INOV-8 UNVEIL WORLD’S FIRST-EVER GRAPHENE FASTPACKING/ HIKING BOOTS – ROCLITE 345 GTX

Rare that I post a press release from any brand but I actually received these boots a week ago from inov-8 so that I could use them on my Nepal trek – info HERE

I was told, ‘You are going to be the first person to use them, so, please keep it quiet until we do an official release in 2019’

Well, inov-8 have moved things forward and today have released the shoe! So this post is just a heads-up on the new ROCLITE 345 GTX with Graphene.

I will be able to provide a full and in-depth review when I return from Nepal in January.

Press Release:

The world’s first-ever hiking boots to utilise graphene – the strongest material on the planet – have been unveiled by British brand inov-8.

Building on the international success of their pioneering use of graphene in trail running and fitness shoes last summer, the brand is now bringing the revolutionary technology to a market recently starved of innovation.

Just one atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel, wonder-material graphene has been infused into the rubber of inov-8’s new ROCLITE hiking boots, with the outsoles scientifically proven to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.

Collaborating with graphene experts at The University of Manchester, inov-8 is the first brand in the world to use the Nobel Prize winning material in sports shoes and now hiking footwear.

Michael Price, inov-8 product and marketing director, said: “Working with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester, we’ve been able to develop rubber outsoles that deliver the world’s toughest grip.

“The hiking and outdoor footwear market has been stagnant for many years and crying out for innovation. We’ve brought a fresh approach and new ideas, launching lightweight, fast-feel products with graphene that will allow hikers, fast-packers and outdoor adventurers to get more miles out of their boots and grip to all terrains, no matter how gnarly.”

There are two ROCLITE boots with graphene-enhanced rubber grip (G-GRIP) – the ROCLITE 335 and the ROCLITE 345 GTX. The former offers increased warmth on cold days with PrimaLoft insulation in the upper of the shoe, while the latter has waterproof GORE-TEX protection for hiking adventures in wet conditions. The ROCLITE 335 weighs just 335g and the ROCLITE 345 GTX weighs just 345g. Both are available to buy now.

Commenting on the continued collaboration with The University of Manchester, inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey said: “Last summer saw a powerhouse forged in Northern England take the world of sports footwear by storm. That same powerhouse is now going to do likewise in the hiking and outdoors industry.

“We won numerous awards across the world for our revolutionary use of graphene in trail running and fitness shoes, and I’m 100% confident we can do the same in hiking and outdoors.

“Mark my words, graphene is the future, and we’re not stopping at just rubber outsoles. This is a four-year innovation project which will see us incorporate graphene into 50% of our range and give us the potential to halve the weight of shoes without compromising on performance or durability.”

Graphene is produced from graphite, which was first mined in the Lake District fells of Northern England more than 450 years ago. inov-8 too was forged in the same fells, albeit much more recently in 2003. The brand now trades in 68 countries worldwide.

The scientists who first isolated graphene from graphite were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Building on their revolutionary work, a team of over 300 staff at The University of Manchester has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced prototypes, from sports cars and medical devices to aeroplanes and of course now sports and hiking footwear.

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials at The University of Manchester, said: “Using graphene we have developed outsole rubbers that are scientifically tested to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.

“But this is just the start. Graphene is a such a versatile material and its potential really is limitless.”

The new ROCLITE boots with G-GRIP are available to buy from www.inov-8.com/g-grip and will soon be in-store via the brand’s retail partners worldwide.

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Episode 165 – Great Himalayan Trail Special #GHT with Rayn Sandes, Dean Leslie and Ryno Griesel

Episode 165 of Talk Ultra is a Great Himalayan Trail Special to link with the release of ‘Lessons From The Edge’ film. We chat with Ryan Sandes, Ryno Griesel and Wandering Fever film maker, Dean Leslie.
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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
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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
Donate HERE
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Read about Ian’s Christmas Nepal Trek HERE
The route, plan and the equipment he will use.
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NEWS
Lessons from the Edge is the new film by Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever that tells the story of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s epic journey on the Great Himalayan Trail. Read a review of the movie HERE.
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00:30:31 Interview with Ryan Sandes
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01:01:40 Interview with DEAN LESLIE
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01:51:36 Interview with RYNO GRIESEL
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02:41:20 CLOSE
02:44:16
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Importantly, go to iTunes and subscribe so that you automatically get our show when it’s released we are also available on Stitcher for iOS, Android and Web Player and now Tunein.
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
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UP & COMING RACESgo to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Skyrunning UK announce the 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELAND calendar

Following on from the continued growth of skyrunning worldwide and the expansion of the Skyrunner ® World Series– Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce five races in four stunning locations that bring you the best of what the UK and Ireland has to offer.

The Races

The season will start in the iconic English Lakes with the Scafell Sky Race on June 8th.

Technical single-track and scree and 40m slab make this a classic 40km skyrunning route to be reckoned with. The circular ‘newly designed’ route allows you to run from the iconic National Trust’s Stickle Barn over Lakeland Fells and through Lakeland Valleys, whilst you summit England’s highest mountain on route and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District.

“The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I’ve ever done … even tougher than Tromso! Emelie Forsberg would love it!”– Lucy Bartholomew.

With sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in, Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. Mountain experience and moving solo across highly technical mountain terrain is an essential skill for this classic skyrunning race.

Race website HERE

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The second race of the season also takes place in the English Lakes, Lakes Sky Ultra on July 13th.

You’ll need a good head for heights and nerves of steel: you’re going to traverse three of the most amazing ridge-lines in the Lake District: Beda Fell, remote and sublime, the bone shaking and very wild ridge of Long Stile Edge and the very alpine and rocky scramble of Swirral Edge. We’re talking serious ascent with some distance thrown in, 60km of Lake District paths, trails and rock with 5’000m ascent.

We packed all the best central and eastern-Lake District mountain running trails we know into this course: you’ll go up and over Place Fell, Beda Fell, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag, Stoney Cove Pike, St Raven’s Edge, Red Screes, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn with some of the most remote valleys in the area dropped in for good measure. It’s an epic day out to say the least.

And just as you think you can make the whole distance, we’ve added some new KoM Super Stages in to spice it all up. This year we will be combining the times for a real up-hill extravaganza, so remember to train ‘hill reps’ galore. It’s a race within a race, and the prizes will go to the runners who can dig the deepest in the final flight to the finish.

Race websiteHERE

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Ireland brings us a new race and experience for the ever-expanding calendar with the Seven Sisters Skyline on July 28th.

Dunlewey officially known by its Irish name Dun Luiche is a small Gaeltacht village in the Gweedore area of County Donegal, North West Ireland, now host to the InauguralSeven Sisters Skyline. The Seven Sisters are the seven high peaks of the Derryveagh mountains. From southwest to northeast they are as follows, Errigal (751 m), Mackoght a.ka. Little Errigal (555 m), Aghla More (584 m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603 m),Aghla Beg (564 m), Crocknalaragagh (471 m)and Muckish (666 m).

The course is an out and back route which traverses 13 summits in total (Errigal once). The course is unique in that there are little or no tracks or paths, just wild open isolated mountains and hillsides. This stunning skyrunning race route incorporates technical sections on either side of the route at Muckish and Errigal mountains.

Scrambling, ridge running, steep technical descents and ascents and a multitude of mixed terrain makes the 50km Seven Sisters Skyline with 4000m of vertical gain a great addition to the 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar.

Race website HERE

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Our fourth race is another new addition to the calendar and we once again welcome Wales in the Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar with the stunning Snowdon Skyline on September 15th.

The event where the sky isn’t the limit, it’s where the fun begins! Nestled in the quiet valley of Nant Gwynant in Snowdonia, Hafod y Llan farm will play host to the inaugural Snowdon Skyline.

The 40km Skyline Sky Race gets stuck straight into its 3600m+ right away by ascending the famous Snowdon Watkin path to then traverse the stunning Y Lliwedd ridge. After Pen y Pass road crossing, a second sizeable ascent to the gnarly terrain of the Glyders awaits, before plunging down the Y Gribin ridge to the Ogwen Valley.

The course offers little respite as it immediately ascends the iconic Tryfan via its sublime north ridge scramble, weaving upwards through rocky outcrops and gullies on route to the summit. A technical descent followed by some lovely undulating trails back to Pen y Pass and runners are nearly ready to finish this unrelenting figure of eight route. The jewel in the crown is a westbound traverse of the infamous Crib Goch ridge, followed by a delightful run off Snowdon summit via its south ridge. A sting in the tail comes in the form of the last summit of Y Garn, before a final descent home to Nant Gwynant.

With a course designed by a race director and skyrunner, the inaugural Snowdon Skyline will be sure to test all limits of a runner’s ability! A grand tour of some of the UK’s most scenic trails, ridges and scrambles, it’s a dead cert to become an international skyrunning classic…

Race websiteHERE

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The 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar concludes with well-established and sell out race, the Mourne Skyline MTR – currently it has a scheduled date of October 19th (land permissions allowing tbc)

The Mourne Mountains are a granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland. Owned by the National Trust, an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.

Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. Construction of the wall was started in 1904 and was completed in 1922; its purpose, to define the boundary of an area of land purchased by the Belfast Water Commission.

Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.

The mountains of Northern Ireland may not have the height or elevation gain the Alps or Pyrenees offer, but what they lack in height is more than compensated for in technicality and repeated roller coaster climbing. Ask anyone who has run it, the Mourne Skyline MTR is no easy race.

Race website HERE

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The Series

The Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDseries is combined of five races and to be the best-of-the-best, runners must take part in at least three races. Points are awarded based on results and the male and female runner with the most points will be crowned as the Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDchampion of 2019.

A Skyrunning World Ranking is a rolling 52-week ranking based on all the points awarded to the athletes from his/her participation in: Skyrunner® World Series races, Skyrunner National Series, Skyrunning World Championships and Skyrunning Continental Championships.

Importantly, from 2019, the Skyrunner® World Seriesseason will end with a Sky Mastersrace gathering only the best athletes who qualified over the season. SMSA offers to Skyrunner® National Series Skyrunner ® UK & IRELAND qualifying paths.

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Download release, images and logos HERE

“Skyrunning” has been around for some time.  Hundreds, even thousands of years ago mountains were negotiated out of necessity: war, religious persecution, hunting, smuggling, or just out of plain old curiosity.  The concept of running up and down mountains for fun is much newer.  Take for example the Ben Nevis Race which goes back to 1903, or the Pikes Peak Marathon which began as a bet in 1954 among smokers and non-smokers.

The idea of creating a sports discipline however was the brainchild of Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ‘90’s.  In 1993, with the support of the multinational Fila as sponsor, skyrunning took off across the world’s mountain ranges with a circuit of awe-inspiring races stretching from the Himalayas to the Rockies, from Mount Kenya to the Mexican volcanoes. Giacometti’s term skyrunning*, as the name suggests, is where earth and sky meet.

Lessons from the Edge – a film by Wandering Fever on Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s GHT

“LESSONS FROM THE EDGE” –  a film by Wandering Fever

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A film documenting Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s epic adventures traversing the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT).
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Dropping globally on Red Bull TV and Red Bull’s YouTube Channel on Tuesday 04 December 2018.

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FILM REVEW

Many thanks to Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever for the advanced preview of the film.

All images are screenshots from the movie and are ©wanderingfever/ Red Bull

Lessons from the Edge is not your ordinary running film and it is all the better for it. I would even go as far to say, that the film is not about running. It’s about friendship, survival, pushing to the limit, not giving in and adventure.

The film documents, South African runners, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s attempt on the ‘GHT’ – The Great Himalayan Trail. We need to be clear here, that it is ‘their’ FKT (fastest known time) attempt on trying to beat a mark set by fellow South African, *Andrew Potter – a journey of some 1400km in 28-days.

*Lizzy Hawker and others have done other journeys on the GHT.

Sandes and Griesel know each other well and often team up for adventures; their record-breaking Drakensberg Traverse a prime example. I hope they both will forgive me, but Sandes is often the star and the media draw, while Griesel is the brains and brawn behind. I myself always fall into this trap – post the Drakensberg and GHT records, I interviewed Sandes for my podcast Talk Ultra.

Tune into the Talk Ultra Great Himalayan Trail special released Friday 7th December 2018Episode 165 –  it includes an in-depth interview with Ryan Sandes conducted just after the GHT FKT and two post film interviews with Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever and Ryno Griesel.

Podcast HERE

I seriously think that ‘Lessons from the Edge’ is finally going to give Griesel the long overdue credit he finally deserves. The guy really is a legend.

The film is made by Sandes and Griesel’s long-term friend, and good buddy of mine, Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever. I first met Dean in 2012 on the island of La Palma at Transvulcania and it is fair to say, our careers in the world of trail, ultra and mountain running have moved alongside each other ever since.

Let me be clear, I think Dean is one of the best filmmakers out there! He always manages to look beyond running and find metaphors for life, in this movie, he excels himself. 

Listen to a full and in-depth interview with Dean Leslie below:

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The Film

(Review contains spoilers)

WATCH THE FILM HERE

The words of Dean Leslie give an indication of the film and its story, “When Ryan and Ryno started the Great Himalaya Trail they knew it would be physically tough. But no one ever thought this run would be life-threatening.”

I love Nepal, so, I was hooked from the start with the amazing vistas, the beautiful Nepali people and the forever wonderful sound of ‘Namaste!’

While this journey started as an FKT, I think it’s fair to say that as the film unfolds, any FKT becomes irrelevant as one witnesses the danger, pain and discomfort both runners have to go through to achieve their finish. In a conversation with Sandes, he confirmed, “This attempt is more about an experience and amazing adventure, it is a once-in-a-lifetime type experience‚ not just a record attempt and something that I have been able to share with a true friend.”

Leslie narrates, and he has a silky-smooth calm voice that kicks off the movie and its pace. We instantly go to Sandes describing the ‘why’ of the GHT and then we see Griesel.

“Did you push it too far?” Leslie asks Griesel.

 

“No, not at all,” the answer.

Their journey would take them from the Tibetan border all the way to the Indian border in the east. Fast and light was the ethos and they carried no sleeping bags or tents, reliant on the hospitality of the Nepali people.

“If you plan an adventure with no risk, you are way too much inside your comfort zone,” says Griesel.

And from here, the story unfolds. 

Before the FKT started, they had already risked their lives on snow and ice and I was immediately thinking that they were unprepared for the challenge ahead! The film does not shy away from this and the duo explain the danger.

“It was really dangerous, a little stupid,” said Griesel and Sandes admits his lack of experience in this environment.

From the outset, one realizes that Griesel is along not only for the comradeship but for mainly for his navigation and mountain experience. Very quickly they are in extreme snow and ice that visibly shakes them up.

All the time, Leslie’s drone footage provides some amazing shots to Sande’s and Griesel’s GoPro footage.

Kids join them, and the ‘Namaste’ sounds provide a wonderful soundtrack to Sandes and Griesel’s footsteps. Leslie, correctly says in his narration, “Although the Himalaya has the most breathtaking landscape, it is the Nepali people that captures the heart.”

The conditions, the fast and light travel without doubt take a toll on the runners. The Dolpa region approaches and without doubt, fear takes hold. They manage to obtain ice axes and rope borrowed from the locals. They had to change route and with a late winter and poor conditions, the area was desolate. The duo was struggling and seriously worried.

Griesel trying to maximize his time with navigation makes a school boy error and removes his gloves.

From that point, Griesel knew his fingers had frostbite.

From here on in, the story changes.

With only 9 day’s covered, there was a long way to go and everything was looking in jeopardy. All the time, Leslie provides a narrative to the ‘real time’ narrative of Griesel and Sandes. 

Griesel sits with his hands in a bowl – it makes for gruesome viewing, but the will to carry on existed though. Some good running, a change of clothes, some sun and suddenly all was looking good. 

Annapurna region and Sandes turns 36 – what a way to spend a birthday!

Much of what follows is good and you feel a page has turned and then suddenly screams. Griesel falls and is injured. The story unfolds, and one begins to feel the pressure on the two of them and in particular, Griesel. He has feelings on failure and inadequacy in comparisons to Sandes natural running ability.

Let’s be clear hear, Griesel is turning into a hero.

 “It is not an option to quit… If I have committed to go from A to B, that is what I am going to do,” says Griesel. “Whatever we do out there is an extension of our daily lives, if you get in the habit of quitting, if that is an option, that translates to daily life…” And it is here that you really begin to understand the character of the man – his strength, his courage and some would say, his vulnerability?

The film mixes narrative and footage from Griesel and Sandes and constantly the film is interspersed with post GHT interviews to provide perspective.  

It is here that we start to ask, what are the Lessons from the Edge? 

The dilemma of Leslie and Sandes is obvious. 

“Do you pull the plug… It seems silly at this stage, it is just a run!” says Leslie.

The final third of the film explores many questions, one is quite haunting, “Are you prepared to go out and do one of these things and die?” Asks Leslie.

 

“Yes, pretty much,” responds Griesel.

To not push life to the full is a slow death anyway they say and as the footage rolls on, you are left pondering your own life questions as well as the questions that Griesel, Sandes and Leslie had to ask.

 Two mates, crossing a country and drinking tea – they live life to the full and it is these endearing moments that concludes the film with Leslie’s thoughtful narrative.

What would you do, what are your Lessons from the Edge?

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Wandering Fever HERE 

Many thanks to

Dean Leslie

Ryan Sandes

Ryno Griesel

Watch the movie on Red Bull TV and Red Bull’s YouTube Channel on Tuesday 04 December 2018.

Holly Page to join the The Coastal Challenge 2019 #TCC2019

The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.

The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.

Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.

A reward purse totalling $8000 will be up for grabs as the race gets underway from the stunning beaches of Quepos, Costa Rica.

Each day, $250 will be up for grabs should the stage course records be broken by the fastest male or female. For example, in 2018, Tom Evans broke every stage record, that would have been rewarded with a $1500 payout!

Should the overall course record set in 2018 by Tom Evans or Ragna Debats be broken in 2019, $2500 will be on offer. Should the male and female record go, that is a payout of $5000.

Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, travelling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

An already stellar line-up of women have been announced for #TCC2019 – Lucy Bartholomew here, Ida Nilsson here, the El Kott Twins here and now Holly Page. Holly has been on fire in 2018, starting her season in China with victory and then concluding with a win at The Otter in South Africa. Between, she has excelled over multiple distances and terrains. For sure, Holly is one of the new stars of the skyrunning calendar – the terrain of Costa Rica will suit her!

What attracts you to Costa Rica?

Although I’ve travelled quite a lot in South America I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Central America. I speak fluent spanish and have heard great things about Costa Rica’s spectacularly diverse natural environment so am really keen to explore.

This is the 15th edition of the TCC, a special one – what do you know about the race?

My friend Tom won the race in 2017 and I remember calling him when he was there and being super jealous as I sat in meetings with government in Tanzania and he chilled in a hammock eating mangoes and running through waterfalls. I’ve heard that the terrain is very mixed, with some fast running but also some technical sections, and the occasional swim! I just did well at the Otter Race in South Africa and I get the feeling that it is a similar profile but just that the TCC will be 30 degrees hotter, and like doing the Otter every day for 6 days….

Heat and humidity will play a major factor in the race, how do you plan to adapt?

Coming from the UK, I’m not really accustomed to sweating it out through the jungle – running across misty hills in the freezing is what I grew up doing… everyone says when it’s raining at a race “Oh you’re British you will enjoy this”…. that’s definitely not true – I don’t know too many people who would rather but running through a blizzard than a sunny Costa Rican beach 😀I’m really lucky in that with my current contract at work I am able to be based remotely so hopefully I’ll be able to travel out before the race and get used to the heat whilst still carrying on with my normal job!

Ragna Debats and Tom Evans set incredible course records in 2017. There is prize money available for a new CR in 2019 – does that motivate you? Can you break the record?

I’m motivated by new experiences rather than prize money – I would never like to go into a race thinking that I am there to win money. I also tend to have a fairly pessimistic (or perhaps realistic!!) view of my own abilities so I am usually on the startline presuming that I won’t do very well… and then it’s always a lovely surprise if I do! It looks like there’s an incredible line-up of women, all of whom have much more experience than I do of racing consistently long distances… but then again, I’ve got used to racing multi-hour races every weekend on knackered legs so maybe my overenthusiastic racing schedule has all been an unintentional build-up to this.

Multi-day racing brings many different challenges to a single-stage race – what are you most looking forward to? What are you most fearful of?

I am really looking forward to the atmosphere of the race – there’s something special about sharing so much time in the company of the people you’re racing against – I think it’ll be a really great week and hopefully an opportunity to meet even more friendly runners from across the world!

I have a horrendous fear of snakes – I can’t even look at a photo of a snake without crying – I think the probability of stumbling across a snake during my time in Costa Rica is pretty high but I don’t want it to stop me going so I’ll just have to get over it and keep plodding along if one does rear its ugly slithery head!

The elite line-up is incredible for 2019, you will need to be in the best shape, does that excite you?

It’s always exciting to have competitive fields at races and especially over so many km a lot can change. I think I know all of the elite women’s field and they’re all really nice ladies so it will also be great to spend time with them – that’s what is so great about running these races – even though we fight it out on the trails, everyone is super encouraging and wants the best for each other!

February is early in the season, what will your winter training look like, so you will be ready for February?

This year has been pretty long and I’ve raced pretty much every weekend since April. I’m going to have a bit of a break in October and November and then hopefully motivate myself to do some strength work – my legs will need to be pretty strong to hold up to the test of this TCC course!

I am sure you have looked at past editions of the race, viewed the stages, the profile – it is a tough race that suits a rounded athlete. You need to be able to climb, descend, handle technical trail and run on the flat – where will your strengths be?

I’m usually pretty good on the technical parts and the descents, but I’d say that I’m usually less good at the bits you have to actually be fit for…. flat running and running up hills!!

What experience do you have of multi-day racing?

I did a three day stage race when I lived in South Africa in 2017 but other than that I’ve never done anything which equates to this in terms of distance and number of days.

Racing starts very early in Costa Rica, with the sun! An early finish allows for relaxation on the beach, you can even have a beer – combining racing and relaxation is a key of TCC. It is a ‘Pura Vida’ race – tell us about your hopes and desires for the 2019 edition.

A combination of racing and relaxation is my kind of dream! It will be super fun to get the morning’s racing done early on and then be able to chill with all of the other runners, chatting through our experiences of the day’s stage, eating lovely tropical fruits and refuelling, psyching ourselves up for the next stage!!

What three music choices would sum up your racing style?

Erm…never been asked that one before… hmmm…. given that I tend to get through races on determination rather than any physical talent, I’ll have to go for…

REM: Everybody Hurts

AC/DC: Highway to Hell

And one especially for the TCC…

The Merrymen: Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot

Tell us about your nutrition and hydrations strategies for the race?

Given how hot it will be during the race and the amount I’ll be sweating I’ll be very focused on making sure I stay very hydrated throughout. It’s a lot of running on consecutive days so I think that if you don’t fuel enough in the early stages you’re likely to suffer the knock-on effects later in the week. My favourite pastime is probably eating… so I will be sure to eat plenty between each stage… using “refuelling” as an excuse to eat large quantities of lovely food 😀

Tell us about key equipment such as shoes and apparel that you will use?

TBC when I have confirmed whether I have a sponsor for next year!

Tell us about your greatest achievement/ result in 2018?

Racing so much whilst also working a normal job, hitch-hiking / camping and tramping like a complete nomad was quite an achievement I guess! I won the Skyrunning World Series with wins in three of the races, and I also came 3rdin the Golden Trail Series and won the Grand Finale of that series out in South Africa in October.

Please list a summary of your career highlights for 2017 and 2018:

Lots of races – a few too many to mention!! These are some where I was in the top 3…

SWS: Yading, China: 1st

SWS: Buff Epic, Spain: 1st

SWS: The Rut, USA: 1st

SWS: Overall Ranking Classic Series: 1st

Monte Rosa Skyrace, Italy: 1st(team race with Hillary Gerardi)

World Trail Running Champs, Spain: 9th(and 1stBritish athlete)

Golden Trail Series / Skyrunning World Champs, Ring of Steall, UK: 3rd

Golden Trail Series, Grand Finale- Otter Trail, South Africa: 1st

Golden Trail Series, Overall Ranking: 3rd

Trail do Porto Moniz, Madeira: 1st

Alanya Ultra Trail, Turkey: 1st

Omu Peak Race, Romania: 1st

Trail du Nivolet Classic, France: 1st

Petit Trail des Aiguilles Rouges, France: 1st 

To conclude, please provide a general quote that summaries your thoughts and anticipation for the 2019 TCC:

Having followed previous editions of the raceI am really excited to have the opportunity to come to Costa Rica in February and experience this prestigious event for myself.

*****

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE and the the 2018 edition HERE

Follow in 2019 #TCC2019

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

#tcc2019 #thecoastalchallenge #tcc19

IG – https://www.instagram.com/thecoastalchallenge/ 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thecoastalchallenge/

Twitter – @tcccostarica

 

#PAYITFORWARD for Christmas

#PAYITFORWARD this Christmas folks

You are a runner, yes?
You buy shoes, yes?
You are left with a shoe box, yes?
#payitforward
Well, December is here and let’s help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Take the empty shoe box and fill it with:
  • Toothpaste/brush
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Soap
  • Body wash
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Socks
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Brush/comb
  • Bar of chocolate/ sweets
  • Biscuits
  • Pocket tissues
  • Pocket size puzzle/pen
  • Small activity (for example Rubix Cube)
  • and whatever else…
Donate said box to a charity, homeless person, or wherever you see fit.
Trust me – your December and Christmas will feel so much better!

Three Passes Trek 2018: Ultimate Trek in the Everest Region

Nepal, the magic of Nepal! It truly is a remarkable place and if you are a trekker, fastpacker, runner or mountaineer, it is arguably THE best place in the world. Nepal changes people, it really does. I experienced the change on my first visit 7-years ago and I have been going back ever since. It’s not just the trails, the Himalayas or the stunning vistas; It is so much more! It’s the combination of all those elements for sure, but it is the Nepali people that often lure me back. They truly are the salt of the earth.

I have just returned from once again working on the ‘ETR’ – Everest Trail Race. It’s a 6-day running journey of 160km’s that starts at Jiri and traces a route that Hillary and Tenzing took when they first made their way to summit Everest. It’s a magical race and the structured format is a wonderful way to experience Nepal for the first time.

Home for 2-days and I was already missing the trails, views and the people, however, a stinking cold I picked up on the journey home was keeping me from sleeping. In the middle of the night, I laid a Nepal map on the floor and started to plan a journey that would take in the ‘Three High Passes’ on a circular route from Lukla.

It was as I stared at the map, I began to realise the options open and the possibility to do out and backs and add some serious additions to what is, an already very popular trek.

The high passes are:

  • Renjo La 5338m
  • Cho La 5380m
  • Kongma La 5535m

Now of course, before undertaking any route like this you have to ask yourself some really sound questions and gain an understanding of trekking or running at altitude – you don’t just do it. You have to ease yourself in and acclimate to the demands.

For me, I am not overly worried at being circa 5500m. My job regularly takes me to high altitudes, for example this year alone I have been over 5000m in China, been at 4000m in Turkey, been at the summit of Mt. Teide in Tenerife, been at the summit of Monte Rosa and of course, just recently I have done Everest Trail Race. So, I am pretty well prepared to go to 5500m or higher. The big question is usually, can one stay there? 

See the map below:

My route would follow the very clearly defined high pass trek, clockwise, finishing with the higher Kongma La at 5535m. For example, this is usually done in 16-18 days and often 21-days are recommended to allow for any issues or problems. 

My idea, once again (I did a trek last December) was to avoid the noise and the frenzy of Christmas and travel to Nepal for an adventure.

Rough plan was to leave the UK for Dubai Dec 13th, arrive in Kathmandu on the 16th. Start my trek on the 18th and finish on the 30th. Return to Kathmandu on the 31st and then have some RnR time before returning to the UK.

That allowed me 13-days.

However, I know from experience that I can move considerably faster and cover more ground than a normal trek, so, it got me looking – what could I add?

The plan is to add ‘out and backs’ to my route that would add some spice and challenge:

  • Gokyo RI
  • Kala Pattar?
  • Everest Base Camp
  • Ama Dablam Base Camp
  • Taboche
  • Thamersku Base Camp

I am well connected with the guide / Sherpa community in Kathmandu and so I asked Pasang Sherpa and Lhakpa Rangdu (both who have summited Everest multiple times, Lkakpa, 11 times!) Was my schedule feasible? Pasang knows me well and he immediately said yes! He confirmed that I usually cover double what most trekkers do in a day, also, mt time on the ETR confirms this. So, the plan was turned into a reality.

Initially I was going to go alone, but December in Nepal is very cold and relatively quiet. Pasang did not insist, but highly recommended a fast Sherpa to join me. I didn’t need much persuading and I agreed. I was adamant though – no porter, we carry our own equipment for the duration moving fast and light.

Another factor to consider was the crossing of glaciers. I had already made the decision to carry mini-spikes and a light ice axe.

THE PLAN:

13th Dec leave UK

17th KTM 

18th Depart for Lukla (early flight I guess) and then we hike to Namche.

19th Lumde

20th RENJO PASS to Gokyo to include Gokyo RI

21st CHO LA PASS to Dzongla

22nd Gorak Shep w/ Kala Pattar?

 

23rd EBC and back to Lobuche

 

24th KONGMA LA PASS to Somare

25th Ama Dablam BC and back to Pangboche

26th Tabuche Peak and back to Pangboche

27th Monjo

28th Thamersku BC

29th Lukla

30th Spare day

31st Back to KTM 

1st KTM 

2nd Onward travel

It is very easy to look at a fastpack like this and lose perspective. Daily distances mean very little when climbing and descending at altitude and particularly in this environment – it is going to be very cold too, especially at night.

Pasang Sherpa – the main man and my Mr Fixer.

EQUIPMENT:

I recently wrote an article on equipment for fastpacking in Nepal, HERE. While much of what is in this article is correct, I am making some changes for December. First and foremost I am replacing my SPOT with a Garmin inReach MINI. I asked friends was the difference worth it and I have to say I am currently blown away with the device. User friendly, small, great battery life and perfect sync with the EARTHMATE App on iPhone. The map below is what I imported into the inReach as a ‘just in case’ scenario is needed.

However, the primary use for the inReach will be safety. It has a SOS button and that in a remote environment can be the difference between life and death. Also, I can send and receive messages – not essential but really great for letting the important people in my life know that I am ok. The other function will also allow anyone to follow me by using this link HERE – I must stress, I am going for no FKT’s, not looking to set records or do anything out of the ordinary, however, you may like to see where I am? I haven’t decided yet if I will turn the inReach on each morning and off each evening or leave it permanently on. The battery will last 20-days on 30-min tracking.

I am going to use the Montane Ultra Tour 40 backpack. It is light, super comfy and will allow me to carry all I need.

I have purchased a pair of RAB Endurance Down Gloves which are maybe overkill, but, I have had friends at EBC and in that area in December and it has been -25, so, I don’t want  cold hands!

I am using the inov-8 ROCLITE 325 Gore-Tex fastpack boot.

I normally do not take waterproof clothing but I have decided to take the inov-8 AT/C Race Pant (170g) and AT/C Stormshell Jacket (175g).

Ice Axe – I am taking the amazingly super-light CAMP Corsa which is just 200g

YakTrax XTR cramp ons

The rest of my equipment will be as follows:

Day:

  • inov-8 3/4 tights.
  • inov-8 AT/C Merino Top
  • inov-8 AT/C soft-shell Pro Top
  • Plus inov-8 ROCLITE 325 Gore-Tex, inov-8 AT/C Race Pant (170g) and AT/C Stormshell Jacket

Night:

  • RAB INFINITY 500 sleeping bag
  • RAB NEUTRINO PRO Jacket
  • RAB MICROLIGHT Jacket
  • RAB SUPERFLUX HOODY
  • RAB 120 long sleeve base layer
  • RAB 120 pant
  • PHD down socks
  • RAB PROTON PANTS
  • RAB gloves, hat and neck rolls

Extras:

  • Basic toiletries
  • Headtorch and spare batteries
  • Earphones
  • Phone
  • Pen
  • Passport
  • Black Diamond Z Poles
  • Waterproof bags

Camera:

  • Sony A7RIII with 35mm f2.8 prime lens and 4 batteries/ 2 spare SD cards.

*****

Departure form the UK is Dec 13th and you can follow my tracker HERE

I will do iPhone posts during the trek, mainly on Facebook and Instagram Story. All the good images will come post the trek when I can download and edit.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

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Marcus Scotney to join the The Coastal Challenge 2019 #TCC2019

The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.

The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.

Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.

A reward purse totalling $8000 will be up for grabs as the race gets underway from the stunning beaches of Quepos, Costa Rica.

Each day, $250 will be up for grabs should the stage course records be broken by the fastest male or female. For example, in 2018, Tom Evans broke every stage record, that would have been rewarded with a $1500 payout!

Should the overall course record set in 2018 by Tom Evans or Ragna Debats be broken in 2019, $2500 will be on offer. Should the male and female record go, that is a payout of $5000.

Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, travelling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE and the the 2018 edition HERE

Following on from the announcement that UTMB 3rd place and Everest Trail Race winner, Jordi Gamito will race in 2019 (Here) – We now announce the return of Marcus Scotney. Marcus is an experienced multi-day racer having won The Dragons Back Race and the Cape Wrath Ultra in the UK. He toed the line at TCC in 2017 and was gunning for the podium until a huge navigational error pulled him out of the classification – he is coming back to put the record straight!

What attracts you back to Costa Rica?

Undo the wrong turn I made in this year TCC, Costa Rica is an amazingly beautiful place to run with such friendly people.

This is the 15th edition of the TCC, a special one – what do you know about the race after racing in 2018?

It gets very HOT during the day and it takes you through stunning scenery with golden beaches, dense technical forests trails and rivers to cross and run up.

Heat and humidity will play a major factor in the race, how do you plan to adapt?

I hope to get into a heat chamber again and run with lots of layers on, and praying we don’t have such a cold winter in the UK than this year.

Ragna Debats and Tom Evans set incredible course records in 2017. There is prize money available for a new CR in 2019 – does that motivate you? Can you break the record?

Tom was on fire this year, him and Hayden raced as hot as the air temperature was, it will take some beating.

Multi-day racing brings many different challenges to a single-stage race – what are you most looking forward to? What are you most fearful of?

I’m looking forward to running such a beautiful and well organized race, being immersed in the jungle and the spectacular trails and beaches.

I’m most fearful of missing a pink tape ribbon and missing a turn, I wouldn’t live it down if I did that again!

The elite line-up is incredible for 2019, you will need to be in the best shape, does that excite you?

Yes I am super excited to be returning and running with and getting to know the other elite runners. Knowing the course now means I know what I need to focus on to improve on this years performance.

 

February is early in the season, what will your winter training look like, so you will be ready for February?

Lots of miles in the Peak District this winter, focusing on ascent each week and adding some tempo running into the mix.

And doing a pink ribbon awareness course; getting Jen to hang Pink Ribbons out on runs for me to follow and stay focused on.  

I am sure you have looked at past editions of the race, viewed the stages, the profile – it is a tough race that suits a rounded athlete. You need to be able to climb, descend, handle technical trail and run on the flat – where will your strengths be?

I know most of my way around the course now so know what to expect.

My strength is on the technical trail and the steep climbs, I will be working on my flat speed for the 2019 edition of the race.

 

What experience do you have of multi-day racing?

2016 – The Cape Wrath Ultra Trail

2017 – The Dragons Back Race

2018 – The Coastal Challenge DQ’d

2018 – Ut4M Challenge Grenoble

Racing starts very early in Costa Rica, with the sun! An early finish allows for relaxation on the beach, you can even have a beer – combining racing and relaxation is a key of TCC. It is a ‘Pura Vida’ race – tell us about your hopes and desires for the 2019 edition.

Not getting lost!!!!

What three music choices would sum up your racing style?

Senser – Stubborn

Nick Cave and the bad seeds – The Mercy seat

John Martin – Small hours  

Tell us about your nutrition and hydrations strategies for the race?

It gets very hot very quickly in the morning I will be drinking plenty of water, I will carry 3 soft flasks like this year and always keep a spare bottle filled. I will use a mixture of Clif Bloks and Mountain Fuel Jellies.

 

Tell us about key equipment such as shoes and apparel that you will use?

Scott Supertrac Ultra’s. Montane VIA Fang Shirt. Suunto 9

Open question – Feel free to tell us something, anything!

I will not get lost this year!

Tell us about your greatest achievement/ result in 2018?

2nd Cappadocia Ultra Trail

Please list a summary of your career highlights for 2017 and 2018:

1 – Winning and setting a new CR for the 2017 Dragons Back Race

2 – Running in the 2018 Coastal Challenge.

3 – 2nd 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Turkey

4 – 5th 2018 UtM4 Challenge Grenoble 160km

5 – 6th Mozart 100km Austria

6 – 1st Dark Peak Runners 50km

Follow in 2019 #TCC2019

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

#tcc2019 #thecoastalchallenge #tcc19

IG – https://www.instagram.com/thecoastalchallenge/ 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thecoastalchallenge/

Twitter – @tcccostarica

Episode 164 – Chris DeNucci, ETR2018 and Travis & Maria talk 200’s

Episode 164 of Talk Ultra and the Godfather of Trail brings us an interview with long time friend, Chris DeNucci and he also talks with Travis and Maria about running 200’s! Ian brings three interviews about Everest Trail RaceJordi Gamito, Manu Vilaseca and Alice Morrison.
*****
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
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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! 
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*****
NEWS
EVEREST TRAIL RACE
Love this race, once again I was out there on the trails documenting from within. There is no other better place to run… Jordi Gamito was dominant winning 5 stages and taking the 6th easy to take overall victory and become the first Westerner to win the race in the 8yr history. Manuela Vilaseca started well but Nepali Purnimaya Rai took the reigns and eventually took a strong victory for the women. Read the reports here:
Day 1Day 2Day 3 Day 4 Day 5Day 6
*****
02:03:33 Interview with JORDI GAMITO, MANUELA VILASECA and ALICE MORRISON – Everest Trail Race.
*****
JFK50
Turned out to be one hell of a race with Jared Hazen taking the win in what many are saying is the best run on that course ever! Zach Miller was 2nd and Allan Spangler 3rd.
Kate Pallardy (not a name I know) took the win in 6:40 ahead of Kaci Lickteig and Riley Brady, 6:53 and 7:09.
GRAND CANYON RIM TO RIM TO RIM
Ida Nilsson set a new FKT of 7:29:16 and I have news come in that it has just been broken… 7:25 apparently – Taylor Nowlan
TUNNEL HILL 100
Amazingly, Zach Bitter ran 12:08 which as I understand it, a world trail best for the distance. Mike Bialick was 2nd and Alexander Bleiweiss was 3rd, 12:56 and 14:58.
Three women were separated by just 9 minutes – Neela S’Souza 1st, Steph Whitmore 2nd and Megan Smyth 3rd – 16:52, 16:57 and 17:03.
RIO DEL LAGO 100
Chris DeNucci took the win in 16:36 and Amy Philips for the women in 21:21.
*****
Interview with CHRIS DeNUCCI
*****
PINHOTI 100
Jeff Browning did it again… what a year! He finished in 16:30 – he would have probably broke the CR had he not gone off course with course sabotage. He had to chase, re-gain the lead and win ahead of Evan Dare and Kyle Curtin.
Aden St Charles, Lauren Jones placed 1st and 2nd for the women with Holly Adams and Molly Freeman finishing joint 3rd – 21:14, 21:59 and 23:35
*****
Interview with TRAVIS & MARIA
*****
CLOSE
03:25:13
****
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Importantly, go to iTunes and subscribe so that you automatically get our show when it’s released we are also available on Stitcher for iOS, Android and Web Player and now Tunein.
Our web page at www.iancorless.comhas all our links and back catalogue.
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
*****
Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE
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UP & COMING RACES go to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Equipment for Fastpacking in Nepal – A Guide

Having just returned from Nepal, I have once again had many questions from runners, hikers and enthusiasts on the equipment I used during the Everest Trail Race.

I would normally say, read ‘this’ post and send a link. However, over 7-years of going to Nepal and the Himalayas, I have constantly tweaked and changed equipment. In 2018 I made some significant changes. So, I have something to write about.

The Everest Trail Race is a 6-day multi-day running race. Runners aim to cover 160km over 6-stages with extremely varied terrain, huge altitude gain and descent and of course, they have altitude to deal with. They must carry all they need for the race. However, a tent is provided which they share, food is provided, and water is rationed and provided at specific checkpoints. The race is the ultimate fast packing exercise as runners obviously try to be as light as possible without compromising warmth and comfort. The race takes place in November, the prime trekking season in Nepal – days are usually sunny and warm and the nights are cold. At certain places on the route, nights can be very cold.

My equipment requirements are not too dissimilar to that of the runners as I to need to move over the trail as fast and light as possible. However, I also need to carry camera equipment. This is significant and adds KG’s instantly.

I have also learnt over the years that I do not like being cold.

In my first Nepal experience I went light (too light) and I was cold. A little extra weight with warmth and comfort is worth it, for me! But here in, this is where the challenge comes and actually, this is part of the fun of fastpacking and in particular, fastpacking in Nepal when the variables can be so great.

This is even more poignant now as I am planning to return to Nepal in a few weeks on a much longer and harder trek than the ETR and when temperatures will be considerably colder, especially at night.

One thing is for sure. You go trekking in Nepal and you will rarely change clothes and a shower/ wash will be a rarity. Accept it! Everyone will be the same so embrace this as part of the challenge. There are ways of dealing with this and I like to think of my clothing as day and night. During the day, I am wearing run clothing, and, in the evening, I am wearing more mountain specific clothing.

I am not the fastest on the trails, but I move considerably faster than nearly all the trekkers. So, I look more like a runner when trekking than a trekker. For example, trekkers will wear boots, trousers, and a shirt. I use run shoes, run tights and a run top.

It is also important to consider individual needs and individual strengths when looking at equipment and weight. For example, a 5ft woman weighing 50kg is going to have a very different set of abilities to a 6ft 85kg man. Keep this in mind!

My equipment list below is specific to me and my needs, but it does provide an excellent start point.

Disclaimer: No equipment or apparel was supplied by RAB, Osprey or Montane. They were all purchased items. The apparel by inov-8 was supplied and the Trail Talon 290 shoes were purchased by myself.

Sherpas and Porters are able to carry huge loads and weight…

PACK

I have used many packs over the years. The runners tend to use the Ultimate Direction Fastpack which is generally a great option. Other variants come from Raidlight, Salomon and so on. Typically, a capacity of 20-30L would be required.

I need to use a larger pack as I carry more, especially with the cameras.

For 2018 I used the OSPREY EXOS 38 which really was excellent. It had great comfort, flexibility and many features that made it a pleasure to use.

My other favourite packs, and to be honest, when I return in December, I will either use the Montane Ultra Tour 40 or 55 depending on my equipment needs? Both these packs are minimalist, light and very comfortable.

WARMTH WHEN SLEEPING

I have already said I like to be warm and layering is absolutely key to regulating temperature. Especially at night.

I do not take the warmest and biggest sleeping bag. The reason being I like to have flexibility. Such I have an unusually mild night, I still want to use my sleeping bag and not be too warm. However, if it’s cold – really cold – how do I get warm? Well, I have three options:

  1. Sleeping bag on its own
  2. Merino base top and bottom and sleeping bag
  3. Merino base top and bottom, down pants, down jacket and sleeping bag

I also have down socks that I would wear over merino wool socks. So, as you can see, I regulate temperature in a very controlled way. In addition, the above I can also wear gloves, a hat and a neck roll. Just wearing a hat really helps retain heat.

Layering is key!

Sleeping bag is a RAB INFINITY 500

Merino top is a RAB 120 long sleeve

Merino Bottoms are a RAB 120 pant

PHD down socks

JACKETS

I take two down jackets. One thinner than the other, again offering flexibility. This year I upgraded to a warmer down jacket, the RAB NEUTRINO PROand it was such a great choice! It was so warm, comfy and with a two-way zip it allowed flexibility of movement. It also had a great hood and high collar.

The lighter jacket was a RAB MICROLIGHTwith no hood. This offers excellent warmth in the morning and evening when on the trails. It also is excellent in my sleeping bag on colder nights. It packs small and is lightweight.

RAB SUPERFLUX HOODY is a great mid-layer that works well in the dry or wet and is excellent when the warmth of down is not required.

PANTS

I have used down pants previously but this year I used the RAB PROTON PANTS which are not down filled, a little heavier but more flexible for other uses and they are Primaloft. So, they can get wet and keep warm. Down cannot get wet!

HAT, GLOVES and ACCESSORIES

Hands and feet are so difficult to keep warm and for me, they are the areas I most struggle with. So, I have options:

RAB Merino liner glove

RAB Xenon Mitt (warm and waterproof)

RAB Windblock convertible gloves which allow me to use my camera

RAB Shadow Beanie (for day use)

RAB Beanie (for night use)

RAB neck tubes (usually have 2 or 3)

RAB hut slippers allow me to remove my run shoes and are also much warmer. I go a size bigger than needed so I can wear my down socks in them too.

DAY CLOTHING

My day hike/ run clothing is pretty conventional, and I have long been a fan of inov-8.

It is possible to wear shorts as day temperatures are usually very good, however, I prefer the flexibility of 3/4 tights as they also keep my knees warm.

I use the AT/C Merino Top, and should temperatures get high, I just roll the sleeves up. One great addition is that the sleeves have thumb holes, so, they also provide a great alternative to using gloves.

The AT/C soft-shell Pro Top is brilliant early morning or late afternoon when the warmth of a down jacket is not required. This jacket has been tweaked over the years and has some great features – high collar, good hood, two pockets and thumb loops to help keep hands warm.

Extreme Thermo Skull Hat keeps my head warm and the Extreme Thermo Mitts are excellent – much better than gloves.

Shoes are always a debatable point and very personal. I prefer to use a shoe with cushioning, a wide but not too wide toe box, adequate all-round grip and 8mm drop – the Trail Talon 290 is perfect for me and on the recent ETR were perfect every day!

TIPS

My inov-8 run apparel is for the day. As soon as I finish the day’s run or trek. I immediately get changed into my RAB Merino base layers and put on my overprints, down jacket and put on a hat. This makes sure I don’t sit in damp clothing.

The priority is then to get the day’s clothing dry. A priority if you are not carrying an alternate set of clothing.

EXTRAS

Extras add weight, but I do consider certain items to be essential.

  • SPOT Tracker for me just makes sense and is a great security blanket.
  • Mobile phone – get a Ncell sim when you land in Kathmandu. You can get a 30-day sim with 16gb of data for not much more than £10. Coverage on the trails now is pretty good!
  • POLES – I use Black Diamond Z Poles, they are light, fold and are essential on the relentless climbs and descents.
  • EARPHONES – handy at night when relaxing.
  • EAR PLUGS
  • BLINDFOLD
  • HEAD TORCH and batteries
  • WET WIPES
  • MICRO FIBRE TOWEL
  • BASIC TOILETRIES
  • PEN
  • PASSPORT
  • WATERPROOF COMPRESSION BAG

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Based on what type of trek you are doing, where you are going and when you are going, the requirements will vary here. For example, I am returning to Nepal in December and I will need light crampons and an ice axe.

The simple thing with any extra is that it adds weight. So, always ask the question, ‘Do you really need it?’

Read about the Everest Trail Race HERE

Read about the 2017 edition of the race HERE

And now, what is next for me….

Well, Nepal captures my imagination like no other place. Last year after the ETR I returned and did the whole race on foot in the same timescale as the race itself. It was a wonderful experience.

So, this December, the plan is to fly into Lukla and then do the high passes with some serious additions visiting Base Camps and peaks:

  • Gokyo RI
  • Everest Base Camp
  • Ama Dablam Base Camp
  • Tabuche Peak
  • Thamserku Base Camp

SCHEDULE DECEMBER:

18th – Depart for LUKLA go straight to Namche

19th – Namche – Tengboche – Namche (acclimatisation)

20th – Namche – Thame – Lumde

21st – Lumde – Renjo La – Gokyo – Gokyo RI – Gokyo

22nd – Gokyo – Dragnag – Cho La – Dzongla

23rd – Dzongla – Lobuche – Gorakshep

24th – Gorakshep – EBC – Gorakshep – Lobuche

25th – Lobuche – Dingboche – Somare

26th – Somare – Ama Dablam Base Camp – Pangboche

27th – Pangboche – Tabuche Peak – Pangboche

28th – Pangboche – Namche – Monjo

29th – Monjo – Thamserku Base Camp – Monjo

30th – Monjo – Lukla

31st – Lukla – KTM

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