The Real Relay – Endurancelife

The Endurance Life crew went to see the Olympic Torch in Devon last week and thought, how come this relay involves shuttling the Torch about in a car!? Being ones up for a challenge or two, they developed a cunning plan for a real relay

Endurance Life release

The Real Relay
Runners attempt 8000 mile non-stop relay around Britain

An extraordinary attempt to run the entire route of the Olympic Torch Relay will begin next week in Cornwall. Starting out from Land’s End at midnight on Monday 28th May, the Endurancelife Real Relay will involve hundreds of runners from across Great Britain who will collectively run every step of the 8000 mile route in one non-stop adventure.


Each runner will take on a section of the continuous route, passing the Real Relay baton down the line. Despite starting out ten days later than the official Olympic Torch Relay, the Real Relay aims to reach London’s Olympic Park ahead of it. For this to be achieved, the Real Relay must keep going for 24 hours of each day with team members running non-stop through day and night.

Organisers of the Real Relay, Endurancelife, are inviting runners from all over Britain to run their local section. To be eligible, runners must be capable of maintaining a ten minute mile pace for the duration of their section and make a minimum £10 donation to the Real Relay’s official charity, CHICKS.


Sections will range from ten to one hundred miles. Runners can sign up online via the Endurancelife Facebook page.

Over forty sections of the route between Land’s End to Bristol are currently online, with the remaining sections to be added over the coming days and weeks.

Endurancelife Director, Andrew Barker, who conceived the idea of the Real Relay said:

“We watched the Olympic torch pass through our Devon village last weekend and, as the torch bearer jumped in the van to drive on to the next destination, we looked at each other and thought, but what if the torch just kept on running? It’s an awe-inspiring challenge we’re setting and many will say it simply can’t be done.

“But we’re confident that the Real Relay will capture the imaginations of the Great British public and enough runners will be inspired to take part and make it happen. We’re determined to prove that the 8000 mile journey can be done the real way, non-stop and on foot.”

A uniquely designed Real Relay baton will contain a special tracking device so that anyone can follow its progress online throughout its 59 day journey.

Skyrunning South Africa – press release

South African trail running takes to the Sky official press release – 24nd May, 2012

In 1991, an Italian man by the name of Marino Giacometti (pictured left) introduced the world to a brand new concept of running. Traversing some of Europe’s highest peaks including Monta Rosa in northern Italy and Mont Blanc in France, Giacometti’s dream was to create a series of unique and challenging mountain running events that encapsulated the true meaning of “running in the clouds”. A few years later, and with the first high altitude trial hosted on the slopes of Mount Everest, Skyrunning was born.

Twenty years on, and as the interest in Skyrunning continues to grow at a rapid rate in both Europe and in North America, as well as in Asia and New Zealand, South
Africa begins a new chapter in the development of off-road running as this dynamic sport makes its way to our country’s mountain ranges.

In August 2011, the South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) was founded, becoming a voting member of the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF). As part of its mandate, SASA’s goals and objectives include helping with the ISF’s vision of growing and promoting the sport of Skyrunning on a global basis, introducing local South African runners to the idea of competing on a national Skyrunning circuit, and international runners to the opportunity of competing on South African soil.
So what is Skyrunning you ask? The ISF have introduced a unique criteria that defines a Skyrunning event. From specific cumulative altitude gain across the race route profile, to minimum and maximum elevations above sea level, Skyrunning events encompass a wide variety of mountain terrain. Comprising of events such as the Skymarathon®, Skyrace® and Vertical Kilomoeter®, as well as the newly introduced Skytrail, some 35 000 athletes world-wide enjoy National, European and World Series events. The Skygames®, which takes place every four years in the same year as the Olympics, also offers Skyrunners from around the world the opportunity to represent their country in a multi-disciplined format of mountain races.

As one of the primary objectives of SASA, its mandate includes identifying existing trail and mountain running events in South Africa that will be interested in hosting a national Skyrunning circuit event. Coupled with these existing events, the opportunity also lies in the introduction of new mountain running races as part of this national circuit, events that will continue to pioneer this new chapter in the county’s mountain running scene, all gaining recognition as official Skyrunning races. “There are many quality South African races which already exist and qualify to host a national circuit event,” says James Hallett, founder of SASA. “With a landscape that boasts some exceptional mountainous terrain, I feel that South Africa has the potential to become a world class Skyrunning destination.”

For the local runners, it’s an opportunity to join SASA as a registered Skyrunner®, allowing them to enter and compete in these various national circuit events to accumulate points, much like a Formula 1 driver would throughout a racing season, in the hopes of being crowned national Skyrunning Champion.

“We feel that the idea of competing on a national circuit will appeal to both elite athletes and regular runners alike, allowing them to challenge themselves and others each year. This will not detract from them being a regular trail runner, however with the added opportunity of being selected to represent South Africa at a Skyrunning World Series event, or even a Skygames®, it’s something that we feel will encourage runners to join, opening up many avenues for aspiring athletes wanting to perform on the world mountain running stage.” says Hallett.
South African Skyrunning Assocoiation

As part of SASA’s launch campaign, thanks to the ISF and funding from the organisers of one of Europe’s longest standing European Skyrunning Series races, the Sierre-Zinal Skymarathon®, a top South African athlete will be heading to Switzerland in August to compete in the 2011 event.

Linda Doke is one of South Africa’s most accomplished trail athletes, having performed exceptionally well at some of South Africa’s premier trail running events over the past 8 months including the 2011 Salomon Skyrun and 2012 ADDO Elephant Trail Run (victory in the women’s category for both races). Having also recently competed in her 16th Two Oceans Ultra-marathon, as well as having a solid training base behind her as she prepares for her 10th Comrades Marathon in June, SASA has selected Linda not only for her ability as a runner but also as a fitting ambassador to represent South African Skyrunning.

“I’m incredibly excited to have been selected to represent SASA at the Sierre-Zinal in August,” says Doke. “I’m sure that being a part of the Skyrunning World Series, the race will be very tough, as will all the seasoned alpine speedsters I’ll be competing against, so it’s a real privilege

to be a part of it. With the Skyrunning concept having taken Europe by storm, and through the formation of SASA, South Africa has a fantastic opportunity to showcase its most technically challenging trail and mountain races to the world.”

SASA will be hoping to announce the 2013 national Skyrunning circuit later this year, with negotiations having already begun with interested event organisers. Runners wishing to sign up as registered Skyrunners should keep their eyes on the official SASA website for more details as and when they break, including information about the events hosting the national circuit.

Should you wish to find out more about Skyrunning, please visit the SASA website or folllow our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter

You can also contact SASA by emailing

Feedback on Talk Ultra

Image by Bryon Powell from iRunFar

Always nice to blow our own trumpet sometimes…. here are a few comments that I have received. Just a small section. You wouldn’t believe how many I get and believe me, I value every single one! Keep them coming!

  • “Making my way through the Transvulcania show which is awesome by the way. Really wanted to express my appreciation for what you have gone through the past few weeks in covering that race and Zegama. The sport is going through quite a transition right now and it’s guys like you that are really helping in keeping us connected with the Ultra community and bringing a greater awareness to the sport.” David McMilan, Colorado
  • “I have been listening to your last episode while driving from the last couple of days ( yes I drove short in city, yes the show is not short:)). It is a great episode, this morning I finished up to Niandi’s dad. I had drove for a run before a meeting and with the motivation My 6k relaxation run turned into a 10k coastal trail.” Caner Odabasoglu, Istanbul
  • “Just want to start off by saying thanks for starting Talk Ultra. It’s a great show and opened my eyes to a level of running that I can barely imagine but have decided to try and do, if only once in my life. I was going to email to ask about a few things (nutrition and pacing mainly) during ultra training runs, but you kinda covered it in some perfectly timed talk-training episodes; so I thought I’d email anyway to thank you and to say I hope to be ‘one of you’ soon.” Matt East, UK
  • “Talk Ultra is definitely keeping me motivated because it’s a scene I want to be a part of. I’m enjoying learning more about the personalities at the sharp end and the training episodes are covering the things that occur to me to ask about. My favourite bit is the ’15 minutes of fame’. Episode 3 with Mark Cockbain was an amazing listen. I don’t really know of anyone to offer up for 15 minutes of fame, maybe I will meet someone suitable soon though.” WS, UK
  • “I’d like to say how thrilled I was to hear your podcast.  It really is a mixture of fascinating features.  I have loved all of it so far.” Chris Peach, UK
  • “LOVE the show. Fantastic.  Ryan Sandes great to hear first off.  I did Racing the Planet Nepal with him in Nov.  Great and very unassuming guy.  as for Gordy … hilarious!  I only wish they were more often than fortnightly …” Tori Leckie, Saudi Arabia
  • “Let me say how much I love your podcasts they have been an inspiration to me to keep on running and training.” Lesley Vernon, USA
  • “Your podcast is going to be a great education and training tool for me as I plan the rest of this year and select goals for 2013. Great work guys!” Matt Cawood, UK
  • “Loving the podcast guys, crossing over from sprint triathlon but thinking about my first Ultra! Keep up the good work.” Gary Hill
  • “Enjoying listening to the podcasts – beats listening to music on the long runs” Ross, Australia
  • “I have listened to all your shows. Love it. Am an expat living in Singapore. Been in Asia 22 years and spent many years running and living in HK. Great to hear of Ryan Sandes win there. Just listened to your Dave Horton interview. A real inspiration and great interview. Ultra starting to take off in Singapore slowly.  Anyway love your show, keep it going and will update you guys with any news in the Ultra world from Singapore.” Ned Philips, Singapore
Great to get these folks! Keep them coming.

Money Money Money

Ultrarunning, money and the future?

It’s a big question and one of the things that we spent three days discussing at the ISF Skyrunning Conference in La Palma, the Canaries.

Ultrarunning is without doubt is becoming more popular and more main stream. When you look at the crowds supporting and participating in many European ultras one can see that the sport has only one way to go; up!

By contrast, the sport in America is so much more niche. This was confirmed by the running elite that came over from America. As Dakota Jones said ‘You camp on the start line, roll out of bed and then go run’. Even Western States, the pinnacle 100 miler does not match the European races. Certainly the start has a buzz and of course the finish. But not much happens between the two.

Kilian being interviewed pre Transvulcania La Palma

Transvulcania La Palma and Zegama over the last 10 days had thousands upon thousands of spectators, one would compare it to the Tour de France. They narrow the trail down, cheer and shout at the runners, ring cow bells, blow horns… it’s a party atmosphere and they love the runners.

The sport will progress and the more spectators the races attract, the more the sponsors are likely to invest. Thousands screaming on a start line, all ages, from young girls to old men. Sport has no age criteria and when you get a good looking American finishing in first place you could almost imagine that you are at a rock concert and not an ultra.

Rock Star Dakota

We all love a quiet trail, we all love the isolation of running with one or two friends but the future of racing, particularly if we want more money, money, money will see bigger crowds, more buzz and I guess a sport that will become more media savvy.

What is important and this is one thing that we discussed in La Palma, is that we don’t want the sport to loose what is so good about it. The unity, the friendship and bonding that we all have.

By pure coincidence the Washington Post has had a related article on the subject. You may like to read it:

Washington Post

In the article, Karl Meltzer who has a regular spot on Talk Ultra says:

“Am I making money running races? No,” said Meltzer, who has consistently won some of the biggest trail races each year since 1996. “Even if you win them all, you would still only be making about $30,000 a year. . . . It’s sponsorships that make it possible for the elites to travel to the races and eke out a living at the sport.”

Of course he is right. However some new races are appearing in America such as UROC (Ultra Race of Champions) and Run Rabbit Run which are offering prize money. However, they still don’t have the buzz of European races. A sponsor needs a return!

One thing that is clear is that we live in a digital age. Social media is now imperative if you want to get a message across. Not only do the runners need to Tweet, Blog and Facebook but so do the teams, the sponsors and everyone related to the sport.

In Transvulcana La Palma and Zegama, I combined forces with iRunFar and ULTRA168 and we lit up Twitter and Facebook. We became the outlet and feed of the race. Not only updating the positions of the runners but importantly feeding back how the runners felt, how they looked and sending photos ‘live’ as it happened. It is the way forward.

1,2,3 at Transvulcania

Tony Krupicka said in the article:

“In just the last few years, there have been huge gains made in the media aspect of the sport, mainly via following races on Twitter, and in the production of various films”

It’s early days, the sport although well established is now just being born. It is an infant about to move up to a bigger school.

Let’s keep the bullies away and retain the integrity of the sport while at the same time allowing it to expand so that we can make a living but also still love it for what it is; running!


Iznik Ultra, Turkey

Great video from the Iznik Ultra in Turkey. The first edition took place this year and this is one for your bucket list. Turkey is a wonderful place, so much to see, the people are superb and of course Turkey is new to ultra running.

The 2013 race will have a 60km and 126km option.

Read my race report from 2012 HERE

You can also view my photos HERE

Scott Jurek is lined up for an interview on Talk Ultra

Scott JUrek

Image Copyright JUSTIN BATIEN

During his college years, Jurek continued to compete in the Minnesota Voyageur, finishing second in 1994 and 1995 and winning the race in 1996, 1997, and 1998, when he set the current course record of 6:41:16. After graduation, he moved to Seattle, where he began competing on a national level, in 1998 winning the Zane Grey Highline Trail 50 Mile Run and the McKenzie River Trail Run 50K, and placing second in his first 100-mile race, the Angeles Crest.

In 1999, Jurek won the prestigious 100-mile Western States Endurance Run on his first attempt, defeating five-time champion Tim Twietmeyer and becoming only the second non-Californian to win the race. He would go on to win Western States a record seven straight times. In 2004, he bested Mike Morton’s 1997 time to set a new course record at the time of 15 hours and 36 minutes.

Over the next five years, Jurek notched victories in the McDonald Forest 50K (1999), the Bull Run Run 50 Mile (1999), the Leona Divide 50 Mile (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004), the Diez Vista 50K (2000-course record, 2003), the Silvertip 50K (2002), the Miwok 100K (2002, 2003, 2004). In 2004, he completed the “Ultra Running Grand Slam” by finishing Western States, the Leadville 100 (in which he was runner-up), the Vermont 100, and the Wasatch Front 100.  He traveled to Hong Kong with Team Montrail to win the 2001 and 2002 OXFAM Trailwalker 100K team trophies, both years setting new course records. Jurek’s 2001 teammates were Dave Terry, Ian Torrence, and Nate McDowell. In 2002, he ran with McDowell, Brandon Sybrowsky, and Karl Meltzer. Jurek was also on the winning team of the 2003 Hasegawa Cup Japan Mountain Endurance Run.

In 2005, just a few weeks after winning Western States, Jurek set a new course record in the Badwater Ultramarathon, widely considered one of the world’s most difficult races. Jurek came from behind to win this race despite temperatures of 120 °F(49 °C), dealing with the heat by periodically stopping to immerse himself in a cooler of ice.

Jurek repeated his Badwater victory in 2006, a year that also saw his first of three consecutive victories in the Spartathlon, a 153-mile race between Athens and Sparta in Greece. Jurek is the only North American to ever win this race, and he holds the two fastest times on the course behind Yiannis Kouros. In 2007, he also won the Hardrock Hundred, setting a new course record at the time.

In 2006, Jurek traveled to Mexico’s remote Copper Canyon with a group of runners including Christopher McDougall and Jenn Shelton to participate in a race against the Tarahumara. Jurek narrowly lost to the fastest Tarahumara runner, Arnulfo Quimare, but in 2007 Jurek returned to win the race. McDougall’s best-selling book about the 2006 trip, “Born to Run,” significantly raised Jurek’s profile.

On May 14, 2010, in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, Jurek broke the USATF all-surface record for distance run by an American in 24 hours with 165.7 miles. His finish earned him a silver medal and helped the American men’s team take a bronze overall.

He was part of “Dozens of searchers” including of world class ultra-runners like himself and Kyle Skaggs) went to the remote wilderness to search for the inspirational ultramarathoner Micah True, who went missing and was found deceased. Chris McDougall tweeted: “Caballo had the only funeral he would have wanted: his friends spent days running in the wilderness in his honour.”


  • United States record for 24 hour distance on all surfaces (165.7 Miles/266.01 Kilometers).
  • Won the Spartathlon 152-mile (245 km) race from Athens to Sparta, Greece three consecutive times (2006-2008).
  • Won the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run, and held the record time for one year until Kyle Skaggs set a new record in 2008.
  • Won the Western States Endurance Run seven consecutive times (1999–2005), and held the record time (15:36:27 in 2004) until 2010
  • Won the Badwater Ultramarathon twice (2005, 2006), and held the course record for two years (2005).
  • Finished first three times (2002–2004) and second three times (2001, 2005, 2006) in the Miwok 100K Trail Race.
  • Won the Leona Divide 50 Mile Run four times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004).
  • Won the Diez Vista 50K Trail Run twice (2000, 2003).
  • Won the Montrail Ultra Cup series twice (2002, 2003).
  • Selected as UltraRunning Magazine’s North American Male Ultrarunner of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007.

Scott will hopefully be on episode 10 or 11 of Talk Ultra – check it out HERE