“I’m good Ryan, it’s great to finally meet up”
Ryan Sandes in Europe is quite a treat and for sure, the runners on Gran Canaria appreciate it.
Our first meeting is in a secluded mountain campsite. Ryan has arrived from South African heat so the chill in the air is noticeable by the several layers he is wearing. Our initial chat is purely a catch up about mutual friends and who is doing what. But then over dinner we discuss the season ahead and what it holds.
We discuss the pitfalls of too much racing and too much training and Ryan explains that the end of February, beginning of March is still VERY EARLY in the season. His decision therefore to move from the 119km race and enter the 83km seems logical.
Ryan very much carves his own niche in the ultra world. Maybe the ‘isolation’ of South Africa allows him to do this? But what is for sure is that this guy nows exactly his strengths and weaknesses and knows how to maximise what he has.
“My first marathon was like teenage sex… it wasn’t pretty”
Ryan explains at a talk/ video presentation at the H10 hotel in Meloneras on the southern coast of the island. He has a great story, an ex rugby player who stopped growing and decided to move sports… He ran a marathon, it wasn’t pretty but somehow picked up the bug. He wanted a challenge and thought big! So big he chose a multi stage race in the Gobi desert.
Why did he choose it?
“Well the Gobi desert sounded like a cool place to go but to be honest, I didn’t even know where it was let alone a multi day race. But I gave myself six months, trained hard and amazed myself by winning the race”
Quite amazing. That natural ability came through and he then went on to win all the ‘four’ desserts.
2010 4 DESERT CHAMPION AND ONLY COMPETITOR TO WIN EVERY STAGE OF EACH OF THE 4 DESERT RACES (www.4deserts.com)
Always looking for a challenge he needed to test himself against the best in the world, at the time this ‘stage’ for ultra running was America. Paced by team mate, Anna Frost, Ryan ran Leadville 100 in 2011 and won it! Suddenly the North American runners started to take notice.
2011 The North Face 100 Australia – 3rd
2011 The Salomon Zugspitz Ultra – 4th
2011 Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run – 1st in 3rd fastest time in history
In 2012 all attention was focused on Ryan as he moved to the ‘Big Dance’ Western States 100. After a win at Vibram Hong Kong 100km Ultra (new record) and The North Face 100 in Australia what would Ryan do… many thought that ok, yes, he won Leadvillie and yes, no doubt he is a good runner. But this is Western Sates!
An usually cold year at the Big Dance produced the fastest year on record with Timothy Olson setting a new bar for the 100 mile race. But pushing him all the way was Ryan. Ryan crossed the line in 2nd place also breaking the old course record set by Geoff Roes.
2012 Vibram Hong Kong 100km Ultra – 1st in new record
2012 The North Face 100 Australia – 1st
2012 Western States 100 Miler USA – 2nd in 2nd fastest time in history
2012 Fish River Canyon Trail – 6h 57min ( record time )
The Fish River Canyon was a personal project… a fastest known time attempt. He had tried the ‘fish’ before and as he explained at his talk;
“I looked at the distance and thought, no problem. I just wasn’t prepared for the severity of the course. It chewed me up and spat me out”
Returning to the Canyon in 2012 he put the demons to rest and as his video shows, he tamed the beast that had chewed him up.
The Beauty of the Irrational
So how will Ryan perform at Trans Gran Canaria in 2013? Well for sure, he is going to be competitive. However, he does have ‘Wonder Kid’ Philipp Reiter to race against plus plenty of other talent. Very often in these events the focus is on the ‘main’ event. At Trans Gran Canaria that is the 119km race. With Sebastien Chaigneau and Miguel Heras on the start line of the 119km, a classic race is in the making, but don’t forget the little brother, I think this year spectators and followers of ultra racing are going to get a 2 for 1 deal.
You can see images from my photo shoot with Ryan HERE
Ryan Sandes website HERE
You can check out the race website HERE
Follow the race on Facebook HERE