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.

One Sees Clearly Only With The Heart

One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Water splashed over the large brimmed hat. Gilles poured and poured on Didier’s head to help reduce his temperature. Droplets floated in the air like stars in space and as they made contact they exploded with dramatic effect.

Dry and crusty salt on cheeks and lips disappeared with the release of the water but moments later re-appeared as the searing 50+ degree temperatures evaporated the water that continued to pour.

It was midday. Gilles and Didier had only dented the 80km distance that needed to be covered before the 34-hour cut off would be imposed on the longest day of the iconic Marathon des Sables.

Moving onward, Didier embraced Gilles arm for stability. A very sore and enflamed right knee could give way at any moment resulting with a fall. Gilles as ever was faithful to the cause and provided the support and self-sacrifice to ensure that Didier’s journey to the line was safe and as trouble free as possible.

Darkness approached and with it some food and rest. With a new lease of life, the two continued into 13 km of relentless dunes that reached two to three meters in height. In the distance a green laser showed the direction to follow. It was a beacon of hope, slowly but surely getting closer. Two become one and as the sunrises and the heat returns, victory and the opportunity to fight another day seems possible.

From the finish line two shadows on the horizon appear. It is 4pm in the afternoon. The warriors have been on the trail for 32 hours. Tired, weary and emotional they approach the line.

I see a tattoo glisten in the scorching light on the arm of Didier; an MDS logo on his arm with nine stars around it, a star for every completed MDS. Next to the 9th star a space, would he obtain that 10th star at this edition of the race?

In the final meters to the line you can hear the shouts from MDS staff, “Bravo Gilles”, a marshal shouts “Allez Didier” and then the clapping and whoop whooping starts. It’s done, they cross the line an incredible 75.7 km’s completed over some of the most demanding conditions possible.

Didier falls into the arms of Gilles in an embrace similar to a small child who has just found a lost mother.

Tears stream down his face as he sobs uncontrollably. Gilles, all smiles, pulls away and kisses him on each cheek with a passion seldom seen. It’s a moment to savour! They are the last two runners on the course and the moment epitomizes all that the Marathon des Sables represents. It shows a bond between two people and confirms all that is good and pure in human nature and ultra-running.

You see this is no ordinary achievement.

Gilles is a guide and Didier is blind.

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     Article was first published in 2013 and later for Runultra

Episode 186 – Rickey Gates, Kevin Webber, Abelone Lyng and Stevie Kremer

Episode 186 of Talk Ultra is a packed show! We talk with Rickey Gates about his new book. Inspirational Keven Webber was diagnosed with terminal Prostrate Cancer and given 2-years to live, 6-years on he is inspiring many with his ultra and multi-day adventures. Abelone Lyng and Stevie Kremer talk about running and motherhood.
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Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
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
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00:34:03 – RICKEY GATES book information HERE
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01:36:02 – KEVIN WEBBER donate HERE
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02:48:23 – ABELONE LYNG
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03:13:22 – STEVIE KREMER
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Please listen to the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show
Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
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Keep running
03:44:11
Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE
Website – talkultra.com

The Immediate Future of Racing post Covid-19

The loneliness of the long distance runner.

Life has been turned upside down. We currently struggle to know what day it is, what month we are in and we have so many questions about what the future holds.

One thing is for sure, at the moment, we have no answers, just many, many questions.

At some point, one day, restrictions will ease…

But, importantly, the day after will be no different. The virus will still be around. We will all still be susceptible to catching the virus, unless a vaccine is found.

Update Apr 29th – ‘Germany’s rate of COVID-19 infections grows after lockdown eased.’

‘Germany faces the prospect of having to restore stricter lockdown measures as its number and rate of coronavirus infections grew again.’

Article available Here

However, it seems to be a general consensus by the experts that a vaccine will not be available till 2021.

We are living in a time of so much insecurity – lives are being lost globally, people are losing work, children are at home and the world is an element of lockdown.

So, talking about racing and running seems a little insignificant and pointless in the context of the above, but I, and I know many of you are asking the question, when will racing return?

Firstly, the race calendar to August has been pretty much wiped out globally. Many races and RD’s accepted the situation, cancelled events and said, ‘we will see you in 2021!’ But, for every race that cancelled, another postponed to a date later in the year in the hope that restrictions would be eased and that the virus would be on the back foot. I get it, nobody wants to cancel an event.

But the postponement scenario has already created an issue with a plethora of races all now scheduled for September, October, November and December. Quite simply, the back end of the season will have more races than runners and we will see participants having to make a choice of which race they toe the line on.

But…

For me, this is the big but, I in all honesty do not see racing returning to ‘normal’ in 2020.

I hate to be pessimistic, but the global situation is so dire that the cessation from lockdown to normal is going to be months, not days or weeks.

Prof Chris Whitty said it was “wholly unrealistic” to expect life would suddenly return to normal soon. He said “in the long run” the ideal way out would be via a “highly effective vaccine” or drugs to treat the disease. But he warned that the chance of having those within the next calendar year was “incredibly small”. – Via BBC News

 

Read

Race cancellation and Covid-19 HERE

Covid-19 – A Guide HERE

Currently, many trails are closed.

THE SHORT-TERM FUTURE OF COVID-19 AND RACING

Firstly, we are going to be in a yoyo period with second and third phase infection as lockdowns are eased. This will create additional peaks and troughs. This in turn, may require governments to reapply and ease restrictions so as to prevent overload on health systems.

It will be a period of controlled herd immunity until a vaccine comes. Needless to say, the old, frail, sick and anyone in care homes will need to be protected.

Suppression measures will slowly be released, firstly with schools returning (this is already happening in Norway and soon Germany,) then retail outlets will open with measures to control how many people can be in a store and controls on social distancing. Restaurants may open with controlled measures such as the client must be seated, only hot food can be consumed, and tables must be spaced accordingly as per government and health specifications.

When one takes into consideration the above, this accounts for May, June and July and of course, in each country, the situation will be monitored. As more people move freely, the virus will spread. If the spread is too great, restrictions may be reimposed to slow the spread down and so on. So, it’s easy to see that planning August, September and beyond is not something one can do with any certainty or guarantee.

Just today, Val d’Aran by UTMB®, has been cancelled and will take place in 2021. Xavier Pocino, director, explained:

“Our priority is the health and safety of the participants as well as the population of the Val d’Aran. Given the current context, it is therefore preferable to postpone the race in order to guarantee the health and logistics of the event. We also wish to respect the dates of other races programmed for after the summer, to avoid a date clash and to allow our athletes to participate in those races, should they go ahead”.

Currently airlines are on a very restricted service, hotels are closed, restaurants are closed, and, in many places, lockdown really does not allow any travel at all. Some are allowed to exercise, from home, for 1-hour.

A picture is building that the transition from lockdown to free movement is more than likely a year away?

If travel is restricted, hotels are closed and restaurants remain unopened, quite simply, racing will be cancelled.

The short-term future of racing will be virtual, and already globally, we are seeing virtual incentives appearing. From simple scenarios of running for a daily specific time, such as 45-minutes. But also, multi-day challenges or even specific distance challenges such as 1000-miles are appearing. Take up has been impressive which only goes to show the desire for competition.

As restrictions ease, races and RD’s will need to be constantly communicating with authorities to ascertain what is and what is not possible. For example, Sweden started with a herd immunity approach in January, avoided lockdown, emphasized social distancing, protected the old and allowed group gatherings of up to 50 people. Whereas, in the UK, for example, in March it was locked down with only essential travel (shopping) and exercise (from home) with other family members allowed.

Nature is the boss.

WHAT MAY RACING LOOK LIKE INITIALLY?

It goes without saying here that maybe ALL races will be cancelled or postponed until the Covid-19 situation is under control or over.

However, there may be a transition phase. Just as children return to school, workers return to offices, runners returning to races may need to adapt.

We all seek isolation and love personal adventure, maybe in the months to come, this will take over from racing?

PRE-RACE

  • Initially, global travel will be reduced and no doubt under control or restrictions. So, maybe races will only allow regional athletes. For example, only French residents can run in French races.
  • Medical certificates may be required that go beyond the standard ECG/ health check with a requirement to include testing for Covid-19.
  • Race briefings, bib provision and all admin will be done electronically so as to reduce pre-race social interaction.
  • Covid-19 appears to have a 14-day ‘active’ period, therefore, 14-days from the race start it will be a requirement to have a medical check or even in extreme cases, runners may be required to go into 14-day isolation/ quarantine before a race start. Any symptoms, no race!
  • No pre-race gatherings.

It can be easy, sort of, to social distance on the trails.

THE RACE

  • Races may have reduced numbers and they will incorporate an element of social distancing to reduce risk. For example, staggered starts of say 10-runners starting at 10-minute intervals. Seeding could be worked out by asking runners to run a 5km time trial and then provide the time to the RD? Racing would obviously be based on chip time and therefore, the race could be more like a time trial.
  • Aid stations may be removed and therefore self-sufficiency/ autonomy will be required both from a food and water perspective. This by default would mean races could only be a certain distance in length. One other alternative could be un-manned aid stations and runners would need to provide sealed drop bags which they could access at specific points. If it was a 100-mile race, for example, 4 aid/ drop stations at 20/40/60 and 80-miles. Again, aid/ drop stations would have social distancing in place.
  • The need for a personal tracking device such as a Spot or Garmin InReach may be required to guarantee security for each participant.
  • Mandatory equipment would need to cover more eventualities. Maybe *face masks and *gloves would be a requirement? *Medical opinion varies on the effectiveness and use.
  • Race routes and courses may well be unmarked and therefore the need for a navigation or a navigation device using a provided GPX track could be a requirement.
  • Volunteer help may be reduced with ongoing implications.
  • Medical support/ safety could be compromised.
  • Extreme or dangerous courses would not be allowed to reduce the potential ongoing need for medical help due to accidents.
  • Finish areas would be isolated with minimal interaction.
  • A ‘finish and go’ scenario once the race is completed.

Parties and any post-race razzamatazz may be on hold for a while.

POST RACE

  • Post-race gatherings would be cancelled.
  • Awards and prizes would be done digitally, and any physical prices would be posted out.

CONCLUSION

The above are ideas and thought processes that have been bouncing around my head while in lockdown.

I actually wonder, faced with the above, how many would still want to race? Maybe all races will be cancelled until they can be run ‘as normal!’

Of course, I do think much of the above may well be fantasy or fiction, but I can see how some of the above could happen. Especially in regard to electronic communication, pre/post gatherings, social distancing and a reduction or change to how aid stations work.

Good friend, respected race director and runner, John Storkamp of Rock Steady Running (in the USA) kindly provided me with some of his thoughts:

“But I also believe that almost none of us want to get back at any cost, especially if it compromises safety.  Our own personal safety or the safety of the communities where our events are held. Once we can return, I for one also fear a diminished race experience with reminders of the virus at every turn, at least initially; i.e. no ritual of packet pickup, no festive pre-race gatherings, no mass starts where we all come together in the collective nervousness and prayer before the start, skeleton crew aid-stations filled with nervous workers exposed to every runner, no post race celebration with the telling of tales of the dragons we slayed out on the course that day.  Races have always provided us with an alternate reality, an escape for a day or two, from the stresses of daily life.  Any post-Covid races, again at least initially, will invite all of the fear of our current daily existence into what has always been one of our safest and most sacred spaces.”

Certainly, with the races I work on and communicate with, they are learning lessons now but are planning for 2021 races to be run as one would expect.

Solo running, time-trial events and FKT’s may prove popular.

*****

I asked on Twitter for some thoughts, here are the responses:

Sarah Canney – Local participants only? Pre and post race outside with masks?

Andrew Smith – I’m thinking there will be pretty much no racing this year and am just going for some personal challenges.  Hopeful next year might look different, but even then there will likely be changes – how much depends on what fundamental changes we will need to make day to day.

Mark Atkinson – Expect a fair few staggered start or time trial approaches with reduced numbers. Possibly smaller but more frequent aid points so if one is too busy you head to the next. I’m going to miss running shoulder to shoulder with a stranger through the night sharing life stories.

Dr Stacey Holloway – Maybe more FKT attempts than races and round attempts? We host a winter race in Jan, but even thinking we won’t be in 2021 and looking for maybe for Nov 2021 event and a Jan 2022 event and having its as some sort of series… not sure just ideas!

Melinda Coen – I’m expecting higher entry fees to help RDs survive  and also lower numbers, wave starts, less buffet aid at ultras and more “packaged foods”.

Via Talk Ultra Facebook page:

Yes, individual starts, unfortunately less a to b-races due to don’t want to gather people on buses. – Henrik

Proof of vaccinations required – Brian

I wonder whether some event organisers will run two or three events on the same day to stagger start times and space people out more. For example, could have a trail run, duathlon, triathlon and aquathlon. Bit of a logistical nightmare in some ways! – Ann

Reduced numbers. Staggered starts, volunteers in face masks and gloves, no more sponge bucket( that one makes me sad).
More crew or drop bags allowed to lessen need for a CP table/buffet. – Shane

Assisting injured runners may be a problem, especially on a trail. – Martin

Races will be cancelled either voluntarily by the organizers or from lack of participation.Some will go away because of financial problems. When trails are open people will do more FKT attempts and solo runs. – Ali

Self supported – no shared food at aid stations – Tim

Less corporate, More self-sufficient, longer distances between aid stations, more map reading or gps guidance less trail marking..all to the good then! – Kevin

 

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

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Initial comments re Covid-19, herd immunity and the implications were influenced by an audio interview from, ‘The Post’ with Johan Giesecke – Here

#IRunAtHome April 18 2020 – summary

DONATE HERE

April 18th, 2020, amid a worldwide lockdown due to Covid-19, a global run community came together between the hours of 9am to 9pm with one purpose.

Run at home.

Raise funds for the NHS who are fighting Covid-19.

I could literally write and write about the experience. To see young and old, runners and non-runners globally come together to test themselves #athome was truly mind-blowing and I am still coming to terms with the emotion of the day.

From seeing a 2-year old cover 1-mile to a pro-runner covering 131km on a treadmill, there was no experience too small or large.

A community came together, encouraged, supported, applauded and cheered on as donations flooded in.

I set the goal to raise £10,000 for the NHS and as I write, donations are at £12.222.46 and with Gift Aid £14.131.07. I am leaving the donation page open and I am quietly confident with a little rallying, funds will increase.

So, if you are reading this and have not donated, please go HERE.

I personally did the best I could monitoring all that went on for the 12-hours and I ‘tried’ to message everyone, encourage and support. I am sure I failed as at times, it really was difficult to keep up. Especially when I did my own challenge of a 1000m vertical and descent up and down the staircase in our apartment block.

So, if I did miss commenting, accept my apologies. I am going to try and backtrack and go through all the posts and hit a ‘like’ and make a comment.

Needless to say it has been a magical experience and one that I would like to repeat… Maybe when all this nasty Coronavirus is over, we can celebrate on Apr 18 2021 with a reunion…?

FOR NOW, A HUGE THANK YOU FOR COMING TOGETHER.

As one lady said, ‘I have spent 4-weeks alone and isolated. Today, I was alone once again but virtually I made friends around the world. I shared a mutual experience, did some good and felt loved and wanted.’

Families came together, mum ran with dad, dad ran with mum and the kids did their bit. I know from my end, we had a ball creating something fun and different and in the process, many of us had an art lesson with the bibs.

Below is a collated summary of the day. I have tried to capture as much as possible.

THANK YOU ALL

Episode 185 – Kilian Jornet, Albert Jorquera and Michael Wardian

Episode 185 of Talk Ultra is a Quarantine Special with Kilian Jornet and Albert Jorquera talking about  Yo Corro En Casa and Michael Wardian talking about winning, the Quarantine Backyard Ultra.
*****
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
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
*****
00:32:14 ALBERT JORQUERA
*****
 
01:04:55 KILIAN JORNET
*****
 
 
01:16:28 MICHAEL WARDIAN
*****
Please read three articles that coincide with is podcast:
Race Cancellations and Covid-19 HERE
Covid-19 : A Simple Guide HERE
Home Office HERE
*****
Please listen to the INTERVIEWS – please follow the show
Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher
*****
02:22:00
Keep running
*****
Stitcher You can listen on iOS HERE, Android HERE or via a web player HERE

#IRunAtHome – #YoCorroEnCasa – RUN VIRTUAL

#IRunAtHome / #YoCorroEnCasa

Pau Capell, Tofol Castanyer, Kilian Jornet and journalist, Albert Jorquera thought that it would be a good idea to all get together and run virtually, at home, at the same time with the Spanish run community. Ultra-trail runners love to spend long hours running in the mountains, but they wanted to emphasize that during this quarantine and isolation period, the most important thing is to get out of the house as little as possible and help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Listen to KILIAN JORNET

The four, together with Jordi Saragossa and Maria Fainé, decided to create the #YoCorroEnCasa (IrunAtHome) Challenge. With this challenge they wanted to bring a maximum number of people doing sports together in the home; distance did not matter, it could be 100 metres or maybe a marathon! The important aspect was the social side, the coming together as a community to share an experience.

To participate ‘officially’ in this ‘virtual run’ participants made a donation to #YoMeCorono – The team of doctors and researchers who had started pioneering clinical trials to define which drugs will immediately be used to treat the infected patients, prevent ongoing contagion and look for a vaccine against the virus.

It was a huge success with over 7400 participants.
The total raised was an incredible 82.940 Euros.
Every single euro was donated to charity.

This pandemic has deprived us all of so many privileges, running may seem insignificant now, but getting together to run in the mountains or on trails is not possible for most of us. We, as runners though are not willing to give up, we are going to fight Covid-19 together to stop it and fight to continue doing what we are passionate about.

So, come April 18th we want you to join us with the tag, #IRunatHome and in the process we will race funds for the NHS Charities Covid-19 Appeal.
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“Our amazing NHS staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to care for COVID-19 patients. And we want them to know the country has also got their back. We are so proud and in awe of NHS staff and volunteers as they work tirelessly to save lives! This means staying away from their homes and families, working day and night, to treat as many people as possible in need of care.”
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We have multiple confirmed elite runners who you can virtually run with.

Jasmin Paris

Damian Hall

Andy Symonds

Tom Evans

Holly Page

Finlay Wild

Tom Owens

Beth Pascall

And more joining daily.

Please help us spread the word and help us raise money by #IRunAtHome

April 18th 2020 starting 0900 GMT till 2100 GMT.

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DONATE TO THE NHS CHARITY HERE

REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE HERE

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Rules for entry

We appreciate that depending on where you are located, that it ‘may’ be possible to run outside by respecting social distancing. However, this challenge is all about ‘Staying Home’ and self-isolating and joining other runner’s in a challenge of #IRunAtHome

  • You must run in your home and/ or garden/ treadmill.
  • Any distance is acceptable.
  • Start at any time from 0900 and finish before 2100 hours.
  • To enter, please DONATE HERE at a specific charity page, all funds go directly to the charity.
  • Register to run HERE.
  • You will receive an email from Eventbrite, please check as you will be provided a link to download a Run Bib. Be creative with the bib! Add a number, name and decorate.
  • Encourage family members to take part, no age limit. The more runner’s, the better.
  • Spread the word. (Logos HERE)
  • Be creative, this is more about being social and sharing – share videos, photos and tell the world that #IRunAtHome

Luis Alberto Hernando and family shows how to be creative with #IRunAtHome

We thank adidas TERREX who will support with prizes of run shoes for the most creative runs and social media posts. Make sure you tag #IRunAtHome and use our Facebook and Twitter account.

Join us

 FACEBOOK HERE

TWITTER @IRunAtHome1

 
RUN VIRTUAL
#IRunAtHome

Marco De Gasperi – Vertical Kilometer® Hints ‘n’ Tips

Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and skyrunning. At the age of 16, he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of skyrunning.

The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Marco, now in his 40’s is still respected as one of the best in the world. He recently became a Skyrunner World Series champion and has established FKT’s (fastest known times) on iconic courses such as Monte Rosa where his career began.

Courmayeur – Monte Bianco record

Marco De Gasperi – Sognavo di diventare Skyrunner

Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic-Skiing, but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave his town, climb a peak and return in the same day.

At 12-years old, an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski-mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! With the announcement of a new VK2 circuit HERE in Italy, it is timely that Marco provides some ‘hints and tips.’

Hints and Tips

Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?

My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.

The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?

Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski-Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!

Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?

You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process, have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep climbs, I like to find a short hill that is steep, and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat.

Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?

Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible, but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.

You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?

Core and stability are very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.

In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?

I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30 to 50-minute bracket.

Other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?

You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian, but the records show that they have the fastest times.

Finally, Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?

  1. Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
  2. Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
  3. To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.

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First published January 2014

‘UNBREAKABLE’ – The Western States 100

I was fortunate to interview JB and Jennifer Benna early on in the life of Talk Ultra, you can listen to the episode 26 HERE

UNBREAKABLE for many ‘is’ the iconic Western States movie as it documented a golden age of the race (2010) featuring Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet and Hal Koerner who had won the race twice.

‘Unbreakable: The Western States 100’ follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Kilian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain.

Thanks to JB and Jennifer

“UNBREAKABLE, The Western States 100,”

has been made available for free.

The Western States Endurance Run, known commonly as the Western States 100, is a 100-mile long (161 km) ultramarathon that takes place on trails in California’s Sierra Nevada annually, on the last weekend of June. The race starts at the base of the Squaw Valley ski resort and finishes at the Placer High School track in Auburn, California. Runners climb a cumulative total of 18000 feet (5500 m) and descend a total of 23000 feet (7000 m) on mountain trails before reaching the finish. Because of the length of the race, the race begins at 5:00 A.M. and continues through the day and into the night. Runners finishing before the 30 hour overall time limit for the race receive a bronze belt buckle, while runners finishing in under 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. – via wikipedia.

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Looking back: ISRAEL NATIONAL TRAIL FKT – Michael Wardian

One year ago, an epic journey came to an end, Michael Wardian ran the length of the Israel National Trail, starting in the south and finishing in the north. The journey completed in 10-days, 16-hours and 36-minutes for 630km.

Timely to look back at the journey, link to the daily reports and and once again re-live the experience.

VIEW A SLIDESHOW

HERE

As experiences go, documenting Michael Wardian running the Israel National Trail #fkt in March 2019 was a career highlight.
I am ever thankful to Zoli Bihari for the opportunity. We had the most epic 10-days chasing Mike the length of Israel. ‘Bluey’ was the perfect vehicle.
The terrain, landscape and the people magnificent.
The opportunity to create for Mike, run with him while capturing images and importantly, tell the story of the epic undertaking is something I can only dream to repeat.

DAY 1 FKT

“The landscape and scenery on day-1 is truly spectacular. Beauty comes at a price though – the trails are technical, have plenty of climbing and descending and then add some intense heat.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 2 FKT

“The highlight of the day came at Vardit and Barak Canyons. These natural wonders are truly spectacular, no, mind-blowing.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 3 FKT

“Mispe Ramon towards Mahmal Fort brought a conclusion to the day at 1900 hours. Mike, as the previous day, was robot like. He maintained a consistent pace. At no point did he say he was tired, on the contrary, at all times, he said, ‘I feel so good!’”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 4 FKT

“Karbolet is known as the hardest and most challenging section of the whole Israel National Trail – it was stunning. It involved a long technical climb with rungs, exposure and technical sections. Once at the summit, the trail went up and down, mostly on angled slabs of rock. To the left, a drop to the valley below.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 5 FKT

“Day 5 or 6 are not the days to push over the edge, as a team, decisions will be made on day 7 on what is needed over the final couple of days. Mike is prepared for that and quite simply it may well come down to one or two very long days and then a big rest.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 6 FKT

“Today felt very different to the first 5-days. Not only because of the terrain but mostly due to the amount of support Mike received. Throughout the day runners joined him. At no point was he left alone.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 7 FKT

“A marathon was soon covered. Then 50km. At 61km Mike was still saying how good his legs were and at 73km darkness came and for the first time in the day he was alone on the trail. At 9:15pm, he had covered 89km at ‘Mitzpe Modiin’ and then he departed for a final leg to close out the day at 100km.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 8 FKT

“At Poleg Beach (16:47) disaster almost struck. Mike was freezing cold as the wind whipped in off the sea. Wrapped in blankets, he could not get warm. Adding layers including two jackets and woolly hat also didn’t seem to help.”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 9 FKT

“For the final sections of the days trail, he had an entourage of runners, all keen to embrace an opportunity to say, ‘I was there!’ They left the final checkpoint at 2125, the final kms of the day would soon pass…”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 10 FKT (Part One)

“He laughed and complained about his pathetic 4-mile per hour pace. ‘Dude, this sport is so funny. One minute you feel like you are being stabbed in the heart 50 times and then moments later, you can feel great. I love the depths this sport can take you!’”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

DAY 10 FKT (Part Two)

“The small group of five left and `mike looked eager to be done with the final miles as soon as possible. Dropping down to river bed, climbing up and finally the running was good. in the night sky, the glow of ‘Qiryat Shemona’ and ‘Krar Gil’adi’ would eventually lead to the finish of the INT in ‘Dan.’”

 

READ THE DAILY REPORT HERE

Conclusion

I wrote one year ago…

“Sitting in Tel Aviv airport waiting for my flights home and I was trying to process the last 14-days with Mike, Zoli and the team. Israel, Mike and the INT has really made an impact.
For now a huge thanks for all the wonderful words, comments and support. This FKT would not have been possible without YOU ALL. Remember, in years to come, you will be able to say, #iwasthere”

Now, looking back I can say, #iwasthere

*****

Follow #fktisrael

#thenegevfriendlydesert
#running-vacation
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#goarava #arava_way

Friendly Negev Desert

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Home Office – Hints ‘n’ Tips

How many of you have dreamed of working from home?

I can sleep in, be a little lazy, not get dressed, take a break when I want, sneak a movie in maybe… The list goes on!

The reality is, working from home is not all it is made out to be. It can, for some, be a terrible experience.

I have been working for myself for over 25-years and pretty much in all that time I have worked remotely, be that in my home, a hotel or yes, even on a beach.

Working remotely has many benefits BUT it requires dedication, will power and some strategies in place to make it an efficient, productive and enjoyable time.

My favourite office.

The secret is ROUTINE but having flexibility in that routine to gain from some of the benefits that having a home office brings.

ROUTINE

Firstly, do you need to work at specific times? This is particularly important for example, if you need to be available on email or phone in specific work hours. If the answer here is yes, then you will have a start and end time to structure your day around.

However, if your working day is more flexible, this is when working from home can give you some real benefits.

Let’s assume your working hours are normally 8-hours per day plus 1-hour in breaks. Also, let us consider if you would normally have commute time to an office job with working hours, 0900 – 1800. If you had to get up at 0700, to leave home at 0800 to commute 1-hour to the office and then still have a 1-hour commute at the end of the day, with home offering you have already gained 2-hours with no commuting – result!

Photo ©jannyka

But you need regular hours:

  • Set a start time – let us say 0900
  • Set a finish time – let us say 1800
  • Set breaks and a lunch break – 1030 for 15min / 1230 for 30min / 1500 for 15min

By getting up at your ‘normal’ time, 0700, you easily gain 1-hour free time for indoor exercise/ admin/ children time or whatever it may be.

Equally, at 1800 if you would normally commute home for 1-hour, you can use this time as free personal time.

You can use an APP to keep you honest:

Toggl: Time Tracker for Work HERE

RescueTime – For ideal work-life balance HERE

But, remember, the time is your own, you work the day to suit you, for example, you could start your work day at 0700 and be finished by 1500 hours, and in the process you create a chunk of free time you did not have before.

SET GROUND RULES

It’s easy to say as working from home as an opportunity to say in pajamas and be a slob all day. Why this ‘may’ work for some, from experience I have found it a much greater idea to pretend that you are still going to the office.

  • Set an alarm to wake.
  • Have breakfast.
  • Enjoy additional free time – maybe walk/ exercise/ write/ spend time with family?
  • Shower
  • Dress for work, albeit, one can be more casual.
  • Start work on time.

By setting the above ground rules for yourself, you will have an opportunity to make sure you have a productive workday.

WORKING SPACE

The size of your home will depend on what options are available. However, best practice is to designate a place that is the ‘office.’ It’s all too easy to use the kitchen table, but daily life and other people can get in the way. Ideally, a separate room with a desk, and separate phone is the perfect scenario. Consider a standing desk, they are really a great way to work and better for you. Many options are available and for example, adjustable ones can be lowered providing an opportunity to sit down as and when required.

©Desk by Ikea that adjusts from seating and standing.

HIIT

If you want to keep fit, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is something that can be incorporated easily in a daily routine, especially when working for home. You could do, 1,2,3 or even 4 sessions of 10-minutes each. In simple terms, HIIT is all about working as hard as possible for a short period of time. Depending on the individual and current fitness levels, sessions would vary, however, a starting place would be as follows:

  • Burpees
  • Push Ups
  • High Knees
  • Jump Lunges
  • Knee Raises
  • Skipping

You perform each of the above with 10 reps aiming for them to be completed in a window of 30-seconds and if possible, you will have 10-seconds rest in each 30-second block. For the skipping, you skip for 20-seconds and rest for 10.

So, the above is 3-minutes to complete, you could aim for 3 sets with a total time of 9-minutes. In your schedule you could plan this to happen before breakfast, morning break, lunch break and afternoon break. Suddenly you have 4 sets of 9-minutes with a total HIIT time of 36-minutes. A great way to burn calories, increase metabolism, get healthy both in body and mind.

Struggle for motivation? There are many online platforms and phone apps that you can use as guides and you can even set alarms. Options HERE

Here is an alternative:

  1. Jumping Jack
  2. Wall Sit
  3. Push Up
  4. Crunch
  5. Step Up
  6. Squat
  7. Tricep Dip
  8. Plank
  9. High Knees
  10. Lunge
  11. Push Up with Rotation
  12. Side Plank

The above is the 7-minute workout as listed on ‘Greatist’ HERE – “Grab a timer or download a stopwatch app. Perform the exercises in order, completing as many reps of each as you can in 30 seconds. Be sure not to compromise form for speed. Rest for 5 seconds between exercises. To make this work out even more challenging, complete the circuit 2 or 3 times in a row.”

RULES

If you are flying solo, the only rules are with yourself. However, if you are living with a partner, are married, have children; then you need rules so that your work time is sacred. It’s all too easy to get distracted and pulled away from work because situations in the home happen.

Don’t shortchange yourself from breaks and lunch. It’s easy to just work and work. Time away from the computer is good for the mind and it allows you to freshen up and gain some perspective. Work productivity benefits from time away.

PHONE AND VPN

Having a separate work phone is a great idea and this avoids situations of personal life impacting on one’s work time. Also, a VPN is a great addition. Many apps exist that allows you to connect to a secure network and if required, you can change location to enable you to work more productively and safely.

MEETINGS AND SOCIAL INTERACTION

Working from home can be lonely and usually it is for a specific type of person. However, in these modern times, there are many ways that one can interact with colleagues and still have social interaction. Many communication methods now offer the ability to use FaceTime where one can use the camera on a laptop or phone to not only show a caller yourself, but also so you can see the person you are talking too. This can be a huge boost to your day. Consider looking at Skype, WhatsApp and Viber amongst others.

DISCIPLINE

The downfall of working from home is a lack of discipline. There is no need to be hard on oneself, but equally, do not be too soft. It takes focus to get a job done from an unconventional space. However, once you have managed to do this at home, you will soon find that an office can be anywhere in the world and yes, that can mean a hotel.

END THE DAY

When one works from home, it is very easy for the day to continue because it is easy… There is no commute and the office is always at hand. Set a finish time and stick with it. Finish. Close the office door and then do not enter until the following morning at your pre-planned start time.

GET OUT

Finding time outside is particularly important when home is also the office. The need for fresh air, some sun and getting at least 30-minutes of moving/ exercise is essential for the mind and not only the body. Remember, working from home will give you more time, so, plan a pre-work session, maybe a lunch walk and/or a post workday exercise regimen. Make it personal. Find out what works for you! Spend more time with the people that matter!

SOCIALISE

It’s important to interact with people, especially when works from home. So, make sure you take opportunities to dine out, meet for drinks and/ or enter a club or gym. Maybe you have always fancied an evening class but could never find the time?

FINALLY

Working from a home office is a real luxury. If you make it personal, you will find that after the breaking in period of two to four weeks, you will never be able to go back! The freedom a home office brings is truly special. The flexibility, the extra hours gained, the opportunity to be fully in control of your own space is something quite special.

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