Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and skyrunning. At the age of 16, he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of skyrunning.
The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Marco, now in his 40’s is still respected as one of the best in the world. He recently became a Skyrunner World Series champion and has established FKT’s (fastest known times) on iconic courses such as Monte Rosa where his career began.
Courmayeur – Monte Bianco record
Marco De Gasperi – Sognavo di diventare Skyrunner
Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic-Skiing, but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave his town, climb a peak and return in the same day.
At 12-years old, an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski-mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.
Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! With the announcement of a new VK2 circuitHERE in Italy, it is timely that Marco provides some ‘hints and tips.’
Hints and Tips
Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?
My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.
The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?
Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski-Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!
Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?
You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process, have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep climbs, I like to find a short hill that is steep, and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat.
Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?
Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible, but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.
You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?
Core and stability are very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.
In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?
I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30 to 50-minute bracket.
Other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?
You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian, but the records show that they have the fastest times.
Finally, Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?
Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.
I was fortunate to interview JB and Jennifer Benna early on in the life of Talk Ultra, you can listen to the episode 26 HERE
UNBREAKABLE for many ‘is’ the iconic Western States movie as it documented a golden age of the race (2010) featuring Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet and Hal Koerner who had won the race twice.
‘Unbreakable: The Western States 100’ follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Kilian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain.
Thanks to JB and Jennifer
“UNBREAKABLE, The Western States 100,”
has been made available for free.
The Western States Endurance Run, known commonly as the Western States 100, is a 100-mile long (161 km) ultramarathon that takes place on trails in California’s Sierra Nevada annually, on the last weekend of June. The race starts at the base of the Squaw Valley ski resort and finishes at the Placer High School track in Auburn, California. Runners climb a cumulative total of 18000 feet (5500 m) and descend a total of 23000 feet (7000 m) on mountain trails before reaching the finish. Because of the length of the race, the race begins at 5:00 A.M. and continues through the day and into the night. Runners finishing before the 30 hour overall time limit for the race receive a bronze belt buckle, while runners finishing in under 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. – via wikipedia.
One year ago, an epic journey came to an end, Michael Wardian ran the length of the Israel National Trail, starting in the south and finishing in the north. The journey completed in 10-days, 16-hours and 36-minutes for 630km.
Timely to look back at the journey, link to the daily reports and and once again re-live the experience.
“Mispe Ramon towards Mahmal Fort brought a conclusion to the day at 1900 hours. Mike, as the previous day, was robot like. He maintained a consistent pace. At no point did he say he was tired, on the contrary, at all times, he said, ‘I feel so good!’”
“Karbolet is known as the hardest and most challenging section of the whole Israel National Trail – it was stunning. It involved a long technical climb with rungs, exposure and technical sections. Once at the summit, the trail went up and down, mostly on angled slabs of rock. To the left, a drop to the valley below.”
“Day 5 or 6 are not the days to push over the edge, as a team, decisions will be made on day 7 on what is needed over the final couple of days. Mike is prepared for that and quite simply it may well come down to one or two very long days and then a big rest.”
“Today felt very different to the first 5-days. Not only because of the terrain but mostly due to the amount of support Mike received. Throughout the day runners joined him. At no point was he left alone.”
“A marathon was soon covered. Then 50km. At 61km Mike was still saying how good his legs were and at 73km darkness came and for the first time in the day he was alone on the trail. At 9:15pm, he had covered 89km at ‘Mitzpe Modiin’ and then he departed for a final leg to close out the day at 100km.”
“At Poleg Beach (16:47) disaster almost struck. Mike was freezing cold as the wind whipped in off the sea. Wrapped in blankets, he could not get warm. Adding layers including two jackets and woolly hat also didn’t seem to help.”
“For the final sections of the days trail, he had an entourage of runners, all keen to embrace an opportunity to say, ‘I was there!’ They left the final checkpoint at 2125, the final kms of the day would soon pass…”
“He laughed and complained about his pathetic 4-mile per hour pace. ‘Dude, this sport is so funny. One minute you feel like you are being stabbed in the heart 50 times and then moments later, you can feel great. I love the depths this sport can take you!’”
“The small group of five left and `mike looked eager to be done with the final miles as soon as possible. Dropping down to river bed, climbing up and finally the running was good. in the night sky, the glow of ‘Qiryat Shemona’ and ‘Krar Gil’adi’ would eventually lead to the finish of the INT in ‘Dan.’”
“Sitting in Tel Aviv airport waiting for my flights home and I was trying to process the last 14-days with Mike, Zoli and the team. Israel, Mike and the INT has really made an impact. For now a huge thanks for all the wonderful words, comments and support. This FKT would not have been possible without YOU ALL. Remember, in years to come, you will be able to say, #iwasthere”
How many of you have dreamed of working from home?
I can sleep in, be a little lazy, not get dressed, take a break when I want, sneak a movie in maybe… The list goes on!
The reality is, working from home is not all it is made out to be. It can, for some, be a terrible experience.
I have been working for myself for over 25-years and pretty much in all that time I have worked remotely, be that in my home, a hotel or yes, even on a beach.
Working remotely has many benefits BUT it requires dedication, will power and some strategies in place to make it an efficient, productive and enjoyable time.
My favourite office.
The secret is ROUTINE but having flexibility in that routine to gain from some of the benefits that having a home office brings.
Firstly, do you need to work at specific times? This is particularly important for example, if you need to be available on email or phone in specific work hours. If the answer here is yes, then you will have a start and end time to structure your day around.
However, if your working day is more flexible, this is when working from home can give you some real benefits.
Let’s assume your working hours are normally 8-hours per day plus 1-hour in breaks. Also, let us consider if you would normally have commute time to an office job with working hours, 0900 – 1800. If you had to get up at 0700, to leave home at 0800 to commute 1-hour to the office and then still have a 1-hour commute at the end of the day, with home offering you have already gained 2-hours with no commuting – result!
But, remember, the time is your own, you work the day to suit you, for example, you could start your work day at 0700 and be finished by 1500 hours, and in the process you create a chunk of free time you did not have before.
SET GROUND RULES
It’s easy to say as working from home as an opportunity to say in pajamas and be a slob all day. Why this ‘may’ work for some, from experience I have found it a much greater idea to pretend that you are still going to the office.
Set an alarm to wake.
Enjoy additional free time – maybe walk/ exercise/ write/ spend time with family?
Dress for work, albeit, one can be more casual.
Start work on time.
By setting the above ground rules for yourself, you will have an opportunity to make sure you have a productive workday.
The size of your home will depend on what options are available. However, best practice is to designate a place that is the ‘office.’ It’s all too easy to use the kitchen table, but daily life and other people can get in the way. Ideally, a separate room with a desk, and separate phone is the perfect scenario. Consider a standing desk, they are really a great way to work and better for you. Many options are available and for example, adjustable ones can be lowered providing an opportunity to sit down as and when required.
If you want to keep fit, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is something that can be incorporated easily in a daily routine, especially when working for home. You could do, 1,2,3 or even 4 sessions of 10-minutes each. In simple terms, HIIT is all about working as hard as possible for a short period of time. Depending on the individual and current fitness levels, sessions would vary, however, a starting place would be as follows:
You perform each of the above with 10 reps aiming for them to be completed in a window of 30-seconds and if possible, you will have 10-seconds rest in each 30-second block. For the skipping, you skip for 20-seconds and rest for 10.
So, the above is 3-minutes to complete, you could aim for 3 sets with a total time of 9-minutes. In your schedule you could plan this to happen before breakfast, morning break, lunch break and afternoon break. Suddenly you have 4 sets of 9-minutes with a total HIIT time of 36-minutes. A great way to burn calories, increase metabolism, get healthy both in body and mind.
Struggle for motivation? There are many online platforms and phone apps that you can use as guides and you can even set alarms. Options HERE
Here is an alternative:
Push Up with Rotation
The above is the 7-minute workout as listed on ‘Greatist’ HERE – “Grab a timer or download a stopwatch app. Perform the exercises in order, completing as many reps of each as you can in 30 seconds. Be sure not to compromise form for speed. Rest for 5 seconds between exercises. To make this work out even more challenging, complete the circuit 2 or 3 times in a row.”
If you are flying solo, the only rules are with yourself. However, if you are living with a partner, are married, have children; then you need rules so that your work time is sacred. It’s all too easy to get distracted and pulled away from work because situations in the home happen.
Don’t shortchange yourself from breaks and lunch. It’s easy to just work and work. Time away from the computer is good for the mind and it allows you to freshen up and gain some perspective. Work productivity benefits from time away.
PHONE AND VPN
Having a separate work phone is a great idea and this avoids situations of personal life impacting on one’s work time. Also, a VPN is a great addition. Many apps exist that allows you to connect to a secure network and if required, you can change location to enable you to work more productively and safely.
MEETINGS AND SOCIAL INTERACTION
Working from home can be lonely and usually it is for a specific type of person. However, in these modern times, there are many ways that one can interact with colleagues and still have social interaction. Many communication methods now offer the ability to use FaceTime where one can use the camera on a laptop or phone to not only show a caller yourself, but also so you can see the person you are talking too. This can be a huge boost to your day. Consider looking at Skype, WhatsApp and Viber amongst others.
The downfall of working from home is a lack of discipline. There is no need to be hard on oneself, but equally, do not be too soft. It takes focus to get a job done from an unconventional space. However, once you have managed to do this at home, you will soon find that an office can be anywhere in the world and yes, that can mean a hotel.
END THE DAY
When one works from home, it is very easy for the day to continue because it is easy… There is no commute and the office is always at hand. Set a finish time and stick with it. Finish. Close the office door and then do not enter until the following morning at your pre-planned start time.
Finding time outside is particularly important when home is also the office. The need for fresh air, some sun and getting at least 30-minutes of moving/ exercise is essential for the mind and not only the body. Remember, working from home will give you more time, so, plan a pre-work session, maybe a lunch walk and/or a post workday exercise regimen. Make it personal. Find out what works for you! Spend more time with the people that matter!
It’s important to interact with people, especially when works from home. So, make sure you take opportunities to dine out, meet for drinks and/ or enter a club or gym. Maybe you have always fancied an evening class but could never find the time?
Working from a home office is a real luxury. If you make it personal, you will find that after the breaking in period of two to four weeks, you will never be able to go back! The freedom a home office brings is truly special. The flexibility, the extra hours gained, the opportunity to be fully in control of your own space is something quite special.
Episode 184 of Talk Ultra is a Covid-19 special with Stephen Goldstein Ph.D. who is currently a postdoctoral researcher associated at the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics studying viral evolution, including the evolution and origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help!
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
It was incredible. The preparation. The event. The course. The journey.
The process. The outcome.
I knew I always wanted to challenge myself over 100 miles…I just never expected it to be in this incredible race. I was privileged to have qualified to race so to have a Race Crew and Filming Crew follow my journey over the race to an unexpected end was amazing.
I had the immense pleasure to meet Tom at Marathon des Sables, he was a complete unknown who on day-1 of the race, rocked the apple cart and the Moroccan dominance of the race. Myself, the rest of the media and all the runner’s in the race were asking the question, “Who is Tom Evans?”
By the end of the MDS, we had an answer. He placed 3rd and in the process, the ultra-running world welcomed a new star in the sport. He was without a sponsor and still a captain in the army.
Post MDS, we discussed opportunities and how Tom could achieve his goals. I was fortunate that Tom decided to join me on my annual Lanzarote Training Camp. He joined us as a coach and ambassador.
It was easy to see Tom’s ability. Few on the camp could keep up with him and those that could went on to race well at the following Marathon des Sables. In particular, Gemma Game who made the podium.
Following our camp, Tom joined me in Costa Rica for The Coastal Challenge. I was keen to see him race once again over multiple days and this time without being in a self-sufficient manner. I arrange the elite field and I was determined to give Tom and the rest, a hard race. Hayden Hawks, Timothy Olson and Marcus Scotney amongst others toed the line.
Tom arrived to race and it was clear from the off, he had an agenda. He had researched the race, looked at the stages, checked the times and not only did he have ambitions to win the race, but also set a new course record. Hayden and Tom raced head-to-head day-after-day but victory and the CR was never in doubt, Tom dominated.
It was time to set the goals higher and work to higher objectives. Tom represented his country and placed 3rd at the world championships. He dipped his toe in skyrunning races going head-to-head with skyrunning world champion, Jon Albon. But all along, the big goal was CCC part of the UTMB races.
Just prior to CCC, Tom signed a deal with Red Bull. I was fortunate to join Tom at his family home in the UK and document his training.
At CCC, running the perfect race, Tom closed on the lead in the latter stages of the race, forged ahead and won the biggest race of his life. A sponsorship deal with adidas Terrex followed and the dream of Western States started to fall in to place.
Zero to 100 tells the story of Tom’s inaugural 100-mile race, the iconic Western States in the USA. To place in the top-10 here would have been an incredible result, but Tom went on to place 3rd and in the process run under 15-hours. He trained in Ethiopia to prepare and you can listen to the whole process in episode 174 of Talk Ultra listed below.
ZERO TO 100
Process not Outcome
Tom has always discussed his thoughts on training and racing and one element that always runs true is ‘Process not Outcome.’ His ability to focus on the prize, dedicate himself to the task and take running to a higher and higher level is all down to his dedication and professional approach.
In 2020, Tom will target new races, new goals and new experiences. One thing is for sure, after victory at Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand early in the year, Tom is in the perfect place to fulfil his dreams. I would expect no less…!
2020 calendar subject to change based around Covid-19
Over the past couple of years, I have documented Tom’s progress via my podcast, Talk Ultra, you can listen to the episodes below:
TRAIL TALON 290 (8mm drop) is one of my favourite all-round trail shoes of all-time, the previous incarnations were always a ‘go-to’ for everyday running and when travelling, they were the perfect shoe to take as they managed to cover a multitude of uses, be that road, hard trail, rocks and yes, even some mud and very soft-ground.
The new version of TRAIL TALON, named TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is all that the previous incarnation was with a new upper.
The plus side from the off, is the new TRAIL TALON 290 V2 has that all important 8mm drop that is great for everyday use, not too low and too high. Therefore, it’s perfect for those longer days.
Theoutsole has 4mm lugs with a classic configuration, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is very much a dry trail/ mountain shoe that can handle a little sloppy stuff if required.
The TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is wide (fit 4 – Shoes with the higher numbers on our scale will suit athletes with a wider foot and those wanting that extra comfort in the toe box) and it has plenty of room and it allows the toes to move and splay just as in the previous model but not at the loss of a secure feel and reassurance when on more technical trail.
When running long your toes have room to move and should you be prone to swelling, the shoes have room for the foot to expand. This ‘standard fit’ is something that inov-8 have worked on and by contrast, some shoes in the inov-8 range can be purchased on ‘precision’ fit which offers a tighter and narrower toe box. The TRAIL TALON V2, when running on long, flat and consistent terrain excel with a plush ride, great return in the push-off phase and all-day comfort.
The 6mm POWER FOOTBED and TWO PIECE POWERFLOW midsole provide a cushioned ride with 1imm at the front and 19mm at the rear. This only adds to the thoughts of inov-8 that the TRAIL TALON is a long-distance shoe, if going out for a long session or a day in the mountains, the Trail Talon 290 V2 would be ideal. Also, ideal if running a multi-day race like Marathon des Sables or similar. The higher drop allows more leeway and flexibility and I must add that the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is a superb shoe to walk in. This is really important for those who are running long or doing multi-day races. Often, shoes are tested just running with no consideration of how the shoe transitions to a change of gait when walking. For me, the TRAIL TALON 290 is one of the best run shoes I have used when walking, the transition is seamless and comfortable no doubt attributable to the ADAPTERFIT met-cradle for better mid-foot comfort.
I am always wary of buzz words like ‘Powerflow’ and ‘Adapterfit’ as in real terms they can mean nothing. Breaking the words down, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 has great cushioning and great mid-foot comfort.
When running, the feel of the shoe and the comfort level is high. In the 290 has a great ‘feel’ for the ground despite the extra comfort, really important for me, I never want to lose that connection with the surface I am running on.
As in the previous 290, the TRAIL TALON290 V2 incorporates the unique on-the-shoe gaiter attachment so that should you require a Gaiter you can purchase the item separately and attach/ de-attach with ease.
The lacing system and a gusseted tongue are winners contributing to the great out-of-the-box comfort. I have been saying this for ages, but a gusseted tongue just makes sense; It helps hold the foot in place, it stops the tongue moving and sliding to the left or right as you run and maybe most importantly it adds an additional protection to stop debris entering the shoe.
The lacing is added ‘on to’ the shoe by what effectively is a folded plastic layer. This works so well as it allows the shoes to be laced tightly or loosely as required but it also allows the front to swell within the shoe.
Toe protection on the shoe is good but not ridiculous. The heel box is snug, cushioned, holds the foot well and caused no rubbing on long sessions, even when walking.
Grip is compromised on any muddy trails but then again, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is not intended for this type of terrain, you are much better looking at a Mudclaw or similar which is designed for specific off-road and muddy use.
The key change and hence the V2 title; the upper. It is lighter and more breathable without a compromise to durability. Recently, inov-8 have had some complaints re upper durability but here in the 290 V2 I have no complaints. I have put 150-miles in them on a mixture of terrain and the shoes are holding up really well, both the upper and outsole.
Finally, the TRAIL TALON 290 V2 is gladly very similar to the previous incarnation and for that I am very happy. Often a brand feels the need to tweak a shoe looking for constant improvement when in reality, what they had was already fine! Gladly here, the V2 has just an upper change and that works perfectly well.
This TRAIL TALON 290 V2 was a winner before and it still is. I would go as far to say, that it is inov-8’s best shoe. It is most certainly the best all-rounder and if you were looking for one pair of trail shoes to handle many scenarios, the 290 V2 is perfect.
Iconic inov-8 rubber outsoles with multi-directional claw-shaped 4mm studs, each with a wide contact area, allow the quick release of debris and provide unrivalled grip and stability over rocky terrain.
The two-piece POWERFLOW midsole, constructed from two compounds – one designed to optimize comfort and the other to maximize energy return – delivers 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles. An inbuilt Dynamic Fascia Band (DFB) mimics the “Windlass Effect”, delivering a kick of energy with each step, helping you run faster more efficiently.
An 8mm drop offers comfort, while new highly durable lightweight upper materials offer breathability and protection. Built around the natural anatomic structure of the foot, the next generation ADAPTERFIT met-cradle adapts to the natural movement and swelling of the foot on longer runs.
An External Heel Cage (EHC) wraps around the rear of the shoe and provides support in the heel – aiding foot stability and helping maintain a better gait when fatigued.
The new upper features extended welded TPU overlays and a rubber toe bumper to protect the foot from sharp rocks and stones. On-the-shoe gaiter hooks allow you to attach an ALL TERRAIN GAITER for additional protection, keeping loose debris out of the shoe.
The world is under siege from a novel Coronavirus and there is a great deal of uncertainty as our everyday lives are grinding to a halt and our freedoms are being suppressed and controlled for the greater good.
I openly admit I am not in any way an expert: however, I have compiled information and with the cooperation of Stephen Goldstein Ph.D. who is currently a postdoctoral research associated at the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics studying viral evolution, including the evolution and origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – This article addresses many of the issues that we are all asking and wondering about.
You may well disagree with some of the points made, particularly when I add personal opinion. That is fine, please comment and be respectful.
And if you are a medical professional and see any errors, please point them out and they will be addressed.
A podcast with Stephen Goldstein Ph.D will be recorded and released this week on Talk Ultra. As Stephen says, “Fair warning, there’s still a lot we have to learn, so in some areas I may not be able to speak with much certainty.
It’s a good time to self-isolate, social distance and spend time alone if allowed.
What is Covid-19?
In simple terms, Covid-19 is a variation of the flu but experts know much less about this novel coronavirus. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, that has only spread in people since December 2019.
What is the difference to other coronavirus’?
Covid-19 is more infectious than other coronavirus and current stats show that a person who is infected with Covid-19 spreads it to more people than the common flu. The precise case fatality ratio for Covid-19 is unknown because of incomplete testing of possible cases and insufficient information about outbreaks. Infectious disease has something called R0, the current R0 of this virus is between 2 and 3, meaning that an infected person will likely infect 2 to 3 additional people. With Covid-19, most deaths are caused by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which causes already-damaged lungs to fill with fluid and makes breathing difficult. Unlike flu, there is no vaccine for Covid-19, yet!
Difference between flu and a cold, transmission and symptoms?
A dry cough and fever is similar to common flu, however, Covid-19 more often causes shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Influenza causes aches, fatigue, headache and chills. From what is currently understood about Covid-19, these appear to be less common. With Covid-19, symptoms may be more gradual and take several days to get worse unlike flu symptoms which tend to come on abruptly, getting worse in a day or two. Sneezing have a stuffy or runny nose; the good news is that you probably just have a cold.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.
If you show any symptoms, please self-isolate and respect social distancing.
Recommended advice is self-quarantine and social distancing – how does this work?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid touching surfaces if at all possible. Cover your coughs and sneezes and importantly stay home if you’re feeling ill and self-quarantine for 14-days. Specifically, for Covid-19, actions of universities and workplaces are closing and allowing telecommuting and distance learning make sense. Large public gatherings need to be cancelled or radically altered as we have seen all over the world. By reducing interaction, the virus has reduced capacity to spread. Non-essential travel needs to be cancelled and we are already seeing the impact on all travel systems, particularly airlines.
In many scenarios, individual countries are now imposing restrictions, for example, just today I received an email from the New Zealand Tourist Board:
“The New Zealand Government has announced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand. These measures include the requirement for every person entering New Zealand to self-isolate for 14-days from the date of departure. This excludes people arriving from most Pacific Islands. The Government will also be stepping up its enforcement of the requirement to self-isolate. These measures came into effect at 01:00 am on Monday 16 March and will be reviewed in 16 days. A temporary ban on cruise ships entering New Zealand territorial waters also came into effect at 11.59pm on 14 March. This ban will be in effect until 30 June, after which time it will be reviewed. Foreign travelers who have been present in, or transited through, Iran or mainland China in the previous 14 days will still be refused entry to New Zealand.”
The contents above are not unusual for countries all over the world, and with each passing day, more restrictions are imposed.
As one friend said in conversation, “This is bigger than all of us. The virus is everybody’s problem! We need to act now, self-isolate, respect social distancing because even though we may feel ok, we are surrounded by people who are not. Our actions affect everyone.”
“At the same time, by implementing population-wide social distancing, the opportunity for onward transmission in all locations was rapidly reduced. Several studies have estimated that these interventions reduced R to below 1…. Overall, our results suggest that population-wide social distancing applied to the population as a whole would have the largest impact…” – Imperial College
What action to take?
Take everyday preventive actions:
Clean your hands often
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.
UK are proposing herd immunity – what is it and is it a good idea?
Herd immunity describes a scenario where so many people become resistant to a disease, either through vaccinations or exposure. Mass immunity could effectively cause the virus to burn out over the course of one or two seasons or buy time until a vaccine is developed and distributed.
“We think this virus is likely to be one that comes year on year … like a seasonal virus,” Sir Patrick said on Saturday. “Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term.”
Britain’s approach has three core elements:
Enact social distancing measures much more slowly than other countries;
Shield at-risk groups like the elderly and sick from contact with the general population;
Let COVID-19 slowly sweep through everybody else.
“Your house is on fire, and the people whom you have trusted with your care are not trying to put it out… “says William Hanage in The Guardian. “The UK government has inexplicably chosen to encourage the flames…”
The UK’s approach here is isolated and creating much debate, the general consensus being that we should slow the outbreak. Covid-19 is capable of shutting down countries, just look around now and you will see the world is on lockdown. South Korea has been applauded for its approach and it would appear has gained some control.
“Because Covid-19 is caused by a novel virus, it is likely that there is no natural immunity to it, unlike the flu.” Says Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC director. “In most years, some percentage of the population will be resistant to flu infection and less likely to become severely ill from that year’s flu strains because they previously had a similar strain of the flu or were vaccinated against it.”
In the coming weeks, the UK’s approach will be tested and scrutinized, especially when most experts are talking about flattening the curve.
But guess what, before this article was finished, Boris Johnson in the UK announced on March 16th:
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Britons to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres and stop non-essential travel in an effort to reduce the impact of the coronavirus, Mr. Johnson set out the need for “drastic action” to tackle the “fast growth” of the coronavirus as cases rose to 1,543 in the UK.”
What is flattening the curve?
By flattening the epidemic curve, we reduce the chance of a sharp spike in cases that could overwhelm health care facilities. Actions that delay cases of Covid-19 allow better management of health care resources. As witnessed in Italy, surges stretch any health system to a point of breaking and the impact is terrible. Italy have had to introduce Triage at war time levels. Moderate and extensive social distancing works well and as The Washington Post shows (here) a single-person’s behavior can have a huge impact.
In Pandemic situations infection rate depends on the number of people one person can infect and then how long the newly infected people take to be infectious themselves. The virus branches out, ever multiplying and this is how we see spikes in viral activity, 3 becomes 6, 6 becomes 12, 12 becomes 24 and so on. Again, Italy being a prime example of this branching process.
“If cases double every six days, then hospitals, and intensive care units (ICUs) in particular, will be quickly overwhelmed, leaving patients without the necessary care.”
The virus growth rate can be reduced by self-quarantine and social distancing and this ‘flattens the curve’ of infection and therefore, the health system is not overwhelmed. However, this scenario does not mean less infection, it merely reduces the speed of infection and therefore could mean the Pandemic lasts longer.
The USA are also hit hard and news has come in via TMZ that San Francisco will go on a three week lockdown with around the clock curfew.
“Mayor London Breed announced what she calls a “defining moment” in U.S. response to the pandemic. Beginning at 12 AM, all residents within the city can only leave home for doctor’s appointments or runs to the grocery store.”
Who are most at risk?
Medically vulnerable people need to keep a safe distance from others. Nursing homes need to do everything possible to prevent Covid-19 from entering their doors from both visitors and staff. The elderly are at a high risk. People with chronic conditions. Gladly, it would appear that children do not appear to get as sick. If you are young and healthy, you are unlikely to get severely ill, but this is when social distancing is so important, because you are ok, the impact of the people you interact with can have a huge impact.
Virus and runners – any special considerations?
Firstly, if you are fit and healthy, this puts you in a great place for surviving Covid-19, especially if you are a runner who enjoys open spaces. However, meeting up with run friends, attending races and interacting with large groups provides a perfect opportunity to spread the virus. If you are a gym fanatic, you need a re-think and avoid, “I think people should be extra vigilant in any area where there may be lots of people close together and sharing equipment such as gyms as this may increase transmission of infection.”
Now is the time to train alone, seek open spaces (if allowed*) and enjoy some lonely time. Also, important to point out that now is not the time to train really hard and suppress your immune system, this could leave you vulnerable to infection.
Needless to say, races are being cancelled all over the world. Originally, the criteria specified events over a certain number. However, as time passes, any event that brings people together should be cancelled or postponed at least in the short term. Of course, there is an impact for races and I wrote an article here with my thoughts.
Surprisingly, some events, for example parkrun, in my opinion have provided the Covid-19 a great opportunity to spread. They cancelled events in 15 countries based on local government advice, however, in the UK, on Saturday March 14th, they had 678 events with a total participation number of 139,873 people because the UK government said it was ok to do so! When you keep in mind how contagious Covid-19 is, the opportunity to spread the virus just with parkrun members alone is terrifying. In a release via their website, parkrun said:
“We believe that during challenging times it is more important than ever that communities are able to come together socially and support each other if appropriate and safe.”
Unfortunately, coming together socially spreads the virus at an alarming rate. I don’t wish to parkrun bash; I just feel that the implications of this number of people are off-the-scale.
Update March 18th, finally parkrun see sense:
All parkrun events in the UK have been suspended with immediate effect due to the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation. All events will be cancelled until at least the end of March 👉🏾parkrun.me/covid19
*In Spain I have been informed that police are stopping individual runners in the countryside and in France, fines of 100 to 600 euros could be put in place with the possibility of a year in jail.
How long could this last?
Although the coronavirus pandemic will certainly get worse before it gets better, it will get better. And even at the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, many people (no one knows what proportion) will not get infected, and, of those who do get infected, 99 out of 100 will recover. So, it’s responsible to be proactive now to limit the harms of Covid-19, but it’s also good to keep in mind that this, too, will pass. The timescale is yet unknown.
To conclude, some perspective:
“Hi everyone, I wanted to send a message to my friends on Facebook. I live in Lombardy (Italy) in the area with the most infections and I am in quarantine because I came into contact with a person who tested positive at Covid-19. This situation is difficult (do not leave the house) but if it is for the good of all and it must be done. Covid-19 is a very serious problem that affects the whole world, there is no one who can be considered excluded. Above all it attacks the weakest people, the elderly and people who already have illness problems. Nobody can be considered immune. You may also be a carrier, the problem is that, even if you appear well, you can infect the people who are close to you; the weakest, perhaps the ones you love most? You have to stay away and stay home otherwise we won’t solve the problem. Please think carefully, how would you feel if you infected someone you love?” – Roberto Rovelli
And finally, …
When people are quarantined and life is restricted, two things happen, pregnancy and divorce increases, so, make love, not war!
Details around Covid-19 are changing by the day and at times, by the hour, so, please keep up to date with any changes at a local and global level.
Short term inconvenience and the sun will shine again.
Dr Phil Maffetone has been a respected pioneer in the field of complementary medicine, bringing the latest advances to health-care professionals around the world. He is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, clinician and author in the field of nutrition, exercise and sports medicine, and biofeedback.
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
As a runner, you more than likely will take time in the off-season; to sit down and plan the coming season. You will look for the ‘A’ races that hopefully will allow you to shine and achieve those personal goals – you will dedicate hours, weeks and months to prepare.
You will enter ‘B’ and ‘C’ races that will allow you to learn and adapt.
In this scenario, imagine the Race Directors who are planning the races that you will attend. Just as you plan and prepare, so do they, typically one-year in advance so that when the time comes you have a slick, well-prepared event that will allow you to achieve your goal.
Planning and working on a race really is a labour of love and yes, it’s a business.
Race Directors usually start planning immediately after the end of one event. Budgets are worked out, a timeline is put in place and then a team of people, headed by the RD, put a plan in action. This will involve route planning, course marking, providing gpx files, booking venues, planning medical care, arranging for catering, advertising the race, booking cars, maintaining a website, booking a timing system, arranging for photography/video and the list goes on…
It is endless!
To secure services, many of these items are paid well in advance of the race and in most scenarios, a non-refundable deposit will have been paid and at worst, a full balance to ensure that no problems arise.
As an event approaches, typically 8-weeks or less before the event, all invoices are paid and the RD can sit back knowing that a job is well done.
The race fee that you the runner pays doesn’t just cover the day or multiple days of the race, it covers a year or work!
Now imagine you are the RD. You have been diligent; you have crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s. You are, you think, prepared for any eventuality and then Covid-19 comes along and rips your world apart.
Through no fault of your own, your race is cancelled because one needs to take responsibility for the health and safety of not only runners, but staff and their teams. In many situations, this decision is often taken away from the RD as it comes from a government level.
I am asking you all to take stock of the situation, sit back and take time to reflect on the RD, the team of people involved in the race and the implications of cancelling or postponement.
I personally arrived in Hong Kong in January only to find that as my plane landed in HK, the race I was arriving for was cancelled due to the ever-changing Covid-19 virus.
So, as a runner what can you do?
First of all, there is immense disappointment for each of us on a personal level as an event that we have prepared and dreamed of is removed.
Then attention turns to several scenarios:
Can I change my travel plans and what will the cost be?
Can I get a refund on the race?
Will the race postpone and plan for later in the year?’
Will the race defer my place and give me entry next year?
What about my hotel booking?
The list goes on.
Let’s be clear here, the Covid-19 scenario is impacting on the world at an unprecedented level. Just yesterday, Omar Hassan writing in The Independent stated that:
‘Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills – and that is a real global emergency.’
Millions of dollars have been wiped from the financial markets but this impact filters down and down to a grass roots level and the impact will be huge for all of us.
‘If the virus does directly affect your life, it is most likely to be through stopping you going to work, forcing your employer to make you redundant, or bankrupting your business.’
So, when asking the RD and race for a refund on race entry, please just take time to step back and think, in these special circumstances, can you afford to let that fee go so that you can at least provide an opportunity for that race to return the following year.
Most races will have insurance, but having spoken with multiple insurance experts, the general consensus is, ‘Successful claims under business interruption coverage for infection are not common… Indeed, for example, there are no reported cases in the United States regarding business interruption coverage in connection with human infectious disease epidemics or pandemics.’ – via stroock.com
Even sport specific insurance companies who look after runners/ sports people doing ‘extreme’ sports are confirming that there is no cover for disease, virus or pandemic.
In the last week, Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji, Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Ultra Skymarathon Madeira and so many more have had to pull the plug on a 2020 event. Even the iconic Marathon des Sables has had to postpone and the financial impact of this is still yet to be seen.
In the words of one Race Director, ‘When the Government cancel all Sport Events or public gatherings we are in big trouble, insurance does not cover us in case of pandemics.’
Masako Suzuki, of Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji recently sent out a press release and in it he says:
‘…we apologize for causing great trouble to racers who have been training and preparing for this race, volunteers who have participated in the course maintenance thus far, volunteers who were planning to work during the race, and UTMF supporters including sponsors, companies participating in the UTMF Expo, public and private organisations, and local people.’
The impact is far reaching, cancellations are happening everywhere, and racing is just one aspect. Schools are closing, employees are being asked to work from home, airlines are reducing flights daily and asking staff to go on unpaid leave, hotels are empty, and restaurants are closing. Covid-19 is without doubt a health crisis but it is also an economic crisis.
“It may one day be said that the coronavirus delivered the deathblow to the New World Order, to a half-century of globalization and to the era of interdependence of the world’s great nations.” – WND here
One of the key jobs of a race team is risk management, many races, UTMF, MIUT, USM and so on all started to look at logistics and emergency planning long before the decision to cancel was made. The money is spent!
So please, when you ask for a refund or deferment, just ask the question,
‘Can I let my fee go for 2020?’
And in the process, hopefully, the race you entered will be around in 2021.
It is highly likely that some races will not recover from this but we as runner’s and a community, in a small way, can help keep the sport we love alive to fight for another time.
‘I have been organising #USM for some years now with a fantastic team. We always aimed high because we were convinced, he had a SUPER event. We still do,’ João Canning Clode announced via Facebook, ‘This was the most difficult decision we had to take in all these years. But the health and safety of our athletes, teams, local community, fans and volunteers is of vital importance. We move on…’
As a closing note, we all need perspective. Covid-19 is killing people daily and my heart aches for the distress and loss from this pandemic. Italy, as an example, have been hit so very hard and they have now entered Wartime Triage. This is truly catastrophic for all. But the government have stepped up to the plate and suspended payments on mortgages. When asked about the possibility of halting mortgage payments on Radio Anch’io, Laura Castelli, the deputy economy minister, said: ‘Yes, that will be the case, for individuals and households.’ I applaud that leadership and foresight. We can all learn a lesson from this action. (Article here)