The North Face launch ‘Longer Days’

Timothy Olson Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

The North Face®, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear announces the ‘Longer Days’ campaign, encouraging everyone to spend more time in the outdoors. 

Spring is dawning, and more daylight means more time to explore. As the clocks go forward, there will be more hours to embrace and a chance to run, hike, climb and explore longer. With many people leading busy lives, staying connected with the outdoors gives everyone a chance to refresh their spirit and stay active while discovering the world. So prepare yourself for endless possibilities this spring and Never Stop Exploring™

The adventure begins on daylight savings. To capture this season’s greatest moments in the outdoors, The North Face® will introduce the Explorer Photo Competition, awarding daily prizes for the best photos of exploration. Whether you’re on top of a mountain or along your favourite trail, The North Face® invites you to share your extra hours using #LongerDays.

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

The celebration of spring continues with the launch of the new Explorer App. This exciting tool lets you track your performances, share your achievements via photos, and earn rewards. There are many challenges to take on, from going higher to pushing yourself further. Weekly prizes are awarded for the best explorers, and there is a grand prize for the overall champion. The app is also supplemented by an online microsite that allows users to view their profiles and interact with fellow explorers.

With the right gear, everyone will be able to explore more and truly enjoy an active lifestyle. The North Face® have built the athlete-tested spring/summer collection with innovation and style. It offers everything you need to spend more time in the outdoors and stay protected in all conditions.

For The North Face® athletes, this active lifestyle can mean many things. Whether it’s competing in events, discovering new places, travelling the world, or training for next season, they all have exciting plans to enjoy their extra hours. How will you spend yours?

Join The North Face® for daylight savings at longerdays.thenorthface.com and get ready for a full season of exploration.

Join the North Face® on March 29th aT Longerdays.thenorthface.com

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® race day images

Ryan Sandes and Nuria Picas were crowned 2014 champions of the The North Face® Transgrancanaria®

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) won the 2014 edition in 14 hours and 27 minutes  covering a total distance of 125km. Julien Chorier (Hoka One One/ Compressport) and the current two-time champion of the Western States 100; Timothy Olson (The Noth Face), came second and third with respectively.

Núria Picas (Buff), excelled amongst the female competition with a time of 16 hours and 44 minutes, followed by the Italian  Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) with 17 hours and 29 minutes and Fernanda Maciel (The North Face) came third just two minutes later.

A detailed race report will follow.

IMAGES of an exciting day of action:

All images ©iancorless.com : all rights reserved

The North Face FL Race Vest

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The North Face FL Race Vest is a race vest that has been well over 12-months in the making. I first had a look at this pack in November 2012. It was a prototype that had been created in preparation for Jez Bragg‘s epic run on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand.

FL prototype 2012

FL prototype 2012

FL prototype 2012

FL prototype 2012

You will see the above images are a more minimalist version of the current FL Race Vest, however, lessons were learnt from the prototype and with feedback from Jez Bragg and Lizzy Hawker, the current model has been developed and tweaked with the TNFUTMB and similar long distance races primarily in mind.

I picked up my current vest just days before the 2013 edition of the TNFUTMB and it was reassuring to see that my vest was exactly the same as the ones being used by Rory Bosio, Jez Bragg and the rest of the TNF team.

Rory Bosio wearing the FL Race Vest after dominating the 2013 TNFUTMB.

Rory Bosio wearing the FL Race Vest after dominating the 2013 TNFUTMB.

Race vests have become the ‘norm’ in regard to race packs. All the leading brands are developing new systems, new sizes and new designs in the quest for the ultimate product. Certainly, Salomon have very much paved the way recently with S-Lab 5lt and 12ltr. In addition, my recent review of the inov-8 Race Ultra Vest had me 99% convinced that in my opinion, this new product by the UK brand was currently the ‘best’ available of its type.

The North Face FL Race Vest sits between the inov-8 Race Ultra and Salomon S-Lab products. Although the inov-8 product is supremely comfortable and perfectly designed, it may just not be big enough for a tough or long race when mandatory kit will stress a packs capacity. By contrast, the Salomon S-Lab 12ltr has been designed with long racing in mind and offers an excellent form fitting pack that many swear by. At 8ltr capacity, the FL Race Vest sits nicely in the middle ground and actually may very well be the perfect size for a mountain 100-mile race like TNFUTMB or similar.

Like all current vests, the FL comes with a bladder that sits inside a mesh pocket within the main compartment of the pack. However, if you are like me, you may very well prefer bottles or soft flasks? The front of the FL has two upper drawstring pockets that can accommodate bottles/small soft flasks or other items. I initially tried two 500ml bottles but found the ‘balance’ all wrong. When running they would feel far too close to my face and noticeable bounce from the weight was annoying. However, replacing the bottles with two smaller soft flasks that could accommodate 250ml each, this irradiated bounce and made the whole system not only infinitely more comfortable but also more practical.

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On the outside of the upper pockets are small stretchy mesh pockets that would hold gels or similar products.

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The lower part of the front vest has two Velcro closure pockets that may be useful in holding valuable items such as phone, keys, gps, camera and so on. Equally, you could add any food products for easy access on the go.

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Behind the Velcro pockets are two larger mesh stretch pockets. They are capacious and ideal for gloves, hat or buff type products. In actual fact, they are so spacious you can add soft flasks to increase liquid capacity.

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The rear of the pack has an upper zipper pocket that can hold a phone, keys, camera or any other item of value .

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Directly below the upper zip pocket is a capacious stretchy open pocket that can be accessed from the top or the left/ right side. This pocket has been designed so that you may add or remove essential items while still moving… gloves, hat or jacket!

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Two smaller zipper products have been added to the left and right hand sides of the larger rear mesh pocket. These pockets may also be accessed without removing the pack. They are small but ideal for money, keys or similar sized items.

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On the upper right hand side of the rear of the pack, is a blue bungee cord designed to hold ‘poles’ when not in use. Equally, at the bottom of pack on the rear is another blue bungee to hold the opposite end of the poles.

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A key feature of the pack is the adjustability on the side and the front. Underneath the arms are two independent straps that may be lengthened or shortened to get just the correct fit.

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On the front are two adjustable straps that have quick release buckles. The straps may be moved up and down independently to get the correct fit based on your morphology.

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A key point, particularly for ladies, above the pockets on the front are soft panels that stretch and adjust dependent on the size of your boobs/chest. When testing the pack, we ensured that we cross referenced everything with a female perspective. The feedback? ‘The best and most comfortable pack I have used for the female form’.

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One of the key elements of the pack is the inside of the main compartment. Instead of one large space, it has been compartmentalized to provide storage space for specific items. Of course, this is open to personal taste but as you will see fromm the photographs, this is a great help for a long race when one needs to carry a jacket, over trousers, space blanket, elastic bandages, cup and so on.

The zipper for the main compartment is full size, allowing the pack to be opened completely. This makes access very easy. On the back panel is a large mesh pocket that would hold the ‘bladder’ if this was your chosen method of hydration. I personally use this for space blanket, elastic bandages, cup, first aid and other mandatory items.

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The other side has a larger mesh pocket that is open ended, I add my hat and over trousers here and above is an internal zipper pocket.

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The open space between the front panel and back panel is roomy and ideal for a bulkier item such as a fully waterproof jacket.

This FL has been thought out to minute detail. It has perfect storage space built around the needs and desires of a long race when mandatory kit is required. It has also been designed to make access easy and stress free. The added combination of ‘on the go’ access to key areas of the pack while running makes this a serious and top contender for those looking for a fast, light and responsive pack that will allow the user to run stress free.

IN USE and TESTING

The FL has been on many runs and tested over the last 4-5months. On faster sessions of up to 90-mins and long days in the mountains, this pack holds firm against the body and is a pleasure to wear.

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I had no issues on it’s storage capacity. I could fit all my required kit in the pack and it still retained its form and comfort, even when fully loaded.

If I added the bladder to the rear compartment, this certainly did eat into storage space and one had to be a little more creative with packing.

As mentioned previously, I would always prefer to use bottles to a bladder and this may very well be the stumbling block with the FL. Two 250ml soft flasks are not adequate liquid capacity for any long run in the mountains, even when feed stations are on the route. Adding additional soft flasks in the lower stretch pockets on the front of the pack is possible but it feels like a compromise. I did add 500ml flat bottles to these pockets for one run and I thought I had found a solution. However, after an hour my ribs started to hurt with the pressure placed on them. I never did find a full solution for the problem other than, if I was out for a longer time, I used the bladder! Of course this worked and it worked admirably. So, this is very much a personal comment. If you like bladders, this will not be an issue for you.

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Running with the pack is a dream. It fits close to the body and does not move or bounce. Access while ‘on the go’ is excellent and you can certainly get food, gels, gloves, hat and even a jacket without stopping if you pack with those objectives in mind.

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The side adjustable straps offer on the go adjustment and unlike some other vests that are one size, with the FL if you add or remove layers, you can adjust pack tension while on the go to ensure you maintain a comfortable fit.

The front of the pack with two adjustable straps allows for customised tensioning and as mentioned, the upper stretchy mesh panels will be popular with lady users!

CONCLUSION

The FL is a great pack. It addresses many of the problems we all have when mandatory kit is required. The pockets, internal and external allow you to customise the pack for your own personal needs ensuring that you have stress free training and race days. At 8ltrs, the FL is not ‘too’ big that you can’t use it in training but more importantly, it is not too small that you can’t use it for racing. Certainly, if you only wanted to purchase one pack, this may very well be the ideal purchase.

In use it is extremely comfortable and the ‘open sides’ allow increased airflow providing a more breathable and cooler running experience, certainly in comparison to the Salomon S-Lab.

Verdict? – Very highly recommended.

  • Cost – £85 tbc
  • Availability – Feb 2014
  • The North Face HERE

The female perspective… by Niandi Carmont

Niandi is South African born, a former resident of Paris, she now lives in the UK. A runner for over 20-years; Niandi has completed Comrades Marathon 13-times, Washie 100 2-times and has finished well over 100 marathons and ultras  all over the world. Currently residing in the UK, Niandi splits her work life between the UK and France.

Niandi

 

The North Face FL Race Vest

This was my first test run with a race vest. Although no stranger to trials of varying distances ranging from 22km to 160km, I had never found a race vest to my satisfaction and had always resorted to the “safer” choice of race pack. The reasons for this choice are multiple, but basically:

  • Uncomfortable fit and inadaptability to the female morphology
  • Lack of breathability
  • Chafing which can also be linked to female specificity
  • Hydration strategy limited to bladder

In contrast the The North Face FL Race Vest addressed all the above issues:

  • Comfortable fit and perfect adaptability to the female morphology.
  • Very lightweight, breathable mesh back panel and front vest, covering very little surface area but offering maximum storage capacity.
  • No bounce, no uncomfortable rubbing or pull from the straps.
  • The upper front pockets can be used to carry 2 small 250ml bottles with either water or energy drink in addition to a TNF 2L bladder in the back for longer self-sufficiency races. Personally, I find this ideal as I can fill up the bottles on the go at the feed-stations and know exactly how much I am consuming. The bladder can be used in addition to the bottles as a safety measure for races which require more autonomy.

So when I tried the FL Race Vest in my training run I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually forgot I had it on. It wasn’t even a question of getting used to the vest. I instantly felt at ease in it. The front vest fitted perfectly over my chest – a sort of stretchy material which meant it never felt too loose and never to tight allowing the diaphragm to expand naturally and not causing any chafing issues.

The 8L back pack has a storage capacity suitable for any trail distance between 30km and 160km. There is absolutely no bounce – it sits comfortably in the middle of your back – no sagging to the waistline or bouncing from side-to-side. Two sets of independent straps underneath the arms and 2 sets of buckles/ straps on the front allow you to adjust the vest to fit perfectly. No unnecessary and complicated irritating, dangling straps you find on so many back-packs.

Another bonus is that the vest and pack covers very little surface area thus ensuring better breathability and less over-heating and chafing should you be a heavy sweater.

Hydration-wise as mentioned above the race vest is multi-purpose and depending on the length of the event and frequency of the feed-stations, you can carry bottles in the upper front pockets and/or bladder.

Speed is less of an issue for me but for runners wishing to waste as little time as possible, reaching around for a rain jacket, gloves, hat, head-lamp, Kleenex, energy bars; there are two lower zipped pockets on the vest and behind each of these two mesh pockets. I like this not only because it’s a time saver on technical terrain. In the dark it is also a stress-free option – nothing worse than groping behind you to get hold of a bar when your body is tired and aching all over or you are slipping around on a rocky, muddy descent in the dark. And it saves begging the runner behind to pull out a bar (or tampon) for you!

The back pack is equipped with a small zipped upper pocket – great for mobile phone and a lower mesh pocket for a jacket or over-trousers.

Inside is the bladder compartment, which can also be used for carrying race kit should you prefer, a central compartment and another pocket – so great for compartmentalizing!

Finally, my last pre-requisite – upper and lower draw strings to attach poles diagonally when not in use and the compulsory whistle on the front, should your navigation skills be as poor as mine!

Conclusion

I want it for my next 55km self-sufficiency event at night AND AT £85 it’s a bargain!

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica, 2014 – 4 weeks and counting

TCC 2014 ©iancorless.com

Four weeks today The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica will start. Celebrating ten glorious years, the 2014 edition of the race will arguably be the most competitive in the races history.

Kicking off the 2014 racing season, runners from all over the world will assemble in Quepos for an exhilarating journey along the Costa Rican coast and within the rain forests of this exciting and idilic land.

Unprecedented in the races history, an elite line up of runners will toe the line featuring:

  • Anna Frost (New Zealad) – Salomon International
  • Nick Clark (UK) – Pearl Izumi
  • Julia Bottger (Germany) – Salomon
  • Philipp Reiter Germany) – Salomon International
  • Michael Wardian (USA) – Hoka One One
  • Jo Meek (UK) – tbc

The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.

Rodrigo Carazo and Tim Holmstrom from the TCC organisation have quite a race lined up!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1060993

In addition, Gemma Slaughter, 2013 female winner of the TCC will return to defend her title. Without doubt, Gemma will find the 2014 race very different to 2013. However, she does have experience and knowledge of what this race can bring; from a physical and mental perspective. I will be catching up with Gemma in the coming week for an interview on how she feels, how training has gone and what are her expectations for the 10th edition.

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Frosty‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’

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Wardian‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’

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Clarky‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’ 

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Reiter – ‘It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.’

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Bottger – ‘I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting’

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Meek - ‘I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run, admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.’

The stage is set!

I will be reporting live ‘daily’ from the race and posting each evening a synopsis of the action with images (connections allowing).

Follow on FacebookHERE Twitter: @talkultra and of course on this website.

If you’d like to read more about The Coastal Challenge, here are my links to the 2013 (9th edition).

SUMMARY of the 2013 edition of the race – HERE

Images from the TCC – HERE

The Coastal Challenge on RUN247HERE

The Coastal Challenge on TrailRunnerHERE

The Coastal Challenge in Spanish TrailChileHERE

Daily Blog posts from the 2013 edition of the race:

TNF50 San Francisco Results #TNF50

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50What a weekend and what a race! Rob Krar and Michele Yates once again proved that they are the people to beat in 2013.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar has had quite a year, he really made people look twice with his Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon FKT earlier this year. However it was victories at Moab Red Hot 50 and Leona Divide that set Rob up for 2nd on the podium at Western States in his first 100-mile race. A win at UROC against a flying Dakota Jones and now an outstanding run at San Francisco 50 surely must elevate him to a potential Ultra Runner of the Year!

Rob Krar - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Rob Krar – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates UROC ©iancorless.com

Michele Yates UROC ©iancorless.com

Michele Yates grasped the bull by the horns at San Francisco and lead from the front in a strong and gutsy run. Add to this her 3rd place at UROC and her win at Run Rabbit Run 100-mile and is Michele currently topping the ‘earning’ ranks for ultra running in 2013. It has been a great year for Michele, her wins at Bandera 100km, Nueces 50 and Indiana Trail 100-mile confirm this.

Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

RESULTS

Full results HERE

Men

  1. Rob Krar 6:21:10
  2. Cameron Clayton 6:31:17
  3. Chris Vargo 6:33:33
  4. Daniel Kraft 6:35:56
  5. Dylan Bowman 6:37:14

Ladies

  1. Michele Yates 7:21:51
  2. Magdalena Boulet 7:31:12
  3. Emelie Forsberg 7:46:24
  4. Aliza Lapierre 7:46:58
  5. Cassie Scallon 7:50:42

Notable mentions:

Cameron Clayton has had a great 2013 and certainly in the latter third has progressed to another level. 2014 looks very exciting for Cameron.

Cameron Clayton -  iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Cameron Clayton – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Daniel Kraft is pretty much unknown to me, so a name to watch for the future.

Magdalena Boulet was my hot-tip as a dark horse for TNF50 and it’s great to see a new name to watch who lived up to the surprise billing.

Emelie Forsberg finished a stunning 2013 with a 3rd place on pretty much no running for the last 6-8 weeks. What does the future hold for this lady?

Finally, great to see Anna ‘Frosty’ Frost back in a race and Anna sums up her thoughts far better than I could:

“Today I won a race. A race against myself. Physically I suffered…the cold wind freezing my pelvis filling each step with shocks of pain. Mentally I could have come last and would have been as happy as if I won. I crossed the line with tears of joy. My friends there to congratulate and welcome me back to the running world. It has been a hard but amazing journey that so many of the people that were there today have helped me through. Thank you for sharing this joy.”

The North Face Endurance Challenge, San Francisco, 50-mile Championships Preview (Ladies)

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50

The North Face Endurance Challenge continues to cause a lack of sleep and the red eye continues with a look at the ladies field. Without doubt, just like the men’s field, we have a line up here to create enough excitement to continue on through the Christmas period and into the New Year.

Emelie Forsberg Ice-Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg Ice-Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg returns and after the year she has had and in addition to being defending champion, how could we possibly not think that Emelie would not win this race! Emelie oozes talent and she’s one of the nicest people I know to boot. This makes the perfect trail running package. 2012 was a great year for Emelie; she burst onto the scene at Zegama-Aizkorri and then continued through ‘12’ going head-to-head with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. To be honest, you could have no better peers to learn from and learn Emelie did. By the end of the year she had progressed to longer distance racing at Cavalls del Vent and then followed that up with a sublime performance at San Fran for not only the win but also the big bucks prize money! 2013 saw the progression continue and Emelie is now regarded as arguably one of the best ultra/ mountain runners in the world. Transvulcania La Palma, Zegama-Aizkorri, Trans D’Havet, UROC and most recently a 2nd place in her first 100-miler at the super tough Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). However, Emelie has not had it her own way in 2013. Twice she has been relegated by another star of the future, Stevie Kremer. Emelie post ‘Reunion’ was tired and quite rightly she removed her Salomon shoes and had a rest. Unfortunately she also picked up some illness which ultimately meant 20-days of no exercise. She recently got back on skis and other than the odd 30-minute run has done arguably no run training for the last 6-8 weeks. However, you can’t rule Emelie out in any race she enters, in addition, it looks like Emelie will have no other than Kilian Jornet on ‘pacing’ duty in this race. At least that is what she said last week… of course Kilian would need to agree and then decide if he can keep up with her!

Stephanie Howe UROC ©iancorless.com

Stephanie Howe UROC ©iancorless.com

Steph Howe placed 2nd behind Emelie at UROC and placed 2nd behind Emelie at San Fran last year, without doubt, Stephanie would have been my hot tip for potential victory this year. However, this is all academic, word is on the TNF grapevine that Stephanie will not run. I have emailed Stephanie for a confirmation on this. From Stephanie: “Hi Ian, I’m not racing I’m taking a break to prepare for the 2014 season. I raced a lot this year and battled a lot of injuries. I want to give myself a break so I can kick butt next year.”

Cassie Scallon will push Emelie and everyone else in this race. Without doubt, Cassie is probably one of the best 50-mile female racers in the US at the moment. Anyone who can put 20+ minutes into Rory Bosio needs to be highly respected and elevated to ‘hot favourite’ status. Cassie hasn’t really excelled beyond 50-miles and I therefore wonder that even if Emelie is not her ‘best’ shape, she may well be able to pull on the power and experiences gained in some of her longer races and find that ‘extra’ that may just give her the win.

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Rory Bosio may well have pulled off female performance of the year after her incredible performance at TNFUTMB. Rory obliterated the ladies field and pretty much obliterated the men’s field. Her 7th place overall is really quite ridiculous and therefore one has to assume that if Rory is in good shape a place on the podium is secure. However, Rory can run hot and cold. She told me in Chamonix that she is not competitive, that she just loves to run… I am not sure about that, I saw plenty of competitive grit in and around Mont-Blanc but I also witnessed someone having a blast! The 100-mile distance may well suit Rory more and of course, with such a great UTMB done and dusted, Rory may well be happy to represent her TNF sponsor and have a fun day on the trails.

Michele Yates UROC ©iancorless.com

Michele Yates UROC ©iancorless.com

If Michele Yates pulls off a win at TNFEC50 not only will she have had an incredible final 3-months of 2013 but she will also have topped the podium on prize money. Her win at Run Rabbit Run, 3rd place at UROC and then of course possible win in San Fran could arguably provide $20K+ in rewards. That is serious money and just goes to show how the sport is moving. Ultimately though, Michele must be feeling a little tired and jaded. But hey, so are Emelie, Rory, Cassie and the rest… Michelle can win this race, no doubt.

Anna Frost La Palma ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost La Palma ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost has had a tough year. The 2011 champion of San Francisco 50 when in form is unstoppable. However, 2013 has been a tough year for Frosty, she has been plagued by health issues and ultimately if Frosty makes the start line here and has a trouble free and unpressured run, that is a bonus. Recently she has spent 6-8 weeks in Morocco and Nepal with Lizzy Hawker. Although participating in races, she has had no pressure and the priority has been to enjoy the trails and find inner piece and health. I think she has found it. All emphasis and priority at San Francisco must be about preparation for 2014. Run well Frosty, we all want to see you back in 2014 with the strength, dominance and force of your 2012 Transvulcania La Palma performance.

My wild card is Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. Who you may ask? Well, Magdalena gained my attention earlier this year when she raced in Poland at the WMRA championships. She placed 11th at that race but I don’t think that performance shows her potential. Magdalena is a 2:26 marathon runner and as far as I know, I don’t think any other lady in the San Fran field has a marathon time even close to this? In addition, Magdalena is a 2x Bronze medalist at the IAAF World Cross Country Champs (team comp). San Francisco may well provide the platform and the terrain to allow this Polish lady to let rip and cause some devastation.  In a side note, Magdalena won the San Francisco Marathon in 2002. Watch this space!

Joelle Vaught has had a great 2013 season with a string of wins; Foothills 50k, McCall Trailrunning Classic 40m, Pocatello 50, Silver Plate 50 and Wilson Creek 50. A recent 2nd place at Waldo 100k continues and confirms Joelle’s ability over the 50-60 mile distance. Joelle placed 13th at San Francisco last year which arguably is a below par performance that may well be attributed to just a ‘bad day’ or the conditions did not suit her. I am pretty sure that based on recent form she will be looking to come back and improve on her previous best of 2nd in 2009.

Aliza Lapierre with 3rd and 6th place at Western States in recent years has to be a contender for the crown in San Francisco. Aliza recently raced Vermont 50 and beat her old course record with a time of 7:01 so her form is good. Looking at her records, Aliza also has wins and CR’s at Bull Run 50, Stone Cat 50, Pineland Farms 50 and Bandera 100k in the last 3-years so the combination of distance and speed is going to suit her.

Finally, Ashley Arnold is the 2013 Leadville Champion and therefore gets a nod here. However, her 2013 results are sparse and on ultrasignup her only other result for this year is a win at White River 50m in 8:28. Your guess is as good as mine?

In a similar vein to the men’s field, although the top-3 is likely to come from one the ladies above, it is quite possible that one of the ladies below will pull something out of the bag and create a surprise

Keri Bruxvoort – 5th at UROC and arguably she should be in the list above considering she won Run Rabbit Run 50m too.

Melanie Bos – second at Hurt 100 in 2013

Megan Kimmel – more a short distance runner with 2 victories in 2013

Catrin Jones – notable result in 2013 was 2nd behind Steph Howe at Gorge waterfalls and a win at Squamish 50

So there you have it… if you missed the men’s preview, you can read it HERE 

  • Who are your picks for the ladies and men’s race?
  • Who will surprise us?
  • Who will under perform?

The North Face Endurance Challenge, San Francisco, 50-mile Championships Preview (Men)

San Francisco 50 TNFEC50

My head hurts… it’s December, what happened to the ‘off-season’. Not only do we no longer have an off-season but The North Face have arguably assembled one of the most competitive fields in the 2013 season. Way back in April I was writing about the ‘race of the year’. Of course, it was Transvulcania La Palma. This was followed by another ‘race of the year’, Western States. I then followed this with another race of the year, Zegama and so on… you get the picture! Ultra running and mountain running is booming and as such, we are all seeing the benefits, not only from a watching and a following perspective but also from a racer perspective. It is now possible to have several peaks in one year and TNF may very well have hit on a winning formula with such a competitive race in December.  It’s late enough in the season to have recovered from recent previous efforts, such as UROC or Run Rabbit Run and equally far enough away from ‘key’ races in 2014 to allow for adequate RnR.

Okay, deep breath… here we go.

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras TNFUTMB 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras returns after winning the race in 2012. His time of 5:33 in lousy conditions confirmed his ability if any was needed. Having said that, Miguel is used to rough-n-tough weather and as such, may very well have excelled in the conditions over his US contemporaries. Also the 2012 race did have issues over course marking which did lead to several runners going astray. I take nothing away from Miguel, he is a class act and although 2013 has been a difficult season for him, his second place at TNFUTMB proves that he is back. He followed this with a quality performance at Cavalls del Vent so without doubt he is a contender for the win. However, this field is stacked.

Dakota Jones UROC 2013 ©iancorless.com

Dakota Jones UROC 2013 ©iancorless.com

Dakota Jones is back racing and embracing the trails after a quiet start to 2013 and some escape in the mountains. In addition, Dakota became an ‘RD’ in 2013 which primarily caused him to miss TNFUTMB and refocus on UROC. That refocus nearly worked and certainly with 5-miles to go at UROC he looked as though he had the race in the bag. However, Rob Krar pulled something out of the bag and relegated Dakota to second that day. In fine form, Dakota departed for Japan to repeat his 2012 win at Hasetsune Cup, however, disaster struck and he had a tough day and a dnf. Without doubt, Dakota will be recovered and focused on winning at San Francisco. He will be looking for a repeat performance similar to San Juan Solstice 50m when he broke Matt Carpentar’s record.

Sage Canaday UROC ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday UROC ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday will bring his speed to this race and along with Cameron Clayton and maybe, Max King. They will be out at the front pushing the pace. Sage has had a mixed 2013 in the sense that he has occasionally pushed and failed below his own demanding standards. His great runs at Tarawera, Transvulcania La Palma and Lake Sonoma may well fall into insignificance in Sage’s own mind as I feel he may well dwell on his performances at Sierre-Zinal and UROC. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big Sage fan. He has all the ability to go out and win San Fran but I just wonder what effect recent performances will have on his confidence. In real terms, caution may well prove a huge bonus allowing him to hold back early on and keep his powder dry for the final 30% were he can use all that natural speed and ability. Unfortunately Sage has Flu – will not start

Cameron Clayton Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Cameron Clayton will be feeling somewhat inspired and motivated coming into San Fran after his 3rd place at UROC behind Rob Krar and Dakota Jones. Cameron was 3rd at this race last year and although he has had a full season, you can’t rule him out from pulling something special out of the bag for that $10,000 prize. His 2013 season has been fulfilled with top placing’s at Transvulcania and Lake Sonoma, however, he has had a few below par performances which I think ultimately were more due to a niggling foot and other health issues. All looks good now though.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

Rob Krar, wow, what can we say about Rob that hasn’t already been said. Arguably, one of ‘THE’ ultra runners of the year after his rim-to-rim exploits, Western States run (his first 100) and then his incredible win at UROC. He raced just the other weekend at JFK50 and dropped leaving question marks in his own mind. However, the ‘drop’ may very well have just saved his legs and without doubt, don’t be surprised if he is on top of the podium at the end of the weekends festivities.

Timmy Olson TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Timmy Olson TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com

Timmy Olson repeated his victory at Western States, always the sign of a true champion when you can go back to a race and do it again…! He raced at Tarawera and made the podium, he just missed the podium at Transvulcania and dug real deep at TNFUTMB. Surprisingly after such a tough TNFUTMB he then raced Run Rabbit Run on what must have been a tired body. He certainly has an autopilot but I can’t help but think this race will be all about fulfilling sponsorship requirements and showing face. Having said that, showing face will probably still result in a top-10 and should he get his race face on, don’t be surprised if Timmy gets a podium place.

Ryan Sandes Gran Canaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes Gran Canaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes has had ‘one of those years’ that he will be keen to get over! I was with Ryan in Gran Canaria in March, he was all fired up for an exciting season ahead and then injury hit forcing him to miss Western States. Healed, Ryan returned to Leadville in the hope of repeating his 2011 victory, however, injury reappeared. He has tackled some personal projects in South Africa and recently raced in Patagonia. Ryan will be looking to finish 2013 on a high and may just well go under the radar after a quiet year.

Max King La Palma ©iancorless.com

Max King La Palma ©iancorless.com

Max King has not had a repeat of his 2012 season. Winner of the 2012 JFK and UROC, Max was an unstoppable rollercoaster and along with sage Canaday was just on fire. In 2013 he had planned to mix things up and race at different distances and represent the USA in multiple disciplines, it didn’t go to plan and he has been plagued with an ankle problem. If he is recovered and inform, Max will be up at the helm with Cameron and Sage dropping fast minute miles an looking to be the last man standing at the end.

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols Chamonix ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols placed 5th last year and will come to this race confident after a great 2013 season racing in the Skyrunning calendar. In particular, he has plenty of speed uphill and has improved his down hill speed. 2013 may well just be the year that he moves a couple of places higher on the podium.

Francois D'Haene UTMB ©iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene UTMB ©iancorless.com

Francois D’Haene was last years 2nd place, approximately 13-mins behind his Salomon teammate, Miguel Heras. Francois has raced less in 2013 due to the pressures of owning a vineyard, however, when he has raced, he has been in top form. His was 2nd at Ice-Trail Tarentaise behind Kilian Jornet, he was joint winner at Mont-Blanc Marathon 80k Ultra with Michel Lanne and his recent dominance at the super tough Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale de Fous) means that his presence at San Fran surely means he is a podium contender. *Update “Finally my season ends sooner than expected …since my fall in Death Valley tuesday with a shock in the ribs I hope but I have finally abdicate … So I would support the team tomorrow.”

Michel Lanne Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne is another consistent performer who may well do very well at this race. He had a great run with teammate Francois D’Haene at Mont-Blanc but then picked up an injury. In addition, he has also become a dad! December may well prove to be a great time of year; his life will have settled a little, he will be over his injury and without doubt he will be excited to race in the US.

Dylan Bowman UROC ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman UROC ©iancorless.com

My final hot tip for a podium place goes to Dylan Bowman. Dylan had a great Western States and turned up at TNFUTMB in the form of his life but had a freak training accident, which caused him to miss the race. He has a new coach and he is going to be looking to release some of that UTMB frustration.

So who else… it seems crazy that I am not writing about the names below in more depth. But I have previewed above who I think may well take out the top-3 slots

  • Mike Wolfe – was 11th last year and set an incredible FKT this year with Hal he could win this race!.
  • Adam Campbell – 4th last year and I may regret not adding him above?
  • Mike Foote – great 2013 UTMB but been quiet recently.
  • Hal Koerner – Think he will be on TNF duty.
  • Karl Meltzer – Karl says he has no chance in such a fast and ‘short’ field. If it were a 100-miles he would be listed above.
  • Matt Flaherty – another who should maybe be above but he was 2nd at JFK just a week ago, maybe a little tired?.
  • Mike Wardian – anything can happen…. Mike is an unpredictable phenomenon.
  • David Riddle – may or may not race with injury?
  • Gary Gellin – 9th last year.
  • Ryan Ghelfi – 5th at UROC and I may regret not adding him above too.
  • Rickey Gates – mixed 2013 but always a contender.
  • Jorge Maravilla - top 20 in 2012.
  • Martin Gaffuri  - great season on the Skyrunning calendar.
  • And finally, Greg Vollet who continues to amaze and surprise every time he races.

So, there you have it. A super stacked crazy race to end the year, the top-3 are any bodies guess. I have tried to provide a little insight but just don’t be surprised if we see a completely unexpected performance and a surprise win.

Ladies preview HERE.

The countdown has begun to Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon®, the Lesotho Ultra Trail.

LUT_Gallery_1

With less than 36 hours to go before the 55km ultra trail race through the Tsehlanyane National Park in the heart of Lesotho’s Maloti Mountains, anticipation is building amongst the trail running community for this, the second South Africa Skyrunning Association (SASA)-sanctioned event on the South African trail running calendar

After the success of the Matroosberg SkyMarathon® in October, skyrunning fever is running high, setting the ground for the imminent announcement of a national skyrunning series in 2014.

Presented by Maliba Lodge, KZN Trail Running and The North Face, the Lesotho Ultra Trail will see a selection of South Africa’s best trail runners facing the challenge of an ultra-distance, high altitude course boasting more than three kilometres of vertical ascent, peaking at 3155m above sea level.

LUT 1

Big names include South African trail star and winner of the Verdon Canyon Challenge in France AJ Calitz (K-Way/Vivobarefoot), mountain running legend and winner of the 2012 Otter African Trail Run Iain Don Wauchope (The North Face), 2013 SA Ultra Trail winner Nic de Beer, Stellenbosch-based mountain runner Andrew Hagen (Vibram) and Gauteng trail speedster Lucky Mia.

In the women’s field, Canadian ultra trail star Stacie Carrigan will be dicing one of the most competitive women’s contingent of any southern African ultra trail race to date, including Matroosberg SkyMarathon® winner Robyn Kime (The North face), 2013 SA Ultra trail champ Tracy Zunckel (Race Food), 2011 Otter African Trail Run winner Su Don Wauchope (The North Face) and SA ultra running legend Linda Doke (Salomon).

With Lesotho offering world class skyrunning terrain and warm hospitality, the Lesotho Ultra Trail is set to become one of the continent’s premier off-road ultras.

For more information about the race, visit www.lesothoultratrail.com of follow the race live via Twitter [www.twitter.com/lesothoultra]

Article ©lesothoultra

Feature on AJ Calitz

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

In just the last two months K-Way athlete AJ Calitz has been on the podium, won or set course records at many competitive trail races. As the year winds down, so does his racing schedule. This weekend’s 55-kilometre Lesotho Ultra Trail race will be his last for the year.

Two weeks ago Calitz took part in the annual Salomon SkyRun – only a week after winning Red Bull LionHeart.

“I didn’t expect to still feel LionHeart in my legs, but I did – unfortunately,” he says.

“SkyRun was a tough one,” Calitz says, recalling the challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions that led to the course being shortened and runners diverted off the mountain and down to safety.

After getting horribly lost between checkpoints one and two, Calitz managed to catch up to the chasing group. He stayed with them – safety in numbers.

“The weather was horrific with torrential ice-rain and winds of 100kph. It was very dangerous on the Dragon’s Back, but luckily I had all my emergency kit to keep me going.

“I really had a terrible day from the start and with the cold and navigation problems I didn’t eat as well as I should have. I felt the effects of this towards Balloch,” he explains.

Reaching Balloch he was already very cold. “I just couldn’t warm up again,” he remembers. He decided not to carry on.

But then, his K-Way teammate Annemien Ganzevoort – the leading woman runner – came in and told Calitz that she was carrying on. He decided to join her.

“If something happened to her in those conditions and I could have gone along – but didn’t – I would never have forgiven myself… and I really didn’t want to have a DNF on my first SkyRun either. So, we suited up in our K-Way mountain-trekking and cold-weather gear and carried on. We were halted by race organisation just short of Edgehill Farm though.”

“It’s amazing how weather like that can draw athletes closer together… where you switch from competing to surviving in only a few moments. I love this kind of racing. It’s not all about the winning or prize money or whatever the reason why you run, but it becomes an expedition and a truly valuable life experience,” says Ganzevoort.

While Ganzevoort takes a well-deserved rest, Calitz has one more race before he can put his feet up.

Lesotho Ultra Trail is a marked route that is 55-kilometres in distance and, staged in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, the 3200-metres of accumulative ascent comes as no surprise. The course description promises stream crossings, loose rocks, steep descents and “two notable climbs”. The section between nine and 22 kilometres is run at over 3000-metres in altitude.

The men’s (and women’s) field is very competitive and Calitz is expecting to work hard to gain ground on Nic de Beer, Iain Don-Wauchope and Lucky Mia.

“I’m just going to take it as it comes,” he adds.

Although your money can be safely bet on Su Don-Wauchope or Robyn Kime for a win in the women’s race, the odds are fairly good that Linda Doke, Tracey Zunkel, Chantal Nienaber, Megan Mackenzie or Stacie Carrigan (Canada) could be up front too.

Everest Trail Race – Day 7 Race Day 4 Kharikhola – Phakding

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Everest Trail Race – Day 7 Race Day 4 Kharikhola – Phakding

Image gallery and image sales available HERE

Temperatures were just above freezing last night and it was a wonderful calm night with many hours of solid sleep achieved by all. I was up and on the trail by 0630 to hike my way in to CP1 at Kari La (2893m). It was a tough 8km, basically climbing 1000m in 5km. I was thinking; this would make a great VK!

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It was a wonderful start to the day having the opportunity to have time alone on the trail. However, that didn’t happen… Kaharikhola to Phakding is a very busy trail with Sherpa’s and Porters making journeys up and down the trail. In addition, there are continual mule trains ferrying all sorts of supplies to shops, lodges and other facilities. This is the only way to move things around. I am still in awe at what some porters are able to carry; all on a band that stretches across the forehead and around the supplies usually in a basket on the lower back. We have all seen ‘The North Face’ basecamp bags I am sure… ok, think of the biggest one and then put two of them together, base-to-base and attach with rope. Then add tow more bags on top. Okay, now add all this to your back. These guys are carrying 60kg up and down technical trails with serious vertical ascent and descent. It’s quite amazing and makes me feel somewhat feeble with my 22ltr pack.

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I arrived at CP1 approximately 30 minutes before Upendra. He covered the initial 8km in a ridiculous 60-minutes. He looked as fresh as a daisy. Today, Andreas Schambeck was having a good day; he followed in 2nd place but some way behind Upendra on time. Fernanda Maciel controlled the ladies field from the front but today Fernanda had company, Francisco Salas was consolidating a 3rd place on GC if he continued to put time into Ismael Dris.

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When Ismael Dris arrived he didn’t look happy; his knee was bandaged up from the fall on the previous stage and he was now making the most of the ‘Nepal’ experience and forgetting about racing. When I walked with him on the trail, he pointed at his video camera and said, ‘I am now a tourist’.

Shiri Leventhal and Nepalese, Yangdi Lama Sherpa continued to fight for 2nd and 3rd place. In many respects, barring a disaster, it would seem impossible for Fernanda and Upendra not be crowned champions of the 2013 Everest Trail Race, but behind, an exciting battle is unfolding the other podium places.

From Kari La, the trail drops down through twisting and winding trail; sometimes technical and occasionally muddy. However, if you are confident on your feet and feeling good, you can certainly keep a great pace going.

Upendra arrived at CP2, Surke in 2-hours with 17km covered. His nearest rival was 40-minutes later and Fernanda arrived 50-minutes back. I know we are in Nepal and Upendra is Nepalese but boy can he move… he is in a league of his own.

The further down the trail we went, the busier it became. We started to see more and more groups of trekkers with Sherpa’s and porters and of course the continual ferrying of all sorts of items escalated as the demand for supplies increased.

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It’s a beautiful trail section moving in and out of valleys, occasionally crossing rivers and then moving up and then down. Continuously passing small houses, children playing or women working in fields. Every now and again you will come across something a little larger.

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From CP3 at Cheplung, passing Nurning and then arriving at our stage 4 finish in Phakding, towns became a little more organized, formal and touristy. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but our early days on the trail had been remote, almost isolated.

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We were now entering in to the hub of Nepal’s trekking arena and our proximity to Lukla was obvious. Lukla is a main hub for the doorway to Everest, it has a small airport and therefore is the place where many begin and end a journey.

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Weaving in and out of the trails, passing on the right of mules, squeezing past trekkers on the left and jumping around porters, the finish of stage 4 was soon in sight.

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Dropping down the trail and crossing the Kamsyawa Khola (river) our day was done. An exhilarating and eye opening day on the trails of Nepal. Nepal and the ETR continues to offer wonderful places, fantastic sights and beautiful friendly people to fill the memory bank.

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Stage 5 Preview: Phakding to Llegada 20km

Leaving Phkakding at 2600m runners will only gain 200m in the first 8km. The climbing of the day begins but the terrain and severity is much more relaxed than the previous days. 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.

Anna Frost, Nick Clark & Michael Wardian join the line up for the 2014, The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica

Gemma Slaughter, The Coastal Challenge, ©iancorless.com

The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.

Just two months ago we announced that Philipp Reiter and Julia Bottger (both Salomon) would join Jo Meek (2nd lady at the 2013 Marathon des Sables) and 2013 ladies TCC winner, Gemma Slaughter in the line up of the 2014 TCC. Today we go one step further…

TCC 2014 iancorless.com

Anna Frost (Salomon), Michael Wardian (The North Face) and Nick Clark (Pearl Izumi) have confirmed participation in the 2014 edition of the race making it one of the most competitive multi day races on the calendar for 2014. Rodrigo Carazo, race director for the TCC confirmed that it is a ‘dream come true’ to have such a quality field at the race.

‘I have raced in Costa Rica before doing The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica in 2013 and I was lucky enough to have won it and I love racing in heat and humidity, makes me feel like home as Washington, DC gets sweltering in the summer months.  I just try and stay small and move fast…’ Mike Wardian

The warmth of Costa Rica, blue skies, varied terrain; it’s a wonderful way to start a new year. The multi day format of the TCC allows all involved an incredible challenge.

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Frosty (Anna Frost) when I spoke to her was really excited at the challenges that would lie ahead. ‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’

Frosty has raced over multiple days before, in early 2013 she participated in Chile and as we chat, she is currently in Nepal at the Manasulu Trail. One of the best female runners out there she is also a threat to many of the men she races as she proved with her stunning victory at the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma.

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

‘Stage racing is so fun. You are really going somewhere and you get to see so much along the way. The camps between stages are wonderful for spending time with new and old friends. It is really a challenge to get up each morning with aches and pains and stiffness from the days before but you know the whole team feels like that too so you just get moving and really enjoy the day.’

Michael Wardian is equally no stranger to multiple day racing. He is the highest ever placed American at the Marathon des Sables securing 3rd overall at the 2010 edition. He is also a prolific racer, he has been a 50km champion three times, he has held multiple world records, raced the 135-mile Badwater Ultra Marathon in Death Valley and by contrast ran 2:21 at the US Olympic Trials in Houston, 2012.

Mike Wardian iancorless.com‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’

The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.comThe Coastal Challenge is not self sufficient, it’s about covering distances in an efficient manner and as fast as possible but at the end of the day, your food is prepared and you can sleep and relax in your own tent, does that mean we can expect some fast running?

‘I actually have only done one multi-day without having to carry a kit, the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage race in India and without the responsibility to carry all you gear for the week, I expect the pace to be wicked fast and I am looking forward to pushing it.’

Michael-boys 2013-big sur

Michael will not have his own way at TCC, for sure Philipp Reiter will also be keen to push the pace but 2013 Grand Slam participant, Nick Clark will be joining the party in Costa Rica and if anyone knows how to run hard over multiple days, it’s him! In 2013, ‘Clarky’ raced Ian Sharman over four 100-mile races in 12-weeks. It was an incredible battle and one that made everyone in the ultra world turn around with open mouths. Not only did Sharman and Clarky beat the previous best accumulative time but they both each had victories and in the end it came down to the wire for the overall title. A title, which Sharman just won.

ForesthillWS2013 Nick Clark iancorless.com

I asked Clarky about Costa Rica and how he will adapt for the heat and humidity for the 10th edition of the TCC?

‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’ 

NickClarkLS50_2012 Nick Clark iancorless.com

You have a reputation for being one of the best 100-mile runners out there, but what about multi day racing, is that something you have done before?

‘I’ve never done a multi stage race before, so I’m excited to work through some new race dynamics and strategies. I have also never been to Costa Rica, so I’m really looking forward to the vacation aspect too, especially as I’m planning on bringing out the whole family.’

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That is a great aspect of the TCC race. It’s possible to bring families and the team are able to provide logistics and entertainment outside of the racing. It’s a fantastic selling point. As a runner you can fulfill your passions and desires but not at the expense of family time.

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

On a final note, I asked Clarky and Frosty what plans lie ahead for 2014. TCC is in February, so, a full year awaits!

‘Firstly, fingers crossed my body is healthy! And then I have so many things I want to achieve. I really want to race Hardrock 100 so I need to qualify with a 100-miler. I haven’t decided which one yet but maybe Wasatch. The new Buffalo Stampede Sky Run, Transvulcania, Mt Blanc 80km are all on my list, it’s very exciting!’

Frosty has a passion to run but her running is so much more. It’s about experiences, making friends and spending quality time, something that she is convinced she will find in Costa Rica.

Clarky loves to race and race hard, having consistently been close to winning at the iconic Western States, I wondered if that would become a primary target for 2014, after alI, he wouldn’t have three 100’s to follow it?

‘I plan on running Western States again in June, Hardrock 100 if I get in through the lottery, and then the Steamboat 100 in the fall. Other than that, I’ll be looking to take on a couple of FKT (Fastest Known Times) adventure routes in the mountains.’ 

The stage is set for the 2014 edition of the race. It will, without doubt be the most spectacular edition of the race and possibly the fastest. It’s not too late to get a last minute entry before the prices go up.

Steve Diederich, the UK agent for The Coastal Challenge has made several places available to coincide with this announcement. In addition, a 5% discount will be offered to the first five applicants.

Steve had this to say, ‘The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making. Joining an exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras, the excitement of what the 10th edition has in store really is something that we all can’t wait to see unfold’

Race dates: 2nd to 9th February 2014

If you would like to attend the 2014 event and take advantage of a 5% discount, please use the contact box below.

The Coastal Challenge website HERE

IMAGES FROM THE 2013 EDITION ARE AVAILABLE HERE