CYCLING for RUNNERS – The Introduction

 

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Welcome to CYCLING for RUNNERS in conjunction with Scott Sports

Over the coming months and year, Ian Corless and Niandi Carmont in conjunction with SCOTT SPORTS will bring you CYCLING FOR RUNNERS.

Ian, Niandi and a series of special guests will provide you with a series of articles from a male and female perspective on how cycling can benefit you as a runner.

Providing simple and clear information, we will write about our experiences, we will tell you about equipment, provide hints and tips and most importantly, we will provide you with a series of training plans that you can incorporate week by week, month by month to make you a better runner through cycling.

We know 3-types of runner:

  1. The runner who is injured
  2. The runner who is recovering from injury
  3. And thirdly, the runner who is about to be injured

Of course, we joke, but many of you will agree there is some real truth in the joke. Running is not bad for you, however, taken to extremes or if rushed, the impact of repetition can damage and break us. Sometimes a couple of easy days are all we need and then we are able to resume full training. But as often happens, a couple of easy days may not be enough and our eagerness to push and get back to full training causes us to take risks and then the inevitable happens, we break!

Don’t get us wrong. If you want to be a good runner, you need to run. However, we don’t always thing big miles, double day runs or running everyday is necessary. It’s all about balance and ultimately what level we are running at and what our objectives are. As we see it, runners fall into four distinct groups:

  • Group 1: Weight loss/ recreational runner
  • Group 2: Budding enthusiast
  • Group 3: Good age group runner
  • Group 4: Elite/ pro or top-level runner

We could break the groups down again but ultimately, for the purposes of explanation, these four groups will suffice.

Group 1 runner’s will run typically three times a week (maybe four) and they will run twice in the week and once at weekend. During the week they will train from 20-60min and at the weekend they will extend their running beyond an hour. Mileage will be 30-50 miles per week.

Group 2 are pretty dedicated and savvy accumulating three to four runs during the week and running once or twice at the weekend. Sunday will typically be a long run of 90+ min and on Tuesday and maybe Thursday they will add some speed or strength running. Mileage will be 50-75 miles per week.

Group 3 runner’s are very similar to group 2, however, they are running six days a week, they double up runs on a couple of days and at weekend they may do back-to-back longer runs. Mileage will hover around 80-miles per week.

Group 4 are pushing the envelope, they run twice a day, four to five days a week and run long, fast and high during the weekend. They typically hover around 100-miles per week.

We generalise above and of course we will be able to find extremes in all the scenarios. However, the four groups provide a picture. We think the risk of injury is high for all the groups and relatively equal. Why?

Well, group 1 for example will be less experienced (typically) and will have less run history and therefore although the time on feet is less, the percentage risk is high based on experience.

Group 4 by contrast will have loads of experience, they have been involved in sports for years and they are knowledgeable. Risk comes for them from volume and because they are often on the edge looking for small performance gains.

For us, this is where cycling for runners can come in!

Cycling provides a great low impact exercise that can be done in or outdoors, it can be very controlled and importantly it can be as easy or as hard as you like.

Yes, if you want to be a great runner, you need to run. BUT cycling can add to your running and not take away from it…

Just think, how many of you have said, ‘I am just popping out for an easy run!’

Is there such a thing as an ‘easy run?’

In terms of effort, yes! For sure, you can run slow, easy and controlled keeping your heart rate down, keeping your cadence light and just tick-over. But, you are still in contact with the ground. You are still ‘impacting’ with the surface beneath you and you are still passing your body weight through all your muscles, tendons and joints. Recovery runs are not about fitness, they are about loosening off and in many cases, we use recovery runs just to make us feel better. So, why not incorporate some cycling as active recovery?

Long runs can really impact on your body. Hours of running adapt you to the demands that will be placed on you when you race but sometimes we will run the risk of pushing too far and risking injury. Long bike rides on hilly terrain for example can be used to provide multiple hours of low impact exercise. Hours where you can push harder than running without the risk of damaging knees, muscles and ligaments. If incorporated with long runs, you have a great way to do back-to-back sessions while reducing impact injury risk.

Speed can damage our fragile bodies, particularly our muscles and tendons. However, run speed work incorporated with cycling speed work can stress the aerobic system and it will stretch us physically and mentally in new ways.

Hill reps provide great aerobic stress pushing us to our threshold limits, however, what goes up, must come down. Often, it is the running downhill that causes damage. Of course, we need to train for this in running, it’s important. However, cycling hill reps incorporated into a structured training plan can provide a great stimulus that will progress your fitness level and once again, the impact implications are low.

Finally, cycling can just be a blast. It’s a great way to head out and see a new place; arguably, we can cover more distance in less time on a bike. If nothing else, cycling may well just provide you with a well-earned break from running. Cycling will freshen your mind, it will freshen your body and I guarantee, your running will improve.

Part one of cycling for runners will be released on Wednesday October 1st and we will look at the basics to get you started:

  • The bike.
  • How to ensure you have a good fit.
  • Dos and Don’ts of cycling.
  • And we will list 5-points why cycling can make YOU a better runner.
Philipp Reiter Cycling

Philipp Reiter Cycling

To kick things off, Salomon International athlete, Philipp Reiter will also give us his thoughts on why cycling works for him as a trail, mountain and ultra runner.

Stay tuned.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS for the support and backing

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Scott T2 Palani (Ladies) Road Shoe Review

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Niandi Carmont wanted a special outfit for her 14th Comrades ultra marathon, and why not! If you are going to push the boat out and test yourself (for the 14th time) over just under 90 km’s on the roads from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, you may as well look good, feel good and importantly be comfortable and efficient. Niandi picked up a full running outfit provided by Scott Running and here, Niandi reviews the T2 Palani road shoe.

Niandi Carmont Comrades

Reviews to follow of: Scott eRide Tank, Light Socks and Skort.

Scott is not a brand name widely associated with running but more often than not conjures up images of cycling. Perhaps we need to rethink our preconceived ideas about household brand names. This is the second Scott model I’ve tested although the first road shoe (read the T2 Kinabalu review HERE). The timing was right as I was in pre-Comrades training and looking for a shoe not only for race day but also a shoe to see me through the last couple of months of my race build-up.

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The first thing I noticed when I lifted them out of the shoe-box was the weight – at 7.4 oz, this is a lightweight shoe. However it also boasts AeroFoam midsole cushioning which makes it a good compromise in terms of weight and cushioning for the long-distance ultra-runner not seeking to go minimalist. The outsole offers great grip providing great traction on the road, which is a typical Scott shoe feature. Drainage holes on either side of the toe-box keep your feet relatively dry in wet weather conditions. The shoe I tested is a women’s specific fit.

500-meters into my first run I knew that I was going to get on with this shoe. What I like about Scott shoes is the unique patented eRide geometry of their shoes. The rocker shape creates a very stable midstance for a more efficient running style. It might have something to do with the fact that I heel-strike with my right foot and I felt that the shoe helped provide me with a more economical stride. Instead of my heel smacking on the ground, I felt the rocker provided me with more bounce and forefoot lift off. The eRide is a great concept compensating for the lack of sensory feedback and proprioception due to cushioning.

eRide

Scott say about eRide, ‘Get that fleet-footed feeling with our eRide range. The unique rocker shape creates a very stable midstance, promoting the faster and more efficient running style that runners strive for. You`ll be rocking as the miles roll by.’

Basically the unique heel shape causes the foot to roll forward, converting impact energy into forward motion. This is another plus for ultra-runners who irrespective of individual biomechanics will eventually heel strike. Thus the shoe is not only more energy efficient, reducing fatigue through heel striking over long distances but also provides a smoother ride and a more natural midfoot strike.

1. Healthier body position

2. More energy efficient

3. Natural midfoot strike

4. Lower profile heel

5. Smoother ride

6. Minimal and lighter weight

My perceptions of the shoe for this first one-hour training run were thus extremely positive and I subsequently adopted the shoe as my Comrades race shoe. I tested it for every road run over the 2 months preceding Comrades and found that it was a great all-weather road shoe. In very wet road conditions in the UK the drainage holes prevented the shoe from becoming water-logged and in South Africa on the hot tarmac the breathable mesh upper kept my feet relatively cool. Also the grippy outsole on the inside of the arch and the outer side of the toe box provided great grip on wet road.

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The toe-box is very roomy even with the narrower female-specific fit and provides ample room for toes to splay or for runners with wider feet. Heel-striking has caused my right arch to collapse slightly. As a result the foot is wider and I often have an issue with chafing as well as a Taylor’s bunion on the outside of my foot which the toe-box accommodated perfectly.

The shoe is neutral with an 11mm drop from heel to forefoot. Cushioning 15mm at the front and 26mm at the rear.

Lastly this shoe is EXTREMELY durable. That is definitely a Scott quality – very little sign of heel wear through heel striking on the outer side of my right foot and this NEVER happens with any other brand of shoe. I’ll definitely get more mileage out of this racing shoe than with other rival products and in the long run (sorry about the pun!) save on my shoe budget!

Scott say, ‘The T2 Palani is a high performance, lightweight neutral trainer and racing shoe for the roads. Unbeatable for anything from short races to marathons as well as all fast training units, it incorporates all essential ingredients of a winning lightweight running shoe.’ 

Tech specs:

Category – Performance

Weight – 210g

Forefoot – 15

Heel – 26

Heel to toe drop -11mm

Technologies

  • eRide
  • eRide flow
  • AeroFoam

Size – US 5-11

Material

  • Upper: Mesh/Synthetic Overlays
  • Lower: EVA/rubber

View the product on Scott Running HERE

Niandi Carmont

Niandi Carmont

Niandi Carmont – Niandi is South African born, a former resident of Paris, she now lives in the UK. A runner for over 20-years; Niandi has completed Comrades Marathon 13-times, Washie 100 2-times and has finished well over 100 marathons and ultras  all over the world. Currently residing in the UK, Niandi splits her work life between the UK and France.

Episode 33 – Marathon des Sables and Adam Campbell

Ep33 Talk Ultra

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02:33:20 A Meltzer Moment
02:36:20 Up & Coming Races
02:41:25 Close
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Episode 30 – Owens, Reiter & Bottger

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Episode 30 of Talk Ultra – We bring you interviews with Philipp Reiter and Julia Bottger from Gran Canaria. We have a main interview with Brit, Tom Owens. Talk Training is about nutrition and was recorded live with an audience in Lanzarote. We have all the usual features, the news, up and coming races, ‘A Year in the life of…’ our MDS special, Speedgoat Karl and of course the up and coming races.

SHOW NOTES
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000044 start

000408 ‘A year in the life of…’ with Tyler. It has been a while since Tyler was on the show. He has an excuse though… a wedding. His own!

001218 News with Karl Meltzer

002315 An interview with Salomon athlete Philipp Reiter just before he ran an incredible 2nd place at the 83km race at Transgrancanaria. Website HERE

005510 News

005600 An interview with Julia Bottger. Julia was 3rd lady at the 2012 Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion)  and this year plans to run Ronda del Cims. Website HERE

012300 News

012956 Trail Atlas Tafraout had it’s first edition race in February and Niandi Carmont attended to feed back how this inaugural event.

014015 News

014126 Blog – http://sebmontaz.com video blog. The man behind so many incredible films about adventure. Of course many of you will know him from his efforts with Kilian Jornet and Salomon running but take a look… he is quite the inspiration.

014210 Talk Training – On this weeks talk training Marc Laithwaite and myself took advantage of being in the same location at our training camp in Lanzarote. We decided to do a talk on nutrition and include the audience…. We hope you enjoy!

022415 Our main interview is with Brit Tom Owens. Tom Owens is at home in the fells or the mountains. In 2012 he achieved new heights with a series of impressive results in the Skyrunning series.

Achievements:
1st Senterio delle Gringe Skyrace 2011
3rd Transrockies Race 2011
4th Giir di Mont Skyrace 2011
1st Salomon 4 Trails 2011
2nd World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge, Slovenia 2011
2nd Zegama Skyrace 2011
1st Yorkshire 3 Peaks Race 2011
1st Mournes Peaks Race 2011
1st TransGrancanaria Marathon 2011
1st Carnethy 5 Hill Race February 2011
1st TransAlpine Race 2009 & 2010
1st SkyRaid®World Championships 2010
6th Giir di Mont Skyrunning World Championship
1st Trail du Ventoux 2009
1st Scottish Hill Running Championship 2009
2nd British Hill Running Championship 2009
2nd World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge 2008
2nd TransRockies Race 2008
2nd Mountain X Race 2008
3rd in British Hill Running Championship 2007
1st ToughGuy Race 2006

  • Occupation: Ecologist/ Environmental Advisor
  • Based: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Coached by: Malcolm Patterson
  • Type of Runner: Persistent!
  • Favourite Salomon Shoe & why: Speedcross. Super comfy & good grip. Ideal for trails.
  • Favourite distance: 2 – 5 hour hill races
  • Favourite race or event: Multi-day mountain races e.g. TranAlpine Race
  • Favourite Training session: Recce of a long hill race
  • Favoured pre- race meal/ snack: Flapjack
  • Best piece of advice for beginners and young athletes: Try to run with others – even better join a running club.
  • Interests and Hobbies: Cycling, racket sports & football. Travelling.

025500 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl

Video link – Is ultra running bad for us? – HERE

030130 Mds Special with Tobias Mews – just less than 4 weeks to go….

030850 Races – Up and coming races for the coming two weeks.

031038 Close

031353 End

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Website – talkultra.com

Emotions of 2012

What a year! what a year indeed… it is the last day of 2012 and like so many others I wanted to sit down, reflect on what has happened and put a post together documenting some of the special moments of 2012. But as I looked back, so many sprung to mind… many moments I witnessed through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and others I witnessed first hand. So I have decided to select key moments that I witnessed personally, however, before I do that I do want to give a ‘nod’ to some key moments that I didn’t witness first hand…

Australian Pat Farmer finally made it to the South Pole after starting at the North Pole (view here). Pat is a multiple world record holder for endurance running. He has run around Australia and across North America twice.

Salomon launched the Sense. A shoe that created a stir and a buzz that could only be compared to the same sort of buzz around an iPhone, iPad or equally another key moment of 2012, the Suunto Ambit.

Ryan Sandes arguably one of the best ultra performers in 2012 started of his year in style with a win at the Vibram 100km in Hong Kong.

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Micah True passed way from heart related issues while out running in Mexico. The ultra community bonded together as initially he was lost for days causing Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall (Micah was made famous in the book ‘Born to Run‘) to travel to Mexico and aid the search for him.

Jez Bragg won the Fellsman race for the 3rd time in preparation for his attempt on winning the UTMB. Unfortunately Jez was plagued throughout 2012 with stomach issues. We are pleased to say that he now seems to have rectified these issues and is currently blazing a trail on ‘The Long Pathway‘ in New Zealand.

Kilian Jornet announced his new project ‘Summits of my Life‘. A long term project that will take four years, during which he will travel to the greatest mountain ranges in the world attempting to climb some of the most breathtaking peaks and come back down again as fast as he can. Unfortunately on the first project, the crossing of Mont Blanc, the project was struck with disaster as Kilian’s ski guide and partner for the project, Stéphane Brosse fell to his death. Kilian devestated by the incident spent time with Stéphane’s family and withdrew from Western States.

muntanyes

The big dance, Western States did not disappoint with two incredible performances and two course records. Timothy Olson beat Geoff Roes record with an incredible performance made all the sweeter when you hear his incredible life story… (listen to our interview on Talk Ultra) Ellie Greenwood confirmed herself as possibly the greatest female ultra runner of the moment breaking Ann Trason‘s long standing (considered by many unbeatable) course record.

Ellie greenwood

Dakota Jones after a storming win at Transvulcania La Palma went to Hardrock 100 as the one to beat… as it happened, Hal Koerner took the win with Joe Grant in second place.

Speedgoat 50K raised the question about trail, course markings and when and when you should not deviate from a course… ultimately our one and only Speedgoat made a decision that relegated Kilian Jornet from the top of the podium and replaced him with his team mate Rickey Gates. It all got a little crazy and of course RD’s will now make sure they specify the ‘rules’ when putting a race briefing together.

UTMB – It rained, it snowed, the cloud came in, the course got shortened and Lizzy Hawker won her fifth UTMB albeit NOT the UTMB as it was not a full course, so, Lizzy will be back! Francois d’Haene however was very pleased with his win over the shortened course.

Just a week after the UTMB, Francesca Canepa from the Vibram Team turned up at the super tough and long Tor des Geants and won it… amazing considering just 7 days before she was second behind Lizzy Hawker.

Lance Armstrong… need I say more!

Mike Morton had an incredible 2012 with a stunning performance at Badwater 135 just missing the CR by 75 seconds. In addition to this, Mike ran and won may 100’s all around the 13 hour mark. However his performance of the year came in Poland at the 24 hour Championships. Running 277.54 kms he dislodged Scott Jurek as the Amercan holder and set a new benchmark.

Kilian Jornet went back to his ‘Summits‘ project and set a second record on Mont Blanc. This time crossing from Italy (Courmayer) to France (Chamonix) in 8hrs 40min. Article here

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Fresh from a record attempt over Mont Blanc, Kilian Jornet went to Mt Kinabalu Climbathon in Borneo as part of the Skyrunning calendar, won and became World Champion…. again! Of course this race had some controversy as it didn’t go to the summit. Another outstanding performance was that of Emelie Forsberg, she won the ladies race and in doing so confirmed herself as one of the most talented and dominant females of 2012. Kilian now warmed up went over to Reunion Island and took on the tough ‘Raid de la Reunion‘. He made it look easy and he even had time to do interviews at the feed stations during the race… without doubt, Kilian is one of the most talented and gifted athletes in the world.

winner

Max King and Ellie Greenwood blazed a trail and set records (once again) at JFK 50… oh, did I mention Max’s run at UROC and did I mention Karl Meltzer and Lizzy Hawker winning at Run Rabbit Run… of course, what about Miguel Heras and Emelie Forsberg at San Francisco 50Darn it…. so many great moments…. what about Lizzy Hawker at Spartathlon, second overall and a new female record.

So finally Skyrunning announce the new calendar for 2013 and the big news is a simpler format, the inclusion of a 100 mile race and a season final in America at the Ultra Race of Champions. Without doubt (I am biased) Skyrunning was a game changer in 2012 and the new calendar has already created great excitement for the coming year…

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Believe me, the above list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure I will look back and think… ooh, what about this and what about that… I could go on.

But now here is my pick of personal moments from a great year. Rest assured, I am picking one month; one moment!

JANUARY

Talk Ultra was launched and thank goodness the format of an ultra running podcast that was more than just interviews was accepted. Taking the risk to do a ‘long show’ seemed to pay off and the loyal followers and support has been fantastic. I can’t thank you all enough for the growth of the podcast and 2013 will see it grow!

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FEBRUARY

For the 7th year running I went out to Club La Santa on Lanzarote and had another incredible week training in the sun with friends and clients. It has become a fixture in my year and never fails to disappoint. 2013 will see us arrive on the Canary Island once again for more fun in the sun.

Lanz

MARCH

A race fixture on my calendar for several years, the EcoTrail de Paris came around once again and I went out to Paris with Niandi for another great weekend of running and spending time in our favourite city. As it turned out we both had terrible races and DNF’d at the same time… you can always learn something!

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APRIL

I was fortunate enough to be invited over to Turkey to take part in and report on the inaugural Iznik Ultra. I had only been to Turkey once before, many many years before and that was to the South. So I  was very excited to spend time in Istanbul with Niandi and then head down to Iznik. The race was superb offering a selection of race distances over a varied course. Both Niandi and myself took part in the 60k event. I was pleased to come away with a win and Niandi made the podium in 2nd place in the ladies race.

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MAY

May signified a change in my year and very much set a format for what was to come… I was invited to the Transvulcania La Palma on the island of La Palma. Skyrunning had assembled one of the most competitive fields in ultra you will ever see or witness. It turned out to be a who’s who of ultra running. The whole experience is a memory I will never forget… training on the trails pre and post race with the best in the world, witnessing the race were Dakota Jones ran an incredible course record for the win and were Frosty (Anna Frost) set and smashed the old course record in what was to be one of the best performances of the year. This was followed with the conference ‘Less Cloud, More Sky‘ providing the ultra community an opportunity to help establish a direction for the sport in the future. We all then packed up and moved to mainland Spain for ‘Zegama‘ but that’s another story…

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JUNE

Zegama arrived and the heat and sun of La Palma was replaced with rain and mud. Lots of mud. Kilian Jornet just 7 days earlier had collapsed on the finish line at Transvulcania La Palma with exhaustion. At Zegama he showed his recovery powers and showed everyone in the race how to run in the cold, wet and mud. Oihana Kortazar took out the win for the ladies ahead of Nuria Picas who was slowly becoming ‘runner of the year’.

Nuria Picas - Zegama

Nuria Picas – Zegama

JULY

The Pyrenees and an invitation from ARC’TERYX to go and test out the new clothing range called ‘Endorphin‘ on the Skyrunning Ribargoza VK course. Great friends, great memories and some stunning scenery.

Arcteryx - Pyrenees

AUGUST

Wow – Trofeo Kima and one of the most impressive run courses I have ever seen. I was told by Lauri Van Houten before the event that this course would blow my mind. Little did I expect what lay ahead… 6 hours being flown around via helicopter on the most stunning and awe inspiring run terrain I have ever witnessed. Kilian Jornet won the mens race and Nuria Picas won the ladies race. A stunning stunning race that signifies everything that Skyrunning is. Want to enter…? Don’t hold your breath. This race happens only every other year and typically only has about 125 places available.

Kilian 4

SEPTEMBER

Berga in September, the weather breaks and Cavalls del Vent turns into a race of survival. Despite runners struggling with hypothermia the race produced a classic. The mens race was competitive seeing Kilian Jornet once again taking the win but this time ahead of Tony Krupicka finally finding some form after over 18 months out of the sport due to injury. Finishing off the podium was Dakota Jones. The ladies race produced the race of the year for me… so often in the longer distance races we see an outright winner crossing the line with 10’s of minutes to spare… not here! Nuria Picas, Frosty and Emelie Forsberg pushed each other right to the line with Nuria taking the win on home ground.

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OCTOBER

Southern France in the town of Millau. The temperatures dropped and I slowly froze myself following the La Course des Templiers, the final in the Skyrunning calendar. I will remember this race for the incredible win by Nuria Picas ahead of a sprinting Emelie Forsberg who put Lizzy Hawker into third place. In addition to this, Kilian Jornet and Nuria Picas were crowned World Champions. Incredible performers in an incredible series of races.

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NOVEMBER

The quiet town of Begeggi on the Italian coast and the Berg Trail. I had an invite from Salomon Carnifast to follow and photograph the race to help promote the first edition of the race. The race was being attended by mountain running legend, Marco de Gasperi. In the weeks before the race I contacted Stevie Kremer who had moved from America to Italy earlier in the year. We had met at Sierre-Zinal where Marco de Gasperi won the race and Stevie placed second. Marco unfortunately went of course in the Berg Trail and therefore spoiled any chances of a win. Stevie however showed her class winning the ladies race convincingly and placed top 10 in the overall. A name to watch for the future…

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DECEMBER

After a stunning year of following races, reporting and photographing I finally took some time out and headed back to the island of La Palma with my partner Niandi to play on the Transvulcania La Palma course. Two weeks of perfect weather and stunning trails provided the perfect end to a stunning year. It was great to spend that time on the trails in our own space and in our own time. Running when we could, hiking when we couldn’t run and walking when no other option was left… the latter half of the year was plagued by knee issues for me and although they havent gone, my time on the Transvulcania course with Niandi was a real highlight in an incredible year!

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support I have received in 2012. From race organisers, athletes, team managers, brand managers and all those connected to the sport I love. In particular I would like to thank Niandi for her patience. I also need to give a special mention to Lauri Van Houten and Marino Giacometti from Skyrunning for the trust they placed in me for 2012 and the continued trust for 2013.

It has been an awesome year and 2013 is already looking like another year of moments, emotions and memories.

Sincere thanks to all of you

Pico de la Nieve – La Palma

Today, Niandi and myself ran some of the same trail that we ran last week. Unlike our previous day way had no cloud cover so we ran and hiked in glorious sunshine, blue skies and with crystal clear views. Starting at the Roque de Los Muchachos at 22426m we ran the rim in an anti-clockwise direction taking in Fuenta Nueva, Los Andenes, Pico La Cruz, Pico de Piedrallana and Pico de La Nieve at 2239m.

It’s a stunning technical run over hard and rocky terrain. You are constantly going up and then down….

Every now and again moments happen on the trail. Here is one of those moments capturing the Transvulcania La Palma course running off into the distance and the islands of Tenerife and Gomera in the background. Magical !

Niandi at Pico de La Nieve 2239m

Niandi at Pico de La Nieve 2239m

Images of Roque de Los Muchacos and this route are available  HERE

Los Llanos de Aridane – La Palma

Day 7 (Friday) Niandi and myself went sight seeing, cake eating and coffee drinking in the beautiful town of Los Llanos de Aridane. Los Llanos is the finish area for the Transvulcania La Palma.

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It’s a great place. It has a mixture of modern shops, traditional architecture and one has the opportunity to see local life unfold. Thankfully no signs saying “English Pub” or “English Breakfast served here”. It is as a Spanish town should be; Spanish!

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For me with all the pastel coloured buildings it has a feel of Cuba. Now I haven’t been to Cuba so I am make some serious assumptions here…. however, I am happy with my speculation!

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I left Niandi at surfing and answering emails at ‘Tasca El Patio‘. A great little cafe in one of the many side streets in Los Llanos. I went to KN Sports situated in the town. No matter how much sport kit I get I still love checking out whats available. These guys had a great selection of Salomon kit so I did wonder if I would be parting with some money….

In the store I was greeted like a celebrity. It was a real random moment. I was asked to be photographed with each of the staff one by one and the manager in front of a huge ‘Kilian’ poster. At first I was confused… I thought it must be because I was British. As it turned out they are big followers of Facebook and my blog. Funny!

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The relaxing morning was followed with Niandi taking some chill and relax time at our villa but I needed a fix. I went out for just a couple of hours on local trails in the late afternoon sun. Taking the LP13 trail I ran down the valley and went rock and boulder hopping.

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Our evening was spent with some friends in Tazacorte Port eating and drinking the local specialities. A perfect day in La Palma…

You can see a selection of images HERE

Fuencaliente – La Palma

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Day 4 of our La Palma, Transvulcania La Palma experience and today we started our run at the official start area of the race next to the sea on the southern most tip of the island with the Fuencaliente lighthouse in front of us.

Yesterday Niandi and myself did a 3 hour hike on some trails within walking reach of our apartment. To say our legs are a little beat up would be an underestimation. Niandi usually doesn’t get quad sore but she has found that running down hill on technical terrain for 2.5 hours really does batter your legs…. For me, my worry was my knees but I am pleased to say with taping and being careful I am really positive with the progress. Of course 16-18 weeks away from running also meant that my muscles were not quite ready for the beating I gave them. C’est la vie. I am on beautiful trails, the sun is out and it’s great to have one to one time with Niandi. If that means sore legs, so be it.

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From the light house you head up and up and continue to head up for almost 50k. This is what is so unique about the Transvulcania La Palma race. As I mentioned earlier, we are not able to do point to point runs as we have no means of collection so our runs are all out and backs. No bad thing. We get to see the trail both ways.

The contrast in the course is quite amazing. Today we stared in black, gritty, lava with rocks everywhere (the first 2 miles of the race are tough going) and then when you pass through the town of Los Canarios you are then running through forests for miles upon miles until you finally break through the clouds and run along Cumbre Vieja with a highest point of 1923m at Pico Nambroque and to the left you have the viewpoint of the Crater del Hoyo Negro.

Navigation is easy, follow the red/white paint flashes on the rocks or markers that say GR131.

We spent 6 hours on the trails and had an incredible day. You can see a full set of images HERE

But here are some highlights:

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Roque de los Muchachos – La Palma

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After yesterdays 8 hour epic on the trails starting at sea level and going up; straight up to 2400m both Niandi and myself decided on a shorter run today. Or plan was to drive to the summit of the Transvulcania la Palma course at Roque de los Muchachos and run around the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente all at above 2000m. We would run ant- clockwise of the Transvulcania course and then turnaround and come back.

The drive from Los Lllanos takes just over an hour on some twisty winding roads but one bonus, at least for Niandi was that she noticed the Sunday market in Tazacorte en route… at a risk of sounding sexist; women and markets go together (I like them too). So Niandi could fulfil her shopping needs, usually local and typical jewellery and I could get some photos. I love to capture the people at markets. Not stop and and ask them to pose but sneak up on them and capture them incognito. You can see all of them HERE

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Back in the car, onward and upward we finally reached the summit at ‘Muchachos’. I kept telling Niandi how incredible this place is. As she got out of the car her expression changed as she saw a blanket of cloud cover the mountains and peaks breaking through. It brought back memories of May when I watched Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones and Andy Symonds race around the rim and come towards me before finally dropping for the descent to Tazacorte (our run yesterday).

We spent 30 minutes being ‘tourists’. This summit area is like a James Bond film set with a lunar landscape and observatories dotted here and there.

Time to run! The first thing that was noticeable was the altitude and secondly in comparison to yesterday when we had lterally climbed for 5 hours, today we could run much more. A stunning day.

A full selection of images are available HERE

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Caldera de Taburiente – La Palma

La Isla Bonita - Transvulcania La Palma

La Isla Bonita – Transvulcania La Palma

Niandi and myself have arrived on the island of La Palma – ‘La Isla Bonita’ – the home of the Transvulacania La Palma.

We are here for a working holiday. By that I mean we are here on holiday but still working as and when we feel like. We both have commitments that we need to fulfil while out on the island but we plan to be really flexible… of course I have another episode of Talk Ultra to get out. Based on how slow the wifi is here in our apartment that may be a real challenge.

Anyway, we decided NOT to to ease ourselves into this and went out for a full on 8 hours on the trail on our first day. Considering the longest run I have done in the last 17/18 weeks has been 75 min (due to dodgy knees) that was somewhat optimistic. However, I knew that this was not gong to be a run… more of a tough long hike with some jogging (mostly downhill).

The Transvulcania course starts in the south of the island and heads up the spine to the dramatic Roque de Los Muchachos at 2426m and then from here you basically have a 32-36k drop back to the sea at Tazacorte and then a run into the finish at Los Llanos.

Niandi and myself don’t have the luxury of multiple cars or drop/ pick ups so pretty much all our days out will be out and back.

Today we went from the sea at Tazacorte Port and went straight up to 2400m, had a picnic, turned around and came straight back down.

An incredible day on the trails and while friends back in the UK struggled with snow and ice we had T shirts and shorts on for the whole trek. The course offers some tough technical terrain, the views are dramatic and once above the cloud one really does feel like a ‘Skyrunner’ quite literally.

I personally had a great day. The longest on my feet for months BUT dropping from 2400m to sea level in one go DID test the knees. It wasn’t pretty at times but I am happy.

Here are some images from the day:

No warm up, from Tazacorte you go up for 18k

No warm up, from Tazacorte you go up for 18k

Caves in the rock face - once homes!

Caves in the rock face – once homes!

Follow the GR markers

Follow the GR markers

Niandi has a break

Niandi has a break

About 1800m up, still a way to go...

About 1800m up, still a way to go…

Running through the cloud was incredible

Running through the cloud was incredible

Just stunning

Just stunning

Once through the cloud layer the views are incredible and the temp was 20+ deg

Once through the cloud layer the views are incredible and the temp was 20+ deg

After 7 hours on the trail, with just 1 hour to go we get to see the sun disappear.

After 7 hours on the trail, with just 1 hour to go we get to see the sun disappear.