Ryan Sandes – Trans Gran Canaria



“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.


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.

Results 2011

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.

Results 2012

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

Kilian Jornet’s calendar 2013

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet has just announced his 2013 calendar. In just one glance you can see the dominance of Skyrunning. I am sure Kilian is laying his stall out and wants to be World Champion in VK, Sky and Ultra in the series.

Apart from one or two races, I will be at all of the events listed below bringing you interviews, images and audio as the action unfolds.

His 2012 placing of 3rd at Transvulcania must be a high priority on his list. I am sure he will be gunning for the win in 2013. Notably he has already stopped his skiing season allowing for more adequate preparation for the start of the 2013 season.

A surprise is a return to Raid de la Reunion. Maybe he wants a course record…?

2013 is going to be a very exciting season. I can’t wait to see it unfold.


07/05/2013 – VERTICAL KILOMETER ELBRUS – RUSSIA – http://www.elbrus.redfox.ru/english/news/

11/05/2013 – TRANSVULCANIA – SPAIN – http://transvulcania13.com/index.php/en/

Kilian at Transvulcania 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Kilian at Transvulcania 2012 copyright Ian Corless

26/05/2013 – ZEGAMA AIZKORRI – SPAIN – http://www.zegama-aizkorri.com/

09/06/2013 – CERDANYA ULTRAFONS – SPAIN – http://www.ultrafons.com/

28/06/2013 – VERTICAL KILOMETER CHAMONIX – FRANCE – http://www.montblancmarathon.net/fr/

30/06/2013 – MARATON CHAMONIX – FRANCE – http://www.montblancmarathon.net/fr/

06/07/2013-07/07/2013 – KILIAN’S CLASSIK – FRANCE – http://www.traildefontromeu.com

14/07/2013 – ICE TRAIL TARANTAISE – FRANCE – http://www.icetrailtarentaise.fr/

19/07/2013-21/07/2013 – EUROPEAN SKYRUNNING CHAMPIONSHIP – ITALY – http://www.dolomiteskyrace.com/portali.asp

Kilian at Cavalls del Vent 2012 copyright Ian Corless

Kilian at Cavalls del Vent 2012 copyright Ian Corles

27/07/2013 – ULTRA SKYRUNNING DOLOMITI – ITALY – http://www.dolomiteskyrace.com/portali.asp

24/08/2013 – MATTERHORN ULTAKS – SWITZERLAND – http://www.ultraks.com/

01/09/2013 – MEET YOU MAKER – CANADA – http://www.meetyourmaker50.com/

28/09/2013 – UROC – USA – http://www.ultraroc.com

11/10/2013-13/10/2013 – LIMONE – ITALY – http://www.skybikextreme.com/

25/10/2013-27/10/2013 – GRAND RAID REUNION – REUNION ISLAND –

Philipp Reiter – wonder kid !



Philipp Reiter makes me laugh… he makes me laugh lots! 21 years old, the world is ahead of him and he embraces each day as though it was his last. His passion for life and running is matched by his appetite for the ‘buffet’ at our hotel. Boy can he eat!

In 2012, he emerged on the ‘world’ stage by clocking up a series of top 10 places and wins that only a fool could ignore. He won the Salaomon Four Trails ahead of Thomas Lorblanchet and Francois d’Haene. He teamed up with teammate, Iker Karrera at Trans Alpine and won. He suffered a little at Transvulcania, ran strong at Trofeo Kima and dug deep at Cavalls del Vent.



After Trofeo Kima I asked him what his aspirations are for the future….

“I want to be the new Kilian” he replied.

Today, just before we headed out on to the beach to take the photos that you can see in the post, I questioned him again. His answer today?

“I want to beat Kilian”



He has just spent the last two to three months ski mountaineering and this weekend he lines up at the 83km TNF Trans Gran Canaria to take on a competetive field that includes teammate, Ryan Sandes. With no running in his legs is it possible to perform over 83km on tough trail? Philipp thinks so.

On the trails yesterday, Philipp flew off like a man possessed. It was hard to believe that he hadn’t run… no small stops to ease himself in. No, not at all. He bounded and leaped down the trail as though some binding shackles had been removed.



“When you take the skis off and run, you feel so light. It’s incredible. It’s a joy to run” said Philipp in my 30+ min interview scheduled to be aired in episode 30 of Talk Ultra on March 8th.

“The break from running freshens the mind, it’s a good thing, I love sport, I love cycling, I love going to the gym, I love variety. That is what is so exciting about what I do”

You can see the logic. Look at his peer group; Kilian Jornet, Nuria Picas, Emelie Forsberg and so on… they all turn from trails to snow in the winter months.



This coming weekend will show us how Philipp’s form is after months of no running. But ultimately the 83km on Saturday are only small and tiny steps on what will be a very interesting 2013 season.

A full set of images from today are available HERE

You can see how Philipp gets on against Ryan Sandes and the other runners at : http://www.transgrancanaria.net

You can listen to my interview with Philipp on the next episode of Talk Ultra. It will be available for ‘free’ download on iTunes, Libsyn and talk ultra.com.

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Website – talkultra.com

TNF Trans Gran Canaria – Pre Race


It was a cold night in the mountains… the hot temperatures on the coast at lunch had disappeared. Wrapped under four blankets and still fully dressed during the night we emerged to a glorious new day.

As the sun rose so did the temperature. It wasn’t really hot but hey, it was warm enough. A couple of hours on the trails to allow me to capture images, that is all I needed. I love the light in the mountains. It’s warm and at this time of the year the sun is low in the sky providing some strong directional light.

Gran Canaria has some incredible trails and when you put Ryan Sandes, Philipp Reiter and Trailschnittchen Julia Böttger on them and only good things can come of it.

Philipp was like a wound up cork, he literally hasn’t run for 3 months. He has been skiing. It didn’t affect him, he shot up the trail immediately and we chased. What followed was a series of memorable moments on some incredible trail. Here is a highlight but you can see all the images HERE.









Our morning fun over we left for the coast at midday. A leisurely lunch of fresh seafood and salad with views of the beach. The break over and another short journey, we arrived at what can only be referred to as a palace. Our hotel for 2 nights, the H10. In incredible hotel.

Ryan Sandes did a talk and presented a video of his Fish River Canyon run. It was a really enlightening and informal chat… I have to say, Ryan came out with some great quotes:

“My first marathon was like a teenager having sex… It wasn’t pretty!”

“I enjoy the mental aspect of ultra trail races. Immense highs and lows. I’ve learnt lots about myself. But it’s about enjoyment. I really respect those runners that take twice as long to complete the race than I do…. But, they get better value for money!”

“Lots of foot prints on the trail, do you follow them or do you make your own?”

So as our first day draws to a close it’s time to make the most of the H10 hotel and take advantage of a wonderful dinner laid on for us by the management.

Ryan Sandes website HERE

Philipp Reiter website HERE

Julia Bottger website HERE

The TNF Tran Gran Canaria website HERE

Te Araroa Episode 2 – Jez Bragg

After 53 days 9 hours and 3,054 km of running, Jez Bragg crosses the finish line of Te Araroa trail arriving in Bluff — lands end on the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island.

“I’m just so proud of that because, it was bold, and I did pull it off. And that’s cool.” Jez Bragg

Richard Bowles – He’s at it again…

Running the Israel National Trail (INT)


Described as a hybrid of Bear Grylls and Forrest Gump, Melbourne based adventure runner Richard Bowles is set to create another record in the world of ultra-distance trail running, in one of the most fascinating countries on the planet.

Just another long distance runner? Hardly. In 2012 Richard ran over 10,500km of trails, the equivalent distance of 249 marathons, but in much different circumstances. Imagine doing Tough Mudder 10 times a week, add in to the mix some crocodile infested river crossings, an avalanche zone and an active volcano and you’re getting some sense of Richards typical week, every week, for a whole year.

Is he a bit nuts? Maybe, because he’s about embark on yet another wild adventure.

Starting on Sunday 14 April 2013 , Richard will run (and climb) atleast 80km each day along the 1009km INT that winds its way from the Red Sea in Eilat in the southernmost part of Israel to Dan in the North, near the border of Lebanon and Syria, where he plans to arrive 12 days later on April 26….or even sooner if all goes well!

The trail, described by National Geographic as one of the worlds most ‘epic trails’, was the vision of Israeli Ori Dvir, and showcases Israels impressive landscape. Traversing the arid and unforgiving Negev, along ancient Roman roads, climbing up and down craters and canyons, past historically significant sites and over mountain passes, along lush river valleys, and through the heart of the bustling Tel Aviv.


During 2012 Richard became the first person to run the worlds longest marked trail, the rough and remote Bicentennial National Trail of Australia traversing the treacherous and remote dividing range mountains from Melbourne to Cooktown, raising awareness and funds for mental health organisation SANE Australia along the way. Just 3 weeks after completing this incredible feat, Richard flew to New Zealand to tackle their incredibly tough and dangerous 3,054km Te Araroa Trail, and in just 65 days Richard became the first person to run the entire trail.

Combining a passion for adventure, a love for running, and a determination to make a positive contribution to the places through which he runs, Richard and the team will be choosing a worthy charity, one whose work is close to his heart and to which he feels he can offer the most benefit to. The charity partner will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Richard believes in giving back, as these adventures and the people who support him give him so much.

Run INT Project

Running 1009km on Israel’s National Trail, over mountains and deserts….and in just 12 days! Or less!!

Project Website


The Israel National Trail – 1009km winding through this most geographically and historically significant part of the world, from Eilat in the South to Dan in the North.



The question most people ask is why would anyone want to run over 80km each day for 2 weeks? Richard explains, “The trail less travelled offers the best adventures, and I’m all about challenging myself on a daily basis”.

Richard says he is keen to meet with the communities through which the trail passes, and always takes the time to do so…even when running such huge distances each day. “The highlight of the projects in 2012 was meeting people. Being welcomed into their homes, sharing stories over a meal, and enjoying the wonderful adventure that they had now become a part of”.

Who is Richard?

Richard Bowles has many years experience in the discipline of distance running and regularly runs 200km weekly on trails around Melbourne. He is the first person to ever run the worlds longest marked trail (5,330km Bicentennial National Trail, Australia) , and is the Australian Record holder of the 2010 Tenzing Hillary Mt Everest Marathon; Winner of the 2011 Tasmanian 3 Peaks Challenge (sailing and mountain running event) and Record Holder of the Wilsons Prom Ultra Marathon 2010.
For more info go to http://www.richardbowles.com.au

More about the Israel National Trail

Inspiration for the trail came from Avraham Tamir, a well-known children’s book author who, at the age of 78 hiked the Appalachian Trail. Upon returning to Israel he proposed a hiking trail that wove its way from one end to the other. And so, in 1991, the Israel National Trail (INT) was born. Beginning in the far north of the country hugging the border with Lebanon, the tiny Kibbutz Dan marks the starting point. The finishing line is found some 1009km further south, where Israel’s Red Sea coast stops at the border with Egypt. To undertake the entire trail takes seasoned hikers 30 to 45 days maintaining a pace of about 30 kilometres a day.

Salomon S-Lab EXO Twinskin Skort



You are going to have to trust me on this one… I don’t wear a ‘Skort’ often but I have seen Emelie Forsberg and Anna Frost in them throughout 2012.

Now of course they are Salomon sponsored athletes but believe me, if they didn’t tick the boxes and if they were not completely comfortable, they would be choosing another item to wear within the Salomon range.

‘Skorts’ are an unusual item. Initially they were frowned upon by many… my partner included, but it would appear that once you wear one there is no going back!

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Skorts are basically a tight fitting short (like cycling shorts) with a loose ‘over’ fabric. Now I am guessing here but the functional side is quite obvious. The tight shorts provide close fitting comfort and the loose overlay provides some modesty.

The EXO short is a compression product and as such holds the leg muscles tightly providing reduced muscle fatigue and postural support by increasing blood flow. Within the shorts are an additional inner brief for comfort.

The compression reduces muscle vibration and from all the ladies I have spoken to who have used the Skort they have all come back with similar comments: “I could feel the tightness of the compression holding my muscles and restricting vibration but in a very comfortable way. It didn’t feel restrictive”.

Of course this hold and compression not only reduces fatigue whilst running but it also aid the recovery process. In both the mens EXO shorts and the ladies EXO Skort a universal comment of “legs feel less tired and trashed the next day” is common

The EXO fabric has actiLITE material and this is strategically positioned to be thinner in certain places to allow the body to loose more heat. They have a high waistband with pockets included. The S-Lab range is all about functionality and it is these pockets in conjunction with EXO fabric that sets these products apart from much of the competition. The pockets can carry a small jacket rolled up, gloves, gels, a phone, money or whatever small essential items that may be needed. The pockets have a ‘tab’ to make access easy and of course if you use the Skort with the 2013 S-Lab Light Jacket (HERE) they make the perfect combination.

The S-Lab range is all about making products that perform at the highest level. They allow freedom of movement and offer additional functionality. This, as always, comes at a price so expect to pay in the region of £90 in the UK.

Anna Frost at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Anna Frost at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless


Light postural support, muscle compression and improved blood flow, these shorts improve performance without chaffing.

    • EXO SENSIFIT STABILITY – Run easier: better alignment of your body allows you to run easier on uneven trails downhill & uphill. Run longer: Reduce cramping, muscle soreness, saving energy & preventing injuries. +5% of muscle performance. Recover better: Improve recovery time. +11% of active recovery.
    • Twinskin technology – skin fit under-shorts, loose fitting over-skirt
    • Ultralight, flexible ACTILITE™ Stretch Woven outer skirt material that is light and breathable
    • ACTILITE Stretch Mesh – lightweight & breathable waist construction
    • 3  Pockets for gels, gloves, jacket etc
    • Skin fit
    • Inseam length: 23 cm


    • ACTILITE™ STRETCH WOVEN material – light, flexible and breathable
    • ACTILITE STRETCH MESH – highly breathable mesh
    • Inner Brief: PA 78%; EL 22%
    • Shell: PES 88%; EL 12%
    • Overlay: PU 100%
    • Waistband: PA 59%; EL 41%
    • Weight: 140g

Salomon website HERE


The North Face – AK Stormy Trail

A5YKJK33As the main sponsor of the TNFUTMB, The North Face fully understand the needs of every runner when embarking on the epic alpine journey. Irrespective of distance, the mountains can be a cruel and hard place.

Look at the history of the race. For several years the TNFUTMB has been hampered by bad weather. Just last year, 2012, the race was shortened at the last minute and ‘mandatory’ kit was increased to 4 layers to ensure the safety of every runner.

Two pieces of mandatory kit are a fully waterproof jacket with hood and taped seams but also over trousers. Now many runners, particularly the elite runners think… “I will never wear over trousers”. The 2012 edition of the TNFUTMB confirmed to many that mandatory kit, (although sometimes one may think it is over the top) is absolutely necessary,

To this end, The North Face have created two items that tick all the boxes. The AK STORMY TRAIL JACKET and AK STORMY TRAIL PANTS. Available in Black & Yellow



Key Features

It’s simple really…. a tailored fit to reduces excess material and flapping. A reduction in ‘extras’ as these only add opportunities for onward problems or areas were leaks may appear. Lightweight and small pack size.


The AK STORMY range do all the above and then some. Of course that doesn’t come cheap. At £160 for the jacket and £110 for the pants this is an investment. But you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise when I am several thousand feet up in the rain and snow.


AK JACKET – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket is a waterproof, breathable, hooded running jacket for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, the jacket is constructed with a reflective brimmed, stay-put hood, an adjustable hood cinch and a reflective drop-tail hem for increased coverage and weatherproofing. Easily stowed in a backpack and with a glued zip chest pocket for secure storage, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Jacket.


  • Reflective brimmed hood with stay
  • Adjustable hood cinch
  • Glued chest pocket
  • Reflective drop-tail hem
  • Stowable

available S,M,L,XL

AK PANTS – The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant is a waterproof, windproof, breathable running trouser for maximum protection in the foulest weather. Featuring The North Face® FlashDry™ technology, microporous particles improve and accelerate the removal of excess moisture from the skin, allowing drier and more comfortable performance for longer, in a range of weather conditions. Used and recommended for endurance races such as The Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, these performance fit pants are constructed with an elasticized waist with adjustable drawcord and articulated knees for increased mobility. Easily stowed in a backpack and with reflective logos for increased security on night and low level visibility runs, follow the athletes in The North Face® Men’s AK Stormy Trail Pant.


  • Elasticated waist with adjustable drawcord
  • Performance fit
  • Articulated knees, Ankle zips
  • Reflective logos
  • Packable

available S,M,L,XL

A full test of the AK range will follow soon. Initial impressions are superb. Fit is excellent. The attention to detail really is spot on and both garments are a real joy to wear but ultimately, they are a pleasure to run in… that is what counts!


Episode 29 – Robbins, Bragg, Grant, Corbett

Episode 29 Talk Ultra


Come back man Gary Robbins telling us what it’s like to return from 2 years of injury to not only win Hurt 100 but to set a new CR. Jez Bragg tells us about completing ‘The Long Pathway, Te Araroa’ in New Zealand. Joe Grant says goodbye and heads off to the Iditarod. Colourful Catra Corbett tells us about drugs, alcohol, running, tattoos, clothes and Truman. In addition to all that, we also have… phew; Talk Training about the long run, ‘A year in the life off…’, part 3 of our Marathon des Sables special, A Meltzer Moment, Up & Coming races and of course the News.

Show Notes:



00:00:45 Start and introduction

00:09:31 “Year in the life of….” This week Amanda Hyatt tells us all about her first ultra. Not  one day, but two days of 33 miles. As many of you will be able to relate to, it didn’t quite go to plan. But did she finish…?

00:27:52 News Plenty of news with a catch up from Rocky Raccoon, The Coastal Challenge, Fuego Y Agua and more…

00:35:06 Jez Bragg completed The Long Pathway, Te Araroa and I was very fortunate to speak to him less than 24 hours after he crossed the finish line. I think you will be able to hear in his voice how this journey not only exhausted him but changed him. Check out his website HERE and take a look at his sponsors The North Face

00:54:30 back to Karl

01:18:50 Joe Grant spoke to us several weeks ago about his preparation for the 350 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. I caught up with him this week, just a day before he headed out to the race. Joe’s website Alpine Works. The ITI website HERE

01:35:05 back to Karl

01:38:15 BlogCatra Corbett colourful, fresh, modern and different. Catra or Dirt Diva adds some spice to the ultra scene. Listen to what she has to say and check out her blog HERE

02:12:25 Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite – this week we talk about the long run….

02:31:35 Interview with Gary Robbins. Life with passion, pursue your dreams. Gary just a few years back won the Hurt 100 and in doing so broke Geoff Roes old course record. He was suddenly seeing all the hard work pay off but then a series of events almost ended his running career… hear Gary talk about that period of his life and what it is like to comeback and be on top! For more information and a list of results, check out his blog HERE

03:18:00 Back to Karl

03:20:30 A Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat Karl. Good, Bad and Ugly.

03:27:25 Marathon des Sables spécial. This is part 3 and we are back with Stuart Rae to find out how the progress is going to the 2013 edition in April.

03:40:55 Races the up and coming races for the next 2 weeks

03:42:30 Close

Miguel Heras – Calendar 2013

Miguel Heras at Templiers copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras at Templiers copyright Ian Corless

Salomon athlete, Miguel Heras has just posted his race calendar for 2013













Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Miguel Heras copyright Ian Corless

Great to see some classic races in that list and of course plenty of Skyrunning too!

Follow Miguel at his website HERE