Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 3 Results and Summary

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Everest Trail Race – Stage 3 Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikola

The mist and wind persisted into the night and it was seriously cold! Jase Bhanjyang sitting just below 4000m is renowned for being a cold place and last night it lived up to expectations. Needless to say, kit was tested and those who compromised on weight were left with a really cold and uncomfortable night. Pretty much everyone slept in base layers and down jackets with hoods up and gloves on.

Once again, it would be a split start, 0700 and 0800. Today’s stage had considerably less climbing than stage two, however, it had lots of descending, it may not hurt the lungs as much but it would certainly hurt the legs. Many thought it would be an easier day…

A short climb out of camp the runners would then descend to Jumbesi (CP1) at 2696m. This initial trail would see them running through a dense forest section.

No hiking on the trail for me today, I was helicoptered out to Kharikhola – a beautiful Monastery on top of a mountain (Pema Namding).

Kharikhola is a main trekking route and in addition, it is a main route for supplies. It amazes me to watch children carry baskets literally as big as they are and for sure, probably twice the weight. Donkeys go up and down the trail all day carrying all sorts of supplies, from bottles of gas, water, corn, maize, beer, Coke, cigarettes and so on. You suddenly realize how life moves around in these mountains.

Sherpa’s arrive carrying packs that look as though it will be break their packs, behind them, a string of tourists with small packs and poles.

Back on the trail, not surprisingly, Pasang Sherpa was once again blazing a trail along this tough ETR route, he was looking to make amends for a poor day yesterday. He was pursued by the top-4 runners, Joan Soler, Casey Morgan and Miguel Capo Soler. In the ladies, Andreja Sterle Podobnik took the race to Jennifer Hill today leading by a minute at the top of the first climb.

After CP1 at Jumbesi, the runners crossed the Junbesi Khola river and climbed up to Phurteng at just over 3000m. Descending to CP2 at Lharpa another climb awaited.

The race now had a familiar format; Pasang would lead the men by a considerable margin, followed by Casey and Miguel, Joan was off the pace, today he didn’t feel quite as good!

For the ladies, Andreja like Pasang would lead the lead the way but Jennifer marked the gap.

Today’s finish line at Kharikhola is a special one, it’s one of the best I have witnessed, however, the runners have to work for that finish. Leaving Taksindu La, the final long descent of the day, 3100m to 1500m in 10km. However, at the bottom the sting in the tail, a 4km climb from Jubhing to the Monastery finish.

Pasang and Andreja took out the respective stage wins. Importantly, Pasang dictated a very fast pace today regaining all the time lost yesterday and now providing himself a convincing lead over Miguel and Casey. Although Andreja tried today, Jennifer ran a consistent pace and the time she lost was relatively insignificant to the overall classification.

Stage results:

  1. Pasang Lama
  2. Casey Morgan
  3. Miguel Capo Soler
  1. Andrej Sterle Podobnik
  2. Jennifer Hill
  3. Sarah Davies

 

General Classification:

  1. Pasang Lama
  2. Miguel Capo Soler
  3. Casey Morgan
  1. Jennifer Hill
  2. Andrej Sterle Podobonik
  3. Sarah Davies

Stage 4 preview: Kharikhola to Llegada 27.5km

Departing the monastery, a small descent awaits the runners of just 4km before a long tough climb to Kari La (CP1) at 2900m. From here the course goes up and down all around 2700/2800m for appx 10km before a very steep descent to CP2 at Surke (2200m). A continual climb to CP3 at Cheplung continues to the arrival at Phakding/ Llegaga.

 

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 2 Results and Summary

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Everest Trail Race – Stage 2 Bhandar to Jase Bhanjyang

Stage-1 finished yesterday in Bhandar and due to logistics it was necessary for myself to leave camp and make my way to Golla, the midway point of stage 2. It was a 3.5 hour hike with 2000m of vertical, I arrived in the dark and was saddened to see the lodge that I had stayed in on two previous occasions was now a pile of rumble – real evidence of the earthquake od last year. A two story house gone and now the family living in make shift huts. It was devastating to see and no doubt it has devastated them but they are a resilient people, life goes on and as such they offered me a bed and food.

I departed 0530 to climb to Pikey Peak at 4068m. In principal, you look at the stage and think, it’s only 23.9km, and it won’t be too bad! Wrong. The stage has 3468m of vertical ascent and 1796m of negative descent. It’s a brute!

On the trail the freezing early morning temperatures started to rise and with it the sun. Suddenly, the first glimpse of the snow capped Himalayas and Everest in the distance. It was another tough hike to Pikey Peak and in particular, once I got passed 3600m I could feel the altitude hit! Ever watched a program on Everest and seen everybody walking really slow up the gradients? Now I know why… this stage of the ETR was a brute and without doubt it would cause some damage. Finally, we arrived at the Peak and waited for the runners. 

It was a split start today, slow runners leaving at 0700 and faster runners at 0800.

Starting with a short and technical descent for a couple of km’s, runners crossed a river via a suspended bridge and then it was pretty much all ‘up’ for 16/17km. The gradients were not brutal (however, poles were essential) and terrain underfoot on the whole was very good, but the combination of these elements and altitude made the whole experience extremely harsh.

Pasang Lama and Jennifer Hill were overall ETR leaders going into stage 2 and they lived up to their billing leading their respective groups to Golla

I had expected Pasang to be in a league of his own today, after all, he is Nepalese. However, the early gaps he had opened up were given away to Miguel Capo Soler and Casey Morgan. In the final climb to Pikey Peak – it certainly looked like he pushed too hard! Miguel was the first to reach the summit and then several minutes later, Casey arrived saying, “Now that is tough, I am nearly passing out with the effort.”

Pasang was expected next but first day 4th place finisher, Joan Soler, arrived next looking strong. Pasang finally arrived but he looked broken, constantly needing to stop.

Jennifer Hill proved in great form and dominated once again for the ladies with Andreja Sterle Podobnik once again following in 2nd to the summit.

One-by-one runners made the Pikey Peak summit, some in better shape than others. Unfortunately, the stunning early morning views of the Himalayas disappeared as the day passed and in the latter stages the race was blocked out with cold wind and dense mist requiring the ETR admin team to make some changes for the latter runners to ensure their safety.

In the distance, just 4km away from Pikey Peak, base camp could be seen early in the day at Jase Bhanjyang (3549m). A technical descent was followed by one last tough climb to the finish and an opportunity to rest.

Miguel took a strong stage victory ahead of Joan Soler who passed on the descent. Casey, post-race said that the climb to Pikey Peak had taken a great deal out of him allowing his Compressport teammate to pull away.

Jennifer once again won the ladies race with Andreja placing 2nd and Sarah Davies 3rd and moving up to 3rd lady overall.

The day took its toll on many runners, with altitude sickness causing issues and of course fatigue.

Going into Stage 3, Miguel Capo Soler and Jennifer Hill have a strong lead.

Stage results:

  1. Miguel Capo Soler
  2. Joan Soler
  3. Casey Morgan
  1. Jennifer Hill
  2. Andrej Sterle Podobnik
  3. Sarah Davies

General Classification:

  1. Miguel Capo Soler 7:19:17
  2. Casey Morgan 7:27:53
  3. Joan Soler 7:29:22
  1. Jennifer Hill 10:05:35
  2. Andrej Sterle Podobonik 10:18:20
  3. Sarah Davies 12:45:26

Stage 3 preview: Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola 37.4km

Stage 3 is all about running downhill, however, the finish is brutal ascent to Kharikola at 2100m.

Leaving Jase Bhanjyang runners have a short ascent of 2km to 3800m and then an 8km descent to Jumbesi, CP1. A 6km climb to just over 3000m is then followed with a 4km descent to Lharpa and CP2. Another 3km climb to 3000m and then a brutal leg sapping drop from 3000m to 1500m in 10km before the final sting in the tail, a 3km climb to the finish.

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Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Stage 1 Results and Summary

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Everest Trail Race – Day 1 Jiri Bazaar to Bhandar 

As the sun disappeared last night, so did the temperature but by Nepal standards it was a warm night! Just a base layer upper and bottom required inside the sleeping bag.

Morning came with a welcoming hot tea delivered to every tent by the Sherpa’s who are helping us. Organization is excellent. ETR have one advance team everyday, so as we are looked after in Jiri and new base camp, tents, eating tents, media tent and so on are being assembled in duplication. As Jordi Abad explains, “it’s the only way it can work here. The terrain is too difficult and too arduous to try and transport the same facilities day after day.”

At around 0700, villagers from Jiri came to observe the ETR roadshow and they played music to announce the start as they have done for the past several years.

On the stoke of 0900 the runners departed and the cold chilly of the early morning had disappeared with the rising of the sun. The contrast between just a few hours extremely noticeable.

Starting at 1890m the runners had a short descent and then immediately the first climb of the day to Mali at 2200m. Pasang Lama dictated the early stages followed by Casey Morgan and Miguel Capo Soler.

Jennifer Hill bided her time in the early stage but took a convincing lead and looked relaxed throughout the stage. Andreja Sterle Podobnik and Janine Canham pursued.

Deurali Pass via Khasrubas (2173m) was the toughest climb of the day and the highest point 2715m. Pasang, only had a slender lead over Casey and Miguel. A long descent to the finish and anything could happen – Pasang prevailed and took the stage win in Bhandar. 

Andreja couldn’t pull back time and Jennifer and the British athlete secured a stage one victory with Janine taking 3rd.

Runners now have the opportunity to relax, eat and prepare for tomorrows stage. It’s a tough day!

Stage 2 preview:

Leaving Bhandar, non-stop climbing follows a short 4km descent; firstly, to Gompa (Golla) at 3010m, a small downhill section follows of 2km and then a climb to Pikey Peak at 4068m. It’s a tough-tough day and the sting in the tail comes at the very end with a very short and steep ascent to Jase Bhajyang. Total stage distance 23.92km

Please note: I am leaving stage 1 camp today and hiking through the afternoon and early evening to hopefully arrive at a suitable vantage point to record images from stage 2. Updates will follow as soon as possible.

 

Pete Kostelnick – Run Across USA full and In-Depth Interview

Pete Kostelnick broke the longstanding record for running across the U.S. on October 24th 2016.

Pete linked the City Halls ofSan Francisco and New York in a stunning time of 42-days, 6-hours. The previous record of 46-days, 8-hours was set by Frank Giannino, Jr. in 1980. Kostelnick knocked out 70+ miles day-after-day and only took one complete rest day.

I caught up with Pete to hear all about this incredible journey.

The Interview:

Ian: Okay, you’ve got to be living under a stone not to realize that Peter Kostelnick just smashed the 3100 mile journey of running across America and he’s joining me now, Peter, many congratulations.
Pete Kostelnick: Thank you Ian, it’s great to be here.
Ian: It’s great to have you here, and I’m almost intimidated about talking about somebody who’s just run 3100 miles, it’s such an epic, epic journey. I have got a little bit of history, your Hoka One One team mate called Karl Metzer is a co-host of mine, so I interviewed him recently about his Appalachian Trail. Way back- many years ago, I interviewed Marshall Ulrich about his book, and of course, running across America was involved in that. Before I get down to this incredible journey, I want to just find out a little bit about you and who you are and what brought you on this crazy journey? When did you start to run long distances?
Pete: I really didn’t get into marathons until well I guess I got into marathon’s about exactly eight years ago when I was 21. I did the Marine Corps marathon, really it’s just a test to myself, to get in shape, and drop a few pounds, there was really no competitive aspect to it for me, but that was where it all began. I tell people if I was naturally skinny I probably wouldn’t even be in this sport.
[laughter]

Ian: There’s so many people who’ve got a very very similar story, and I’m one of them. Can you still hear me?
Pete: Yes, yes, and and it’s been quite a journey. The reasons why I run have changed so much over the years, but I just love it, it’s really just been building, I still run so I can eat and drink whatever I want.

Ian: [laughs]

Pete: Then, there’s also a social aspect to it, I’ve met so many of my friends and closest friends now really, through running and it’s taking me to some really cool places along the way and that’s another thing I really enjoy about it. Also the competitive nature of it as well, you know, competing against yesterday competing against myself and then, competing against others. It just seems like every year I find another reason why I love Ultra Running.
Ian: Okay, I had a look on Ultra Signp and that goes back to sort of 2011, and you know there’s plenty of good top 10 results in those early days, but when was it for you it switched maybe from being something that burned calories and helped you lose weight, to something far more, something more competitive?
Pete: I think going into 2015 it really just less than two years ago is when I kind of flipped the switch and though that I felt like I had the framework to be a good ultra runner, but that was really when I kind of shifted into, “I want to be as competitive as possible” and I really made some changes. Like dropping 15 to 20 pounds, over the winter.

Ian: Yes.

Pete: Going into 2015, and also increasing my weekly mileage from; I was an 80 to 100 miles a week runner, during my peak training. I wasn’t really that extremely high for an ultra runner, so one thing I did during the 2015 is that I really ramped up my weekly mileage to many 150 plus mile weeks, and even a few 200 mile weeks.
Ian: Wow, wow, and how did your body handle that?
Pete: I think it’s been a progression over the years and luckily five years ago I would have never guessed that I would be running as many miles as I am today, but each year I kind of try to up the bar a little bit up the ante and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that for much longer. [laughs] My body handled it well, and I think that’s because, over these last five years since I got into Ultra Running, I’ve really very, very slowly progressed my mileage from 50 to 80 miles a week, then maybe 80 to 100 and then 100 to 150 and so on to this year where I just kind of went bananas with the training!
Ian: [laughs]

Pete: …and put in a lot of 200 plus mile weeks.

Ian: Wow.

Pete: My body has handled it very well but I would definitely caution anyone thinking about running 200 miles a week.

Ian: For sure.

Pete: It takes a very long time to build up to it.

Ian: Yes, I mean that sort of mileage is huge, and I’d like to put that mileage in perspective of your daily life. What is daily life like and what is weekly life like, that allows you to accumulate that level of mileage?

Pete: Yes, so I work a normal day job from eight to five, but what I would do this year in particular with the 200 mile training weeks was I’d really wake up at 5am, and be running out the door by usually 5:15. I’d put in about two hours of running before work, so I’d get usually about 14 to 16 miles in, nothing crazy paced. I don’t really do really much of any tempo training. Then after work I would go straight to the gym usually, and do two hours of treadmill running, usually about another 14 to 16 miles…

Ian: Okay.

Pete: ….basically every day of the week I would be getting around 30 miles a day, If I could get my two day’s in, and then on the weekend is where I do the longer continuous training where I’ll do a lot of times 30 to 50 miles training runs straight through.

Ian: Right, okay. It’s interesting that you do a treadmill run, is there a reason for that other than variety, or weather, or consistency? What is the reason behind the treadmill run?

Pete: I think there’s a few things that have led me in that direction, one I think it actually does save my legs a little bit. You have a little bit of more give on the treadmill, so I think that’s been one thing that’s helped me recover. Another is just from the pure schedule standpoint, so my wife, she actually– we had to live apart for a few months this year which was probably part of the reason why I got away with training so much. Actually what I- I would usually just use the evening run to really watch TV, and the news and…

Ian: [laughs]

Pete: …to keep up because literally, you know what I was doing was I was waking up at 5am and basically straight to run, and straight to work, and straight to run, and then I get home at 8 o’clock at night. There’s, maybe one or two hours that I have before I go to bed and do it all over again.
Ian: [laughs] Yes, yes okay, so I’m sort of imagining you running on the treadmill with a beer, a pizza [laughs], TV on…

[laughter]

Ian: …sort of doing everything at once and thinking, “Yes, this is a great way to save time” [laughs].
Pete: Yes, exactly [laughs].

Ian: In some ways, now that you’re saying this, your run across America is starting to fall into place, there’s a sort of logic that’s clicking, and I can see how it’s forming. The other thing that interests me is this schedule that you have of, 5am start, run, work, run, and particularly you know, two hours on a treadmill, most people call it the dreadmill. I guess it’s helping you focus your mind and work on mind skills, which are obviously integral to what you’ve achieved.
Pete: Yes, without a doubt. I’ve done some training runs on a treadmill, I think the longest I’ve ever done was oh gosh I think it was 80 miles.

Ian: Wow.

Pete: It’s been a while since I’ve gotten that extreme on a treadmill, but yes it definitely helps train the mind. I don’t know if I could do a treadmill run without a TV. Even watching TV for that long, you have to have a very solid mental state that allows you to… I don’t want to call it meditate, but really just kind of zone out and really push through miles and let your mind wander elsewhere from what you’re currently doing.
Ian: Yes. Is that something that you’ve worked on? That ability to zone out, and although the TV may be on, you’re actually maybe not really watching it, it’s just a distraction.

Pete: Yes, definitely, and once you know one thing I tell people a lot of times is I’m very much a rhythm runner. That might be part of my challenge on trail races is it’s hard to get into like a very consistent rhythm with stride and pace on a trail. On the roads, I think that’s one of my biggest strengths is I get into a rhythm and I can just zone out as long as the terrain is very even. Not to get ahead of myself but actually, that’s why Pennsylvania, the last state was probably the most frustrating for me, because it didn’t really lend itself to be much of a good rhythm-running state but we can get into that more later.

Ian: Yes, absolutely. What I want to do before we get into the Run Across America is firstly go back to 2014. From 2011, there was a consistency with your results and some real variables in there. No significance, but I’m just going to pick on Silver Rush 50 where you placed 70th but then you would go to Hawk Hundred 50-miler and place 4th. I guess in these days, was this all a little bit about learning the ropes and figuring out what you were doing?

Pete: Oh, yes, without a doubt. There is a variation too in some of the competitiveness but I think… that’s what I tell a lot of people that are getting into ultra running is a lot of it is really the experience of putting your body through it. Even if you’re not even ready for a race, heck, sign up and put your body through it as long as you’re not injured. I think stomach wise, that’s always been my battle. Nutrition has always plagued me until I started to figure it out and my body started getting used to the high mileage. I would say almost more than anything is my stomach just being able to adapt to turning itself over so many times.

Ian: Okay, so when you entered Badwater 135 in 2014, was that very much a case of throwing yourself in at the deep end and basically just seeing what happens?
Pete: Yes, yes, definitely and there were a lot of nutrition mistakes that I made in that race. I was still testing out a lot of different nutrition methods. I think I was at the point too where my stomach was just — I don’t know. I couldn’t really keep any food down the entire last 40 miles and I kept refusing it, which is definitely a major no, no, in a ultra that long.

Ian: Yes and so how and what made you change within one year to finish 10th or 14th overall at Badwater in 30:38 to then go and win it in 23:27? It’s a phenomenal change and the thing is, is if we look at your results and the buildup to Badwater, there’s a whole string of consistency. You won a 24-hour, you did Cape Fear 50-miler and you were 3rd, you did the Brew to Brew 40-miler, which you won, you did the Flint Hills 40-mile, which you won and then win and 23:27 at Badwater.

Pete: Yes, I think a lot of it is my  dropping 20 pounds I think was huge the winter after 2014 and 2015. Then I think also, the weekly mileage was a big shift, really adding about 50% onto what I was doing in previous years, getting up to 150 plus mile training weeks. Then also, as part of that, I had never worn Hokas before that and I switched to Hoka at the beginning of 2015. I think that was a big help not just from a race standpoint but mostly from a training standpoint because I was really not taking any off days and really pushing the mileage up overall.

Ian: Okay and you find that the additional cushioning that Hoka gives you is something that is reducing the impact on your legs and allowing you to run more?

Pete: Yes, yes and definitely, the recovery is huge as well. I feel like that’s been one of the main reasons. I don’t really take any days off each week.

Ian: When 2015 came to an end, you did Desert Solstice 24 and Desert solstice 100-miler, they’re the same race, aren’t they? Was it you got 100-mile time and then the 24 time?

Pete: Yes, yes, exactly.

Ian: Okay, so you won the 24 and you were 2nd in the 100-miler. You started new year really, really well. At that point, did you know what was coming up in 2016? I know that may sound like a silly question but did you know that you planning to Run Across America?

Pete: Yes, after I finished that all in 2015, that was when I started to get serious about doing a transcontinental run in 2016 but I didn’t really have the logistics sorted out until spring of this year.
Ian: Okay and what was the reason for jumping to such an extreme? Obviously, you are in your late 20s so age is on your side. You had the Badwater result, which I suppose is a good set up for something like Running Across America even though it’s only a fraction of the distance and you were racking up big weekly mileage but what was it that lured you to make such a huge decision?

Pete: I think it was just mainly one of those things where I felt like if I didn’t go for it in 2016, I may never get another chance to do it. Because I’d love to keep racing competitively for a number of years but as far as my wife and I’s situation, it seemed like 2016 was maybe the only year I’d have to go taking off that much time from work.
I would have loved to have more multiday experience, but from timing perspective, this was about the only year that might have seemed a fit.

Ian: Okay and I always say with these types of things, you can’t really train for them. It’s about just accumulated time of running. Relatively speaking, you still are quite a young runner. If we think back seven or eight years, to then run across America, which is 3,100 miles, you are still almost in primary school in terms of your running history. What gave you the confidence in thinking that you would have the ability both physically and mentally to take on such a huge challenge?

Pete: Yes, yes, a lot of people ask me that. Even though running 30 miles a day is not even half of where I’m 70 miles a day. I think just the way I was able to efficiently squeeze in 30-mile a day training days really just about every day for an extended period of time gave me confidence that I could jump to this 70-miles a day if nine to ten more hours of time available.

Ian: [laughs] Now the whole Talk Ultra audience are now listening and there’s a lot of people out there who’ve run a 50-miler or a 100K or a 100-miler and that experience was brutal for them and here you are saying doing that every day. They’re all shaking their heads and their earphones are falling off and they’re going, “This guy is nuts.
How can you possibly think that, yes, 30 miles a day, oh, yes, it’s not too bad to jump up to 70. Yes, that will be all right.” I mean it’s making my eyes water even thinking about it.
Now obviously, I understand your thinking, I understand your reasoning and you’ve proved it, you’ve proved that it can be done. I’d love to get into the mindset of what made you think it could be done? What gave you the confidence to think, “Yes, I can do this?”

Pete: I think a lot of it balances on my ability… when I was out there running with people, a lot of them would say, “My goodness, you never, ever, ever stop even when you’re having breakfast. The only time you ever stop is when you’re at lunch,” so I have a very… I call it stubbornness, some people call it something a little more glamorous but…

Ian: [laughs]

Pete: …I know that’s one of my best traits is when I’m focused on something, I’m going to try and find the most efficient route possible. I knew that even if I had to walk literally the other 40 miles a day on top of the 30 miles I was running and recovering well from a training perspective, I’m actually a pretty good speed walker so that was one thing. I thought, “well, of course I’m not going to walk 40 miles a day.” If there was a day where I had to do that, I think I could. I think that was one thing. It’s just, the stubbornness I have. Having a good crew that understands my needs and knows that I’m really not going to ever stop during the day, when I’m in motion. I always think through logically the most efficient way to get from point A to point B.

Ian: Okay. Let’s talk about how the build up came about. You ran Western States and you were returning to Badwater. Badwater, obviously, as a defending champion, Badwater directly relates to your run across America. It makes complete logical sense. Western States thrown in there, you’ve already said that you like consistency and although Western States trail is pretty groomed it’s still a trail and it has a lot more variables in it. What was that experience like?

Pete: Yes, it was very encouraging to me. Actually it’s been a lot of the spring overcoming some anemia. It didn’t really impact my training at all but I was very, very low energy especially going up any hills and especially on trail, going up a hill on a trail. That was the point where I felt I had to overcome my anemia. I was feeling pretty good for that reason.
Actually the only thing that bit me on that race was all the down hills. My quads were pretty shot and destroyed by halfway point. Other than that, it was a good experience and it was very encouraging. I’d actually announced that I was doing this tanscontinental run right before that race. I was still nervous, because it was the first race I’d done in all years of really any distance.

Ian: Okay. Now it’s interesting that you say that you announced the tanscontinental run. Obviously, over in Europe, we were interested in Rob Young. We’ll get your viewpoints on Rob Young in a minute about his tanscontinental run. It very much seemed as though your run was a little bit under the radar even Karl Meltzer who’s a Hoka One One teammate said, “It’s relatively under the radar, I didn’t really know too much about it.” Was that partially intentional or do you think that maybe the running media didn’t quite get hold of your intentions?

Pete: I think more of the latter, because I tried broadcasting it out as much as possible. Mostly in an effort to get runners to come out and run with me because that was what I found to be one of the most mentally relieving aspects of the run. I guess, maybe I wasn’t one the top Ultra runners on the list out there. I think maybe in some respects that it got looked over for various reasons.

Ian: You went to Badwater almost a month after Western States. I always say the sign of a true champion is when they go back to race and win it again. You did it in 21:56, which is just an incredible time. At that point, you must have felt really boosted and bolstered for your run across America. You must have felt that everything was starting to click into place.

Pete: Yes. Definitely. I was very excited about it because actually my recovery from Western States was not the best. I even told one of my crew member. We’ve talked about me going to try to repeat or even go for a cross record before Badwater. Then I remember texting him. Maybe two weeks before Badwater, telling him, “Okay, let’s not even talk about anything cross record or winning. Let’s just go finish this race and then get on the tanscontinental run in a couple of months.” It was actually Chuck who joined me for the tanscontinental run as well.

Ian: How did… I was going to say how did Badwater unfold. I mean it unfolded really, really well because you won it. You got an absolutely fantastic time. It would be interesting to maybe just get a little snippet of what that experience was like for you. I mean Badwater has a reputation of being just brutal. Do you find it brutal?

Pete: It really captures a lot of my strengths very well. I could see how it’s the toughest race for just about anyone that does it. It’s really up my alley as far as being on road, being very consistent with both in climbs and on the flat section. It really awards people who are efficient as possible. Going in this year, I knew that there are some times when I actually sat down for short breaks. The prior year I had to walk some… it definitely favors those that are patient, but are also thinking ahead and never wanting to take unnecessary breaks which is the way that I improved my time this year.

Ian: Badwater’s done and dusted it was the perfect scenario for you the perfect boost. Then almost, eight weeks later, September 12th, was the start date for your across America run. What goes on in that period in terms of planning, preparation, getting everything sorted out? You’ve got to run 100 miles a week in training. You’re also working. You don’t really have a great amount of spare time. Were you delegating the organization and the planning to other people?

Pete: Yes. It was great because I had the team of four that joined me in the entire run. They were very helpful in all the planning and logistics behind the run, and then as well as my sister who is really our route planning guru. She is a teacher so she actually had a little bit more time in the summer. She graciously helps with that. Because that was probably one of the biggest obstacles to overcome was the route. To making sure that all the roads that I was going to run on were okay to run on. Then also if there is any construction, be in contact with the local DRT.

Ian: Right. Okay. What did planning break down– I mean how complicated was the planning process? How much of it did you get involved? Or were you able to stand back and just trust people getting everything sorted out for you?

Pete: I like to say involved in it, but for the most part I was able to sit back and let the team take care of a lot it. One of my big things about any race I do, I’m very simple person. I don’t like to make things overly complicated but there were definitely things that were making it more complicated than I first realized, because it is a pretty serious undertaking. You never know how much stuff you need to get done until you actually do it. Yes, I would say for the most part, I was very lucky to have a team that took care of a lot of it for me.

Ian: When you’re planning and your training was going on for your attempt, were you, or were of Rob Young’s planning and attempt?

Pete: Yes. I was following it very closely [laughter]

Ian: Okay. I mean obviously that has turned out to be a real mess and a real fiasco. I don’t want to turn this conversation into the rights and wrongs of what Rob did. I’m assuming that you had enough advance warning to make sure that you didn’t make the mistakes that would prove that you were going to do your attempt and it could be ratified. How helpful was it seeing Rob’s attempt just crumble?

Pete: It was extremely helpful. That was the big thing. I was trying to turn a negative around, a situation like that into a positive for myself. Going in I didn’t really realize… I guess I realized it but I didn’t really think about the scrutiny involved with a run like this. That was definitely very helpful and planning out how are we going to make everything as transparent as possible. Then how we’re going to record and document this as best we can. There was definitely a lot of elements that I learned from by watching that. As well as other runners. I feel I’ve done it the right way over the course of the last few years.

Ian: When you stand in San Francisco on September the 12th, and you know that you have 46 days 8 hours and 36 minutes, or should I say 35 minutes and 59 seconds to break the record. Did you have an idea in your mind what would be your target goal?

Pete: Yes, I had broadcasted to really anyone that wanted to know before the run, that 44 days was the goal, which would be roughly 70 miles per day. Going out my goal was to always hit 70 miles a day, if possible, although I was kind of shooting in the dark the first week.

Ian: The first week was just flying along wasn’t it? I mean, I remember looking and thinking, “Wow, this guy is killing it.” And I thought, “He’s either going to kill it or it’s all going to crumble horrendously.” Then of course very, very early on you took that complete day off. People like myself and, I guess, people all around the world started to look in and go, “He started too fast, it’s all going to fall apart.” What was that like for you physically and mentally because I’ve read lots of things where basically, you said that your body was pretty tired and broken, after that first week?

Pete: I’ll admit I went out way over my head in terms of mileage and it was good because looking back on I’m glad I did that. Because it really taught me a lesson early and I really latched on to that lesson. That is, there’s a monumental exponential difference between 50 miles a day, 60 miles a day, 60 miles a day to 70 miles a day, 70 to 80 in particular for me. I did a couple of 80 miles a day and then I did a very very big elevation net elevation gain day on Thursday, where I still managed to do almost 74 miles. That’s really what started to break me and over the next three days after that, it just kept escalating worse and worse with tendinitis and general fatigue and my body was very weak. It was good to learn that early on, and I had a really good medical advice as well and actually on I think I remember on the fourth day when I started feeling some of that tendinitis. The team doctor, Chris Roman, actually recommended that I cut the day short and actually walk the entire next day and, of course, I didn’t listen to him at the time. By the time I got to day seven, just remembering his advice from a couple days earlier, made the decision pretty easy. To take the day off completely on day seven and regroup. I had a good sense that if, I did just be smart and really aim for 70 rather than 80 miles a day, that I could come back and make it work.

Ian: Now, I’m amazed and Karl sort of confirmed what you are saying, but I’m amazed that just taking one day after racking up 70 plus miles and then continuing to rack up 70 plus miles is enough. It just goes to show and it proves that the body is a remarkable thing, but one of the things Karl said and there’s a lot of precedent with other runners that have done these big multi days. Whether it was Scott Jurek or Jennifer Davis or even Karl, is it seems as though that the body will pay a price at some point. Whether it’s shin splints, or whether it’s sore knees or sore ankle but it happens. The remarkable thing is that there’s this ability to go through it, and although you took a day off you came back. You had just ease yourself back in, but it’s almost as though you’re training the body to absorb the pain, accept the pain, maybe even ignore the pain. What was that process like for you and can you relate to it?

Pete: Oh, yes, without a doubt. I think that was the big thing early on, was training the body to really get used to it and, yes, there was that point where I knew that I had to take a bow, mostly because two-fold. One was that the tendinitis needed a little time to subside because I wasn’t going to be doing any more big climbing for several days. That was one of the benefits of getting out of California, really, but then a lot of it is mental too. The body, a lot of the pain definitely, I was getting used to on a daily basis, and so my mind was much better place to deal with that for an extended amount of time, every day. It was like getting in, jumping in the ocean and you feel the shock of the cold water initially, but after that initial shock you kind of just used to it. From there you can really adapt and that was… it was almost more mental adaptation than anything else.

Ian: Now, what I find interesting is very, very early on in this interview, you explained what a day was like for you. Getting up at five o’clock in the morning, running at 5:15, doing a full day of work and then running for two hours. Your days effectively were 5.00 AM to 7 PM and that was running and working. What you effectively did in running across America was replicate that but you didn’t go to work, you went to work running. Was that part of the mental process that made you believe that 75 or 70 miles a day, was possible?
Pete: Oh, yes, without a doubt. That definitely really helped. Having those days where you… especially just having to be very efficient and always thinking about the clock and always thinking about, how can I get out of bed earlier? “How can I get out of bed quicker?” and started running two minutes quicker each day. That was one thing along the transcontinental run that we really got good at was. A lot of times it would take 30 to 40 minutes to get ready and then out of the door. Eventually we got that down to about 20 to 25 minutes, even with adding some stretching techniques in there. Just things like that are things that are just so monumental and run like this.

Ian: Now, you’ve said it in many interviews that a day would typically start around 4 AM. You’d run around about 40 miles. You’d then take a break for lunch and then you’d get back on the road and aim to finish around about 5.00 PM. Was that a typical day?

Pete: Yes, yes, definitely. Once I got into the the second week, that started to become the routine, and that was another thing that was very appealing to me. Because it was like my pre-run schedules, 5.00 AM run, go to work, then another run after work. That was what it became, on the run was I knew exactly what to expect. Okay, I’m going to run from 4:00 AM, so basically, 10:30 to 11:30 in the morning. I stopped for lunch and I’m then I’m going to run again. Then that took a lot of pressure off because it made me realize that if I can hold about a 10 minute pace all day, through the first 50 or 60 miles, I can start to do some walking later on. That was my personal reward for having a good day of running and really sticking to an efficient schedule was the fact that, I could do some walking later in the day, rather than running all 70 miles.

Ian: Now, you said earlier about it took you a while to learn how to get your nutrition sorted and certainly running for this amount of days and racking up this amounts of mileage, you really need to have your nutrition sorted. So what were you eating out and how did you manage to keep it down?

Pete: It’s funny because, honestly, I felt like I can eat just about anything, on the run. There was never a day or anything I ate, where I had any stomach issues, where I felt like I couldn’t keep it down. For the most part while I was out on the run, we were doing a ton of different protein bars. I was doing a lot of trail mix, lots of banana chips. I really liked those sugar coated pineapple slices, as well. I drink a lot of soda and I think that’s one thing that helps settle my stomach and really just about any type of food you can really think of, or any snack item and I was eating it while I was running.

Ian: Just doing a quick summary of what you’ve said there, you were actually putting in a lot of simple sugars a lot of carbohydrates?

Pete: Yes, yes.

Ian: There wasn’t… I mean obviously you mentioned the protein that tends to become a little bit more important after the run, but it seemed to work so well. How much real food were you throwing in there? I mean I know that it’s difficult to eat real food while you’re running but your lunch break I mean did you go for a more balanced meal? How did that look in comparison to what you were eating while you were on the go?

Pete: Yes, I would usually do about three and a half real meals a day. To start the morning before I start running I’d usually do oat meal with some bread and also a banana. Lunch I would usually do something higher in protein like with eggs and then also maybe some potatoes and maybe some meat as well. Then for dinner. I would usually do something very high in protein like eggs and steak, and also I like to eat a lot of ice cream [laughs] has a little bit of protein in it. Then the other sort of the half meal a lot of times would to be around the marathon point. That’s the only time really during the day where I’d eat something really of any real like meal substance. I’d usually have like a breakfast sandwich with egg and meat. Somewhere between 20 and 30 miles to help me stretch out to the 40 miles in the morning before I stopped get ready for lunch.

Ian: Right. Okay. Then obviously a key element of being able to get up and do what you’re doing every single day is the rest. I think this is what’s so good about your attempts. Is that you weren’t going into the night trying to squeeze miles into the detriments of rest and recovery. For the most time it seems as though you were finishing a good time, you were having a good meal, you were maybe having a massage and some relaxation before probably getting I’m guessing somewhere in the region of seven to eight hours sleep a night?

Pete: Yes, I think that was the key. Was getting to bed by 7 PM just about every night, and then I have until usually 3.30 A.M. to wake up. Like on the last day in particular was a day where I got to bed by seven but I woke up at 11.30 to try to get out the door by midnight to do the last really long stretch which was an abnormal day. Starting that day was the most fatigued I’d felt really the entire run because I didn’t get my rest. I just can’t imagine other runners that have done this whether that’s basically the norm or they’re only getting four or five hours to sleep. Because it was the nights where I had to get less sleep than the seven or eight hours those were the most difficult days.

Ian: Now, it’s obviously Groundhog Day. Repeat, repeat, repeat. How gruesome was it to have to get up each day and get on the road initially knowing that you had 3100 miles to go, and of course it gets less and less as you’re going on. Anything, if you’re doing it day in and day out, it becomes a chore it becomes just not pleasant. How bad was it for you at times?

Pete: It’s funny that you mention Groundhog day so that’s exactly what I was thinking every morning I woke up.
[Laughter]

Pete: Especially going out into the dark. It’s like, “Okay, here I am running into the dark. It’s same thing is that yesterday morning just 70 miles further east.” That was very gruesome and there was always the worst part of the day was when I woke up and just thinking about getting started. I did find a way to flip it the other way in and look at it as, “Okay, if I can get through that first mile, the quicker I get up out of bed have breakfast and get to that first mile of the run the happier I’m going to be because that’s going to be the worst part of the day. The quicker I can squeeze that first mile in from when I get up, the better the day is going to be because I’m going just to be thinking about the rest of the miles.” It was very gruesome but gruesome in a good way I guess. It always got me out of bed pretty quickly in the morning to get my first foot out the door.

Ian: How did your body feel every morning? Stiffening up overnight, crawling out of bed feeling probably 56 not 28 [laughs] and easing your body into the first mile and then the second mile and then there comes a point where I guess things start to loosen up, and everything starts to feel a bit better, and then it’s about also pilot. What was it like and how hard was it on some days to get your body to do what you wanted it to do?

Pete: Yes, early on I would describe it as more of a stiff feeling in the morning. At the end of the day it was probably the worst. I could always sit down for about a half hour an hour to eat dinner and talk to the crew before I went to bed. When I got up from eating dinner it was like, “Okay, it’s going to take me about 20 seconds to hobble back to the bed in the back or the R.V.” There’s a lot of… and that’s kind of what made me nervous was the fact that, “Okay, I am going to wake up in eight hours and go run, is tomorrow going to be the day when my legs just finally don’t work?” Then I think as the run went on I was waking up too much less of a stiff feeling too more of just a tight feeling. That was very encouraging because earlier on the run, especially the higher altitudes and maybe the altitude had more to do with it than my body’s adaptation window. To start the first couple miles I was literally just boiling my legs into a shuffle early on in the run, but as the run went on it was less of a shuffle and more of just a warm-up I would call it. The first few miles.

Ian: Okay. The one thing that impressed me is that whenever I looked at photos of you, saw the odd video clip, read reports, got updates from your website, It looked as though you were just killing it. It looked as though the record was going to go. You looked incredible you were always smiling. I’m sure that you weren’t, but it looks as though you were always smiling, and I’m going to really insult you by saying you made it look easy. Was it was as complete as it appears from the outside?

Pete: Once I got to Nebraska especially a lot of it became more of a mental battle than anything. I would think about okay, each individual mile is not that hard to run but just thinking about the entire day and thinking about how many miles I still have left was really the battle each day. I’d also say that when I did have people to run with which is probably the case of a lot of photos and videos, that’s when I really was… actually it really was pretty easy, because when I would run with people that would come out and I get into a conversation with them, the whole mental part goes out the window. I really kind of forget that I’m even running because I’m just so used to it. I would say the biggest battle is just when I was running alone which was quite often, but just thinking, “Oh my gosh I have 52 more miles in the day.” I think that was really the biggest challenge because I really got into I think a good rhythm in my cadence, in my stride once I figured out over the course of the first couple weeks.

Ian: Okay. Now the other thing that impressed me was the route that you took. Because you actually… I think almost did exactly the same route of the original in 1980. Was that intentional?

Pete: Yes, yes. Definitely. I wanted to replicate as much… I didn’t really study his route from a town a town perspective, but I think if you’re going out to break a record you want to make it as comparable as possible to the person that owns the record. I thought that was the respectful thing to do, but also I mean it really worked out to my favor personally too because it allowed me to go through Nebraska and Iowa right when I needed it most, and see a lot of familiar sights and I lived in both of those two states most of my life.

Ian: Now I don’t need to tell you that the record is one of the oldest records in The Guinness Book of Records and there’s a reason for that, is that because it’s so bloody tough. Now that you’ve achieved it, and you’re probably a little bit blown away, now that with the amount of attention that you’ve got, with time to think about it and to look back, what does it feel like now we reflecting on a record breaking run?

Pete: I think it’s going to take a lot time to really sink in, but it’s funny because I’m not necessarily surprised or anything like that about what I did, because I thought that coming in, it was something that I could manage and do in about the time I did. I think the big thing is I just–and I think that’s what I want people to know the most is I did something that may seem superhuman to a lot of people, but at the end of day you look back on my running history and where I’ve come over the last few years. I’m not coached by anyone, a lot of people would probably look at my training and think, what’s the what’s the theme or what’s the what’s the point with some of the running that I do. I think that’s the beauty of all Ultra running is, really anyone can be very competitive ultra runner and there’s so much more of a mental aspect, than a physical one, because I think that’s where I’m much stronger is. I think it’s made me realize that I’m much more stronger mentally than I am physically and I think that’s one of the things that’s really, that I really am proud of.

Ian: Now when a record gets broken, we very often will say by minutes maybe an hour if somebody is very, very lucky. You basically broke this record to all intents and purposes by four days, which is absolutely huge, because we all know the significance that that makes on the daily mileage. Even somebody like Marshall Ulrich who needs no introduction to the Talk Ultra audience is completely blown away as is the whole Ultra running community by what you’ve achieved. What does that mean for you in terms of where you go from here and what you do in the future because as you’ve said taking this amount of time to take on such challenge is a big thing in anybody’s life. Maybe physically and emotionally and mentally, it’s not something that should be done time and time again, maybe it is a one off, where do you go from here?

Pete: That’s a good question. Honestly I’m still trying to search for the answer. I haven’t really done much running since I finished the run. Yes, I’ve been I’ve been thinking a lot lately and my legs have been feeling a lot better. I’ve started to look at races that I might want to do, but I’m really looking forward to what I decide to do next, but if I have an open book at this point.

Ian: Do you think this run will make you slower?

Pete: Yes, I tried to run a three mile as fast as I could literally a few days ago, I think I got I was mostly in eights. I have a lot of work to do and trying to get my speed back that’s for sure.

Ian: Well eights is not bad if you were doing tens running across America.
[laughter]
Many people have said I’ll refer back to Karl Meltzer Scott Jurek, Marshall Ulrich that it takes the body a long time to recover from such an effort. Are you aware of how your body really feels from the efforts that you’ve put in? I know that physically and it’s still relatively early you’re feeling pretty good but I guess it’s only when you try to run a little bit longer or you try to run a little bit faster that you will really know how much impact that this has had. Are you aware of this and if you are or if you aren’t, would you make sure that you have a big chunk of recovery time just to make sure that your’re safe?

Pete: Yes, I think that’s the beauty of the time of year that I did this run is that it gets me to — it really gets me to a point where I can do some downtime. I’ll do some training and I’ll run through the winter eventually, but I think if I need 2/3 months early to get back to my regular running again I’ll be okay. I don’t really have any big races at least planned until hopefully in the spring and summer of 2017. I think that was definitely something I thought about. If I had done this in the spring or even in the summer, I’d probably be just itching to get back out and race again in the fall, but it’s been good to have to really be going into the small months with the finish of this run.

Ian: Before you attempted this Run Across America your day consisted of a five am start, a couple of hours of running a full day at work, couple of hours of running, an hour’s chill time. Now you’ve got a lot of time on your hands is that a tougher battle than actually running across America?

Pete: It is interesting. Yes, it’s something I’m not used to at all, I’ve been I’ve been taking advantage of it and usually sleeping a bit longer. I’ve been doing a lot of 9/10 hour. And I sleep and an hour. I think really helped at the recovery as well but it is it is odd because it’s almost I feel like I actually have time to kill now which was unheard of in these last five or six months.

Ian: Well I’m sure your wife and family are happy to have you around, maybe seeing you chill and relax a little bit more?

Pete: Yes, we’ll find out.

Ian: I’m going to ask you one last question because I’ve taken up enough of your time, but in 42 days and a couple of hours and a few minutes, there must have been one or two really bad moments, what were they?

Pete: I think the biggest shocker, the hardest thing to take was definitely when one of our crew vehicles got demolished, literally just hit from behind and totalled. One of our crew members, Dean, being he was actually in the car at the time and that was something that was just all of the sudden very scary. He was but that was probably one of the hardest times because at that point we were approaching the three forest mark across the country.
It looked like as long as nothing bad happened like that, we would be on pace for the record and thankfully nothing bad did come about. I think that, taking the day off early on and just thinking, am I really, am I even going to make it to Utah? All the work I put into this run and is it only going to be a one week run. I was still confident, but I think that was one of the other big scares and then I think just the whole state of Pennsylvania…
[laughter]
…no offence on the people of Pennsylvania but that state was the most brutal by far, because you feel so close to…. you’re 90% of the way there but you still have three hundred miles to go and you’re just like, “Well, I’m not really that close. I still have a long way to go.” Just the weather was really bad and then also the terrain was just very frustrating for a rhythm runner like me, and so I think was the third really difficult part of the route.

Ian: You just give me another point there, because I guess once you’ve got “just” three hundred miles to go, I guess that’s when it can be the most fearful. That’s when you are really frightened of an injury coming along that you can’t plan for, or something that really stops you in your tracks because that’s when you could really lose it. Whereas, if it happens midway or in the early stages then it’s a different mindset, but in grasp, in touching distance, mentally that must have been very, very difficult.

Pete: Oh yes, I do a lot of calculations upon running, just about everyday I was saying okay I have this many miles left and this is how many miles I have to do. Yes, still if something were to happen or I twist an ankle really wasn’t until I got down to the last day or two that I decide, okay I could walk even I have to, but yes, that was just so mentally tough. Many people are already congratulating me.

Ian: Yes.

Pete: “Don’t congratulate me yet, I still have so much work to do.”

Ian: Was that the reason why you ran 87 miles in the last leg?

Pete: Yes, I wanted to just get it over and get it done. I thought if it was a hundred miles or less I was just going to knock it out in one day and make it happen.

Ian: Yes, well Karl Metzer says a hundred miles is not that far. I think he and you are now saying 3,100 miles is not that far. Needless to say, Peter, this record is absolutely stunning. I think it’s blown the whole ultra-running community apart. The old record stood for a long, long time way back to 1980. I’ve got a feeling that this one could stand for a lot longer. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think there’s anybody coming along in the future that could maybe take this record away?

Pete: I would definitely welcome it. Because one thing I learned from Frank was that he was so gracious to me when he literally handed the baton over to me in New York City. If someone goes, I would love to see people continue to go for it. I think there are people that are definitely qualified, I think the interesting thing about this type of run and the reason I did it now rather than a few years from now is that, it’s a huge undertaking personally and even professionally to get the time off to do it from work. Then if you have a family it can be very difficult. I think that’s one of the difficulties of and maybe part of the reason why a lot of really good ultra runners have not been able to do a run like this. I would definitely love to see someone try to break the record, and I’m sure there will be over the few years to come.

Ian: Awesome. Well thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure to hear a snippet of running for 42 days across America, and I wish you all the best to your recovery and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you got up to in 2017.
Pete: Great. Well thank you. Thank you so much for having me, it was a pleasure.

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Kathmandu to Jiri

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Departing in five 16-seater mini buses, participants of the Everest Trail Race made the long, twisty and at times stressful journey from Kathmandu to Jiri for the start of the 2016 edition of the ETR.

It’s a rollercoaster journey up single-track roads, a frenetic and constant beeping of horns and a multitude of bends that would leave the most hardened rollercoaster freak with a turning tummy. The roads are wide enough for ‘just’ two vehicles – a loud blast on the horn means we are overtaking. The lack of road rules works, all the drivers are prepared for anything and as such, nothing happens.

Our lunch stop was a welcome break from the journey. While runners found a space and relaxed, I walked looking for some local colour. I found a family relaxing under a tree, the midday sun was warm and they needed a break from the hard work in the fields.

They locals embrace tourists and actually seem to enjoy the process of having a photo taken. I lifted out balloons for the children and comically all the adults wanted one too. They were sitting, laughing aloud, as each and every one of them tried to inflate them. I am convinced they had not witnessed a balloon before. I inflated one and let go…. It whirled through then air and landed as if dead.

Relaxed with the balloon distraction, one-by-one they looked into my lens.

Weathered faces show the lines from years of toil in the fields. Children have wonderful circular faces that glow and piercing eyes with a cheeky smile.

I could photograph these people all day!

Back on the bus the ride continues and finally our arrival at Jiri came. We had been on the road 8-hours and the glow of yellow tents was a warm welcome as the day began to lose its light.

Water collection, tent allocation and final preparations were underway for tomorrows race day as the runners became acquainted with their new homes for the next 6-days . A mug of hot tea warms as the departing of the sun takes the heat of the day away and the temperature slowly drops…

Day 1 commences at 0900 Thursday 10th November.

Jiri (1850m) to Bhandar  (2050m) – 21.5km 3795m+

The stage has two summits, one at 2400m and the high point of the day at Deurali Pass 2700m before descending to the finish at Bhandar.

Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Kathmandu

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Today was a relaxing day in Kathmandu soaking up the sights, sounds, colour but most importantly, for me, the people!

Nepal and the Nepalese people fascinate me.

The day started with a morning in Patan – Patan, an ancient fortified town, was founded in 745 AD by Vanraj Chavda, the most prominent king of the Chavda Kingdom. He named the city Anhilpur Patan or “Anhilwad Patan” after his close friend and Prime Minister Anhil shepherd. (wikipedia).

And the midday around the Boudhanath Stupa (or Bodnath Stupa) which is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. The stupa is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. (sacred-destinations).

The close of the day allowed runners to obtain race numbers, have equipment checked and as I write this, the race briefing is about to start.

Tomorrow we leave Kathmandu for Jiri, a journey of 7-8 hours and our first overnight camp. Racing will start on Thursday at 0900.

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Everest Trail Race 2016 #ETR2016 – Arrival Kathmandu

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The 2016 Everest Trail Race has begun… as with all races, it starts with a journey and as I am sure you all know, some are more bearable than others. This was a good one! We departed Heathrow on Nov 6th in the early evening, a 4-hour flight to Istanbul was followed with a short wait time before a red-eye flight through the night to arrive in Kathmandu for midday the following day.

The Nepal/ Kathmandu impact hits immediately – noise, colour, cars, motorbikes, buses, dust and people are everywhere!

A short journey to our hotel is followed by a simple pre-registration of athletes; the official race briefing will take place tomorrow. Everyones tired but a new day has kicked in leaving everyone unsure if they should be eating lunch or breakfast? Eyes are watery and red, hair is a little dishevelled and wild, but the anticipation of the 2016 ETR has everyone wired and excited.

It’s time to unpack, prepare and organise equipment for the race that starts in three days time but first a little exploring – the bustling streets of Tamil await and provide a quick and rapid immersion into the wonders of Nepal and it’s people.

Tomorrow, Monday, is a day of organised exploring to the Monkey Temple and Durba Square; a hub of history for this region of Nepal.

Sleep deprived, it’s a short day for everyone, bed calls and tomorrow the 2016 Everest Trail Race experience really begins for all concerned.

Racing starts on Thursday10th November

Day 1 – Departing Jiri at 0900 runners will cover two major peaks, Mali at just over 2400m and Deurali Pass (2700m).

Day 2 – Leaving Bhandar, non-stop climbing follows a short 4km descent; firstly, to Gompa (Golla) at 3010m, a small downhill section follows of 2km and then a climb to Pikey Peak at 4068m. It’s a tough-tough day and the sting in the tail comes at the very end with a very short and steep ascent to Jase Bhajyang.

Day 3 – Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola

Stage 3 is all about running downhill, however, the finish is brutal ascent to Kharikhola at 2100m. Leaving Jase Bhanjyang runners have a short ascent of 2km to 3800m and then an 8km descent to Jumbesi, CP1. A 6km climb to just over 3000m is then followed with a 4km descent to Lharpa and CP2. Another 3km climb to 3000m and then a brutal leg-sapping drop from 3000m to 1500m in 10km before the final sting in the tail, a 3km climb to the finish.

Day 4 – Kharikhola to Llegada

Departing the monastery, a small descent awaits the runners of just 4km before a long tough climb to Kari La (CP1) at 2900m. From here the course goes up and down all around 2700/2800m for approximately 10km before a very steep descent to CP2 at Surke (2200m). A continual climb to CP3 at Cheplung continues to the arrival at Phakding/ Llegaga. 

Day 5 – Phakding to Llegada

Leaving Phakding at 2600m runners will only gain 200m in the first 8km. CP1 Namche Bazar is at 10km  (3400m).  Phunki Tenga at 17.5km (3300m) now will offer the runners the most spectacular views of Everest and the other 8000m peaks. This sight will spur them on for the kick in the tail; the 2km climb from 3300m to 3700m and the finish at Tengboche.

Day 6 – Thyangboche to Lukla

The final stage of the ETR re-traces much of the same ground of Day-5 but (obviously) in the opposite direction. The main difference comes after Phakding when the trail splits and participants go left climbing to the finish in Lukla.

Jason Schlarb to run The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017

©iancorless.com_MDS2016-6805

Jason Schlarb shot to notoriety after winning Run Rabbit Run 100-mile race in 2013. What has followed is a rise through the ultra ranks. A 4th place at UTMB placed Jason as one of the most successful Americans ever to perform at the big dance in Chamonix – a race that has proven elusive for Americans to crack until recently. The true sign of a true champion is when they go back to a race and win again… Jason did this at Run Rabbit Run winning again in 2015. However, all previous results pale into insignificance after Jason crossed the line hand-in-hand with Kilian Jornet at the 2016 Hardrock 100.

Hardrock, a low-key event in comparison to some of the big ‘hundos’ is for many the epitome of the mountain ultra world – with 100 miles to cover and relentless vertical gain at altitude, it is the grandad event that all other races look up to. For Jason to win it alongside arguably the greatest mountain runner in the world is a huge accolade.

However, before Jason ran the Hardrock 100 event, in winter of the same year, he covered the Hardrock 100 route on skis – a first! It was quite the event and experience and what followed was an immersion into the heat of the Sahara.

©iancorless.com_MDS2016-5942

Jason raced the 2016 Marathon des Sables and found it a real challenge, I wondered, what was it about multi-day racing that appeals to him, after all, he has a reputation of being a single stage racer.

“One of the aspects of stage racing I appreciate the most, is being able to spend quality time with other athletes over multiple days. There are great opportunities to make life long friends at stage races. I really look forward to reuniting with my Norwegian Altra teammate Sondre Amdahl at TCC. Sondre and I have raced together on a number of occasions and we both raced at Marathon des Sables, he placed 8th and I was 12th. I wouldn’t mind setting things right and beating Sondre at the Costal Challenge in February :)”

But I wondered, is racing for multiple days harder than racing for one day?

“Stage racing creates prolonged drama, excitement and amazing entertainment for both spectators and athletes alike, what is there to not like about that? Stage racing, to me, is far more difficult. One must perform well day-after-day and juggle an extended game of being patient and balancing effort.”

©iancorless.com_MDS2016-5210

At Marathon des Sables I had noticed that a lack of rest and a lack of calories made the Sharan challenge difficult for Jason, although TCC is not a completely self-sufficient race, I asked Jason what are the challenges he thinks he may encounter during The Coastal Challenge?

“For me, the Coastal Challenge presents a unique obstacle of performing well in a hot and humid climate while living and training in a snowy and cold climate. I will also need to focus on speed training this winter to be ready for faster, lower altitude running verse my usual high altitude, mountain running. Staying blister and generally injury free over multiple days of racing is also a big task at the Coastal Challenge.”

Snow and cold temperatures are not ideal preparation for the heat, humidity, rainforests, long stretches of beaches and technical trail of Costa Rica – is this going to be perfect running terrain or a real challenge?

“Traveling through wild lands is always a thing of perfection in my mind, but that perfection always presents challenge – that’s why we do it! I love Costa Rica. My family lived there for 2 years while I was at University, so, I always look forward to going back.”

©iancorless.com_MDS2016-1834You have already mentioned that you will have snow and cold temperatures to deal with in the build up to TCC. You have also said that you will need some speed but will you do any specific training for Costa Rica and what are the race plans for later in 2017?

“TCC is my only winter race this year, so most all of my training this winter will be geared towards performing well at TCC. Transvulcania in May will be my next focus race followed by a return to Hardrock 100 in July and hopefully Grand Raid/Diagonal des Fous in October.”

Have you thought about equipment, shoe choices and other details for the race?

“I have not figured out my race kit for TCC yet. While I almost always race in Altra Paradigms, I am pretty confident I will be racing in a different, higher traction shoe called the Altra King MT (coming out next year). I’ll use a Ultimate Direction racing vest, but besides that, I have some work to do selecting equipment.”

TCC and Costa Rica has a reputation for being a relaxed and enjoyable race – do you think holidays that combine a race are a good idea?

“Absolutely. I’ve paired holiday travel both alone and with my family my whole trail running career. Europe, New Zealand, Iceland, you name it! Importantly though, holiday and racing can be two in the same for me, but it isn’t easy to do. I have failed before at properly managing the balance (UTMB this last summer, for example) between traveling, holiday, fun, training and racing abroad. Balancing things with clear boundaries, a plan and discipline is essential. As far as enjoying myself before and after each stage, that just depends on the day, my mood, physical condition, performance etc…”

As one season comes to an end and Jason prepares for 2017, I ask what he is most looking forward to?

“I look forward to escaping winter for a fantastic world class event in Costa Rica. I am very excited to both prepare for and experience the Costal Challenge.”

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-3084
The Coastal Challenge is a multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.

Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-0563

Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

ENTRIES ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE 2017 EDITION
Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

More information:

Read the full 2016 race story HERE

View and purchase images for the 2016 race HERE

Follow #TCC2017

 

Episode 122 – Kostelnick – Sandes – Morgan

A_GRAVATAR

Episode 122 of Talk Ultra and we have a 1 hour interview with Pete Kostelnick all about his amazing, record breaking run across the USA. Ryan Sandes talks Raid de la Reunion and Casey Morgan talks about Madeira’s EcoTrail Funchal and the Everest Trail Race. The show is co-hosted by my good buddy from the Twin Cities, Kurt Decker.

 

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is now published and available worldwide HERE

00:16:43 NEWS

CLEANSPORT COLLECTIVE http://cleansport.org

Professional pledge

  1. I pledge to honor myself, competitors, sponsors, sport and society by choosing to stay clean of performance enhancing drugs. Choosing to not play by the rules steals from hard working athletes who choose to do the right thing and challenges the health and integrity of sport. I will be a positive example in the community as an advocate and ambassador for clean sport. I pledge that I have and will always train clean, compete clean and live clean. 
  2. I agree to be an outspoken advocate of clean sport
  3. I agree to donate $25,000 to CSC charity partner if I ever test positive

*plus other pledges for brands, amateurs etc

Lanes of Change

Awareness

We are in this together. The more voices that speak in unity, the stronger we are.

Testing

It is time to intervene. Through our partners, we will support, aid and equip current drug testing regimes with the best and most updated tools and research.

Advocacy

We are a community with purpose. It is about the ecosystem of sport working together. We want it to be known that we support people over performances, and we celebrate honesty, integrity and transparency above all.

Restoration

We are human, and we all make mistakes. Together with our partners, we provide a safe place for those who have doped or spoke out against those that have.

IAU TRAIL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

  1. Luis Alberto Hernando 8:20
  2. Nicolas Martin 8:30
  3. Benoit Cori 8:30
  1. Caroline Chaverot 9:39 – for me, THE ultra runner of the year!
  2. Azara Garcia 9:44
  3. Ragna Debats 9:47

VK FULLY

  1. Nadir Maguet 30:17
  2. Urban Zemmer 30:28
  3. Marco Moletto 30:28 and Kilian Jornet 30:33
  1. Christel Dewalle 35:57
  2. Beatrice Delflorian 38:42
  3. Serena Vittori 39:04

TEMPLIERS 76K

Miguel Heras (Spain). Now 41 years old, Heras turned back the clock with his second-straight win, adding to September victory at Ultra Pirineu. Here, Heras overtook Jared Hazen (U.S.) with some 6k to go to win in 6:45. Hazen used a mid-race surge to break things open and then held on for second in 6:49. Cedric Fleureton (France) was third in 6:56.

Jasmin Nunige (Switzerland) won Ultravasan for the second time, and went on to run 8:00 here for the win, improving on last year’s finish by four minutes. Yngvild Kaspersen (Norway) stepped up in distance and ran strong for a second-place 8:13. I Núria Picas (Spain), who had seesawed with Kaspersen throughout, was third in 8:22.

IAU 24 HOUR

Dan Lawson from the UK took out the win (Dan has placed 3rd at Badwater and 2nd at Spartathlon) with 162 miles – ouch! Ondrej Velicka 2nd with 160 miles.

Maria Jansson set a new European record 155.74 miles – ouch! Patricia Bereznowska was 2nd with 150 miles.

RAID DE LA REUNION

  1. Francois dHaene 23:44 that is 3 victories in 4 years
  2. Antoine Guillon 24:15
  3. Javi Dominguez 24:36 – who has had an incredible and consistent year
  1. Andrea Huser 28:00
  2. Juliette Blanchet 29:26
  3. Emma Roca 30:10

00:50:00 INTERVIEW with RYAN SANDES

JAVELINA JUNDRED

Zach Bitter 13:30 beating Hal Koerner’s benchmark 13:47

Brett Sanborn 15:15

Ryan Kaiser 16:40

Dana Anderson 21:03

Adela Salt 21:32

Amy Rasor 22:17

Heather Anish Anderson sets new FKT for the 800 mile Arizona Trail – 19 days, 17 hours and 9 minutes

ECOTRAIL FUNCHAL MADEIRA

In the 80km race, Julien Chorier lead from the front and had a stunning day on the trails of Madeira. He arrived in Funchal looking strong. Casey Morgan placed 2nd just 6-minutes behind the Frenchman and Javi Bodas was 3rd, 19-minutes later. For the ladies, Wasmes Wasmes took a conniving victory 14-minutes ahed of Nadia Meroni and Sylvie Benech was 3rd, 1-hour after 2nd place.

01:28:07 INTERVIEW with CASEY MORGAN

DAVE MACKEY – an amazing and inspiring story unfolds

On Monday, October 24, Pete Kostelnick broke the longstanding record for running across the U.S. Kostelnick linked the San Francisco and New York City Halls in 42 days, 6 hours, bettering a 1980 46-day, 8-hour record set by Frank Giannino, Jr. Other than a lone zero-mile day early in the run, Kostelnick knocked out 70-plus miles day after day.

02:05:54 INTERVIEW PETE KOSTELNICK

UP & COMING RACES

Antartica

The Last Desert (Antarctica) | 250 kilometers | November 18, 2016 | website

Argentina

Noroeste Argentina Trail – 100 km | 100 kilometers | November 08, 2016 | website

Noroeste Argentina Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 08, 2016 | website

Australia

New South Wales

Carcoar Cup Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

SURVIVAL RUN AUSTRALIA | 50 kilometers | November 18, 2016 | website

Survival Run Australia 75km | 75 kilometers | November 18, 2016 | website

Queensland

Run to Paradise Ultra Marathon | 74 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

Victoria

Upstream 50km Challenge | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Upstream 50km Challenge | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Colombia

North Face Endurance Challenge Columbia – 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

North Face Endurance Challenge Columbia – 80 km | 80 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

Egypt

100 Km Pharonic Race | 100 kilometers | November 18, 2016 | website

France

Haute-Loire

Trail 70 km | 70 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Marne

SPARNATRAIL classique | 55 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Nord

Trail Extrème Lillois – 75 km | 75 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Territoire de Belfort

Belfortrail 55 km | 55 kilometers | November 11, 2016 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon November | 108 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Lower Saxony

KILL 50 | 50 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Bottroper Herbstwaldlauf – 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

Hong-Kong

Oxfam Trailwalker Hong Kong | 100 kilometers | November 18, 2016 | website

India

Karnataka

100 km | 100 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

75 km | 75 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Maharashtra

100 km | 100 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

160 km | 160 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

75 km | 75 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Tamil Nadu

Nilgiris 100 km Men-Only Ultra | 100 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Nilgiris 100 km Women-Only Ultra | 100 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Nilgiris 50 km Men-Only Ultra | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Nilgiris 50 km Women-Only Ultra | 50 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Indonesia

100K | 100 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

50K Relay | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 102K | 102 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 170K | 170 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 70K | 70 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Italy

Sicily

Etna Tour Trail | 67 kilometers | November 09, 2016 | website

Nepal

Everest Trail Race | 160 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

Manaslu Trail Race | 212 kilometers | November 08, 2016 | website

New Zealand

60 km | 60 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Taranaki Steelformers 100 mile Around the mountain Solo | 100 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Taranaki Steelformers 150 km Around the mountain Running and Walking Relay | 150 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Oman

Oman Desert Marathon | 165 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Peru

Amazon Race Forest 65k | 65 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Portugal

Trail Europe Croisière | 90 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Taiwan

50 km | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Thailand

TU50 | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Kirklees

100 Mile | 100 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

60 Mile | 60 miles | November 06, 2016 | website

Northamptonshire

Druids Challenge Ridgeway Multistage Ultra | 84 miles | November 11, 2016 | website

Powys

Beacons Ultra | 45 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Stirling

Glen Ogle 33 Ultra | 33 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Swansea

Coastal Trail Series – Gower – Ultra | 34 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Worcestershire

Halloween 7in7 | 295 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

USA

Alabama

Pinhoti 100 | 100 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

50 mile | 50 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Colossal-Vail 50K | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Colossal-Vail 50 Mile | 50 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Pass Mountain 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

California

Chimera 100 Miles | 100 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

CTR Lake Chabot Train Run 50 km (Nov) | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Mt. Tam Trail Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Regular Team (12-Person) | 200 miles | November 11, 2016 | website

Rio Del Lago 100M | 100 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Two Cities Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

Ultra Team (6-Person) | 200 miles | November 11, 2016 | website

Florida

Cottonmouth 100 | 100 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Regular Team (3-6 runners) | 50 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Ultra Team (2 runners) | 50 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Georgia

Georgia Sky to Summit 50k | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Illinois

Tunnel Hill 100 Miler | 100 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Tunnel Hill 50 Miler | 50 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Indiana

50K 2-Peson Relay | 50 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

50K 4-Person Relay | 50 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

50K Solo | 50 kilometers | November 13, 2016 | website

Owen Putnam State Forest 50K | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Owen Putnam State Forest 50 Miles | 50 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Kentucky

50K | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Maryland

Fire on the Mountain 50K | 50 kilometers | November 06, 2016 | website

Rosaryville Veteran’s Day 50k | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Stone Mill 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | November 12, 2016 | website

Massachusetts

Nougat Trail 100K | 100 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Nougat Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Stone Cat 50 Mile | 50 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Missouri

Ozark Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Nevada

Ragnar Relay Las Vegas | 195 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

New Jersey

NJ Trail Series One Day – 50K | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

The Batona 50K | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

The Batona 50 Mile | 50 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

New York

Mendon 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Ohio

Fuzzy Fandango 50 K | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Oregon

50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Tennessee

50K | 50 kilometers | November 12, 2016 | website

Nashville Ultra Marathon 50 K Race | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Nashville Ultra Marathon 50 Mile Race | 50 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

Nashville Ultra Marathon 60 K Race | 60 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Nashville Ultra Marathon 70 K Race | 70 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Texas

Big Cedar Endurance Run 100 Miler | 100 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 50K | 50 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 50 Miler | 50 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Muleshoe 50K | 50 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Utah

Antelope Island 50K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | November 05, 2016 | website

Virginia

Mountain Masochist Trail Run | 50 miles | November 05, 2016 | website

03:09:24 CLOSE

HEADS UP – I will be in Nepal for the next two weeks so, I won’t be putting out a ‘normal’ show. However, I have something special lined up. As many of you will know, Adam Campbell had a near fatal climbing accident just 9 weeks ago. I am pleased to say the recovery and healing process is going well. I caught up with Adam and I discussed the whole process and what lessons we can all learn from this in a 1-hour special. Episode 123 of Talk Ultra will be published automatically on Friday October 18th with a simple introduction and close.

 

03:18:01

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HEREAndroid HERE or via a web player HERE

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Tom Owens to race The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017

©iancorless.com_Tromso2016-6879

Tom Owens is without doubt one of the most inspiring runners from the UK who performs consistently on the world stage. Fell runner, ultra runner and Skyrunner, Tom has pushed the world best.

Back in the day, Tom forged a reputation for himself with Andy Symonds at the Transalpine run where the duo were a formidable force. In recent years, Tom has mixed fell running and Skyrunning. In 2012, Tom placed 2nd behind Kilian Jornet at the iconic Trofeo Kima, he looked set to dominate the Skyrunning circuit but injury hit. Time away and keeping fit doing cyclocross, it was 2014 when the Glasgow based runner finally re-emerged at Transvulcania.

©iancorless.com.IMG_8861Transvulcania14

Transvulcania was a surprise return… renowned for running shorter races, Tom stepped up to 70+km – an unknown commodity. Class shone through and he placed 6th. A 3rd at Ice Trail Tarentaise and then 4th at Trofeo Kima and we all knew – Tom was back.

2015 started really well with a win overseas at the Buffalo Stampede in Australia, 6th at Matterhorn Ultraks and arguably his best result came with 4th in the IAU Trail World Championships in Annecy.

©iancorless.com_Tromso2016-8577

Roll on to 2016 and Tom focused on the Skyrunning Extreme Series that combined all the elements that make Tom, the great runner that he is. Technical trails, altitude, distance and an ability to adapt to an ever-changing landscape. Victory at Tromso SkyRace and 5th at Trofeo Kima set Tom up for a potential overall title.

©iancorless.com-9562Kima2014_

Going into the Glencoe Skyline, a head-to-head being Tom and Jon Albon whet everyones appetites. On the day, Albon excelled and it was 2nd for the Scot.

iancorless-com_glencoe2016-9371

As 2016 comes to a close, Tom is looking ahead to 2017. Not known for his ability to handle heat and humidity, I wondered why Costa Rica?

“It looks beautiful, exciting and warm! I always like to escape the Scottish Winter for a week big volume warm weather running in January or February –  it seems to set me up well for the rest of the year.”

And what about the heat and humidity?

“The heat and humidity will be massively challenging. I’ve not worked out how to run well in these conditions. It will be my first big block of running in 2017 and so interesting to see how the body holds up. I also find running in sand really tough…”

Costa Rica may well prove to be much more of a test of running. We all know Tom can handle the rough and technical stuff – the river and bouldering sections will put the fell/ Skyrunner in the terrain that he loves. But Costa Rica will have sand too, albeit not soft sand. It may well be a whole new learning curve.

“It’s going to be  real challenge for sure but that is what makes it interesting! I will be at a disadvantage against pure multi-day runners but I will embrace it. Running day-after day is not really a problem, I love the technical stuff but it’s the heat and humidity that will really test me as I have already mentioned. I have really suffered in such races with cramps (I’m a big sweater) such as at Transvulcania, Buffalo Stampede and the recent World Trail Champs.”

Scotland and the UK is not going to be the ideal place train for a Costa Rican race in February, I wondered if Tom had any specific training plans to be prepared?

“I’m looking forward to trying some different strategies to cope with the heat – I hope the TCC will help me with the some of the other objectives that will take place in remainder of the year. In regard to training, I will aim to get back into regular running mid/late December or early January and build up some endurance. Beyond Coastal Challenge I have no 2017 plans yet. I only ended the 2016 season a couple of days ago – it was a really long (from Feb till end October) and fun season but now i’m enjoying a break and not doing any planning at the moment.” 

Competition in the men’s race will be fierce, the recent announcement of Sondre Amdahl’s participation will no doubt focus the mind of Tom and the other male competitors. But a physical and mental rest is required before thinking about 2017. One thing is for sure, Tom always races to win and he will be prepared come February.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-3069

About the race:

The Coastal Challenge is a multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.

Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-2993

Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

ENTRIES ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE 2017 EDITION

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

More information:

Read the full 2016 race story HERE

View and purchase images for the 2016 race HERE

Follow #TCC2017

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-1567