PHD v YETI v OMM – Sleeping Bag Review

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If you are running a self-sufficient race or if you are going fast packing, a sleeping bag is going to be an essential item. The need to carry all your supplies in your pack quite simply means that you are constantly having a battle against weight and functionality.

It’s fair to say, that for most people a 20 ltr pack has now become the ‘norm’ for multi-day adventures and they vary considerably. But hey, we are not here to talk about packs, we are here to discuss the sleeping bag that will go in the pack and importantly provide you with warmth and comfort during the night so you feel fresh for the following day.

I have just returned from working (3rd consecutive year) at the Marathon des Sables. Arguably, MDS as it is affectionately known is the daddy of multi-day racing. To draw a comparison, it holds the same allure and respect that Western States holds for the 100-mile distance.

Now in it’s 30th year the race has seen it all. Today, the British contingent are the most represented nation at the race, closely followed by the French. Following online forums as the 30th edition came close, one question was repeatedly asked, ‘What sleeping bag are you taking?’

It was a good question and on the face of it, a question that could easily be answered by each person clearly writing the name of their chosen product. However, nothing is ever that simple and sleeping bags (along with which pack) may very well have been the most argued and discussed topic prior to the race.

One thing was apparent from a British perspective. Three names repeatedly cropped up – OMM, PHD and YETI. Armed with this information, I decided to take all three to the MDS and test them, ‘in situ’ and feedback my thoughts.

Are you running a 2016 multi-day race? Join our Lanzarote Training Camp in January/February 2016. Check it out HERE

Firstly a little background history.

OMM 1.6

OMM – (website HERE) OMM stands for Original Mountain Marathon and they have pioneered apparel, packs and products to enable runners to move fast and light in challenging terrain for multiple days.

Minimus

PHD – (website HERE) PHD stands for Peter Hutchinson Designs is a UK based company who provide a range of functional and technical apparel for adventures all over the world. They offer a range of ‘off the shelf’ designs but they are renowned for their bespoke services. You can read a profile here.

Yeti Passion One

YETI – (website HERE) YETI are a small German based company who specialise in down sleeping bags. They also making clothing and accessories.

THE TEST

Before I get down to the nitty gritty, I must clarify certain things. Firstly, the weather at MDS in 2015 was quite variable, we had warm days, plenty of variable wind (including sand storms) and at night temperatures dropped considerably towards the end of the week.

I alternated between bags and in particular on the first night (particularly warm) I slept in all three bags for approximately 90-120 minutes each. Also, I did this on the coolest night which coincided with the longest day.

So that you can draw comparisons, here are my personal body stats:

  • Height : 5ft 9in.
  • Weight : 73 (ish) Kg.
  • Waist : 32″ inch.
  • Shoulders : 40″ chest.

It will soon become apparent why the above stats are important. Each night I used a sleeping matt and a small travel pillow. I also had a TNF down jacket that weighed 250g as an optional ‘warmth’ layer if required. For consistency I used a ‘Exped’ dry bag for all my sleeping bags. It does add extra weight (36g) but I like the security of a bag like this protecting my sleeping bag from the elements.

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Lets look at the sleeping bags in detail

OMM

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OMM provide two sleeping bag options, the 1.0 and the 1.6 (as tested). As you would imagine, OMM want to make a bag or bags that are light, functional and pack small. I like two key things about the OMM bags: they are cheap in comparison to the competition and the filling is not down. By using Primaloft the OMM is functional in varied weather and as such, this bag can get wet and it will still remain warm. This does not happen with down! Of course, rain in the Sahara may well be far from your mind but remember, MDS is just one race… I am sure you will use your bag for may adventures.

OMM say:

The bag is made from a combination of materials to ensure maximum performance. The Purist bag for the Minimalist, The shell is made from PointZero, It has a DWR treatment to the fabrics face to give it a degree of water repellency and also extra stain resistance. The synthetic insulation is Primaloft Gold to give the best warmth to weight ratio available on the market, we have used different weights per panel to ensure the best technical usage of the fill. The base sheet is filled with Primaloft Gold 60g, we then put the Primaloft Gold 100g on the top sheet. The footbox is also shaped and filled with Primaloft Gold 100g to keep the feet warm. The construction is also considered as we have a loose laid outer shell and the inner stitched through to the insulation again this is to maximise insulative value and eliminate cold spots.

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OMM do not provide a rating for their bags and this does cause some issues for many people. I can understand why, no rating does leave a question mark on how warm the sleeping bag will be. The bag is mummy shaped with a short zip that sits in the middle of the bag and not at the side. It has a drawstring hood and is silky soft to touch. As mentioned this bag is fast drying and has an element water repellency.

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The bag only comes in one size, so, if you are taller than 6ft it’s not the bag for you. In addition, as with all the bags in this test, they are designed to be minimalist and therefore some compromises must be made. When zipped up I personally had little room to move around in the bag, this was not a problem for me. However, if you have a big chest and shoulders you may want to make sure that it’s comfortable. At £170 this bag is a bargain and I would really recommend it. On the warm nights at MDS, particularly the first night, I was able to open the zipper which allowed me to get air to my torso and cool down. On the coldest night, I zipped up, put my head inside the hood and I used the draw string to keep out any drafts. I took a TNF lightweight down jacket but did not need it, however, the addition of a sleeping bag liner or lightweight thermal top and pants would be recommended for the coldest MDS nights

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Weight is good (426g) but it’s the heaviest bag here and the bag packs down really small.

PROS:

  • Primaloft fabric is extremely versatile.
  • 1/2 zip keeps weight lower and does offer ventialtion.
  • Soft feel and comfortable.
  • Price.

Price

CONS:

  • Not the lightest bag
  • You need to be under 6ft tall
  • Not warm enough on the coldest night.
  • Need a liner or base layer clothing for colder nights

What 2015 MDS participants said:

Henry Potter Had the omm, was cold after about 2 am every night. I’m usually a petty hot person so thought I would get away with it. Also being 6,1ft it was a little on the small side!

Mark Gibson Used the OMM. Felt cool in the night but not uncomfortably, I like to spread out so the narrow end took some getting used to. Would use it again.

Ben Daly Omm1.6 cold between 3 and 5am every night and I’m quite brave when it comes to the cold

 

PHD

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PHD make several sleeping bags and the Minimus K has become a regular at MDS. As mentioned, PHD make custom products for the entire range, however, it is possible to purchase the Minim Ultra K (330g from stock) at a cost of £263 in ‘standard’ fit. The big plus of PHD over other sleeping bags is how it is possible to customise a bag specific to your needs:

  • Length – short, standard, long and extra long
  • Width – slim, standard, wide, extra wide
  • Outer fabric – MX or ultra shell
  • Zip – no zip or short zip

Adjusting all of the above obviously alters the price, but if you are tall, wide, get cold feet, require no zip or require a half zip, PHD can give you exactly what you want! I recommend you allow time for this… don’t try to order a bag in March when you have a race in April…

For example, lets say you are small, slim build and require a half zip – Cost is £335 and the weight is 372g.

By contrast, lets say you are very tall, have huge shoulders and require a half zip – Cost is £458.28 and the weight is 588g.

A standard ‘off the peg’ Minim Ultra K with no zip in standard length and width weighs 330g and cost £263.

PHD say:

This K Series product has been created for one single reason, to take warmth-for-weight performance to the limit of what’s possible. Unique 1000 down, super-light materials, and specific design features mean that the word Ultralight now applies to this wide range of gear that will take you to the Poles as well as on a Sahara Marathon.

To those who like to shave every gm of weight off their load, the Ultra K sleeping bag is designed for you. The 10X inner brings a new soft comfort as well as reduced weight, while the unique 1000 down ensures max warmth per gram. An ultralight dream at 330gm (11.5oz).

Minim Ultra K.   330grm  (Mostly selected for weight saving).
Minimus K.         380grm  (designed for 5c nights – for a good nights sleep and recovery. This is the most popular choice)
Minim 400 K.     585grm  (mostly selected by those that do feel the cold)

Zip options are interesting. We find for MdS we’re sometimes putting in a short zip and occasionally just a foot zip. The Design Your Own Sleeping Bag site allows foot zips:  http://www.design-your-own-sleeping-bag.com/

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The PHD was actually too warm for me on the warm nights and was perfect on the colder nights without any base layer or liner. It’s a real plush bag and very comfortable. The lack of a zip means temperature regulation is cumbersome. My only option was to pull the bag below my arm pits or push down around my waist. I personally would order a custom bag with a half zip given the choice. The fill is 1000 European goose down (hence the warmth).

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The bag tapers nicely and doesn’t restrict in any way. The construction of the bag guarantees a great spread of down and it packs small and weighs a very competitive 380g.My bag actually weighed 392g.

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PROS:

  • Warm
  • Packs small
  • Comfortable
  • Customiseable

CONS:

  • Off the shelf it has no zip
  • Maybe too warm for some (without zip)
  • Lighter than OMM but not as light as Yeti
  • You don’t want to get the bag wet.

What 2015 MDS participants said:

Leigh Michelmore Used the PHD Minimus during MdS and found it to be perfect for what I needed. Compact, lightweight and very comfortable. It may have actually been a little too warm as I had one or two nights where it did too good a job. Overall very happy with it and will use it again!

Mat Needham I used the minimus Ian.

Super warm and I had to sleep partly out of the bag due to how well it performed, there were a couple of nights where I had to fully get in but that was more to do with the wind and sand blowing in the tent. Fitted in my small pack perfectly and very light. I would definately recommend it to others.

Dafydd Lewis I used the PhD minimus. Brilliant bag, really warm and light enough. Would definately take again……if I go again!!

Rich Torley Had issue with the zip on the PHD Minimus: would jam frequently and mostly during the night when I needed to escape for a pee. Wondered if it was to do with sand but never proved conclusively. Grew quite jealous of the Combi being doubled up as a jacket, especially on the colder mornings.

YETI

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YETI (new bag, Fever Zero above) are specialist sleeping bag makers. They offer a range of products so that you can decide on the exact bag for your needs and requirement. However, unlike PHD, they only offer ‘off the shelf’ products. The Passion One bag was extremely popular at the 2015 MDS for two reasons: small pack size and low weight. Weighing just 320g this bag has a full zipper, a real bonus for hot nights and it has Goose Down class 1 filling. It’s worth noting that if you require more warmth, a Passion Three (465g) and a Passion Five (690g) is available.

The Passion One is silky smooth, soft on the skin and on the first night in camp it was a real pleasure to have a full length zip to allow air to get around my body and regulate temperature. However, on the coldest night, I found the Passion One on the cold side and found the need for an additional layer.

YETI say:

Perfect for people who experience adventures while others sleep; who enjoy a trip with good companions; who consider flirting an adventure as well; who believe life is too short for bad design; who do not consider fashion and nature to be inconsistent with one another; who dream about flying; who believe their eyes travel as well; who consider the lightness of being absolutely bearable.

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In comparison to the PHD and OMM products, the Passion One felt ‘too light’ which I guess is a good thing.

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The scales confirmed that my bag was 304g, so, a good 100g lighter the the PHD Minim Ultra K and 122g lighter than the OMM 1.6. However, weight isn’t always everything… like the PHD, the Passion One comes in a choice of sizes: M, L or XL. The M is Ideal for me as I guess I am pretty much ‘standard’ size, however, big shoulders, extra height and you may struggle so rest assured that Large (6′ 3″) and Extra Large (6′ 9″) are available – obviously weight increases. The cost of the Passion One is £300

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As with all the bags in this test, space is at a premium. It’s the nature of travelling light, however, I did find the Passion One offered a little more room in the toe box.

PROS:

  • Lightest bag in the test.
  • Full length zip.
  • Draw string hood.
  • Small size.

CONS:

  • Not warm enough on the coldest night.

What 2015 MDS participants said:

John Evans Took the Yeti Passion One without liner, cover or mat. Found that stuffing it into my bag nearest my back provided good cushioning and saved 40g on carrying the cover  The bag itself was fine, a little too warm on the first few days but the full length zip was fine for temperature adjustment; got cool on the later stages when the wind was up (i was sleeping in the centre of the tent with most airflow) and body reserves were low, but manageable. Stuck it in the washing machine when i came back which seems to have screwed up the lining.

Melissa Venables Yeti – freezing cold with silk liner most nights except the warmer night where I did hang a leg out. Stage 4 I got in it with the space banker they had also given me and did that for a few nights (sorry tent 183 for rustling like a crisp packet)
The last three days it started shedding down everywhere as the material is so thin it split (inside)
I am a cold person hence taking liner – chose it because it was small and at one point I was going with a 14 l pack. Wouldn’t take again I would go for something warmer even if it meant a little more bulk and weight!

Rob Shaw I used the Yeti one. Very light and packed up small. Decided at the last minute not to pack the silk liner and regretted it. Very cold on the later days of the race mainly due to wind blowing. It’s a warm bag but if you are in a draught the wind blows right through it. If you can drop a side of your tent to block the wind it certainly helps.

Dave Benison Yeti Passion One with no liner. Perfect choice for me. Full length zip allowed for legs to pop out on the warmer nights, and during the sandstorms the drawcord around the top meant I could really batten down the hatches & keep sand free inside. On the cooler nights I would say it was ‘just about’ warm enough, and only had to reach for my Ghost Whisperer jacket once (at about 4am after the long stage.)

For what it’s worth…

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Another popular bag/ combination at MDS is the Raidlight Combi Down Sleeping Bag / Jacket. At £170 it represents real value for money as it combines a jacket and sleeping bag in one package. This obviously sounds like a great idea… However, the weight of the Raidlight is 700g. I personally prefer the flexibility of a sleeping bag and separate lightweight down jacket as this not only provides extra flexibility but reduced weight.

Raidlight say:

Raidlight’s ‘Combi Duvet’ dual purpose Sleeping Bag and Jacket. It is down-filled for great warmth to weight ratio. Perfect for use on multi-day races such as MdS or any event where duel purpose is key. At night, a warm sleeping bag and by day just unzip the arm holes, fold the bag up inside the back section, and it’s a really warm jacket.

CONCLUSION

As you can see, purchasing a sleeping bag is not as easy as you think, particularly when you are trying to pack this in a pack with all your food and other equipment for a multi-day adventure. You need to ask some very specific questions to ensure that you get a bag that works for you and fulfils your needs:

  • Are you tall?
  • Are you wide
  • Do you sleep cold or hot?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want to use your sleeping bag for other trips?
  • How important is weight?
  • How important is pack size?
  • Will you carry an additional base layer and/ or down/ thermal jacket?

One you have answered the above you can be very specific about what you need and it should, I hope become obvious which of the above bags is likely to be suitable for you.

I of course need to stick my neck on the line and say what my choice would be!

To be honest, it’s a relatively simple decision, I would go for a custom made PHD Minim Ultra K with zip so that I could regulate my temperature. With this bag, I would not need to carry an additional down jacket (weight saving 250g) and I could carry a small wind shell as a layer when not sleeping. Bag and wind shell £320.

But, the OMM 1.6 represents real value for money (if you are under 6ft). It provides a sleeping bag that can withstand the elements (rain) and the money saved on the bag would allow me or you to spend up to £200 on a real super lightweight down jacket that would offer great flexibility not only at a race such as MDS but at other events. Combined bag and Jacket price £370.

If I was an out-and-out racer looking for the lightest bag, the Yeti Passion One with full length zip and options of M, L or XL make this a tempting choice. But for me the money spent on making this bag small and light is potentially outweighed with the need for an additional warm layer that not only adds cost but weight. I would say that this bag and jacket may well come close to a combined cost of £500.

The curve ball comes with the Raidlight Combi Down Sleeping Bag / Jacket that provides great value for money. It’s certainly warm and the flexibility of the jacket option is attractive for some. However, it does weigh slightly more and packs larger. The cost at £170 is a bargain.

So what do you think…. what would you go with?

 

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

Jo Meek on RUNULTRA

 

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Jo Meek has illuminated the ultra world in the past 18-months placing 2nd at the 28th edition of Marathon des Sables, winning The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, setting a new course record and an outright win at Iznik Ultra and then placed 5th at the iconic Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. But it didn’t end…

I caught up with Jo and wrote an article for RUNULTRA on this rising star of our sport.

Please check it out HERE

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Episode 58 – Sandes, Walton, Kendall, Portal, Rush

Ep58

This is episode 58 of Talk Ultra and on this weeks show we speak with Ryan Sandes about his record breaking run with Ryno Griesel on the DrakTraverse. We speak to Brit, Claire Walton who placed 2nd lady at the highly competitive, Tarawera Ultra. As part of our MDS coverage, we have a catch up with Danny Kendall who is arguably the UK’s most consistent MDS performer, we also speak to actor, Bertie Portal who is going to the MDS for the first time. Talk Training is an extended edition with Holly Rush. Holly placed 7th lady at the 2013 Comrades and in this episode we discuss how to prepare for this iconic road ultra. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races and of course Speedgoat.

 
NEWS
 
Drakensberg Traverse
 
Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set a new record for the DrakTraverse – 41 hours 49 mins beating the previous record by over 18-hours
 
AUDIO – Ryan Sandes
 
Barkley – Jared Campbell does it again!
 
White Mountains 100 – Joe Grant wins the run section with a new CR in just over 17-hours
 
Hardmoors 55
 
  1. Bert Goos 8:09:27
  2. Dan Anderson 8:19:00
  3. Matty Brennan 8:53:23
  1. Charmaine Horsfall 8:59:26
  2. Shelli Gordon 9:35:29
  3. Emma David 10:13:15
 
Northburn Station 100-mile
 
  1. Wouter Hamelick 24:33:45
  2. Greig Hamilton 27:05:14
  3. Andrew Redinger 27:39:27
 
  1. Jean Beaumont 26:24:30
  2. Becky Nixon 34:58:15
  3. Tayebeh Alireazee 40:02:56
 
Skyrunning UK announces the Peaks SkyRace for August 3rd
 
Marathon des Sables starts this weekend, Sunday August 6th. I will be at the race reporting and photographing the action. It’s an iconic race and one that inspires so many… on the last show, we spoke with Danny Kendall who placed 10th in 2013. I caught up with him again just days before departure to find out how is final training has gone.
 
AUDIO – Danny Kendall
 
MDS is renowned for the variety of people it attracts. It is very much a ‘bucket list’ race. This year, actor, Bertie Portal is taking part. He has appeared in films such as The Kings Speech, My Week with Marilyn and The Iron Lady… what has attracted an actor to the Sahara. I caught up with Bertie to hear his story
 
AUDIO – Bertie Portal
BLOG – Joe Grant lists his thoughts on the week before White Mountains 100 and lists his kit. Go to alpine-works.com
INTERVIEW – Claire Walton took many by surprise with her stunning 2nd place at Tarawera earlier this year. I caught up with her to discuss her background, the Tarawera race and what the future holds.
 
AUDIO – Claire Walton
 
TALK TRAINING – A special Talk Training this week with Holly Rush. Holly placed 7th lady at the 2013 Comrades, arguably the largest and most iconic road ultra in the world. In this episode we discuss the race and how to prepare.
 
MELTZER MOMENT with Speedgoat
 
UP & COMING RACES
 

Argentina

Patagonia Run 100k | 100 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Patagonia Run 63k | 63 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Patagonia Run 84k | 84 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Running Festival Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Queensland

Nerang State Forest 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 06, 2014 | website

Victoria

Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon | 75 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Western Australia

3 Waters 50km Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Bunbury 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Diez Vista 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

China

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 100 miles | April 11, 2014 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 105 km | 105 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 65 km | 65 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Denmark

Midtjylland

Gudenaa Trail Challenge | 75 kilometers | April 18, 2014 | website

France

Aveyron

Trans Aubrac | 105 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Bas-Rhin

Le Challenge des Seigneurs | 100 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Le Défi des Seigneurs | 74 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Le Grand Défi des Vosges | 58 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

L’Intégrale | 132 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Bouches-du-Rhône

Trail Sainte Victoire 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 06, 2014 | website

Jura

Le Savagnin | 58 kilometers | April 06, 2014 | website

Lot

Cahors (Lot) – Eauze (Gers) : du 5 au 8 avril 2013 | 187 kilometers | April 11, 2014 | website

Marne

Trail du Pays d’Argonne – 55 km | 55 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Rhône

Le Crêt de l’Oiseau | 63 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Var

Mountain Azur Run | 58 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Germany

Hesse

Bilstein-Marathon BiMa 53+ | 53 kilometers | April 06, 2014 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Waldhopper 70Km Landschaftslauf | 70 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Saarland

Keep on Running St. Wendel | 52 kilometers | April 11, 2014 | website

Saxony

Saxonian Mt. Everestmarathon | 84390 meters | April 12, 2014 | website

Greece

Ireland

Connacht

Connemara Ultramarathon | 39 miles | April 06, 2014 | website

Italy

Latium

UltraTrail dei Monti Cimini | 80 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Piedmont

100 km di Torino | 100 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Jordan

Dead Sea Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2014 | website

Morocco

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 04, 2014 | website

Nepal

Everest Ultra | 65 kilometers | April 07, 2014 | website

Mustang Trail Race 2014 | 200 kilometers | April 15, 2014 | website

Netherlands

Limburg

Limburgs Zwaarste 100 km | 100 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Limburgs Zwaarste 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Limburgs Zwaarste 80 km | 80 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

North Holland

Castricum Ultraloop | 60 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

New Zealand

Oxfam Trailwalker NZ | 100 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Norway

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – 1 1/2 Marathon | 63 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – Ultra 100km | 100 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Philippines

Mayon 360º | 80 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Réunion

Caldeira Trail | 74 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

South Africa

Loskop Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Spain

Canary Islands

Anaga Ultratrail 88 km | 88 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Catalonia

Ultra Trail Muntanyes de la Costa Daurada | 90 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Extremadura

LXVII Milhas Romanas | 100 kilometers | April 04, 2014 | website

Sweden

Silva Ursvik Ultra – 75 km | 75 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Täby Extreme Challenge 100 miles | 100 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

TEC 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

TEC 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

The Calderdale Hike – Long | 36 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Devon

Coastal Trail Series – Exmoor – Ultra | 34 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

East Sussex

South Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Glasgow City

Glasgow – Edinburgh Double Marathon | 55 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Gloucestershire

Cotswold Way Challenge Multistage Ultra | 57 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

USA

Arizona

Crown King Scramble 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

California

American River 50-mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Grizzly Peak 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Lake Sonoma 50 | 50 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Oriflame 50K | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Oriflamme 50k | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 04, 2014 | website

Woodside Ramble Spring 50K | 50 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Delaware

Trap Pond 50K | 50 kilometers | April 13, 2014 | website

Florida

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 100 Miles | 100 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 75 Miles | 75 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Georgia

SweetH20 50K | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K George Cheung Memorial Race | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Potawatomi 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Potawatomi 150 Mile Trail Run | 150 miles | April 04, 2014 | website

Potawatomi 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Kansas

Rocking K Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Michigan

Traverse City Trail Running Festival 50k Run | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Minnesota

Trail Mix Race Minnesota 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Zumbro 100k | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2014 | website

Zumbro 100M | 100 miles | April 11, 2014 | website

Zumbro Midnight 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Mississippi

Gulf Coast Interstate Relay – Ride or Run | 263 miles | April 04, 2014 | website

North Carolina

Cedar Island 40 | 42 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Umstead 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Ohio

Forget the PR Mohican 50K | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Oklahoma

Tatur’s Lake McMurty Trail Race 50K | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Oregon

Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 Mile Trail Run | 40 miles | April 13, 2014 | website

Shotgun Trail Blast 50K | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Pennsylvania

Hyner Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 06, 2014 | website

South Carolina

Blind Pig 100K Ultra Marathon | 100 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Blind Pig 100 Mile Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

XTERRA Hickory Knob Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Tennessee

Power to the Tower 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

War at Windrock – 3 stages race | 51 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Texas

Hells Hills 50 km Endurance Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Hells Hills 50 Mile Endurance Trail Run | 50 miles | April 05, 2014 | website

Utah

Zion 100k | 100 kilometers | April 04, 2014 | website

Zion 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 04, 2014 | website

Zion 50K | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2014 | website

Vermont

Twin State 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 06, 2014 | website

Twin State 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 06, 2014 | website

Virginia

Bull Run Run 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Washington

Alger Alp 50k | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Lumberjack 100 K Run | 100 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

Lumberjack 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Lumberjack 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 12, 2014 | website

Squak Mountain 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2014 | website

CLOSE
Links

FAILURE! Isn’t an option – Robert Portal attempts the 29th Marathon des Sables

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It doesn’t happen everyday does it… an actor with a career spanning back to 1992 taking on the challenge of the Marathon des Sables; arguably one of the most iconic multiday races in the world.

Bertie (Robert) Portal however is not shy of a challenge or putting himself way out of his comfort zone. In 2012, along with James Cash, Bertie crossed the Atlantic in 63-days and in doing so raised £350,000 for ‘Facing the World Association.’

‘…the idea of setting foot again on another waterborne vessel, let alone our boat, Patience, fills me with dread and horror.’ Bertie explained in a Telegraph interview (Feb 2012).

Swapping water for sand, Bertie will attempt the 29th edition of the iconic ‘MDS’ and his journey begins on April 3rd. I was intrigued; what had attracted an actor who has appeared in some modern day blockbusters such as, The Iron Lady, My week with Marilyn and The Kings Speech to leave the comfort of ‘Blighty’ behind for a week of self-sufficiency in the Sahara? After all, reduced food and water rations, sharing a bivouac with 7-others, oh, and the small matter of running approximately 250 km’s wouldn’t appeal to everyone?

I caught up with Bertie in the final days before his departure for Morocco, for the first of several interviews that will help document Bertie’s journey into the unknown.

MDS Logo

IC Bertie, you are renowned for your acting career, what has attracted you to the Marathon des Sables, it’s going to be a little different to what you are used to!

BP People ask me this all the time and I often give different answers, however, as an actor I spend my professional life in someone else’s clothes, speaking someone else’s lines and being told where to stand and what to do… these events are me being me! Facing a challenge, it’s what I enjoy. I also enjoy facing the elements, be that the Atlantic of the Sahara on its own terms to see what it has to offer.

IC Is this something that has come to you later in life or have you always been interested in testing yourself in sport?

BP Fair to say I have pushed the envelope recently! However, I have done marathons, triathlons and swum to keep fit. I found that when I did the Atlantic, we were halfway across in a storm and I thought if I get out of this, I will do something land based. The Sahara fits the bill!

IC MDS has a reputation. It’s one of the oldest, if not THE oldest multiday races. It’s on many a runners bucket list, for you, the contrasts between the Atlantic and the Sahara will be extreme. When did you start preparing?

BP I have been training for about 18-months specifically. Ultra marathons are very different from doing a ‘normal’ marathon of 26.2-miles, so, doing longer runs of 30 or 40-miles have been a great eye opener. The thought of doing them back-to-back is very different; running on tired legs is something you need to adapt to. I have done lots of that; I don’t take this lightly! I think the MDS will be more painful physically than the Atlantic as it is more compacted in terms of time.

IC I guess 18-months ago you were just getting consistency in running. When did you start being very specific; placing an emphasis on MDS and doing specifics that will allow you to run in the Sahara?

BP I have been training with a pack for quite a long time. I availed myself of the services of Rory Coleman, he has done MDS 10-times and he helps out people with coaching. He set me a program and I have followed it. I went to Wales a month ago, we had a weekend program of running in dunes. It was a nightmare! I hated it… it’s grueling, debilitating, energy sapping, exhausting and depressing to be honest. It was a big eye opener and I found it incredibly hard. I am under no illusions of what to expect. Recently I have been in a heat chamber and I have 2-more sessions to do before we depart. That was horrible too!

IC Aaagh, you are really looking forward to the MDS then? (Laughs)

BP The heat chamber was just a small room. Quite claustrophobic, so it’s not ideal, however, it serves a purpose. You just want to get out of the room but you can’t. Lots of people are watching so you can’t ‘wuss’ out.

IC You will learn from anyone that has done MDS that heat sessions in the final days before departure are a great thing to do. It can be a savior to have that adjustment done before arriving in Morocco. Let’s go back a month ago if I may… the dunes, I guess you wanted experience and also a confidence boost. Do you now have a sense of dread of what the MDS holds?

BP The weekend was 2-days; Saturday was dunes and Sunday was a little different. I felt a little down after the first day but running up a mountain on day-2 was much better. I have also been told that dunes only make a small part of the MDS. The terrain is quite compact, hard, and rocky at times and we have salt flats to cover so that is good, we have a bit of everything! Dune day sounds like it will be day-1 so I shall grit my teeth and push through it.

IC Yes, you are correct. Dunes only usually make about 20% of the race route. However, the dunes take longer to get through because of the difficulty. What are you most fearful of?

BP Not finishing! It’s a fear of failure… far more than the heat, dehydration and so on. I think I can control those things. I need to look after myself. Personal admin is important. If I have my head screwed on that will be okay. However, I will have unknowns, maybe the medical team could pull me out of the race. I would hate that. All I can do is look after myself as best I can and don’t start too quickly. I need to enjoy the experience. I am so looking forward to it.

IC If you look at the race objectively; completion over competition, It is a great attitude to have. Cut-off times are very generous so you can slow down and still finish. Have you thought about this?

BP Well I set myself goals and I like to do things to the best of my ability otherwise I don’t see much point in doing them! I want to be the best that I can be. I’m in the middle I think; I won’t win but I want to give the best account of myself.

IC With a couple of days over and once familiarized, you will then be able to asses and decide if you can test yourself. You will know at that point how you feel and how you are reacting.

Bivouac will be interesting; an open tent with 7-other people. For me, it’s an attraction. You do have a celebrity status do you think at MDS you will be recognized?

BP I’m always ‘another’ person! I love these events because I can get away… no e-mail, no phones, I am away from all the humdrum day-to-day routine and I love that.

IC You have appeared in The Kings Speech, My week with Marilyn, The Iron Lady; they are all films about strong individuals. They are all characters that have overcome diversity, pressures and so on that have used strength of character to survive. Can you take anything away from the real life situations and apply that to the MDS?

BP Gosh! I don’t think so… my film life and my adventure life are so different. My actor mates and directors just don’t understand what I do. I was about to row the Atlantic when I did ‘Marilyn,’ my peers just didn’t get it. So, I don’t intertwine the two things at all. You are correct though; the films were about strong people. It’s the first time I have ever thought of it… it’s a great question. I will need to go away and think about it! Ask me on day-3 of the race.

IC How has training gone for you, are you confident, can you maybe give us an idea what a training week has looked like?

BP If I am honest, I was at my fittest in October last year. I was doing 3-day ultra runs. A normal week would be as follows: Monday, power hour on a treadmill – this is 4mins at pace and then sprint for 1-min and repeat. It’s horrible but gets your speed up. I may run a 5km the next day, 10km the day after and then on Thursday I would do a long run in the park. Richmond Park is my ‘killing ground’ and this is where I do my entire running. It has some nice hills! Then I would race at the weekend, a marathon or an ultra.

IC Okay, so how many races have you done in the build up?

BP Lots! I must have done somewhere in the region of 20 marathons in the last 11-months.

IC Wow, that is great. That’s lots of racing.

BP I have always ticked over. A typical year for me would include what I call the ‘Big-5.’ That would be 2-half marathons before London, London marathon and then another couple of other events. I am also a swimmer; I do that throughout the year. So I have a good base.

IC Tell us about your equipment. I am sure you have been through everything, weighing it and looking at options. Are you taking any luxuries?

BP I am looking at my bag now. I had problems with packs. I was going to use one pack but I found it too small, I just couldn’t fit everything in so I have changed it recently to something a little larger. I can’t run on nuts and air! (Laughter). My luxuries are ‘sweeties’ such as jellybeans, cola bottles and so on. I have a few gels but they can make me run to the bushes… not many of those in the Sahara! I have kept luxuries to a minimum; I see this as 7-days and 7-days only, I can get through that!

IC What is your pack weight?

BP About 9kg I believe.

IC You will need to add water to that?

BP Yes, I will add water and that is provided. I have packed food that I had left over from the Atlantic and I have trimmed packets, cords, and other items to reduce any weight. The food packets are useful as I can eat out of them.

IC You will take a stove then?

BP Yes.

IC Do you have any words of wisdom or is that only something you can pass on after the experience?

BP I think there is only so much you can do. You can train, you can prepare and you can plan but you can’t actually prepare for running in 45 degrees other than doing it. It’s no sprint; it’s what I call the Sahara shuffle.

IC You have the physical and mental strength to last 63-days in the Atlantic. I am sure you will be able to draw from that experience and apply it in the Sahara.

BP Yes, I do have lots to call on and I am grateful for that experience. I had some horrible moments. When things get tough, I will think to myself, it’s only 7-days. My father said, ‘you can doing anything for 7-days.’ However, I don’t think my dad has done MDS! (Laughter)

IC In the Atlantic you broke your oars and you bobbed around in the water for 7-days unable to move… ironically you could have run MDS in those 7-days.

BP Absolutely! Thank you for that. I will think on that whilst I am in the Sahara.

(Laughter)

See you in the Sahara!

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Information

 A race preview of the 29th edition of the MDS is available HERE

MDS hints ‘n’ tips from 3x ladies winner, Laurence Klein HERE

 

Links:

Bertie will be raising money for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity (Facebook Here)

To make an individual donation, please visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Blazing-a-Trail
Or send cheques payable to Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity to: 
6 Cleeve Court, Cleeve Road, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 7UD

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity website – HERE

Go to ‘Blazing a Trail’ on Facebook – HERE

Follow Bertie’s MDS experience on www.iancorless.com and on Twitter @talkultra

Images from ©IMDB

Atlantic Crossing in The Telegraph – Here

Marathon des Sables, 29th Edition, Race Preview

MDS Logo

It begins again, the Marathon des Sables! Now in its 29th year, the epic multiday race in the Sahara is considered by many the Father of stage racing. Often called ‘The Toughest Race on Earth’ we all know that it isn’t but one thing is for sure… it’s no walk in the park.

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

iancorless.comP1030603Heat, sand, survival, reduced calories and self sufficiency pushed to the limits will test each and everyone of the 1079 participants who will toe the line in South Morocco.

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 Participants from France will represent 30% of the field and over 45 other nations make up the remaining 70% with the UK providing the largest contingent. The provinces of Errachidia and Tinghrir will host the 2014 Marathon des Sables over 6-stages with a total distance of 250km’s. An easy day will be 30km and the longest day, 75km. It’s a wonderful way, albeit a tough and challenging way to embrace the Moroccan dessert.

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The 2013 edition of the race was noted as ‘one of the toughest’ in the races prestigious history, 2014 will be no different; traversing ergs, djebels, stony plateaus, dried-up lakes (wadis) and of course lush oasis. Occasional passing traditional villages and encampments of nomads, the 29th edition of the Marathon des Sables promises to be a ‘secret garden’ of the Sahara.

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Described by race founder, Patrick Bauer as ‘the greatest show on earth’, his comparisons to a circus are apt. The Marathon des Sables really is a large circus like operation on a scale that is second to none. Volunteers number 130 to supervise the race, 430-general staff support the race and 300-local Berbers man the bivouac. All-terrain vehicles number 120, 8 ‘MDS’ planes, 25-buses, 4-dromederies, 1-incinerator lorry, 5-quad bikes and 2-helicopters keep the show on the road. Add to this 52-medical staff, journalists, photographers and you really have what I have come to call, the ‘Cirque de Sahara’, it’s quite special.

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A race with a history, the Marathon des Sables dates back to 1984 when Patrick Bauer, aged 28, ventured into the Sahara to traverse solo a 350km journey with a pack weighing 35kg. It was an ultimate self-sufficient expedition that lasted 12-days.

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Inspired by the experience, in 1986 the first edition was created, just 23-pioneers embarked on what must have been ‘the ultimate’ expedition. Who would have thought those formative years would have laid the foundations for what is, without question, the father of multiple day racing. The race has had memorable moments; in ‘1991’ the Gulf drama had an impact on the race, ‘1994’ the arrival of Doc Trotters, ‘1995’ the 10th anniversary, ‘1996’ Mohamed Ahansal participates for the first time, ‘1997’ Lahcen Ahansal wins his first MDS one of many),  ‘2000’ internet arrives in the Sahara, ‘2001’ the ‘long’ day exceeds 70km, ‘2002’ a week of sandstorms and wind, ‘2009’ flooding at the MDS, ‘2010’ the 25th edition and finally, in ‘2013’, solar energy arrives in bivouac. What does ‘2014’ hold for us…?

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Results recap

2013

  1. 1. Mohamad Ahansal (MAR) 18:59:35
  2. 2. Salameh Al Aqra (JOR) 00:41:40 deficit
  3. 3. Miguel Capo Soler (ESP) 1:19:56 deficit
  1. 4. Meghan Hicks (USA) 24:42:01
  2. 5. Joanna Meek (UK) 00:00:59 deficit
  3. 6. Zoe Salt (UK) 02:21:57 deficit

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2014 Preview

Ladies

2013 female winner, Meghan Hicks unfortunately will not return to the Sahara this year. Meghan would have loved nothing more than to defend her title, however, Meghan has received an injury and has had no other option but to retire; a real shame.

Laurence Klein

Laurence Klein

Jo Meek and Zoe Salt will not return, this leaves the floodgates open for 2011 and 2012 champion, Laurence Klein (Fra) to return and dominate the race. Laurence dropped from the 2013 edition of the race with dehydration whilst in the lead. I have no doubts, Laurence will return, 1-year wiser, 1-MDS wiser and with lessons learnt. Laurence raced at Gruissan Phoebus Taril 50km in February this year and won, in the process, she also placed 20th overall. She’s in form!

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball (USA) looks to be the hot US replacement for Meghan Hicks and I have no doubt that this formidable lady can push Laurence all the way to the line. It’s a showdown that I am really looking forward to watching unfold. Nikki returned to Western States in 2013 and placed 2nd, she was also 2nd at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler… would you like to bet against her? *UTWT entrant

Simone Kayser from Luxemburg has 3-MDS (2002, 2004 and 2005) victories and returns in 2014. With past experience, knowledge of multi-day racing and an understanding of the Sahara, Simone will also test the podium positions. However, her current form is unknown.

Men

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Salameh Al Aqra and Mohamad Ahansal have battled ‘royal’ in the dunes of the Sahara for years. In 2009, Ahansal won, Al Aqra was 3rd, in 2010 it was Ahansal 1st, Al Aqra 2nd, 2011 Ahansal placed 2nd and Al Aqra 3rd, 2012 Al Aqra took honours relegating Ahansal to bridesmaid, however, last year, Ahansal once again regained his crown with Al Aqra chasing the locals heals. Both return in 2014 and based on past records you have to tip Ahansal with his 5-victories and 9-second places to dominate once again.

Mohammed Ahansal

Mohamad Ahansal

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Salameh Al Aqra

Rachid El Moriaty won in the race in 2011 and in doing so placed Ahansal in 2nd by just 7-minutes. He’d do well to repeat that performance.

Miguel Capo Soler is arguably the hot prospect to place Mohammed and Salameh under pressure, his 2013 3rd place will without doubt have ignited a fire and a desire within him to take his performance one step further and move up one notch on the podium and if all goes well, two notches to reign supreme.

Carlos sa

Carlos sa

Carlos Sa, 4th in the 2013 edition will do all he can to infiltrate the podium and if his form is good, he may very well upset the front of the race. His 2013 season was quite spectacular, in particular, his win at Badwater a highlight and his 4th at the 2012 TNFUTMB establishes him as ‘hot’ for the podium at the 29th edition. *UTWT entrant

Miguel Heras certainly is a surprise entrant for MDS and I guess this is a significance of the *UTWT flexing its muscle and introducing runners who we would not normally see at a multi-day race. This is a good thing! However, Miguel had to withdraw from Transgrancanaria with injury issues and I am not sure currently his status? Should he race he will without doubt bring an interesting dynamic to the race. When in form, he is world class and one of the best ultra runners in the world, Miguel has proved this time and time again and is 2nd place at the 2013 TNFUTMB proves this. I hope he’s fit, firing on all cylinders and ready to bring his ‘A’ race to the Sahara.

Danny Kendall

Danny Kendall

UK hopes are in the legs and lungs of Danny Kendall. A ‘regular’ at the MDS, Danny has consistently worked hard on his training, racing strategy and in in 2013 he placed 10th overall, the best ever performance by a Brit. The podium may well be out of reach but anything higher than 9th will be something to celebrate and embrace.

Cyril Cointre also takes a *UTWT place and will be a potential force at the front of the race. Cyril placed 8th at Transgrancanaria and 11th and HK100 in the last 2-months. Will he be recovered.

Wild card may well be Abdelkader El Mouaziz who has 13 sub 2:10 marathons! He hasn’t run the MDS before and that speed may well transfer well to the dunes and terrain of the Sahara, however, one has to wonder what if? Mouaziz won London Marathon in 1999 and 2001; in addition, he also won New York in 2000 and Madrid in 1994. He may well be nowhere near his glory days but Mouaziz is an exciting addition to the 29th edition.

Who else to watch:

Christophe Le eaux

Christophe Le Seaux

Marco Olmo

Marco Olmo

Christophe Le Saux – 9th at MDS 2013

Marco Olmo – 13th at MDS 2013

Anything can happen and without doubt, 2014 will throw up some surprises and names that we have never heard of before. 2013 was no different and that is what makes this sport so exciting and exhilarating.

What does the 2014 course look like?

Leg No.1 – Sunday 6 April

We get straight to the point and attack hard with a good fifteen kilometers or so of dunes in total on this first leg. Our imagination transports us into the shoes of British explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesiger, or to the very core of superb cinema, which were a wonder to us all!

Leg No.2 – Monday 7 April

This is coloured by fields of dunettes on the mountainside and a vast reg plateau, where the marathon runners will be able to really show what they’re made of at over 16km/hr. An abandoned adobe village, a dried-up lake crossing, a small erg with some beautiful dunes, an extensive plateau of black rock, the negotiation of a remote village and a djebel climb will make up the varied menu of this long second leg, where managing ones effort will take on its full meaning.

Leg No.3 – Tuesday 8 April

After 8km of running on fair terrain, the sand will put in an appearance again prior to a djebel ascent where a fabulous erg can be perceived at the bottom of the valley. There the runners will again negotiate some high dunes to make CP2, from where they will discover an ancient town, in ruins and perched on a hill, before making the night’s bivouac.

Leg No.4 (referred to as the long leg or the 80) – Wednesday 9 / Thursday 10 April

An ultra flat plateau running along a series of dunettes will form today’s backdrop before the runners traverse a wadi and hopefully get a bird’s eye view of the desert from up high after a tough little climb of around thirty-minutes. The landscape is truly breathtaking! Once you make it to the valley, you can make out a fabulous little erg followed by vast plateaus and a succession of djebels. The images here are strikingly beautiful and herald the discovery of an impressive sandy valley. Here, a laser beam will guide runners surprised by the cover of darkness. Participants will then link onto terrain dotted with crevasses before traversing a long, winding, sandy wadi and finally the bivouac. It will be important to follow the markers!

Leg No.5 (Marathon leg) – Friday 11 April

A long plateau of black reg will lead the runners into the ‘Out of Africa’ valley before they link onto a mountainous path, which will guide them to the bottom of a deep wadi. It’s a place where a number of villagers have taken up residence along this dried up river in which the palm trees are kings and agriculture is the only resource. A vast plateau peppered with dunes and dunettes will lead the competitor to the bivouac in this final timed leg.

Leg No.6 (the solidarity leg) – Saturday 12 April

As they make for the small village that will play host to the final finish destination, the competitors, sponsors and families that form the caravan will be able to appreciate the beauty and softness of the landscape in the ambience of closeness and sharing that is synonymous with this UNICEF leg (which supports projects benefiting disadvantaged children). For the majority of participants, this walk gives them time to reflect on this beautiful human adventure and collectively realize their accomplishments before getting back to civilization.

Links:

Follow the 2014 Marathon des Sables on www.iancorless.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/talkultra and on Twitter @talkultra

Updates will be posted daily as and when possible based on wifi connection and gps. Please be patient. I will do all I can to upload images and daily reports.

Info:

*UTWTIn 2013, the event became part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour Series, which groups together the major Ultra Trail races across all the different continents. The MARATHON DES SABLES will represent Africa in this circuit, where the distance (at least 100km), the site, the participation (at least 500 at the start), the internationality (at least 20 nations) and the length of existence (at least two editions) determines which events are selected. Beyond these sporting criteria, moral and ethical values, sporting equity, respect for oneself and others, as well as a respect for the environment, must be brought to the fore. Such values have always been conveyed by the MARATHON DES SABLES. 10 races, 5 continents, 150 global elite athletes… the Ultra-Trail® World Tour 2014 draws together the superlatives to provide the biggest number of runners with a world tour of the most prestigious races off the beaten track. Indeed, through their specific features, the #UTWT races illustrate the true diversity of the trail. Their sporting formats call for participants to have a real ability to adapt. As such you need a range of very different qualities to be a contender for victory! The MARATHON DES SABLES, the 4th leg of the 2014 tour, ranks among the ‘series’ races. As such, the number of points won in this event is increased, which makes it a decisive race in the bid for the #UTWT 2014 champion’s title. Participating in the Ultra-Trail® World Tour gives everyone a chance to discover unique cultural and sporting features. All the continents will be visited: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. So many opportunities to enrich one’s sporting culture, to create new friendships and to feed on emotions and perhaps, one day, be a ‘finisher’ in every one of the events!

 

Episode 34 – Hollon, Hicks, Davies & Stephenson

TU34

On this weeks show we speak to 22 year old Nick Hollon who just recently finished the infamous Barkley Marathon. We catch up with Natalie White who tells us all about the future plans for UK based Inov-8 who are 10 years old in June. We have chat with Ozzies Brendan Davies and Shona Stepehenson who placed 5th and 2nd respectively at UTMF in Japan. In Talk Training we speak to Mitch from Stride UK. We also speak to Chris Mills in 15 mins of fame. We have a blog, the news, up and coming races and of course, Speedgoat.

00:00:00

00:00:45 Start

00:09:50 News

Evesham Ultra

Robbie Britton 6:47:17, Mark Davies 07:11:58, Mark Denby 07:12:04

Hayley Stockwell 8:47:51, Joan Clarke 8:57:08, Sandra Goldsack 9:12:54

Lizzy Hawker

once again continues to inspire, she recently broke her own speed record from running Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu – 319km in 63hr 8min.

She is now pack in Nepal to do the Mustang Mountain Trail Race – multi stage 277k in 8 days

Iznik Ultra

130km

1  Mahmut Yavuz 13:52 2 .Aykut Çelikbas 14:15 3 . Mustafa Poyraz 15:14

1. Elena Polyakova 15:00 2. Muazzez Özçelik 19:53 3. Bakiye Duran 22:55

80km

1. Tanzer Dursun 8:13 2  Ahmet Zeren 8:19 3  Özgür Tetik 8:2

1.Amy Sproston 7:12 2.  Alessia De Matteis 9:29 3  Sirin Mine Kiliç 9:55

Leona Divide

50k

Yassine Diboun 4:03:33, Jeremy Humphrey 4:09:59 and Aaron Keller 4:33:19

Rachel Lipman 5:21:56, Gwendolyn Ostrosky 5:30:59 and Ruth McCoy 5:41:43

50m

Robert Krar 5:53:51, Jason Wolfe 6:43:10 and Jason Schlarb 6:44:54

Melanie Peters 7:30:47, Jenny Capel 7:59:23 and Kristina Folcik 8:31:05

UTMF 

1. Hara 19:39 2. Chorier 19:48 3.Chaigneau 19:50 4. Gary Robbins 20:20 5. Brendan Davies 20:38

1. Krissy Moehl 24:35:45 2. Shona Stephenson 25:56:52 3. Hitomi Ogawa 26:15:25

IAU – 100km European Championships on April 27th

Asier CUEVAS 6:53:14 Michaël BOCH 6:56:49 José Antonio REQUEJO 6:57:02

Irina ANTROPOVA 7:42:52, Sue HARRISON 7:48:12 and Sophia SUNDBERG 7:53:21

http://www.5000mileproject.org – British couple, David and Katherine are  running 5000m across South America in 1 year! They started on July 28th. I have had some email chats with David and we hope to hook up within the next month or so.

Zion 100

Pierre Loic Deragne 17:52:10, Andy Pearson 17:55:12, Matt Cecill 18:42:22

Jennifer Benna (and 5th overall) 19:01, Larisa Dannis 20:22:23, Pam Reed 24:09:23

Hoka Highland Fling

Lee Kemp 7:02:50 (new CR), Ricky Lightfoot 7:09:30 and Matt Williamson 7:21:51

Tracy Dean had a real battle to the line with a calf injury but held on to win by just over 1 min ahead of Fionna Cameron 9:12:21. Third was Sandra Bowers in 9:17:02

00:2415 Brendan Davies – Brendan recently raced at Tarawera ultra in New Zealand. Part of the Inov-8 international team, he recently raced at the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji in Japan. He says it is the hardest race he has ever done… he was 5th. We caught up with Brendan just days after the race. Website HERE

00:36:37 Back to News

00:38:30 Shona Stephenson – Shona, a personal trainer and mum of two girls also raced at the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji. Like Brendan, she is also part of the Inov-8 international team. Shona secured an impressive second place behind US based Krissy Moehl, we caught up with Shona when she arrived back home in Australia. Website HERE

00:56:08 Back to News

01:05:10 Meghan Hicks – has raced at Marathon des Sables several times before. However, in 2013 she returned with several objectives. Her main priority was to make the podium but her ultimate goal was to win the race…. we caught up with Meghan at her home in Utah, less than 14 days after the iconic 28th edition of the MDS. Website HERE

01:43:10 Blog – Anton Krupicka is back…. he always writes a very detailed daily post. Here is a highlight:

Sat-AM: 6:59, 11,500′ ~ Grand Canyon Double Crossing

Used the standard South-North Kaibab route and clocked a 6:59:24 roundtrip, which was a 17min PR for me and I think ~30sec under Mackey’s previously 2nd-fastest time (but still 6min short of Dakota’s FKT). I didn’t know if I was going to go particularly quick today, but thought I’d just see how the legs were feeling. After getting down to the river pretty quickly (despite being slowed a minute or two by a descending mule train), I decided to keep going steady and see how things shook out. Felt pretty solid all the way to the North Rim, hiking a fair bit above the Supai Tunnel, but then on the way back down I was definitely already getting pretty tired by time I made it back to the residence water spigot. Things got progressively worse on the run back to Phantom Ranch (stiff, achey, tired legs), but I pounded three bottles of water there (spending 4min at the spigot) and then climbed quite strongly all the way to Tip-Off, but above there things got pretty weak/queasy as I ran out of water about half-way up. At Tip-Off I thought there was a really good chance I could still get Dakota’s record–even take 5min or so off of it–but in the end I was just psyched to sneak in under 7hr. Great run, and a good confidence boost going into TV, as I know I still have a lot of running fitness to gain. Had another 12min of running on the day, getting to and from the South Rim. Splits: River, :46; Phantom Ranch, :53-54; Cottonwood, 1:54; Residence, 2:09-10; Bridge, 2:42; Supai Tunnel, 2:56; North Rim, 3:22; Supai Tunnel, 3:35; Bridge, 3:43?; Residence, 4:04-6; Cottonwood, 4:16; Phantom, 5:08-12; River, 5:19; Tip-Off, 5:49; Skeleton Pt, 6:14; Cedar Ridge, 6:37; South Rim, 6:59:24.

01:45:10 Talk Training – this week we introduce Mitch to Talk Training. Mitch is based in the UK and has a practice called STRIDE UK (http://www.strideuk.com). In our first episode we touch on the importance of flexibility and stretching.

01:59:45 Natalie White Inov-8 – UK based company Inov-8 have a reputation for making some of the best running shoes available. They have made some iconic products such as the famous ‘Mud Claw’. In 2013 they are introducing a new clothing range to the brand, they have created an inter nation racing team and they also celebrate a 10th birthday in June. Website HERE

02:17:45 Nickademus Holllon – Barkley ultra marathon is infamous. It strikes fear into any runner. So difficult is this iconic ultra that finishers are few and far between, Nick Hollon not only completed the race in 2013 but at the age of 22 he also became the youngest ever winner. We caught up with Nick to hear all about how he achieved a finish and also to find out how started in running… he has a great story. Believe me, he doesn’t like to make things easy! Website HERE

03:09:45 Back to Karl

03:14:00 Meltzer Moment – Speedgoat gives us his Good, Bad and Ugly.

03:18:40 15 min of fame – this week we speak to Chris Mills (24fifty.com). Chris is just an ordinary guy. He actually hasn’t run an ultra…. yet! But I am sure when you listen to him, you will find his story inspiring.

03:3210 Races – the up and coming races for the next two weeks.

03:40:05

Links