Olympus Marathon 2017 Preview – 2017 Migu Skyrunner® World Series

Olympus Marathon Preview – 2107 Migu Skyrunner® World Series

Reaching for the SKY turns to Greece and the Olympus marathon, the 3rd race in the 2017 Migu Skyrunner® World Series

Coming just one week after the Livigno SkyMarathon, this 44km course with 3200m of vertical gain will be a hard-fought battle for victory and valuable SWS points. Reaching a high-point of 2780m, the race is a real challenge.

Starting at just 3m above sea level at Dion, a renowned archaeological site, the incredible Mount Olympus provides a stunning backdrop. Reaching 2780m, the route climbs with mountain views to the surrounding higher peaks. Passing below the ‘Throne of Zeus’ the route goes through the Mount Olympus National Park and comes close to Olympos Orgs. The route is classic Skyrunning, starting low, getting high and then returning low.

Course records stand at 5:21:36 for the ladies, set by Stevie Kremer and 4:33:37 by Jessed Hernandez.

Aritz Egea heads-up the male race after placing 2nd in Livigno SkyMarathon behind Tadei Pivk just last weekend. He is without doubt in great form. Strong competition will come from his teammate Hassan Ait Chaou and Kiril Nikolov. Dimitrios Theodorakakos won the 2016 edition of the race and although he is on the start list, we are unsure if he will run, therefore, keep an eye on Julien Martinez De Estibariz, Aleksandr Ivan, Babiano Marconi, Franco Sold, Artem Rostovstev, Alexey Kurochkin, Roberto Sancho and Oscar Carrasco.

Ultra SkyMarathon Champion Hillary Allen, heads up the ladies’ race but she will be in for a battle from Ragna Debats, Aitziber Ibarbia and the UK’s Holly Page. Laura Sola, Paloma Lobera and Eugenia Miro are also racing and are likely to contend the top-5.

Action starts in the early hours of Saturday June 24th and you can follow on this website and via Skyrunning Facebook and twitter.

Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2017 on IRUN4ULTRA

With 18.000ft of climb and 22.000ft of downhill, the race has in the past been full of incredible stories – Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Nikki Kimball, Ellie Greenwood and Timothy Olson to name just a few names from an incredible 40+ years of history.


Over the years, the course is often discussed around the heat that the canyons bring and if it will be a snow or no snow year.


Let’s be clear, the 2017 WSER is going to be a snow year but it is melting.

Read the full preview on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

Livigno SkyMarthon 2017 Summary and Images – Migu Skyrunner® World Series

Livigno SkyMarathon 2017 Race Summary

Days in the mountains rarely get better… the Livigno SkyMarathon really did provide a truly spectacular mountain experience that will be difficult to better – the weather, the course and the stunning town of Livigno all came together along with great organization to give everyone a memorable day.

The race really is a personification of pure Skyrunning. Over the 34km course, the runners climbed over 2700m of vertical gain with much of the race taking place between 2500 and 3000m.

Exposed mountain ridges, roped sections, via ferrata and abundance of technical terrain make the Livigno SkyMarathon a challenge – but a challenge to embrace.

Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri which took place in May, this race was always going to be exciting with valuable Migu Skyrunner World Series points available.

SWS World Champion Tadei Pivk, has had a troubled 2017 with injury, however, he was a last-minute entrant to the Livigno race having missed Zegama-Aizkorri. Pivk was the winner of Livigno in 2017 so he was soon tipped as a favourite for the win. Equally, Zegama-Aizkorri winner Maite Maiora, was tipped as the potential winner for the ladies’ race.

The duo started the race with a determination and a commitment and took the respective leads from very early on. Maiora looked invincible throughout the race, Pivk also looked strong and in control but Aritz Egea was tailing the Italian for much of the race.

At the line Pivk and Maiora were triumphant.

Egea pushed the 2017 champion close and on the line, it was just 2-minutes that separated them, 3:52:42 to 3:54:39. Third placed runner was Eduard Hernandez Texeido ahead of Eugeni Gil Ocana and Robert Krupicka, their times 4:00:39, 4:02:00 and 4:05:24 respectively.

Maiora was in a different league in the ladies’ race, her time of 4:37:30 incredible on this course. Denise Ionela Dragomir ran a strong 2nd throughout the race and her podium place never looked in doubt, she crossed the line in 4:43:21 ahead of Laia Andreu Trias who finished in 4:47:16.

The 2017 edition of the Livigno SkyMarathon was different to 2017 and therefore the times recorded this year are course records. Conditions were exceptional throughout the day with clear blue skies, sun, little to no wind and temperatures were kind until the early afternoon when they started to rise.

The talk post-race was all about how incredible the course is. The opening flat miles providing a warm up before the first climb with no technicality. What follows are walls of rock with chains attached, scree slopes of rock and slate, narrow and exposed technical ridges that really place you in the sky. The high point of the course at 3000m in many respects brings an end to the very technical sections and then the course changes over the second half with plenty of single-track and of course climbing. The final drop from Monte Campaccio at 3007m is long with plenty of rocks and scree. The final 10km’s to the line sap the legs and mind – a Livigno finish is hard fought.

The 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series now moves to Greece for the Olympus SkyMarathon which will take place on the weekend of June 24th.

All images ©iancorless.com

Full image galleries will be available at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Santa Caterina VK 2017 Summary and Images – Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit

Michele Bosacci and Valentina Belotti were the 2017 champions of the Santa Caterina VK, the 6th race in the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit.

The route starts from Santa Caterina (1,739 m) and climbs 1000m to Costa Sobretta (2,739 m). Starting at 3pm in the centre of Santa Caterina, the runners departed en-mass. The early road section allowing for a fast getaway and then the 2.9km course soon pointed upwards as the runners fought position through a mixture of terrain – grassland, pastures, ski pistes and trails across scree slopes. The final section is equipped with a fixed rope to guarantee participants’ safety as they fought to the finish line.

Michle Boasacci dictated a song pace ahead of Nejc Kuhar, Patrick Facchin and race director Marco De Gasperi. However, despite a last minute surge by Kuhar, Bosacci had too large a gap before entering the final technical section of via feratta where it would have been almost impossible to pass.

Boascci took the victory in 34-minutes 56-seconds, Kuhar crossed 18-seconds later and Facchin held of De Gasperi finishing in 35:40 to the race directors 35:41.

For the ladies, Valentina Belotti had a convincing lead over 2nd placed lady, Susanna Saapunki and her victory never looked in doubt. She crossed the line in 41:26 in comparison to the Finish ladies’ 42:23.

Pre-race favourite and VK specialist Francesca Rossi finished 3rd despite nursing a knee injury, her time 43:08.

Attention now turns to Sunday for the 34km Livigno SkyMarathon, the next race in the Migu Skyrunner World Series.

Episode 137 – Camille Herron, Tom Withers and Tania Hodgkinson

Episode 137 of Talk Ultra brings you three interviews – Camille Herron talks about the winning the biggest road ultra in the world, Comrades. We delve into the mind of Tom Withers and how he used his brain to finish the UK’s Dragons Back Race. Niandi Carmont talks with Tania Hodgkinson in her next ‘one-on-one’ interviews and yes, Speedgoat is back.
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00:18:37 NEWS
We spoke about  KJ in the last show Karl but welcome your thoughts…
Then of course in a similar theme we need to mention Alex Honnold who in my opinion has just done one of the most amazing feats not only in climbing but in any sport – El Cap free solo is off the scale.
World Trail Champs
Luis Alberto Hernando proves he really is a class act by winning on a course that he said beforehand, would not suit him as it was too flat and too fast. He won 4:23 and proves he is, the worlds best. Cristofer Clemente ran an incredible waiting game and moved out of the top-30 to finish 2nd in 4:24 and Cedric Fleureton was 3rd in 4:28.
Adeline Roche was a surprise winner in 5:00 just 3-seconds ahead of Amandine Ferrato, also a surprise. Silvia Rampazzo is also a new name on the block after placing 2nd at Zegama a few weeks ago, she is now 3rd at the worlds.
I guess also the worlds is about so many who didn’t perform – it’s a story of bad pacing and fatigue… same old story and will they learn?
Scenic 113km
It was a joint win for this super-tough Skyrunning race in Switzerland. 113k and 7500m of vert saw Stephan Hugenschmidt and Matthias Dippacher cross the line together in 15:40. The ladies winner was Francesca Canepa in 19:43. You can read the race story and get full images HERE
Race to the Tower
Notable as MDS 3rd place runner Tom Evans won this with a convincing victory (7:30) and we also Ironman Legend Chrissie Wellington toe the line of her first ultra. Not only did she win the ladies race but she placed 3rd overall in 8:35.
Wow, Camille Herron bridges 20-years and Ann Trason victories to be the next US runner to take the title in 6:27. Incredible. Alexandra Morozova 2nd in 6:31 and Charne Bosman who was defending champ was 3rd in 6:39. Good year for the US with three other ladies in the top-10, Sarah Bard, Colleen De Reuck and Devon Yanko 6th, 7th and 10th.
2014 winner Bongmusa Mthembu ran 5:35 for victory ahead of Hatiwande Nyamade in 5:38 and Gift Kelehe in 5:41. The UK’s Steve Way was 9th in 5:49 – a great gold medal.
00:36:00 Lets go to an interview with CAMILLE HERRON
Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira
The UK’s Jon Albon ran a great and perfectly paced race not only take victory but smash the old course record by 15-minutes in 5:45. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz had lead the race from the front but faded in the last third of the race, he still made 2nd ahead of Dimitry Mityaev, their times 5:55 aND 6:07.
USA’s Hillary Allen progressed her Skyrunning career with victory after placing 2nd last year, Ekaterina Mityaev was 2nd and Elisabet Masanes 3rd, times 7:06, 7:34 and 8:35 respectively.
Bob Graham Round
The UK’s BGR is certainly becoming popular and although not an official time, Ryan Smith ran 14:17 – as far as we know, this is the second fastest time ever? It seems only a matter of time before the stars align and somebody betters the Billy Bland record – will it be Kilian?
In the last show we discussed the Dragons Back Race and I wanted to include an interview with Tom Withers who placed last almost running and walking twice as long as the male winner Marcus Scotney. He had a story to tell and I think for those ultra-runners who don’t understand how important the mind is, this interview will make it clear.
*Although the sound is generally good for the interview, we did have a few connection issues. I hope it doesn’t disrupt your listening pleasure.
01:36:00 Interview with TOM WITHERS
And finally Niandi brings us a great ‘one-on-one’ interview with Tania Hodgkinson
02:25:29 Interview with TANIA HODGKINSON
The website was down to provide us with our listings.
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03:02:18 CLOSE
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I’m Ian Corless and he is Karl Meltzer.
Keep running
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A Double Bill in Italy #VK and #SKY – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series and Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit

Skyrunning heads to Italy this weekend for a double bill of high mountain action organised by Alta Valtellina Skyrunning Experiences headed up by mountain running legend Marco de Gasperi.

Santa Catarina VK

Friday, the Santa Catarina VK takes place, the next race in the Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit. Starting at an altitude of 1739m the course covers just 2.9km to reach 2739m in a lung and leg bursting race.

Covering a variety of terrain, the route is primarily free of technical difficulty as passes over pastures, grassland, ski routes, trails and slopes made of scree. However, the final section has fixed rope to the summit.

It’s a mass start race and the runners will depart at 1500 from the Centro La Fonte ski station.

Ones to watch:

It will come as no surprise that the La Sportiva team will be present in large numbers with Marco Moletto and Nejc Kuhar heading up the team. Both these runners are VK specialists and we can expect them to be fighting for the podium.

Saul Padua will of course be in the mix too along with Hannes Perkmann and Pere Rullan. Other string contenders are Ales Palko, Joan Freixa Marcelo, Marc Trassera Puyol, Eugeni Gil Ocana, Eduard Baquer, Josep Roset and Actor Aijuria. The ladies race is somewhat compromised after a succession of recent races, the last taking place just last weekend. Therefore, it looks likely that the battle for victory will be between Therese Sjursen, Francesca Rossi and Marianna Jagercikova.

Livigno SkyMarathon

On Sunday, the action moves to Living, approximately 90-minutes by car from Santa Caterina for the Livigno SkyMarathon, the next race in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series .

The Living race personifies pure Skyrunning with 2700m of vertical gain over a 34km course. Exposed mountain ridges, ropes, chains and most the course at altitudes of 2500 to 3000m, this course is not only one to participate in, but one to watch! It’s a classic.

The race takes place on the border of Italy and Switzerland and therefore captures the best of both worlds. Following on from Zegama-Aizkorri, the race will be a hot bed of action with valuable points at stake for the Migu Skyrunner World Series.

The race will start at 0800 on Sunday 18th June.

Ones to watch:

Oh, boy it’s a stacked field for the weekends main event with many of the world’s best Skyrunners toeing the line for battle. The 34km course is the perfect distance for those who will depart at 0800 on Sunday.

Hassan Ait Chaou had a great 2016 and will no doubt be a favourite along with his teammate Aritz Egea who recently has had a return to form. The Casal Mir brothers, Oscar and Marc will also be strong contenders with Marco Moletto.

But the biggest threat may well come from Bhim Gurung. He had an incredible run in China with a breakneck descent that gave him a superb victory.

Andre Jonsson, Adrien Michaud, Nuno Silva, Pascal Egli, Inaki Uribe-Etxebarria, Pere Rullan and a whole host of other top talent will be in contention for top-10 places. In total, 38 elite male runners are on the start list.

Maite Maiora after victory at the recent Zegama-Aizkorri is the outright favourite for the lady’s race – she will take some beating!

Celia Chiron (5th at Zegama) though has the potential to provide a good battle along with Aitziber Ibarbia, Michaela Mertova, Maria Zorroza, Natalie Roman Lopez, Hillary Gerardi, Addie Bracy, Katerina Matrasova and Katrine Villumsen.

Race information can be found HERE on the race website.

The Migu Skyrunner World Series can be found HERE and the Vertical Kilometer World Circuit can be found HERE.

Switching from Canon To Sony – Tip From A Professional

I have held off writing about cameras. You see, although a camera is important, ultimately what is behind the camera is the most important thing. A camera is a tool – just as a hammer to a joiner or a scalpel to a surgeon. However, tools in the right hands can create something quite beautiful.

So, why write now?

Well you see, something has happened that I finally feel is worth writing about.

As a Canon user, I have long loved my relationship with the 5D MKIII and laterally, the 5D MKIV. They are solid work horses that can take a beating, produce great results and ergonomically fit the hand well. Add to the body some quality glass from Canon and you have a great relationship. For years, these cameras and lenses and have provided me with quality images. Where they perfect? No, I struggle to find anything that is perfect but without a doubt they were great and if you look around, you will see the 5D is the workhorse of many a professional.

However, if you work in the mountains, particularly with runners, and you have a need to follow the action on foot. The Canon 5D is not the lightest of friends, stick a 70-200 f2.8 on it and you go weight training at the same time as shooting. So, I have always looked for something light and fast that will allow me to run, take great shots and not compromise on quality.

It’s fair to say I have wasted plenty of money looking for such a camera…

Image © petapixel


Then 18-months ago I came across the Sony A7 (mark 2 version). I was aware of the compromises this camera would bring but I took the plunge. With the Zeiss 35mm f2.8 it was the best ‘running’ camera I had ever used. Light, solid and great images. Plus, it was full-frame, a real bonus!

I continued using the Canon’s and ran with the Sony when required.

Then Sony announced the A7RII with a whopping sensor, faster focusing, silent operation, more frames per second and yes, I was reaching for the credit card.

This camera was a pivotal point. I started to use it more and more and then in December 2016 I packed my Canons away and decided to work solely with the A7RII and decide if I could make the shift to pure Sony shooting. The A7 with the wonderful Zeiss 35mm f2.8 is a great running combination.

Image taken from YouTube clip ©

Image © kenrockwell


You may be asking why was I hesitant?

The answer is simple. The Sony A7 is mirrorless, therefore it can be smaller and lighter, however, mirrorless cameras have ‘blackout’ when shooting. Therefore, following runners and capturing them is an art. I must admit, I did learn this art and was happy! The other issue with the A7RII was that the images were so large (over 80mb each in Raw) that the camera could only manage to read 7 or so images in one burst to the memory card and then you had to wait. Another issue when shooting sport. Again, I worked around it but at times I did feel I was compromising.

In 2017, I had used Sony 100%. The only exception coming for two night shoots, one in Transgrancanaria and the other a tower race in Paris. Why? Quite simply I have an expensive flash set-up for my Canons that I don’t have for the Sony. I also photographed The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica with my Canon 5D MKIV.

The big test came at Marathon des Sables. I took the Sony’s and they were brilliant. I was sold.

May arrived and my Sony world was blown with the announcement of the A9.

Image © photographylife

I read the specs, looked at the set-up of the camera, held a test one and I knew there and then that this was the reason, no question, to make a full conversion to Sony.

I jumped in head first and sold my Sony A7MKII and I sold two 5D MKIII’s and retained the MKIV and my Sony A7RII’s

The A9 was ordered and arrived just a couple of weeks ago.

I can hear a big gasp from photographers out there, wow, this is a big step. Darn right it is! Especially when you look at the price of the A9 – yes, it’s a whopping 4500.00 pounds!

Let’s be clear from the off, the A9 is (in my opinion) the most highly specced camera on the market with performance to match.

Unlike the A7RII, the A9 offers an image size almost half at 24.2mp. There is a reason for that, the A9 camera wants to be fast. It has a stacked Exmor RS image sensor which is mind-blowing.

Why is this mind-blowing? Well imagine pressing the shutter on the camera and then being able to take over 200-images without the camera stopping… yep, high-quality, DRAM memory and Brion X image processing and this camera is designed to take on (and exceed) the best of what Canon or Nikon have to offer.

Image © photographylife

Image data is sent through the sensor instead of around it which is give or take 20x faster. This equates to 241 raw images and approximately 360 jpeg images continuous shooting. If you shoot fast action sport, this is beyond any other camera and in many ways, even beyond what I thought possible. To clarify here, I don’t need THAT for running imagery but you never know…

Another key feature of the A9, or should I say, another two key features is blackout free shooting and an incredible ability to shoot, if required, 20 frames per second. This is the deal breaker for sports photographers and will without doubt start getting Pro’s to turn their heads. The A9 has a QUAD VGA Tru-Finder and therefore you can follow action, live, in the viewfinder, without missing a thing, just like Canon, Nikon or other DSLR’s. Add to this the ability to shoot in 4 different speeds of frame capture – single, Low (5fps), Med (10fps) or High (20fps) and you have a dream combination for action. Note – frames per second reduce if shooting in uncompressed Raw. For example, in high, it reduces to 12 instead of 20. No big deal! The camera uses an electronic shutter for this and it’s wonderfully noise free. You can set to mechanical shutter too and for example, if using flash or if one needs long exposures, mechanical is required.

Image © photographylife

What else?

Well, look through a DSLR and you will usually see some little boxes – these are focus points. The more you spend on the camera, the more focus points you usually get. In a 5D for example it’s over 60 – that is great huh? Actually no. It’s always a problem in sports as one always feel compromised on where one places the focus point. How did Sony get around this? Well they pretty much made the ‘whole’ frame available for focusing with 693 focus points – that is insane and brilliant! No more compromising, no more cropping. I can pretty much use the whole of the frame and place my subject within the composition, exactly where I want it.

Image © Sony

Yes, 93% (arguably this is 100% as you’d never go to the edges) of the frame is available and add to that super-fast AF – the camera makes 60 AF/AE calculations per second. In a nutshell, the AF is stupendous and there is also some other great add-one like the enhanced eye-AF. For most Pros though, good fast AF in a moveable small focus point is what we require – the A9 gives you this with bells on.

The Sony also comes with Image Stabilization (IS) within the camera which is such a plus and yep, it works like a dream. In low-light you get extra stops without hand-shake and that’s a plus for all. It means every lens that you add to the camera has stabilization, with Canon and Nikon, only lenses have this, not the body and they usually cost more.

The doubters will say the images are not as good. No! The Raw files are sweet, great to work with and if you are shooting with Zeiss or Sony G lenses, they are pin sharp, even at f1.8. Don’t get me started on lenses, but for those who want to know.

I am now using the Zeiss Batis range which are beyond incredible in terms of build and quality – 18mm, 25mm and 85mm. I have the Zeiss Sony 55mm f1.8 which is soooooo sharp. I have the uber expensive Sony G 70-200 f2.8 with IS and finally I have the tiny Zeiss 35mm f2.8 for when I want to run and be fast and light.

For some time, many Pros have been writing about their ‘new’ Sony’s and yes, they have been in addition to an existing system. Now, I think we will see more and more make the switch. Nikon have already lost sales to Sony and yes, Sony are now outselling them. Canon still sell the most but believe me, considering the Canon 5D MKIV was only released in September last year, the difference between the A9 and the MKIV is chalk and cheese – I have both so I know! If I was working at Canon, I would be worried – the R&D team must be pulling their hair out!

There are many other features that make the A9 my dream camera.

Image © Sony

  • Exposure compensation dial on-top of the camera, I can + and – my exposure as shooting.
  • Two memory cards that will allow me to shoot Raw to one and JPEG to the other – a nice safety feature should one card fail.
  • The ability to change focusing and frames per second via two dials on-top of the camera. The ability to move my focus point anywhere in the frame with a toggle on the back of the camera.
  • Custom menus and so on.

Basically, this camera is awesome. Video specs I have not tested, not my thing, sorry!

Of course, nothing is perfect, so, what are the negatives re the A9?

It’s a smaller camera and therefore has less of the feel that say a 5D has. But then again, the attraction of the A9 is that it is smaller and lighter.

Image © Sony

Sony have added an optional battery grip that beefs up the camera and a small grip that just makes holding the body a little more pleasing.

I will add neither, the small body is part of the appeal the A7 and A9 range.

This image shows the difference between the A7 and A9.

Image © cameradecision.com

Now the Canon 5D in comparison to the A9.

Image © cameradecision.com

Batteries have been a big concern on the A7 range and the new batteries for the A9 are considerably better and last much longer – I am happy but they don’t last as long as Canon or Nikon – you will need spares!

The A9 is a solid camera with a Magnesium Alloy body (673g), a little beefier than the A7 and it has an adjustable screen but it will not have the longevity of a 5D. The 5D is robust and solid and you can drop them – believe me, I have! The A9 will take a drop for sure, but not as many as a 5D. Of course, the simple answer is don’t drop one but as Pros will tell you, shit happens when you do this day-in and day-out.

The price is crazy, it will come down in time but this camera is not for everyone, if you are a Pro who needs the spec it may be worth it. For me, it’s a game changer.

Why do I say, ‘may be worth it?’

Well, camera gear is expensive and to replace a system is costly. You need a good reason. Also, the Sony range is still building and some compromises will be made on lenses. For example, if you need 300mm, 400mm or longer, you have no choice. So, a football photographer who sits on the sideline of a football match certainly would love the speed of the A9 but he doesn’t really have to worry about the weight as he only has to carry his gear from the car to the football pitch. Also, he needs and requires the long and fast lenses of 300, 400 and 600mm. These photographers won’t be changing! Not yet anyway.

Finally, I am already aware of other Pros who have made the change and I have spoken to and helped others discuss the changes and options.

*Alpine Exposures Jonathan Griffith wrote a blog in April 2016 discussing a shift to Sony, you can read HERE – makes perfect sense for a mountaineer to use the smaller A7 as the subject is moving slower and he as a photographer has more time to compose the shot.

*Pattuci Photo has written several blogs on Sony HERE and you can read one about shifting from Canon to Sony HERE.

*What is interesting is that all the articles by Griffith and Pattuci were before the A9 – I wonder what they say now.

As cameras go, the A9 is a game changer and why I have ultimately decided to write something about ‘kit!’

“…the Sony A9 is a huge advance in sports, news, concert, motion-picture stills and corporate shooting because it does all this at 20 frames per second, tracking autofocus and setting exposure at 60 FPS in the background, and the best part is it does this in complete and total silence. It is an unworldly experience to be motoring along at 20 FPS with full tracking exposure and autofocus, get great exposure and color in each shot, and have this happen in complete silence. It offers full autofocus over the entire frame, not just in the center of the picture like full-frame DSLRs. It’s also the first Sony mirrorless with two card slots, and has the toughest mechanical shutter of any camera ever, “tested” to 500,000 cycles! The mechanical shutter is tough, and the silent electronic shutter has no moving parts to wear out —  ever! The A9 is a landmark in photography; no pro camera has ever been able to go this fast, much less do it in complete silence.” – Ken Rockwell

More reading:

My thoughts above are real world thoughts and I have tried to avoid delving into the complexities of the camera, its technology and so on. However, Ken Rockwell always does a great job of this and he doesn’t mince his words. It’s fair to say Ken has always had a bias for Canon and therefore this review of the A9 provides a great insight into the camera HERE


You can view images taken recently on the Sony A9 below.

Ultra Skymarathon Madeira HERE

Scenic Trail 113k HERE

Images on the A7RII can be viewed below:

Dragons Back Race HERE

Transvulcania HERE

Marathon des Sables HERE

Product images are all © and are used for illustration purposes only

Scenic Trail 113k Summary and Images – Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series 2017

Scenic by name and scenic by nature, the longest race of the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series took place yesterday amongst the majestic mountains of Switzerland. Amongst an awe-inspiring backdrop, views throughout the 113km route stretch far and wide – the Alps, Lake Maggiore, the Appennines and the Po Valley.

Starting at midnight, the early hours of the race were under complete darkness, however, clear skies and full moon provided a spectacular ambience that added to the still and mild temperatures.

A 500m climb kicks off the race to Goal Di Lago and then after just 14km or so, a relentless climb, with little rest follows to Capanna Monte Tamaro at 31.6km. 

The arrival of dawn welcomed the runners and then the long push through the day starts – a shark tooth profile clearly showing how the 7400m of vertical gain will challenge the runners. 

The high-point of the race came at Gazzirola 2116m (81km) and one could say it’s all downhill from here. The reality is far from the truth, the course continually goes up and down all the way to the finish line at 415m alt.

An allocated 32-hours to complete the race sounded generous, however, as the race unfolded, it would soon become clear to finish, let alone within the cut-off, would be a challenge.

The race was predicted to have a hot day, and yes, it was! Temperatures reached over 30deg in a relatively cloud free sky. It was clear from the start that German Stephan Hugenschmidt was going to be the one to beat. He opened a gap immediately after the midnight start, it would have been a lonely night but Matthias Dippacher was matching step-by-step.

 Czech Marek Causidis pursued the duo and with just over a marathon covered, was trailing by 4-minutes as they climbed to Cuccheto at 1571m.

Benoit Guyot and Gael Droz followed together and then Gabriele Sborina just 1-minute later, the front runners all just spread over 30-minutes.

Lead lady and pre-race favourite Francesca Canepa, had lead the race from the start and had spent a lonely night. She arrived just outside the top-10 overall at the marathon mark with a 15-minute lead over 2nd lady Christiana Follador, also from Italy.

Helene Ogi had Follador in sight and Follador knew it, she repeatedly turned to check on the German runner. But Ogli was already looking tired under the strain of the relentless climbing.

Spain’s Laia Diez was in 4th but the strongest looking lady (besides Canepa) was Russian Yulia Baykova who caused a little confusion as she displayed a race number from one of the shorter races.

Over the following kilometers there was little change in the men’s race, with Hugenschmidt and Dippachern controlling the race, the only real point of note was the extent their lead. At the summit of Monte Boglia (with just over 10km to go) they had a 20-minute lead over Causidis and 30-minutes over Guyot who was now running alone in 4th pursued by Droz who was another 9-minutes back. 

Canepa arrived at this marker over 2-hours after the lead men but her lead was strong. However, it was all change behind with Follador, Ogli and Diez all crumbling under the pressure of Baykova who had moved up into 2nd and looked strong.

 Follador, Ogli and Diez had succumbed to the course and local favourite Denise Zimmermann filled the gap followed by Giuliana Arrigoni from Italy.

The finish line finally came 15-hours and 40-minutes after the start for Hugenschmidt and Dippacher – they crossed the line together, joint victors of a super tough race. Causidis held for 3rd, Guyot 4th and Droz 5th, their times 16:08:53, 16:20:04 and 16:27:35 respectively.

Canepa was first lady in 19:12:18 – yes, the race is that tough! Baykova placed a great 2nd in 19:43:05 and then Zimmermann, Arrigoni and Patricia Besomi placed 3rd, 4th and 5th in 20:46:48, 22:38:56 and 23:03:10.

Full image gallery available to view at iancorless.photoshelter.com

Berghaus Dragons Back Race 2017 and Transvulcania 2017 on IRUN4ULTRA

May was a busy month of racing and race coverage. The epic Berghaus Dragons Back Race weaved it’s way down the spine of Wales, starting in the north and finishing in the south.

My summary of the race is available to read on IRUN4ULTRA HERE. You can also listen to episode 136 of Talk Ultra which was a Dragons Back special with three incredible interviews, check it out HERE.

You can view the full image galleries from the Dragons Back Race HERE

May would not be May without the Transvulcania Ultramarthon on the magic island of La Palma. It was a record year with Ida Nilsson setting a new course record and Tim Freriks taking the win for the USA. You can read the summary of the race on IRUN4ULTRA HERE.

You can view images for the Transvulcania VK, the Ultra and a few fun days in the mountains HERE


2015 and 2017 Marathon des Sables ladies champion Elisabet Barnes will join 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra and 2017 Dragons Back Race champion Marcus Scotney on the start line in Quepos for the 2018, The Coastal Challenge.

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

The 14th edition of the race is set to be a classic in the making with the confirmation of Barnes and Scotney. Barnes is a two-time winner of the iconic Marathon des Sables and is a two-time finisher of the TCC – 2015 and 2016.

Bitten by the Costa Rica bug and the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle, Barnes has repeatedly said that the Central American race is her most favourite.

“Costa Rica is a magical place and the TCC is spectacular in so many ways. I work hard in this race because technical running is not my strength, but I love the fact that I get to push my boundaries and challenge myself. The course is just breath taking with great variety, always interesting but not always easy! After a tough day on the trails you are rewarded with yet another stunning campsite, a warm welcome by the dedicated volunteers, and excellent food provided by the hard-working catering team. It’s a race that every runner should add to their bucket list.”

The race looks set to elevate itself to new heights in with the confirmation of Marcus Scotney. Scotney is a highly-respected runner within the UK who has on multiple occasions represented his country on the world ultra-stage. In recent years, he has participated in multi-day races – The Cape Wrath Ultra in Scotland and The Dragons Back Race in Wales. Both races are tough, technical races with many 1000m’s of vertical gain. Scotney won them both and now looks forward to testing himself in the high heat and humidity of Costa Rica.


‘The Coastal Challenge has been on my bucket list of races since 2014, it looks like an amazing beautiful race with a stunning mixture of trail, beach and jungle running. I can’t wait to visit Costa Rica and experience the culture and run a multi-stage race which has a brilliant reputation. I am sure it will live up to that reputation and all that I expect; I feel very privileged to run the race.’

Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled though, the racing, terrain, heat and climbing make the stages considerably harder and more challenging than the Moroccan adventure. 

“Not carrying equipment is convenient, as is having access to your gear so you can run in fresh clothes every day and change for camp,” Barnes says. “However, the terrain is at times far more difficult than in MDS, and when adding to that the high humidity, you really have a challenge on your hands. Still, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a week”

Will it be third time lucky for Barnes in Costa Rica, who knows? She certainly has knowledge of the course, an understanding of how to run in the heat and yes, she also knows how to maximize her time to make the most of her racing experience. For Scotney, the challenge will be a new one. He will love all the faster sections of the course where he will be able to unleash his natural running speed. The challenges will come with the technical terrain and of course the heat combined with the humidity.

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race and in the coming months, several other elite athletes will be announced who will participate in this classic race.

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The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE