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

Marathon des Sables, 29th Edition, Race Preview

MDS Logo

It begins again, the Marathon des Sables! Now in its 29th year, the epic multiday race in the Sahara is considered by many the Father of stage racing. Often called ‘The Toughest Race on Earth’ we all know that it isn’t but one thing is for sure… it’s no walk in the park.

all images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

iancorless.comP1030603Heat, sand, survival, reduced calories and self sufficiency pushed to the limits will test each and everyone of the 1079 participants who will toe the line in South Morocco.

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 Participants from France will represent 30% of the field and over 45 other nations make up the remaining 70% with the UK providing the largest contingent. The provinces of Errachidia and Tinghrir will host the 2014 Marathon des Sables over 6-stages with a total distance of 250km’s. An easy day will be 30km and the longest day, 75km. It’s a wonderful way, albeit a tough and challenging way to embrace the Moroccan dessert.

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The 2013 edition of the race was noted as ‘one of the toughest’ in the races prestigious history, 2014 will be no different; traversing ergs, djebels, stony plateaus, dried-up lakes (wadis) and of course lush oasis. Occasional passing traditional villages and encampments of nomads, the 29th edition of the Marathon des Sables promises to be a ‘secret garden’ of the Sahara.

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Described by race founder, Patrick Bauer as ‘the greatest show on earth’, his comparisons to a circus are apt. The Marathon des Sables really is a large circus like operation on a scale that is second to none. Volunteers number 130 to supervise the race, 430-general staff support the race and 300-local Berbers man the bivouac. All-terrain vehicles number 120, 8 ‘MDS’ planes, 25-buses, 4-dromederies, 1-incinerator lorry, 5-quad bikes and 2-helicopters keep the show on the road. Add to this 52-medical staff, journalists, photographers and you really have what I have come to call, the ‘Cirque de Sahara’, it’s quite special.

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A race with a history, the Marathon des Sables dates back to 1984 when Patrick Bauer, aged 28, ventured into the Sahara to traverse solo a 350km journey with a pack weighing 35kg. It was an ultimate self-sufficient expedition that lasted 12-days.

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Inspired by the experience, in 1986 the first edition was created, just 23-pioneers embarked on what must have been ‘the ultimate’ expedition. Who would have thought those formative years would have laid the foundations for what is, without question, the father of multiple day racing. The race has had memorable moments; in ‘1991’ the Gulf drama had an impact on the race, ‘1994’ the arrival of Doc Trotters, ‘1995’ the 10th anniversary, ‘1996’ Mohamed Ahansal participates for the first time, ‘1997’ Lahcen Ahansal wins his first MDS one of many),  ‘2000’ internet arrives in the Sahara, ‘2001’ the ‘long’ day exceeds 70km, ‘2002’ a week of sandstorms and wind, ‘2009’ flooding at the MDS, ‘2010’ the 25th edition and finally, in ‘2013’, solar energy arrives in bivouac. What does ‘2014’ hold for us…?

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Results recap

2013

  1. 1. Mohamad Ahansal (MAR) 18:59:35
  2. 2. Salameh Al Aqra (JOR) 00:41:40 deficit
  3. 3. Miguel Capo Soler (ESP) 1:19:56 deficit
  1. 4. Meghan Hicks (USA) 24:42:01
  2. 5. Joanna Meek (UK) 00:00:59 deficit
  3. 6. Zoe Salt (UK) 02:21:57 deficit

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2014 Preview

Ladies

2013 female winner, Meghan Hicks unfortunately will not return to the Sahara this year. Meghan would have loved nothing more than to defend her title, however, Meghan has received an injury and has had no other option but to retire; a real shame.

Laurence Klein

Laurence Klein

Jo Meek and Zoe Salt will not return, this leaves the floodgates open for 2011 and 2012 champion, Laurence Klein (Fra) to return and dominate the race. Laurence dropped from the 2013 edition of the race with dehydration whilst in the lead. I have no doubts, Laurence will return, 1-year wiser, 1-MDS wiser and with lessons learnt. Laurence raced at Gruissan Phoebus Taril 50km in February this year and won, in the process, she also placed 20th overall. She’s in form!

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball (USA) looks to be the hot US replacement for Meghan Hicks and I have no doubt that this formidable lady can push Laurence all the way to the line. It’s a showdown that I am really looking forward to watching unfold. Nikki returned to Western States in 2013 and placed 2nd, she was also 2nd at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler… would you like to bet against her? *UTWT entrant

Simone Kayser from Luxemburg has 3-MDS (2002, 2004 and 2005) victories and returns in 2014. With past experience, knowledge of multi-day racing and an understanding of the Sahara, Simone will also test the podium positions. However, her current form is unknown.

Men

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Salameh Al Aqra and Mohamad Ahansal have battled ‘royal’ in the dunes of the Sahara for years. In 2009, Ahansal won, Al Aqra was 3rd, in 2010 it was Ahansal 1st, Al Aqra 2nd, 2011 Ahansal placed 2nd and Al Aqra 3rd, 2012 Al Aqra took honours relegating Ahansal to bridesmaid, however, last year, Ahansal once again regained his crown with Al Aqra chasing the locals heals. Both return in 2014 and based on past records you have to tip Ahansal with his 5-victories and 9-second places to dominate once again.

Mohammed Ahansal

Mohamad Ahansal

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Salameh Al Aqra

Rachid El Moriaty won in the race in 2011 and in doing so placed Ahansal in 2nd by just 7-minutes. He’d do well to repeat that performance.

Miguel Capo Soler is arguably the hot prospect to place Mohammed and Salameh under pressure, his 2013 3rd place will without doubt have ignited a fire and a desire within him to take his performance one step further and move up one notch on the podium and if all goes well, two notches to reign supreme.

Carlos sa

Carlos sa

Carlos Sa, 4th in the 2013 edition will do all he can to infiltrate the podium and if his form is good, he may very well upset the front of the race. His 2013 season was quite spectacular, in particular, his win at Badwater a highlight and his 4th at the 2012 TNFUTMB establishes him as ‘hot’ for the podium at the 29th edition. *UTWT entrant

Miguel Heras certainly is a surprise entrant for MDS and I guess this is a significance of the *UTWT flexing its muscle and introducing runners who we would not normally see at a multi-day race. This is a good thing! However, Miguel had to withdraw from Transgrancanaria with injury issues and I am not sure currently his status? Should he race he will without doubt bring an interesting dynamic to the race. When in form, he is world class and one of the best ultra runners in the world, Miguel has proved this time and time again and is 2nd place at the 2013 TNFUTMB proves this. I hope he’s fit, firing on all cylinders and ready to bring his ‘A’ race to the Sahara.

Danny Kendall

Danny Kendall

UK hopes are in the legs and lungs of Danny Kendall. A ‘regular’ at the MDS, Danny has consistently worked hard on his training, racing strategy and in in 2013 he placed 10th overall, the best ever performance by a Brit. The podium may well be out of reach but anything higher than 9th will be something to celebrate and embrace.

Cyril Cointre also takes a *UTWT place and will be a potential force at the front of the race. Cyril placed 8th at Transgrancanaria and 11th and HK100 in the last 2-months. Will he be recovered.

Wild card may well be Abdelkader El Mouaziz who has 13 sub 2:10 marathons! He hasn’t run the MDS before and that speed may well transfer well to the dunes and terrain of the Sahara, however, one has to wonder what if? Mouaziz won London Marathon in 1999 and 2001; in addition, he also won New York in 2000 and Madrid in 1994. He may well be nowhere near his glory days but Mouaziz is an exciting addition to the 29th edition.

Who else to watch:

Christophe Le eaux

Christophe Le Seaux

Marco Olmo

Marco Olmo

Christophe Le Saux – 9th at MDS 2013

Marco Olmo – 13th at MDS 2013

Anything can happen and without doubt, 2014 will throw up some surprises and names that we have never heard of before. 2013 was no different and that is what makes this sport so exciting and exhilarating.

What does the 2014 course look like?

Leg No.1 – Sunday 6 April

We get straight to the point and attack hard with a good fifteen kilometers or so of dunes in total on this first leg. Our imagination transports us into the shoes of British explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesiger, or to the very core of superb cinema, which were a wonder to us all!

Leg No.2 – Monday 7 April

This is coloured by fields of dunettes on the mountainside and a vast reg plateau, where the marathon runners will be able to really show what they’re made of at over 16km/hr. An abandoned adobe village, a dried-up lake crossing, a small erg with some beautiful dunes, an extensive plateau of black rock, the negotiation of a remote village and a djebel climb will make up the varied menu of this long second leg, where managing ones effort will take on its full meaning.

Leg No.3 – Tuesday 8 April

After 8km of running on fair terrain, the sand will put in an appearance again prior to a djebel ascent where a fabulous erg can be perceived at the bottom of the valley. There the runners will again negotiate some high dunes to make CP2, from where they will discover an ancient town, in ruins and perched on a hill, before making the night’s bivouac.

Leg No.4 (referred to as the long leg or the 80) – Wednesday 9 / Thursday 10 April

An ultra flat plateau running along a series of dunettes will form today’s backdrop before the runners traverse a wadi and hopefully get a bird’s eye view of the desert from up high after a tough little climb of around thirty-minutes. The landscape is truly breathtaking! Once you make it to the valley, you can make out a fabulous little erg followed by vast plateaus and a succession of djebels. The images here are strikingly beautiful and herald the discovery of an impressive sandy valley. Here, a laser beam will guide runners surprised by the cover of darkness. Participants will then link onto terrain dotted with crevasses before traversing a long, winding, sandy wadi and finally the bivouac. It will be important to follow the markers!

Leg No.5 (Marathon leg) – Friday 11 April

A long plateau of black reg will lead the runners into the ‘Out of Africa’ valley before they link onto a mountainous path, which will guide them to the bottom of a deep wadi. It’s a place where a number of villagers have taken up residence along this dried up river in which the palm trees are kings and agriculture is the only resource. A vast plateau peppered with dunes and dunettes will lead the competitor to the bivouac in this final timed leg.

Leg No.6 (the solidarity leg) – Saturday 12 April

As they make for the small village that will play host to the final finish destination, the competitors, sponsors and families that form the caravan will be able to appreciate the beauty and softness of the landscape in the ambience of closeness and sharing that is synonymous with this UNICEF leg (which supports projects benefiting disadvantaged children). For the majority of participants, this walk gives them time to reflect on this beautiful human adventure and collectively realize their accomplishments before getting back to civilization.

Links:

Follow the 2014 Marathon des Sables on www.iancorless.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/talkultra and on Twitter @talkultra

Updates will be posted daily as and when possible based on wifi connection and gps. Please be patient. I will do all I can to upload images and daily reports.

Info:

*UTWTIn 2013, the event became part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour Series, which groups together the major Ultra Trail races across all the different continents. The MARATHON DES SABLES will represent Africa in this circuit, where the distance (at least 100km), the site, the participation (at least 500 at the start), the internationality (at least 20 nations) and the length of existence (at least two editions) determines which events are selected. Beyond these sporting criteria, moral and ethical values, sporting equity, respect for oneself and others, as well as a respect for the environment, must be brought to the fore. Such values have always been conveyed by the MARATHON DES SABLES. 10 races, 5 continents, 150 global elite athletes… the Ultra-Trail® World Tour 2014 draws together the superlatives to provide the biggest number of runners with a world tour of the most prestigious races off the beaten track. Indeed, through their specific features, the #UTWT races illustrate the true diversity of the trail. Their sporting formats call for participants to have a real ability to adapt. As such you need a range of very different qualities to be a contender for victory! The MARATHON DES SABLES, the 4th leg of the 2014 tour, ranks among the ‘series’ races. As such, the number of points won in this event is increased, which makes it a decisive race in the bid for the #UTWT 2014 champion’s title. Participating in the Ultra-Trail® World Tour gives everyone a chance to discover unique cultural and sporting features. All the continents will be visited: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. So many opportunities to enrich one’s sporting culture, to create new friendships and to feed on emotions and perhaps, one day, be a ‘finisher’ in every one of the events!

 

Vibram Tarawera 2014 Race Summary

Tarawera_logo_rectangular

 

Kapiti’s Jo Johannsen only started running a year ago and she’s raced just a handful of times.

But on Saturday, she blitzed some of the world’s best trail runners in the central North Island’s Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon.

Johannsen, 33, took the lead about 15km after the Rotorua Redwoods start. Showing powerful composure in difficult conditions, she steadily opened a nine-minute gap over Claire Walton (UK) and Dawn Tuffery (NZ), stopping the clock at 7hrs 2min after 69 demanding kilometres.

“I felt comfortable the whole way,” Johannsen said at the Lake Okareka finish, while pelted by heavy rain. “I was just making sure my legs were ticking over,  tick-tick-tick-tick, and keeping my back straight.”

“I didn’t know what to expect beforehand — if I could keep up with the elites. I’m so new to all this. But I must be doing something right!”

Jo Johannsen © Graeme Murray

Jo Johannsen © Graeme Murray

She reckons she’s become “obsessed” with ultra trail running the last year, packing in 30 hours a week training, starting at 4am before work. According to her running friend and crew support at the Tarawera Ultra, she also has mental toughness in spades.

“I like pushing it to the limit,” is how Johannsen expressed it.

In the face of Cyclone Lusi, the Ultramarathon had revised courses of 69 km and 55km. The field of 850 from 28 countries still experienced the Bay of Plenty’s lakes and bush clad slopes. But the forecast proved accurate and there was no question race director, Paul Charteris made the right call in revising the route.

Sage Canaday  © Graeme Murray

Sage Canaday © Graeme Murray

The men’s title was superbly defended by 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon champion, Sage Canaday of Colorado, USA — whose online blog was a key inspiration for Johannsen.

Canaday was one of a large bunch that formed over the early kilometres, alongside other contenders including Kiwi’s Michael Aish, Vajin Armstrong and Scott Hawker and Mike Wardian from the USA.

Top Coast to Coast athlete Sam Clark of Whakatane dangled out front until about the 20km mark, at which stage Canaday, Aish and Armstrong moved clear.

“After Millar road [about half way] I made my big move on a very hard mile uphill. I kept pushing. I didn’t look back,” Canaday recounted. Fifteen kilometres later, he’d established a seven-minute lead, and by the finish, that had more than doubled.

Canaday kept the effort dialled up all the way, finishing in 5hrs 33min.

“You’re always on a fine line,” he said. “It was an honour to win for a second year – I love New Zealand and this race and it was great to be back.”

Second place in the men’s race went to China’s Yun Yanqiao, who put in a sterling display of smart pacing, moving up from fourth spot over the challenging Okataina Trail, which peaks out at almost 700m.

Yanqiao has little English, but his delight was abundantly clear: “Very enjoyed! In China [there are] no trails this way,” he said, beaming. His time was 5hrs 52min.

Next home was a trio of flying kiwis, with Armstrong (5hrs 57min) besting Aish by under a minute, and Hawker another eight minutes back. As late as 3 kilometres to go, Armstrong and Aish were almost neck and neck.

“For me it’s a learning curve — I left it all out there,” said Aish, who’s just starting out on the trails after retiring from road racing four years ago. “But Sage was in a different category today.”

  • Report by: Jim Robinson ©
  • Images by: Graeme Murray ©

RESULTS

Men

  1. Sage Canaday – Hoka One One  5:33:38
  2. Yun Yan Qiao – The North Face  5:52:30
  3. Vajin Armstrong – MacPac 5:59:49
  4. Mike Aish – Mizuno 5:58:37
  5. Scott Hawker – Hoka One One 6:06:32
  6. Martin Gaffuri – New Balance 6:21:31
  7. Moritz Auf De Heidi 6:22:21
  8. Mike Wardian – Hoka One One 6:28:46
  9. Matt Murphy 6:36:27
  10. Manuel Lago 6:37:30

Ladies

  1. Jo Johansen 7:02:43
  2. Claire Walton 7:11:48
  3. Dawn Tuffery 7:16:16
  4. Beth Cardelli – Salomon 7:18:54
  5. Meghan Arbogast – Scott Running 7:26:24
  6. Shona Stephenson – inov-8  7:26:24
  7. Fiona Hayvice 7:40:54
  8. Katrin Gottschalk 7:44:33
  9. Katherine Macmillan 7:44:33
  10. Sandy Nyper – Ink n Burn 7:57:24

Race Report – The North Face Transgrancanaria 2014

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

“The Canary Islands Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing announces Ryan Sandes as winner of The North Face Transgrancanaria 2014. The arguments explained by the South African runner has been accepted by the arbitral team and the disqualification has been corrected.”

Excitement on the trails almost faded into insignificance on the morning of Sunday Mar 2nd as a press release was released claiming that Julien Chorier would be crowned 2014 Transgrancanaria champion and that Ryan Sandes would be disqualified for a failure to comply with mandatory kit as specified in the race rules.

A couple of hours of frantic activity followed and eventually a resolution found! The incidence arose due to a misunderstanding in regard to a space blanket, which was translated into the word, ‘cover’ by the local race official. Ryan understood cover to mean jacket and produced the item from his pack. The official noted this as a noncompliance of race rules and of course the rest is now history. Discussions will go on in regard to this situation, certainly, errors were made. A simple discussion with Ryan and officials prior to any statement would most certainly have been preferable in contrast to the media frenzy that preceded the awards ceremony.

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ultimately, Ryan was crowned champion and Timothy Olson summed up everyone’s sentiment post the decision, ‘I’m really pleased to hear this. Great decision. Ryan is a great athlete and true professional. He’s a great ambassador.’

The Race

Transgrancanaria 2014 ©iancorless.com

Transgrancanaria 2014 ©iancorless.com

The 2014 Transgrancanaria was always going to be a great race, tough 125km technical course with vertical gain and loss to make the most seasoned trail runner squirm in pain. Add to the course a top-quality men’s and ladies field and we had the makings of a classic.

Pre race we had a couple of notable drops from the line-up, Nathalie Mauclair was expected to be a real presence in the ladies race but she decided her form was not where she needed it to be. Julia Bottger also dropped with a niggling leg injury. In the men’s race, Jez Bragg withdrew before making the journey to Gran Canaria due to a cold, in contrast, Jez’s TNF teammate, Mike Wolfe arrived in Gran Canaria only to come down with flu like symptoms in the days before the race. Miguel Heras’s injury problems continued and he too unfortunately didn’t make the race

Starting at midnight in Agaete, runners would endure tough, technical terrain and relentless climbing before arriving at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas in an expected winning time of 14-hours. At the toll of midnight, runners disappeared into the night. Conditions in comparison to the 2013 edition of the race were good; light rain, some mist and blustery winds caused little problems. Ryan Sandes and Sebastien Chaigneau ran smart races in the early stages allowing time to get in the flow. Ryan in particular showed incredible maturity and patience and gave a master class in how to work your way up through the field and finish in the top slot. For nearly half of the race, Ryan was just on the edges of the top-10, British runner Casey Morgan said post race, ‘He really knew what he was doing and he looked so relaxed and calm. For sure, he was running within himself and I was just waiting for him to take off.’ Take off he did, just after the 70km mark Ryan was lying in 4th-place and in contrast to the 3 –runners in front of him, he looked relaxed and on a mission. Moving up in to 3rd and then 2nd, Ryan finally took the lead with just under 20km to go. Pushing from the front, Ryan couldn’t be complacent… Julien Chorier and Timothy Olson were pursuing. At the line, Ryan had opened up a 9-minute margin confirming that not only is he one of the best ultra distance runners in the world but also that patience is a precious commodity in any race.

Sebastien Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau had looked like a potential winner early in the race. He was the defending champion after all and he knows the trails well. Like Ryan, Seb had paced himself well early in the race and then took over the lead. Running relaxed but with focus, Seb traded blows with Arnaud Julia (Buff) and local runner, Yeray Duran (Yeray placed 5th at CCC in 2013) was arguably a revelation and surprise of the day, despite his 3rd place at the 2013 edition of Transgrancanaria, against such strong competition in 2014, I personally thought he would finish lower down the top-10.

However, Seb dropped with dehydration and Arnaud dropped having run too hard in the early stages of the race. This allowed the two main protagonists and pre race favourites, Julien Chorier and Timothy Olson to take control of the race.

Arnaud Julia Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

 Timothy ran a smart race and respected the terrain and the competition. Taking over the lead at just over halfway, Timothy battled with Julien until Ryan passed them both. Post race, Timothy was very happy with his race, ‘It beat me up; I like that, that’s why I do them. It was a beautiful and technical course. It’s a race I will do it again’.

Timothy Olson Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson Transvulcania ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier impressed me at the 2013 Ronda dels Cims and without doubt was a potential favourite for the top title here on the island of Gran Canaria. Meticulous in preparation, Julien would bring a clever strategy to the race and having run the whole race in or around the top-5, one just wondered ‘when’ he would make his move. With Timothy out in front, the stage had looked set for an American win, however, a charging Ryan Sandes changed that and when Timothy faltered in the latter stage, Julien pounced to take 2nd place just 2.5mins ahead of the American.

Julien Chorier Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

It was Ryan Sandes day. After a troubled 2013, 2014 is certainly looking to be a great year for the South African. In just two weeks he will attempt an FKT in South Africa and then attention will focus on the Holy Grail of ultra; Western States.

Nuria Picas & Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas & Ryan Sandes Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

*Notable mention to Brit, Casey Morgan who ran an incredible race for 10th overall

Ladies

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas came into Transgrancanaria as a pre race favourite and the Catalan did not disappoint. Starting slowly over the first 10km she took the lead ahead of Francesca Canepa and then never looked back. Pre race Nuria had said how important it would be to have reserves for the latter stages; however, Nuria didn’t need to worry. Her consistency of effort was superb. Without doubt, Nuria’s 2nd place at the 2013 TNFUTMB has provided incredible confidence in how to run long and technical trail.

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

With Nathalie Mauclair and Julia Bottger out of the race, in reality, 2nd place and 3rd place was always going to be a battle between Francesca Canepa and Fernanda Maciel.

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Fernanda looked to have 2nd place sewn up and post race, she told me, ‘I was told I had a 30-45 minute lead over Francesca and I think I became a little complacent. In the latter stages of the race the terrain became easier and more runnable which played into Francesca’s hands. We arrived at the last feed station together and Francesca didn’t stop.’

Needing to eat and hydrate may very well have cost Fernanda 2nd on the podium, we will never know, certainly missing the last feed was not an option!

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©Iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa Transgrancanaria ©Iancorless.com

Francesca had an incredible 2013 dominating long distance racing, however, she found the trail on Gran Canaria a little too technical for her style of running. For much of the day she ran in 3rd place but in the latter stages, Francesca found some extra energy, closed the gap on Fernanda and managed to take 2nd place by just under 3-minutes.

Attention will now turn to UTMF in Japan; many of the runners at Transgrancanaria will be present to do battle once again on very different terrain. I wonder, who will come out on top?

RESULTS

Ryan Sandes Salomon/Red Bull : 14:27:42

Julien Chorier  Hoka One One/ Compressport “14:36:28

Timothy Olson The North Face : 14:39:03

Yeray Duran : 15:06:54

Antoine Guillon WAA : 15:17:30

Sondre Amdahl : 15:28:35

Javier Dominguez Vibram : 15:46:06

Cyril Cointre WAA : 15:47:08

Dylan Bowman Peral Izumi : 15:59:13

Casey Morgan Salomon 16:00:31

Nuria Picas Buff : 16:44:55

Francesca Canepa Montura : 17:29:18

Fernanda Maciel 17:31:57

Ildko Wermescher Mammut :18:50:45

Uxue Fraile Vibram 19:21:00

Nerea Martinez Salomon 19:21:00

Magdalena Ostrowska-Dolegowska : 20:27:02

Ester Alves : 23:03:10

Laureda Tirepied : 23:10:44

Helen Allison : 23:40:48

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

Julien Chorier & Hoka One One Transgrancanaria

all images ©iancorless.com no reproduction or copying please

Julien Chorier and Hoka One One team mates (Caroline Chaverot & Pascal Blanc) freed up some time to head out on the trails of Gran Canaria and allowed me the opportunity to capture some images ahead of the 2014 The North Face Transgrancanaria.

  • Julien Chorier can be found at - HERE
  • Caroline Chaverot – HERE
  • Pascal Blanc – HERE
  • Hoka One One - HERE
  • Hoka One One Pro Team - HERE

The North Face® Transgrancanaria 2014 pre race and press conference images

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Tension builds ahead of the 2014 The North Face® Transgrancanaria with runners arriving from all over the world to take part in the second race of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour).

You can read an in depth race preview HERE

Important news from the last couple of days are key withdrawals from the ladies race; firstly Julia Bottger has decided that recent racing and training stress has left a niggling leg injury a disaster waiting to happen and so therefore has made the wise and cautious decision not to start. Nathalie Mauclair was without doubt a potential winner of this years race and unfortunately she too has withdrawn  saying that she too has a niggling leg injury and that she doesn’t feel ready.

In the men’s race, Miguel Heras once again has picked up an injury in the build up to the race and his problematic injury issues continue. Will he be ready for Marathon des Sables?

The 125km The North Face® Transgrancanaria  starts at midnight on Friday and images and updates will be provided on this website, Talk Ultra Facebook and @talkultra on Twitter as and when possible.

Thursday evening saw a presentation of some of the key athletes in this years race.

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

 

The North Face® Transgrancanaria® 2014 Preview

Transgrancanaria2

The 2014 Transgrancanaria is just over a week away and for the first time the race will be part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) and the newly formed Spanish Ultra Cup.

Arguably the five races that make up the Transgrancanaria weekend (Transgrancanaria  (125 kilometers), Advanced (82), Marathon (44), Starter (30) and Promo (17.4). Promo aims to gain the attention of new runners to participate in ultra trail races.) Will see some of the first big showdowns, certainly at an elite level, of 2014.

The level of competition assembled for the main event, the 125km Transgrancanaria is extremely impressive. Starting in Agaete runners will endure some tough and technical terrain to arrive at the finish in Faro de Maspalomas.

This race will provide us with a great insight into some of the early season form of some of the best in the world! So, who is racing?

MEN

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau ©iancorless.com

Sebastien Chaigneau (The North Face) returns to defend his 2013 crown and after also being victorious at Hardrock 100 in the same year he will most definitely have a target on his back as ‘one-to-watch’. Hardrock certainly took plenty of energy out of Seb, when he attempted TNFUTMB just weeks later he dropped early saying he had nothing left. I am sure he will be focused and ready to take the Transgrancanaria on with 100% commitment.

Scott Jurek ©iancorless.com

Scott Jurek ©iancorless.com

Scott Jurek (Brooks) paced Seb Chaigneau at Hardrock 100 and it’s great to see that this legend of ultra running will toe the line for his first ever race in Spain. Scott needs no introduction. He has been quiet in recent years with writing his book and promotion, however, he recently returned to Leadville to race over the 100-mile distance and on a recent trip to the UK he told me, his years of competitive running are coming to a close but he still has some objectives and bucket list races he wants to tick off! European racing is very different to western States, Badwater and Spartathlon, however, Scott loves a challenge and I for one am going to be really interested to see how he stacks up against sold competition. Listen to Scott Jurek on Talk Ultra HERE

Timothy Olson ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson (The North Face) had a great 2013 and he understands European racing and courses. His experiences at Transvulcania La Palma and TNFUTMB will put him in a great place to not only understand the demands that the Transgrancanaria course will bring but also how to race it. This is still early season for Timothy and although I am sure he will be fit and raring to go, I don’t expect him to be at 100%. He has been putting in the training and regular runs up Mount Wilson will put him in a great place. Just the other day Timothy did 5k of vertical in 7-miles in 1:19:30 and then followed this with 24-miles and more vertical. Like Seb Chaigneau, Timothy has a date at Hardrock 100 later this year and I am sure his focus and emphasis will be placed on the big showdown. His recent 8th place at Sean O’Brien 50-mile (an hour slower than Dylan Bowman) shows that Timothy is biding his time and easing his way into 2014. Listen to Timothy Olson on Talk Ultra HERE

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes (Salomon) had a troubled 2013, ironically, I remember discussing his 2013 plans in Gran Canaria this time last year. At the time he chose to step down from the 125km race and run the 82km Advanced race, which he won. However, things did not go well afterwards, he got injured ahead of Western States which forced him to miss out and improve on his second place of 2012 and then later in the year he arrived at Leadville looking in fine form. Unfortunately midway through the race things took a bad turn forcing him to drop with back problems. Ryan did win Patagonian International Marathon 63km and place 9th at San Francisco 50 in December. So, with batteries recharged and plenty of running in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa, Ryan I am sure will be looking for a solid start to the year so that he can build and look ahead to a potential overall victory at Western States. Listen Ryan Sandes on Talk Ultra HERE

Dylan Bowman ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman ©iancorless.com

Dylan Bowman (Pearl Izumi) was all ready to go at TNFUTMB in 2013 but his plans flew out of the window with an unfortunate slip in training in the days leading up to the big race. Recovery was paramount in the second half of 2013 but Dylan looked objectively from the outside and turned this period into an opportunity to grow. Taking on a new run coach Dylan has progressed and for sure will be looking to make an impact in Europe during 2014 with a whole series of top races lined up against high quality fields. Gaining 5th place at San Francisco 50 behind a speedy and in form Rob Krar was a great sign and his recent victory at the Sean O’Brien 50-mile in 6:23:17 ahead of Mike Aish and Mike Wolfe bodes really well for his current form and his chances on the island of Gran Canaria. Listen to Dylan Bowman on Talk Ultra HERE

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier (Hoka One One) gave a master class of distance running at the Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims in 2013. Not only did he break the course record but each and every step of the way he looked calm, collected and in control. Following this up, Julien raced at TNFUTMB and I have to say based on his Ronda performance I tipped him as a hot favourite. However in the race he was fighting the sleep demons, despite this he still paced highly. He is meticulous in preparation and leaves nothing to chance. A previous winner of Hardrock 100, Julien will also return in 2014 what is already looking like a highlight’ race of 2014. A recent move from Salomon to Hoka One One is very interesting and I am really keen to see how Julien’s form is this early in the year.

Jez Bragg ©iancorless.com

Jez Bragg ©iancorless.com

Jez Bragg (The North Face) returned to main stream racing at the 2013 TNFUTMB having devoted pretty much the previous 12-months to his Te Araroa expedition. An expedition that he always knew would deplete him in ways he had never been depleted before. His 10th place (male) and 11th place overall was a rewarding run and most certainly confirmed that Jez was back. His recent performance and top-10 placing at HK100 again confirms that Jez will be going into 2014 with a full race schedule planned out and highlight being Western States 100. Transgrancanaria will provide a course that will suit Jez’s style of running; expect him to start steady and move his way up as the distance progresses. Listen Jez Bragg after Te Araroa HERE

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©iancorless.com

Mike Wolfe & Mike Foote ©iancorless.com

Mike Wolfe (The North Face) placed 3rd at the recent Sean O’Brien 50-miler; a great sign. Mike would be the first to admit that he has had a troubled time since the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma. He struggled to find form but his FKT on the John Muir Trail with Hal Koerner in 2013 put Mike back on track. A slight blimp was trying to run TNFUTMB too quickly after the JMT but Mike had the sense to drop early and avoid causing any injuries and his decision was confirmed with a 6th place at San Francisco 50 in December. Mike always races hard and loves to perform, definitely one to watch! Listen to Mike Wolfe on Talk Ultra HERE

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb

Jason Schlarb (Altra) took out the win at Run Rabbit Run in 2013 and in addition to a win at Pocatello 50 had top-3 places at Speedgoat 50, San Juan Solstice 50 and Leona Divide. The Transgrancanaria course is somewhat different to the above but Jason has great speed and endurance that will hopefully work well on this testing 125km course.

Miguel Heras ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras (Salomon) heads up the ‘local’ talent and like many of the above names has struggled with injury in recent years. Miguel’s 2nd place at TNFUTMB was a great moment for the fans but more importantly, Miguel. He needed that result. He followed this with 3rd place behind Luis Alberto Hernando at Cavalls del Vent. Looking back at ‘13’ one could say Miguel didn’t race many times, however, he did have 6-victories, a 2nd place and a 3rd. not bad eh! If Miguel is in top form, he is a potential winner of the 125km race; no doubt!

The quality of the men’s field really is quite impressive and in no particular order here are the other names to watch…

  • Arnaud Julia – 2nd at Transgrancanaria in 2009 & 2010 but more importantly the winner of the 2013 TDS.
  • Jorge Maravilla – recent win at Bandera 100k in 8:02:27 shows current great form.
  • Antoine Guillon – 8th at TNFUTMB in 2011 and 2nd at TDS in 2013.
  • Casey Morgan – top Brit mountain/ fell runner.
  • Christophe Le Saux – 16th at Transgrancanaria in 2013 and recent top placing at HK100.
  • Cyril Cointre – 8th at Transgrancanaria in 2013, 9th at UTMF 2013 and 11th recently at HK100.
  • Fulvio Dapit – 4th at Ice Trail Tarentaise in 2013.
  • Pascal Blanc – 3rd at Diagonale des Fous 2013 and 13th at HK100 in 2014.

LADIES

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Vibram/Montura) triumphant after a stunning win at HK100 in January must arrive in Gran Canaria as a hot favourite. At 125km it is probably till just a little too short for this long distance specialist, however, it has plenty of climbing and technical terrain, this will suit Francesca down to the ground. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this stunning lady… she never stops to amaze me! Her racing calendar is brutal and her powers of recovery are miraculous. Francesca’s victories at Ronda dels Cims, Eiger Ultra Trail and Tor des Geants in 2013 were stand out results, however, these results were interspersed with top results at Ice Trail Tarentaise, UROC, Speedgoat 50 and so on. Needless to say, Francesca is a hot tip! Listen to Francesca Canepa after Ronda dels Cims on Talk Ultra HERE

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair (Endurance 72) burst onto the ultra running scene at Transvulcania La Palma in 2013 with 4th place and never stopped. She became IAU World Trail Champion, won TDS and then crowned out an incredible year with victory at Diagonale des Fous. Nathalie’s combination of speed and endurance is a lethal combination and every lady at Transgrancanaria should most definitely place a target on this ladies back.

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas (Buff) has performed at the highest level in Skyrunning for years, her 2012 was a master class in mountain running. A change of tack in 2013 saw Nuria prepare meticulously for TNFUTMB (her first 100-miler) and this paid off with 2nd overall behind a storming Rory Bosio. Following TNFUTMB with repeat victories at Cavalls del Vent and Courses des Templiers showed that despite running long, Nuria did not loose speed. Meticulous in training and racing, Nuria will have her ‘A’ game in Gran Canaria and will need utmost respect from the female competition.

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) recently raced at HK100 and placed 5th overall; shows she has early season form. Like Francesca Canepa, Nerea loves long and tough races. One glimpse at her 2013 result sheet confirms this, her 2nd at Tor des Geants was a standout performance, however, in addition to this Nerea had 4-victories. One of which was the outright win at the 2013 Transgrancanaria. Amongst this level of competition I don’t see Nerea regaining the top slot but she will be pushing and looking for one of the ladies above to falter.

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel ©iancorless.com

Fernanda Maciel (The North face) always has a busy calendar; her recent victory at the Everest Trail Race will without doubt put her in a great place for this race. All that climbing at altitude has to be a great boost. Fernanda’s stumbling block will be speed, particularly in comparison to Nuria and Nathalie. Listen to Fernanda in Episode 48 of Talk Ultra HERE

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger (Salomon) has just returned from 2nd overall at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and is currently in Gran Canaria for a training camp. Like Nerea and Francesca, Julia loves tough, long and technical courses. A consistent performer at Diagonale des Fous and Tor des Geants, Julia’s climbing and endurance will be a great advantage over this 125km course. Listen to Julia Bottger on Talk Ultra HERE

Uxue Fraile (Adidas Trail Running) has had a great couple of years placing 5th at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 and then returning in 2013 to place 3rd. In addition, Uxue placed 5th at the 2012 Cavalls del Vent and then returned in 2013 to place 2nd overall behind Nuria Picas. Maybe not an out and out favourite for Transgrancanaria but on her day, she has the potential to pull something special out of the bag and place top-3.

One to watch:

Karine Sanson – 6th at Transvulcania La Palma 2013 and 8th at Ice Trail Tarentaise.

As you can see, the 125km Transgrancanaria is without doubt going to be a very exciting race. However, a race within a race will be contested with points up for grabs for the Spanish Ultra Cup.

Follow the race on facebook.com/talkultra and on twitter @talkultra

Pre race interviews, images and writing will be uploaded to this website (www.iancorless.com) in advance of, during and post the race.

An addition, we must also remember the other races that will take place over the weekend. Last year the 82km Advanced race had a great battle with Ryan Sandes and Philipp Reiter. Philipp returns this year looking to move up one step! He will have some great competition from Zaid Ait Malek.

Here are the Advanced participants:

National:

  • Chelis Valle Gallego
  • David Mundina Gil
  • Felipe Artigue
  • Gaizka Barañano Urquijo
  • Gerard Morales Ramírez
  • Juan Antonio Ruiz García (Juanan)
  • Juan María Jimenez Llorens
  • Pau Bartoló Roca
  • Pedro Bianco
  • Vicente Parra
  • Zaid Ait Malek
  • Ana Bustamante
  • Djanina Freitag
  • Elena Calvillo
  • Judit Franch Pons
  • Leire Aguirrezabala.
  • Lucía Pasamar Marquez

International:

  • Philip Reiter
  • Tim Ellis

Canary:

  • Cristofer Clemente Mora
  • Dani Santana García
  • Evaristo Almeida
  • Jesús Falcón Macías
  • Jose David Lutzardo Barroso
  • Jose israel Fernández Cáceres.
  • Jose Manuel León Medina
  • Francisco rodríguez Martín
  • Miguel Espino
  • Mari Carmen García Santana.
  • Yurena Castrillo Simón

Participants in the Marathon distance are as follows:

International:

  • Michael Kabicher
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Lúcia Franco
  • Marie Sammons
  • Nina Ingvarsson

National:

  • Zigor Iturrieta
  • Nuria Domínguez
  • Silvia Sos
  • Sonia Escuriola

Canary:

  • Dario Dorta
  • David reyes Lorenzo
  • Franscisco Rodríguez de Paz
  • Majid Belouati
  • Óliver Perera
  • Samuel Ortega Hernández
  • Leticia Rodríguez Navarro
  • Sandra Moreno Santiago
  • Yaiza Herrera

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica celebrates its 10th anniversary with an incredible line up.

TCC Banner

The 2014 edition of The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica gets underway in less than 1-week. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast to Quepos and the 10th edition of the “TCC”.

“It’s a decade of exploring, adventuring and discovering Costa Rica and the beginning of a bright new decade to come!” Rodrigo Carazo

Rodrigo Carazo (Costa Rican architect and adventure racer) and Tim Holmstrom (race director and Lost Worlds Racing founder) have pulled together an incredible field for the race and without doubt it will arguably be one of the most competitive multi-day races of 2014.

“Reaching the 10th edition is a milestone that is both humbling and gratifying. It is a privilege and not to one to be taken lightly.  It represents a massive amount of work over those 10-years by all those involved.  As it transformed from concept to a fully realized dream, we had no idea it might weather all storms and remain 10-years later as a race that could attract runners from all over the world.  We are happy and grateful to have made it this far, accomplishing much with little more than hard work, persistence and vision. We look forward to many more years to come and making many more new friends from around the globe.” Tim Holmstrom

Elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, they will all have one purpose in mind, to embrace the tough and technical challenge that lies ahead of them and enjoy every moment. For many, to be on the start is already a victory; the journey will provide the icing on the cake.

Steve Diederich (http://www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk) the UK agent for the TCC had this to say, “The Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”

Known locally as the Rainforest Run, the TCC is a 236km stage race over 6-days that weaves in and out of a lush and tropical Pacific coastline. The Talamancas – a coastal mountain range spread across the southwest corner of the country – provides not only a stunning backdrop but also many of the tough and technical challenges that the runners will face on a day-to-day basis.

Beaches that last km after km are interspersed with dirt tracks, mountain paths, dense jungle, ridges, water crossings, open plains and highland; Costa Rica is bursting with variety. In addition, add 40deg temperatures and high humidity, the TCC is no easy challenge.

Unlike other multi day races, the TCC is supported. Each day camp is moved ahead and awaits the runner’s arrival at the finish. Running light and fast, runners are able to keep equipment to a minimum and as such, racing is extremely competitive. The 2014 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

Gemma Slaughter ©iancorless.com

Gemma Slaughter ©iancorless.com

Gemma Slaughter from Canada is returning as defending champion of the race. By her own admission she is a newbie to ultra running. One year on, Gemma has embraced the challenge to return to coastline of Costa Rica for what she calls, “the opportunity of a lifetime”. However, Gemma will have her hands full. Julia Bottger (Germany), Anna Frost (New Zealand) and Jo Meek will create a stunning spectacle and highly competitive race. To put this in perspective, we only need to look at some of the career highlights of these incredible ladies:

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger

Julia is a strong and fierce runner. By her own admissions, she may not be the fastest runner on a course but she brings great strength, endurance and grit. Julia loves tough and challenging courses, without doubt she will embrace the TCC. Career highlights: TranMatinique winner 2013, Ultra Trail Atlas Tarabouki winner 2013, 2nd Sardona Ultra Trail 2013, 2nd Grand Raid des Pyrenees 2013 and in addition to these incredible results, Julia has placed 2nd at the super tough Tor des Geants in 2010 and placed 3rd at Diagonale des Fous in 2012.

“My training is going very well. As our winter is not really a winter this year I could run a lot in the mountains and do some cross training. But I noticed that my winter break was a bit too short. Last race in Martinique is not long ago. As well as I would like to focus on the Transgrancanaria race in march I have a bit of a problem on what kind of training to focus on.. But I feel great and healthy – that’s the best. I am really looking forward to the warm temperatures, beaches, new country and new people. And I am excited about doing a stage race again – has been a while. It is different from Ultratrails and very challenging. I love sleeping in a tent, having a very simple life out in the nature – so the Costa Rica Coast Challenge sounds like great fun.”

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost

Anna has had a tough 2013 fighting recurring injuries but the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 has allowed Anna to find a great place, not only physically but mentally. It’s going to be a pleasure to have ‘Frosty’ on the trails of Costa Rica. Career highlights:  Transvulcania La Palma winner and course record holder 2012, winner Speedgoat 50k 2012, winner La Maxi Race du Lac d’Annecy 2012 and 2nd Cavalls del Vent 2012.

“I am just super excited to be in a new and wonderfully exciting place – Costa Rica – with new and old friends. got my bikini and snorkel packed, oh and I guess some running gear would be good too!

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek 

Jo Meek comes to the TCC as a relatively unknown runner, however, a stunning and strong performance at MDS in 2013 confirms that Jo will be pushing hard at this race and for me, she is a hot favourite for victory! Career highlight: 2nd overall 2013 Marathon des Sables.

“I am busy packing my bag ready for this amazing experience that lies ahead of me. I am a little nervous because I want to race the best I can but more excited than anything else. As I reflect back on my training I  am pleased. It has gone really well and because of it I qualified to represent my County (Devon) and then the South West Region which was a privilege with these ageing pins of mine.”

On a final note, we have just had news that Veronica Bravo (Chile) will attend the race. This adds a new and exciting element. Veronica is famous or should I say infamous for suffering frostbite in 2006 and then returning to running after fourteen operations. After 19-months of recuperation she returned to racing.

The men’s race is looking to be a classic in the making, defending champion and multiple TCC winner Dave James is not returning to Costa Rica, this therefore leads the door open for not only a new winner of the TCC but maybe a course record… who knows.

Philipp Reiter (Germany), Nick Clark (UK), Martin Gaffuri (France), Mike Wardian (USA), Carlos Sa (Portugal) and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito (Spain)

It’s a top quality field!

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter 

Philipp is an incredible talent. His growth in the professional ranks for such a young age has had many look twice and draw comparisons with his Salomon teammate, Kilian Journey. Philipp races hard but knows how to relax and enjoy the experience too. Costa Rica is going to be a dream come true for young German. Career highlights: Winner Salomon 4-trails, multiple winner of Zugspitz, winner of the TransAlpine and many more.

“I am very excited – in exactly ONE week I am sitting in the plane to central America! This year the winter here in Bavaria (south Germany) is unusual warm and almost no snow, which is very bad for skiing but good for trail running. As I usually barely run in winter time (1-2 times a month) I have done more km’s than the years before and it feels much better (if my feeling is right). I am worried about the climate change and the jet-lag of the long travel (27 hours from door to door) as I have only ONE day to make my body adapt to the 30°C and the high humidity. But I am so looking forward to explore jungle trails, see the beauty of the rainforest and to get to know new runners from all over the world! The tropical plants and wildlife is said to be unique, no need to mention the beaches of the Pacific ocean. Another thing I am afraid are snakes (brrrr) and I don’t hope to see any of them.”

Nick Clark ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark 

‘Clarky’ comes to Costa Rica and the TCC as one of the most respected 100-mile runners in the world. His 2013 performance in the Grand Slam of ultra running (4 100-mile races) was nothing short of spectacular. His consistent performance at Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and other tough and challenging events places him at the ‘to-watch’ list irrespective of the race or the distance. TCC will be no different. Career highlights: Wasatch 100 winner, 2nd Leadville 100, 3rd Vermont 100, 1st Fuego Y Agua and that is just 2013

“I am very much in base-building mode for the summer season right now, and really only starting get back after it in late December after a long break post Grand Slam. That said, I have been trying to put together a few longer back-to-back runs the past few weeks to try and replicate a bit the daily grind of a stage race. Other than that I’ve been logging lots of easy paced mileage with a focus on vertical gain. I feel like I’m in decent shape, if not particularly sharp, which should be just fine for a longer stage race like the Coastal Challenge.”

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri 

Martin had a breakthrough in 2013 participating on the ISF Skyrunner® World Series. Without doubt, Martin will add a surprise element to the racing and who knows, he may just turn a few heads. Career highlights: 7th Ice Trail Tarentaise, 8th UROC, 13th TNF50 and 21st Transvulcania La Palma

“So, one week to go… training only just started again after a 3 weeks break in December and all my long runs have been performed in the snow. I’m just coming home from a night out so at this very moment I’m feeling pretty… drunk. I’m most looking forward to catching up with good friends and make new ones and I’d say my only concern about this week will be to deal with mosquitos!”

Mike Wardian ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian

What can you say about ‘Wardian. He is a prolific runner from anything from a 5k to the 135m Badwater Marathon. He is unstoppable; racing week in and week out he will often race 2-3 times a week. He has speed and endurance and in addition knows how to race over multiple days as he showed by placing 2nd overall in a previous edition of the Marathon des Sables. Career highlights: 3rd JFK50 2013, 2nd UROC 2011, 2nd IAU 100km 2011, 3rd Badwater, 11th Comrades and 3rd Marathon Des Sables plus many, many, more.

I am most looking forward to pushing my body for a week straight and to see how it does with the terrain, heat, climbs, descents, and for course the recovery…that is always interesting me.  I am also looking forward to exploring the countryside, mountains and Rain forests of Costa Rica, I have been to Costa Rica a few times but never for very long and each time I go I know I am missing a lot so this time I hope to get an even fuller and more robust experience.”

Carlos Sa ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa

Started running ultras in 2008. In a relatively short period of time, Carlos has established himself not only as one of the top multi-day racers in the world but also as great runner in the mountains. Repeated top-10 performances at Marathon des Sables and TNFUTMB will without doubt mean that his presence will be felt a the front of the 2014 TCC. Career highlights: 4th UTMB 2012, 5th UTMB 2011, 8th Marathon des Sables 2011 and 1st Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

“I haven’t done any special preparation for the TCC. I am currently doing my normal day-to-day training for a mountain race. My objective is to enjoy this hard race, and have an adventure in a different environment. I have been told Costa Rica is unique. I would like to be in the first 5, but we shall see, I have not run any race since the last UTMB and I’m far away from my optimum capacity.”

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito ©iancorless.com

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito ©iancorless.com

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito

Vicente may well not be a runner you know… however, you should! Coming into the TCC he is arguably the most prolific and successful multi-day racer around. Just recently he was the winner of the Grand To Grand Ultra in Utah and winner of Ultra India Race 2014. He has raced in Chile before and I can’t help but think he will make his presence felt each day as the racing unfolds at the 10th edition of The Coastal Challenge. Career highlights: Winner of the 4 Desert Races in 2012 – Atacama (CETRhile), Gobi (China), Sahara (Egypt) and Antartica. NB* Ryan Sandes is the only other under to achieve this but Vicente is the only person to do this in one year!

The stage is set for the 2014 The Coastal Challenge. The action starts on Sunday February 2nd and culminates at the incredible Drakes Bay 6-days later.

Daily updates will be available on via iancorless.com website and on twitter @talkultra

In addition, the TCC Facebook page HERE will have updates.

Follow #TCC2014

READ THE ARTICLE IN SPANISH HERE 

#TCC2014 Corredordemontana

Vibram® Hong Kong 100 2014 – Race Preview

Hong Kong 100 Logo

The Hong Kong 100 course starts in Pak Tam Chung on the east side of Hong Kong’s New Territories and winds its way west along coastal paths, across beaches, through ancient villages, over hills and through valleys before finishing after the descent of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak (at 957m). The 100km journey climbs over 4,500m and much of the climbing is in the second half of the course.

Hong Kong 100

The first race in the new UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) will have many eyes upon it as this new series starts. The announcement of the UTWT at the 2013 TNFUTMB gained very mixed responses from those who attended the press conference. I for one questioned the inclusion of races like Marathon des Sables and Western States. However, although the initial press conference left many question marks, the UTWT have progressed and started to assemble not only a solid of list of races but also an ever expanding list of racers who will take part. In real terms, runners who are looking to participate in the UTWT series of events are currently limited. If we look at HK100 this ultimately comes down to: Dave Mackey, Jez Bragg, Francesca Canepa, Lizzy Hawker and some members of the WAA Team. However, a series must start somewhere and the next race in New Zealand, Tarawera, will see a more international runners and ever expansive field. It will be interesting to see how UTWT progresses.

Hong Kong 100 course_profile

So let’s look at the action for Hong Kong 100

Participant list – HERE

1608 runners are listed for the 2014 edition of the race with a very strong contingent from running8.com and Vibram. As you can image, going through the list, many names are unknown to me, so, if I have missed a ‘local’ runner to the Hong Kong race scene that may well show a presence at the front, please let me know and provide some additional stats.

Below I have listed the ‘key’ runners in alphabetical order.

Fabrice Armand (Salomon) –  Has raced well at the Dodo Trail 50k placing 2nd and 3rd in 2011 he placed 10th at Diagonale des Fous however recent results are a little sparse.

Vajin Armstrong (Macpac)  Had a great 2013 with 2nd 2013 Kepler Challenge, 2nd at Swiss Alpine Marathon 2013, 2nd at TNF 100 Australia, 3rd at Tarawera. He did race at TNFUTMB but that didn’t quite go to plan. Without doubt HK100 will suit Vajin. Expect to see him up front.

Pascal Blanc (Hoka) 3rd at Mafate Trail Tour, 3rd at Diagonale des Fous, 5th at Extreme Dodo Trail has all the required skills and ability to race well at HK100. Certainly the race profile in the latter stages will suit him and his Diagonale des Fous experience will be invaluable.

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Jez Bragg (TNF)  this time last year was running from the top-to-the-bottom of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail. His 2013 season was very much influenced by his ability to recover from such a supreme effort. However, Jez did place 11th at UTMB and 17th Cortina Trail. Jez decided to miss TNF50 in December which was probably a wise move. Pretty sure Jez will be focused on doing well here.

Francesca Canepa - Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa – Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa (Montura-Vibram) One of my runners of 2013. Francesca is just an animal and I mean that in the nicest way. Francesca not only races a lot (maybe too much?) but she also knows how to win. Without doubt she likes races that are tough, technical and involve lots of climbing. The latter half of HK100 will suit Francesca and most certainly, as other ladies fade with the effort, Francesca will just be getting warmed up! Expect her to release a supreme effort in the latter 30% of the race. After checkpoint 8 she will move up embracing Needle Hill, Grassy Hill and the finish at Tai Mo Shan. Her results from 2013 speak volumes: 1st Andorra Ultra Trail, 1st Tor des Geants, 1st Trail de Vulcain, 1st Eiger Trail, 3rd Ice Trail Tarentaise, 4th UROC. Hot favourite!

Cyril Cointre (WAA) Cyril has some great results and he may very well show a presence in the top-10 if he has a good day? His 2013 results are significant: 1st Ultra Trail du Vercors, 1st Defi de L’Oisans, 3rd at Ultra-Trail du Pay Mary Aurillac, 9th at UTMF, 8th Transgrancanaria.

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Vincent Delebarre (WAA) had a mixed 2013. Top drawer performance at Ice Trail Tarentaise and then mixed performances at other races. I got to see him up close at MDS and UTMB and on both occasions he had some real tough patches. However, he came out the other end and survived. He has the potential of a good race at HK100; it’s just difficult to predict. 2013 results: 3rd at Ultra Trail Atlas Toubaki, 1st Le Quecha Tour de Fiz, 8th Ice Trail Tarentaise, 31st at MDS and 145th at UTMB

Antoine Guillon (WAA) Without doubt will like the HK100 course. Another quality performance at Diagonale des Fous and his 2nd place at TDS set him up well for the HK100. Like Francesca Canepa, I expect to see Antoine remain strong in the latter stages of the race, so, expect to see hime work up through the field. Results: 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at Diagonale des Fous 2012 and 4th in the 2013 edition behind Francois d’Haene, 7th at UTMF and 2nd at TDS.

Scott Hawker (Hoka One One Australia) I don’t know much about Scott and his results are very much Southern Hemisphere based, so, it’s difficult for me to say how he will stack up against the competition. One to watch for sure… 2013 results: 1st at Six Inch Trail 46k, 5th at Great Ocean Walk 100km, 1st at Kep Track 100km, 1st at Truth of Consequences.

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Lizzy Hawker (TNF) Needs no introduction, in 2013 Lizzy was 1st Annapurna 100km, 1st Mt Everest 60km and 5th at Swiss Alpine Marathon, however, she was plagued by injury early in 2013, tried to get ready for UTMB and then got injured again. So, post August Lizzy had to recover and get well. Spending time in Morocco with Frosty, Lizzy then moved over to Nepal and has spent months in the mountains, walking and hinking but recently she has been back out running. Her form for the HK100 is unknown? It may very well be a first race back and a test, however, should Lizzy be in form, expect a great battle with Francesca Canepa and last years winner; Claire Price.

Ram Kumar Katri was 3rd at the 2013 HK100 and therefore must be a hot tip for this year’s race.

Olya Korzh (Salomon) placed 3rd in the ladies race at HK100 last year and also had some great results with a win at TMBT and 2nd at MSIG Sai Kung 50. Local knowledge will be a big advantage and of course her previous podium will provide her with confidence to race hard.

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Christophe Le Saux (WAA) races all over the world week-in and week-out, always in or around the front of the race you can expect him to do the same at HK100 but I don’t see him threatening top-3.  2013 results: 9th at MDS, 13th at UTMF and 16th at Transgrancanaria

Dave Mackey (Hoka One One) Arguably the big hitter at HK100. Dave is one of the best 100k runners around. Although he has performed well at the 100-mile distance (particularly WSER) he has never quite nailed the distance like the 100k. Dave was one of the very first runners to sign up for UTWT, so, not only will he be looking for a top performance at this race, he will also be looking for consistency in the series. 2013 results: 1st at Rodeo Valley 50k, 2nd Bandera 100km, 5th at Lake Sonoma and 8th at TNF50

Nerea Martinez (Salomon) like Francesca Canepa loves hard races. A definite contender for overall victory and without doubt a top-10 finisher should all go well. Another lady who races a great deal and I can’t help but think some performances are affected by this? In 2013, racing regularly served Nerea well: 1st Transgrancanaria, 1st UTAX, 1st royal Raid Mauritius, 2nd Tor des Geants and 2nd at UTAT. Impressive!

Fabrice Perrin (UTWT) gets a mention here, not because he will contest the front of the race but because he is the UTWT Manager. He has finishes in previous years at: UTMF, UTMB, CCC and Grand Raid des Pyrenees amongst others

Claire Price (Salomon) last years HK100 winner and new course record holder; a record previously held by Lizzy Hawker. Crtainly to have Lizzy, Claire and Francesca in the same race is very exciting. I just hope they are all in good form! Clare is a consistent performer has her 2013 results show:  1st 2013 atHK100, 2nd at TDS and 8th UTMF

Jeremy Ritcey (Salomon) has the potential to do well at HK100. In 2013 he was 2nd at Lantau 100, 5th at HK100 and 16th at TNF100. Experience is always a big factor in any race… I wonder if he can improve on 5th?

Cassie Scallon (Salomon) another USA entrant who had some excellent results in 2013. Her recent 5th place at TNF50 in December obviously means that she is in good shape. However, Cassie’s wins at Tussey Mountainback 50, Ice Trail 50 and in particular, Lake Sanoma 50 mean that she has great potential (and speed) to push all the other ladies. Another great sign is Cassie’s 8th place at Run Rabbit Run 100-miler proving she has endurance too.

Siu Keung Tsang (champion Sysyem Adventure Team) 2nd HK100 in2013 and1st Lantau 50 must be a hot tip for this years race. However, I was told by a friend that he may well be not 100% at the moment, so, we will have to see. In 2013 we expected ‘Stone’ to do well at UTMB, he placed 18th, so, the jury is out on how his 2014 HK100 will go.

Results 2013:

  1. YanQiao Yun 10:16:06
  2. Siu Keung Tsang 10:19:43
  3. Ram Kumar Katri 10:19:59
  1. Claire Price 11:58:04
  2. Chiaki Jjelddahl 13:04:10
  3. Olya Korzh 13:10:40
  • Race Dates:18th – 19th January
  • Cut off : 32-hours

Race website: HERE

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