Iznik Ultra 2014 – A race in images

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Race images from the Iznik Ultra series of races – marathon, 80k and 130k.

Race report and results to follow.

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Top Brits head to Turkey for the Iznik Ultra race series, April 2014

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Now in its third year, the Iznik series of races in Turkey are assembling a strong UK contingent of runners to race over the marathon, 80km or 130km distances, featuring Jo MeekRobbie BrittonTracy DeanStu Air and Marcus Scotney. With several races on offer, Robbie Britton and Stu Air will race the marathon distance, Tracy Dean and Jo Meek the 80km and Marcus Scotney the 130km.

Map

Surrounded by eight countries, Turkey has significant geographical importance as it is at a crossroads with Europe and Asia. The noise and colour from an over populated Istanbul are completely contradicted by the sublime tranquility of Iznik, situated on a beautiful lake. Don’t get me wrong! Istanbul is remarkable; it’s an exciting place and certainly, any journey to this region should at least include one-day sight seeing around the old town. The Fire Tower, the Blue MosqueHippodromeGrand Bazaar and Sultanhamet Square; believe me, there is no shortage of things to do.

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Located in Bursa, on the banks of Lake Iznik, Caner Odabasoglu and his team have worked tirelessly to make the Iznik Races not only the premier event in Turkey but also with the 130km race, they also have the longest single stage race in the whole of the country.

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Running and particularly, Ultra running is not a big sport in this region, to that end, Caner with the help of the Iznik community have continually worked hard to put the races and the local community on the running map.

Profile

Using the Iznik Lake as a backdrop, all the races utilize the local terrain to not only provide a beautiful course but also a challenging course. All the elevation comes in the first 80 km’s, so, the marathon and the shorter ultra are very much about going up and down on trails that vary from single-track to wide rutted farm roads. From the town of Soloz (appx 67km) the course flattens and follows the Iznik Lake in a circular route tracing the perimeter to arrive back at the start some 130 km’s later.

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek (Scott Running) fresh from a victory at The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica has been eagerly awaiting this trip, I have been to Turkey before but only the touristic bits so travelling to Turkey this time to run through the areas I wouldn’t otherwise see holds a lot of appeal. See the culture as I experience the highs and lows of the countryside is a privilege anywhere but especially as a guest in a foreign country.”

Tracy Dean - inov-8

Tracy Dean – inov-8

Jo is right, racing in Turkey is a great opportunity to combine so many different elements, of course the opportunity to test oneself against new competition but also to see a new place and explore a new culture, Iznik has a wonderful history. The Aphasia Mosque amongst others for example intrigues me and it will be amazing to see the architecture of the Hoffman period. I am interested in seeing the tiles that Iznik has a reputation for producing. The main attraction though… food, ha ha to have Turkish delight and fish kebab will be a real treat, just not both on the same dish.” Explained Tracy Dean (inov-8).

Marcus Scotney - Montane

Marcus Scotney – Montane

Marcus Scotney (Montane) recently won the ‘Challenger’ race at The Spine in the UK, “I wasn’t aware of an ultra scene in Turkey, I hadn’t looked into opportunities until I heard about the Iznik ultra. I’m sure the competition will be very tough, especially from local people who will know the route and what the trails are like.”

Robbie Britton - inov-8

Robbie Britton – inov-8

Robbie Britton (inov-8) backs this up, “I’ve met a couple of Turkish ultra runners in the UK but I didn’t know much about the scene in Turkey itself. I like competition so hopefully there will be a few guys to enjoy the hills with and we can push each other along.“

Robbie has a reputation for running long and fast, he has represented GB at the 24-hour distance, however, in Iznik he will race the shorter (but hillier) marathon race, “I’m racing the marathon distance this time, a little shorter than usual but it looks like a tough event! The ups and downs look very similar to the profile at Transvulcania on the island of La Palma so I see it as a good chance to race some tough ascents and fly down some steep downhill’s!”

Stu Air - Ronda dels Cims

Stu Air – Ronda dels Cims

Stu Air (Scott Running) equally has gained a reputation for racing tough, technical and long events; in 2013 Stu had great results at Ronda dels Cims in Andorra and the tough Tor des Geants. Fresh from a top-10 placing at MSIG50 in Hong Kong, Stu too has chosen the marathon distance race, “I have chosen the Mountain Marathon 42km course, as I feel that this distance will help me focus on my weakness (speed) over some of the longer races. I have several races in 2014 which are 100-miles. Transvulcania (80km) on the island of La Palma is a few weeks after Iznik too, so I thought this race would be perfect to help me in preparation for this longer race.”

Caner and the team

Caner and the team

Caner Odabasoglu and the MCR Racesetter Team are passionate ultra runners and have devoted an incredible amount of time, energy and money in creating a stunning weekend of racing on the shores of Iznik Lake. Dedicated to the cause, the 2013 edition will be bigger, better and potentially faster across all three key race distances… watch this space, the Brits are coming!

Race website: HERE

Follow the race at: iancorless.com and on Twitter @talkultra 

Athlete race calendars 2104: 

  • Jo Meek – Iznik Ultra, Comrades (South Africa) and Lakeland 50 (UK) Trail Running Championships.
  • Tracy Dean – Iznik Ultra and Lakeland 50 (UK) Trail Running Championships.
  • Marcus Scotney – Iznik Ultra, British 100km Championships and Ultra Tour of the Peak District (UK).
  • Robbie Britton – Iznik Ultra and Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma 80km (La Palma).
  • Stu Air – Iznik Ultra, Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma 80km (La Palma), Hardrock 100 (USA), Skyrunning Kima Trophy 50km (Italy) and Diagonale des Fous 160km (Reunion Island).

Athlete sponsors:

  • inov-8 – HERE
  • Montane – HERE
  • Scott Running - HERE 

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The Coastal Challenge 2014 #TCC2014 – Image Gallery

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The Coastal Challenge – Stage 1 – Quepos to Rafiki Lodge

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HOT! Hot racing and hot temperatures. The 10th edition of The Coastal Challenge was always going to be a competitive race and stage-1 did not disappoint.

Departing from the beaches just outside the center of Quepos at 0930, the heat of the day was already beating down. Broad smiles, arm waves and cheers were immediately followed a rush for the head of the race.

Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

As expected, the elite runners dictate the early pace with Mike Wardian immediately taking the front of the race closely followed by Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark.

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek started conservatively finding her legs after the long journey from San Jose. However, once she had found them, she pressed on the gas pedal and didn’t let up. Entering the dense forest canopy at just over halfway into the days stage she had that ‘glare’ I had witnessed at the 2013 Marathon des Sables. Completely focused on the task at hand, Jo was calm and relaxed and looked surprisingly in control despite of the oppressive heat. “It pays to get adjusted to the heat before you come out here” said Jo, “I have been doing heat chamber session in the UK to prepare myself; it works!”

At the same point in the course for the men’s race, Mike Wardian had a 45-second lead over a pursuing Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark…. Less than a minute in arrears, Carlos Sa and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito chased.

Carlos Sa TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Dense jungle, the noise of the wildlife and the oppressive heat tested each and every participant. “I wasn’t prepared for that,” said Martin Gaffuri, “I was running well and then suddenly just felt a switch turn off. I knew it wasn’t liquid or food as I had kept on top of both; it was the heat… I was overheating and I just needed to cool down”

Crossing the river to CP3, Mike Wardian had taken the lead once again after a little toing and froing with Nick and Vicente. Carlos Sa was running in fourth and Martin Gaffuri was fighting the pressure of the heat. At the line, Mike had pulled out 3-minutes over Nick and Vicente. However, the big looser of the day was Carlos Sa. With just a few 100-meters to go he made a disastrous navigation error and somehow managed to do an extra 20-30km…. missing from the finish he arrived several hours later.

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Jo Meek dominated the ladies race on the first day putting 30-minutes in to Julia Bottger and Veronica Bravo.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Day-1 at The Coastal Challenge is always a tough day. It may only be just over 30-km’s but the travel, early starts and oppressive heat really do take the toll. In camp post run, runners unpacked tents, ate food and raised their legs just with one thing in mind; recovery.

Stage-2 at just under 50-kilometers with two tough climbs will be a challenge. However, a 0530 start will allow everyone an opportunity to ease into the day. The sting comes towards the end of the day as participants enter a long stretch of beach that takes them to the finish. For many, this will be just when the sun is at its highest and most harmful.

RESULTS Stage-1

1. Mike Wardian (USA): 3:03:30
2. Vicente Juan García (España): 3:06:23
3. Nick Clark (UK): – 3:06:23

1. Jo Meek (UK): 3:31:45
2. Julia Bottger (Germany): 4:13:20
3. Verónica Bravo (Chile): 4:29:48

Anna Frost followed the race route offering support and encouragement. Obviously frustrated and not being able to run but embracing Costa Rica….

PURA VIDA

Anna Frost TCC204 ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost TCC204 ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica celebrates its 10th anniversary with an incredible line up.

TCC Banner

The 2014 edition of The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica gets underway in less than 1-week. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast to Quepos and the 10th edition of the “TCC”.

“It’s a decade of exploring, adventuring and discovering Costa Rica and the beginning of a bright new decade to come!” Rodrigo Carazo

Rodrigo Carazo (Costa Rican architect and adventure racer) and Tim Holmstrom (race director and Lost Worlds Racing founder) have pulled together an incredible field for the race and without doubt it will arguably be one of the most competitive multi-day races of 2014.

“Reaching the 10th edition is a milestone that is both humbling and gratifying. It is a privilege and not to one to be taken lightly.  It represents a massive amount of work over those 10-years by all those involved.  As it transformed from concept to a fully realized dream, we had no idea it might weather all storms and remain 10-years later as a race that could attract runners from all over the world.  We are happy and grateful to have made it this far, accomplishing much with little more than hard work, persistence and vision. We look forward to many more years to come and making many more new friends from around the globe.” Tim Holmstrom

Elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, they will all have one purpose in mind, to embrace the tough and technical challenge that lies ahead of them and enjoy every moment. For many, to be on the start is already a victory; the journey will provide the icing on the cake.

Steve Diederich (http://www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk) the UK agent for the TCC had this to say, “The Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”

Known locally as the Rainforest Run, the TCC is a 236km stage race over 6-days that weaves in and out of a lush and tropical Pacific coastline. The Talamancas – a coastal mountain range spread across the southwest corner of the country – provides not only a stunning backdrop but also many of the tough and technical challenges that the runners will face on a day-to-day basis.

Beaches that last km after km are interspersed with dirt tracks, mountain paths, dense jungle, ridges, water crossings, open plains and highland; Costa Rica is bursting with variety. In addition, add 40deg temperatures and high humidity, the TCC is no easy challenge.

Unlike other multi day races, the TCC is supported. Each day camp is moved ahead and awaits the runner’s arrival at the finish. Running light and fast, runners are able to keep equipment to a minimum and as such, racing is extremely competitive. The 2014 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

Gemma Slaughter ©iancorless.com

Gemma Slaughter ©iancorless.com

Gemma Slaughter from Canada is returning as defending champion of the race. By her own admission she is a newbie to ultra running. One year on, Gemma has embraced the challenge to return to coastline of Costa Rica for what she calls, “the opportunity of a lifetime”. However, Gemma will have her hands full. Julia Bottger (Germany), Anna Frost (New Zealand) and Jo Meek will create a stunning spectacle and highly competitive race. To put this in perspective, we only need to look at some of the career highlights of these incredible ladies:

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger

Julia is a strong and fierce runner. By her own admissions, she may not be the fastest runner on a course but she brings great strength, endurance and grit. Julia loves tough and challenging courses, without doubt she will embrace the TCC. Career highlights: TranMatinique winner 2013, Ultra Trail Atlas Tarabouki winner 2013, 2nd Sardona Ultra Trail 2013, 2nd Grand Raid des Pyrenees 2013 and in addition to these incredible results, Julia has placed 2nd at the super tough Tor des Geants in 2010 and placed 3rd at Diagonale des Fous in 2012.

“My training is going very well. As our winter is not really a winter this year I could run a lot in the mountains and do some cross training. But I noticed that my winter break was a bit too short. Last race in Martinique is not long ago. As well as I would like to focus on the Transgrancanaria race in march I have a bit of a problem on what kind of training to focus on.. But I feel great and healthy – that’s the best. I am really looking forward to the warm temperatures, beaches, new country and new people. And I am excited about doing a stage race again – has been a while. It is different from Ultratrails and very challenging. I love sleeping in a tent, having a very simple life out in the nature – so the Costa Rica Coast Challenge sounds like great fun.”

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost

Anna has had a tough 2013 fighting recurring injuries but the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 has allowed Anna to find a great place, not only physically but mentally. It’s going to be a pleasure to have ‘Frosty’ on the trails of Costa Rica. Career highlights:  Transvulcania La Palma winner and course record holder 2012, winner Speedgoat 50k 2012, winner La Maxi Race du Lac d’Annecy 2012 and 2nd Cavalls del Vent 2012.

“I am just super excited to be in a new and wonderfully exciting place – Costa Rica – with new and old friends. got my bikini and snorkel packed, oh and I guess some running gear would be good too!

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek 

Jo Meek comes to the TCC as a relatively unknown runner, however, a stunning and strong performance at MDS in 2013 confirms that Jo will be pushing hard at this race and for me, she is a hot favourite for victory! Career highlight: 2nd overall 2013 Marathon des Sables.

“I am busy packing my bag ready for this amazing experience that lies ahead of me. I am a little nervous because I want to race the best I can but more excited than anything else. As I reflect back on my training I  am pleased. It has gone really well and because of it I qualified to represent my County (Devon) and then the South West Region which was a privilege with these ageing pins of mine.”

On a final note, we have just had news that Veronica Bravo (Chile) will attend the race. This adds a new and exciting element. Veronica is famous or should I say infamous for suffering frostbite in 2006 and then returning to running after fourteen operations. After 19-months of recuperation she returned to racing.

The men’s race is looking to be a classic in the making, defending champion and multiple TCC winner Dave James is not returning to Costa Rica, this therefore leads the door open for not only a new winner of the TCC but maybe a course record… who knows.

Philipp Reiter (Germany), Nick Clark (UK), Martin Gaffuri (France), Mike Wardian (USA), Carlos Sa (Portugal) and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito (Spain)

It’s a top quality field!

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter 

Philipp is an incredible talent. His growth in the professional ranks for such a young age has had many look twice and draw comparisons with his Salomon teammate, Kilian Journey. Philipp races hard but knows how to relax and enjoy the experience too. Costa Rica is going to be a dream come true for young German. Career highlights: Winner Salomon 4-trails, multiple winner of Zugspitz, winner of the TransAlpine and many more.

“I am very excited – in exactly ONE week I am sitting in the plane to central America! This year the winter here in Bavaria (south Germany) is unusual warm and almost no snow, which is very bad for skiing but good for trail running. As I usually barely run in winter time (1-2 times a month) I have done more km’s than the years before and it feels much better (if my feeling is right). I am worried about the climate change and the jet-lag of the long travel (27 hours from door to door) as I have only ONE day to make my body adapt to the 30°C and the high humidity. But I am so looking forward to explore jungle trails, see the beauty of the rainforest and to get to know new runners from all over the world! The tropical plants and wildlife is said to be unique, no need to mention the beaches of the Pacific ocean. Another thing I am afraid are snakes (brrrr) and I don’t hope to see any of them.”

Nick Clark ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark 

‘Clarky’ comes to Costa Rica and the TCC as one of the most respected 100-mile runners in the world. His 2013 performance in the Grand Slam of ultra running (4 100-mile races) was nothing short of spectacular. His consistent performance at Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and other tough and challenging events places him at the ‘to-watch’ list irrespective of the race or the distance. TCC will be no different. Career highlights: Wasatch 100 winner, 2nd Leadville 100, 3rd Vermont 100, 1st Fuego Y Agua and that is just 2013

“I am very much in base-building mode for the summer season right now, and really only starting get back after it in late December after a long break post Grand Slam. That said, I have been trying to put together a few longer back-to-back runs the past few weeks to try and replicate a bit the daily grind of a stage race. Other than that I’ve been logging lots of easy paced mileage with a focus on vertical gain. I feel like I’m in decent shape, if not particularly sharp, which should be just fine for a longer stage race like the Coastal Challenge.”

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri 

Martin had a breakthrough in 2013 participating on the ISF Skyrunner® World Series. Without doubt, Martin will add a surprise element to the racing and who knows, he may just turn a few heads. Career highlights: 7th Ice Trail Tarentaise, 8th UROC, 13th TNF50 and 21st Transvulcania La Palma

“So, one week to go… training only just started again after a 3 weeks break in December and all my long runs have been performed in the snow. I’m just coming home from a night out so at this very moment I’m feeling pretty… drunk. I’m most looking forward to catching up with good friends and make new ones and I’d say my only concern about this week will be to deal with mosquitos!”

Mike Wardian ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian

What can you say about ‘Wardian. He is a prolific runner from anything from a 5k to the 135m Badwater Marathon. He is unstoppable; racing week in and week out he will often race 2-3 times a week. He has speed and endurance and in addition knows how to race over multiple days as he showed by placing 2nd overall in a previous edition of the Marathon des Sables. Career highlights: 3rd JFK50 2013, 2nd UROC 2011, 2nd IAU 100km 2011, 3rd Badwater, 11th Comrades and 3rd Marathon Des Sables plus many, many, more.

I am most looking forward to pushing my body for a week straight and to see how it does with the terrain, heat, climbs, descents, and for course the recovery…that is always interesting me.  I am also looking forward to exploring the countryside, mountains and Rain forests of Costa Rica, I have been to Costa Rica a few times but never for very long and each time I go I know I am missing a lot so this time I hope to get an even fuller and more robust experience.”

Carlos Sa ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa

Started running ultras in 2008. In a relatively short period of time, Carlos has established himself not only as one of the top multi-day racers in the world but also as great runner in the mountains. Repeated top-10 performances at Marathon des Sables and TNFUTMB will without doubt mean that his presence will be felt a the front of the 2014 TCC. Career highlights: 4th UTMB 2012, 5th UTMB 2011, 8th Marathon des Sables 2011 and 1st Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

“I haven’t done any special preparation for the TCC. I am currently doing my normal day-to-day training for a mountain race. My objective is to enjoy this hard race, and have an adventure in a different environment. I have been told Costa Rica is unique. I would like to be in the first 5, but we shall see, I have not run any race since the last UTMB and I’m far away from my optimum capacity.”

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito ©iancorless.com

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito ©iancorless.com

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito

Vicente may well not be a runner you know… however, you should! Coming into the TCC he is arguably the most prolific and successful multi-day racer around. Just recently he was the winner of the Grand To Grand Ultra in Utah and winner of Ultra India Race 2014. He has raced in Chile before and I can’t help but think he will make his presence felt each day as the racing unfolds at the 10th edition of The Coastal Challenge. Career highlights: Winner of the 4 Desert Races in 2012 – Atacama (CETRhile), Gobi (China), Sahara (Egypt) and Antartica. NB* Ryan Sandes is the only other under to achieve this but Vicente is the only person to do this in one year!

The stage is set for the 2014 The Coastal Challenge. The action starts on Sunday February 2nd and culminates at the incredible Drakes Bay 6-days later.

Daily updates will be available on via iancorless.com website and on twitter @talkultra

In addition, the TCC Facebook page HERE will have updates.

Follow #TCC2014

READ THE ARTICLE IN SPANISH HERE 

#TCC2014 Corredordemontana

MDS to TCC – Jo Meek Interview

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Who would have thought it, the 2013 Marathon des Sables turned out to be a great year for British performances. Danny Kendall placed the highest ever overall placing with 10th and Jo Meek placed 2nd lady overall. It was a stunning performance by a relatively unknown. Armed with a new belief in her ability, Jo will has now planned to switch from the heat of the Sahara and test herself in the heat and humidity of a Costa Rican rainforest at The Coastal Challenge. I caught up with Jo at the end of August and we had a chat about MDS and her expectations for TCC.

IC I bet April and the Marathon des Sable (MDS) seems such a long time ago?

JM Yes, it does seem ages ago. Considering I am walking now in late August in the pouring rain. It’s wet and miserable… it doesn’t seem that long ago in regard to memories. I just watched the video that was available for download and it brought it all back.

IC So sitting at home, watching everyone running in the sand with a tear in your eye?

JM Definitely no tear, I think I am happy not be running in the sand. I am still surprised how I adapted especially considering I am now at home running on the road again.

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IC Amazing eh that you can be in that environment, the sand, the wind, the bivouac, no washing, you are eating dried food and you adapt and then post race when we got in a luxury hotel, you said, you wished you could go back, you loved it didn’t you! You loved being in that environment. It was preferable to the clean hotel.

JM I did. Yes, I actually think I could be quite a ‘skanky’ person really. I am far happier roughing it than in luxury. I guess it sounds romantic but I like being at one with nature, eating, running and sleeping. Perfect. But I guess the other memory is the one from those clean white cotton sheets; that was quite special.

IC I have to say, the first shower, all that fresh hot water and then all the sand starts to escape from all the nooks and crannies. As you say, no more sleeping bags and a lovely comfy bed, it is quite a pleasure.

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JM My roll matt was about the size of A4 to keep it light and small, so my hip was pretty sore after a week in the bivouac. I have to say the cushioning of a bed was welcome.

IC The Bristh performed really well at MDS. No disrespect to you but we had no idea who Jo Meek was before MDS. We knew Laurence Klein was outright favorite and we knew Meghan Hicks was back, she had performed well previously but outside of that it was all unknown. On the first day you were up at the front and then continued to perform at the front of the race for the whole race. You had this great battle with Meghan. Laurence had a convincing lead but it all fell apart on the long day when she had to drop with dehydration. This opened it up for you and Meghan. Meghan had a great long day but I remember standing on the finish of the final day, it was the marathon distance, you nailed it. You said the marathon was your distance and you wanted to stamp your authority on it. You placed second overall, many look at MDS as one of those iconic mult- day races, how did you go from a relatively unknown to getting second. What was it in you that enabled you to focus and become so efficient in the sand?

JM A few things really. I am very good at setting a training plan and sticking to it. When I race, I always race. I don’t just enter to complete it. So, looking at the conditions I set myself up in a heat chamber and did training that was specific. I didn’t want heat to be an issue so I acclimatized. What was interesting over the six days was that I became less scared of what the heat could do. On the last day I thought, what have I got to loose. I do think back now and wonder could I have gone harder but it was an unknown. I didn’t know what would happen so I played cautious. Meghan taught me a lot without her realizing it. I followed her on a couple of stages and I watched how she tracked across the sand looking for the hard sand, even if it was out of the way. She would deviate and look for the harder and faster sand. Also her style, it’s a definite technique to sand running. You don’t want to be a toe runner.

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IC For sure, you need a flat foot.

JM Yes, you also want to shuffle. You don’t want big strides. A little like being in the army again. I learnt lots. I learnt also from training. I had done some awful ultras that were definitely worse than MDS. One race, a 40-mile race across Exmoor and the weather was awful… they said 40 but it was 43-miles I am sure. The last 3-miles were awful.

IC That can be good, a bad training experience. If you have had some tough and hard training and the race works out easier then that has to be a good thing. It’s a real positive.

JM I had no doubt that I wouldn’t finish the race. I had said that I wanted the podium at MDS but I had no idea what I based that on.

IC To put things in perspective you are a 2:46 marathon runner. Ability and speed are there. Many would die for a 2:46 marathon but also you are in the army. Does the combination of those two things make a good MDS runner?

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JM I think the marathon pace and training was key in terms of the speed. I didn’t have the same endurance as Meghan over the ultra distance. Many of the days were shorter in terms of ultra distance so I knew I had that potential. In terms of tent life and conditions, maybe the army helped but that is me… I like that. The army helped with discipline; eating, drinking and so on… it was feet first, food and then wash. You need to look after yourself.

IC Give us an insight into your background, you are a roadrunner really?

JM Yes, but I do like cross-country. I came second in the Nationals. Essentially I have done road running. I started in my teens to loose weight and then just kept going. I wouldn’t say I have natural talent in terms of speed but I have something that works, particularly over distance.

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IC How long have you been running?

JM 18 years, maybe 20!

IC So you have a great base of running and plenty of experience?

JM Yes. I always thought that maybe I should do ultra earlier and I thought, no rush! Particularly with how you develop with age and aerobic capacity. It seemed like the correct time for MDS. As you know, you don’t just enter MDS you have to enter years in advance.

IC Post MDS you really wanted to improve your marathon time. You put yourself on that path and recently you run a half marathon but you were disappointed with the performance. Many factors can affect a race, a conclusion you have arrived at is that you are now going to pursue trail and ultra running. So, you are going to another multi stage in early 2014 but this time you are going to a Rainforest. It’s a race that I was at earlier in 2013, The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Also known as the Rainforest Run. What’s the attraction?

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

JM I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run but admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.

IC The race is very different to MDS. Some things carry over such as the multi day. As you say, you don’t need to carry all your kit but you do need safety kit, food, water and just essentials. But you are correct, all your clothing, tent etc is moved for you and then food is provided. It’s a hot and very humid environment and even when it rains it is not a problem, it is so warm. All the daily campsites are in beautiful idyllic places. It’s such a wonderful environment. It’s a great combination of providing daily challenging runs but with just a touch of comfort. It’s perfect for those who may want an introduction to multi day racing.

Costa Rice, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

JM In some ways it will feel easier but in an evening you will be able to eat as much as you like and so will the competition, in theory you are all the same come the following day. But at MDS it is about survival and balance. It is more about balancing and economy and how you ration your food and water.

IC The race has so much more elevation than MDS and in particular, the terrain is much more varied. You have single track, double track, rocky sections, forest, dense forest, beautiful beaches and then some tough climbs and descents. The next edition of the TCC celebrates its tenth year so it may have a little more climbing than normal, we shall see? The variety is amazing. If you are lucky, you’ll see wildlife. You hear it but don’t always get to see it.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

JM I’m so excited. I can’t wait. I have some road races to do in the coming months and then I will start my TCC training three months out. I will use a heat chamber again. The heat chamber I used for MDS prep was stuck on 80% humidity so I have an idea of what conditions will feel like and I know what my sweat rate is like.

IC Costa Rica is very humid. It is almost 100% but it is not unpleasant. You really do sweat all the time, particularly when running. You need to be on the ball and balance your hydration.

JM I like it harsh and hard conditions. In some ways, the harder the better.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

IC How do you prepare for a multi day race? In some ways you had to guess for MDS and that worked! So, what do you take away from that experience and what will you do in preparation for TCC. The longest stage is around 50k and not 80k so that will make a difference. As we have said humidity and terrain are the key differences and you won’t need to carry a heavy pack.

JM I will do far hillier off road training. For MDS I had to train with the weight too, however for TCC I will just use essential kit and I will do plenty of back-to-back training at a faster pace. I will try to replicate the race really. In some respects it won’t be too different from my marathon training. The key will be the back-to-back runs..

IC We have so many different ways to look at training. Some runner’s just head out of the door and run on feel. No time set, no distance set. It all goes on feel. Are you like this or do you have a plan that has everything planned out?

JM I work full time so I must have a plan. I don’t have the luxury to say go out and run for three hours when I feel like it. I have commitments. I get up at 05:30 and I do what I can and then I add to this at lunchtime or the evening if required. I make every session count so I fit in threshold running, speed work and so on. I need to be very specific. At weekends I have more time and if I need three days consecutive I take a day off work.

IC Do you do core stability, stretching, strength and core.

JM Oh yes, I am a proper geek when it comes to this. I am a physio too so I have no excuse. I stretch everyday, I do two strength sessions and I do two core sessions per week.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

IC Wow, you are the perfect example for all of us. So often I ask this question and I get a blank answer. We all know we should do it but few of us apply it!

JM I am disciplined and I see the benefits. You have to be disciplined but it still doesn’t stop me getting injuries.

IC Ah well, injury can be caused with so many factors.

JM For me it is usually over doing it or being tired.

IC Yes, distance and speed increase injury risk. Slower and longer has more impact but you don’t overstretch muscles or tendons. Listen to your body and all will be good.

JM I never listen to my own advice… I am lucky, we have a gym at work so it makes strength work easy. If I didn’t have that available it would maybe be harder. I have been strict with this for four to five months and I can feel the difference.

IC TCC is still months away, are you planning on doing any trail races for late season in the build up?

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

JM Yes, I love to race. I will enter races, from experience, if I enter races too far in advance I get injured, so I have entered a couple of marathons on the road for training and speed. In December and January I will look for options. Of course, options are reduced and conditions will be a little different to Costa Rica.

IC Late and early season events do crop up specifically designed to help people get ready for MDS so you will have some choice. Final question, many may be reading this and they are going to MDS or they may be tempted by TCC. What advice would you give to these people?

JM It very much depends on what you want to get out of it? I shared a tent at MDS with people who wanted to just complete, they wanted to enjoy the race and that is what they did. Set an objective and train accordingly. Ultimately it is all about fun and enjoyment.

IC If you had to give three tips. Three lessons you learnt at MDS that you would take to any race.

JM Good question. I learnt specifics like running in the sand but I guess the need to watch and keep on top of nutrition. Start eating early and don’t wait. Also, keep any eye on hydration and drink to thirst and then finally enjoyment is key! You must enjoy it.

IC I am sure you’re going to really enjoy TCC and Costa Rica. Many thanks for the time and insight into your progression and have fun in the Rainforest.

JM Thanks, as you say, really looking forward to it. It will be a real adventure.

 Links and information:

  • Marathon Des Sables images available HERE
  • The Coastal Challenge images HERE
  • Entry for the Marathon des Sables is available through the UK agent HERE
  • The Coastal Challenge website HERE

WANT TO RUN THE 2014 COASTAL CHALLENGE?

5% discount available using the form below for followers of iancorless.com

*Please note I will be at the 2014 TCC reporting on the race and capturing images at the invite of the race organisation.

Marathon des Sables – Trail Magazin

Really pleased to have a six page photo article on the 28th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables in Trail Magazin.

http://www.trail-magazin.de

The magazine is available for download for just 4 euros from this link: HERE

Trail Magazin - Marathon des Sables. iancorless.com

Trail Magazin – Marathon des Sables. iancorless.com

Episode 33 – Marathon des Sables and Adam Campbell

Ep33 Talk Ultra

 

This weeks show honours the injured and fallen at Boston Marathon. We have daily chat from the Marathon des Sables (Tobias Mews, Danny Kendall and Stuart Rae) bivouac and interviews with top placed Brits, Danny Kendall and Jo Meek. We interview Arc’teryx athlete, Adam Campbell. We discuss Mojo in Talk Training with Niandi Carmont, we have ‘A year in the life of…’ a Blog, Speedgoat, the News and ‘Up & Coming Races’.

00:00:44 Start
00:18:40 A year in the life of… with Amanda Hyatt. Amanda has been struggling with training and recently run the Brighton Marathon.
00:29:30 News from around the ultra world
00:35:40 MDS special from the bivouac with chat from Stuart Rae, Danny Kendall and Stuart Rae.
01:11:55 Back to the news
01:18:45 MDS special – after 28 editions of the race, Danny Kendall has surpassed James Cracknell and is now the highest ever placed Brit in the race.
01:35:40 MDS specialJo Meek entered the MDS several years ago and in 2012 got the nod that 2013 would be the year. With no experience of multi day racing, Jo wanted to finish the race but also perform to the best of her ability – she made the podium in 2nd place!
015215 BlogNick Cark always writes an in depth blog about his running HERE
01:52:55 Back to Karl
01:55:30 Talk Training – have you lost your Mojo? We discuss ways to get your mojo back with Niandi Carmont.
02:03:10 Interview – with Arc’teryx athlete Adam Campbell as he prepares for the 2013 season.

A former member of the Canadian National Triathlon and Duathlon teams, in 2006 Adam decided to shed the extra gear and rely solely on his running shoes to get around. He also decided to put down the stopwatch and set intervals and hit the trails.

Adam’s love for running began on the beaches of West Africa and Spain, where he spent his childhood running after soccer balls and chasing waves. It wasn’t until he moved to Canada in his late teens that he began running competitively. Adam’s love for all individual athletic challenges quickly saw him jump into the multi-sport world of triathlons and duathlons where he was renown for his running ability, which saw him win a national duathlon title.

However the drudgery and structure of training and racing for triathlons caught up with him and he began to seek out new challenges. After running the roads for a year, he jumped into his first trail race in 2007 and a new love was born. Adam qualified for the Canadian Mountain Running Team in his first trail race and continued to post the best ever finish by a Canadian at a Mountain Running World Championship at the Jungfrau Marathon, a gruelling 42k uphill run with 6000ft elevation gain from start to finish.

His running goals are to seek out interesting challenges in inspiring settings. A lifelong traveler and racer, Adam’s new belief is: if you are going to be suffering, you might as well suffer somewhere beautiful!

Occupation: Trail runner/law student (environmental, aboriginal, employment law)
Favourite Trail: anywhere I haven’t run before
Favourite Place to run: Soft & hilly terrain. Summer alpine runs
Favourite Race: Comfortably Numb, Whistler BC/ Jungfrau Marathon, Interlaken Switzerland
Favourite Distance: I will race anyone, anywhere…

02:33:20 A Meltzer Moment
02:36:20 Up & Coming Races
02:41:25 Close
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The Brits are coming…! Marathon des Sables 2013

You can read the full article and see images of Danny and Jo on RUN247 HERE

Marathon des Sables STAGE 6

The final day of the Marathon des Sables is ‘usually’ an easy stage. Your finish is guaranteed! Almost….

Not so for the 2013 edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

For the fast runners, one days rest had preceded the final competitive stage of the 28th edition of the race. However, for the slower runners who had taken over 24 hours to complete the 75.7km of the long day, rest was minimal.

The final leg was over the classic marathon distance. It was by no means and an easy day. When you add to this, plenty of sand, dunes and searing heat, it was going to be tough.

Tired limbs, sore and blistered feet moved to the start and after the obligatory briefing they were off, straight into dunes. Golden rollercoasters providing a light and dark palette. It was by far the most impressive start stage start of the entire race

In reality, the front end of the field was not going to see much change. It was guaranteed that barring a disaster; Mohamad Ahansal and Meghan Hicks would be crowned winners off the 28th Sultan Marathon des Sables.

However, Aziz El Akad and Jo Meek had different plans. Both of them ran incredibly hard over the 42km and secured two impressive stage wins. El Akad crossed the line in 03:18:36 and was awarded his medal by Patrick Bauer. In true MDS tradition, Patrick waits on the line and welcomes every runner on the last day. Jo Meek in particular ‘chicked’ many of the men with a time of 04:14:34. On the finish line the emotion and realization of what she had achieved took hold. As the tears rolled down her face she just said, “I can’t take it in. I came here to race but I never thought I would achieve second overall. Today’s distance, the classic marathon, is MY distance so I wanted to run hard”.

2012 winner, Salameh Al Aqra from Jordan finished a great 2013 race with second place in 03:26:34 and Mohamad Ahansal was close behind in 03:29:40. Danny Kendall had an inspired day and finished the race as he started with 6th on the stage with 03:46:19

Meghan Hicks finished second on the stage in 04:26:53 and after a relatively reserved crossing of the line she suddenly jumped, bounced and whoop whooped! Finally she was topping the podium at one of the most iconic races in the world.

Finishing the podium was another Brit, Zoe Salt. It really has been a year when the Brits have made a resounding presence felt and for sure, the ladies race looks very strong for the future.

The final day is all about medals and completing a journey. The finish line is a place of emotion. Every single person has a different emotion. Cheers and screams follow blank faces and hollow eyes. Tears roll down a cheek and arms are raised above heads and you hear a “yes! YES! I did it”.

The emotion, the camaraderie and the bonding of all was personified late in the evening when Didier Benguigui and his guide, Gilles arrived at the finish followed by a convoy of cars with flashing lights. An impromptu alleyway of staff with head torches and the support of many runners cheered, clapped and applauded as Didier crossed the line to complete his 10th Marathon des Sables.

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Races are memories. Didier and Gilles summed up everything that one could witness in any race; devotion, sacrifice, suffering and ultimately victory.

As they walked past the line to the applause, cheers and celebrations of all, in bivouac a rock band started to warm up to provide some entertainment for tired and emotional bodies.

It was an incredible 2013 race and one that I feel honored to have witnessed

Overall Results:

 Men

  1. Ahansal (MAR), 18h59’35
  2. Al Aqra (JOR), 19h41’15
  3. Capo Soler (ESP), 20h19’31

First Brit: Danny Kendall (GBR), 21h46’03

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Ladies

  1. Meghan Hicks (USA), 24h42’01
  2. Joanna Meek (GBR), 25h41’01
  3. Zoe Salt (GBR), 27h03’58

iancorless.comP1050625

 LINKS TO PHOTOGRAPHY