Karl meets Kilian ©suunto ©sebmontaz

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Many thought there would be some tension between Karl Egloff and Kilian Jornet. After all, Karl has broken 2 of Kilian’s records.

View the original Suunto post HERE

“Nothing was set-up,” says the film maker Seb Montaz. “It was really the first time they met. They were both excited to meet and I hope people see them laughing together – there was no rivalry.” – Seb Montaz

But I already knew the answer and Kilian summed it up himself when he said after Aconcagua:

‘Records are there to be broken!’

So what happened when the duo met up in Chamonix?

Video ©suunto ©sebmontaz

You can read my interviews with Kilian HERE and HERE and HERE

Read about Karl HERE

And listen to them both in my podcast HERE

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2015 – Race Images and Summary

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Images to purchase HERE

Waking up at 0400 to pouring rain is never a great way to start a day, particularly when you have 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over. After a couple of recce runs in the days leading up to the race, it became very clear that the USM was going to offer a very tough challenge.

Stevie Kremer had flown in from Colorado and was praying for sun. Ricky Lightfoot and Aritz Egea are from Cumbria and the Basque country and ‘it always rains’ they told me, so no need to ask what they hoped for.

The USM course is a unique one. Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending. It’s not your ordinary Skyrunning course!

Departing the start line at 0600 on the dot, the runners disappeared down a darkened lane with only head torches and rain for company. It was a brutal start to the day, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m.

Onwards and upwards the runners climbed and a section of via ferrata at around 6km provided a taster for the final push to the summit. It wasn’t easy going. The mist had come in and visibility was poor. Add to this constant rain and steep gradients.

Ricky Lightfoot and Zaid Ait Malek were the first to appear. The contrast between the two striking, Ricky is tall and well built and a fireman by trade. Zaid is Moroccan, small and probably only about 50kg in weight when completely wet through and wearing three layers of clothes.

They matched each other step-by-step. Minutes later, Aritz Egea appeared looking calm and relaxed in the wet and challenging conditions. With 90 minutes of the race elapsed, the main male contenders came thick and fast and with them, Stevie Kremer.

It was sometime before the 2nd lady Ester Alves came into sight and the writing was on the wall. Stevie was going to need to crumble to loose this race. Descending over the summit, an inversion came in allowing the surrounding vistas to come clear. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until a decisive phase around the 30km mark. Climbing from the sea and beach, Ricky Lightfoot continued to extend his lead looking strong. However, Zaid Ait Malek looked in trouble and Aritz Egea was closing. After 5km of ridge running and a technical descent, a riverbed with boulder hopping awaited.

Ricky was long gone but here Aritz moved ahead of Zaid. It looked like a decisive move but as we know, nothing is guaranteed in racing. Behind, Clemente Mora and Nuno Silva were coming to life. In particular Nuno, he ran over the boulders in the river like a man possessed.

But another long climb needed to be ascended and descended before the finish line and here the podium changed. Zaid was having trouble and feeling dizzy. His only option to ease off the pace providing a gateway to third. As Clemente and Nuno battled for 3rd, Aritz exploded through a lack of calories and was forced to jog/ walk it into the finish. Seizing an opportunity, Clemente proved the stronger and finally pulled away from Nuno and they finished 6:17:22 and 6:24:57 respectively behind Rick Lightfoot’s new course record, 6:09:56.

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Steve Kremer was almost in another race by the time the riverbed and the final climb came. However, she did say she wasn’t feeling great. This was the longest race she had ever run! It was academic, Stevie despite what she said ran into the finish looking strong in 7:33:37 almost 45 min ahead of 2nd placed Ester Alves in 8:14:45. Lucia Franco took the final podium place in 9:01:53.

Post race, Stevie went on to say, ‘USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. I think it is a much harder race than Zegama-Aizkorri. It was relentless terrain and the conditions just made it so much harder. Race organisation was brilliant and course marking superb. It was brilliant but so tough.”

By contrast, Ricky seemed relaxed after his run, ‘It was a great course and one that embodies Skyrunning exceptionally well. However, the first hour of the course is not designed for someone as tall as me! All those trees that needed to be crawled under; I was bent double,’ he said with a laugh. ‘Zaid is only tiny so he could just run. I felt like I was crawling. The views when the mist lifted were incredible. It was almost as though I was running in another race.’

The 2nd edition of the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira has been a great success. Madeira is an amazing island with a tough and challenging course. The future looks bright for this new addition to the Skyrunning calendar.

Results:

  1. Stevie Kremer 7:33:37
  2. Ester Alves 8:14:45
  3. Lucia Franco 9:01:53
  1. Ricky Lightfoot 6:09:56
  2. Clemente Mora 6:17:22
  3. Nuno Silva 6:24:57

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Richtersveld Wildrun 2015 Day 1

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Day 1 0f the Richtersveld Wildrun got underway today on the stroke of 8am. It was a day of blue skies, white fluffy clouds and BIG landscapes as runners travelled from Sendelingsdrift to Dekoi covering 35.1km.

Pre race favourite Thabang Madiba ran a sold first day after initial worries about using a GPS for navigation. However, after a Navigation 101 master-class, he settled early and after Cp1 was heard saying, ‘The GPS is working great!’ Not having to worry about navigation allowed Thabang (from Pretoria) was allowed to run free and at the end of the day he had pulled away from 2nd place Dayle Wheeler by 10 minutes. Filippio Faralla finished 3rd man but was 5th on the stage.

Nikki Kimball for the ladies played a savvy waiting game in the early stages by running in 3rd place. She was actually 5 minutes behind Katya Soggot (Cape town) at Cp1. But at the end of the ‘Five Sisters” (5 consecutive mountains) she had taken the lead and was looking strong. A navigational error unfortunately ruined all the hard work… by the time Nikki realised her mistake, the damage was done and she needed to back track. “What can I say, I made a mistake! I switched off a little as I was running on a very defined path and when I eventually realised I was off course, I knew the damage was done,’ said Nikki post race.

Katya Soggot took over the lead but didn’t realise her position until she received information from the next control. From here on in it was a formality, Katya just needed to run a consistent effort and the day would be hers. Karoline Hanks who had run in 2nd for most of the day consolidated her position and Georgina Ayre finished 3rd.

Nikki unfortunately finished 4th 20 minutes behind the ladies leader. It was an expensive mistake

As day 1 came to a close, the winds started to increase and with it rain! To put this in perspective, the last time it rained in the Richtersveld was August 2014. With day 1 over, runners may well be in for a cooler and possible wet night. Conditions are expected to continue into the morning with hopefully dry conditions arriving at 11am.

British Olympic rower, James Cracknell unfortunately missed day 1 due to an extension by the BBC for him to continue commentary at the rowing championships in Poland. However, he is expected to arrive late in to camp on Tuesday and will start day 2 on Wednesday. Of course he will not be able to contend overall classification but our plans are for him to do day 1 at the end alone.

Results 

Thabang Madiba 3:31:33

Dayle Wheeler 3:41:15

Filippio Faralla 4:09:47

 

Katya Soggot 3:51:48

Karoline Hanks 4:09:42

Georgina Ayre 4:15:33

Please note, we have been trying to upload images but the storms are taking out our wifi connections making the process extremely difficult.

Here is a selection – more images to follow

CYCLING for RUNNERS – Put the Spring into your training!

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It has been a while, intentionally so. Over the latter months of 2014 and the early months of 2015 you will hopefully have been using cycling to provide a break from a very structured running plan. Cycling in addition to running allows you to build endurance but more importantly you can add some intensity through well planned and structured faster sessions with reduced impact.

Our last article, no 7 called March On provided a series of sessions that could be incorporated within your training plan that would lead you into Spring as a stronger and healthier runner.

Spring is here and June will provide new challenges and new opportunities.

Lets have a recap. If you have followed March On, you will have incorporated 2 ‘faster’ cycling sessions into your week (typically Monday and Wednesday) and at the weekend you may have replaced a longer run with a MAF bike session. These cycling session should have been weaved into a carefully thought out run plan. Yes folks, you still need to keep running!

Although many of you may well have tipped your racing toes in an event, June does often signify a change. The racing calendar suddenly grows and a multitude of races are available week-in and week-out. This I hope comes as no surprise? If you have been clever about your training, you will have decided some time ago what races are important in 2015 and you will have structured your plan to make sure that you are in the best shape possible when they come around.

One thing is for sure, as target races loom, the need to be ‘specific’ becomes greater. However, the more focused we become, the greater the risk of injury becomes. It’s so easy to be ‘too’ focused. We all run (no pun intended) a knife-edge between being in supreme health and broken with injury. Be careful!

This is where cycling comes! We discussed in Article 3 (HERE) how cycling can be used to replace ‘recovery’ runs. Although a 20-40min run may well seem like a good idea, does running and adding additional impact really enhance recovery? For me, an opportunity to use non-weight bearing exercise like cycling really does provide a recovery option that allows you to ‘spin’ your legs, flush out tightness and toxins and all in a way that adds little or no stress to already sore and tight muscles. If in doubt, replace Monday and Wednesday runs with an easy 30-60 minutes of spinning (90+ cadence) and see if these sessions enhance your run legs. It’s worth noting as we have mentioned previously, cycling can tighten your hamstrings slightly due to the repeated action (in a shorter circle of motion), particularly when compared to running. So please make sure you allow 10-15 minutes after cycling for stretching.

Another factor to consider now is the endurance element that comes from cycling. Depending on your chosen distance to race (50k, 80k, 100k, 100 miles or maybe more?) you may well be daunted with the distance that you need to cover and more importantly, you may well be thinking, ‘how do I train for something that is going to take me 5, 10, 15 or 24 plus hours?’

 

If you are coming from a marathon running background, you will be used to the scenario of making your long run 3.5 hours or approximately 21/22 miles. If you try to apply this scenario proportionately to ultra running you are always going to be struggling. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have some big days of running/ hiking (time on feet) but the reality is that for most of us, we may well break!

Step in cycling!

Lets be clear. Cycling is not here to replace running. If you want to be a good runner (ultra runner) you need to run, you need to be specific and you need to practice. However, cycling can be incorporated to provide you with some great aerobic activity for multiple hours without the added and increased risk from continuous pounding of your own body weight through your knees, muscles and joints.

If in doubt take a look at what Francois d’Haene tweeted in 2014. This was after victory at UTMF, 2nd at the Skyrunning World Championships and a stunning UTMB victory.

Francois D'Haene

Back-to-back runs are a popular training method for the aspiring and experienced runner. It’s a great way of breaking a long distance down; lets say you have a target race of 100k. You may set yourself a key target training weekend for 2 or 3 days. For example, a typical ‘long’ training weekend may look like 30k day 1, 30k day 2 and 40k day 3. It’s a great way to adapt the body, the mind and it provides a wonderful opportunity to practice nutrition, hydration and fine-tune your clothing. But you can’t do this every weekend… okay, yes you can BUT at some point it will all go pear shaped. Your body will say enough! What follows will be a period of inactivity, rest or maybe worse, injury.

Cycling sessions can incorporate an element of faster cycling. Maybe you’d like to work the hills a little? But be careful. You are using different muscle groups. Here are some stats from a 2 hour ride. This ride was all about keeping it nice and easy on an out-and-back ride.

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We all know that consistency is key in any training plan. Training is not about one run, one session; it’s about all the combined sessions you have done that make up a whole. So think about incorporating cycling to replace some of your long runs.

You can still do a back-to-back session: 5 hours on the bike and the next day a 4-hour run. It’s a perfect combination. Think about it, 9 hours increasing your fitness and aerobic activity but only 4 hours of impact.

If you only have time to run long once a week then look at incorporating a 3 week on and 1 week off scenario. So for example, your long runs may look like this:

  • Week 1 – 3 hours
  • Week 2 – 3 hours 45 min
  • Week 3 – 4 hours 30min

On week 4, forget a long run and add a 6-hour bike. You still get the aerobic benefits but once again, you rest those tired muscles and joints and use them in a different way.

There are no hard and fast rules here.

This post is about making you look at your training from a different perspective. To make you realise that just because you are an ultra runner, it doesn’t mean that you need to be an ultra runner everyday!

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Summary

  • Have a target planned in your diary so that you can be specific with your planning and work back from your key date.
  • Don’t neglect run speed work and hill training.
  • Use cycling in the week as ‘recovery’ from harder running sessions (speed and hills).
  • Incorporate long bike rides in conjunction with your long run training. For example:
  1. Do one weekend in four that utilises long bike rides instead of long running.
  2. Mix and match – Long bike on Saturday with long run on Sunday.
  3. Back-to-Back Mix – Long run, long bike and a long run makes a great 3-day session.
  • Don’t be worried about thinking out of the box. If you are feeling tired, sore or just need some inspiration – jump on the bike instead or running. It’s all exercise and as long as you are training, you are getting fitter. Just make sure you listen to your body and add rest as and when appropriate.
  • Rest – it is a training discipline. Don’t think of it as weakness. Planned rest allows you and your body to adapt. It’s crucial.
  • Use a HRM and GPS to monitor your training and efforts.

Enjoy the process. One thing that is great about sport is the ability to enjoy the outdoors. Cycling or running, take both hands, grab it and embrace it. Just think, you can cover considerably more ground on a bike.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing

Check out SCOTT HERE

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Check out SUUNTO HERE

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Transvulcania Ultramarathon 2015 – Race Summary and Images

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No matter which way you look at it, no matter how you write it, the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon was the Luis Alberto Hernando and Emelie Forsberg show.

Kicking of the 2015 Skyrunner World Series, Transvulcania was always going to be a great race and showdown that started the ISF ball rolling.

The dynamic duo of Luis Alberto and Emelie were beyond impressive and as such have provided a great impetus for the 2015 series.

Emelie Forsberg fresh off skis (and a win at Mezzalama) lead the race from the front and slowly but surely extended a lead that extended to over 30-minutes by the time the finish line arrived in Los Llanos. ‘It was so hot out there,’ Emelie said, ‘I am fresh off skis and cold temperatures and to run in this intense heat was so hard but I am extremely happy. It’s a dream come true to win this race again.’

Luis Alberto by contrast played a waiting game in the early stage. A feisty Zach Miller went off the front trying to fulfill a pre race promise that he would win the race. But Luis kept in contact and at Pico De La Nieves he made his move opening a gap of just a couple of seconds. As the kilometers passed, the Spaniard produced a master class of mountain running and when he turned the after burners on, there was no stopping him. As he entered the final kilometers he knew the course record was a possibility and he pushed and pushed providing all those watching a skin tingling and inspiring finish to snatch the course record by a couple of minutes. ‘I took it easy; I let the others dictate and then just pulled away. I felt good the whole way and it’s just incredible to win here again. I had no problems.’

It was a day of shocks though. The men’s field was super stacked and many of those we expected to contend the podium either did not start or faded and/ or pulled out. Miguel Heras did not start, Ryan Sandes dropped early saying he had no energy and Timothy Olson, Mike Foote and so many more just had a tough day on La Isla Bonita; the beautiful island.

Dani Garcia Gomez took a surprise 2nd place and Australian sensation, Blake Hose took the final podium place showing a distinct promise of an exciting future. ‘I am more than happy,’ said Blake, ‘I was taking it easy and went through some rough patches but so did everyone else by the sounds of it. To get the podium here in this quality of field is incredible, now some short races!’

Dakota Jones sprinted for 4th ahead of a charging Zach Miller and although he improved on his 2014 performance, it was easy to see that Dakota was a little perplexed by his run. However, he was very philosophical post race.

Landie Grayling was potentially going to provide Emelie with some competition after her win at Buffalo Stampeed (in Australia) but like her South African teammate, Ryan Sandes, Landie said she had no energy. Everest Trail Race winner Anna Comet Pascua started down the field and moved her way through to 2nd on the podium, albeit 30-minutes behind Emelie. Myriam Marie Guillot Boisset placed 3rd just under 2-minutes ahead of American, Alicia Shay. Magdalena Laczak rounded out the top five.

Transvulcania with the help and inspiration of the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) in just 4-years has become one of the most iconic and prestigious ultra marathons in the world. The 2015 edition has secured this reputation. It’s not just running; it’s an island coming together to create a beautiful harmony that celebrates running. With arguably one of the most impressive and logical (sea-summit-sea) courses, the race is a pleasure to behold. I for one am booking a place for the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon; I suggest you do too!

Check out Skyrunning HERE

RESULTS

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg 8:32:59
  2. Anna Comet Pascua 9:02:57
  3. Myriam Marie Guillot Boisset 9:15:06
  4. Alicia Shay 9:17:49
  5. Magdalena Laczak 9:23:45

 

Men:

  1. Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga 6:52:39 – NEW CR
  2. Dani Garcia Gomez 7:21:28
  3. Blake Hose 7:25:23
  4. Dakota Jones 7:28:59
  5. Zach Miller 7:29:00

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Transvulcania La Palma 2015 – Race Preview

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It’s here, the big dance, the mega showdown, the big kahuna, the dogs bolx, yes, no matter what you call it, Transvulcania is here and guess what? This race is stacked higher than the Shard!

In 2012, the ISF joined the La Palma party and in just three years the race has become ‘the one’ to do in the early season. I am biased, no doubt. I have been all over the island following the race and I have even had a couple of holidays exploring the trails. It is the most perfect running environment and the Transvulcania course is wonderful in its simplicity. Start at the sea, run all the way up and up, run around the Caldera and then drop like a stone and back to the sea for the final uphill finish to Los Llanos.

In 2012, Dakota Jones was crowned ‘El Presidente’ along with Anna Frost, in 2013 it was the Kilian nd Emelie show and in 2014 Luis Alberto Hernando finally topped the podium with a returning Frosty. La Palma has become a place of inspiration and the series of races that unfold over the Transvulcania weekend are now considered one of the pinnacles in the ISF Skyrunner® World Series.

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As you would expect, 2015 is upholding the traditions of the three years that have gone before it and dare I say, it may very well be the best line up ever assembled?

I suppose many will say, aaagh but Kilian is not running! True, KJ has other mountains to climb. For sure he will be missed but hey, Everest looms and he needs to prepare.

Don’t despair. Luis Alberto Hernando, Dakota Jones, Ryan Sandes, Timothy Olson, Miguel Heras, Tofol Castanyer, Manuel Merillas, Jason Schlarb, Fulvio Dapit, Blake Hose, Zach Miller, Jorge Maravilla and Mike Foote (and so many more) are going to illuminate those volcanic trails. It’s been some years since a volcano erupted in La Palma but the heat generated from these runners may well get the fires burning.

*Frosty returns for the ladies but as I write, she is struggling with injury. It’s been a roller coaster for the NZ speedster and I more than most have seen the trials and tribulations that Anna has had to deal with. I just hope she finds that spark for the race that we all know she has. Just last week, 2013 winner Emelie Forsberg has declared her intentions to run. Last year she fell early on and it ruined her day. This year, she is back admittedly just off skis. One would say that Emelie will need this race to find her running legs but you can never rule her out. South African, Landie Greyling is on fire at the moment and Anne-Lise Rousset, Alicia Shay, Alessandra Carlini, Anna Comet, Ester Alves, Magdalena Laczak and so many more are going to test the Frost and Forsberg duo.

*Breaking news, 25th April – unfortunately Anna Frost has withdrawn from the race. Get well soon Frosy.

Previewing the 2015 edition of this race may very well turn into a mini novel, so, grab a beer (irrespective of the time of day), pull up a chair, grab some snacks and read on.

MEN

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Luis Alberto Hernando was on fire in 2014 and was a welcome winner of Transvulcania finally relegating Kilian to 2nd place. Following up with victory in the Skyrunning World Championships his season was one to savour. On paper, he’s the one to beat. He races with a strength, force and commitment that are seldom seen. He only has two speeds though, fast and resting. It has been his downfall in the past (2014 UTMB) but the Transvulcania course is the perfect distance for him. Luis is odds on favourite for victory.

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Dakota Jones will not make things easy for Luis though. Victor in 2012, Dakota returned in 2014 and had a disappointing race by his standards. With Kilian absent and Dakota now running in Salomon colours, maybe he is primed as the one to take over the reigns at the front?

Dakota has some serious Salomon company and to be honest, anyone of these big hitters could win – Ryan Sandes, Tofol Castanyer and Miguel Heras. Pick a name! I honestly find it impossible to say how these runners will place come the big day. In all honesty, should Luis have an off day, we could potentially see a Salomon 1, 2 and 3.

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Ryan is running Transvulcania for the first time so this puts him at a slight disadvantage. In addition to this, the South African has had a few injury issues over the winter. I know only too well that he has his eyes and focus on Western States this year; so, Transvulcania may well be a stepping stone race.

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Tofol Castanyer was 4th last year at Transvulcania and 2nd at UTMB. Do you want to bet against him? I don’t and I wouldn’t. He is a class act and has the race skills to dominate the race. He is without doubt podium potential.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras if on form is another hot property on the La Palma trails. On his day, he is one of the best in the world. However, Miguel does have the potential to just keep pushing and pushing resulting in a series of injury woes. His return to form at UTMB a couple of years ago was a wonderful thing to see… it would be pleasure to see a repeat performance at Transvulcania.

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Timmy Olson loves La Palma. A little too much in my opinion! For me, Timmy left his 2014 Transvulcania performance on the trails in training. He just loves to run… I think he has realised that less is more and he has now taken on a coach to keep him on the straight and narrow. He has been quiet in 2015 which can only mean he is preparing for Transvulcania. In 2015 he’s going to be in fine form and he is going to get in and amongst the Salomon team and you know what, he may just win!

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Jason Schlarb gave me the surprise of 2014 by placing 4th at UTMB. I don’t doubt his ability; I just didn’t see that one coming. Jason is going to be fired up for this year’s race and a good winter of consistent training and no injuries is always a good sign.

Manuel Merillas was a revelation in 2014 and his 7th place at the 2014 Transvulcania does not reflect his growth in the sport. Manuel was one of the few runners too push Kilian in 2014 and I see him as being a real force in 2015. His 2nd at Trofeo Kima proves his potential. 

Blake Hose is the new star of Australia and after placing 6th at the Skyrunning World Championships, he really made the world look on and wonder what the future may hold. Well come May we will know, Blake is lining up against the best in the world.

Jorge Maravilla was 7th at TNF 50 last year and then placed 2nd at Tarawera. He loves to run and the Transvulcania course may well just suit his skill set. The ultimate test will come when he drops down 18km in the latter stages of the race. If he is in contention, will he have the downhill skills to hold on to the mountain goats?

It goes on…

Clement Petitjean (4th Skyrunning World Championships), Mike Foote (2nd at Lavaredo) Zach Miller, Josh Arthur, Pau Capell (1st Transgrancanaria Advanced), Vlad Ixel, Aurelien Dunand Pallaz, Carlos Sa, Christophe Le Saux, Marcin Swierc, Oscar Casal Mir, Cristofer Clemente Mora, Paul Hamilton, Pablo Villa, Florian Reichert, Dimitris Theodorokakos, Phudorjee Lama Sherpa and Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh.

 

LADIES

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Frosty, if well (and that is a question mark at the moment) will take some beating. She proved this in 2012 and then backed this up in 2014 with a course record performance. I was with Anna in Costa Rica in February and she was in fine form until plantar fasciitis reared its head causing her to pull out of the race whilst in the lead.  *Breaking news, 25th April – unfortunately Anna Frost has withdrawn from the race. Get well soon Frosy. 

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The late entry of Emelie Forsberg is a great addition to the race. Emelie ran a great race in 2013 and although she is only just off skis, like Kilian, Emelie seems to be able to transfer seamlessly. I see the race potentially being a head-to-head with Frosty.

Anna-Lise Rousset was the ladies winner at CCC and for sure, that is going to transfer well to La Palma. Having said that, she placed 5th at TV last year and although I don’t see her contesting the top of the podium, 2nd or 3rd is possible.

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Landie Greyling seems to have moved things up a notch recently… she won the Salomon SkyRun in late November and just recently topped the podium at Buffalo Stampede in Australia. If Frosty and Emelie are in form, I don’t think Landie has the race (yet) to beat them but I don’t think she will be far off.

Alicia Shay will debut on the island and that for sure is a disadvantage, however, the American has the potential to shake up the front of the race as her 6th place at TNF showed.

Magadalena Laczak placed 8th at Templiers and was the surprise 3rd place at the Skyrunning World Championships. I am not sure of her recent form but based on those two results alone, one has to assume that she will be in the mix.

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Alessandra Carlini has continued to impress and in 2014 stepped up one more rung on the Skyrunning ladder placing 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise, 6th at Trofeo Kima and 10th at Transvulcania. One year on, can she contest the top-5?

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Anna Comet won the Everest Trail Race in November and looked impressive each day as she dominated the event. A ski mountaineer, her skill set is perfect for La Palma and although it’s her first time on the volcanic trails, I think we will see her do well.

Ester Alves placed 8th at UTMB and 6th at Transgrancanaria in 2014. Two solid performances! The podium may well be a long shot but top-5 is a distinct possibility and you never know, she may have a great day… if she dies, anything can happen!

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It’s also worth keeping an eye on the 2015 130km Iznik Ultra winner, Zoe Salt. Zoe may well go under the radar, as she doesn’t race too often, however, lets not forget she did place 3rd at Marathon des Sables in 2013. Angels Lloobera, Laura Mustat and Yurena Castillo add additional depth to the ladies field.

Phew… so who are your picks for the male and female podiums. The men’s race is wide open, the female race maybe less so but we can’t predict Frosty or Emilie’s form. One thing is for sure; it’s going to be an incredible day of racing.

The Skyrunner® World Series once again has support from Active Patch 4U, Salomon, Scott, Compressport, Arc’teryx, La Sportiva and new sponsor, Alpina Watches.

 

Follow all the action in words and images on this website, @talkultra on Twitter and of course, skyrunning.com and @Skyrunning_com

Ultra SkyMarathon™ Madeira 2015 #USM2015

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The Ultra SkyMarathon™ Madeira (#USM2015) will take place on the13th and 14th June 2015 on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Continuing the growth and expansion of Skyrunning globally, for the first time, USM will see its integration in the Skyrunner® National Series Spain, Andorra & Portugal. A set of 6 ultra distance races, USM will be the only race that takes place in Portugal.

Comprising of three races of different distances, USM will have:

  • Ultra SkyMarathon® Madeira (USM 55 km 4000 m D +)
  • Santana Sky Race (SSR 21 km 1350m D +)
  • and the Mini Sky Race (MSR 13km 400m D +).

It’s going to prove to be an exciting weekend of racing as runners from all over the world will travel to Madeira, not only to race but also to soak up the beautiful scenery, talk with the locals and indulge in the excellent food that only Portugal can offer.

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Stevie Kremer needs no introduction to Skyrunning aficionados and her incredible 2014 and Skyrunner® World Series title has recently been followed up with a great start to 2015 with victory at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia. This lady from Crested Butte is going to take some beating.

Ricky Lightfoot is the 2014 IAU World Trail Champion, winner and course record holder for the ‘Otter’ in South Africa and victor and course record holder for the DoDo Trail in Mauritius. On his day, he is an incredible force in any fell, trail, mountain or Skyrunning event.

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Zaid Ait Malek burst onto the Skyrunning scene in 2013 with a top placing at Zegama-Aizkorri. His enthusiasm, big smile and huge presence are a great contribution to any race. His victory at Matterhorn Ultraks in 2014 was a highlight and for sure, he will be looking for a podium place in Madeira.

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Aritz Egea is a ‘Sky’ distance specialist and his ability to climb and descend with equal ability has seen him dominate races all over the world. A consistent top-10 finisher he will be looking to gain valuable points in Portugal.

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Alessandra Carlini really made a mark on the Skyrunning circuit in the past two years and she has proven, that despite living in the flat lands next to the sea, she has an ability to climb and descend with the best. Her performances improve when the races get longer, so, expect Alessandra to turn a few heads in the 55km race.

It won’t be easy running for Stevie, Ricky, Zaid, Aritz or Alessandra… a plethora of other top runners will toe the line looking for glory in Portugal:

  • Ester Alves (winner at this year’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail)
  • Nuno Silva (Winner, Falcotrail SkyMarathon 2014)
  • Luis Fernandes (winner at this year’s Madeira Island Ultra Trail)
  • Manuel Faria (Winner USM 2014)
  • Unai Santamaria (3rd USM 2014)

It’s not too late to enter any of the races in Madeira and a special discount is available if you enter before the end of April.

What you waiting for? Join some of the worlds best on the beautiful trails of Madeira.

Santana is a northern municipality of Madeira Island, renowned since 2011 as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. It is known by the typical A-thatched houses, symbol of Madeira and Portugal and offers a wide variety of surroundings such as the laurel forest, mountainous areas surrounding Pico Ruivo and São Jorge hills and the outstanding cliffs of the north of the island.

I will be at the event photographing and reporting on the action as it unfolds. You can follow on Facebook and Twitter – @talkultra

Promo video: https://vimeo.com/125025950

Race website HERE

Registration HERE

Race weekend program HERE

Iznik Ultra Weekend 2015

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The 2015 Iznik Ultramarathon weekend has ended and what a weekend of racing!

The sun gods came out and allowed Iznik and the surrounding area to shine for the 130km, 80km and 46km events.

For the first time, the 2015 events all took place in a counter clockwise direction therefore allowing each event to conclude in the town of Iznik. So, previous course records and times are not comparable to 2015 results. Arguably, with maybe the exception of the 46km event, this made the racing harder.

Scotland’s Donnie Campbell and the UK’s Zoe Salt dominated the 130km event with two stunning performances. Donnie led from the front and extended his lead step-by-step as the race unfolded. Local talent Mahmut Yavuz tried his hardest to close the gap but Donnie was just too strong. Ever present Aykut Celikbas placed third after placing second in the 2014 80km event.

Zoe bided her time in the female event and eventually took the lead around he 65km mark as Mariya Niklova started to grind to a halt. Looking composed and relaxed, Zoe pulled away and not only won the ladies race but also placed fourth overall. Mariya struggled in the latter third of the race and lost huge chunks of time to Zoe, she did however manage to hold on to second place ahead of a closing Ingrid Qualizza.

In the 80km event, Asics runner Emmanuel Gault produce the race we all expected and dominated over the undulating trails and route as he traversed his way back to Iznik. Girondel Benoit placed second and Tanzer Dursan flew the Turkish flag for third place.

Placing 6th overall and first lady, Alessia De Matteis from Italy dominated the ladies race ahead of Elena Polyakova and Coraline Chapatte from Switzerland.

Jose De Pablo (Depa) looked impressive throughout the 46km event and showed his true marathon form and speed to win ahead of Raidlight CEO, Benoit Laval. Duygun Yurteri placed third.

Caterina Scaramelli from Italy ran a close contested race against Filiz Cancilar and Martine Nolan (Ireland) but held on for victory.

RACE IMAGES available to purchase HERE

Full results:

 

130km

  1. Donnie Campbell 13:23:50
  2. Mahmut Yavuz 14:31:20
  3. Aykut Celikbas 14:48:29
  1. Zoe Salt 15:14:37
  2. Mariyla Niklova 19:29:45
  3. Ingrid Qualizza 19:43:49

 

80km

  1. Emmanuel Gault 6:45:25
  2. Girondel Benoit 7:26:10
  3. Tanzer Dursun 8:40:36
  1. Alessia De Matteis 9:03:53
  2. ElenaPolyakova 10:48:57
  3. Coraline Chapatte 11:34:37

 

46km *update to results 21st April – unfortunately Jose De Pablo received a time penalty as he did not carry mandatory kit, new results are in bold.

  1. Jose De Pablo 4:03:29 *Benoit Laval 4:19:03
  2. Benoit Laval 4:19:03 *Duygun Yurteri 4:28:15
  3. Duygun Yurteri 4:28:15 *Jose De Pablo 4:28:29
  1. Catarina Scamelli 5:03:44
  2. Ziliz Cancilar 5:04:55
  3. Martine Nolan 5:09:44

All images are ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

RACE IMAGES available to purchase HERE

Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG (Soft Ground) – Review

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C’mon, GET A GRIP!

Oooooh grip! I love grip…. before you read anymore, I strongly suggest that you read my very recent review of the new Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra HERE

I loved the Sense 4 Ultra but I did say that due to the precision fit, 4mm drop and relatively tight toe box, it would not be a shoe for everyone! I suppose the same should apply here… it does BUT I do think that other factors come into play for the ‘SG’ version.

First and foremost, when running off road and when running in muddy, sloppy or technical terrain you most definitely need a shoe that is going to hold your foot, allow little or preferably no movement and of course be precise. That is the Sense 4 Ultra SG. So you see, although normally I wouldn’t say squeezing your foot into a shoe is a good idea, with a SG version it is acceptable based on two key principles:

  1. The shoe is not ‘too’ tight and in anyway causes discomfort, pain or unnecessary stress.
  2. You are not running for hours and hours.

If you fall into the above two options and you are thinking that the SG maybe or maybe not for you; it may well be worth a risk for the supreme fit, comfort and grip.

As with the Sense 4 Ultra (non SG) the new shoe has had thorough reworking taking into consideration much of the feedback not only from everyday runners like you and I but also the elite Salomon runners such as Kilian Jornet.

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SG stands for Soft Ground and as such, this shoe is all about grip when it’s needed. So, for many, the Sense 4 Ultra and Sense 4 Ultra SG go hand-in-hand and I think it’s fair to say that many will have (or at least wish for) both pairs of shoes.

©iancorless.com_Sense4SG-9072 The new shoe has been left alone in certain areas and tweaked and improved in other areas. Lets be clear, although it’s called SG it does make a perfect trail shoe for all conditions in my opinion. Admittedly, I wouldn’t want to run a pure hard trail in them but if I was mixing up dry trail, rocks, gravel, water, mud and a whole multitude of other surfaces, this is and would be my shoe of choice.

The Salomon S-Lab range very much follows the ethos of FAST and LIGHT but as the ‘Ultra’ name suggests, the shoe has a little more added to increase longevity and comfort. As with the Sense 4 Ultra, cushioning is 9mm and 13mm with a 4mm drop. I keep saying it but 4mm drop is not for everyone so don’t be tempted to use this shoe just because Kilian and the rest of the team use it… be sensible with shoe drop! The Fellraiser or Speedcross may be better options for you?
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The SG upper, like the Sense 4 Ultra has been revised. The fit has been tweaked with additional support added to the mid foot. Additional room has been added to the toe box but it’s marginal in my opinion. Sensifit has also been tweaked and the mapping on the upper is now different and holds the foot more secure.

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Sense 4 ULTRA on the left and the Sense 4 ULTRA SG on the right

Materials on the upper vary between the Sense 4 Ultra and the SG, the SG is more durable and arguably less breathable. The Sense 4 Ultra had additional toe box protection and the SG has even more added wich makes complete sense considering the shoe will be used in tougher terrain. If you read my Sense 4 Ultra review you will know how much I love Sensfit, Endofit and all the usual Salomon buzzwords. In a nutshell, for me, no shoe on the market fits as well as a Salomon Sense and I am inclusive in that statement; the Sense Pro, Sense Mantra 3 and so on all have that wonderful precise and secure hold. It’s the best! (If the shoe fits you)

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The SG is obviously a shoe for the rough and tough and the tongue has been changed to provide added protection and security. The fit between the upper and the tongue has been re-designed to reduce any possibility of debris entering. The lacing system and lace pocket again make the Salomon Sense stand head and shoulders above other shoes. It’s reliable, logical, provides great overall tension and of course, what you don’t need is stored away. The obvious downside is that adjusting tension is very difficult. So you’d have to make a call if that works for you! Many have said to me, ‘what if the lace breaks?’ In all honesty, I have never had a lace break and I don’t know anyone else who has.

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As with the Sense 4 Ultra, the SG has a complete overhaul of the outsole. The Contragrip lug pattern has been changed and the lugs are deeper to provide additional grip when the ground is soft and muddy but not so much grip that you cannot run on dry, hard or rocky trail. The compound has been revised and I noticed a difference on wet rock. The shoes have better bite. I said in my Sense 3 Ultra SG review (HERE) that although the shoe is called SG I wouldn’t necessarily say it would be my out-and-out soft ground shoe. The same applies here! I think the Sense 4 Ultra SG is an improvement on the previous model but if I just wanted a shoe for mud, I would potentially look at another option. Don’t get me wrong; this is not a negative comment. For example, Salomon make the S-Lab Fellcross and that would be ideal… the Sense 4 Ultra SG is designed for multiple surfaces, including soft ground and in those uses, they excel!

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In Use

What can I say, the SG runs as well if not better than the Sense 4 Ultra. They do feel a little different and this is primarily down to the lugs on the bottom of the shoe. With the extra lug height, it does make the SG feel a little more cushioned, it may be placebo but I don’t think so.

Fit between the Sense 4 Ultra and SG is almost the same. No, it is the same. The only difference comes in the material used on the uppers. The ‘Ultra’ has a more breathable and lighter upper in comparison to the SG which is a great call by Salomon. One could almost say that the shoes are Summer (Sense 4 Ultra) and Winter (SG). Of course it’s not that simple, particularly if you run in the UK! We don’t have summers, so, they are both winter shoes ;-).

The toe box of the SG feels the same as the Sense 4 Ultra in use but does have more protection..

Running in the shoe is a dream. Foothold and protection is awesome. The shoe has plenty of flex and suppleness (especially after 3-4 runs) and the Endofit, Sensifit and Quicklace make the precision feel of the shoe shine. I really struggle to find any negatives. Grip in the heal area is brilliant and once on and laced up, you have no foot movement. Just whaT I want from a shoe that would tackle technical terrain.

The grip is definitely improved over the Sense 3. On my local trails I noticed improved grip on softer ground and transitioning between surfaces is seamless. Ironically, the SG does feel nice on the road but I don’t recommend too much, particularly if you want the sole to last! On wet rocks, pavement and tarmac the outsole noticeably provided a more secure and reassuring contact with the ground. Is it the best out there? No, probably not. But this outsole is designed for ultra and mixed terrain, soft ground just being one aspect. I’d have no problems with the SG being my ‘go to’ trail shoe for any race or training run.

On that note, is it really an ultra shoe, by that I mean could I run for hours and hours in it? No I couldn’t. I love the 4mm drop but for me, I think I’d need something a little more relaxed for real long stuff, a 6mm or 8mm drop version would be sweet. Lets be clear though, that is me being greedy. The Sense 4 is an S-Lab shoe and as such, it’s all about speed and efficiency. On the right feet, these shoes will fly!

PROS:

  • Light
  • Responsive
  • Grip
  • Fit
  • Black and red (my fave colours)

CONS:

  • Too tight for some
  • Expensive
  • I struggle for cons!

It’s always difficult reviewing a Salomon S-Lab shoe as to be honest; I find it very hard to find negatives. The negatives are more often than not based around the shoe not being suitable for some people because of width, drop and so on.

The same applies here! The Sense 3 Ultra and Sense 3 Ultra SG were both brilliant shoes and the Sense 4 incarnations of both shoes are better! It’s hard to believe but they are.

Weighing in at 260g for a UK 8.5 (true to size fit), the Sense 4 Ultra SG is without doubt one of the best ‘grip’ trail shoes I have used. I do wish that Salomon would make this ‘exact’ shoe with a 6mm or maybe even a 8mm drop.

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As with the Sense 4 Ultra: the Sense 4 Ultra SG has OS Tendon, Profeet Film, dual density EVA, racing last, Quicklace, Sensifit, Endofit and a series of other notable technologies making this shoe the best 4mm drop shoe on the market… should the precise fit work for you!

Recent changes in the Salomon Sense range now make the Sense 4 Ultra (dry fast trail), Sense 4 Ultra SG (mixed trail) and the Sense Mantra 3 (road and trail) my shoes of choice. I keep going on about the Sense Mantra 3 (Here) but I think this is a great everyday shoe.

My final question is, will we see a new Sense Pro?

 

Specs for the Sense 4 Ultra SG

  • Sensifit
  • Quicklace
  • Racing Last
  • EndoFit
  • Lace Pocket
  • Quick Dry Mesh
  • OS Tendon
  • Profeet Film
  • Dynamic Traction
  • Contragrip Aggressive Outsole
  • Midsole Dual Density EVA
  • Cushioning Front – 9mm
  • Cushioning Rear – 13mm
  • Drop 4mm
  • Weight 260g / UK8.5

Check out the Salomon S-Lab range HERE

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Ryan Sandes sets new FKT

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Trail-Blazer Sandes sets Table Mountain FKT challenge

Cape Town (South Africa) – Almost a year to the day after he and Ryno Griesel set the record for the Drakensburg Grand Traverse (in a lightning-fast time of 41h 49m), Ryan Sandes decided it was time for a new challenge. In 02h02m13s, Sandes set the ‘Fastest Known Time’ for 15.1km route (with 1070m ascent and 949m decent) across Cape Town’s famed Table Mountain.

Press release by Kelly Burke – Flux

Mention the name ‘Ryan Sandes’ and it immediately conjures thoughts of the ultimate trail runner adventuring through breath-taking landscapes. Not one to lie back and take it easy, Sandes’ decided to be the first to set the Table Mountain record.

Having started out at 6:30 am at Suikerbossie Restaurant, Ryan ventured his way across the sandstone and fynbos checking through 3 designated points before finishing at SAN Parks Information Centre on Lower Tafelberg Road.

“Anything under 50km is a bit of a sprint for me so racing a route under 16km was a shock to my system, “ Sandes joked. “I felt really good, and really enjoyed myself on the route as it is super technical.”

“I’ll definitely have another crack at the FKT when I get another chance this year as I would like to go under two hours. I think that is the beauty of the project – runners can challenge themselves and run the route a couple of times to try better their times.”

FKT chasing has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the ultra-running world over the last few years. Essentially, an FKT is a course record for a given distance on a trail, usually set on trails where a race with many participants would be detrimental to the area.

Would-be contenders should head to http://www.redbull.co.za/FKT where they’ll be able to pit themselves up against Sandes’ time using any GPS device or the Strava App. A simple registration process and uploading the GPS data from their run is all that stands in the way of getting their name on the Table Mountain FKT leader board.

Just by running the route and uploading their result they stand a chance of joining Sandes’ support team as he travels to compete in the Grande Raid Réunion in October. The race, set on the picturesque volcanic isle, is arguably the world’s toughest 100 miler, with over 10 000m of climbing.

“Get out there, hit the mountain and push past what you think is possible! It’s more about challenging yourself and taking in the beauty that the mountain has to offer. I’ve had the opportunity to run all over the world and what we have in Cape Town is pretty special,” says Sandes.

Image copyright Craig Kolesky

For more information regarding the route and to see the current leader board please visit the website – http://www.re