Here are links to recent articles:
TRAIL MAGAZIN – The Coastal Challenge 2014
RUN247 – Marathon des Sables 2014 preview
Read the full article HERE
TRAIL RUNNING Magazine, Mar/Apr 2014 – Skyrunning UK
TRIATHLETE interview with Ian Corless by Silvana Lattanzio
Like The Wind launch edition
The Coastal Challenge 2014 in Spanish HERE
Trail Magazin Germany – Everest Trail Race Mar/Apr 2014
Corredordemontana.com article HERE
Scott Running – Marco De Gasperi VK Hint ‘n’ Tips
Scott Running website – Marc De Gasperi image
Everest Trail Race 2013 – Trail Running Magazine Feb/Mar 2014
Trail Running Magazine, Feb/Mar 2014 – Skyrunning UK launch
Carreraspormonta.com press for Skyrunning UK (press release Ian Corless)
Read the article HERE
Trail Magazin Germany, Jan/Feb 2014
The Independent Newspaper, January 2014
Sleepmonsters – Skyrunning UK Press Release January 2014
Read the article HERE
Sport-Magazine.co.uk November 2013
Mens’s Running November 2013
ULTRA RUNNING October 2013
North West Evening Mail HERE
RUN247 – Philipp Reiter an Julia Boettger – TCC 2014
Read the full article HERE
Mont Blanc Marathon 2013, Trail Magazin, Germany
Ronda dels Cims 2013, Trail Magazin, Germany
Zegama-Aizkorri 2013, Trail Magazin, Germany
Running Fitness, September 2013 – Marathon des Sables
Trail Magazin (Trail 4) July & August 2013 – Marathon des Sables photo story
Running Fitness July 2013 – Marathon des Sables
NO OVERTAKING ALLOWED!
Sometimes the nature of running courses mean that, despite our best efforts, overtaking the competitor in front is simply not possible. It might be too narrow, it might be too boggy, but it’s not often that overtaking is precluded by the mother of all sand dunes!
This striking images taken by our man on the ground (or in the desert) Ian Corless shows competitors in this year’s Marathon des Sables doing battle with the course – rather than each other!
The 28th running of the epic multi-day race in the Moroccan Sahara, this year’s race added a killer wind into the equation – as if it wasn’t hard enough already. We’ll be bringing you the full report in the August issue of Running Fitness.
- Order the magazine and subscribe HERE
- Images from the Marathon des Sables are available to purchase for personal use HERE
RUNNING FITNESS, June 2013 – The Coastal Challenge
ULTRARUNNING April 2013 – The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica
You can read the full article The Coastal Challenge at TrailRunner online HERE
ASIAN TRAVELER – Skyrunning
You can download the full article in PDF format HERE
MST March 2013 – TNF AK Stormy Trail Jacket review
Read the article HERE
MST March 2013 – Skyrunning Interviews
Read the article HERE
MST March 2013 – Dishing the Dirt
You can read the article in full by clicking HERE
RUN247 March 2013
The Twelve Labours of Hercules
With ‘The 12 Labours of Hercules’ Richard Weremiuk has created an ultra event with a few added twists and turns!
According to Greek mythology Hercules had to perform 12 labours over 12 years. On July 20/21, 2013 participants have just 24 hours to cover between 1 and 78 miles, tackling as many ‘labours’ as they can. A ‘labour’ will be completed by visiting one of the 12 chosen control locations in the Peak District and then returning to HQ at Victorian Gothic Mansion Losehill Hall.
It’s possible to take part as a solo, pair or team (up to 6) and you will be issued with one electronic timing chip supplied by Sportident to track your individual or team progress.
All Labours will be different. For example, some Labours may require the collection of a small item, which will then need to be returned to Losehill Hall.
Other Labours will only be revealed upon visiting the control point where participation in a task may be required!
Race director, Richard Weremiuk says “If you know us, then you know you should be prepared for anything when you arrive at a location. Be prepared for a few surprises. All 12 locations within the Peak District have been carefully chosen. The name, or location is specifically or critically tied to one of the mythical Labours.”
The race offers three UTMB points for solo finishers of the full distance.
It’s a great concept and the format makes the race inclusive for all abilities.
To add spice, the route for the race is under wraps and being kept secret. Richard says: “Giving out the route would give away some of the surprises. All we will say is that the route will be held within the borders of Hope Valley in Derbyshire and cover 96 square miles”
HQ for the 24 hours event is the Victorian gothic mansion, Losehill Hall in Castleton, Derbyshire. This location does offer overnight accommodation too.
Participants will be issued with a map of the area at ‘check-in’, which will show the 12 suggested routes to the ‘Labour’ locations.
It’s an interesting format and as an alternative to ‘just’ running an element of tactics will come into play. Participants decide which control to visit and in which order. When at a CP they either dib in, perform a task (Labour) or retrieve an object. Each time they return to ‘Olympus’ (or as is most commonly known, HQ), Zeus will be waiting!
In contrast to solo competitors, pairs or teams can pass on the ‘timing chip’ when they have returned to Olympus and then a teammate can complete the next labour and so on.
Sounds simple eh! Well not quite as simple as you think, you see, certain ‘Labours’ must be completed within certain hours, so, this will need to be factored into your planning.
Ultimately, you decide how many Labours you go for BUT you must finish within 24 hours. Outside the time limit? Every minute incurs a stiff penalty!
Unlike any other race, the twelve Labours of Hercules offers a new exciting perspective to the ultra running format.
As Richard says: “It is as tough as you want to make it. Complete just one labour or you can choose to complete all twelve which will ultimately mean approximately 80 miles” The format of solo, pair or team does mean that if you are new to ultra running or basically if you are just after something different, this race may very well tick all the boxes.
Taking place over 24 hours it does mean that night running will be involved. So be prepared. The race route is by no means easy. It does have plenty of ascent and one control point is underground. One area that may worry many is navigation. I asked Richard what skills are required to participate:
“Runners are supplied with an OS map on which will be suggested routes to each CP. CP’s can be reached by road, footpath but others by just footpath. The course is not marked because part of the challenge is choosing how to get to the CP’s in the quickest way possible.”
Richard continued: “Although expert map reading may not be required it certainly would be prudent to be confident with some elements of map reading in particular identifying your location on a map and being able to take a bearing from a compass. Remember, some of this event will be in the dark”
Participants are allowed to GPS but as Richard says, “this should not be because you don’t know how to map read. A GPS is really a back-up device”.
So, all in all, a tough challenge and not one for the feint hearted. But Hercules wouldn’t want it any other way, so why would you?
Grab your sword and shield…. Sorry, I mean your shoes and backpack and test your self against ‘The Twelve Labours of Hercules.’
Click here to find out more about Talk Ultra
Feb 2013 Mud, Sweat & Tears
The Coastal Challenge 2013
Posted in At the Races by Matt Ward on Mon 18 Feb ’13
Talk Ultra man Ian Corless recently headed out to Costa Rica for a hot, sweaty and most importantly, stunningly beautiful trail race – the Coastal Challenge.
Ian Corless reports
“All things must come to an end…. the atmosphere around camp was a little subdued. Some participants looked relieved that they didn’t have to squeeze a pair of shoes onto blistered feet for another time. For others, they seemed sad that another day on awesome Costa Rican trails didn’t await.
Some required quiet time away from the camp to walk Drake Beach as the sun welcomed a new day. Others huddled in groups telling stories of water crossings, quad busting descents and dehydration.
Ultimately every person had a story. Unique stories, personal to each participant, stories that they would hold within themselves forever. No matter how low the low points, the day after never seemed so bad. If it was easy, everyone would do it…. The Coastal Challenge offers some very testing terrain with relentless heat and humidity to provide an overall race experience that will test each and every person. To cross the line on the final day requires commitment, dedication and some luck.
The logistics of mobilizing a camp and moving it everyday in tough terrain is nothing short of remarkable. The course marking and dedication from the TCC crew was available for all to see. This is no easy race to run, but it is certainly no easy race to coordinate.
The catering team showed a dedication not often seen… rising at 0200 to have breakfast ready for 0400, break down camp, move to the next location, set up and then cook lunch ready for the runners arrival. Clear lunch and then prepare dinner all for the process to be repeated again. Respect!
Marking the course was done before the race and then every stage had TCCcrew heading out in front of the race to ensure that nobody would get lost. While the race was underway, the camp crew would mobilize moving luggage, tents and all other elements of base camp and then set up again. All this in searing heat… it was tough work.
Base camp had a full medical team and feet specialists to ensure that everyone would be in the best shape possible to start the next day. It’s a really important aspect of multi stage racing and without it many would not see the finish. Stage races are not meant to be easy! Was the The Coastal Challenge too hard? No, of course not. Was it hard? Yes, without doubt.
Several runners at TCC had participated in Marathon des Sables several times on questioning they all said that The Coastal Challenge was a much harder race. The combination of heat, humidity, climbing and tough technical terrain was a much greater test of mind and body.
A key aspect of this race is camp life. An opportunity to relax in beautiful locations, make new friends and sleep under the stars. Strangers by the end of day one became best friends by day two. The comradeship, the willingness to sacrifice time to help another is a great thing to see. One persons suffering was taken on by others and the burden shared.
With the race over these friendships will continue and no doubt be renewed at other races in the future. The excitement and beauty of 236km’s, with over 30,000ft of climbing in South American rainforest over six days was a joy to behold and conquer. The journey came to an end by boat. We left Drake Beach speeding through the ocean to our bus that would eventually return everyone to San Jose and a comfortable bed.
It was time to switch off, let the experience soak in and remember what had been achieved. Congratulations to Dave James and Gemma Slaughter for the respective wins in the Expedition category. Ultimately though, the credit goes to every participant who battled and endured the TCCExpedition or Adventure category.
Tam Miller from Vancouver Canada summed it up for me when she said:
“I feel whole and complete and I have no unfinished business”
Feb 2013 – A Trail Run to Bragg About.
British ultrarunner completes New-Zealand’s 3054-kilometer Te Araroa Trail
Photo Courtesy of Damiano Levati/ The North Face
Jez Bragg doesn’t have to run today. That may not sound like breaking news, but after 53 days of near-constant running, it is a big deal to Bragg. In an interview with Talk Ultra Podcast’s Ian Corless, Bragg said, “I think it’ll take a week to snap out of the mindset, and actually feel remotely normal.”
At 4 p.m. on February 2, Bragg, 31, of Dorset, England, completed his human-powered crossing of the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Supported by a small crew of family and friends, Bragg set a new FKT (fastest-known time) of 53 days 9 hours 1 minute, becoming the second person to run the Te Araroa Trail, a 3054-kilometer (1900 miles) route from Cape Reinga at the northern tip of the country to Bluff in the south. Less than a week before Bragg headed out, Richard Bowles, 34, a Brit living in Australia, made the first crossing of the trail, in 62 days, finishing on December 17, 2012.
Though celebrations were cut short by swarming sand flies, Bragg described the moment on Talk Ultra as “huge emotion, pride and passion…[the culmination of] so much energy, determination and mental focus. [Considering] everything that had gone into the previous 53 days, it was the best moment that I can ever imagine in my life.”
Bragg’s epic journey was not without roadblocks—unexpected trail detours, severely technical terrain, unpredictable weather and a temporarily crippling case of giardia. In his Talk Ultra interview, he described the terrain as “harder than I ever imagined. It’s a route; it’s not a trail … There’s nothing there. It’s an adventure route, because of all the river crossings, the kayaking sections, the route finding, the wilderness skills required. It’s not really a runner’s route, it’s an adventurer’s route.”
Among other kayaking sections, Bragg crossed the 44-kilometer Cook Strait, which he considered one of the expedition’s highlights. Accompanied by his father-in-law, Mark Taylor, and expert New Zealand kayaker and guide Tim Taylor, he told Corless “Adrenaline carried me across … I just focused on paddling against the crazy currents,” adding, “I mean, I’m a runner with a scrawny upper body!”
Originally hoping to complete his journey in 50 days, Bragg was laid up with a case of giardia that shook his confidence. “To go from running intensely for 14 to 18 hours a day to being horizontal for 72 hours was just bizarre. It made me feel so weak and so low, just helpless really.”
When he was finally able to stand again, he made it a mere four kilometers, with the help of two walking sticks, before collapsing. On Talk Ultra, Bragg said, “What kept me going at that point was that what I’d done up to that point was just golden … It was just too good a foundation to throw away.”
Looking gaunt and thin at the end of the expedition, Bragg ended his interview saying, “I know it will [make me a different person]. It stripped away daily life on the outside and revealed my core emotions. [Something like this] illustrates what is important to you in life. It has just sort of cleansed me.”
Article link HERE
It’s cleansed me, says record-breaker of his 53-day, 1,864-mile feat of endurance
MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2013
The recorded message on Jez Bragg’s mobile phone says he is on an “extended sabbatical”. But that doesn’t tell a fraction of what the British ultra-runner has been up to over the last couple of months.
He has broken a record, for a start, for the fastest traverse of the 3,000km (1,864-mile) Te Araroa trail, which runs the length of New Zealand.
Even the bare numbers – 53 days of running an average of 35 miles daily – sells Bragg’s achievement short. Factor in that he ran over mountain ranges, through shoulder-high grass and knee-deep mud – plus 80 miles of kayaking – and you begin to get a picture of what he did.
Then there was the giardia, an intestinal parasite he contracted in a remote part of South Island on day 37. It floored him for three days with excruciating stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.
“To be perfectly honest, I thought [it was over] then,” he told the Talk Ultra podcast hours after finishing in the southern town of Bluff. “I was in a really bad way for three full days and for several days afterwards I was not back to full strength. To go from running 16 to 18-hour days to being horizontal for three days was bizarre in itself. It just made me feel so low. I had gone to almost like an old man who was bedridden, weak and helpless.
“I remained determined to try and get going again but there was a nagging doubt, of how I can ever get back strong enough to run 60 or 70 kilometres a day again. There were all sorts of things going through my head. The fourth day after being struck down, I thought, ‘Right, I want to do something’, and I walked four kilometres down the trail with two sticks and I literally couldn’t go any further. I had to stop and try again. The next day it was 20 kilometres, then the following one I managed 40, over some really tough terrain.”
Bragg, who ditched healthy breakfasts early in the expedition in favour of fry-ups, to ingest enough energy, did finish, three days over his original target of 50 days. And even with the high-calorie diet, the figure that held the Union Jack aloft in Bluff last Sunday was noticeably thinner – with a full-face wildman beard – than the one who set off in the far north of New Zealand on 12 December.
Bragg, who was given the chance to tackle the route through his sponsors The North Face, said the run changed him mentally too. “It was harder than I had ever imagined,” he said. “There were so many things thrown at me, it has been incredibly hard to deal with. It has solidified me physically and mentally, knowing I can push myself through some really horrible lows.
“I know it will change me, for sure. It has stripped away my daily life and revealed my core emotions. I really hope to retain that, because it illustrates what is important in my life and now I know that. It has cleansed me.
“It has been the ultimate break and has given me the chance to clear myself out. I will probably be more relaxed – I am not sure how I will settle back down to commuting to London for work, though.”
For the full interview go to iancorless.com
Article link HERE
RUNNING FITNESS January 2013 ‘Cavalls del Vent’
PHOTO OF THE MONTH January 2013 – Tofol Castanyer at ‘Cavalls del Vent’
RUNNING FITNESS ‘Faces of Ultra’
ULTRA Running Magazine, USA, Jan/Feb 2013 edition – ‘Cavalls del Vent’
TRAILMAGAZIN.de – Photography article on some of my images from 2012
GOTRAIL MAGAZINE – gotrailmag.com Nov/Dec 2012 Cavalls del Vent
Runners World South Africa – Lind Doke (photography only)
Royal Parks Ultra report
Regular Ultra runner Ian Corless (Talk Ultra) reports from the debut Royal Parks Ultra (www.royalparksultra.com), a new addition to the long-distance running scene, which was held in conjunction with the well established Royal Parks Half Marathon yesterday, Sunday 7th October 2012.
A great course and facilities…which will need improvements in course marking and marshalling for future years.
The inaugural Royal Parks Ultra took place on a sunny and warm day in the capital. London really is quite a beautiful place when the sun shines on it!
A misty cool morning gave away to blue skies and warm temperatures. I was at the race with the very kind help and cooperation of Salomon who had two star athletes taking part; Dimitrios Theodorakakos and Silvia Serafinii. They both won of course!
Silvia was running so quickly that she was fourth overall; and this may very well have been a top three had she not been off course multiple times through poor course marking and complacent marshalling.
Dimitrios almost lost the race due to the same errors… from a comfortable lead he ended up being neck-and-neck with Julian Rendell and then pushed away again in the closing stages to secure victory.
Dimitrios said “the course markings are terrible and the marshals are too busy on phones… by the time they realised I was there it was too late… six times I went off course. The organisers seriously need to look at some significant improvements for next year!’
Silvia confirmed “I went off course so many times… it’s terrible! If I am running a ‘marked’ course I want it to be marked. Today was too stressful. It’s all very well when running slower and you have the time to look around, but if you are racing I just want to concentrate on speed and effort… not worrying if I am on course”
Not great! Considering the Ultra had a small field in comparison to the Half Marathon (12,000), the race had some great pluses. A wonderful course around the parks of London, post race massage, good food provisions post race and a great setting. If only they could get the course marking to that standard… in addition, each runner got a wooden medal; a nice touch!
This race has great potential and will be a perfect race for those venturing up from marathon distance. It includes road and easy trail. At 50k it is the perfect step up distance.
TROFEO KIMA Running Fitness, November 2012
RUN247 ‘Cavalls del Vent’ 03rd October 2012
Ultra? Ultra emotional…
Race report: Ian Corless reports after the Ultra Cavalls del Vent – Spain, September 29, 2012
On a day of rain, cold temperatures and intense racing, ultra running and in particular ultra Skyrunning opened a new chapter in our sport with some really competitive racing by ‘the best’ in the world.
Unfortunately the whole experience was somewhat overshadowed by the news on Sunday morning that Teresa Farriol, aged 48, had passed away in the night due to a cardiac arrest brought on by hypothermia. It was hollow faces, dark eyes and tears in the race hotel as elite runners, race organisers and journalists pulled together. The prize presentation was cancelled and was replaced with a one minute silence in the crowded square.
Photos: The start and race winner Kilian Jornet out on the course © Ian Corless
Despite alternative race options available all over the world, many of the worlds best decided to head to Spain and race at the Skyrunning ‘Ultra Cavalls del Vent’, an 84.2km race with 6098m of altitude change.
Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones, Tony Krupicka, Tofol Castanyer, Miguel Heras, Joe Grant, Philipp Reiter, Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas and Emma Roccaall decided to do battle in what turned out to be an incredibly testing day.
At Refugio Niu de L’Aliga the race format was starting to unfold with Kilian leading the race, followed closely by Tofol and then several minutes back Miguel Heras. Dakota Jones and Philipp Reiter soon came into sight and then Tony Krupicka. Although minutes separated them all, one thing became apparent. It was cold!
Thick mist made visibility difficult and it was biting cold on hands. Kilian seemed in his element running in short sleeves but nearly all the other runners wore jackets. Including Tony!
Emelie Forsberg was the first lady to come into sight. Somewhat of a surprise… not because she didn’t have the ability but because the plan was to ease into her ‘first’ 50 miler. Frosty followed and then a very cool and relaxed looking Nuria Picas.
The cold and constant rain hit the race and the runners hard! Miguel Heras dropped, Tofol had hypothermia, Joe Grant had hypothermia and hundreds more runners had dropped from the race.
Tony Krupicka moved up through the field, moved ahead of Dakota and a format was set. Kilian and Tony swapping the lead and Dakota following.
At Gresolet, Kilian had a two minute lead. As he passed me I asked how he felt? “I am great, it was a little cold but now I am good. I am having fun!”
Tony approached “How you feeling Tony?” “I’m good man, Kilian is just playing with me… all good though!”
Some of the press with me at this point wondered if Tony would win? To be honest, no disrespect to Tony but Kilian seemed in control and was glad of company. Dakota was now some 30 min in arrears with Philipp Reiter in fourth. This order remained until the final climb when Kilian accelerated leaving Tony behind. Kilian crossed the line in a new CR of 8:42:22. Tony crossed the line in second, also beating the old CR too with 8:49:56 and Dakota finished in third in a time of 9:26:25.
Photos: Anton Krupicka on the course and Kilian finishing in a new course record © Ian Corless
Tony was stoked at the finish and rightly so. After the best part of two years of being out of the sport with injuries, his ‘return’ now seems to be confirmed. Speaking of his love for Skyrunning he said on the line “These are the races we want, vertical gain, tough gnarly climbs and altitude. We can’t get this at home, I love it”
Dakota was happy with third, but said he had hoped for better and that he never felt quite on his game!
Emelie Forsberg in the ladies race pushed ahead and at one point had a 15 minute lead, with Frosty and Nuria chasing. However the gap was closed and over the final two hours a battle started. My money was on Nuria, she had told me at ‘Kima’ that this was the race she wanted and I guess it showed. In the latter stages Emelie was dropped and Nuria ran into the finish, victorious in 10:34:42, beating her 2011 winning time by over an hour. Frosty finished in second 10:35:24 and Emelie jumped for joy in 10:39:51.
Photos: Anna Frost on the course. The women’s podium: third placed Emelie Forsberg, winner Nuria Picas and Anna Frost, second © Ian Corless
Frosty said “Everything hurts. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. I dug deeper that I have ever had to go, I am happy for Nuria and I am happy for me”
Emelie in only her second ultra and first 50 miler was elated. She told me “I felt really good and still do. My legs are not hurting but it was [my] mind… in the latter stages when I had to fight I couldn’t focus but I am super happy”
Cavalls del Vent was an incredible day. It showed us all what is great about our sport. Wonderful courses, great running, new runners showing potential for the future, established runners confirming that they are the best, a return to form for Tony and of course immense comradeship. In the hotel ‘Press Room’ I was surrounded by all of them… Kilian on the sofa chatting, Tony and Dakota on the web, Frosty and Emelie giggling, Philipp and Terry discussing the next time to pose naked. All individual, but all one.
Photos: An emotional race – smiles from Anton Krupicka, a hug for Nuria Picas and more smiles from Britain’s Terry Conway © Ian Corless
Cloud confuses and distorts “less cloud MORE SKY“
The next event in the Ultra Skyrunning series is ‘Templiers’ in the South of France. The date is October 28th and rest assured I will be at the race to bring you images, stories and a podcast from the final race in the series.
|1||Kilian Jornet Burgada||8:42:22|
|1||Nuria Picas Albets||10:34:42|
|Ultra SkyMarathon® SeriesSPAIN: TRANSVULCANIA ULTRA MARATHON - La Palma – May 12
USA: Speedgoat 50K - Snowbird, Utah – July 28
ITALY: Trofeo Kima UltraSkyMarathon® - Valmasino, Sondrio – August 26
SPAIN: Cavalls del Vent - Cadi-Moixeró Natural Park – Pyrenees – September 29
FRANCE: La Course des Templiers - Millau, Grands Causses – October 28
ULTRARUNNING Magazine September 2012 – Iznik Ultra
Download the article HERE
RUNNING FITNESS October 2012 Transvulcania La Palma
Who’s Francesca Canepa?
Ian Corless from TalkUltra chats to the 41 year old mother of two who only started running two years ago yet placed second woman at 2012 The North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc
Francesca Canepa may very well not be a name that you know. In fact, until the weekend I am pretty sure that unless you know your ultra and trail running very well you may have not even heard of her!
However at the 2012 edition of The North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc the 41 year old mother of two left some well known ultra running women in her wake to finish second behind Lizzy Hawker.
Francesca is Italian born and now lives in Courmayer, literally on the UTMB route. She only started running in 2010 but comes from a sporting background; an excellent ice skater and National level in snow boarding.
Her transformation from snow and ice to trail running is quite remarkable. In a very short period of time, with the help of Prof Fabio Maragliati, she has won some impressive races:
- Abbotsway Campionato Trail Lungo (120km 5500D+)
- Trail de Vulcain
- Trail de L’huile Raidlights
- Trail de Mirmande
- Maratona Alpina Val Della Torre
- Trail Cret de L’Oiseau de Beujolais
Photos © Ian Corless
At the Lavaredo Trail in June earlier this year, Francesca confirmed her potential with a win over the 120km course in the Dolomites. Her winning time of 15:58:02 relegated The North Face Team member Fernanda Maciel (BRA) to second (16:29:02) and Katia Fori (ITA) to third (17:28:39).
Francesca was quoted as saying after the race: ‘I’m so excited with this result, not only for the fact I won the women’s category but also because I finished at 10th position in the overall ranking!’
Arguably at the 2012 UTMB she has moved up a notch. You don’t get on the podium at this iconic race without some hard running and a quality performance. When you look at some of the names behind Francesca, you begin to fully appreciate her outstanding achievement.
Speaking to Francesca after the race she told me that she is due to start the Tor des Geants this coming weekend. Now if you think UTMB is hard, wait till you look at the TDG: 330km with 24000m of positive incline. “I will be on the start but I don’t know if I will finish. I am not sure if I will have recovered? It is 330km, I think if I continue the race it will be like training… I will sleep, eat… it will be a really slow race for me”
The race starts on the 9th September and competitors have days to complete the course. To provide a sense of perspective, last years female winner was Anne Marie Gross. She managed to complete the tough 330km race in 91:28:21. To clarify, that is just under 4 days! Yes, 4 days.
I managed to catch up with Francesca for a short interview on the evening after the UTMB. She looked fresh and had a glowing smile. However, it was apparent that the race had taken its toll. She had that all too familiar ‘wobble’ to her walk.
Photos © Ian Corless
What did you think about the revised UTMB route?
In a 100km we need to be fast and I didn’t like this. I also didn’t know the new course. I had problems managing my race from a food and drink perspective
Did you think you could be at Lizzy Hawker?
I know that Lizzy is a world champ at 100k’s. I knew she was favourite. I prefer more climbing and this new course played into Lizzy’s favour
Tell me about your strategy in the feed stations?
It’s really important that I have my own food. Renato from Vibram looks after me. I usually don’t eat what I find at the pit stops…. I normally eat no solids. I drink. I like Sprite and I appreciate Yogurt for my stomach. Fruit is nice but at the UTMB it was too cold
Are you happy with 2nd place?
I am really happy with the second place. It’s my first UTMB, why would I not be happy!
What do you think about the decision to reduce the course?
I am sure it was a good decision. Security and safety is paramount
Mentally did you find the new race route difficult. It was a loop course with a tough last climb?
Yes the last climb was tough, I didn’t expect it. I also had no food or drink left. It was a challenge…. In regard to running a loop I don’t like this. Mentally it’s tough
Did you appreciate what you had achieved with your second place?
Yes I appreciated it! I appreciated the crowds, my children. It is a moment to remember
Will you be back at UTMB next year?
I need a little recovery but yes, I think I will be back
[You can listen to the interview HERE]
Mud, Sweat and Tears
Sierre-Zinal 2012: Pictures and reaction
These images courtesy of Ian Corless (Talk Ultra) nicely capture the essence of the competition at Sierre-Zinal yesterday, with big wins for Aline Camboulive and Marco de Gasperi on a hot day for skyrunning…
Three at S-Z for Marco!
Following his win Marco de Gasperi told Ian Corless:
“I wasnt sure without all of the long training if I could manage all of the race, in a good way. But at the end of the last uphill I understood that the Columbian (Cardona) was not very good on the descent and I know that descending is key if you want to win this race.
“To break the record you have to be in very good shape and I knew that in the last two kilometres this would not be possible because I have some cramps and I just had to manage that and made sure that the result was safe and I would arrive here for the victory”.
Talking about the plans for the rest of 2012 he told Corless:
“I will concentrate on the recovery and that look to the Jungfrau Marathon (WLDMRC) in one month. This is a very different race because the first part is road and then the very big climb, but I have won it once and I have the chance to try again, and this is my next goal”.
A big mention goes to former S-Z winner Billy Burns. His knowledge and experience paid dividends and the European-based Brit was also well conditioned for the heat and altitude. Burns is now a veteran and ran superbly for 9th, against some very good quality opposition, including some of the creme of the current UK fell and mountain scene.
Other UK hopes Tom Owens (12th) and Joe Symonds (18th) had what one might call a bad day at the office (but still fantastic results against a top class field) as they both suffered from the heat and what is commonly known as bonking (basically running out of energy / fuel and having a major dip in power, all of a sudden). Joe said: “Tom and I both bonked pretty impressively once it got above 2000m altitude!”
Joe and Tom looking a bit stuffed after Sierre-Zinal 2012
With Tom adding: “That was one hard race. It was going well till 3rd bit of climb and pulling through then sudden energy shut down! Big learning curve for me. There were a lot of of quick runners here, so for Joe and I it was fast from the off. It was a nice course but a toughy for the Scottish runners today!”.
Fellow Scots Robbie Simpson (31st) and Murray Strain (24th) also ran strongly in the top international competition. Read Murray’s blog of the race here
Lizzie Hawker at Sierre-Zinal
Lizzie Hawker made a suprise visit to the race as well, finishing a very handy 9th and using the race as what she called ‘a training run’ as part of her prep for the UTMB in a few weeks, here is what she had to say.
The women’s top three…
de Gasperi with Cardona at Sierre-Zinal 2012
3-time Sierre-Zinal winner Marco de Gasperi
RUN247 Sierre Zinal August 13th 2012
Marco de Gasperi rules at Sierre Zinal
Race report: TalkUltra’s Ian Corless reports from Sierre Zinal – August 12, 2012
Marco de Gasperi after a turbulent 7 months in 2012 returned to form in a race that he loves!
Initially Marco de Gasperi and Cardona (Columbia) raced neck and neck going through 10km’s side by side. But Marco looked relaxed and in control. Post race in a finish line interview he told me that the Columbian looked tired and he decided to push hard on the descent. We had discussed only the day before the race how he practices the skills to run down technical trail quickly.
Photos: Great Britain’s Tom Owens & Joe Symond © Ian Corless
He soon opened a gap and ran into the finish with a gap of just under 6 mins to prove to everyone that Marco is back!
|Interviews by TalkUltraMarco de Gasperi pre-race
(listen HERE)Marco de Gasperi post-race
(listen HERE)Lizzy Hawker post-race
Cardona obviously struggled with the pace and the effort that Marco had dictated and relinquished second place to Cesar Costa from Martigny. Cesar crossed the line in 2:37:39 in comparison to Marco’s 2:31:69. David Cardona did hold on to third place though in 2:38:06
British men excelled in what was a very tough field with 43 year old and previous winner of Sierre Zenal (in his younger days as he told me) Billy Burns taking a great 9th place (2:43:38) in front of Tom Owens in 12th (2:45:56) and Joe Symonds in 18th (2:48:42).
In post race chats with both Tom and Joe they said how they had been going well running in the top 10 but the altitude had hit them making it really tough when racing along the plateau.
Billy Burns on the other hand lives locally and was adjusted. He kept saying to me post race “You know I’m over 40 don’t you? You know, don’t you?” He seemed really stoked at gaining a top 10 in an incredibly tough field. So he should!
Photos: Tom Owens & Joe Symonds. The top three men (l-r) Costa Cesar, De Gasperi and Cardona Jose © Ian Corless
The Ladies Race
Well, I guess the ladies race didn’t quite go to plan… or should I say, it didn’t quite go to the form book! Pre race favourites such as Oihana Kortazar and Nuria Picas didn’t have the races they wanted with Oihana dropping early and Nuria arriving at the finish looking in real pain.
Aline Camboulive from France moved ahead of the ladies field early on and maintained the gap all the way to the finish.
The big surprise was American Stevie Kremer, who ran an incredible race to finish just 1:30 down on the winner for second place. She had been my pre-race dark horse! I had several chats with her prior to race day and although we all knew little about her she seemed motivated and very modest about her ability. On the finish line she looked as though she had just run a 10K!
Third placed lady some 6 mins behind the winner was Maud Mathys from Ollon.
Surprise of the day came from a last minute entrant! Non other than Lizzy Hawker. Apparently, she had phoned the race organiser at the 11th hour, obtained and entry and slipped into the race as a ‘training run’ (her words) on the back of some serious UTMB training. She still placed 9th!
Once again Sierre Zinal confirms itself as a race for everyones bucket list! At 31km’s it is a manageable distance for all. With two starts, one at 0500 am for the walkers and slower runners and then 0900 for the main runners it provides everyone with a possibility to experience the scenery, the altitude and the climbs of this beautiful area of Switzerland.
Photos: Lizzy Hawker and the top three women (l-r) Kremer Stevie, Camboulive Aline and Mathys Maude © Ian Corless
For further information and full results check out www.sierre-zinal.com
Running Fitness magazine, September 2012 – Turkey Style
You can download this article HERE
ULTRARUNNING magazine, USA, July edition 2012
You can download this article HERE
RUN247 Speedgoat 50k Preview – view the article HERE
Race 2 of the Ultra SkyMarathon® Series – Speedgoat 50km
|Speedgoat 50km | Karl Meltzer | Ian Corless | Talk Ultra | Ultra SkyMarathon Series | Skyrunning | ISF|
Race preview: Speedgoat 50km – July 28, 2012
Talk Ultra’s Ian Corless gives us a preview of the second edition of the Ultra SkyMarathon® Series, The Speedgoat 50k:
Start training now….. cuz’ it’s gonna hurt! What else would you expect from Speedgoat Karl Meltzer. In 1989, Karl moved to Utah and in his own words became a ‘ski bum’. But in 1990 he started to run and in 1996 he became an ultra runner.
To date he has 55 race wins, 47 of them in ultras. He has won Hardrock 100 five times, Wasatch 100 six times, Massannutten 100 three times and in addition to this he has run the Appalachian Trail – 2176 miles in 54 days, 21 hrs and 12 min – and recently, in 2010, he did the Red Bull Human Express, running from CA to St Joseph, MO a distance of 2064 miles in 40 days. So, he likes races that are tough, long or a combination of both.
Speedgoat 50k is no different. What it lacks in distance it makes up for in severity and vertical gain. This race consists of 11,420′ of total climbing. The whole race taking place at an altitude above 7600′, with the majority above 9200′. Karl is proud when he says: “it is the most technical race east and west of Snowbird Ski Resort.”
Rocky, rooty, snowy, very steep hills, even steeper descents all over nasty, wet rocky terrain. If you like a fast 50k, this race is NOT for you. Needless to say, there is nothing easy about it. If you enjoy tough races, this race is for you.
The 2012 edition of the Speedgoat 50k is now part of the new Skyrunning Ultra Skymarathon Series. The first race in the series was the 80km Transvulcania La Palma in the Canaries, won by Dakota Jones in the mens race and Anna Frost in the ladies race.
Photos © Jared Campbell
|Ultra SkyMarathon® Series
Needless to say, the addition of Skyrunning to the Speedgoat means that it’s profile for this year will be greatly increased. When I spoke to Karl, his excitement was palatable: “I’m stoked, the race is gonna be sick. We have a stacked field and in the mens race it is almost impossible to predict who will triumph the field is so competitive. Anton Krupicka is using this race as his ‘comeback’ after a long lay off, last years winner Nick Clark will toe the line and from Europe we have Thomas Lorblanchet from France, young star Philipp Reiter and of course the ‘king’ himself, Kilian Jornet from Spain. In the ladies race we have a great field but it’s less deep than the mens and providing that Frosty (Anna Frost) is fit and well, she is the out and out favourite, but Nikki Kimball will be hot on her heels”
Karl also added; “This year we are proud to announce a $10,000 prize purse, with a few extra $1000 for incentive bonuses on the mountain. Top 3 runners will receive the cash awards.”
So as Karl has pointed out this is a stacked field. I am sure that the addition of the Skyrunning profile and some great prize money has provided increased interest. But who will win the race and can the course record of 5:43:20, set by Kevin Shilling set in 2010, be taken down… certainly one would think that if the record is going to fall, this may very well be the year!
- Anton Krupicka has been racking up his training and made the decision not to race at Hardock and make sure that is recovery from injury was more controlled. Speedgoat 50k is his first race in 18 months and one has to assume that if he is turning up, he is turning up to race!
- Kilian Jornet missed Western States after a tragedy during one of his ‘Summits’ attempts but returned to racing form with a Vertical K win at Mont Blanc and then a win in the Mont Blanc Marathon. He was then in Spain for Kilian Classic and then this coming weekend, 20-22nd July he will be racing in Italy at the Skyrunning Dolomites race. The Speedgoat will certainly suit Kilian.
- Nick Clark had seemed a little despondent with his racing form in early 2012. He had expressed to me on several occasions that he just wasn’t ‘firing’ on all cylinders. Particularly his race in Zegama made him re think but re think he did and only recently he once again turned up at Western States and came away with a podium place. Nick has won the Speedgoat before and holds the third fastest time on the course at 5:46:38. You can never rule Nick out.
- Max King is not an ultra runner as such but he is a mountain runner and on paper is the fastest marathon runner at the race. Max also had a disappointing race at Zegama but the 50k distance and this course may very well play into his hands.
- Joe Grant has previously run the Speedgoat race and holds one of the fastest top 10 times with 6:12:15 (almost have an hour slower than Nick) but in 2012 he has increased strength and excellent form. However, Speedgoat falls just 2 weeks after Hardrock 100 and after a superb 2nd place at that super tough 100 miler one has to ask if Joe will have recovered to be able to ‘race’ at Speedgoat.
- Jason Loutitt is a top mountain runner and has placed 2nd at the IAU Ultra Trail Championships, has won Hurt 100 and is quick over the marathon distance. All these elements make him a real contender for the Speedgoat title.
We said this field was stacked and from Europe we have Thomas Lorblanchet and Philipp Reiter, both of these runners raced at Transvulcania La Palma and placed well. Philipp in particular has won several races and most recently was victorious at the Salomon 4 Trails. The fifth fastest time ever recorded at Speedgoat was set by Erik Storheim with 6:08:42 in 2009 he has race experience and along with Nick Pedatella they may prove to be the dark horse outsiders.
Photos, clockwise from top l-r: Karl Meltzer, Anna Frost, Nikki Kimball, Killian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Joe Grant, Max King and Nick Clark
- Anna Frost is the out and out favourite after a stunning run at the Transvulcania La Palma, she not only obliterated the ladies record but made big inroads to the overall results and nearly creep into the top 10 overall. However, she has recently posted on her blog “Currently placing a question mark over this race with fatigued legs still keeping my two feet on the ground.” so we are unsure if she will race…
- Nikki Kimball is back on form! No doubt. She showed some real emotion on the finish line of the Transvulcania La Palma with a stunning 3rd place and then pre Zegama with tired legs I asked her how she intended to race “I’m gonna kick ass!” and she did placing in the top 10. Her most recent top 5 at Western States in 18:31 is a further indication that she will be turning up at Speedgoat to run and race hard.
- Meghan Arbogast is fast! Certainly she is more suited to the flatter, fast courses and she excels on the road. She placed 10th lady at Western States in 19:45. Meghan will be up at the front of the ladies race and the shorter distance may well play into her speed hands!
A fight for the podium may very well come from Julie Bryan who has had two wins in 2012, admittedly over shorter terrain and more notably Kerrie Bruxvoort who has won 3 50k races; Golden Gate Dirty Thirty, Greenland Trail and Mesquite Canyon. My outsider would be Bethany Lewis.
What is the course like?
This race consists of 11,420′ of total climbing. With the whole race taking place above 7600′, with the majority above 9200′. Karl is proud when he says: “It is the most technical race east and west of Snowbird Ski Resort.”
Rocky, Rooty, snowy, very steep hills, even steeper descents all over nasty, wet rocky terrain. If you like a fast 50k, this race is NOT for you. Needless to say, there is nothing easy about it. If you enjoy tough races, this race is for you.
You can hear pre race chat and post race chat with race director, Karl Meltzer in a Meltzer Moment on Talk Ultra. Episode 14 will be released on Friday July 27th with pre race chat and episode 15, released on Friday August 10th, will have analysis, results and hopefully some interviews from the race. Shows are available on iTunes and Libsyn
GoTrail Magazine, Trail Running in stereo 2012, Timothy Allan Olson
GoTrail Magazine July 2012 – Iznik Ultra Turkey
You can download this article HERE
Run247 – Sky Games.
View the web page HERE
Sky Games 2012
Ian Corless reports from the 2012 Sky Games – a celebration of high mountain running
It is Olympic year! If you are a trail runner, mountain runner, mountain biker or basically just a lover of the great outdoors then the festivities that are about to unfold in London may not be exactly what lights your fire!
Imagine bringing some 2000 athletes together in one place of which, 100 are the top ranked athletes representing 25 nations. No, I’m not talking about the Olympics, I am talking about the Sky Games.
An international competition of high mountain sports that are the Skyrunning World Championships. Held every four years with previous editions in Itally and Andorra, 2012 sees the games held in Romanesque Ribargoza in the Spanish Pyrenees.
The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) specifies that the games must be held in mountainous settings with a minimum height of 2000m. In addition to altitude a solid infrastructure for athletes is essential. Transport, hotels and restaurants are all key aspects that make the Games a success, something that Lauri Van Houten (ISF Executive Director & VP) and Marino Giacometti (ISF President) are experts at.
Typically held over one long weekend, the 2012 games have a unique format as they are to be hold over two weekends, starting on June 29th and finishing on July 8th.
In the words of Marino Giacometti “The Sky Games represent a major sports event celebrated every Olympic year. The aim of this event is to promote ‘skysports’ on an international level”.
Photos © Stephan Gripmaster
|What are the Sky Games?The Games consist of six separate competitions with the World Title available and five open categories.
Apart from single race classifications athletes can also compete in the ‘Combined‘ where three of the four Sky Games races are scored. The SkyMarathon is compulsory and only two from the other three will count.
The Sky Games have a wonderful history with some fabulous participants, in 2008, competitors in the men’s field included Kilian Jornet and August Roc. In the ladies, Anotella Confortola, Corinne Favre and Gemma Arro participated with Kilian Jornet and Anotella Confortola taking the combined titles.
The Events 2012
SkyMarthon at Romanesque Ribargoza has a elevation gain of 3000m over the 42km distance. The first two km’s are straight but they then have the sudden climb to El Col de Salinas. At 12km the first descent awaits, a drop of 600m to reach the Llauset Dam and then a climb to the El Coll de Llauset which has a height of 2900m. This section from 19 to 23km is the last and hardest climb. At the summit the descent begins to the Coll de Salinas, from here the descent continues to Ginast and then the final stretch of some 2km’s is flat to the finish at Vitaller.
SkyRace starts and finishes in Vitaller. The distance of 21km’s has an elevation gain of 1350m. From the start the runners go to Montanuy and go to the Col de Forca where they then take a path to Castanesea and then an additional path to Cap de Casseretra and Pico Comadelo. Once at the peak they face a very steep descent to Ginast which is just 2km’s away from the finish in Vitaller.
VerticalK the total distance of this event is 3km covering an altitude gain of 1000m. Starting in Barruera it crosses the village then the race increases in incline basically going directly up to the finish point some 3km away.
SkySpeed starts at Taull Church and finishes at Pla de L’Ermita. At 200m in length and a vertical gain of 100m this race is hard and fast. The race is run in heats, four competitors head to head in each heat. This is an exciting race to watch.
SkyBike is a high mountain Duathlon with three disciplines – bike:run:bike. Starting at 1435m in Laspaules the route goes south. Finally reaching an altitude of 1900m they exchange bike for run shoes. The run includes some 30-40% gradients until reaching an elevation gain of 2500m. They then descend through the mountain crest. After the completion of 10km they then exchange run shoes for bike. Returning to the finish, they must cycle on technical trail, climb up gradients of 20% and descend to the finish in Laspaules.
Combined consists of five independently scored races: SkyMarathon, SkyBike, SkySpeed, VerticalK and SkyRaid although SkyRaid does not have an ‘open’ category. SkyMarathon is compulsory but the combined winner is scored from the other three events : SkyBike, SkySpeed, VerticalK with the two best results counting. So, a pure runner would usually compete in SkySpeed and VerticalK in addition to the SkyMarathon.
|This Weekend (July 7 & 8)Some events have already been run with winners announced, such as the VerticalK and SkySpeed both run on June 30th. SkyBike took place on July 1st but all attention focuses on this weekend with main event, the SkyMarathon. The SkyMarathon not only is the most significant race within the Games but also will be crucial in the outcome of the Combined male and female winners. In addition to this, SkyRace and SkyRaid will also make a great weekend of racing.
Photos: Lauri Van Houten (ISF Executive Director & VP) and Marino Giacometti (ISF President) © Nancy Hobbs. The men’s podium © Stephan Gripmaster
Results so far
- Didier Zago
- Jesus de la Morena
- Luis Albert Hernando
- Deboora Cardone
- Oihana Kortazar
- Silvia Leal
- Augusti Roc 35:51
- Raul Garcia 36:10
- Nicola Golinelli 36:16
- Oihana Kortazar 43:59
- Laura Orgue 44:29
- Mireia Miro 44:49
- Francesc Freixer 2:10:49
- Jesus de la Morena 2:10:52
- Didier Zago 2:11:20
- Nuria Picas 2:33:35
- Yolanda Magallon 2:57:56
- Montserrat Martinez 3:02:31
Currently, Oihana Kortazar is looking in a strong position for the female ‘Combined’ title (Oihana won at Zegama) and in the mens ‘Combined’ Didier Zago and Jesus de la Morena are both in contention.
For full details go to www.ribaorzaskygames2012.com
A full athlete list is available here - www.ocisportdocs.com/~docs_prensa/skygames/skygames_list.pdf
Athletics Weekly, June 1st 2012
I write a regular feature in GoTrail magazine called ‘Running in Stereo’. I also write regular features on athletes, races or experiences.
21st May 2012 – Zegama Race Report here
Race report: Ian Corless from Talk Ultra reports from Zegama – Spain, May 20, 2012
In contrast to the 2011 Zegama race of blistering sun and blue skies, the 2012 race was undertaken in torrential rain and cold temperatures. The 9am start in Zegama Square was a chilly one as runners struggled to keep warm.
But start they did for what was going to be a tough day. The course is a classic marathon distance but has an elevation of 5400m. That makes for one tough race. What had been a slippery course in the previous two days became a very slippery and potentially dangerous course on race day for the inexperienced. Runners post race explained how they found it very difficult to keep upright. In particular the long final decent of some 13k.
Photos © Ian Corless
British born Nick Clark who placed third at Western States and then third at Hardrock some two weeks apart in 2011 said ‘that is one proper mountain race, it was extremely slippery and the rocky sections became treacherous because of the mud left by other runners’.
Joe Grant basically said ‘I made completely the wrong shoe choice… Road flats were not a good idea’. With a hint of irony he continued ‘I just didn’t have any other shoes!’ He ran Transvulcania La Palma in hot and dry conditions the previous week and hadn’t anticipated such tough conditions as last year’s Zegama race was run in 30+ degrees.
In contrast I spoke to third placed lady, Emilie Forsberg post race and she said ‘I loved the conditions, I didn’t find it too slippery and I didn’t get cold’ when I told her that second place was just in front of her at the finish she said ‘I wish I had known, I would have given it everything I had… I think I ran too hard at the beginning… I was at my limit at the end’.
It was certainly a tough day. Some pre race favourites suffered, in particular Max King. He came to the race focused and ready to take the race to Jornet, Hernando and Owen, but in the end it was not his day. When I saw him with just two kilometres to go he looked cold. Post race he said ‘I just wasn’t prepared for that. The terrain, the technical aspects, the weather’.
Kilian however was in his element. Pre-race during an interview I asked him how he felt after Transvulcania La Palma. He said ‘I feel good, I am recovered and I am looking forward to the race’. When I mentioned the conditions, he said ‘I would like it cold and wet’. He got his wish! Seeing Kilian run down the trail like a bouncing mountain goat is so impressive. His ability as a skier is reflected in his running as he bounces from left foot to right.
British lady Lauren Jeska put a pre race plan in action and started to work through the female field. Pushing hard on the rocky sections which she loves and then she took the lead on the ridge between Aizkorri and Aitxuri. She said the decent from the summit was just crazy… So steep and so slippery. At the feed at Urbia she was well in the lead but says after the race that she started to struggle. On the final long decent she could not keep upright and the lead that she had built disappeared finally relinquishing first, second and third place. She said ‘I love rocks and I love the climbs but that final 13k decent of mud was a nightmare, I couldn’t keep upright’ obviously disappointed not to make the podium, she still had a great result for fourth.
Kilian now had taken the lead putting some two minutes into Hernando with Owen in third place. It remained this way right to the finish, Kilian pushing hard and just missing the course record by two minutes.
In the ladies race, Oihana took the lead away from Jeska and pushed hard for victory. Behind, Picas and Forsberg reeled in Jeska too and placed second and third respectively.
Mike Wolfe who had finished in 13th place went on to say ‘It was incredible. Just a tough, tough race. We [the American runners] can perform on these courses but we would need to be more specific with our training’.
Another year over and the 2011 first places are repeated with Kilian And Oihana. I can’t wait for 2013… I wonder what the weather brings?
Less cloud, MORE SKY maybe.
|1||KILIAN JORNET BURGADA||SALOMON||3 :56:04|
|2||LUIS ALBERTO HERNANDO ALZAGA||4 :00:40|
|3||TOM OWENS||SALOMON||4 :06:05|
|1||OIHANA KORTAZAR ARANZETA||SALOMON||4 :52:30|
|2||NURIA PICAS ALBETS||5 :01:26|
|3||EMELIE FORSBERG||SALOMON||5 :01:57|
|4||LAUREN JESKA||5 :04:11|
17th May 2012 – Zegama Pre Race report here
Race preview: Ian Corless from Talk Ultra takes a look ahead at the Zegama – Spain, May 20, 2012
Zegama offers a race over the classic marathon distance and has an elevation gain of 2736m and a total ascent and decent of 5472m. It takes place on the Aratz Massif and the Sierra del Aizikorri and covers the four largest peaks in Euskadi.
Zegama is renowned as one of the most popular events on the Skyrunner World Series calendar. As per usual the event attracts some of the best runners worldwide. I have just spent the last four days with Max King from the USA and Marco de Gasperi from Italy. Both champions.
It would appear that Marco is carrying an injury and therefore this leaves the door open for Max King who, on what I have seen this week, is in a perfect position to take the rewards that Zegama will offer. Chatting with him he says that ‘I see the main competition to be Tom Owens and of course Kilian Jornet but I am not sure who else is racing’. He goes on to say ‘you gotta treat the course like a 50k and a super hard 50k at that.’
Kilian placed third at Transvulcania in his first race back after a long ski season. He collapsed on the finish line with exhaustion. Normally you would exclude anyone who finished such a long race in this condition to then race a super tough race just a week later. But this is Kilian. His recovery is superb and his talent is without question.
Many of the runners that took part in the Skyrunning ultra ‘Transvulcania La Palma’ are also heading out to the Basque Country. It would be fair to say that all of them are lacking fresh legs… Certainly Dakota Jones and Anna Frost (if she races) will not be up at the front. They plan to soak up the atmosphere! My potential tip from the American contingent would be Mike Wolfe or should I say ‘Wolfeman’ as he is affectionately known. He didn’t have the race he wanted at Transvulcania and this may motivate him. He said in La Palma ‘yeah, I had an off day at Transvulcania but I hope to race well at Zegama, it may just be too short for me.’
Another American hopeful is Nick Clarke. Nick is without doubt a lover of vertical and as he didn’t race in La Palma he will be fresh for 5000+ meters of ascent and decent. He is fiercely competitive and his two back to back races in 2011 at Western States and Hardrock show how strong he is, placing third in both races just two weeks apart.
Anna Frost, winner at Transvulcania is still undecided if she will take part. She prepared meticulously for her race in La Palma, smashed the course record by 1hr 45m and an effort like that requires some recovering from. Certainly if she takes part it will not be with the object of winning the race. However, Nikki Kimball who placed third at the same race is super ready to race and she said, and I quote ‘I’m gonna kick ass. I’m gonna race as hard as I can’. Nikki without doubt can’t be ruled out. She’s a great competitor and she seems to have a new lease of life at the moment.
It’s going to be a great race and with this being so close to the Transvulcania La Palma it helps make sure that the profile of our sport is kept high. The success and the reputation of Zegama are mainly down to three factors; the gruelling course, the stunning natural beauty and the massive participation of both runners and spectators.
On a final note we have had word this week that the Zegama course has had one metre of snow on it. This may very well prove decisive on Saturday.
Less cloud. MORE SKY
Race website: www.zegama-aizkorri.net
2012 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES – MAIN RACES
- SPAIN: Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri, Basque Country – May 20
- ITALY: Giir Di Mont Skymarathon®, Premana, Lecco – July 29
- SWITZERLAND: Course De Sierre-Zinal, Zinal, Valais – August 12
- USA: Pikes Peak Marathon, Colorado – August 19
- MALAYSIA: Mount Kinabalu Climbathon, Sabah, Borneo -October 14
Skyrunner® World Series champion titles are awarded to competitors with the highest points based on the sum of the three best main race results plus any two compulsory* races in the VerticalKilometer®, SkyRace® or Ultra SkyMarathon® Series.
15th May 2012 – Transvulcania La Palma report here
Race report: Transvulcania Ultra Marathon – May 12, 2012. Ian Corless reports from La Palma
It was billed as the race of the decade and the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma race did not disappoint.
The International Skyrunning Federation had assembled one of the best mens field ever. It was a who’s who of ultra running; Kilian Jornet, Iker Karrera, Andy Symonds, Geoff Roes, Dakota Jones, Rickey Gates, Sebastien Chaigneau, Mike Wolfe, Francoise D’Haene, Casbeth Nemeth and in the women’s race, Anna Frost, Nikki Kimball, Darcy Africa, Corinne Favre and Nuria Picas.
Photo: A who’s who of ultra running © Ian Corless
From the perspective of an ultra running fan and a journalist, this was a race to be involved in. The first Transvulcania Ultra Marathon, held in 2009, had a main objective: to use the hiking paths that linked the island and fulfill the needs of the ever growing demand for long distance events.
Starting at the Faro de Fuencaliente (lighthouse) the course follows the GR131/ GR130 route going up the Ruta des los Volcanes in the Cumber Nature Park, making a total distance of 83km and a total elevation of 8525m. It borders the Caldera de Taburiente National Park and goes down to Puerto dee Tazacorte before rising up slightly to the finish in Los Llanos
The race literally climbs some 53km from sea level to reach the highest point on the course at 2426m and then drops down to sea level with a decent that the runners literally explained as ‘crazy’! The terrain is volcanic with black loose ash that moves under the feet, rutted and rocky terrain and of course the heat.
Leaving the start in pitch black at 0600hrs a stream of white headlamps moved towards the lighthouse, turned left and then headed up single track leaving a glow of flashing red lights in its wake. The early morning temperatures already gave us a sign that a hot day lay ahead.
Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones, Andy Symonds made the initial running pushing up the trail. In the ladies race Anna Frost headed first up the trail and set a pace that showed she meant business.
The course climbed up from sea level to Las Deseadas and then dropped down to Refugio De El Pilar and then slowly climbed its way up to the high point of the course at Roque De Los Muchachos before a drop of some 20km to Tazacorte and the final kick in the tail to Los Llanos.
Kilian and Dakota forged ahead on the trail followed by Andy Symonds. Behind them Francoise D’Haene, Iker Karrera chased but the two guys up front looked strong.
In the women’s race Anna Frost, ‘Frosty’ as she is affectionately known pushed ahead at a pace that was leaving the other women in her wake but also most of the men. She was pursued by Nuria Picas, Nikki Kimball, Darcy Africa and Corinne Favre.
In the mens race, some pre race favourites were not having a great day, Mike Wolfe said after the race that ‘it just wasn’t happening’ but he did hold on for 14th overall . Geoff Roes said that he ‘felt like he was running in marshmallow’ and Sebastien Chaigneau complained of lower back pain and stomach issues. The latter two dropped from the race at Roque de los Muchachos.
Photo: Heading away from the start © Ian Corless
Ultimately, Frosty dominated the women’s race and broke the course record by an incredible 1hr 45mins to record a time of 8:11:30. Her run and effort also secured her a place of 13th overall ahead of notable names such as Mike Wolfe, Ian Sharman, Gustavo Reyes and Csaba Nemeth. Second and third went to Nuria Picas in 8:51:59 and Nikki Kimball in 9:10:00 respectively. Nikki was stoked by her run saying that it was the first run in 4 years that she had gone without knee pain. The emotion was clear to see in her eyes.
The mens race eventually became a real nail biter. At the highest point of the race we had a perfect long distance view allowing us to see the runners approach from kilometers away. It was incredible to watch as first Kilian appeared and then Dakota locked head to head, foot strike to foot strike in battle. Snaking up and down the trail they approached us, went through the feed and left but then suddenly Andy Symonds from the UK was in sight closing the gap. At the summit he told us ‘I feel good, lets bring it on’. He left with arms outstretched like a plane and jumped gazelle like on to the tough and technical decent to Tazacorte.
Waiting at the finish for the arrival of the runners it was party time. The whole town was out. It was like a stage finish of the The Tour de France or a section of the London Marathon course.
News came in that Andy Symonds had caught both Kilian and Andy on the decent and gone past them… apparently Kilian had followed and Dakota said after the race that he thought that was it and that ‘well, third will be good’.
But in Tazacorte Kilian was in trouble, maybe struggling from the heat, maybe struggling from dehydration or maybe just not on form after months of skiing. Andy was now in battle with Dakota but as he said immediately after the race ‘I just wasn’t strong enough, Dakota pulled away and I couldn’t keep up’. Dakota crossed the line in 6:59:07 smashing the old course record set in 2011 by Miguel Heras of 7:32:12.
Photo: Dakota sets a new course record and Kilian receives medical care after he finishes in third place © Ian Corless
Andy arrived just 90 seconds later in 7:00:34 and Kilian arrived in 7:09:53. As he crossed the line his legs went from underneath him and he lay flat with exhaustion. Medics rushed to his aid and the crowd started to chant “Kilian, Kilian, Kilian” it was quite a moment and one that emphasized the importance of Kilian not only to the running community but to Spain alone. He later re emerged to speak to the crowd and assured them he was okay and thanked them for the support. He is a true ambassador.
Was the Transvulcania La Palma the race of the decade? Well from where I was on the course and at the finish, it sure was! However, I do think it is a start of a new era in ultra running and I can only hope that what I witnessed on the Island of La Palma will be repeated time and time again. It’s a day and a race `I will never forget. Incredible. But in
just a few days time we will be in Zegama… lets see what unfolds in the Pyrenees.
|3||Nikki Kimball||The North Face||9:10:00|
|4||Darcy Africa||Pearl Izumi||9:17:35|
20th April 2012 – Iznik Ultra Race Report here
Ian Corless reports from his trip to Turkey for the Iznik Ultra, where he won the 60km event
Ian Corless has been involved in endurance sport for over 25 years. He is now a photographer by trade but much of his time is spent as a coach, training camp organiser and retailer for Hoka One One run shoes at his own businesswww.runwildrunfree.co.uk. He is also a run ambassador for Endurancelife.
From the sound of the morning call to pray to the evening call for prayer, Turkey has a charm and a charisma that I have not experienced in another place. The people epitomize friendliness and an openness to help and a willingness to go out of the way to make your experience as a tourist a pleasant one.
Istanbul is chaos! The roads are blocked, the streets are frantic and amongst this is a calm and a charm that one cannot help but warm to. The Grand Bazaar I guess has lost some of the original charm of a typical ‘souk’. It shows signs of commercialism but how can one resist the urge to indulge. In close proximity one has the Blue Mosque, the Fire Tower and San Sophia. Working your way down to the Bosphorus one is greeted with ferry boats, fish restaurants and a bustle that increasingly comes to life with the approach of the night. Lights glow, the sky goes to a deep dark blue and the skyline is illuminated with Mosques.
It’s quite magical.
Leaving the chaos of Istanbul and heading north for the 2+ hour journey to Iznik that included a relaxing ferry crossing was a stark contrast to the attack on my senses for the last 24 hours. Suddenly we had some calm and a time to reflect.
Our approach to Iznik was greeted by entering the north west corner of the lake ‘Iznik Golu’. Making the road journey to Iznik Village gave us wonderful panoramic views of what lay in store with the Iznik Ultra. A large beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains and fields of Olive Trees.
Iznik formerly known as Nikaia is in the province of Bursa and is some 90km south west of Istanbul as the crow flies. Iznik was surrounded by walls to protect it but now the walls are pierced in many places for roads. With a population of around 17,000 it has been a district center for Bursa since the early 1930’s. It has a deep history, Orhan 1 captured Iznik in 1331 from the Byzantium Forces and for a short period the town became the capital of the expanding Ottoman Empire. Famous for pottery and tiles, many of the Mosques in Istanbul have Iznik tiles designed by Mimar Sinan. This history was reflected in the wonderful finishers medals and plaques for the Iznik Ultra.
Our arrival at our hotel on the lake was a pleasurable one and soon followed with arrival at the race headquarters. The MCR Racesetter event team had taken over a club premises on the lake and turned into a control hub for the race. You would never have guessed that this was the first ultra that the they had organized. It was very slick and the attention to detail was immaculate. Caner (pronounced Janer) Odabasoglu , race director, the previous year had taken part at the TDS in Chamonix and he had obviously learnt a great deal from the experience. He had taken all the good aspects of the UTMB series of races and applied them to his own race. I had been helped expertly by Burcu Karakelle and Rabia Karaağaç in my pre trip preparations and they also manned the registration point.
Needless to say, once registration was over they re applied themselves to the course and the smooth running of the event. Caner had not only pulled in his working team from Macera Akademisi but he had also pulled in the help of personal friends and he had mobilized the Iznik community and supporting villages and made this event important to them. They had a real pride in servicing all the competitors.
With a pre race kit check done that included a ‘typical’ requirement of : base layer, jacket with hood, first aid, elastic bandage, head torch, hat, gloves, food and the capacity to carry 1.5ltr of liquid I was able to relax and mix with other racers. I was initially surprised by some of the entrants, we had a couple of South Africans, French, Russian and even a Brazilian on the start sheet. The Brazilian unfortunately didn’t make the race due to some travel issues. On chatting, it turned out that the French guy was Jean-Loup Feneaux, the creator of AHOTU (www.ahotu.com) what I would consider to be the best reference point for all races in the world. In addition I was introduced to Ilgaz. Ilgaz is a co presenter of an ultra running podcast for Turkey. Quite amazing as he introduced himself to me as he recognized me (and my voice) from Talk Ultra. The ultra world really is a small one!
So the race!
We congregated in the Iznik centre for a pre race briefing at 0700 and then the race started, on the dot at 0730.
The previous days blue skies and warm weather had been replaced with rain but temperatures were mild. In many respects, perfect conditions for me! On the end of the count down we left on mass being told that the first few km’s although part of the race would be neutralized. They wanted to create a run procession as we left the town. It was perfect!
The race route was marked to perfection with either floor paint or red and white ribbons every 30-100 meters. Literally, if you had run for more than a minute without seeing a marker you knew you had gone wrong! It’s very reassuring. Although the 126k route was a loop of the lake and of course, the 60k was pretty much half of the lake, it was by no means flat as one would expect. Quite the opposite! All the vertical gain was undertaken in the first 60k making the shorter race a tough one as obviously you would be pushing harder, for the 126k runners this also meant that ‘pacing’ was crucial.
The short road section lasted 4km and soon became trail and then climbing to 580 meters. The trail path was wide, rutted and in parts slippery due to the falling rain. It was possible to run/ walk much of this early section, however, I am sure those running the longer race will have walked much of this first climb. Harder steeper sections had sections of flat and then more climbing. This scenario repeated itself constantly over the first 13kms and the first checkpoint at Derbent.
From Derbent village we once again re joined trail heading west and this section incorporated a whole mixture of trail. Rutted ground, soft ground, rocks and of course plenty of climbing and descending. Under foot conditions in general where very good. To our left as we ran this section of trail we had the stunning views of snow capped mountains and to our right, the Iznik Golu lake and the Yenisehir Plains. It was stunning.
The Suleymanie checkpoint at 28.5km was an opportunity to re fill bottles/ bladder and soak up the appreciation from local villagers. Caner and his team had done a superb job informing, mobilizing and involving the local villages and communities. You must remember, running is not something the Turkish people have much experience of. Ultra running is pretty muck unknown…. The Iznik Ultra is very much at the forefront of Turkish ultra running.
The climb out of Suleymaniye was steep and tough and lasted almost 2km and then a long decent to the next checkpoint at 36km at Muskule. This was a simple checkpoint and really more of timing check than anything else. A small climb and then a long steep decent to a section of road than ran parallel to the Lake. Police escorted the runners and provided safety. This section lasted almost 10k going from the 37km mark to the next check point at Narlica at 42km. This was a key check point and a larger village. The whole town had turned out to cheer everybody on.
Now the hardest climb of the course. Heading out of the village you immediately headed up on a muddy, rutted trail that lasted for 7km climbing to 750 meters. It was made even more difficult as this track was used by the farmer, therefore the route up was basically in deeply rutted tractor tracks. The rain was falling harder and harder and the course was now becoming increasingly slippery under foot. It was tough on the mind, the body and more importantly the legs. Finally at the top a flattish section of trail was followed with a long quad busting decent to the 60km finish in Soloz. The trail to the finish was technical in places and quite steep. I know that many post race expressed how difficult they found this run in to Soloz. Again, the local community was out in force. As it happened, I was the winner of the 60km race in 6hrs 01min. It would have been nice to have been under 6hrs and certainly if in future editions the course is dry and without rain, that time will drop. To run the final uphill road section to the line with the applause of the locals, the cheers of the children and the appreciation of the Iznik Ultra team will be a memory I hold forever. I sincerely feel that what has been created in this race is the start of an ever increasing and ever popular ultra scene within Turkey.
At the finish I was able to relax, applaud and watch my fellow runners come in. For many though, this was only a 60km checkpoint. Motivated by a finish line in the centre of Iznik some 67km away, they refueled and step by step rejoined the course. It was now early afternoon and the occasional glimpses of sun and warm started to disappear. The rain increased and with it, the wind.
With the climbing done in the first 60km, the remaining running should have been relatively easy and flat. The course now pretty much hugged the lake until the 76km and the checkpoint at Ornekkoy. Here, you are taken inland to the 81km checkpoint and you then remain inland with the lake to your right until Ilica at 95km’s.
Running through Olive fields, the increasing heavy rain now made the course difficult under foot. With the added difficulty of night, it was now a test of will power for the remaining runners. A welcome section of road from 100km’s to 107km’ s provided some rest with the inclusion of a checkpoint at the village of Boyalica.
The dark, the rain, the mud, the wind tested everyone, the runners and the dedicated team of helpers and check point officials. At 111km’s another section of road and then the final push with a check point at Kurukpru at km 119. With just 8km’s to go, the finish was in sight. The arrival in Iznik awaited. But of course it was now the middle of the night. The winning time was 15hrs 45m.
The next day a 10km race had been arranged that created a perfect opportunity to introduce running to a greater audience. The town came out in force and was superb to see all ages and abilities taking part. Potential ultra runners of the future…. With marching bands, local dignitaries and a superbly organized prize presentation at 1pm the Iznik Ultra came to a close.
The medals and award plaques were something quite special. Iznik, famous for its hand made tiles had produced via a local tile maker all the finishing medals and plaques. A truly great memento.
I have raced all over the world and I have raced for many years. I have rarely scene a race so expertly organized or put together. It was the attention to detail, the course marking, the staff, the local community, the friendliness, the awards ceremony and the prizes that all came together to make this one of my fondest racing experiences. For this to be the MCR teams first event was quite incredible. I cannot praise Caner and his team enough.
Moving forward, this race will increase in popularity, it will bring in runners from around the world and will become a race to add to a runners ‘bucket list’. All I can say is that it deserves all the praise it can get. I for one will be back in 2013, no doubt!
Men’s 126km results
Women’s 126km results
Men’s 60km results
Women’s 60km results
- Traveling from the UK to Istanbul is possible via Easyjet from London Luton.
Depending on available time, I would recommend a Thursday flight with an overnight stop in Istanbul. Stay in the Old City near all the sights.
- Transfer from Istanbul to Iznik takes approximately 2 to 3 hours and includes a ferry crossing. Traffic in Istanbul is chaotic so be prepared.
- Iznik is well serviced with hotels and many are on the Lake just a few minutes from race registration and the race start.
- The first 60km are hilly and many may find poles useful.
- Trail shoes are essential.
- In training, practice going uphill and in particular train on hills putting as much emphasis on going down as going up. Many found the running downhill is what tired them the most.
- Temperatures are usually quite warm but for this years race conditions became difficult, Particularly those running in the 126k.
- Check and make sure you have mandatory kit. You will be checked pre race and during the race.
Check out www.iznikultra.com for more information
7th February 2012 : An article on Hoka One One run shoes. Please read here
As fans of the shoe, Run247 asked Ian Corless (www.runwildrunfree.co.uk) to tell us a bot more about Hoka One One
Hoka One One was the brainchild of Jean Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud. Both very experienced adventure racers and runners. Nicolas Mermoud has placed very highly at UTMB.
They set themselves an objective. To create a shoe that reduced fatigue, impact and muscle strain. Hoka One One was born.
Sponsored Athletes include: Dave Mackey (ultra runner of the year), Christophe Le Saux, Ludovic Pommeret, Maud Combarieu and Karl Meltzer (31 100 mile wins)
The Technology behind the shoe:
The sole is oversized up to 2.5x a conventional run shoe and therefore offers outstanding impact resistance. It ensures a natural stride and IMPORTANTLY they only have 4mm drop from heel to toe. They are therefore very much inline with the barefoot philosophies of natural foot strike and mid to forefoot running. In addition, the shoe eradicates any harshness from the terrain, allowing you to ‘run over’ obstacles. A good analogy would be the difference between a no suspension mountain bike and one with full suspension.
Within the shoe, your foot sits within a ‘bucket’ that is recessed into the sole. Not only does this offer a precision foot strike but it also offers great stability.
Despite looks, the shoes are incredibly light. They defy gravity. The combination of lightweight and great cushioning reduce stress and fatigue. The shoe adapts and moulds to the terrain allowing you to ‘run through’ the most difficult terrain.
A unique addition to the shoe is a ‘rolling’ sole. This helps deliver superior underfoot performance allowing your foot to ‘rock’ forward. Try them downhill…. You will fly! The rocker sole propels you forward.
The increased footprint of some 35% bigger than a conventional road shoe offers increased stability. The wider base compensates for the height of the sole making every foot strike a confident one.
Throughout the range of Hoka One One shoes, grip changes with each model. The Bondi B road shoe has less grip and traction to allow for speed, the Stinson B (was Combo XT) mixes between the Mafate trail shoe and Bondi B and provides a shoe that works well on either road or trail. The Mafate is designed for severe off road running and the newly modified Mafate 2 has a new upper and increased grip. The new shoe in the Hoka range is the Stinson Evo. This shoe has all the benefits of increased foot platform and cushioning but has been re-worked into a shoe that offers a race fit. It has a breathable upper, speed lacing, increased grip and reduced weight; it is an out and out race shoe!
Less Impact – Increase contact with the ground by some 45% and less impact by 20-33%
On the flat a reduction of energy consumption by -3 to 5% (oxygen+lactate blood measurement+running mechanical properties)
Uphill -8 to 18% decreased energy consumption
Downhill -15 to 20% reduced shock impact
Conclusion – Better performance for less effort and increased protection
Bondi B – Road shoe
Bondi B is a high performance road shoe suited to marathon runners, triathletes and ultra runners. Bondi B absorbs impact, shocks and reduces fatigue. It has 2x EVA volume and a 50% rocker profile. It has a 20mm recessed bucket situated within the midsole and provides support and control as and when required.
Stinson Evo is designed for absolute racing performance. It is the flagship of the Hoka One One 2012 range. It has a new outsole with EVA lugs to improve on weight. The surface profile has been altered to provide enhanced grip on mud and wet rocks. In addition, this grip provides superior uphill traction. The upper has been optimized to provide a precise racing fit with improved forefoot hold that balances weight and support. It has a quick lace system for rapid adjustment and the new upper has improved breathability. Revisions to the mid sole include a contoured sidewall which help reduce weight and it has a 25mm recessed midsole. The shoe has a 50% rocker profile, 2x2x EVA and recessed foot bucket.
Mafate 2 is designed for tough terrain. It is designed around grip and support. The outsole has been overhauled over previous Mafate models and has a 4.5mm lug profile to offer superior grip. The upper has also been reworked to offer a precision fit and with a 30mm bucket within the midsole this provides a level of hold second to none. Lacing over previous models has also been adapted by adding an additional lacing loop allowing the runner to obtain a tighter fit if required. The shoe has 2.5xEVA and a 50% rocker profile. In addition, the Mafate 2 has a 35% wider foot platform over conventional trail shoes allowing you to ‘run through’ tough terrain.
The Stinson B, previously Combo XT (photo is of a 2011 model) is designed as a go anywhere shoe. It combines aspects of the Bondi B and Mafate. It has a 2.5x EVA and 50% rocker profile and has a tread pattern that is suitable for road and light trail. However, if the trail is hard, dry and rocky, this shoe realy does excel. It has a soft cushioned upper, a wider fit and it reinforces comfort without compromising support or stability. It has a 30mm recessed bucket and offers supreme protection.
Stock & Ordering:
2012 stock is due to arrive March 5th to 12th and is available from www.hokaoneoneuk.co.uk
Analysis and Use:
Blogs and reports at www.iancorless.com
First time impressions of the Hoka One One sometimes mean that potential users can’t get beyond the look of the shoe! Yes they are different and Hoka One One does not try to hide the fact. In fact, the contrary, they use strong bold colours that attract your eyes and your initial reaction on seeing them for the first time is ‘what the hell are they?’
I had the same reaction. I saw them in a French Trail Race in 2010. A real tough mountainous event and in first place came through this lightweight athlete bouncing along and a pair of brightly cloured shoes. I took a second look…. and then a third and then a fourth look. I laughed to myself. But then I thought about it… hold on, this guy is in first place!
I stored the memory and then I saw them at another race, then I saw four or five pairs. I decided it was time to investigate and purchased a pair! Within one week I was sold… I was never going back!
I started with the Bondi B. I purchased them on a Friday. Walked in them all day Saturday and then ran a road marathon on the Sunday. It was liberating! I bounced along with an effortless glide and energy return from a shoe that I hadn’t felt before. As the miles ticked by I noticed considerably less fatigue, a notable reduction in impact and the key factor was that I found that they made me want to mid/ forefoot strike. I would say the only noticeable change I made to my gait and stride was that I took shorter steps and increased my cadence.
Not long after I purchased the Mafate for trail running. Believe me, if you are running on rutted, hard and rocky terrain the Hoka One One are the full suspension mountain bike of the run world. What was obstacles became just glitches that I could run through the terrain without worry… downhill the shoes excelled taking away the harshness of the terrain and allowing a comfort level never experienced when running downhill before. At the end of a race or training, fatigue and ‘doms’ were reduced significantly allowing for faster recuperation and an ability to train at a higher level on repeated days.
Observers would look at the shoes and in this barefoot/minimalist market would laugh! However, they missed the point…. Hoka One One only has a 4mm drop from heel to toe making this a real mid to forefoot shoe. A low differential is key for enabling runners to land in a ‘natural’ way. The difference with Hoka One One is the cushioning. All other manufacturers obtain a low differential by reducing cushioning; not Hoka One One. They offer all the benefits of a minimalist approach but with superior cushioning and comfort. It has now been confirmed in many aspects of the natural run movement that Hoka One One are inline with the philosophies of a more natural run style.
So, back in the UK I wanted to purchase the shoes! Mmmm stumbling block. Due to the uniqueness of the shoe, obtaining and shoes in the UK was extremely limited. So, as the saying goes of ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ I did just that and I started to sell the shoe.
In the final 6 months of 2011 and certainly in early 2012 I have noticed an increased awareness and acceptance of what Hoka One One can offer.
All I can say is, if you don’t like the looks, get over it! Once you put them on and run in them, you won’t mind. They are an experience to behold…
27th January 2012 : The launch of Talk Ultra as reviewed on Run247 – read it here
Talk Ultra is an ultra running podcast presented by Ian Corless & Ian Sharman, who both know a thing or two about ultra running!
Ian Corless has been involved in endurance sport for over 25 years. He is now a photographer by trade but much of his time is spent as a coach, training camp organiser and retailer for Hoka One One run shoes at his own business www.runwildrunfree.co.uk. He is also a run ambassador for Endurancelife.
You can now download the first episode here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073
Follow their updates on Twitter - @tallkultra
Like them on Facebook - Talk Ultra
Running Fitness – article on Ian Sharman after his record breaking run at Rocky Raccoon in 2011.