Skyrunning UK – the first steps

Skyrunninguk logo sign offIt has been a long season… the 2013 Skyrunner World Series came to a close in early October on the shores of Lake Garda at the impressive Limone Extreme race. The Skyrunner ULTRA title had been concluded just weeks earlier in Vail, Colorado at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) but at Limone Extreme, VK and SKY champions were crowned confirming the closure of an incredible 2013 season.

It would be nice to sit back, relax and reflect. Oh no, time stands till for nobody, the 2014 Skyrunner World Series needs to be confirmed and announced, in addition, 2014 has the Skyrunning World Championships taking place in Mont-Blanc (here) at the Mont-Blanc Marathon weekend. Champions, male and female will be announced for the distances of VK, SKY and ULTRA.

An exciting year awaits!

Luis Alberto Hernando at Matterhorn Ultraks

Luis Alberto Hernando at Matterhorn Ultraks

The growth os Skyrunning has exploded in the past 2-years, the catalyst, Transvulcania La Palma in May 2012. Arguably, the worlds ‘best’ descended on a small island in the Canaries and although the ULTRA distance was new to Skyrunning, a transformation was made and suddenly, Skyrunning became the next big thing! The foresight of Marino Giacometti (President ISF) and Lauri Van Houten (Executive Director ISF) was rewarded with a big thumbs up from all who attended!

La Palma, Transvulcania La Palma 2012 ©iancorless.com

La Palma, Transvulcania La Palma 2012 ©iancorless.com

Skyrunning today is growing and at an alarming rate. The Skyrunner World Series has now established itself as one of ‘the’ series to do and we are seeing this reflected in the diversity of the nations taking part but also the diversity in the athletes. We are seeing many runners participating in several disciplines and in certain scenarios, such as Kilian Jornet, we are also seeing them crowned champion in multiple disciplines.

We are not only seeing the ‘regulars’ perform. Skyrunning are being rewarded with new athletes and teams, take a look at Arc’teryx and inov-8. They have taken the bull by the horns and seized an opportunity, not only have they created teams to perform at this high level but they have created apparel and shoes that work in this demanding sport. In 2013, Arc’teryx had UK based athlete, Tessa Hill create some stunning results in the VK and SKY distance, in addition, inov-8 had great success with UK based Anna Lupton and with Alex Nichols (USA) who placed third on the Skyrunner SKY World Series podium.

Tessa Hill and Anna Lupton, Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

Tessa Hill and Anna Lupton, Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com

For years, the UK have provided a hard core of athletes who have raced and won on this world stage; Angela Mudge, Ricky Lightfoot, Andy Symonds, Tom Owens and so on… in many respects, these UK runners progressed from a minority sport in the UK, ‘Fell Running’ and participated in a minority sport in Europe called ‘Skyrunning’.

That is all changing and the time is now right, for the UK to progress and not only create a UK based series but also create stimulus within the UK to encourage UK based runners to travel to Europe and farther afield to experience Skyrunning on a global scale.

Salomon athlete, Andy Symonds sums it up very well,

Skyrunning was born in Italy, twenty years ago. For me it’s always represented the best of European and until recently – mainly Italian – racing. It’s about racing high up, on real mountains, on real mountain terrain. The fun comes from the race courses which go to summits, along exposed ridges, gaining incredible views, and from moving fast in a competitive environment over this sort of terrain.

Andy Symonds Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

Andy Symonds Trofeo Kima ©iancorless.com

The UK may lack the altitude of the Italian Alps, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same thing on our own moderately sized mountains, fells and hills! It’s great to see the sport branching out of Italy, with national series now launching in France, Australia/NZ the UK and no doubt shortly elsewhere.

The future of proper mountain running will probably lie in the hands of the Skyrunning Associations and I’ll be supporting that growth and hoping to help guide things in a good direction!’

Andy is right! the time is perfect.

Welcome to Skyrunning UK

It is early days for Skyrunning UK and 2014 will almost certainly be a transformative year. We are well aware that Skyrunning in the UK will be a challenge… we don’t have too many 2000m+ peaks! However, as Andy says, ‘The UK may lack the altitude of the Italian Alps, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same thing on our own moderately sized mountains, fells and hills!’

To that end, an athlete commission has been created to help guide the sport within the UK from a grass roots level. We already have established and respected runners signed up and confirmed:

  • Ricky Lightfoot (Salomon)
  • Anna Lupton (inov-8)
  • Tom Owens (Salomon)
  • Ben Abdelnoor (inov-8)
  • Andy Symonds (Salomon)

Within the coming weeks, several other athletes will be added to the commission and this will guarantee that the direction of Skyrunning in the UK is not only in good hands but will also consider the well established traditions of fell and trail running.

Skyrunning UK will work in harmony and respect existing races and traditions within the UK.

To interact and get involved, please make sure you:

  • ‘Like’ the Skyrunning UK Facebook page HERE
  • ‘Follow’ on Twitter HERE
  • and sign up to ‘Follow’ our website HERE

Tom Owens – Is the SKY the limit?

Tom Owens running a ridge at the stunning Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens running a ridge at the stunning Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens  is a British runner who I guess in ultra terms, as Tom keeps telling me, is not an ultra runner. But when you are on the podium repeatedly in Skyrunning races in 2012 and push Kilian Jornet, the term ‘ultra’ can be loosely used. I caught up with Tom just as he had finished a run in a gale force wind on the fells near his home in Scotland.

IC: Welcome Tom.

TO: Thanks Ian, great to be here.

IC: Thanks for finding the time to chat. So, you say you are not an ultra runner but it is fair to say that when we look at some of your 2012 races like Zegama and Trofeo Kima they are tough races aren’t they and when we look at how long it takes to cover these races they do drift into ultra category.

TO: Yes I agree with you. You are on your feet for a long time. A race like Zegama can take 4 hours and that is considered a ‘runnable’ Skyrunning race.

IC: Lets go back to what got you into running. You told me that at the age of 22 you ran London Marathon.

TO: Yes I was at University and I entered the ballot for the marathon not thinking I would get in. Ironically I got in first time. I did a little training and joined a cross country club. I had a year of running but it was very much a sideline. I was much more interested in Football and having a good time. I ran the marathon and then got addicted.

IC: In 2004 you ran 2:42 at London.

TO: Yes, correct. I learnt so much in the first two years. I met some great folk at Bristol Uni and I learnt how to train and recover. I was very pleased at the time.

IC: What do you mean pleased? Any of us would be ecstatic with 2:42 marathon.

TO: Funny, I didn’t know what time to go for so I wrote splits for 2:42 on my hand and it went well. My first time was hopeless and I bonked. I made changes for the second year but that was pretty much the end of my road running.

IC: Yes, you met Andy Symonds and I guess your friendship with Andy has dictated both your careers. You have almost run in parallel.

TO: I met Andy and he introduced me to hills. He is a great guy, super talented and enthusiastic. So he encouraged me to try hill races and I loved the vibe. Really different. Very challenging but no pressure. So varied. Andy encouraged me throughout and I kept with it.

IC: What would you say was the point when the focus started to shift? You lived in New Zealand and you met the Scottish team who were out for the world trophy. Was that a pivotal point?

TO: Yes it was I guess. I travelled and then I settled in New Zealand and it had a great running community. I lived in a brilliant city surrounded by hills. It’s an outdoor way of life and I ran more. With the World Mountain Running Champs taking place I saw Jonathan Wyatt and that inspired me. To have the English, Scottish and Welsh team over was brilliant. I hung out with them, did the ‘open’ race and yes, I guess I just continued that momentum in the UK.

Tom Owens behind 'Hernando' in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens behind ‘Hernando’ in the early stages of Zegama 2012 copyright Ian Corless

IC: In 2007 you won your first British Championships beating Rob Jebb.

TO: Yes that was a surprise. A race up in Scotland. Wasn’t a big field but it was a tough race and it has two or three big hills. I can’t remember the distance but it took about 3 hours. I just pipped Rob by about 7 seconds on the line. It was a huge confidence boost. Luckily most races I do finish downhill so it gives me a chance to catch back up after loosing time on the climb.

IC: I guess this is a perfect opportunity to discuss and explain what fell running is. As an exponent of fell racing would you like to give us an overview.

TO: They are very low-key events. The race will visit checkpoints, typically hill summits or passes. You often start at a village hall or pub. You run to to the hills carrying basic equipment such as waterproof, whistle, compass and map and then you make your way to checkpoints as fast as you can. It’s often horrendous conditions; after all it is the UK. You can need map and compass work but you can ‘follow’ as I do. More often than not it is usually wet and very slippery. In a nutshell you basically go straight up and straight down as fast as you can

IC: It’s a key point isn’t it that fell running is not about sticking to the worn path, it’s about the quickest route from A to B.

TO: Yes. That is the beauty. You have a hill, you get up as quick as you can. That is often ‘hands on knees’ power walking and then the fun bit is hurtling down as quickly as you can in a direct line. I guess in the UK we are lucky. The hills are open and we can pretty much go where we want. Especially in Scotland with the right to roam act.

IC: You mentioned going up ‘hands on knees’ I think for most of us we can get our head around that, what I find with fell running is the coming ‘down’ is just crazy. It’s such a skill. Is that God given or do you have to practice.

TO: Like anything you need to practice. You have to get confidence on all terrain and build up ankle strength. If you relax it is so much easier. Particularly if you fall over, most of the time you get up and carry on. Racing is in the head, relax and enjoy it and the rest will follow!

IC: In 2007/ 2008 you got involved with Salomon and eventually you ended up adventure racing and multi stage racing. What was the process involved in that?

TO: I started as a reserve for the Saab/Salomon Adventure Racing Team. In 2008 adventure racing was a big sport. It was certainly one of Salomon’s big focuses. I would say it was probably the last year of racing too as the economy crashed. I was called up as a reserve and I raced a six-day race. Probably one of the best races ever…  two mountain days on foot, mountain biking, climbing, paddling and canyoning. In addition, every evening we had a trail race that was really competitive. It favored runners.

IC: Your team was 2nd overall, yes?

TO: Yes that is right. I was with Andy Symonds again and a guy called Ben Bardsley. We are mountain people. We lead for most of the race but lost time on the water.

IC: That combination of multi stage racing and time with Andy, was that instrumental in what brought you guys together to take on Transalpine.

TO: Yes, it was a race I had heard about. It looked amazing. Andy was in Scotland at the time and we trained together so it seemed logical that we should undertake this as a team and give it a go. Again, another brilliant race!

IC: The race is typically about 160 miles over 8 days and alternates direction?

TO: Yes, 8 days. It has two routes and they alternate. An easterly route and a route that is more western which is more alpine. Actually we did both. We did the west route in 2009 I think and the other the following year.

IC: And you won both!

TO: Yes, Andy and I run together so well and the format suits us. You run hard and then you get to recover and do it all again the next day.

IC: Just like that!

TO: Yes, it is a battering race. Definitely good that it is late in the year as you really need to recover afterwards.

IC: You see, you say that you are not an ultra runner but 8 days in the mountains on those tough courses running a marathon a day is ultra running. That is severe, head to the ground hard work.

TO: Yes, challenging days. Brilliant days. Some of the passes and tracks are breath taking. It’s a delight to be involved but you get it done as quickly as you can. It does take its toll. It definitely has an ultra element to it.

IC: In 2010 you raced ‘Giir di Mont’. You came 6th. Was that the point that Skyrunning really started to appeal or was it before that?

TO: To be honest the first Skyrunning race was 2006, it was La Plagna, A huge race. It was 55km with 3000m up and 3000m down. Certainly the hardest thing I had ever done at the time, I hadn’t been running long. In 2007 I did a couple more and similar in 2008. I started to build up and as more opportunities came I snapped them up.

Crowds supporting at a Skyrunning event copyright Ian Corless

Crowds supporting at a Skyrunning event copyright Ian Corless

IC: Well, we are at present day and 2012 was a stunning year. We seemed to bump into each other all year. Sometimes we saw each other consecutive weekends. What impressed me was right from Zegama to the very end you were always there or there abouts with Kilian Jornet. You pushed him. Great to see a Brit pushing at the front… from a world perspective also, Tom Owens became a name to reckon with. It must be great for you to have Kilian on your Salomon Team but also to be able to race him.

TO: I don’t actually think I pushed Kilian. I may have been second but he was usually 10 minutes clear.

IC: It’s all relative Tom!

TO: Certainly seeing Kilian at the start and finish is great. He is on another level. He is so dominant at all distances, VK to ultra. We can’t get close to him. He is so chilled and he recovers so quickly. I certainly can’t do it week after week. After a hard race I can’t walk for 4 to 5 days.

IC: If we look back at 2012 what was your highlights?

TO: To be honest I was really pleased with the year actually and the consistency. I did so much and it was never straightforward. I had some wonderful opportunities. The highlight though was Trofeo Kima in August. It’s a really technical Italian Skyrunning race that has passes, via ferrata and scrambling. It’s a small race but absolutely brilliant experience.

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

 IC: I have to say that it was a highlight for me too. I had never experienced a course like it. To be able to witness the action unfold and capture it on camera was really fantastic. You say it was a small race, you are right, the race is capped at around 125 people but it had a stacked field; Philipp Reiter, Kilian Jornet, Andy Symonds and more. What was obvious at the end was the level of fatigue you all had. That course required 110% concentration.

TO: Absolutely, it had so much rock hopping and you followed painted markers so you had to be focused not to go off course and also not to fall. The last descent was bonkers. A 2000m descent on slippery gnarly terrain. To be running that long on such technical terrain that included ladders, chains and ropes is a big concentration exercise. I was happy to get to the road at the end to be able to relax. It was full on.

IC: What are the plans for 2013? Is the Skyrunning series going to figure again?

TO: I really want to do the Skyrunning series again. Races like Zegama, Chamonix and the Matterhorn excite me. Also the race at Limone. All being well I will try some of those and also mix in some new races. It will be an adaptable schedule and I will see how I go and feel.

IC: What about UK races?

TO: I fancy the British Fell Running Championships, so that will be three, maybe four races in addition to everything else. I will try to mix it up like I did in 2012.

IC: Any temptation to move up to any longer distances or will you establish yourself around the Sky marathon distance.

SKY Marathon races for 2013
1. SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri - 42k, Zegama – May 26
2. FRANCE: Mont-Blanc Marathon - 42k, Chamonix – June 30
3. USA:  Pikes Peak Marathon - 42k, Manitou Springs, Colorado – August 18
4. SWITZERLAND: Matterhorn Ultraks - 46k, Zermatt – August 24
5. ITALY: Skyrunning Xtreme - 23k, Limone sul Garda – October 13

Tom Owens at Sierre Zinal being chased by Joe Symonds (Andy Symonds brother) copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens at Sierre Zinal being chased by Joe Symonds (Andy Symonds brother) copyright Ian Corless

TO: I think it would have to be a course I really wanted to do. I would like to try the Ice Trail Tarentaise. That looks brilliant. I am not sure of the distance but I will have to see. I am not avoiding them but I wouldn’t do an ultra for the sake of it!

IC: You know your skills and ability and as such you choose the races were you know you can perform.

TO: As long as I am enjoying it I run well. We shall see.

IC: Thank you so much for freeing up time to chat, Tom. I am really looking forward to seeing you at many races in the coming year.

TO: Thanks so much. It’s a pleasure. Keep up all the good work!

This article was first published on Mud, Sweat and Tears in March 2013.

Links

  • Skyrunning events can be found HERE
  • Salomon Running HERE
  • Tom Owens HERE

Salomon Trail UK Team 2013

The Salomon Avenir squad, with their mentors: Back Row (L to R): Rob Samuel, Ricky Lightfoot, Emma Clayton, Rob Hope, Angela Mudge. Front Row (L to R): Nathan Jones, Bertie Houghton, Annabel Mason, James Hall, Andrew Lawler

The Salomon Avenir squad, with their mentors: Back Row (L to R): Rob Samuel, Ricky Lightfoot, Emma Clayton, Rob Hope, Angela Mudge. Front Row (L to R): Nathan Jones, Bertie Houghton, Annabel Mason, James Hall, Andrew Lawler

2012 was another great year for the Salomon Trail Team in the UK, once again producing some amazing domestic and international performances. With 2013 now upon us and the racing season about to get underway proper, the team spent last weekend at their Spring training camp for three days of team talks, kit fitting, training sessions and product briefing ahead of what will no doubt be a very busy year.
 
This year’s camp was made extra special with the first meeting of Salomon Avenir, a new junior development squad of fell, mountain and trail runners aged between 16 and 18 years, who will not only be aided with product for the year but also be given support in the form of a mentorship scheme via some of the UK’s best athletes.
The concept behind Salomon Avenir is to help develop the next generation of trail and mountain runners in the UK and hopefully the ‘next draft’ of the Salomon Trail Team. The squad will be guided by Salomon Trail Running community manager for the UK, Matt Ward.
 
Manchester was the base for the weekend activities, with the brand new Salomon UK northern showroom playing host to the seminars and product meetings over the weekend. Present at the camp were representatives from main sponsor Salomon and sports instrument partners Suunto. The athletes were also kept up-to-date with with advancements from nutrition partner Kinetica. The teams were also fortunate enough to receive help and support in their physiology from top UK physio Andy Walling, who will once again look after the team in 2013.
Andy Davies on the Rivington fells

Andy Davies on the Rivington fells

 
Trail Team boss Tim Lloyd comments:
 
“It’s always a pleasure to get the Salomon team together to train and plan the year ahead, but this year was one of the best camps we have ever had with a great atmosphere and some great input from all at Salomon and our associate sponsors. The training camp is important for Salomon and the athletes because we are all working together to move off-road and trail running forwards in terms of product development and events. Plans for 2013 look very exciting, and I am especially excited at the Avenir project which is something Matt has been working on for a while. We have some incredible athletes in our senior team and for a group of them to be on hand to aid the next generation of athletes to come through is something really special.”
The weekend saw the team try out new products on the hills surrounding Rivington, Lancashire, in a number of group training runs and photo sessions. Sunday afternoon also saw the two groups take part in the now familiar core stability session courtesy of Andy Walling, to round off the weekend!
Regarding the Trail Team line-up for 2013 Lloyd continues:
 
“We have tweaked the team a little this year creating a mix of our highly experienced champions and younger athletes capable of taking the Salomon name into some different spheres. Rob Hope, Angela Mudge, Tom Owens, Ricky Lightfoot, Rob Samuel, Emma Clayton and Joe Symonds all remain with the team and will once again focus on a programme of international and domestic races, with Tom racing predominantly with the Salomon International team once again this season.
 
“In comes Welsh International Andy Davies, who will add that extra dimension in the longer distance races. Andy has a great engine and after focusing on his marathon aspirations for the first few months of the year, will look towards some of the longer mountain and ultra trail races in the UK and abroad”.
 
“Overall it is a great mix of youth and experience, speed and endurance, and we hope to be able to do all of the partners proud with some great results once again this year”.
Ricky Lightfoot

Ricky Lightfoot

 
Speaking about the Avenir squad Matt Ward comments:
“I am very pleased with what we have achieved in pulling together this junior collective in 2013. In a relatively short space of time it has gone from a vision to reality, and the fact that we have some of the UK’s top young talent on the squad in the very first year is particularly pleasing. 
 
“In Annabel Mason we have the European Mountain Running Champion and one of the brightest prospects in UK junior running at the moment, James Hall is the English Schools Fell Running Champion, Bertie Houghton an English international on the fells and a champion on the track at English schools level. Nathan Jones won the British Home Countries fell championship gold medal in 2012, and represented GB at the European Mountain Running champs last year and Andrew Lawler was 3rd in the British Championships race which Nathan won, and has recently become Scottish Junior 800m champion indoors.
 
“The opportunity for these guys to learn from some of the UK’s and world’s best fell, mountain and trail runners is immense. When people ask me I liken it to a 16-18 year old footballer being given a direct line for advice and support to someone like David Beckham – which youngster in their given sport wouldn’t jump at that chance?!
 
“We are clear from the outset too that we are not in the process of interrupting coaching or governing body programmes, this is all aimed at complimenting those programmes and offering something a little different from a sponsor’s point of view”.
 
Head of marketing at Salomon GB is Richard Philip, he concludes:
“The weekend was great from our perspective. It gave us an opportunity to meet the guys on the team and spend a little time explaining our objectives for the brand, events and general marketing in 2013. It also gave us the opportunity to properly look at product for the team and make sure that our offerings are in-line with what they need to be the best that they can whilst training and competing.
 
“As a brand who supports sporting excellence we are very excited for the year ahead, especially with the Avenir project which Matt will head-up, and we look forward to working with the team and sharing in their successes over the coming season”.
For more information and news on the Salomon Trail Team, Salomon Avenir and the Salomon trail events for 2013, head to www.salomontrailtour.co.uk
 
Full Salomon Trail Team line-up for 2013
 
Emma Clayton
Rob Hope
Ricky Lightfoot
Angela Mudge
Tom Owens
Rob Samuel
Andy Davies
Joe Symonds
 
Full Salomon Avenir line-up for 2013
 
Annabel Mason
Bertie Houghton
James Hall
Andrew Lawler
Nathan Jones
 
Mentor partnerships
 
Annabel Mason – Emma Clayton
Bertie Houghton – Ricky Lightfoot
James Hall – Rob Hope
Andrew Lawler – Angela Mudge
Nathan Jones – Rob Samuel

Tom Owens -is the SKY the limit?

You can read the full article on Mud, Sweat & Tears by clicking HERE

Episode 30 – Owens, Reiter & Bottger

TU30

Episode 30 of Talk Ultra – We bring you interviews with Philipp Reiter and Julia Bottger from Gran Canaria. We have a main interview with Brit, Tom Owens. Talk Training is about nutrition and was recorded live with an audience in Lanzarote. We have all the usual features, the news, up and coming races, ‘A Year in the life of…’ our MDS special, Speedgoat Karl and of course the up and coming races.

SHOW NOTES
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000044 start

000408 ‘A year in the life of…’ with Tyler. It has been a while since Tyler was on the show. He has an excuse though… a wedding. His own!

001218 News with Karl Meltzer

002315 An interview with Salomon athlete Philipp Reiter just before he ran an incredible 2nd place at the 83km race at Transgrancanaria. Website HERE

005510 News

005600 An interview with Julia Bottger. Julia was 3rd lady at the 2012 Diagonale des Fous (Raid de la Reunion)  and this year plans to run Ronda del Cims. Website HERE

012300 News

012956 Trail Atlas Tafraout had it’s first edition race in February and Niandi Carmont attended to feed back how this inaugural event.

014015 News

014126 Bloghttp://sebmontaz.com video blog. The man behind so many incredible films about adventure. Of course many of you will know him from his efforts with Kilian Jornet and Salomon running but take a look… he is quite the inspiration.

014210 Talk Training - On this weeks talk training Marc Laithwaite and myself took advantage of being in the same location at our training camp in Lanzarote. We decided to do a talk on nutrition and include the audience…. We hope you enjoy!

022415 Our main interview is with Brit Tom Owens. Tom Owens is at home in the fells or the mountains. In 2012 he achieved new heights with a series of impressive results in the Skyrunning series.

Achievements:
1st Senterio delle Gringe Skyrace 2011
3rd Transrockies Race 2011
4th Giir di Mont Skyrace 2011
1st Salomon 4 Trails 2011
2nd World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge, Slovenia 2011
2nd Zegama Skyrace 2011
1st Yorkshire 3 Peaks Race 2011
1st Mournes Peaks Race 2011
1st TransGrancanaria Marathon 2011
1st Carnethy 5 Hill Race February 2011
1st TransAlpine Race 2009 & 2010
1st SkyRaid®World Championships 2010
6th Giir di Mont Skyrunning World Championship
1st Trail du Ventoux 2009
1st Scottish Hill Running Championship 2009
2nd British Hill Running Championship 2009
2nd World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge 2008
2nd TransRockies Race 2008
2nd Mountain X Race 2008
3rd in British Hill Running Championship 2007
1st ToughGuy Race 2006

  • Occupation: Ecologist/ Environmental Advisor
  • Based: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Coached by: Malcolm Patterson
  • Type of Runner: Persistent!
  • Favourite Salomon Shoe & why: Speedcross. Super comfy & good grip. Ideal for trails.
  • Favourite distance: 2 – 5 hour hill races
  • Favourite race or event: Multi-day mountain races e.g. TranAlpine Race
  • Favourite Training session: Recce of a long hill race
  • Favoured pre- race meal/ snack: Flapjack
  • Best piece of advice for beginners and young athletes: Try to run with others – even better join a running club.
  • Interests and Hobbies: Cycling, racket sports & football. Travelling.

025500 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl

Video link – Is ultra running bad for us? – HERE

030130 Mds Special with Tobias Mews – just less than 4 weeks to go….

030850 Races – Up and coming races for the coming two weeks.

031038 Close

031353 End

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ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Website - talkultra.com

Skyrunning World Series Participants 2013

Skyrunning Image Banner 2_Snapseed

SWS – champions choice

Building on the 2012 Skyrunner® World Series success and the introduction of the Ultras, 2013 prepares for an even bigger star-studded cast.

ISF-logo

The line-up of champions is headed by 2012 SWS winners Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg and Nuria Picas, joined by past world champions Emanuela Brizio, Oihana Kortazar, Luis Alberto Hernando and Tofol Castanyer and WMRA champions Marco De Gasperi and Stevie Kremer.

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Nuria Picas copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

With some of the big American ultra legends crossing the pond last year to get a taste of skyrunning, the word is out!  Joining them this year: Anton Krupicka, Dakota Jones, Rickey Gates, Mike Foote, Timothy Olson, Joe Grant….

Kilian and Tony Krupicka copyright Ian Corless

Kilian and Tony Krupicka copyright Ian Corless

Dakota Jones copyright Ian Corless

Dakota Jones copyright Ian Corless

It’s full immersion for Kilian Jornet who, with his unique skills, will participate in no less than all three Series:  Vertical, Sky and Ultra!

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Lizzy Hawker will be toeing the start-line at the Series’ first 100-miler while Anna Frost will take part in both the Sky and the Ultra Series.  The mix includes Phillip Reiter and Julia Böttger from Germany, top French names:  Francois d’Haene, Julien Chorier, Michel Lanne, Yann Curien, Maud Gobert and Stephanie Jimenez, Britons Andy Symonds and Tom Owens, Canada’s Adam Campbell.

Marco de Gasperi - copyright Ian Corless

Marco de Gasperi – copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost copyright Ian Corless

Strong team participation is engaged right across the Series headed by the heavy-duty Salomon team as well as hefty, international line-ups from inov-8, La Sportiva, Salomon Agisko and Arc’teryx, The North Face, Haglöfs, Montrail, Scott as well teams from Spain, Italy, Russia, Japan

Take a look at the mix here.  Have we got everybody?

You’re still in time to join the throng and remember, if you’re competing in the World Series, there’s always a slot available for you.

Follow us for who goes where as the skyrunning season unfolds.

Follow the action on Skyrunning HERE

Follow on Talk Ultra HERE

On Twitter @talkultra

About Mountain Running…

Yes, I openly admit I work for Skyrunning and I attend the events that they organize. I love the philosophy, the courses and the people.

To be honest, I love our sport. Don’t we all?

The WMRA - World Mountain Running Association, are once again making sure that WE understand what Mountain Running is and I guess what Mountaineering, Orienteering and Skyrunning is…

Taken from the WMRA website – link HERE

Mountain Running is Athletics. Differences with Mountaineering, Orienteering and Skyrunning.

To distinguish the sport of mountain running from mountaineering or orienteering or skyrunning we can look at the philosophy of each sport.

The philosophy of mountaineering is based on contact with and challenge to nature. The time factor is only important in relation to our planning and safety. Climbers seek their adrenalin rush climbing on rock faces, looking for new routes and overcoming the danger inherent in their sport. A considerable amount of technical equipment, (ropes, pitons, etc) is needed. It is a question of combat between man and nature.

The philosophy of orienteering is to work out the quickest router between two points. Speed is important but it is useless without map-reading, compass, and route finding skills. In a few competitions, orienteering moves out of the forest, its natural habitat, and onto the mountains but its philosophy is still distinct from that of mountain running.

The philosophy of skyrunning seems to be an adventure on the mountain, trying extreme difficulties: in fact skyrunning is the discipline of running in the mountains above 2.000 meters, where the incline exceeds 30% and the climbing difficulty does not exceed II° grade. Ski poles and hands may be used to aid progress.

The philosophy of athletics, in our case mountain running, is based on the time factor, how to reach the finish taking the defined way as fast as possible. This is the objective of those who take part in competitive mountain running. Courses are designed to eliminate danger. No equipment is needed, no ropes, no compass. Athletes find their challenge in matching their speed against that of other runners, a competition between man (woman) and man (woman).

Are we clear?

Just to make sure:

2013diack.jpgWMRA Council: definition of mountain running for IAAF Rule Book

During the final day of meetings for the WMRA Council in Monte Carlo, the definition of mountain running was discussed at length which resulted in proposed language for a new rule to appear in the IAAF rule book: this new rule numbered 251 could replace actual rule 250.10.
It was agreed by the Council that there are extreme variations in conditions in which Mountain running is practiced worldwide. The difference between very successful and unsuccessful events often lies in the natural characteristics of the venue and the abilities of the course designer.
The proposed rule from the WMRA Council is intended as a guide and incentive to assist countries to further develop Mountain running.
Guidelines are included to support worldwide race directors in the organization and logistics of their events.
The proposed rule will be forwarded to the IAAF for consideration with hopes for final approval by the IAAF Congress in August 2013, at Moscow.
The rule would then appear in the IAAF Rule Book

Zegama – Aizkorri

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A highlight of the 2012 race calendar and without doubt a highlight of the 2013 calendar.

Zegama – Aizkorri has opened for pre registrations. Don’t hang around. If you want to race in the mountains on some tough technical terrain with the best in the world, then is is one for you!

Go HERE

Part of the 2013 Skyrunning calendar.

The 2012 edition of the race was remembered for many reasons. A stacked field (Transvulcania had happened just 7 days before) that included Max King, Kilian Jornet, Mike Wolfe, Dakota Jones, Nick Clarke, Tom Owens, Joe Grant, Ian Sharman, Luis Alberto Hernando, Nuria Picas, Emelie Forsberg, Zhanna Vokueva, Lauen JeskaOihna Kortazar and many more…

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The dry and hot volcanic conditions of Tranzvulcania contrasted nicely with the torrential rain, cold temperatures, snow and thick mud of the Zegama-Aizkorri race with tough man of the ultra scene, Nick Clarke saying:

“Now that is a proper mountain race… I wasn’t ready for that!”

Zegama Profile

Race Information

Skyrunning Logo
XII. ZEGAMA-AIZKORRI MENDI MARATOIA

Skyrunner World Series 2013

42.195 kilometres / 5,472 metres of accumulated height gain.

26th of May, 2013

ZEGAMA [Gipuzkoa]

DESCRIPTION

A medium mountain route over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region ( Aratz – Aitzkorri –Akategi and Aitxuri ). From the town of Zegama ( 296m) you climb up to the high point of Otzaurte (652m ) and then follow a route along paths and mountain tracks of great natural beauty. It combines forests with steep rocky slopes and high grazing land. It is very technical and with a high level of difficulty.

Race Map Zegama

DATE: 26th of May, 2013

START AND FINISH: Zegama ( Guipúzcoa ) –09:00 Start.

TOTAL LENGTH: 42.195 km.

CONTROL POINTS: 14

REFRESHMENT POINTS: 13

FLYING SPRINT: Aizkorri ( 22.58 km )

ACCUMULATED HEIGHT GAIN: 5.472 metres

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 1.551m Aitxurri

MINIMUM ALTITUDE: 296m Zegama.

TECHNICAL PERCENTAGE OF COURSE: 70% approx.

CLIMATE: Medium mountain, possibilities of intense heat, strong winds, fog or rain.

TIME LIMIT: 8 Hours.

CLOSING TIME OF CHECK POINTS

RECORDS: 3 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds (Rob  Jebb, masculine ).

                    4 hours, 38 minutes, 19 seconds ( Emanuela Brizio, feminine ).

DIFFICULTY: Very high.

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 450

A year of memories

What a Year 2012 was for Salomon Running! New friends, precious moments, good stories – all there to strenghten the ties that bind us together.

This clip captures 12 months of emotions nicely.

Emotions of 2012

What a year! what a year indeed… it is the last day of 2012 and like so many others I wanted to sit down, reflect on what has happened and put a post together documenting some of the special moments of 2012. But as I looked back, so many sprung to mind… many moments I witnessed through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and others I witnessed first hand. So I have decided to select key moments that I witnessed personally, however, before I do that I do want to give a ‘nod’ to some key moments that I didn’t witness first hand…

Australian Pat Farmer finally made it to the South Pole after starting at the North Pole (view here). Pat is a multiple world record holder for endurance running. He has run around Australia and across North America twice.

Salomon launched the Sense. A shoe that created a stir and a buzz that could only be compared to the same sort of buzz around an iPhone, iPad or equally another key moment of 2012, the Suunto Ambit.

Ryan Sandes arguably one of the best ultra performers in 2012 started of his year in style with a win at the Vibram 100km in Hong Kong.

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Micah True passed way from heart related issues while out running in Mexico. The ultra community bonded together as initially he was lost for days causing Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall (Micah was made famous in the book ‘Born to Run‘) to travel to Mexico and aid the search for him.

Jez Bragg won the Fellsman race for the 3rd time in preparation for his attempt on winning the UTMB. Unfortunately Jez was plagued throughout 2012 with stomach issues. We are pleased to say that he now seems to have rectified these issues and is currently blazing a trail on ‘The Long Pathway‘ in New Zealand.

Kilian Jornet announced his new project ‘Summits of my Life‘. A long term project that will take four years, during which he will travel to the greatest mountain ranges in the world attempting to climb some of the most breathtaking peaks and come back down again as fast as he can. Unfortunately on the first project, the crossing of Mont Blanc, the project was struck with disaster as Kilian’s ski guide and partner for the project, Stéphane Brosse fell to his death. Kilian devestated by the incident spent time with Stéphane’s family and withdrew from Western States.

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The big dance, Western States did not disappoint with two incredible performances and two course records. Timothy Olson beat Geoff Roes record with an incredible performance made all the sweeter when you hear his incredible life story… (listen to our interview on Talk Ultra) Ellie Greenwood confirmed herself as possibly the greatest female ultra runner of the moment breaking Ann Trason‘s long standing (considered by many unbeatable) course record.

Ellie greenwood

Dakota Jones after a storming win at Transvulcania La Palma went to Hardrock 100 as the one to beat… as it happened, Hal Koerner took the win with Joe Grant in second place.

Speedgoat 50K raised the question about trail, course markings and when and when you should not deviate from a course… ultimately our one and only Speedgoat made a decision that relegated Kilian Jornet from the top of the podium and replaced him with his team mate Rickey Gates. It all got a little crazy and of course RD’s will now make sure they specify the ‘rules’ when putting a race briefing together.

UTMB – It rained, it snowed, the cloud came in, the course got shortened and Lizzy Hawker won her fifth UTMB albeit NOT the UTMB as it was not a full course, so, Lizzy will be back! Francois d’Haene however was very pleased with his win over the shortened course.

Just a week after the UTMB, Francesca Canepa from the Vibram Team turned up at the super tough and long Tor des Geants and won it… amazing considering just 7 days before she was second behind Lizzy Hawker.

Lance Armstrong… need I say more!

Mike Morton had an incredible 2012 with a stunning performance at Badwater 135 just missing the CR by 75 seconds. In addition to this, Mike ran and won may 100′s all around the 13 hour mark. However his performance of the year came in Poland at the 24 hour Championships. Running 277.54 kms he dislodged Scott Jurek as the Amercan holder and set a new benchmark.

Kilian Jornet went back to his ‘Summits‘ project and set a second record on Mont Blanc. This time crossing from Italy (Courmayer) to France (Chamonix) in 8hrs 40min. Article here

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Fresh from a record attempt over Mont Blanc, Kilian Jornet went to Mt Kinabalu Climbathon in Borneo as part of the Skyrunning calendar, won and became World Champion…. again! Of course this race had some controversy as it didn’t go to the summit. Another outstanding performance was that of Emelie Forsberg, she won the ladies race and in doing so confirmed herself as one of the most talented and dominant females of 2012. Kilian now warmed up went over to Reunion Island and took on the tough ‘Raid de la Reunion‘. He made it look easy and he even had time to do interviews at the feed stations during the race… without doubt, Kilian is one of the most talented and gifted athletes in the world.

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Max King and Ellie Greenwood blazed a trail and set records (once again) at JFK 50… oh, did I mention Max’s run at UROC and did I mention Karl Meltzer and Lizzy Hawker winning at Run Rabbit Run… of course, what about Miguel Heras and Emelie Forsberg at San Francisco 50Darn it…. so many great moments…. what about Lizzy Hawker at Spartathlon, second overall and a new female record.

So finally Skyrunning announce the new calendar for 2013 and the big news is a simpler format, the inclusion of a 100 mile race and a season final in America at the Ultra Race of Champions. Without doubt (I am biased) Skyrunning was a game changer in 2012 and the new calendar has already created great excitement for the coming year…

uroc

Believe me, the above list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure I will look back and think… ooh, what about this and what about that… I could go on.

But now here is my pick of personal moments from a great year. Rest assured, I am picking one month; one moment!

JANUARY

Talk Ultra was launched and thank goodness the format of an ultra running podcast that was more than just interviews was accepted. Taking the risk to do a ‘long show’ seemed to pay off and the loyal followers and support has been fantastic. I can’t thank you all enough for the growth of the podcast and 2013 will see it grow!

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FEBRUARY

For the 7th year running I went out to Club La Santa on Lanzarote and had another incredible week training in the sun with friends and clients. It has become a fixture in my year and never fails to disappoint. 2013 will see us arrive on the Canary Island once again for more fun in the sun.

Lanz

MARCH

A race fixture on my calendar for several years, the EcoTrail de Paris came around once again and I went out to Paris with Niandi for another great weekend of running and spending time in our favourite city. As it turned out we both had terrible races and DNF’d at the same time… you can always learn something!

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APRIL

I was fortunate enough to be invited over to Turkey to take part in and report on the inaugural Iznik Ultra. I had only been to Turkey once before, many many years before and that was to the South. So I  was very excited to spend time in Istanbul with Niandi and then head down to Iznik. The race was superb offering a selection of race distances over a varied course. Both Niandi and myself took part in the 60k event. I was pleased to come away with a win and Niandi made the podium in 2nd place in the ladies race.

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MAY

May signified a change in my year and very much set a format for what was to come… I was invited to the Transvulcania La Palma on the island of La Palma. Skyrunning had assembled one of the most competitive fields in ultra you will ever see or witness. It turned out to be a who’s who of ultra running. The whole experience is a memory I will never forget… training on the trails pre and post race with the best in the world, witnessing the race were Dakota Jones ran an incredible course record for the win and were Frosty (Anna Frost) set and smashed the old course record in what was to be one of the best performances of the year. This was followed with the conference ‘Less Cloud, More Sky‘ providing the ultra community an opportunity to help establish a direction for the sport in the future. We all then packed up and moved to mainland Spain for ‘Zegama‘ but that’s another story…

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JUNE

Zegama arrived and the heat and sun of La Palma was replaced with rain and mud. Lots of mud. Kilian Jornet just 7 days earlier had collapsed on the finish line at Transvulcania La Palma with exhaustion. At Zegama he showed his recovery powers and showed everyone in the race how to run in the cold, wet and mud. Oihana Kortazar took out the win for the ladies ahead of Nuria Picas who was slowly becoming ‘runner of the year’.

Nuria Picas - Zegama

Nuria Picas – Zegama

JULY

The Pyrenees and an invitation from ARC’TERYX to go and test out the new clothing range called ‘Endorphin‘ on the Skyrunning Ribargoza VK course. Great friends, great memories and some stunning scenery.

Arcteryx - Pyrenees

AUGUST

Wow – Trofeo Kima and one of the most impressive run courses I have ever seen. I was told by Lauri Van Houten before the event that this course would blow my mind. Little did I expect what lay ahead… 6 hours being flown around via helicopter on the most stunning and awe inspiring run terrain I have ever witnessed. Kilian Jornet won the mens race and Nuria Picas won the ladies race. A stunning stunning race that signifies everything that Skyrunning is. Want to enter…? Don’t hold your breath. This race happens only every other year and typically only has about 125 places available.

Kilian 4

SEPTEMBER

Berga in September, the weather breaks and Cavalls del Vent turns into a race of survival. Despite runners struggling with hypothermia the race produced a classic. The mens race was competitive seeing Kilian Jornet once again taking the win but this time ahead of Tony Krupicka finally finding some form after over 18 months out of the sport due to injury. Finishing off the podium was Dakota Jones. The ladies race produced the race of the year for me… so often in the longer distance races we see an outright winner crossing the line with 10′s of minutes to spare… not here! Nuria Picas, Frosty and Emelie Forsberg pushed each other right to the line with Nuria taking the win on home ground.

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OCTOBER

Southern France in the town of Millau. The temperatures dropped and I slowly froze myself following the La Course des Templiers, the final in the Skyrunning calendar. I will remember this race for the incredible win by Nuria Picas ahead of a sprinting Emelie Forsberg who put Lizzy Hawker into third place. In addition to this, Kilian Jornet and Nuria Picas were crowned World Champions. Incredible performers in an incredible series of races.

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NOVEMBER

The quiet town of Begeggi on the Italian coast and the Berg Trail. I had an invite from Salomon Carnifast to follow and photograph the race to help promote the first edition of the race. The race was being attended by mountain running legend, Marco de Gasperi. In the weeks before the race I contacted Stevie Kremer who had moved from America to Italy earlier in the year. We had met at Sierre-Zinal where Marco de Gasperi won the race and Stevie placed second. Marco unfortunately went of course in the Berg Trail and therefore spoiled any chances of a win. Stevie however showed her class winning the ladies race convincingly and placed top 10 in the overall. A name to watch for the future…

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DECEMBER

After a stunning year of following races, reporting and photographing I finally took some time out and headed back to the island of La Palma with my partner Niandi to play on the Transvulcania La Palma course. Two weeks of perfect weather and stunning trails provided the perfect end to a stunning year. It was great to spend that time on the trails in our own space and in our own time. Running when we could, hiking when we couldn’t run and walking when no other option was left… the latter half of the year was plagued by knee issues for me and although they havent gone, my time on the Transvulcania course with Niandi was a real highlight in an incredible year!

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I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support I have received in 2012. From race organisers, athletes, team managers, brand managers and all those connected to the sport I love. In particular I would like to thank Niandi for her patience. I also need to give a special mention to Lauri Van Houten and Marino Giacometti from Skyrunning for the trust they placed in me for 2012 and the continued trust for 2013.

It has been an awesome year and 2013 is already looking like another year of moments, emotions and memories.

Sincere thanks to all of you