The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ – Registration

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It is the day before the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ and runners are slowly arriving in Conwy, Wales to register ahead of one of the toughest challenges available over a multi-day format.

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Travelling from the north to the south of Wales via it’s spine, runners will depart at 0700 on Monday 22nd June and over 5 days they will look to endure (and conquer) everything that Wales has to offer. Long days, tough climbs and quad busting descents. Yes, the Dragons Back Race is arguably one of the toughest multi-day adventures in the world.

It’s going to be an extremely exciting week with runners travelling from all over the world to take part. We have some key runners taking part: Jez Bragg (The North Face) who just last weekend set a remarkable FKT for The Ramsay Round (interview HERE), Pavel Paloncy who has won The Spine, Ed Catmur, Charlie Sharpe, Andre Jonsson, Konrad Rawlik, John Duggan, Jim Mann and Joe Faulkner who has run and completed the 2 previous editions of the Dragons Back.

The ladies race may prove to be extremely exciting with a wealth of talented fast ladies: Jasmin Paris recently won the Fellowman, Lizzie Wraith is the current Lakeland 100 course record holder but recently has has some problems with Giardia, Beth Pascall the 2014 Spine winner, Carol Morgan, Kerstin Rosenqvist and Joanna Zakrzewski who is a prolific road racer particularly at the 100km distance and the iconic Comrades in South Africa.

Nerves are on edge in Conwy. Bags are being packed, labels are added, transponders attached to packs and race T shirts collected. It’s countdown time. If you have an opportunity why not come out and support the race. Tomorrow am will almost certainly be an impressive start.

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123 runners are registered to start and currently we have information that the following will not start the 2015 edition: Don King, Nick Mead (The Guardian), Adam Stirk, Achillefs Tsaltas, Debbie Brupbacher, Rod Sutcliffe and William Gane.

For the third edition of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™, members of the public will be able to follow the race live with GPS tracking of the competitors and a leaderboard of their positions as they pass through each checkpoint.
Award winning Slackjaw Productions will also be filming the event and publishing multiple 90 second videos on the event website as the race unfolds each day. 1992 winner Helene Whitaker will be presenting these films and providing expert commentary.
It is going to be exciting and compelling viewing, which all kicks off on Monday 22nd June.
Also, keep an eye on Twitter for updates from:
@DragonsBackRace and @TheRealBerghaus
@talkultra and on Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography
#DragonsBackRace

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race Preview 2015

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The legendary Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ will be taking place for only the third time, starting on Monday 22nd June.
The race is one of the world’s most challenging running events and follows the mountainous spine of Wales from Conwy Castle in the north, to Carreg Cennen Castle in the south. An incredible 5 day journey the route is approximately 300km long with 16,000 metres of ascent across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain.
In September 1992, the original Dragon’s Back Race™ was held and it soon entered into running folklore for its extreme difficultly and surprise female winner. A 20-year absence and it took Shane Ohly and the Ourea Events team to revive it in 2012.  Helene Whitaker (neé Diamantides), the 1992 winner alongside Martin Stone returned to the event and incredibly finished fourth and renowned adventure and Wainwrights record holder, Steve Birkinshaw was the overall winner.  In the 2012 edition only 32 runners managed to complete the full course from 82 starters. Thhe reputation of the event as one of the hardest mountain races in the world was confirmed.
The 2015 race has once again attracted a strong field of 140 runners from Britain and around the world. It will be interesting to see how many manage to climb the iconic steps into Carreg Cennen Castle on the fifth day.
Leading Contenders
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The standout competitor in the men’s race is naturally Jez Bragg who as a UTMB winner, Fellsman and Te Araroa Trail record holder has been a force within ultra running for many years.  His top class pedigree means he attracts attention whenever he races.
However, race director Shane Ohly, does not think for a moment that a Bragg win is a foregone conclusion:
“It is a five day race over rough terrain and anything can happen. Jez, also completed a record breaking Ramsay Round the weekend before, which is an interesting approach to preparing for such an arduous event as the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™.”
Ohly continues:
“There is a strong field of both male and female runners and while I do have an opinion on who I think will win, I keep that to myself for now!”
Lining up alongside Bragg are top British mountain ultra runners including Ed Catmur and Berghaus sponsored athlete, Charlie Sharp.
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Catmur has an orienteering background that is similar to the 2012 winner Steve Birkinshaw and in recent years he has excelled at the longer endurance races. He has competed over the 100 mile distances with some very fast times, placed highly at the Skyrunning UK 3×3 and has won the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon and Spine Challenger.
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Sharp has recently joined the roster of Berghaus sponsored athletes and is a prolific racer. He runs all distances from 5k to 100 miles plus and has great success. In 2013 he raced The Spine and although not directly comparable to the Dragon’s Back Race it does show that Sharp will be a podium contender in Wales.
The main international competition would seem to be from André Jonsson. The impressive Swedish runner has a load of podium results at tough mountain races in Europe including stage wins at the GORE-TEX TransAlpine. Rumour has it that he has been training in Wales earlier this year…
There is also a cohort of other strong British runners, including the likes of Jim Mann, Konrad Rawlik and John Duggan, who Ohly believes are likely to feature high up in the field. He explains why:
“It is such a tough race. Runners get injured, some fade mentally and as Patrick Devine Wright proved in 2012, a relative unknown runner with a determined approach can record a superb result.”
Ohly continues: “It’s easy to dwell on the men’s race, but I actually think that the women’s field is more interesting with a pack of extremely talented runners. I believe that any one of these has the ability to feature at the front end of the overall race.”
Scanning though the list of female entries, Jasmin Paris, Lizzie Wraith, Beth Pascall, Carol Morgan and Joanna Zakrzewski stand out.
Paris has been tearing up the mountain racing circuit for last few years but has managed to keep a relatively low profile, despite some impressive wins. She recently smashed Nicky Spink’s Fellsman’s record by over 40 minutes and recorded the highest ever place for a female runner.
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Wraith, with superb results at the UTMB, Lavaredo Ultra Trail and a  her UTLD Lakeland 100 win (and course record) make her the one to watch. However, she has had a very bust race schedule recently with multiple races in Nepal, the GL3D and representing GB at the IAU World Trail Champs. Will Wraith be fresh for  the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ as her final target?
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Pascall in particular has impressed. Her slow and methodical run at the UTLD (Lakeland 100) and strong 2nd place behind Debbie Martin Consani was a revelation. She then followed this result up with victory at The Spine. The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ will most certainly suit Pascall’s skill set. Finally, the dark horse, Zakrzewski is relatively unknown in the mountain running world but she is a star of world 100km athletics with team and individual medals at the world championships. A regular and high place finisher at the iconic Comrades in South Africa, most notably her success at multi-day races such as Atacama Crossing (2010) may well be more relevant to the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™.
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The Berghaus Team 
Berghaus, Britain’s leading performance outdoor brand, is the title sponsor of this iconic event and is supporting the event in many ways. Race director Shane Ohly comments:
“What is really great about working with Berghaus is the depth of talent they have within their staff and sponsored athletes. Impressively, staff members Ivan Muckle, Angela Foster, Luke O’Connor and Dan Smith will be completing a day each of the race in a relay, with Berghaus athlete, and 2012 winner, Steve Birkinshaw leading them on Day 1.” 
The relay line up looks like this:
Day 1     Steve Birkinshaw
Day 2     Ivan Muckle
Day 3     Angela Foster
Day 4     Luke O’Connor
Day 5     Dan Smith
What is fascinating about this line up is the impact that 2012 winner Steve Birkinshaw may have on the rest of the field, especially given that he is running the first, and arguably the toughest, day of the race. Certainly, the other competitors would be well advised not to race with Steve if he intends to go full throttle.
Alongside his colleagues in the relay team, Berghaus Castleford store manager Dan Gerachty, will be attempting to complete all five days alone. Certainly, he will have tales of amazing adventures to share afterwards with customers in store.
Following The Race Live
For the third edition of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™, members of the public will be able to follow the race live with GPS tracking of the competitors and a leaderboard of their positions as they pass through each checkpoint.
Award winning Slackjaw Productions will also be filming the event and publishing multiple 90 second videos on the event website as the race unfolds each day. 1992 winner Helene Whitaker will be presenting these films and providing expert commentary.
It is going to be exciting and compelling viewing, which all kicks off on Monday 22nd June.
Also, keep an eye on Twitter for updates from @DragonsBackRace and @TheRealBerghaus, @talkultra and on Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography
#DragonsBackRace.

Episode 88 – FEJES HAWKER LAWSON

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Episode 88 of Talk Ultra and on this weeks show we speak with Scott Hawker about 2nd place at TNF100, we interview Joe Fejes about running 606.24 miles in 6 days and we speak with Dan Lawson about his record breaking 145 mile run at GUCR. The News, a Blog and Speedgoat Karl.

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If you enjoy Talk Ultra, consider a donation to help finance the show HERE

00:18:28 NEWS
 
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities http://iancorless.org/2015/04/28/nepal-appeal-nepalearthquake/
 
Karl Meltzer another 100
Cruel Jewel 108 miler
GUCR
Dan Lawson 22:16
Mark Perkins 22:42
Andy Horrobin 26:24
Mimi Anderson 32:28
Alayne Malkin 34:41
Naomi Newton-Fisher 37:22
 
00:22:36 INTERVIEW
 
Daniel Lawson GUCR new CR interview
 
TNF100
Dylan Bowman 8:50:13
Scott Hawker 8:56:19
Yun Yanqiao 9:01:29
Dong Li 11:05:22
Amy Sproston 11:27:50
Shona Stephenson 11:47:02
 
ZEGAMA-AIZKORRI
Tadei Pivk 3:51:11
Manuel Merillas 3:51:47
Pere Rulla 3:52:50
Aritz Egea 3:59:27
Marco De Gasperi 3:59:48
Azara Garcia 4:41:23
Paula Cabrezo 4:43:44
Oihana Kortazar 4:44:57
Emelie Forsberg 4:49:38
Federica Boifava 4:51”32
Anton is injured…. again
 
Dave Mackey injured
 
Scott Jurek takes on the AT
 
Comrades with Ellie Greenwood, Max King and Sage Canaday – ouch!
 
01:29:15 INTERVIEW
 
Scott Hawker 2nd at TNF100
 
02:16:18 INTERVIEW
 
Joe Fejes EMU 6-day world trophy– Joe Fejes finished the event with 606.243 miles, which resets the American record for miles run in six days on a non-track surface.
02:45:00 BLOG
 
IAU WORLD TRAIL CHAMPS PREVIEW HERE
02:45:27 UP & COMING RACES
 

Argentina

Fiambala Desert Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Fiambala Desert Trail 80K | 80 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Australia

Queensland

Endura 50K | 50 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Gold Coast 50 Miler | 50 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

Runners ConneXion 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Victoria

Macedon Ranges 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Western Australia

Kep Track 100km Ultra Marathon II | 100 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Kep Track 75km Ultra Marathon II | 75 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

Trail des Vallées du Chevalier – 62 km | 62 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Bhutan

The Last Secret | 200 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Brazil

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 135 km Hard | 135 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 235 km | 235 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 65 km Easy | 65 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 95 km Medium | 95 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

Canada

Alberta

Blackfoot Ultra 100KM | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Km | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Miler | 50 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Calgary Marathon 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

British Columbia

Vancouver 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 62.5 km | 62 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 75.8 km | 75 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 87.9 km | 87 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

China

Gobi March 2015 | 250 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Colombia

Chicamocha Run 108 km | 108 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Chicamocha Run 166 km | 166 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Czech Republic

Craft Gemini Maraton | 84 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Mammut Ultramaraton | 85 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Denmark

Midtjylland

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X50 | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X70 | 70 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Finland

Western Finland

Perniön 60 km | 60 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

SUOMI-RUN 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail de la Chaussée des Géants – 53 km | 53 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Dordogne

La Mythique International Run | 250 kilometers | June 04, 2015 | website

Gironde

Tour du Canton de Fronsac 60 km | 60 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Haute-Loire

Le Puy-en-Velay – Conques (Juin) | 208 kilometers | June 04, 2015 | website

Haute-Savoie

Trail du Gypaète | 73 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Trail du Lac d’Annecy – Technica Maxi Race | 86 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Trail du Lac d’Annecy – XL Race | 87 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Trail du Hautacam – 50 km | 59 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Jura

La Transju’trail – 72 km | 72 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Orne

Trail du Massif d’Ecouves en Pays d’Alançon – 61 km | 61 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Pas-de-Calais

Trail des Pyramides Noires – 100 km | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Saône-et-Loire

Ultra Trail de Côte-d’Or – 105 km | 105 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Yonne

Oxfam Trailwalker France | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Hesse

WiBoLT | 320 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 101 KM | 101 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 67 KM | 67 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Schleswig-Holstein

Lauf zwischen den Meeren | 94 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Hungary

Ultrabalaton | 212 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Italy

Piedmont

Trail del Monte Soglio – Gir Lung | 63 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Sardinia

Sardegna Lakes Trail | 150 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Vigolana Trail | 65 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Tuscany

100km del Passatore | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Veneto

Gran Raid delle Prealpi Trevigiane | 72 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Japan

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

71 km | 71 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Hida Takayama Ultra Marathon -100 km | 100 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Hida Takayama Ultra Marathon – 72 km | 72 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Namibia

Richtersveld Wildrun | 150 kilometers | June 02, 2015 | website

Nepal

Mount Everest Extreme Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Netherlands

Friesland

Pieter-ROG-pad Special Waddeneilanden | 300 kilometers | June 04, 2015 | website

Norway

Romerike 100 | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Romerike 50 | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Peru

Jungle Ultra | 220 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Philippines

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

Portugal

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – 100 Milhas+ | 100 miles | June 05, 2015 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K100 | 101 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K70 | 70 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 144 km | 144 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 57 km | 57 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

Romania

Fundu Moldovei 3-day staged 115km ultra | 115 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Fundu Moldovei Ultra Romania | 115 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Russia

Dubna – Dmitrov Trail. 2015 – 50K | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Serbia

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 122 km | 122 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 73 km | 73 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

South Africa

Comrades Marathon | 89 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Spain

Basque Country

Euskal Herria Mendi Erronka | 65 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Castile and León

Riaza Trail Challenge 70 km | 70 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Castile-La Mancha

Quixote Legend | 166 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Catalonia

Trail Els Bastions® | 52 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ulldeter Ultra | 52 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Ultra Els Bastions® | 90 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Galicia

Ultra Trail Aldeas do Courel | 84 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Sweden

Boras Ultra Marathon – 100 miles | 100 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Boras Ultra Marathon – 87 km | 87 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Switzerland

Berne

100km run Biel | 100 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

Calderdale Way Ultra (long) | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

County Borough of Conwy

Dragon’s Back | 200 miles | June 08, 2015 | website

Devon

Dartmoor Discovery | 32 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Gloucestershire

Aston Subedge Ultra Run | 56 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Northamptonshire

Northants Ultra | 35 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

Northern Ireland

Mourne Way Ultra Marathon | 84 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

North Yorkshire

Oxfam Trailtrekker GB (North) – 100 km | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Oxfam Trailtrekker GB (North) – 65 km | 65 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Surrey

The Omen 66.6 | 67 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Worcestershire

Severn Path Ultra | 58 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Severn Plod Ultra | 45 miles | May 29, 2015 | website

Severn Way Ultra | 58 miles | May 31, 2015 | website

USA

Alabama

Rockin Choccolocco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Arizona

Adrenaline 65K Night Run | 65 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Solemates Arizona 200 | 214 miles | June 10, 2015 | website

Arkansas

War Eagle Tail Twister Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

California

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Rim to Rim Trail Run – 50M | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

San Francisco 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

San Francisco 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Shadow of the Giants 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Colorado

Ultimate Direction Dirty 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Florida

Help Support Us | 1000 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Lake to Ocean 100K | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Georgia

Rogue Yeti 50K Run | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Rogue Yeti 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | May 29, 2015 | website

Idaho

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 60k | 60 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Iowa

Heartland Relay 200 | 205 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Heartland Relay 75 | 75 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

Kansas

Flint Hills Trail 40 Mile | 40 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Michigan

Yankee Springs Trail Double Marathon | 84 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

New Jersey

Mayapple 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Mayapple 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

New York

Cayuga Trails 50 | 50 miles | May 31, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 Mile | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Ohio

Buckeye Buster 50 | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Buckeye Buster 50K | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Mohican Trail 100M Trail Run | 100 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Mohican Trail 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Oregon

Bend Beer Chase | 70 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Rhode Island

Gloridays | 44 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

South Carolina

El Diablo | 220 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Family Tree 100 Relay | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Forest Freak 50k | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100K | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100M | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 60K | 60 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Knock on Wood 100 Mile | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Utah

Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultra Advantures Bryce Canyon 100 Mile | 100 miles | June 05, 2015 | website

Ultra Advantures Bryce Canyon 50K | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultra Advantures Bryce Canyon 50 Mile | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Vermont

Coyote Scramble Ultras 40 Miler | 40 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Virginia

Old Dominion 100 Cross Country Run | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Washington

Echo Valley 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Echo Valley 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | May 31, 2015 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50M Ultra | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Vashon Island 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Washington D.C.

Race Across Virginia – Nation’s Capital (4 Marathons) | 114 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Wisconsin

Kettle Moraine 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Kettle Moraine 38 Mile Night Fun Run | 38 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Kettle Moraine 50 km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ragnar Relay Chicago | 194 miles | June 12, 2015 | website
 
CLOSE

 02:49:25

LINKS

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Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

The North Face Ultra Cardiac Trail Running Shoe Review

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In recent years, The North Face have continually been improving their run shoes. Foe me, the Ultra Guide was a stand out shoe and it was a shoe that friends and readers of this website also enjoyed. The upper held the foot well the shoe was cushioned but not too cushioned, it had an 8mm drop and it was ideal for those longer days on the trail and the grip worked well on dry trail, rocks and and muddy (not too muddy) trail/ rocks. It was a winner!

When I heard about the Ultra MT shoe for 2015 I was excited. I thought this shoe would be a step up from the Ultra Guide and the new incarnation would be even better. I have to say, when I first got the Ultra MT I was impressed. Vibram sole, tough durable upper, great toe protection, good grip and so on…. the running experience for me though did not live up to the look of the shoe or my expectations. I did several runs in them looking for that glimmer of hope but for me they just didn’t do it. Sorry TNF but I just didn’t like them. They lacked life, responsiveness and they made my runs feel flat.

I was disappointed! The Ultra Guide would no longer be made and I thought the Ultra MT was the replacement! But then I got hold of the Ultra Cardiac.

All is forgiven TNF!

The Ultra Cardiac is the shoe I was hoping for. It has taken all that was good in the Ultra Guide, tweaked and fine tuned it and what we now have is a rock solid trail running shoe with good cushioning, a grippy Vibram sole and a plush feel when running.

The Shoe

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First off, this is a good looking shoe. Okay let me clarify, this is a good looking show in my opinion! Looks are personal but the Ultra Cardiac ticks all the boxes for me. Although on paper, Quill Blue and Acid Yellow may not sound appealing. Visually it works especially with the addition of a good dose of black. You can’t go wrong with black.

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True to size, I have a UK 9 and it fits exceptionally well, holds the foot firm, hugs the heel well with no rubbing, slipping or movement and the toe box is roomy but not ‘too’ roomy. At 301g/ 10.6oz for a UK 9 (UK 8 is 272g) the shoe is certainly comparable to the competition. Cushioning is plush with 20mm at the rear and 12mm at the front. This provides an 8mm drop (difference between front and back) that is definitely becoming the ‘norm’ in the trail running world. It used to be difficult to find a 6mm or 8mm drop shoe, now you have loads to choose from and 11mm/12mm drop shoes are becoming harder to find. In principal that is a good thing but lets be clear here, although we may be (to coin a phrase) ‘Born to Run’ not everyone should be running in low drop and minimalist shoes.

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For me, 6mm and 8mm drop shoes really do provide a sweet spot for running and particularly when running long. They allow you a more natural feel (mid to forefoot) but also allow you a more relaxed foot strike (mid to heel) and comfort when you get tired. As mentioned, there is nor shortage of shoes with 6/8mm drop so although it’s not possible to compare like-for-like you may want to consider the following:

  • Salomon Sense Mantra 3 (HERE) 15mm/ 9mm has less cushioning, 6mm drop, very wide toe box, plush ride and all the wonderfrul ‘Sense’ attributes. A favourite of mine.
  • inov-8 Race Ultra 290 (HERE) 10mm/ 18mm has been a disappointment. Initially I liked the feel of it but over prolonged running I found the shoe sloppy, it lacked feel and responsiveness and it didn’t hold my heel. I know many out in run land who love the Race Ultra in the 290 and 270 versions (I don’t like the 270 either) so it may just be me.
  • Kinabalu Supertrac (HERE) 21mm/ 29mm is a really beefy cushioned shoe with serious grip. To be honest, it’s the odd one out here as the Ultra Cardia, Mantra 3 and Race Ultra all have similar outsoles whereas the Supertrac is all about grip!

Believe me, these are not the only shoes available at 6/8mm drop, but the above will give you a start point.

I have real confidence in recommending the Ultra Cardiac to anyone. It really is a great shoe that is well suited to everyday runs, dry trail races and even some road. This is not a muddy trail shoe, it can handle some wet stuff and even a little mud in places but the Vibram outsole is all about gripping dry trail, rocks and yes, wet rocks.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7011

The upper is breathable and uses Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ to keep you cool and dry. It works! I found on repeated runs in warm weather that my feet didn’t over heat or expand. A sure sign that the upper is doing the job it is meant too.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7038

The tongue is loose and well padded. After using attached tongues in other shoes and the Salomon Endofit I am always a little wary now when I see a tongue not attached to the shoe at the sides. To me it just makes sense! Rest assured. The Ultra Guide tongue was comfortable and had little side movement.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7028

The heel box is well padded, curved and holds everything in place with no rubbing. It gets a big thumbs up.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7021

Toe box has some protection with the outsole extending up the front of the shoe and then you have a reinforced area of blue and black. It’s minimal protection!

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7036

On the side of the shoe you can see the reinforcement to hold the foot in place and this does a great job without adding any restriction. The most notable areas are the yellow sections on the sole.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7025

At the front you have EVA to give that plush feel on the trail and at the rear the ‘Cradle’ is designed to keep ones heel in place. I find it hard to be objective on the Cradle. Certainly my foot was held secure in the shoe and I had a very precise and controlled feel with the ground. However, I do strike mid to forefoot and therefore the Cradle may have to do less work for me?

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7041

The sole is made by Vibram so it’s fair to say that it works! The sole has no cut away so effectively it is one flat piece which gives a great reassurance on the trail. What I like about this shoe is its ability to switch from road to trail easily. It isn’t a road-to-trail shoe but it does a great job. The outsole is not aggressive but it does have lugs and it works on dry trail with loose debris such as rocks, stones, shale, pebbles and so on exceptionally well.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7017

On rocks, the Vibram grips and provides reassurance even in the wet. When the trail gets muddy you are going to loose grip and this is where my comparisons with the old Ultra Guide leaves me just a tad disappointed. The new ULTRA MT has a sole that was similar to the old Ultra Guide. Don’t get me wrong, this new Ultra Cardiac is a great dry trail shoe and it’s a shoe I will use a great deal. But for me, TNF can you please but the Ultra MT outsole on the Cardiac upper and then you will have two great trail shoes for mixed conditions.

©iancorless.com_TNFUltraCardiac-7044

Summary

TNF have repeatedly had a mixed reputation when it came to running shoes. The Ultra Guide changed that and many hailed that shoe as a real step forward. The Ultra Trail shoe was also well received and it’s a shoe I still use for dry fast trail. The Ultra MT was a step back (in my opinion) and I was seriously concerned after several outings in them. However, the Ultra Cardiac has changed all that. The ‘Cardiac’ (I still question that name!) is a great shoe and one that I would gladly purchase and run in regularly. The cushioning is plush and I would say that if you need some added comfort on longer runs or races, this shoe would be well worth considering. As the name suggests, it would make a great ultra shoe.

Pros:

Cushioning is excellent

Vibram sole

8mm drop

Padded heel box and Tongue

Cons:

Toe box protection is minimal

Tongue not attached to the sides

The North Face say:

Featuring a breathable FlashDry™ upper and Vibram® outsole, this lightweight-yet-protective performance trail runner delivers an exceptionally smooth ride over the toughest of terrain. With its traction and balance enhancing full-length Vibram® outsole and fast-drying and cool Ultra Airmesh upper, this trail running shoe screams speed and comfort with maximum support. Read the full product feature list below.

FEATURES

  • Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ keep you cool and dry
  • Zonal protection in the heel and toe
  • Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for proper heel positioning and support
  • Luxurious cushioning in the collar lining and tongue for a comfortable fit
  • 20 mm heel /12 mm forefoot
  • EVA underfoot
  • Vibram® full-length outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
  • 8 mm offset
  • Approximate Weight: 548 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8

Episode 84 – Hawker Canaday Kimball

Ep84

Episode 84 of Talk Ultra has an interview with Sage Canaday talking about coaching and training, Lizzy Hawker tells us all about her new book and Nikki Kimball talks TCC, fell running, her new film and racing in South Africa. Talk Training, the News, Up and Coming Races and Speedgoat.
00:13:48 NEWS
 
Barkley
Fair play to Jamil Coury but nobody finished….
Chuckanut 50k
David Laney 3:40
Andrew Benford 3:40
Brett Hornig 3:35
Magdalena Boulet 4:13
Catrin Jones 4:25
Cassie Scallon 4:29
 
Gorge Waterfalls
Justin Houck 9:22 CR
Chris Denucci 9:49
Ben Stern 9:59
Michele Yates 11:03 CR
Joell Vaught 11:10
Olga Nevtrinos 11:20
Ryan Sandes sets FKT on Table Mountain and Red Bull sets up a website to see if you can beat it…
Kilian tells us about his 2015 plans as does Timmy Olson
 
Sage Canaday going to run UTMB
 
Marathon des Sables kicks off…. Preview HERE
00:35:18 INTERVIEW
 
SAGE CANADY provides us with an insight into his coaching and training ethos and how he applies them to his own racing HERE
01:29:00 BLOG
 
What goes in the MDS pack? Read HERE
01:30:55 INTERVIEW
 
LIZZY HAWKER has been away from the running scene with injury. However, she has used the time wisely writing a book called RUNNER. We catch up with her, discuss the book and you have an opportunity to win one of two copies.
WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK HERE
Purchase the book HERE
 
02:16:03 TALK TRAINING
Marc Laithwaite talks all about race pacing. Read the blog post HERE
02:44:50 INTERVIEW
 
NIKKI KIMBALL talks about The Coastal Challenge, her new film, fell racing and heading to South Africa
Finding Traction movie HERE
03:31:20 UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Patagonia Run 100k | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Patagonia Run 63k | 63 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Patagonia Run 84k | 84 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Running Festival Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Queensland

Wildhorse Criterium 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 05, 2015 | website

Wildhorse Criterium 70 km | 70 kilometers | April 05, 2015 | website

Victoria

Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon | 75 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Western Australia

3 Waters 50km Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Diez Vista 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Chile

Ultra Fiord 100K | 100 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Ultra Fiord 100M | 100 miles | April 16, 2015 | website

Ultra Fiord 70K | 70 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 100 miles | April 17, 2015 | website

France

Bouches-du-Rhône

Trail Sainte Victoire 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Haute-Loire

L’Ultra trace de St Jacques | 740 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Jura

Le Savagnin | 58 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Rhône

Ultra Beaujolais Villages Trail | 110 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Germany

Hesse

Bilstein-Marathon BiMa 53+ | 53 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Guadeloupe

GUADARUN : ultra-marathon des îles de Guadeloupe | 136 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Indonesia

Trans Sumbawa 200 Miles | 200 miles | April 08, 2015 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Connemara Ultramarathon | 39 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

Israel

Race the Promised Land Ultra | 124 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 144 km Ultra | 144 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 54 Ultra | 54 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

The Sea to Jerusalem 70 km Ultra | 70 kilometers | April 17, 2015 | website

Italy

Latium

UltraTrail dei Monti Cimini | 80 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Piedmont

100 km di Torino | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Tuscany

Elba Trail “Eleonoraxvincere” | 54 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Jordan

Dead Sea Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 03, 2015 | website

Morocco

Ecotrail de Ouarzazate | 111 kilometers | April 16, 2015 | website

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 03, 2015 | website

Nepal

Annapurna Mandala Trail | 250 kilometers | April 15, 2015 | website

Buddhist Stupa Trail Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Netherlands

North Holland

Castricum Ultraloop | 60 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

De Zestig van Texel – 120 km | 120 kilometers | April 06, 2015 | website

De Zestig van Texel – 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 06, 2015 | website

Norway

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – 1 1/2 Marathon | 63 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – Ultra 100km | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Philippines

Mayon 360º | 80 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Portugal

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 115 | 116 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Madeira Island Ultra Trail 85 | 85 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

South Africa

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon | 56 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Spain

Catalonia

24 hores del Cap de Creus | 87 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Extremadura

LXVII Milhas Romanas | 100 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

The Calderdale Hike – Long | 36 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Carmarthenshire

Pendine Sands Ultra | 32 miles | April 05, 2015 | website

Devon

Coastal Trail Series – Exmoor – Ultra | 34 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Dorset

The ONER | 78 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

The ONER Half Day Section | 39 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

East Sussex

South Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Glasgow City

Glasgow – Edinburgh Double Marathon | 55 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Hampshire

Compton 40 mile Challenge | 40 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Surrey

North Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | April 05, 2015 | website

USA

Arizona

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 100 Miler | 104 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 150 Miler | 156 miles | April 09, 2015 | website

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 200 Miler | 208 miles | April 09, 2015 | website

Solemates Prescott Circle Trail 50 Miler | 52 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

California

American River 50-mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Grizzly Peak 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Lake Sonoma 50 | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Oriflamme 50k | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Woodside Crossover 50K | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Florida

Croom Trail 50K Fools Run | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Croom Trail 50M Fools Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 100 Miles | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 50 Miles | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Wild Sebastian 100 Spring Edition – 75 Miles | 75 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Illinois

Potawatomi 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Potawatomi 150 Mile Trail Run | 150 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Potawatomi 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Indiana

2 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

3 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

4 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

5 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

6 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

7 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

8 Person Team | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Iowa

Hawkeye 50k | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Kansas

Rocking K Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Louisiana

LUR’s Sleepy 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Trail Race – Run Forward. Give Back – Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Michigan

Kal-Haven Trail Run | 33 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Minnesota

Zumbro 100k | 100 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

Zumbro 100M | 100 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Zumbro Midnight 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Mississippi

Gulf Coast Interstate Relay – Ride or Run | 263 miles | April 03, 2015 | website

Race Across Mississippi – Border to Border (7 Marathons) | 192 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Missouri

Ozark Foothills 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Nebraska

Double Half Mary+5 | 50 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

New York

100 Mile PEACE Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 17, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Cedar Island 40 | 42 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Ohio

Forget the PR Mohican 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Oklahoma

Tatur’s Lake McMurty Trail Race 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Oregon

Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 Mile Trail Run | 40 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

Shotgun Trail Blast 50K | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

South Carolina

Blind Pig 100K Ultra Marathon | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Blind Pig 100 Mile Ultra Marathon | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Tennessee

Power to the Tower 50k Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

War at Windrock – 3 stages race | 51 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Texas

Hells Hills 50 km Endurance Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 04, 2015 | website

Hells Hills 50 Mile Endurance Trail Run | 50 miles | April 04, 2015 | website

Utah

Zion 100k | 100 kilometers | April 10, 2015 | website

Zion 100 Mile | 100 miles | April 10, 2015 | website

Zion 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Virginia

Bull Run Run 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Washington

Alger Alp 50k | 50 kilometers | April 12, 2015 | website

Lumberjack 100 K Run | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Lumberjack 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Lumberjack 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 11, 2015 | website

Squak Mountain 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Wisconsin

Mad City 100K | 100 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Mad City 50K | 50 kilometers | April 11, 2015 | website

Zimbabwe

33 Miler | 33 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

33 Miler Relay | 33 miles | April 12, 2015 | website

03:35:32 CLOSE
03:41:11
LINKS:

Marathon des Sables – What goes in the rucksack?

MDS Kit

It’s countdown time to the 30th edition of the iconic Marathon des Sables. The training is done and it was time for Niandi Carmont to go through all her equipment, lay it all out, weigh everything and decide what to take and what not to take.

To be clear for those who do not know. Minimum pack weight is 6.5kg.

Minimum food requirement is 2000 calories per day for 7-days.

In addition to the above, each runner must have ‘mandatory’ kit that includes venom pump, compass, penknife and so on…

Marathon des Sables is a self-sufficient race and therefore the runner must carry everything they need for the duration of the event. The only exception comes with water (this is provided and rationed) and a Bivouac (tent) for the evening which is shared with 7 other runners.

Niandi was very clear… my pack will be minimum weight: 6.5kg

It’s been an interesting process and one that has provided both Niandi and myself with some real eye openers… normally you would have too much kit and you would be deciding what to take and what not to take! The reality has been here that we have EVERYTHING that Niandi wants to take and we are under weight. A nice situation to be in.

You can download the equipment list in Word HERE or Excel HERE

Before we get to the pack. Lets look at what Niandi will wear:

  • inov-8 Race Ultra 290 shoes with Raidlight gaiters (gaiters sewn on by Alex in London)
  • Injinji toe socks
  • Raidlight Skort
  • Raidlight T-Shirt
  • Arm Coolers
  • Anita sports bra
  • inov-8 peaked hat
  • Oakley sunglasses
  • Buff

The above is essential and will be worn for the duration of the event.

The pack is an Ultra Aspire Fastpack that will have 2x750ml bottles that sit on the hips and provide easy access

©iancorless.com_MDSkit-7707

Sleeping bag (with Piglet) Yeti Passion One

©iancorless.com_MDSkit-7704

The North Face Summit Series down jacket

©iancorless.com_MDSkit-7692

Raidlight Tyvek suit which has been tailored and modify for a tighter fit and to reduce weight.

©iancorless.com_MDSkit-7691

Petzl head torch with spare batteries

©iancorless.com_MDSkit-7689

The items below make up additional items that are optional extras (such as iPod) and mandatory kit. One or two items are missing: Spot Tracker, signalling mirror and sun cream.

Food is broken down on the excel spread sheet but here is a summary in words and images:

Dehydrated Meals x6 672
Dried Mango 93g x 4 372
Porridge 59g x 7 413
Coffee 1g x 10 10
Peanut Butter 33g x 5 165
Honey 21g x 8 168
Mini Salami 10g x 10 100
Tropical Mix 194
Sesame Bites 27g x 6 162
Dried Banana 270
Mixed Nuts 200g x 2 400
Macademia Nuts 153
Cranberries 175
Wraps 296
3550

We have not added photos of the dehydrated meals as currently we do not have them but we have calculated the weight and you can see a review of dehydrated meals and options HERE

So in a nutshell. With everything listed above we have a current pack weight (without water) of:

TOTAL WEIGHT 6189
*all weights in grams

Niandi does have some additional optional items that she was considering taking and now based on the weight above she will add:

  • Flip Flops 250g
  • Cheese 150g
  • Stove and fuel 150g

The above 3 items tip the scales at 550g

This will make a total pack weight of 6189 + 550 = 6739g

JOB DONE!

Read an in-depth preview of the 2015 Marathon des Sables HERE

Episode 83 – Grinius Campbell Murray Bragg

Ep83

Episode 83 of Talk Ultra has a great interview with rising ultra star, Gediminas Grinius​. Dr Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell​ talk about their recent epic journey and Jez Bragg​ talks about getting speed back after his epic Te Araroa journey and how he plans to tame the Dragon. Marc Laithwaite​ is back in Talk Training, we have the News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Niandi Carmont​ joins me as co-host and we discuss the MDS.

00:32:36 NEWS
 
Way to Cool 50k
Pay Smyth 3:04:48 new CR beating Max King
Ryan Bak 3:10
Tim Tollefson 3:20
Megan Roche 3:41:56 new CR
Stephanie Howe 3:47
Yiou Wang 3:51
World Records on Treadmills
50k – Mike Wardian failed first time and 36-hours later did it… crazy 3:03:56 (3:06:24 first time)
50k – Gemma Carter in the UK 3:55:28 (Tracy Dean did 4:15 just before Christmas)
12-hour – Denis Mikhaylove ran 80.54 miles
 
Transgrancanaria article HERE
  1. Nuria Picas 16:53:27
  2. Carole Chaverot 17:16:48
  3. Dong Li 18:15:55
  4. Andrea Huser 18:37:53
  5. Manu Vilaseca 18:42:59
  6. Ester Alves 19:11:45
  7. Lucinda Souza 19:25:46
  8. Aliza Lapierre 19:58:48
  9. Raquel Delgado 20:24:16
  10. Silvia Trigueros 20:38:18
  1. Gedminas Grinius 14:23:27
  2. Didrik Hermansen 14:30:07
  3. Antoine Guillon 14:39:35
  4. Sondre Amdahl 15:06:37
  5. Cyril Cointr 15:28:22
  6. Anton Krupicka 15:29:49
  7. Remi Queral 15:59:11
  8. Freddy Thevenin 16:07:06
  9. Marco Zanchi 16:25:13
  10. Piotr Hercog 16:30:45
Max King impresses once again running 2:17 for an Olympic Qualifying slot. Sage Canaday just missed out!
Hillary Ultra in NZ 80k
Andrius Romanas 8:23
Chris Morrisey 8:55
Scott Hawker 9:07
Beth Cardelli 9:57
Joanna Johansen 10:17
Fiona Hayvice 10:22
Lakes Sky Ultra announced – HERE
 
00:49:07 INTERVIEW
 
DONNIE CAMPBELL and DR ANDREW MURRAY need no introduction when it comes to expeditions, I catch up with them and discuss the latest one!
01:18:08 BLOG
 
ANTON KRUPICKA talks Transgrancanaria HERE
01:19:00 INTERVIEW
 
JEZ BRAGG talks all about putting speed back in his training and how he will tame the Dragon in 2015.
 
01:54:08 TALK TRAINING
 
Marc Laithwaite talks all about butter in coffee… would you do it?
02:25:16 INTERVIEW
 
GEDIMINIAS GRINIUS is a star in the rising, an incredible 2014 has been followed up with the biggest win in his career: Transgrancanaria.
 
03:11:41 UP & COMING RACES
 

Algeria

Ultramarathon des Ziban | 100 kilometers | April 02, 2015 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

Crêtes de Spa – 55 km | 55 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Canada

Yukon

6633 Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon – 120 mile | 120 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

6633 Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon – 350 mile | 350 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Likeys Ultra 6633 – 120 Mile | 120 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Likeys Ultra 6633 – 350 Mile | 350 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

China

Action Asia 3 day ultra marathons 60k | 60 kilometers | March 27, 2015 | website

Lijiang Shangri-La AA Ultra Marathon 100km | 100 kilometers | March 27, 2015 | website

Shangri-La LIJIANG Action Asia 3 day 100 km Ultra Marathon | 100 kilometers | March 27, 2015 | website

Shangri-La LIJIANG Action Asia 3 day 60 km Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | March 27, 2015 | website

Croatia

Istratrek Trail Race | 60 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

France

Lot

Cahors (Lot) – Eauze (Gers) | 185 kilometers | April 01, 2015 | website

Morbihan

Trail du Kreiz Breizh Bras | 55 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Yvelines

Ecotrail de Paris IDF – 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Ecotrail de Paris IDF – 80 km | 80 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Germany

Hesse

Eschollbrücker Ultra-Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Hungary

BSI Half Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 95 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Balatonfüred – Siófok | 51 kilometers | March 22, 2015 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 20, 2015 | website

Ireland

Leinster

Wicklow Way Ultra | 51 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Italy

Lombardy

100 km di Seregno | 100 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

60 km di Seregno | 60 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

BVG Trail | 73 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Jordan

Dead Sea Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 03, 2015 | website

Luxembourg

La GranDucale – 55 km | 55 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Morocco

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 03, 2015 | website

Morocco Tizi N’Trail | 120 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Morocco Trail | 120 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Nepal

Kathmandu West Valley Rim 50km | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

New Zealand

Northburn Station 100 km Mountain Run | 100 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Northburn Station 50 km Mountain Run | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Oxfam Trailwalker NZ | 100 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Triple Peaks Challenge | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Philippines

CEBU50 Trail Ultramarathon – Aspirant | 54 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Portugal

Inatel Piódão Trail Running – 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Réunion

Caldeira Trail | 74 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

South Africa

Om Die Dam 50 km Marathon | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Spain

Catalonia

Ultra Trail Muntanyes de la Costa Daurada | 90 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Valencian Community

La Perimetral | 65 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Sweden

Silva Ursvik Ultra – 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 22, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Dorset

Jurassic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

East Sussex

Coastal Trail Series – Sussex – Ultra | 34 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Manchester

The Canalathon 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 22, 2015 | website

The Canalathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 22, 2015 | website

The Canalathon 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 22, 2015 | website

North Yorkshire

Hardmoors 55 Ultramarathon | 55 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Oldham

Oldham Way Ultra | 40 miles | March 22, 2015 | website

Worcestershire

Hot Runner 14 in 7 | 590 kilometers | March 23, 2015 | website

Hot Runner 7 in 7 | 295 kilometers | March 23, 2015 | website

USA

Alabama

Lake Martin 100 Mile Trail Race | 100 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Lake Martin 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Oak Moutain 50+ | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Alaska

White Mountains 100 | 100 miles | March 29, 2015 | website

Arizona

Crown King Scramble 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Arkansas

3 days of Syllamo | 150 kilometers | March 20, 2015 | website

Race Across Arkansas – Border to Border (6 Marathons) | 161 miles | April 02, 2015 | website

California

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 100 Miler | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50K | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Canyon Meadow 50 Km Trail Run (March) | 50 kilometers | March 22, 2015 | website

Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run | 35 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Old Goats 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Old Goats 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Delaware

Trap Pond 50K | 50 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Florida

Fort Clinch 100M | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Fort Clinch 50M | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Georgia

Bear Blaster 50k | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Running Dead Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Idaho

Pickled Feet 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 27, 2015 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K George Cheung Memorial Race | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Kansas

Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Mile Ultra Race | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail 50 Mile Ultra Race | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Louisiana

Race Across Louisiana – Border to Border (52 Miles) | 52 miles | March 30, 2015 | website

Maryland

50K HAT Run | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Hat Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Mississippi

Gulf Coast Interstate Relay – Ride or Run | 263 miles | April 03, 2015 | website

Spring Equinox 50K | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Spring Equinox 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Missouri

Forrest Gump Challenge 50 Mile Ultra-marathon | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

New Jersey

NJ Ultra Festival – 100K Trail Race | 100 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

NJ Ultra Festival – 100M Trail Race | 100 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

NJ Ultra Festival – 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

NJ Ultra Festival – 50M Trail Race | 50 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Badwater Cape Fear 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Badwater Cape Fear 51.4 Mile | 51 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Race for R.A.R.E. 50K | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Umstead 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

North Dakota

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 100K | 100 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Extreme North Dakota Sandhills Ultra Run Experience 50K | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Ohio

Fools 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Oregon

Gorge Waterfalls 100k | 100 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Gorge Waterfalls 50k | 50 kilometers | March 29, 2015 | website

Pennsylvania

Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Mt. Tammany 10 | 40 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Tuff FKN 100 miler | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Tuff FKN 100 Miler 2 Person Relay | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Tuff FKN 100 Miler 4 Person Relay | 100 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Western PA Endurance Fest 50K | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Western PA Endurance Fest 50K Relay | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

South Carolina

XTERRA Hickory Knob Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Texas

Race Across Texas – D-Town (4 Marathons) | 106 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Race Across Texas – Plains to Pines (3 Marathons) | 84 miles | March 25, 2015 | website

The Grasslands 50-Mile | 50 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Utah

24 Hours of Utah – 100K | 100 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

24 Hours of Utah – 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

24 Hours of Utah – 50K | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Antelope Island 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Antelope Island 50K | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Antelope Island 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 21, 2015 | website

Behind the Rocks 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Behind the Rocks 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Vermont

Twin State 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Twin State 50 Miles | 50 miles | March 28, 2015 | website

Virginia

Terrapin Mountain 50km | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

Washington

Badger Mountain Challenge 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | March 27, 2015 | website

Badger Mountain Challenge 50k Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | March 28, 2015 | website

Badger Mountain Challenge 50 Mile Ultramarathon | 50 miles | March 27, 2015 | website

Chuckanut 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

West Virginia

Haulin’ in the Holler 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 21, 2015 | website

 
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Website – talkultra.com

RUNNER – A Short Story about a Long Run : Lizzy Hawker

Lizzy Hawker

RUNNER tells a story, it uncovers a journey of the physical, mental and emotional challenges that runners go through at the edge of human endurance. From a school girl running on the streets of London to breaking records on the worlds mountains and toughest races, Lizzy Hawker is an inspiration to anyone who would like to see how far they can go, running or not.

“Lizzy never ceases to enthuse, inspire and amaze! She knows what it truly means to live life to the absolute fullest, step out of your comfort zone and truly test your limits. So much more than a book about running, this memoir is about an enthralling life journey replete with peaks and troughs, highs and lows and many twists and turns. Most importantly, Lizzy reminds all of us to never stop exploring, discovering and challenging ourselves to do more than we think possible.” – Chrissie Wellington MBE

Runner - Lizzy HawkerLizzy Hawker needs no introduction. Often called the Queen of UTMB, her running has inspired many… me included. Her ability to run tough, relentless mountain trail races has also been matched with road running.

100km Women’s World Champion,  five times winner of the UTMB, record holder for the 24-hour and the first woman to stand on the overall winners’ podium at the iconic Spartathlon; Lizzy is a formidable force irrespective of the distance or terrain.

Lizzy’s remarkable spirit was recognised in 2013 when she was awarded National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award for running 320km in the Himalayas from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu.

RUNNER provides an insight into the mind of one of the most inspiring ladies in the ultra world, Lizzy Hawker.

Order the book HERE

*****

We will have an exclusive interview with Lizzy in the coming weeks so please watch this space.

RUNNER will be published on April 2nd 2015 £12.99 Paperback by Aurum Press

We have two editions to give away as prizes.

Please answer the following question on post your answer on this website:

“How many times has Lizzy won UTMB and what was the fastest time?”

Two winners will be announced after April 18th

Lizzy Hawker website HERE

Aurum Publishing HERE

 

The North Face ULTRA TR II and ULTRA CARDIAC shoes new for 2015

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe angle

The North Face are stepping things up for 2015 with three new shoes that will allow all of us to choose a specific shoe designed for the trails and conditions we are running on. Just the other week we had a first look and several test runs in the ULTRA MT (read HERE). The ULTRA MT is a bullet proof shoe built on a firm last, 8mm drop and a super grippy Vibram sole.

The ULTRA MT

Sticking to their guns, TNF now have the ULTRA TR II and the ULTRA CARDIAC. As a brand, TNF have obviously decided that 8mm drop is the perfect sweet spot and comprise when coming to a one drop for all scenario. I have to say, I agree! Purest and low drop enthusiasts out there will say, no, no, it needs to be 6mm, 4mm or even lower. To an extent I agree and understand but when you are only making three shoes, you need to commit. For many, particularly when running long, 8mm provides a great compromise and as we run longer and our run style and technique fades, 8mm drop allows for some leeway. I run in 4mm and 6mm drop shoes on a regular basis and I find the 8mm option a pleasure and a joy. Ultimately, there is no shortage of shoes on the market and a selection of drops. If TNF and an 8mm drop shoe is of interest, read on.

TNF ULTRA TR II

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe angle

 

The 2014 Ultra Trail shoe received much praise for it’s look and feel when running on dry trail. However, it did gain some criticism for the the longevity of the upper! So, the launch of the Ultra Trail II is a great sign that all previous pluses and minuses have been pooled to create a new and fast shoe.

The Vibram sole of the Ultra Trail was arguably one of the highlights of the shoe, it’s great to see this carried over to the Ultra Trail II. Vibram are synonomous with grip and this sole had an abundance of grip on dry trails, rocks and road. I do think that the Ultra Trail will work very well as a shoe that can switch between road and dry trail seamlessly.

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Sole

Influenced by cross-country spike shoes, the upper is a featherlight rip stop upper that provides a snug fit. As one would expect, the shoe is using TNF’s CRADLE technology to offer support in the heel and the midsole.

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe side

The Ultra TR II is a lightweight performance shoe that will weigh 230g (UK8) and without doubt, the shoe is all about speed and feel for those faster training sessions or races on dry trails. It is anticipated that the shoe will be available in two colours for men and one colour for ladies.

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe orange

TNF Ladies Ultra Trail IISpecifications:

 

  • Ripstop-tent-fabric
  • Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for support and proper foot positioning
  • Glove-like heel fit with protective suede overlays
  • Suede forefoot and toe protection
  • 16 mm heel
  • 8 mm forefoot
  • Dual-injection-molded EVA CRADLE™ GUIDE midsole platform
  • Vibram® full-length road-to-trail outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
  • 8 mm offset
  • Approximate Weight: 460 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8

TNF ULTRA CARDIAC

TNF Men Ultra Cardiac Shoe angle

 

The Ultra Cardiac looks to be an exciting shoe… I have long hailed my love for the Ultra Guide (no longer made by TNF) and on first looks, the Cardiac may well take off where the Ultra Guide finished. I hope so!

As mentioned, the Ultra Cardiac follows on with an 8mm drop providing a great sweet spot for many runners. Unlike the Ultra TR II, the Cardiac will ideally suit runners as a one-stop shoe. It will provide grip through a Vibram sole on a multitude of terrain: road, hard trail, rocks and wet/ muddy trail (providing it’s not too muddy.)

TNF Men Ultra Cardiac Sole

The upper has FlashDry technology and it really is a great multipurpose shoe with enhanced cushioning: 20mm rear and 12mm at the front. When compared to the Ultra TR II (16mm/ 8mm) it’s easy to see how these two shoe differ not only in weight but cushioning and purpose. The Ultra Cardiac is a shoe that you can slip on, run all day on mixed terrain and not get home battered and bruised from the experience.

TNF Men Ultra Cardiac Side

Despite a full length Vibram sole, fast drying upper and great cushioning the Ultra Cardiac still weighs in at a lightweight 275g (UK8) which is extremely appealing.

Ultra Cardiac Sole

 

Available in one colour for men, the ladies colour option is as below and will size from UK4 to UK9.

TNF Ladies Ultra Cardiac

Features:

 

  • Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ keep you cool and dry
  • Zonal protection in the heel and toe
  • Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for proper heel positioning and support
  • Luxurious cushioning in the collar lining and tongue for a comfortable fit
  • 20 mm heel /12 mm forefoot
  • EVA underfoot
  • Vibram® full-length outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
  • 8 mm offset
  • Approximate Weight: 548 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8

A full review of both shoes will be available in the coming months. The ULTRA TR II and ULTRA CARDIAC will be available from March 2015 prices are expected to be £85 and £105 respectively.

 

Read a ‘first impression’ review of the new, TNF ULTRA MT HERE

TNF Ultra MT angle

Check out The North Face HERE

the-north-face-logo

 

 

 

Iain Don Wauchope (aka Gandalf) writes about winning The Coastal Challenge 2015

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On Sunday, 25 January, at 15:30pm I departed my home in the Drakensberg, South Africa, and embarked on the longest and most challenging trip of my life. I finally arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Wednesday, 28 January. Actually, I only arrived at my hotel at 17:30 after taking 3 local buses from the airport to Poasito where I had booked a hotel room for the next few nights. In total, 82 hours had elapsed since I had left home! Not only was this trip long and testing in duration, it was extremely stressful and proved to be a bigger challenge than the actual trail running race that was the purpose of my trip to Costa Rica.

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The Coastal Challenge is a 6-day, 225km, supported trail run through the tropical rainforests of the South Western region of Costa Rica, Central America. All runners bring along their own tents, sleeping mats, sheets, mosquito nets etc. The organisers provide the meals, the overnight camping venues, transport for your bag, a well-marked route, aid stations on each day’s route and the usual back-up crew of media, medics, volunteers and logistics people. All runners are treated the same whether you are an international trail running legend or a local Costa Rican that the organisers haven’t even heard of before.

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For me, this race was a true test of perseverance and a reminder of how important it is to maintain a positive mental outlook no matter how bad the situation seems. I struggled for the first 2 days with headaches, my legs feeling lethargic, without rhythm and generally out-of-sorts. It felt as though my body was fighting off a bug or possibly still recovering from my arduous trip. Nevertheless, I kept plugging away and just tried to enjoy the journey and the beautiful surroundings. Despite how I was feeling and the results of each day, it was a privilege and honour to be in Costa Rica running through forests, rivers and beaches that most people would never get to experience.

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As it turned out, the final result of day 1 was not bad. Mike Murphy, the Canadian, was galloping off ahead in the lead, looking mighty fit, when he failed to see the course markings and continued in the wrong direction. As a result, I found myself in the lead and somehow managed to maintain that lead all the way to the end. It was extremely hot towards the end of the stage and it required a lot of mental effort to keep going all the way to the finish. I only had about 6 minutes on Ashur Yousseffi, a local Costa Rican, but about 14 minutes on Mike. There was no doubt that Mike was in great shape and the fastest runner on the day. I would have to keep an eye on him. As expected Karl Meltzer had started slowly and make good progress towards the latter stages. Joe Grant struggled in the heat, as did everyone else. I just seemed better able to adapt to the conditions and get to the finish quickest despite not feeling great.

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Day 2 started with a steep climb from our lovely overnight campsite at Rafiki Lodge. Mike immediately took the lead closely followed by Joe and I. While I kept an eye on Mike and Joe, I remained focused on myself maintaining a constant pace that I was comfortable with at that stage. By the top of the climb Mike and Joe had a few minutes on me and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see them again. So I continued to slog away up and through an overgrown track through the jungle, not feeling great but moving forward. By the 2nd check point / aid station, another local Costa Rican, Jeffrey Portuguez, had caught up to me while Mike had extended his lead to about 10 minutes. Joe was only 3 minutes ahead so I was hoping we could reel him in at some point. The section towards checkpoint 3 was flatter along a good gravel road but it was also getting very hot. Jeffrey dropped off the pace along this section but I was also suffering, so I stopped to buy a coke at a local shop. Shortly thereafter, at checkpoint 3, I was surprised to catch Joe; he had rolled his ankle badly and was hobbling along. We headed off together to tackle the last section along a long open beach; it was hot and we were both suffering a bit. It was great to have some company for this last stretch and I was very relieved to finally reach the end of day 2 alongside a new friend. Mike had a stormer of a run; he set a new stage record and finished almost 30 minutes ahead of us. That evening I mentioned to someone that the only way to beat Mike would be to chop his legs off! He had a 16-minute lead, I still wasn’t feeling 100% and he looked like he was ready to take on the world! Little did I know that he was having a few issues of his own that would soon escalate into more serious problems.

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Day 3 started in much the same way as the first 2 days. Mike sped off from the start and the rest of us followed. I needed a few minutes to warm up and then started feeling okay. I soon realised that Mike wasn’t gaining any more distance on me and I slowly caught up to him. I knew we had a rocky river section ahead of us and I suspected that I would be able to negotiate the slippery rocks better than Mike. As it turned out, this was a critical part of our race and the turning point of our dual. We arrived at the river section together. I focused on just getting over the rocks and through this river section as efficiently as possible. Mike, on the other hand, was struggling over the rocks and kept falling and slipping. He lost his sunglasses and most of his pre-mixed race juice. He grew increasingly angry with himself and I knew I should keep the pressure on by moving swiftly through this tricky section. After 10km, we arrived at checkpoint 1 together. The big difference was that Mike had expended a lot of energy up until this point. He was battered and bruised with numerous cuts on his legs, he had lost his sunglasses and his pre-mixed race fuel and, more importantly, this was now playing on his mind. Incidentally, I had also lost my cap but I didn’t worry too much about it. I filled up my bottles, grabbed some delicious fruit and then ducked off into the bush to alleviate a bit of diarrhoea.

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Soon thereafter, we trotted off from checkpoint 1 together and immediately started a climb out of the valley. Mike dropped back half a stride and then a full stride. I was feeling good so I increased my tempo slightly. I knew I had to take advantage while I was feeling good and Mike was struggling. Even though I was aware of Mike, I remained focused on myself realising that it was still a long way to go to the finish on day 6. I got into a comfortable rhythm, kept myself well hydrated and as cool as possible. Towards the end of the day we had a long beach section to negotiate. It was very hot and, without my peak, the sun felt more intense than usual. I attempted to make a plan with a large leaf to provide some protection from the blazing sun, but it only lasted about 500m. Despite feeling good at the start of the beach section, by the time I reached the other end of the beach I was suffering and really feeling the heat. To everyone’s relief, including mine, there was an Eden-like freshwater stream and plunge pool as the route left the beach and entered the forest. I submerged by body in the cool water, gulped down some oh-so-refreshing water and then started the slog up the steep forest track towards the final checkpoint. From there it was a blistering hot 4km stretch along tar towards the finish. I didn’t want to over-exert myself but I also didn’t want to lose any advantage that I had built up over Mike. Keep in mind that you have no idea of the time gaps between yourself and those behind you; I didn’t know whether Mike was 3 minutes or 30 minutes behind me and how he was feeling or moving. So I just kept trudging along towards the finish. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive in a new stage record time of 4:43, beating the previous record by almost 33 minutes. Mike arrived about 16 minutes later, also under the old stage record. Overall, I was now leading Mike by less than 2 minutes. The race was on!

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Day 4 was another big day starting with a long, steep climb and ending with a very steep descent with a total ascent of 2950m. Mike was a little more tentative at the start and didn’t go tearing off as usual. As soon as we hit the first climb he fell off the pace again. I applied the same strategy as in the previous stages; I kept going at a good, steady pace that I knew that I could sustain all the way to the finish. My body was feeling better each day and I was now in the groove of running on a daily basis in the hot and humid conditions. Interestingly, the long and steep descent towards the end of the day was actually very dry.

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It reminded me of running back home in South Africa with brown, dry grass and dusty paths. My legs felt very good over the last few kilometres and I had a nice spring in my stride. This was a good place to be after 4 days of tough running. In contrast, Mike was taking strain and had fallen again on his elbow. This elbow later became infected and added to his health issues. Nevertheless, he wasn’t giving up and kept persevering all day long. My time of 3:58 was more than 20 minutes faster than the previous stage record and almost 40 minutes faster than Mike. I know had a comfortable lead but anything can happen in a multi-day event so I didn’t want to take my foot off the accelerator.

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Day 5 was the last tough day and the longest in distance of the race. We were greeted overnight with some rain and started the day’s run in a gentle drizzle. The road conditions were good for the first 16 kilometres and with the cooler temperatures this made for a relatively fast pace. I was happy to tick along at my pace and soon found myself running alone up front. Shortly after the first check point the route headed onto a smaller forest road that had recently been graded. In fact, I passed the grader and other trucks at the start of this forest section. Consequently, the next section was very muddy and slippery. Even gentle gradients became almost impossible to run up. Instead of fighting through this section of about 16 kilometres, I once again focused on getting through the mud as efficiently as possible. Once I was through the slippery quagmire, I was able to pick up the tempo again and head towards the finish at Drake Bay. Despite the testing conditions I was very surprised to beat the previous stage record by 3 minutes. Unfortunately for Mike, this was the day that his body starting shutting down. He put in a huge effort just to reach the finish line unassisted but he was clearly in some serious trouble. The medics were very quick to attend to him and he was ultimately admitted to hospital the following morning with multiple health issues.

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Mike’s withdrawal from the race left the door wide open for Ashur and Roiny to fight it out for 2nd and 3rd place overall. The final day’s stage was only about 24 kilometres and in the end Ashur secured a well-earned 2nd place with Roiny about 10 minutes back in 3rd. I decided to run the last day just like I had run all the other stages and managed to set another stage record.

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In summary, I won 5 out of 6 stages, I set records in the last 4 stages and I set a new overall record by almost an hour. I surpassed all my own expectations and was very grateful that I did not experience any major problems. What appeared to be problems for me in the early stages were, in fact, minor in comparison to what others endured, especially Mike. The beautiful setting of the finish at Drake Bay, the wonderful people and fantastic weather (despite the humidity it’s great to be in the sun!) made my victory even more enjoyable.

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While any stage race over this distance requires careful body management, a distinguishing feature of this particular race is learning to deal with the very high humidity and high temperatures. As expected, correct hydration, nutrition and recovery are vital components of this jungle race. And don’t forget to look after your feet and to avoid infections from cuts and grazes while negotiating the trails! Most importantly, remember to maintain a positive attitude and enjoy the beautiful surroundings; Costa Rica has tremendous biodiversity and is a paradise waiting to be explored.

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All in all, The Coastal Challenge is a great event that tests your physical fitness and mental toughness to the maximum. However, what I will remember most about this unique event are the wonderful people that I met along the way. The local race organiser, Rodrigo Carazo is a gem. This guy has done some of the most amazing backpacking trips, adventure racers and explorations that I have ever heard about. Furthermore, he has a fantastic team of workers and volunteers, from the cooks to the medics to the aid station crew to the sweepers. A bunch of great people who have a single purpose, to make The Coastal Challenge as enjoyable as possible for each and every participant.

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Entries for the 2016 The Coastal Challenge are now available online.

Please go to tcccostarica.com and thecoastalchellenge.co.uk