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.

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2017 Race Summary and Images

Misty skies, gale force winds, mud, rain, relentless climbing, technical terrain and an incredible field of runners made the 2017 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR a tough one! Now in it’s 4th edition, the race has over the years been known for its tough conditions, many said, post race, this tear was the toughest!

Concluding Skyrunning UK’s 2017 calendar, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR really was a fitting end to what has been an incredible year. The course, organisation and the field of runners made this a special and unforgettable day in the mountains.

The addition of Ian Bailey, a previous champion of the race, it was always going to be a quick race up at the front, especially with Seamus Lynch toeing the line. In the early stages it was Lynch who lead the duo but with half the race covered, Bailey took the reigns at the front and never looked back forging a convincing lead. At the finish, Bailey crossed in 3:57:18, just over 10-minutes ahead of Lynch.

It was another 5-minutes before Ryan Stewart arrived rounding out the top-3

In the ladies race, Shileen O’Kane would bring local knowledge, fell running experience and being a participant in the last three editions, this would no doubt provide and advantage? It did! O’Kane pushed from the front throughout the race but she was constantly shadowed by Megan Wilson. The duo traded blows and on the climb to Donnard, it looked like Wilson may take the lead… O’Kane kicked though and descended to the finish line with almost a 4-minute margin over the Dark Peak fell runner, 4:56:43 to 5:00:09. Catherine Forsythe was the 3rd lady, crossing the line in 5:40:26.

The 2017 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR once again established itself as a must-do race. The combination of location, local infrastructure, great organisation, enthusiastic locals and a brutal course will guarantee that demand will be high for the 2018 edition.

Covering 35km and a total elevation gain of 3370m, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is everything a Skyrunning race should be.

Full Results HERE

Images at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Follow on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

Facebook HERE

Episode 145 – Jeff Browning and Mark Hammond

Episode 145 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Jeff Browning who has been dominating the 100-mile racing scene with a string of highly placed finishes – but how? Jeff tells us the secrets of his success in a fascinating interview. We also speak with Mark Hammond who placed 3rd at Western States this year. We have the news and Speedgoat Karl is co-hosting
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We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create!
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
Donate HERE
*****
00:10:10 NEWS
Speedgoat wins 50k a good sign for his next 100.
ELS 2900
Ne format for this year as alpinists took part as teams of two and they had to navigate. Lina and Sanna El Kott Helander won the ladies race and Dominic Trastoy and Lluis Sanvicente won the men’s, times 21:05 and 16:41 respectively.
Lakes in a Day UK
Katie Kaars smashed the ladies old CR in a new time of 10:46:29 for the 50-miles and bagged a £1000 bonus. She also placed 3rd overall.
For the men, Marcis Gubats took top honours in 10:18:39, Jack Casey 2nd in 10:43:49 and Nick Green 3rd man (4th overall) in 11:04:07.
Elizaveta Ershova and Liz Barker placed 2nd and 3rd ladies’ respectively in 11:52:54 and 12:50:31.
Report HERE
Limone Extreme SkyRace
Marco De Gasperi took the top honours and the 2017 SWS title, a fitting reward for the Skyrunning legend who started the sport aged 16! Tove Alexandersson, an orienteer world champ, took the female victory in an impressive and committed finish that saw her collapse on the line covered in blood from numerous falls.
Jan Margarit and Stefan Knopf placed 2nd and 3rd and Michelle Maier and Ragna Debats took the podium slots for the ladies.
Sheila Aviles joined De Gasperi as the 2017 SWS champ for the Sky Classic distance.
The COMBINED title was won by Jonathan Albon and Maite Maiora.
Report HERE
Moab 200
Courtney Dauwalter runs an incredible 57-hours and 52-minutes for an outright win. Sean Nakamura won the men’s race.
John Muir Trail FKT
Francois D’Haene obliterated the JMT FKT by 12 hours finishing in 2-days, 19-hours and 26-minutes. This result coming so soon after winning the UTMB!
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00:40:01 Interview with JEFF BROWNING
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02:04:27 Interview with MARK HAMMOND
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UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Puna Inca Trail | 200 kilometers | November 03, 2017 | website

Australia

Queensland

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Run to Paradise Ultra Marathon | 74 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

South Australia

105 km | 105 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Victoria

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Canada

Ontario

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Ecuador

50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

France

Aude

Raid des Bogomiles | 101 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Boffi Fifty | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Endurance Trail | 100 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Trail des Hospitaliers | 75 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Calvados

Raid solo 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Corse-du-Sud

CCR Bleu Long | 86 kilometers | October 26, 2017 | website
CCR Rouge Court | 78 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
CCR Rouge Long | 166 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Savoie

75 km | 75 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
Grand trail du lac – 80km | 80 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia

Röntgenlauf Ultramarathon | 63 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Salomon LT 70 | 70 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

India

Meghalaya

70k Ultra | 70 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

West Bengal

Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race | 100 miles | October 29, 2017 | website

Israel

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 61 Km Run | 61 kilometers | October 26, 2017 | website

Italy

Campania

Amalfi Coast Trail | 87 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Ert Rommel Trail 64k | 64 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Piedmont

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
82 km | 82 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Morocco

Race Désert Marathon | 100 kilometers | October 25, 2017 | website

Nepal

Annapurna 100 | 100 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Annapurna 50k | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Solukhumbu Trail | 289 kilometers | October 27, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Norway

100 Miles | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Trail de Bourbon | 111 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon | 250 kilometers | October 26, 2017 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultima Frontera – 166 km | 166 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Ultima Frontera – 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Ultima Frontera – 83 km | 83 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Catalonia

LTSM | 66 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail de la Serra de Montsant | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Principality of Asturias

Ultra Trail Oscos Natural | 55 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

Mondúber Utrail | 66 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Sweden

Markusloppet | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Turkey

Cappadocia Trail 60km | 61 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail® | 114 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

City of Edinburgh

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Ennerdale 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Original Mountain Marathon | 52 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

Autumn 100 | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Powys

Rebellion | 135 miles | November 03, 2017 | website

Suffolk

Coastal Trail Series – Suffolk – Ultra | 34 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Worcestershire

Halloween 7in7 | 295 kilometers | October 30, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

100K | 100 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

California

Lake Hodges 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Napa Valley | 186 miles | November 03, 2017 | website
Reebok Ragnar Napa Valley | 200 miles | November 03, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
Indian Creek 51 km | 51 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Indian Creek 52 Mile | 52 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Connecticut

Bimbler’s Bluff 50k | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
Scantic Valley Six-Hour Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Delaware

Sinnemahone Ultra Marathon 50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Florida

80 Mile Relay | 80 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Jacks 50k Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
“Running for the Bay!” 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

Georgia

Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hawaii

Peacock Challenge 55 Mile Run | 55 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Peacock Ultramarathons 100K | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Peacock Ultramarathons 50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Kansas

Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Louisiana

50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Maryland

Patapsco Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website

Michigan

Y’OPA Halloween Costume 5K Run | 70 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Surf the Murph 50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Surf the Murph 50M | 50 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Missouri

50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Nebraska

G.O.A.T.z 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

New Hampshire

Ghost Train Ultra Race 100M | 100 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 45M | 45 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 60M | 60 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 75M | 75 miles | October 22, 2017 | website
Ghost Train Ultra Race 90M | 90 miles | October 22, 2017 | website

New Jersey

100 Mile | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
The Teaneck 5K Walk/Run for Children with Cancer | 5000 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Allison Woods Halloween Hobble | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Triple Lakes Trail 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 70 | 70 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
Uwharrie 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
Uwharrie 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website

Ohio

Run With Scissors Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

100K | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
100 Mile | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
135.6 Miler | 135 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Paris Mountain 50k | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Tennessee

100K | 100 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
100 Miler | 100 miles | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website

Texas

50k | 50 kilometers | October 21, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 24, 2017 | website
Cactus Rose 100 Mi Trail Run | 100 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Cactus Rose 50 Mi Trail Run | 50 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
Trans-Pecos Ultra | 163 miles | October 22, 2017 | website

Utah

Atlas St. George | 40 miles | October 27, 2017 | website
Goblin Valley Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 28, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Virginia

The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

West Virginia

33 Miles | 33 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
34 Miles | 34 miles | October 28, 2017 | website
40 Miles | 40 miles | October 28, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2017 | website

Vietnam

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
70 km | 70 kilometers | October 22, 2017 | website
*****
02:40:06 CLOSE
02:43:19
*****
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron 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.
*****
Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE
Website – talkultra.com

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2017 Race Preview

The Skyrunning UK season concludes in Ireland this coming weekend with the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR. What a year it has been! From the very first edition, the GMSMTR has sold out and demand continues to exceed places available. It’s a testament to the team behind the race.

The 2016 edition was won by Germain Grangier in a time of 3:49:39 and the ladies’ race was dominated by Jasmin Paris running 4:30:02. However, the ladies course record still stands with USA based runner and Salomon athlete, Stevie Kremer.

Ian Bailey, former course record holder at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR returns in 2017 and will not only be looking for victory but dipping under the 3:49:39 set by Grangier last year.

Skyrunning UK Series champions will be confirmed in Ireland. The battle is on for a male champion, Tim Campion-Smith is the odds-on favourite with a convincing 25-point lead. Jason Millward, Tomasso Migliuolo and Jonathan Palmer are in with a shout. Tim Campion-Smith will not run in Ireland, however, Jason Millward will! With a 20% bonus at stake for the final event, if Millward wins or places 2nd, he would leapfrog Campion-Smith for the 2017 overall title by dropping his lowest ranking points (9th at Ben Nevis Ultra) and replacing them with points from the Mourne Skyline MTR – 1st would provide 30 points, 2nd 26.4 points and *3rd would provide 22.8 points.

It is likely that Jonathan Palmer will move from equal 3rd to 3rd overall after the Mourne Skyline MTR. Of course, if Millward has a poor run and Palmer has a great run, this could change!

*3rd place would not be enough for overall victory, it would provide a total of 45.8 points to Campion-Smith’s 48-point tally.

The ladies race is wide open! Kirsty-Jane Birch currently leads the ranking with 11 points but it looks like she will not race in Ireland and therefore she will not have three qualifying races. This leaves the door open for 2nd placed Rebecca Morgan who has 5 points and will race at the Mourne – in many respects, she just needs to finish the race but a top-10 would guarantee overall victory.

As in previous editions, there is a wealth of talent toeing the line. Look out for:

Seamus Lynch, Jonathan Palmer, David Hicks, Barry Hartnett, Ryan Stewart and Shane Donnelly.

Linda O’Connor, Megan Wilson, Martsje Hell, Elizabeth Wheeler, Karina Jonina, Jacqueline Toal, Shileen O’Kane, Hazel McLaughlin and importantly Janne Geurts who placed 2nd at the V3K but this is only her 2nd Skyrunning UK race and therefore cannot qualify for the Series despite having the most points.

Owned by the National Trust, the Mourne Mountains are an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.

Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.

 

The coastal town of Newcastle hosts the start of the race and a short section of road leads into Donard Park via the promenade entrance and the ‘Granite Trail’ awaits for a long and relentless climb. Dundrum Bay is visible to the west, before a fast-downhill section to a climb of the stony and challenging Glen River Path to the Col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh.

At Hare’s Gap, the first major peak awaits, Slieve Bearnagh, first passing the North Tor before reaching the summit quickly followed with the technical ascent of Slieve Meelmore. The Mourne Wall becomes a key feature of the race and for the first time the runners follow its line for just 0.4km before veering right and descending towards The Mourne Way path.

Fofany Dam precludes the only road section of the course which leads to the Mourne Wall and the style between Ott and Slieve Loughshannagh. The climbs and summits come thick and fast now; Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Meelbeg and the course continues to follow the Mourne Wall leading to a repeated climb of the technical and challenging Slieve Meelmore, this time in the opposite direction. The toughest climb of the day follows, Slieve Bearnagh.

Passing around the North Tor it is downhill towards Hare’s Gap and a steep climb next to the Mourne Wall towards Slievenaglogh and Slieve Commedagh, Northern Ireland’s second highest mountain. It is ironic that Slieve Commedagh should lead into Slieve Donard and the highest point of the race. On a clear day, the views are magnificent out over the sea, inland towns and villages are visible and of course, the Mourne Mountains. From the summit, it’s all downhill to the finish via the rocky Glen River Path and a fire road that leads into Donard Park and the finish.

You can follow the race in words and images at iancorless.com and a race summary and image selection will be posted on skyrunninguk.com

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

Twitter @talkultra

Facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

 

Limone Extreme 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

What an epic day in Italy!

The final race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series turned out to be an epic day.

Young gun, Jan Margarit and Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi went head-to-head in a full-on battle as they climbed and descended in the mountains that back onto Lake Garda. It was Margarit who dictated the pace on the early climb while De Gasperi followed just a minute or so back with Aritz Egea and Peter Engdahl.

However, De Gasperi closed to Margarit and the duo ran side-by-side for much of the race pushing each other all the way beyond the 20km mark. The final descent is renowned for its punishing technical running and it was here that De Gasperi opened a small gap, reversing the result from Dolomites SkyRace earlier in the year when Margarit dropped the Italian on the final descent.

Needless to say, De Gasperi’s win on home soil not only is a popular one but it also confirms De Gasperi’s skill and perseverance in the sport. He won’t mind me saying but he is twice the age of Margarit. 

Young German runner, Stefan Knopf was around 10th place on the first climb but ran a stunning 2nd half of the race to take the final podium place ahead of Peter Engdahl.

For the ladies’ Ragna Debats laid it all on the line knowing that she could win the series with a 1st or 2nd place. On the first climb, she pushed and pushed with Laura Orgue hot on her heels. Michelle Maier followed and in 4th was the orienteering world champion, Tove Alexandersson.

As the race progressed, Debats went through a bad patch allowing Maier and Alexandersson in to the first and second slots. Despite pushing, Debats found it difficultl to find her rhythms and when she finally did it was too late, the other two had leaped ahead.

Alexandersson gave it everything and opened up a gap of 4-minutes over Maier. Pushing the pace, she took several tumbles on the final descent and as she crossed the line in Limone she collapsed – her legs cut, her feet bloody, her hands and arms damaged. It was a seriously gusty run and one that wiped her out completely. 

Maier finished 2nd and Debats 3rd.

The big question would come around who would win the series? In many respects, it was Laura Orgue’s to lose. Unfortunately, Orgue had a bad day, a very bad day for her and Sheila Aviles finished ahead of her and in the process, took the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series title. 

Limone Extreme over the years has had many an epic battle, this year was no different.

It was a confirmation of experience and an introduction to new names and new faces. Marco De Gasperi and Sheila Aviles were crowned 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series champions and now as the Skyrunner season comes to an end, everyone looks ahead to 2018 and 2019 for a new era in Skyrunning.

Less Cloud, More Sky!

The COMBINED title was won by Jonathan Albon and Maite Maiora, the two most consistent athletes over all Skyrunning disciplines in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.

1 – Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 3h31’11”
2 – Michelle Maier (GER) 3h43’03”
3 – Ragna Debats (NED) 3h45’39”
4 – Holly Page (GBR) 3h51’46”
5 – Sheila Avilés Castaño (ESP) 3h54’20”

1 – Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 3h07’32”
2 – Jan Margarit Solé (ESP) 3h07’58”
3 – Stefan Knopf (GER) 3h10’51”
4 – Oriol Cardona Coll (ESP) 3h13’18”
5 – Petter Engdahl (SWE) 3h14’56”

Limone Extreme 2017 – VK Summary and Images

The torrential rain and thunderstorms from 2016 became a distant memory as finally, after two-years on an ‘alternative’ course, the Limone VK finally took place on the original route.

A day of blue skies and October warmth welcomed the runners as they assembled on the banks of Lake Garda ahead of the 6pm start.

As darkness arrived, they were released onto the mountain, the elite wave starting at 7pm.

Climbing 1100m, the course is a relentless 3km long with the glowing lights of Limone village and Lake Garda in the backeround – the darkness broken by the  head torches of runners as they cover the distance as quickly as possible.

Starting at 60m altitude from Lugolago Marconi, the VK takes a straight line up the impressive mountains that back onto Limone culminating at the finish in Nembra via Dooso Dei Roveri. Rocky waterfalls, via ferratta, wooded forest and technical trail – the Limone VK has it all.

Philip Gotsh and Christel Dewalle won the race ahead of a strong field.

TOP-3 MEN in Limone Vertical:
1. Philip Götsch ITA
2. Patrick Facchini ITA
3. Stian Angermund-Vik NOR

TOP-3 WOMEN in Limone Vertical:
1. Christel Dewalle FRA
2. Michelle Maier GER
3. Camilla Magliano ITA

Race director, Fabio Meraldi, a Skyrunning legend, was finally happy to have the original route run after two years of bad weather.

Tomorrow it is the main event of the weekend and the final race in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series – Limone Extreme. You can read a preview HERE. Action starts at 11am local time.

IROCK2 by VJ Sport – Shoe Review

Imagine a scene:

A man enters an elevator, he pulls the cage metal door across and as it clicks into place, his right hand reaches for the buttons to his left. ‘Lower Basement’ is pressed.

As the lift moves, music starts in the background; a lone guitar.

dundedun dun dun dun dundedun dun dun dun dundedun dun dun dun dundedun dun dun dun deDON Do do do
Badap ba daa ba da daa ba daa da deda daa Badap ba daa ba da daa ba daa da deda daa

The lift stops, the gate is pulled open and the man walks into a grey room illuminated by dappled spotlights. Ahead, a man in a white jacket, is crooked over a table with his back turned.

“Argh, 007 you are here, finally! Now listen up. This is the new IROCK2 by VJ Sport. It has Fitlock that ensures a sure and precise fit around the arch and instep of the foot for secure constant changes of direction. The outsole is made of Butyl rubber with an aggressive pattern, it will grip anything in the wet and dry!”

“And the upper Q?” Our man asks.

“007, let me do the talking… The upper is made of Kevlar, it’s stronger than steel, lightweight and extremely durable. Toe box and the heel box is plush, secure and protects from the toughest terrain. Cushioning is provided by KvamO and Duotech. These shoes are designed for fast, light and agile mountain running on any terrain – any questions?”

“When can I use them Q?”

“Have you not been listening Bond? You can use them on the gnarliest, muddiest, wettest, driest, most technical terrain imaginable and they will give you the advantage over the competition… Now go run!”

If James Bond was a mountain runner, he’d be using the IROCK2 by VJ Sport

*****

This review comes in two versions:

Version 1.

The IROCK2 by VJ Sport is the best mountain running shoe for any terrain with superior grip in the wet and dry on the rockiest, gnarliest, muddiest terrain imaginable in a moderately cushioned, 6mm drop, lightweight neutral shoe. It’s the best shoe ever – go buy it!

Version 2.

Read on.

VJ was found in 1981 and has been the secret weapon of Orienteers for many, many years. Ask anyone in the know, affiliated with a brand or not, out of choice, if they could, they would use IROCK when the need for grip on wet and dry surfaces is essential.

I was first introduced to the brand several years ago whilst working on the Tromso SkyRace. I saw the ‘locals’ using them and when out on the trails, mountains that had a mix of rocks, snow and ice, I continually noticed they had more grip than myself. This was confirmed when Jon Albon won Tromso race using IROCK ahead of the ‘almost’ unbeatable Luis Alberto Hernando.

I took note!

The shoe range can be viewed HERE and over the year’s VJ Sport have added and tweaked the line of shoes to 12 models, varying from a very specific Orienteering shoe with metal spikes (midstud) to a kid’s shoe!

Key Features of the IROCK2:

FITLOCK ensures that the fit is snug and holds the foot in place, essential when running on technical and challenging trails when a change of direction happens in a fraction of second. You don’t want a sloppy shoe. FITLOCK supports the arch of the foot and protects from the terrain.
SUPERIOR CONTACT OUTSOLE is made from sticky butyl rubber with an aggressive grip. It has superior grip in wet and dry conditions and lugs are aggressive to gain traction in mud. They are also spaced out to help release mud from the sole so that you don’t get clogged up and lose traction.
Schoeller® – Keprotec® KEVLAR upper is bullet proof and stronger than steel. It is pretty much tear resistant with comfort. The chances of the uppers failing is almost non-existent. The upper also has reinforced sections, the toe box and heel cup protect the foot from the most demanding terrain and to keep the foot secure.
KvamO offers cushioning, torsion support and a shaped insole.
DUOTECH is used on the inner side of the shoe, contrasting against the KvamO. The Duotech is higher density foam which makes for a more durable shoe.

6mm drop
Narrow width
Neutral

IROCK2 was Jon Albon’s shoe of choice for the 2017 season – He is a multiple OCR World Champion and two-time Skyrunner World Series Champion for the Extreme classification.

OUT OF THE BOX

Red and black, always works for shoe colours and I feel and I am instantly attracted to the IROCK2. However, they don’t look like run shoes… almost a cross between a football boot and a shoe for MTB. They look heavy!

I lift one up. They are not heavy… It almost comes as a surprise. Immediate first impression is how robust the shoe looks. The heel box is reinforced, the Fitlock looks aggressive and secure, the Kevlar material looks like it is interwoven with strands of steel and the toe box reinforced with a bumper. Turning the shoe over, soft black butyl rubber covers the outsole and a mass of aggressive studs immediately confirm that the IROCK2 means business as far as grip is concerned.

Lacing is very secure and the tongue is reinforced and made of a very durable flexible but hard material. I am surprised to find that the IROCK2 does not have a gusseted tongue or sock liner fit. I feel disappointed! It’s no secret if you read my shoe reviews that this is by far my favourite method of shoe fit. The toe box looks really narrow – I expected narrow as this is a precision shoe, however, they look narrower than expected.

All-in-all, I am impressed. Great looks, solid build, aggressive outsole but I have concerns on the toe box and lack of sock liner/ gusseted tongue.

IN USE

It’s important to remember here that the IROCK2 is not a jack of all trades, it’s not a trail shoe, it’s not hybrid shoe, it’s not a shoe for the road – it is an out-and-out specific fell/ mountain running shoe and as such, you should and must keep this in mind if considering if the shoe is for you!

The easiest way to explain this is by looking at say, Formula 1. You wouldn’t go to Monaco Grand Prix and race in a MPV car, a saloon car or a bus, you’d have a very specific vehicle, low to the ground with incredible speed and awesome agility with incredible grip. The IROCK2 is the Formula 1 for fell and mountain running.

I loosen the laces and slide my foot in. I am immediately surprised that the toe box is deceptively more spacious than anticipated. Almost Tardis like. Don’t get me wrong here, they are not spacious that would allow ones toes to splay. The fit is secure but not overly narrow, however, if you have Hobbit like feet, the IROCK2 is not going to be for you! It is normal in fell/ mountain running shoes that a ‘precision’ fit is required as this provides security and precision when running, exactly what you need when on demanding and challenging terrain.

As I pull the laces tight, I am immediately surprised how well the tongue fits to my foot and the lack of a sock liner or gusseted tongue soon becomes no issue. The Fitlock steps in and I have to say that this is one of THE secret weapons of the shoe. You immediately feel the support and security this system brings as I tighten and adjust the laces.

The reinforced heel box adds to this security and once laced up and adjusted I soon realize that the IROCK2 has incredible fit and security – and I haven’t even run in them yet!

As I walk around my apartment, the wooden floor provides a solid surface, I feel the grip of the Butyl outsole take hold and with each lift of my foot, the shoes make a sound a little like when separating two strips of Velcro. These shoes seriously grip.

Orienteering, fell and outright mountain shoes rarely have a great deal of cushioning as the need to be low and feel the ground is essential. The IROCK2 has cushioning and it is noticeable without compromising feel, importantly there is also a rock plate for protection. Therefore, this shoe certainly provides an option for longer races, be that in distance or time. How long or how far depends on the runner, but I would certainly consider this shoe for 6-8 hour mountain jaunts. You also must remember that if running on soft and muddy ground, much of the cushioning actually comes from the ground beneath ones feet. Rocky and hard trails are a different story.

ON THE TRAILS

I always start my test runs with a section of road and the IROCK2 keeps me honest wanting to land fore to mid foot. I can hear and feel the grip on the road and I am surprised at the level of comfort and cushioning for such an aggressive shoe. I set my mind at ease knowing that the IROCK2 can handle road sections should they crop up in a race or training. Note though, the outsole won’t thank you for this and one can expect it to wear quicker if you throw too much tarmac at them.

6mm drop works well and although 8mm is normally preferable (for me) it is appropriate that a shoe of this nature has a lower drop keeping you connected to the ground. The fit is neutral but Fitlock really does provide support (in a good way) to ones arch. Fit is true to size.

Back on the tail, a 3-mile section of single track flies by as the shoes happily eat up the miles switching between hard and dry sections and soft, wet, muddy sections don’t compromise the grip.

Off track and the IROCK2 start to feel seriously at home. I am now on open fell that is rutted. I am constantly changing direction and this is when I feel the Fitlock and heel box working together. For me, it’s the best feel and most secure of any mountain running shoe I have used. No question!

The outsole is gripping everything.

On a vertical wall of grass and mud, I am on my toes and the shoes just dig in and keep me going forward with no wasted energy through slipping.

I hit an extremely muddy section. It’s like a brown river. Constant rain has made it into a brown lake and as I run through it, the height passes my ankle. Once again, I feel the shoes pushing through the soft upper layers to find traction below. Grip is found and I am able to move on with more security than any other shoe used. The closest comparison coming with an inov-8 Mudclaw.

It’s on rocks, wet or dry, that the IROCK2 becomes outstanding. I have had mountain shoes in the past that have handled the mud only to find that rock, and in particular, wet rock grip is compromised. The IROCK2 stand out as the best in its class with unmatched grip and control.

The run continues on and as the terrain constantly changes I am finding that the IROCK2’s are handling everything but it is the overall package of the shoe that is impressing me and no one stand out feature.

It is the combination of durability, fit, cushioning, precision and unmatched grip that is making me realize that the IROCK2 is the best fell/ mountain shoe I have used.

LONG TERM

Mud, rock, fell in wet or dry conditions, the IROCK2 is the best I have used. I have now put just under 200-miles on them on a whole multitude of scenarios and without doubt, this shoe stands out. It’s the overall package as mentioned above that make them so special and in comparison to other brands, the Kevlar uppers show no sign of use.

It’s easy to get carried away when writing about a shoe like this but so often I have had a mountain shoe that does one thing really well only to find that it is compromised in another use. Not so with the IROCK2.

It is the most complete mountain shoe I have used for its specific use.

SUMMARY

VJ Sport was created in 1981 and although I first became aware of these shoes in 2014, I have to say that I really have a feel of ‘FOMO!’ – Fear Of Missing Out.

Orienteers and obstacle racers will be reading this review and saying – ‘Yep, yep and yep!’

They will be asking the question, ‘What took you so long?’

They are correct, what did take me so long?

VJ Sport have been making secret weapons for the orienteering world for so many years but now the secret is out!

I have already heard many a Skyrunner talking about the original IROCK and now the IROCK2 moves things up a notch and quite simply:

This is the best fell/ mountain running shoe I have ever used.

CONCLUSION

It’s a glowing review, no doubt.

There are so many PROS to the shoe that I feel I must try and reign myself in and find some CONS, so, here goes:

I have been trying to get a pair of IROCK’s for sometime, it took me 18-months to finally get a pair. They are not easy to come across! However, see at the bottom of this review as we have an offer.
The IROCK2 is a fine tuned piece of kit designed to excel with a very specific use. This is not an everyday shoe (unless you are always on fells/ mountains) that you use on road and smooth trail.
In reference to point 2, you will need other run shoes for those ‘normal’ runs when the IROCK’s are not required.
The IROCK2 has cushioning but it is NOT a ‘cushioned’ shoe and it shouldn’t be. Some cushioning is good but anymore and this shoe would lose the feel and control that makes it so great.
The fit is precision, again, as it should be for a shoe with such specific use. Worth keeping in mind for the Hobbits out there!

FINALLY

Skyrunning? Fell running? Mountain running? Running in the wet, mud, on dry rocks and wet rocks?

Need a 6mm drop, neutral and moderately cushioned shoe?

Look no further than the IROCK2 by VJ Sport.

OFFER

*Please note, I have no affiliation or working relationship with the following, this is purely an offer to help those who may be interested in the IROCK2 to purchase a pair.

 

 

THE FUTURE IN THE SKY – 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series Announced

Getting steep and getting high, the 2018 Skyrunner® World Series was announced today.

Since 1989 and the pioneering days of Marino Giacometti, Skyrunning has developed and grown into one of the most prestigious mountain running circuits in the world.

The catchphrase, Less Cloud, More Sky sums the sport up perfectly.

2018 brings a new circuit with old and familiar races but importantly the distances of SKY CLASSIC, ULTRA and EXTREME combine – SKY CLASSIC and SKY EXTRA.

The 2018 Season

China will kick-off the season with the Yading Skyrun in April.

May brings us two iconic races that over the years have become favorites for Skyrunner’s all over the world, Transvulcania and Zegama-Aizkorri.

June kicks-off with USM – Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira followed by TBC, Olympus Marathon (Greece).

Buff Epic 42km (Spain) is the first race in July closely followed by High Trail Vanoise (France) and the iconic Dolomites SkyRace (Italy) and Comapedrosa (Andorra).

Tromso SkyRace (Norway) is a stunning way to start August and the highly anticipated Trofeo Kima (Italy) returns (this race is every two years) on the same weekend as Matterhorn Ultraks (Switzerland).

The RUT 25km (USA) begins September and then Skyline Scotland will host the Glen Coe Skyline (Scotland) ahead of the Ultra Pirineu (Spain).

Pirin Ultra SkyRace (Bulgaria) kicks-off October and Limone Extreme (Italy) concludes the season once again in the mountains that back on to Lake Garda.

BONUS RACES

Each of the bonus races will award 50% extra points.

There will be three Sky Classic and two Sky Extra bonus races. 

Sky Classic

  1. Olympus Marathon
  2. SkyRace Comapedrosa
  3. Limone Extreme

Sky Extra

  1. Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira
  2. Trofeo Kima

RANKING

Sky Classic Ranking

The Sky Classic Ranking will take into account a maximum of the five best seasons’ results in this category.

Sky Extra Ranking (Extreme and Ultra Races)

The Sky Extra Ranking will take into account a maximum of the four best seasons’ results in this category.

Overall Ranking

The Overall Ranking will be the focus of the season and a foretaste of the single ranking that will apply from 2019.

All athletes scoring points in any race will enter the Overall Ranking.

The ranking will take into account a maximum of the best two results in each category.

BONUS POOL

The 2018 End of Season Bonus Pool will increase amount 66,000 EUR (in increase from 60’000 EUR in 2017). Men and Women will be equally rewarded and emphasis will be put on the Overall ranking. The breakdown will be as follows:

1st Place:

Sky Classic 5000 euro

Sky Extra 5000 euro

2nd Place:

Sky Classic 2500 euro

Sky Extra 2500 euro

3rd Place:

Sky Classic 1500 euro

Sky Extra 1500 euro

THE FUTURE IN THE SKY – 2019 VISION

The Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series in 2019 will continue within the footsteps pioneered by Giacometti, Meraldi and Brunod to establish itself as the premier circuit for mountain running worldwide.

Varied distances, varied terrain and locations all over the world.

As the running world continues to grow at a pace, the Skyrunner® World Series will look to set new standards in 2019.

  1. Races will not exceed 16-hours.
  2. Distances will be 22km to 66km.
  3. A SkyRace will be clarified by technicality, speed, intensity and extreme terrain.
  4. A race rating of 1 – 3 will based on the following:
  • Climbing difficulty.
  • Altitude reached.
  • Single vertical difference.
  • Snow fields and glaciers.

For example, Extreme races are 3.

THE BIG NEWS

A single ranking for 2019 to determine who is the best Skyrunner® in the world.

SEASON

The calendar will run April to October with a spread of races that will number 15-20 on different continents.

RACE STATUS

Four races in the season will be ‘SuperSky Races’ and will reward more points.

THE ‘KONA’ OF THE SKY

Ironman has its KONA and Skyrunning will have its THE SKY MASTERS – a race to end the season that will gather the best-of-the-best to race head-to-head at an iconic location.

PRIZE MONEY

Each SkyRace will have a price purse of 6000 euro.

 The end of season bonus pool will amount to 100.000 euro.

More details and information to follow

Limone Extreme 2017 Preview – Migu Run Skyrunner World Series

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series draws to a conclusion on the stunning shores of Lake Garda for the Limone Extreme weekend of racing. The mountains that back onto this iconic location provide a wonderful playground to Friday’s VK (VK World Circuit) and Sunday’s Classic SkyRace.

It’s been a long season of Skyrunning all around the world. Recently, Jonathan Albon and Maite Maiora were crowned EXTREME champions in Scotland at the Skyline Scotland and at Ultra Pirineu, Ragna Debats and Luis Alberto Hernando were crowned champions for the ULTRA category.

This weekend in Limone we will have two champions crowned for the CLASSIC sky distance and in addition, we will have COMBINED champions. The combined champions having scored points in the 2017 season over different race distances.

Over the years, Limone Extreme has grown to be a pinnacle event on the calendar and as the last race of the Skyrunner World Series, it is often a crouch race for points, therefore, fast and aggressive racing is guaranteed over the 27km course with 2450m of vertical gain.

Marco De Gasperi will go head-to-head with Aritz Egea and young gun, Jan Margarit for the Sky Classic title, it is et to be an epic battle with nine out of the top ten male runners toeing the line.

Limone gives a 20% bonus, so, it’s all to fight for!

The ladies’ race may be even more exciting than the men’s, it is wide open! Ragna Debats has already won the Ultra title and she would need an incredible run in Limone to pull off the overall tittle – it is possible though! In reality, Laura Orgue is the favourite with a strong threet coming from Sheila Aviles. These two have fought each other in the mountains in 2017 and now it comes down to who will perform in Italy! Hillary Gerardi and Oihana Azkorbebeitia will also figure.

Joining the line-up for the SWS title is a host of world-class talent who will not only impact on the results of the race but they will more than likely impact on how the SWS points are allocated and therefore influencing who are the champions for 2017.

Remi Bonnet and Stian Angermund-Vik are likely winners of the race, Bonnet has won here in the past and Angermund-Vik has been unbeatable in 2017. Joining these two is Eugeni Gil. Hector Haines and Pascal Egli – all theree have had their fair share of podium places. Marc and Oscar Casal Mir, Kiril Nikolov, Eduard Hernandez and Julien Martinez round out the top contenders.

The combined titles are also at stake and here there is a very interesting prospect with Maite Maiora not racing and Ragna Debats toeing the line. Should Debats place first or second, she will take the title from Maiora. For the men, Jonathan Albon has an untouchable lead.

Michael Wardian returns to The Coastal Challenge #TCC2018

Michael Wardian never stops…. He is a real life Forest Gump. Just recently he ran 400km in the Gobi Desert, a first for him! Wardian though started the year with a world record running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, you can listen to an in-depth interviewer with him HERE about this incredible feat.

It’s a dangerous question asking Wardian, ‘So, what is next?’

It is never a one word answer.

For example, in a few days, October 14th, he will toe the line at Hartford Marathon Charity Chase. Followed by the Marine Corps Marathon on the 22nd. November brings NYC Marathon, JFK 50 Miler, Flanigan’s 10km… do I need to go on? You get the picture!

In 2014, Wardian toed the line at The Coastal Challenge and had a great race winning and at the time setting a new CR ahead of quality runners such Philipp Reiter, Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark.

Wardian promised he would return and in 2018, he will once again arrive on Costa Rican soil for a race that he loves.

 1. Michael, you run and run, race and race. It seems a weekend never passes without you racing at least one race and more often than not, two or three… How do you keep the enthusiasm to race/ run so much? 

MRW: I definitely enjoy toeing the line and throwing down.  The thrill of racing is this something that is internal and I believe keeps me fresh and focused.  I love seeing what I am capable of and I hope I inspire people to do a bit more than they think they can. 

2. This amount of racing and running must take a toll on you and your body – how do you avoid injury?

MRW:  I do race a lot and ask my body and mind  to perform at the highest levels repeatedly but I think instead of causing injury it actually avoids injury a bit because my body is continually adapting and evolving and always improving. That said since my injuries in 2012, I am super mindful to error on the side of less miles and more recovery if something seems off. I also take massage often, foam roll, stretch and work with a personal trainer to get strong and avoid imbalances and injuries. 

3. You have had an incredible 2017 with a full calendar – what are the highlights?

MRW:  2017, has definitely been a banner year, some events that comes to mind are:

1) 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, average pace of 2:45, new World Record

2) Big Sur Marathon Champion 

3) Kauai Marathon Champion

4) Leadville 100 miler/ Pikes Peak Marathon double break Marshall Ulrich record from 1993

5) Ultragobi 400k finish, new personal record for distance and time. 

4. You have raced TCC before, you won it! What is bringing you back to Costa Rica?

MRW: I loved TCC, when I won it a few years ago and have been wanting to come back since but with scheduling it didn’t work out but as soon as the schedule permitted I knew I would come back if the opportunity was there. I loved the organization, culture and nature. 

5. When you won the race, at times you struggled with some of the technical terrain. You used your run speed to close gaps and seize an advantage – any new plans or strategies for 2018?

MRW: I think I got pretty lucky last time to win the TCC, I was was just getting my fitness back and used what has always been my strength faster road running but since 2014, I have really focused on trails and feel much improved so looking forward to putting those earned skills to use in 2018. 

6. You placed 3rd at Marathon des Sables some year’s ago and this year, Tom Evans matched this. Are you excited to race toe-to-toe and see who is the better on Costa Rican soil?

MRW:  I am very excited to race Tom Evans but even more excited to get to run with and know the guys and girls racing. I love connecting with people and making new friends so hoping we get to push each other during the race and become friendly after. I am also excited for my family to meet some of the top athletes in the sport on a personal level and see who is causing me to suffer everyday. 

7. Chema Martinez will return to TCC and the UK’s Marcus Scotney will run, do you know much about them and do you have any strategies to get the edge for victory?

MRW: I just heard of Chema Martinez from my buddy Paul during the 400k UltraGobi, he sounds strong and exciting to get to race with him. I don’t know Marcus Scotney but I am sitting with some English guys and they said he is very strong and on the English 100k World Team…I think I just need to stay in the hunt and run hard when I sense an opportunity. 

8. Heat, humidity, a variety of terrain and stunning views – what excites you most about coming back to TCC and for those new to the race, what three tips can you provide that will make the 2018 experience a special one?

MRW:  I definitely think you should be ready for heat, humidity mixed terrain, the views are spectacular and I am super excited about them. A few tips are be ready to run hard because the pace can be fast especially for early in the year, there are legit climbs and some parts can get technical. Also, there is a little altitude that I didn’t expect the first time. 

9. You are bringing family to TCC this year, does this make it extra special?

MRW: I am definitely excited to share TCC with Jennifer, Pierce and Grant and it will be super special as none of my family have gotten to experience the Tica hospitality. I think they will be as blown away as I have been by the nature, beauty and landscape but most particularly the people. 

10. Finally, TCC is in February, dare I ask what the rest of 2018 holds for you?

MRW: 2018, should be super interesting, I am trying to decide exactly where to race right now and would like to do some new events in different and unique places. If you know anything cool please let me know or your audience. 

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

In addition, the UK’s Tom Evans will also run the 2018 TCC, read HERE.

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 Shoe Review

Been a long time since I slipped on a pair of Nike!

The last time? Well, some Lunarglides, I used them when road running and for trail? I think it was probably a pair of Trail Pegasus.

Be honest, who at some point in their run life didn’t have a pair of Pegasus?

Nike moved into the trail scene some time ago and very much built a solid hardcore team that included Zach Miller, David Laney, Sally McRae and so on. I had anticipated that Nike would attack the trail scene with an aggressive plan of trail domination… It didn’t really happen. For sure, the runners on the team all did really well gaining prestigious results but the team stayed small and compact – not what I imagined!

A new team needs new shoes and Nike set to the task of creating shoes that could really cut it on the trails and in the mountains.

I picked up a pair of Wildhorse last-year but I wasn’t convinced on the fit. I found the heel cup didn’t hold my foot securely and I found the lacing didn’t hold my foot secure. I put them back in the box and back on the shelf.

However, this September I grabbed hold of the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4.

WHAT A REVELATION!

Neck on the line, THIS SHOE is currently my favourite trail shoe and yes, it is up there as one of my favourite shoes of all time. This is a bold statement.

All my worries and niggles from the previous model are gone and what we have now is an absolutely wonderful shoe for hard-pack, rocky, dusty, sandy, gravel and mountainous terrain.

First things first.

  • Neutral shoe.
  • 8mm drop.
  • Cushioned 28mm rear and 20mm front.
  • Wide toe box.
  • Fits true to size.

OUT OF THE BOX

The Wildhorse 4 comes in some serious colour options! Many just a little ‘too’ much for me but after one run and a good dose of dirt, dust and mud and they will look great. I chose the grey/ black pair with a hint of green. Apparently, Nike describe this as: Dark Grey/Black/Stealth/Wolf Grey.

Other options: Images by Nike©

Cerulean/Aurora/Pure Platinum/Laser Orange

Port Wine/Tea Berry/Pure Platinum/Sunset Tint

Sport Fuchsia/Racer Pink/True Berry/Hydrangeas

I take a UK9.5 and the shoe is light – not the lightest, but light at 275g.

Immediately the outsole grabs your eye and then the cushioning. The upper is very impressive with layers mesh/textile that make a durable and breathable upper. The most important aspect though is right in the middle of the shoe. The laces are held within a reinforced section that on first looks appears to be over the top.

However, when you slip your foot inside the shoe, you immediately notice the level of comfort and support this area gives. It is the best of any shoe I have tried – it is a dream! This is also enhanced by gusseted tongue and sock like fit. I have often said that Salomon set the bar with the ’S-Lab Sense’ for foot comfort, this has now been surpassed by the feel of the Air Zoom Wildhorse 4.

The toe box is wide and allows the foot to splay. I like this for long runs when the terrain is not too technical. However, the Flywire Cables that work in conjunction with the laces are so good, that I found technical running a breeze. There is no stitching or seams in the toe area, so, I had no issues with rubbing, abrasion or blisters.  A reinforced area protects all the toes and it works extremely well. It is not as robust (hard) as other trail shoes I have tried but it is adequate and caused me no issues on very rocky terrain.

The heel box is just so comfy! It’s padded, supportive and holds the foot firm giving 100% confidence when changing direction. No heel slip and no rubbing.

The outsole is ‘waffle’ construction made up of square lugs that cover the whole sole, the exception coming in the middle. Two rubber types are used – a lighter grey area in the middle and a darker area that runs the perimeter of the shoe that is harder wearing.

In the forefoot area, you can see a coloured area under the outsole (this colour area is different depending on which colour way of shoe you have), on my model it is a yellow/green.

This is the rock plate (called Stone Shield) and this provides awesome protection from rocks, stones, debris and sharp objects – I felt nothing coming through! Notably the outsole curls up around the heel of the shoe – more in this later!

Cushioning is wonderfully plush without losing a feel for the ground. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not Hoka plush – I hate that marshmallow feel. This is cushioning with some rigidity that on technical trail keeps the shoe doing the job it is meant to do, propelling you forward – not losing energy by running into the ground as the cushioning keeps sinking and sinking.

It has been a long time since I felt that Zoom Air feel and it took me back. It is really great. In particular, I found the heel cushioning so comfortable when landing with a full foot and when walking. This would be a great shoe if walking is a big part of your training/ racing. Phylon foam is used in the midsole and equally this provides a wonderful ride, it’s a little firmer than other options but I loved the feel and durability is very good.

IN USE

Slipping the shoe on for the first time you immediately feel the sockliner, gusseted tongue and new lacing system holding your foot. Loosen the laces, stand up and move your foot around a little and let them settle in the shoe. Then lace up and tighten as required. This is one of the secrets of this shoe and it is a secret weapon. The Flywire lacing holds the foot so secure that running technical trails is a dream. In addition to the firm hold, it offers protection. For me, it’s the best in its class and THE most comfortable upper of any shoe I have used. I want ALL my shoes to feel like this.

The heel box wraps around, is plush and just holds everything in place. Climbing a 1000m vertical of rock, scree and grass and at no point was my heel slipping or trying to pull out of the shoe as I powered up very much on my toes.

The toe box is roomy and allows the foot to splay. If I was running long and relatively non-technical trail this would be my toe box of choice. If I was running for less time on technical trail I would normally choose a shoe with a more precision fit so that I have no sloppiness or indecision when changing direction. In the Wildhorse 4 this is not an issue, although my toes were splayed, the Flywire and lacing does such a good job that I had no issue over my ability to navigate rocks, boulders, snow, mud etc.

With 28mm rear cushioning, 20mm at the front and 8mm drop, this shoe is designed for running long with comfort. It is one of the most comfortable shoes I have used. The Air Zoom pod in the heel really is quite special – I had forgot how special! When landing with a flat foot you feel the pod in the heel compress and push you forward but most notably, this was incredible when walking. Trust me, if walking is a part of your training/ racing, the Wildhorse 4 should be on your list of shoes to test out. I have done some big walking days in these in mountainous terrain covering well over 30km’s and 2500m of vertical gain and descent and the Wildhorse 4 was a pleasure. It’s a shoe that would work so well in long races and multi-day races such as Marathon des Sables.

Importantly, when walking, the outsole wraps up and around the heel providing incredible grip – you need to try it to appreciate it. The remaining cushioning comes from Phylon which in conjunction with stone shield protection provides a comfortable and protected ride with durability. It’s a real winner.

It may come as no surprise, but these shoes run really well on the road. They are comfortable and the miles pass with no worries or concerns that you are in a trail shoe. Of course, too much road and the outsole will wear out quicker than normal. It’s important to know though that these shoes switches between different terrains seamlessly.

The waffled outsole on the Wildhorse 4 is not aggressive, so, it’s never going to cut it if running in mud – they are just not aggressive enough. If mud is your thing you need to look for a different shoe with an aggressive outsole such as the inov-8 Mudclaw or the VJ Sport IRock2. The small waffle squares cover the whole shoe with a small space in the middle and they extend up towards the front of the shoe to the toes and up and around the heel providing great 360 grip.

Two different compounds in theory cover all surfaces and challenges and the darker rubber is more durable. On dry trail, rocks, gravel, mountain paths, boulders and so on, I had complete confidence. The grip in conjunction with shoes hold and cushioning have made the Wildhorse 4 ‘my’ trail shoe of the year. They make me want to put them on and run. The only time I have felt any compromise is in mud – the sole is not aggressive enough but I knew this before I entered the mud. And on wet rocks the outsole is just a little firmer and less soft than some of the competition.

Images by Nike ©

CONCLUSION

Please note these shoes were not provided by Nike. They were purchased from TC Running in Minnesota. 

The Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 has blown my socks off. I never thought that a Nike trail shoe would do this but it has. It is now my ‘go-to’ trail shoe and one that I take with me everywhere as they allow me to run long, run short, be cushioned, be comfortable, be secure and all with an 8mm drop.

There are so many positives to the Wildhorse 4 that I am really struggling to find negatives. It is a shoe that I would recommend to anyone as I think it does so many jobs so well that if you only wanted one pair of trail shoes, the Wildhorse 4 would be my *recommendation. (*recommendation based on neutral gait and 8mm drop). In particular, walkers should take note of the comfort benefits this shoe brings.

I have run through rocky, stone and desert trails of the UAE, ran groomed trails in the USA, climbed variable terrain in the Pyrenees and I have walked and walked in them when working on race coverage. They have been perfect!

Are there negatives? Yes, of course.

It’s not a shoe that can handle mud. It can take mud sections as part of a drier trail run but if running in wet and muddy terrain I would use a different shoe. I also felt that the grip on wet rock was not as good due to the rubber compound of the outsole.

Ultimately though, the Wildhorse 4 is a winner!