The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Patan and The Monkey Temple

Today, the calm of the Monkey Temple and historical Patan. It’s a day of noise, colour and amazing people as the ETR runners relax and soak in the beauty of this magical area.

The Monkey Temple *’Swayambhunath’  is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’ for the many varieties of trees found on the hill. For the Buddhist Newars, in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudha.

Patan *Lalitpur Metropolitan City is the third largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu and Pokhara and it is located in the south-central part of Kathmandu Valley which is a new metropolitan city of Nepal. Lalitpur is also known as Manigal. It is best known for its rich cultural heritage, particularly its tradition of arts and crafts. It is called city of festival and feast, fine ancient art, making of metallic and stone carving statue.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Each year I am constantly surprised and blown away by my experiences as I meet the locals in their environment, some I now have seen for several years on my trips to these magical places.

Tomorrow the runner’s leave early morning for camp 1 with a 0545 departure, the race starts the following day at 0900, Monday 11th November.

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Arrival in Kathmandu

Runners from all over the world arrived in Kathmandu today after a long-haul flight through the night via Istanbul.

The noise and chaos of Kathmandu assaulting the sleep deprived senses of the 2019 participants as they journeyed from the airport via bus to Hotel Shanker close to the popular area of Thamel.

Teardrop flags, the ETR finish arch and a welcome party of ETR crew and hotel staff now making the 9th edition of the Everest Trail Race all too real. Day one is a relaxed day allowing weary travellers to adjust to the time change.

Nerves, excitement, trepidation and anxiety were all present in varying degrees for the challenge ahead. Despite the ETR’s history, the 9th edition will be remembered for a new route. In the 2017 and 2018 editions of the race, it became apparent to the whole ETR team that the development of road networks from Jiri were beginning to impact on the true spirit of the ETR.

Race Director – Jordi Abad

Race Director, Jordi Abad, had looked at options to explore new trails and go back in time and create a more raw and unique experience as was found in the early editions of the ETR.

Now fully developed within the Solu Khumbu district. The 2019 ETR has four entirely new stages in rural, non-tourist areas. Stages 1-3 and stage 5 bringing a whole new experience of trails and views.

The 2019 ETR will truly be a unique experience harking back to the pioneering first edition.

 

The 4th stage remains entirely the same as in the previous editions, and the final stage will once again start in Tengboche and conclude in Lukla but using a different trail between Tengboche and Namche Bazaar.

The 9th edition will be 12 Km longer with an additional 500m of vertical gain. Importantly, the race starts at a higher elevation of 2800m, In previous editions, Jiri was at an altitude of 1800m, this increase of 1000m is a key and important change.

In summary, the 2019 edition of the ETR will be an incredible adventure for all involved. With a total distance of 170 km and a whopping 26,000 m of accumulated gain/ loss – 13,500m of positive / maximum elevation 4,104 m / minimum elevation 1,500 m.

Daily distances are as follows:

  • Stage 1 – 25km 3625m+/-
  • Stage 2 – 26km 3735m+/-
  • Stage 3 – 30km 5396 +/-
  • Stage 4 – 27.5km 4130m +/-
  • Stage 5 – 32km 4465m +/-
  • Stage 6 – 30km 4572m +/-

Daily reports and images will be reported here on this website.

It is anticipated that communication, particularly on stages 1 and 3 may very well be very sporadic, so, please be patient.

Race Website:  Global HEREUK HERE

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Episode 177 – Will Hayward, Magdalena Boulet and Kasia Osipowicz

Episode 177 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Will Hayward who was the ‘Last Man Standing’ but not the winner at Bigs Backyard Ultra. We chat with Magdalena Boulet about her recent FKT attempt and we speak with Kasia Osipowicz about her 2019 Skyrunning UK season and winning the Skyrunner UK & Ireland Series.
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00:04:00 NEWS
Bigs Backyard Ultra – Maggie Guertl runs 250 miles to win Laz’s demonic loop of his backyard
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WILL HAYWARD 00:28:45
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World 24-hour champs in France – Camille Herron is on fire…. 167.75 miles tbc
Javelina Hundred won by Kaci Lickteig and Pat Reagan
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MAGDALENA BOULET 01:25:35
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KASIA OSIPOWICZ 02:24:49
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INFINITE TRAILS 2020 – Looking for an incredible experience in 2020? Put a team of 3 together. Head to Austria and take on an incredible trail loop of varying distance in relay format. Fastest team wins… But Infinitetrailswch is more than that. It’s an incredible weekend of community spirit. Download the info HERE
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CLAIRE SMITH – Remember Claire Smith from episode 162 here HERE – Well, she is doing a ‘Double Deca’ Ironman – yes, 20x Ironman distance… She has completed a 48 mile swim, finished a 2,240 mile bike ride and is now halfway through a 520 mile run but in pain… Go to Brutal Events and give some encouragement – this is mind blowing. Way to go Claire Smith
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ARRAN SKYLINE joins the 2020 Skyrunner UK and Ireland Series

ARRAN SKYLINE brought to you by Ultra Trail Scotland joins the Skyrunner UK & Ireland series for 2020.

The Ultra Trail Scotland team of Andrew Falconer, Noreen Devine and elite mountain runner, Casey Morgan bring an out-and-out pure mountain running experience that harks back to the heritage of skyrunning races in Italy.

READ MORE HERE

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The Coastal Challenge 2020 #TCC2020 – Elite Line-Up Announced

The 2020 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! Six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain, 9413m of vertical descent – TCC is more than a challenge!

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2019 edition was won by Ida Nilsson with a record time and Pere Aurell for the men. The men’s CR is still held by the UK’s, Tom Evans.

 Hugging the coastline of the tropical Pacific, TCC is the ultimate multi-day experience that weaves in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of this Central American country.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulder, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long relentless beaches and finally finish in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay before departing for their journeys home via speedboat.

Irrespective of pace or effort, the Costa Rican coastline never stops providing inspiration. This is so much more than a race, It’s a journey, a running holiday and a voyage of discovery. Friendships made in the rainforests, on the beaches and in the camps are ones to last a lifetime – the race is one of survival, perseverance and enjoyment in equal measure.

 “This has been an incredible journey. It’s a stunning and magnificent part of the world and the course, terrain, views and the racing has been world-class. I have been blown away by everything – the final stage was just stunning, and it managed to compress the whole TCC experience in just 22km. I will be back to TCC and Costa Rica one day, guaranteed!” – Tom Owens, 2017 Champion

THE 2020 ELITE LINE UP

Brittany Peterson

Burst on the global scene in 2016 with a win at Moab Red Hot %%km, placed 3rd at Speedgoat 50km, 2nd at the Rut and then 4th at Transvulcania in 2018. A top-ranked Skyrunner, in 2019 Brittany moved to longer races and won the iconic Bandera 100km. However, all previous results were surpassed in June when she ran the race of her life to finish 2nd at Western States 100.

Kelly Wolf

Kelly won the 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail and in the process, elevated her profile to a whole new level in Europe. She has won at Tarawera, placed 3rd at Transvulcania, 4th at Ultra Trail Capetown and most recently has won Kendall Mountain Run and Deep Creek Trail Half Marathon. Combining speed, endurance and technical running ability, Kelly is going to be one to watch at the 2010 TCC.

Katlyn Gerbin

 Kaytlyn joins the line-up of the 2020 TCC with an extremely solid and consistent resume, known in Canada and the USA for a string of top performances, it was a podium place (2nd) at Transgrancanaria that introduced her to worldwide attention. Winner of the Pine to Palm 100 in 2016, Kaytlyn has mixed races distances for the last 3-years, excelling at 50km and 100km with victories at Gorge Waterfalls and Sun Mountain amongst others. In 2017 she won Cascade Crest 100 but her calling cards are 4th place and 2nd place at the 2017 and 2018 Western States.

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Julien Chorier

Julien is a true ambassador of the sport with a resume that many a runner would love to have just a tenth of. Name any iconic race and Julien will have raced it and most likely place on or around the podium. Career highlights are 1st at Hardrock 100, 1st at UTMF, 2nd at Transgrancanaria, 3rd at UTMB, 1st at MIUT and 6th at Western States. He is no stranger to multi-day racing having raced at Marathon des Sables Morocco and also, MDS Peru. It’s an honor to have Julien at the 2020 TCC. 

Jordi Gamito

Jordi should have toed the line at the 2019 TCC but injury prevented his participation. In 2020, he is back! He is a winner of the tough and challenging Everest Trail Race and has placed 3rd at the 2018 UTMB. In 2014, a 4th place at UTMB showed his potential to the ultra-running world and this was followed with 6th at Raid Ka Reunion. 3rd at the Eiger Ultra and 4th at Transgrancanaria. He is a big smile; infectious personality and he will embrace the challenge of Costa Rica.

Cody Lind

 Cody has been racing for some years but may well have only come on your radar after 2017 with a very committed foray in the Skyrunning circuit – He placed 8th at Tromso in 2017 and then followed the SWS circuit racing on iconic courses throughout the world. Recently he raced them Rut in the USA and came away with victory. Cody manages to mix speed and technical ability, it’s a perfect mix for the trails in Costa Rica

Andy Symonds (tbc)

 Andy is one of the UK’s greatest mountain runners. He has traditions in fell running and has mixed Skyrunning and ultra-running throughout a long and successful career. He recently placed 5th at UTMB after 3 attempts. He has raced Marathon des Sables and placed in the top-10 but Andy will always be considered a mountain specialist. He has won Lavaredo, placed 3rd at Marathon Mont Blanc, 5th at Transgrancanaria and has represented his country at many World Championships. The technical and demanding trails of Costa Rica with plenty of climbing and descending provide Andy a perfect playground.

Mauricio Mendez

Mauricio is a rising star from Mexico who is currently an Xterra World Champion. He joins TCC as somewhat as a dark horse but no doubt he will be the hope of the locals. He started running because of his Father and in his own words, is a dreamer!

The Race: 

  • Stage 1 34.6km 1018m of vert and 886m of descent
  • Stage 2 39.1km 1898m of vert and 1984m of descent
  • Stage 3 47.4km 1781m of vert and 1736m of descent
  • Stage 4 37.1km 2466m of vert and 2424m of descent
  • Stage 5 49.8km 1767m of vert and 1770m of descent
  • Stage 6 22.5km 613m of vert and 613m of descent
  • Total 230.5km
  • Vertical 9543m
  • Descent 9413m

Stage 1

It’s a tough day! Runners depart San Jose early morning (around 0530) for a 3-hour drive to Playa Del Rey, Quepos. It’s the only day that the race starts late and ‘in the sun!’. It’s the toughest day of the race, not because of the terrain or distance, but because of the time of day! The runners are fresh and feel great. That is until about 10km and then they realize the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution – mark my words! The 34.6km is very runnable with little vertical and technicality, it welcomes the runners to Costa Rica.

Stage 2

From here on in, it is early breakfast, around 0400 starts with the race starting with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb to start the day. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.

Stage 3 

It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to sea and a final kick in the tail before the arrival at camp. For many, this is a key day and maybe one of the most spectacular. Puma Vida.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a roller coaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rain forest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the line and the finish at 37.1km.

Stage 5 

The long day but what a beauty! This route was tweaked a couple of years ago and now has become iconic with tough trails, plenty of climbing, sandy beaches and yes, even a boat trip. The finish at Drake Bay is iconic.

Stage 6

The victory lap! For many, this stage is the most beautiful and memorable. In just over 20km, the route manages to include a little of all that has gone before. It’s a stage of fun and challenges and one that concludes on the beach as a 2018 medal is placed over your head – job done!

 The 2020 TCC starts in February as runners from all over the world will assemble in San Jose before transferring to the coast for stage 1 of the race starting on Saturday 8th. Year-on-year, the TCC has grown to be one of ‘the’ most iconic multi-day races. Once again, the elite line-up sets the bar, but the race is all about inclusion. Join the 2020 TCC and come experience Pura Vida!

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Episode 176 – SUB2 with Shane Benzie, Andy Symonds on UTMB and The Warriors Ultra Run

Episode 176 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Andy Symonds about UTMB. We also talk with Shane Benzie from Running Reborn about Sub2. Speedgoat is back to co-host and we discuss The Warriors Ultra Run.
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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
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NEWS
Ian and Karl have a catch up about UTMB and Sub2.
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THE WARRIORS 00:13:28
On September 21st, over 30 ultrarunners, dressed in retro gang attire, travelled to New York City to participate in first-ever ‘The Warriors UltraRun’, an utterly unique race that stands to become one of the most unusual and unexpected events in the sport. Held in the middle of the night, this neon-drenched, 28-mile ultra took runners from the Bronx to Coney Island  ̶  and through two subway stations  ̶  recreating the escape route featured in the iconic 1979 cult film by Walter Hill. – https://thewarriorsultra.com

Read about the first edition HERE on Ultrarunning.com

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ANDY SYMONDS 01:07:28
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
Keep running!
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Ultratrack Supramonte Seaside 2019 #UTSS – Summary and Results

Four races in the stunning location of Sardinia, UTSS is a remarkable outdoor event in the breathtaking landscape of the Supramonte of Baunei, considered one of the very few wilderness in Europe and the entire Mediterranean basin.

Relentless technical terrain, hard climbs and descents and the stunning aquamarine of the sea and secluded beaches make this a really unique event.

“It is one of the hardest and most technical races I have ever run and the beauty is just amazing… A truly special race!” – Franco Colle, winner of the 100km event.

Sea, woods, rock, limestone, single-track, soft-sand and wild remote beauty, the opportunity to run on the paths of the shepherds, the true custodians of this harsh and wild territory. Hidden coves and caves, wooden bridges and stunning wildlife – a truly remarkable playground.

UTSS has four distances, covering all abilities: 20km, 30km, 43km and the brutal 100km that allow all to run on the mule tracks overlooking the cliffs, built by the charcoal burners in the 19th century. The races are founded on tradition that are designed to show the best of Sardinia, be that traditional huts or stunning rocks that look like faces, almost taken from the set of an Indiana Jones movie.

The 100km race was dominated by Franco Colle and Giuditta Turini who started strong and held on to early leads to run solo, throughout the day and in to the night to set remarkable times of 12:35:11 and 15:15:09 respectively.

For the 43km race, UTMB champion and course recorder holder, Pau Capell was always going to be the ‘one to watch’ and early in the race he bided his time before making a move and taking the lead which he held on to till the finish, crossing the line in 4:51:38.

For the women, Martina Valmassoi took an early lead and looked strong in the first 25% of the race. However, Frederico Zucello passed Martina and continued to pull away with a 6:16:39 victory.

Luca Cagnati and Davide Cheraz traded blows continuously in the 30km race and it could have gone either way, but it was Luca who pipped the line crossing in 2:52:14 to Davide’s 2:52:21. Marie Paturel scored a strong win for the women in 3:45:29.

The shortest race of the weekend, the 20km was won by Roberto Poletti and Corinna Ghirardi 2:15:08 and 2:33:07 respectively.

PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY HERE

Results:

100km

  1. Franco Colle 12:35:11
  2. Nicola Bassi 13:34:38
  3. Mark Darbyshire 13:49:24

 

  1. Giuditta Turini 15:15:09
  2. Kagerer Corine 15:43:31
  3. Barbara Giacomuzzi 17:58:07

43km

  1. Pau Capell 4:51:38
  2. Francesco Rigodanza 5:05:07
  3. Rota Donatello 5:09:51

 

  1. Frederico Zuccollo 6:16:39
  2. Martina Valmassoi 6:50:48
  3. Linda Menardi 6:53:12

30km

  1. Luca Cagnati 2:52:14
  2. Davide Cheraz 2:52:21
  3. Domenico Nicolazzo 3:26:36

 

  1. Marie Paturel 3:45:29
  2. Pina Deiana 3:49:52
  3. Magali Grazzini 4:01:27

20km

  1. Roberto Poletti 2:15:08
  2. Erick Perrin 2:30:17
  3. Paolo Montemetti* 2:33:07 (Ist place woman had same time)

 

  1. Corinna Ghirardi 2:33:07
  2. Chloe Lalevee 2:46:03
  3. Lauriane Ceccaldi 2:48:13

Full results here: HERE

Race Website HERE

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The 2019 Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100k #UMED – Race Summary

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The 2019 Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100k #UMED is over and what an epic 3rd edition of the race! Pre-race favourites, Rachid El Morabity and Bouchra Lundgren Eriksen were crowned the champions.

Three editions and three courses, the 2018 and 2019 courses similar but as race director, Amir Ben Gacem said pre-race, the 2019 route would be harder due to more soft-sand in key sections. The route was harder and this was confirmed by all alumni.

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100km desert based in Tozeur, Tunisia, North Africa brought runners from all over the world to experience something very special in a unique environment. The start and finish at the Star Wars film set made famous as Luke Skywalker’s home – Mos Espa.

The 1st edition had just 60 runners from 12 countries, for 2018, these numbers escalated to over 100 and a remarkable 20+ countries for 2018 and now 168 toed the line in 2019.

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The Ultra Mirage© El Djerid (UMED) is the first 100km Ultra Trail taking place in the stunning Tunisian Sahara desert. Tozeur is the main city of the Djerid, known for its stunning surroundings.

Soft-sand, small dunes, rocks, dried river beds and multiple oasis, participants had 20-hours to finish the race with very specific deadlines to reach each of the checkpoints which will be between 15-20km apart. Starting at 0700, the race concluded at 0300 with a drop-out rate of 30%.

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On paper, the 2019 editions of the race, despite a harder route, looked like it may have the bonus of cooler temperatures… Not so, race day proved to be a scorcher with temperatures hitting 40+ degrees causing problems for runners who baked in the intense heat – the checkpoints were too far away for such intense heat!

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The early stages of the race were dictated by Evgenii Glyva who set a ridiculous pace considering the distance ahead.

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Tunisian runner, Mosbah Lagha pursued at a distance and quite sensibly, any runner who was hoping to be around at the finish line decided to stay around Rachid El Morabity, the 2018 champion.

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Chefia Hendaoui who placed 3rd last year, from the gun, left the top women trailing behind. For over 10km, she actually ran ahead of Rachid finally succumbing and joining the top contenders of Elisabet Barnes, Bouchra Lundgren Eriksen, Oksana Riabova and more.

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After Cp1, Rachid trailed the duo upfront by over 10-minutes. It was enough for him to decide to react and what a reaction. The desert king closed the distance in no time and with another change of gear pulled away at a ridiculous pace. It took less than 10km for the gap to extend to almost 30-minutes.

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The question would be, could Rachid hold this pace? In 2018 he crumbled with 20km to go and fought fatigue and dehydration to take victory, but in the process he collapsed in the arms of RD Amir and ended up on IV drips.

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This year he was prepared. I have seen Rachid run all over the world and here he impressed me like no other time – cool, calm, controlled and metronomic. Somehow, on a more difficult course he ran a new CR crossing the line 8:21:39.

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Behind the Moroccan, it was carnage as the heat and course took its toll. But early protagonist Mosbah Lagha from Tunisia flew the home flag and battled hard to hold on for 2nd in 10:17:02 ahead of another Moroccan, Rachid Aamimi El Armani who crossed the line in 11:18:21.

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For the women, 2018 champion Elisabet Barnes was feeling strong and after cp1 and pushed the pace.

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Bouchra Lundgren Eriksen was having none of it though and marked the move eventually taking the lead. Bouchra pulled away, an error going off course gave Elisabet the lead once again but Bouchra quickly hunted her down and regained control.

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After cp2, the heat and soft-sand took its toll with many drop-outs including the 2018 1st and 2nd place runners, Elisabet and Sondre Amdahl.

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Bouchra was now taking control of the front of the race and last year’s 2nd place, Oriane Dujardin kept her in contact until the final 25% when Bouchra pulled away to take victory in 11:20:54.

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Oriane was a clear 2nd in 12:02:23 and Judith Havers from Germany placed 3rd in 13:24:06.

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The story of the day though was intense heat, a tough and relentless course and dehydration. As in any race, nothing is guaranteed. Rachid’s performance was spectacular, the CR may well last for some time!

STARTERS: 168
FINISHERS: 117
ABANDONS / DNF: 51

New record : Rachid El Morabity

Men overall

1. Rachid Elmorabity🇲🇦08:21:39

2. Mosbah Lagha 🇹🇳10:17:02

3. Rachid Aamimi El Amrani 🇲🇦11:18:21

Women overall 

1. Bouchra Lundgren Eriksen🇩🇰11:20:54

2. Oriane Dujardin🇫🇷12:02:23

3. Judith Havers🇩🇪13:24:06

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You can obtain more specific information from the race website, HERE

RACE IMAGES HERE

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Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100km 2019 Race Preview – Fierce Mind’s Edition

The 2019 Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100k #UMED rolls closer. Now in its 3rd edition, this 100km desert race based in Tozeur, Tunisia, North Africa brings 300 runners from all over the world to experience something very special in a unique environment.

The 1st edition had just 60 runners from 12 countries, for 2018, these numbers escalated to over 150 and a remarkable 20+ countries for 2018 and now 300 will toe the line.

Tozeur is the main city of the Djerid, known for its stunning surroundings it has a mixture of rocky mountains, valleys, salt lakes and desert dunes. The Ultra Mirage© El Djerid (UMED) is the first 100km Ultra Trail taking place in the stunning Tunisian Sahara desert.

A single-stage race that takes runners across a wide diversity of terrain, the start is at Mos Espa, famous as a movie set and tourist attraction as it was the home of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie. The film set still exists and provides all involved a great opportunity for a photo before or after the race!

Soft sand, small dunes, rocks, dried river beds and multiple oasis, participants have 20-hours to finish the race with very specific deadlines to reach each of the checkpoints which will be between 15-20km apart. Starting at 0700, the race concludes at 0300.

Offering 4 ITRA points and equal prize money for the top female and male athletes, the 2019 edition of UMED looks set to be a great race: #1 EUR 3000, #2 EUR 1500, #3 EUR 500.

2018 Champions, Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes return to defend their crowns, can they beat the course records? Mohamed El Morabity has a faster time from 2017, (08:48:11) but the race route was very different! Elisabet Barnes set the 2018 record, 10:12:12. However, the 2019 route does have approximately 20% course change, and in the words of Race Director, Amir Ben Gacem:

“From cp3 at 50km is identical to last year: straight long lines in the desert. The first part will be the same for the first 20km across Chott el Gharsa. But between 20km and 50km we are probably changing the route to skip the road section in favour of plain desert. It will be more difficult as there will be no shade at all except at check points, and there will be more soft sand.”

MEN

Rachid is the outright favourite and little more needs to be said, he is the desert king. Rachid’s brother, Mohamed, will also return. The duo, both desert specialists, encountered difficult races in 2018 – the intense heat challenging them. Rachid collapsed at the finish line with dehydration and exhaustion, his brother making the podium after a very difficult final 20km. As desert experts, Rachid a multiple champion at Marathon des Sables, Mohamed equally a desert expert, but often in the shadow of his older brother, they are without doubt favorites for the 2019 title.

Sondre Amdahl from Norway will also return after making the podium in 2018 and nearly upstaging the desert king, Rachid. The final 10km really was a spectacular battle as they traded run stride and cadence to be champion. Sondre has raced at Marathon des Sables where he placed in the top 10. Certainly, the single-stage format and 100km distance will suit him as he proved last-year, however, he has been injured recently and therefore his form may well be below his own exacting standards.

Christophe Le Saux, France, also toes the line. He is a long distance expert, has a great history with MDS and he loves the desert. The men’s race will be interesting in 2019!

 

The UK’s Ben Whitfield will not be a name you know, but mark my words, you will after the 2019 UMED!

WOMEN

Two-time Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes, will head up the women’s race and after placing 4th overall, setting a CR in 2018, she is without doubt the favorite. A solid June and July saw Elisabet clock some great training miles which she has tried to maintain throughout August.

Bouchra Lundgren Eriksen will push Elisabet for the victory, a very accomplished marathon runner and podium finisher at MDS, she may well be the one person who challenges the MDS Queen, Elisabet, for victory.

Oriane Dujardin placed 2nd in 2018 and ran a solid and consistent race. With more experience and one year of training, she will once again contend the podium.

Rebecca Ferry has experience in multi-day racing and ultra-running, particularly at the 100km distance. She recently ran CCC and DNF’d, however, she has kept her powder dry since. If she has a good day, she will definitely contend the podium.

Chefia Hendaoui is the female Tunisian hope and she made the podium in 2018 – can she place higher?

As in any race, nothing is guaranteed. As the distance takes its toll, the soft-sand wears the runners down and the heat exhausts, anything can happen. Stay tuned for the action as it unfolds in Tunisia. No doubt, some names will shine that are not mentioned here.

One thing is for sure, the desert, Tunisia and the UMED organisation will provide a special experience for all.

Runners will start to arrive in Tunisia from Thursday 28th and transfer to Tozeur. Friday is registration and briefing and then the action starts Saturday, 0700.

You can obtain more specific information from the race website, HERE

THE BIRD CATCHER – BEHIND THE SCENES

It was touch and go some 30+ years ago, when at art college, should I work in the film industry, or, should I work on still photography I thought?

I was a huge film buff, still am. I consume movies at an alarming rate, especially when in travel. There have been times over the past three decades when I wondered had I made the right decision?

Deep down, I knew I had, especially when I managed to merge my love for sport with photography and writing.

It was running and working on races that introduced me to Leon Clarance, a successful film producer. We hit it off and I was fortunate to photograph Leon at races such as Marathon des Sables and Everest Trail Race. We often discussed film and he knew I was a film fan.

A conversation over a beer one day and I told Leon, that one day, I’d love to shoot a film. It was a casual throw away conversation as we discussed each other’s work.

Well, Ross Clarke, the director of The Bird Catcher, produced by Ross, Leon and Lisa G Black, noticed one of my images of Leon from a race. He liked the look and style of the imagery and this opened the door to work on The Bird Catcher.

Leon Clarance on set in Norway.

The Bird Catcher is a truly amazing story with a stunning cast:

Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, August Diehl, Laura Birn, Arthur Hakalahti, Jakob Cedergren and Johannes Bah Kuhnke amongst others.

Sarah-Sofie Boussnina – A rising star who gained recognition for ‘The Bridge’ TV series and Knightfall, Black Lake and recently Mary Magdalene.

August Diehl on set in Norway. August is primarily known for playing Dieter Hellstrom in Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds.’

Directed by Ross Clarke (Skid Row, Heroes & Demons, Dermaphoria) the movie tells the story of a young woman (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) in Norway who flees the Nazi roundup and conceals her identity whilst working on an occupied farm.

Inspired by harrowing true events. This gripping new thriller uncovers a hidden slice of World War II history that is as shocking as it is inspiring. Norway, 1942. During her attempt to flee Nazi persecution, 14-year-old Jewish girl Esther finds herself alone and forced to conceal her identity on a Nazi sympathiser farm. Forced to make a series of choices, her actions shift the paths of those around her. From collaboration to resistance, the population’s reaction to their Nazi conquerors was not always clear-cut.

Director – Ross Clarke

Jon Christian Rosenlund was the DOP (Director of Photography) who has worked on movies such as, The Wave, Thousand Times Good Night, The Kings Choice and so many more! He is a true master of his craft and to see him in action with a dedicated crew was a pleasure. He has a wonderful vision and his lighting approach – stunning.

Director of Photography – Jon Christian Rosenlund – On set at The Farm in Norway.

MY ROLE

I was commissioned for two shoots, both on location in Norway, at different time points so as to capture still imagery that would best illustrate the story.

In principal, I had two briefs:

1. Capture still imagery of the movie – the scenes, the actors, the locations and help tell a visual story.

2. Capture behind the scene moments that tell the story of how a film is made.

A TYPICAL DAY

Movies are long, arduous and harsh. Especially when working in Norway with sub zero temperatures, snow and ice. Film sets are very controlled and costly. Therefore, everyone has a role and each day is planned to precision and a storyboard rules the day with a set of objectives.

Lighting, camera angles and planning is done in advance of the movie so that that film crew can work ahead of the DOP and have scenes ready for ‘action’ asap.

Actors, make-up, wardrobe, props and so on, equally are all planned in minute detail.

Controlling the running of everything are the producers and director. The director controls the film’s content and creative style and the producers make sure the film is on time and on budget – I simplify the roles. Both producer and director work well in advance of any film with script, writing, planning, financing and so on. Post the film process, attention then turns to editing and releasing the film.

Jon Are Uhnger

Jon Are Uhnger (1st AD) each morning would assemble all crew and brief them with a ‘UNIT CALL’ of the day’s schedule.

This is ‘The Bible’ for each day and specifies everything that is needed for the day – for example Day 30 below:

Starts with a 13:30 call and a 22:45 finish.

It specifies shooting scenes, allowed time, set description, required people, what actors and so on. It needs to be managed down to the minute and there is a constant level of pressure for all involved.

WORKING ON A MOVIE

I was told that the lowest of the low on a film set is the stills shooter. So, I was a little nervous being a rookie on a film set. However, Leon reassured me that Ross and Jon were cool guys.

And they were. A complete and utter pleasure to work with.

Noise, distraction, being in the wrong place at the wrong time are all things, amongst others, that will make you very unpopular on a film. It’s very much a case of don’t be seen and don’t be heard.

Usually, a stills photographer will move in after a scene has been successfully filmed and capture stills by re-creating key moments. The main reason for this is complicated but in summary:

1. Cameras make a noise when you take a photo.

2. You can be a distraction if moving whilst filming.

Gladly I had recently converted from using Canon cameras to Sony. The Sony cameras are mirrorless and key for the film industry, have a ‘silent’ mode. This proved to be crucial and in advance of the movie, I had already expanded and planned my equipment with the intention of shooting whilst they filmed. This was in someway, looking back, a risky decision. However, I was committed that shooting ‘live’ would give me the best imagery.

Day 1 I was really nervous as we went straight into a very intense scene with German soldiers, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina pulling a sledge and the arrival of a motorbike. I treated it, looking back, like a race. I planned my angles, shot live and caught the action as it happened. I was in my element. Buzzing would be an underestimation.

Post the filming, I moved in for a couple of close-ups while the crew re-set for the next scene and I then captured images of the crew working and setting up.

This process was repeated throughout the day as we all worked to the day’s schedule. At all times I was conscious of the films camera angle, the lens focal length, the story, the emotion and looking to capture what would be the essence of the film.

I can honestly say, I have been very fortunate to work on amazing photography projects in my career, and now, looking back, The Bird Catcher is without doubt one of the highlights. It was challenging, stressful, rewarding, eye opening and just the most remarkable journey.

At the end of day 1, I was editing photos. I had that buzz of excitement knowing I had captured some really strong imagery that really reflected what I had seen being filmed. Ross and Jon looked over my shoulder and then asked to look… I am sure I stopped breathing for a short while. Were they not happy?

I opened the images and scrolled through, one-by-one!

‘When did you take these images?’ Jon enquired.

’I shot most of them while you were filming,’ I replied.

’Not possible,’ he said. ‘You can’t shoot when we are… But these images are stunning!’

I could have fainted. I explained about my camera, shooting silent and wanting to capture in ‘real’ time.

Jon replied, ‘I want to see that camera…’

From that moment on, I was respected on set. Given the space I needed and allowed to shoot with relative autonomy. Once or twice I pushed the boundaries, trying to get the best shot and I was warned accordingly. But the results were the secret, Jon, Ross and the team could see the difference.

Over the shooting days we had multiple locations, challenging scenes, different light and the whole process was a whirlwind of adrenaline. I may have been working, but it felt like I was in a movie living out a dream.

There was an intensity on set. The story of The Bird Catcher is one that should be told and some scenes, quite literally had the crew in tears. Each scene, I thought to myself, I cannot wait to see this movie. At the end of each day we would see dailies, but they are just jigsaw pieces.

It has been over 2 years since working in Norway and the content I produced could not be shown… The Bird Catcher finally has a UK release on October 4th and now I can tell my story.

I urge you to see this movie!

Cinema is a wonderful medium. Working behind the scenes has not burst the bubble or shattered my illusions, on the contrary, it has enhanced my experience.

I made new friends in Norway and I witnessed a film crew working as one to tell the story of The Bird Catcher, because, the story needs to be told!

Sarah-Sofie Boussnina and Arthur Hakalahti are without doubt, the stars and they have already gained worldwide recognition for their skills as actors, The Bird Catcher will only enhance that.

Ross, Leon and Lisa have produced something very special and Jon has given it all a wonderful sumptuous and at times harrowing look. It’s a piece of art.

I hate to single out people as a film is all about everyone coming together and working to one objective, the initial reviews confirm that they all did a great job.

The backdrop produces stunning winter images of coastal Norway near the Swedish border. The snow-frosted forests and idyllic countryside provide a nice juxtaposition to the suspense and fear the characters experience. The audience provided several audible gasps through every twist and turn in the plot. – Edhat.com