Episode 188 – Zach Bitter 100-mile Treadmill WR Special

Episode 188 – A Zach Bitter special all about his 100-mile treadmill world record (tbc) established on May 16 2020.
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ZACH BITTER SPECIAL

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ZACH BITTER 100 Mile World Record Attempt, May 16

Zach Bitter is no stranger to tough endurance challenges. He currently is the World Record holder for 100-miles on a track, setting an incredible time of 11-hours, 19-minutes and 13-seconds.

On May 16th starting at 0700 (PST) he will take on the challenge of setting a new treadmill world record, the time to beat 12-hours 32-minutes set by Dave Proctor.

The whole event will be streamed live via YouTube broken down in 2-hour slots. I (ian Corless) will host the first slot followed by Jamil Coury, Dean Karnazes and Dave Scott, Fight for the Forgotten, Erik Schranz and finally, Zach’s wife, Nicole Bitter.

Throughout the day, the hosts will be joined by a plethora of guests as the whole world record attempt will be discussed live.

GO HERE FOR THE LIVE FEED

Zach Pre-Event Q&A

What was your A-Race plans in 2020?

I had planned on peaking for a track 100-mile race in London in April, called the Centurion 100. World 100km Championships was slated for September in Winschoten Netherlands, which was likely going to be a focal part of my early Fall. Beyond that, I had planned on doing some local events near Phoenix through Aravaipa who puts on over 30 events per year and are a blast to jump into. 

Why do you like running 100milers on track?

I really like the comparability. If I do a 100-mile race on a track, it is easier to tease out improvements, mistakes, etc… from one event to the next. I also really like the process of finding out how fast I can run 100 miles when there as few hurdles in the way. I love the trails too, but they just tend to be more varied.

What is it that you like or intrigues you about running on a treadmill – and going after treadmill 100mile WR?

I big part is simply that with all events being cancelled, it gives me the opportunity to test my fitness and my most recent training cycle. I have been running ultra-marathons for almost ten years now, so hoping on a treadmill for a significantly longer time than I have spent on one (30 miles is the furthest I have gone to date) has enough uncertainty that it makes it exciting, but is close enough to my strengths that I feel I can put together a solid performance if things go well.

What’s your approach to mentally handling 12hours running – on a track, and now on a treadmill? 

I usually focus on three main things. First, I like to pick small benchmarks to focus on throughout the day, so you do not burn too much mental energy thinking about running 100 miles or 12 hours all day long. Second, I like to visualize in my race specific long sessions where I would be on race/event day, so for my longer sessions on the treadmill I pretend I am that far from finishing and visualize what it will be like on race/event day. Third, I like to rotate distractions like listening to music, or picking a short distance to target and visualize where I would be on one of my favorite running routes at home. 

What been your mileage – to build up a base into this WR attempt?

I have been consistently hitting up to 120 miles per week the last month. A lot of it being at aerobic threshold or just below, with a few bouts of lactic threshold work, and few long runs at goal 12-hour intensity.

What has your taper been like for this WR attempt?

Pretty typical to what I normally do. I usually taper for about two weeks. I drop volume and intensity a bit and give myself more time between any key sessions.

Can you tell us about your fueling philosophy in training/living and racing – in terms of carbs/fats etc.? 

I follow a HFLC diet. It is not a strict keto diet or zero carb approach, although I will tease those ranges during offseason or recovery blocks. The races I do are quite long, so be default lower in intensity. The fueling variable and potential digestion issues that come with it makes it easier for me to follow a lower carb approach. On race day, I will switch from using SFuels Train/Life to SFuels Race+. Essentially, my fueling goal on race day is designed to defend muscle glycogen with exogenous carbs just enough to have gas in the tank at the end.

What are the big learnings in performance, recovery, training consistency with a low-carb high fat approach to training and racing?

For me personally, I find it to be more consistent. I find it easier to count on quality sleep, and even levels of energy. This no doubt adds to consistency in training. I couldn’t explain why, but I also notice that I have better range of motion following big efforts in training and racing.

At what points in the year would you go Ketogenic, vs. lower-carb/higher fat?

Usually, it is most common during the less structured portions of my year. When I finish a big race and have carved out a couple weeks to focus primarily on recovery and do not have any specific workouts on the schedule is a common spot for me. Off season time as well. When I do my biggest training blocks, I almost always have de-load weeks built into the program, which sometimes reduce volume and intensity by as much as 50 percent. These weeks are another spot where I am usually more inclined to steer closer to strict keto.

Tell us about your race fueling in terms of calories you will be taking on each hour?

For races that I am targeting my training around, I will typically aim for approximately 40 grams of carbohydrate per hour. My experience has been that 40 grams an hour provides me enough exogenous carbohydrate to defend glycogen, but not so much that it results in stomach/digestive issues.

What will a good day look like on May 16 – for you?  in terms of feeling in the first 30miles, the middle of the race and the last 30 miles?

There will be a lot of uncertainty for this event. It is a bit harder to predict things that I have not done before, and I try to respect the unknown. Since I have not run past 30 miles on a treadmill, there will likely be some on the fly adjustments being made, but this is what makes this adventure exciting to me. Ultimately, my number one goal is to give folks a sense of community during these isolated times and bring awareness to Fight For The Forgotten. Normally, for a 100-mile event, I would describe a good day as consistent with a strong finish, so likely tight splits with not too much variance from one mile to the next. For this event, I think there may be some benefit from skewing my pacing throughout the event to change up mechanics and give myself more of a variety of targets throughout the day. This type of strategy might be helpful in breaking up the day into smaller segments. With that said, I would like to get to 100 miles before the clock hits 12-hours, however that plays out. Regardless of the pacing strategy, a good day will likely have me feel fresh at 30-miles, a bit worn but focused at 60-70 miles, similar to how I would feel for a long run at the back end of a big training week, and driven to push on tired legs for the final 30 miles.

What is your sense on what it will take to set a new World Record – in terms of race pace through the race?

Dave Proctor’s current 100-mile treadmill world record is approximately 7:30 per mile, so it will take at least that. I am relatively fresh from a racing standpoint and my fitness is on par with similar build ups I have done in the past when running under 12-hours for 100 miles. You never know with 100 miles though. Anything can happen and some hurdles will likely happen, so all you can really do is show up ready, trust the process, and see what the day provides.

The event is sponsored by:

SFUELS, NORDICTRACK, ALTRA, BUFF, COROS and PURPOSE.

TUNE IN ON MAY 16 HERE

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Episode 187 – Ben Bardsley, Bob Crowley and Stephen Goldstein PHD

Episode 187Ben Bardsley talks about his 2500km journey on the Norge Pa Langs, Norway. We speak with new ITRA President, Bob Crowley and Stephen Goldstein PHD updates us on Covid-19.
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00:10:54 BEN BARDSLEY 
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00:56:04 BOB CROWLEY – ITRA here
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01:39:00 STEPHEN GOLDSTEIN PHD
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I’m Ian Corless and she is Speedgoat Karl
Keep running
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the INTERVIEWS Season 1 – Episode 14 : Hal Koerner

Hal Koerner is a legend in the world of ultra-running who was one of the early pioneers of the sport. He has victories at Kettle Morraine 100, The Bear 100, Angeles Crest, Western States hardrock 100 and so many more…  He is the owner of a specialty running store, Rogue Valley Runners, located in the mountainous Southern Oregon town of Ashland. Hal featured in JB Benna’s feature-length documentary “Unbreakable: The Western States 100”. In 2014, he published  “Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning” and was released by VeloPress. The book details training for an ultra marathon; from 50k to 100 miles.
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Recorded in 2012.
Episode 0h 39m 59s
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adidas Terrex Agravic Flow

The development and progress of the adidas brand in the trail running world has for many years been spearheaded by Luis Alberto Hernando, and what an ambassador he is!

Now, ‘TERREX’ is changing at an alarming rate and in the past 12 to 18-months there has been significant growth and development in shoes, apparel and athletes. Without doubt, adidas are now pushing hard in the trail and mountain world.

The TERREX AGRAVIC FLOW is a shoe that encompasses the road history of the brand and welcomes the development of the trail brand. The shoe clearly transitions from road to trail and back again all packaged in a really good-looking shoe. 

My pair are solar red/ core black and grey two. There is no hiding in these shoes, they are colorful!

For clarity, Adidas use three descriptive names for their shoes: SPEED, AGRAVIC and TWO.

  • SPEED offers a narrower fit and is arguably a more performance orientated shoe.
  • AGRAVIC offers a standard fit and is arguably more of an ‘everyday’ shoe.
  • TWO offers a wider fit and more cushioning for longer trail days. 

The TERREX AGRAVIC FLOW falls into the everyday category and adidas confirm, Pavement to trail and back, your feet stay cool and the transitions are seamless with a smooth roll-off and fresh energy in every stride. Foot-hugging support and sure-footed grip let you move across rocky, rooted terrain, wet or dry. I often do not like the way a brand tries to sell a shoe in a sentence or two, but I have to say, adidas sum up the Agravic Flow well in this description. 

THE SHOE

Billed as a regular fit shoe, I have to say, to me, it feels a little wider in the toe box than many other regular fit shoes. So, keep that in mind when looking at them and trying them on. I also personally feel that they size a little larger. I always use a UK9.5 but have found a Uk9 to be far more preferable with the Agravic Flow.

With 15mm cushioning at the front and 22mm at the rear, the shoe is a cushioned ride without compromising feel for the ground and the 7mm drop fits perfectly for an everyday shoe ensuring that a day on the trail will be relaxed and comfortable.

The outsole is by Continental and the German brand really do know how to make a grippy outsole. With 3mm lugs, the Agravic Flow is never going to cut it when the trail gets sloppy and/ or muddy. However, on hard pack trail the grip is superb. On rock, wet or dry, grip also excellent and importantly it gives a real feeling of confidence which allows you to run without hindrance. The transition to road is seamless and comfortable, no doubt contributed too with the BOOST cushioning.

 Cushioning comes from BOOST technology and you really feel the comfort as soon as you put the shoes on. There is also EVA in the frame to reduce weight and this in turn, provides some stability. If you have not used a BOOST shoe before, give them a go, the energy return and comfort levels are excellent.

The upper is one the stars of the Agravic Flow, it is mesh with abrasion resistant welding. It is seamless and uses a sock-like construction. If you have read my shoe reviews before, you will know I love sock-like construction and the same applies here for the Agravic Flow. You slide your foot in and immediately it feels snug. You could, if you should wish too, use the shoe without socks?

The laces sit on top of the upper and are sewn in offering 5 eyelets on either side, the middle eyelet set back allowing on option to loosen or add more tightness to the upper when fastening. There is no option lock-lace as there is only one eyelet.

The toe box, as mentioned previously, feels wider than standard and at the front there is an overlay to add a little protection and the outsole curls up to add some reinforcement. But toe protection is minimal. At the rear of the shoe, the heel box is plush and comfortable, and it held my foot well both when going up and down trails.

There is no tongue as the shoe is a sock-like, so, comfort levels are high. You see the number ‘310’ this refers to the weight in grams of a UK8.5 shoe.

Built on a neutral last, the EVA on the medial side wraps up to offer some arch support. It’s subtle, but noticeable. I wouldn’t call the Agravic Flow a support/ pronation control shoe. Equally, I could not call it neutral. It sits somewhere between but being a runner who uses neutral shoes, I find the Agravic Flow very comfortable.

IN USE

 The Agravic Flow is a great everyday shoe when the trails are hard packed, and you want comfort, support and reassurance. They are not for muddy days! The transition from road to trail is superb and seamless, you can feel adidas’ road heritage in the shoe. 

The BOOST technology is really noticeable and gives a real bounce, especially on rock, gravel, tree roots and so on. This is not at the compromise for feel for the ground though. So, when the trail becomes more technical, I was never worried about foot placement and confidence. The toe box is wider though, so, when running on very technical trail, I would prefer a firmer hold at the front. You can’t have it all and the Agravic Flow does a great job of allowing toe splay. So, it’s a great shoe for longer trail days when comfort is needed. The outsole is excellent in the wet and dry on non-muddy trail. 

The sock-like upper is just plush and comfortable. There is nothing to criticize here, I wish all shoes could be this comfortable. Quite simply, you could remove the laces and they would make a great pair of slippers – yes, they are that comfy. 

The laces work well, it would be nice to have that extra eyelet to allow lock-lacing, but that is a minor niggle. For me, the shoe does have a wider feel than standard, and I therefore found that I could compensate by adjusting the laces to hold my foot securely. 

I do feel that the shoe sizes larger by a half size, so, if purchasing online, keep that in mind. Ultimately, you need to try the shoe on.

CONCLUSION

The Agravic Flow is a great shoe that manages to mix road running and trail running seamlessly. It’s a shoe that you can pretty much put on every day and enjoy its ability to feel like a road shoe and then when on the trail, enjoy the cushioning and grip of the best out and-out-trail shoes. There is little not to like in this package from adidas.

If you are looking for one shoe that covers many options, the Agravic Flow is a great place to start. If you want a road shoe, look elsewhere. If you want a trail shoe with comfort and grip for dry/ wet trails, then this shoe ticks the boxes.

 

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Is VIRTUAL here to stay?

Virtual running is not new.  

Virtual sport is not new.

But today, as the world is gripped in lockdown, virtual running is taking off like never before. 

Runner’s World, way back in 2015 asked the question, ‘Are Virtual Runs the Future of Racing?’ In an article by Alison Wade.

‘Virtual Racing is not a new concept. Postal races—in which competitors mail in their times to be compared with others—began decades ago. But advances in technology have improved runnersexperience of events from their own treadmills, and as the sport has grown, so has interest in this alternate way of racing.’

The joy of virtual is quite simple, you participate wherever you can, when you can and in many scenarios, in any capacity. It shows us that our need to belong, to be part of something is very strong, even if we are doing the sport alone and virtually.

‘Remote entrants received a downloadable bib, finishers certificate, and the races official swag…’

Some races reach capacity, London Marathon would be a good example. Virtual can allow someone to run a route at the same time as an official race on a virtual course using an app that simulates the course.

To be honest, many of us now have some form of tracking device, be that a watch, phone or additional gadget. Many subscribe to an app on their phone, be that on Android or Mac that allows us daily to update a training session. Strava being an obvious one but so many others exist.

Technology used to be something that was feared, but now it is embraced. 

Regina Jackson of ‘Will Run for Bling’ created in 2013, said to Alison Wade, ‘Many of those who run our races have busy lives and are attracted to the fact that they have nine days to complete each race. Others are drawn in by the fact that they can break up the run into shorter segments and still get credit for completing the race.’

But times are changing…

As races throughout the world are being cancelled or postponed, race directors have been looking for opportunities to retain their market, inspire the audience and still provide engagement. Equally, runners or sports people who desire an event and community have pursued alternatives. Interaction, that sense of belonging and the need to participate a driving force.

So, the transition has been seamless, and, in some scenarios, it has exploded to a level that one would have struggled to comprehend just 4-months ago.

A prime example being the recently started (May 1st) ‘The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000km’which allows participants to travel across Tennessee (virtually) from may 1st to August 31st. Quite simply, you have 4-months to cover the distance by any means and daily you upload your distance (even if it is a zero) and via an interactive map, your dot is moved along the route.

The above is brought to us by Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake of the famous Barkley Marathons and Bigs Backyard Ultra. Now, Laz is like the Pied Piper, people love him and love his crazy ideas. However, I don’t think even he could have anticipated that a 1000km virtual run would explode like it has. As they say on the sign-up page, ‘To complete, the race will require only a hair over 5 miles per day…  and those who want a little extra on their plate, you can do the out and back version – 2,000 kilometers!

The numbers are phenomenal, $60 entry fee and currently over 17,569 participants. There is a charity element too for ‘Feeding America/ Tennessee’ – the donation page is showing a current revenue of $96,533. And now, there is even a ‘Doggie Run Across TN for Animal Shelters’ with a sign up of $30.

Depending on viewpoint, for now, virtual races and challenges are filling a gap that many of us are missing as we are forced to social distance and lockdown. As restrictions ease, and life starts to return to some normality, I can’t help but think an element of virtual will exist at a greater level than before January 2020.

As one runner has told me, ‘I race for the atmosphere, being around hundreds with a similar passion and then testing myself at the same time and on the same course as everyone else. I like the meet up before and the post-run gathering. It’s more than running, it is community. So, racing is really important for me and many others. However, the virtual world has opened my eyes to a new way of training. I love the fact that maybe I can run across Tennessee in 4-months and the great thing is, should I get an opportunity to race, I can use that mileage too for the virtual challenge.’

One thing is for sure, in the ultra-running world, a challenge is a challenge, be that real or virtual. Recent months and weeks have shown us that imagination is the only limiting factor.

In Spain, friends Kilian Jornet, Pau Capell and Tofol Castanyer created an indoor challenge. Fueled by the lockdown that did not allow them to run outside, with the help of Albert Jorquera, Jordi Saragossa and Maria Fainé, they created ‘YoCorroEnCasa’ translated to IRunAtHome. With just a week of planning, they brought over 7400 people together, all running ‘in the home’ and in the process they raised €82,940 for charity – they did not take a euro. I followed their example and did the same in the UK on April 18th with IRunAtHome raising £20,000 for charity.

Taking inspiration from Lazarus Lake, Dave Proctor (who holds the 100-mile treadmill world record) took the ‘Backyard Ultra’ format and made it into a virtual event using technology such as Zoom and YouTube to bring runners together, from all over the world, to run 4.1667 miles every hour, on the hour. Over 2000 signed up. The challenge was to see who would be, the last man or woman standing in the ‘Quarantine Backyard Ultra.’ After 2+ days, ultra-running legend, Michael Wardian emerged victorious with 262.5-miles beating Radek Brunner. Notably, Michael ran outdoors using a loop of road around his house, whereas Radek ran on a treadmill. 

Listen to a podcast interview with Michael Wardian HERE

 Salomon runner, Ryan Sandes was locked down in South Africa, but that did not stop him. Taking on a personal challenge, he ran 100-miles in and around his house is 26-hours and 27-minutes. Article here.

And on May 16th, 100-mile world record holder, Zach Bitter, will look to set the 100-mile WR on a treadmill with a virtual run that will be streamed live for the full duration of approximately 12-hours. He encourages people to join him on their own treadmills and experience the journey.

 Racing will return. The trails (and even roads), the scenery, the landscape, the mountains and fresh air will bring us back to start lines. The need to share a journey and experience, to test one’s self in real time is something that is primal. The need for physical interaction, before, during and after a race is something, we all need. 

It’s unclear when virtual racing made the leap online to a mass audience. Some race directors say it evolved from runners requests many years ago to participate in physical races from afar. Regardless of the original origin, this year, virtual racing has exploded in popularity.

Virtual is here to stay and no doubt, at a far greater level than when this year began.

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References: Active.com here Runners World here New York Times here The Washington Post here

RAB KAON Jacket Review

When it comes to mountains and outdoor terrain, UK brand RAB have been a ‘go-to’ for any outdoor enthusiast, whether that be for the Himalayas, mountaineering, trekking, climbing or a leisurely walk in the outdoors.

2020 will see RAB launch a series of new products under the heading of SKYLINE a range of products made up of ultra-lightweight clothing that does not compromise on protection. Intended for ‘fast and light’ days that blur the line between running and technical scrambling.

It’s a significant movement for the brand and as a firm RAB fan, the SKYLINE range has already gained my attention and no doubt, it will grab the attention of anyone who likes to move faster in the mountains.

I will be introducing element of the new SKYLINE range over the coming weeks, notably, the SONIC SHORT SLEEVE TEE, PACER JACKET, CHARGE JACKET and PHANTOM PULL ON.

Image ©RAB

But first, the KAON jacket. 

The new KAON jacket personifies and sets out the stall of the new direction and although it does not come under the SKYLINE banner, it certainly ticks all the boxes offering minimal insulation with low-weight and packing size. Balancing lightweight, warmth and protection, the KAON uses a combination of 800 fill Goose Down and Synthetic Status insulation. Concentrating on the core, the Kaon retains warmth where it is needed, while ‘Pertex Quantum Air’ allows complete freedom of movement under the arms.

The Kaon offers zoned insulation allowing a balance between warmth without compromising movement. It mixes down for the core and ‘Stratus’ synthetic fill on the shoulders, hood and cuffs. 

The down in the core is 800FP hydrophobic down (70g in the men’s and 65g for the women.) This is significant as down, while warmer and lighter, cannot get wet – it loses warmth! However, hydrophobic down is treated with a durable water repellent that allows for quicker drying and the ability to resist water for longer. In a nutshell, it makes the Kaon far more usable in a variety of situations.

The Stratus synthetic fill is significant as it allows the jacket to be more breathable, dry out faster and is 20% less absorbent to other rival insulation. Synthetic is effective at keeping one warm, even when wet, so, it is ideal for damp/ wet conditions. RAB have added this to key areas of stress, either from the weather or equipment or a combination of the two. For example, on the shoulders, synthetic insulation will be far more durable with pressure from rucksack straps. Also, when compressed, it retains warmth, unlike down which requires loft.

The Atmos outer shell will still allow for loft while reducing down leakage making a perfect combination of warmth v weight.

Under the arms and down the side of the torso, Pertex Quantum Air is used which allows heat to escape and therefore allowing for body temperature regulation, always a difficult balance when moving fast and light.

IN USE 

The KAON is a wonderful crossover jacket for mountain runs and alpinists who want to move fast and light but be prepared for any potential inclement conditions that the mountains can throw at you. 

On first look, it is a simple jacket with a full-length zip, hood (that will allow for a helmet), high collar for warmth, one chest pocket, no side pockets and the sides and under arms use a different more flexible and breathable fabric. It has stitch through construction that provides a small square look to the jacket which ensure the insulation stays put.

The fit is slightly tailored, RAB say ‘slim’ but it is not super tight. Movement is not compromised. The arms are a normal length with a simple elasticated cuff. The jacket length sits just below the waist and for me, covers my backside. When zipped up, the neck goes nice and high and sits just below the chin keeping out drafts. The hood fits perfectly and has no adjustment – as mentioned, you can wear a helmet if required.

Image ©RAB

Needless to say, it is very light (240g +/-) and packs small and comes with its own stuff sack.

It is available in 3 colours, ebony (blue), firecracker (red) and dark sulphur (yellow).

I normally wear medium and medium is perfect in the KAON, size options are XXS to XXL.

 Having used the jacket as we transitioned from Winter to Spring, I have found it perfect or everyday use. On chilly days I start with it on and then remove when my core is warm. It packs away small and fits in the side pocket of my Osprey Talon 11 pack (to provide an example.) On warmer days, I have added the KAON to my pack in the assurance that should the weather change, I have an excellent light layer that will work. In conjunction with a lightweight jacket, such as the PACER (here) – I have warmth and waterproof for well under 500g.

SUMMARY

The KAON is one of those essential kit items when going to the mountains. It’s size and weight make it a ‘mandatory’ item for me – there is no reason not to take it! Warm, lightweight and packs small = perfect.

RAB HERE

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the INTERVIEWS Season 1 – Episode 13 : Max King

Max King born February 24, 1980, is an American ultra-marathoner. He was the winner at the 2014 IAU 100 km World Championships and the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships. King earned the bronze medal at the 2016 NACAC Cross Country Championships / Pan American Cross Country Cup.
He has also won numerous national titles at various distances ranging from track to ultra marathon. He has also excelled at OCR becoming Warrior Dash World Champion. In addition, he has won multiple national runner of the year awards.
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First recorded in 2012.
Episode 0h 39m 59s
Talk Ultra back catalogue HERE
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Hosted on ANCHOR (HERE) the INTERVIEWS will also be available to listen on many other players, including SPOTIFY (HERE).
ANCHOR app on Apple HERE and Google HERE
Download links will be added in due course.
Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher
*****
TALK ULTRA podcast will be released as normal providing you long shows as it has always done with ideally two shows per month. The back catalogue will be released randomly via the INTERVIEWS and not chronologically.
*****

One Sees Clearly Only With The Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You see this is no ordinary achievement.

Gilles is a guide and Didier is blind.

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     Article was first published in 2013 and later for Runultra

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

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