The Berghaus Dragons Back Race Day 1 2015 – Race Images

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MANN ON FIRE – Day 1 The Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2015

Jim Mann took the fire out of the Dragon and blazed a trail on day 1 of the Berghaus Dragons Back Race. Mann crossed the line to record a time of 7:49 almost 1 hour ahead of predicted time. Post race apparently was heard to say, ‘I was taking it easy today to safe myself!’ That is a worrying sign for the other competitors.

Andre Jonsson finished 2nd 11 minutes behind Mann; a great run! However, it was interesting to hear how Jonsson’s fatigue compared to Mann on the line. He has his work cut out if he hopes to topple Mann.

The weather is always a significant factor in any mountain race and it was an up and down day of rain showers, clag, cloud and sun. When the sun came out it was incredible to see; particularly for those runners who were on Crib Goch.

Jasmine Paris (8:11) placed 1st lady and crossed the line with Konrad Rawlik, Ed Catmur and Damian Hall just behind. Steve Birkinshaw was next to finish running day 1 as a single stage for the Berghaus relay team. The Spine female winner, Beth Pascall (9:07) looked strong all day and finished 2nd. Lizzie Wraith was 3rd lady in 10:06.

Day 1 camp is in Nant-Gwynant and as per all Ourea Events; all runners are looked after with homemade fresh food, constant tea and coffee supplies and an abundance of cake. In contrast to other Ourea Events, participants do not need to provide their own ten, Berghaus as race sponsor have provided large 8 man tents and runners sleep together similar to bivouac at the Marathon des Sables.

As I write this runners are still out on the course and therefore we can only update on retirements when the 2300 cut off has elapsed. However, one of the pre race favourites, Pavel Paloncy (Spine winner) took a fall and has had to retire.

Day 2 will have a staggered start with runners departing between a window of 0600 and 0900. Start times are based on finishing times from day 1.

All times are provisional and will be confirmed in due course.

 

The DRAGON has been unleashed #DragonsBackRace 2015

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The DRAGON has been unleashed and the 2015, 3rd edition of the #DragonsBackRace is underway. Here are a few images from the first summit of the day, as you can see, the rain is already here and the wind was blowing in strongly from the sea.

©iancorless.com_DragonsBack2015Day1-3996As in 2012, a Welsh male voice choir started the race and on the stoke of 0700 the runners were off! Running around the Conwy Castle walls they all have a tough day ahead that includes the Snowdon horseshoe route and the challenging Crib Goch. At just under 50km, it’s going to be a challenging first day.

Live tracking is available here: http://www.dragonsbackrace.com/live-tracking/

Followon Twitter – @DragonsBackRace @TheRealBerghaus @talkultra

Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ – Registration

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It is the day before the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ and runners are slowly arriving in Conwy, Wales to register ahead of one of the toughest challenges available over a multi-day format.

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Travelling from the north to the south of Wales via it’s spine, runners will depart at 0700 on Monday 22nd June and over 5 days they will look to endure (and conquer) everything that Wales has to offer. Long days, tough climbs and quad busting descents. Yes, the Dragons Back Race is arguably one of the toughest multi-day adventures in the world.

It’s going to be an extremely exciting week with runners travelling from all over the world to take part. We have some key runners taking part: Jez Bragg (The North Face) who just last weekend set a remarkable FKT for The Ramsay Round (interview HERE), Pavel Paloncy who has won The Spine, Ed Catmur, Charlie Sharpe, Andre Jonsson, Konrad Rawlik, John Duggan, Jim Mann and Joe Faulkner who has run and completed the 2 previous editions of the Dragons Back.

The ladies race may prove to be extremely exciting with a wealth of talented fast ladies: Jasmin Paris recently won the Fellowman, Lizzie Wraith is the current Lakeland 100 course record holder but recently has has some problems with Giardia, Beth Pascall the 2014 Spine winner, Carol Morgan, Kerstin Rosenqvist and Joanna Zakrzewski who is a prolific road racer particularly at the 100km distance and the iconic Comrades in South Africa.

Nerves are on edge in Conwy. Bags are being packed, labels are added, transponders attached to packs and race T shirts collected. It’s countdown time. If you have an opportunity why not come out and support the race. Tomorrow am will almost certainly be an impressive start.

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123 runners are registered to start and currently we have information that the following will not start the 2015 edition: Don King, Nick Mead (The Guardian), Adam Stirk, Achillefs Tsaltas, Debbie Brupbacher, Rod Sutcliffe and William Gane.

For the third edition of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™, members of the public will be able to follow the race live with GPS tracking of the competitors and a leaderboard of their positions as they pass through each checkpoint.
Award winning Slackjaw Productions will also be filming the event and publishing multiple 90 second videos on the event website as the race unfolds each day. 1992 winner Helene Whitaker will be presenting these films and providing expert commentary.
It is going to be exciting and compelling viewing, which all kicks off on Monday 22nd June.
Also, keep an eye on Twitter for updates from:
@DragonsBackRace and @TheRealBerghaus
@talkultra and on Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography
#DragonsBackRace

The Sunset Relay – 1300km in 96 hours

Sunset Relay Logo

A newcomer in the world of outdoor pursuits, the first edition of the Sunset Relay will take June 21 to 25 in Swedish Lapland.

The itinerary starts and finishes in Luleå, and form a big loop around and above the arctic circle. This new challenge will see over thirty participants on a journey under the Midnight Sun, covering 1300 kms in under 96 hours. Many outdoor sports will be on the menu, and the highlight of the itinerary will be the part running on the mythical Kungsleden (the ‘Royal Path’), a 430 km long trail to run in less than 43 hours!

Sunset Relay

An original concept, the Sunset Relay also aim to raise awareness of the dangers of sun exposure.

Inspired not only by the sport challenge but also by the messages conveyed by the event, many reknown sports men and women will be participating in the relay.
Amongst them you will find :

Jérôme Fernandez (FRA) handboll player in the French national team, with an impressive number of medals ( Olympics, World championships and European Championships)
Georg Kreiter (DE) World champion in Alpine skiing, downhill handisport
Youri Zoon (NL) World champion in kitesurfing

They will all particpate in the roadbike or adventure sports sections.
The section in trailrunning on Kungsleden will include some of the disciplines specialists:

Sylvain Court (FRA), new IAU World champion in trailrunning

©iancorless.com_MDS2015_1Elizabet Barnes (SWE), recent winner of the Marathon des Sables,

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Jonathan Wyatt (NZL) a legend runner, both on trails and mountain marathons, with an impressive track record and numerous medals.

Along with many other athletes and personalities, they will participate in this physical challenge. You will be able to follow them on their personal social media to learn more about the event, their impressions and the the messages around sun protection conveyed through the race.

Follow the event live on

sunsetrelay.com,

Twitter #SunsetRelay

 Instagram @SunsetRelay.

Participants:

Section 1 : Luleå -> Hemavan (roadbike)

• Nicolien SAUERBREIJ (NL) • Georg KREITER (DEU)
• Richard USSHER (NZ)
• Daniel DAUM (DEU)

• Bob DE JONG (NL)
• Juliette BENEDICTO (FR)

Section 2 : Hemavan -> Abisko (trail on Kungsleden)

• Olof HÄGGSTRÖM (SWE) • Sylvain COURT (FR)
• Jonathan WYATT (NZ)
• Linus HOLMSÄTER (SWE) • Elina USSHER (FIN)

• Maud GOBERT (FR)
• Elisabet BARNES (UK/SWE)

Section 3 : Abisko -> Luleå (adventure sports)

• Jérôme FERNANDEZ (FR) • Youri ZOON (NL)
• Aïda TOUIHRI (FR)
• Laura FOUNTAIN (UK)

• Vanina ICKX (BEL)
• Bob MAESEN (BEL)
• Vincent BANIC (BEL) • Tobias ÖSTRÖM (SWE)

ISF announce location for the 2016 World Championships

 The 2016 Skyrunning World Championships will be held from 22 -24 July in the Vall de Boí in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. The location will host a super-technical Ultra, a SkyMarathon® and a Vertical Kilometer® announce the ISF via a press release. 

It was here that in 2012 the SkyGames® were held, a spectacular natural arena surrounded by 3,000m peaks and 200 mountain lakes. Rich in cultural history, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

Skyrunning is not just about distance and vertical climb, but technical difficulty. The events here tick all those boxes, starting with the 105k Buff® Epic Trail. A gruelling 8,000m elevation gain and a maximum gradient of 56%, it’s not for the feint-hearted. Strict qualification standards will be enforced for participants, which are capped.  

The Buff® Epic Trail SkyMarathon® is a point to point over a rugged 42 kilometres with 3,200m positive vertical climb. Again, a highly challenging extremely technical race with a nine-hour time limit.

For the short and steep specialists, the Buff® Epic Trail Vertical Kilometer® is 4.7 km long with 1,380m positive climb. The average incline is 30.7% and reaches a mean 50.4% at the steepest point. 

The 2016 Skyrunning World Championships title was awarded to Spain, the country that represents the greatest following of the sport and some of the greatest champions. Just take a look at the wealth of talent this country has provided: 

Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tofol Castanyer, Augstí Roc, Manuel Merillas, Iker Karrera, Miguel Heras, Aritz Egea, Alfredo Gil, Jokin Lizeaga, Pablo Villa, Jessed Hernandez, among many others…. An equally strong women’s line-up includes Laura Orguè, Maite Maiora, Nuria Picas, Oihana Kortazar, Azara Garcia, Uxue Fraille, Nuria Dominquez, Emma Roca…

Spain also excelled in the highly successful 2014 Skyrunning World Championships held in Chamonix, taking the silver and the outright wins with Luis Alberto Hernando taking the Ultra World title, Kilian Jornet, both the VK & Sky and Laura Orguè the VK title.

FEDME, the Spanish Mountain Sports Federation and ISF member for Spain, will sanction the events and oversee them with their referees. The organisation will be in the capable hands OCI Sport, with whom the ISF has collaborated on a number of high-profile events including the SkyGames® in Andorra and Spain. 

WADA anti-doping tests will be carried out at the Championships.

A number of collateral events will complete the festive weekend, including a half marathon, a mini SkyRace® for children and a cultural trek.

Programme, race and entry details will be published at a later date. Subscribe to our newsletter for all the news and follow us on twitter and Facebook for updates.

Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2015 – Race Preview

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!

Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.

Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!

Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.

However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!

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Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?

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One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?

2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.

Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?

My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci

Ones to watch:

Denise Bourassa 7th last year

Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014

Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win

Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera

Claire Price UTWT entrant

 

The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.

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It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.

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Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.

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Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!

Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!

Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.

Okay, now it gets tricky.

Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.

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Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.

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Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!

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Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.

Ones to watch:

Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50

Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.

Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012

David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k

Joe Grant

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” – race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.” – ©wser website

Race day is Saturday June 27th

Race website HERE

2015 entry list HERE

Latest news HERE

PHD Summer Lightning Review

© www.NICKMUZIK.com

Fast and Light. They are buzzwords in the world of trail, mountain and ultra running. We could argue all day about how this came about. Many would potentially give Kilian Jornet credit for the movement but I think it’s fair to say that men and women have been going light to the mountains and trails for quite some time, it’s just recently that we have all become far more aware.

Light does have its problems!

We have many documented reports, articles and stories of runners, mountaineers or alpinists being ‘caught out’ on a mountain and as a consequence in certain circles, mountain runners have gained a bad reputation.

Travelling light is all well and good providing that you are able to move fast! The two words go together; FAST and LIGHT! But what do I mean? Well quite simply, the process of going light will almost certainly mean that what you carry as a runner or alpinist will be minimal. Minimal of course is subjective and dependent on the person. For arguments sake, lets call light as follows:

  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Pack to carry water
  • Mobile phone

In essence, that is going light to the trail or mountain. Should conditions become difficult or problematic, this is where FAST comes in. You need to get out of trouble, danger or the cold fast and to safety. In many respects, this is part of the challenge. Running in the mountains is not a risk adverse sport.

Question:

What if though you could add a 1000 fill down product to your pack for a weight addition of 3oz (85g) or 6oz (180g)?

I kid you not.

UK based company PHD currently have 2 remarkable products that embrace low weight, low pack size and ultimate functionality in a limited availability range of products called Summer Lightning.

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A SUMMERLITE DOWN JACKET (£199 6oz) and a WAFERLITE DOWN VEST (£99 3oz) are part of the K Series range of products that offer ultimate warmth against minimal weight. Filled with 1000 fill power European goose down (responsibly sourced) the jacket has a water-resistant Ultrashell outer fabric, stitch through construction and the vest has a 10x inside and out fabric that is not water-resistant and stitch through construction.

I have to say, having tested both these products I think PHD should make them available all year around. As a brand, my understanding is that they see them as a warm alternative for summer months but to be honest, they are a great addition to any kit list irrespective of the time of year. Both products would provide ideal warm layers to any multi-day adventure such as MDS. The potential to combine a warm layer and lightweight sleeping bag are endless. The apparel would also make a perfect addition (for every run) to any mountain runner’s kit list and lets face it, for fast packing they are brilliant. You see, these products are so light, so small I simply can’t think of a reason not to take them! I even have the jacket packed away in my day-to-day laptop bag or camera bag for that ‘just-in-case’ scenario.

On Test

I have had both products for 1 month and I have tested them ‘in situ’ at Richtersveld Wildrun in South Africa and at the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira. Both races provided me with changeable weather and an opportunity to test each product to the full.

On first impressions it’s difficult to believe that when one looks at these items compressed in a small stuff sack that they could possibly be a down vest and a down jacket. You pick up the vest and you don’t even notice any weight. It is just 3oz. The outer Ultrashell fabric on both products is silky smooth and a pleasure to wear against the skin. I wore the vest and jacket with just a t-shirt underneath and found them both really comfortable.

They may be light but they are warm, really warm. Let’s be realistic, they are not for polar conditions. But if you need a warm layer to protect against morning or evening chill, daily colder or cooler temperatures or an additional warmth layer to be added under a Gore-Tex (or similar) or windproof jacket, they are the perfect choice.

They are arguably the lightest down products in the world? Both pack to the size of an apple!

I have to say, I was spoilt; having a vest and jacket did allow me to regulate my temperature extremely well and on one occasion I actually wore the vest under the jacket on a very cold and damp night in South Africa.

They are simple, no frills products. The vest has no pockets and just a half-zip to reduce weight. The jacket has a full-length zip, two side pockets and a short stand up collar with no hood. However, it is possible to add a hood when ordering for the additional cost of £27.

As with all PHD products, items are made to order and this does allow you to customize any apparel exactly to your needs. For example, you could have a jacket with a half-zip, no pockets and a hood! The choice is yours.

Please keep in mind that if you need or require products by a certain date, you will need to allow for manufacturing time.

On the go, I found adding or removing either the vest or the jacket easy. They pack so small that I could actually just stuff either item in the pocket on my shorts. This is important because as soon as you start to move quickly, they retain heat exceptionally well and you find that you need to remove them so that you don’t sweat. Of course, as soon as you stop, you can quickly access the vest or jacket and wear them so that you don’t get cold

I wore the jacket all day on a very wet and chilly South African day and the Ultrashell outer fabric did a great job protecting the down from wet and moisture. Admittedly, I did wear a waterproof layer over the top. But in and around base-camp I was often moving from one tent to another with no waterproof layer and the product held up well with no problems despite constant drizzle and rain. Notably, the vest and the jacket did a great job of blocking out the wind.

Summary

PHD has come up with two incredibly light and small items of apparel that are now part of my ‘essential’ kit. They are so small, light and effective that I can’t be without them. Yes, they are that good!

Do I have a negative comment?

Down does not like rain, wet or moisture and it effectively becomes useless should this happen. Ultrashell fabric does protect the insulation in the jacket but this would only protect to a certain extent. So, if you anticipate bad (wet) weather you would almost certainly need a Gore-Tex or similar 100% outer layer to maximize the 1000 down fill. To be honest though, if you were going to the mountains a waterproof outer layer should be mandatory no matter how light you are going!

On a final note, I can’t recommend these two products enough. They may not be the cheapest apparel available but what you get are two incredible products that are functional, pack small and are superlight. Did I also mention that PHD has two sleeping bags that are also part of this range: ELITE RACER DOWN BAG (8oz) and RACER DOWN SLEEPING BAG (90z) more news on those to follow.

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PHDelite-racer-down-sleeping-bag-10-5-15-1_med

 

Specs as provided by PHD 

Summer Lite Down Jacket £199 

PHDsummerlite-jck-1-5-15_med

  • A PHD ‘K Series’ product: Ultimate warmth / weight performance
  • PHD’s Unique 1000 fill power European Goose down
  • Water-resistant Ultrashell outer fabric (our lightest-ever proofed fabric)
  • Ultralight 10X inner fabric
  • Stitch-through construction for lightness
  • Pockets: 2 zipped hand-warmer pockets

Not only is this our lightest-ever insulated jacket, it’s made in water-resistant Ultrashell fabric too.

A super-light down jacket with exceptional summer race and trekking performance.  At just 180gr it weighs less than many base layers, and it packs down tiny taking the absolute minimum space up in a summer rucksack.

The amazing Ultrashell outer fabric (our lightest water-resistant material) protects the down from damp and its 100% wind block qualities enhance the performance of the unique 1000 fill power Down insulation.

  • Ideal companion for summer nights
  • Pack without noticing the weight or bulk
  • Outer layer or mid-layer warmth
  • Warmer, lighter and a smaller pack size than a fleece jacket and 100% wind block too.

5 deg C

180g / 6oz

Add a hood £27

Three colours 

XS, S, M, L, XL

 

WAFERLITE DOWN VEST

 PHDwafer-vest-28-4-15_med

  • A PHD ‘K Series‘ Product: Ultimate warmth / weight performance
  • PHD’s unique 1000 fill power European Goose Down
  • Outer & Inner fabric: Ultra light 10X
  • Stitch-through construction for maximum weight saving
  • Down-filled collar to seal in the warmth

At 85g (3oz) the WaferLite vest is the lightest down vest in the world. 35% lighter than our superlight standard Wafer Vest.

The 10X fabric gives total wind block and the unique 1000 fill power down provides the highest warmth-for-weight performance possible. Packed into a tiny stuff sac, the WaferLite vest is simply breath taking for summer racers and ultra-light trekking.

The WaferLite vest will fit snugly under any of our down jackets, even the Minimus or the Yukon.

  • Ideal companion in a cool camp, bothy, or hut.
  • Pack without noticing the weight (or the bulk).
  • Midlayer to boost warmth

Add performance to your sleeping bag.

5 DEG C

85G / 3OZ

£99

 

PHD are available HERE 

SummerLite Down Jacket and WaferLite Down Vest are currently only available in May/ June.

 

 

How is your posture? by Marc Laithwaite

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I’ve spoken to so many people in recent months have had problems running, which appear to be related to ‘anterior pelvic tilt’.

I’m not a qualified physio, but I do have a good understanding of posture and how it can impact running and cycling. Lordosis posture, which is caused by anterior pelvic tilt is the enemy of so many runners, yet most runners have never heard of it. In fact, I’d be brave enough to say that at least 75% of people reading this blog have anterior tilt to some degree and a muscle issues as a result. Got your attention? Ok, let’s read on.

From my experience, athletes with lordosis or anterior tilt are at high risk of suffering the following injuries or problems:

  1. Lower back pain (pretty much always a link between lower back pain and anterior tilt of the pelvis).
  2. Constant tightness in the hamstrings (certainly can’t touch your toes!).
  3. Possible pain or tightness in the front of the hip/groin area.
  4. Potential cramp or spasm in the quads (front of your thighs), more common running downhill.
  5. Running ‘stitch’ (bearing in mind that a stitch is a word used to describe and pain in the abdominal region when running!!).
  6. Problems breathing (can’t breathe deep and have to breathe rapid and shallow), sometimes but not always coupled with stitch.
  7. For triathletes, these problems are worse when running after cycling (when running immediately after cycling your hamstrings are tight, get quad cramps and breathing difficulties or stitches).

If the above list includes something that applies to you, there’s probably a benefit to reading onwards…

The basic principle of anterior tilt and lordosis posture

When viewed from the side, your pelvis can rotate backwards and forwards. It’s not actually ‘rotating on a pivot’, but it does rotate depending upon your posture and your muscle control. Look at the picture and it explains it a little better. You can control your pelvis and rotate it backwards and forwards yourself. Try it now, but you’re going to want to make sure nobody is watching.anterior-pelvic-tilt

  1. To tilt pelvis forwards (anterior tilt), arch your lower back inwards and simultaneously push your stomach out. Stick your bum out so you look like Donald Duck.
  2. Now tilt it backwards (posterior tilt) by pulling in the stomach and doing a ‘pelvic thrust’ action. If there is anyone watching, you may wish to explain at this point that you are practicing a posterior pelvic tilt.

As I mentioned above, the pelvis isn’t actually rotating on a pivot. You’re making the pelvic region rotate forwards or backwards by using your muscles and doing specific movements.

Sit down now, people are watching…

Ok, so you get the basic principle of anterior and posterior tilt. Most people have some kind of anterior tilt and it’s caused by muscle imbalance. The pelvis is a bit like a central tent pole with several ‘guy ropes’ attached. If all the ropes are pulling equally hard, the pole stays vertical. If some ropes pull harder than others, the pole starts to lean. You have muscles pulling in different directions and if they all pull with the same force, the pelvis stays in a ‘neutral position’. If some get weak and other get strong or tight, the pelvis moves out of position.

The 4 key muscle areas:

  1. The hip flexors are on the front/top of your thigh and they attach to your pelvis. If they are tight, they pull down on the front of your pelvis, which creates an anterior tilt.
  2. The hamstrings are at the back of your thigh and attach to the back of your pelvis. They pull down on the back of your pelvis and create a posterior tilt. The hamstrings and the hip flexors therefore do the direct opposite of each other. If they are both healthy and pull with equal force, the pelvis stays in a neutral position.
  3. The core abdominal muscles (in particular the transverse abdominals) wrap around your torso. They start at your spine and wrap like a band around your stomach back to your spine. It’s a bit like a cummerbund (for my friends and training buddies in Wigan, that’s the large belt looking thing which goes round the waist of posh people when they wear dinner suits). Imagine if you stood behind someone and reached your arm around their waist, then pulled the stomach inwards. That would cause the pelvis to tilt backwards (posterios tilt). That’s the job of the ‘core abdominals’.
  4. Only one muscle group is left and that’s the lower back. Picture the muscles running vertically up the lower back, parallel to the lower spine. Now look at the image of lordosis and anterior tilt. If your lower back is arched inwards, the lower back muscles will be shorten and tighten as a result. Likewise, if those muscles are shortened and tightened, they cause an inwards curve of your lower back (chicken and egg). The issue with this curvature is that it compresses the lower vertebrae at the back and can cause nerve related problems (which may transfer down the legs) or muscle spasm in the lower back.

Why is it so common?

There are lots of things, which we do on a daily basis, which create an anterior tilt of the pelvis. The hip flexors are on the top/front of your thigh (where the crease in your groin is). Stand up straight and raise your knee to waist height, that’s the job of the hip flexors (so pretty important for the running stride!). When the knee is raised, the hip flexors are shortened, when you put your leg back down, then lengthen again. If you spend all day sitting down at a desk or in your car, the hip flexors are always in a shortened (but relaxed – you’re not using them) position. Eventually, they get used to this and they naturally shorten. Remember, we said earlier than when the hip flexors shorten, they pull down on the front of the pelvis and tilt it forwards. It’s actually worse than that, one of the hip flexors runs from the front/top of your thigh, backwards through the pelvis to attach to your lower spine (front of the vertebrae). When this pulls, it’s actually pulling the spine forwards and making your lower back arch inwards!

Let’s think about cycling. When you are riding a bike, you’re exercising in a ‘hip flexed’ position. We ride in the foetal position when viewed from the side, this makes the hip flexors even shorter. The more aerodynamic your position, the more you shorten the hip flexors. The only point at which your hip flexors go back to normal length is when you get off and stand up straight. After several hours in the foetal position, you might actually find it hard to stand up straight again and feel the urge to stay a bit hunched over. You may even get a bit of a spasm or pain in the front of your hip due to suddenly standing up. When you try and run after cycling, this can be a real issue. When cycling, your hip has been in a flexed position (your thigh was almost touching your stomach). When running, you do the total opposite, your thigh swings backwards behind you as you push off the ground, that’s hip extension. For hip extension you need long and flexible hip flexors, not short and tight ones which have been in the aero position for several hours.

Is this you?

Good, then this blog may well be useful. If not, you’ll probably meet someone soon or know someone already who would find this advice valuable. You can then sound educated and pretend this is your knowledge, using terms such as “from my experience I’ve found…..”

I think I can get at least 3 weeks out of this, which is great, it’s bloody hard thinking of a topic every week! Next week I’m going to explain why lordosis / anterior tilt causes the specific problems I mentioned earlier (hamstring pain, stitch, breathing etc). Then the following week, we’ll go through some exercises which can help to cure you’re tilted pelvis. If you’re convinced you have this problem and you need it sorting sooner than that, email coaching@theendurancestore.com and I’ll put you into a man who can ASAP.

Now, go and stand in front of the mirror and practice your tilting. I find that doing the movements to the sound of ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars tends to work best.

If you found this article useful, it would help us a great deal if you share on Facebook, Twitter and social media.

Until then, stay neutral.

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

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Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race Preview 2015

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The legendary Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ will be taking place for only the third time, starting on Monday 22nd June.
The race is one of the world’s most challenging running events and follows the mountainous spine of Wales from Conwy Castle in the north, to Carreg Cennen Castle in the south. An incredible 5 day journey the route is approximately 300km long with 16,000 metres of ascent across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain.
In September 1992, the original Dragon’s Back Race™ was held and it soon entered into running folklore for its extreme difficultly and surprise female winner. A 20-year absence and it took Shane Ohly and the Ourea Events team to revive it in 2012.  Helene Whitaker (neé Diamantides), the 1992 winner alongside Martin Stone returned to the event and incredibly finished fourth and renowned adventure and Wainwrights record holder, Steve Birkinshaw was the overall winner.  In the 2012 edition only 32 runners managed to complete the full course from 82 starters. Thhe reputation of the event as one of the hardest mountain races in the world was confirmed.
The 2015 race has once again attracted a strong field of 140 runners from Britain and around the world. It will be interesting to see how many manage to climb the iconic steps into Carreg Cennen Castle on the fifth day.
Leading Contenders
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The standout competitor in the men’s race is naturally Jez Bragg who as a UTMB winner, Fellsman and Te Araroa Trail record holder has been a force within ultra running for many years.  His top class pedigree means he attracts attention whenever he races.
However, race director Shane Ohly, does not think for a moment that a Bragg win is a foregone conclusion:
“It is a five day race over rough terrain and anything can happen. Jez, also completed a record breaking Ramsay Round the weekend before, which is an interesting approach to preparing for such an arduous event as the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™.”
Ohly continues:
“There is a strong field of both male and female runners and while I do have an opinion on who I think will win, I keep that to myself for now!”
Lining up alongside Bragg are top British mountain ultra runners including Ed Catmur and Berghaus sponsored athlete, Charlie Sharp.
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Catmur has an orienteering background that is similar to the 2012 winner Steve Birkinshaw and in recent years he has excelled at the longer endurance races. He has competed over the 100 mile distances with some very fast times, placed highly at the Skyrunning UK 3×3 and has won the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon and Spine Challenger.
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Sharp has recently joined the roster of Berghaus sponsored athletes and is a prolific racer. He runs all distances from 5k to 100 miles plus and has great success. In 2013 he raced The Spine and although not directly comparable to the Dragon’s Back Race it does show that Sharp will be a podium contender in Wales.
The main international competition would seem to be from André Jonsson. The impressive Swedish runner has a load of podium results at tough mountain races in Europe including stage wins at the GORE-TEX TransAlpine. Rumour has it that he has been training in Wales earlier this year…
There is also a cohort of other strong British runners, including the likes of Jim Mann, Konrad Rawlik and John Duggan, who Ohly believes are likely to feature high up in the field. He explains why:
“It is such a tough race. Runners get injured, some fade mentally and as Patrick Devine Wright proved in 2012, a relative unknown runner with a determined approach can record a superb result.”
Ohly continues: “It’s easy to dwell on the men’s race, but I actually think that the women’s field is more interesting with a pack of extremely talented runners. I believe that any one of these has the ability to feature at the front end of the overall race.”
Scanning though the list of female entries, Jasmin Paris, Lizzie Wraith, Beth Pascall, Carol Morgan and Joanna Zakrzewski stand out.
Paris has been tearing up the mountain racing circuit for last few years but has managed to keep a relatively low profile, despite some impressive wins. She recently smashed Nicky Spink’s Fellsman’s record by over 40 minutes and recorded the highest ever place for a female runner.
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Wraith, with superb results at the UTMB, Lavaredo Ultra Trail and a  her UTLD Lakeland 100 win (and course record) make her the one to watch. However, she has had a very bust race schedule recently with multiple races in Nepal, the GL3D and representing GB at the IAU World Trail Champs. Will Wraith be fresh for  the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ as her final target?
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Pascall in particular has impressed. Her slow and methodical run at the UTLD (Lakeland 100) and strong 2nd place behind Debbie Martin Consani was a revelation. She then followed this result up with victory at The Spine. The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ will most certainly suit Pascall’s skill set. Finally, the dark horse, Zakrzewski is relatively unknown in the mountain running world but she is a star of world 100km athletics with team and individual medals at the world championships. A regular and high place finisher at the iconic Comrades in South Africa, most notably her success at multi-day races such as Atacama Crossing (2010) may well be more relevant to the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™.
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The Berghaus Team 
Berghaus, Britain’s leading performance outdoor brand, is the title sponsor of this iconic event and is supporting the event in many ways. Race director Shane Ohly comments:
“What is really great about working with Berghaus is the depth of talent they have within their staff and sponsored athletes. Impressively, staff members Ivan Muckle, Angela Foster, Luke O’Connor and Dan Smith will be completing a day each of the race in a relay, with Berghaus athlete, and 2012 winner, Steve Birkinshaw leading them on Day 1.” 
The relay line up looks like this:
Day 1     Steve Birkinshaw
Day 2     Ivan Muckle
Day 3     Angela Foster
Day 4     Luke O’Connor
Day 5     Dan Smith
What is fascinating about this line up is the impact that 2012 winner Steve Birkinshaw may have on the rest of the field, especially given that he is running the first, and arguably the toughest, day of the race. Certainly, the other competitors would be well advised not to race with Steve if he intends to go full throttle.
Alongside his colleagues in the relay team, Berghaus Castleford store manager Dan Gerachty, will be attempting to complete all five days alone. Certainly, he will have tales of amazing adventures to share afterwards with customers in store.
Following The Race Live
For the third edition of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™, members of the public will be able to follow the race live with GPS tracking of the competitors and a leaderboard of their positions as they pass through each checkpoint.
Award winning Slackjaw Productions will also be filming the event and publishing multiple 90 second videos on the event website as the race unfolds each day. 1992 winner Helene Whitaker will be presenting these films and providing expert commentary.
It is going to be exciting and compelling viewing, which all kicks off on Monday 22nd June.
Also, keep an eye on Twitter for updates from @DragonsBackRace and @TheRealBerghaus, @talkultra and on Facebook – facebook.com/iancorlessphotography
#DragonsBackRace.

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2015 – Race Images and Summary

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Images to purchase HERE

Waking up at 0400 to pouring rain is never a great way to start a day, particularly when you have 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over. After a couple of recce runs in the days leading up to the race, it became very clear that the USM was going to offer a very tough challenge.

Stevie Kremer had flown in from Colorado and was praying for sun. Ricky Lightfoot and Aritz Egea are from Cumbria and the Basque country and ‘it always rains’ they told me, so no need to ask what they hoped for.

The USM course is a unique one. Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending. It’s not your ordinary Skyrunning course!

Departing the start line at 0600 on the dot, the runners disappeared down a darkened lane with only head torches and rain for company. It was a brutal start to the day, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m.

Onwards and upwards the runners climbed and a section of via ferrata at around 6km provided a taster for the final push to the summit. It wasn’t easy going. The mist had come in and visibility was poor. Add to this constant rain and steep gradients.

Ricky Lightfoot and Zaid Ait Malek were the first to appear. The contrast between the two striking, Ricky is tall and well built and a fireman by trade. Zaid is Moroccan, small and probably only about 50kg in weight when completely wet through and wearing three layers of clothes.

They matched each other step-by-step. Minutes later, Aritz Egea appeared looking calm and relaxed in the wet and challenging conditions. With 90 minutes of the race elapsed, the main male contenders came thick and fast and with them, Stevie Kremer.

It was sometime before the 2nd lady Ester Alves came into sight and the writing was on the wall. Stevie was going to need to crumble to loose this race. Descending over the summit, an inversion came in allowing the surrounding vistas to come clear. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until a decisive phase around the 30km mark. Climbing from the sea and beach, Ricky Lightfoot continued to extend his lead looking strong. However, Zaid Ait Malek looked in trouble and Aritz Egea was closing. After 5km of ridge running and a technical descent, a riverbed with boulder hopping awaited.

Ricky was long gone but here Aritz moved ahead of Zaid. It looked like a decisive move but as we know, nothing is guaranteed in racing. Behind, Clemente Mora and Nuno Silva were coming to life. In particular Nuno, he ran over the boulders in the river like a man possessed.

But another long climb needed to be ascended and descended before the finish line and here the podium changed. Zaid was having trouble and feeling dizzy. His only option to ease off the pace providing a gateway to third. As Clemente and Nuno battled for 3rd, Aritz exploded through a lack of calories and was forced to jog/ walk it into the finish. Seizing an opportunity, Clemente proved the stronger and finally pulled away from Nuno and they finished 6:17:22 and 6:24:57 respectively behind Rick Lightfoot’s new course record, 6:09:56.

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Steve Kremer was almost in another race by the time the riverbed and the final climb came. However, she did say she wasn’t feeling great. This was the longest race she had ever run! It was academic, Stevie despite what she said ran into the finish looking strong in 7:33:37 almost 45 min ahead of 2nd placed Ester Alves in 8:14:45. Lucia Franco took the final podium place in 9:01:53.

Post race, Stevie went on to say, ‘USM is one of if not the hardest race I have ever done. I think it is a much harder race than Zegama-Aizkorri. It was relentless terrain and the conditions just made it so much harder. Race organisation was brilliant and course marking superb. It was brilliant but so tough.”

By contrast, Ricky seemed relaxed after his run, ‘It was a great course and one that embodies Skyrunning exceptionally well. However, the first hour of the course is not designed for someone as tall as me! All those trees that needed to be crawled under; I was bent double,’ he said with a laugh. ‘Zaid is only tiny so he could just run. I felt like I was crawling. The views when the mist lifted were incredible. It was almost as though I was running in another race.’

The 2nd edition of the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira has been a great success. Madeira is an amazing island with a tough and challenging course. The future looks bright for this new addition to the Skyrunning calendar.

Results:

  1. Stevie Kremer 7:33:37
  2. Ester Alves 8:14:45
  3. Lucia Franco 9:01:53
  1. Ricky Lightfoot 6:09:56
  2. Clemente Mora 6:17:22
  3. Nuno Silva 6:24:57

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