Les TEMPLIERS race summary

After a light dusting of snow during the night, runners for the 18th edition of La Course des Templiers had the prospect of a very cold day on the trails.

With a temperature range of -3-4 deg and a very strong wind, cold was going to be a major issue. On the start line runners assembled dressed for cold weather and believe me, they got it! Although the ambient temperature rose above 0 deg’s the general feel was considerably colder.

Stirring music, red flares and the runners left Millau at 0515 for 70+ km’s on trails.

Prior to the race we had a stacked field of runners but due to a string of late season injuries, several key runners were unable to run. Notably Leadville 100 winner Thomas Lorblanchet and Philipp Reiter. UTMB winner, Francois d’Haene although carrying a knee problem decided to make the start however dropped early in the race.

In the ladies race the notable drop before the race was Francesca Canepa who had started the Endurance Trail (102k) on Friday and stopped midway. For some reason she had planned to run ‘both’ races over the weekend! Anna Frost had been injured since Cavalls del Vent and was 50/50 but after having a short test run the day before. She ‘taped’ her legs considerably prior to the start and like the true competitor she toed the line see how things would go… after all, she was joint leader with Nuria Picas of the Ultra Skyrunning series and ‘Templiers’ would decide the champion.

The Race

Maud Gobert from France had set the early pace but she had been caught by Nuria Picas and passed. Emelie Forsberg and Lizzy Hawker chased. Frosty unfortunately never felt right in the early stages and she told me after the race;

“it was so cold and I just wasn’t performing as I should, it was a tough decision but a correct decision to pull out at the 22k check point before I did more damage”

Maud Gobert and Emelie Forsberg set the early pace followed by Lizzy Hawker. Nuria running from behind, caught Lizzy and passed her and then pursued the front-runners. Once Nuria caught them she pulled away taking Emelie with her. One has to say that if anybody deserved the ‘Champion’ title it is Nuria… she has consistently performed well throughout 2012 not only in the ultra series but Skymarathon and Vertical K. Nuria eventually pulled away from Emelie leaving her being pursued by Maud and Lizzy.

Between 22k and 35k Lizzy caught and passed Maud. Emelie Forsberg now chasing Nuria was caught by Lizzy who rallied. With Nuria crossing the line as race winner with a comfortable margin of almost 10 minutes, a race really was coming together for the 2nd place. In the end it came down to a sprint finish with Emelie just pulling away from Lizzy to beat her by 9 seconds. Without doubt it was a ‘royal’ podium. Emelie was only recently crowned world Skyrunning champion at Kinabalu and Lizzy Hawker has just had a golden patch with three superb wins at the shortened UTMB, Run Rabbit Run 100 and Spartathlon.

  • Nuria Picas 7:16:58
  • Emelie Forsberg 7:26:15
  • Lizzy Hawker 7:26:24

The men’s race had a clear favourite with last year’s winner; Andy Symonds. However he had a race in front of him. Julien Rancon was an early protagonist and eventually forged ahead of the race with Fabien Antolinos, Miguel Heras and Andy Symonds in pursuit. Julien has had a very successful 2012 with 7 races and 7 victories but no race had been longer than 60k.

With just over 10k to go, Julien Rancon had a 45 seconds lead over Fabien Antolinos and 1 minute over Miguel Heras. As I waited at the finish news came in that Fabien Antolinos had dropped; a real shock at such a late stage of the race. This left the door open for Fabien Antolinos to surge away from Miguel Heras.


He crossed the line in an emotional state. Tears in his eyes… he had run Templiers only the previous year and placed 4th. This was a sweet victory. Miguel Heras placed 2nd just over 3 min later and put to bed a mixed season.

On the line Miguel said:

“I am happy with the placing. I ran a good race but Antolinos was better… It’s always nice to run well and todays course was very pleasurable”

Andy Symonds ran into the finish with a massive smile and took an opportunity to dive into a pool of mud just before the finish line much to the satisfaction of the ground. Andy has become very much a hero in France. His win last year at Templiers cemented this.

  • Fabien Antolinos 6:10:35
  • Miguel Heras 6:14:54
  • Andy Symonds 6:23:51

La Course des Templiers was the last race in the Ultra Skyrunning series and as such a final presentation was made. Kilian Jornet and Nuria Picas stood on the podium to receive the respective awards from ISF President Marino Giacometti. Two great champions!


To add to that magical ambiance, it helps to know that Nant was one of many points in a network of secret trails built by the Knights Templar, the monastic, international military order formed at the end of the First Crusade with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar, known for their architectural skills and fighting alongside Richard I were the first warrior monks and were prevalent in that part of France until their downfall in 1307.

The race route uses the secret paths of the Templars. It has included two long tunnels that had been used as shortcuts to beat enemies to strategic locations. The region has become a popular tourist attraction primarily due to the success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

Key points on the course are the old village of Peyreleau, Route Alleyral, St Jean des Balmes, Roquesaltes (a protected site and an usual stone structure with a protected arch), the old castle of Montmejan, old cobbled streets of La Roque Ste Marguerite and Massebiau that has an old bridge.

The course has key points on the course of difficulty:

  • Cotes de Carbassaa 473m+ at 3km
  • Cote de Peyreleau 450m+ at 22km
  • Cote de Pierrefiche 346m+ at 46km
  • Cote de Massebiau-Le Cade 461m+ at 61km

What really makes us fat

A CALORIE is a calorie. This truism has been the foundation of nutritional wisdom and our beliefs about obesity since the 1960s.

This is a post form The New York Times available here published June 2012

Vintage Images/Getty Images

An early 20th-century photograph titled “Big Man of MO, 630 lbs.”

Bittman: Which Diet Works? (June 26, 2012)

What it means is that a calorie of protein will generate the same energy when metabolized in a living organism as a calorie of fat or carbohydrate. When talking about obesity or why we get fat, evoking the phrase “a calorie is a calorie” is almost invariably used to imply that what we eat is relatively unimportant. We get fat because we take in more calories than we expend; we get lean if we do the opposite. Anyone who tells you otherwise, by this logic, is trying to sell you something.

But not everyone buys this calorie argument, and the dispute erupted in full force again last week. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a clinical trial by Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital and his collaborators. While the media tended to treat the study as another diet trial — what should we eat to maintain weight loss? — it spoke to a far more fundamental issue: What actually causes obesity? Why do we get fat in the first place? Too many calories? Or something else?

The calorie-is-a-calorie notion dates to 1878, when the great German nutritionist Max Rubner established what he called the isodynamic law.

It was applied to obesity in the early 1900s by another German — Carl Von Noorden, who was of two minds on the subject. One of his theories suggested that common obesity was all about calories in minus calories out; another, that it was about how the body partitions those calories, either for energy or into storage.

This has been the core of the controversy ever since, and it’s never gone away. If obesity is a fuel-partitioning problem — a fat-storage defect — then the trigger becomes not the quantity of food available but the quality. Now carbohydrates in the diet become the prime suspects, especially refined and easily digestible carbohydrates (foods that have what’s called a high glycemic index) and sugars.

UNTIL the 1960s, carbohydrates were indeed considered a likely suspect in obesity: “Every woman knows that carbohydrate is fattening,” as two British dietitians began a 1963 British Journal of Nutrition article.

The obvious mechanism: carbohydrates stimulate secretion of the hormone insulin, which works, among other things, to store fat in our fat cells. At the time, though, the conventional wisdom was beginning its shift: obesity was becoming an energy issue.

Carbohydrates, with less than half the calories per gram as fat, were beginning their official transformation into heart-healthy diet foods. One reason we’ve been told since to eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets is this expectation that they’ll keep us thin.

What was done by Dr. Ludwig’s team has never been done before. First they took obese subjects and effectively semi-starved them until they’d lost 10 to 15 percent of their weight. Such weight-reduced subjects are particularly susceptible to gaining the weight back. Their energy expenditure drops precipitously and they burn fewer calories than people who naturally weigh the same. This means they have to continually fight their hunger just to maintain their weight loss. The belief is that weight loss causes “metabolic adaptations,” which make it almost inevitable that the weight will return. Dr. Ludwig’s team then measured how many calories these weight-reduced subjects expended daily, and that’s how many they fed them. But now the subjects were rotated through three very different diets, one month for each. They ate the same amount of calories on all three, equal to what they were expending after their weight loss, but the nutrient composition of the diets was very different.

One diet was low-fat and thus high in carbohydrates. This was the diet we’re all advised to eat: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein. One diet had a low glycemic index: fewer carbohydrates in total, and those that were included were slow to be digested — from beans, non-starchy vegetables and other minimally processed sources. The third diet was Atkins, which is very low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein.

The results were remarkable. Put most simply, the fewer carbohydrates consumed, the more energy these weight-reduced people expended. On the very low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, there was virtually no metabolic adaptation to the weight loss. These subjects expended, on average, only 100 fewer calories a day than they did at their full weights. Eight of the 21 subjects expended more than they did at their full weights — the opposite of the predicted metabolic compensation.

On the very low-carbohydrate diet, Dr. Ludwig’s subjects expended 300 more calories a day than they did on the low-fat diet and 150 calories more than on the low-glycemic-index diet. As Dr. Ludwig explained, when the subjects were eating low-fat diets, they’d have to add an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity each day to expend as much energy as they would effortlessly on the very-low-carb diet. And this while consuming the same amount of calories. If the physical activity made them hungrier — a likely assumption — maintaining weight on the low-fat, high-carb diet would be even harder.  Why does this speak to the very cause of obesity? One way to think about this is to consider weight-reduced subjects as “pre-obese.” They’re almost assuredly going to get fatter, and so they can be research stand-ins — perhaps the best we have — for those of us who are merely predisposed to get fat but haven’t done so yet and might take a few years or decades longer to do it.

If we think of Dr. Ludwig’s subjects as pre-obese, then the study tells us that the nutrient composition of the diet can trigger the predisposition to get fat, independent of the calories consumed. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the more easily we remain lean. The more carbohydrates, the more difficult. In other words, carbohydrates are fattening, and obesity is a fat-storage defect. What matters, then, is the quantity and quality of carbohydrates we consume and their effect on insulin.

From this perspective, the trial suggests that among the bad decisions we can make to maintain our weight is exactly what the government and medical organizations like the American Heart Association have been telling us to do: eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets, even if those diets include whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

A controversial conclusion? Absolutely, and Dr. Ludwig’s results are by no means ironclad. The diets should be fed for far longer than one month, something he hopes to do in a follow-up study. As in any science, these experiments should be replicated by independent investigators. We’ve been arguing about this for over a century. Let’s put it to rest with more good science. The public health implications are enormous.

Gary Taubes is The author of “Why We Get Fat.”

The book is available on line via Amazon

Salomon Sense ULTRA

The long awaited ‘Sense Ultra‘ has arrived. THANK YOU Santa……

As many of you will know, the ‘Sense‘ has become the shoe of choice for those who are wanting to run on trail with a minimalist and responsive shoe. However, we can’t all be as efficient as Kilian Jornet or Andy Symonds.

The Sense Ultra offers a little more but holds true to all the elements that have made the ‘sense’ so popular.

The Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Racing is one of the lightest trail shoes ever made. It is heavier than the Sense but has added strengthening of the sole for longer and harder races.

It has the new lacing system: Quicklace this reduces the weight of Sense.
Dynamic Traction:  allows the Salomon S lab Sense  optimum grip in all conditions. It wasdeveloped by Solomon with the greatest athletes without any compromise. It has different grip and texture which has been designed to optimize grip when it is necessary.
EndoFit: has an inner liner to the shoe designed for positioning the foot optimally.
Drop: a low 4mm drop to provide a natural contact and feel with the ground.
OS TENDON: Thanks to this system inserted in the sole of the S lab intermediare sense, there is a natural flow with excellent energy return.
Profeet Film: is a protection film that will protect your foot area from angular or sharp objects that are on the trail. The Sense offers maximum protection despite its lightness.
Weight: 240g in 8.5 U.S.

When you lift up the box you think wait a minute… they forgot the shoes! Not so. These ‘runners’ are super light.

The lacing system as with all Salomon in reassuring and holds the foot firm.

The addition of the internal ‘Endofit’ makes the shoe more comfortable than you would ever imagine. They can be a little tight to get on at first and you may initially think; uh oh, wrong size. But once your foot is it is snug and supremely comfortable. The most comfortable shoe I have ever worn.

I am not a small guy and the therefore I always felt the original ‘Sense‘ was maybe just a little too minimal for me… certainly on longer runs! not so with the ‘Ultra’. The additional cushioning is immediately apparent.

The sole has grip but nothing like the ‘SLab Softground‘ or ‘Speedcross‘. The shoe is therefore certainly more suited to road and hard pack (or rocky) trail. If your running in soft ground they perform perfectly but if you are a great deal of mud the added grip of the Soft Ground or Speedcross may be a better choice.

In use they are a dream to wear. On the roads they are light, responsive and provide that feel that I have had with traditional racing flats. The bonus with the ‘Sense Ultra’ is the hold of the foot. The speed lacing and Endofit provide supreme comfort. On the trails this becomes even more apparent as the foot moves from left to right with changes in terrain.

It’s early days in testing but this shoe will not be of my feet for a while… they are so comfortable I would even be tempted to use them as slippers.

Now then, I need to go run…..

Get Ready For – The Otter

For this last episode of 3rd season of Get Ready For. Seb bring us to the heart of the Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa. The Otter African Trail Run is one of the most popular trail in South Africa, because of its difficulty, originality and location.

It is most certainly a race for the bucket list.

Magnetic South has been given permission to run the Otter in alternate directions on a yearly basis.

2012:  from WEST to EAST, the “Up-Run” – the RETTO

2013:  from EAST to WEST, the “Down-Run” – the OTTER

The OTTER – African Trail Run – the iconic and South Africa’s most popular 5 day hike, the Otter, has been walked from Storms River to Nature’s Valley right from its inception. Following this route the Otter – African Trail Run took place 3 years in a row from East to West.

The RETTO (Otter spelt backwards) –  Two scouting runs have been done in the last month to ensure our Safety Management Plan has considered all the variables associated with running the trail in reverse. The 2012 ”Retto” as it has been nicknamed, will still include over 2600m of elevation in its 42km traversed, however the experience of running the route with the sea constantly on your right is going to give you a completely different thrill and perspective to this spectacular challenge.

The OTTER course record is held by Ryan Sandes 4:40:15 and Jeannie Bomford 5:17:12

The RETTO course record is held by Iain Don Wauchope 4:23:24 and Krissy Moehl 5:24:59

Les Templiers race coverage

Coverage for the 2012 ultra Skyrunning Les Templiers starts today with photos, tweets and facebook posts coming live from Millau.

Runners from around the world will arrive, register and prepare for Sunday’s race.

Race day coverage will start at approximately 4am and run all day. You can read a preview of the race HERE.

I will be covering key points of the race as follows:

  • Peyrelau – old village
  • Route Alleyrac – provides a view of Causse Noir it’s a technical spot
  • St Jean des Balmes/ La Rougarie
  • Roquesaltes – a protected sight with a giant stone arch
  • Montmejean – old castle
  • La Roque Ste Margurite – old cobbled streets witht he beginning of an ascent to Larzac
  • Massebiau – old bridge and descent to Larzac
  • La Pouncho D’ Agast – a highpoint view of Millau
  • La Grotte Du Hibou – the owls cave
  • Finish – Millau

Photographs will be tweeted live and uploaded to facebook as and when possible and images will be uploaded to my blog with a report and summary the evening after the race.

Please spread the word and encourage following the race. This is the final of the ultra World series. Kilian Jornet will be crowned champion but the ladies race is open… it’s going to be an exciting race!

A race preview from Skyrunning is available below:

Les Templiers pre-dawn start. ©Festival des Templiers

The final of the Skyrunner® Ultra Series raises the curtains on the 72 k Course des Templiers in Millau, France on October 28 with a larger-than-life start-line that has become the hallmark of skyrunning events.

Sunday’s race will pit the world’s top runners against each other and particularly the women’s field is set for battle with stars like Anna Frost, Nuria Picasand Emelie Forsberg competing for the Ultra Champion title.  Maud Gobert, last year’s winner, will not only have to deal with the top three ranked runners but will face heavy-duty competition from Lizzy Hawker, Silvia Serafini and Francesca Canepa.  The men’s title has, to all effects, already gone to Kilian Jornet who boasts 300 points – unattainable even if Andy Symonds wins.

Andy Symonds is of course a firm favourite for a repeat performance and other British runners feature strongly as podium contenders: Tom Owens, ranked 3rd in the recent World Series final in Malaysia, will no doubt excel, while Terry Conway, forced to retire at the Ultra Cavalls del Vent, is ready for another shot at a big international event.

©Festival des Templiers

Spain’s Miguel Heras who, like Conway, was a victim to the weather at the last event, is a consistent top performer. Of the French runners competing in the Ultra Series, Francois d’Haene, fourth at Transvulcania and 6th here last year is joined by Greg Vollet, while sadly Thomas Lorblanchet, second last year, and three-times race winner, is injured.

The end of the long racing season is taking its toll and counts several other notable absentees which include American Dakota Jones, Germany’s Philipp Reiter and Italy’s Giuliano Cavallo.  (See Ultra Series ranking)

Look out for Stephanie Jimenez (France) and Fulvio Dapit (Italy), a husband-and-wife team but respectively Salomon and La Sportiva on the racing scene. Both are recent Ultra “converts” who are expected to perform well in this incredibly deep field which also includes past race winner, Nepal’sDawa Sherpa, together with a long list of first-rate French runners.

With such a dazzling line-up let’s not forget all the 2,500 competitors who will face a total 3,200 metres of ascent and ascent along 73 kilometres together with a forecast of… zero temperatures.  The steep rocky course along the secret paths of the Templars promises to close the season in the best possible way where everything can only be described as “ultra”.

5 Races 5 Continents

If possible, you may want to check out this movie as part of the festival AFF 2012 (link here) – Endurance Adventure will take you across the world. From Antarctica, with the world’s first unsupported expedition to walk to the South Pole and back again, to ultra-running across five continents (as outlined below) and chasing the disappearing Colorado River.

5 Races 5 Continents

At the beginning of the 2011 trail running season Kilian Jornet set out to win five races on five continents. The lengths varied in distance, climate and altitude – from a 100 mile race in the scorching heat of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the vertical ascent of South East Asia’s highest mountain in Malaysian Borneo, Mount Kinabalu.

Follow his experiences over the year, from the pressures of high-end competition to his unprecedented performance and success. This story is not just about what he has achieved, but rather what he has learnt from running in these surroundings and the emotions they bring. The film immerses itself in the trail communities around the world as Kilian and his teammates, friends and competitors try to understand the desire they have for the mountains and running.

For many, it is the simplicity of running, its meditative nature and the freedom it offers to explore new landscapes that drives their passion for the sport. 5 Races, 5 Continents is an inspirational ode to the beauty of trail running, a sport that is inherently simple and pure.

Length – 26 minutes

Director – Dean Leslie from The African Attachment

Dean Leslie is young South African Filmmaker and Co-Owner of Cape Town based independent film production company, The African Attachment. He has experience on a wide range of local and international productions and has worked as a producer, director, cinematographer, photographer and editor. He was the cinematographer for ‘Interviews Unit’ in the Academy Award nominated feature film, ’District 9’. He edited the International short film,‘Pumzi’, for Focus Features (USA) and Inspired Minority Pictures, which was won Best International Short at Cannes Independent Film Festival and was a favourite at the 2010 Sundance International Film Festival.He produced, directed and edited the critically acclaimed South African documentary,’12 Mile Stone’, alongside Greg Fell, and has directed a string of music videos for some of South Africa’s top bands including  Die Heuwels Fantasties, The ParlotonesThe Dirty Skirts, aKING andAshtray Electric. He is currently in post-production on his debut documentary feature film‘Wandering Fever’, a film that has seen him shoot on all 7 Continents over 4 years  as he explores the idea of why we run through the story of South African elite ultra runner Ryan Sandes. Dean  has a distinctive visual style and his projects have a strong narrative element layered with underlying themes and tones. His work has been widely praised for its cinematography, style and underlying mood – all testaments to Dean’s continued growth and progress as a Director. Taken from Vancouver International Mountain Festival.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

La Course des Templiers – Preview

The final race in the ultra Skyrunning series comes to an end this weekend in Millau, Southern France. The iconic ‘La Course des Templier’ has one of the best fields ever assembled for this race. The inclusion of Skyrunning certainly has made a difference.

The Great Race of the Knights Templar was founded in 1995 with a humanitarian purpose. To financially support an orphanage in Chad

Sighting the Leadville Trail 100 miler in the US as an influence, Odile and Gilles Bertrand decided to embark on this adventure in March 1995. The project was launched and a date was selected, the last Sunday of October.

But the format of 100 miles as at the Leadville race was considered too long and Odile and Bertrand decided to offer a more appealing distance of 65 km.

In October 1995 before the fortress of St. Eulalie de Cernon 500 runners assembled and the first edition was undertaken. La Course des Templiers gave birth to trail running in France. This first edition of Templiers was won by Patrick Fox and Corinne Favre.

Mens field

Andy Symonds the 2011 winner of Templiers knows the course extremely well and after a great 2nd place at Transvulcania La Palma you can surely expect to see him up at the front. A top 3 placing is a distinct possibility and of course he may well get a consecutive win

Thomas Lorblanchet had a stunning win at Leadville 100 and has figured highly at other significant races in 2012. In particular Transvulcania La Palma and Salomon 4 Trails.

Miguel Heras is without doubt a top performer but he has had a mixed 2012 with injury. He dropped at Cavalls del Vent with hypothermia so he will be looking to put the record straight at Templiers. If he has a good day. Top 5.

Philipp Reiter has gone from strength to strength in 2012. A super talented young athlete with the ultra world ahead of him. In 2012 he has consistently performed at the highest level with wins and top 10 places in pretty much every event he has entered. I think Templiers won’t play to his strengths, having said that I would consider him to place in the top 10.

Terry Conway had his introduction to Skyrunning at Cavalls del Vent and fell victim to the foul weather. However, he knows what is required now and is just back from 2 weeks running in Italy. He has told me that he is ready for this race and he is ready to race!

Tom Owens is the UK’s most consistent performer at Skyrunning events in 2012 and this is reflected in his 3rd place at the World title. He is without doubt a contender for the overall win at Templiers.

Francois d’Haene has had a great 2012 and with 4th place at Transvulcania La Palma and the overall win at UTMB he will be coming to Templiers brimming with confidence.

Greg Vollet team manager at Salomon is a top quality athlete and this course will suit him. He has performed consistently well in 2012 and has had some great podium finishes. He is not as experienced at the ultra distance and he may very well just be running Templiers for fun…. You can’t rule him out!

Ladies Field

Lizzy Hawker is a late entry to the race and will without doubt raise heads within the female competition. Within the last 3 months she has had a stunning period of racing with a win at the shortened UTMB, a win at Run Rabbit Run 100 miler and then a win and third place overall at the iconic Spartathlon. Not only does this show incredible consistency but it also shows incredibile ability over a variety of distances and terrain.

Francesca Canepa was 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at UTMB and then just one week later went to the brutal Tour des Geants and won that race. Templiers may very well not be tough enough for her but she will figure.

Anna Frost needs no introduction. Always a top top performer but after her 2nd place at Cavalls del Vent she has had some injury and therefore her performance at Templiers has question marks. If she is in form expect a top three.

Emelie Frosberg has performed and performed at the highest level in 2012. Templiers may very well not have enough vertical gain for her but that descent at the end will suit her abilities and if she is in contention expect he to open the throttle and potentially pull away.

Silvia Serafini is the newbie to the ultra series and this is only her second ultra. However, this race is not as demanding as other Skyrunning races and the ability to open up the engine and run quickly will suit her. She recently won the Royal Parks Ultra and placed highly at Kinabalu.

Nuria Picas is always in form and a fierce competitor. Always smiling, passionate about running she is a pleasure to watch. She has raced hard all year and after her win at Cavalls del Vent she said Templiers would be fun. Even Nuria having fun is a dominant force and I wouldn’t rule her out winning. However, the course is less technical and has less vertical gain than Nuria prefers.

Anne Valero is my outsider and placed well at the CCC in 2012. She runs well on the road and that combination of hill strength and road speed may very well see her pull something out of the bag at Templiers.



  • . Distance: 72 km – altitude: 3200 m +
  • . Departure: 5:15 (note time change), Millau, Millau Plage road (attention, 1h 20 ‘night in the morning) and arrive in Millau, Millau Beach Road 1.2 km from city center
  • . 4 stations (Peyreleau, St André de Vézines, Pierrefiche, The Cade)
  • . Registration limited to 2500 runners

Sunday, the weather seems to be confirmed with a cold, dry and sunny day but temperatures may even be below zero at times.

Therefore the race organisers have stipulated that runners must have suitable equipment for the cold. However, no equipment is compulsory other than a space blanket.

If the cold continues recommendations are as follows: gloves are essential, also a head cover such as a buff. A light jacket is recommended for the start and long tights/leggings or long shorts short + long socks are a suitable compromise.

A weekend of racing – Festival de l’Endurance

The Templiers race is part of the Festival de l’Endurance. The main event takes place on Sunday, the Grande Course – THE GREAT RACE OF THE TEMPLARS is steep and rocky, so steep that the race organisers place ropes in many areas so that runners can ease their way through rough spots without falling.

The racing at Templiers starts on Friday and goes through to Sunday with a selection of races as follows:



. Time limit: 22 hours.

. Distance: 105 km – altitude: 4800 m +


. Distance: 26 km – altitude: 680 m +



. Distance: 38 km – altitude: 1600 m +


. Distance: 26.5 km – altitude 1000 m +


. Distance: 1.5 km and 3 km for young


. Distance: 9 km – altitude: 300 m + (same course cadets and juniors)

THE Templar

. Distance: 9 km – altitude: 300 m +


. Distance: 19 km – altitude: 700 m +




To add to that magical ambiance, it helps to know that Nant was one of many points in a network of secret trails built by the Knights Templar, the monastic, international military order formed at the end of the First Crusade with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar, known for their architectural skills and fighting alongside Richard I were the first warrior monks and were prevalent in that part of France until their downfall in 1307.

The race route uses the secret paths of the Templars which ncludes two long tunnels that had been used as shortcuts to beat enemies to strategic locations. The region has become a popular tourist attraction primarily due to the success of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

FOLLOW the main race live on Twitter by ‘following’ @talkultra and ‘Like’ our Facebook page and see updates and images as the race unfolds HERE

Vertical K records fall

Urban Zemmer, new VK world record holder. ©ISF

Both the men’s and women’s world records in the Vertical Kilometer® tumbled yesterday in the fourth Vertical Series race in Fully, Switzerland.

It was a race among champions where boundaries were pushed to the limit. Italy’s Urban Zemmerrocketed up the 1,000m vertical course, only 1.9 km long, in just 30’26”, 20 seconds faster than the standing world record set here in 2011 by fellow countryman Manfred Reichegger who was second in 30’42”.  Slovenian Nejc Kuhar was third in31’00” and Italian Marco De Gasperi, fourth in31’37”.

Christel Dewalle, new VK world record holder. © ISFIn the ladies’ field the top four all closed under record time. French runner Christel Dewalle was first in 36’48” followed by Axelle Mollaret in37’44” and third, Maude Mathys from Switzerland in 37’56, all beating the previous world record set two years ago by Italian Valentina Belotti in38’50”.

The new men’s record nears a speed of 2,000 vertical metres per hour(precisely 1,971m) an incredible ground-breaking performance that the ISF has been monitoring for many years in a scientific research project.  (As a matter of interest, the maximum vertical gain in cycling, 1,850m, was established by Marco Pantani in 1998).

Depending on the course and type of start, poles are permitted and yesterday, most of the runners used them.  However, to date, the advantages of using poles has not been scientifically demonstrated.

Leading the Vertical Series to date are:


1. Urban Zemmer (ITA) – 200 points

2. Nejc Kuhar (SLO) – 178 points

3. Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 168 points


1. Laura Orgué Vila (ESP) – 172 points

2. Silvia Leal Augé (ESP) – 150 points

3. Zhanna Vokueva (RUS) – 148 points

Faces of Ultra

One of the advantages that I have covering races is that I am often in the very fortunate position to capture images that many just don’t get the opportunity to capture.

We have all seen running pictures and action pictures but earlier this year I started to document the ‘Faces of Ultra‘. It started as a personal project but interest and demand for the images I captured increased…

I have therefore set up a Faces of Ultra website to allow me to showcase the images and offer them as limited edition prints in a variety of sizes.

The maximum print run will always be 20 or less and each images will be signed and numbered.

It’s early days but please keep an eye on the site and what prints and options will become available.

Website: www.facesofultra.com