Skyrunner® Series UK launches with V3K

V3K logo

 

It is finally here, the start of the Skyrunner® Series UK commences this weekend over the classic Welsh 3000’s in the heart of Wales.

An epic challenge awaits each and every participant as they cover 55 km’s, 15-peaks and over 4000m’s of vertical gain. ‘Where earth meets Sky’ is our ethos and the Welsh 3000’s will provide this in abundance.

Providing a classic mountain challenge, the V3K provides a point-to-point race over a route that has become revered for many a runner and walker. Crib Goch needs little introduction and provides the toughest section of the whole route.

V3K Route

Kirsch Bowker, RD for the V3K explains, ‘the launch of the Skyrunner® Series UK is a significant moment and to be involved right from the start is quite incredible for us. The route has it all from fast running to really technical rough terrain. It must rank as some of the most technical terrain covered by a UK mountain race.’

 

 

Starting in the early hours of Saturday morning, the V3K offers an incredible challenge because of the successive ascents and descents. It’s a tough challenge and one that must not be underestimated.

Approaching Elidir Fawr Llewelyn in the background_Alogo

‘The route ranks on a par with some of the races featured in the Skyrunner® World Series. Of course, the terrain in Wales may not be as high as the Alps or Dolomites but believe me, when images show the beauty and the majesty of this course, I firmly believe it will become an iconic Skyrunning race in the UK.’ Ian Corless, Director for Skyrunning UK said, ‘Kirsch and her team have done an incredible job in the build up to this race. We are now in that exciting time when the race is imminent and anticipation is high. It’s going to be a great day and an incredible start to the Skyrunner® Series UK’

‘I adore this route. I have covered every inch of this course time and time again.’ said Kirsch. ‘The hardest section of the course is down Crib y Ddysgl and then the ascent of Crib Goch and the traverse of its pinnacles.’

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Over 100-participants will toe the line from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Netherlands, China, Italy, Spain, Poland and Germany. It’s just the start the series needed and with follow on events such as The Peaks SkyRace in August, the 3×3 Ultra in early October and the Mourne Skyline MTR in Northern Ireland, the stage is set for an incredible series of races that will be expanded on in 2015 and moving forward.

A long-term aim has always been to bring the Worlds best mountain runners to our shores and provide a showcase for our sport to expand and grow. The news that Skyrunner® World Series 2013 champion, Stevie Kremer (Salomon) will race the Mourne Skyline MTR later this year is a sure sign that the V3K will be the start of something very special in the UK.

Stevie Kremer ©iancorless.com This growth would not be possible without the incredible support of the run community, enthusiastic and dedicated race organizers and importantly race sponsors. The Skyrunner® Series UK is incredibly grateful and thankful of the support and sponsorship provided by inov-8, Rocktape and Raidlight.

A final word from Kirsch, ‘we are having a festival/party at the finish with free food. We really want a crowd to welcome folk as they arrive. We really do want lots of people here!’

Skyrunning World Championships 2014 – In-Depth Preview

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Worlds collide in the endurance capital of the world this week when 28-nations congregate for the 2014 Skyrunning World championships.

*Please note, this preview will be updated with many potential changes within the coming days as we are made aware of any withdrawals.

The best-of-the-best will assemble to do battle over the classic Skyrunning distances of VK, SKY and ULTRA in the amazing endurance arena that is Chamonix. 

3400 athletes representing 28-nations will toe 3-separate start lines over an incredible weekend of racing starting on June-27th at 0400 with the 80km ULTRA event. The same day at 1600-hours the 4th edition of the Vertical Kilometer will start from the center of Chamonix. At 0700-hours on Sunday 29th, the 12th Mont-Blanc SKY Marathon will take place.

An epic weekend of racing!

The depth of talent travelling from all around the world is quite mind blowing and thus, making a prediction from such high quality fields is an endurance task in its own right. So, I have provided a list, ‘Ones to watch’ and for each race I have made my predictions that we can expect to don the podium for the ladies and the men. It’s no easy task…

No less than eight Skyrunner® World Series Champions will be present.

Some numbers for the record: 

  • 8 Skyrunner® World Series Champions
  • 28 national teams
  • 38 countries participating  
  • 46 top 20 ranked athletes 
  • 3,400 participants in the thee disciplines
  • 25,000 euros cash prizes

Individual world titles are at stake in each discipline as well as a combined title, based on the best results of two out of three races. Countries will be ranked according to the best results of three men and one woman in all three disciplines.

€ 25,000 cash prizes will be awarded and anti-doping controls will be carried out.

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Chamonix VK The 4th annual Vertical Kilometer

Race start 16:00 Friday June 27th 

A route of pure ‘mountain’ spirit, that takes a straight and direct line from the center of Chamonix to the finish at Planpraz. Climbing 1000 vertical meters in 3.8km it’s a pure test of strength. Similar to a prologue in the Tour de France, runner’s start at timed 30-second intervals, the fastest to the summit is the winner!

The opening sections comprise of runnable trail, however, the last section is comprised of rocks and requires more commitment with notably a few aerial passages equipped with cables and ladders.

Records:

  • Kilian Jornet – 34:07
  • Christel Dewalle – 41:33

MEN

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The Dematteis brothers will without doubt be serious contenders after strong performances at the VK at Transvulcania La Palma. Like the Super Mario Brothers, these guys bring excitement and drama to any race.

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Saul Antonio Padua last years winner will have competition this year, however, his performance in the VK last year was world class. What do you think, another win?

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Kilian Jornet fresh from another Summit of my Life record may well not have much running in his legs but it has never slowed him before and why would it slow him this time?

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Eirik Haugsness placed 3rd last year and very much feels comfortable with the effort level required for a quality performance over the VK distance. He prefers a course that allows him to run and Chamonix provides exactly such a course, at least over the first 700-meters.

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Urban Zemmer is a class act on any VK and a specialist at the discipline. However, the Chamonix VK does not really suit his style. He will be in the mix but not on top of the podium. Zemmer was Skyrunner ® World Series Champion in 2013 and despite my thoughts, would almost certainly like the World title too! He placed 5th last year.

Alexis Sevennec placed 4th last year and comes from a ski mountaineer background, as so many VK specialists do. I don’t see him making the podium but he will be close, very close!

Finally, Marco Facchinelli placed 2nd in the Skyrunner® World Series in 2013 and like Zemmer will be looking to stamp his authority on the VK.

Ones to watch:

  • Kilian Jornet (Esp)
  • Saul Antonio Padua (Col)
  • Oscar Casal Mir (And)
  • Marc Casal Mir (And)
  • Aritz Egea (Esp)
  • Martin Gaffuri (Fra)
  • Alexis Sevennec (Fra)
  • Greg Vollet (Fra)
  • Didier Zago (Fra)
  • Tom Owens (Gbr)
  • Bernard Dematteis (Ita)
  • Martin Dermatteis (Ita)
  • Marco Facchinelli (Ita)
  • Urban Zemmer (Ita)
  • Dai Matsumoto (Jap)
  • Eirik Haugsness (Nor)
  • Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (Nor)
  • Jono Wyatt (Nzl)
  • Joakim Lanz (Swe)
  • Alex Nichols (Usa)
  • Marco Moletto (Ita)

LADIES

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Christel Dewalle set a course record on the VK in 2013 and will be looking for a repeat performance. Her strength and endurance was confirmed in 2013 with a top-quality 2nd place at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

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Laure Orgue Skyrunner® World Series Champion in 2013 is a VK specialist and as shown on many occasions previously will be looking to push as hard as possible for victory in Chamonix.

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Antonella Confortola on her day is one of the best VK specialists on the circuit, particularly when using poles. The Chamonix VK may be too runnable for Antonella but she will without doubt be up at the front as she was in 2013 when she placed 3rd.

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Stevie Kremer like Emelie is not a VK specialist but her mountain ability is quite incredible. How will she perform on the VK, well, it’s a question mark? After a stunning run at Zegama-Aizkorri one can assume that Stevie will be in the mix.

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Kasie Enman flew up the early climbs at Zegama-Aizkorri and led the race early on before Stevie Kremer reeled her in and took the lead. Because the VK is a flat out effort, I can’t help but think we will see Kasie create some fireworks.

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Finally, Brit, Tessa Hill has honed and fine-tuned her VK skills in recent years and without doubt, the Chamonix course suits her running VK style. Tessa was 3rd in the 2013 Skyrunner® World Series and placed on 5th at the 2013 Chamonix VK.

 Ones to watch:

  • Laura Orgue (Esp)
  • Christel Dewalle (Fra)
  • Stephanie Jiminez (Fra)
  • Janine Frost (Gbr)
  • Tessa Hill (Gbr)
  • Antonella Confortola (Ita)
  • Anna Eriksmo (Swe))
  • Landie Grayling (Sa)
  • Kasie Enman (Usa)
  • Stevie Kremer (Usa)
  • Axelle Mollaret (Fra)

  

The 12th annual Mont-Blanc SKY Marathon.

Race start 07:00 Sunday June 29th 

This year yet again athletes from 65 countries will compete in an exceptional and very technical course.

After starting from the center of Chamonix (1035m) it is a climb up the Arve valley by passing through the hamlet of Lavancher before reaching Argentiere (1250m).

In direction of Le Planet the course rejoins the Balcon Nord trail before re-descending in the direction of Montroc. Tré le Champ then it is the Col des Montets (1461m) at the heart of the Aigulles Rouges nature reserve.

By the Diligences route the runners cross the hamlet of Buet before rejoining Vallorcine (1260m) nestled at the end f the valley on the Swiss border. The climb begins toward the Aiguillette des Posettes (2200m). Efforts are rewarded by a sumptuous panorama of the Mont-Blanc range and the Chamonix valley. Facing the Aiguille du Tour and its glacier the trail descends by following the Crete des Fretes.

After several technical passages to the village of Le Tour (1453m) it is a return to tranquility on the path that longs the Bisme stream and then to Montroc (1382m). The runners cross through the hamlet of Frasserands and Tré le Champs before rejoining the historic trail of the Mont-Blanc Cross, at the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges facing the entire massif. The path rises up to La Flegere (1875m). After traversing the beautiful Charlanon combe (1812m) there is a soft little climb inviting everyone to take in the scenery.

Then the slopes intensify before the finish at Planpraz (2050m) the intermediary station of the Brevent that offers one of the most spectacular views of the Mont-Blanc. Race description ©Club Des Sports De Chamonix Mont-Blanc

Records:

  • Kilian Jornet – 3:30:41
  • Stevie Kremer – 4:03:16

 

MEN

Check the list out below… what a line-up. Last year we had a battle royal with Kilian Jornet, Marco De Gasperi and Luis Alberto Hernando. Only Kilian returns! Marco De Gasperi is not available to race and Luis has moved up to the Ultra distance. So, what is going to happen?

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No surprise, Kilian Jornet is odds on favourite. He won last year and why wouldn’t he this year? He certainly has less running in his legs than any other year but he lives and breathes the mountains and his need to run in preparation for a running race is somewhat distorted in the way the rest of us function.

My dark horse and potential apple cart shaker is Vlad Ixel. He is not a name many European runners will know but after some quality runs in the Southern Hemisphere, I firmly believe that Vlad will be the surprise of the whole 2014 Skyrunning World championships.

Michel Lanne

Michel Lanne

Michel Lanne was the joint winner of the 80km event with Francois d’Haene in 2013 and knows the mountains and terrain like the back of his hand. A recent quality performance at Zegama-Aizkorri confirms good form.

I’m pretty excited from a British perspective! We have a return to top flight racing for *Andy Symonds after a horrendous 2013 due to injury. Tom Owens pushed Kilian in 2012 and like Andy Symonds had a 2013 to forget. Oli Johnson placed 10th last year in Chamonix and Martin Cox seals the quartet of top UK talent. *injured

Zaid Ait Malek

Zaid Ait Malek

Zaid Ait Malek will smile is whole way around the marathon route and will potentially take (or just miss) the podium. He is an incredible mountain running talent.

Jono Wyatt – do I need to say anymore? He’s a mountain running legend. Jono has been there and done that for decades. You can NEVER rule him out as way saw at Sierre-Zinal last year.

Alex Nichols

Alex Nichols

USA has fast men *Alex Nichols (7th in 2013) If Alex is in great shape, it would be feasible for him to place in the top-10. However, this is a top quality field and the pressure will be on.  *injured

Didier Zago placed 6th last year but I believe he is taking a more casual approach to running these days. So my final shouts will go to Eirik Haugsness (5th last year) and up and coming star, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen.

Ones to watch:

  • Oscar Casal Mir (And)
  • Marc Casal Mir (And)
  • Vlad Ixel (Aus)
  • Miguel Caballero (Esp)
  • Aritz Egea (Esp)
  • Zigor Iturrieta Ruiz (Esp)
  • Kilian Jornet (Esp)
  • Jokin Lizeaga (Esp)
  • Augusti Roc (Esp)
  • Nicolas Bouvier (Fra)
  • Thibaut Baronian (Fra)
  • Martin Gaffuri (Fra)
  • Michel Lanne (Fra)
  • Didier Zago (Fra)
  • Martin Cox (Gbr)
  • Oli Johnson (Gbr)
  • Tom Owens (Gbr)
  • Andy Symonds (Gbr)
  • Florian Reichert (Ger)
  • Fabio Bazzana (Ita)
  • Dai Matsumoto (Jap)
  • Toru Myahara (Jap)
  • Zaid Ait Malek (Mor)
  • German Silva (Mex)
  • Tineke Van Den Berg (Ned)
  • Eirik Haugsness (Nor)
  • Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (Nor)
  • Jono Wyatt (Nzl)
  • Marcin Swierc (Pol)
  • Andre Castro (Pol)
  • Lucky Miya (Sa)
  • Marc Lauenstein (Sui)
  • Alex Nichols (Usa)

LADIES

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Stevie Kremer won the race last year with a new course record and one has to tip her as the hot favourite, particularly after her strong and dominant performance at Zegama-Aizkorri.

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Maite Mairoa is on a roll at the moment after a stunning Transvulcania and Zegama-Aizkorri performance. Maite has always been a dominant force in mountain running but this last 12-months has seen a change. She is a different runner and one that can push the best-of-the-best.

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Elisa Desco won Sierre-Zinal ahead of Stevie Kremer in 2013 and then placed behind Stevie at Zegama. This can only mean that we are in for a high quality battle in the Chamonix arena.

Kasie Enman looked like she was going to throw race predictions out of the window at Zegama-Aizkorri but faltered in the latter stages when fatigue hit. Long haul travel or mother duties could be to blame but one thing is for sure, several weeks on I think we will see a much stronger and more dominant runner who will mix things up in Chamonix.

Final shout goes to Jo Meek from the UK who will be tipping her toe in the Skyrunning world. Jo was unknown last year bur 2nd place lady at Marathon des Sables, winning The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, a win at the Iznik Ultra and CR and most recently 5th placed lady at the iconic Comrades Marathon shows that Jo has all the speed required to do well! The biggest test for Jo will be the long climbs and technical running. I’m going to be seriously interested to see how this race goes.

 Ones to watch:

  • Jo Brishetto (Aus)
  • Nuria Dominguez (Esp)
  • Maite Maiora (Esp)
  • Aline Camboulive (Fra)
  • Juliette Benedicto (Fra)
  • Stephanie Jiminez (Fra)
  • Jo Meek (Gbr)
  • Antonella Confortola (Ita)
  • Elisa Desco (Ita)
  • Silvia Serafini (Ita)
  • Sharon Broadwell (Nor)
  • Landie Grayling (Sa)
  • Zhana Vokueva (Rus)
  • Kasie Enman (Usa)
  • Stevie Kremer (Usa)

 

The Mont-Blanc ULTRA 80km

Race start 04:00 Friday 27th

In 2013 the first edition left it’s mark in everyone’s minds. The technicality, beautiful scenery and paths delighted all runners. For the first runner and the last runner, the challenge was the same! Among fatigue, visions of gorgeous mountains, capricious weather, heat and snow, all the necessary ingredients for an extraordinary event beyond the norm came together for the birth of a legend…

After an early start (4:00am) from the center of Chamonix Mont-Blanc the runners will rise directly up to the Bellachat Hut (2246m) from where they will see the first rays of sunlight shining on the summit of the Mont-Blanc. After a short rest they will leave Brevent (2525m) to descent to Planpraz (1st refreshment post). At the heart of the Aiguilles rouges, a trail will take them to the Flegere and then to the chalet des Cheseryus before descending to the Col des Montets via la Tete au Vent.

The hamlet of the Buet (1330m) will mark the beginning of a long technical loop starting with the Tré les Eaux valley, then a demanding ascent up to the Col du Corbeau (2602m). Most likely with some snow still on the ground runners will enter into Swiss territory and head up the

Col de la Terrasse (2643m). In this mineral world the descent to the Emosson dam will require keen attentiveness on the final snowfields. Very soon the pastures of the Loriaz will allow the muscles to relax after over 50km of effort. But the rest period will be short-lived because once Vallorcine is crossed (1260m) the ascent of the aiguillette des Posettes will burn the calves and pump the cardio!

Facing the Mont-Blanc the descent along a ridge will require utmost caution to get through the numerous steps and reach the village of Le Tour and then Argentiere (1260m). Runners will then re-descend along the Balcon Nord in the direction of Chamonix and take the Marathon race route in reverse.

The final difficulty will be the climb up to Signal (2200m), running next to one of Chamonix’s most famous tourist sites, the Mer de Glace. A last balcony at the foot of the Aiguilles des Grands Charmoz de Blaitiere and the Fou will take the runners to the Plan d’Aiguille (2200m), which overhangs the Arve valley. 1200m lower the finish line will honor the deserving finishers…. Race description ©Club Des Sports De Chamonix Mont-Blanc

Records 

  • Francois d’Haene and Michel Lanne – 9:45:57 (joint record 2013)
  • Caroline Cheverot 13:10:05

 

MEN 

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Luis Alberto Hernando dominated Transvulcania La Palma this year and has decided to move up from the SKY distance (placed 3rd last year) to the ULTRA distance at Mont-Blanc. On his day he is one of the best in the world and I am sure Luis will be using this race as an opportunity to understand the mountain ready for his first UTMB later in the year.

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Francois d’Haene won the race last year and after consummate performances at Raid de la Reunion and the recent UTMF, one has to say that he is odds on favourite here!

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UTMB 2013 winner Xavier Thevenard has the perfect combination of skills to excel and place on the podium. His recent performance at Transvulcania was disappointing but these things happen in racing… I think Xavier will be a podium contender. In addition, he has just had a warm up on the UTMB route with his Asics team trying to beat the sun!

Ricky Lightfoot’s presence in the race really does excite me and if he shows some of the quality and skill shown at races such as The Otter in South Africa, The World Trail Running Champs and the Three Peaks then we are in for some real excitement. 

Mike Wolfe makes the journey from the USA and loves mountains with technical trail. He has performed at the highest level at UTMB before and will be looking to transfer those experiences to the 80km course.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Adam Campbell, Jason Schlarb, Matt Cooper, Pablo Villa and the list goes on! It’s going to be an epic race.

Ones to watch:

  • Xavier Teixido (And)
  • Matt Cooper (Aus)
  • Pieter Schaaps (Bel)
  • Chico Santos (Bra)
  • Jason Loutit (Can)
  • Jan Bartas (Cez)
  • Martin Saenz (Ecu)
  • Pao Bartolo (Esp)
  • Luis Alberto Hernando (Esp)
  • Pablo Villa ((Esp)
  • Sebastien Buffard (Fra)
  • Sylvain Couchaud (Fra)
  • Yann Curien (Fra)
  • Francois d’Haene (Fra)
  • Benoit Girondel (Fra)
  • David Pasquio (Fra)
  • Xavier Thevenard (Fra)
  • Ricky Lightfoot (Gbr)
  • Philipp Reiter (Ger)
  • Giuliano Cavallo (Ita)
  • Steffan Ruzza (Ita)
  • Yoshito Kondo (Ita)
  • Ronnie Duinkerken (Ned)
  • Phudorjee Lama Sherpa (Nep)
  • Leonardo Diogo (Pol)
  • Johan Lantz (Swe)
  • Jason Schlarb (Usa)
  • Mike Wolfe (Usa)

 

LADIES

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Anna Frost is back and in the space of just over a month has put some really tough times behind her, topped the podium with a new CR at the Transvulcania La Palma and has then followed this up with some quality training. Frosty appears to be in a great place both physically and mentally. Frosty is my hot tip but….

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Nuria Picas is in the race and Nuria has not stopped winning in 2014. She has become an unstoppable force in mountain running and ultra running. The only blip was a recent withdrawal from Zegama-Aizkorri but that shows us nothing. It was basically one race too many and Nuria had the sense to stop. Frosty and Nuria are great friends and it has been sometime since they shared trails together. Expect them to run next to each other for some time chatting and then a head-to-head battle in the latter stages.

Emelie Forsberg’s 2013 has already been extremely interesting, a bad fall wiped out her Transvulcania and this then impacted on Zegama-Aizkorri. Emelie is not used to finishing off the podium and I am 100% convinced we will see an inform and fired up Emelie in Chamonix. Plus she is going to be racing against Frosty and Nuria. Wow!

We will finally get to see Southern Hemisphere talent Ruby Muir trade blows and I for one am excited to see the outcome. Ruby shot to prominence from not only winning Tarawera in 2012, but also doing it in Vibram Five Fingers. I am unsure of the shoe choice for the 80km race, it’s irrelevant. I do know that we are in for a fast race and one that Ruby may well lead?

Fernanda

Fernanda Maciel has been trading blows with Nuria Picas on the UTWT circuit and has had a string of top-3 places to confirm that she will be in the mix in Chamonix. However, despite Fernanda’s obvious ability, I don’t think she will have the speed required for the top slot.

Finally, Brits Claire Price and Lizzie Wraith may well fly the flag for Blighty. Claire lives in Hong Kong and has been a consistent performer at the highest level. Lizzie by contrast is based in the UK and shot to prominence after winning and setting a new course record on the Lakeland 100 course.

Ones to watch:

  • Anna Frost (Nzl)
  • Ruby Muir (Nzl)
  • Fernanda Maciel (Bra)
  • Dong Li (Chn)
  • Anna Strakova (Cze)
  • Uxu Fraile (Esp)
  • Nuria Picas (Esp)
  • Lauren Gaussens (Fra)
  • Maud Gobert (Fra)
  • Claire Price (Gbr)
  • Lizzie Wraith (Gbr)
  • Alessandra Carlini (Ita)
  • Emelie Forsberg (Swe)

The 2014 Skyrunning World Championships will be an incredible showcase for running. Like you, I can’t wait for all the excitement to unfold.

Follow events online:

  • Web – Iancorless.com
  • Twitter – @talkultra
  • Facebook – facebook.com/talkultra

inov-8 Race Ultra Vest 2015 – sneak preview

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Time flies and as the saying goes, ‘Its stops for nobody!’

This definitely applies to running shoes, apparel and accessories. Twelve months ago I received my first prototype of the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest. It was quite a moment, I remember thinking at the time, wow, this pack does everything I need and more.

After months of testing, I went on to review the vest and gave the product a glowing review. Arguably the best review I have ever given any pack.

‘This new product from UK company; inov-8 may very well be the next key moment in pack design stripping away complication and providing a pack that would almost make a perfect accessory for Batman.’

I didn’t stop…

‘This product fits like a glove! I have yet to find anyone who has put this product and on not found it immediately comfortable. It just fits, pure and simple.’

And I finished off with…

‘I can’t tell you how many packs I have purchased over the years in the search for the ‘perfect’ pack. Just when I think I have found one, I find a reason not to be 100% convinced. I’d have to say that finally, in the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest I have found a product that ticks every box and makes me feel 100% confident in my choice and decision.’

My review was backed up with demand. inov-8 were inundated with pre orders, sold out stock and a series of awards that confirmed my review.

You can read that original review HERE

inov-8 awards HERE

’100% confident!’ That is one bold statement and nearly12-months on I look back and think I was correct (at the time). I had 100% confidence in the pack and my review.

To my surprise, earlier this year at an inov-8 athlete retreat in the English Lakes I was provided a glimpse of what the future would hold for inov-8. I was blown away. New apparel that will push boundaries, a new Race Ultra 290 shoe (review HERE) and a series of new packs.

Mmmm, I was 100% confident of the 2014 Race Ultra Vest which technically would mean that the Race Ultra Vest couldn’t be improved on. I was wrong! The team at inov-8 and in particular, Matt Brown, have taken what was/ is a superb design and taken it up a level and then a little bit more.

I can’t give away too much at the moment other than many of those little niggles that was aired on forums and on my website are gone. The new packs, and I use the plural will provide everyone a pack customisable and workable for any race distance, feeding scenario and importantly, carrying scenario.

I’m still testing, looking at different configurations and feeding information back along with inov-8 team athletes. Rest assured, when this new range of products are released in 2015 they are going to be a head turner, just as the 2014 Race Vest was.

I will be looking to post a full review with images in September. This will allow me at least 3-months testing which I consider to be appropriate in finding out what does and does not work.

More information to follow…

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inov-8 – Race Ultra™ 290 – Shoe Review

Race Ultra 290 1[2][2]

inov-8 release their first ever ultra running shoe and we were lucky enough to get hold of a test pair 3-months ago, albeit in a UK8. That ruled myself out of any run testing but Niandi Carmont stepped up to the mark and gave the new Race Ultra™ 290′s a beating in the build up to Comrades. Here are her thoughts.

The Race Ultra™ 290’s is a first for UK shoe manufacturer, inov-8 but definitely not the last based on my testing of them. I picked up these shoes in the middle of March, so, I have had them for exactly 3-months; a perfect test period for any shoe!

In preparation for the 2014 Comrades I was reluctant to do all my training on road. Funny really, I used to be a ‘roadie.’ However, like so many others, after finding trail I have been reluctant to go back to the hard stuff… Road running was going to require a lot of motivation so I decided to alternate between trail and road just to get the miles in and to keep my motivation going. The Race Ultra™ 290’s proved to be the perfect shoe when mixing things up.

Usually it takes me a while to get used to new shoe models never mind new brands. I was a little anxious this time as this was my first experience of inov-8 footwear. I was pleasantly surprised – I required no adaptation or transition. The shoe has a slipper-like feel and is a perfect compromise in terms of cushioning and weight (290g/UK8). The gusseted tongue is padded, holds the foot firm and the thin laces pull tight, stay tight and provide reassuring security to my foot irrespective of the conditions. The toe box is wide, spacious and certainly has room for swelling feet should the need arise from multiple hours of running. Toe protection comes from a reinforced area that actually extends all the way around the shoe.

Prone to foot injuries I need cushioning but usually find it hard to get a trail shoe that is able to offer:

  • Cushioning.
  • Lightweight.
  • Good grip.

The Race Ultra™ 290 ticks all these boxes. Yes I know you can get lighter shoes. Yes I know you can get more cushioning and yes I know I can get a shoe with more grip. The secret of the Race Ultra™ 290 is that it has averaged all these elements and comes up with a great all round package. So much so, that I would say if you were looking for one shoe to do all things, you wouldn’t go wrong with a pair of these!

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Injected with EVA, the footbed is 6mm with 10mm at the front and 18mm at the rear offering a heel to toe drop of 8mm. Inov-8 as a brand have pioneered the transition to a lower drop shoes for 11-years and the Race Ultra™ 290 may well provide ultra-runners seeking to transition say from 12/13mm drop shoes towards a more minimalist drop a perfect opportunity. Equally, if you run in 6/4/3 or zero drop shoes, the 8mm may well provide you with a more ‘relaxed’ day on the trails. After all, this is the purpose of the Race Ultra™ 290. It’s all about making hours on trail and/ or road more pleasurable and less tiresome but this depends on your own run style and preferences. For me 8mm sits very well for longer runs. The flatter outsole ensures a stable ride without the loss of proprioception and as the hour’s pass and fatigue sets in, the 8mm drop and added cushioning are welcome.

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Transitioning from road to trail is not an issue as obviously this shoe has been designed specifically for this purpose. It’s without doubt an all round shoe that excels on hard pack trail events that may include road and rocky sections. Tested on dry sun baked French trail that incorporated a mixture of hard clay, stones and rocks the Ultra 290 excelled, in softer / grassy sections the ‘Tri Endurance’ compound provided confidence. Should the trail become very boggy and/or muddy, grip is compromised. This is to be expected in a shoe that is trying to be all things in one package. However, if these sections are short and provide a very small percentage of your run (say 10-20%) this is a compromise worth making for the comfort and security the shoe will provide for the remainder of your run.

Race Ultra 290 2[1][2]

On UK trail it proved to be a good all-weather shoe offering good grip for a multitude of conditions. Door-to-Trail is a term that is being used quite considerably at the moment and I do feel that the Race Ultra™ 290 fits well in this bracket.

A nice little non-negligible feature for the runner with smelly feet is the patented X-STATIC® foot bed, ensuring that the bacteria feeding on sweat will be kept at bay! I’ve had these shoes for a while, they have been through mud, wet and grass and I guarantee they are completely odourless!

The shoe also has the option to take custom Race Ultra™ Gaiters (available separately). They clip onto inov-8’s unique on-the-shoe attachment system. This is very cool. The shoe has attachment points built in and thus allows the gaiter to be added or removed as required with minimum fuss. I don’t use gaiters very often, however, having tried these I think I will use them more. They stopped mud and stones entering the shoe from the top and to be honest, once on, I didn’t even know I was using them. I can see this feature being added to more shoes in the inov-8 range. Should you wish to use the gaiter with other shoes, a fastener is supplied to make this possible.

A feature I would have liked is a more trail-friendly lacing system that offers a place to secure or store excess lace when the shoes are tied. It’s a minor quibble and may very well have been an omission as this would be redundant if the gaiter was worn.

In conclusion, inov-8’s new Race Ultra™ 290 shoe will be a hit. I am sure of it. If you are already an inov-8 user this may well be your new ‘go to’ shoe for your daily runs when an ‘all rounder’ is just what you need. If you are new to ultra running and only want one shoe, this will be perfect place to start. I really can’t find any negatives about this shoe other than the obvious…. If it’s really muddy you won’t have enough grip but that isn’t a criticism of the shoe, it’s more about having the wrong shoe for the job.

Check out inov-8 HERE

Shoe will be available from July 2014

 

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.

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The Best Of The Best – 2014 Skyrunning World Championship line-up announced

Lauri van Houten, Executive Director for the ISF gives us the low down on who will be participating in the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships to be held in Chamonix on June 27-29.

Even before getting off the ground, the events were an immediate sell-out when they went online last October with a record number of requests.  Since then, the world’s best runners and teams have submitted their entries, which we announce here.

No less than nine Skyrunner® World Series Champions will take part, headed by superstars, Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Stevie Kremer, Nuria Picas, Urban Zemmer, Agustì Roc, Laura Orguè.

Out of the ISF Top 20 World Ranking:
-  15 athletes will compete in the Sky distance, 14 in the Ultra and 17 in the Vertical.

Many more world-class names will be competing over the three distances -  winners from top skyrunning events, from trail running races, and mountain running….they will all be here to compete in the magic arena that is Mont Blanc.  3,400 athleteswill participate in the three Skyrunning World Championships disciplines with a total of 6,500 runners overall in the weekend’s events.

In the previous World Championships held in 2010, the country ranking was headed by Italy, followed by Spain and Francecounting 13 nations.  Four years on and the country participation has more than doubled, with 28 nations taking part.

Certainly Spain is the all-out favourite, with France and Italy close behind. With the rapid development of the sport and new countries emerging, the picture could soon change. Strong competition is forecast from Great Britain and new entries Norwayand the Czech Republic for example, will no doubt make their mark.

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Spain: Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Nuria Picas, Laura Orguè, Uxue Fraille, Maite Maiora, Agustì Roc, Iker Karrera, Artiz Egea, Jokin Lizeaga, Nuria Dominguez

France: The host country with the biggest field of participants. Where to begin?
Francois D’Haenne, Michel Lanne, Xavier Thevenard – respectively 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 80K last year; Christel Dewalle, Mathéo Jacquemoud, Alexis Sevennec, William Bon Mardion, Thibault Baronian, Axelle Mollaret Stephanie Jimenez, Maud Gobert, Mikael Paséro

©copyright .iancorless.com._1130788Italy:  Urban Zemmer, Antonella Confortola, Silvia Serafini, Elisa Desco, Tadei Pivk, brothers Bernard and Martin Dematteis EAA champions, Marco Moletto, 2010 World Champion Nicola Golinelli, Federica Boifava

Great Britain: Tom Owens and Andy Symonds are back racing after a year off   joined by Ricky Lightfoot and Tessa Hill.

New Zealand: Anna Frost, Jonathan Wyatt and Ruby Muir. After her recent Transvulcania victory, Anna is back in great shape after a difficult year.

USA: 2013 Sky Series champion Stevie Kremer, 2011 WMRA champion Kasie Enman, Alex Nichols, Cameron Claytonand Ultra running icon Mike Wolfe.

Andorra: the consistently strong Teixido and Casal brothers.

Canada: Land of great distances and Ultra runners:  Tina Lewis, Jason Loutit, and Adam Campbell.

Robust teams will participate from Japan with Dai Matsumoto and Torhu Myahara; from the Czech Republic starring Anna Straka (Pichrtova), five-time winner at Sierre-Zinal, and Robert Krupicka.

From Brazil, ultra runner Fernanda Maciel; from Switzerland Marc Lauenstein and Candide Gabioud among others.

Completing the ISF member countries participating with teams will be Greece, Poland and Russia and, for the first time in an international skyrunning competition: Australia, China, Netherlands, Portugal and South Africa.

 

Top runners from other countries are headed by Romanian Ionut Zinca, ranked 2nd behind Kilian in the Sky distance, and include Germany’s Philipp ReiterFlorian Neuschwander and Florian Reichert.  Interestingly, strong competition is coming from a number of countries new to skyrunning. Norway is showing great promise and will offer strong competition in the Vertical and Sky categories with talent like Thorbjørn Ludvigsen and Eirik Haugsnes who, in just one year, have made their mark in the sport.

©copyright .iancorless.com._1040540Sweden will support Emelie Forsberg, at the head of both the 2013 Sky and Ultra ranking, with a team. Countries stretching across the world from Ecuador to Nepal complete the picture of a truly international championship.

Overall, 46 athletes ranked in the top 20 across the three disciplines will take part – a historic first. The 2014 Championships represent the first time the Ultra distance will be disputed.

Some numbers for the record:
•    9 Skyrunner® World Series Champions
•    28 national teams
•    38 countries participating
•    46 top 20 ranked athletes
•    3,400 participants in the thee disciplines
•    25,000 euros cash prizes

Individual world titles are at stake in each discipline as well as a combined title, based on the best results of two out of three races. Countries will be ranked according to the best results of three men and one woman in all three disciplines.
€ 25,000 cash prizes will be awarded and anti-doping controls will be carried out.

On the launch of the announcement, Marino Giacometti, ISF President, commented:  “We’re proud to present the World Championships in Chamonix and, with the support of the Club des Sport, we’re confident the events will be a perfect showcase for skyrunning and draw the best athletes in the world for some intense competition.”

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Race programme 

Teaser

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Contribute to Talk Ultra Podcast

Talk Ultra

 

WANT TO BE A PART OF TALK ULTRA?

Yes? Okay… I am going try a little experiment. Use the link provided HERE

speakpipe

What is important is sound quality, so, you MUST use either a headset with microphone or an external microphone connected to your computer. This will usually be through your USB port. Make sure you are in a quiet place and have decent to good acoustics.

And then…

Call in and record (within 60-seconds) what it is ‘you’ LOVE about Trail, Mountain and Ultra Running.

You must start by saying:

  • ‘Hello’
  • Who you are
  • Where you are
  • and then your snippet of audio. NB – max 60-seconds

If this works, we will have a regular feature on the show with a selection of the best in every episode. Of course, we will theme this, so currently, the audio content could be about Comrades or the up and coming Skyrunning World Championships.

It’s an experiment. Good luck.

Please Note:

  • We have set this process up only to allow 20-mins of recording per two week period, so, in theory, the first 20 are the only ones who can record.
  • PLEASE no swearing or profanity. Your log in details and usage will be tracked and we take this seriously.

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Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer – Results and Images

©iancorless.com.IMG_7644Transvulcania14What a stunning location and what an inspirational day of running. For the first time, La Palma and Transvulcania La Palma held an inaugural Skyrunning Vertical Kilometer® on the zigzag trails leading from the beaches of Tazacorte, onwards and upwards and into the clouds.

Purchase images HERE

©iancorless.com.IMG_7114Transvulcania14

Hundreds of spectators turned out and lined the route in a scenario, not dissimilar to a scene in the Tour de France. Late evening heat, blue skies and a plethora of some of the best vertical runners in the world made the inaugural Transvulcania VK® an awe inspiring event.

It’s quite incredible when one looks up at the mountain that a trail weaves its way onwards and upwards. Weave it does and the views are quite incredible when one sees the beads of sweat and facial grimaces contrasted by the pastel coloured houses of Tazacorte behind.

Departing in 30-second or 1-minute intervals, runners departed the beach with just one objective; who could reach the finish line in the shortest time.

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Laura Orgue, Antonella Confortola, Emelie Forsberg would without doubt make an impact on the race, however, Elisa Dresco (wife of mountain running legend, Marco De Gasperi) used her speed and mountain skills to triumph on the day. Laura Orgue, Skyrunner® World Series VK Champion form 2013 placed 2nd and Azara Garcia de los Salmones Marcano 3rd.

Emelie Forsberg fresh from a very full ski season decided not to complete the whole distance preferring to use the event as a warm up for the ultra on Saturday.

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Kilian Jornet running on Spanish soil is treated like a hero, calm and relaxed, Kilian takes the pressure from adoring crowds in his stride and despite little running (Kilian like Emelie has just stepped off skis) placed 3rd. The day however went to the Dematteis brothers, Bernard and Martin who placed 1st and 2nd respectively. They produced to quality runs and reaped the just rewards.

On the podium, to the blasting sounds of AC/DC, the brothers provided us with some quality showboating proving that Skyrunning is without doubt a sport that not only requires grit, fitness and determination but it also requires passion, fun and humor.

Attention turns now to the main event, the Transvulcania La Palma ultra race that will start in the early hours of Saturday morning. Stay tuned for what will be an incredible event.

Results:

  1. Bernard Dematteis 47:23
  2. Martin Dematteis 48:26
  3. Kilian Jornet 49:33

 

  1. Elisa Desco 59:43
  2. Laura Orgue 1:01:10
  3. Azara Garcia de los Salmones Marcano 1:01:42

Images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Skyrunning HERE

Transvulcania La Palma HERE

VK at Transvulcania La Palma – Onwards and Upwards

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The stage is set for the inaugural Skyrunner® World Series Vertical Kilometer on the island of La Palma. Starting at the beach resort of Tazacorte, Skyrunners® will climb the steep and technical zigzag climb onwards and upwards in a lung bursting and quad busting ascent.

Notorious and some would say, in-famous, this technical trail has been a deciding factor in the Transvulcania La Palma main event in recent years as runners descend from the highest point of the course to the port of Tazacorte. For the first time, runners will now be able to test themselves against each other ‘in reverse’ on what will be an incredible visual spectacle.

iancorless.comP1030233Just one look at the mountain face and it is difficult to believe a trail exists… however, occasionally you will get a glimpse of a figure going up or coming down and the realization hits. Offering spectacular views, the VK will be a great showcase not only for the island of La Palma but also for the runners who will participate.

Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK

Antonella Confortola at Canazei VK

Laura Orgue along with Antonella Confortola requires no introduction to aficionados of the VK distance. Add to the mix, Emelie Forsberg and Elisa Desco and we have an incredible line up that will illuminate the winding path from the beach.

Kilian Jornet, fresh from a winter on skis will be looking to test his climbing legs against Marco Facchinelli, Bernard & Martin Dematteis, David Laney and Oscar and Marc Casal amongst others.

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Ones to watch:

Kilian Jornet

Emelie Forsberg

Antonella Confortola

Laura Orgue

Bernard Dematteis

Martin Dematteis

Elisa Desco

Oscar Casal

Marc Casal

Marco Facchinelli

Nadir Maguet

Francesca Rossi

Velentin Vergilyush

David Laney

The racing starts at 1700 hours, Thursday may 8th 

Follow updates, images and posts at iancorless.com

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and on twitter @talkultra.

Skyrunning HERE

Great Lakeland 3 Day ™ Day 2

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Heavy rain during the night cleared to low-lying mist and persistent light rain. It was the forecast for the whole of day-2 of the Great Lakeland 3 Day ™

Departing day-1 camp, runners had a starting window of 0700 – 0900. This staggered start providing an opportunity for slower participants to get on the trail and covering ground while faster competitors gained a little extra sleep or a second breakfast.

It was a classic day on the Lakeland fells and mountains. The four courses, Elite, A, B and C allowed each and every participant to gain a flavor of a true Lakeland experience. Kentmere, Troutbeck, Ambleside, Rydal Water and peaks at Loughrigg Fell, Great Rigg, Red Screes, High Peak, Lingmoor Fell Seargent Man and a climb up to Stickle Tarn to finish off the day.

Of course, not all participants covered all the peaks… each course had its highlights and challenges. Elite runners tackled 3,264m of vertical gain and 50.9k, A Couse, 2,704m and 45.7k, B course 2,129m and 34.9km and finally the C course 748m and 22.4k. At the finish, the verdict was unanimous, a very tough but an extremely challenging day in sometimes difficult conditions; particularly when navigating due to very low mist and poor visibility.

In camp, after a long day, the free ale and cider flowed as each and every runner told stories of a day on the fells and mountains of the English Lakes. One thing is for sure; with 1-day still to go, the GL3D has been an incredible success.

Results Overall after day-2:

Elite

 

Jim Mann 12:13:59

Tim Laney 12:34:03

David Spence 13:43:06

 

1st lady – Kerstin Rosenqvist 16:08:04

 

A

 

Simon Harper 13:51:33

Jim Trueman 13:56:47

Matt Poxon 14:35:27

 

1st lady – Sally Ann Spencer 15:04:15

 

B

 

Eddy Charlton-Weedy 8:09:48

Alexander Beaven 9:34:13

David Neill 9:27:15

 

1st lady – Christine Waller 12:27:05

 

C

 

Stephen Burt 7:47:44

Jaqueline Cooper 9:07:40

Martin & Nicola Kirkman 9:09:54

 

Ourea Events HERE

OureaEventsLogo(500x500-cropped) copy

Great Lakeland 3 Day™ HERE

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Great Lakeland 3 Day™ – Day 1

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Days on the mountains and fells don’t get any better… May Day bank holiday, 200 competitors embracing a relaxed and casual approach to racing and 3-days on the iconic Lakeland fells and mountains.

 

Shane Ohly, race director for the GL3D ™ provides a selection of courses to suit every runner’s ability or competitive edge – Elite, A, B or the newly introduced C class for walkers. In conjunction with great planning and organization, a friendly atmosphere and believe it or not, good weather, day-1 proved to be an incredible start for the 2014 edition.

In the best traditions of the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon, the competitors were promised a surprise on the first morning. Race Director, Shane Ohly explained, ‘The LAMM has a deserved reputation for surprising competitors on the first day with an unexpected change of venue or logistic and I wanted to embrace this idea for the GL3D™.’

The day kicked off with a steamer cruise across Ullswater from the race HQ at Pooley Bridge to Howtown and then a rolling start as runners ‘dibbed-in’ to commence the day.

Although very few glimpses of sun were sighted, the whole day remained dry and calm with constant cloud. Each and every participant stated, ‘Perfect running conditions.’

Despite the relaxed atmosphere the Great Lakeland 3Day™ remains a formidable challenge with the Elite runners covering 46.2km on day-1, the A class, 40km, B class, 31.3km and the new C course 24.1km.

It was grand tour of some of the best Lakeland ridges, summits and valleys with an optimal altitude gain of 1,183m for the C-class and 2,738m for the Elites. The A and B courses had 2,373 and 1,590m respectively.

A huge slice of cake, unlimited tea or coffee and of course the famous (or infamous) free beer or cider ensured that the aches and pains of a first tough day in the mountains would soon be forgotten.

Results:

Elite – 46.2km

Jim Mallin 5:19:56

Tim Laney 5:57:54

Chris Warner 5:58:12

 

1st lady – Kerstin Rosenqvist 6:44:44

A – 40k

Simon Harper 5:14:42

Jim Trueman 5:49:48

Adrian Chewter 5:50:50

 

1st lady – Sally Ann Spencer 6:27:18

B – 31.3k

Eddy Charlton-Weedy 3:31:20

Alexander Beaven 4:04:23

David Neill 4:21:05

 

1st lady – Christine Waller 4:44:49

C – 24.1k

Stephen Burt 4:03:42

Jaqueline Cooper 5:07:03

Martin & Nicola Kirkman 5:39:20

Ourea Events HERE

OureaEventsLogo(500x500-cropped) copy

Great Lakeland 3 Day™ HERE

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