Merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas ©iancorless.com

 

Merry Christmas to you all!

What an amazing year 2013 has been. So many wonderful places, races, experiences and people. It would just be impossible to thank everyone individually. So, I am not going to try. Rest assured, if you are reading this you have contributed in one way or the other.

I feel very blessed for the opportunities.

I thank you all for the support and the encouragement. I am sure 2014 will be another great year. I hope you will all continue to join me on the journey.

Enjoy the holidays !

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30′s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

VK? no, we will go double – Matterhorn Ultraks

Kilian Jornet, Matterhorn Ultraks ©iancorless.com

Matterhorn Ultraks experienced a successful first year in 2013 with over 1‘000 runners taking part. The 46K flagship competition was one of five races included in the Skyrunner® World Series (SWS). Time flies and after the announcement by the ISF that Matterhorn Ultraks will once again be in the “SWS14′ it is time for the team to look ahead in preparation for the second edition scheduled for August 23, 2014. 

Proceeding towards the second edition of the event, the organisers are focusing on offering the competitors an unforgettable, quality driven experience and intend to make the 2014 edition synonymous with innovation.

The courses
The proven courses – «16K», «30K» and «46K» – have been truly appreciated by the competitors and will be renewed, the «46K» remaining an official race of the „Skyrunner® World Series“ and Trail fans will discover a new course, the «2VK» that starts from Zermatt to finish in Gornergrat.

Simon Anthamatten, Race director details: ‘The 2VK focuses on the uphill running, which makes it a perfect track for those who do not appreciate downhills. The track is actually exactly the first part of the 46K and with 1‘927 m of vertical, it almost is a double vertical kilometer, hence the name. To achieve such a climb, the runners will go over 14 km to the Gornergrat where they’ll have an unbelievable view on the Monte-Rosa mountain range and the Gornerglacier.“

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1000499More innovations
The 2VK is not the only 2014 innovation. ‘We listen carefully to the competitors feedback. They were very vocal about the finisher gift and to follow their wish, every runner crossing the finish line will receive a technical t-shirt Matterhorn Ultraks Finisher‘ says Michel Hodara, member of the organising committee.

Finally, by registering to a race, competitors automatically take part to a several draws allowing to win various gifts presented by the Matterhorn Ultraks partners or stays in Zermatt. In addition, those who will be the 2nd, 22nd, 222nd, 502nd 602nd, etc. will have their registrtion fee reimbursed. ‘It is our way to celebrate the second anniversary of the race’ adds Hodara.

Registrations open online on Sunday December 8 at 4 pm via the website www.ultraks.com.

Everest Trail Race – Day 2 Patan and Swayambhunath

Everest Trail Race ©iancorless.com

Image gallery and image sales available HERE

An incredible day exploring the sights, sounds, colours and meeting the people of Kathmandu. What an incredible place.

Located at the top of a hill, our day started with a visit to Swayambhunath (affectionately known as the Monkey Temple). The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’. However, Shing.kun may be a corruption of the local Nweari name for the complex, Singgu, meaning ‘self-sprung’. For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist sites.

We followed this with an excursion to Patan (Manigal). It is called city of Festival and Feast due to the fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.

Patan is on the elevated tract of land in Kathmandu Valley on the south side of the Bagmati River which separates it from the city of Kathmandu on the northern and western side. The Nakkhu Khola acts as the boundary on the southern side. It was developed on relatively thin layers of deposited clay and gravel in the central part of a dried ancient lake known as the Nagdaha.

It was the last day of a religious festival, so colours and flowers dominated, as did local people. It was a wonderful experience to absorb oneself and feel the spirit of the people.

Today, is the last day of sightseeing. A long 7-hour bus journey awaits tomorrow to our start camp. On Thursday, the race begins!

Namaste

Information from ©wikipedia

Everest Trail Race – The Participants

Everest Trail Race ©iancorless.comParticipants and staff have arrived in Kathmandu ready for the 2013 Everest Trail Race. A couple of days exploring before we leave for the race start, some 7-8 hours away by vehicle.

Here is a face of every runner.

ETR website and 2014 booking available HERE

 

Limone Extreme SKY race video

Limone Extreme ©iancorless.comGreat video here showing the terrain, climbing ability and descending ability of some of the best Skyrunners in the world. In particular, make sure you take note about 12-min in, this is why Kilian Jornet is the best in the world; look at his speed!

Enjoy!

Link HERE

The North Face at UTMB

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1020054

 

Here is a story of how the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc unfolded from behind the scenes for the whole team. Many congratulations to the runners, support crew and all participants who made it a wonderful day, night, day and night.

View the interactive gallery

HERE

all images and content ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

World Trail Championships 2013

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Lightfoot and Mauclair triumph in Llanrwst sunshine

7 July 2013 – In sweltering conditions Great Britain and France dominated this weekend at the 4th IAU Trail World Championships in Llanrwst.

There was home delight as Britain’s Ricky Lightfoot won the men’s individual race by almost 10 minutes, and in doing so led the GB and NI team to a superb team gold. In the female event France’s Nathalie Mauclair was equally impressive, as she demolished a world-class field and also headed-up team success for the France women.

The day had started under cloudless, blue skies on the famous bridge in Llanrwst, North Wales, with over 120 athletes assembled, ready to take on the tough Gwydyr Forest terrain and temperatures that were to hit 27 degrees centigrade by the time the afternoon sun revealed all of its warmth. The ultra-trail running event entertained runners from 18 countries including Australia, USA, Great Britain, France and the Czech Republic all lining-up to tackle the challenging 77km route.

The pattern of the race was soon to become apparent as GB athlete Ricky Lightfoot, France’s Julien Rancon and German Florian Neuschwander led the runners out onto the first tree-lined climb and the first of five 15km loops, before finally heading back into Llanrwst.

As the runners passed through the first of the checkpoints and back to the start of loop 2 at the Saw Bench (16km), it was Lightfoot and Rancon who were clear, and the electric atmosphere of the team support arena made for a gripping and exciting viewing area, as the runners took on hydration and words of encouragement from team staff.

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In the women’s race a clear pattern was already emerging as Nathalie Mauclair led through the Saw Bench, over 3 minutes up on French team-mates Aurelia Truel and Stephanie Duc.

Rancon and Lightfoot meanwhile remained locked in battle, and so it remained up to the 50k point, as the Briton began to pull away from the French athlete, and it was at this point that a heavy fall put paid to Rancon’s gold medal chances.

This left the door open for Neuschwander to begin his charge and as he passed Rancon, the German runner had Lightfoot on his radar. However, the power of the Briton was undeniable and for the next 25 km Ricky remained focused and strong, hardly putting a foot wrong and maintaining a consistent 10-11 minute lead all the way back to the finish line in Llanrwst, to take the home-crowd plaudits and obvious delight, becoming the new world champion in 5 hours 36 minutes and 3 seconds.

Behind a highly-excited Neuschwander (5:45:16) raced in for the silver, with an emotional Rancon (5:54:21) eventually crossing the line in third, realising that his fall on the technical Gwydyr course had cost him his chance of golden glory.

Speaking immediately after the race Lightfoot told the ecstatic crowd:

“I am glad that is over! The heat and the route were really, really hard today, and I was always aware that there were some great athletes behind me, so I couldn’t really relax.

“There were some time checks on the course, but I was also never really sure of just how far behind the guys were, so I just ran my own race and concentrated on finishing strong”.

It was apparent how much this meant to the British athlete who has cut his teeth on the fells of the Lake District in England, as he added:

“I really can’t quite believe it to be honest, being world champion is something you only dream of, it will take a while to sink in!”

Backed-up by fellow Brit Iain Ridgway in a superb 4th, Great Britain also triumphed in the team event, ahead of France and Germany.

Meanwhile in the women’s race there was to be no looking back for the majestic Mauclair, who gradually and impressively increased her advantage over the course of the 77km to race to victory in 6 hours 38 minutes and 45 seconds, a full 17 minutes clear of compatriot Truel (6:55:51) who took the silver medal. Italy’s Maria Chiara Parigi ran a superb second half of the race to claim the bronze medal (7:00:30) just ahead of first female British athlete Jo Zakrzewski in fourth.

World Trail Championship 2013, Joanna Zakrzewski, 1st GB female (5th in womens)

The French ladies were dominant winners of the team prize too, as Mauclair and Truel were backed up bu Duc in 6th place. Italy won the team silver, with Zakrzewski leading Great Britain to yet more success and the bronze medal.

In the supporting 10km event – which also included an International match, seeing athletes from Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and Brittany going head-to-head – there was an enthralling battle between Wales’ Andy Davies and Rob Samuel, as they swapped the lead throughout the technical and fast Gwydyr Forest tracks, with Davies (33:50) prevailing in the last 100m, just ahead of Samuel (33:53). Team-mate Alun Vaughan (34:59) made it a 1-2-3 for the Welsh boys, easily securing the team prize.

In the women’s race there was a great run from England’s Katie Walshaw (39:42), winning by over a minute ahead of Scotland’s Jenny Maclean (41:05) with Wales’ Kate Roberts (41:07) a mere 2 seconds behind in third. England won the women’s team prize.

Welsh Athletics and the Conwy Sport Development teams were also looking to the future too as they facilitated a roster of free-to-enter junior events and a family fun run, completing a festival of running and a day of which Wales and the UK could be proud.

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4th IAU Trail World Championships medal results

 

Men’s Individual

  • Gold – Ricky Lightfoot (Great Britain and NI) 5:36:03
  • Silver – Florian Neuschwander (Germany) 5:45:16
  • Bronze – Julien Rancon (France) 5:54:21

 

Women’s Individual

  • Gold – Nathalie Mauclair (France) 6:38:45
  • Silver – Aurelia Truel (France) 6:55:51
  • Bronze – Maria Chiara Parigi (Italy) 7:00:30

 

Men’s Team

  • Gold – Great Britain and Northern Ireland 17:47:59
  • Silver – France 17:58:14
  • Bronze – Germany 18:42:29

 

Women’s Team

  • Gold – France 20:46:16
  • Silver – Italy 21:28:22
  • Bronze – Great Britain and Northern Ireland 21:43:01

Full World Championship results are available online via this link http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/race-results.php?event=1386 and the International 10k results are here http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/race-results.php?event=1385

For further information on all of the events and links to the Championship’s social media offering, head to www.worldtrailwales2013.org

Mont Blanc VK – June 28th

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Four hundred participants will toe the line for an incredible Vertical Kilometer on a stunning world stage in Chamonix. Part of the Skyrunner World series.

1. RUSSIA: Mount Elbrus Vertical Kilometer®, Mount Elbrus – May 7
2. SPAIN: Cara Amón Vertical Kilometer®, Barruera – May 18
3. FRANCE: KM Vertical, Chamonix – June 28
4. GREECE:  Gerania Vertical Kilometer®, Loutraki – September 8
5. ITALY:  Vertical Grèste de la Mughéra, Limone sul Garda – October 11

The VK® is a 100% pure mountain experience. Runners will depart from the centre of Chamonix every 30 seconds to climb 1000m over 3.8km. The arrival at Plan Praz Gondola  Brevenet is preceded by rolling terrain in the early stages but is soon followed by tough and technical rocky sections ladders, ropes and cables! Not recommended if you have vertigo…

Please note: Poles are not allowed.

The action starts at 16:00 local time on Friday June 28th.

Follow Talk Ultra on Twitter, Facebook and on this website for the event.

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