Lakes Sky Ultra 2018 – Sinclair and Grant take Victory

The fourth Lakes Sky Ultra (LSU) again demonstrated both the allure of the Lake District and the international appeal of skyrunning, with runners representing Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Poland and Romania (as well as Britain) all arriving in Ambleside.

As the elite field of 74 runners began the ascent of Dove Crag (via Low Pike and High Pike), Great Britain-international trail-runner Rob Sinclair took an early lead. By notorious Striding Edge the Scot had a 10-minute advantage and as the day progressed it looked like he might break the course record of 7:30:27.

The first half of the course includes around two-thirds of the 4,500m of ascent and the majority of the technical ridge running, with the second half being faster, more runnable terrain.

Ultimately Sinclair arrived at the finish line in Ambleside just 10 minutes off the record. “The race was brilliant,” he said. “It was a really good run. It was super hot, but I felt good in the heat today.”

I loved the race,” said second-placed Tim Campion-Smith (GBR), who won last year’s sister race, the Scafell Sky Race (which takes place on Sunday 15 July). “It was super fun. The first five hours were great. Hours five to seven were pretty bleak. But then it was a nice little run in to the finish. The blueberries were out too, so I stocked up on a few calories.”

The other two lads were just a different level today,” said third-placed Andy Berry (GBR), who was 13 minutes faster than his winning time last year. “I don’t have that in the tank at the minute. Pinnacle Ridge [a particularly technical and exposed section where runners use safety ropes] was superb.”

In the women’s race, New Zealand-born GB international trail-runner Sophie Grant, who placed second at LSU in 2016, won by over two and a half hours, in a time of 10:14:41. “This is a race with service!” she said as she was sprayed with water at the finish line. “I’m feeling way better now. Thatwas fantastic. It’s just such a cool race.”

Kate Simpson (GBR) was second in 12:37:38, with Jenny Yate (GBR) third in 12:51:35. “I’m really chuffed with that,” said the Helm Hill runner. “I really enjoyed it up till Patterdale [30K into the race], then it got tough. The climb up High Street just went on forever. Coming off Red Scree [the final descent] seemed to go on forever, too. The marshals were amazing the whole way round. They were egging me on, telling me I was second lady, which did put some pressure on!”

About:

Lakes Sky Ultra (LSU) is a 56km skyrunning race with 4,500m of ascent on extreme terrain in the Lake District National Park. Skyrunning is a combination of mountain running and alpinism, where scrambling/rock climbing is likely. For LSU, runners are vetted to ensure they have appropriate levels of experience in the mountains. The race is part of the UK Skyrunning Series.

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Episode 159 – KILIAN JORNET Bob Graham Special

Episode 159 of Talk Ultra is a Bob Graham Round special with a full and in-depth interview with Kilian Jornet. In addition, we bring you two interviews with Paul Aitken and Steve Birkinshaw who helped pace Kilian, amongst others, on this record breaking FKT.
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THE SHOW
On July 8th 2018, Kilian Jornet departed the Moot Hall, Keswick looking to break the 36-year old Billy Bland FKT for the Bob Graham Round.
You can read how the day unfolded HERE.
Kilian not only broke the ‘unbreakable’ but he set a time that was 1-hour 1-minute quicker than the previous best.
Kilian joins us to tell the story.
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00:01:44 Interview with KILIAN JORNET
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00:54:02 Interview with PAUL AITKEN
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01:10:56 Interview with STEVE BIRKINSHAW
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01:27:49 CLOSE
01:30:00
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inov-8 TERRAULTRA G 260 #Graphene – First Impressions

It’s a new phase in the history of inov-8, for over 10-years the UK based brand have pioneered shoe development for running. Now, in 2018, they launch products with Graphene – a new material that is lighter and more long-lasting than previous 

Three models are currently available:

F-Lite 290 G

Mudclaw 260

And the Terraultra G260 which I am currently testing.

The Technology

Graphene – is an enhanced rubber that offers grip and longevity. Previously, a soft rubber has provided grip but you always compromised on the outsole life. Graphene looks to change that! It is 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.

Kevlar – The upper is made of a breathable mesh with Kevlar overlays. Kevlar has been used in bulletproof vests.

The Shoe

Out of the box, it’s noticeable how light this shoe is, the ‘260’ refers to the weight of the shoe (as with all inov-8 shoes) in a standard UK8 size.

I wear a UK9.5 and the G260 is true to size. Shoes by inov-8 are now scaled 1-5 for width, 1 being narrow, 5 being wide. The G260 is a ‘4’ but I would say it may almost drift to a ‘5.’ Importantly, if you need a wide toe box or need a wide toe box, these shoes will appeal.

Notably, the G260 is zero drop. This is a bold move by inov-8 and I will be interested to know if they plan to expand the G260 shoe with 4mm and/ or 8mm drop? Certainly, there has been much demand and request for a zero drop shoe, and although a zero drop version of the G260 makes sense, I am surprised not to see a 4 and 8mm drop versions. This is particularly relevant due to the intended use of the shoe. This is an out-and-out trail shoe designed for long run days. I personally prefer a 8mm drop shoe when running longer… but hey, that is me!

With 9mm of cushioning, the G260 is a comfortable shoe with adequate cushioning for long trail days for runners with good run form.

The upper and the outsole is where we really see the technology. The upper is very impressive and very resilient – it is very strong with breathable mesh and Kevlar overlays. The outsole is the star of the show and is hard wearing and offers excellent grip. This is the Graphene technology! As this is a trail shoe, the outsole has grip (4mm lug) but it is not aggressive, it’s a shoe that is designed for all surfaces in wet or dry but not for mud. If you are running in mud you need a different shoe, for example the Graphene Mudclaw 260.

First Impression

Green. That was my first impression. Yes, theses shoes are GREEN. Ain’t no hiding in these shoes and although they would not be my chosen colour, I can see why inov-8 have chosen this colour for the three new Graphene models – they stand out and are easily noticeable.

I mentioned above that they are light. They are, super light.

Slipping them on I immediately noticed how wide the toe box is, considering these are zero drop shoes, I can certainly see Altra shoe users moving over or at least being curious as to how the G260’s run. For me, the ‘4’ width fitting could even drift to a ‘5’ based inov-8’s width fitting scale – I found them very roomy.

The lacing eyelets are fabric stitched through into the upper and the all important additional eyelets are added to the top should one with to ‘lock lace’ or using a simulated lacing technique. I really disliked the laces. I don’t know what it is about them but they always wanted to loosen off, for me anyway. That is just annoying. It’s a minor problem which easily rectified.

The tongue is sewn into the shoe and gusseted. This is great for keeping out debris and providing a secure and welcome foot hold. I found with the wider toe box that I wanted to pull my laces a little tighter than normal to give me a secure and confident feel.

The upper is made of a green breathable mesh and the structure/ rigidity of the upper is created by Kevlar overlays. Notably, Kevlar is the toe protection and then it spreads out like fingers on the side of the shoe to the laces. Pulse the laces tight and the Kevlar pulls in and provides the hold for the foot. Inov-8 have added gaiter eyelets on the rear of the upper should you like to add the optional extra. A solid green band extends around the rear of the shoe, again adding some structure and stability.

The heel box is plush and like all inov-8 shoes I have tested, is very comfortable, run free and provides a firm and secure hold.

I always try to wear any new shoes for a day at home before going for a run. It helps me decide if there will be any issue points and it also helps bed the shoes in. The G260 was our of the box comfortable – really comfortable! I have to say, I am not a zero drop runner, 3/4mm is usually as low as I go. I actually questioned if the G260 was zero drop, they didn’t feel like it. But when I put an 8mm drop shoe on, I really noticed the difference.

My first run was a standard 12km loop which I use for all shoe tests, the reason being is that it has a little of everything. It starts and ends with 1-mile of road at the beginning and end. It has 4km of canal toe path and then what follows is a mix of trail, rocks, stones, forest path, single-track, climbing and descending.

On the road, the G260 felt really great. So much so, I wouldn’t hesitate doing a road run in them. I was conscious over the early mile to run with good form. My mind was telling me I was in zero drop and therefore my technique needed to be good. However, as in my apartment, the run experience was telling me I was in a low-drop shoe, but not zero.

The canal path section was ticked along and after a very dry and sunny patch of weather, the trails were very hard and the G260 flew along them. On the single-track sections and climbing, the shoes performed solidly. Grip at all times was secure and confident. 

Running a long descent is when I really noticed the wide toe box. I had less control than in a precision shoe, but my toes splayed well. They were too wide for me!

As with many inov shoes, they have Meta-Flex, this allows the shoe the bend at the front and those therefore helps with the propulsive phase and toe-off. I found the G260 very flexible.

By the end of the first run, I had run 12km in 65 minutes and had had no issues. On the contrary, I was really impressed with the G260.

After 140km

I have used the G260 on alternate days since receiving them, the primary reason for this being is that zero drop is not my chosen drop, so, I wanted to make sure I reduced the risk of picking up an injury. However, every time I have gone for a run, I have wanted to use the G260 – yes, I like them that much.

They give a very different feel to my current favourite shoes and ironically they are all 8mm drop.

The longest I have run in the G260 is 2-hours and that for me currently feels far enough. I definitely think about my run technique more when using these; no bad thing! But that is mentally tiring. For those who always run zero drop, I think you are going to find the G260 a revelation.

The outsole and upper are showing no signs of any wear at all but I guess with only 140km covered, it is too early to give judgement on long term life. I will come back to that in a month.

It’s a shoe that feels very much of an all-rounder, one that can handle road and trail. In dry conditions I am really impressed, grip is excellent. I haven’t been able to test in the wet as we have had no rain, so, I will have to come back to you on that one.

The cushioning at 9mm is adequate providing enough comfort but not so much that a feel for the ground is compromised. However, on rocky ground, particularly with small stones, I could feel them! There is no rock-plate so you feel a great deal. I also found the cushioning a little lifeless… Some sparkle is missing? It’s fair to say, that with zero drop, the G260 is aimed at efficient runners, so the cushioning should be ideal.

Upper and fit are excellent, I have had no hot spots and the gusseted tongue is a winner. Heel box is perfect holding the foot secure at all times, be that running downhill, climbing, walking or running. I really disliked the laces so I replaced them. On occasion I have ‘lace locked’ the shoes to provide a more secure and firm hold of the foot.

For me, although I enjoy a wide toe box, I would say these feel a little too wide. I am noticeably pulling the laces in tighter to provide a more secure feel. So, if you like wide or need wide, the G260 should be a great shoe for you.

Summary

Early impressions are really good of the G260 and I am absolutely convinced it is going to appeal to many. I personally would use the shoes daily if it were not for the zero drop, but that is me! I am certainly going to be interested to see if 4mm and or 8mm drop versions become available?

The more aggressive Mudclaw 260 Graphene version has 4mm drop and the classic 8mm studs, so, if mud is your thing, you have an option to the G260.

However, if you want one shoe that can do everything well (not sloppy mud) in a zero drop, the G260 is a shoe for you to consider.

Personally, several issues are worth considering: 

  1. The toe box is wide and maybe too wide for some. 
  2. I found the cushioning a little lifeless? 
  3. At 9mm cushioning this is a shoe for efficient runners.
  4. Zero drop is not for everyone.
  5. So far, the Graphene and Kevlar are doing the job that inov-8 say – good grip and less wear and tear.

I will feedback more after long-term testing.

You can view the Graphene range and find out more information on the inov-8 website https://www.inov-8.com/us/terraultra-g-260-mens-womens?___store=us

SCAFELL SKY RACE AND THE LAKES SKY ULTRA 2018 Preview

EXCITEMENT AHEAD OF THE SCAFELL SKY RACE AND THE LAKES SKY ULTRA

The English Lakes provides a great area this coming weekend when many of the UK’s best Skyrunner’s descend on Ambleside to participate in the first two races of the 2018 Skyrunner UK National Series.

SCAFELL SKY RACE

The 40km Scafell Sky Racetakes place on July 15th. It is a pure mountain race with 3000m of vertical gain. At times, it is a technical race and uses a multitude of single-track. In 2017, the amazing Lucy Bartholomew, who recently placed 3rd at the iconic Western States said, “The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I have ever done!”

Lucy Bartholomew ©guillemcsanova

In 2018, the race has significant importance as it is a qualifying race for the Skyrunning UK National Team that will participate at the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships at Glen Coe in Scotland.

18 slots are available, 6 per race – VK, SKY and ULTRA and places will be awarded as follows:

1. Ranking places – 6 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, to the two top ranked athletes in VK, SKY and ULTRA categories based on the Skyrunning ranking.

2. Qualifying places – 4 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, for SKY and ULTRA (4 entries in total) based on the results from Scafell Sky Race.

3. VK places – 2 in total.

2 entries for the VK will be awarded for any UK athletes who show previous experience/ results on the Vertical Kilometer World Circuit or via Scafell Sky Race.

4. Merit places – 6 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, for VK, SKY and ULTRA based on the discretion of Skyrunning UK.

In the event of an invited athlete being unable or wishing not to take a place in the National team, Skyrunning UK will roll down the Skyrunning ranking (point 1), roll down the results from Scafell Sky Race (point 2), scroll down VK experience (point 3) and use discretion to award merit places (point 4).

In all scenarios, the final decision rests with Skyrunning UK.

So, who are the hot contenders for the overall podium places in the Scafell Sky Race?

Skyrunner World Series Champion and multi OCR World Champion, Jon Albon heads-up the field and will almost certainly be the man to beat come race day. But rest assured runner’s, Jon gets an auto entry in the Skyrunning UK National Team for the world champs, he has decided to race the ultra-distance event.

Marcus Scotney has won the Dragons Back Race, The Cape Wrath Ultra and is an ever-present in a GB vest. He loves the mountains, technical terrain and racing hard. He will, without doubt be a prime contender for a podium slot.

Tom Evans is a late entry and has been a revelation since placing 3rd at Marathon des Sables in 2017. What has followed is a whirlwind of races and great performances. In early 2018 he obliterated the course record at The Coastal Challenge ahead of Hayden Hawks and recently he placed 3rd at the IAU World Trail Championships.

Steve Birkinshaw needs no introduction the fell and mountain running, he has been there and done that. He recently said to me that he lacks speed these days but just last weekend he paced Kilian Jornet on leg 4 of his Bob Graham Round record, so, his slow is most people’s fast!

Sally Fawcett is an experienced mountain runner and has represented GB. She won the Lakeland 50 and has placed highly at the World Trail Championships.

Sarah Sheridan has raced many of the UK series races and has had great results recently at 9th place at the Maxi Race Ultra in May 2018 and she was 6th place at the UTMR in 2017.

Ones to watch:

  • Andy Bryce
  • Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn
  • Tristan Pope
  • Brennan Townshend
  • Beth Albon
  • Catherine Slater
  • Henriette Albon
  • Tamsin Cass

The race starts at 0900 from Seathwaite Farm and the first runner can be expected in Ambleside around 1330, however, remember, this may well be a fast year… arrive at the finish early! The route is a classic to be reckoned with. Participants willsummit Englands highest mountain and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District via sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in.  Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. 

LAKES SKY ULTRA

Relentless, technical and designed to test you to the limit. The 56km race with 4500m of ascent requires a rounded athlete with experience, has mountain running strength, endurance, speed, balance and skill to the maximum. From grassy trods and well-worn mountain paths, to bare rock and scree, open fell, bogs and tussocks, the race is the ultimate test.

Inspired by the great Sky races of Europe, Lakes Sky Ultrais a technically demanding course that requires athletes to be vetted to ensure that only the most experienced will tackle this ultra-distance route.It contains ridges and one of the most gravity-defying scrambles the Lake District has to offer. Racers need a good head for heights and nerves of steel: their going to traverse three of the most iconic ridge-lines in the Lake District: Swirral Edge, the knife-edge of Striding Edge and the very alpine and technical Pinnacle Ridge.

The Scafell Sky Race being a UK qualifier has certainly impacted on the LSU but a great line-up of runners are set to do battle on the fells. Andy Berry will be racing hard for a repeat win at the LSU and is certainly one of the favorites for the top podium spot. James Elson is an experienced ultra-runner and ever-present on the UK scene. Has had great success at the 100-mile distance and has figured in the top ranks at Lakeland 100. Jarek Czuba made the podium V3K and Jason Millward was 4th at the 2017 Lakes Sky Ultra, can he make the podium this year? Rob Sinclair is a major contender for the overall victory, he won KMF 50 and smashed the record, set by Donnie Campbell in 2016, by 18-minutes. Tim Campion Smith was the winner of the 2017 Scafell Sky Race and this year steps up to the big brother, also watch out for Andy Bryce who placed 3rd last year, although he is going for the double! Sophie Grant heads up a small contingent of ladies who are taking on the LSU challenge. She is the overall favourite for victory after placing 2ndin 2016 and don’t be surprised if she does not impact on the overall ranking.

The race starts at 0700 on Saturday July 14th. First runners are expected in Ambleside around 1400hrs and the race cut off is at 2100.

All information for the weekend can be found at the race website

LAKE DISTRICT SKY TRAILS here.

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Kilian Jornet smashes Bob Graham Round record

It all dates back to 1932 (actually earlier) when a certain Bob Graham broke the Lakeland Fell record by traversing 42 fells and peaks within a 24-hour period, he ran 23:39. The ‘round’ has since become synonymous with fell runners as a bucket list item to do.

In 1960, Alan Heaton lowered the record to 22:18 and it dropped over the years to 17:45 by Mike Nicholson in 1977. But it was in 1982 when Billy Bland stormed around in 13 hours 53 minutes that set the benchmark that stood the test of time; 36-years to be exact.

Bland’s record has been considered almost untouchable… many have tried, but the difficulty of the route, the distance the elevation gain and loss, the need for a team of helpers to run the legs and of course the weather, all must combine for a perfect storm.

In 2016, Jasmin Paris ran 15:24 and suddenly the ‘impossible’ started to look possible. Read Here

Fell runner’s looked at Paris’s run and realised that Bland’s time was possible. It was something that Bland himself agreed on. He has often stated that the record is there to be broken and he couldn’t understand why nobody had.

The route can be run clockwise or anti-clockwise and starts at the Moot Hall in Keswick.

The summits are as follows:

Skiddaw

Great Calva

Blencathra

Threlkeld *road crossing point

Clough Head

Great Dodd

Watson’s Dodd

Stybarrow Dodd

Raise

White Side

Lowerman

Helvellyn

Nethermost Pike

Dollywagon Pike

Fairfield

Seat Sandal

Dunmail Raise *road crossing point

Steel Fell

Calf Crag

High Raise

Sergeant Man

Thunacar Knott

Harrison Stickle

Pike O’ Stickle

Rossett Pike

Bowfell

Esk Pike

Great End

Ill Crag

Broad Crag

Scafell Pike

Scafell

Wasdale Campsite *road crossing point

Yewbarrow

Red Pike

Steeple

Pillar

Kirk Fell

Great Gable

Green Gable

Brandreth

Grey Knotts

Honister Pass *road crossing point

Dale Head

Hindscarth

Robinson

Moot Hall, Keswick

Kilian Jornet has always been interested in the history of running and the Bob Graham Round has certainly been on his radar for some time. However, his Summits of My Life project had most certainly been a priority ever since 2012. But in 2017, this project was complete and he was now open to new possibilities. In September he came to Scotland to race the Glen Coe Skyline, a race that he won. He had considered an attempt at the ‘Bob’ before or after, however, conditions in September were not ideal, so, the project was shelved.

In early 2018, Kilian suffered an accident in a SkiMo race, he broke his leg, this put him out of action for months. However, he dedicated himself to recovery. At times using cycling to keep aerobic fitness and then when allowed by doctors, he returned to the mountains. Not running, just doing big days with the aim of regaining mountain fitness without damaging his fragile leg.

In June, Kilian could see light at the end of the tunnel and he decided, after clearing with medical teams, to return to racing at the Monte Rosa Sky Marathon (here). In all honesty, it was the perfect return event… You see, Kilian has very much based his career around Skyrunning following in the footsteps of Giacometti, Meraldi, Brunod and De Gasperi. The event had not run for 25-years but the Monte Rosa Skymarathon was ‘the’ event that created the sport of Skyrunning. Racing in teams of two, Kilian teamed up with his partner, Emelie Forsberg and the duo created a new part of history… Emelie dictated the pace for the duo and in the process set a new FKT for Alagna-Monte Rosa- Alagna. Kilian was back?

Well, even Kilian was unsure? In his words, “Next week I run the Mont Blanc Marathon, this is a fast running race and I am just not sure how I will feel with such an effort? My leg feels good but this will be a test!”

Mont Blanc Marathon arrived one week later and amongst a world-class field, Kilian won. It was an incredible return and one that confirmed that Kilian as the supreme sportsman that he is.

What was next?

Well, in Monte Rosa, I had discussed the ‘Bob’ with Kilian and he said it was on the cards, and that he just needed the window of opportunity, the weather and the correct people in place.

Cut to early July, just day’s after Mont Blanc Marathon and Kilian arrived in the Lakes. He was on the fells and doing a recce of the route. The weather window was good and with some frantic planning, an attempt was put together.

0600, July 8th. Kilian departed the Moot Hall, Keswick on his first attempt at the Bob Graham Round.

It’s important to clarify and Kilian is the first to acknowledge this, that any record attempt on the ‘Bob’ is not possible without the right people. For clarification, to run an official Bob Graham Round you must have runners with you at all times to help pace, navigate and confirm that you reach the summits. The Bob Graham Round club are very active in helping with this process. It is allowed that these ‘pacers’ can mule for the runner.

Kilian had a line-up of pacers that are world-class, nothing else would do! Let’s face it, if the record was on, he’d need people that could not only navigate the best lines and route, but also be able to keep up! Somewhat intimidating to know that you will need to run with the best mountain runner in the world.

The route is broken down into ‘legs’ and the pacers work on certain legs and are then replaced by fresh runners for the next leg – for the pacers and navigators, it’s like a relay. For Kilian, it’s an all out run as fast as you can loop.

Kilian had stated he was going 13:25.

READ KILIAN’S RACE REPORT HERE

How it unfolded

Early reports came in that he was 6-7 minutes up on the record – I posted this around 10:20am so Kilian had already been going 4-hours.

At 11:23 I posted that Kilian was on leg 3 and had 21-minutes on Billy’s time. It was getting exciting… Temperatures were rising and Kilian had a sting of supporters.

I had reports coming in from friends on the course and I was doing my best to build a picture of Kilian’s progress. I joked that Kilian was moving so fast that by the time I had an update, it was old news.

It soon became clear that the record was not only on, but it may will be obliterated.

Kilian arrived at Dunmail with 4:30 elapsed and this placed him 30-minute UP on Billy’s record.

It was a hot day though, anything could happen…. And what about Kilian’s leg, would it hold up to the relentless fells?

At Harrison Stickle, Kilian arrived at 11:51 am with approximately 5:51 elapsed – the record was really on and excitement started to grow.

Image copyright Paul Taylor

Bowfell came at 12:45 with 6:45 elapsed. He was looking fresh and reports confirmed that he was moving well.

The pace was relentless and the support incredible.

Image copyright Fellrunningbrief and Kim Collison

Good friend and experienced fell runner, Kim Collison confirmed that Kilian was 34mins UP on the record at Scaffell Pike – history was being written on the Lakeland fells!

Social media became a frenzy of Bob Graham hashtags and by early afternoon, many began to realise history was going to be re-written, a 36-year record was going to fall barring a disaster.

The Moot Hall, Keswick soon became a new meeting point for Sunday night as runners from over the UK made the journey to welcome Kilian home.

Image copyright Amelia Hunt

Amelia Hunt confirmed that Kilian passed Yewbarrow at 14:00hrs – that placed home approximately 40-minutes up on the record.

Kilian passed Gable at 16:10hrs.

As Kilian entered a network blackout area, a lack of updates left questions on how fast he was going and then suddenly I had a confirmed report that he was approximately 45-minutes ahead of Billy’s record… was this possible? Was it possible that he could be going so fast?

Image copyright Andy Jackson

Andy Jackson ran from Grey Knotts with Kilian and confirmed he was flying “Ran from Grey Knotts with Kilian and pacers. He stopped for 2mins for food and drink and pushed on. Had a great team with him: Scoffer, Paul Aitken and Steve Birkenshaw.”

Image copyright Honister Slate Mines

Finally an update came from Honister Slate Mines at 1700 hrs +/-.

Kilian passed Dalehead at 17:26hrs and now sub13 was looking possible!

Image copyright the lakes mike

Kilian arrived at the final summit Robinson at 17:52 – the record was going down and by a big margin!

At 18:20hrs Kilian arrived on the road at Little Town and before we knew it, he was at the Moot Hall.

New record 12:52 (tbc) – 1h 01m quicker than Billy Bland – wow!

IT IS OFF THE SCALE.

Image copyright Tim Harper

In the words of @kilianj 

“Thanks Billy, I had better conditions than you, the best pacers and your inspiration to give everything! And even like that it was sooo sooo hard!!! Thanks to Carl, Chris, Martin, Josh, Jebby, Steve, Paul, Andrew, Neil, Paul and all the guys who has been helping out, without you guys it wouldn’t been possible ! Big big thanks to Martin for making it real and such an organization last minute, thanks Shane, Thanks Jordi and thanks all the people cheering on the route. This Bob Graham Round was an amazing experience!” Photo ©timharper shared from Kilian’s IG account.

As I write today, I still struggle to comprehend the speed at which Kilian completed this route and a huge credit must go to the team behind this. Kilian had the ‘best of the best’ to pace and navigate him. Without them this could not have happened. He had perfect weather, maybe a little too hot for some? And the ground conditions were ideal enabling a fast time.

Like I said, it takes a Perfect Storm for a record to happen. But Billy’s record was just beaten, it was elevated to a whole new level. Just think, Billy’s record has stood for 36-years, how long will Kilian’s stand for?

Records are made to be broken and this is one record that elevates Kilian to a whole new level and I think finally, he may well get the respect from many who have said that he is not a ‘runner!’ With this record, he has done something so special, it is a great sporting achievement that should be embraced by all. It’s not fell running, mountain running, ultra running, Skyrunning or any label, it is just running – let’s embrace it for that.

Kilian undertook this FKT attempt in the true spirit of the ‘Bob,’ *it was low-key, without grandeur, without PR, without announcement, without film crews or photographers – it was man agains the fells. It says a great deal about the man and his character, he is a true ambassador for the sport. Post his finish in Keswick, he returned to the steps of the Moot Hall and sat for a hour with the assembled fans to ‘give back’ as he chatted and posed for photos.

Sporting achievements come and go, some truly last the test of time. Billy Bland’s record stood the test of time and now we have a new level. I personally can’t foresee this record being broken for many a year? But in year’s to come, I will be able to look back at July 8 2018 and remember that I witnessed a truly great sporting achievement by a truly great man. The word legend is used a great deal, in Kilian Jornet we have a living legend.

I will be interviewing Kilian on July 10th or 11th and his interview will be on Episode 159 of Talk Ultra podcast (Here). It will also be transcribed and post as word interview on this website.

*It came to light after the event that Lymbus employed a film crew and photographers to document Kilian’s BGR. At the time off writing this was unknown to me and I think to the general public. I still stand by the fact this attempt was low-key and without fanfare. Having now interviewed several of the pacers who helped Kilian on the legs, they have also confirmed that Kilian was ‘in the true spirit’ of the Bob Graham.

Sky Erciyes – Sky Ultra Trail 2018 – Images and Summary

The Erciyes Ultra Skytrail was a seriously tough and challenging 64km race with 3000m of vertical gain held under an incredible hot and sunny Turkish day. A high altitude race, it starts and concludes at 2200m. Over the 64km it reaches 2600m on two occasions but it rolls along repeatedly dropping and rising. With over 40km covered, the route drops to just over 1600m and then once again climbs back to 2600m over 10km – it is tough! HERE

The men’s race had a triple whammy of Kemal Kukul, Cevdet Alyilmaz and Mehmet Zahir Kul who ran within minutes of each other all day, they crossed the line in 8:38:12. In the ladies’ race it was Aylin Savaci Armador who took top honours in 11:50:52 ahead of Sevil Toker and Deniz Berke, their times 12:02 and 14:40.

60km results HERE

The 25km goes around high plateau, often higher than 2000mt. Occasionally, the trail runs over eroded lava rock surfaces, the event is a point-to-point and concludes at the ski centre. HERE

The event was a result repeat from the previous day’s VK (here) with Ahmet Arslan taking victory over Pau Capell. The duo ran close together in the early stages but Capell was feeling some soreness in his thigh and took and extended break to ease it off. Arslan pulled away and at the line the gap was 4-minutes, 2:13:37 and 2:17:06 – the duo obliterating the old course record. Serdar Unalan placed 3rd in 2:52:31 after Ahmet Bayram holding that position for most of the day.

As in the VK, Elena Polyakova once again took victory, her time 3:12:53 which was good enough for 7th overall. Bike Geckinli and Esther Koopmanschap were 2nd and 3rd.

25km results HERE

The 10km is trail run that takes places along the eastern hills of the Erciyes Volcano in Kayseri. The distance is about 12 km with an elavation loss of 830 m+. HERE

 

10km results HERE

Mount Erciyes is the highest mountain in Central Anatolia, the mountain has a radius of 18 km and covers and area of 1100 km2. The race hub for the weekend was the Ericyes Ski Resort, near the city of Kayseri. For many centuries Kayseri has been an important hub on the silk road. In ancient times the city was famous for the fast horses bred in her stables. throughout history it took different names under different kingdoms, consecutively, Mazaka in Tabal kingdom period, Eusebia during Capadyoccian Kingdom, Caeseria in Roman period and Kayseri in under Turkih reigns of Karamanoglu, Selçuk and Ottoman Kingdoms.

All images will be posted HERE should you wish to purchase

Sky Erciyes VK 2018 Summary and Images

Turkey today hosted the Sky Erciyes VK – Europes highest VK reaching 3350m to the Ottoman cable car just below the incredible backdrop of Mt Erciyes.

The Vertical Kilometer covers 4.5km and climbs 1007m, starting at 2336m and reaching a highest point of 3350m. The terrain is mostly rocky. Gradients vary but in the steepest sections, a gradient of 64% can be found – average over the entire course is 23%.

The day was dominated by Ahmet Arslan who set a new course record betting the previous time by over 10-minutes (official times to follow).

Spain’s Pau Capell was 2nd running his first ever VK. On the finish line he said, ‘That was tough… painful, they just hurt,   maybe I should have run for a hour first to warm up!”

First Lady was the ever-present Elena Polyakova who races regularly in Turkey – this was another victory to who her already swelling list.

More results and information on the race website HERE

Tomorrow, Saturday 7th, the weekend concludes with a 10km, 25km and the main event, the Erciyes Ultra Trail which covers 64km and 3000m of vertical gain.

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Episode 158 – Forsberg, Symonds, Gerardi and Grant

Episode 158 of Talk Ultra and we bring you three interviews from the Monte Rosa SkymarathonEmelie Forsberg talks about placing 3rd overall with Kilian Jornet and setting their FKT for women. Andy Symonds talks about partnering Tom Owens and Hillary Gerardi was one half of the ladies winning team, her partner was Holly Page. We also bring you a full and in-depth interview with Joe Grant about his unsupported Nolans 14 FKT record.
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00:13:04 NEWS
Start with apology… we couldn’t get Magdalena Boulet for the show, but, we hope to have her on the next show.
WESTERN STATES
Well, Jim Walmsley finally did it and what a stunning and well deserved victory and course record. It took three attempts but finally the patience paid off and he nailed it to perfection. The un-stoppable Francois d’Haene placed 2nd – he is a class act but just didn’t have the speed of Walmsley. Mark Hammond was 3rd. 14:30:04 th new CR, 15:54 for 2nd and 16:08:59 for 3rd. Notably Ian Sharman 4th in 16:23 his 9th top-10 WSER finish.
Courney Dewaulter IS the lady of the moment – wow, she was our favorite and she fulfilled expectations. Kathy Gerbin was 2nd in 18:40:19. Huge shout out to Lucy Bartholomew, I have known this lady for many year’s and always knew that she would elevate herself yo a new level. Over the last three years she has grown, matured and become one seriously driven individual. Mark my words, she is a star of the future. Her time 18:59:45.
MONTE ROSA SKYMARATHON here
After 25 years, Skyrunning returned to its home following in the footsteps if Marino Giacometti’s pioneering days. The legendary race was re-created racing from Alagna, to the summit of Monte Rosa and back to the town of Alagna. It was an epic and monumental day in the mountains and for sure, it has once again illuminated a new spark in the pure essence and roots of Skyrunning.
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00:33:19 Interview with EMELIE FORSBERG
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01:11:08 Interview with ANDY SYMONDS
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01:42:53 Interview with HILLARY GERARDI
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MONT BLANC MARATHON
A week after Monte Rosa and Kilian goes and proves who really is the boss placing Marc Lauenstein and Stian Angermund Vik in 2nd and 3rd – It was a top quality line up! Kilian ran 3:54 ahead of 3:58 and 4:00.
Ruth Croft beat Ida Nilsson 4:37 to 4:39. In 3rd was Eli Gordon.
BUFF EPIC TRAIL 42km
Marc Pinsach was 1st ahead of Finlay Wild and Miguel Cabellro – 4:23, 4:29 and 4:33
Holly Page dominated the ladies race in 5:03 and of Oihana Azkorbebeitia in 5:27 with Mercedes Pila 3rd.
NOLANS 14
What a weekend for the 14ers, Alex Nichols set a supported record of 46:41 beating the previous best by Iker Karrera and Joe Grant set an unsupported record of 49:38
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02:24:10 Interview with JOE GRANT
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UP and COMING RACES
Check out the world ultra calendar on https://marathons.ahotu.comyou can do a specific search for the ultra calendar HERE
Ultramarthon calendar HERE
Race calendar for JULY 2018 HERE
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03:28:55
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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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Sky Erciyes Preview 2018

A stunning weekend of running awaits for those looking for a challenge in a unique environment, yes, Turkey hosts the Sky Erciyes all within the stunning backdrop of Mt Erciyes.

 

Four races, 10km, 25km and the two main events of the weekend, the VK which is Europes highest VK reaching 3350m and the tough and challenging Erciyes Ultra Trail which covers 64km and 3000m of vertical gain.

The Vertical Kilometer covers 4.5km and climbs 1007m, starting at 2336m and reaching a highest point of 3350m. The terrain is mostly rocky. Gradients vary but in the steepest sections, a gradient of 64% can be found – average over the entire course is 23%.

The Erciyes Ultra Skytrail is a tough and challenging 64km race with 3000m of vertical gain. It’s a high altitude race as it starts and concludes at 2200m. Over the 64km it reaches 2600m on two occasions but it rolls along repeatedly dropping and rising. With over 40km covered, the route drops to just over 1600m and then once again climbs back to 2600m over 10km – it is tough!

Heading the line up of the race is Pau Capell sponsored by The North Face, of course, he will need to fend of the local competition who will be looking to push the Spanish runner all the way to the line!

In addition to the above, there is a 25km Trail Run and a 10km.

Mount Erciyes is the highest mountain in Central Anatolia, the mountain has a radius of 18 km and covers and area of 1100 km2. The race hub for the weekend will be the Ericyes Ski Resort, near the city of Kayseri. For many centuries Kayseri has been an important hub on the silk road. In ancient times the city was famous for the fast horses bred in her stables. throughout history it took different names under different kingdoms, consecutively, Mazaka in Tabal kingdom period, Eusebia during Capadyoccian Kingdom, Caeseria in Roman period and Kayseri in under Turkih reigns of Karamanoglu, Selçuk and Ottoman Kingdoms.

RACE WEBSITE – HERE

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Sue Ding and the 2018 Marathon des Sables #MDS2018

Marathon des Sables is an iconic race. For over 30-years it has been the leading example of multi-day racing all over the world. It has often been copied, but never bettered. In its incredible history, runners from all over the world have toed the line for the experience of a lifetime.

In 2018, for the first time ever, a Malaysian lady toed the line in the hope to be the first Malaysian lady ever to complete the race.

Sue Ding has been living in the UK for over 20-years. She came from Kuala Lumpur to study law at Liverpool University and then stayed successfully building her own legal practice in London. She is an entrepreneur, business woman and is extremely successful.

Running became an escape from the everyday stress of work. Like many, Sue built to the marathon distance and has successfully completed London, Berlin and Tokyo. But Marathon des Sables was something very different – a new challenge.

I first met Sue when she joined our Lanzarote Training Camp (HERE) in January 2018.

I was fortunate to follow her journey as she prepared for the 2018 MDS, both in training and then day-by-day throughout the race.

It turned out to be quite a story and shows that the mental aspect of ultra-running is often far more important than fitness.

You can listen to a full and in-depth interview with Sue on Talk Ultra podcast HERE

What initially made you decide to take part in MDS?

I had heard about the Marathon des Sables from friends and I had seen images on Instagram. It enticed me, I was looking for a new challenge and although I thought the race was beyond my ability I took the plunge and entered. I told nobody for two weeks as I couldn’t decide if I had done the right thing. When I did finally disclose my intentions, some friends and relatives were negative saying I was crazy and that I couldn’t do it… I needed no better motivation to prove them wrong!

You have run several marathons such as London and Tokyo. How does the MDS compare?

Other than running or walking, there is no comparison really. A road marathon is a challenge but it is safe, you have aid stations, there is always help at hand. MDS is just so much more than just running. It brings in elements of survival, it plays games with your mind and it pushes the individual to depths that they maybe never even realised they could reach.  MDS is truly a transformational experience and although I will always remember my first road marathon, I now think, ‘it is only a marathon!’

What was your training and preparation like for the MDS? What are the differences in comparison to a road marathon?

In all honesty, marathon training is actually good preparation for MDS as the individual stages are marathon distance or below. Of course, the exception is the ‘long day’ which in 2018 was 86.4km (around 53 miles, so two marathons). Marathon training works well but of course one needs to build up strength and stamina for the challenge ahead. Therefore, most people allow 12-months to get ready for MDS. Time on feet is important and also including some specific ‘training’ races that provide a similar scenario to MDS. For example. Several races in the UK last 2 or 3 days therefore providing a mini MDS scenario.

I also signed up for a specific desert training camp in Lanzarote, 3-months ahead of the race. This proved to be essential as I met other competitions, we trained on terrain specific and comparable to Morocco and I was able to test equipment. We even spent one night sleeping inside a volcano to simulate camp conditions in the Sahara.

Training Camp information HERE 

Finally, two points. 1. Many runners think they will run MDS – the reality is that they will not! Walking is an essential and integral part of completing MDS for most participants and I can’t stress enough to walk, walk and walk in training. 2. Prepare the mind for the challenge. If you get the mind in the right place it will take the body to the line.

What was the biggest challenges out in the Sahara?

The challenges change daily. For example, just starting on day 1 seemed like a huge challenge as I was so anxious and nervous.

Then on day 2 I was silly and neglected taking my salt tablets, this impacted on my hydration and caused me to be dizzy. It was touch and go but I rallied and achieved the finish line.

That night we were hit by a sand storm which wiped out our tent and reduced sleep to a minimum. So, as you see, the challenges change daily, by the hour or even by the minute at times. This is what makes MDS so special, it is how you adapt both physically and more importantly, mentally at times.

How did you cope with the challenges, did you feel prepared?

One can only prepare so much. I really dedicated myself to the task and prepared methodically for the challenge. But after Tokyo Marathon I picked up a stress fracture.

Photo ©sueding

This resulted in no running for three weeks and then a slow return to training. Ironically, my final preparation to MDS was terrible and that worried me. Friends were always positive, they told me, ‘You can do this!’ I trusted them and despite my reservations, I achieved the start line.

Equipment is equipment but it is essential. I took advice from the training camp and honed my equipment for my needs. I made last minute changes to the pack I would use and I also changed my down jacket. It all worked well. During the race you must be flexible and adapt to conditions – tiredness, dehydration, sore legs, snoring tent mates, sharing a space with 7 others – you can’t really prepare for that, it is this that makes MDS such an experience, it is a journey into the unknown.

What did you enjoy most about the whole experience?

I was so anxious before the race but I feel like I blossomed as the race progressed. I embraced the challenge and got the race done – I did that and nobody can take that away. But my tent mates, Tent 95 were incredible and they will be friends for life. You were also at the race and shared my journey, that was so special and something that I will never forget. The race is a life changer, I was told this before I went to Morocco, it’s only now, afterwards, that I realised that this is true.

What were some of the most memorable or unforgettable moments for you, explain why?

1. Tent 95 – Gary, Daniel, Mark, James, Brian, Taka and Denise were just the best. We laughed, we shared our stories in the morning and the evening and we rallied and encouraged each other. We all finished – what an experience!

2. On the long day it was dark, I was walking through large sand dunes and I was listening to Craig Armstrong music, I looked up to the sky and saw thousands of stars… I was lost in my mind and thoughts and it was truly magical.

3. I had low points throughout the race, times of despair and worries if I could push on through. They were my lowest moments but each time they became the most memorable – you would always arrive, just at the right time.

4. I got some really bad blisters which needed medical treatment and caused great pain – I had to continue on, ignore the negative and fight each day to achieve my goals.

How did you manage the conditions – heat, survival, rationed food etc?

In all honesty, I was expecting the worst and the reality was not as bad. We had cold nights, sand storms and hot days but I managed. I wore the same clothes for ten days with no showering or proper washing, it was unpleasant but I survived. I craved fresh food and had to eat dehydrated food.

I wanted so much a different drink other than water but water is the only thing available. I keep saying it but this is MDS. It is meant to test you mentally as much as physically and you need to embrace it. If you fight it, your week will be miserable. It’s best to laugh and soak up the experience.

A Coke after the long day was so magical – simple pleasure! Going to the toilet is also somewhat an experience… you will need to use your imagination for that one!

What went through your mind during the race?

Ha! What didn’t I think about…? I put the world to rights, thought about my past, thought about my future. I concentrated on one foot ahead of the other and I escaped with music.

You have a great deal of time to think and I think this is why, for many, MDS has such an impact. You suddenly realise what is important. I have realised it. Experiences and memories are far greater than things and possessions – the Sahara and the MDS made me feel truly alive, pushed me to the limit and beyond.

Did you doubt yourself at any time, elaborate?

I had huge doubts and anxiety before the race but did as much specific preparation as possible and I listened to you and Elisabet Barnes,  you both told me I could do it. I was so nervous on day 1 and of course on day 2 I was extremely worried.

However, as the race progressed the stronger mentally I became. I was more tired, my body ached, my feet hurt but my mind was strong, there was no way I was giving up or not finishing – I had to prove all the doubters before the race wrong.

One lady had said, ‘If you finish the race, I will eat my hat!’ Guess what? I bought a hat in Morocco after the race…

What was crossing the finish line like?

On the marathon stage I had a moment early on when I cried but I got over it and pushed on despite the pain.

The miles ticked by and then as the finish line came, you were waiting as were all my tent 95 teammates.

I had no more tears left, just smiles and gratitude. I was flying the Malaysian flag, I kissed my cross which was around my neck and I gave thanks for the opportunity to complete a truly magical, life changing journey.

What are the biggest takeaways from the race?

We are too protected, too comfortable in the world and we shy away from tough times. A little tough, some challenge, some hardship and some pain makes you realise you are truly alive.

I went to so many low points during the race and overcame them, I made new friends and I triumphed over arguably the toughest challenge I have ever undertaken.

I now feel invincible, I feel alive!

If you did MDS again, what would you change in preparation and why?

Well, I would definitely try not to get a stress fracture just 8 weeks before the race. In general though, I feel everything clicked into place. I would make sure my shoes did not give me blisters, I made a mistake there going with a shoe size too large.

What advice would you give to future MDS runners?

Prepare the mind and the legs and lungs will followI also had a ‘special’ bag with me ‘Not Gonna Happen’ it contained daily inspiration to keep me going… It was invaluable.

MDS is described as the toughest race on earth, on a scale of 1-10 give it a rating and explain why?

Tough question as I have done nothing like it to compare, so, for me it would be a 8, or 9. But the daily cut off times are generous and it is possible to complete the race walking, so, like I said previously, get the mind right and anything is possible.

Certainly, no change of clothes, carrying everything one needs on ones back and having rationed food and water takes things to another level and therefore it’s a combination of all those elements that makes the race so tough.

MDS is not cheap, can you elaborate on how much the whole process cost?

I don’t really want to think about it… The race costs so much more than just the entry fee. For example, entry fee, flights and hotels around £4000. But I started to prepare 12 moths in advance. I did training races, I did the Lanzarote training camp, I purchased all my equipment and then changed my equipment. I added some extras such as staying in Morocco afterwards. I have not tallied up the total cost but it would easily be £10.000.

You are the first Malaysian woman to complete the race, how does that make you feel?

I am proud to be Malaysian and cross the line flying the flag – it is a real honour.

You ran for charities, Make A Wish Malaysia and Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better, how much did you raise?

The total goes up daily as donations come in, but currently it is over £25.000.

“We all have our stories, we got together, encouraged each other, were there for each other, we went on a 250km MDS journey together… We are friends forever Tent 95! I was also privileged to have the additional support of a truly dear friend who documented our journey. Friendship and love completed the journey.”

#suckitupprincess

Check out Sue in MARIE CLAIRE – http://marieclaire.com.my/lifestyle/features/marie-claire-amazing-women-2018/5/