Zoe Salt – Ladies winner race report Iznik Ultra


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.


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!


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?


  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!


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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

Jo Meek Q&A in trailrunnermag.com


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 – Trail Magazin

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


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

MDS ‘Snapped’ Running Fitness


MDS snapped RF 0713Running Fitness ‘Snapped’ July 2013.

Sometimes the nature of running courses mean that, despite our best efforts, overtaking the competitor in front is simply not possible. It might be too narrow, it might be too boggy, but it’s not often that overtaking is precluded by the mother of all sand dunes!

This striking images taken by our man on the ground (or in the desert) Ian Corless shows competitors in this year’s Marathon des Sables doing battle with the course – rather than each other!

The 28th running of the epic multi-day race in the Moroccan Sahara, this year’s race added a killer wind into the equation – as if it wasn’t hard enough already. We’ll be bringing you the full report in the August issue of Running Fitness.


  • Order the magazine and subscribe HERE
  • Images from the Marathon des Sables are available to purchase for personal use HERE



Protected: Darkness to light – Marathon des Sables

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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

Pictures tell stories…

I love what I do! I really do.

To work in a race environment and capture the action in words or audio is a real pleasure. I have played with video and although I enjoy the medium, I do prefer a ‘still’ image. It is a moment captured.

These two images really capture everything that combines to make a great image.

Meghan Hicks on the first stage of the 2013 Marathon des Sables (which she went on to win) running up a dune on the first day. I captured the image by running alongside her.

iancorless.comP1020570From behind, my fellow photographer, Mark Gillett captures the process involved. Story making at its best, running at its best and the use of imagery at its best. I have often been asked HOW? I manage to capture images that make the viewer feel like they are in the moment… well here is how.

Copyright Mark Gillett

Copyright Mark Gillett

Pictures tell stories… thanks for the inspiration Meghan and thanks for capturing Mark.

Pictures tell stories...iancorless.photoshelter.com


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.


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:


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

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



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