Limone Extreme 2014 Race Preview

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All good things must come to an end… at least for this year! The 2014 Skyrunner® World Series concludes this weekend in the mountains that surround Lake Garda.

On Friday the VK will commence as the light fades and darkness surrounds the mountains. Sunday the SKY race takes place over a course of 23.5km’s and 2000m +/-. Two races, one great weekend of running and at conclusion we will have newly crowned male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions for both VK and SKY distances.

As one would expect, these two races are attracting a who’s who of the Skyrunning world.

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Vertical Kilometre

In the VK, La Sportiva and Salomon are fielding two very strong teams. Illuminated by the glow of head torches, a very interesting battle will unfold.

©iancorless.comIMG_2050Canazei2014 Urban Zemmer is the outright favourite after winning Limone Extreme in 2013 and in the process winning the Skyrunner® World Series. However, La Sportiva teammates, Nejc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet, Marco Facchinhelli and Marco Moletto will be looking to pull rank and gain valuable points.

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Kilian Jornet has been training hard and as we all know, can never be ruled out when it comes to head-to-head racing uphill. Add to the mix, Marco De Gasperi and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and the Limone Extreme VK looks set to be a classic.

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For the ladies, 2013 Skyrunner® World Series champion, Laura Orgue, like Zemmer is the outright favourite. This lady has been unbeatable uphill in 2013 and I don’t think Limone will be any different.

©iancorless.comIMG_3879Stevie Kremer will push and push and look to gain an advantage as will Christel Dewalle, Antonella ConfortlaEmelie Forsberg, Sara Longoni, Francesca Rossi, Beatrice Delflorian and surprise entrant, Julia Bleasdale. Julia is an exciting prospect from the UK and I am extremely keen to see how this Olympian performs.

 

SKY RACE

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Do you want to bet against Kilian Jornet? No, me neither. Kilian has excelled in 2014 and other than placing 2nd to Luis Alberto Hernando at Transvulcania; the Catalan has won every rave (VK’s excluded). Kilian has been training hard and Limone will see one chapter close for 2014 before the transition to skis and another Summit attempt in December.

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

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

Marco De Gasperi if fit is potentially the one person to push Kilian all the way to the line and if firing on all cylinders, may well take the glory away from the Salomon runner. I personally have waited all year for this head-to-head to happen and the prospect is exciting.

Waiting in the wings is a plethora of Skyrunning talent who will be looking to upset the apple cart and history shows that anything can happen.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_Manuel Merillas is hot property at the moment and after strong performances in the Skyrunner® World Series, his presence at Limone adds an exciting element to proceedings. Recent top-3 performances at Trofeo Kima and The Rut add weight to a very strong case that we see a surprise on the shores of Lake Garda.

Ionut Zinca had a great result at Limone last year and recently placed well, once again at Dolomites Skyrace. I would anticipate Ionut having a great race, he’s a fierce competitor and top performer.

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Zaid Ait Malek won the Matterhorn Ultraks and is without doubt a contender for the podium at Limone. However, Aritz Egea has performed consistently all year and at just under 24km’s, the Limone course plays to his strengths.

©iancorless.com_IMG_5986aSierreZinal_inov8_2014_Michel Lanne had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships and a glimmer of that strength will intimidate the competition.

Alex Nichols is one again making the long journey from the USA and has great potential to mix it with the best, however, 2014 has been a tough year and his current form is unknown.

Tadei Pivk will also be a hot contender for the top-5.

Did we say THIS FIELD IS STACKED…. !

Rounding out the hot contenders for the top-5 places are Jono WyattAlexis Sevennec, Thorbjorn LudvigsenDavid Schneider and Nicola Golinelli.

Look out for:

  • Didier Zago
  • Matheo Jaquemond
  • Fabio Bazzana
  • Florian Reichert
  • Oli Johnson
  • Gary Priestley
  • Hassan Ait Chau
  • Marco Moletto
  • Marc Pinsach

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Stevie Kremer already has the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series sewn up, so, this will take the pressure off and allow Stevie a trouble and stress free run. As we all know though, she probably will still nail it and has every chance of taking away the victory.

©iancorless.com©iancorless.com-3368 Elisa Desco, Emelie Forsberg and Laura Orgue will do everything in their respective powers to ensure that Stevie does not have another victory. In all honesty, the ladies race is wide open. Laura Orgue has displayed pure class going up hill and certainly, the first half of the Limone course will suit her racing style. I expect to see Laura to be leading at the summit; the question will come if she can hold of the charging train of Forsberg, Desco and Kremer. Very few ladies can go downhill like Emelie Forsberg and if she is in contact during the 2nd half of the race, Emelie will potentially take top honours.

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Elisa Desco is a very rounded athlete uphill and downhill, at 23.5kms the distance will suit the Italian and with valuable points at stake, we can expect a 100% committed effort for victory.

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Maite Maiora started the year with a bang at Transvulcania and has continued to bang the drum all the way throughout 2014. For sure, Maite stepped up a level this year and along with Desco, Forsberg and Kremer, she has been a force to be reckoned with. The podium is a distinct possibility but it’s going to be a battle.

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Victoria Wilkinson had a great race at the Dolomites Skyrace and has continued to excel on the UK Fell running scene. The podium may just be out of reach but top-5 is a distinct possibility.

Anna Lupton has been missed in 2014 with injury. Arguably, Anna has been the UK’s most consistent performer in previous Skyrunning events and it’s great to see her back on a start line.

Tessa Hill has been a little quiet in 2014 but has committed herself to Limone and has recently posted, ‘My main way of preparing for this is to get as much climb in the legs as possible and then top things up on the bike.’

Julia Bleasdale is a British Olympian who raced the 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics. She placed 8th in both finals. Julia tipping her toes into the Skyrunning world is a great boost for the sport and Skyrunning in the UK. However, Julia understands the challenge ahead, “I hear so many great things about Skyrunning, but I do not underestimate the strength required to compete in this extreme discipline! So I am delighted to mix things up at the end of the season for variety. I love running in the mountains as they give you depth in your strength, but track athletes cannot transform themselves in just a few weeks to be ready for this!”

Stephanie Jiminez excels at the Sky distance and Limone will suit the skill set of the Salomon athlete. Her experience sets her apart from the competition and on her day, she can beat the best in the world.

Ones to watch:

  • Deborah Cardone
  • Elisabet Beltran
  • Marta Molist
  • Paloma Lobera
  • Anna Kosova
  • Azara Garcia
  • Leire Agirrezabala

Links

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Images and photography HERE and HERE

SKYRUNNING HERE

CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 2 Recovery, Cadence, Long Sessions and Strength

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In article 1 of CYCLING for RUNNERS we discussed finding the correct sized bike and then how to fit the bike. Niandi and myself ride the same size bike (52cm) however, our experience on a bike are different. I have been riding and racing bikes for years whereas Niandi is new and very much on a learning curve in using cycling to improve her running. Also, our morphology is different. Niandi has a slightly longer leg whereas my torso is longer.

My bike is a SCOTT Addict 10. It’s a stiff bike, made of carbon and it’s all about speed. The geometry is classic race geometry with a 74deg seat angle. It’s fast, sometimes a little twitchy but really grips the road.

Scott Addict 10

Niandi’s bike by comparison is a SCOTT Solace 20. It’s a new breed of bike from SCOTT that provides comfort and performance with relaxed geometry. It’s still a super light bike but for long days in the saddle or for the novice cyclist, this bike will certainly help ease the transition. Also, importantly the ‘reach’ of the Solace is less than the Addict. As we mentioned in bike fit, we can tweak saddle, height, handlebars and stem to ensure that our bikes work for us.

Solace 20

So, how is your bike? Do you have it set up properly and do you feel comfortable? Before progressing with some specific cycling sessions on how to improve, we wanted to provide you with several key bullet points why cycling can benefit you as a runner.

You may well have turned to cycling in the past because YOU HAD TO! Yes, we all get injured and as an injured runner we are usually desperate to get an endorphin kick, maintain fitness and reduce impact. Step in cycling…

Although cycling is great as that ‘alternative’ to running, why not think ahead and plan cycling into your weekly schedule to avoid that injury that is almost certainly waiting to happen. 

RECOVERY

Injured or recovering from hard run training, cycling provides great ‘active’ exercise with no impact. We have often heard the phrase, recovery run! But does a recovery run really exist? 20/30 or 40mins of easy running is still creating impact through all your joints and muscles, even if you do not elevate your heart rate. So, why not replace some of these sessions with cycling? Cycling provides all of us with an opportunity to move our legs, increase blood flow, ease joint stiffness, ease tired muscles and we will flush out lactate acid from tired or stiff legs. This is nothing new. Runners have been using cycling as a means of active recovery or injury rehabilitation for years. The addition of a Turbo Trainer (indoor device that attaches to your bike) will also allow you to spin away indoors while keeping warm, dry and you can even watch some TV or listen to music if that is your thing.

Tips: Keep your gearing very light and ‘spin’ your legs. You do not want to be pushing big and heavy gears. Remember, this is about recovery and injury maintenance.

CADENCE

Cadence is something we will have all heard of. Cadence in cycling refers to how many revolutions our legs make per minute. If has often been stated that 90 rpm (revs per minute) is an optimum cadence. We agree! Spinning your legs for 90 rpm (180 for both legs) provides ‘souplesse.’ This souplesse (flexibility) is key to becoming an efficient cyclist. Look at this objectively and the next time you go out for a run, count your foot strike. Maintaining 90 rpm or 90 foot (180 both legs) strikes per minute will make you not only efficient but will also help with technique. Bike and run cadence are two transferable skills. When coaching cyclists, we often use 90 rpm as a benchmark; this also provides a great indicator as to when to change up and down gears. In time, as you become a stronger cyclist you will find that you are able to push a harder gear for the same cadence. In simple terms, you are getting stronger and this means you will go faster.

Tips: You can use a cycle computer and magnet to provide information ‘live’ while cycling. This can be extremely useful when looking to maintain optimum cadence. When running, you can use a foot pod or similar device to relay cadence back to a wrist unit. Both are great tools for improve bike to run cadence.

LONG SESSIONS

Long run sessions and back-to-back run sessions are an essential part of a good runners training plan. However, these sessions can damage the body and in time, potentially injure the body. A long bike ride in isolation or a ‘brick’ session is a fantastic way to gain added fitness time without impacting on your body. Long bikes allow you maximal aerobic time with minimal impact; the only downside will be that you need to be out longer for a similar gain to running. However, this is not the point… a long bike session is about adding variety, providing a new stimulus and increasing or maintaining fitness without impact. A brick session is when bike and run sessions are combined to make one session. Anyone coming from a duathlon or triathlon background will be well aware of this. Running on bike legs is quite a unique experience, the term ‘jelly legs’ is often used. This is because the legs and muscles are used in two very different ways. However, this transition process provides great stimulus and if done gradually, is a great addition to a training plan.

Tips: If you want to translate long runs to bike time, we often use 15min per mile, so, if you did a 20-mile run we would recommend a 5-hour bike ride as starting point. Of course many variables come in to play so be careful. Brick sessions are challenging, start by adding just 10-15 minutes of running to a bike session. In time you can build this but be gradual.

STRENGTH

Running builds a certain set of muscles, fine tunes them and makes them extremely efficient for the job that you ask them to do; run! However, we have many other muscles that feel a little bit neglected with our run habit. Cycling provides a stimulus to these neglected areas. Running and just running makes us all plateau, adding cycling will not only compliment our run muscles but also so many other areas of our body will become stronger (such as our core, arms, shoulders, hips and so on). Add all this together and what we have is a faster and stronger runner.

Tips: Like anything, if you haven’t cycled before, start easy and progress slowly. No need to rush. After a bike ride, make sure you stretch, particularly hamstrings! Cycling turns your legs over in a smaller circle than running.

We caught up with Salomon International athlete, Philipp Reiter on his thoughts on why CYCLING is good for RUNNERS.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp on RECOVERY

Spinning out the legs” on a bike is definitely one of the things I personally look forward too after a hard and/or long run. Spinning makes the blood go through my body faster and takes all the acids and by-products away. Shaking the legs out on a bike makes my muscles ache less and speeds up recovery.

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Philipp on STRENGTH

Even if you just hike or walk around (instead of running on a rest day) your leg muscles always have to push to move the body. Have you ever recognized that you never pull and use the complementary muscles? Using cycling and specific bike shoes/pedals allow you to pull the pedals as well as to push them more intense than you would do without. But what is the advantage to build up the “other” muscles? After many years of running, muscle can become imbalanced and this increases the risk of injuries or other problems with tendons. Cycling will work these unused areas.

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Philipp on IMPACT

Running impacts on bones, hips, tendons… no doubt! Cycling is relatively impact resistant, especially road cycling! However, you must ensure you have correct bike set up and fit. Don’t try to save time or money by cutting corners here. A bike that is too small or too large or one that does not have the correct fit will just impact on your power output and after a while you may get problems in your back or knees!

Philipp on LONG SESSIONS

Philipp Reiter Cycling

Philipp Reiter Cycling

A long bike ride is a great way to have a long endurance session. I usually double my run time, so, if I wanted to do a 2-hour run I would replace with a 4-hour bike. You still get tired, you still get just as hungry and you definitely get the fitness benefits. What you don’t get is the damage and impact. However, you still need to run long… cycling is great is a great alternative to mix things up and provide stimulus but would never replace long runs. You just need to work them into your schedule.

In our next article we will talk about the right kit for cycling and provide you with some guidelines on how to include cycling in your current training plan.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS for the support and backing

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CYCLING for RUNNERS PAGE HERE

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Like The Wind – Action Photography Workshop w/ Ian Corless

 

Photo ©covadongafernandezcue

Photo ©covadongafernandezcue

We are really delighted to announce a very special event at the Pop-Up: an action photography workshop with the one and only Ian Corless. This is a man who not only takes some of the most beautiful, inspiring and exciting photos of ultra trail running, but he is an ultra trail runner himself, so he really knows what he’s talking about.

LtW_ImageLogos_signatureThis workshop is going to be a perfect opportunity to hone your own photography skills and learn from one of the best. Tickets are limited so that everyone on the course gets as much from it as possible, so if you fancy upping your camera game, this is the one for you!

Event information and booking HERE

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Join STEVIE KREMER in London for a run and talk

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Meet Stevie Kremer

Freestak on behalf of Ian Corless and Talk Ultra

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 from 18:30 to 22:30 (BST)

London, United Kingdom

Stevie Kremer has had an exceptional 2014, the highlight of which has to be winning the Matterhorn Ultraks 46K in a new course record, her third win in the Skyrunner® World Series SKY distance. This victory along with wins at Zegama-Aizkorri and Sierre-Zinal has secured another Skyrunner World Series title for 2014 which will conclude at Limone Extreme on October 11th.

Stevie will join us for a run, talk and Q&A opportunity just days after Limone Extreme on route to the final Skyrunning UK event in 2014, the Mourne Skyline MTR which will take place in Ireland on October 18th.

Stevie has had a whirlwind couple of years, in 2013 she was crowned Skyrunner® World Series champion after securing victory ahead of Emelie Forsberg at the final race of the year in Italy. This year, in addition to three victories at Zegama-Aizkorri, Sierre-Zinal and Matterhorn Ultraks, Stevie won the combined title at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix.

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Ian Corless, photographer/ writer at iancorless.com and creative director/host of Talk Ultra, has set up the opportunity for a group of runners to join Stevie for a run on Hampstead Heath followed by a Q&A session over a few drinks. This event has been set up in collaboration with freestak Ltd and Like the Wind magazine.

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The run will last between 45 and 60 minutes and will just be a social event at an easy pace. Afterwards there will be a chance to order dinner at the pub where we will be retiring to catch up with Stevie and ask all the burning questions we have for her.

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FAQs

What are my transport/parking options?

The nearest tube to the pub is Kentish Town or Gospel Oak on the Overground. For more informationclick here.

Can I leave bags at the venue?

You can leave bags at the venue and someone will stay with them while everyone goes running. We can’t take responsibility for any loss or damage to items left however.

Will there be food available?

The pub cooks fresh dishes which can be ordered in advance. Everyone who books a ticket will be contacted before the event to see if they want to order some food.

What do I get for my money?

Everyone who pays for a place on the run will get a drink after the run. Food will be extra and can be paid for at the bar.

PLEASE NOTE – This is a ticket ONLY event and numbers are very limited (just 30-places). You can purchase a ticket HERE for £5.00.

Location:

The Dartmouth Arms
35 Dartmouth Park Rd
London
NW5 1SP 

United Kingdom

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 from 18:30 to 22:30 (BST)

CYCLING for RUNNERS – The Introduction

 

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Welcome to CYCLING for RUNNERS in conjunction with Scott Sports

Over the coming months and year, Ian Corless and Niandi Carmont in conjunction with SCOTT SPORTS will bring you CYCLING FOR RUNNERS.

Ian, Niandi and a series of special guests will provide you with a series of articles from a male and female perspective on how cycling can benefit you as a runner.

Providing simple and clear information, we will write about our experiences, we will tell you about equipment, provide hints and tips and most importantly, we will provide you with a series of training plans that you can incorporate week by week, month by month to make you a better runner through cycling.

We know 3-types of runner:

  1. The runner who is injured
  2. The runner who is recovering from injury
  3. And thirdly, the runner who is about to be injured

Of course, we joke, but many of you will agree there is some real truth in the joke. Running is not bad for you, however, taken to extremes or if rushed, the impact of repetition can damage and break us. Sometimes a couple of easy days are all we need and then we are able to resume full training. But as often happens, a couple of easy days may not be enough and our eagerness to push and get back to full training causes us to take risks and then the inevitable happens, we break!

Don’t get us wrong. If you want to be a good runner, you need to run. However, we don’t always thing big miles, double day runs or running everyday is necessary. It’s all about balance and ultimately what level we are running at and what our objectives are. As we see it, runners fall into four distinct groups:

  • Group 1: Weight loss/ recreational runner
  • Group 2: Budding enthusiast
  • Group 3: Good age group runner
  • Group 4: Elite/ pro or top-level runner

We could break the groups down again but ultimately, for the purposes of explanation, these four groups will suffice.

Group 1 runner’s will run typically three times a week (maybe four) and they will run twice in the week and once at weekend. During the week they will train from 20-60min and at the weekend they will extend their running beyond an hour. Mileage will be 30-50 miles per week.

Group 2 are pretty dedicated and savvy accumulating three to four runs during the week and running once or twice at the weekend. Sunday will typically be a long run of 90+ min and on Tuesday and maybe Thursday they will add some speed or strength running. Mileage will be 50-75 miles per week.

Group 3 runner’s are very similar to group 2, however, they are running six days a week, they double up runs on a couple of days and at weekend they may do back-to-back longer runs. Mileage will hover around 80-miles per week.

Group 4 are pushing the envelope, they run twice a day, four to five days a week and run long, fast and high during the weekend. They typically hover around 100-miles per week.

We generalise above and of course we will be able to find extremes in all the scenarios. However, the four groups provide a picture. We think the risk of injury is high for all the groups and relatively equal. Why?

Well, group 1 for example will be less experienced (typically) and will have less run history and therefore although the time on feet is less, the percentage risk is high based on experience.

Group 4 by contrast will have loads of experience, they have been involved in sports for years and they are knowledgeable. Risk comes for them from volume and because they are often on the edge looking for small performance gains.

For us, this is where cycling for runners can come in!

Cycling provides a great low impact exercise that can be done in or outdoors, it can be very controlled and importantly it can be as easy or as hard as you like.

Yes, if you want to be a great runner, you need to run. BUT cycling can add to your running and not take away from it…

Just think, how many of you have said, ‘I am just popping out for an easy run!’

Is there such a thing as an ‘easy run?’

In terms of effort, yes! For sure, you can run slow, easy and controlled keeping your heart rate down, keeping your cadence light and just tick-over. But, you are still in contact with the ground. You are still ‘impacting’ with the surface beneath you and you are still passing your body weight through all your muscles, tendons and joints. Recovery runs are not about fitness, they are about loosening off and in many cases, we use recovery runs just to make us feel better. So, why not incorporate some cycling as active recovery?

Long runs can really impact on your body. Hours of running adapt you to the demands that will be placed on you when you race but sometimes we will run the risk of pushing too far and risking injury. Long bike rides on hilly terrain for example can be used to provide multiple hours of low impact exercise. Hours where you can push harder than running without the risk of damaging knees, muscles and ligaments. If incorporated with long runs, you have a great way to do back-to-back sessions while reducing impact injury risk.

Speed can damage our fragile bodies, particularly our muscles and tendons. However, run speed work incorporated with cycling speed work can stress the aerobic system and it will stretch us physically and mentally in new ways.

Hill reps provide great aerobic stress pushing us to our threshold limits, however, what goes up, must come down. Often, it is the running downhill that causes damage. Of course, we need to train for this in running, it’s important. However, cycling hill reps incorporated into a structured training plan can provide a great stimulus that will progress your fitness level and once again, the impact implications are low.

Finally, cycling can just be a blast. It’s a great way to head out and see a new place; arguably, we can cover more distance in less time on a bike. If nothing else, cycling may well just provide you with a well-earned break from running. Cycling will freshen your mind, it will freshen your body and I guarantee, your running will improve.

Part one of cycling for runners will be released on Wednesday October 1st and we will look at the basics to get you started:

  • The bike.
  • How to ensure you have a good fit.
  • Dos and Don’ts of cycling.
  • And we will list 5-points why cycling can make YOU a better runner.
Philipp Reiter Cycling

Philipp Reiter Cycling

To kick things off, Salomon International athlete, Philipp Reiter will also give us his thoughts on why cycling works for him as a trail, mountain and ultra runner.

Stay tuned.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS for the support and backing

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CYCLING for RUNNERS PAGE HERE

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Grand to Grand Ultra 2013

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North America’s first and only self-supported stage race. Grand to Grand Ultra is a 268 km (167 mile) foot-race from the edge of the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, to the Grand Staircase. Competitors cross a variety of terrain — sand dunes, slot canyons, mesas, buttes and hoodoos — over six stages in seven days.

In just over a week the race will be underway. An exciting and inspirational journey for all those involved, starting on 22nd September and finishing on 28 September, 2013. The course covers approx 167 miles (268 km) over 6 stages in 7 days.

Participants will encounter a mix of desert and other terrain including hard packed sand, soft sand, sand dunes, forest trails, shallow river crossings, rocky roads and slot canyons. The starting line is situated at the north rim of the Grand Canyon with breathtaking vistas at an altitude of 5203 feet (1586 meters). Campsite 1, which is your campsite on the evening before the start of the race, is close by.

The finish line is on the summit of the Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase and provides participants with a rewarding view back over the course that you will have just completed. From an altitude of 9030 feet (2752 meters), look back over the cliffs and enjoy the most amazing panoramic landscape of your journey framed by hoodoos and two billion year old rock formations

Throughout the course, you will trek by geological mesas, buttes and cliffs and enter into a series of unique canyons, hollows and valleys. Part of the long stage will have you cross the majestic coral pink sand dunes. You will cross a tributary of the Virgin River, which you will follow before taking you into an isolated slot canyon. Keep an eye out for wildlife and flora along the route including the endangered California Condors, big horn sheep, mule deer and unique cacti.

Be prepared for a unique experience which few people on earth will ever see, never mind hike and run through.

I will ba attending the Grand to Grand for the first four days and I will be capturing images and reporting back stories. Pretty sure it is going to be a great experience!

RUNshots – an inspired run image a day

Runshots

 

Everyday, an inspired run image straight into your inbox.

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Twitter at: @runshots

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Leadville 100 – Men’s Race Summary

Did you read the script for the 2013 men’s Leadville 100? It went something like this…

2011 winner, Ryan Sandes would return fired up for victory after missing Western States due to injury. Ryan, the outright favorite would be pushed by Ultra legend, Scott Jurek. Scott after a few years away from competitive running would return to the 100-mile distance and push for the win. Mike Aish, fast man from New Zealand would learn lessons from his 2012 blow up and contend for the podium. A race within the race would continue with Grand Slam leaders, Ian Sharman and Nick Clark would push each other to the limits racing the third 100 in seven weeks but due to added fatigue would not contend for the podium!

So how did I think the race would pan out? Well, I thought Aish would take the lead relatively early on. Using his natural speed he would gain a gap and then spend much of the first half of the race looking behind him…  Ryan Sandes and Scott Jurek would match each other stride for stride all the way to Hope Pass and then the race would start. They would pick up pacers and then Sandes would slowly move away, catch Aish, move past and then Jurek would pursue. In the process Aish would blow but not enough to stop the race. With Jurek in second place, Sharman and Clark would now pursue. They would both catch Aish and Clark would move away and reduce some of his time gap on Sharman and thus making the final race in the ‘Slam’ a really exciting nail biter. The podium would be Sandes, Jurek and Clark.

Well, you may as well rip that script up. The race is done and what a race. What initially appeared to be a race with very few surprises up at the front end, it actually turned into a really exciting nail biter and it just goes to show that the 100-mile distance and in particular, those that race the distance can never be counted on for being predictable.

The Race

With a 0400 start, the early pace was steady. However, at May Queen, mile 13.5 a lone Ian Sharman was in the lead by just under two minutes with all the main contenders chasing. Wasn’t Sharman supposed to be a little tired? This was his third 100n in seven weeks… either he knew something that we didn’t or he was on a suicide mission.

At mile 22 ‘Powerline’ we got back on script with Mike Aish taking the lead. He was alone and out in front. That’s more like it. We are back on prediction and this race is settling nicely.

Behind Aish the chasers had fragmented a little but we had no big surprises, well, no big surprises other than Scott Jurek was a little further back than expected, but with less than 25% of the race done, this was surely the experience of a master of his craft keeping calm.

Aish continued to push and at Twin Lakes he was 10 minutes inside Matt Carpenter’s CR split. Okay, we started to ask the question, how much had Aish learnt from his blow up in 2012 and were we about to witness and incredible performance? When second place arrived, Aish had an eighteen-minute lead. Wow, this was getting exciting.

It was early days but at 40-miles of the Leadville course covered and Aish having a commanding lead of approximately twenty minutes over Sandes, Sharman, Clark, Jurek, Catalano and so on, a counter move was going to need to come or Aish was going to need to slow.

At Hopeless Pass, mile 44.5 signs of fatigue started to show on Aish. Sandes, Clark and Sharman had closed to within fifteen minutes. The big news here came from Scott Jurek; he was thirty-four mins down on Aish and although in sixth place was obviously struggling. The pre race script was starting to be rewritten.

Winfield and the 50-mile turn point. A key moment in the race and an opportunity for runners to collect pacers. Of course, the other big advantage here is that you get an opportunity to look at the gaps between runners and also how they look. Sharman arrived in second place and had closed to within eleven minutes of Aish. Clark arrived five minutes after Sharman and the news came that Ryan Sandes was dropping from the race. He was in severe hip and back pain and took the wise choice to retire. It was a sad moment for Ryan, his 2012 season was incredible and 2013 has been plagued by problems. Ryan sent me a message; “I have had some bad luck the last few months. Never nice to DNF but was hobbling with my back …. Getting old;) thanks for all.” Of course, Ryan will be back and his decision to drop without doubt is the best long-term decision.

Scott Jurek was now in fifth place and just under thirty minutes behind Sharman. Were we going to witness a classic Jurek comeback?

Returning through Hopeless AS at mile 55.5, Sharman had closed to within six minutes of Aish. Was it really possible that Sharman and Clark racing the third 100 in seven weeks would contend the top slot at Leadville?

At mile 60, Aish and Sharman were together, Clark was third and Jurek was fourth fifty-five minutes back. The 2013 Leadville 100 was turning into an epic race and of course, we had the race within the race for the Grand Slam.

Returning to Half Pipe at mile 70, Sharman had taken the lead, Clark was second 16.5 minutes in arrears and Aish was third and obviously paying for his early efforts. We know had a scenario that in all reality, I had not anticipated. Of course Sharman and Clark had every possibility of winning Leadville but not during the Grand Slam with tired bodies. Would we really see these two battle it out?

At Half Pipe, Aish rested for fourteen minutes. Yes, fourteen minutes. I suppose the luxury of his time gap of Jurek allowed for this and the pace of Sharman and Clark made him realize he was fighting for third.

With twenty miles to go, Clark was just under seventeen minutes behind Sharman. It was all to play for… twenty miles is a long with eighty miles in tired legs.

May Queen, mile 86,5 and Clark had closed a little, the gap was just under fifteen minutes. Armed with the news, Sharman dug deep pushed, he later said on twitter, “Thank you everyone for all the messages. Overwhelmed by the responses about ‪#‎LT100. Hurt like hell at the end.”

At the finish, a victorious Ian Sharman crossed the line in 16:30. He had opened up his gap on Nick Clark by thirty-three minutes. Mike Aish most definitely had learnt from his 2012 experience and held on for third.

It was an incredible race and I need to give huge credit to Bryon Powell and the iRunFar team for providing the step-by-step action via twitter.

I wouldn’t normally write such a detailed account about a race that I had not attended, but the action that unfolded in Leadville may well turn out to be one of those iconic races we all remember. To see two runners, Sharman and Clark, perform at such a high level when so far into the Grand Slam is inspirational. In addition, it also provides a lesson for us all. A 100-miles is a long way, anything can happen and no matter how we think a race may unfold, every now and again, the book gets thrown out of the window and we are treated to an inspiring and iconic race. In addition, Mike Aish also showed that taking a break to recoup and recharge is no bad thing, his fourteen-minute break did him no harm and he still made the podium.

Many congratulations to all.

Attention now turns to final race in the Grand Slam, Wasatch. It will only take Ian Sharman to have a so, so day and for Nick to be flying… exciting!

I will be catching up with Nick for the next episode of Talk Ultra so make sure you check out Episode 42 out on Friday 23rd August.

What is the Grand Slam?

The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning award is recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the U.S. The “Slam” consists of officially finishing the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same year. The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Award was established in 1986, when Tom Green was the first finisher.

Results:

MEN

  1. Ian Sharman 16:30 (4th fastest time)
  2. Nick Clark 17:06
  3. Mike Aish 18:28
  4. Kyle Pietari 18:37
  5. Andrew Catalano 18:43
  6. Timo Meyer 19:04
  7. Eric Sullivan 19:17
  8. Scott Jurek 19:21
  9. Bob Africa 19:38
  10. Javier Montero 19:45

LADIES

  1. Ashley Arnold 20:25
  2. Saheen Sattar 22:42
  3. Keila Merino 22:47
  4. Katrin Silva 23:16
  5. Becca Hall 23:43
  6. Kara Henry 23:50
  7. Abby Mcqueeney Menamonte 24:06
  8. Maddy Hribar 24:24
  9. Nicole Struder 24:25
  10. Maggie Nelson 24:37

Sierre-Zinal Race Preview 2013

©copyright .iancorless.com.iancorless.orgSierre Zinal 1sirrezinalIt’s a birthday year for this iconic mountain race. 40 years! To celebrate, the race organisation have invited many a past winner.

Considered to be one of the finest mountain races in the world. It was once written that it is to mountain races what the New York Marathon is to marathons. It is the oldest mountain race found in its category in Europe’s mountains.

The location is incredible. Of all the races I attended in 2012, Sierre-Zinal left some incredible memories… you see, the Zinal basin is just an incredible place. Also called, ‘the Race of Five 4000m Peaks’ when you stand in Zinal, look to the Matterhorn, you fully appreciate why. It is quite stunning.

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Sierre-Zinal, which takes place in the heart of Valais’ Alps, offers its participants a significant challenge: distance – 31 km, 2200m ascent and 800m descent. Incredible scenery, a warm atmosphere and exceptional organisation explain the success and longevity of this challenge.

As Jonathan Wyatt (record holder of both Sierre-Zinal and the Jungfrau Marathon, as well as a multiple world mountain racing champion) wrote, ‘As a mountain racer you must experience the tradition and history of this race.’

The course records are held by Jonathan Wyatt at 2:29:12 set in 2003 and Anna Pichrtova 2:54:26 set in 2008. If anyone fancies breaking a record in 2013, it would be a great pay day! A CR and a win this weekend, would earn the lucky person 3,000 Swiss Francs.

Legendary Pablo Vigil is a special guest this year. He participated and won the race years back and has become an ambassador for the race and has been instrumental in ensuring a strong American contingent at the race, for example, Stevie Kremer may very well have not participated in 2012 had it not been for Pablo.

This years race, as in any year will have names missing and I guess the big omission will be Marco De Gasperi. He is choosing to race in Italy. So, who will be lining up from the impressive 40-year history of the race?

MEN

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Despite Kilian Jornet telling me he was having a rest post Trans D’Havet so that he could prepare for his Matterhorn Summits attempt and the ISF Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks later in August, it would appear the proximity to Zinal is just too much temptation for him. So, he will make the trip from Cervinia and line up in Sierre for what he says will be a ‘fun’ run. Read into that what you will. When I see Kilian’s name on a start sheet he always must be considered for the podium… however, he may just kick back and enjoy the day. Read my interview with Kilian HERE

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Sage Canaday is travelling to the race after a strong victory at Speedgoat 50k and although he will be new to the course, I have to think it will suit him. He will need to ensure that he is near  the front in the early stages for the long climb, but once up, the course flattens and he will be able to open up and let his natural speed do the work. If he has a good day and is pushed, we may well see a new course record.

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Max King has raced at Sierre-Zinal before and from memory he didn’t have a great race. He was around 20th and I think the European style of racing was just too different from what he was used to. However, he is a very different person now. In actual fact, Max raced at the 2012 Zegama-Aizkorri, however, that race was as problematic as his 2011 Sierre-Zinal. It’s a tough call for Max. Definitely top 10 potential and of course he has all the ability to be on the podium. But will he get over the European demons?

Course record holder, Jonathan Wyatt is back at the race and although his pedigree and his history elevates him to a high-profile within the race, one has to wonder how he will perform against top-level competition who are some years younger than him. He still runs and races regularly, but as he told me in Chamonix, it is for fun. We will see ‘Jono’ figure for sure… his ability will set him apart from so many other runners but I think the podium is an option.

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Tofol Castanyer is finding form after early season injury issues and recently placed 2nd at Giir di Mont. Like Kilian, he will also race at Matterhorn Ultraks. This race won’t tire or affect his Matterhorn performance so we can expect him to run hard and that can only really mean one thing, a podium place is without doubt in his grasp.

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Rickey Gates also raced at Giir di Mont and placed just behind Tofol. He is obviously finding form after a slightly problematic Ice Trail Tarentaise. Sierre-Zinal will suit him and his speed.

Cesar Costa has finished 2nd at Sierre-Zinal three times, he knows the course like the back of his hand and in the 40th edition will most certainly want to move one place up the podium for the win. He will without doubt be a favourite. Local knowledge and being slightly under the radar to the American runners will play into his hands. He will push hard and for sure, top 3 is an expectation.

Vajin Armstrong from New Zealand has been in Europe for some time. Sage Canaday for sure will be well aware of what this man can do after racing each other at Tarawera in New Zealand earlier this year. Vajin has speed and considering he has had some great results recently: 2nd at Zugspitz behind Philipp Reiter, 2nd at the K78 Swiss Alpine Marathon, one can’t help but think that he will shake things up and turn some heads at the finish in Zinal.

LADIES

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It all started 12 months ago and the progression has been incredible. Stevie Kremer lined up at Sierre-Zinal completely blown away by the competition and experience that surrounded. Cut to the finish of the race and she was 2nd on the podium. What has followed is a meteoric race in the sport and without doubt, Stevie comes to the 2013 Sierre-Zinal race as my outright favourite. Listen to my recent interview with Stevie HERE

Ladies Winner

Aline Camboulives won the race in 2012. She has experience and ability and for sure, I see her on the podium. But I think Stevie has moved on and has the all the potential to take the race to Aline and not only push her to the finish but to go past her.

Megan Lund is a name I am familiar with but in all honesty, I know little about her. Stevie Kremer has told me that she has great potential and is one to watch on this course. I am aware that she won the race in 2010 but her European performances are few and far between. She has had a baby and as Stevie said, don’t you come back stronger after a baby!?

Ladies Podium

Celine Lafaye has been up at the front of all the Skyrunning races and I don’t see Sierre being any different. She has all the ability and potential to win this race and if she has a good day, she will push Stevie at the front of the race.

Local lady, Maud Mathys finished 3rd last year and will come to the race knowing full well that Stevie is the one to watch. I anticipate she will keep as close to Stevie as possible and try to pull something out of the bag in the latter stages of the race. However, she was five minutes behind Stevie in 2012 and Stevie has moved on. Has Maud progressed at the same level?

Lizzy Hawker

Lizzy Hawker turned up and ran literally at the last minute in 2012. Once again she will toe the line in 2013. I anticipate a top 10 finish but not the podium. Like last year, she will use this as a prep race for her attempt at another UTMB title. Lizzy has also had injury issues and although UTMB is only weeks away, she is still on the road back!

Zhana Vokueva will also be looking to push at the front of the race. She recently raced in the Dolomites at the Skyrunning European Championships but it wasn’t a great weekend for her. She will be looking to get back into form and for sure, would like to repeat or go better than her 5th place in 2012.

Stephanie Howe has just won Speedgoat 50k and like Sage Canaday, that has got to be a great boost going into this race. If she has recovered well from Speedgoat, Stephanie may well be the person to push Stevie all the way to the finish. It will be interesting to see what unfolds.

Finally, 2001 Sierre-Zinal champ and GB mountain running legend, Angela Mudge will toe the line. She has recently raced at a very high level and with some impressive results. I see Angela being a dark horse to the new runners who will know her name but may well dismiss her due to her lack of high profile racing of late.

Without doubt it will be an exciting men’s and ladies race.

Links:

Sierre-Zinal website HERE