William Sichel sets new World Record in Norway


Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (62) ended the year on a high by running 315.565km/196.083 miles to claim 3rd overall in the men’s race, from 37 starters and first in the over 60 age category with a new World Age-Group Record in the Bislett International Endurance Indoor Festival 48 Hour race in Oslo, Norway.

As is often the case William worked his way gradually to the top positions from much lower down the field in the early hours.

“As always happens, people start too fast, eat too much and get sick.  I just stick to my plan and used my experience to run a more even pace throughout the race.  Sometimes it’s important to see the whole race as a whole and not be too myopic.”

William set a life time best time for 100-miles indoors of 19 hours 56 minutes, 28 seconds and covered 184.791km/114.82 miles for the first 24 hour period.  This was only 3 miles less than he ran when coming 3rd overall in September’s Tooting 24 Hour track race in London.

“I then went on to do just over 81 miles in the second day, when the track was less crowded and added a substantial 25 miles to the current World Age-Group record for indoor 48 hours which was set last year in Alaska. To be honest over-crowding wasn’t too bad most of the time but I did find it far too noisy a lot of the time and had to run with ear plugs.  The high noise level also interfered with my system of having quick 20 minute naps as I couldn’t get to sleep.”

William would like to thank his crewman Alan Young from Dundee who travelled to Oslo to assist him as well as all sponsors who helped to make the trip possible.

William will now check all the records set at intermediate distances and times to see how many records were set all together.

Read all articles about William Sichel HERE

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR – First Images


Absolutely stunning and tough day in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland, for the 2nd edition of the Mourne Skyline MTR and the 6th and final race in the 2015 Skyrunning UK calendar.

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR logo

Race report, results and full set of images to follow.

Here is a preview of the days action

Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun™ 2016


I am fortunate to travel to many races and work as a photographer and journalist. In 2015, I traveled to South Africa with Nikki Kimball and Olympic rower, James Cracknell for the Richtersveld Wildrun.

It was an incredible experience and I have to say, a highlight of my year. I recently wrote in an online article for AVAUNT Magazine (HERE):

“The simple act of running, placing one foot in-front of the other as a method of transport takes us back to our roots, our basic instincts. In search of a place to sleep, to hunt for food; it is about being in the wild, surviving and fulfilling a primal need.”

Richtersveld Wildrun | Avaunt Magazine-1

In 2016, the race goes one step further and becomes ‘Transfrontier.’ The race will now pass over the Orange River and in to Namibia.

After two years the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has become known as one of the toughest, most scenic and unique trail running stage race events on the South African trail running calendar. In 2016 however, this iconic event takes on a new shape to become the first cross-border trail running event in the world; extending to a linear 200km, five day crossing from South Africa to Namibia through the heart of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have unlocked a truly unique opportunity to experience both sides of such a unique and powerful place  – and to finish a long day at a natural hot springs in the middle of the wilderness is unbelievable!”said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner, the events company behind the Wildrun™ events.

The new route will maintain the best of the first three days of the original edition, including the Vyf Susters, Hellskloof Pass, Armmanshoek, the Tswayisberge, Springbokvlakte and the iconic Tatasberg boulders. On day 4, the route will veer of its original course and cross the Orange River at De Hoop into Namibia and the untouched southern section of the Fish River Canyon. This 50km day will take runners into a wilderness that is completely inaccessible by vehicle and rich in wildlife such as Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, Namibian wild horses and giraffe.

©iancorless.com_RichtersveldRaceDay32015-0853After a long, tough day, runners will spend the evening in the canyon at a natural hot spring, before taking on the final day of roughly 25km to finish at the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort and wrap up a powerful and truly unique experience.

Race dates are 13-17 June 2016 and entries open midday October 21st

International entries HERE

European entries HERE

The overall race distance for 2016 will be 200km and the daily distances will be – 36.3km + 32.1km + 34km + 48.3km + 21.3km.

Terrain is very mixed, varied and stunning and requires adaptation to sandy terrain, heat, climbing, remoteness and an ability to run with a GPS.

Need help with training, join my 2016 multi-day training camp in Lanzarote.

Details are HERE

Multi-Day Camp Image

Roland Vorwerk, marketing manager of Boundless Southern Africa, one of the driving forces behind the success of the event, said they are very happy to support this new cross-border trail running event.

“This new route contains even more highlights than the original Richtersveld Wildrun™, and promises to give participants a challenging but spectacular trail running experience.”


If you need inspiration, check out the film from 2015 below.

You can also view photo galleries HERE


If you would like more information please use the form below or use the above links.

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® #UTMB 2015 In-Depth RACE PREVIEW


It’s the end of August and that can only mean one thing, UTMB. 

UTMB has become one of if not THE mountain races to do. In many respects it is almost a victim of its own success. More and more runners want to participate in the big circular dance around the Mont-Blanc but the trails can only take so many people.

I could enter into a debate about the points system but I won’t. I actually think it’s a solution to an ever increasing problem that UTMB organisation face and as such we all know the score, we know what we need to run the race and ultimately we have a choice.

Should points come from qualifying races? Yes, why not!

Should races pay a fee to supply those points? Yes, why not!

I know my last comment will create some debate but to be honest, the fee to ITRA is relatively small and the cost per head is minimal and the races that offer points gain entries. However, I do think another option exists for points.

Why not let all races provide points? Say 0.5 points for an easy trail race of say 50km and then points increase by 0.5 up to a maximum 4-points for a big mountain ultra. If you then want the points, you the runner pay for each 0.5 point you receive. That way, the person who wants/ needs the points pays and the race and other runners don’t pay. Seems logical to me and in actual fact, I think it would generate even more money for ITRA and the UTMB. I welcome your thoughts on that and boy oh boy what a way for me to start a preview on the 2015 race.

UTMB is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) and as such offers points to a larger circuit. Francois D’Haene and Nuria Picas were 2014 champions.


Well, I was supposed to be in Chamonix for this race but at the 11th hour I have decided not to attend. It was a tough decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Particularly now that I am seeing all the social media posts of all the runners and spectators arriving in the endurance capital of the world.

The reality is I have been on the road since January with little or no break and next week I travel to the USA for over a week which is then followed by a succession of weekends travelling and providing photography and writing for a succession of races. I personally had great potential to break )ver training one may say), so, home I am staying and for once a relaxing weekend.

The main event starts at 1800 Friday 28th August. I always feel a little ashamed when I say the main event as a whole series of tough and challenging races take place during UTMB week. For example, the ridiculous PTL, the tough TDS, the challenging CCC and the OCC but I only have so much time and the UTMB draws the crowd and the most stacked field. For the first year, UTMB will not be a TNF event and the new sponsor Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail has a tough act to follow, I wonder if we will notice any difference?

One thing is for sure, the men’s and ladies’ races are stacked. Darn it, I used that word again! Let’s try again – A plethora of talent has arrived in Chamonix to do battle on this super tough and iconic 100+ mile course that circles Mont-Blanc.



Tofol Castanyer made the podium last year and with no Francois D’Haene he for me has the nod for victory. He has been quiet lately no doubt keeping the powder dry and although not very experienced over 100-miles he is a super savvy and experienced mountain runner with the solid Salomon team who can offer support and backup.


Luis Alberto Hernando should win UTMB but he won’t. Nothing would please me more to see Luis top the podium in Chamonix but the reality is, he is not a 100-mile runner (not yet anyway). Put him on a course from 50km-80km and he is unstoppable. Put him on a 100km course and he may or may not win but will podium. Put him on 100m route and he will go great for the first 80km and then fade. This is not helped by entering UTMB tired. He won Transvulcania, placed 2nd at the IAU World Trail Champs, won Ice Trail Tarentaise and then placed 2nd at Tromso Skyrace looking distinctly whacked at the end. That was only a few weeks ago and I just don’t see the recovery and training working in Luis’s favour. I hope I am wrong!

tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com

Miguel Heras, well who knows? If he is fit and on fire he could win and almost certainly podium. However, he is extremely injury prone and his performances could come with a flick of a coin. In 2015, Miguel has been much more low key, he has raced but without any pomp and circumstance and that was intentionally so. Placing 2nd behind Thevenard in 2013, Miguel WANTS to win the UTMB and this may well just be the year!

©iancorless.com_South Africa14-5983

The Salomon trio is rounded out with Ryan Sandes. This is a really interesting inclusion into the UTMB mix. Ryan can climb, can run fast and is endurant (Drakensberg Traverse) and therefore may well have the essential credentials to podium at the least and may well just win. Certainly, Salomon could repeat the trio of results that we have seen in pervious years. Ryan has had a mixed 6-months with injury, a last minute withdrawal from Western States and I therefore think he is going to be super focussed on this race. One to watch!


Sage Canaday enters the 100-mile distance for the first time and as great a runner as he is, I don’t see him making the podium. Controversial I know. He has the speed for sure. He has the climbing and descending but I have no reason to think he has the race plan or strategy for what will be at best a 20-hour race. Like Luis Alberto I would expect strength and dominance over the first 100km and then a fade. But he has been in Chamonix preparing and he is a student of the sport. He may very well have hidden himself away, changed everything about his training and come up with the perfect 100-mile training plan? A 5k track session (in 16min) just 3-days before the race suggest otherwise though.

tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com

Xavier Thevenard won the race (surprisingly) in 2013 and then seemed to implode with the pressure. Last year he took the attention of himself and ran the TDS and won it. In doing so, he became the only runner to have won the CCC, TDS and UTMB; impressive! So the facts speak for themselves, super talented and obviously can perform with the best if the pressure is off. Will the pressure be on for 2015 is the question? I think it will but less than in previous years and that may just allow him to run his own race and find his 2013 legs and head. Good luck.

Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Julien Chorier impressed the hell out of me a couple of years ago at Ronda dels Cims with a consummate performance. He loves the mountains and he can run fast too. He was 2nd to Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria in 2014 and 2nd to Kilian at Hardrock 100. A recent 6th at Western States shows us that all is in place for a great run and that’s why I give him a nudge over Gediminas.


Gediminas Grinius has been a revelation. His rise in the sport over the last 18-months has been remarkable and you know what, he could win UTMB. He ran a great UTMB last year (5th), won Transgrancanaria and placed 4th at Western States. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then he will close out super hard and fast.

Stephan Hugenschmidt is my dark horse and potential big surprise of the 2015 UTMB. He had a breakthrough 5th at Transvulcania, won Zugspitz and had a great result at Transalpine.

We are now in the territory of surprise packages and believe me, some of the fellas mentioned below will figure highly in the run for the podium and top-10.

Seth Swanson has been 2nd at Western States 2-years on the run and I still know very little about him. My head says he will need a UTMB run to find his legs before he can comeback and mix it up at the very front. However, nobody expected him to place 2nd at WSER and then go back and do it again!


Sebastien Chaigneau is the old guard of the race, the wily old fox that everyone loves. Seb has had a tough couple of years and as time has passed, the competition has got faster. I’d love him to find some of that old form, that 100-mile sparkle and dish out to the newbies.

Jeff Browning may well be the best prospect from an American perspective as he is a true mountain man. But he may well lack some of the essential European speed.


Franco Colle won Tor des Geants and then earlier this year placed 2nd at Mont-Blanc 80km. In addition, he has been at the IAU World Trail Championships, ran (and won) a Skyrunning exhibition event in Cervinia and recently ran Tromso Skyrace. Potential dark horse for UTMB!


Sondre Amdahl like Gediminas has been a revelation. He is committed, sometimes too committed but I love his passion. He prepared meticulously for Transgrancanaria and placed 4th, went out to the USA to prepare for WSER and placed 15th and has spent recent months preparing in Chamonix for UTMB. Top-10 potential and maybe around 5th if he has a great day.


Best of the rest


Francois Faivre – 7th at UTMB last year.

Carlos Sa – He could win it but more than likely a top-10.

Pascal Giguet – Top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km.

Ryan Smith – a Brit who may well be a real dark horse.

Robbie Britton – local lad, 3rd at the 24-hour and 7th at Tarawera. Placed just outside top-50 at UTMB last year but has been in Chamonix for months which will either mean he is in fine form or broken. I think the former. Good luck Robbie.

Yeray Duran – Always strong at Transgrancanaria.

Paul Giblin – another Brit with all the potential to spring a surprise.

Kim Collison – Another multi talented Brit who has speed and endurance.

Joe Grant – We all know Joe and what he can do.

Danny Kendall – The UK’s top MDS performer, not new to UTMB and this may well be his best year.

Jesse Haynes – Great at WSER but in Europe, who knows?

John Tidd – Won’t win but absolutely solid performer.

Stone Tsang – Every chance for a stunning or latter ‘teens’ performance.

Yoshikazu Hara – same as Stone?


I could go on….




Neck on the line, this race is for Nuria Picas and I personally think she is going to have the race of her life and win it with a consummate performance. This is no way a reflection on the competition, just an observation of Nuria and an understanding of how this lady ticks. For the past 2-years, Nuria has raced a ridiculous schedule and still placed 2nd twice behind Rory Bosio. This year, Nuria has been quiet. Very quiet. A win at Transgrancanaria and then what? I will tell you, training and preparation. She will be on fire!


Caroline Chaverot though has also been on fire! In the last 18-months Caroline has exploded with a series of remarkable performances that would suggest a solid UTMB is on the cards. Her victories at Lavaredo and the Eiger confirm that she can perform on the big days out.

Nathalie Mauclair beat Caroline at the IAU Word Trail Championships but that really draws no comparison to UTMB. However, Caroline beat Nathalie at Lavaredo. Take your pick! On paper, I would say Nathalie will be better over the longer distance and time that UTMB will offer and her victories at Diagonale des Fous will put her in a great place both physically and mentally for that.

The upset may well come from Stephanie Howe and I am sure that TNF and the USA would like nothing more than Steph picking up where Rory Bosio left off. Stephanie’s 3rd at WSER left her feeling tired but by all accounts, she has prepared well for the circle of the big white mountain. She has the speed, I just wonder if she has the legs for the climbs and descents and a 24+ hour run in her?


Francesca Canepa may make the podium? I have always been impressed how Francesca can race UTMB and then just a week later race Tor des Geants. One thing is for sure, I don’t think we will see Francesca at Tor this year after last years’ controversy. 2014 was a great year for the Italian (until Tor) and then it all seemed to go to bits. Understandable really. So coming into UTMB we have little to go on, other than 3rd at the Eiger but she was 30min of the winning time. UTMB may well be a redemption year!


Uxue Fraille has always impressed with her patience and calculated running. She is a diesel. Expect her off the pace early on and close well. She placed 5th last year and a repeat performance is a distinct possibility.


Fernanda Maciel is solid on the UTWT circuit and although I don’t see her taking the top slot on the podium, top-5 is a distinct possibility and if she has a great day, the podium may well be hers. Fernanda spent a great deal of time at altitude over Christmas (too long) and this tired her. Let’s hope she is recovered and ready to race hard in Chamonix.

Darcy Piceu is an interesting addition and after that ding-dong with Frosty at Hardrock I am really eager to see what she can do here in France. She placed 3rd in 2011 in just under 29-hours, she will need to run much faster than that this year! One thing is for sure, the distance and time on feet will be no issue, the question mark will be recovery post Hardrock?


Ester Alves from Portugal has already raced a great deal in 2015 with a string of top placing’s and I have no reason to think that a strong performance is a distinct possibility here. But by strong I mean top-10. A recent tumble at Ice Trail Tarentaise won’t have helped her preparation but she is strong and committed.

Lisa Borzani races and races and races. At TDS in 2015 she placed 2nd. I see her a consistent performance for a top-10 but not victory or the podium.

Nicole Struder ran 14:22 at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. That’s fast! But she will need to add 10-hours of running to that Rocky time at a minimum for UTMB and through in some serious mountains. So although I see her potentially having a good race, I don’t think that those USA trail legs will handle the European mountains.


My dark horse for the ladies is Veronica Bravo. She is a super strong adventure racer, has the mind for the long game and 100% commitment. She may not win but I expect she may turn a few heads and UTMB race day looks like it will be a hot one; she loves the heat! Earlier this year she won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

Amy Sproston is a tough one to call. She won Hurt 100 but UTMB is a faster race with tougher competition.

Sally McRae may well offer the best prospects of a top USA performance outside those of Howe. Sally has been top-10 at WSER twice and although UTMB is a big step up from Western, she may well have the race to mix it up.

Gill Fowler from Australia may well rock the apple cart. She was 4th at Lavaredo, yes somewhat off the front pace but a top-10 at UTMB is on the cards.


Ones to watch


Shona Stephenson – Top-10 at UTMB before.

Sarah Morwood – 11th at UTMB previously.

Manu Vilaseca

Caroline McKay

Denise Bourassa


And so many more….


Schedule HERE

Ultratrail TV HERE











How is your Posture? Part Quatre – Marc Laithwaite


                                                image from Primal Patterns

Okay, so we’re now onto part 4 of the series and this week we are looking at exercises to correct anterior tilt of the pelvis, which creates the lordosis posture. If you’ve not yet read parts 1, 2 and 3 read them HERE, HERE and HERE.

The topic for today is looking at breathing issues related to posture, we’re also going to look at the dreaded stitch. Aside from that, we’re going to look at ways of dealing with cramps.

Breathing and posture

The breathing issue is interesting for me as it’s something i’ve suffered from myself and couldn’t find a cure. They symptoms were very rapid and shallow breathing, I also felt that I couldn’t breathe deeply from my diaphragm. The best way to describe it was as if the bottom 2 thirds of my lungs didn’t work and i was just rapidly shifting air in and out of the top third. It felt to me at the time as though I had exercise induced asthma, there was some ‘wheezing’ which is a symptom of airway problems, so I went through that process and resolved nothing. The rapid shallow breathing was often, but not always linked to a pain under my ribs which most people would commonly refer to as a stitch. In a few triathlons I had to slow down to get rid of it, by relaxing and breathing deeply.

The key to resolving it was when i noticed that it was occuring more frequently in triathlon training and racing, compared to just running. Basically, it was a lot more likely to happen if I biked first. That got me thinking about posture and how it was affected by riding my bike before running. I soon noticed that I had a more pronounced lordosis posture (anterior tilt) after riding hard in the aero position then attempting to run. Interestingly, since identifying this problem i’ve spoke to more and more people who suffer stitch and breathing difficulties running in triathlon and a lot of them tend to be  children.

So what’s going on?

Time to post our anterior tilt photo again, it feels only right we put it in this final issue. I’ll start by saying that anterior-pelvic-tiltthis is purely my own thoughts and ideas, based on things I’ve tried which have worked for me. Nobody has given me a decent answer to why I had this recurring stitch or breathing difficulties.

Take a look at the photo right and picture the ‘abdominal cavity’. The abdominal cavity is the space which contains your intestines and in simple terms it’s a box with front, back, sides, floor and ceiling. The pelvic floor is underneath, the abdominals, lower back and obliques (muscles on sides) make the front, back and sides and your diphragm is the ceiling on this box.

If you have anterior tilt, this box becomes ’tilted’ out of position. If fact, it isn’t a box any more, it’s more like a rhomboid shape. If you don’t know what a rhomboid is, google it!! Keeping it simple, it’s fair to assume that if your diaphragm is pulled in an odd direction and out of position, it probably won’t pull down and allow you to deep breathe very well.

Keep is simple mate…

I’m trying. So having noticed this issue related to running after cycling and thinking about it way too much, I altered my posture when running. To my surprise, it was like someone has just pulled a giant plug out of my lungs and I could breathe normally!! I’ll explain the changes I made in as simple terms as possible.

Old technique:

1. Anterior tilt of the pelvis, creating an arched lower back and my stomach to stick out (leave it!!)
2. Felt like I was sticking my chest out at the same time. As I was sticking my chest out, I was looking slightly upwards (my natural line of site was upwards)
4. Point 2 & 3 meant that I was very upright, almost leaning back

New technique

1. To try and counter the upright / backwards lean I looked down at the road/track 15m ahead of me
2. Consciously held a slight forwards lean (my torso was slightly ahead of my pelvis)
3. Didn’t stick my chest out and shoulders back, moved shoulders forwards slightly (without hunching too much)
4. Pulled my belly in and avoided pelvis tilting forwards into lordosis

One final thing which can also help with the breathing issues, although not related to posture, is your stride rate. We are often encouraged to run or cycle with high cadences, 90 foot falls or 90 pedal revolutions per minute (or higher). Faster cadences for both cycling and running increase breathing rate. If you are struggling with rapid breathing, slow the cadence and stride out more (longer / slower strides), that can help to slow the breathing rate down.

Hopefully you can picture the changes above! I think it’s pretty common for runners who are tired and pushing hard to lean back, stick their chest out and look upwards. Thre result is a very upright and almost ‘leaning back’ posture. If you can relate to any of the breathing or ‘stitch’ symptoms above, then give the changes a go, see if they can help your run performances, if it works, i’d be interested to hear the feedback.

Cramping issues

There’s one final thing I’m going to talk about which is issues related to cramping. I explained in detail during previous blogs, the reasons for cramping and how posture can be a direct cause. As this is the final part of the ‘trilogy’ (I say trilogy in the tenuous sense of the word), I wanted to specifically answer a few questions which had been emailed, largely relating to cramp in the calf during open water swimming.

As per previous blogs, it’s nothing to do with salts etc the issue may well be related to changes in length and muscle stretch receptors / nervous system confusion. I’ve suffered from this issue and have a simple plan to resolve it. When swmming, your calf is in a shortened position and if it remains shortened for a long period of time, it can go into spasm. You need to remind your calf of it’s original length at regular intervals, so try this:

1. Every 3 minutes, pull your toes up to gently stretch your calf. Do it once on each leg and you don’t have to hold, just stretch and release. This inhibits your swimming slightly, but it’s not going to slow you more than 1 second at most!
2. You need to do it at regular intervals, not just in reponse to the cramp, so make it a habit every 3 minutes.
3. It needs to be gentle movement, don’t do a sharp stretch of the calf, which can also trigger spasm.

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

Damage Limitation by Marc Laithwaite


The term D.O.M.S. is used frequently within the world of endurance, it represents the ‘Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness’. The name refers to the fact that sometimes you don’t actually feel the effects of a training session or race until the following day when you step out of bed. Those who have ran a marathon will understand the sensation. You cross the line and undoubtedly you’re tired but there isn’t a great deal of physical pain. However, the next morning, or perhaps even the morning after that, your attempts to walk downstairs backwards provide the family with the highest level of entertainment they have ever experienced.

The same may be said of the inexperienced cyclist who decides to enter a 100 miles hilly cycle sportive, despite a poor training background. Aside from the embarrassment of being unable to sit down for a week, the morning after generally requires a family member to assist their descent to breakfast. So what’s happened? Has someone been repeatedly battering your tired legs throughout the night whilst you failed to wake from your exercise induced, coma like sleep? The answer lies with D.O.M.S. and the inflammation process.

The inflammation process

During a marathon running event the muscle tissue is damaged due to repeated stress and this triggers the inflammation process. The damage occurs ‘during’ the marathon but the inflammation process takes 24-48 hours to reach its peak, so the pain you feel the following morning was actually happening ‘real time’ during the second half of the race.

An important note to make here is that when people slow down in the final 6 miles of the marathon, we generally assume it is caused by low carbohydrate stores, often termed ‘hitting the wall’. However, there is likely to be a significant amount of muscle tissue damage by this stage in the race which will undoubtedly have an impact upon performance. Due to the D.O.M.S. effect, we rarely discuss the significance of tissue damage during the event. It’s important to recognise that the pain you experience 24-48 hours after the race is caused by damage which happened ‘real time’ in the second half of the marathon. That’s why you were getting slower!!

*Part of the inflammatory process involves fluid build up in the damaged area, due to this fluid build up you may weigh more 24-48 hours after the marathon that you did before, perhaps even 1-2kg extra in weight! Don’t worry.. it’s just water and it will pass.

How do I know if I’ve got tissue damage as opposed to simply having tight muscles?

  1. It’ll be very ‘tender, warm and swollen’ and if someone squeezes your leg you’ll instinctively want to punch them (NB: they never see the funny side of your response).
  2. When you stretch, it makes no difference to the tenderness, the pain still exists (it’s not tight, its damaged) and its probably better if you actually don’t stretch!

*Myth explosion – the pain and tenderness the day after the event has absolutely nothing to do with lactic acid in the muscles. It’s an old wife’s tail and I’m not even open to discussion on the matter.

How does damage affect performance?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that a damaged muscle will not work as effectively as a healthy muscle. However, aside from the actual physical damage directly affecting performance, it’s possible that the inflammation process is acting on a much higher plane and going straight to the governor.

The central governor

There are various theories regarding ‘why we slow down’ and one of the most prominent in recent years has been the ‘central governor’. This theory suggests that fatigue is controlled by the brain (which can effectively switch off nerve signals to muscles) rather than fatigue being controlled by ‘peripheral factors’ such as the ‘actual muscle damage’.

Okay, here is a simple example:

  1. The muscles is damaged and therefore doesn’t work well, as a result you slow down. That is ‘peripheral control’, the muscle is damaged and the muscle doesn’t work, at no point is the brain involved.
  2. The muscle is damaged and somehow the brain’s monitoring system detects this. As a result the brain blocks nerve signals to the muscle so it can’t function fully and you are forced to slow down, that’s central governor control.

Why are we talking about central governor and gone off track from inflammation?

Yep, I was hoping you’d ask that. When we damage a muscle we kick start the ‘inflammatory process’ which is a chain of events involving a series of chemicals, each having a different purpose and action. One of the most widely researched in a chemical known as Interleukin-6 (IL-6) which is released into the blood stream during early stages of muscle damage and inflammation. Research suggests that IL-6 is detected by the brain and as a consequence, the brain then acts to slow you down in some way. In an old study (completed by Tim Noakes 2004) runners completed 2 separate 10k runs a week apart. They were healthy during both but prior to the second run they were injected with IL-6 and ran almost a minute slower.

Just stop and think about this for one second

Look at the 2 examples given at the top of this page for ‘peripheral control’ and ‘central control’. These 10k runners did not have muscle damage prior to either 10k, they were healthy, fuelled and ready to go until injected with IL-6. Their slower time cannot be explained by muscle damage, low fuel or any other form of peripheral control. The only possible explanation is the circulating chemicals. The chemical IL-6 has even been suggested as a possible cause for the lethargy associated with ‘chronic fatigue’ or ‘chronic overtraining’. We know that all general illnesses and all forms of stress kick start the inflammation process and that in turn creates IL-6.

How does energy and nutrition relate to tissue damage?

VERY IMPORTANT: In previous blogs we have talked a great deal about carbohydrate and fat use during exercise and how to refuel. There is a presumption that if you refuel correctly and use fat as a fuel source, you will be successful in endurance events. As a consequence, when people fail to hit their target times, the first thing they turn to as an excuse is ‘failing to get the nutrition correct’. We treat nutrition as some kind of magic wand and if it’s done correctly, you can cycle and run forever, but the reality is very different. It doesn’t matter how much fuel you pour into a broken car, it isn’t going to drive anywhere fast. Without the conditioning which comes from running long miles on hard surfaces, even the most fuel efficient athletes will break down due to tissue damage. CONSIDER THIS: The energy used when cycling and running at a steady pace are not significantly different (slightly higher for running). However, many people who can cycle for 6 hours with little issue, will find themselves in pretty bad shape after as little as 2 hours of running. So ask yourself this question, is it fuel intake or is it damage causing the issue?

What causes the damage?

  1. Damage will be far greater if you’re not conditioned to the distance and terrain. In simple terms you need to spend time on your feet and do the longer sessions.
  2. Harder surfaces are more likely to cause damage, although this isn’t always strictly true as runners do become accustomed to the surface they train on.
  3. Running down hill is the real killer as the muscles contract eccentrically, braking your speed, thereby causing much greater damage.
  4. This isn’t limited just to running. Cycling for several hours and repeatedly performing the same pedal action will lead to muscle tissue stress and damage.

How can you avoid the damage?

  1. As above, you need to complete longer sessions, including downhill running if relevant.
  2. It’s possible that damage may be reduced, by using compression clothing. Research is very poor but ‘subjective’ feedback suggests that it certainly helps.
  3. Your weight will have an impact upon damage, if you have a few KGs to lose, it will help!
  4. Whilst this is a subjective / commercial / controversial addition to the list, specific shoes such as HOKA which are specifically designed to reduce impact can reduce damage and associated DOMS.

What should I do if I have tissue damage?

  1. Rest and let your legs recover for a few days.
  2. Avoid very deep post event massage or stretching, sticking fingers into or stretching damaged tissue is never a good idea, wait a few days at least.
  3. After a few days do some light exercise such as cycling to encourage blood flow to the area and assist the repair process.

If you found this article useful, it would help us a great deal if you share on Facebook, Twitter and social media.

Until then, limit the damage…

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo



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



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

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


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

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



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

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

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


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

Western Australia

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

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



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


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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

British Columbia

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Czech Republic

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

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



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

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


Western Finland

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

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



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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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


WiBoLT | 320 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

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

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


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


Ultrabalaton | 212 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website



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


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

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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



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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

South Africa

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


Basque Country

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

Castile and León

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

Castile-La Mancha

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


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

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

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


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


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

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



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

United Kingdom


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

County Borough of Conwy

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


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


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


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

Northern Ireland

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

North Yorkshire

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

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


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


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

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

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



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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

New Jersey

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

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

New York

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

North Carolina

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


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

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

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

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


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

Rhode Island

Gloridays | 44 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

South Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Washington D.C.

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


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

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

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

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

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



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Website – talkultra.com



The world trail championships are this coming weekend. Yes! This weekend. What, you mean the same weekend as Comrades? I am afraid so. So while Ellie Greenwood looks to do the double we are going to need to keep an eye on Annecy too… yes! But wait a minute, isn’t Sage Canaday and Max King also running at Comrades?


Okay, okay, split screen computer screen required.

I joke of course and ironically while the World Trail Champs kick off in Annecy and Comrades kicks of in Durban, South Africa I will be in another part of SA at the Richtersveld Wildrun with Nikki Kimball, James Cracknell and a whole host of talented runners.

It’s going to be a busy weekend!

The last world championship was in the UK. Wales actually and it took part over a lapped course. Ricky Lightfoot won for the men and Nathalie Mauclair for the ladies.

This year, the Worlds takes place on a course that in my opinion is a proper trail running race. At 85km in length and with 5000+m of climbing the race should test the men and ladies from the boys and girls.



However, the race is not without controversy.

The race will take place on the Technica Maxi-Race course with two starts! Yes folks, the world championship race starts 90-minutes before the annual open race. Wait a minute! I thought trail running was all about being inclusive?

Well it would appear that I am not the only one thinking that way. Francois d’Haene (Salomon), unbeatable in 2014, made it quite clear that he would not race. Anna Frost today (28th May) posted this, and I quote:

I will not be at one of my favourite races – the Maxi-Race – because I do not want to support the IAAF movement in our sport.

The sport will officially become an international ‘athletic’ discipline at the IAAF conference in August and I believe that changes will be implemented to make trail running fit into the IAAF philosophy rather than following the values that our trail running community have created.

Don’t know what I am talking about? Here are some examples:
• You race to be part of a running community? To have an oportunity to line up with the best of the best? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. The elites will start seperatly to all of you. It is no longer an open race.
• You like the freedom to enter any trail race you want? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. I need to be selected. I can not race for the brand that supports me. And if I do, and I manage to get a podium finish time…I wont be on the podium.
• If you have done the race course before it was fabulous. But not in this race. They have changed the course to faster, easier, flatter trails for access. That does not inspire me.

Trail running is fun, we can share it with everyone from volunteers, supporters, family and friends. It is open, we are free and inspired!

Read this great post by Andy Symonds http://www.andysymonds.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/trail-politics.html?m=1

So what we have is a world championship race, with selected individuals racing ahead (90 minutes) of the open race. But what if someone in the open race runs quicker than the world championship race? Unlikely I know but not impossible?

Annecy is an amazing place and quite the setting for a stunning race like this. It really is an adventure playground.


Staring at 3:30am (really?) on Saturday May 30th the best in the world will do battle on the trails in and around Annecy.

Ricky Lightfoot, Max King, Anton Krupicka, Sage Canaday, Kilian Jornet, Rob Krar, Francois d’Haene, Michel Lanne, Jason Schlarb, Tofol Castanyer, Iker Karrera, Ryan Sandes, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas, Anna Frost, Rory Bosio, Lizzy Hawker….

Will NOT toe the line.

So if this is a World Trail Championship race; who is running?

For the Ladies:

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair is the reigning champ and will look to defend her title and I expect her to do well and more than likely win again.


Caroline Chaverot had a great run at Transgrancanaria earlier this year placing 2nd and she placed top 5 at the Skyrunning world championships in Chamonix.

Aurelia Truel placed 2nd behind Mauclair in 2013 but I don’t think this course will allow her to make the podium.

Cassie Scallon on paper has the race speed for a great result but Annecy has its challenges that I am not sure Cassie will be prepared for.

Uxue Fraille would probably prefer this race to be longer; she will play the waiting game and then pick people off.


Maud Gobert, has great potential for victory, particularly on home soil. On her day she can make it happen, don’t rule her out!

Lisa Borzani also has some great results coming into this race, 2nd at Tor des Geants being one of them, but there is a big difference between TDG and 85km in Annecy.

Krissy Moehl, Anne Lise Rousset, Andrea Huser, Ester Alves, Lucy Bartholomew, Sally Fawcett, Simona Morbelli and many more will contest top honours but lets give out a shout to Brit Lizzie Wraith.


Lizzie is the Lakeland 100 course record holder and currently preparing for the Dragon’s Back Race. Notable runners missing from the UK are Jo Meek and Holly Rush. Prety darn sure had these ladies been fit they would have raced well.

 For the Men:


Luis Alberto Hernando well and truly heads up the men’s field after his recent victory at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and as we all know, over 80km he is the one to beat as he proved at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix.

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens is back on form and although he may well prefer the marathon distance he has a great record of top results at 50-80km with podium places at Trofeo Kima and Ice Trail Tarentaise.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_Manuel Merillas had a great 2014 and was a revelation and a hot-tip as a star for the future. At the recent Transvulcania he detonated and moved from top 5 to outside the top 15. Showing incredible recovery, just one week later Manuel made the podium at Zegama-Aizkorri. I do wonder though if 85km is outside his race at the moment.

Alex Nichols ©iancorless.com

Alex Nichols is a fast guy and on his day, he recently beat Rob Krar at MoabRed Hot and he placed 3rd at Templiers in 2014. No stranger to racing Europe on the Skyrunning circuit. Alex may well make an impact at the front.

tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com

UTMB winner Xavier Thevenard has seriously blown hot and cold over the last couple of years. He did win the TDS last year and in doing so became the only runner to win CCC, TDS and UTMB. Racing on French soil must have his passions and desire to do well very high, but maybe they will be too high?


Gediminas Grinius nailed Transgrancanaria recently and that is backed up by an incredible series of results and races in 2014. I can’t help but think though that he will probably just be getting warm as the finish arrives!


Dani Garcia just rocked the field at  Transvulcania with 2nd place ahead of serious competition so who knows what he can do in Annecy. A real surprise package.

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison from the UK may also turn some heads. He will certainly be off the radar but he has the background to do well. He won the British Trail Championships, the Mourne Skyline MTR and as an adventure races and fell runner he is one of the best in the world.

Patrik Bringer has solid results at Transvulcania (5th in 2013) and has been on the podium in Annecy before, so he knows what he needs to do, always an advantage.

Julien Rancon, Fabien Antolinus (won Templiers, 2nd at Ice Trail and 2nd in Annecy – one to watch) and Sylvain Court head up the local French talent and then we have Pablo Vila, Iain Ridgway, David Laney, Paul Giblin, Eirik Haugsness and a whole host of other talent that will be looking to take top honours.


In particular I think the Norwegian entries will make a few people turn their heads. They often fly under the radar but Lars-Erik Skjerveihm and Didrik Hermansen (2nd at Transgrancanaria) will rock the top end of the race.


But the complete dark horse may well be Iain Don-Wauchope from South Africa. He is a complete unknown in Europe and having watched him race in SA and in Costa Rica, he is the real deal and if his travel goes well, watch out!

 Race website HERE

 You can follow the racing HERE live


*Please note, the opinions of those who boycott the IAU World Championships are provided to give a perspective why some key names are missing from the competition. Anna Frost has vocalised those viewpoints and we provide them to provide information. This is in no way meant to distract from the ability of those who will race. We fully acknowledge to represent your country is a great honour.

The North Face Ultra Cardiac Trail Running Shoe Review


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

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

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

All is forgiven TNF!

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

The Shoe



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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


Cushioning is excellent

Vibram sole

8mm drop

Padded heel box and Tongue


Toe box protection is minimal

Tongue not attached to the sides

The North Face say:

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


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

RUNNING BEYOND – A new book announcement


Multiple meetings, trips backwards and forwards to London and I am pleased to say that I can now announce that I will have a new book available in late (September tbc) 2016.

It has been a long term dream to find the backing of a publisher and I am pleased to say that Aurum Press Ltd (Here) have had the trust to allow me to produce a book on a sport I love through photography and words.

An added bonus is that Kilian Jornet has agreed to write the foreword.

A work in progress, I anticipate some long days and nights as I evolve this project. I hope through imagery and words it will be an inspiration to those who look at it and read it.

Grubby pages with repeated use, I’d like to see multiple ‘post it’ notes marking races for future ‘bucket lists’ and most of all I hope it will be a book that allows you to dream.

Wish me luck as I put this together. Many thanks for the continued support and most importantly, thanks to Aurum Press Ltd, Kilian Jornet and all the wonderful races and people around the world who have afforded me the opportunity to make a dream a reality.


*Please note the cover is just an illustration. I anticipate a new cover for the actual book.