Mayonnaise, gin, cheese and taulas – Trail Menorca 2015 by Niandi Carmont

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Mayonnaise, gin, cheese and taulas ……..what do these words bring to mind? No, you got it wrong! The answer is ………Menorca!

Yep, not many people know that mayonnaise (and who doesn’t love dollops of it on chips) was invented by the Duc de Richelieu on encountering and adapting the Menorca aioli. As for gin this little island is home to Xoriguer Distillery and is well-known for producing its own distinctively fragrant variety of the spirit.

But where is Menorca might you ask? This Balearic Island is located in the Mediterranean off the Spanish coast not far from Mallorca. Menorca means windy island and hardly surprising as there is a gentle breeze on most days due to its relatively flat relief. A little wind is welcome if you consider that the island enjoys 300 days of yearly sunshine.

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Booze, sea and sun ….convinced? Well what enticed me to the island were none of the aforementioned but more the opportunity to take part in what I consider to be a fantastic and scenically beautiful trail race. The Cami de Cavalls is the backdrop of several trail races organized on the island in May. It is an ancient hiking trail/path of 186km that takes you around the coastline of the island. This long-distance walking route is the GR223 of the Senderos de Gran Recorrido network in Spain. Historically-speaking the Cami de Cavalls was built in order to connect the watchtowers, fortresses and cannons distributed along the coast. It was patrolled by soldiers mounted on horses hence the word cavalls meaning horses in Catalan.

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In the 2015 edition there were several distances: 185km, 100km, 55km (trekking), 32km (trekking).

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The 85km race (TMCS, Trail Menorca Costa Sud)) takes on the whole southern coastline from Es Castell to Ciutadella. This is the trail race I decided to do as I really wanted to experience as much of the historic Cami de Cavalls as possible but had only just recovered from Marathon des Sables 4 weeks prior. Taking that into consideration it seemed the best and most reasonable option. I arrived in Menorca on Thursday and my race start was on Saturday so this provided me with the opportunity to relax a little, do some sight-seeing and pick up my number and chip without too much stress. Thursday on arrival in Ciutadella I picked up my number and chip after some leisurely tapas and rosé in the port and attended the race briefing in the late afternoon for the 185km. This was followed by a cocktail with some local dignitaries involved in the sponsorship and promotion of Trail Menorca .

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The Friday was spent walking around the cobbled streets in the old quarter of Citadel and having fresh grilled squid al fresco with 2015 MDS winner Elisabet Barnes near the town-hall and an early night in anticipation of the early race start the following day. Saturday I was woken by my alarm at 5am. Some instant porridge and I was off to catch the shuttle bus at 6am to the start in Es Castell. What is practical about the different races is that they all finish in Ciutadella, the 185km and 100km (TMCN Trail Menorca Costa Nord) starting a day before. Shuttle buses at the finish in Ciutadella take the runners to the start of the different races so logistically it makes sense to book your accommodation at the finish and it is completely hassle-free. Also should you drop out (highly unlikely of course) or not make the cut off times shuttle busses are laid on at the checkpoints to take you back to the finish).

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An 85km drive along the coastline and the bus of excited runners arrives in Es Castell. During the journey Elisabet and I exchange worried looks as the rain starts pelting down – this must be one of the 65 days of rain on the island! However, it proves to be just a short-lived downpour and at 8am we start the race in cool and pleasant temperatures.

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The course is well marked with the over 2.200 GR 223 landmarks making it hard to get lost with added signage and red & white tape in urban areas on lamps or posts. These are reinforced with spray paint, biodegradable tape and red leds for runners running at night.

There are 7 well-equipped feed stations on the TMCS offering water, coca cola (ice-cold), isotonic drinks, fruit juices, fruit, nuts, dates, bread, Nutella and local ham and cheese. I found it unnecessary to take any additional food supplies although the race is supposed to be “self-sufficient” and runners are encouraged to do so. The support, friendliness and encouragement at the feed stations are amazing. When you do this race you really don’t feel like a number when you are cheered as you enter the feed station and cheered when you leave!

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I was incredibly surprised at the beauty of the course. I had been told that the TMCN along the North Coast was more scenic although much more technical but to be honest the TMCS was absolutely stunning. The variety of the course is unrivalled – beach sections, little coves of azure turquoise water, tiny coastal villages, luscious green flowered fields and cliffs overlooking the island’s multitude of pristine bays.

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The course is partly exposed and partly shaded providing a certain amount of respite from the midday sun. Temperatures at this time of the year can vary and although the day spent sightseeing was quite hot (36°C), on race day it was pleasantly mild. The only technical parts of the course are along the sea-front on hardened rock formations where you can easily trip up especially once fatigue starts setting in and the last section of the course although flat was quite technical and rocky with the head-on wind from the North Tramuntana complicating matters! At this point I was walking as I really didn’t want to trip up on the rocks and no longer had the energy to battle against the wind.

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The final kilometres of the race take you through the coastal seaside resorts into the finish area at Ciutadella where a welcoming crowd of local supporters and giant paella and free beers await the finishers. The icing on the cake? The beautiful medal with the words Live the Legend……..and I really felt I lived the Cami de Cavalls ….. until 2016 that is!

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Ciutadella and the surrounding area is extremely Spanish and beautiful – take a look.

Race images are available to view and purchase HERE

Pivk and Garcia crowned champs at Zegama-Aizkorri 2015

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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”

COMPRESSPORT TRAIL MENORCA CAMI DE CAVALLS 2015 – Day One

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The fourth edition of the COMPRESSPORT TRAIL MENORCA CAMI DE CAVALLS 2015 started on Friday May 15th at 0800 in the town of Ciutadella.

A weekend of racing and on Friday it was the 185km (0800 and 1200 start) and the 100km event that got underway.

Menorca literally threw everything at the runners in regard to weather – cloud, sun, wind, rain, thunderstorms and the occasional flash of lightening.

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One thing remained constant though, the beauty of the surroundings and the stunning coastline.

As I write, the 185km is still taking place and the 85km event started at 0800 Saturday May 16th.

Cami de Cavalls map

Casey Morgan from the UK won the 100km event in a new course record – 8:57 (tbc) and we will update with a ladies result asap.

We will update with a series of reports and times as more information becomes available. For now, please enjoy a selection of images (many more to follow) from day one of COMPRESSPORT TRAIL MENORCA CAMI DE CAVALLS 2015. 

Website – http://www.trailmenorca.com

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.

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 Day 6 Image Gallery

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Race Summary for Stage 6 HERE

Everest Trail Race #ETR2014 – Kathmandu

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An incredible day exploring the sights, sounds, colours and meeting the people of Kathmandu. What an incredible place.

Located at the top of a hill, our day started with a visit to Swayambhunath (affectionately known as the Monkey Temple).

Swayambhunath (Devanagari: स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप; sometimes romanized Swoyambhunath) is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’ (Wylie:Phags.pa Shing.kun), for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. However, Shing.kun may be a corruption of the local Nepal Bhasa name for the complex, Singgu, meaning ‘self-sprung’. For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.

The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period. A Tibetan monastery, museum and library are more recent additions. The stupa has Buddha’s eyes and eyebrows painted on. Between them, the number one (in Devanagari script) is painted in the fashion of a nose. There are also shops, restaurants and hostels. The site has two access points: a long stairway with 365 steps, leading directly to the main platform of the temple, which is from the top of the hill to the east; and a car road around the hill from the south leading to the southwest entrance. The first sight on reaching the top of the stairway is the Vajra. Tsultrim Allione describes the experience:

We were breathless and sweating as we stumbled up the last steep steps and practically fell upon the biggest vajra (thunder-bolt scepter) that I have ever seen. Behind this vajra was the vast, round, white dome of the stupa, like a full solid skirt, at the top of which were two giant Buddha eyes wisely looking out over the peaceful valley which was just beginning to come alive.[2]

Much of Swayambhunath’s iconography comes from the Vajrayana tradition of Newar Buddhism. However, the complex is also an important site for Buddhists of many schools, and is also revered by Hindus.

From Swayambhunath we took a short bus ride and then walked around the vibrant streets of Kathmandu. It’s a cacophany of noise mixed with people, cars and colour. The people are warm, welcoming, happy and friendly despite obvious poverty that is on display no matter where you look.

Kathmandu (Nepali: काठमाडौं [kɑʈʰmɑɳɖu]; Nepal Bhasa: येँ देय्‌) is the capital and largest municipality of Nepal. It is the only city of Nepal with the administrative status of Mahanagarpalika (Metropolitan City), as compared to Up-Mahanagarpalika (Sub-Metropolitan City) or Nagarpalika (Municipality). Kathmandu is the core of Nepal’s largest urban agglomeration located in the Kathmandu valley consisting of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur and a number of smaller communities. Kathmandu is also known informally as “KTM” or the “tri-city”. According to the 2011 census, Kathmandu has a population of close to 1 million people. The municipal area is 50.67 square kilometres (19.56 sq mi)  and has a population density of 3000per km² and 17000 per km square in city.

The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley of central Nepal.[6] It is surrounded by four major mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Kathmandu Valley is part of three districts (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur), has the highest population density in the country, and is home to about a twelfth of Nepal’s population.

Historically, the Kathmandu Valley and adjoining areas were known as Nepal Mandala. Until the 15th century, Bhaktapur was its capital when two other capitals, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, were established. During the Rana and Shah eras, British historians called the valley itself “Nepal Proper”. Today, Kathmandu is not only the capital of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, but also the headquarters of the Bagmati Zone and the Central Development Region of Nepal.

Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal. It is also the hub of the country’s economy. It has the most advanced infrastructure of any urban area in Nepal, and its economy is focused on tourism, which accounted for 3.8% of Nepal’s GDP in 1995–96. Tourism in Kathmandu declined thereafter during a period of political unrest, but since then has improved. In 2013, Kathmandu was ranked third among the top 10 travel destinations on the rise in the world by TripAdvisor, and ranked first in Asia.

The city has a rich history, spanning nearly 2000 years, as inferred from inscriptions found in the valley. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Most of Kathmandu’s people follow Hinduism and many others follow Buddhism. There are people of other religious beliefs as well, giving Kathmandu a cosmopolitan culture. Nepali is the most commonly spoken language in the city. English is understood by Kathmandu’s educated residents. Content ©wikipedia

Tomorrow, Tuesday 12th is an early start as we all leave Kathmandu and head to Jiri for an overnight camp and then the race starts Wednesday.

Stage 1 – Preview

ETR Stg1

ETR Stg1 Profile

Km 0. Departure from campsite with initial direction 150o. Follow main pathway that crosses Bhandar. At the end of the village, cross the wooden covered bridge, turn left immediately and followmainpathwayparalleltotheriver (maintaineddescenttillKm3,7).

Km 1,04. Take footpath on the right and go down crossing several times the main pathway. Km 3,7 (1.523 m). Turn right crossing the bridge (maintained ascent till Km 9,8).

Km 9,8. Arrival to the pass that leads to the Golla village (Gompa). Take the footpath on the left that leads to the village exit and to the CP2.

Km 10 CP2 . Come out following the path on the right. Terrain combining flat sections and slight ups and downs till Km 12.

Km 12. Take the detour on the left and follow the marked path. Maintained climbing inside the forest till Km 13,5 where we reach a hill with flags. Follow marked pathway inside the forest.

Km 16,9 (3625 m.). Find a clearing and enter again the forest with direction 170o. Follow marked pathway.

Km17. Anewclearing. Initialdirection150otillenteragaintheforest.

Km17,5(3.772m.).Comeout oftheforest.Followmarkedpathandturnleftafterfewmeters to start climb to the Pike Peak (4.065 m). Follow marked path. We will identify the summit because of the prayer flags.

Km 19,5 CP3. Reach the Pike Peak summit. Go down the marked path till a Many Wall (3.989 m). Take marked path on the left. Go down along a technical zone. CAUTION!.

Km 21,5. (3.950 m). Clearing. Turn left and go on till pass with Mani Wall (3.500 m). Km 23,7 (3.783 m). Pass by a group of 3 chorten and follow pathway. Km26,5(3.265m).Turnleft crossingtheriver.Followmarks.Km 28. Taktur.

STAGE ARRIVAL.

KATHMANDU IMAGES:

 

Ian Corless: El fotógrafo de Skyrunning

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I am very honoured and flattered to be interviewed by corredordemontana.com in an article titled  – Ian Corless: El fotógrafo de Skyrunning.

You can read the full interview in Spanish HERE

For my English speaking friends and followers. Here is a transcript in English.

*****

Tells us about how you got involved with Skyrunning reporting

I was invited to Transvulcania La Palma in 2012. The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) invited media specialists from all over the world to witness what turned out to be a turning point for Skyrunning. It was a key moment. World-class athletes travelled from all over the world and in doing so created what turned out to be a classic race. It elevated Skyrunning to a new level and certainly placed Transvulcania on the ‘to do’ list of many runners.

 

How long have you been at it now?

I started to work with the ISF as a media partner after Transvulcania in 2012. I went to Zegama-Aizkorri and then followed this by attending many (but not all) Skyrunner® World Series events in 2012. In 2013 I attended most races on the calendar. As you know, the Skyrunner® World Series is made up of five races in each of the categories – VK, SKY and ULTRA. In 2014 I continued this format working on pretty much the whole calendar with the exception of the two races in the USA.

 

What exactly do you do? Does it take up all your time or do you combine your Skyrunning photography with other jobs? 

I work freelance in the world of ultra, mountain and trail running. I work on many other projects and not just Skyrunning. For example in 2014 I worked on The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, Marathon des Sables in Morocco and this month I go to Nepal for Everest Trail Race and then South Africa for the Salomon SkyRun. I have a very busy calendar and at my last count, I will have worked on thirty-one races in 2014. Depending on what my clients require will very much depend on what services I provide, however, it usually consists of writing and photography to help promote a race and provide feedback for the ultra, trail and mountain running community worldwide. In addition to all this, I have my podcast, Talk Ultra which is available every two weeks for free on iTunes and via my website.

 

Your opinion of the state of Skyrunning in 2014 and how things might develop next season

Skyrunning has grown incredibly over the past few years. We have all witnessed the boom! The vision of Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti is certainly coming to fruition. They had a vision of what Skyrunning may be… risks taken in 2012 at Transvulcania have paid off. However, many forget that Skyrunning dates back to 1989 when Giacometti first ascended the Monte Rosa. I most definitely believe they were ahead of the time. We are all just catching up… I also believe that Kilian Jornet has been an incredible vehicle for the sport, His rise and dominance has coincided with the growth in Skyrunning.

You will notice that the 2015 Skyrunning calendar has recently been announced and we see some changes. In addition the Skyrunner® World Series we now have the Continental Series. This shows how the sport is growing and how the ISF needs to appeal to a worldwide audience. It’s very exciting.

 

Any amazing anecdotes to tell from last season?

I am very fortunate to spend a great deal of time working with, photographing and talking to some of the best athletes in the world. I truly feel blessed. I have so many great memories and moments. If I had to pick one surreal moment, I think back to Matterhorn Ultraks. Kilian Jornet didn’t run the race but decided to take photographs and support his Salomon teammates. I had climbed just over 1000m vertical to get to a location that would allow me to photograph runners as they came to me with the Matterhorn in the background. I waited for hours, photographed all the front-runners and I was about to make my way down the long descent to make my way to the finish when I received a text from Kilian asking:

‘Are you making your way down?’

I replied, ‘yes!’

‘I will wait for you,’ Kilian said.

I added my cameras to my large pack (it weighs about 10-12kg) and then I made my way to the long and technical descent. After 10-minutes or so, I saw Kilian waiting. We then ran all the way down to the finish… it was ridiculous. I was following the best mountain runner and definitely the best downhill runner in the world with a huge pack and trying to keep up. However, Kilian was extremely kind and ran well within himself. I however was at my limit! But to follow and see his ability first hand was a highlight of the year.

 

Do you plan to be present at all ISF race events next season?

The calendar for 2015 is larger as we now have the World Series and the Continental Series, so, it will not be possible to attend all events. However, I will hopefully attending as many as possible and following the series as it unfolds.

 

How do the logistics work out when you travel to new race locations & have to discover where you need to be for your photos?

It is all about preparation. I usually arrive at a race venue two days before the race. I do my research. I look at maps, talk to staff and race officials and then I plan where I want to be to capture the best images. Longer races are easier as they allow me more flexibility. By contrast, a race like Limone Extreme is just over 2-hours from start to the first finisher, so you need to be 100% prepared. A real plus is that I am able to fulfill my passions for the sport in photography, words and podcasting but also get some exercise. I usually have to climb or hike to many of the locations I work from. Occasionally we are spoilt with a helicopter but that does not happen very often! Trofeo Kima is a perfect example where myself and other photographers/ cameramen are transported all over the course by helicopter. Kima or me is still a favourite race, it is so extreme and visually stunning.

 

Do you always find the right place to get decent pictures at races? Does it ever not quite work out?

Yes, I always ensure that I am in the correct place. That is my job. However, I may not always get ‘the’ image I want. It is what is so great about our sport and what I do. Nothing is guaranteed and I work on adrenaline to help me maximize my potential.

 

Tell us about your unfortunate “incident” at the Transvulcania 2014.

2014 has been an interesting year with a couple of incidents that I hope don’t happen again…

In May at Transvulcania La Palma I had photographed the race start and then I was making my way to the mountains to a location I had found to photograph the front-runners. On the coastal road I felt my car twitch and then I lost control. I veered to the right and lost control. A huge concrete block stopped me going over the edge. I was not going too fast but the car was completely written off. I jumped out of the car with no personal damage. I was so lucky! My first priority was that I needed to get to the mountains…

Later in the year I had a second incident. I was in Barcelona transferring to go to a race in Catalonia. I was at a restaurant and I had ALL my camera equipment and computer stolen. It was horrendous as you can imagine. My whole life in my bag: gone! It was a pretty tough two weeks that followed and my insurance only covered two thirds of the cost of all the stolen items. However, I managed to replace everything.

******

Everest Trail Race 2014 – Preview

LOGO ETR

Set against one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring backdrops on the planet, the Everest Trail Race is one of the world’s toughest high-altitude ultra-marathons. I had the pleasure to attend the 2013 event and I am pleased to say, I am going back…

 

My job affords me some great opportunities and all of them are special and unique in so many ways. However, Nepal, the Himalayas, the people and the amazing trails that lead to the stunning vistas of Everest and AmaDablam from Tyangboche are some of the most memorable moments I have ever had. I was told Nepal would change me and it did. It’s a cacophony of sound, visuals and emotions and the opportunity to experience this one more time is something extra special.

From the noisy and frenetic streets of Kathmandu to the isolation of camping under the stars at the monastery at Kharikhola, Nepal and its people cemented itself within my heart and I know that participants of the 2014 ETR are in for a very special experience.

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I’d like to thank The North Face and Suunto for providing me with support to make this journey possible.

 

THE RACE

Winding through the remote Solukhumbu region of the Himalayas in Nepal, the ETR takes place over six punishing days and covers a distance of 160-km with over 25,000m of vertical gain.

Terrain is mixed and the daily distances are roughly 22, 28, 30, 31, 20 and 22 km respectively. Daily altitude gain starts 3,000 meters up to 5,950. It’s a breathtaking route that starts in Jiri.

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Participants will experience breath-taking views of not only one, but also several of the world’s tallest mountains: Everest, Lothse, AmaDablam, Tamseku, Kangtega, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. On the fifth day, arriving at Tyangboche the Himalayan backdrop is magnificent providing a wonderful boost before returning to Lukla via Namche Bazaar.

The race does require a degree of self-sufficiency. Participants must carry all the personal technical equipment they will need to survive – a sleeping bag, warm clothes plus the mandatory safety equipment laid out in the race rules. Temperatures may rise to 18°C and drop -10°C at night, is is part of the challenge!

In fact, the race is a test for both runners and the race organization as the area is only accessible by foot. Snacks, meals and water are provided both along the route and in the camps at the end of each stage.

“You reach the highest point of the day and you are breathing hard, short shallow breaths. You think you must stop, that you can’t go on, but then you settle into a sustainable rhythm. Your body is adapting to the workload, to the altitude and with that realization you feel a rush of empowerment that motivates you to run right past the foot of Everest.”

Schedule:

  • 9th November – Travel to Kathmandu
  • 10th November – Kathmandu
  • 11th November – Sight seeing in Kathmandu
  • 12th November – Transfer to Jiri

Race dates 13th – 17th November.

As an example of what lies beyond the starting line, the longest single stage in 2012 was 20 miles (31km). Typical distances are broken down as follows:

Day 1 – 22 km (+ 850 m ascent)

Day 2 – 28 km (+ 2,250 m ascent)

Day 3 – 30 km (+ 2,450 m ascent)

Day 4 – 31 km (+ 2,950 m ascent)

Day 5 – 20 km (+ 1,450 m ascent)

Day 6 – 22 km (+ 450 m ascent)

The actual routes and formats change every year. The Race Director, Jordi Abad and his team spend a month meticulously planning routes that are made public before the event starts.

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Competitors camp overnight in two-man tents provided by the ETR. The tents are transported stage-by-stage and await the runners at the end of each day. Meals are provided each night in a large food tent. It provides a wonderful and most memorable sound each evening as the sound of weary laughter echoes around camp.

 

Schedule (from 2013)

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Day 1 – Departing Jiri at 0900 runners will cover 21.5km and two major peaks, Mali at just over 2400m and Deurali Pass (2700m) at approximately 18km.

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Day 2 – Leaving Bhandar, non-stop climbing follows a short 4km descent; firstly to Gompa (Golla) at 3010m, a small downhill section follows of 2km and then a climb to Pikey Peak at 4068m. It’s a tough-tough day and the sting in the tail comes at the very end with a very short and steep ascent to Jase Bhajyang. Total stage distance 23.92km.

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Day 3Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola 37.4km

Stage 3 is all about running downhill, however, the finish is brutal ascent to Kharikola at 2100m. Leaving Jase Bhanjyang runners have a short ascent of 2km to 3800m and then an 8km descent to Jumbesi, CP1. A 6km climb to just over 3000m is then followed with a 4km descent to Lharpa and CP2. Another 3km climb to 3000m and then a brutal leg-sapping drop from 3000m to 1500m in 10km before the final sting in the tail, a 3km climb to the finish.

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Day 4Kharikhola to Llegada 27.5km

Departing the monastery a small descent awaits the runners of just 4km before a long tough climb to Kari La (CP1) at 2900m. From here the course goes up and down all around 2700/2800m for approximately 10km before a very steep descent to CP2 at Surke (2200m). A continual climb to CP3 at Cheplung continues to the arrival at Phakding/ Llegaga. 

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Day 5 – Phakding to Llegada 20km

Leaving Phakding at 2600m runners will only gain 200m in the first 8km. CP1 Namche Bazar is at 10km  (3400m).  Phunki Tenga at 17.5km (3300m) now will offer the runners the most spectacular views of Everest and the other 8000m peaks. This sight will spur them on for the kick in the tail; the 2km climb from 3300m to 3700m and the finish at Tyangboche.

©copyright.iancorless.com.P1070838 Day 6 – Tyangboche to Lukla

The final stage of the ETR re traces much of the same ground of Day-5 but (obviously) in the opposite direction. The main difference comes after Phakding when the trail splits and participants go left climbing to the finish in Lukla.

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Flying out of Lukla on day 7, all participants and staff return to Kathmandu for an opportunity to relax before returning home after a stunning awards and closing ceremony.

View my Everest Trail Race photo galleries HERE

LINKS

Race website UK – HERE

Race website Global – HERE

Press:

Trail Magazin (Germany) on the 2013 edition available HERE

Like the Wind (edition 2) Purchase HERE

CALENDAR 2015 – NOW AVAILABLE to order

1

 

2015 calendar is now available to pre order.

Delivery will be guaranteed the first week of December.

The calendar has highlights from a great 2014 racing season and includes images of ISF president, Marino Giacometti, Maite Maiora, Stevie Kremer, Jo Meek, Marco De Gasperi, Luis Alberto Hernando, Emelie Forsberg, Zaid Ait Malek, Martin Gaffuri, Kilian Jornet, Francois D’Haene and Anna Frost.

Cost will be £20.00 inc post and package within UK.

(An additional £5.00 for postage outside UK.)

To pre order, please fill in this request form, importantly, please specify postage within UK or outside UK. You will receive an invoice via Paypal.

Payments are accepted via debit card, credit card or Paypal account.

Add a Talk Ultra Bumper Sticker?

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Limone Extreme 2014 Race Preview

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All good things must come to an end… at least for this year! The 2014 Skyrunner® World Series concludes this weekend in the mountains that surround Lake Garda.

On Friday the VK will commence as the light fades and darkness surrounds the mountains. Sunday the SKY race takes place over a course of 23.5km’s and 2000m +/-. Two races, one great weekend of running and at conclusion we will have newly crowned male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions for both VK and SKY distances.

As one would expect, these two races are attracting a who’s who of the Skyrunning world.

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Vertical Kilometre

In the VK, La Sportiva and Salomon are fielding two very strong teams. Illuminated by the glow of head torches, a very interesting battle will unfold.

©iancorless.comIMG_2050Canazei2014 Urban Zemmer is the outright favourite after winning Limone Extreme in 2013 and in the process winning the Skyrunner® World Series. However, La Sportiva teammates, Nejc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet, Marco Facchinhelli and Marco Moletto will be looking to pull rank and gain valuable points.

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Kilian Jornet has been training hard and as we all know, can never be ruled out when it comes to head-to-head racing uphill. Add to the mix, Marco De Gasperi and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and the Limone Extreme VK looks set to be a classic.

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For the ladies, 2013 Skyrunner® World Series champion, Laura Orgue, like Zemmer is the outright favourite. This lady has been unbeatable uphill in 2013 and I don’t think Limone will be any different.

©iancorless.comIMG_3879Stevie Kremer will push and push and look to gain an advantage as will Christel Dewalle, Antonella ConfortlaEmelie Forsberg, Sara Longoni, Francesca Rossi, Beatrice Delflorian and surprise entrant, Julia Bleasdale. Julia is an exciting prospect from the UK and I am extremely keen to see how this Olympian performs.

 

SKY RACE

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Do you want to bet against Kilian Jornet? No, me neither. Kilian has excelled in 2014 and other than placing 2nd to Luis Alberto Hernando at Transvulcania; the Catalan has won every rave (VK’s excluded). Kilian has been training hard and Limone will see one chapter close for 2014 before the transition to skis and another Summit attempt in December.

Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.

Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.

Marco De Gasperi if fit is potentially the one person to push Kilian all the way to the line and if firing on all cylinders, may well take the glory away from the Salomon runner. I personally have waited all year for this head-to-head to happen and the prospect is exciting.

Waiting in the wings is a plethora of Skyrunning talent who will be looking to upset the apple cart and history shows that anything can happen.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_Manuel Merillas is hot property at the moment and after strong performances in the Skyrunner® World Series, his presence at Limone adds an exciting element to proceedings. Recent top-3 performances at Trofeo Kima and The Rut add weight to a very strong case that we see a surprise on the shores of Lake Garda.

Ionut Zinca had a great result at Limone last year and recently placed well, once again at Dolomites Skyrace. I would anticipate Ionut having a great race, he’s a fierce competitor and top performer.

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Zaid Ait Malek won the Matterhorn Ultraks and is without doubt a contender for the podium at Limone. However, Aritz Egea has performed consistently all year and at just under 24km’s, the Limone course plays to his strengths.

©iancorless.com_IMG_5986aSierreZinal_inov8_2014_Michel Lanne had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships and a glimmer of that strength will intimidate the competition.

Alex Nichols is one again making the long journey from the USA and has great potential to mix it with the best, however, 2014 has been a tough year and his current form is unknown.

Tadei Pivk will also be a hot contender for the top-5.

Did we say THIS FIELD IS STACKED…. !

Rounding out the hot contenders for the top-5 places are Jono WyattAlexis Sevennec, Thorbjorn LudvigsenDavid Schneider and Nicola Golinelli.

Look out for:

  • Didier Zago
  • Matheo Jaquemond
  • Fabio Bazzana
  • Florian Reichert
  • Oli Johnson
  • Gary Priestley
  • Hassan Ait Chau
  • Marco Moletto
  • Marc Pinsach

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Stevie Kremer already has the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series sewn up, so, this will take the pressure off and allow Stevie a trouble and stress free run. As we all know though, she probably will still nail it and has every chance of taking away the victory.

©iancorless.com©iancorless.com-3368 Elisa Desco, Emelie Forsberg and Laura Orgue will do everything in their respective powers to ensure that Stevie does not have another victory. In all honesty, the ladies race is wide open. Laura Orgue has displayed pure class going up hill and certainly, the first half of the Limone course will suit her racing style. I expect to see Laura to be leading at the summit; the question will come if she can hold of the charging train of Forsberg, Desco and Kremer. Very few ladies can go downhill like Emelie Forsberg and if she is in contact during the 2nd half of the race, Emelie will potentially take top honours.

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Elisa Desco is a very rounded athlete uphill and downhill, at 23.5kms the distance will suit the Italian and with valuable points at stake, we can expect a 100% committed effort for victory.

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Maite Maiora started the year with a bang at Transvulcania and has continued to bang the drum all the way throughout 2014. For sure, Maite stepped up a level this year and along with Desco, Forsberg and Kremer, she has been a force to be reckoned with. The podium is a distinct possibility but it’s going to be a battle.

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Victoria Wilkinson had a great race at the Dolomites Skyrace and has continued to excel on the UK Fell running scene. The podium may just be out of reach but top-5 is a distinct possibility.

Anna Lupton has been missed in 2014 with injury. Arguably, Anna has been the UK’s most consistent performer in previous Skyrunning events and it’s great to see her back on a start line.

Tessa Hill has been a little quiet in 2014 but has committed herself to Limone and has recently posted, ‘My main way of preparing for this is to get as much climb in the legs as possible and then top things up on the bike.’

Julia Bleasdale is a British Olympian who raced the 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics. She placed 8th in both finals. Julia tipping her toes into the Skyrunning world is a great boost for the sport and Skyrunning in the UK. However, Julia understands the challenge ahead, “I hear so many great things about Skyrunning, but I do not underestimate the strength required to compete in this extreme discipline! So I am delighted to mix things up at the end of the season for variety. I love running in the mountains as they give you depth in your strength, but track athletes cannot transform themselves in just a few weeks to be ready for this!”

Stephanie Jiminez excels at the Sky distance and Limone will suit the skill set of the Salomon athlete. Her experience sets her apart from the competition and on her day, she can beat the best in the world.

Ones to watch:

  • Deborah Cardone
  • Elisabet Beltran
  • Marta Molist
  • Paloma Lobera
  • Anna Kosova
  • Azara Garcia
  • Leire Agirrezabala

Links

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Images and photography HERE and HERE

SKYRUNNING HERE