Glen Coe Skyline 2018 – Skyrunner World Series

Kilian Jornet and Hillary Gerardi win the 2018 Glen Coe Skyline 2018.

Report via Lauri van Houten, ISF

With wild and windy weather in the Scottish Highlands, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline was run on a reduced course, but it didn’t take any of the excitement away from the star line-up that battled right to the finish line. The sixth stage of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series, valid for the Sky Extra category, was won by Kilian Jornet and Hillary Gerardi.

Probably one of the toughest races on the Series, it was run on the “bad weather route” which is just 32 km long with 2,700m vertical climb avoiding the exposed scrambling terrain. (The original course was 55 km with 4,700m vertical climb). 203 runners from 28 countries participated.

Race winner Kilian Jornet was in his element. “The Scottish Highlands really inspire because you can run everywhere. It’s got good ridges and good elevation and even though it’s not high altitude you can find all the challenges you want. I ran with André [Jonsson] for a big part and then I took the lead to be a bit more relaxed in the last part. He’s a very strong runner. For me it’s more for the participation than winning. These are races that I love.” Jornet closed in 3h40’33” followed in 3h42’33” by Sweden’s André Jonsson. In third in 3h45’03”, a first podium for ItalianDaniel Jung.

I got a good position so I feel good. I pushed myself to the limit. It was a great course, technical. I live in the Alps but here it’s more slippery. I love it when it’s raining,” commented Jung. “When you see Kilian and André Jonsson in front, the world champion and second world champion, what more can you ask? It’s a dream for me to be on the podium and so… I love Scotland!”

With less kilometres, vertical climb and ridges, there was still plenty of action in the stacked field especially in the women’s race where a fierce battle raged concluding in a tight sprint.

Winner Hillary Gerardi from the USA, who closed in 4h17’48”, summed it all up. I was really pleased to be at this race although disappointed not to be able to do the whole ridge but it was the right call on the part of the organisers to cut it short. It was pretty cold and wet and very, very windy at the top. I gave it my best. I was a little faster than Jasmin [Paris] on the uphills but she definitely dominates on the downhills and it was really a pleasure to be out there with her.

“Either of us could have won the race. We were together on the last downhill and I said to her ‘What do you think will happen if I manage to hold on to you and we go through the finish together?’ and she said, ‘Oh no! It will come down to a sprint!’ So I just gave it everything I had and in the last 200m I was able to pull ahead of her.

“I will definitely be back next year to do the full ridge. Last year when I came here I was hitting a low point in my season and I found joy in running again in Scotland.” 

Briton Jasmin Paris lost the sprint by just seven seconds. “It would have been nice to win to be honest. I gave it my best shot but going to the end I couldn’t make up on the downhill and I knew I didn’t have the speed in my legs.”

Third lady was another American, Brittany Peterson. “For me I actually never got cold, it was all a matter of arm sleeves up, arm sleeves down. I was definitely tired by the end just tried to stay strong for third. It was a great race! I love it! I feel like I suddenly got a new element of technical terrain – wet and slippery and mossy which just added a new element of fun. I fell three or four times and just popped right on back. I got really muddy,” she said. “I’ve heard great things about the ridge so I can imagine what the full race would be like. Just doing the Skyrunner World Series I feel it brings a lot of energy!”  

André Jonsson climbs to third on the Sky Extra ranking and is 55 points from leader Dmitry Mityaev while Pere Aurell holds onto second.  Kilian Jornet ties with Jonathan Albon in fourth place.

Hillary Gerardi now leads the women’s ranking with Ragna Debats right behind. Brittany Peterson secures third position while Malene Haukøy and Jasmin Paris rise to fifth and sixth respectively.

There are no significant changes in the Overall ranking except that Jornet is the new leader.

Next stop on the 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series is the Salomon Ultra Pirineu in the Spanish Pyrenees on September 29 where the Ultra specialists will be heading for the longest race on the circuit valid for the Sky Extra category.

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline results
Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h40’33”
  2. André Jonsson (SWE) – 3h42’33”
  3. Daniel Jung (ITA) – 3h45’03”
  4. Andy Symonds (GBR) – 3h45’03”
  5. Cody Lind (USA) – 3h45’41”

Women

  1. Hillary Gerardi (USA) – 4h17’48”
  2. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 4h 17’55”
  3. Brittany Peterson (USA) – 4h25’44”
  4. Malene Blikken Haukøy (NOR) – 4h30’10”
  5. Aitziber Ibarbia Beloki (ESP) – 4h34’40”

Image gallery available HERE

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Ring of Steall SkyRace 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF

In three days of uncertain and often extreme weather conditions, the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships lit up the sky in the Scottish Highlands with a rainbow of nations and world class competition. Nine countries took medals and 26 National Teams scored points lead by Spain, UK and USA.

The third and final event of the Championships, the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace, saw a stacked field with 879 runners from 40 countries. Thanks to the extremely tough competition, records were smashed by new World Champions, Kilian Jornet from Spain and Tove Alexandersson from Sweden. The top ten men and seven women finished below last year’s record. The new records are 3h04’34” and 3h48’28”.

 

It’s a wonderful race, I love coming here to Scotland. It’s technical, the track is beautiful, what I love when I’m racing,” stated Jornet. “Today was a great battle with Nadir. I managed to put 20” on him on the last part of the uphill. It’s great because when we look for racing we look for competition, for a fight, and that’s what it was today. When you think about skyrunning you think about races like this, you need to fight every step.

“What’s particular here is it’s very muddy, very wet, slippery. The terrain is similar to Norway. I fell in the mud on the last downhill. This year it was good for me, such a good field with so many strong people,” he concluded.

 

Second man, Italian Nadir Maguet, closed in 3h06’05” to take the silver medal. “I came here hoping to do well. Obviously when you see a start list with a very high level, you ask yourself how will it go. My dream was to race with Kilian, to feel strong, and that was how it went. I ran the whole race with him, mostly half a minute behind. In the second half of the race and on the last descent I tried to push but you know Kilian is strong on the downhill. It was impossible to catch him, I tried. The important thing is to dream and dream…I’m really happy with my second place.”

 

2016 Vertical, Sky and Combined champion and race record holder of the Vertical and Sky records set here last year was Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik. He closed the podium to take the bronze in 3h09’05’. 

It was awesome. As I said before this is my favourite race. This year I ran 15’ quicker,” he said. “This race is more technical than most…I love the ridges and the mud and everything. On the second ridge I just had to stop and look around it was so beautiful. I almost cried it was so amazing. I’m so happy to finish third. It was like a big dream for me.”  For many, it was all about sharing a dream.

Tove Alexandersson, a multiple Orienteering World Champion from Sweden cut an incredible 19’ off the previous record to take the gold and the new Skyrunning World Champion title for the Sky category. “It was a bit more muddy and slippery than I expected but otherwise it was just perfect. I felt strong all the way. I didn’t have much time to see the views because it was quite technical. On the downhill you have to be so focussed. I think that’s my biggest strength so I had a good feeling.

 

“This is so much longer than orienteering. I won my first skyrunning race last year and I couldn’t move for an hour. This time I was more prepared to run a bit longer. I really wanted to come here and to be World Champion. Skyrunning is the best thing. I really enjoy the atmosphere and everything. I’m so happy that I came here to run the Sky race.”

Taking the silver was Briton Victoria Wilkinson. “It was hard work because I have not raced for four hours for quite some time and that meant I had to pace myself.  I raced with Laura [Orgue] who won the race last year for some of the first part. She’s a good climber and I learned a lesson or two from her! I hadn’t run the Ring of Steall course before but I won the Ben Nevis race a couple of weeks ago which was good experience. I loved the race and I’m really happy to be second lady.”

 

The bronze went to top skyrunner Holly Page who took the medal for the UK. “I’m absolutely delighted. I wasn’t expecting that at all when I saw who was going to be here. At the top of the first climb I think I was 15th and I felt really unhappy and horrible. But then I got into a downhill and it ‘smelt’ like a fell race, it felt like home. I overtook lots of people on the downhill which gave me quite a confidence boost.

 “It was quite rough and very muddy until the rocky technical bit which is the part I like. It was a great course. I occasionally looked round and thought ‘I’m so glad that the world has come to Scotland and seen these views.’ It was stunning.”

 

The course, 29 km long with 2,500m vertical climb is fast becoming a skyrunning classic in every sense, with steep ascents, scrambling sections, ridges, and…spectacular views.

Individual world titles and a total of 27 medals were awarded in the three disciplines as well as a combined title based on the best results of the Vertical and Sky races.

Marino Giacometti, ISF President awarded the medals after the events and at the final ceremony. “These World Championships was announced as a difficult challenge and I’m obviously extremely happy for the great participation… and to have survived the Scottish weather,” he said. “Now among the new world champions we have not only Kilian, but Jonathan Albon (an Obstacle racing champion), Tove Alexandersson (an Orienteering champion) and Nadir Maguet (a ski-mountaineering champion). I like to think that skyrunning inspires athletes from other sports too!”

 

He also expressed his thanks to SkyLine Scotland for the excellent organisation and for hosting the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in the Scottish “Skylands”, a new and spectacular international sports arena.

Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests were carried out at the Championships.

Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace® results


Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h04’34”
  2. Nadir Maguet (ITA) – 3h06’05”
  3. Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) – 3h’09’05”
  4. Alexis Sévennec (FRA) – 3h11’56”
  5. Pascal Egli (SUI) – 3h12’24”

Women

 

  1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) – 3h48’28”
  2. Victoria Wilkinson (GBR) – 3h54’01”
  3. Holly Page (GBR) – 3h57’57”
  4. Sheila Avilés (ESP) – 4h01’20”
  5. Laura Orgué (ESP) – 4h03’56”

 

Image galleries will be available HERE

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Ben Nevis Ultra 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF.

Cold, storms and wild and windy weather meant safety first and the adoption of Plan B at the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra valid for the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in Scotland today.

Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats took the gold for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Altogether 478 runners from 41 countries bravely faced the elements in the Scottish Highlands over a reduced course 47 km long with 1,750m vertical climb avoiding the summit of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. (The original course designed especially for the occasion was 52 km long with a vertical climb of 3,820m).

Albon, probably the most eclectic of the field, closed in 3h48’02” leaving a 12’ gap to second man André Jonsson from Sweden who took the silver. Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando, 2014 and 2016 Skyunning World Champion took the bronze just one minute later.

It was definitely mountainous in the beginning but then we got on the trail and it was fast. I’m used to winning the extreme races, with loads of climb and steep up and down,” commented Albon. “About 10 km in, there was a really muddy section where I felt a bit more comfortable and took the lead without really trying to and didn’t look back. It would have been nice to win on the actual course but the weather is what it is and hard to predict. Obviously it would have been nice to go up Ben Nevis. I’ve never been up there…It was a good mix and it was fun!”

Jonsson added, ”I enjoyed the race a lot – especially the first part, the actual skyrunning part! I would have preferred to run on the original course but it was the same for everyone. I’m really happy about the silver medal though!”

For the lady from the flat lands of Holland, a top ranked skyrunner, Ragna Debats was very comfortable with the long fast stretches in the second half of the race. She took the well-deserved gold medal for her country with a 14’ advantage over her rivals, closing in 4h36’20”.

I decided to start fast right from the beginning and see if anyone would follow me. I saw nobody was close to me so I just kept on going, reserving just a little energy just in case somebody came up behind me. I also fell into a big puddle with my head right in it so I got cold and was completely wet! It was funny though,” stated Debts. “I sprained my ankle some weeks ago and didn’t know if I could run. However, I got motivated again, my ankle cured and I started to prepare this race last minute. The medal means a lot to me, my season couldn’t be more perfect!”

For the silver and bronze it was a bitter battle to the end with four women competing for the medals. It was resolved in a tight sprint between Spaniard Gemma Arenas, second, and Maria Mercedes Pila from Ecuador, just four seconds later. Arenas was just in eighth half way through the race but gained hard on the group. “In the last ten kilometres we passed each other back and forth, alternating the second position. We’re all friends!” she said.

Natalia Tomasiak from Poland took fourth and Norwegian Henriette Albon (Albon’s wife) placed fifth. Nine different nations featured in the women’s top ten.

After yesterday’s first World Championships race with the Vertical and today’s Ultra, the first 12 medals out of the 27 at stake, went to eight nations. The country ranking is led by Spain with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The UK, Netherlands and Switzerland have one gold each.

The final showdown will take place tomorrow with the Salomon Ring of Steall  SkyRace® with a super-strong international line-up headed by 2014 Skyrunning World Champion Kilian Jornet and 879 athletes from 40 countries. The Championship medals for nations will be awarded at tomorrow’s prize ceremony together with the Combined titles and medals based on the VK and Sky results.

Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests will be carried out at the Championships.

Image galleries will be HERE

Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra results

Men

  1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 3h48’02”
  2. André Jonsson (SWE) – 4h00’35”
  3. Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP) – 4h01’21”
  4. Manuel Anguita (ESP) – 4h01’41”
  5. Andreu Simon (ESP) – 4h04’32”

Women

  1. Ragna Debats (NED) – 4h36’20”
  2. Gemma Arenas (ESP) – 4h50’32”
  3. Maria Mercedes Pila (ECU) – 4h50’36”
  4. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 4h52’46”
  5. Henriette Albon (NOR) – 4h53’04”

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Superior 100 2018 Race Summary

Traversing the Sawtooth Mountains on the Superior Hiking Trail in the far reaches Northern Minnesota near the Canadian Border, the Superior 100parallells the North-Shore of Lake Superior, the greatest freshwater lake in the world and rolls along a series of sawtooth peaks with breath-taking vistas.

Gooseberry Falls State Park (Minnesota) is the start line for the race, the finish comes at Lutsen 103.3-miles later. A 38-hour cut-off, 13 aid stations and 6400m+ of elevation gain and descent make this race one of the toughest in the USA. The race is, ‘rugged, relentless and remote.’ Superior 100 is a special with an incredible history, the man at the head is John Storkamp of Rock Steady Running, he is a charismatic guy and puts on a great event! Normally a race of mud, the 2018 edition had the trails in the best condition ever. Little rain saw the mostly single-track route as dry as a bone and fast! Of course, tree roots, rocks and a never-ending green tunnel of trees had to be overcome before the finish would arrive.

Founded in 1991 when there were no more than a dozen 100-mile trail races in the USA, Superior has a great reputation. Back in the day, if you wanted to run a 100, you had choices like Western States (’74), Old Dominion (’79), Wasatch (’80), Leadville (’83), Vermont (’89), Angeles Crest (’86), Mohican (’90), Arkansas Traveller (’91) and Superior (’91). Superior quickly earned its reputation!

At the stoke of 0800 Storkamp released the runners and immediately the race fragmented with the podium contenders leading the race. At the rear, many participants were already walking with a full understanding of the task ahead – better to ease in and finish strong and not the other way around. The weather forecast was excellent, with blue skies, warm temperatures and no chance of rain. It was going to be a great edition!

It soon became apparent that it was going to be a hot day, not only from a weather perspective but a running pace perspective. Neal Collick, champion in 2017, was back and arrived first at Split Rock River setting an incredible pace. Here, stunning views of the surrounding landscape and Lake Superior are provided. With 9-miles covered Neal was already opening up a considerable gap. In the women’s race, much of the talk was about the return of Mallory Richard, winner in 2016. Gretchen Metsa winner in 2017 and Ashley Nordell. It was Nordell who dictated the early pace and all the usual contenders were close it’s 100 miles, with just a tenth covered the race was wide open

At 20-miles, Collick and Arnold were setting the pace and much of the talk was about course records, with weather favorable and conditions excellent, would we see new benchmarks set? Silver Bay came just 5-miles later and any hard work was being consolidated by the duo up front, they were looking really strong. The writing was starting to appear on the wall.

At My Trudee, in just a short section of trail, Collick had really started to pull away, his gap was just becoming larger and the question was, could he maintain this pace? Behind him, the race really was on for 2nd place with 5-6 men all separated over a 30-minute window that included Mark Emmons, Matias Saari, Adam Schwartz-Loew, Coree Woltering, Jake Milligan and Mick Jurynec, it was all to fight for.

For the women, Nordell was still out front but 2016 champion, Richard was hutting her down. The duo looked calm, relaxed and to be having fun, essential with a third of the race covered and such a long way to go. Unfortunately, one of the pre-race favorites, Gretchen Metsa, was having a tough day – she had struggled with nausea and sickness and couldn’t keep anything down.

Finland at just over 50-miles signifies in the midway point of the race and it is here that the impact a day can be seen on the runners; exhaustion, dehydration and fatigue! None of that though for Collick, he was flying and well ahead of course record pace. His lead over the 2nd man now 60-minutes. But the men’s race was changing and in particular, Mick Jurynec, was showing great strength moving his way up through the field. Nordell was still leading Richard but with the night section coming, anything could happen?

Darkness was now upon the race and a warm day became a chilly night with clear skies. The stars shone, and the Superior Hiking Trail was illuminated by a line of ants with glowing head torches.

Collick pushed on at the front now joined by his pacer. At Crosby Manitou his lead was over 60-minutes over Jurynec and Milligan.

Nordell relinquished the lead in the women’s race to Richard who was handling the darkness and technical trail in a more accomplished manner. So strong was her running, she was making an impact on the overall positions in the general classification.

Cramer Road at 79.9-miles signified a significant marker with the final 25% of the race ahead, it’s here that places can change as a full day of running takes its toll. Collick and Richard were on a mission. Collick’s pace was so fast that aid stations were having to re-think their plans to be ready for his early arrival.

Oberg at just over 90-miles is the final aid and on a normal year, the first runner can be expected to arrive after 0200, Collick arrived close to 0100 and suddenly a sub 19-hour run looked possible, incredible on this course! He showed no signs of fatigue, he was focused, relentless and keen to push on. He and his pacer left for the challenging final 7-miles, they arrived at the line in an incredible 18:56:02 obliterating the old course record.

Jurynec was 2nd at Oberg showing incredible pacing and strategy to have slowly moved up through the field and now be consolidating a podium place. Milligan rounded out the top 3 and Woltering and Schwartz-Lowe placed 4th and 5th men. It was Mallory Richard though who achieved 5th overall!

Richard, like Collick, was unstoppable, the excellent conditions of the trail and the superb weather also resulted in a superb course record 22:36:39. Nordell battled through the night but held on to a solid 2nd ahead of Kelly Teeselink with Barbara Roman 4th and Tina Koplinski 5th.

What followed was a long day and night of struggle and strife concluding at 2200 hrs, 38 hours after the start! Some achieved their goals, others failed the challenge that they had set themselves. There was no failure though… just undone business, they will be back.

Superior 100 is so much more than a race, it’s an experience. A low-key traditional race experience far removed from the European extravaganza that had taken place in Chamonix just one week earlier. Superior is a race I encourage anyone to participate in, it’s a special race and if the 100 is too far, a 50-mile or classic marathon distance takes place on the same course and concludes at the same venue.

Beers flow into the night, fires blaze and each runner are welcomed home. Year-on-year, runners return to do battle with Superior Hiking Trail, they make new friends and meet old friends. Superior is steeped in tradition; long may it continue.

IMAGE GALLERY FROM THE RACE HERE

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Trofeo Kima 2018 on IRUN4ULTRA

“For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line. This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. The race is like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.” – Ian Corless

READ THE STORY HERE

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Salomon S-LAB ULTRA Shoe Review

It has been a while since I slipped on a Salomon shoe for my daily runs. No particular reason, sometimes when testing shoes, I find a real winner and then that becomes my shoe of choice. I wrote last year how I loved the Nike Wildhorse 4, I still love them, and they go everywhere, I would say that they are my ‘go to’ shoe that handles a little of everything with loads of comfort, security and all in a great looking shoe. 

I have always been a fan of the Salomon S-Lab Sense both in normal HERE and SG HERE (soft ground) versions, however, for me, they are just a little too minimalist for everyday running and longer runs.

The S-LAB ULTRA is a shoe that may well be a game changer for Salomon. 

To clarify, Salomon fans are already happy with the Sense shoes and its variants, however, I cannot tell you how many times I have had messages asking me to feedback to Salomon the need for:

  • Wider toe box
  • Higher drop (8mm)
  • More cushioning
  • And all the same goodies that made the Sense such a great shoe.

Well, the S-LAB ULTRA is the shoe! 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

It’s that classic red colour that Salomon utilize so well and at first glance you know it is a Salomon shoe. It’s a good-looking shoe, the fade between red at the front and a darker colour at the rear is ‘sexy,’ if a shoe can be sexy?  

The first thing you notice are two straps on either side of the outside of the shoe. It makes the shoe look a little heavy and somewhat over engineered. This is a protective Skin guard – more on that later.

 The toe box is visibly wider, beefier and well protected.

 

The cushioning is visibly deeper both at the front and rear. This is, as Salomon says: “Energysave® foam insert in the forefoot adds long-lasting cushioning and protection from rocks and rough ground, while ENERGYCELL+ foam in the bottom unit ensures a smooth, consistent ride.”

The grip looks pretty classic for a Salomon trail shoe. It’s red, with a standard trail lug that is not too aggressive. So, this shoe is obviously not designed for mud, it is a hard trail shoe that can be used on a multitude of surfaces, be that wet or dry. It is, “an all-new Contagrip® outsole, with premium wet traction and reverse lugs on the heel area, delivers confident grip, especially on the downhills.”

At £160 a pair, they aint cheap!

On Salomon’s website, they say the usage is ‘Racing Only’ but I have to disagree, this is a brilliant day-to-day comfy shoe that can handle pretty much anything with comfort, road too! Maybe this advice comes based on the price and they would recommend another similar Salomon shoe for day-to-day and keeping the S-LAB Ultra for special occasions… nah! If they are that good, use them I say! But the Salomon Sense Ride has an 8mm drop with 19/27mm cushioning and a similar outsole and they are £50 per pair (£110) cheaper. So. It is worth considering a training/ racing combo? – HERE

THE SHOE

 

Cushioning is excellent with 18mm at the front and 26mm at the rear, this provides an 8mm drop which for me is the perfect drop for longer runs. It’s a light shoe, but not super-light. A UK8 comes in at just under 300g. In a UK 9.5 (my size) it weighs 340g which is exactly the same as the SCOTT KINABALU HERE – there actually is a great deal of similarity in these shoes. My Nike Wildhorse 4 though are 290g in the same size, so, if I was a weight freak, the Nike’s win hands down!

I always say this about Salomon shoes and two things always stand out:  

The lacing with the storage pocket.

ENDOFIT internal sock liner.

 The ENDOFIT is just so awesome, it hugs the foot, holds it, secures it and keeps it protected. It is perfect. Other shoes come close, but I think Salomon ‘just’ win each time. Nike Wildhorse 4 has something similar, it is awesome and, in all honesty, why I love the Nike shoe so much. The other shoe that is similar is the VJ XTRM HERE. Actually, the ‘new’ reinforcing on the outside of the new S-LAB Ultra does a very similar thing to the Fitlock on the VJ.

 

The new straps on the outer of the shoe are significant, there is four of them, two on each side. Two lower, two higher – the laces pass through them and when you pull the lace tight, they bring the shoe in tighter in four key points, in addition with the sockliner, the foot is held firm in one of the most reassuring and comfortable grips I have experienced. 

The laces are classic Salomon. You pull them tight, slide the toggle down and then stuff the excess in the little ‘garage’ at the top of the tongue – so simple it is ingenious.

The inner of the shoe is pretty much seamless, so, if you wanted to go soulless you could. 

The heel box is plush, padded, really comfortable and holds the foot firm.

The toe box is wider and has an excellent toe bumper to protect against the terrain.

This shoe has been designed with a great deal of influence from Francois D’Haene and you can see why. He runs long, and he needs a shoe that can handle long hours on his feet, provide comfort, toe splay, cushioning and grip without losing many of the aspects of what has made the ‘Sense’ range so popular. 

The upper of the shoe is a breathable mesh with Ortholite Impressions which add structure and reinforcement to the shoe.

Midsole is cushioned and really is excellent on longer runs. Combined with the 8mm drop this is a great shoe for those who are running 80km and beyond. The combination of compressed EVA and Salomon’s EnergyCell make them very comfortable but not spongy. At all times, the S-LAB Ultra feels firm on the ground, allowing you to feel the ground but still run with precision.

 The outsole is classic Salomon. However, the S-LAB Ultra has a ‘new’ Premium Wet Traction Contagrip that works really well on a multitude of terrain, wet or dry. There is a Profit Film in the chassis of the shoe which protects against rocks and sharp objects – it is rock plate! 

IN USE

Slipping the S-LAB Ultra on you immediately notice how comfortable they are, the ENDOFIT just does its job perfectly and you can use them around the house without laces, they are that comfy and reassuring. Pull the laces and you feel your foot held in one of the most comfortable and tight embraces. It is so reassuring. I do not like sloppy shoes and my foot moving around inside the shoe – no chance of that here. BUT the laces are had to adjust, it’s all or nothing! However, I find this system preferable to the BOA system which adidas are using – at least I can pull my laces really tight in the Salomon. 

At the front end the additional room is very obvious in comparison to a pair of Sense.

The cushioning is also noticeable, you get that wonderful slightly bouncing feel when walking around.

On road they provide great comfort and grip and for sure, if I had to run large road sections in a race or training, I’d have no worries using this shoe. On hard pack trail they do a great job providing feel for the ground but not at the compromise of protection. The outsole is aggressive enough to grip when it is required. In mud they are pretty useless, the lugs are just not aggressive enough so keep that in mind. On grassy banks going up or down, they were great. On wet grassy bank in the wet they did slip once or twice – nothing crazy and I never fell over. On rock, grip is excellent in the dry but just a little compromised in the wet. In comparison to the Nike Wildhorse 4 in the wet, Salomon’s grip is superb, the Nike’s are a liability! 

The S-LAB Ultra is a solid all-rounder – be that road, trail, rocks, sand or whatever. It does nothing brilliantly and nothing bad. It’s a solid shoe for the long game, hence the Ultra title. To provide a scenario, I would say a S-LAB Sense is a Formula 1 car for shorter, faster and more aggressive races, whereas the S-LAB Ultra is better for Le Mans 24-hour race.

CONCLUSION

The S-LAB Ultra is for those who require a shoe that can handle a little of everything in a cushioned 8mm drop shoe that has great looks. ENDOFIT is just brilliant but I am well aware that not everyone likes it; I love it! The laces do the job brilliantly, again, not everyone like this type of lacing because of the lack of adjustment. The lugs are middle of the road and for some, may not be aggressive enough and despite the ‘wet traction’ name, the Contragrip is still not 100% in the wet. For example, inov-8 has the new Graphene and Sticky Rubber outsole and that really works. At £160 they are expensive, which is maybe why Salomon recommend them for racing? There is a great deal to like in the Salomon S-LAB Ultra and they have been used regularly by me as my ‘daily’ shoe for my 8/9 mile run as I have a whole mix of terrain that includes 2-miles of road, canal tow path, forest trail, gravel path and a little mud – the S-LAB Ultra handles all this superbly. I travel a great deal and these shoes provide me a simple solution as to what shoes to take as I know I can pretty much do anything in them. They are solid shoes and recommended. 

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Ultra Trail Mont Blanc #UTMB 2018 Preview

UTMB is upon us and the hype just keeps on building and building. The 2018 edition looks set to be another great race and the year when the chances of an American at the top of the podium, have probably never been higher!

The 170km loop that starts in France, passes through Italy, then Switzerland and once again returns to France with 10,000m of vert is considered the pinnacle of 100-mile mountain running.

 UTMB LIVE HERE

MEN

It is easy to look at UTMB and the presence of Kilian Jornet on the start line and say, ‘we know who has won!’ To be honest, I think Kilian is the odds-on favourite to win the 2018 edition, particularly with Francoise D’Haene missing the race. What Kilian has achieved in 2018 after a very serious injury has been quite remarkable. What is most impressive is the range of his skill, he can break an almost unbreakable FKT in the UK (Bob Graham Round), win a super-fast and competitive Sierre-Zinal and then win and set a course record at the most technical and pinnacle skyrunning event there is, Trofeo Kima, just 5-days before toeing the line at UTMB. Without doubt, Kilian is the one to beat, however, the one thing he has against him is the lack of specific 100-mile training. For anyone else, that would be a huge problem, for Kilian, no!

Many will say that Jim Walmsley is the prime contender to beat KJ but let’s give a nod and respect to Tim Tollefson who has placed 3rd twice and now knows the race like the back of his hand. He prepares specifically and respects the race and the distance. His form seems a little off based on results in 2018, but, I am sure Tim has only ever had his eye on one prize.

Luis Alberto Hernando is for me one of the greatest and most underrated mountain runners in the world. He is pure class. He is a multiple world champ, has placed 2nd at UTMB before and missed the race in 2017 because he knew he didn’t have the necessary form to win. He has been quiet this year which can only mean very specific training. He hasn’t run many 100’s and this has been his downfall in the past, he always races hard and from the front which can mean he blows up. This may be Luis’s year for the win, but everything will need to go right, and Kilian will need to be a little off. A Luis victory would be extremely popular! 

Jim Walmsley finally fulfilled his dreams and ability with nailing Western States earlier this year and obliterating the course record. He has earned his 100-mile apprenticeship. Last year at UTMB it was all going well, and Jim was running a smarter race, it went wrong but he rallied and then finished in the top-10 closing hard. He has a tough decision to make at this year’s race, does he go on gut feeling and run at ‘his’ pace early on and hope he can take it to the line (think Zach Miller) or does he hand with Kilian, mark him, stay with him and then make a move late in the race where he then maybe can use his natural run speed to win? It’s important to note, that running and winning UTMB will be at least 20% more time on his feet than the WSER victory. I think Jim will make the podium this year and yes, he could be at the top of it, quite easily!

 Xavier Thevenard has done it all at UTMB winning all the main distances over the past 4-years. He will no doubt be reeling from his DQ at Hardrock and that could work either way at UTMB. It may motivate a superb performance or put questions in his mind. Podium potential for sure but not a winner this year.

 Alex Nichols is for me the greatest US potential for a win in years. However, it may take this year for him to fully understand the race before he can come back and win next year or the year after. I said many times in the last 18-months that Alex has the greatest potential and he proved it recently with his Nolans 14 FKT. He is one to watch and a dark horse.

The above are my prime podium contenders but as always, it’s a stacked field with the following toeing the line:

  • Gediminas Grinius
  • Ryan Sandes
  • Mark Hammond
  • Michel Lanne
  • Stephan Hugenschmidt
  • Jordi Gamito
  • Sondre Amdahl
  • Benoit Cori
  • Scott Hawker
  • Timothy Olson
  • Damian Hall
  • Sylvain Court
  • Javi Dominguez

That is an A-list of contenders with Gediminas Grinius and Javi Dominguez as stand outs. It is UTMB, so anything can happen on the big loop. One person to watch is the UK’s Damian Hall. Over the past 3-years he has moved closer and closer to the top-10 and last year placed 11th. He is super motivated this year and although I don’t think he will make the top-5, the chances are high for him to fulfil his top-10 dream. 

WOMEN 

Mimmi Kotka for me is the 2018 UTMB champion. She has won CCC, TDS and has crushed mountain races such as Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Mont-Blanc 90km and the Maxi-Race in Annecy. She eats mountains and although this is her first 100, something just tells me she is ready for the big loop.

Caroline Chaverot of course should be the odds-on favourite but boy-oh-boy as she had a tough time of things after winning ‘everything’ and I mean ‘everything’ a year or so ago. Her form is a real question mark and she has openly discussed on social media that she has been very unwell. Caroline in form is of course podium potential, anything less and she would be disappointed.

Uxue Fraile has a 5th, 3rd and 2nd at UTMB and that alone sets her up as a prime podium contender. She always runs a savvy race, has loads of experience and for me, she may well match her 2015 2nd place. 

Kaori Niwa has been 4th at UTMB and recently took 4th at Hardrock 100, so, we know she has endurance. That is super important here at UTMB and although victory is unlikely with Mimmi and Caroline in the race, the 3rd slot on the podium is possible.

 Sephanie Violett was 15th last-year which seems a below par performance based on her experience and skill. But UTMB is not the US and Magdalena Boulet and Kaci Lickteig also placed out of the top-10. I have a feeling that these three women will change things around this year and impact on the top-10 with Stephanie my tip as the one who does the best of the trio.

Beth Pascall and Jo Meek are two Brits who I believe this year will turn heads. Beth gets the nod over Jo as she has much experience at the long game with success at races such as Lakeland 100, Dragons Back and the Spine. She dropped at UTMB last year after getting cold, this year I am putting my neck on the line and saying top-5! Jo has trained specifically and knows the UTMB mountains after placing 2nd at CCC. This is her first foray to 100-miles and this length of time on her feet. She has all the ability to do well, so, fingers crossed she makes the top-10.

Fernanda Maciel has buckets of experience at the long game, has excelled at UTMB time and time again and I have no reason not to think she will do the same again this year. A prime top-10 contender and for sure, 4th/ 5th is a distinct possibility; she has placed 4th twice before.

Juliette Blanchet was 4th last-year and has buckets of experience and results at long and tough races… She was 2nd at Raid de la Reunion after UTMB in 2017. She will be fighting for the podium and amongst the 2018 women’s field, she has a great chance.

 Cat Bradley has won Western States but, in all honesty, I have no idea how she will fare on this monster 170km loop. You don’t win Western by accident which is why she gets a nod here, but let’s look at Kaci and Magdalena last-year, they were both outside the top-10. 

Mariya Nikolova is not a name that many will have heard but she has been in the top-10 at UTMB previously and she has won in Turkey at Cappadocia. Her recent form is a little unknown but an improvement from 9th is to be expected. 

Strong Contenders:

Emilie Lecomte has been there and done it in long distances races but seems to be lacking the speed of her prime. Amy Sproston has been 8th before, she will be in the top-10 game but not a podium contender. The UK’s Sophie Grant is another real contender with Beth and Jo, she was 15th last-year. Teresa Nimes was just outside the top-10 placing 11th in 2017. Aliza Lapierre dnf’d last year but has loads of experience as does Ildiko Wermescher who has been 6th and 7th at UTMB previously… In all honesty, Ildiko should be in the list above. Francesca Canepa is a long-distance specialist. Katia Fori also one to watch after 5th at MIUT.

It is all to fight for. The big loop with all that distance, vertical gain and descending, variable weather and just the many, many hours on foot means nothing is guaranteed. So, expect some surprises!

Action stars Friday 31st August.

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adidas Terrex Two Boa Shoe Review

I have used adidas shoes for many years both in road and trail versions, Adizero Adios were a personal favourite and recently I enjoyed using the Skychaser based on the laces and the excellent Continental outsole.

The Terrex range which is basically the outdoor/ trail running line of adidas really has some excellent products, so, when I was sent a pair of TERREX TWO BOA to test I was intrigued and interested.

The BOA® system (more info HERE) has been around many years. I actually first used the Boa fastening system on cycling shoes and to this day, I still do; it is my preferred method for fastening. Trail running, I used a pair of The North Face shoes way back in 2008 and recent years I have seen the system used in running packs, inov8-8 and Raidlight have used the fastening system in many products.

So, the BOA system for the new adidas really had me interested.

THE SHOE

First off, the Terrex Two Boa is a great looking shoe, it comes in several colour options, but the black/white version I have on test is my favorite. The BOA system sticks out on the side of the shoe with the very obvious fastening dial, it is the USP of the shoe. If you are new to BOA, the system works by one lace threaded through the shoe. Press the BOA button and you engage the ‘lock’ system, turn the dial and the lace pulls tight. The more you turn, the tighter the laces become. To release, you pull the BOA button, and this works like a quick-release and the lace immediately becomes lose.

The shoe is 5mm drop and cushioned with 19.5mm at the front and 24.5mm at the rear of EVA. The drop is a great compromise and sits in a nice middle ground, however, I wonder why adidas chose 5mm instead of the more obvious 4mm?

The upper is seamless mesh with TPU overlays and is extremely comfortable. The heel box is plush, comfortable and holds securely. The toe box is very wide – very wide! So, if you need wide shoes, the Terrex Two Boa should be on your list to check out, it is one of the widest shoes I have used.

The outsole is by the German company Continental™(more info HERE) who are famous for making car and cycling tires. The outsole is one of the stars of the adidas Terrex range – it has incredible grip in the dry and wet. In my opinion, it is one of the best outsoles. The Terrex Two Boa has a classic ‘trail’ outsole that is designed for trails without too much mud.

IN USE

As I said, the Terrex Two Boa is a great looking shoe. Slipping the shoe on you immediately feel how comfortable the upper is and how cushioned the shoe is. They feel like slippers. You also notice how wide the toe box is. Engaging the BOA system, I tightened the lace by turning the dial and when I felt I had the appropriate tension on my instep I stopped.

I always use any run shoe in my apartment for one day to get a feel of the shoe. My immediate thoughts on the Terrex Two Boa was comfy, cushioned and excellent grip. However, with the wide toe box, I found that I wanted to add more and more tension to the lace to hold my foot secure. But once tightened, the BOA system never comes lose. A great plus.

On my first run which is on a classic 8-mile loop that includes a little of everything – mud, trail, dry single-track, stones, rocks, climbs, descents and also 2-miles of road, I was impressed with the shoe. They are really comfortable. The cushioning provides a nice bounce without losing a feel for the ground below. The Continental™ grip is really great – it grips everything and on rocks it is superb, be they wet or dry. It is a reassuring outsole.

Midway through the run I decided that I didn’t have my laces tight enough. There were two reasons for this:

  1. When the trail was technical, and I was changing direction, my foot was moving inside the shoe. This is not good!
  2. The toe box is wide, and I think maybe a little too wide for me. But to compensate for such a wide toe box, I needed to make the laces tighter. To hold my foot secure.

So, I turned the dial, the laces tightened, and they immediately felt better. On all runs that followed, I made sure I really tightened my laces to the maximum. It made my runs so much more pleasurable.

As a trail shoe, the Terrex Two Boa worked exceptionally well. It handled everything on my normal trail/ test loop and the mile of road at the beginning and the end was extremely comfortable. It would be a great ‘jack of all trades’ shoe.

PROS and CONS

The USP of the shoe is the BOA system and this may well put some people off immediately – does it over complicate something that doesn’t need to be complicated? One thing is for sure, break a lace when out running or racing and you are screwed… But the laces rarely break, however, the chance it can happen may be enough for some.

I often like to adjust my laces (I have a high instep) so that I can have good tension at the bottom and the top of the lacing section, but a little lose towards the top. With BOA there is no option for this. Turn the dial and it tightens as one.

I personally found the toe box so wide I wanted to really have the laces tight. However, once really tight I enjoyed the shoes. If trails were rocky and technical, I would prefer to use a shoe that had a precision fit. The Terrex Two Boa just had too much room for me. BUT for long-distance trail runs, the shoe is really comfortable. The toe box allows their toes to splay and the cushioning provides great comfort.

The Continental™ grip is a winner but if you are going in mud, you need a more aggressive outsole.

CONCLUSION

There is a great deal to like in the Terrex Two Boa. It is a great ‘all-rounder’ and as such I can see this really appealing to runners who are transitions from road to trail and need something that can handle a little of everything. If you have wide feet, check these out, they may well be the shoe you have been looking for. The looks of the shoe are great, and the outsole is excellent, the upper comfortable and has no hot spots. The BOA system works really well and only you can decide if the system is something that you can use and be happy with. I personally love the system, it works really well, once tightened it doesn’t come loose and when you have finished a run, you just pull the dial and you can slip the shoes off. The downsides are the lack of ability to adjust tension at different points – they are either tight or loose. The other aspect, although I had no issues or worries, if the lace breaks, you need to send the shoes away to be fixed.

FINAL THOUGHT

The Terrex Two Boa for me is a great shoe that I can use for pretty much any run, be that road or trail. It’s a perfect travel shoe when you may be compromised on space and just need a shoe that can handle a little of everything. For those runners who don’t want to spend a great deal of money on shoes and have a specific shoe for trail, road, mountain and say sand for example, then the Terrex Two Boa would be a great option as a one shoe does all. The price is good too at £109 rrp – BUT, they are wide and for many runners, they may well be too wide?

What adidas say:

“Feel the flow and discover your potential on any terrain in these trail running shoes. Built with a breathable mesh upper, the shoes have a thick midsole cushioning that delivers long-range comfort for off-road training and competition. They feature a Boa® Closure System that offers unmatched adjustability and security to meet the demands of rigorous trail use. A grippy Continental™ Rubber outsole holds the trail in all conditions, wet or dry.”

Terrex shoe range HERE and HERE (female)

Terrex clothing range HERE and HERE (female)

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Trofeo Kima 2018 – Summary and Images

Kilian Jornet takes back the record at the Kima Trophy with a supreme effort. Equaling the record of Mario Poletti, Kilian took his fourth title after missing the race in 2016. Hillary Gerardi followed her victory in Tromso with another incredible win proving that she is the woman to beat on technical courses!

The 23rd edition of the Kima Trophy that will be remembered amongst one the most beautiful ever after overnight rain cleared to an amazingly beautiful cold day. However, temperatures were cold due to strong winds and ice was present on the course. The race director Matteo Colzada and his staff checked the various critical points on th ehigh passes and postponed the start but to the relief of all the runners, the full route was allowed.

Kima has 52 technical and very challenging kilometers with 8,400 m of total height gain and loss with 7 alpine passes all above 2500m (maximum altitude Cameraccio 2.950 m). 

Already winner of this race and record holder before the Nepalese Bhim Gurung beat it (6h10’44 “), the star of Team Salomon ran with Alexis Sevennec for much of the race. The two raced shoulder to shoulder until the final descent, a real 2000 meters dive from Passo Barbacan to the village of San Martino. Here Kilian launched a winning attack, an attack that allowed him to cross the line in 6:09:19 beating the 06;10:44 mark set in 2016.

Alexis Sevennec 2nd in 6:11:59 was a popular favourite and rounding out the podium was Transvulcania winner, Pere Aurell in 6:20:50. 

The top ten of the day also Andre Jonsson, Leo Viret, Petter Engdahl, Andy Simonds, Cristian Minoggio, Cody Lind and Samuel Equy. With today’s success, Kilian enters right into the history of Kima joining Mario Poletti in the golden book of success.

Hillary Gerardi, did not beat the record of 7:36:21 set by Nuria Picas in 2016 but she produced an outstanding race, following up victory in Tromso. On the first descent towards Bocchetta Roma, Ragna Debats had tried to make a difference and close the gap, but Hillary was too strong. In the high altitude crossing, Hilary pulled away with a slender 5-minute lead, chased by Jasmine Paris, Brittany Peterson, Robyn Owen and Martina Valmassoi. Ragna was unfortunately suffering and dropped back.

 At the end, the South African, Robyn Owen tclosed on the leadership, but Hillary kicked and came back and won in 7:37:29. 

Second place for Robyn in 7:39:01 was a real surprise… watch out for this woman! Third was for the Nepalese Mira Rai in 7:41:46.

The American Brittany Petterson, who had been in 2nd at the midway point, and the Italian Martina Valmassoi followed to round out the top-5!

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Episode 160 – The El Kott Twins and Alex Nichols

Episode 160 of Talk Ultra brings you a chat with the El kott Sisters, Hillary Allen (?) and Kurt Decker chats with Alex Nichols. The show os co-hosted by Elisabet Barnes.
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NEWS
TROMSO SKYRACE
Jon Albon did it again, 2-years in a row and his 3rd victory. His time of 7:04 gave a huge margin over the 2nd and 3rd times of 7:36 and 7:37 for Pere Aurell and Andy Symonds.
Hillary Gerardi took a huge win in 8:14 and set a new CR. Ragna Debats and Brittany Peterson were 2nd and 3rd in 8:27 and 8:40.
*****
SIERRE ZINAL
Kilian Jornet did it again, his 6th victory at the race and it just shows what a ‘complete’ athlete he is! The course record set by Jono Wyatt has still eluded him though… This year ran 2:31:39. Robbie Simpson and Robert Panin were 2nd and 3rd in 2:33:11 and 2:33:18.
Lucy Wambui once again took the win in 2:57:54 ahead of Michelle Maier and Simone Troxler, 3:01:30 and 3:02:46 respectively.
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PIKES PEAK
Megan Kimmel broke Lynn Bjorklund’s 1981 record of 4:14:18 by just 14-seconds. She ran the up in 2:42 and the descent in 1:33. Laura Orgue was 2nd in 4:30 and Kristina Mascarenas 3rd in 4:37.
The men’s race saw the return of Dakota Jones. He actually cycled 250-miles to start the race. He won in 3:32, 2:18 for the up and 1:13 for the down. The down time is incredible and broke Matt Carpenter’s 1:15 which has stood since 1993. Oriol Cardon and Darren Thomas placed 2nd and 3rd, 15-seconds separated them.
*****
LEADVILLE 100
It was somewhat of a comeback weekend with Dakota winning at Pikes Peak and Rob Krar obliterating Leadville 100 with arguably one of the greatest runs of all-time. He ran 15:5, the second fastest time ever on the course. He was only 9-minutes off Matt Carpenter’s 2005 record. Ryan Kaiser and Seth Kelly were 2nd and 3rd, 17:37 and 18:15.
Katie Arnold won in 19:53 ahead of Addie Bracy in 21:17. Gina Slaby was 3rd in 23:13.
Big shout out to Dave Mackey !!!
*****
TRANSROCKIES – 6-stage race over 120-miles.
The El Kott twins, Lina and Sanna were at it again… these two have been unstoppable in 2018. They have taken Skyrunning by storm and with a relentless calendar, they have now won in the US ahead of Hillary Allen/ Lucy Bartholomew – 17:48 to 18:26.
Shawn Lywood and Mike Tucker won the men’s division in 19:25.
There are also solo categories for 3-days and 6-days.
Tessa Chesser won the women’s 6-day and Amanda Basham the 3-day, their time 21:04 and 8:59. Must give a shout out to Becks Ferry who placed 3rd in the 6-day race.
Cody Reed won the men’s 6-day and Owen Bradley the 3-day, 16:37 and 8:40 respectively.
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Interview with EL KOTT TWINS
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ULTRAVASEN 90KM (Sweden)
Last year’s champ, Ida Nilsson could only manage 2nd this year after battling with stomach issues. Alexandra Morzova won in 6:43. Nilsson ran 7:06 and Sarah Bard 7:27 for 3rd.
Fritjof Fagerlind won in 6:01 ahead of Pat Reagan and Didrik Hermansen, 6:10 and 6:15.
*****
APPALACHIAN TRAIL FKT
Karl Sabbe from Belgium is on the AT looking for a ‘supported’ FKT record and looks set to break the records of Scott Jurek and Karl Meltzer. This attempt seems to have little PR and buzz and is almost under the radar…
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Interview with ALEX NICHOLS
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CLOSE
02:17:05
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