Berghaus Trail Chase 2015 – Day 1 Images and summary



Three spectacular courses located in the North York Moors National Park provided the setting for the 2015 edition of The Berghaus Trail Chase. Starting on Saturday, runners were transported from the event centre to their respective starts for the adventure to begin. Using a colour-coded format pioneered in skiing (black, red and blue), Shane Ohly RD at Ourea events offered three fully way marked courses: long course as one would expect is black, middle course red and the shortest course will be blue.

Starting 12:30 (red) 13:00 (black) and 14:00 (blue), all three courses converged at the same overnight campsite at the end of the first day. The only difference for runners will was the distance covered. Day-1 camp provided a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on an opportunity to relax, have fun and share stories of the adventure day-1 provided. A village hall was available with live folk music, bar and food.

It was a hot day on the trails and many suffered in the latter stages primarily due to dehydration.

Sam Thompson was the 1st finisher for the black route in 3:52:11, Charmaine Horsfall was the 1st lady 3:52:52.

David Camm was the 1st finisher for the red route in 3:05:12 and Catriona Curtis was the 1st lady in 3:32:48

Liam Swann was the 1st finished for the blue route in 1:21:55 and Niandi Carmont was the 1st lady in 1:40;37.

(Results will be available for pairs on the race website)

Sunday is when the real excitement begins and the true ‘chase’ commences. Runners will depart in the order they finished on day-1. The objective? Front-runners will try to hold the lead and respective places while behind a battle will commence as they CHASE the runner in front. It’s simple, catch a runner, you gain a place!

A real head-to-head race will develop and tactics will come into play. Go out too hard and you may blow up… go out to easy and you will possibly loose places. The Berghaus Trail Chase brings an innovative format to trail running and one that not only provides a new incentive and experience to each and every runner, but also really does put the fun back into racing.


RUNNING BEYOND – A new book announcement


Multiple meetings, trips backwards and forwards to London and I am pleased to say that I can now announce that I will have a new book available in late (September tbc) 2016.

It has been a long term dream to find the backing of a publisher and I am pleased to say that Aurum Press Ltd (Here) have had the trust to allow me to produce a book on a sport I love through photography and words.

An added bonus is that Kilian Jornet has agreed to write the foreword.

A work in progress, I anticipate some long days and nights as I evolve this project. I hope through imagery and words it will be an inspiration to those who look at it and read it.

Grubby pages with repeated use, I’d like to see multiple ‘post it’ notes marking races for future ‘bucket lists’ and most of all I hope it will be a book that allows you to dream.

Wish me luck as I put this together. Many thanks for the continued support and most importantly, thanks to Aurum Press Ltd, Kilian Jornet and all the wonderful races and people around the world who have afforded me the opportunity to make a dream a reality.


*Please note the cover is just an illustration. I anticipate a new cover for the actual book.


Sierre-Zinal 2014 – Pre race images


Sierre-Zinal is also known as the “Course des cinq 4000” for the five classic 4,000m peaks, including the Matterhorn, which are above the route. The stunning scenery of Switzerland’s Valais Alps makes for beautiful surroundings and a very demanding course in a race that attracts a top-class international field.

The course is in two distinct sections. The first half, from Sierre to Chandolin, is a seemingly endless, steep climb through forest and alpine meadow, ascending 1500m in just over 10km. The gradient only shallows on the approach to Chandolin, and the next section is faster and much more runnable, over fire roads and along narrow tracks through rocky areas. Nava is the race high point at 2,425m and from then on for around the final 7km, the course is mostly downhill over rocky paths to finish with a steep descent into Zinal – a perfect last section for those who like descending.


Anna Pichrtova is the women’s course record holder and she says, ‘I love the path from Nava to the finish very much, fantastic views and quite fast running, because I love steep downhill, I really enjoy the last 3km on twisty wooded technical trails. The finish is exciting because so many people warmly welcome you as a hero.’

©iancorless.com_IMG_0566SierreZinal_2014_New Zealand and world champion Jonathan Wyatt is the course record holder, and the winner’s roll reads like a who’s-who of mountain running: Ricardo Mejía, Marco De Gasperi, Kílian Jornet, Billy Burns, Angéline Joly, Angela Mudge and Véronique Marot.

Local people support the race enthusiastically: spectators cheer runners on along the route and especially at the end where the entire village seems to turn out to welcome finishers. There is also a walkers’ class which starts in darkness at 5am, four hours before the main race.


Copy (c) Ultimate Running Races

Photos (c)

Iznik Ultra 2014 – Race Summary

iznik ultra+asics_250
British runners dominate the Iznik Ultra race series, Iznik, Turkey.

Located just 2-hours away from Istanbul, Iznik is very much a quiet holiday resort for those in the know. Situated on an idyllic lake, the town comes to life as the Iznik Series of races arrive in town. The idea of Caner Odabasoglu (a keen ultra runner himself) and now in its 3rd edition, the races is very much a highlight of the Turkish racing season.

Offering 4-race distances, 130km, 80km, a classic marathon and a 10km, Caner and his team from MCR Racesetter have provided an opportunity for all. The 130km race is the longest single stage ultra in Turkey and therefore it appeals and has a loyal following from the ever-growing Turkish ultra running community.

In just 3-years, the races have grown in numbers. US ultra runner Amy Sproston raced the 80km in 2013 and set a new CR proving that interest and international appeal in Iznik and ultra running in Turkey is on the up! In 2014 a strong British contingent crossed the channel and joined runners from France, China, South Africa, Germany, Australia and New Zealand making the races a truly international event. Arriving in Bursa prepared for a stunning weekend of racing; the race or the racing didn’t disappoint.


Marcus Scotney Iznik Ultra ©

Marcus Scotney Iznik Ultra ©

On the stroke of midnight in Iznik Square, participants ventured out onto a clockwise loop of Iznik Lake. The harder and more challenging part of the course, the first 60km would run in darkness, whilst the flatter and far more runnable sections would be taken in daylight. From the off runners separated with a small lead pack pushing the pace. However, Marcus Scotney (Montane) and Akin Yeneceli forged ahead and opened up a convincing lead ahead of John Bayne from New Zealand by the 11km mark. At cp1, Edwards arrived first closely followed by runner after runner. Something was wrong and it soon became clear that our front two runners had gone off course.

Iznik Ultra ©

Iznik Ultra ©

By the time they arrived well over 30-minutes had elapsed and Scotney had visible and vocal frustration at the dilemma, ‘That’s it, it’s all ruined now… what a waste!’ What followed was a master class in pacing and distance running, one-by-one, Scotney moved his way up the field using each runner ahead as a carrot. Closing the gap to 26-mins, 22-mins, and 16-mins and by the time he arrived at the 60-km mark Marcus was 4th with 6-mins to catch up. All the early protagonists who had set the early pace had faded whereas Scotney had become stronger and stronger. The big question mark would be could he hold on? Chasing Yavuz and Ivanovski from Macedonia, Scotney eventually took the lead of the race and never looked back. A course record had always been on Scotney’s mind and his wish came true, despite an epic detour, he arrived in Iznik 12 –hours, 53-minutes and 59-seconds later. The effort of his endeavor was clear to see. Mahmut Yavuz retained local celebrity status with 2nd place and Zhikica Ivanovski placed 3rd.


The ladies race was a low-key affair with just 3-entrants. Previous 130km winner, Elena Polyakova would not defend her title after injury issues and therefore decided to race the marathon. This provided an open stage for local ultra runner and legend, Bakiye Duran to shine. Shine she did! Bakiye covered the course from start to finish in the lead with only Svetiana Ivanovski to worry about.

  1. Marcus Scotney (Montane) 12:53:59 new CR
  2. Mahmut Yavuz 13:11:55
  3. Zhikica Ivanovski 13:53:41
  1. Bakiye Duran 19:09:39
  2. Svetiana Stojanoska 22:27:08


Jo Meek Iznik Ultra ©

Jo Meek Iznik Ultra ©

Jo Meek (Scott Running) and Tracy Dean (inov-8) set a blistering pace in the 80km race. Dean leading Meek over the first 10km with just a 1-min lead but at cp1, Meek took over the lead and never relinquished it. Dean pursued all day keeping Meek in her sights never allowing the gap to grow beyond 1-2 mins. However, stomach issues struck for Dean and post race she went on to say that she continually felt as though she was struggling and never felt comfortable. Meek however had her blinkers on and was pushing not only for the outright win but a new course record, a record set by Amy Sproston!

Aykut Celikbas Iznik Ultra ©

Aykut Celikbas Iznik Ultra ©

Aykut Celikbas (very much a pioneer of the Turkish ultra scene) had chased the dynamic duo of Dean and Meek all day and eventually moved into 2nd place after Dean dropped at 60-km.

Tracy Dean Iznik Ultra ©

Tracy Dean Iznik Ultra ©

Meek ran like a woman possessed, without doubt she is currently one of the most exciting prospects in the UK ultra running scene as her 2nd place at the 2013 Marathon des Sables and her victory at the 2014 The Coastal Challenge confirms. In the final 10km with flat trail and road, Meek pushed and crossed the line in sub 7-hours blasting the old CR to a new level. Celikbas and Kara placed 2nd and 3rd but the day belonged to Meek.

With Dean out of the race, Yasemin Goktas and Ayse Beril Basliail took 2nd and 3rd places in the female race. 

  1. Jo Meek (Scott Running) 6:52:17 new CR first lady and first overall
  2. Aykut Celikbas 7:41:34
  3. Firat Kara 7:46:07 (tbc)
  1. Jo Meek (Scott Running)
  2. Yasemin Goktas 9:45:34
  3. Ayse Beril Basliqil 9:54:45


Robbie Britton Iznik Ultra ©

Robbie Britton Iznik Ultra ©

Taking the front of the race in the opening meters, Robbie Britton (inov-8) continued to extend his lead over the opening km’s and never looked back. Running strong with a permanent smile on his face, Britton reveled in the warmth of a sunny Turkish day and put to good use all his training of the past month on the island of La Palma in preparation for Transvulcania.

Benoit Laval Iznik Ultra ©

Benoit Laval Iznik Ultra ©

Benoit Laval (Raidlight) was Britton’s closest rival but it soon became clear, as each checkpoint came, that Britton was continually extending his lead the only question mark; what margin would he win by? On the line, Britton set a new CR of 3:08:19, a great time for a hilly and undulating marathon. Laval placed 2nd in 3:30:38 and Duygun Yurteri 3rd just over 1-min later 3:31:56.

Elenya Polyakova Iznik Ultra ©

Elenya Polyakova Iznik Ultra ©

Elena Polyakova is an ever-present runner at the Iznik series of races and a previous 130km champion. Due to injury, Polyakova decided to play safe and run the marathon, however, her class shone and not only did she place 4th overall but she had a convincing victory ahead of Aysen Solak and Brit, Helen Southcott in 3rd.

  1. Robbie Britton (inov-8) 3:08:19 new CR
  2. Benoit Laval (Raidlight) 3:30:38
  3. Duygun Yurteri 3:31:56
  1. Elena Polyakova 3:47:26
  2. Aysen Solak 3:51:01
  3. Helen Southcott 4:14:07


Robbie Britton (inov-8) and Tracy Dean (inov-8) not content with racing in the 80km and marathon distances also towed the line for the 10km fun run the following day and both topped the podiums, Britton running a solid 34-min was impressive after his marathon exploits just 24-hours earlier.


Iznik Ultra ©

Results: HERE


All images credit © – all rights reserved

TNF50 San Francisco Results #TNF50

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50What a weekend and what a race! Rob Krar and Michele Yates once again proved that they are the people to beat in 2013.

Rob Krar UROC ©

Rob Krar UROC ©

Rob Krar has had quite a year, he really made people look twice with his Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon FKT earlier this year. However it was victories at Moab Red Hot 50 and Leona Divide that set Rob up for 2nd on the podium at Western States in his first 100-mile race. A win at UROC against a flying Dakota Jones and now an outstanding run at San Francisco 50 surely must elevate him to a potential Ultra Runner of the Year!

Rob Krar - ©bradclayton

Rob Krar – ©bradclayton

Michele Yates UROC ©

Michele Yates UROC ©

Michele Yates grasped the bull by the horns at San Francisco and lead from the front in a strong and gutsy run. Add to this her 3rd place at UROC and her win at Run Rabbit Run 100-mile and is Michele currently topping the ‘earning’ ranks for ultra running in 2013. It has been a great year for Michele, her wins at Bandera 100km, Nueces 50 and Indiana Trail 100-mile confirm this.

Michele Yates - ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – ©bradclayton


Full results HERE


  1. Rob Krar 6:21:10
  2. Cameron Clayton 6:31:17
  3. Chris Vargo 6:33:33
  4. Daniel Kraft 6:35:56
  5. Dylan Bowman 6:37:14


  1. Michele Yates 7:21:51
  2. Magdalena Boulet 7:31:12
  3. Emelie Forsberg 7:46:24
  4. Aliza Lapierre 7:46:58
  5. Cassie Scallon 7:50:42

Notable mentions:

Cameron Clayton has had a great 2013 and certainly in the latter third has progressed to another level. 2014 looks very exciting for Cameron.

Cameron Clayton - ©bradclayton

Cameron Clayton – ©bradclayton

Daniel Kraft is pretty much unknown to me, so a name to watch for the future.

Magdalena Boulet was my hot-tip as a dark horse for TNF50 and it’s great to see a new name to watch who lived up to the surprise billing.

Emelie Forsberg finished a stunning 2013 with a 3rd place on pretty much no running for the last 6-8 weeks. What does the future hold for this lady?

Finally, great to see Anna ‘Frosty’ Frost back in a race and Anna sums up her thoughts far better than I could:

“Today I won a race. A race against myself. Physically I suffered…the cold wind freezing my pelvis filling each step with shocks of pain. Mentally I could have come last and would have been as happy as if I won. I crossed the line with tears of joy. My friends there to congratulate and welcome me back to the running world. It has been a hard but amazing journey that so many of the people that were there today have helped me through. Thank you for sharing this joy.”

The North Face Endurance Challenge, San Francisco, 50-mile Championships Preview (Men)

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50

My head hurts… it’s December, what happened to the ‘off-season’. Not only do we no longer have an off-season but The North Face have arguably assembled one of the most competitive fields in the 2013 season. Way back in April I was writing about the ‘race of the year’. Of course, it was Transvulcania La Palma. This was followed by another ‘race of the year’, Western States. I then followed this with another race of the year, Zegama and so on… you get the picture! Ultra running and mountain running is booming and as such, we are all seeing the benefits, not only from a watching and a following perspective but also from a racer perspective. It is now possible to have several peaks in one year and TNF may very well have hit on a winning formula with such a competitive race in December.  It’s late enough in the season to have recovered from recent previous efforts, such as UROC or Run Rabbit Run and equally far enough away from ‘key’ races in 2014 to allow for adequate RnR.

Okay, deep breath… here we go.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©

Miguel Heras returns after winning the race in 2012. His time of 5:33 in lousy conditions confirmed his ability if any was needed. Having said that, Miguel is used to rough-n-tough weather and as such, may very well have excelled in the conditions over his US contemporaries. Also the 2012 race did have issues over course marking which did lead to several runners going astray. I take nothing away from Miguel, he is a class act and although 2013 has been a difficult season for him, his second place at TNFUTMB proves that he is back. He followed this with a quality performance at Cavalls del Vent so without doubt he is a contender for the win. However, this field is stacked.

Dakota Jones UROC 2013 ©

Dakota Jones UROC 2013 ©

Dakota Jones is back racing and embracing the trails after a quiet start to 2013 and some escape in the mountains. In addition, Dakota became an ‘RD’ in 2013 which primarily caused him to miss TNFUTMB and refocus on UROC. That refocus nearly worked and certainly with 5-miles to go at UROC he looked as though he had the race in the bag. However, Rob Krar pulled something out of the bag and relegated Dakota to second that day. In fine form, Dakota departed for Japan to repeat his 2012 win at Hasetsune Cup, however, disaster struck and he had a tough day and a dnf. Without doubt, Dakota will be recovered and focused on winning at San Francisco. He will be looking for a repeat performance similar to San Juan Solstice 50m when he broke Matt Carpentar’s record.

Sage Canaday UROC ©

Sage Canaday UROC ©

Sage Canaday will bring his speed to this race and along with Cameron Clayton and maybe, Max King. They will be out at the front pushing the pace. Sage has had a mixed 2013 in the sense that he has occasionally pushed and failed below his own demanding standards. His great runs at Tarawera, Transvulcania La Palma and Lake Sonoma may well fall into insignificance in Sage’s own mind as I feel he may well dwell on his performances at Sierre-Zinal and UROC. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big Sage fan. He has all the ability to go out and win San Fran but I just wonder what effect recent performances will have on his confidence. In real terms, caution may well prove a huge bonus allowing him to hold back early on and keep his powder dry for the final 30% were he can use all that natural speed and ability. Unfortunately Sage has Flu – will not start

Cameron Clayton Transvulcania ©

Cameron Clayton Transvulcania ©

Cameron Clayton will be feeling somewhat inspired and motivated coming into San Fran after his 3rd place at UROC behind Rob Krar and Dakota Jones. Cameron was 3rd at this race last year and although he has had a full season, you can’t rule him out from pulling something special out of the bag for that $10,000 prize. His 2013 season has been fulfilled with top placing’s at Transvulcania and Lake Sonoma, however, he has had a few below par performances which I think ultimately were more due to a niggling foot and other health issues. All looks good now though.

Rob Krar UROC ©

Rob Krar UROC ©

Rob Krar, wow, what can we say about Rob that hasn’t already been said. Arguably, one of ‘THE’ ultra runners of the year after his rim-to-rim exploits, Western States run (his first 100) and then his incredible win at UROC. He raced just the other weekend at JFK50 and dropped leaving question marks in his own mind. However, the ‘drop’ may very well have just saved his legs and without doubt, don’t be surprised if he is on top of the podium at the end of the weekends festivities.

Timmy Olson TNFUTMB ©

Timmy Olson TNFUTMB ©

Timmy Olson repeated his victory at Western States, always the sign of a true champion when you can go back to a race and do it again…! He raced at Tarawera and made the podium, he just missed the podium at Transvulcania and dug real deep at TNFUTMB. Surprisingly after such a tough TNFUTMB he then raced Run Rabbit Run on what must have been a tired body. He certainly has an autopilot but I can’t help but think this race will be all about fulfilling sponsorship requirements and showing face. Having said that, showing face will probably still result in a top-10 and should he get his race face on, don’t be surprised if Timmy gets a podium place.

Ryan Sandes Gran Canaria ©

Ryan Sandes Gran Canaria ©

Ryan Sandes has had ‘one of those years’ that he will be keen to get over! I was with Ryan in Gran Canaria in March, he was all fired up for an exciting season ahead and then injury hit forcing him to miss Western States. Healed, Ryan returned to Leadville in the hope of repeating his 2011 victory, however, injury reappeared. He has tackled some personal projects in South Africa and recently raced in Patagonia. Ryan will be looking to finish 2013 on a high and may just well go under the radar after a quiet year.

Max King La Palma ©

Max King La Palma ©

Max King has not had a repeat of his 2012 season. Winner of the 2012 JFK and UROC, Max was an unstoppable rollercoaster and along with sage Canaday was just on fire. In 2013 he had planned to mix things up and race at different distances and represent the USA in multiple disciplines, it didn’t go to plan and he has been plagued with an ankle problem. If he is recovered and inform, Max will be up at the helm with Cameron and Sage dropping fast minute miles an looking to be the last man standing at the end.

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©

Alex Nichols placed 5th last year and will come to this race confident after a great 2013 season racing in the Skyrunning calendar. In particular, he has plenty of speed uphill and has improved his down hill speed. 2013 may well just be the year that he moves a couple of places higher on the podium.

Francois D'Haene UTMB ©

Francois D’Haene UTMB ©

Francois D’Haene was last years 2nd place, approximately 13-mins behind his Salomon teammate, Miguel Heras. Francois has raced less in 2013 due to the pressures of owning a vineyard, however, when he has raced, he has been in top form. His was 2nd at Ice-Trail Tarentaise behind Kilian Jornet, he was joint winner at Mont-Blanc Marathon 80k Ultra with Michel Lanne and his recent dominance at the super tough Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale de Fous) means that his presence at San Fran surely means he is a podium contender. *Update “Finally my season ends sooner than expected …since my fall in Death Valley tuesday with a shock in the ribs I hope but I have finally abdicate … So I would support the team tomorrow.”

Michel Lanne Trofeo Kima ©

Michel Lanne Trofeo Kima ©

Michel Lanne is another consistent performer who may well do very well at this race. He had a great run with teammate Francois D’Haene at Mont-Blanc but then picked up an injury. In addition, he has also become a dad! December may well prove to be a great time of year; his life will have settled a little, he will be over his injury and without doubt he will be excited to race in the US.

Dylan Bowman UROC ©

Dylan Bowman UROC ©

My final hot tip for a podium place goes to Dylan Bowman. Dylan had a great Western States and turned up at TNFUTMB in the form of his life but had a freak training accident, which caused him to miss the race. He has a new coach and he is going to be looking to release some of that UTMB frustration.

So who else… it seems crazy that I am not writing about the names below in more depth. But I have previewed above who I think may well take out the top-3 slots

  • Mike Wolfe – was 11th last year and set an incredible FKT this year with Hal he could win this race!.
  • Adam Campbell – 4th last year and I may regret not adding him above?
  • Mike Foote – great 2013 UTMB but been quiet recently.
  • Hal Koerner – Think he will be on TNF duty.
  • Karl Meltzer – Karl says he has no chance in such a fast and ‘short’ field. If it were a 100-miles he would be listed above.
  • Matt Flaherty – another who should maybe be above but he was 2nd at JFK just a week ago, maybe a little tired?.
  • Mike Wardian – anything can happen…. Mike is an unpredictable phenomenon.
  • David Riddle – may or may not race with injury?
  • Gary Gellin – 9th last year.
  • Ryan Ghelfi – 5th at UROC and I may regret not adding him above too.
  • Rickey Gates – mixed 2013 but always a contender.
  • Jorge Maravilla – top 20 in 2012.
  • Martin Gaffuri  – great season on the Skyrunning calendar.
  • And finally, Greg Vollet who continues to amaze and surprise every time he races.

So, there you have it. A super stacked crazy race to end the year, the top-3 are any bodies guess. I have tried to provide a little insight but just don’t be surprised if we see a completely unexpected performance and a surprise win.

Ladies preview HERE.

Limone Extreme Race Preview – the 2013 Skyrunner VK and SKY World Series final.


The 2013 Skyrunner World Series comes to an end in Italy this coming weekend at the Limone Extreme amidst the stunning backdrop of Lake Garda. It has been an incredible year, three disciplines; VK, SKY and ULTRA have been raced throughout the world over a total of fifteen races (five in each discipline). The ULTRA championship was decided in Vail, Colorado where Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg were crowned Skyrunner Ultra World Champions. This coming weekend, world champions will be announced in the VK and SKY disciplines.


The Limone Extreme course was designed by Skyrunning legend, Fabio Meraldi. As one would expect, it is a true Skyrunning race with steep, sharp vertical over technical terrain. For example, the VK has 1,100m gain in 3km, climbing from the shores of Lake Garda, the race is extremely unique as it takes place as light fades and the course becomes illuminated by torches.

The SKY course by contrast is very similar to the course in Canazei. At 23.5km it is a short race, however, in contrast to the Dolomites race it does have less vertical ascent. Starting at Lake level runners will tackle 2002m of vertical ascent over a looped course. At the summit, stunning views of the surrounding area and lake are offered, however, participants will have no time to enjoy the view; a long and technical descent to the lake awaits. Often open and exposed, this course requires 100% concentration. Skyrunning legend, Marco De Gasperi set the men’s record of 2:13:34 in 2012 and Deborah Cardone holds the ladies best in a time of 3:02:08.



Kilian Jornet ©

Kilian Jornet (Salomon) irrespective of his performance at Limone will be crowned World Champion. His three victories in previous races means he is unbeatable. It once again proves Kilian’s ability as a runner but also his ability over multiple distances. One thing is for sure though, he likes to win and he likes to race. The Limone Extreme course will suit his skill levels and it will also fulfill his desires to be at one with the mountain. Without doubt he is an outright favourite for the win.

Luis Alberto Hernando ©

With the absence of Marco De Gasperi due to injury, Kilian will have his hands full with Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas). Kilian and Luis have had an incredible season pushing each other to new levels and better performances as they both attempted to win the ULTRA and SKY series. Luis currently second overall on the SKY series will be looking to consolidate that position and coming from a recent win at Cavalls del Vent he will be looking to maybe topple Kilian and finish the series by topping the podium ahead of the Catalan.

Tofol Castanyer ©

Following Luis at Cavalls del Vent, Tofol Castanyer (Salomon) will join the party on Lake Garda. Tofol has had a very mixed season. Plagued with injury and bad luck, the latter half of his season has seen a return to form. The Limone course suits his natural abilities. *not racing 08/10/13

Alex Nichols ©

Alex Nichols (inov-8) has the skill level and speed to move up from 4th overall on the SKY series and move ahead of Jokin Lizeaga Mitxelena (EMF). The two are separated by just 32-points. It will require a top performance by Alex. In the past, Alex has often commented that his descending has let him down, however, just recently he flew down the descent at Pikes Peak proving that he has been working on this!

Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8

Erik Dagsson Haugsness inov-8

Unfortunately, Nicola Golinelli (Arc’teryx) who is currently 5th on the ranking will not perform due to injury; this leaves the door open for Erik Dagsson Haugsness (inov-8) to chase his teammate, Alex. Whatever the outcome, UK brand inov-8 will be extremely happy to have two runners in or around the top five in the first season competing in the Skyrunner World Series.

Zaid Ait Malek - Haria Extreme

Zaid Ait Malek – Haria Extreme

One name to watch and look out for in the Limone race is Zaid Ait Malek. This quiet Moroccan has had an incredible season consistently making the podium, often behind Luis Alberto Hernando, however he is without doubt a star for the future. He raced earlier in 2013 at Zegama-Aizkorri and placed an excellent 4th but he has progressed and matured in the following months.

Finally, David Schneider is making a first time appearance for inov-8 at Limone Extreme and it shows how as a brand, inov-8 are looking to the future. They are already committed to a 2014 season and they are laying the foundation now. David is an accomplished runner and comes from a strong orienteering background. He attracted the attention of inov-8 with an 11th overall at the highly respected Sierre-Zinal race earlier this year. Limone will be a great initiation into Sky racing and the technicality it brings.

Other names to watch:

Dai Matsumoto, Ryan Bak, Florian Reichert, Eric Diaz Martin, Didier Zago

Fulvio Dapit, and Nicola Golinelli.


Emelie Forsberg ©

It is very much a Salomon showdown for Limone with Emelie Forsberg, Stevie Kremer and Silvia Serafini going head-to-head not only for the final race win but the overall title. In real terms, the outright world title will be decided between Emelie Forsberg and Stevie Kremer. These two pocket rockets have had an incredible season and excitement is most certainly building as we anticipate who will come out on top in Italy. Separated by just ten points, 288 to 278, Stevie and Emelie will have a battle royal ahead. I for one can’t wait to see how this one unfolds. Emelie has been Miss Consistent in 2013 showing a skill and ability level beyond her years.

Stevie Kremer ©

Stevie Kremer has been equally impressive. Stevie produced maybe one of the performances of the year with an incredible win and course record at Mont Blanc Marathon. Stevie’s biggest issue may very well be out of her control, she can actually make the long trip from Colorado just two days before the race.

Silvia Serafini ©

Silvia Serafini has blossomed into an incredibly consistent and dominant runner. She gives herself quite a punishing schedule, regularly racing and regularly winning at all disciplines. Currently 3rd in the SKY ranking with 226 points she would need a podium finish and Emelie and Stevie not to finish or finish outside of the points to move up the classification. Irrespective of overall positions, Silvia, racing in Italy will be looking to push as hard as possible and hopefully win the race outright.  *injured 08/10/13

Oihana Kortazar ©

Oihana Kortazar returns to SKY racing after a quiet 2013 and has all the ability and talent to push her Salomon teammates all the way and don’t be surprised if she is on the podium at the finish. *not racing 08/10/13

Anna Lupton ©

Anna Lupton (inov-8) currently placed 6th overall will be looking for a strong and consistent performance to consolidate her 2013 season. The podium may just be out of reach but keep an eye on her.

Finally I am going to tip a hat to Brit, Tracy Dean. This will be her first ever Skyrunning race. Tracy is a strong fell runner and has recently represented GB at the world trail championships. I don’t think we will see her up at the front end but it will be interesting to see how she performs.

Other names to watch:

Maud Gobert and Tessa Hill.


A race within a race! Our attention splits for the Limone VK, for once, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg are not in contention for the overall World title. However, they will both most certainly be looking for outright victory in the Limone race. Emelie and Kilian have not placed an emphasis on the VK circuit this year and therefore have not accumulated enough points to qualify, however, when they have raced the VK distance they have performed consistently well. Kilian won in Canazei and placed 2nd at Mont Blanc, Emelie by contrast was 4th at Mont Blanc and 2nd at Canazei; both will be up at the front in Limone.

Urban Zemmer leading at Canazei VK

Urban Zemmer leading at Canazei VK

The men’s race is a who’s who of VK racing with the top seven in the rankings performing. Marco Facchinelli is currently leading with 236-points followed by Ferran Teixido Marti Ventosa 2nd with 216-points. In 3rd Joan Freixa Marcelo, 180-points and then the real interest starts, Urban Zemmer, 2012 champion and current VK world record holder is chomping at the bit with 168-points. Interestingly, Marco Facchinelli will need to finish in the top three if he wants to keep the world title, however, should Urban Zemmer win and Facchinelli drop to 4th, the title could be Zemmer’s. It is going to be an interesting race.

Other names to watch:

Oscar Casal Mir 5th, Xavier Teixido Marti Ventosa 6th, Marco Moletto 7th. And in addition, Erik Dagsson Haugsness (inov-8) will compete in the VK in addition the SKY race.

Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK

Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK

Vanessa Ortega Trancon currently leads the VK series with 236-points closely followed by Alba Xandri Suets on 228-ponts and the 2012 VK champion, Laura Orgue is 3rd with 188-points. Brit Tessa Hill is 4th with 156-points and it is all to play for. The addition of Emelie Forsberg and Antonella Confortola will add an interesting element to this race as they are both more than capable of taking the 1st and 2nd places, if this happens, 3rd place and the points awarded will be very important in deciding who will be the 2013 Skyrunner VK World Champion.

An exciting weekend of racing is about to unfold; the VK takes place on Friday and the SKY race Sunday.


Follow the action as it unfolds on twitter @talkultra on Facebook HERE and via this website.

Skyrunning HERE

Limone Extreme HERE

Grand to Grand Ultra 2013 – Stage One



Grand to Grand Ultra 2013

Not much opportunity to upload images from the trail, so apologies. Here are a few images in the build up to the race. More to follow as and when possible.

MDS to TCC – Jo Meek Interview


Who would have thought it, the 2013 Marathon des Sables turned out to be a great year for British performances. Danny Kendall placed the highest ever overall placing with 10th and Jo Meek placed 2nd lady overall. It was a stunning performance by a relatively unknown. Armed with a new belief in her ability, Jo will has now planned to switch from the heat of the Sahara and test herself in the heat and humidity of a Costa Rican rainforest at The Coastal Challenge. I caught up with Jo at the end of August and we had a chat about MDS and her expectations for TCC.

IC I bet April and the Marathon des Sable (MDS) seems such a long time ago?

JM Yes, it does seem ages ago. Considering I am walking now in late August in the pouring rain. It’s wet and miserable… it doesn’t seem that long ago in regard to memories. I just watched the video that was available for download and it brought it all back.

IC So sitting at home, watching everyone running in the sand with a tear in your eye?

JM Definitely no tear, I think I am happy not be running in the sand. I am still surprised how I adapted especially considering I am now at home running on the road again.


IC Amazing eh that you can be in that environment, the sand, the wind, the bivouac, no washing, you are eating dried food and you adapt and then post race when we got in a luxury hotel, you said, you wished you could go back, you loved it didn’t you! You loved being in that environment. It was preferable to the clean hotel.

JM I did. Yes, I actually think I could be quite a ‘skanky’ person really. I am far happier roughing it than in luxury. I guess it sounds romantic but I like being at one with nature, eating, running and sleeping. Perfect. But I guess the other memory is the one from those clean white cotton sheets; that was quite special.

IC I have to say, the first shower, all that fresh hot water and then all the sand starts to escape from all the nooks and crannies. As you say, no more sleeping bags and a lovely comfy bed, it is quite a pleasure.


JM My roll matt was about the size of A4 to keep it light and small, so my hip was pretty sore after a week in the bivouac. I have to say the cushioning of a bed was welcome.

IC The Bristh performed really well at MDS. No disrespect to you but we had no idea who Jo Meek was before MDS. We knew Laurence Klein was outright favorite and we knew Meghan Hicks was back, she had performed well previously but outside of that it was all unknown. On the first day you were up at the front and then continued to perform at the front of the race for the whole race. You had this great battle with Meghan. Laurence had a convincing lead but it all fell apart on the long day when she had to drop with dehydration. This opened it up for you and Meghan. Meghan had a great long day but I remember standing on the finish of the final day, it was the marathon distance, you nailed it. You said the marathon was your distance and you wanted to stamp your authority on it. You placed second overall, many look at MDS as one of those iconic mult- day races, how did you go from a relatively unknown to getting second. What was it in you that enabled you to focus and become so efficient in the sand?

JM A few things really. I am very good at setting a training plan and sticking to it. When I race, I always race. I don’t just enter to complete it. So, looking at the conditions I set myself up in a heat chamber and did training that was specific. I didn’t want heat to be an issue so I acclimatized. What was interesting over the six days was that I became less scared of what the heat could do. On the last day I thought, what have I got to loose. I do think back now and wonder could I have gone harder but it was an unknown. I didn’t know what would happen so I played cautious. Meghan taught me a lot without her realizing it. I followed her on a couple of stages and I watched how she tracked across the sand looking for the hard sand, even if it was out of the way. She would deviate and look for the harder and faster sand. Also her style, it’s a definite technique to sand running. You don’t want to be a toe runner.


IC For sure, you need a flat foot.

JM Yes, you also want to shuffle. You don’t want big strides. A little like being in the army again. I learnt lots. I learnt also from training. I had done some awful ultras that were definitely worse than MDS. One race, a 40-mile race across Exmoor and the weather was awful… they said 40 but it was 43-miles I am sure. The last 3-miles were awful.

IC That can be good, a bad training experience. If you have had some tough and hard training and the race works out easier then that has to be a good thing. It’s a real positive.

JM I had no doubt that I wouldn’t finish the race. I had said that I wanted the podium at MDS but I had no idea what I based that on.

IC To put things in perspective you are a 2:46 marathon runner. Ability and speed are there. Many would die for a 2:46 marathon but also you are in the army. Does the combination of those two things make a good MDS runner?


JM I think the marathon pace and training was key in terms of the speed. I didn’t have the same endurance as Meghan over the ultra distance. Many of the days were shorter in terms of ultra distance so I knew I had that potential. In terms of tent life and conditions, maybe the army helped but that is me… I like that. The army helped with discipline; eating, drinking and so on… it was feet first, food and then wash. You need to look after yourself.

IC Give us an insight into your background, you are a roadrunner really?

JM Yes, but I do like cross-country. I came second in the Nationals. Essentially I have done road running. I started in my teens to loose weight and then just kept going. I wouldn’t say I have natural talent in terms of speed but I have something that works, particularly over distance.


IC How long have you been running?

JM 18 years, maybe 20!

IC So you have a great base of running and plenty of experience?

JM Yes. I always thought that maybe I should do ultra earlier and I thought, no rush! Particularly with how you develop with age and aerobic capacity. It seemed like the correct time for MDS. As you know, you don’t just enter MDS you have to enter years in advance.

IC Post MDS you really wanted to improve your marathon time. You put yourself on that path and recently you run a half marathon but you were disappointed with the performance. Many factors can affect a race, a conclusion you have arrived at is that you are now going to pursue trail and ultra running. So, you are going to another multi stage in early 2014 but this time you are going to a Rainforest. It’s a race that I was at earlier in 2013, The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Also known as the Rainforest Run. What’s the attraction?

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

JM I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run but admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.

IC The race is very different to MDS. Some things carry over such as the multi day. As you say, you don’t need to carry all your kit but you do need safety kit, food, water and just essentials. But you are correct, all your clothing, tent etc is moved for you and then food is provided. It’s a hot and very humid environment and even when it rains it is not a problem, it is so warm. All the daily campsites are in beautiful idyllic places. It’s such a wonderful environment. It’s a great combination of providing daily challenging runs but with just a touch of comfort. It’s perfect for those who may want an introduction to multi day racing.

Costa Rice, The Coastal Challenge ©

JM In some ways it will feel easier but in an evening you will be able to eat as much as you like and so will the competition, in theory you are all the same come the following day. But at MDS it is about survival and balance. It is more about balancing and economy and how you ration your food and water.

IC The race has so much more elevation than MDS and in particular, the terrain is much more varied. You have single track, double track, rocky sections, forest, dense forest, beautiful beaches and then some tough climbs and descents. The next edition of the TCC celebrates its tenth year so it may have a little more climbing than normal, we shall see? The variety is amazing. If you are lucky, you’ll see wildlife. You hear it but don’t always get to see it.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©

JM I’m so excited. I can’t wait. I have some road races to do in the coming months and then I will start my TCC training three months out. I will use a heat chamber again. The heat chamber I used for MDS prep was stuck on 80% humidity so I have an idea of what conditions will feel like and I know what my sweat rate is like.

IC Costa Rica is very humid. It is almost 100% but it is not unpleasant. You really do sweat all the time, particularly when running. You need to be on the ball and balance your hydration.

JM I like it harsh and hard conditions. In some ways, the harder the better.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©

IC How do you prepare for a multi day race? In some ways you had to guess for MDS and that worked! So, what do you take away from that experience and what will you do in preparation for TCC. The longest stage is around 50k and not 80k so that will make a difference. As we have said humidity and terrain are the key differences and you won’t need to carry a heavy pack.

JM I will do far hillier off road training. For MDS I had to train with the weight too, however for TCC I will just use essential kit and I will do plenty of back-to-back training at a faster pace. I will try to replicate the race really. In some respects it won’t be too different from my marathon training. The key will be the back-to-back runs..

IC We have so many different ways to look at training. Some runner’s just head out of the door and run on feel. No time set, no distance set. It all goes on feel. Are you like this or do you have a plan that has everything planned out?

JM I work full time so I must have a plan. I don’t have the luxury to say go out and run for three hours when I feel like it. I have commitments. I get up at 05:30 and I do what I can and then I add to this at lunchtime or the evening if required. I make every session count so I fit in threshold running, speed work and so on. I need to be very specific. At weekends I have more time and if I need three days consecutive I take a day off work.

IC Do you do core stability, stretching, strength and core.

JM Oh yes, I am a proper geek when it comes to this. I am a physio too so I have no excuse. I stretch everyday, I do two strength sessions and I do two core sessions per week.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©

IC Wow, you are the perfect example for all of us. So often I ask this question and I get a blank answer. We all know we should do it but few of us apply it!

JM I am disciplined and I see the benefits. You have to be disciplined but it still doesn’t stop me getting injuries.

IC Ah well, injury can be caused with so many factors.

JM For me it is usually over doing it or being tired.

IC Yes, distance and speed increase injury risk. Slower and longer has more impact but you don’t overstretch muscles or tendons. Listen to your body and all will be good.

JM I never listen to my own advice… I am lucky, we have a gym at work so it makes strength work easy. If I didn’t have that available it would maybe be harder. I have been strict with this for four to five months and I can feel the difference.

IC TCC is still months away, are you planning on doing any trail races for late season in the build up?

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©

JM Yes, I love to race. I will enter races, from experience, if I enter races too far in advance I get injured, so I have entered a couple of marathons on the road for training and speed. In December and January I will look for options. Of course, options are reduced and conditions will be a little different to Costa Rica.

IC Late and early season events do crop up specifically designed to help people get ready for MDS so you will have some choice. Final question, many may be reading this and they are going to MDS or they may be tempted by TCC. What advice would you give to these people?

JM It very much depends on what you want to get out of it? I shared a tent at MDS with people who wanted to just complete, they wanted to enjoy the race and that is what they did. Set an objective and train accordingly. Ultimately it is all about fun and enjoyment.

IC If you had to give three tips. Three lessons you learnt at MDS that you would take to any race.

JM Good question. I learnt specifics like running in the sand but I guess the need to watch and keep on top of nutrition. Start eating early and don’t wait. Also, keep any eye on hydration and drink to thirst and then finally enjoyment is key! You must enjoy it.

IC I am sure you’re going to really enjoy TCC and Costa Rica. Many thanks for the time and insight into your progression and have fun in the Rainforest.

JM Thanks, as you say, really looking forward to it. It will be a real adventure.

 Links and information:

  • Marathon Des Sables images available HERE
  • The Coastal Challenge images HERE
  • Entry for the Marathon des Sables is available through the UK agent HERE
  • The Coastal Challenge website HERE


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*Please note I will be at the 2014 TCC reporting on the race and capturing images at the invite of the race organisation.