Images from Cavalls del Vent

So many pictures… so little time!

Here is a selection of my favourite images to come out of the 2012 Cavalls del Vent part of the Ultra Skyrunnnig series.

Walking to the race start from our hotel, Frosty and Dakota relaxed with Kilian, Tony, Philipp and Terry behind.

The rush for the first corner in Baga

Kilian leading Tofol before Tofol retired

Dakota Jones running through the mist and rain at 2200m

Skyrunning is all about being above the cloud

Local hero and ladies winner, Nuria Picas

It was that cold Tony Krupicka wore a jacket with a hood!

Emelie Forsberg pushing hard in the early parts of the race

Dakota Jones

The day before the race, Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Philipp Reiter and Terry Conway running to CP2 on the Cavalls del Vent course

The stunning scenery and views that we all missed on race day

Terry running on our day 1 recce

Emelie bouncing across the finish

Tony & Kilian on the finish line

Nuria triumphant

and finally a photo that sums up the sadness that we all felt, the day after the race when we all learned that during the night a female runner had passed away due to cardiac arrest induced via hypothermia. Our thoughts and best wishes go out the family.

Cavalls del Vent Post Race Report


Ultra? Ultra emotional…

On a day of rain, cold temperatures and intense racing, ultra running and in particular ultra Skyrunning opened a new chapter in our sport.

Despite alternativerace options available all over the world, many of the worlds best decided to head to Spain and race at the SkyrunningUltra Cavalls del Vent‘, an 84.2km race with 6098m of altitude change.

Kilian Jornet, Dakota Jones, Tony Krupicka, Tofol Castanyer, Miguel Heras, Joe Grant, Philipp Reiter, Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas and Emma Rocca all decided to do battle in what turned out to be an incredibly testing day.

At Refugio Niu de L’Aliga the race format was starting to unfold with Kilian leading the race followed closely by Tofol and then several minutes back Miguel Heras. Dakota Jones and Philipp Reiter soon came into sight and then Tony Krupicka. Although minutes separated them all, one thing became apparent. It was cold!


Thick mist made visibility difficult and it was biting cold on hands. Kilian seemed in his element running in short sleeves but nearly all the other runners wore jackets. Including Tony!

Emelie Forsberg was the first lady to come into sight. Somewhat of a surprise… not because she didn’t have the ability but because the plan was to ease into her ‘first’ 50 miler. Frosty followed and then a very cool and relaxed looking Nuria Picas.


The cold and constant rain hit the race and the runners hard! Miguel Heras dropped, Tofol had hypothermia, Joe Grant had hypothermia and at the last count some 200+ runners have dropped from the race. Certainly those who will go into the night are in for a tough time.

Tony Krupicka moved up through the field, moved ahead of Dakota and a format was set. Kilian and Tony swapping the lead and Dakota following.


At Gresolet, Kiliian had a 2 min lead. As he passed me I asked how he felt?

“I am great, it was a little cold but now I am good. I am having fun!”

Tony approached “How you feeling Tony?”

“I’m good man, Kilian is just playing with me.. all good though!”

Some of the press with me at this point wondered if Tony would win? To be honest, no disrespect to Tony but Kilian seemed in control and was glad of company. Dakota was now some 30 min in arrears with Philipp Reiter in 4th. This order remained until the final climb when Kilian accelerated leaving Tony behind. Kilian crossed the line with a new CR of 8:42:22. Tony crossed the line in 2nd beating the old CR too with 8:49:56 and Dakota 9:26:25.


Tony was stoked at the finish and rightly so. After the best part of 2 years being out of the sport his ‘return’ now seems to be confirmed. His return is a new return with a love for Skyrunning. He said on the line “these are the races we want, vertcal gain, tough gnarly climbs and altitude. We can’t get this at home, I love it”


Dakota was happy with 3rd but said he had hoped for better and that he never felt quite on his game!


Emelie Forsberg in the ladies race pushed ahead and at one point had a 15 min lead with Frosty and Nuria chasing. However the gap was closed and over the final 2 hours a battle started. My money was on Nuria, she had told me at ‘Kima’ that this was the race she wanted and I guess it showed. In the latter stages Emelie was dropped and Nuria ran into the finish victorious in10:34:42 beating her 2011 winning time by over an hour. Frosty finished in 2nd 10:35:24 and Emelie jumped for joy in 10:39:51.


Frosty said “Everything hurts. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow. I dug deeper that I have ever had to go, I am happy for Nuria and I am happy for me”


Emelie in only her 2nd ultra and first 50 miler was elated. She told me “I felt really good and still do. My legs are not hurting but it was mind… in the latter stages when I had to fight I couldn’t focus but I am super happy”


Cavalls del Vent was an incredible day. It showed us all what is great about our sport. Wonderful courses, great running, new runners showing potential for the future, established runners confirming that they are the best, a return to form for Tony and of course immense comradeship. I am in the hotel ‘Press Room’ surrounded by all of them… Kilian on the sofa chatting, Tony and Dakota on the web, Frosty and Emelie giggling, Philipp and Terry discussing the next time to pose naked. All individual but all one.

Cloud confuses and distorts “less cloud MORE SKY

The next event in the Ultra Skyrunning series is ‘Templiers’ in the South of France. The date is October 28th and rest assured I will be at the race to bring you images, stories and a podcast from the final race in the series.

Faces of Cavalls

Arun across India

A play on words? yes! Arun Bhardwaj is planning to run across India starting on October 1st. The 43 yr old is planning to run for 60 days from Kargil to Kanyakumari, a distance of some 4000k.

No stranger to longer distances, Arun has completed Badwater and typically churns out 160-200k weeks.

On doing a little probing I found some interesting facts:

  • A ‘T’ totaller and Vegetarian
  • Apparently only sleeps 4 hours a day
  • Misses 1 night of sleep every week in preparation for ultra running
  • During his India run he plans to start at 50k per day but then build to 90k
  • and finally, rumour has it that when he won the George Archer six day, because he couldn’t get adequate vegetarian food he consumed 24 bananas and a half kilo of honey

You can’t make this stuff up can you….



Cavalls del Vent Registration

Competition Time !

WIN Salomon athlete, Philipp Reiter’s ‘Salomon Sense’ shoes.

How do you win them? Easy…. just answer this question:

What was Philipp’s first Skyrunning Race?

Answers ONLY on Talk Ultra Facebook page please. A link is HERE

The shoes are UK9 but we must stress they are not for running in! Philipp has racked up the miles and vertical K in them. He will however sign them for those who may like to collect memorabilia. Please note that Philipp has had an incredible 2012 season with some incredible running at Transvulcania, Salomon 4 Trails, Transalpine, Trofeo Kima and of course this coming weekend at Cavalls del Vent.

Cavalls del Vent Recce part ‘deux’

Philipp Reiter “let’s go out for an hour… we can run an out and back”

Kilian Jornet “I would like to run up to checkpoint 2 at 2500m”

Everybody “ok, cool, lets do that!”

Kilian and Emelie get in the ‘Kilian Kar‘. Philipp, Terry and myself get in and then we head at breakneck speed ignoring the left and right hand side of the road and get to the Coll de Pal and 2070m.

Philipp, Terry and myself roll out of the car ready for action. Kilian emerges from the ‘Kilian Kar‘ with a secret potion…. mmmmmmmm what is it?

Kilian and Emelie get into the running straight away…. Terry follows and Philipp is feeling a little unwell; the drive I think?

Knees hurting I follow as best as I can but I know they will soon be out of sight. I put a long lens on the camera… a great tip when you can’t keep up! You look close but actually you are miles away….

In to the distance they go. Around me isolation and beautiful views. I still manage to capture some lovely images of the ‘elites’ in action. A joy to watch unfold… I will wait for them to return and shoot them in full flight!

They never did ūüėČ But that’s another story…

Here is Philipp Reiters download from his Suunto Ambit HERE

Ultra Race of Champions

The best of the best, one course, one day?

Erm, well, not really…. UROC wanted to bill itself as the best of the best but it will be a race of the best of the best that turn up!

Joe Grant, Dakota Jones and Tony Krupicka are in Spain preparing for the 84km Cavalls del Vent Ultra Skyrunning race and this therefore leaves a few notable names missing from UROC. When you add to that Run Rabbit Run happened just a few weeks ago, it also means that Timothy Olson, Mike Wolfe, Karl Meltzer and Dylan Bowman will be doing other things and of course Geoff Roes is out of racing at the moment as is Mike Wardian… ¬†In the ladies, Lizzy Hawker is at Spartahlon, Frosty is at Cavalls, Devon Crosby Helms is injured, so, who is left to race?

Well actually, UROC still has a very competitive field and of course the terrain and the distance will suit the fast guys and girls.

Top tip is Dave Mackey who races so well at 100k¬†closely followed by Ian Sharman. Ian has been running super quick lately and setting a few CR’s. The distance and the speed will suit him. Dave James is toeing the line but raced Run Rabbit Run and that has got to have taken something away from a great UROC performance, however Nick Clarke will be arriving fresh, however, true to form he may well take 3rd place ;-).

Notable newbies and potential race winners are Max King and Sage Canaday. Max with a 2:14 marathon pace is super quick and although this is longer than he normally runs he always comes to a race super prepared and once again 2012 has been a great year for him with top 3 at Speedgoat and Pikes Peak plus other notable wins! Sage in a rookie year had an awesome run at White River 50 mile which didn’t quite the coverage it should have… this may keep him a little under the radar but 4th at Pikes Peak and a win at Mt Washington will mean he is one to watch

The ladies race will be won by Ellie Greenwood (I am almost certain) and she will probably figure highly in the mens race too! I don’t need to go into what Ellie has achieved as it would be easier saying what she hasn’t… the ladies race does have one or two contenders but unlike the mens race where anything can happen, the ladies race is really more about who will be 2nd and 3rd? Names to look out for are:

Ragan Petrie winner of last year’s UROC 100k, Krystle Martinez, Jacqui Palmer and Verity Breen as an outsider.

Real Time Race Splits HERE

Video Coverage HERE

Spartathlon Preview

Twenty fours hours ago I sat down to write just a brief preview of two other races that would be taking place this weekend for those who may not be following Cavalls del Vent (not sure why that would happen). Firstly, Spartathlon.

Spartathlon is due to start as I write this, 0700 Friday. I guess ‘the race’ that got us all running! It is iconic in the ultra world for many reasons. The distance at 153 miles needs no explanation… it’s a long way. Taking place pretty much all on uninspiring road they throw in a tough mountain at around the 100 mile mark just to mess you up a little more oh and then they have cut off times throughout the race that you must achieve if you want to keep going.

2012 represents the races 30th birthday of the race that is conducted in the footsteps of Pheidippides, the ancient Athenian runner. Pheidippides was sent to Sparta in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, to ask for help in the war led by the Greeks against the Persians. According to Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens.

The race has iconic winners and I guess the most notable are Yiannis Kouros who still has the record of 20:25 and Scott Jurek who won the race three times.

Just over 350 will take part this year and they represent over 30 countries. Greece always has plenty of participants but the race is also iconic within Japan. Many of the contenders such as , Noto Kimi winner in 04/05, Akiko Sakamoto winner in 07 and then 4 years earlier in 03, Sumie Inagaki who won in 09 and finally Hiroko Okiyama who I guess is an outsider as she won the race some 12 years ago in 2000. Last years winner though, Szilvia Lubics from Hungary is returning. Notable 2012 entrant is Lizzy Hawker, I spoke to Lizzy several times in recent weeks and months and she is fired up for this iconic race. Her prep was going to be UTMB and then come to Spartathlon, but with UTMB being shortened (she won again) she decided to squeeze in the gap a 100 mile race (as you do) the Run Rabbit Run (which she won). Anybody else and you would think 100 miler just a few weeks before Spartathlon; crazy! But we are talking about Lizzy! Her main issue is a fall she took early in RRR in which she banged her knee seriously. Just a few days ago she sent me a message and I quote:

“Hi Ian, thanks so so much for your good wishes for Spartathlon!!!! I’m really grateful …. need a little bit of magic out there ūüôā¬†knee improves every day, but will it be good enough? & the head & heart?!! enjoy Cavals, I’ll be thinking of you all there :). best, Lizzy”

Lizzy at 2012 UTMB

If Lizzy has a ‘Lizzy’ day then she will be incredible. No doubt. Her 100k and 24hr times are prove enough of what she can do. Another UK entrant, Claire Shelley may well figure well. She has won the Grand Union Canal race in the UK which is 145 miles running up and down the Canal systems of the Midlands (I still don’t understand why?)

The mens race will be a battle. I just wish Mike Morton¬†was toeing the line… after his Badwater performance and his 24 hour record I would love to see what he could do here.

Ivan Cudin from Italy, returns to defend his title but notably Valmir Nunes from Brazil, winner in 01 returns. Valmir holds the CR at Badwater which Morton missed by 75 seconds in the 2012 edition. Markus Thalmann from Austria won in 03 and had great races in 04 and 05.

My money is on Cudin and Hawker… and you?

You can follow the race live HERE

The 2012 program is available as a PDF HERE



Cavalls del Vent Recce

Dodgy knees or not I was going out on the course with Terry Conway and Salomon athlete, Philipp Reiter.

Philipp has been here for about a week so he knew exactly where when and how! We had a short drive, parked the car, avoided being eaten alive by about 6 dogs on a farm and then headed UP! and UP and UP.

Sore knees pretty much ok as long I kept going up. Terry kindly taped my knees so I somehow looked like an inverted Panda. However, I needed tape on my lungs! Five weeks of no running, altitude and two fast fellas up front that could kick my ass when I was flying fit and I was breathing out of every orifice… mostly the one at the back!

We ‘rivalled’ Kilian Jornet with a photo to compete with ‘his’ photo from the top of Mont Blanc (you know the one) and all in all we had a great time.

My knees got pretty beat up descending from 2300m but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Here is Philipp Reiters Suunto Ambit download to view HERE

Terry now realises what lies in store. I quote

“A world of pain… pure enjoyment. It’s like nothing I have run before. The climbs are so much longer and I found the altitude difficult. I was wheezing a fair bit this morning. I have a realisation of what lies ahead and maybe the gap between myself and the elites. No matter what, I am going to embrace the day and the opportunity”