3 hours and 14 minutes. Record of ascent and descent of the Monte Rosa from Gressoney in 4 hours and 45 minutes. Record ascent and descent of Aconcagua in 5 hours and 57 minutes. Record ascent of Kilimanjaro on the Marangu route in 5 hours and 38 minutes. Record ascent of Mount Elbert in 1 hours and 54 minutes. Just like Kilian Jornet, he is a true Alpinist. I have very little knowledge of his recent attempts and endeavors but his palmares alone mean that he should be respected and certainly he will be one-to-watch.

Matt Cooper copyright mattcooper.com.au

Matt Cooper copyright mattcooper.com.au

Matt Cooper (Salomon Australia) is currently training in Chamonix preparation for the race. He was 5th at TNF 100 in 2012 and may add an element of the unknown to the front of the race. He was due to race Bogong to Hotham in January but that race was cancelled. At Cradle Mountain Ultra (82k) he placed 3rd, recently won the 100k Alpine Challenge in 12:31 so he looks to be coming in to form.

Terry Conway at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Terry Conway at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Terry Conway (X-Bionic) from the UK is new to Skyrunning. In the UK he has had great success with wins and course records on the Lakeland 100 course but his recent trips to Europe to run at Cavalls del Vent and then La Course des Templiers gave no real indication of his ability to perform against much more competitive fields. In early 2013 he raced at Ultra Trail Barcelona and placed 3rd. He has been out on the Lakeland fells and mountains in recent months gaining time on his legs and accumulating as much vertical as possible. However, the trails in Andorra are a long way removed from those in the UK.

Dave James, The Coastal Challenge copyright iancorless.com

Dave James, The Coastal Challenge copyright iancorless.com

Dave James from the US has been immersing himself in Skyrunning recently. He raced at Transvulcania La Palma, Zegama-Aizkorri and now he will line up at Ronda dels Cims. Dave has a pedigree. He is a 100m US champion and has a fastest 100m time of just over 13 hours. However, he is just not used to the technical terrain that Andorra will throw at him. He is spending time on the course in the coming weeks. It will be a big learning curve buy he is under no illusions of what lies ahead.

Ty Draney copyright door5.com

Ty Draney copyright door5.com

Ty Draney (Patagonia Ultra Running Team) from the US is 38 years old and has over a decade of ultra running experience to fall back on. Way back in 2003 he placed 4th at Bear 100, a race that he then went on to win in 2008. He has placed top 20 at Hardrock 100 and most recently won Grand Teton 100m in 2009, placed 3rd at Grindstone 100m in 2010 and was 5th at The Bear in 2012. His recent form is open to question and a 27th placing at Gorge Waterfalls 50k in March leaves us with little indication of he will perform over 100+m tough mountain miles.

Finally, Nico Valesia (Salomon Agisko) I know little about. His most recent results are as follows: 1st Trail Bianco di Cesana 24 km,  1st Mini Trail di Gargallo,  2nd Trail Lago di Como 106 km,  2nd Trail del LAgo d’Orta 63 km,  7th Trail Oulx 48 km.

18th June, Nico has had to withdraw with an injury

One thing is for sure, Ronda dels Cims will be an incredible few days of ultra mountain trail running. Although I have highlighted the ‘elite’ runners one cannot rule out local talent who will have knowledge and experience of the trails, conditions and mountain. It will be very exciting!

Ones to watch:

Oscar Perez Lopez (2012 winner of the race), Uli Calmbach, Kenichi Yamamoto , Hugues Vos, Pep Ballester Gomes, John Todd, Amando Jorge Teixeira, Jean-Hugues Vos, Pep Ballester Gomes, Jordi Comas Corral, Jordi Codina Ventura and Marc Llucià Fleitas.

You will be able to follow the action unfold via Twitter, Facebook and via iancorless.com 

  • The race website is HERE
  • Skyrunning HERE

Dragon’s Back Race – DVD

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“YOU ARE MOST ALIVE WHEN YOU ARE MOST FEARFUL”

I love a good movie! I don’t mind if it is in the cinema or at home. Both have pluses and minuses.

A big plus of the cinema is popcorn from the ticket desk and of course, when I am in my seat, that is it. I don’t move until the movies over… you see, I am always easily distracted. I always have ‘something’ to do!

At home I can kick back, put my feet up, get a glass of wine and hopefully relax. If the movie doesn’t grab me, I often find I am reaching for my laptop and then I somehow multi task. More to the point, my work gets my attention and the movie drifts away from my mind and it becomes a distant memory.

This didn’t happen with the Dragon’s Back Race!

Running movies are a tough call. If you are ‘interested’ and by that, I mean a runner or enthusiastic sports person, you can often continue watching a poor movie because the content enthrals you. Very few running movies have been ale to combine key elements and not only provide a great story but also be able to tell it in a visual way, with thoughtful dialogue and importantly a great soundtrack. For comparison I mention ‘The Runner’ by JB Benna, a story about David Horton running the Pacific Crest Trail (2,700 miles) and most recently, “A fine line – Summits of my life” by Sebastian Montaz-Rosset. As I am sure many of you will know, this movie documents Kilian Jornet over the first of his Summits series. I consider the latter filmmaker, Seb Montaz, a master of his craft.

Lets cut to the chase!

I loved the Dragon’s Back Race dvd. It provides a movie experience for all. I strongly feel, very much like the James Cracknell documentary on the Marathon des Sables, that this movie is extremely watchable and intereting for all concerned.

It really does tick all the boxes.

An epic journey, stunning scenery and locations, thoughtful and meaningful story telling, glory, pain, struggles and strife. Not only that, but for the most part, the sun was shining in Wales… that doesn’t happen often, does it!

Documenting the story of eighty four runners, from fifteen countries, the Dragon’s Back Race takes hold of you from the start as the dulcet tones of a male voice choir and the views on Conway Castle lead us into a journey of 300km over five days and altitude gains of 17,000m. The last year this race was held was in 1992.

The film takes you into the heart of the 2012 race as the competitors navigate an individual path down the spine of Wales. Never has Wales looked so good on film.

It’s a compelling and beautiful story. Remote, relentless, ruthless but ravishing.

“I expect to suffer much physical pain” says Rob Baker, eventually placing second overall.

As with all races, somebody comes first and somebody comes last. Without doubt, the film follows the battle for the front of the race between Steve Birkinshaw, Rob Baker and Patrick Devine Wright. But for balance, a wonderful insight is provided into Helene Whitaker (she raced the Dragon’s Back in 1992 and won it). She conveys true mountain spirit, “You don’t enter something like this if you know you can finish it”. And she is right, by day four, from the eighty four starters, only 28 people are left in the race.

One of the twenty eight, is no61 and of course, she is sixty one years old, Wendy Dodd. Also a participant in the 1992 race, she personifies true mountain spirit, guts and a desire to achieve, “It is far more harmful to be inactive than active” she retorts, poles in hand as she powers up a climb. On leaving a checkpoint after a well earned rest and refuel, she stops, turns to the camera and says, “Got to get to the post office before it closes, I need to get my pension”.

It is this humility, this passion and I guess the quirkiness of all those who undertake such challenges that gives the Dragon’s Back Race such broad appeal.

If anyone asks you in the future, “What is mountain running like in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales?”

Point them in the direction of the Dragon’s Back Race dvd. They won’t be disappointed.

Links:

The dvd is available HERE

What others are saying:

“Breathtaking” – Trail Running Magazine

“Awesome endurance and stunning filming” – UKHillwalking.com

“One of the great running documentaries. A must see for any runner” – Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

“A film of epic proportions” – MudSweatandTears.co.uk

“Remote, Relentless, Ruthless and Ravishing” – talkultra.com

Many thanks to Shane Ohly for my advance copy of the dvd and the opportunity to review it, *Please note, I am not connected to the Dragon’s Back Race in any way. This is an impartial review.

Asian Traveler – Skyrunning

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You can see a full set of IMAGES from TROFEO KIMAHERE

You can download the full PDF article HERE and it includes an additional article on Kinabalu – “Climax at Kinabalu”

Skyrunning World Series Participants 2013

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SWS – champions choice

Building on the 2012 Skyrunner® World Series success and the introduction of the Ultras, 2013 prepares for an even bigger star-studded cast.

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The line-up of champions is headed by 2012 SWS winners Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas, joined by past world champions Emanuela Brizio, Oihana Kortazar, Luis Alberto Hernando and Tofol Castanyer and WMRA champions Marco De Gasperi and Stevie Kremer.

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

With some of the big American ultra legends crossing the pond last year to get a taste of skyrunning, the word is out!  Joining them this year: Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Rickey Gates, Mike Foote, Timothy Olson, Joe Grant….

Kilian and Tony Krupicka copyright Ian Corless

Kilian and Tony Krupicka copyright Ian Corless

Dakota Jones copyright Ian Corless

Dakota Jones copyright Ian Corless

It’s full immersion for Kilian Jornet who, with his unique skills, will participate in no less than all three Series:  Vertical, Sky and Ultra!

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker will be toeing the start-line at the Series’ first 100-miler while Anna Frost will take part in both the Sky and the Ultra Series.  The mix includes Phillip Reiter and Julia Böttger from Germany, top French names:  Francois d’Haene, Julien Chorier, Michel Lanne, Yann Curien, Maud Gobert and Stephanie Jimenez, Britons Andy Symonds and Tom Owens, Canada’s Adam Campbell.

Marco de Gasperi - copyright Ian Corless

Marco de Gasperi – copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost copyright Ian Corless

Strong team participation is engaged right across the Series headed by the heavy-duty Salomon team as well as hefty, international line-ups from inov-8, La Sportiva, Salomon Agisko and Arc’teryx, The North Face, Haglöfs, Montrail, Scott as well teams from Spain, Italy, Russia, Japan

Take a look at the mix here.  Have we got everybody?

You’re still in time to join the throng and remember, if you’re competing in the World Series, there’s always a slot available for you.

Follow us for who goes where as the skyrunning season unfolds.

Follow the action on Skyrunning HERE

Follow on Talk Ultra HERE

On Twitter @talkultra

Kilian Jornet – A Trail Running Island

Imagine an Island in the Indian Ocean: mountains, rainforest..a population passionate about trailrunning, a race going on it’s 20th edition. We are on the Island of La Réunion, A Trail Running Island – enjoy !

Salomon Running TV S2 E13

Emotions of 2012

What a year! what a year indeed… it is the last day of 2012 and like so many others I wanted to sit down, reflect on what has happened and put a post together documenting some of the special moments of 2012. But as I looked back, so many sprung to mind… many moments I witnessed through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and others I witnessed first hand. So I have decided to select key moments that I witnessed personally, however, before I do that I do want to give a ‘nod’ to some key moments that I didn’t witness first hand…

Australian Pat Farmer finally made it to the South Pole after starting at the North Pole (view here). Pat is a multiple world record holder for endurance running. He has run around Australia and across North America twice.

Salomon launched the Sense. A shoe that created a stir and a buzz that could only be compared to the same sort of buzz around an iPhone, iPad or equally another key moment of 2012, the Suunto Ambit.

Ryan Sandes arguably one of the best ultra performers in 2012 started of his year in style with a win at the Vibram 100km in Hong Kong.

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Micah True passed way from heart related issues while out running in Mexico. The ultra community bonded together as initially he was lost for days causing Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall (Micah was made famous in the book ‘Born to Run‘) to travel to Mexico and aid the search for him.

Jez Bragg won the Fellsman race for the 3rd time in preparation for his attempt on winning the UTMB. Unfortunately Jez was plagued throughout 2012 with stomach issues. We are pleased to say that he now seems to have rectified these issues and is currently blazing a trail on ‘The Long Pathway‘ in New Zealand.

Kilian Jornet announced his new project ‘Summits of my Life‘. A long term project that will take four years, during which he will travel to the greatest mountain ranges in the world attempting to climb some of the most breathtaking peaks and come back down again as fast as he can. Unfortunately on the first project, the crossing of Mont Blanc, the project was struck with disaster as Kilian’s ski guide and partner for the project, Stéphane Brosse fell to his death. Kilian devestated by the incident spent time with Stéphane’s family and withdrew from Western States.

muntanyes

The big dance, Western States did not disappoint with two incredible performances and two course records. Timothy Olson beat Geoff Roes record with an incredible performance made all the sweeter when you hear his incredible life story… (listen to our interview on Talk Ultra) Ellie Greenwood confirmed herself as possibly the greatest female ultra runner of the moment breaking Ann Trason‘s long standing (considered by many unbeatable) course record.

Ellie greenwood

Dakota Jones after a storming win at Transvulcania La Palma went to Hardrock 100 as the one to beat… as it happened, Hal Koerner took the win with Joe Grant in second place.

Speedgoat 50K raised the question about trail, course markings and when and when you should not deviate from a course… ultimately our one and only Speedgoat made a decision that relegated Kilian Jornet from the top of the podium and replaced him with his team mate Rickey Gates. It all got a little crazy and of course RD’s will now make sure they specify the ‘rules’ when putting a race briefing together.

UTMB – It rained, it snowed, the cloud came in, the course got shortened and Lizzy Hawker won her fifth UTMB albeit NOT the UTMB as it was not a full course, so, Lizzy will be back! Francois d’Haene however was very pleased with his win over the shortened course.

Just a week after the UTMB, Francesca Canepa from the Vibram Team turned up at the super tough and long Tor des Geants and won it… amazing considering just 7 days before she was second behind Lizzy Hawker.

Lance Armstrong… need I say more!

Mike Morton had an incredible 2012 with a stunning performance at Badwater 135 just missing the CR by 75 seconds. In addition to this, Mike ran and won may 100′s all around the 13 hour mark. However his performance of the year came in Poland at the 24 hour Championships. Running 277.54 kms he dislodged Scott Jurek as the Amercan holder and set a new benchmark.

Kilian Jornet went back to his ‘Summits‘ project and set a second record on Mont Blanc. This time crossing from Italy (Courmayer) to France (Chamonix) in 8hrs 40min. Article here

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Fresh from a record attempt over Mont Blanc, Kilian Jornet went to Mt Kinabalu Climbathon in Borneo as part of the Skyrunning calendar, won and became World Champion…. again! Of course this race had some controversy as it didn’t go to the summit. Another outstanding performance was that of Emelie Forsberg, she won the ladies race and in doing so confirmed herself as one of the most talented and dominant females of 2012. Kilian now warmed up went over to Reunion Island and took on the tough ‘Raid de la Reunion‘. He made it look easy and he even had time to do interviews at the feed stations during the race… without doubt, Kilian is one of the most talented and gifted athletes in the world.

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Max King and Ellie Greenwood blazed a trail and set records (once again) at JFK 50… oh, did I mention Max’s run at UROC and did I mention Karl Meltzer and Lizzy Hawker winning at Run Rabbit Run… of course, what about Miguel Heras and Emelie Forsberg at San Francisco 50Darn it…. so many great moments…. what about Lizzy Hawker at Spartathlon, second overall and a new female record.

So finally Skyrunning announce the new calendar for 2013 and the big news is a simpler format, the inclusion of a 100 mile race and a season final in America at the Ultra Race of Champions. Without doubt (I am biased) Skyrunning was a game changer in 2012 and the new calendar has already created great excitement for the coming year…

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Believe me, the above list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure I will look back and think… ooh, what about this and what about that… I could go on.

But now here is my pick of personal moments from a great year. Rest assured, I am picking one month; one moment!

JANUARY

Talk Ultra was launched and thank goodness the format of an ultra running podcast that was more than just interviews was accepted. Taking the risk to do a ‘long show’ seemed to pay off and the loyal followers and support has been fantastic. I can’t thank you all enough for the growth of the podcast and 2013 will see it grow!

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FEBRUARY

For the 7th year running I went out to Club La Santa on Lanzarote and had another incredible week training in the sun with friends and clients. It has become a fixture in my year and never fails to disappoint. 2013 will see us arrive on the Canary Island once again for more fun in the sun.

Lanz

MARCH

A race fixture on my calendar for several years, the EcoTrail de Paris came around once again and I went out to Paris with Niandi for another great weekend of running and spending time in our favourite city. As it turned out we both had terrible races and DNF’d at the same time… you can always learn something!

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APRIL

I was fortunate enough to be invited over to Turkey to take part in and report on the inaugural Iznik Ultra. I had only been to Turkey once before, many many years before and that was to the South. So I  was very excited to spend time in Istanbul with Niandi and then head down to Iznik. The race was superb offering a selection of race distances over a varied course. Both Niandi and myself took part in the 60k event. I was pleased to come away with a win and Niandi made the podium in 2nd place in the ladies race.

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MAY

May signified a change in my year and very much set a format for what was to come… I was invited to the Transvulcania La Palma on the island of La Palma. Skyrunning had assembled one of the most competitive fields in ultra you will ever see or witness. It turned out to be a who’s who of ultra running. The whole experience is a memory I will never forget… training on the trails pre and post race with the best in the world, witnessing the race were Dakota Jones ran an incredible course record for the win and were Frosty (Anna Frost) set and smashed the old course record in what was to be one of the best performances of the year. This was followed with the conference ‘Less Cloud, More Sky‘ providing the ultra community an opportunity to help establish a direction for the sport in the future. We all then packed up and moved to mainland Spain for ‘Zegama‘ but that’s another story…

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JUNE

Zegama arrived and the heat and sun of La Palma was replaced with rain and mud. Lots of mud. Kilian Jornet just 7 days earlier had collapsed on the finish line at Transvulcania La Palma with exhaustion. At Zegama he showed his recovery powers and showed everyone in the race how to run in the cold, wet and mud. Oihana Kortazar took out the win for the ladies ahead of Nuria Picas who was slowly becoming ‘runner of the year’.

Nuria Picas - Zegama

Nuria Picas – Zegama

JULY

The Pyrenees and an invitation from ARC’TERYX to go and test out the new clothing range called ‘Endorphin‘ on the Skyrunning Ribargoza VK course. Great friends, great memories and some stunning scenery.

Arcteryx - Pyrenees

AUGUST

Wow – Trofeo Kima and one of the most impressive run courses I have ever seen. I was told by Lauri Van Houten before the event that this course would blow my mind. Little did I expect what lay ahead… 6 hours being flown around via helicopter on the most stunning and awe inspiring run terrain I have ever witnessed. Kilian Jornet won the mens race and Nuria Picas won the ladies race. A stunning stunning race that signifies everything that Skyrunning is. Want to enter…? Don’t hold your breath. This race happens only every other year and typically only has about 125 places available.

Kilian 4

SEPTEMBER

Berga in September, the weather breaks and Cavalls del Vent turns into a race of survival. Despite runners struggling with hypothermia the race produced a classic. The mens race was competitive seeing Kilian Jornet once again taking the win but this time ahead of Tony Krupicka finally finding some form after over 18 months out of the sport due to injury. Finishing off the podium was Dakota Jones. The ladies race produced the race of the year for me… so often in the longer distance races we see an outright winner crossing the line with 10′s of minutes to spare… not here! Nuria Picas, Frosty and Emelie Forsberg pushed each other right to the line with Nuria taking the win on home ground.

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OCTOBER

Southern France in the town of Millau. The temperatures dropped and I slowly froze myself following the La Course des Templiers, the final in the Skyrunning calendar. I will remember this race for the incredible win by Nuria Picas ahead of a sprinting Emelie Forsberg who put Lizzy Hawker into third place. In addition to this, Kilian Jornet and Nuria Picas were crowned World Champions. Incredible performers in an incredible series of races.

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NOVEMBER

The quiet town of Begeggi on the Italian coast and the Berg Trail. I had an invite from Salomon Carnifast to follow and photograph the race to help promote the first edition of the race. The race was being attended by mountain running legend, Marco de Gasperi. In the weeks before the race I contacted Stevie Kremer who had moved from America to Italy earlier in the year. We had met at Sierre-Zinal where Marco de Gasperi won the race and Stevie placed second. Marco unfortunately went of course in the Berg Trail and therefore spoiled any chances of a win. Stevie however showed her class winning the ladies race convincingly and placed top 10 in the overall. A name to watch for the future…

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DECEMBER

After a stunning year of following races, reporting and photographing I finally took some time out and headed back to the island of La Palma with my partner Niandi to play on the Transvulcania La Palma course. Two weeks of perfect weather and stunning trails provided the perfect end to a stunning year. It was great to spend that time on the trails in our own space and in our own time. Running when we could, hiking when we couldn’t run and walking when no other option was left… the latter half of the year was plagued by knee issues for me and although they havent gone, my time on the Transvulcania course with Niandi was a real highlight in an incredible year!

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support I have received in 2012. From race organisers, athletes, team managers, brand managers and all those connected to the sport I love. In particular I would like to thank Niandi for her patience. I also need to give a special mention to Lauri Van Houten and Marino Giacometti from Skyrunning for the trust they placed in me for 2012 and the continued trust for 2013.

It has been an awesome year and 2013 is already looking like another year of moments, emotions and memories.

Sincere thanks to all of you

Episode 25 Talk Ultra

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Episode 25 – MERRY CHRISTMAS. A super stacked festive show with some incredible stars of 2012. Our show includes interviews with Ellie Greenwood, Timoth Olson, Western States RD Craig Thornley, Ryan Sandes and Lizzy Hawker. We announce the winners of ‘A Year inthe life of…’. Talk Training is about heart rate training and Karl, Ian Sharman and myself review the year. Merry Christmas to you all and thank you for making 2012 a great year!


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

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

Website – talkultra.com

SHOW NOTES:

Merry Christmas everybody and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your fantastic support in 2012. The Talk Ultra community is nothing without all of you.

Here is to a fantastic 2013 !

00:00:00 Intro and hold your breath….. a Christmas jingle from Ian

00:02:40 Show start

00:11:40 Ellie Greenwood talks about an incredible 2012 season and what lies in store for 2013

00:32:50 Back to the show

00:38:30 Craig Thornley is the new RD for Western States. He takes the reigns in 2013 and in our interview we discuss the iconic 100 miler

01:05:58 Back to the show.

01:09:36 Timothy Olson discusses setting that CR at Western States and how life has had to adapt to the birth of his first child.

01:28:25 Ryan Sandes tells us about a superb 2012 and how he has become one of the premier ultra runners in the world.

01:48:20 ‘A Year in the life of….’ we announce the winners!

01:51:30 A quick chat with the female winner – A Year in the life of…

01:56:20 A quick chat with the male winner – A Year in the life of…

02:02:00 News

02:22:40 Blog - Joe Grant - Alpine Works

02:23:50 Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite – Hear Rate Training

02:51:12 An interview with Lizzy Hawker… Lizzy needs no introduction. In 2012 she won UTMB for the 5th time, won Run Rabbit Run and then set a CR at Spartathlon, all within a few weeks. We discuss her career and what makes her tick.

03:19:28 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl

03:21:40 Up and Coming Races

03:22:55 Close

03:28:30

Cavalls del Vent Registration

‘Get Ready’ S3 EP 10 – UTMB

Another great video from the ‘Get Ready‘ series of films that feature The North Face and possibly one of my favourite ultra runners of all time, Sebastian Chaigneau.

Seb running up Notre Dame de la Gorge

Seb is a great guy. He always has time to talk, chat, relax and give advice. We have actually a 60 minute interview with Seb ready to transcribe and and edit for Talk Ultra, so we must aim to get that out soon…

This film captures the 2012 The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.

As you may know, I was at the race and managed to catch up with Francos D’haene, Lizzy Hawker and Mike Foote after the race. You can listen to the interviews HERE or HERE on iTunes.

Seb the day after the race keeping his eyes protected

I spoke with Seb after the race and he told me how his vision disappeared and how frightened he became. I’m glad to say he is recovering well.

Here is a great movie that captures the atmosphere of UTMB 2012.

UTMB 2012 quick review

 

Well, the rain came, the snow fell and the course was quite rightly considered too dangerous to send so many runners to potential harm. With rain forecast for all of the race evening, snow above 1600m and possible drifts with -5 temperatures the TNFUTMB organisation decided to cut short the route to 100k, keep it below a certain altitude and keep the whole race in France. Using a ‘sort of’ figure of 8 loop the runners would go out and come back on themselves primarily through Contamines and Les Houches and then finish as planned in Chamonix.

Of course this is not what any runner wanted to hear. All the money, all the time training and focussing on a target race for it all to be removed at the last minute. If this was the first time then we could all say ‘bad luck’! But unfortunately this is the fourth year in a row the race has had problems and although they cannot control the weather and I do believe they made the correct decision I can’t help but wonder why they can’t plan ahead and have a ‘safe’ longer route available as an option.

Certainly the lack of a longer route saw pre race favourites, Julian Chorier and Iker Karrera defect from the race. Juian heading to the GR20 and Iker doing a ‘flyer’ to make the start of the GoreTex Transalpine race at 2100hrs that very same day.

However, a very good field remained with Francois d’Haene, Jonas Buud, Mike Foote, Csaba Nemeth, Jez Bragg, Sebastian Chaigneau, Miguel Heras, Carlos Sa and Kaburaki amongst others ready to fight it out in the dark and wet.

In the ladies race pre race favourite, Lizzy Hawker looked ready and happy to run. Emma Rocca, Krissy Moehl, Amy Sproston, Rory Bosio, Francesca Canepa and Katia Fori all took to the start.

Lizzy Hawker set her table very early and never let up. I saw her at Notre Dame de Gorge and she was running a gradient others walked. She was pushing hard, so hard she never came out of the top 20 overall. Lizzy took a great win in 12:32:13 and was 16th overall. Following in second place was Francesca Canepa from Vibram. She ran a strong consistent race and took an excellent podium slot behind Lizzy in 13:17:01. Emma Rocca filled the vacant podium slot in 13:23:37.

Lizzy triumphant for a 5th time

In the mens race Francois d’Haene took the lead out of Contamines and slowly pulled away. My tip for the shortened race was Jonas Buud. I felt that 2:22 marathon speed and WR 100m time would play into his hands and allow him to runner quicker in the final stretches of the race. Not so! Francois finally finished with a 30 minute lead in 10:32:36 leaving Buud in 2nd with 11:03:19. Revelation of the race was super talented Mike Foote. He ran easy for 30k saying he was thinking of quitting. At 50k he felt much better and then just speeded up. In doing so he moved from way outside the top 10 and just kept picking runners off until he finished on the podium in 3rd in 11:19:00.

Francois on the climb Notre dame de Gorge

Notable drops was Seb Chaigneau who was lying in 4th place and with just 10k to go dropped due to problems with vision. Jez Bragg dropped early with stomach issues and Miguel Heras dropped too.

In the ladies I guess the big looser was Krissy Moehl but in real terms she has had a super crazy calendar and to perform at UTMB was unlikely.

RESULTS

MEN

  • François D’Haene 10:32:36
  • Jonas Buud 11:03:19
  • Mike Foote 11:19:00 
  • Carlos Sa 11:22:39
  • Csaba Nemeth 11:37:18
  • Jean-Yves Rey  11:43:48
  • François Faivre 11:51:32
  • Arnaud Lejeune 11:53:17
  • Sébastien Buffard 11:57:47
  • Tsuyoshi Kaburaki 12:03:04

LADIES

  • Lizzy Hawker 12:32:13
  • Francesca Canepa 13:17:01
  • Emma Roca 13:23:37
  • Rory Bosio 13:43:10
  • Katia Fori 13:58:25
  • Magdalena Laczak 14:07:50
  • Fernanda Maciel 14:12:01
  • Amy Sproston 14:13:35
  • Emelie Lecomte 14:35:54
  • Nerea Martinez 14:58:59

View my photos Faces of UTMB here