Sir Ranulph Fiennes to run the 2015 Marathon des Sables – Interview

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sir_ranulph_fiennes_bigissue.com

Ranulph Fiennes (March 7th 1944)

 Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been called, ‘The World’s Greatest Living Explorer.’ It’s a difficult statement to argue. Sir Ranulph’s list of achievements is quite incredible. 

Born in ‘44’ he was educated at Eton, served in the Royal Scots Greys for eight years and progressed to the Special Air Service (SAS) where he specialized in demolitions. In 68’ he joined the Army of the Sultan of Oman where he was decorated for bravery after leading several raids deep into rebel territory.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Portrait 2012_militaryspeakers

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Portrait 2012_militaryspeakers

Sir Ranulph married his first wife, Virginia (Ginny) in 1970 and between them they lead expeditions all over the world. Ginny was awarded the Polar Medal in ’87.’ Sir Ranulph has raised incredible sums of money for Marie Curie Cancer Charity as his wife, mother and sister all died from the disease within 18 months of each other (2004.)

Currently, Sir Ranulph is the only person alive to have to have travelled around the Earth’s circumpolar surface. Continually a pioneer, Sir Ranulph is ever present at pushing boundaries.

The first explorer to cross the Antarctic Continent unsupported, Sir Ranulph has come a long way since leading a British Expedition on the White Nile in ’69.’

Ran, as he likes to be known, may perhaps be best known after travelling to the North Pole unaided. Dr Mike Stroud has figured heavily in Ran’s career and amongst many expeditions, two stand out! A 97-day trek across Antarctica in ‘93’ and running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents (2003.) The latter was undertaken just four months after a triple heart bypass.

In 2000, Ran attempted to walk solo to the North Pole but his sled fell through thin ice. Exposure to the ice-cold water resulted in severe frostbite and some months later, the famous ‘finger’ incident.

Having been to both Poles and participated in over 30 major expeditions, Ran summited the Eiger in 2007 and at the age of 65 (2009) he pushed the boundaries once more to be the oldest Briton ever to climb Everest after two failed attempts in 2005 (he had a heart attack) and in 2008 when he ‘went a little too quickly’ and exhaustion foiled his attempt.

After 5 years of planning, in 2012, Sir Ranulph set off on his latest expedition, ‘The Coldest Journey’ leading the first team on foot, across Antarctica during the southern winter. The expedition was brought to a sudden halt for Ran when in training he removed a glove to attend to a ski binding. Ran was evacuated for frostbite and treatment but the expedition continued without him.

In 2015, Ran will attempt the 2015 Marathon des Sables.

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Ranulph Fiennes Interview undertaken by Niandi Carmont at ‘The Druid Challenge’ 2-day race in November 2014. An event both Niandi and Sir Ranulph were using as preparation for Marathon des Sables in 2015.

NC: Welcome Sir Ranulph

RF: Many thanks for the invite and showing an interest.

NC: You hold multiple records, I am a little overwhelmed. You were in the army for many years, did that ignite a passion for adventure?

RF: Well when I was in Germany it was the Cold War. We had 60 70-ton tanks facing the German border waiting for the Soviets to attack… but they never did attack. So the soldiers got bored. So, we were made to run, canoe or whatever it may be. I was told I would be the running officer. I wasn’t asked, I was told! I became an expert in a week. I started to train 600 soldiers. We got to be 5th best regiment out of about 80 regiments after 4-years. All the races were 6miles though.

NC: Wow an interesting beginning and somewhat unique. What was it like to be the first person to visit both poles?

RF: Well, it was my late wife Ginny (married 38-years) who motivated me. Before we married we had done various hot expeditions in the Sahara, the Nile and Arabia. In the 70’s the British press were no longer interested in media for hot expeditions. So, no sponsorship equals no expeditions. Ginny decided we should go to cold environments. We looked at a globe and we decided that nobody had gone vertically between the poles. There was only one route!

NC: How long did this take?

RF: It took 7 years to get sponsorship. We had 1900 sponsors and raised 29 million pounds. This was in the 70’s! Nobody paid us to get sponsors so we had to work at weekends in pubs to make a living. Eventually Jennies dream was ready to go… we had a team of 52-people who had given up everything. Engineers and so on… we got a 40-year old Norwegian vessel and set off from Greenwich and arrived back 2.5 years later. We were the first to go around the earth surface vertically around the world ever and nobody else has repeated this. More people have been on the moon! So in all, 10 years!

NC: Amazing that the record still stands. So remarkable! You were the first person to cross Antarctica on foot?

RF: That was the Antarctic Continent? Antarctica changes all the time… I did coastline to coastline: Atlantic to Pacific. We completed the first crossing in ‘79’ but we used skidoos, nonetheless the first crossing side-to-side. But when we crossed the Continent that was 20-years later and that was unsupported. So, what we carried on day-1 was enough for 2000 miles without resupply. That was somewhat problematic but we did do it and we were in a bad way at the end!

NC: Problematic?

RF: We ran out of food! I started at 15.5 stone, at halfway I was 9-stone despite eating 5000 calories a day. So we had a daily deficiency of 3500 calories per day. So, we were officially starving. Mike Stroud thought this was fascinating… he is Europe’s top physiologist studying in starvation and muscle cannibalisation, so he was able to study this first hand. It had only been possible to study something like this previously at Auschwitz!

NC: You had frostbite. Many have heard the stories about you cutting your fingers off. Are they true?

Fiennes_standard.co.uk

RF: I got frostbite on a solo expedition to the Arctic Ocean. If I had had a doctor with me he would have pulled me out and got the tent out with a cooker on and avoided the frostbite. As it was, because I was alone by the time I had got out of the water… the damage was done. I was too cold too pitch a tent, start a cooker and so on. It was -48. Think about it, it was pitch black on a semi frozen sea, so I went back to the start to find land again and sent a radio message. An amazing Canadian ski pilot landed in the dark on the edge of the coast and he saved me. I was taken to hospital. I had special pressure treatment for 60-hours to lengthen the living part of the fingers on one hand. They cut off about 2-inches of the five fingers on one hand. The other hand recovered. My insurers refused to pay unless the operation was in the UK. I tried to find someone in the UK who knew something about frostbite. Navy divers are susceptible to the bends and apparently they can lose fingers. Apparently they don’t amputate until after 5-months to allow for some recovery. Five months is a long time. Every time you touch something with mummified fingers it hurts… after 2 months my wife and I decided to cut them off. We went to the garden shed. We got a Black & Decker workbench and micro saw. It took 2 days and lots of tea. Apparently a physio in Bristol said I did a great job but my surgeon was less pleased.

NC: Did it take courage and did it hurt?

RF: No, if it hurt or started to bleed I just moved further away and just made sure the bit I was cutting off was dead. It doesn’t hurt!

NC: In 2009 you summited Everest at the age of 65-years; what impact did age have on you if any?

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RF: This was my 3rd Everest attempt. My 1st attempt had been somewhat risky from the Tibet side and I had a heart attack on the last night after 2-months of acclimatizing. Bad timing eh but I survived! I said I would never go back… but I was told that was a rubbish idea and that I should go from the other side.

So my 2nd attempt was from the Nepal side; which is easier. But we still failed as we passed a load of bodies including the father of my Sherpa. We passed a Swiss climber too who had summited without Oxygen but died on the way down with hypoxia.

In 2009 it was easy… I guess I understand why I had failed the first and second times. I had been trying to catch up with my British guide the second time. Competitiveness can be a bad thing. When you have had a heart attack you must obey your surgeons advice and not exceed 130bpm. So, in 2009 I took it easy and it all came together.

NC: You are obviously endurant and resilient?

RF: When I was in my 50’s I enjoyed running a great deal and I had success. In my 60’s running was no longer an option… I was jogging until about 69-years of age and that was okay, not that I ever went in for races in that decade. Jogging became shuffling and that is very annoying! Avoid geriatric status at all costs.

NC: I agree 100%. You have a great collaboration with Mike Stroud – 26-years?

RF: Mike comes up with all the ideas. For the last 5-years we have been working on an idea that involved Antarctica. Mike unfortunately had a hip problem. In the last couple of years his other hip went, it wasn’t as easy as the first one so Mike took on all the scientific side. In many ways this is more difficult and that is what he is in charge of now. We are still doing things. There was a time when Mike and I didn’t do expeditions; this was after the Antarctic crossing. We did running races. Mike led an Eco-Challenge team, which must have been one of the first in British Columbia in the Whistler Mountains. That was very enjoyable… it was a team of five and it included Rebecca Stephens the first the British lady to summit Everest, his Father who was over 70-years, the editor of Runners World and an SAS man, David Smith. Mike put the team together and introduced all of us back to running in 1995. We have also done many events as a pair such as the 7-marathons on 7-continents.

NC: He is also a friend, It’s more than running surely?

RF: You don’t choose people for expeditions because they are friends. We chose Mike Stroud in the very beginning because I was already in the Arctic. The man I was with was recalled to London and I was left with nobody. I rang my wife in England and said, ‘I need someone in 3-days who is completely ‘polar’ trained.’ Dr Mike Stroud had been a reserve on another expedition and had only just returned from Antarctica after 1-year away. Somehow he pulled it off… he managed to come away on a 3-day turnaround.

NC: You obviously relied on your wife a great deal.

RF: Absolutely! Since my wife has passed away, Mike has taken on the ‘idea’ role.

NC: Can we discuss the 7-marathons in 7-days on 7-continents?

RF: Mikes’ idea again! The New York marathon club considered themselves the best marathon club in the world. The only non New Yorker as part of this group was Dr Mike Stroud. They swore him to silence that they thought it may be possible to run 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. Mike kept his word and 2-years later, Mike approached American Airlines and they said they couldn’t schedule the flights. (You need jumbo jets and 5-hours in each continent.) Delta said they couldn’t do it. United said they couldn’t do it and now 6-years had passed. It was 2003 and Mike had still kept the secret. I called Mike in 2003 about another expedition. He said great, I’ll ask the boss. They told him he could only have 1-week’s holiday as he taken so much time already. Mike phoned me and said, I can’t do your expedition but I want you to do mine! So, Mike asked me to contact British Airways and within 2-months they phoned back and said they had cracked it! They said we had to finish with New York and not Asia. Asia would need to be in the middle. Also, if we were a minute late ever they would fly without us. They wouldn’t keep passengers waiting. So, they provided 2 free first class beds and food (this was our only opportunity to rest) and yes, it was all systems go! It all went well to Argentina. We were suppose to be running on King George Island (Shetland), the night before we were due to run the ‘Argies’ blocked the landing on King George with their own planes. So we had a team meeting, Mike and myself, BBC news, a reporter from The Times and a photographer: 6-people in total. When we suddenly arrived the whole thing had been cocked up, the BBC bloke said, “I’ve got a very good friend in Santiago, I will ring him now and get him here and he will fly us to one of the other Antarctic Islands.” So we had to run one of the South American marathons locally. That night we ran a marathon and we had officials to make sure we ran an official marathon in 3:45, which was extremely stupid. The next morning we get on this plane without a worry of which island we would go to. Apparently the only island to run on would be the Falklands. You may know, but you are not supposed to fly from Argentina to the Falklands without 6-months notice. So we slept on the plane. Mike woke me up and we looked out of the plane window. We had two Tornado jets on either side of us… they made us do a force landing on a military airstrip on the Falklands. We were marched to the CO who was furious. He told us we had no permission and that we could all face prison. At this point, one of the reporters went forward and said, “Did they realise that the news and the papers would make this not look good for the army!” There was a fairly quick turnaround…

“You can run your 26. something miles locally and we will watch them every step of the way,” The CO said.

They never saw us off. Funny really.

NC: This seems extremely stressful. Running, logistics, last min changes and so on.

RF: The BBC and The Times did all that for us.

NC: Yes, but it must have been stressful.

RF: The 7x7x7 challenge was sponsored by Land Rover and they did everything for us. It was incredible. They did all the work for us and they had cars waiting for us at anytime. Land Rover and British Airways made this all possible. They had the contacts.

NC: Before the 7-challenge you had a heart attack and a double bypass. It’s amazing that you would undertake this.

RF: I was on a drip for 3-days and nights, they decided to cut me open and do a double bypass. They just decided to do this! It took 13 attempts to revive me after they sewed me up. When I woke up my late wife said, “Ran you had a heart attack 3-days ago” but I still can’t remember anything!

NC: You aborted your most recent expedition, is that the end of cold journeys for you now?

RF: We aborted the crossing but we kept the team (all 5 of them) not Mike and not me through frostbite, but we kept all the team for 8-months at 11,000 feet above sea level doing scientific work on each other. It has delighted the Royal Society and all the scientists, we raised 2.3 million dollars for blindness in Bangladesh and I went with Joanna Lumley to Bangladesh to see what they were doing with the money. For £19 they could remove cataracts from babies. Quite remarkable! For £9 they could provide spectacles to children. This means they can go to school and have opportunities in the future. We really need charity PR people to get behind us, the more money we make, the more people we can benefit.

NC: What does the future hold for you?

RF: Well, I am not allowed to talk about this until I get the nod, but I will be going to Marathon des Sables in 2015. And I am also writing another book. One book actually came out last week.

Marie Curie Logo

Get involved and support Sir Ranulph! Text RUN and a message of support to 70007 to donate £5, or you can visit his Just Giving page here:http://bit.ly/1xUB298

Find out more about Sir Ranulph and his Marathon des Sables challenge:http://bit.ly/1wvffi8

NC: Can you tell me about Agincourt, your most recent book?

Agincourt

 

Book on Amazon HERE

RF: A historian would normally write a book like Agincourt… but it turns out that I am related to Robert Fiennes from the village of Fiennes in the Pas de Calais.

NC: What an amazing story?

Niandi speaks French to Sir Ranulph and he is taken aback. He also speaks French and they enter into a short dialogue. 

Sir Ranulph comments that he could hear an accent in Niandi’s voice but not French! Niandi explains that she is South African born…

NC: So you lived in South Africa?

RF: Yes, my relatives live in South Africa. I spent the first 12-years of my life in SA.

Anyway, we digress. I decided to go to Fiennes and find my French cousins. They were wiped out at the battle of Agencourt and I found out how. One of them was part of an 18-strong commando group with the specific aim of killing King Henry V in the battle. One of them, maybe not Robert Fiennes, got to knocking the crown of his head… Two of King Henry V’s generals, one was a sheriff of Kent in Sussex. He was corrupt man; so corrupt that Henry V1 made him into the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When soldiers came back from France, 20,000 of them attacked London. The King gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the mob and they killed him… nasty business!

NC: I guess we are going to have to read the book. Sounds like a fascinating story. Looking at modern day adventurers, what are your thoughts on Uli Steck and Kilian Jornet?

RF: Uli is amazing, incredible… I do not understand how you can go up the Eiger in 2-hours or something ridiculous like that. He is unbelievably amazing. Both of them are just incredible.

NC: And what about your new book, what is it called?

RF: My new book will be called HEAT. Nice contrast to my other book, COLD.

“Physically I’m going to be a wreck pretty quickly.” But these challenges are fought in the mind, he says. “There’ll be a voice in my head saying I’ll have a heart attack, I’ll get hyperthermia, I’ve got a family, it’s stupid to carry on. That sort of wimpish voice tries to appear logical, finding reasons for stopping. You have to fight it. I’ve had it so many times.”

-BBC News, Tom de Castella

 

Cold

On Amazon HERE

Sir Ranulph Fiennes will participate at the 2015 Marathon des Sables. An announcememt will be made on January 8th. We hope to have follow up interviews with Sir Ranulph to help document this exciting journey.

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AWARDS

In 1970, Fiennes received the Sultan’s Bravery Medal.

He has also been awarded a number of honorary doctorates, in 1986, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2011

Fiennes received the Royal Geographical Society’s Founder’s Medal.

Fiennes was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1993 for “human endeavour and for charitable services”

In 1986 Fiennes was awarded the Polar Medal for “outstanding service to British Polar exploration and research.”

In 1994 he was awarded a second clasp to the Polar Medal, having visited both poles.

In 2010 Justgiving named Fiennes as the UK’s top celebrity fundraiser, after raising more than £2.5 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

In September 2011 Fiennes was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Science from Plymouth University and

In July 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Glamorgan.

In October 2014 it was announced that Fiennes would receive an honorary Doctorate of Science, from the University of Chester, in recognition of “outstanding and inspirational contribution to the field of exploration”. 

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Links and credits:

‘I am not a madman’

http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2007/oct/05/features11.g21

Fiennes climbs to Everest summit

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8060649.stm

Ranulph Fiennes pulls out of Antarctic journey

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/02/25/ranulph-fiennes-antarctic-journey/1946571/?AID=10709313&PID=6156889&SID=w7wk81lnnmpn

The world’s greatest living explorer

http://www.militaryspeakers.co.uk/speakers/sir-ranulph-fiennes.aspx

Interview with TIME

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1900969,00.html?imw=Y

Ranulph Fiennes – Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranulph_Fiennes

Who, What, Why: Is it harder to run in the Sahara Desert or the North Pole?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-30716727

A Year of Podcasting

2014 Podcast
A year comes to an end and with it an opportunity to look back. Talk Ultra podcast has a 3-year anniversary in January… Yes, 3-years!
The show has come a long way in those 36+ months and I have to say I am very proud of what we have created. The running community have been extremely supportive of the show and this has been reflected in 1000’s and 1000’s of downloads for every show all over the world. Over 162 countries! Little did we know way back in 2011 that a 3-hour plus show that talked about running would be so popular.
Our guests have always been and always will be a who’s who of ultra running. In our very small way, Talk Ultra is creating an audio history of our sport at arguably one of its most exciting periods of it’s development.
Needless to say, we thank each and every interviewee who has been so generous of their time.
Talk Training, Smiles and Miles with Emelie Forsberg, A Meltzer Moment, The News, A Blog, Up & Coming Races and so on all add up to something quite unique but we don’t want to be complacent… not at all. We will always be looking for new ways to make the show that little bit better!
Speedgoat Karl Meltzer has been an invaluable co-host. Speedgoat says it like it is and with his history in the sport, who is going to argue with him? Injecting humour, experience and a unique perspective on the world of ultra, Speedgoat is a pleasure to work with. Thanks Karl!  When Mr Meltzer has been ‘off the radar’ I have had the pleasure of some stunning stand in co-hosts: Stevie Kremer, Holly Rush, Mike Wolfe, Kurt Decker and Niandi Carmont to name just a few.
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You can catch up on the last 3-years of shows HERE
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To keep things nice and simple, I have provided a summary and links to all the 2014 shows below – Episode 52 to Episode 77.
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Just look at the list of names that have appeared in 2014…
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Ellie Greenwood Max King Joe Grant Grant Maughan Lisa Smith Batchen Iain Don Wauchope Tina Lewis Timothy Olson Landie Greyling Julia Boettger Gary Robbins Adrian Saffy Michael de Haast Mimi Anderson Samantah Gash Luke Nelson Emelie Forsberg Marc Laithwaite Niandi Carmont Stevie Kremer Kim Collison Charlie Sproson Jason Schlarb Donnie Campbell Claus Rasmussen Frosty Ty Draney Caine Warburton Lizzy Hawker Sam Robson Adam Schwarz-Lowe Eirik Haugsness Daniel Doherty Kurt Decker Marco De Gasperi Kilian Jornet Adam Campbell David Johnston William Sichel Debbie Martin Consani Jo Meek Torill Fonn Rob Krar Kasie Enman Simon Forbes Renee McGregor Anton Krupicka Steve Birkinshaw Tom Owens Mark Perkins Ricardo Almeida Nicky Spinks Morgan Williams The African Attachment Greg Fell Richard Fluck Mike Wardian Nick Clark Holly Rush Rickey Gates Mike Foote Marcus Scotney Steve Spiers Robbie Britton Danny Kendall Bertie Portal Jamil Coury Jared Campbell Ryan Sandes Clare Walton Jennifer Steiman Scott Jurek Casey Morgan Fernanda Maciel Sebastien Chaigneau Rin Cobb Vlad Ixel Pavel Paloncy Johan Van De Merwe Joe Fejes Jon Steele Gemma Slaughter

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So, what are some of my highlights of 2014? Always a difficult one as every guest is special, but here are a few I really enjoyed for so many varied reasons.
Pavel Paloncy in Episode 53
David Johnston in Episode 57
Jared Campbell in Episode 59
Rickey Gates in Episode 61
Morgan Williams in Episode 63
Anton Krupicka and Steve Birkinshaw in Episode 65
Rob Krar in Episode 66
William Sichel in Episode 68
Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasperi in Episode 69
Jason Schlarb in Episode 72
Luke Nelson in Episode 74
Tina Lewis and Timmy Olson in Episode 76
and finally,
Episode 77 was a super packed show.
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Please remember the show is available on STITCHER, iTUNES, RSS
Go to our Facebook page HERE and ‘Like’ us
please ‘Follow’ us on Twitter @talkultra
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Episode 77  It’s our Christmas Special. Ian and Karl discuss 2014 and some of our highlights. We have in depth interviews with Ellie GreenwoodMax KingJoe Grant and Grant Maughan. Importantly, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to joining you on your ultra journies in 2015.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 76 has a catch up interview with Lisa Smith Batchen on her Badwater Quad. We speak with Iain Don Wauchope about his record breaking Salomon SkyRun and we have two inspiring  chats with Tina Lewis and Timmy Olson. The news, Up and Coming Races and Speedboat Karl.
Episode 75 is all about the Salomon Skyrun and South Africa. We bring an interview with the ladies winner Landie Greyling. We also talk with the ladies 2nd place, Julia Boettger. Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall and discusses in-depth his race and co hosts the show. We bring sounds from Moketsi Game Ranch, experiences from Cape Town and talk Skyrun with Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 74 has Mimi Anderson and Samantha Gash talking about their epic South African journey. Luke Nelson talk about his running career, recent 100-mile success and how going out hard can pay off! Emelie Forsberg is back for Smiles & Miles and Marc Laithwaite talks the long run in Talk Training. The News, a Blog, up & Coming races and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.
Episode 73 and on this weeks show we speak with Skyrunner World Series Champ and Mourne Skyline winner, Stevie KremerKim Collison tells us all about his running and his great 2014 season. Landie Greyling discusses running in South Africa and the up and coming Salomon SkyRun. In Talk Training it is episode 3 of our navigation special with Charlie Sproson, the News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Speedgoat Karl talks busting quads. 
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 72 has a full and in-depth interview with Jason Schlarb after his recent 4th place at the 2014 UTMB. Donnie Campbell talks about his running career and winning the recent 3×3 80km in the UK and Claus Rasmussen talk about running Spartathlon… in sandals. The News a Blog, UP & Coming Races and Speedgoat Karl.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 71 we speak to Frosty who not only ran her first 100-miler but won it with a new CR. Ty Draney talks about his career and we discuss running the Bear 100… twice! Caine Warburton discusses running in the Southern Hemisphere and the comparisons with Europe. Lizzy Hawker announces a race and Sam Robson tells us what it’s like being the first Brit at the iconic Spartathlon. The News, a Blog, Up and Coming races and Speedgoat.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 70 we speak with the winner of Superior 100, Adam Schwarz-LoweEirik Haugsness talks Tromso Skyrace and Daniel Doherty tells us all about placing in the top-10 at Tor des Geants. Talk Training has part 2 of our Navigation 101 and we have the News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races and I am pleased to say… Speedgoat is back as co host with an in-depth chat on his AT attempt.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 69 is going to be a little different… we are recording live from a RV in the middle of Minneapolis. My co host is Kurt Decker from Twin Cities Running Co. This weeks interviews are quite special, we speak with Italian mountain running legend, Marco De Gaspreri and man of the moment, Kilian Jornet. The news a blog and the up and coming races.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 68 Adam Campbell talks about Hardrock 100 and that lightning strike. David Johnston discusses 6-days in the Dome. William Sichel tells us what it is like to run 3100-miles in 50-days and in Talk Training we discuss basic navigation. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 67 On this weeks show we speak with Lakeland 100 and Lakeland 50 winners, Debbie Martin Conasani and Jo Meek. We speak with Norwegian powerhouse, Torill Fonn about her recent world record for running 374.999km’s in 48-hours. Julia Böttger joins us for a catch up and tells us about her running journey in Turkey and winning Ronda dels Cims. We have the News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races, Emelie Forsberg for Smile and Miles and Niandi Carmont once again joins us as co host.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 66 on this weeks show e catch up with Rob Krar after his incredible Western States. Kasie Enman is on the comeback trail after her 2nd child and we chat after a stellar 2nd place at Speedgoat 50k. Simon Forbes just this last weekend won Race to the Stones in the UK… a great result but Simon has an incredible story. In Talk Training we talk nutrition with Renee McGregor. The News, a Blog, Smile and Miles with Emelie Forsberg, Up and Coming Races and Pocket Rocket is back… Stevie Kremer.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 65 On this weeks show we speak with Anton Krupicka about injury, Hardrock 100, Lavaredo Ultra Trail, future plans and the Bob Graham Round. Steve Birkinshaw recently set a new FKT for the Wainwrights. An epic journey in the Lakeland fells, Steve tells us all about it. Brit Tom Owens made the podium in the Skyrunning World Champs and we chat about the past 18-months and the future. Emelie talks smilesandmiles, a website, news, up and coming races.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 64 Lisa Smith-Btachen tells us all about her incredible career and the challenge of running Badwater 135 4-times back-to-back with 2 Mt Whitney ascents. Mark Perkins discusses his win and CR at SDW100. Ricardo Almeida gives us a minimalist viewpoint of Comrades. Claus Rasmussen discusses minimal running and tells us of an up and coming challnege and Marc Laithwaite is back in Talk Training. The News, a Blog, Up and Coming Races and of course, Speedgoat Karl.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 63 We have a great interview with Queen of the Fells, Nicky Spinks. An in-depth interview with Morgan Williams all about the Bob Graham Round and we speak to Greg Fell from The African Attachment about what it’s like producing iconic ‘trail’ films such as Travailen, Wandering Fever and the Salomon series of films. We also catch up with Jo Meek on that incredible 5th place at Comrades and in Talk Training, we speak with the UK’s expert, Richard Fluck on kidneys and the effects of NSAID’s. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Speedgoat is back from the wilderness….
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 62 a Comrades Special show. We have a full and in-depth interview with Mike Wardian who is looking for a top-10 placing. Live from Durban, we speak to Jo Meek who is having her first experience of this race. Nick Clark joins us to discuss UTMF, WSER and the up and coming Salomon Skyrun South Africa. We have a ladies perspective on running with children in Talk Training. The News, a Blog and joining me as a special Comrades co-host we have 2013 7th placed lady, Holly RushImportantly, this show is dedicated to Manya Claassen – RIP
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 61 of Talk Ultra – Anna Frost tells us all about the incredible comeback at Transvulcania. Rickey Gates talks running in the UK with Scott Jurek and the Bob Graham Round. Eirik Haugsnes discusses his 2014 season and Emelie Forsberg is back in smilesandmiles with a sore hand. Michael de Haast, race director for the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa talks us through the course and tells us about a great opportunity. The News, a Blog, Up and Coming Races and our favourite, Pocket Rocket, Stevie Kremer co-hosts the show.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 60 of Talk Ultra – This weeks show has an interview with one of the best ‘closers’ in the ultra scene, Mike Foote. We have a series of interviews from the Iznik Ultra series of races, Marcus Scotney from the 130k, Jo Meek from the 80k and Robbie Britton from the marathon. We speak to British Bulldog, Steve SpiersMarc Laithewaite is back for Talk Training. News, a Blog, Up and Coming Races and of course, Speedgoat Karl. 03:09:50
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 59 of Talk Ultra – This weeks show is a Marathon des Sables and Barkley Marathons special. We have daily chats from the Sahara with top Brit and 5th overall, Danny Kendall. By contrast, we also have daily chats with actor, Bertie Portal who undertook the challenge of a lifetime at his first MDS. Barkley Marathons are infamous and we speak with rookie ‘fun run’ finisher Jamil Coury and we also speak with two time finisher and 2014 champ, Jared Campbell. The News, a Meltzer Moment, Up & Coming Races and of cousre Speedgoat Karl.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 58 of Talk Ultra – Ryan Sandes discusses his record breaking FKT on the DrakTraverse with Ryno GrieselDanny Kendall and Bertie Portal discuss Marathon des Sables in the days before the 29th edition starts and 2nd placed lady at Tarawera, Claire Walton talks about her running, Tarawera and what the future holds. Talk Training is a Comrades special with Holly Rush, a Blog, the News, Up & Coming Races and of course, Speedgoat.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 57 of Talk Ultra – David Jonston gives us a blow-by-blow account of his record breaking run at the ITI350 (Iditarod Trail Invitational), Ellie Greenwood talks about her comeback run and win at Chuckanut 50 and her plans for 2014. We speak with Jennifer Steiman, Director of the Desert Runners Movie and Samantha Gash who appeared in the film. Team inov-8 provide some chat from the 2014 athlete retreat and Emelie Forsberg brings us smilesandmiles, a Blog, the News, Up and Coming Races and of course Speedgoat! It’s a stacked show.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 56 of Talk Ultra is a Transgrancanaria special. We have am in-depth interview w/ race winner Ryan Sandes. Chat w/ Scott JurekCasey MorganFernanda Maciel and Sebastien Chaigneau. In addition, we have Danny Kendall, top-10 Brit for the 2013 MDS talk about his preparation for this years race. The News, a Blog and Up & Coming Races.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 55 of Talk Ultra – We have a Coastal Challenge special with an interview with male overall winner, Mike Wardian. Jo Meek, ladies overall winner talks about her training and preparation for the TCC race and Nick Clark discusses how stage racing compares to 100-milers. We have an interview with the 2013 ITI350 winner and recent Susitna 100 winner and new course record holder, David Johnston before he embarks, once again on the ITI350 just one week after his impressive Susitna win! A special Talk Training on nutrition specific to Marathon des Sables with Rin Cobb (PND Consulting). Emelie Forsberg is back for smilesandmiles and of course we have the News, Up and Coming Races and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 54 of Talk Ultra – Gary Robbins once again returned to the tough and gnarly Hurt 100 and came away with another victory, in this weeks show he tells us all about it and his plans for 2014. HK100 took place just a couple of weeks ago and young Australian sensation, Vlad Ixel placed 3rd overall in a top quality field, we interviewed him about his running and what the future hold. Talk Training as ‘Hint’s n Tips for running from Speedgoat himsel, the News, a Blog, Up and Coming races.. another great show in store!
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 53 of Talk Ultra is once again a packed show… We have two interviews from the Montane Spine race, regarded as one of the toughest races out there. We speak with Pavel Paloncy who won the 268-mile event with a new course record and Marcus Scotney who won the 106-mile Challenger event. We also speak with South African long distance runner, Johan Van De Merwe about ultra running in South Africa and his new African 24-hour record. The News, a Blog, Talk Training, Up & Coming Races, Smiles and Miles and Speedgoat is back from the Love Boat!
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 52 – We have a full show with two in-depth interviews about running really long… Joe Fejes recently won the Aravaipa Running 6-day event, Across the Years by clocking up 555+ miles and beating running legend, Yiannis Kouros in the process. By contrast, we speak to UK runner Jon Steele who tackled ‘The Hill’ ultra; 160-miles of hill rips on a 2.9m course in under 48-hours. Gemma Slaughter, The Coastal Challenge winner from 2013 talks to us about her expectations as she prepares for the 2014 edition. Emelie Forsberg is back for smilesandmiles, Marc is with us for Talk Training and believe it or not, Speedgoat is on a cruise! That’s great for Talk Ultra as we have the lovely Stevie Kremer joining us as co host.
Website – talkultra.com
 *****
THANK YOU FOR THE AMAZING SUPPORT
Ian & Speedgoat

Kilian Jornet – Aconcagua – Summits of my Life

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

“Winning isn’t about finishing in first place. It isn’t about beating the others. It’s about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations and your fears…. To find out whether we can overcome our fears, that the tape we smash when we cross the line isn’t only the one the volunteers are holding but also the one we have set in our minds? Isn’t victory being able to push our bodies and minds to their limits and in doing so discovering that they have led us to find ourselves anew and to create new dreams?” – Kilian Jornet, RUN or DIE

 

December always provides me with a little more spare time (not much) but certainly more time than the past 10-months when I have been on the road, travelling from race-to-race, recording images, writing stories and podcasting on the weekly and monthly action of mountain and ultra running.

I like to look back, soak in my experiences and one-by-one highlight key moments.

Although I plan to do this in the coming weeks, Kilian Jornet’s imminent ‘Summit’ attempt on Aconcagua has made jump ship and write a post about the Catalan himself.

What a year Kilian has had…

In a face-to-face interview in Zermatt earlier this year, I remember asking, “I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?”

As one would expect, Kilian looked away from me a little embarrassed by such a direct question that basically said, ‘you are the best!’

However, he replied with a smile and a twinkle in his eye that confirmed my thoughts, “This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometers.”

I smile at his honesty and his genuine analysis of his form. You see 2014 has been the most impressive year not only in Kilian’s short life but arguably the most impressive in relation to any sportsperson.

We can argue all day about the pros and cons of distance, speed, difficulty and complexity of Kilian’s year but look at the simple facts:

  • Denali – Summit record (11-hours 40-minutes)
  • Hardrock 100 course record
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Vertical Kilometer
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Sky distance
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Ultra distance

Is Kilian THE most rounded athlete? I am biased but I like to think impartial and I have to say, with all things considered, yes! VK to 100-miles, Ski mountaineering and climbing. The Catalan is off the scale.

We have heard the stories of how Kilian says in RUN or DIE, “I enjoyed a normal childhood… I have never been one for being shut inside and was lucky that my parents lived in a refuge, which my father managed, 6500-feet above sea level.”

Kilian may well consider his childhood as normal, for him it was, but many would agree that right from aged two he was being nurtured step-by-step to be the perfect outdoor person.

“By the age of 3 I had already climbed Tossa Plana, Perafita and La Muga. By the age of 6 I had completed four Aneto summits and at the age of 10 I crossed the Pyrenees in 42-days.”

It’s an inspiring and intimidating thought process. At 10 years old I was a naive and inexperienced kid, in contrast Kilian was already on a path of greatness. It may not be a path that was pre determined, however, as we look back we can see that Kilian has not stumbled on this ability, this career, this destiny. With the passing of each year, he has created a legacy and should Kilian stop now at the age of 27, his list of records, results and palmares would quite happily last him to the end of his days.

“I have lost count of the weeks I have spent away from home, of the countries I have visited and the beds I have slept in. I began to compete 10-years ago and it has been 10-years of seeking to relive again-and-again the emotions and sensations that take me to the peak of ecstasy and make me live life at a pace more suited to a rock-and-roll musician.”

December is here and as runners all over the world slip into recovery and hibernation in preparation for the new-year, Kilian departs for the Andes and his attempt to set a record on Aconcagua.

In 2000 Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes to the summit and Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones. Two records, I wondered which Kilian would go for?

“I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too,” Replied Kilian to my question. “Aconcagua is easier than the Matterhorn. It’s rocky but not steep. Altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western and southern hemisphere at just under 7000m.”

The first attempt to reach the summit of Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story of treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.

The first recorded ascent was in 1897 by a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.

The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Tyler Armstrong of California. He was nine years old when he reached the summit on December 24, 2013. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis, who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.

See Kilian Jornet on the UK’s Channel 4 News

http://bcove.me/knvesy10

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid601325122001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_Vh4qBcIZDrvZlvNCU8nxccG&bclid=0&bctid=3915483972001

Pushing boundaries is what Kilian does. It is his DNA and as an appreciation and acknowledgement for his contribution to our sport, Kilian was voted: ‘Peoples’ Choice Adventurer of the Year’ by National Geographic.

As the coming days unfold, Kilian will test himself once again. He will push his own boundaries and he will ask questions of himself and those around him. To document the journey, Seb Montaz will once again record the action as it unfolds. We get to see the Catalan’s endeavors and achievements through the brilliance of Seb’s eyes. Believe me, as a photographer I not only appreciate the craft of a man at the pinnacle of sports imagery but also as climber and sportsman himself. Remember, Seb is on the mountain, often side-by-side with Kilian, matching his strides, following his movements and in doing so he captures moments that we can look on and savor. We are able to experience the brilliance of two pioneers.

We will see less of Kilian in 2015. A return trip to Hardrock 100 is almost certainly on the cards. After all, why wouldn’t he want both course records? But ultimately, Kilian will focus on Everest and the ultimate challenge that this mountain will provide.

“It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem, to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependent. I expect to have several attempts.”

I am unsure what Kilian will do in the future… I think maybe even Kilian is unsure?

Aconcagua is a priority for now and then focus will shift to Everest; the big peak in the Himalayas.

Everest will dominate the mind of the Catalan. It will consume him and with meticulous preparation and he will conjure a plan… a plan that will take him to the top of the world!

Credits 'RUN or Die by Kilian Jornet, Wikipedia and Seb Montaz

 *****

Follow Kilian and his team in the Andes @kilianj @sebastienmontaz @summitsofmylife

Summits of my Life HERE

Kilian Jornet HERE

My interviews with Kilian:

The Human Carabiner – HERE

The Matterhorn Summit – HERE

You can also listen to Kilian Jornet on Talk Ultra podcast HERE

UPDATES

all content ©summitsofmylife

Dec 19th – 1:56pm

Today is the day!!! Kilian is right now trying to be the fastest person to climb up and down the Aconcagua!!! C’mon Kilian, you can make it!!! Gooo!!!‪#‎SoML‬

Dec 19th – 2:27pm

NEWS FROM ACONCAGUA: Kilian was not able to reach the summit on his attempt due to strong wind. He could reach up to 6.500m but 90km/h winds made the attempt completely impossible and he had to turn back. In Kilian’s words “I will try again soon” ‪#‎SoMLAConcagua‬

December 20th

“I consider this failed attempt like a big training in altitude” said to me kilian after running and climbing from Horcones ( 2950m) to 6200 m and back ( about 14h) with crazy 90km/h wind in his face.
Emelie and Kilian will be stronger for the next attempt!

December 21st

When things do not go as expected, you go fast back at the start point and you try it again (soon ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd

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Aconcagua 2nd Round!
Kilian is on his way trying to achieve another dream!!
You can see the long road to the Summit! Go Kilian!!!
We’ll Keep you posted! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd 

Kilian passed Plaza de Mulas, Aconcagua’s Base Camp at 4.300m. He is feeling well because weather is good and not too windy. Let’s push him up to the summit!!! GOOOOO KILIAN!!!

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December 23rd 

BREAKING NEWS: Kilian reached the summit of Aconcagua and is back to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. He feels well but still 25 more Km to go. Enjoy it and goooo!!! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

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Salomon SkyRun 2014 – Race Day Images

©iancorless.com_SkyRun14-4502#ETRkathmandu

 

The Witteberg is a South African mountain range just off the south-west corner of Lesotho. The range, which rises to 2408 metres, stretches for about 60km from Lundin’s Nek in the east to Lady Grey in the west. The range lends its name to the Witteberg Series, the uppermost fossiliferous sequence of the Cape System of sedimentary rocks in South Africa. The race starts in the town of Lady Grey which is famous for its annual Nativity Play and its quaint houses and incredible scenery. Discover the wonder of Balloch cave along the route with it bushman art and idyllic setting nestled between some of the highest peaks in the Witteberg.

The Witteberg range is one of the most picturesque places in South Africa with some distinctive peaks like Avoca and Halston Peaks dominating the skyline.

The Salomon SkyRun and SkyRun Lite are unique in that they are truly self-supported and self-navigational races, where athletes tackle the remote terrain of the Witteberg Mountain range with a Map a Compass or GPS unit and a back pack containing all there food, water and compulsory equipment that will enable them to survive in this harsh environment, while operating at an average height of between 2200-2500 meters above sea level.

The trail starts in Lady Grey and the first 65km of the route is the same for both races, after the compulsory stop and medical check at Balloch are the Skyrunners allowed to continue while the Lite runners have completed their journey. The route climbs sharply out of Lady Grey to the first check point at the Tower; this is about a 12km run and is a combination of hiking trails and mountain running. As you climb the trail to the tower the majestic landscape unfolds in front of you and it now feels as if you are on top of Africa. Following the fence line you make your way along the ridge line to the second check point which is at Olympus, this is another 10km and the terrain is now devoid of paths and trails and athletes must decide which is the best route to the check point. After Olympus the athletes can pick up a small trail that will lead them to Snowden which is check point 3 another 11km or so, there is a natural spring just past Snowden where you can fill up your water bladders (does depend on how much rain has fallen so not always guaranteed a lot of water) before making your way to Avoca Peak the highest point (2756m) on the race. The climb up Avoca peak is challenging as the gradient is steep and the terrain is rough especially after good summer rain. From Avoca the route takes you over the “Dragonback” a ridge line that is about 3 meters wide with steep descends on either side, a fantastic formation of rock that is a feature of the race and a spectacular viewing point on a clear day. The route flattens out for a while as you move towards CP6 at Skidor which is again a leg of about 10km. At Skidor you descend into the valley down a technical descend before picking up the river that will lead you to the compulsory stop at Balloch Cave having now covered about 65km of the race.

Once Athletes have done their medical and been give the all clear by the doctor, it upwards and onwards as they take on the challenge of Balloch Wall a climb with a vertical ascent of over 500m in just 3km and back down the other side on the way to CP 8 at Edgehill Farm. Most athletes will now be operating in the dark as night fall will have replaced the harsh African sun. Navigating through the Bridal Pass from EdgeHill to the turn is tricky with a lot of athletes losing a lot of time trying to find the correct entrance into the pass that will lead them onto the ridgeline again. The Bridal pass has now been included as a waypoint on the route to assist athletes in negotiating the pass. A steady climb up the Pass will take you onto the ridgeline and to the check point at the Turn. From here you will double back toward the Wartrail Country Club via Halston Peak which is the last check point on the route. The climb down from Halston’s is technical and is made more difficult by the fact that you are very fatigued at this stage but buoyed by the fact that you are now heading to the finish at Wartrail Country Club.

RESULTS *to be updated

  1. Iain Don Wauchope 12:08:15 – new course record
  2. Gary Robbins 13:46
  3. Jock Green 14:12

 

  1. Landie Greyling 16:14
  2. Julia Boettger 19:53
  3. Sue Chapman 23:33

Ladies results to follow.

More images to follow.

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 – Stage 5

©iancorless.com_Nepal2014_8-2275

Day 5 #ETR2014

Many say that the 16km route from Phakding to Tengboche is one of the most beautiful trails in the world. The view of the Himalayan peaks is beyond mind blowing. Especially when you arrive at the summit an Everest, Lohtse and Ama Dablam await. It’s quite the picture postcard.

However, to take in this spectacle a journey of 16km and 2124m of positive incline waits. It doesn’t sound too much does it? However, many runners crossed the line saying, ‘that was a seriously tough day!’

Departing Phakding (2700m), Namche Bazar (3600m) is the first port of call then Kumjung and Cp2 and Phungi Tenga (3300m) before the tough and steep ascent to Tengboche at 3900m.

Samir Temsang and Phudorje Lama Sherpa once again ran like demons and ran the course in a super impressive 2:51. Samir once again pipped Phudorje for the tape and a couple of seconds. James Eacott from the UK ran a great race and looked really strong to place 3rd on the stage from Zigor Iturrieta who struggled in the closing kilometres.

Anna Comet made a clean sweep of 5-stages and 5-wins and Kerry Sutton despite a sprained ankle once again placed 2nd to secure her overall 2nd lady ranking. Yangdi Lama Sherpa repeated her consistent 3rd-place for every stage.

The finish line at Tengboche is arguably one of THE most amazing finishing lines of any race and this was reflected in some of the emotions shown as runners crossed the line today. However, a tough 30km from Tengboche back to Lukla awaits each and every runner on day-6 of the Everest Trail Race.

I’m pretty sure a few cold beers may well be enjoyed in Lukla tomorrow evening… believe me; they have been earned! The ETR may well ‘only’ be 100-miles but they are some of the toughest and most challenging miles available. The ETR is without doubt a bucket list race.

 

Results top-3 times to follow

 

  1. Samir Temsang
  2. Phudorje Lama Sherpa
  3. James Eacott

 

  1. Anna Comet
  2. Kerry Sutton
  3. Yangdi Lama Sherpa

 

 

 

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 Day 4 Image Gallery

©iancorless.com_Nepal2014_7-1419

Results top-3 stage 4

  1. Samir Temsang 3:53:35
  2. Phudorje Lama Sherpa 2:53:38
  3. Zigor Iturrieta 4:09:41
  1. Anna Comet 4:28:18
  2. Kerry Sutton 5:06:09
  3. Yangdi Lama Sherpa 5:35:47

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 – Travel to Jiri

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Departing in five 16-seater mini buses, participants of the Everest Trail Race made the long, twisty and at times stressful journey from Kathmandu to Jiri for the start of the 2014 edition. It’s a rollercoaster journey up single -rack roads, a frenetic and constant beeping of horns and a multitude of bends that would leave the most hardened rollercoaster freak with a turning tummy.

Our lunch stop at Karidunga was a welcome break from the journey. While runners found a space and enjoyed the view of the Himalayas, off into the distance I walked looking for some local colour. You never have to go far, Ladies working in fields, men weaving basket wear and children playing; all have wonderful smiles.

They seem to embrace tourists and actually seem to enjoy the process of having a photo taken. Off course it’s all the more appealing if they receive a ‘token’ for their efforts…

Weathered faces show the lines from years of toil from harvesting crops. Children have round faces, wonderful colour and piercing eyes and a cheeky smile. In all honesty, I could photograph these people all day. They fascinate me.

Back on the buss the toing and froing continued and finally our arrival at Jiri came. We had been on the road 8-hours and the glow of our yellow TNF tents glowing as the day began to loose its light was more than a welcome sight.

Water collection, tent allocation and final preparations underway for tomorrows race day. A mug of hot tea warms as the departing of the sun takes the heat away and the temperature slowly drops… little by little venturing to zero and then suddenly it drops below. ‘Don’t worry’ Pasang Sherpa says, ‘it will only be -3 tonight.’

 

Day 1 commences at 0900 Thursday 13th November.

ETR Stg1

Jiri (1850m) to Bhandar (2050m) – 21.5km 3795m+

The stage has two summits, one at 2400m and the high point of the day at Deurali Pass 2700m before descending to the finish at Bhandar.

Day 2 Preview:

ETR Stg2

ETR Stg2 Profile

 

 

 

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 – Kathmandu

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

Located at the top of a hill, our day started with a visit to Swayambhunath (affectionately known as the Monkey Temple).

Swayambhunath (Devanagari: स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप; sometimes romanized Swoyambhunath) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’ (Wylie:Phags.pa Shing.kun), for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. However, Shing.kun may be a corruption of the local Nepal Bhasa name for the complex, Singgu, meaning ‘self-sprung’. For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.

The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long stairway with 365 steps, leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the southwest entrance. The first sight on reaching the top of the stairway is the Vajra. Tsultrim Allione describes the experience:

We were breathless and sweating as we stumbled up the last steep steps and practically fell upon the biggest vajra (thunder-bolt scepter) that I have ever seen. Behind this vajra was the vast, round, white dome of the stupa, like a full solid skirt, at the top of which were two giant Buddha eyes wisely looking out over the peaceful valley which was just beginning to come alive.[2]

Much of Swayambhunath’s iconography comes from the Vajrayana tradition of Newar Buddhism. However, the complex is also an important site for Buddhists of many schools, and is also revered by Hindus.

From Swayambhunath we took a short bus ride and then walked around the vibrant streets of Kathmandu. It’s a cacophany of noise mixed with people, cars and colour. The people are warm, welcoming, happy and friendly despite obvious poverty that is on display no matter where you look.

Kathmandu (Nepali: काठमाडौं [kɑʈʰmɑɳɖu]; Nepal Bhasa: येँ देय्‌) is the capital and largest municipality of Nepal. It is the only city of Nepal with the administrative status of Mahanagarpalika (Metropolitan City), as compared to Up-Mahanagarpalika (Sub-Metropolitan City) or Nagarpalika (Municipality). Kathmandu is the core of Nepal’s largest urban agglomeration located in the Kathmandu valley consisting of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur and a number of smaller communities. Kathmandu is also known informally as “KTM” or the “tri-city”. According to the 2011 census, Kathmandu has a population of close to 1 million people. The municipal area is 50.67 square kilometres (19.56 sq mi)  and has a population density of 3000per km² and 17000 per km square in city.

The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal.[6] It is surrounded by four major mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu Valley is part of three districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur), has the highest population density in the country, and is home to about a twelfth of Nepal’s population.

Historically, the Kathmandu Valley and adjoining areas were known as Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were established. During the Rana and Shah eras, British historians called the valley itself “Nepal Proper”. Today, Kathmandu is not only the capital of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, but also the headquarters of the Bagmati Zone and the Central Development Region of Nepal.

Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal. It is also the hub of the country’s economy. It has the most advanced infrastructure of any urban area in Nepal, and its economy is focused on tourism, which accounted for 3.8% of Nepal’s GDP in 1995–96. Tourism in Kathmandu declined thereafter during a period of political unrest, but since then has improved. In 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top 10 travel destinations on the rise in the world by TripAdvisor, and ranked first in Asia.

The city has a rich history, spanning nearly 2000 years, as inferred from inscriptions found in the valley. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Most of Kathmandu’s people follow Hinduism and many others follow Buddhism. There are people of other religious beliefs as well, giving Kathmandu a cosmopolitan culture. Nepali is the most commonly spoken language in the city. English is understood by Kathmandu’s educated residents. Content ©wikipedia

Tomorrow, Tuesday 12th is an early start as we all leave Kathmandu and head to Jiri for an overnight camp and then the race starts Wednesday.

Stage 1 – Preview

ETR Stg1

ETR Stg1 Profile

Km 0. Departure from campsite with initial direction 150o. Follow main pathway that crosses Bhandar. At the end of the village, cross the wooden covered bridge, turn left immediately and followmainpathwayparalleltotheriver (maintaineddescenttillKm3,7).

Km 1,04. Take footpath on the right and go down crossing several times the main pathway. Km 3,7 (1.523 m). Turn right crossing the bridge (maintained ascent till Km 9,8).

Km 9,8. Arrival to the pass that leads to the Golla village (Gompa). Take the footpath on the left that leads to the village exit and to the CP2.

Km 10 CP2 . Come out following the path on the right. Terrain combining flat sections and slight ups and downs till Km 12.

Km 12. Take the detour on the left and follow the marked path. Maintained climbing inside the forest till Km 13,5 where we reach a hill with flags. Follow marked pathway inside the forest.

Km 16,9 (3625 m.). Find a clearing and enter again the forest with direction 170o. Follow marked pathway.

Km17. Anewclearing. Initialdirection150otillenteragaintheforest.

Km17,5(3.772m.).Comeout oftheforest.Followmarkedpathandturnleftafterfewmeters to start climb to the Pike Peak (4.065 m). Follow marked path. We will identify the summit because of the prayer flags.

Km 19,5 CP3. Reach the Pike Peak summit. Go down the marked path till a Many Wall (3.989 m). Take marked path on the left. Go down along a technical zone. CAUTION!.

Km 21,5. (3.950 m). Clearing. Turn left and go on till pass with Mani Wall (3.500 m). Km 23,7 (3.783 m). Pass by a group of 3 chorten and follow pathway. Km26,5(3.265m).Turnleft crossingtheriver.Followmarks.Km 28. Taktur.

STAGE ARRIVAL.

KATHMANDU IMAGES:

 

FROST – KIMBALL – GASH : The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica 2015

TCC Ladies 2015

The 2015 multi-day The Coastal Challenge gets underway in less than 3-months. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast to Quepos and the 11th edition of the “TCC.”

After a stellar line-up for the 10th edition, Rodrigo Carazo and the TCC team have once again excelled in providing a top quality elite line up making TCC arguably one of the ‘must-do’ multiple day stage races in the world.

Come race day, elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, with one purpose in mind, to embrace an ultimate challenge in the remarkable Talamancas.

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 2015 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

Heading up the ladies field is a trio of hot talent that will without doubt make the race one to remember.

KIMBALL – FROST – GASH

NIKKI KIMBALL

Nikki Kimball on her way to victory in the 2014 MDS.

Nikki Kimball on her way to victory in the 2014 MDS.

Nikki Kimball is a legend of female ultra running. A multiple winner of the iconic Western States her palmares are longer than my arm… just this year, Nikki won Run Rabbit Run 100 and the 29th Marathon des Sables. Nikki’s presence in Costa Rica is a defining moment for the TCC. It is a confirmation of the credibility of the race and Nikki’s years of experience will be something to embrace, not only for the other runners but all those involved in the experience.

‘I loved MDS and am excited to add TCC to my stage racing experience.  I’ve run MDS, Transrockies (3 times), Jungle Marathon and each was very special in its own way.  Each experience will help me in my preparation for TCC.  Transrockies, like TCC, transported runner gear and set up their tents, which gives me a sense of racing daily with the speed allowed by running without gear.  The Jungle Marathon exposed me to rain forest and the accompanying heat and humidity.  And MDS gives me a more recent experience of racing in extreme conditions against great competition. I absolutely loved, though occasionally hated, each event. As for direct comparison with MDS, a few points are obvious: I will be exchanging dry oppressive heat, for humid oppressive heat; varied types of sandy surfaces for wet and rocky footing; desert vistas for close forests and ocean views; and nearly full self sufficiency for the relative luxury of camps with food and sleeping supplies I do not need to carry.  I recommend MDS very highly to fellow runners, and believe I will finish TCC similarly impressed.’

Running without a pack and all the weight, do you think it will be a fast race?

‘I actually love the challenge of carrying my entire kit for MDS, but am looking forward to the freedom from gear that TCC will give. Yes, the running is much faster without a heavy pack, and TCC will be very fast in places.  Hopefully the technical elements will slow the pace down a bit, as I run more on strength, endurance and technical skill than speed.  This is particularly true in the winter when nearly all my training is done on skis.  I think anyone peaking her running training for TCC will be running quickly.’

How excited are you to race in Costa Rica?

‘As we said growing up in Vermont, I’m wicked psyched!  Seriously, running has given me access to parts of the world I would never otherwise see.  And I’ve run in Mexico and South America, but never run between the two.  I feel I gain so much from playing with other languages, exploring other cultures and environments, and bonding with runners throughout the world.  I cannot wait, not only to run in Costa Rica, but to spend a few days before the event picking up a few more Spanish phrases, meeting local people and splashing in the water while knowing that my friends at home are playing on top of a much colder form of water.’

You will be racing against Anna Frost and Samantha Gash amongst others…. does this excite you?

‘I do not know Samantha, but I very much look forward to meeting her.  And, like anyone who has spent time with Anna, I absolutely adore her.  I love racing with/against anyone, and Anna is certainly a great talent.  But more than that, she is a fantastic person with a depth of character that far exceeds her running achievements. I get to hang with Anna for a week, and that is always great.  For that matter, every stage and ultra race I’ve been in (and over 16 years there have been many) attracts great people.  From volunteers to elite athletes to less experienced racers looking to see what’s possible, the people of this sport keep me doing it.  I’m excited by the top end competition and just as excited to hear stories from TCC participants I have yet to meet.’

 

ANNA FROST

Anna Frost Skyrunning World Championships 2014 - Chamonix

Anna Frost Skyrunning World Championships 2014 – Chamonix

Anna Frost arrived in Costa Rica for the 10th edition but unfortunately couldn’t race due to an injury set back which was really disappointing for the New Zealander. However, Costa Rica was a cathartic process… Frosty followed up her TCC experience with victory and a course record at Transvulcania La Palma, Speedgoat 50k and Bear 100.

‘I gained so much energy and pleasure out of just being in Costa Rica that I came home almost injury free. I cant wait to get back to explore further and see all of the course. The atmosphere is so much fun, great food, wonderful campsites, beautiful beaches and rain forests and HOT weather! IM SO EXCITED!’

The Coastal Challenge is a supported multi-day race and therefore allows runners to run fast and free. Looking at the quality of the ladies field, I asked Frosty about the 2015 race and if she expected it to be fast?

‘There are a lot of fast trails and dirt roads, long flat beach sections and smooth trails. But in between that there is hard, steep, trail-less, muddy, rain forest covered dirt, spiders, noises? and more to keep the challenge high. But luckily the race has many aid stations so you don’t need to carry too much which means you can move as fast as possible through all of that!’

Nikki Kimball has won MDS and WSER and Sam Gash has just run for 1-month all over South Africa, two real solid runners. How excited are you to test yourself over the multi-day format against these ladies?

‘It will be fantastic to share this race with them. They are both super strong girls and also great friends, so it is going to be so much FUN!’

You ran your first 100-miler recently, do you think that will be a benefit in Costa Rica?

‘Definitely. With each race I undertake I am beginning to understand more about myself, my limits, and what challenges me. This process allows me new ways to overcome obstacles. It will be good to put what I have learnt in practice.’

‘Visiting Costa Rica again. The people and places we see along the way are wonderful! And being able to share that with all the other runners in the Coastal Challenge is so awesome!’

 

SAMANTHA GASH

Samanha Gash ©samanthagash

Samanha Gash ©samanthagash

Samantha Gash is the youngest lady to ever complete ‘The Four Deserts’ and was one of the featured runners in the film, ‘The Desert Runners.’ Just last week, Sam has completed an epic journey…

‘Oh boy I have just been on an adventure of a lifetime, one that took me close to 2 years to prepare for. I ran with Mimi Anderson from the UK and side-by-side we ran an ultra every day for 32-days through some pretty challenging terrain. Our run focused on supporting a South African based initiative, so it was pretty special to run through some incredibly remote & rural locations.’

‘It was great preparation for Costa Rica in the sense that a multi day format suits me. However my run along South Africa was an expedition not a race, so the pace was very different. It’s been less than a week since I’ve finished the biggest physical & mental challenge of my life so I’m looking forward to letting both recover for the month of November. Come December I will evaluate how my body is going & hopefully begin to train for the Coastal Challenge. Once I start training again I will need to put my legs through some serious speed work.’

Kimball and Frost need no introduction. Are you looking forward to racing them? 

‘Geez these ladies are of a different caliber to me and I predict they will place at the top of field outright. I’ve met Anna a couple of times so I’m looking forward to catching up again & meeting Nikki too. Just to race with them both will be an absolute pleasure; they have had incredible years. Great to see Anna dominate in her first 100-miler; I had no doubt she would also excel over that distance.’ 

I recently watched ‘The Desert Runners’ again and I must say I love the film and the experiences that you all had, how significant was that process for you?  

‘When I did the 4 deserts it was my first experience to ultra running. I fondly look back on that year (2010) as it started my passion into a sport & lifestyle I never really knew existed. What I love about multi stage racing is the relationships you develop with other competitors & volunteers over the duration. Of course there are moments when you are intensely racing but then there are other moments where you are relaxed and are enjoying banter with people you’ve just met. Some of the closest people in my life are people I’ve met in these types of races. I also like the build up you can have over the days. I tend to start a touch more conservatively to let my body adapt and then work into the longer stages.’ 

You have been fortunate to travel with racing. Costa Rica will be a new experience for you, are you excited?

‘The setting for the race looks spectacular and Rodrigo seems like a top-notch race director. I am also drawn to the race because it offers variety in terrain – mountains, river crossing, single track, rock and glorious beaches.’

Would you like to join these incredible ladies in Costa Rica?

Entries are open in the UK HERE

or HERE for outside the UK.

Links

Official race website HERE and Facebook HERE

You can view images from previous editions HERE

And race day reports from 2014 and 2013 HERE

Mourne Skyline MTR 2014 – Race Report

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Misty skies, gale force winds, relentless climbing, technical terrain and an incredible field of runners made the inaugural Mourne Skyline MTR a day to remember.

Concluding Skyrunning UK’s first year, the Mourne Skyline MTR really was a fitting end to what has been an incredible year. The course, organisation and the field of runners made this a special and unforgettable day in the mountains.

©iancorless.com_Mourne-6576The addition of Skyrunner® World Series champion (2013 and 2014) Stevie Kremer did provide some icing on the Mourne cake. However, ‘Pocket Rocket’ was not isolated… Jo Meek, British Ultra Trail Champion, provided more than enough pressure on the Colorado based Skyrunner on what proved to be one of the most exciting ladies mountain races I have followed for some time. Sharon Trimble, Diane Wilson and Shileen O’Kane would bring local knowledge and fell experience to the mix making this a classic in the making.

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As expected, Kremer pushed hard from the off and after leaving the Donard Forest the trail became steeper and more technical playing to the Colorado runners strength. Although a gap opened up, it was nothing substantial and Meek maintained a gap keeping Kremer in sight. After passing over the saddle, runners were hit by gale force winds and low cloud as they headed out to Slieve Bearnagh, Slieve Meelmore and then an anticlockwise loop that would eventually return them to Slieve Meelmore and then run back to the finish. Conditions were brutal… thankfully the previous nights torrential rain had disappeared. Had it not, runners and marshals would have had a very testing day!

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Wilson, Trimble and O’Kane in many respects were running for third such was the pace of the front two ladies. On the flat, Meek would catch Kremer and then pull away. The relentless and rollercoaster nature of the terrain and mountains would then allow Kremer to pull back and pass on the climbs. This to and froing made for an exhilarating competition of willpower, mental strength and endurance. The latter half of the course, on paper, looked made for Kremer as climb and after climb would allow her to open a gap. However, Meek was having none of it. Running with blinkered vision, Meek fought the technical terrain and chased. ‘I was swearing at the terrain and my own frustrations in managing my technical ability,’ said Meek. Kremer was having no easy ride too, ‘that is the hardest race I have ever done! Harder than Zegama Aizkorri it was just brutal. Relentless climbing, technical and with the wind it was just soooo hard!’

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After CP4, Kremer opened up a gap and extended this on the steep ascent to Slieve Commedagh. Battered by the winds, Kremer put her head down and now pushed hard to the highest point of the course, Slieve Donard. Turning at the summit and descending down the lead extended and on the final technical descent to Newcastle the gap really opened up eventually providing Kremer a winning time of 4:24.2 to Meek’s 4:30.3. The time gaps don’t reflect how close this race was! Post race, Meek was very philosophical, ‘I really did push and race hard but the relentless ankle twisting and gnarly terrain beat me down and in the latter stages as Kremer pulled away I eased off a little knowing that 2nd place was secure.’ Diane Wilson placed 3rd producing a great run on home soil in a time of 4:45.4.

©iancorless.com_Mourne-1133 In the men’s race, local man, Allan Bogle pushed hard in the early stages closely followed by Kim Collison, Eoin Lennon and just 5 seconds back, J Marshall Thomson. It was close, and unlike the ladies race a winner looked likely to come from any of the front contenders. Particularly when one looked at the contenders looking for honours. Ally Beaven, David Steele and Paul Navesy all showed previous results that would mean they could never be ruled out of a podium place.

©iancorless.com_Mourne-0112 ©iancorless.com_Mourne-0130 British Ultra Trail Champion, Collison showed his class at descending and moved away from the other men but Lennon was never going to relinquish the lead without a fight. These two fought a hard battle all day and Lennon showed the wounds of war as blood tricked down his leg.

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Revelation of the race, was Colorado based J Marshall Thomson (Stevie’s fiancé) who raced in the top-5 all day and despite having never raced on ‘typical’ UK terrain pulled out a top-drawer run to place 3rd. ‘That was some of the most crazy terrain I have ever run. It was relentless. The terrain was beyond technical. You had no idea where to put your feet and I can’t tell you how many times I fell over… I loved it!’ said Thomson.

©iancorless.com_Mourne-6344 Collison won the race in 3:57.0 an incredible time in very tough conditions. Ryan Maxwell, race director for the Mourne Skyline MTR had predicted a win time of 4-hours, however, with conditions on the day, we expected this to be optimistic. For Collison and Lennon to both run sub-4 is a real testament to the competition between the two front men.

Thomson moved up into 3rd place and brought a truly international flavour to the men’s podium, his time of 4:08.3 reflecting his ability.

©iancorless.com_Mourne-0433The 2014 Mourne Skyline MTR has firmly established itself as a must-do race after just one edition. The combination of location, local infrastructure, great organisation, enthusiastic locals and a brutal course will guarantee that demand will be high for the 2015 edition.

Covering 35km and a total elevation gain of 3370m, the Mourne Skyline MTR is everything a Skyrunning race should be. I for one can’t wait for 2015.

RACE IMAGES HERE 

You can purchase race images HERE

RESULTS WOMEN Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race

Stevie Kremer 4:24.2 (10th overall)

Jo Meek 4:30.3

Diane Wilson 4:45.4

Sharon Trimble 5:02.1

Shileen O’Kane 5:03.1

RESULTS MEN Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race

Kim Collison 3:57.0

Eoin Lennon 3:59.4

J Marshall Thomson 4:08.3

Ally Beaven 4:12.0

David Steele 4:15.0