copyright Marathon des Sables

copyright Marathon des Sables


The 2013 edition of the Marathon des Sables is a self-sufficient race in the South of the Moroccan desert, the event will take place from 5th to 15th April 2013. For the 18th consecutive year, it will be run under the patronage of his Majesty King Mohammed VI.

Since its creation in 1986, the Marathon des Sables has attracted over 13,000 competitors over 27 editions. From humble beginnings, the race is now the most prestigious multi-stage race in the world.

The 2013 Marathon des Sables will see 1,091 entrants toe the line. With 45 different nationalities and a strong presence from France and the UK, the 28th edition will be a memorable one.

Taking place in South Morocco, in the provinces of Errachidia and Tinghrir the race will cover 223.8km over 5 stages. It will encompass some of the most beautiful terrain in the Moroccan desert. Eagerly awaited by one and all, the dunes, ergs and dried-up wadis will delight the thousand or so entrants from the fifty plus countries across the globe.


Race Programme:

5 April 2013: Leave country of residence for Morocco (UK entrants leave on the 4th) – Arrival in Ouarzazate, bus transfer to the 1st bivouac.

6 April 2013: Administrative, technical and medical checks – Day to acclimatise.

From 7-12 April 2013: Race in progress. (The self-sufficiency begins from breakfast on the 1st leg).

12 April 2013: Prizing ceremony in desert.

13 April 2013: Charity leg for UNICEF– Transfer to Ouarzazate.

14 April 2013: Day of relaxation, festivities.

15 April 2013: Return to country of residence.

Race Logistics

Patrick Bauer affectionately describes the Marathon des Sables as a big circus. It’s like moving a city everyday… just look at what is involved.

Race management : This team comprises more than 100 people including a race HQ, race marshals, controllers, timekeepers and ranking compilers. Since 2010, the official ranking has been achieved using a “transponder” for all the competitors.

Supervision : 400 people: technical, logistical and medical skills, 100 vehicles, 2 helicopters, 1 CESSNA plane, 4 dromedaries… and the active support of the Royal Armed Forces: 21 lorries (6×6) and 40 men to supervise logistics.

Medical Assistance : A team of 50 people under Dr Frédéric COMPAGNON, DOC TROTTER supervises the runners as much on a medical level (care of feet, resuscitation…) as a mental level, both of which fail sometimes in front of the toughness of the event and the hostility of the climate.

In the 27th SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES, 3 tonnes of gear was transported and the medical team used : 5km of Elastoplast, 2,700 second-skin patches, 125 litres of disinfectant, 230 litres of drip solutions, 15,000 compresses, 2,800 pairs of surgical gloves,…

The Team

  • 115 volunteers on the course itself
  • 400 support staff overall
  • 120 000 litres of mineral water
  • 270 berber and saharan tents
  • 100 all-terrain vehicles
2 “Squirrel” helicopter and 1 “Cessna” plane
  • 6 “MDS special” commercial planes
  • 23 buses
  • 4 dromedaries
1 incinerator lorry for burning waste
  • 4 quad bikes to ensure environment and safety on race
52 medical staff
  • 6.5 kms of Elastoplast, 2 700 Compeed, 19 000 compresses 6 000 painkillers, 150 litres of disinfectant
  • 4 editing stations, 5 cameras, 1 satellite image station
10 satellite telephones, 30 computers, fax and internet

Marathon des Sables

Marathon des Sables – how did it start?

Patrick Bauer interview available HERE

1984 : At the age of 28, Patrick Bauer decided to make a journey into the Sahara. His objective was to traverse 350km’s of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone and without any possibility of encountering a single village, oasis or watering place. Totally self sufficient, Patrick entered the desert with a pack weight of 35kg containing all his water and food. The journey lasted 12 days and it was the starting point of what has now become the MARATHON DES SABLES.

Patrick Bauer, Marathon des Sables copyright

Patrick Bauer, Marathon des Sables copyright

1986 : The creation of the first MARATHON DES SABLES in the Moroccan Sahara. The 23 pioneers who took the start never imagined that their footprints would mark the start of a legendary event, which today has become unmissable on the schedule for major adventure sport meets.

1989 : 170 competitors take the start of the race and the rest is history.

I caught up with Patrick Bauer at the MDS UK expo in late 2012. You can listen to that interview (lasts 13 minutes):


The 2013 Race – who will be taking part?

1,090 competitors aged 20 to 76 are expected to take the start (definitive number on 6 April following administrative and medical checks) representing 45 different nationalities: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of El Salvador, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

The participants are men and women with various and varied profiles (Doctors, farmers, coppersmiths, pilots, builders, chefs, servicemen and women, students, professional athletes and retired persons…).

The 2013 MDS Challengers for the overall win


The Female contenders for the overall win :

Laurence Klein 2012 MDS

Laurence Klein 2012 MDS

  • Laurence KLEIN (FRA) – 1st woman in 2007, 2011 and 2012, European 100km Champion.
  • Meryem KHALI (MAR) – 2nd woman in 2012. N°1082:
  • Megan HICKS (USA) – 2nd woman in 2009.
  • Simone KAYSER (LUX )– 3 victories in the MDS.

The Male contenders for the overall win : 

Mohamad Ahansal

Mohamad Ahansal

  • Salameh AL AQRA (JOR) – 1st in 2012, 2nd in 2008, 2010, 3rd in 2009, 2011.
  • Mohamad AHANSAL (MAR) – 4 victories and 2nd place 9 times.
  • Samir AKHDAR (MAR) – 6th in 2011, 7th in 2009.
  • Rachid EL MORABITY (MAR) – 1st in 2011.
  • Aziz EL AKAD (MAR) – 2nd in 2009 and 3rd in 2008 and 2012.
  • Christophe LE SAUX (FR) – 6th in 2012, 1st Guyan’trail 2011 and 2012.
  • Anton VENCELJ (SLO) – 4th in 2010, 8th in 2012.
  • Abdelaaziz TAYSS (FR) – French Cross-Country champion 2008 and 2011
  • Vincent DELEBARRE (FR) – 9th in 2005, 1st UTMB, Réunion, Templiers, etc
  • Martin FIZ (SP) – World Marathon Champion in 1995.
  • Carlos GOMEZ DE SA (POR) – 4th 2012 and 8th in 2008, 4th UTMB 2012.
  • Marco OLMO (ITA) – Top 10 in the MDS, 2 UTMB victories.
  • Antonio Filippo SALARIS (ITA) – 7th in 2012.

In 2013 I followed two runners in the build up to the 2013 Marathon des Sables. Tobias Mews placed 21st overall in the 2010 race and Stuart Rae is toeing the line for the first time in 2013. Each interview alternated on episodes of Talk Ultra but they have been joined together in one episode (lasts just under 1 hour)


2012 results (for reference)

1st : Salameh Al Aqra (JOR) in 19h59’21’’
 2nd : Mohamad Ahansal (MAR) 21’02’’ behind 3rd : Aziz El Akad (MAR) 1h38’56’’ behind

1st : Laurence Klein (FRA) in 26h15’40’’ 2nd : Meryem Khali (MAR) 1h19’38’’ behind 3rd : Karine Baillet (FRA) 1h31’07’’ behind


The 2013 race route

  • 1st leg – 37.2k Undulating terrain, interspersed with small ergs representing 5km of small dunes (dunettes).
  • 2nd leg – 30.7km 3 djebels with 10 to 25% gradients – exceptional panoramic views.
  • 3rd leg – 38km 2 djebel sections, 2 dried-up lakes and lots of sand.
  • 4th leg – 75.7km a total of 13km of dunes and around 30km of sandy terrain.
  • 5th leg – 42.2km the final leg is a marathon with ergs, regs, a dried-up lake and wadi beds…
  • Total Distance – 223.8km

Mandatory Kit

One of the key aspects of the Marathon des Sables is what kit to take? Here is a list of ‘mandatory’ kit. Of course, you need to add to this food requirements, cooking equipment and any additional luxuries.

  1. Distress flare: For use in the event of an extreme emergency. A range in excess of several dozen metres once activated.
  2. Knife: Equipped with a metal blade, it’s obviously useful in the bivouac and it can be of service when useful in the bivouac and it can be of service when running too.
  3. Compass: Surpassing both intuition and signposting, the compass is the marathon runner’s signposting.
  4. Whistle: Slowed by problems with your health or astray of the initial route, it enables other competitors or the organisation to be alerted to your whereabouts.
  5. Lighter: An important ally after a day’s running, whenit’s time to make a fire to heat up your meal.
  6.  Anti-venom pump: Even though it’s rare to have an unpleasant encounter with a snake, the anti-venom pump is compulsory and can enable action to be pump is compulsory and can enable action to be taken quickly.
  7. Antiseptic: As the days go by, all kinds of injuries can crop up, even during the race sometimes. So whilst awaiting assistance from a Doc Trotter, antiseptic can be important prior to linking up with the medical team.
  8. Sleeping bag: To be carried for seven days, ideally it shouldn’t exceed 400g and should be suitable for temperatures of between 5°C and 10°C. Indeed, the nights are cold in the desert.
  9. Survival blanket: In the event of serious problems, the survival blanket enables you to protect yourself from both the cold and sun. It weighs in at no more than 60g.
  10. Signalling mirror: If lost, someone competing in the Marathon des Sables will want to signal his or her presence. Playing with the sun and a mirror may be an alternative prior to using a distress flare.
  11. Salt tablets: Not exactly pleasant tasting, they are nonetheless essential for avoiding dehydration.
  12. Glow sticks: The perfect marker during the long leg.
  13. Headtorch: once night falls or when wandering around the bivouac, the headtorch is essential.

I will be reporting from the 2013 event as the race unfolds and providing I am able to gain adequate access to internet, I will update my website, Facebook and Twitter with reports and images as often as possible. So please keep checking!

Scott T2 Kinabalu Review

T2 Kinabalu

Sage CanadayMarco De GasperiIan Sharman and Joe Gray amongst others are utilising the benefits of the new Scott range of run shoes, you may very well want to take a more in-depth look at the 2013 offerings yourself?

Scott Running brand.

I did a review of the Scott eRide Grip 2 some time ago, I used the shoe extensively on the trails out in La Palma on the Transvulcania La Palma course. In summary, the shoe really impressed me. It had the combination of factors that makes a shoe great to wear. You can read the review HERE

copyright Ian Corless

copyright Ian Corless


I have now had the Scott T2 Kinabalu for a couple of months. The design of this shoe has had great input from legendary mountain runner Marco De Gasperi and the T2 Kinabalu shows that all the great features of the Scott eRide Grip 2 have been transferred to the T2 Kinabalu but in a lighter more streamlined shoe. Sizing was true to size and the drop is 11mm.

From the moment I first put the shoes on, adjusted the laces and stepped out of the door and headed of for a one hour run the T2 Kinabalu put a smile on my face. A mile of road to my local trails felt comfortable and the shoes offered grip, cushioning and a wonderful ‘return’ of energy to the next foot strike. I bounced along. On trail the grip was secure and reassuring. I did find that my heel was moving a little initially but I re-laced the shoe differently and suddenly my foot was held secure and tight.

I have been through thick mud, snow, ice, hard trail, rocks, mountains and water crossings and have accumulated some 400+ miles in these shoes. Here are my thoughts.


At the front of the shoe, protection runs around the toe area providing adequate protection should you strike rocks or roots. The toe box is wide providing plenty of room but not so much room that they become loose. Your toes are able to spread and help provide feel and contact with the ground. At the rear your heel is held firm with no hot spots. The upper is light, breathable and colourful! I like the colour and the boldness of the shoe but some may very well find them a little OTT. It all comes down to personal taste. Within the upper is a support structure (synthetic overlay) that helps hold the foot in place. The laces are not as ‘stretchy’ as those on the Grip 2 but they have a texture too them that ‘grips’. This holds the laces firm and once adjusted I have had no need to tighten them when running. A nice touch is the elastic bungee on the front of the shoe that allows you to pass excess lace underneath so that it does not flap around. It’s not as fancy or extravagant as the ‘Salomon Lace Garage’ but it does the job well.


The midsole has ‘Aero Foam’ which is Scott’s own technology and for a more minimalist shoe it provides great cushioning and feel for the ground. After several runs the midsole ‘bedded’ in and started to mould to my foot providing additional comfort. The sock liner is perforated and the midsole has ‘drainage’ ports to allow water to escape. A real plus in wet weather or water crossings. The platform of the shoe is wide and offers great grip, it has no cut away for the arch or any additional features that cut into the sole, so, what you have is great platform that creates maximum contact with the ground. You can really feel it. Without doubt the shoe is neural and low to the ground. It has all the feel and benefits of a minimalist shoe or racing flat but with cushioning.


One of the great aspects of this shoe is the eRide sole. As I explain below, the eRide technology is designed to make you a more efficient runner. By efficient, I mean striking the ground with a mid to fore-foot toe off. But an 11mm ‘drop’ normally would not promote this run style… step in eRide. Strike the ground with your heel and you feel the shoe propel you forward. Now I am a mid-foot striker but going downhill I felt the shoe throw me forward all the time, encouraging me to make the most of the hill and encouraging me to save my quads by stopping me braking.


Grip is not as severe as the eRide Grip 2 model but its greater than many shoes in it’s class and provides excellent traction on hard trail, rocks, ice, snow and wet ground. On muddy ground it provides some traction but not as much as the Grip 2. What I love about the T2 Kinabalu is its ability to transfer between all types of terrain providing great feel and comfort. These features are transferred even to road or pavement and I would have no problem running long stretches of road in the T2 Kinabalu.


I have been testing many pairs of shoes recently and I now use the T2 Kinabalu as my benchmark shoe. It has everything in one package; cushioning, light weight, great feel with the ground, comfort, security and most importantly the ability to handle a multitude of different terrains. If I was only allowed one pair of shoes, the T2 Kinabalu would be it.

A recent shoe test in ‘Trail Runnning‘ magazine also appointed the T2 Kinabalu as “Best In Test’ in the April 2013 edition.

Scott T2

T2 Kinabalu Information and Statistics

The T2 Kinabalu is the ultimate lightweight trail machine according to Scott. Maximum protection and traction with minimal weight. An ideal balance of lightweight materials, cushioning, protection and quick response thanks to eRide Technology. Shaped for smooth transition whether you are striking on the heel, mid foot or forefoot to adapt to the varied terrain. Our lightest trail shoe with uncompromised traction and protection, featuring an AeroFoam midsole, which is 50% lighter than traditional EVA foams.

copyright Ian Corless

copyright Ian Corless

Scott T2 Kinabalu


Get that fleet-footed feeling with our eRide range. The unique rocker shape creates a very stable midstance, promoting the faster and more efficient running style that runners strive for. You`ll be rocking as the miles roll by.


copyright Ian Corless

copyright Ian Corless

The benefits:

1. Healthier body position

2. More energy efficient

3. Natural midfoot strike

4. Lower profile heel

5. Smoother ride

6. Minimal and lighter weight

Aero Foam

Working with our athletes, we always hear that they would like to run in lighter shoes, but are not willing to sacrifice any cushioning performance. So, we found an alternative to the EVA foam used in most running shoes. SCOTT Aero Foam combines lightweight materials with a wear resistant compound, resulting in shoes that are lighter, have more cushioning and last longer than traditional running shoes.


Scott T2 Kinabalu


  • Weight 270g for UK9
  • Drop 11mm
  • eRideComposite push-through plate
  • AeroFoamWet traction rubber
  • Lace bungy
  • Upper: Mesh/Synthetic Overlays
  • Lower: EVA/rubber

Scott Website HERE

International Trail Running Association


March 29th 2013 – Press Release

Constitution of five working groups with the aim of the creating the
International Trail-Running Association

The world of trail running has evolved very fast. New demands are constantly being made in this rapidly expanding sport. The stakes are more and more important for all the players: organisers, athletes, equipment manufacturers, teams… The organisation of an international association for the discipline, gathering the largest number of participants as possible and recognised by all, seems to be necessary, so as to federate them all with a common policy and shared values, so as to collaborate with and influence the decisions of the IAAF (International Athletics Federation)

Act 1 – The International Trail-Running Conference

On September 3rd, last year, in Courmayeur (Italy) the first International trail-running conference was held, the objective of which was a discussion with all the actors of the discipline, which is in full evolution, and to try to determine in the shorter or longer term the convergent policies.
It brought together people from different aspects of the discipline: federations, brands, runners, media, race organisers, a total of 150 people from 18 different countries. It was the first time that so many players in the field of the trail had met to express their points of view.

It gave all the participants the chance to discover all the diverse points of view, and the necessity for trail-running to be organised as a full discipline. It also highlighted the need to take in to account the approach taken by the American, Asian and Oceanic continents even if the initiative was introduced on a European scale.
The organisation of 5 working groups was proposed so as to pursue the discussions.

Act 2 – Constitution of five working groups

Today fifty players in the world of trail running coming from 13 countries* and 4 continents realised the implementation of five working groups which had been defined and then set to work for 2 months. They are equipment manufacturers (Hoka, Salomon, The North Face®, Garmin…) race organisers (Western States 100 mile, TNF Lavaredo Ultra-Trail, Olympus Marathon, Tor des Géants®, Eco-Trail® de Paris, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® ), specialised media (,, Spiritotrail…), association for anti-doping, high calibre athletes, coaches, statisticians… The French Athletics Federation (FFA), the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), the National Committee for Trail-Running in South Africa, the Portuguese Trail-Running Association, and the Belgian Royal League of Athletic’s Trail-running commission all participated in these working groups.

* Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Portugal,, South Africa, Spain Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America.

The five working groups themes:

– Definition of trail – objective: to draft a definition of trail-running for runners and the public in general so that everybody understands the characteristics of this sporting discipline. This definition will respect the practice of trail-running all over the world and in all diverse natural environments (plains, sea, mountains, desert…). They will organise the categories taking in to account the distances without judging the value.
– Ethical charter – objective: to draft an ethical charter which expresses the values of trail-running shared by all the players in the field.
– Management of high calibre athletes – objective: to develop recommendations for the relationship between organisers, top athletes and equipment manufacturers regarding the parity of premiums, whether for engagement, commitment or performance, offered by the organisers to the runners etc.
– Health policy and anti-doping – objective: to propose a « Health Policy » to protect, to the maximum, the good physical health of the participants in trail-running events, applicable and financed by the organisers of these sporting events.
– International Ranking – objective: to put an international ranking in place based on the system devised by Didier Curdy*. This group is examining the reliability of the system, sporting regulations, categories, legal aspects and funding, and all other aspects involved.
(*) Didier Curdy is a trail runner who is passionate about statistics; he has been working on this project for several years.

Act 3 – Working methods

These working groups have a web-site on which five private forums were created. These pages are exclusively reserved for the working groups so that the members of the groups may work peacefully together and express their points of view freely from the four corners of the globe. One person from each group is responsible for regularly posting a synopsis of their group’s work on the forum so as to inform internet users so that they also may express their points of view.
Act 4 – The next step: the creation of the International Trail-Running Association

The 5 working groups will continue to work throughout March.
The work of these groups will serve as the basis on which to create, this spring, the International Trail-Running Association which will be open to all players in the field of trail-running and will aim:

– to develop and promote trail-running as a complete sport, accessible to all;
– to promote its sporting ethic;
– to represent its members at an international level;
– to maintain constructive relationships and collaborate with the national associations of trail-running and the national and international federations;
– to promote the organisation of continental or world trail-running championships
– to contribute to the safety and health of the participants.
A forum on the web-site: has already been created to allow everybody to express their points of view.


That iPhone will travel

copyright -

copyright –

The Apple iPhone (amongst other smart phones) has become the regular accessory for many runners. Lets face it, it has a great camera, video and a multitude of ‘Apps’ that will allow us to track, plot, follow and record our runs if required. When you add to that you can listen to music and even make a call with it, one has to admit that it is almost the ultimate accessory for your daily run.

Many races now insist that a phone is part of the compulsory equipment that you take when racing, so, do you really want to take a phone that costs in the region of £500/600 out on the trails, particularly when it could be wet, cold, muddy or even worse, you could drop and break it.

Step in

Other models of protective case have been available for some time, but the Lifeproof model seems to have taken the ‘case’ one step ahead!

copyright life

copyright life

It’s not as bulky as others on the market, which is a great plus. To give you confidence to go everywhere with your LifeProof case they water test each and every case they make. Not only that, after the test an independent agent performs additional testing and even puts randomly selected cases through a second water test. You have a guarantee then when you purchase a case it has been tested. In addition to this, they have a range of accessories and replacement parts to ensure your case lasts the life of the phone and beyond.

Each case has IP-68, the most rigorous classification in this specification. The first characteristic number describes protection from solid foreign objects. An enclosure with a characteristic number of 6 can withstand exposure to circulating talcum powder for 8 hours with no dust ingress after that period. The second characteristic number describes protection against water. An enclosure with a characteristic number of 8 exceeds all other water protection levels and is specified by the manufacturer. For LifeProof, number 8 signifies LifeProof cases will withstand immersion in water to a depth of 2 meters / 6.6 feet for 30 minutes.

copyright life

copyright life

MIL STD 810F-516 standard requires that the item can physically and functionally withstand the relatively infrequent, non-repetitive shocks encountered in handling, transportation, and service environments.

Perfect protection against WATER, DIRT, SNOW and SHOCK a Lifeproof Case may very well be that perfect accessory for your daily companion on the trails and when racing. Have to say, I love mine and my phone has been out in all conditions.

Specs for IPhone 5

  • Dimensions:5.4” x 2.6” x 0.5” / 137.5 mm x 67.1 mm x 12.2 mm*
  • Weight:1.05 oz / 29.8 g
  • Water Proof:Fully submergible to 6.6’ / 2 m for 30 minutes
  • Dirt Proof:Sealed from dirt & dust particles – meets or exceeds IP-68 IngressProtection Rating
  • Snow Proof:Sealed from snow & ice – meets or exceeds IP-68 Ingress Protection Rating
  • Shock Proof:Withstands drops from 6.6’ / 2 m – meets or exceeds MIL STD 810F-516



A range of accessories are also available so that you can maximise your user experience:

Armband, Bike Mount, Life Jacket, Suction Cup Mount and Belt Clip view HERE

copyright life

copyright life

  • 1 CrystalClear AR-coated optical-glass lens
  • 2 Nonstick cover never collects dirt or lint
  • 3 Waterproof seals on all ports and openings
  • 4 Polycarbonate frame absorbs impacts
  • 5 Waterproof ports on all microphones and speakers
  • 6 Scratch-resistant and waterproof screen protector
  • 7 Shock-absorbing elastomeric inner-layer

Price from £50



Lizzy Hawker 2013 Adventurer of the Year

Image copyright National Geographic - Tim Kemple - The North Face

Image copyright National Geographic – Tim Kemple – The North FaceUltrarunner Lizzy Hawker


Ultra trail runner and adventurer Lizzy Hawker wins the holy grail of epic trail races for the fifth time.

When Lizzy Hawker first entered the famed Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a staggering 103-mile race with 31,168 feet of uphill running—more than the equivalent of running up Everest—through the mountains of France, Italy, and Switzerland, it was a simple afterthought to a ten-day climbing vacation. Just ten days before the race, she decided it would be wise to purchase trail running shoes.

“It was my first mountain race,” says the 36-year-old Brit, who now lives in Switzerland. “When I entered in 2005, I had absolutely no idea whether I would even finish. I’d never done anything like that before.”

She did more than finish. She won. Since then, Hawker has won the UTMB an unprecedented five times—a feat that no man or woman has done in a sport where it is difficult to stay uninjured and continually run at the highest levels.

You can read the full post HERE

screenshot_203National Geographic HERE

Memories of La Palma – Transvulcania

It’s not always the racing that leaves memories but often what happens around the racing. In 2012, arguably, one of the best fields ever assembled on the island of La Palma to take part in the Transvulcania La Palma.

This film was actually a trailer for Kilian’s Quest Season 4 ‘Living Legends’.

But it shows some great times and experiences and ultimately it shows what running is about… having fun!

Philipp Reiter – new kid on the block?

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Just days before the 2013 edition of the TNF Transgrancanraia on the island of Gran Canaria, I spent several days with Ryan Sandes, Julia Bottger and Philipp Reiter. Philipp had literally just come of his skis and had hardly run for 3 months. In the 83km race he lined up against a strong field and by the time the race was over he had taken the 2nd spot on the podium behind Ryan Sandes, once again proving that his incredible 2012 was no accident.

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

IC: I am joined by, ‘wonder kid’ Philipp Reiter.

PR: Hi Ian.

IC: We went out on the trails yesterday and you immediately flew off. You were like a rabbit in headlights. For the last 2-3 months you have done no running. What is it that enables you to step off skis and start running as though you have never stopped?

PR: Yes you are right. I can step of skis and run immediately. You must remember that ski mountaineering is hard work and I do plenty of ascents so I am fit. If you stay fit in all kinds of sports then it’s not such a problem. Actually, it is good to have a break. I am keen and eager to run now.

IC: I get asked a lot about how significant skiing and ski mountaineering is in the winter. For example, Emelie Forsberg, Kilian Jornet, Nuria Picas and so on all put run shoes away for the winter months. What are the real benefits that it gives your running?

PR: It’s a different movement but it’s not as different as cycling for example. We do lots of elevation and that is great for fitness. As you say a break is good, as much for the mind as the body. Maybe it’s not as different as we think.

IC: What lies ahead in 2013 for you?

PR: I have Transvulcania La Palma in May and then I have a German race to do, the Zugspitze. I will attempt the Skyrunning series but not Andorra. That is much too long for me. I will also not do UROC. I think my highlight this year will be the Transalpine. I like the west route and it will be beautiful. They have changed some stage villages so we have 3 or 4 new stages.

Philipp Reiter stretching his legs on an evening run in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter stretching his legs on an evening run in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless

IC: You mention Transvulcania. The 2012 edition was one of the highlights of the race year, it gad a stacked field. This year’s race again has an incredible field. In 2012 you had a difficult race at La Palma. Relatively early on you had issues with your leg but you soldiered on and still managed a top 20 finish. You crossed the line with Joe Grant. What is your mindset for 2013? You have made big improvements in the last 12 months; you must be looking forward to this year’s edition.

PR: Yes I had a big problem in 2012. I wanted to stop after 20km. I don’t know how I finished. It’s a big mystery. I have no real idea what happened. I had to sit down and I had tears. It was very unusual. But I pushed on and achieved a finish, so if I can get through the race like this then I am optimistic for 2013. Mentally I am strong. I am now sure that whatever comes my way I have the ability to push on. Also, running Transalpine in 2012 with Iker Karrera made me much stronger. I am no longer the new kid on the blog!

IC: 2012 was a year that I feel ultra running changed. I think Transvulcania was instrumental in this. The level of quality on a start line changed so many things. But I also feel the emergence of your self and Emelie Forsberg was significant. You personally had so many great results. Can you recap?

PR: I won Super Trail and I beat my own course record. I wanted to keep less than 7 hours and I did it. I then won Salomon 4 Trails and I beat Francois d’Haene and Thomas Lorblanchet. It was a great result. I won by 2 minutes over a 4-day stage race. It was incredible. In the Skyrunning ultra series I was 3rd overall against some of the best runners in the world. That was behind Kilian Jornet and Andy Symonds.

Philipp Reiter at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter at Cavalls del Vent copyright Ian Corless

Also at Cavalls del Vent I was freezing for 7 hours out of 10 but I did not give up. I gained so much mental strength. Anything is possible. You just have to force yourself to go on and not give up. But the best result was the win with Iker Karrera at Transalpine. I wasn’t prepared for Transalpine. I was actually in Chamonix to watch TNF UTMB. The course got changed and Iker decided not to run. He said “do you want to start Transalpine with me tomorrow” I said, “yes of course”. We left and drove through the night. We arrived at midnight and then had to start the next morning. We had no time to get excited.

IC: That was crazy. I remember it well. The announcement came that the course was changed and then runners like Julien Chorier pulled out and decided to run the GR20 and then I heard that Iker, who had really focused on UTMB just thought I am not running a short distance and as you say, Transalpine was the alternative. I know you are only 21, if I think back to 21, that’s a long time… I remember that I had no fear. Do you feel that is your situation? Do you think, if I am given an opportunity I am going to say yes, because what is the worse that can happen.

PR: I definitely think lets just give it a go. As you say, I am 21 years old so if it doesn’t go well I can always go back and try again.

IC: When we talk about the runners you race against and the calendar you raced last year. You personally have such great potential ahead of you. I have said many times that I think you and Emelie are the future stars of the sport. You will lead the direction of the sport. Does that put a weight on your shoulders? Salomon as a sponsor, do they put pressure on you?

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

PR: I have no direct pressure on me from Salomon. It is more that I need to act professionally. It sort of happened without me realizing. For example, I love running, I would run anyway but I used to run and nobody would be interested but now I run and people want photographs and autographs. I need to be professional at all times. I literally could spend 2 hours each evening just answering emails. But that is the package and I accept it. I am very fortunate. I do ask myself do I really want it but then again, I guess I have no option now. I started my own website and then I think, do I really want it!

IC: Yes, we discussed this over dinner last night, the topic of social media. Yes, I am partially to blame. It’s my job to interview, chat, photograph and then distribute it. It benefits you, it benefits the races, it benefits the sponsors, and it is a complete package. But ultimately it has far more pluses than negatives. Do you ever think we will reach a point were things revert, or do you now see that your future lies in running?

PR: I would say at the moment that my studying has nothing to do with sport. I want to be a teacher of mathematics and biology. I will have training away from sport so I have options. I want to have a difference between a hobby, which is now becoming professional and my job afterwards. I post of Facebook and I write on my blog. I enjoy that. It is about me showing and sharing my experiences. I see myself as a speaker for the sport. It’s also funny. I get some great responses, I have funny comments and I love to have fun too and make the most of what I have. I like to create stories too such as running a vertical k indoors by running up and down stairs of a business premises. I like to create ideas.

The very serious Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

The very serious Philipp Reiter copyright Ian Corless

IC: You almost seem to never take your self too seriously. For example, if I point a camera at you, you pull a funny face and smile. But the other side of that is that you are also very serious and precise. You have a duality to your personality. Do you find the balance comes easy?

PR: Training you have to be strict. I think the biggest lie would be that I think it is always fun… it’s not, sometimes I really do need to motivate myself to train. I have to talk to myself some days and force myself out of the door. You have to be focused and disciplined. I have no short cuts. You must put the time in and work hard. Natural ability helps but you must work and work hard. I have my fun side and I like to balance my hard work with fun. All work with no play is no fun at all. We don’t do this sport to get rich. We do it because we love it. We would run and be in completion without the professional side, it is also about meeting people and spending time with people I like such as Ryan Sandes, Julia Bottger, Miguel Heras and Emelie Forsberg. I really remember these special moments. I have met people from all over the world. I am very lucky.

IC: You mentioned you are not in the sport for money. I think that pretty much every elite ultra runner that I have interviewed has said the same thing. You have all come into the sport because of a passion. But it is changing; several races have big prize money. For example, $10,000 first prize, will that change the sport and do you think it will become more common.

PR: I’m not sure. Money changes sport for sure. I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that.

IC: I don’t think any of us know. I guess that is why we ask the question. Certainly we don’t want running or should I say ultra running to follow cycling. That would be a disaster. I don’t think we have any issues at the moment in our sport but you do have to think of the responsibility that we all have in the sport of controlling it. For example lets say I could give you two race options. A bucket list race with no prize money and a race you don’t like but with big prize money that you have a very good chance to win. Which would you choose?

PR: (laughs) Yes, I think I would choose the race with the money. I guess it’s a sad thing but we all need money.

IC: Without doubt we need money to survive and money is not always available in our sport so it does make sense that financial demands have a decision in your race choice.

When did you get into the sport Philipp, what did you do pre 2012?

PR: I have not been trail running very long. I came from ski mountaineering background. I started when I was about 14 yrs or 15yrs old. I had seen an advert for a race near my home and I asked my parents could I take part. They said of course but that I would need to train. I wasn’t sure I wanted to train but I thought, why not, lets give it a go. I managed to perform okay in a relatively small field and then I became addicted. I enjoyed it so much. Especially going to the bakery after the training sessions, it was a good motivation. I guess it was like a bribe. A local shop owner asked me if I wanted to do the next races for them. I thought I am trained now so I carried on. I made it to the National Team very quickly. That sounds impressive but not as impressive as you may think. During the off season I decided I needed to keep fit so I hiked with my poles and then one day I saw a guy running. I thought, okay, I will try that too!

IC: What year was this?

PR: 2009.

IC: So you see someone running and I guess 2010 was your first season running, the transformation has been so quick. Particularly on a world stage. You came to prominence in 2012 but you got Salomon German sponsorship based on your German results.

PR: Yes, in 2010 it was my first year. I tool part in the Transalpine and my partner for the race was already in the Salomon team. Salomon sponsored Transalpine and they like the fact that I was so young. I even look younger than I actually I am so thy asked would I like to join the team. Wow I thought, usually I have to do the asking so of course I said yes! I got famous in Germany at Zugspitze.

IC: So you progress in Germany and then you get onto the Salomon International team with Greg Vollet as a manager. We have spoken about Greg and his vision for the sport in the past. He definitely is a driving sport in the sport at the moment. Does he have a big involvement in your progression?

PR: Yes, definitely. Greg says that we must create our own image. He helps me achieve what I want but in a very careful way. We talk about everything. I am never forced to race, I really like that.

Philipp Reiter and Andy Symonds at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Philipp Reiter and Andy Symonds at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

IC: So with the vision of Greg, Salomon as a sponsor and age on your side; what does the future hold for you? We spoke about Kilian in the past, he is only in his mid 20’s but he feels as though he has been around for decades because he has achieved so much. Do you see your progression as similar to Kilan’s and I remember you saying at Trofeo Kima that you said you want to ne Kilian, Do you still want to be him?

PR: I want to beat him! (laughs) What he has achieved is amazing. I want to do it step by step. This year I will do my first 100k. Next year I may go longer and of course I want to run the big races like UTMB or Raid de la Reunion. I have so many options ahead of me. I am just 21 so I don’t want to do too many things too soon. I want goals for the future.

IC: You have an old head on a young body. It’s great that you are patient and looking long term. Kilian had his bucket list and it is now pretty much ticked of. Do you have a list that you are building and when that list is ticked of, do you think you will move into a new realm like Kilian with his ‘Summits’?

PR: I don’t know. I have no idea what the future holds. As long as I am enjoying it and having fun I will continue. A day just has 24 hours. I have to study, I have sport and work but I have many things I would like to do that I don’t have time for. When I have achieved my goals, for sure I will continue with sport but I also want to be a father, I want a family.

IC: Philipp it’s been a pleasure speaking to you. It’s always fun. I’d like to wish you all the very best for 2013. It’s going to be a great year ahead. I can’t wait for Transvulcania La Palma.

PR: Thank you. It has been great fun.

This is part of a new series of interviews Skyrunning ‘The Interviews’ you can also view this on th ISF website HERE

Who nicked my Mojo?



I have been plagued with knee issues since early in 2012. They finally came to a head in August and i had no choice to take time off. A few weeks off and away from running wasn’t too much of a problem, the big reason I think is that in my mind I needed that break. I was tired of running and just not feeling ‘right’. You know what I mean?

We become addicted to running and therefore, like a job, we get up and do it because we feel we have to. But should that be the case? Eventually, the reason ‘why’ we run can get lost and with that, we can loose our Mojo.

I have to say since August last year my Mojo has been and gone several times. For me, the issue has been somedays feeling great and then other days not feeling great. So, to remove any pressure of ‘having’ to be fit, I decided I would not race in 2013.

Now you may read that and think whoa! that is a little drastic! But no, not for me. My diary is crazy with race coverage and to be honest, when I attend races I seriously get my Mojo back when I get the opportunity to play on the trails and run with some of the best runners in the world. I get to play without pressure to perform, it gives me back my Mojo. I love this sport and the people in it.

But what can you do if you have lost yours? This is by no means ‘a guide’ but you may find the tips below useful.


Find your MOJO

Training and racing can be a 12 month process. The addition of more and more races does mean that the beginning and end of a season has become somewhat clouded, so, first of all look at your year and break it down into blocks. Each block can have several targets but ultimately, each block will finish with a rest/ recovery period before starting the next training and racing block.

It can be tough to go out of the door sometimes. Particularly when it’s cold and wet. So I ask the question, the goal that you have set yourself, is it challenging? If your goal is a challenge then you are far more likely to head out of the door because the consequences of not going out, may very well mean that your goal will not be achieved. Nobody likes a DNF. So, set a goal that is challenging BUT achievable.

If you have lost your Mojo. You may need to look for a new objective? Try these bullet points to help you.

  • Choose a new distance to race. You can either challenge yourself by going longer, say, moving from a 50k to a 50 mile or a 50 mile to 100k. That is usually the way most ultra runners do things, but how about throwing a curve ball in the mix? Step down a distance but aim to go faster…. that will mean a change in training and in the long run the speed will enhance and progress your ‘longer’ races.
  • Include some B or C races in training that remove the pressure from the A race. This will allow you to turn up, race but without a pressure to perform. Just run and enjoy the process of being with other people. You can always be a ‘pacer’ looking after slower or new runners. This will give you an objective and make the journey more rewarding.
  • If you are a road runner, try some trail. If you are a trail runner, try the mountains. If you are a mountain runner, try something more challenging like navigation. We can all test ourselves in different ways but we get comfortable with our daily running and don’t test ourselves. Mix things up.
  • Pick a weekend, pick a location and just go and spend 2 or 3 days exploring. You can fast pack or stay in small hotels. I like to pick a point-to-point when doing this as it gives a real motivation to get to the end. Time is not important so you can enjoy it for what it is; just time out running.
Running in La Palm - no pressure, just fun!

Running in La Palm – no pressure, just fun!

One thing that usually gets a Mojo lost is doing the same things day in and day out. Not only that, but always doing the same pace or the same routes. Mixing things up is really key in keeping the motivation going and don’t be worried to take time off.

  • We are very fortunate that a year is broken down into 12 months, so, take one weekend a month and do something different. This can be a different training session, it may very well be a completely different race experience or it may very well be a weekend away with no running… don’t worry, you will survive and I guarantee your run on Monday morning will be great!
  • Do you always do a speed session on a Tuesday and then some tempo running or hills on a Thursday with your long run on Sunday? Why? Mix it up. I fully appreciate that work or family commitments means that we all can’t be completely flexible but I am sure we can all mix things up. Move your rest day, add a session, remove a session, do back-to-back long runs or just do a long walk.
  • Incorporate some new stimulus in your training such as cross training, weight training, core work, pilates, yoga and/or stretching. We all love running and more often than not, that is all we do. But, some cross training really will mix things up for you, it will also work areas of the body that get neglected when running. You will become a better and stronger runner.
  • This is a no brainer, but get your credit card out and go shopping. Nothing makes me want to run more than some new kit to run in. It may very well be a short term fix but it does work. That stimulus to get you out of the door may very well be all that was needed to get you back on a roll with your Mojo fired up.
  • Running at night, particularly for trail and ultra runners is something that can really get you fired up. Don’t train at your normal time and decide one day that instead of going to bed, you will turn a head torch on and head out on the trails to play in the dark. This really provides a great stimulus and speed doesn’t become important as the main priority is all about finding your way and not falling over. Of course, depending on what racing you are doing, this may very well be a ‘specific’ training session if your doing longer races that will go into the night. (Please think about safety and if running alone let somebody know what you are doing, alternatively, buddy up, these runs are more fun with company).
  • Social media is a great way to get a buzz from your running. You can join forums, chat on Facebook, follow on Twitter or of course you could listen to a really good podcast like Talk Ultra to get you fired up and motivated.
  • Music or listening to a podcast while running may not be something that you do. So why not try it? Finding music with a great beat can be really instrumental in providing a stimulus to run longer or faster. If you listen to a podcast, you can get engrossed in the chat and time just passes. Of course, if you already do this, why not try a run ‘without’ your iPod? Listen to the ‘quiet’.

A lost Mojo doesn’t normally stay lost for too long but getting it back can be a tricky process. It doesn’t always come back when you want it too. Just as you don’t plan to loose it, you can’t plan to get it back. But maybe some of the tips above will help provide that stimulus you need….

“Let’s hop on the good foot and do the bad thing.” Austin Powers, The Spy who Shagged me.