RUNNING BEYOND – A new book announcement

Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian

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

 

Beat The Heat (Part Two) – Marc Laithwaite

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Exercise in the heat can place a lot of strain upon your body, if you’re used to cooler climates. For this reason, many elite athletes will spend time acclimatising to the higher temperature. Acclimatisation can require up to 14 days, so what if you’re an amateur athlete traveling abroad for an endurance event, who can’t afford to travel 3 weeks before the event?

This is part 2 of our ‘exercise in the heat’ blog series. Last week we explained why exercise in the heat is such a problem (you can read by clicking the coaching articles link at the top of the page and then scrolling down through past blogs). In this week’s blog, I’ll explain how you can acclimatise before you travel and highlight the key physiological changes that take place, as a consequence of acclimatisation.

It’s a bit cold up North, so acclimatising might be difficult!!

Okay, if you live in the North of the UK and you’re traveling abroad to race, then you might be struggling to understand how you can possibly acclimatise. I use the term ‘North of UK’ as we all know that in the South of the UK, the temperature rarely drops below 18c. I’ve never traveled further South than Birmingham, but I hear they wear shorts and flip-flops pretty much year round.

In simple terms, to acclimatise before traveling, you need to make yourself hot and encourage sweating when you train. There are really easy ways to do this:

  1. Wear extra clothing
  2. Run on a treadmill or cycle indoors and turn up the heat
  3. Spend time in a sauna or steam room on a daily basis

I’d recommend you start doing this from 2 weeks out, but you need to do it consistently. Ideally it should be on a daily basis. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the above methods can help acclimatise you before travelling to warmer climates.

General guidelines:

  1. If you’re exercising outdoors, wearing extra clothing will lead to a higher sweat rate, so make sure you hydrate during the session. The same can be said for indoor running or cycling, make sure you are hydrating throughout.
  2. You should expect it to affect performance to some extent. If you use a power meter when cycling or you run at specific speeds on the treadmill, you should expect your power of speed to be a little lower than normal. If you’re temperature is higher, attempting to maintain the same intensity as usual could result in you being exhausted by the finish of the session!
  3. Try to progress the sessions in terms of exposure and intensity. For example, if you ride indoors, gradually turn up the temperature over a 7 day period and gradually build up the volume and intensity of the session. Don’t simply crank up the heat on day 1 and ride the full session as you’d expect to in cooler temperatures.
  4. The same rule applies for the sauna and steam room. Start with 10-15 minutes and gradually build your time to 30-45 minutes. Take a drink into the sauna or steam room with you to ensure you are hydrating adequately.

What are the physiological changes that take place?

There are a couple of key changes that take place when you are forced to sweat at a high rate:

The first is an expansion of plasma volume, this refers to an increase in the amount of blood plasma. Last week we explained that blood is made up of plasma (the fluid part) and cells. As you sweat, you lose plasma, which then thickens the blood. Part of the acclimatisation process in as increase in plasma, which means your blood is thinner. By increasing your plasma volume, this also means that you have more blood in general. The amount of cells doesn’t change, but the fluid component is increased, thereby increasing the overall blood volume. This is handy when your blood has to supply both muscles and skin, as discussed last week.

The second key change is a reduction in salt loss. Early in the acclimatisation process, your sweat contains a high amount of sodium. As the acclimatisation process progresses, your body retains sodium by reducing the amount lost in sweat. In simple terms, your sweat becomes less salty. If you’re acclimatising over a 2 week period, lick your skin every day and see if you can taste the change. It’s not socially acceptable to lick someone else’s skin.

As stated earlier, for these 2 changes to occur, you simply need to encourage a high sweat rate when training. The more you sweat, the more these changes will occur. Be sensible, reduce the intensity of the training session and gradually build up heat exposure over the 2 week period.

Until then, stay cool.

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

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Pivk and Garcia crowned champs at Zegama-Aizkorri 2015

Image ©FabioMenino

                                                                   Image ©FabioMenino

Press release by isf ©laurivanhouten

Today, the Basque town of Zegama hosted the 2015 Skyrunning European Championships and it was unsurprisingly the host country that came out tops with a gold, two silver and two bronze medals in this iconic race. Italy took the gold for the men’s title with Tadei Pivk cruising to the finish in 3h51’11”.  The women’s European Champion is Azara Garcia who closed in 4h41’23. A last minute appearance by Kilian Jornet recently arrived from Nepal added to the excitement of a stellar field.

The first half of the race at the famous Sancti piritu aid station, saw Ionut Zinca comfortably in the lead with Aritz EgeaTadei Pivk and Pere Rulan hot on his heels, followed by Manuel Merillas and Kilian Jornet. At the final summit, the group remained intact. It was the descent that changed the game. Tadei was alone with Kilian and, feeling comfortable, took his chance to accelerate the pace. “I knew this was my chance. I thought if I accelerate here I can do it. On the last bends I looked back and was alone. I still can’t believe it,” he commented.

The men’s line-up finished with Manuel Merillas 2nd and Pere Rullan 3rd completing the gold, silver, bronze medals for Spain.

The stacked women’s field started without Maite Maiora, one of the favourites, due to injury. Another strong favourite, Oihana Kortazar led the field and looked strong to the final summit, followed by Paula Cabrerizio, Azara Garcia and Elisa Desco. Again, the descent was the decider. Elisa Desco, 2014 winner and World Champion, gave it her all, possibly too much, and collapsed at the finish line in 6th position.  It was to be Azara Garcia’s day, crowned European Champion and taking the gold for Spain. Paula Cabrerizio and Oihana Kortazar were a close second and third respectively. Emelie Forsberg, with the Transvulcania win just a week earlier still in her legs, raced bravely to finish 4th.

Yet again the Zegama-Aizkorri, now in its 14th year, was dampened by the weather, but not the spirit of the crowds cheering on the runners, every single one of them, every part of the way along the 42 km and 5,472m ascent and descent.

Today’s race represented not only the European Championships for the Sky category, but scored points for the Skyrunner® World Series ranking.

The two 2015 Skyrunning European Champions, Tadei Pivk and Azara Garcia, were awarded a prestigious  Alpina Horological SmartwatchOfficial Watch of the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series and European Championships.

2015 European Skyrunning Championship – SKY

Spain – 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

Italy – 1 gold

European Skyrunning Champions – SKY

Tadei Pivk, (Crazy Idea/Compressport)

Azara Garcia (Compressport)

Race results

Men

  1. Tadei Pivk (ITA) – Crazy Idea/Compressport – 3h51’11”
  2. Manuel Merillas (ESP) – Mammut – 3h51’47”
  3. Pere Rulla (ESP) – 3h52’50”
  4. Aritz Egea (ESP) – EMF – 3h59’27”
  5. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) – SCOTT Sports/ Compressport – 3h5948”

Women

  1. Azara Garcia (ESP) – Compressport – 4h41’23”
  2. Paula Cabrerzo (ESP) – 4h43’44”
  3. Oihana Kortazar (ESP) – Salomon – 4h44’57”
  4. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon – 4h49’38”
  5. Federica Boifava (ITA) – Montura – 4h51’32”

Zegama-Aizkorri 2015 Race Preview

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It’s Zegama-Aizkorri time and on May 17 yet another classic edition of the iconic Skyrunning race will take place. A permanent feature on the Skyrunner® World Series since 2004, the 42 km race has a tough 5472m ascent and descent and attracts a consistently high quality field. This year, the iconic race will also award the European title for the Sky distance, together with points for the Skyrunner® Series.

As one would expect, a quality field will assemble in this small town, however, make a note… the race will not have Luis Alberto Hernando or Kilian Jornet toe the line.

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For the men Marco De Gasperi heads up a strong field closely followed by Ricky Lightfoot, Michel Lanne, Aritz Egea, Manuel Merillas and Zaid Ait Malek.

*Breaking news. KILIAN JORNET will run Zegama-Aizkorri

©iancorless.com_IMG_3476Zegama14©iancorless.com_IMG_0199Zegama14The ladies race is set to be a classic with Laura Orgue, Elisa Desco, Maite Maiora and Emelie Forsberg (tbc) doing battle on these challenging trails and mountain paths.

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34 elite athletes on the 2014 ISF Ranking will be among the 600 runners lining up and the racing will be fast and furious. Zegama has become a beacon in the world of Sky and mountain running and as such it’s race that attracts as many spectators as it does runners. The atmosphere is always incredible and the weather, well that can be somewhat unpredictable. It certainly can play a key factor in the final outcome.

2014 winners Kilian Jornet and Stevie Kremer will not so we can expect fireworks from both the ladies and the men’s fields.

Marco De Gasperi on paper has all the skills and power to take victory but an in form Ricky Lightfoot fresh from a fell running victory in the UK is all set to upset the apple cart. Michel Lanne has been stretched with work recently but still produced a quality run at Buffalo Stampede and with less travel and fresh legs he will also be a podium contender. Tadei Pivk, Zaid Ait Malek, Ionut Zinca and Aritz Egea will all be pushing the pace and to be honest, as past records show, any of them could dislodge the podium screws. Manuel Merillas recently had a tough day at Transvulcania and one has to ask how much impact that will have on his reserves for Zegama. Expect fireworks, the Zegama-Aizkorri script has been written and ripped up many times before, I don’t this current edition will be any different.

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Emelie Forsberg is still undecided if she will run Zegama after taking victory at last weeks Transvulcania. To be honest I think she will run but may well lack some of the explosive speed required to win this race. In all honesty, I have to give a nod for Elisa Desco, Maite Maiora, Oihana Kortazar and Laura Orgue for the top slot. Who’s going to win? I don’t know! I genuinely feel that the podium places will be made up of these top 5 and who places where will all come down to the day and the variables that any race can throw at runners.

The records to beat are by Kilian Jornet (3h48’38’’) and Emanuela Brizio (4h38’19’’).

Action will get underway on Sunday and you can follow on Facebook and twitter for updates.

The top ISF ranked men as provided by the ISF:

Ionut Zinca (Rank 2 – ROU), Marco De Gasperi (Rank 3 – ITA), Tadei Pivk (Rank 4 – ITA), Zaid Ait Malek (Rank 6 – MAR), Aritz Egea (Rank 7 – ESP), Alfredo Gil (Rank 10 – ESP), Jokin Lizeaga (Rank 12 – ESP), Michel Lanne (Rank 19 – FRA), Eirik Haugsnes (Rank 20 – NOR), Manuel Merillas (Rank 25 – ESP), Hassan Ait (Rank 27 – ESP), Jessed Hernandez (Rank 32 – ESP), Pere Rullan (Rank 33 – ESP), Imanol Goni (Rank 35 – ESP), Florian Reichert (Rank 37 – GER), Cristobal Adell (Rank 38 – ESP), Iban Letamendi (Rank 41 – ESP), Ricky Lightfoot (Rank Ultra 54 – GBR), Dai Matsumoto (Rank 56 – JPN), Ricardo Mejia (Rank 59 – MEX), Pere Aurell (Rank 60 – ESP), Fernando Arca (Rank 82 – ESP).

The top ISF ranked women provided by ISF:

Emelie Forsberg (Rank 1 – SWE), Maite Maiora (Rank 3 – ESP), Elisa Desco (Rank 6 – ITA), Nuria Domínguez (Rank 8 – ESP), Uxue Fraile (Rank 11 – ESP), Laura Orgue (Rank 15 – ESP), Federica Boifava (Rank Ultra 16 – ITA), Aitziber Ibarbia (Rank 26 – ESP), Ragna Debats (Rank 27 – NED), Nerea Amilibia (Rank 35 – ESP), Azara Garcia (Rank 39 – ESP).

Top runners will not only compete for points in the World Series ranking, but titles and medals are at stake in this first edition of the European Championships.

For the first time, a special prize will be awarded to the male and female European Champions: a prestigious Alpina Smartwatch, Official Watch of the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series and European Championships.

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

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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LAKES SKY ULTRA – new race for 2015

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Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce a new race for 2015, the LAKES SKY ULTRA™. A 50km+/- course with 4300m+/- ascent that includes soaring ridgelines, rock scrambling and a course that will test the most experienced competitor. Starting and concluding in the iconic Lakeland village, Ambleside: the LAKES SKY ULTRA will look to bring a European feel and ambiance to Skyrunning in the UK.

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Created by Charlie Sproson (Mountain Run) and Andrew Burton, the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will follow on from the recently announced Glen Coe Skyline in providing competitors from the UK and overseas with an opportunity to test themselves on a course that harks back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when ISF President, Marino Giacometti went fast and light to the summit of Monte Rosa.

We may lack altitude in the UK but we have a strong history and heritage founded in the traditions of fell and mountain running. The LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will combine a series of graded scrambles: 0.5 at Swirral Edge, grade 1 at Striding Edge and grade 3 at Pinnacle Ridge to offer a unique racing experience but it is not for the feint hearted…

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“We have so much great scenery and courses in the UK; we certainly have exposure and technical terrain. We have a sense of high mountains even though we lack altitude. Throw in British weather and our course will be a challenge. No question. We are offering an opportunity to explore from a different perspective.”

Andrew and Charlie have had some great days out planning routes and have therefore created a course with added spice. It will be a test and the route will inspire those who like a challenge. They have pulled together something quite special. Soaring ridgelines in the sky… Skyrunning!”

“We have some very technical parts on this course but we also have plenty of simple running. The route has three graded scrambles so foot and hand placements are going to be important. We have elements of not just running but hands-on rock fun to be had!”

In year one the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will only have 100-places available and this race will require a certain type of runner. Participants will need to provide a list of past experience when applying. Just being an ultra runner won’t cut it. Charlie and Andrew quite clearly state, “We need scrambling and rock climbing experience. However, we are planning a mountain skills course in August to help those interested to gain experience… but this will not guarantee race entry!”

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Safety is key in any race, however, Skyrunning races of this style are designed to challenge… so, although Charlie and Andrew are looking at safety, a course of this nature does bring risk and ultimately, that is part of the attraction; hence the vetting procedure. “If a runner is asking, ‘I wonder if I have the correct experience?’ they probably don’t!” says Andrew.

Charlie Sproson on a recce day. Image ©steveashworth MovieiT

Charlie Sproson on a recce day. Image ©steveashworth MovieiT

The LAKES SKY ULTRA ™ course is designed to have an element of danger, however, no compromises are being made in regard to the safety of everyone.

“We will have manned checkpoints at high level sections of the course, electronic checkpoints and a cut-off at Patterdale.” Charlie explains. “We will also have evacuation routes should they be required due to danger or injury. An appointed safety officer, Joe Faulkner from Nav4 will look at the course and will provide safety without taking away the excitement… for example, on the grade 3 scramble we may have a fixed rope? Many of these elements are yet to be decided but we are looking at all aspects.”

 

Make a date in your diary, 12th September 2015.

The LAKES SKY ULTRA™ is coming.

http://www.lakesskyultra.uk/

Email Charlie Sproson: charlie@lakesskyultra.uk

“The Helvellyn range is one of the most iconic massifs in the Lake District. The combination of this spectacular mountain and a series of scrambles make the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ route a real highlight within the UK. We have fantastic edge running from Riggindale Straights to Kirkstone pass with some amazing scenery. You can look over Ambleside from Red Screes… this course has it all. Mountain scenery, splashed with lakes and technical terrain make this a True Mountain™ experience.”

The race will start and finish in Ambleside and Skyrunning UK sincerely hope over time that the race will mimic some of the experiences that have been encountered in some of the top European races. Think Zegama-Aizkorri or the Dolomites Sky Race. A town center race start and finish includes everyone: families, shops, restaurants, tourists, supporters and of course the race can interact with everyday life. It’s going to be incredible to bring this experience to an iconic Lakeland town. We want people with cowbells, whistles and cheering. A carnival of Skyrunning!

Images all ©MovieiT

Tromsö Skyrace, soul skyrunning between the sea and the sky

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The second edition of the Tromsö Skyrace to be held the first weekend of August in northern Norway was presented today. This year’s event will include a vertical kilometre race but will still keep the essence of the first edition: technical routes for lovers of skyrunning and a family atmosphere.

There will be a Skyrace, 45 km and 4,600m climb and a Miniskyrace, 21km and 1,600m D+. In addition, a new circuit has been added: a Vertical Skyrace of 2’6km and 1,044m D+. All of them are ‘very technical circuits designed for experienced runners who enjoy the wilderness’ declared athletes Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet who, once again, will be ambassadors of the event. This year the Skyrace and the Vertical Kilometre will score towards the Skyrunner® World Series, and some of the best athletes in the world will take part in it.

After the excellent reception last year, in which inscriptions were sold out within hours, the number of runners has been increased by 600 -200 per race- but not too many to crowd the race with runners, and always with the mountains taking centre stage.

Like last year, athletes will enjoy a route with the Norwegian fjords in the background as well as wild paths, technical trails and glaciers. A unique landscape in a race that remains very respectful of the environment and very familiar. The bond between the sea and the mountains, with participants from all over the world. Last year there were up to 25 nationalities present, and this number is expected to increase this year.

The event will have two star athletes: world champions Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet, who are very excited about this second edition ‘we are looking forward to returning to share those circuits, at a very special time when it never gets dark.’

Emelie and Kilian are actively involved in the Tromsö Skyrace by helping out the organizers, designing the circuit and in a rather curious and original way: by cooking cinnamon pastries for all participants. Emelie explained: ‘We want this to be a race where all runners feel looked after. Last year I had a great time cooking and sharing moments with the participants. The race is growing but we still want to maintain this spirit.’

Nature is the most important thing in the Tromsö Skyrace and, therefore, the environment is taken care of by marking the circuits with biodegradable tape, setting up the checkpoints in shelters and crossroads and avoiding paper notices.

Registration for this event, which is the dream of every Skyrunner, is now open.

The event will take place on July 31st, 1st and 2nd August 2015 and will be part of the Skyrunner World Series.

Registration for 600 places opens today and the event hopes to be as successful as last year.

A technical route in a unique setting with Norwegian fjords.

Images copyright Jordi Saragossa

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