The Sunset Relay – 1300km in 96 hours

Sunset Relay Logo

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

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

Sunset Relay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the event live on

sunsetrelay.com,

Twitter #SunsetRelay

 Instagram @SunsetRelay.

Participants:

Section 1 : Luleå -> Hemavan (roadbike)

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

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

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

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

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

Section 3 : Abisko -> Luleå (adventure sports)

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

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

Elisabet Barnes writes about victory at Compressport Trail Menorca Costa Sur

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The trail that runs along the coastline of Menorca, Cami de Cavalls (CdC), was originally established by the settlers of Menorca as part of a defence system. It was patrolled by soldiers on horses, hence the name (Cavalls mean horses in Catalan). The path weaves its way in and out of the coast, and lets the traveller experience varying terrain and views. These include woodland trails, white beaches with intensely turquoise water, beautiful rock formations, farmland, ravines and urban areas. The profile is undulating with moderate climbs but yet offers a technically challenging experience.

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Now in its fourth year, the Compressport Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls has grown quickly since its inception and in 2015 offered 5 courses ranging from 32km to 185km. I opted for the 85km Trail Menorca Costa Sur, TMCS. This starts in Es Castell in the east and finishes in Ciutadella in the west, following the CdC trail along the south coast of the island.

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A bus was organised for Saturday morning at 6am to take participants from Ciutadella to the start in Es Castell. During the night there had been thunderstorms and heavy rain was falling as we made our way. Niandi Carmont and I both agreed that this was not what we had come to Menorca for! Luckily, an hour later the skies were clearing. As we were about to start some dark clouds were looming but the temperature was perfect.

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I fell into a comfortable pace, which turned out to be amongst the front 20 or so runners. No other women seemed to be in that group but I didn’t look back to figure out where they were, I was going to do my on race. The first few hours took us through a variety of landscapes as we made our way forward on roads along the coast and pretty, undulating trails in a mix of farm- and woodland.

As I was beginning to approach half way it started to get a bit tougher. A few more climbs slowed the pace down and there were many gates to negotiate. I seemed to be running with the same group of people but we were more spread out now. Weaving in and out of each other, some stronger on the ascents, other on the descents or the flats.

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The checkpoints were fairly well stocked: sandwiches with jam, peanuts, almonds, fresh fruit (apples, bananas, orange), cheese… I did take orange at most checkpoints but I was largely self-sufficient. The volunteers were very helpful, asking if I was ok or if I needed anything. Good thing I speak a little bit of Spanish so I could understand them.

Just before the half way point at about 39km everything was going swimmingly well. I felt great, I was on a roll and I was moving at good pace. Another gate to negotiate laid ahead at the end of a slight down hill section. A lovely couple held it open for me so I didn’t have to stop. Instead of looking at the ground ahead I looked them and smiled as I cruised though the gate. Just as I passed them, much to their horror and my embarrassment, I stumbled and abruptly face planted on the stony trail.

At first I thought disaster had struck but after a quick assessment I decided that I was only bruised and scraped. Blood was pouring from my knees and pumping rather heavily from a wound in my thumb but it looked worse than it was (or so I told myself!). At this point I was glad that I had carried my first aid kit. After some moderately successful patching up I hobbled on.

©iancorless.com_Menorca2015-4266It was a mental relief to get over the first Marathon and know that I “only” had half way to go. Here, the terrain started to get a bit trickier. We ran on beautiful but equally brutal uneven rock formations, close to the coastline. It was now also getting warmer and I had to drink more and focus on my nutrition and hydration. This part of the race was hard mentally. I kept thinking: “when I get to 65km it’s only 20km left and flat”. That became my next target but little did I know that flat could be so hard!

©iancorless.com_Menorca2015-4525After a while I started to see more people around me on the trail. I was catching up the slower runners in the 185km race (they had been out for nearly 30 hours at this point!), and the fresh runners who had just started the shorter Trekking Costa Sur (TCS) came bouncing along on annoyingly fresh legs.

To my relief we hit roads as we were approaching the last checkpoint at 73 km. I ran into it feeling positive and was informed I was the leading lady. I had incredible support from the spectators and the checkpoint volunteers were very helpful, just as they had been at all support points so far.

I left the checkpoint to cheers and felt good. I followed the road to the end where it turned, about 100 metres or so. As I turned the corner I was abruptly hit by the next obstacle which came in the form of an extremely forceful headwind. It would of course be silly not to expect strong winds on a small island like Menorca but this was something different altogether. Apparently there is a Menorcan legend that the winds of the island change people’s personalities. Whether there is any truth in that I don’t know but I certainly needed a large portion of positivity at this point!

I told myself that it could be worse, that I could still be on those treacherous rocks and that at least I was on the road. Well, guess what awaited a few hundred metres ahead… That’s right, the rocks, taking us even further out on a completely exposed section of coastline. There was nowhere to hide, no shelter.

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This went on for what felt like an eternity but eventually we entered an urban area and could run on the road again. The finish in Ciutadella came quicker than I thought. I could hear the music from the speakers and the cheering from the crowds. I recognised my hotel on the other side of the little bay by Platja Gran, just a stone’s throw from the finish line. What a relief! I turned left onto the final stretch, entered the funnel on the artificial grass that had been laid out and to the sound of the cheering crowds I crossed the line.

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I was very happy to have battled through all the obstacles of this race! Knowing how tough the finish was I felt for those brave runners I had passed out there who were completing the final stretch of the 185 km. Some of them would not finish until Sunday morning and maybe some would not finish at all, finding the challenge too big to muster this time. I sent a thought their way before enjoying my post-race relaxation in the finish area, which offered a pool, cold beer and paella to the competitors. What more could you wish for?

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This was my first time in Menorca and I hope there will be many more (maybe those winds did have some impact after all!). The scenery is stunning and the coastline, having been protected from development, offers many areas of raw beauty and wilderness. The course is very pretty but deceptive and should not be underestimated. Having said that it is perfectly achievable. On reflection I think it could be a great race for those looking for a course with some technical challenge but who don’t like heights or who struggle at altitude. It is also perfect to combine with a long weekend or holiday. The people involved in this event and the passion and effort they put into it makes it a very memorable experience and I can highly recommend it.

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Entries for the 2016 Compressport Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls are not yet available, however, please check the website HERE

Elisabet Barnes won the 2015 Marathon des Sables (ladies category) holds course records at the GoBeyond C2C and XNRG Pilgrims. She now holds the course record for the 85km for the Compressport Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls

Zoe Salt – Ladies winner race report Iznik Ultra

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Zoe Salt may not be a name that you know… however, a little look back to 2013 and you will see that Zoe placed 3rd (behind Meghan Hicks and Jo Meek) at the Marathon des Sables. It’s a podium place that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Fast forward to 2015 and Zoe has now won the 130km Iznik Ultra and in the process placed 4th overall. In the coming weeks, Zoe is preparing for Transvulcania La Palma, she knows full well that the racing in La Palma will be very different to the racing in Turkey. Here Zoe writes about her Turkish experience.

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I arrived in Istanbul. It’s not quite the West, it’s not quite the East, and it is different, special and unique. Minarets dominate the skyline as the sun begins to set.

I am a kid in a sweet shop – literally! Turkish delight and Baklava abound.

Friday – I awake to the exotic sound of the call to prayer. The sun has come out and it is gorgeous! From the breakfast room at the top of our hotel we realise how enormous Istanbul is (14.4million people). It stretches out in every direction towards and beyond the horizon. From the ferry crossing we can still see its sprawl an hour after leaving the port of Yenikapi. But enough sightseeing – I really should try to sleep!

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Arriving in Yalova everything is much calmer. Driving to Iznik reveals some of the terrain we are likely to be encountering in a few hours…. Namely hills. Panic. They look a lot bigger than Muswell Hill… Must try and sleep…

The race village is already buzzing when we arrive. Where is my list?

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  1. Register – check!
  2. Kit – check!
  3. Nerves – check!
  4. Food – check!
  5. Water – check!
  6. Pin number to t-shirt – check!
  7. Change t-shirt – check!
  8. Pin number to new t-shirt – check!
  9. Eat – check!
  10. Take photo of incredible sunset over the lake – check!

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Then to bed to try and sleep…. count sheep…. count breathing…. so that’ll be no sleeping then….

We leave for the midnight start, which is completely new to me – way past my bedtime. It is cold. I already have on a fleece top, gloves and balaclava … should I put my jacket on? That will require a re-pin of the number. But surely even cold-blooded me will be running in a t-shirt when the sun comes out? No. Leave it alone. Number is on t-shirt. 11:50pm I think I’ll put my number on my fluorescent vest. Re pin!

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11:55pm on the start line. Vaguely distracted as a little Labrador puppy comes to see me off! And soon we are on our way into the darkness of Iznik. Within a few metres I am on my own, so I speed up to follow someone as my worst fear is getting lost in the dark. It turns out that this is another of my unnecessary stresses as there are markers every 50’ish’ meters – foolproof even for me! We run through miles and miles of olive groves and trees full of blossom. It is so quiet. Then bam! I am confronted with what in the dark seems to be a near vertical climb. Have I packed climbing shoes or rope? My calves are burning. And this is only a smallish hill, according to the course profile! Just as I’m worrying about the big hills to come, a certain Mr Corless runs past me backwards taking pictures!

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Dawn arrives and with it the wonderful call to prayer. As the sun rises over the hills, bathing the landscape in beautiful colours, I reach the halfway point and am told by the race director that the most picturesque part of the race is still to come.

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I have caught up with Mariya Niklova and Alper Dalkilic. I like having them in sight, especially as we are hounded by packs of dogs, some baring teeth. I run behind them for miles, them pulling away, me catching up, until eventually, around 72km they slow enough and I pass them. I’m on my own and the uphill begins again. Up, up, up… when do we go down again? I see a runner in front and I am spurred on. Up, up, up – how high is this going? I pass the runner. I have no idea how far it is to the next checkpoint as my watch has died. I’m wondering if this is a metaphor. Finally I start descending. It seems like an eternity to the next aid station. The dirt track gives way to a paved road, a few right turns into a village and there is the checkpoint! I ask a man how many girls are ahead of me and he replies ‘Three.’ My heart drops. ‘Three girls?’ I repeat.

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He laughs.

I obviously give him a confused look and he says ‘Three people.’ I’m obviously still giving my best confused face as he repeats in very slow English, as if it is me whose first language is not English, ‘THREE. MEN. IN. FRONT. YOU. ARE. 4th’ Well, this I don’t believe so I laugh along with them, eat a bit of orange while they kindly fill my water bottle and am off again.

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Up, up, up again. I see no other runners but the scenery is as promised. The hills offer views of distant snow-capped mountains. In the foreground a lake, its surrounding fields and minarets marking each village and town. How I manage to resist the urge to stop to take pictures I will never know. Wild tortoises, goats and their shepherds, dogs and toads surround me. I feel like David Attenborough!

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I keep looking behind me. Where is everyone else? I feel like I’m travelling in reverse. Surely others should be overtaking me? I keep going. Plodding. Finally I reach the last checkpoint. I stick my head under the village fountain because I am so hot! The villagers come out and cheer. It is an incredible atmosphere – I will appreciate it more later!

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It’s downhill, at least for a bit then the uphill starts again! Where is Iznik? I could see it before but now I’m back in the trees and the lake has vanished. I come to a puddle I can see no way around. It’s quite big but I know it’s not the lake! I put one foot in and half my leg disappears. At least it’s cold! Back on track and it’s now downhill. Iznik finally comes into sight; I keep looking behind me as I feel like I’m barely moving. Still nobody else in sight! A bicycle that escorts me to the finish meets me. I work out it’s about a mile left to go. I concentrate and dream of my legs carrying me a little more. Eventually I cross the finish line…. 4th overall and the ladies winner.

Presented with a lovely ceramic medal, I try to say, ‘this is nice, I am from the *Potteries’ (the *Potteries – known as Stoke on Trent in the UK) but now it is they who look on, confusingly at me…!

Iznik Ultra – Check!

View the Iznik Ultra race images HERE

Iznik Ultra report on RUNULTRA HERE

He must be CRACKERS! Part Two of an interview with James Cracknell

Crackers 2

In our next article we feature James’s experiences in the Marathon des Sables in 2010 and his tips for those taking part in April 2015 or planning to take part in the race in future years. His 2015 comeback plans include the Richtersveld Wildrun and the Badwater 135.

“It will be about me drawing a line after the accident as well and moving on. It will be nice to go back to Death Valley and put some demons to rest. I need to square the circle and move on. I don’t want my life to be defined by winning two gold medals. I don’t want my life to be defined by being the guy who got hit on the head by a truck! I refuse, I will choose my path and I will not be pigeon holed. I will create my path.” – James Cracknell

If you missed Part One please go HERE

To read Part Two in full please go to RUNULTRA HERE

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Win €250 COMPRESSPORT goodies!

 

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With the imminent start of the 2015 and 30th edition of the Marathon des Sables (preview HERE), leading sport compression brand COMPRESSPORT are providing you all with the opportunity to win one full set of TRAIL clothing.

Male or female apparel is available, all products will be shipped directly from Compressport.

How do you win?

You need to answer the question below using the contact form on this website.

Deadline – April 10th for last entries.

Image ©compressport

Image ©compressport

The total value of products available is €250 and includes the following items

Trail Running shirt Black 02

                                                                Image ©compressport

 

 

 

TRAIL running shirt (male or female)

Trail Running Shorts black 02

                                                                Image ©compressport

 

 

TRAIL running short (male or female)

Compressport Paire US Black

                                                               Image ©compressport

 

Compression Calf

prs_v2_trail_ blackred_2

                                                              Image ©compressport

 

TRAIL sock

If you would like to win a full set of apparel as listed above.

Please answer the following question using the contact form below.

“Please predict the winning male OR the winning female of the 2015 (30th edition) of the Marathon des Sables.”

Entries will close on April 10th and no entries will be accepted after this date.

Please use the form below

 

 

Jo Meek Q&A in trailrunnermag.com

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The eyes tell the story—they look through you. Deep in focus, almost blinkered like a horse, Jo Meek has only one purpose. To run as fast and as efficiently as possible over six days and win the 10th edition of the 2014 The Coastal Challenge (TCC) in Costa Rica.

I had seen this look once before, at the end of stage 1 of the 2013 Marathon des Sables in Morocco. Sitting in a bivouac, Meek, 36, of Fair Oak, New Hampshire, had just excelled on the first day of the race. I, like others, looked around in wonder and asked the question, “Who is Jo Meek?”

By the end of that 28th Marathon des Sables, no more questions needed to be asked. Meek placed second at her first Marathon des Sables behind Trail Runner Contributing Editor Meghan Hicks.

Switching from the dunes of the Sahara to the beaches and rainforest of Costa Rica was always going to be a cathartic moment for Meek, particularly when one considered the slated seasoned competition: Julia Bottger, Veronica Bravo and Anna “Frosty” Frost. Unfortunately, Frosty had to withdraw from the race just days before the start. While disappointed at not having the opportunity to test herself against one of the best female mountain-ultrarunners in the world, Meek was unfazed: “It changes nothing. I am here to race and race hard. I would have loved to have Anna push me but you know what? I can push myself pretty hard.”

Read the full article HERE

Jo Meek trailrunnermag.com

Marathon des Sables 2014 #MDS2014 Images – Stage 5

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The 29th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

STAGE 5 RICH MERZOUG / IGADOUN TARHBALT 42.2KM

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved
No reproduction or sharing please.

Marathon des Sables 2014 #MDS2014 Images – Stage 4 (The Long Day)

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The 29th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

STAGE 4 BA HALLOU / RICH MERZOUG 81.5KM

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all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved
No reproduction or sharing please.

Marathon des Sables 2014 #MDS2014 Images – Stage 3

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The 29th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

STAGE 3 OUED MOUNGARF / BA HALLOU 37.5KM

MDS2014 Stg3

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved
No reproduction or sharing please.

Marathon des Sables 2014 #MDS2014 Images – Stage 2

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The 29th edition of the Sultan Marathon des Sables.

STAGE 2 ERG ZNAIGUI / OUED MOUNGARF 41KM

MDS2014 Stg2

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved
No reproduction or sharing please.