About talkultra

Ian is a photographer, writer, reviewer and blogger at iancorless.com. Ian is currently travelling the world capturing stories from some of the most iconic ultras on the planet. Ian is also creative director and host of an ultra running podcast called Talk Ultra. The show is available every 2 weeks 'for free' on iTunes and talkultra.com.

Stranda Fjord Trail Race 2022

Alexandra Narkowicz ©iancorless

It was burned in my memory, waiting at Fremste Blåhornet at 0430, daylight was already arriving, but the sun had not risen, there was just a promise of what was to come. The first runner arrived quite literally as the sun peaked over the mountains and a glow of orange started to come illuminating Stranda Fjord, the mountains ahead and the runner. It was one of ‘those’ days you wish for as a runner and photographer.

Sunrise 2021

The 2021 Stranda Fjord Trail Race and, the 100km event was truly magical. Norway, Stranda, Slogen and the whole route has never looked so good.

Jump ahead one year and the 2022 edition was a completely different story. Ahead of race day, the weather forecast was greatly discussed both by runner’s and race team. A decision was made, the 48km and 25km races would go ahead as planned but the 100km event would have two key sections removed, the technical and airy ridge after Fremste Blåhornet would be removed and the out-and-back to the summit of Slogen – both considered too risky and dangerous in the expected weather.

With all the attention on the Golden Trail Series 25km event, the 100km was very much a secondary event. Starting at 0200, the 100km race would have already been going for 9-hours before the start of the GTS race. Yes, the 100km event is THAT tough.

Epic, beautiful and brutal are three words that sum up the racing and route here in Stranda, that is in good weather. In bad weather… Well, you can work it out. The physical and mental challenge is huge.

However, the Stranda Fjord Trail Race located in Møre go Romsdal, is one of the most truly spectacular experiences. The 100km distance offering a full and immersive 360 experience of what this magical area of Norway has to offer.

The 25km, 48km and 100km races are tough, challenging, and brutal and should not be underestimated. There is little easy running here, the climbing is hard and steep, the descents even on a dry day can be horrendous, in the wet, they are as one person said, “Terrifyingly slippery despite what shoes you use!’

Let’s be honest, Norway as a location is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world, and as a runner or outdoor enthusiast, the options and possibilities are endless, be that in the south or north.

Stranda is located on one of the west Norwegian fjords, part of the Sunnmøre region, often accessed via ferry from Liabygda. It can also be accessed by road via Lom. For most, the easiest way to travel is to fly to Ålesund and then travel 50km by bus.

2022 was significant with the 25km being a stage of the Salomon Golden Trail Series, this event alone brought in more than 600-participants and many of the world’s best mountain and trail runners. The 4000 population of Stranda increased by approximately 30% over race weekend, an amazing boost for the local community. GTS brought a European razzamatazz to the event with live broadcasts, commentary, interviews, group runs and huge social presence – it was arguably the biggest promotion of trail running in Norway since the inception of the Tromso SkyRace which ironically was taking place on the same day further north.

There was huge anticipation of how the racing would go, key favourites such as Sara Alonso and Manuel Merillas would have a hard job of beating ‘local’ favourites of Jon Albon (Brit living in Norway) and Emelie Forsberg (Swedish) who has been living and running in Norway for many years. The inclement weather, challenging conditions and brutally slippery rock only played into the hands of those with local knowledge.

Jon Albon won the race in a new course record – amazing in the challenging conditions. Manuel Merillas (Esp) and Bart Przedwojewski (Pol) placed 2nd and 3rd ahead of Frederic Trancard (Era) and Davide Magnini (Ita)

For the women, we saw the rise of Sophia Laukli (USA) who won the event ahead of Elise Poncet (Fra) and Emelie Forsberg. Blandine HIrondel (Far) placed 4th and Sara Alonso 5th.

The stories post-race was truly mud, sweat and tears. Arguably the most challenging and technical race of the GTS and what a way to shine a light on Norway and its incredible landscape. I am sure there are many runners now thinking and planning future adventures in this epic playground.

The 48km race, a big challenge but considerably more achievable than the 100k uses much of the opening miles of the 100km route, however, after reaching the summit of Fremste Blåhornet at 1478m returns to Stranda via Heimste Blåhornet, Løfonnfjellet and Rødesthornet. The route passes through Stranda start/ finish and continues on another loop summiting at Roaldshornet at 1230m and then following on to Blåfjellet and Skurdahornet before descending all the way down to the finish line.

Lasse Aleksander Finstad placed first ahead of Tolga Rambovski Olcay and Torbjørn Breansœter, 6:34, 6:50 and 7:07 respectively.

Mirjam Saarheim placed 7th overall and clinched female victory in 7:26. Jingling Tang and Anna Louise Astand Sørlie ran 7:50 and 8:02 to round out the podium.

©iancorless

Offering a 360 counterclockwise experience of this stunning area of Norway, the 100km route is a beast. It is quite simply stunning, even in bad weather. However, the physical and mental tenacity required to complete the race cannot be fully explained. This is reflected in only 33 participants finishing.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY HERE

The course does contain some areas where you can switch off and just run, but they are few and far between. The opening miles may offer an illusion of the severity to come. The hard work starts to really kick in with approximately 20km covered at Liavarden. What follows are walls of grass, rock, scree, stone slabs, technical ridges, relentless vertical climbing, and challenging descending.

©iancorless

Reaching the summit of Fremste Blåhornet at 1478m and 23km the route was changed to avoid a technical ridge. The terrain that followed was rocky, slow, and brutal especially in the persistent rain and cold temperatures.

The aid station on the road of Dalevegen at 28km distance was followed by easy running before an extremely steep and challenging out-and-back climb to Storhornet at 1309m.

©iancorless

Liasætra aid station followed and then easy trail running to Patchellhytta DNT cabin. Here, the out -and-back to the summit of Slogen was removed – a shame but absolutely the correct call in the conditions.

Left in the valley and runners make their way to Velleseter, Brunstadsætra, Storevatnet, and then the road section crossing and aid station that leads to the final section of the course, 80km covered.

©iancorless

The climb to summit Roaldshornet at 1230m is long and relentless, the summit at 86km and it would be easy to think it’s all downhill from here. Considering what has gone before, it’s fair to say that it is. Eventually the 100km joins with the final section of the 48km track and the run in to the finish is welcome and hard earned.

©iancorless

Mathis Dahll Fenre battled with Vermund Upper Garden for victory, the duo separated by just 1-minute, 16:00 and 16:01 respectively. Thomas Wallin-Andersen placed 3rd in 16:59.

For the women, Wenfei Lie had led the early sections of the race ahead of Alexandra Narkowicz and although the duo was together on the climb to the final summit at Roaldshornet, Alexandra had more reserves to take victory in19:13 to 19:55 for Wenfei. Margrethe Fjetland rounded the podium.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY HERE

One thing is for sure, running 25km, 48km or 100km in this area of Norway is not easy, ask anyone who toed the line of the respective distances. There is something truly magical here, 2021 opened up this area of Norway to the world, 2022 has elevated Stranda as a ‘must go’ location. I can only encourage and emphasise that you ‘need’ to add Stranda Fjord Trail Race to your bucket list. You will not be disappointed with the experience, BUT come prepared, you are going to earn that finish medal.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Episode 225 – Michael Wardian and Michael Jones

Episode 225 of Talk Ultra has an in-depth interview with Michael Wardian after his epic run across America. We also speak with Ultra Trail Snowdia by UTMB race director, Michael Jones. Speedgoat co-hosts.

RECENT ARTICLES

VJ Sport XTRM2 Shoe Review Here

Matterhorn Skyrunning Workshop Here

Episode 223 – Marathon des Sables Special Here

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima Shoe Review Here

Episode 222 – Tom Evans, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel Here

MDS Photo Gallery Here

FOLLOW ON

Talk Ultra FB HERE

Tweet us on Twitter – Talk Ultra on Twitter HERE

Instagram – HERE

Our web page at www.iancorless.com has all our links and back catalogue.

Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patreon at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. 

Spotify HERE

ITunes HERE

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE

Website – talkultra.com

A night in an AuroaHut – Rondane, Norway.

©iancorless

Norway has opened up endless possibilities when it comes to outdoor adventures. Camping and fast packing two obvious highlights. However, every now and again, something with a little more comfort and uniqueness can be an attraction and temptation, especially when running and exploring.

Scandinavia is all about outdoor experiences and there are many who are offering a ‘unique’ opportunity to experience nature. AuroraHut is one such company.

©iancorless

For clarity, our stay in the ‘Arctic Dome-Eco Camp Rondane’ should have originally been in a heated dome, situated on land – a prize Abelone won in a completion in 2021.

©Arctic Dome-Eco Camp Rondane

Time was against us, as was the availability of the domes and then a last-minute trip to Rondane provided the opportunity to seize a free AuroraHut for the night… So, we took it!

Rondane area

Rondane is located 4-hours from Oslo in Eastern Norway and is known for its rolling landscape, extreme cold temperatures in winter and the amazing Moskus (Musk Ox) which is definitely a ‘to-do’ when visiting, maybe as part of a tour?

©iancorless

AuroaHut – An igloo boat that takes glamping to another level. It’s a moveable luxury that can float or be located on land based on or around attractions. A key feature is the ability to move the AuroraHut based on weather and seasons, particularly important in places such as Norway with harsh winters. It can also be placed next to other AuroraHuts to facilitate family accommodation or groups. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless.

Our AuroraHut should have been placed on Høvringsvatne lake surrounded by mountains (see below) and wide-open space near Smuksjøseter Fjellstue – a perfect location providing a sense of isolation but with the luxury of the AuroraHut. More information HERE.

Unfortunately, on arrival we were told our AuroraHut had been re-located lower down the valley due to a harsh winter and the Høvringsvatne lake being frozen. The new location – a small lake surrounded by cabins and next to the Høvringen Høgfjellshotell (see below).

©iancorless

Not what we wanted and had we been paying we would have most definitely complained.

©iancorless

The AuroraHut requires isolation! It is effectively a floating greenhouse made up of glass panels that offers panorama views. Great views for those inside out to nature, but also great views inside from anyone outside to the AuroraHut and us! The lake was close to a road, close to cars and behind multiple cabins; not what you want.

©iancorless

Inside is simple as one would expect. Access is from a floating wooden platform and through a keypad door that requires an access code. As one enters, there is a small entrance space, immediately to the right a very small kitchen area with two burners and minimal storage area. To the left, coat hangers and a small space for storage and directly opposite a small toilet area behind a curtain. The main space is occupied with a comfortable double bed and a 180-240degree vista from left to right. The roof is also glass, perfect at night for looking at the sky. Luxuries come with some modern lighting, USB ports, wifi and a music system. Ultimately, it’s a glorified tent.

©iancorless

We were fortunate to have great weather, blue skies, sun, clouds and relaxing on the bed with a glass of wine and music playing was wonderful. We just looked out and enjoyed the view… Then a family of four walked past on the road, stopped and looked in at us. The moment was gone. Again, had I been paying for my stay I would have been complaining! You may think I am laboring this point too much, but at 3000-3500 Nok per night (£250-£290) you want the correct experience.

©iancorless

We had running water but unfortunately this ran out in the evening and never came back. A huge frustration but gladly, this was compensated for by me thinking ahead and ensuring the kettle was full of water ready for morning coffee. The kitchen is well designed cramping everything in to a small space. But you would not want to cook, anything other than boiling water for pasta and heating a sauce for said pasta would be too much. We had already anticipated this a brought a cool bag with all we required for a relaxed dinner – cold meats, salad, vegetable, cheese, bread, and a good quantity of wine. The only places to eat are either outside (a bench and wood burning heater are available) or on the bed. It was a chilly night, so we relaxed on the bed and enjoyed the experience.

Outdoor seating and wood burner for a cozy night,

Our evening was spent chatting, relaxing, enjoying a glass of wine and we even enjoyed a movie while eating our bodyweight in sweet treats. It was a great escape.

A great opportunity to relax.

It’s July in Norway, so, it doesn’t go dark… Well, not until midnight and then it comes light around 0230, so, a blindfold is required if you want a dark sleeping experience. The glass roof is open and clear so fantastic for lying back and looking up to the sky. This experience would be enhanced in winter when the stars would shine and with luck, you may see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis from which the AuroraHut gets its name.

An excellent sleep was enhanced with the gentle movement of the AuroraHut on the lake as the wind rocked us. Abelone did wonder if she would get seasick – all was good.

Morning was compromised with a lack of running water. We relaxed but soon departed for our onward journey.

©iancorless

We had a great night; we enjoyed the experience and uniqueness of the AuroraHut but it was all tainted by a poor location that spoiled what could have been a truly magical and special night. AuroaHut needs and requires isolation, space, and the opportunity to feel alone – we did not get this.

More of this please!

As experiences go, I would recommend an AuroraHut experience and I am most definitely tempted to re-experience this in winter, surrounded by snow with dark long days and the sky illuminated with the Aurora Borealis. But, one night is enough in my opinion, there is no need for additional nights – the uniqueness, joy and wow factor come in 24-hours. If running, this one would be a real treat amidst a running adventure, however, the lack of a shower would make me choose a hotel.

Ultimately, AuroraHut is one of those ‘things to do!’ and the experience should be special and memorable.

©iancorless

More information about Eco Camp Rondane is HERE

If you are curious about AuroaHut, we were, information is HERE

Rondane National Park HERE

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Episode 224 – Shane Ohly from Ourea Events

Episode 224 of Talk Ultra brings you an in-depth chat with Shane Ohly from Ourea Events and Speedgoat Karl co-hosts.

RECENT ARTICLES

VJ Sport XTRM2 Shoe Review Here

Matterhorn Skyrunning Workshop Here

Episode 223 – Marathon des Sables Special Here

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima Shoe Review Here

Episode 222 – Tom Evans, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel Here

MDS Photo Gallery Here

FOLLOW ON

Talk Ultra FB HERE

Tweet us on Twitter – Talk Ultra on Twitter HERE

Instagram – HERE

Our web page at www.iancorless.com has all our links and back catalogue.

Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patreon at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. 

Spotify HERE

ITunes HERE

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE

Website – talkultra.com

VJ Sport XTRM2 Shoe Review

©iancorless

A new VJ Sport shoe is always exciting, this time, the XTRM2, which I guess is not really a new shoe but a re-working of a VJ classic. The XTRM has been a popular shoe in the trail, fell and mountain running world for a very long time, sitting in the middle ground of the aggressive iRock and the MAXx.

©iancorless

The key to any VJ shoe is the outsole and the incredible grip that this outsole provides. The XTRM had 4mm lugs, the same as the MAXx but not as long as the iRock and therefore it was the ideal shoe for say skyrunning.

However, two things were often heard when fellow runners discussed the XTRM:

  1. I just wish there was a little more cushioning.
  2. I wish they could be just a little wider.

Well, the XTRM2 addresses both these issues and brings a couple of newer developments.

THE SHOE

©iancorless

You should never judge a shoe by how it looks, and yes, some of you may love the look of the new XTRM2, I do not! Red is always great and when combined with black, superb. Look at the VJ Sport iRock HERE – now that is a nice-looking shoe! But this XTRM2 looks like someone had a little too much alcohol and dope in Hawaii and then designed the shoe. It’s a ‘me’ thing. Sorry.

Gladly, I can get past the looks because I know that a VJ Sport shoe will do all that I want and do it well.

As mentioned, the XTRM2 is designed to fit between the iRock, which is a short distance and soft-ground shoe and the MAXx which is a longer distance trail/ mountain shoe. Of course, there is now the ULTRA too. That is for the long stuff.

©iancorless

Quite simply, if you loved the XTRM, the XTRM2 is going to make you smile. I had no issues with the original version, however, straight out of the box I welcomed the extra cushioning and the slightly rounder, more spacious toe box.

Drop is 4mm with 10mm cushioning at the front and 14mm at the rear. For perspective, the iRock has 8/14mm and the MAXx 12/18mm.

©iancorless

With a reshaped last, CMEVA cushioning and a rock plate, the XTRM2 is the perfect mountain/ skyrunning shoe.

Pulling the shoe on there is a notable difference with the tongue, it is fastened on both sides. One of the issues in the previous XTRM and MAXx for that matter, was the tongue would move when running – often moving to the left or the right. This has now been addressed and in all my test runs so far, the tongue has remained in place and secure.

©iancorless

Fitlock is a VJ Sport secret weapon and is one of the USP’s of the VJ brand. Once you have put your foot in the shoe, as you tighten the laces, the Fitlock grabs hold of the instep/ arch and holds it tight and secure – exactly what is required in mountainous and technical terrain when you need the shoe to be precise. With the more spacious XTRM2 toe box, this new Fitlock is even more welcome. I was initially worried if I would lose some of the precise feel at the front end, not so, the Fitlock compensates.

©iancorless

The lacing is classic with 6 eyelets and the addition of a 7th eyelet on both sides should you require to lock lace or similar. There is reinforcement here ensuring that the laces can be pulled tight without causing any issue to the upper.

©iancorless

The upper is Swiss Schoeller Keprotec® which is more durable than previous incarnations of the XTRM and it is also more pliable, allowing it to fit the foot better. Look at the old XTRM HERE – I reviewed this shoe back in 2018. Notably look how different the upper is… The original XTRM had many reinforced panels on the upper with a solid extension from the toe box and heel area. It’s a major change. I wondered, by contrast, if the new XTRM2 would feel less secure and sloppy – no. Foot hold has been excellent. The upper is excellent and repels moisture, water and mud.

©iancorless

The heel area is slightly padded but not excessively, importantly it holds the foot and there is no slipping when climbing.

©iancorless

Toe protection is adequate but could maybe be a little more? Certainly, in a skyrunning scenario when rocks, boulders and hard mixed terrain will be encountered.

©iancorless

The outsole is a notable difference, the previous XTRM had 4mm lugs, they have now been increased to 6mm and in doing so, they now match the iRock. This is a key and notable change. For me, I would now only need an XTRM2 and MAXx (which has 4mm lugs). I do appreciate though, that the narrower and more precision fit of the iRock would be preferable for some.

©iancorless

The outsole pattern is newly designed to optimize grip on all terrains and with the 6mm lugs, you now have an outsole that can handle softer ground. There is little to say about the grip of the outsole, VJ have the tagline ‘bestgripontheplanet’ and it is. No outsole from any other brand matches the grip, wet or dry, of a VJ outsole. However, be warned, that grip comes from a wonderful soft and grippy superior contact – it will not last and last and if you run too much road, that longevity will be reduced greatly. You cannot have amazing outsole grip and long life.

©iancorless

There is a torsional rigidity in the shoe that is very noticeable when running on uneven and rocky terrain. If you have the Fitlock laced up and tight, the XTRM2 gives superb precision.

Flex and life are superb, and the propulsive phase is superb. There is a real ping behind the metatarsals when pushing off.

Weight is incredible, VJ list 250g for a UK8. My UK10 is 289g.

©iancorless

I am always a UK9.5 in test shoes, however, I have noticed with extended use in VJ that I have often wished I had gone a half-size larger, so, with the XTRM2 and SPARK (review to follow) I decided to go to UK10. It was a good choice; I have found that extra space welcome. So, you may want to check this when purchasing.

CONCLUSION

Fitlock and a VJ outsole and you have a perfect shoe when precision and grip are required. The XTRM2 with a new upper, a new last, more cushioning and lugs increased to 6mm, and you now have the perfect trail/mountain and skyrunning shoe for short to middle distance. There are few shoes out there that can compete with VJ when this combination of elements is required. It is highly recommended.

Are there any negatives? I found prolonged running on hard surfaces (gravel road a good example) eventually tiring, but that is no real surprise. The outsole is soft and sticky and if you use on the wrong terrain, it will not last. I really dislike the look of the shoe, which is a petty thing to say, but the ‘look’ could put some people off before ever having the chance to run in the shoe and then find out how good it is. However, I may be alone in finding the look displeasing?

Ultimately, the XTRM2 is a superb shoe with incredible fit and grip.

©iancorless

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Matterhorn Skyrunning Workshop, Cervinia, June 17-22, 2022.

William Boffelli and Franco Colle, Monte Rosa Skymarathon

This first ever workshop will immerse participants in a unique full-on skyrunning experience in an iconic location, Cervinia, just below the stunning Matterhorn (4478m).

Franco Collé in Sardinia

Hosted by Mr skyrunning, Marino Giacometti, the workshop will have Franco Collé and William Boffelli, two of the best skyrunner’s in the world. Collé and Boffelli teamed up for the iconic, ‘return to roots’ Monte Rosa Skymarathon which they dominated. Boffelli has gone on to win the event three times. Collé also set an FKT (fastest known time) to the summit of Monte Rosa from Gressoney.

Marino Giacometti – Fast and Light.

Also joining the party is the legend of skyrunning, Bruno Brunod. Brunod is ‘the’ original skyrunner, along with Giacometti, who paved the way for this iconic sport and inspired runners such as Marco De Gasperi, Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg and so many more to follow in the footsteps of these pioneers who set the footprints to the summits all over the world… Footprints that many have followed in.

Brunod and Giacometti

On and around the Matterhorn, participants will get expert advice – at altitude, on steep uphillssnow, and even steeper descents. The use of polescrampons and harnesses will also be taught, this is a full-on, hands-on experience with the best coaches.

Marino Giacometti on his ‘home’ slopes.

Joining the camp will be yours truly, Ian Corless, capturing the action real-time, on the slopes, through the lens of his camera.

Ian Corless ‘working’ at the summit of Monte Rosa

On hand, will be Norwegian mountain runner, Abelone Lyng who will have raced at Livignio Skymarathon just days before and then will follow on with participation in Monte Rosa Skymarathon in Alagna.

Abelone in the final meters to the summit of Slogen, Norway.

The agenda includes outdoor runs on the original Vertical Kilometer® course from Cervinia up to the Oriondé Refuge at 2,802m and will touch on the Theodul Pass at 3,295m with spectacular views of the Matterhorn and across the glacier down to Zermatt.

Indoors, the workshop continues daily with lectures, presentations, videosand relaxing activities such as physiotherapy, yoga, a spa and appetising meals based on the local Aosta Valley cuisine in the host hotel, Les Neiges d’Antan.

The Matterhorn Skyrunning Workshop is an Israeli-Italian initiative, founded and managed by two passionate mountain runners, Yaniv Shoshan, Workshop director and Ludvico Bich, the hotel owner and a Cervinia native.

The initiative is also open to participants’ partners who may not be aspirant skyrunners, but who want to share this unique experience enjoying all the facilities, indoors and out.

INTERESTED IN JOINING? THERE ARE JUST A FEW PLACES LEFT! HERE

Lauri van Houten and Marino Giacometti, Cervinia.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Episode 223 – A 36th Marathon des Sables Special

Episode 223 of Talk Ultra is a 36th MDS special co-hosted by Steve Diederich (MDS UK) and guest interviews with, James Hazeldene, Liz Anderson, Patrick Kennedy, Richard Bysouth and Tamsin Dobson.

Rachid El Morabity leads Aziz and Mohamed.

The 36th Marathon des Sables came just 6-months after the 35th edition which was re-scheduled to October 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The two races could not have been more different. The 35th edition had intense heat and D&V which swept through the camp. A summary of the experience is HERE. There is also a 35th edition special podcast, HERE.

This special podcast is a follow on from the 35th and provides an insight from the MDS UK agent, Steve Diederich.

We also speak with James Hazeldene, Liz Anderson, Patrick Kennedy, Richard Bysouth and Tamsin Dobson.

You can follow the 36th edition daily summaries below.

Stage 1 HERE

Stage 2 HERE

Stage 3 HERE

Stage 4 (part one) HERE

Stage 4 (part two) HERE

Stage 5 HERE

SUMMARY HERE

PHOTO GALLERY HERE

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

Share us on Facebook – Talk Ultra FB HERE

Tweet us on Twitter – Talk Ultra on Twitter HERE

Instagram – HERE

Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patreon at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage. 

Spotify HERE

ITunes HERE

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE

Libsyn – HERE 

Tunein – HERE 

Website – talkultra.com

Episode 222 – Tom Evans, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel

WE ARE BACK!

Episode 222 brings you and in-depth chat with adidas Terrex athlete Tom Evans about his comeback to racing and victory after surgery and rehabilitation. We also talk to to Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel about an epic journey around Lesotho.

It almost feels like a new beginning for Talk Ultra and in a way, I suppose it is. We have just had the longest period ever without producing a show, but we are now back with some new fire.

Importantly, Karl and myself THANK YOU all for the support, messages and encouragement. It really does make producing the show worthwhile.

I personally had questioned if Talk Ultra should stop in this downtime period. It’s been a great run, 12-years, hours, hours and hours of audio and it was actually only when I looked back and realised that we have created and documented the history of the sport since 2010 that I can’t let that stop… Your support and encouragement and very kind words also was significant.

So, here we are, Episode 222 – Enjoy!

Share us on Facebook – Talk Ultra FB HERE

Tweet us on Twitter – Talk Ultra on Twitter HERE

Instagram – HERE

And use good old word mouth. 

Importantly, go to iTunes and subscribe so that you automatically get our show when it’s released we are also available on Stitcher for iOS, Android and Web Player and now Tunein. We are also on Spotify too. 

Our web page at www.iancorless.com has all our links and back catalogue. 

Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patreon at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage. 

I’m Ian Corless and he is Speedgoat Karl

Keep running

Spotify HERE

ITunes HERE

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE

Libsyn – HERE 

Tunein – HERE 

Website – talkultra.com

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT – Shoe Review

©iancorless

Ask any experienced mountain or skyrunner, what is the ‘best’ race and route, more often than not, the answer will be ‘Kima!’

Trofeo Kima in Italy has long been the dream of many a runner who loves a challenge at the max level. Taking place every other year, the race really gained notoriety when UTMB was hit by bad weather and a certain Kilian Jornet decided to take a fast exit out of France and stand on the start line of Kima the next day.

History was made, Kilian has returned again and again and, in his words, it is one of ‘the’ best races in the world that mixes running and alpinism – skyrunning!

Therefore, any shoe that is named after this iconic route had better be good!

Enter, the Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT.

©iancorless

Let me just say, from the start, this may well be ‘one of’ the best mountain running shoes I have ever tried. I place it up there with the best that VJ Sport offers in terms of fit, comfort and grip. Trust me, if you read my shoe reviews, you know I regard VJ as the Holy Grail when it comes to perfect shoes. It also matches the best from La Sportiva.

©iancorless

Scarpa in recent years have gone from strength to strength with shoes and design. A huge contributing factor was the arrival of legendary WMRA and skyrunning champion, Marco de Gasperi. Marco was there on the slopes of Alagna, aged just 16 when skyrunning was born. There are few that know the sport better!

And as for the Trofeo Kima route, he has raced it and in recent years set the FKT (7:53:41) for the completion of the course.

“…mountain lovers who face this technical and very hard route take three days, sleeping two nights in the refuges: a journey that is completed by dancing from rock to rock along with eight alpine passes above 2,500 meters (Barbacan, Camerozzo, Qualido, Averta, Torrone, Cameraccio, Bocchetta Roma and Corni Bruciati) before jumping headlong towards the finish line.”

All of the above can be felt in this remarkable shoe.

I could stop here and just say, go buy them! But at £190.00 a pair, you may take a little more convincing.

The Shoe

Out of the box, a great looking shoe, a mix of black/blue/grey which Scarpa list as Grey-Azure. The women’s version is light grey/ aruba blue here. They are light, especially for such a robust looking shoe. Noticeable is the toe bumper, the cushioning/ outsole and the high heel area that is designed to protect and support the achilles.

©iancorless

With a 6mm drop, they fit that wonderful middle ground between a 4 and 8mm that will suit most people.

©iancorless

Cushioning is 22mm at the rear, 16mm (women’s 21mm/ 15mm) at the front and the addition of an enclosed carbon plate only makes the 290g (UK8) weight even more unbelievable.

Carbon plate visible in the middle.

When I saw the carbon plate, I flinched a little. My experience so far with carbon plates in trail shoes has not been good – often it has added weight and made for a lifeless feel with little or no flex. Not here in the Golden Gate Kima, on the contrary, I was not aware of the plate until I ran and then two key things were noticeable: 1. There is a return in energy and comfort, particularly on hard, technical trail/ rock. 2. The plate act as a rock-plate offering increased protection. Quite simply, this is the best shoe I have tried with a plate and in all honesty, I am putting it out there now and saying that the Golden Gate Kima is arguably the best mountain shoe I have ever used… A bold statement!

©iancorless

There are so many aspects to this shoe that are so right, that the moment you slip them on, you smile. The fit is just amazing. It has a ‘sock-like’ internal construction which when laced up just holds the foot secure, reassured and comfortable. Everything I want in a mountain shoe. Amazingly, even when laced tight, they manage to avoid hot spots or pressure points.

©iancorless

The heel area is superbly padded and goes high offering the ultimate comfort and protection – a level I have not experienced before in any shoe.

©iancorless
©iancorless

At the front, the shoe opens up in to a wide toe box, which on a scale of 1-5 (1 being narrow) sits at a 4. This is quite unusual for a shoe that is so obviously designed for technical and challenging running. But it works. There is room for those with wider feet and for those with narrower feet, you get toe splay. Normally this would not work for me in a mountain shoe, I like my foot to feel held, secure and un-moveable, this only confirms how good the middle of the shoe is and how the lacing and sock-like fit gives you all the security you need.

©iancorless

The upper has a double construction with structure coming from microfibre and anti-abrasion mesh which adds durability but still allows for breathability.

Toe box is superb with arguably one of the most protected front ends I have found in a run shoe.

©iancorless

The outsole is Scarpa’s own Presa which I must be honest and say in past Scarpa shoes has left me perplexed. Not here in the Golden Gate Kima. There has been a significant re-working and the ‘SuperGum’ 4mm lugs are a dream on rock offering stunning grip. However, on wet UK Lakeland rock they were less secure.

©iancorless

Cushioning is unusual. They are neither cushioned or firm but sit somewhere beautifully in the middle offering a superb feel for the ground without being harsh. The cushioning allows for comfort but without being squidgy. The combination of elements, which has double density foam wrapped around a 1mm carbon fiber plate gives an amazingly precise, lightweight, cushioned and reassured ride that adds energy to the run. I don’t know how Scarpa have managed it, but they have! This shoe has ground feel, precision, comfort and energy rebound in a package that feels light and fast. Flex behind the metatarsals is superb, so, the propulsive phase is not compromised. It’s difficult to believe a plate is in the midsole, but it is, you can see it.

©iancorless
©iancorless

In Use

Women’s shoe with 100’s of KM’s and the 65km Transgrancanaria race in them.

It’s one of the best mountain/ skyrunning shoes I have used. The Golden Gate Kima goes head-to-head with VJ Sports XTRM and MAXx and dare I say it, equals them! The VJ’s are the go-to choice for many based on the stunning outsole and superb foot hold. However, many say that VJ are too narrow and are not cushioned/ protective enough. The Golden Gate Kima addresses all those issues and summary provides:

  1. Cushioned comfort without a loss for ground feel or control.
  2. Incredible foot hold with a superb sock-like fit and lacing.
  3. Superb heel protection.
  4. Wider toe box.
  5. Caron plate which adds protection and rebound without compromising ground feel and control.
  6. Lightweight.
©iancorless

I could go on about how great these shoes are. Out of the box and straight in to a 25km run and I was smiling and a little amazed at how Scarpa have upped their game in the shoe world. There was much talk about the Ribelle Run but for me, this Golden Gate Kima places Scarpa at a whole new level.

Hard trail, rock and even some road, the shoes just perform. The compromises coming on muddy ground, the outsole lugs are not long enough and some types of wet rock. This is a mountain shoe designed for hard trail and rocks, be that wet or dry and they perform.

©iancorless

Comfort is superb, energy return excellent and importantly precision and control is top-notch. It’s a shoe that can eat time and miles and most certainly, 6-hours in a shoe like this would not be a problem. Of course, this is personal. If you like Hoka-like squidge, bounce, roll and lack of control, this is not a shoe for you. How long could you run in them? It’s so personal it is hard to say, for me a good mountain day out maxing at 12-hours would be a limit.

Although neutral, there does feel to be a little additional support in the arch of the foot. It is noticeable, but not unpleasant. This is no doubt due to the combination of sock-like fit, dual cushioning and carbon plate.

Conclusion

©iancorless

Buy them! It’s as simple as that… If you are heading to the mountains, running technical trails and want a combination of superb features all wrapped up in a lightweight good-looking shoe, you can’t go wrong with the Golden Gate Kima RT.

I have found it difficult to find fault in the shoe. For some, maybe the cushioning is not enough? But remember, the balance between ground feel, control, precision, and comfort is delicate – these are the best out there that I have found along with VJ. In prolonged runs I got some toe rubbing (2nd toe from the right) on my right foot (only the right) – It is where the toe bumper stops and the upper mesh starts. It may be unique to me, my foot shape etc, but worth noting.

The name ‘Golden Gate’ I find confusing. Scarpa make a shoe called Golden Gate ATR which is highly cushioned and a world away from this Kima RT model. The Golden Gate reference initially made me think it was a development of the ATR model.

It looks as though sizing is whole sizes, EU 40, 41, 42 and so on. This may make a compromise for some. I use EU 44 and they were perfect, true to size for me.

At £190.00 they are not cheap, blame Brexit! Much cheaper in Europe. However, based on how darn good they are, for me, they are worth it.

As always, there are other shoes that offer options and VJ with XTRM or MAXx are definite rivals which maybe get the nod due to the outsole. Also, La Sportiva Akasha are a more robust and cushioned shoe and if I was going longer, wanted more security and more long-term comfort, they would win out. The Goldengate Kima RT is without doubt a shoe that will regularly appear in my shoe rotation.

©iancorless

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Marathon des Sables 2022 #MDS2022 PHOTO GALLERY

The 2022 Marathon des Sables was memorable. Then again, it always is! There is something very unique about the Sahara, the sand, the desert, the dunes and the movement of some 1400-people on a journey. 2022 was my 9th year on the race and while B&W images appear in my galleries, for this 36th edition I wanted to produce a specific B&W gallery and portfolio.

Of course, MDS is a very colourful race, so, to strip it back to tones and shades from white to black is for me, something quite special.

There is a grit and rawness to B&W imagery, particularly in the close-up portraits which really convey the tough journey undertaken.

YOU CAN VIEW THE SLIDESHOW HERE

Sand storms, intense winds, bivouac life. It is all there to see.

Back to basics, one tent, 8-people, one bag per person; rationed food, clothing, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, mandatory equipment and rationed water – multi-day experiences come no better. Stripped back from connection and technology, this week in the Sahara really is one of the ultimate raw experiences in this crazy modern and connected world.

MDS is a wonderful, magical, moving road show that is difficult to understand and appreciate until you are in the Sahara. A small city moves seamlessly and like clockwork day-by-day, it is mind-blowing; a magical Saharan experience that really is one of the greatest experiences in running. 

HERE IS A HIGHLIGHT

YOU CAN VIEW THE SLIDESHOW HERE

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com