Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Registration Day

It’s hot… I know it’s the Sahara but today has been hot!

After a day of travel, some 1200 runners arrived in bivouac yesterday and settled to a first night in the Sahara. A meal, some admin and it was an early night. The winds increased with darkness and the general comment in camp the following morning was, “Wow, it got cold last night!”

It caused some last minute anxiety as today is bag drop day and therefore after registration all runners are wearing and carrying everything they need for the week. I could see a few warm layers being taken from cases and added to packs… they can always be thrown away later!

Today is a long day as everyone just wants to run. However, all admin procedures must be undertaken at specified time slots.

Firstly luggage is left and it will not be seen till after the race. Passport and identity is checked and then an overview of medical forms. Packs are weighed for a minimum 6.5kg and in some scenarios checked for mandatory kit. A Spot tracker is added to the runners packs, numbers are collected, timing chips activated and that’s it. The process takes about 2-hours in the heat of the day.

Bivouac is spread over a large area and in each tent, which hold 8-people there is carnage as last minute planning takes place.

As the evening approaches, the last full meal is provided. On waking, self-sufficiency takes over and the runners will start, well and truly, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables.

Day 1 is 30.03km with a 10-hour cut-off time.

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Episode 132 – Dean Karnazes, Wardian and the Barkely and Janine Canham

Episode 132 of Talk Ultra and we talk ‘The Road To Sparta’ with Dean Karnazes. Mike Wardian tells us how difficult it is to cover 20-miles at Barkley and Janine Canham tells us about multi-day running, the Hong Kong run scene and the 9 Dragons race.

I am going solo this week. Karl is on the road and has been for sometime promoting his up and coming movie on his Appalachian Trail FKT (info HERE) and Niandi is busy with work…

So here I am, recording solo literally just before I jump on a plane and head for Morocco and the 32nd Marathon des Sables.

Just a little info on Niandi – the cam boot is off and slowly but surely she is moving around more. Pool sessions daily and strength work in the gym are all falling into place and we have set ourselves a little 3-day fast packing for early May as a target. Running may be a way off yet, this fracture was more serious than the one a year ago.

Me? Well, I had a weekend off work with Niandi in Paris which was pretty awesome and then I followed that with a trip to Norway to work as a stills photographer on a feature film. Something new for me and I loved it… I am a real fitm fan so to work behind the scenes with the crew and actors was just incredible. I will be back in Norway at the end of April for 2 more days on set

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NEWS

Barkley

Well the big news is all about a little race in Tennessee that usually nobody finishes. This year one person did, John Kelly. The 15th finisher. However, his incredible victory in many ways was overshadowed by what first looked like Gary Robbins missing the 60-hour cut-off by 6-seconds. The reality was, Gary had gone off course and navigated his way back to the yellow gate the wrong way – he would have been a DQ even had he been inside the 60-hour time. It all makes for a great story and you can read more HERE. However, lets celebrate John Kelly being the 15th finisher of what is arguably, the toughest race in the world.

If you need clarification on ‘toughest’ – I caught up with Mike Wardian who got lost on lap-1 and eventually finished the first 20-mile loop outside the 12-hour cut-off.

 INTERVIEW with MIKE WARDIAN

Georgia Death Race

Avery Collins won the 74-mile race ahead of Kyle Boykin and in the process obtained a Western States slot. What has followed is a Tweet/ FB storm as Dave Mackey has called Collins out for smoking dope (a banned substance on WADA’s list). There has been much chatter with in the community and this will rumble on. Bob Shebest was 3rd.

Aliza Lapierre won the ladies race ahead of Jackie Merritt and Alondra Moody – 14:00, 14:24 and 14:58 respectively.

Kilian Jornet

Kilian announced his year! Everest figures and an attempt at the Bob Graham Round.

Surprisingly, his run calendar is full, no doubt due to the run series that is currently a little under the radar…. Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre Zinal, a return to a super stacked UTMB and of course Hardrock 100 and Ultra Pirineu figure. From a UK perspective, KJ will race at Glen Coe which is awesome news.

Run4Water 24-hour

Jon Olsen and Gina Slaby took top honours running 154.58 and 142.38 miles respectively.

American River 50

Scott Trummer beat Zach Bitter by 13-mins 6:03 to 6:13 and Rich Hanna was 3rd. Vanessa Taylor was top lady ahead of Melissa Penwell and Kelly Cronin – 7:29, 7:37 and 8:26.

El Reventon Mountain Race

Aritz Egea is back taking a win ahead of Miguel Heras by 12-min – 3:48 to 4:00. Cristofer Clemente placed 3rd. Dominique Van Mechgelen won the ladies’ race in 5:09.

The racing scene in Hong Kong is growing and growing and I caught up with Brit, Janine Canham who has lived there for 25-years. She has witnessed the run scene grow and she tells us about her running, multi-day running and the recent 9 Dragons race.

INTERVIEW with JANINE CANHAM

Recently I was in Bulgaria with Dean Karnazes and it was just too much of an opportunity to pin him down and talk about his up and coming book The Road To Sparta which is currently being released worldwide and will be available in the UK from late April. Read more HERE

INTERVIEW with DEAN KARNAZES

UP & COMING RACES

Argentina

Patagonia Run 100k | 100 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Patagonia Run 130k | 130 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Patagonia Run 63k | 63 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Patagonia Run 84k | 84 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Running Festival Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Queensland

Wildhorse Criterium 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Wildhorse Criterium 70 km | 70 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Victoria

Down Under 135 | 135 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Western Australia

3 Waters 50km Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Belgium

Brussels Capital Region

Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

British Virgin Islands

Tortola Torture | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Diez Vista 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 108 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 110 km | 110 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 69 km | 69 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

France

Ariège

Trail des Citadelles – 70 km | 73 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Bas-Rhin

Le Challenge des Seigneurs | 100 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Le Défi des Seigneurs | 74 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

L’Intégrale | 132 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Eure

53,1 km | 53 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Finistère

Extrême Duo 54 km | 54 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Trail Extrême 54 km | 54 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Gironde

Tour du Canton de Fronsac 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Lozère

100 km | 100 kilometers | April 17, 2017 | website

Grand trail Stevenson 126 km | 126 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Grand trail Stevenson 144 km | 144 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Grand trail Stevenson 179 km | 179 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Grand trail Stevenson 224 km | 224 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Grand trail Stevenson 59 km | 59 kilometers | April 18, 2017 | website

Grand trail Stevenson 65 km | 65 kilometers | April 17, 2017 | website

Mayenne

53 km | 53 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

53 km | 53 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

53 km Relais 2 coureurs | 53 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

53 km Relais 2 coureurs | 53 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

Var

La Trace des Montrieux 51 km | 51 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

L’Ultra de Signes 80 km | 80 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia

Nord Eifel Ultra | 56 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Guadeloupe

GUADARUN : ultra-marathon des îles de Guadeloupe | 136 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Italy

Lombardy

BVG Trail | 73 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Kuwait

240 km RunKuwait Challenge | 240 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Malaysia

168 km | 168 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 16, 2017 | website

84 km | 84 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Morocco

Ecotrail de Ouarzazate | 111 kilometers | April 18, 2017 | website

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Nepal

Mustang Trail Race | 170 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Trail des Trois Vallées | 353 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Netherlands

North Holland

Castricum Ultraloop | 60 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

New Zealand

5 Person Relay | 60 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

62 km Ultra marathon | 62 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Portugal

Gerês Trail Aventure® | 130 kilometers | April 13, 2017 | website

Gerês Trail Aventure® Starter | 70 kilometers | April 13, 2017 | website

Peneda-Gerês Trail Aventure® | 280 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Singapore

64.5 km | 64 kilometers | April 14, 2017 | website

South Africa

Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon | 56 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Spain

Basque Country

Long Trail | 68 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Ultra Trail | 85 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Catalonia

Half | 60 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Ultra | 87 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Extremadura

LXVII Milhas Romanas | 100 kilometers | April 21, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Carmarthenshire

Pendine Sands Ultra | 32 miles | April 16, 2017 | website

Devon

Coastal Trail Series – Exmoor – Ultra | 34 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Dorset

The ONER | 78 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

The ONER Half Day Section | 39 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

East Sussex

South Downs Way 50 | 50 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Hampshire

Compton 40 mile Challenge | 40 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Liverpool

Liverpool to Manchester Ultra | 47 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

Northumberland

100 km | 100 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

USA

California

Diablo Trails Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Grizzly Peak 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Lake Sonoma 50 | 50 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

Oriflamme 50k | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Ruth Anderson 100k | 100 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Ruth Anderson 50k | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Ruth Anderson 50M | 50 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

Woodside Crossover 50K | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Rattler Trail Races 50K | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Connecticut

Traprock 50 | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Florida

100 Miles | 100 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

50 Miles | 50 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

75 Miles | 75 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

DTR Endurance Race 50k | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Idaho

Menan Butte Trail Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K George Cheung Memorial Race | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Potawatomi 150 Mile Trail Run | 150 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Iowa

Hawkeye 50k | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Kansas

Free State Trail Runs 100 km Trail Ultra | 100 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Free State Trail Runs 40-Mile Trail Ultra | 40 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

Kentucky

50K | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Yamacraw 50k | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Trail Race – Run Forward. Give Back – Ultra | 50 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Don’t Run Boston 50K | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

TARC 50M | 50 miles | April 15, 2017 | website

Michigan

Kal-Haven Trail Run | 33 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Zumbro 100M | 100 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Zumbro Midnight 50 Mile | 50 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Missouri

Double Chubb 50k | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Ozark Foothills 50K | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Nevada

55K | 55 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

New Mexico

Spaceport America Relay Race | 200 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

North Carolina

50-KM | 50 kilometers | April 09, 2017 | website

Ohio

Forget the PR Mohican 50K | 50 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Oklahoma

Tatur’s Lake McMurty Trail Race 50K | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Oregon

Gorge Waterfalls 100k | 100 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Gorge Waterfalls 50k | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 Mile Trail Run | 40 miles | April 09, 2017 | website

Texas

50K | 50 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Brazos Bend 50 | 50 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Utah

100k | 100 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Mile | 100 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Washington

Lumberjack 100 K Run | 100 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Lumberjack 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Lumberjack 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 08, 2017 | website

Palouse 100K Relay – 2-3 runners | 100 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Palouse 100K Relay – 4-10 runners | 100 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Palouse 100K Solo | 100 kilometers | April 15, 2017 | website

Squak Mountain 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

West Virginia

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

Mad City 100K | 100 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Mad City 50K | 50 kilometers | April 08, 2017 | website

Close

02:38:00

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I’m Ian Corless

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Website – talkultra.com

Dean Karnazes – The Road to Sparta on IRUN4ULTRA

Dean Karnazes got many a runner into ultra- running, me included. It was that initial story, that initial step that many could relate to:

“It was my 30th birthday and I was doing what anyone does on a 30th birthday – I was out drinking with friends. I had the car, the house and the high-powered job but I needed more. I left the party, went home to my garage, took out a pair of run shoes and ran a mile for every year. Off the bat, 30-miles and a new story began.”

I recently shared a stage with Dean in Bulgaria and had an opportunity to chat with him in-depth. A future episode of Talk Ultra Podcast will feature him and HERE is a teaser on IRUN4ULTRA.

The Road To Sparta available on Amazon here

Barkley 2017 – High Drama and a 15th Finisher

Image ©canadian running

John Kelly was the 15th and only finisher of the 2017 Barkley. An incredible achievement and something that didn’t come easy (his 3rd attempt) for the Washington DC runner. His time of 59:30 shows just how close it was. However, many would say (including Laz the race director) that 30-minutes leeway is far too much in what is universally considered the ‘hardest’ race in the world.

Kelly had ran the first 4-laps with Canada’s Gary Robbins who was faced with a repeat of 2016 when he ran a similar story with Jared Campbell (who went on to win the race) for the 2nd time.

Kelly and Robins had traded blows, helped each other along and then at the end of the 4th lap they went there respective ways – one clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. A rule introduced by Laz to ensure less finishers and a race to the line. Both didn’t finish in 2016!

It was on this lap that the weather changed. Rain, mist, fog and of course sleep deprivation bullied the runners as they searched for the 13 books from which they must tear out a page.

Kelly triumphed arriving at the infamous yellow gate first having taken ‘anything’ he could find from the course to keep warm – a orange hat, a plastic bag and so on. As his hands touched the gate, he asked, “Where is Gary?”

It was a question many asked and as the 60-hour cut-off approached Robbins could be seen sprinting up the road, poles in hand, desperation on his face…

Image©canadianrunning

Would he make it?

Did he make it?

No – he was 6-seconds over the mythical 60-hour cut-off time. There was no way Laz would be lenient… the ultra world collapsed and universal sympathy was sent to Robbins on what was the most heartbreaking 6-seconds in running.

Image ©canadianrunning

The reality is, it wasn’t as close as many first thought. Robbins had made a navigational mistake in the mist and fog. Although he made the yellow gate with all the relevant pages of the book, he did not take the correct course and therefore Laz would not have permitted the finish, even if Robbins had been within the 60-hour cut-off. Robbins tagged the gate from the wrong direction and in the videos posted on Canadian Running  you can see the desperation of a broken man.

 

So, just as Jim Walmsley became famous with going off course at Western States, Gary Robbins may well become more famous and gain more recognition than the 15th Barkley finisher, John Kelly.

He and the 2017 Barkley, rightly or wrongly, will be remembered as the most stunning 6-seconds in ultra running and it is comparable to those 8-seconds that separated Greg Lemond from Laurent Fignon at the 1989 Tour de France.

Both John Kelly and Gary Robbins are legends of the sport for undertaking the 5-loop beast at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee as are all those who toe the line.

But we should all remember John Kelly for achieving what so few have done… Robbins brings us tears but as he says below, “I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own.”

Over the years, the Barkley has grown and grown in stature – funny for a race with $1.60 entry fee.

Everyone will now look to 2018. Robbins for sure will go away, lick his wounds and will be back… Kelly summed it up though, ‘Oh no, next years course is going to be even harder!’

40-runners will receive the letter notifying them that they have been unlucky to gain entry to the 2018 Barkley – would you like to be one of them?

Perspective – a statement from RD Laz:

I wish I had never said 6 seconds… Gary had just come in after having run off course and missing the last 2 miles of the Barkley, that is of course, not a finish. I do, however, always record when runners come in, whether they are finishing a loop, or not. So I had looked at the watch, even tho there was no possibility that he would be counted as a finisher. When someone asked if he had gotten in before the limit; I foolishly answered. I never expected the story to somehow become that he had missed the time limit by 6 seconds. He failed to complete the course by 2 miles. The time, in that situation, is meaningless. I hate it, because this tale perpetuates the myth that the Barkley does not have a course. The Barkley is a footrace. It is not an orienteering contest, nor a scavenger hunt. The books are nothing more than unmanned checkpoints. The Boston marathon has checkpoints and you have to show up at all of them or you can be disqualified… that does not mean you are allowed to follow any route you choose between checkpoints. Now, the class with which Gary handled this terrible disappoinment at the end of a truly magnificent performance… that was exceptional and is, in and of itself, a remarkable achievement. But he did not miss the time limit by 6 seconds, he failed to complete the Barkley by 2 miles.

– Laz

Of course, Gary Robbins, ever the gentleman has soon penned just a few words to congratulate John Kelly and clarify the final moments of his 2017 Barkley. Read the full article and post HERE

“…I thrashed my way to the road and put my head down and gutted out the hardest three minutes of my life to collapse at the gate, overtime, and from the wrong direction. I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own. That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me.”

– Gary Robbins

 

  Images ©canadianrunning please go to http://runningmagazine.ca

Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer – “Made To Be Broken” The Appalachian Trail Movie

Last September, Red Bull athlete and ultra-runner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer finally captured his white whale when on his third attempt in eight years, he set a new Appalachian Trail thru-hike speed record with a time of 45 days 22 hours and 38 minutes. Now, the story behind the trek from Mt. Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Ga., is told in the new documentary “Karl Meltzer: Made To Be Broken” which will debut on Red Bull TV and can be streamed for free beginning April 13.

The 42-minute documentary captures the ups and downs of Meltzer’s world record run, from injuries and sleep deprivation to the challenges faced by his close-knit crew, which included his father, wife and former Appalachian Trail record holder, Scott Jurek.

Read the daily reports from Karl’s FKT HERE

Read the full in-depth interview HERE

Listen to Karl talk in-depth and discuss the highs and lows HERE 

“The trail challenges people. It has changed a lot of people’s lives and visions of what they can do and what they can’t do,” Meltzer proclaims in the film’s opening minutes. “The A.T. is the hardest, most iconic trail in the United States, and I’ve always been drawn back to it.”

The Appalachian Trail runs from Maine to Georgia stretching 2,190 miles through 14 states.  It is roughly the distance between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as the crow flies.  A thru-hiker will experience 464,500 feet of elevation change, or 16 climbs of Mt. Everest.  Thousands of people attempt an Appalachian Trail thru-hike every year, yet only one in four hikers finish the journey, and they typically take five to seven months to complete the entire trail, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

For more information on the project visit www.redbull.com/atrun.

 

 

The 2017 32nd Marathon des Sables Preview #MDS

The 32nd MARATHON DES SABLES draws near and as usual, we take a look at several of the main contenders who will toe the line looking to place on the podium of this iconic race. We look at some of the impressive statistics and we preview at the route the runners will need to cover.

Since 1986, over 20,000 participants have raced at the Marathon des Sables and over 1200 are registered for 2017. Of the 52 Nationalities represented, the British are the largest contingent followed by the French.

2017 ROUTE SUMMARY

The 32nd edition will cover 250km in five timed stages and one compulsory charity stage. Daily distances will vary from 30km to 90km. The only provision to runners is rationed water and a bivouac each night which must be shared with seven other runners. The race requires self-sufficiency and everything a runner needs must be carried for the duration of the race.

Day 1 – A relatively flat stage with small dunes, lots of sand and a slight climb to the finish. It’s a day when many runners go too fast. Tip: Ease into the race.

Day 2 – Will be a tough stage that is long with a great deal of sand. You will climb a gorge and run down a very steep descent. Tip: Tough day, keep focused, watch your pace and keep hydrated.

Day 3 – A climb starts the day and it is followed by rollercoaster terrain taking runners up and down. One section is very steep with technical passages. If that wasn’t enough, this stage contains the first ‘real’ dunes of the 32nd edition. Tip: One foot in-front of the other and remember the big day is tomorrow.

Day 4 – The long one: a feared and formidable stage. A lot of sand and some pitfalls for the feet. Two start times: 8.15 a.m. for most people and 11.15 a.m. for the first 50 men and the first 5 women. It’s a day of much sand and difficult terrain underfoot – be careful not to fall! Two passages through small gorges, a climb up a djebel, a roller coaster through the sand, and a technical descent add to a tough day. Tip: Watch out for the heat and manage the night carefully! Get your head in the right place.

Day 5 – Two start times: 7 a.m. for the majority and 8.30 a.m. for the first 200 runners. Dunes at the start and then no major difficulties, however, be prepared for a hot stretch over a long plateau… Tip: If you finished the long day, the race is in the bag. Smile!

Day 6 – Compulsory charity stage.

 

THE TOP MEN AND WOMEN

Rachid El Morabity returns and is without doubt, once again, the host favorite for male victory. Russian Natalia Sedyh, who won the race in 2016 has decided not to return in 2017 and this leaves the door open for 2015 MDS champion Elisabet Barnes but it will be no easy run – 2017 is arguably one of the strongest female line-ups the race has seen.

THE WOMEN RACE

Nathalie Mauclair placed 2nd in 2016 and Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd, with Natalya not returning, could victory go to one of these very strong ladies? Of course, yes! They both now know the race better, they will have adjusted their training and equipment and will arrive prepared. Nathalie has won Diagonale des Fous twice and has been trail World Champion twice – this combination of speed and endurance is just what is required in the Sahara.

Fernanda Maciel, like Nathalie, is a powerhouse on trails. A regular competitor on the UTWT she brings incredible experience to the race and a tenacity to push to the line.

Elisabet Barnes won MDS in 2015 and what has followed is a string of world-class performances in multi-day races all over the world – Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, USA and so on. Elisabet loves the Sahara and this year has stepped up her training and prepared meticulously for the 32nd edition.

Emilie Lecomte will run MDS for the first time in 2017 but last year, pipped Elisabet Barnes to victory at the Grand To Grand in the USA. Emilie is a specialist in long races and the multi-day format suits her. She still holds the FKT for the GR20 in Corsica and like Nathalie has won the Diagonale des Fous.

 

Ester Alves from Portugal won The Coastal Challenge in 2016 and this year placed 3rd. Like the ladies’ above she is a fierce competitor and although this is her first foray into the Sahara, I have a feeling we will see her contend for the top 5, if not the podium.

Our women’s top ten to watch:

Aziza Raji is the Moroccan hope. She won the race in 2008 and 2009 but the speed of the race has increased and she is unlikely to contend with the other top elites.

Lizzie Wraith from the UK is a strong runner who will be under the radar here in the Sahara – watch out, she may surprise many people! Lizzie made the podium at the UK’s tough, Dragons Back Race.

Mélanie Rousset is attempting MDS for the first time but has a string of top-10 results at Diagonale des Fous and UTMB.

Nahila Hernandez San Juan from Mexico placed 8th at MDS in 2009 and was 5th at Badwater 135 in 2013.

Marie Eve Trudel a newcomer to ultra but placed 4th at the Grand To Grand in 2015.

Amy Costa winner of the Badwater 135 in 2013.

Kerri Kanuga 6th at Badwater in 2016.

THE MEN RACE

Rachid El Morabity, Samir Akhdar, Aziz El Akad and Abdelkader El Mouaziz are the strong men on this 32nd MARATHON DES SABLES. Rachid has won the race in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016 – do you want to bet against him?

Samir Akhdar is a MDS regular but his best result came in 2015 when he placed 4th. In 2017, he has the potential for 2nd or 3rd. Equally, Aliza El Akad although he is getting on in years, his seven completions at MDS and all within the top-5 would suggest he will continue that consistency.

This year the race does not have Chema Martinez from Spain or Danny Kendall from the UK. Therefore, the great European hope comes with a trio of Brits.

Andy Symonds is a world-class runner who has made the podium all over the world in iconic ultras. Although this is his first MDS he has the running skill to be up there! It all depends if he has adapted to the pack and the additional weight.

Nathan Montague is coming to the race with clear intentions to do well and ideally be the first Brit and hopefully that highest placed Brit ever. He’s a fast runner with some impressive times for 50km and 100km.

Damian Hall has been top-20 at UTMB and placed on the podium at The Spine. He raced in Costa Rica in 2016 with an excellent performance against a world-class field. Like Andy, Damian is on a MDS learning curve but he has the potential to do well.

Moroccans may well provide the competition for the other Moroccans. Abdelkader El Mouaziz is a 2:06 marathon runner and has won London Marathon in 1999 and 2001. He may well be slower now with the passing of the years but class is permanent. His highest placing at MDS is 2nd – one to watch!

Miguel Capo Soler was 3rd at MDS in 2013 and is the most experienced non-Moroccan who will potentially contend the top-10 placing. In recent years, he has run at The Coastal Challenge and Everest Trail Race.

Our men’s top ten to watch:

Mustapha Ait Amar finished MDS 13-times and was 12th in 2012.

Andrew Fargus placed 11th at MDS in 2013.

Luca Papi is a novice MDS runner but brings a wealth of experience.

Marco Olmo is a legend of ultra-trail and MDS – he will not contend the podium but he will be up around the top-20. Not bad for a 68-year old!

Notable mentions for blind runner Didier Benguigu who aged 67 will participate in his 13th MDS.

Also, Duncan Slater from the UK who lost both legs during a mission in Afghanistan. He did not complete in 2016 due to medical complications – he’s back this year for the medal!

Finally…

1216 runners will toe the line and the youngest male is Oscar Daglish from the UK who is just 16-years old. He will be running with his father who has already completed MDS.

The youngest female is Emily Rolfe, also from the UK. Emily will also run with her father.

Claude Leonardi from France is the oldest male runner. The 32nd edition will be his 5th time on the race, not bad for 80-years old!

Edda Hanna Bauer got into sport late, she ran her first marathon and 60. Now aged 72 she has made up for it clocking up 26 marathons and 63 ultra-marathons.

Crazy Statistics of the MDS

“The logistics are a big headache and we organize every detail in advance! We’re a village of 2,000 people that must be set up and dismantled every day. We need to be self-sufficient in energy, food, water and fuel. As one of my friends says, ‘Let’s expect the worst because the best will never surprise us!’ We also benefit from the infallible support of the Royal Moroccan Army, which makes available about 25 6WD military trucks to transport all of our equipment.” – Patrick Bauer

You must see Marathon des Sables t appreciate the size and scale of the event. It’s like the largest moving circus you will ever see and it’s impressive to witness.

Following statistics provided by the Marathon des Sables office:

▪      150 volunteers to supervise the race,

▪      450 general support staff,

▪      120,000 liters of bottled mineral water,

▪      300 Berber and Saharan tents,

▪      120 all-terrain vehicles and trucks,

▪      2 Squirrel helicopters and 1 Cessna plane,

▪      8 Transavia ‘MDS special’ commercial planes,

▪      30 buses,

▪      4 dromedaries,

▪      1 incinerator lorry for burning waste,

▪      5 quad bikes to monitor race environment and safety,

▪      72 medical staff,

▪      2.3kms of Elastoplast,

▪      12,200 compresses,

▪      6,000 painkillers,

▪      150 liters of disinfectant,

▪      1 editing bus,

▪      5 cameras,

▪      1 satellite image station,

▪      10 satellite telephones,

▪      30 computers, fax and internet,

▪      20,000 competitors since 1986

▪      3 runners aged 10-20, 108 aged 20-30, 314 aged 30-40, 491 aged 40-50, 299 aged 50-60, 66 aged 60-70 and 13 aged 70-80 years.

▪      14 km/hr.: average maximum speed, 3 km/hr.: average minimum speed,

▪      15 years of age for the youngest competitor and the oldest, 83!

30 Years of the MDS

1986 – Michel GALLIEZ (FRANCE) – Christiane PLUMERE (FRANCE)

1987 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1988 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1989 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Marie-Claude BATTISTELLI (FRANCE)

1990 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Claire GARNIER (FRANCE)

1991 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1992 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1993 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Irina PETROVNA (RUSSIA)

1994 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Valentina LIAKHOVA (RUSSIA)

1995 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Béatrice REYMANN (FRANCE)

1996 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Anke MOLKENTHIN (GERMANY)

1997 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1998 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1999 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Lisa SMITH (USA)

2000 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Pascale MARTIN (FRANCE)

2001 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Franca FIACCONI (ITALY)

2002 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2003 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Magali JUVENAL (FRANCE)

2004 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2005 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUX)

2006 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Géraldine COURDESSE (FRANCE)

2007 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2008 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2009 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2010 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Monica AGUILERA (SPAIN)

2011 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2012 – Salameh AL AQRA (JORDAN) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2013 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Meghan HICKS (USA)

2014 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Nikki KIMBALL (USA)

2015 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Elisabet BARNES (SWE)

2016 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Natalya SEDYH (RUSSIA)

A brief history of the MDS:

1984: At 28 years of age, Patrick Bauer decided to make for the Sahara to try to traverse a 350km expanse of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone, where he wouldn’t come into contact with a single village, oasis or watering place. Totally self-sufficient, with a rucksack weighing 35kg and containing water and food, he set off on a journey that was to last 12 days. It was the starting point of what was to become the MARATHON DES SABLES.

1986: The creation of the first MDS in the Moroccan Sahara. The 23 pioneers who took the start never imagined that their footprints would mark the start of a legendary event, which has today become a must among the major adventure sport meets. The creation of a non-mechanical competition in the Moroccan sands offers adventure runners a wealth of new prospects.

1987: Creation of the MDS logo: the face of a runner covered by a keffiyeh, the eyes protected by a pair of sunglasses and the pipette from the runner’s water container clenched between the teeth.

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

1991: The gulf drama puts the MDS at a disadvantage and the financial partners withdraw. Fortunately, some runners answer the call. For these competitors, the true victory lies in meeting athletes from different backgrounds and their communion in the desert around the same goal. Sport proves once again that it can bring people together and create bonds.

1992: One and the same regulation for everyone. This year sees the establishing of unexpected draconian tests, to ensure that each participant properly transports all his or her gear from one end of the course to the other. A 30-point charter is drawn up.

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

1995: 10th anniversary. Since the start, over 1,500 men and women have left their footprint and their passion in the desert. Installation of water-pump for the inhabitants of the village of Ighef n’rifi (South of Er-Rachidia) – an idea by competitor Gilles Flamant and backed by Rolland Barthes and Patrick Bauer. Its success is to be repeated again and again

1996: First participation by Mohamed, a younger sibling of Ahansal. The two Moroccan brothers set off together and rank 4th and 5th respectively.

1997: This year heralds the start of the Ahansal saga. Morocco is honored with Lahcen’s first victory. He beats his two pursuers by nearly 30 minutes, despite them being international long-distance running champions.

1999: A mobile hospital on the MDS comes into being. There are around thirty practitioners on the ground, with doctors and nurses joining the caravan. A dedicated helicopter and ten all-terrain vehicles track the competitors each day. On- board these vehicles there are doctors of course, as well as high-tech equipment. The village boasts a genuine field hospital.

2000: Internet appears in the large MDS village. The organization decides to broadcast the texts and photos of the race live, day after day. The competitors can communicate with their nearest and dearest and receive messages of encouragement.

2001: For the first time the long leg, traditionally called “The 70”, exceeds the 80km barrier to reach 82km. The threshold of 240km is also surpassed since the 16th MARATHON DES SABLES spans 243km. Another first relates to the fact that there are no Moroccans on the podium this year.

2002: This edition is punctuated by a sandstorm, involving headwinds, which lasts the entire week. The doctors invent a machine for ‘low pressure cleansing’ to rinse out the runners’ eyes. Despite the difficult conditions, there are few retirements to report as the wind considerably reduces the temperature.

2005: The Luxembourg runner Simone Kayser is the first woman to win 3 MARATHON DES SABLES. For this 20th edition, the total number of runners exceeds 700 for the first time, with no fewer than 777 runners taking the start.

2006: A drying wind and very high humidity levels cause damage to the runners’ bodies. Despite additional allocations of water, a whole series of retirements ensues. There is a total of 146 retirements ultimately, which equates to double that of the previous record… Race management decides to shorten the long leg by over 10km given how tired the runners seem.

2008: The Solidarité MDS association is created. The aim: to develop projects to assist children and disadvantaged populations in the domains of health, education and sustainable development in Morocco. 

2009: MDS is disrupted by flooding and the 1st and 6th stages are not able to take place. To avoid the flood zones, the organization is obliged to improvise new legs on a day-to-day basis. In this way, the edition goes down in legend for its 3rd leg, which is the longest ever contested: 92km of sand, loose stones and rocks… The leg even sees the retirement of Lahcen Ahansal… At the prize giving the 2 winners admit to having competed in their hardest MDS. However, it was also the shortest: 202km.

2010: For its 25th edition, the number of participations reaches a record high of 1,013 participants. It is to be the longest MARATHON DES SABLES. It spans 250 kilometers with a course considered by former entrants to be the most difficult ever organized.

2012: A dramatic turn of events on the longest leg as the then leader in the overall standing, Rachid El Morabity (MAR) injures himself one kilometer from the finish. Medical examinations reveal a serious muscular lesion in the quadriceps. After over five years on the 2nd or 3rd step of the podium, Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra secures the title.

2013: 1,027 competitors on the start line make this a new participation record. New feature: a final “Charity” stage sponsored by UNICEF and traversing the Merzouga dunes round off the race. Sports wise, Mohamad Ahansal and Megan Hicks are the champions of the 231.5km event. On a human level, all the finishers pull off their crazy bet.

2014: 2011 winner, Moroccan Rachid El Morabity (MAR) wins the overall ranking and takes Mohamad Ahansal’s crown. In the women’s category, another American stamps her mark, Nikki Kimball. The French revelation is one Michaël Gras, 22 years of age, 8th overall and top Frenchman. A major athletics star, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj lines up to take the start of Saturday’s Unicef Charity leg.

You can follow the 2017 Marathon des Sables on this website.

On Facebook – Facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

On Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

On Twitter – @talkultra

 

Please remember, communications in the Sahara will be sporadic and we will upload content as and when possible.

Episode 131 – Tom Owens, Jo Meek and Inge Nijkamp

Episode 131 of Talk Ultra and we bring you an interview with TCC winner, Tom Owens. We also speak with Jo Meek who recently placed on the podium in Hong Kong at Translantau 100km. Niandi brings us a ‘one-on-one’ interview with Inge Nijkamp. We have the news and ultra-chat!

Niandi still is injured but back in the pool

Ian has been to Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more…

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Niandi is joining me and yes, her foot is still in a moon boot. How’s the fracture?

Lets kick off with Niandi’s next ‘one-on-one’ interviews, this week she talks with Inge Nijkamp who attended our training camp in Lanzarote. In early April, Inge will toe the line at MDS and here Niandi discusses balances life, children and how you fit it all in…

INTERVIEW with INGE NIJKAMP

NEWS

Chuckanut 50k

Max King once again showed his speed ahead of Hayden Hawks. However, both went under to old CR! It was close with Hawks just over 30 seconds back. Max gets an auto qualifier for the IAU Trail World Champs. Sage Canaday placed 3rd.

Ladia Albertson-Junkans (?) won the race in 4:17 and the IAU slot ahead of Yiou Wang and Rachel Jaten

Trail du Ventoux

Marc Lauenstein and Caroline Chaverot too top honours in a race that also gave IAU qualificition. Lauenstein from Switzerland didn’t qulify (obviously) for the French place and this went to UTMB winner Ludovic Pommeret.

Kilian Jornet

Kilian announced his year! Everest figures and an attempt at the Bob Graham Round.

Surprisingly, his run calendar is full, no doubt due to the run series that is currently a little under the radar…. Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre Zinal, a return to a super stacked UTMB and of course Hardrock 100 and Ultra Pirineu figure. From a UK perspective, KJ will race at Glen Coe which is awesome news.

Antelope Island Buffalo Run

Great to see Sondre Amdahl take the win for the men and Sage Balloock Dixon for the ladies – 6:45 and 8:087 respectively.

Translantau 100km

Harry Jones from the UK took the win ahead of Jacky Leung and Jeremy Ritcey, their times 12:47, 13:28 and 13:44. Marie McNaughton 14:10 once agin won the ladies’ race ahead of Brit Jo Meek 15:05 and  Wei-Ling Tseng 17:42.

I caught up with Jo to hear about the race.

INTERVIEW with JO MEEK

INTERVIEW with TOM OWENS

UP & COMING RACES

Algeria

Ultramarathon des Ziban | 100 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Argentina

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Patagonia Run 130k | 130 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Australia

Victoria

100 km | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Down Under 135 | 135 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Ultra SkyMarathon | 75 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

55 km | 55 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Chile

Ultra Fiord 100K | 100 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Ultra Fiord 100M | 100 miles | April 05, 2017 | website

Ultra Fiord 70K | 70 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Croatia

100 Miles of Istria | 108 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Miles of Istria – 110 km | 110 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

France

Bouches-du-Rhône

58 km | 58 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Essonne

Rendez-vous de la marche nordique | 100 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Jura

Le Savagnin | 58 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Landes

80 km | 80 kilometers | April 03, 2017 | website

La Ronde des Pains | 80 kilometers | April 03, 2017 | website

Morbihan

66 km | 66 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Puy-de-Dôme

52 km | 52 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Germany

Hesse

Eschollbrücker Ultra-Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Hungary

BSI Half Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 95 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Balatonfüred – Siófok | 51 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 24, 2017 | website

Italy

Lombardy

100 km di Seregno | 100 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

60 km di Seregno | 60 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Tuscany

Ultratrail delle Valli Etrusche | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Malaysia

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

70 km | 70 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Mexico

50 km | 50 kilometers | April 02, 2017 | website

Morocco

Marathon des Sables | 250 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

Morocco Tizi N’Trail | 120 kilometers | March 24, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Oxfam Trailwalker NZ | 100 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Norway

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – 1 1/2 Marathon | 63 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Bergen Maratonkarusellen no3 – Ultra 100km | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Poland

Beskidzka 160 Na – Long Distance | 84 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Portugal

Inatel Piódão Trail Running – 50 km | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Réunion

62 km | 62 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Spain

Andalusia

TrailRunning BRIMZ “Guzmán el Bueno” X Sierra Morena – 60 km | 60 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Catalonia

Long Trail Barcelona | 69 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Marxa dels Castells PLUS | 81 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Oxfam Intermón Spain – Girona | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Ultra Trail Barcelona | 100 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Sweden

Silva Ursvik Ultra – 75 km | 75 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

The Calderdale Hike – Long | 36 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Cheshire West and Chester

Chester Ultra | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

East Lothian

2x25K Relay | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Glasgow City

Glasgow – Edinburgh Double Marathon | 55 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Highland

2XU Jogle | 860 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Lancashire

The Canalathon 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

The Canalathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

The Canalathon 75 km | 75 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

USA

Alabama

Oak Moutain 50+ | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Alaska

White Mountains 100 | 100 miles | March 26, 2017 | website

Arizona

100 Mile | 100 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

50 Mile | 50 miles | March 26, 2017 | website

Crown King Scramble 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

California

50km | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

American River 50-mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 100 Miler | 100 miles | April 06, 2017 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50K | 50 kilometers | April 06, 2017 | website

Beyond Limits Ultra and BLU Relentless 50 Miler | 50 miles | April 06, 2017 | website

Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run | 35 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Old Goats 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Old Goats 50 Mile Trail Race | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Ragnar Relay So Cal | 200 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Florida

Fort Clinch 100M | 100 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Fort Clinch 50M | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Georgia

Georgia Death Race | 60 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Idaho

Pickled Feet 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Kansas

Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Mile Ultra Race | 100 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail 50 Mile Ultra Race | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Rocking K Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Maryland

50K HAT Run | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Minnesota

Zumbro 100M | 100 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Mississippi

150 miles | 150 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

New Jersey

100K Trail Race | 100 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

100M Trail Race | 100 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

50M Trail Race | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Umstead 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Ohio

Fools 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Oregon

Shotgun Trail Blast 50K | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

Mt. Tammany 10 | 40 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

South Carolina

70 mile | 70 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

Palmetto200 Relay | 200 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Ragnar Relay Tennessee | 196 miles | March 24, 2017 | website

Texas

Hells Hills 50 km Endurance Trail Run | 50 kilometers | April 01, 2017 | website

Hells Hills 50 Mile Endurance Trail Run | 50 miles | April 01, 2017 | website

Utah

100k | 100 kilometers | April 07, 2017 | website

100 Mile | 100 miles | April 07, 2017 | website

Behind the Rocks 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Behind the Rocks 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 25, 2017 | website

West Virginia

Haulin’ in the Holler 50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | March 25, 2017 | website

Vietnam

Ultra ASIA Race | 160 kilometers | March 26, 2017 | website

Close

01:41:21

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Kilian Jornet to race in the UK at Salomon Glen Coe Skyline

“If you build it, they will come…”

I have always loved that simple quote from the movie, ‘Field of Dreams.’ I had the same thought process when I started the Skyrunner National Series in the UK. I was told, Skyrunning in the UK, don’t be silly. It’s not possible.

However, over the last three years the small but perfectly balanced series has gone from strength-to-strength. We had Stevie Kremer and Jo Meek race in year-1. In year-2, Emelie Forsberg, Jasmin Paris and wealth of other world-class talent toed the line.

And last year, the world came to Scotland for the UK’s first ever Skyrunner World Series race. This knock-on effect has seen a sell out 2017 calendar and all the races with in the UK Series personify pure Skyrunning.

The season starts with the V3K in Wales, the series then moves to the Lake District with Scaffell SkyRace and Lakes SkyUltra. Skyline Scotland follows with no-less than three World Series events – in the SKY, ULTRA and EXTREME category, the Mamores VK also joins the new VK Series. Finally we finish in Ireland with the Mourne Skyline MTR.

It’s never good to pinpoint one person, but when Kilian Jornet confirms that he will come to the UK and race in the series. That is worth shouting about!

Roll on June when the series starts – we hope you can join us in what will be the pinnacle of mountain racing in the UK!

Did I mention, he’s having a go at the BOB GRAHAM ROUND too!

Kilian marking his own Skyrunning race, TROMSO in Norway.

FIZKULTURA, Bulgaria w/ Dean Karnazes, Sean Conway and more!

Inspiration comes in many forms and ways. I have just been to Sofia, Bulgaria for Fizkultura – a one day event put together by Begach Running Club. The event is geared towards inspiring Bulgarian runners to embrace new challenges, it may be just to start running, or maybe move from marathon to ultra-running, or why not try something bold and new like creating their own running challenge.

My participation was facilitated by the Begach Running Club and the British Embassy – I was joined by ‘the beard!’ The crazy, inspiring and distinctive looking adventurer, Sean Conway

Arriving in the early hours of Friday morning, Sean and myself were working right from the off with a breakfast at the Embassy and an improvised individual presentation – good job this ‘on-the-spot’ request didn’t phase us… some years back, I’d have immediately melted into a ball of nerves; not now!

Sofia is without a doubt Eastern European in feel and architecture. There are bold, brazen and striking monuments everywhere to remind us that Russia is not far away. But I was surprised. The centre had a distinct feeling of wealth with a multitude of high-end shops, plenty of bars and a huge selection of hotels. A backdrop of impressive snow-capped mountains made me feel relaxed.

A drive to the mountains and a leisurely lunch (in an incredible restaurant) provided us all with an opportunity to bond. It’s here that I had a little more time to get to know Sean and extend my introduction to Irina Daniela from Romania who is slowly but surely inspiring Romanians to run and notably empowering women to siege their futures by foot power. Irina recently ran a sub 3h for the marathon and in doing so has shown what is possible for the women of Romania. She’s a striking person – tall (too tall for Sean and myself), great figure, long dark hair and striking features. It’s easy to see how she will inspire those around her. She’s a bundle of energy and enthusiasm but Fizkultra is her first big ‘gig’ out of her homeland. Website here.

Sean by contrast looks like a lion under a mane of ginger. He’s a small and a slight figure who brims with confidence and an accent that’s hard to work out – South African, Irish and British public school make an interesting mix that is captivating to the ear. He casually talks of his up and coming challenge of cycling ridiculous daily distances in Australia to set a new world record. He has a simple motto – to be the first or the fastest – it works for him! His list of achievements is impressive, but more on that later. Website here.

It was early evening before I finally met Dean Karnazes. Dean, aka ‘Marathon Man’ is someone who I have emailed and spoke too on many times but this is my first face-to-face. He taps me on the shoulder. I turn, he grabs my hand and pulls me in close in a tight embrace and says, ‘Ian, finally, good to see you man!’ For once I feel tall, Dean is my height and we are both taller than Sean and if Irina had not been in our presence, for once I may well have been the tallest – just! However, Dean looks incredible – he’s ripped, chiseled, has a Californian tan and he’s swearing shorts. His legs bulge with muscles and I suddenly realize that the reality of meeting Dean didn’t disappoint. This guy, for me, helped change the way the sport of ultra has grown in the last 10-years. It was his book, Confessions of an all Night Runner’ that suddenly made ‘others’ aware of the crazy sport of running long; ultra-running! Website here.

Dinner took place in ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and we joke, discuss love, life, running and politics. Bed soon arrives for Dean, he has no idea what day or time it is. Jet lag has hit hard and he leaves early. Our trio relax with our hosts and a late-night walk back to our hotel is followed with a night-cap in the bar. I felt at home with my two new friends and like all good new friendships, 12-hours have made them both feel like lifelong friends. We laughed the night away till bed finally called.

FIZKULTURA

Dean kicked off the day 0945. Short clad, the audience welcome him with rapturous applause and he quickly goes into a 30-minute presentation that gives an overview of his running. Of course, it’s an impossible task – he has achieved so much! Despite the launch of his recent book, ‘The Road to Sparta,’ Dean takes us back on a journey to his first book as Fizkultura coincides with its release in Bulgarian. Many of you will know those early stories of taking the shoes out of the garage on his 30th birthday and then running 30-miles. His first Western States, Badwater 135 and running a marathon at the South Pole. It’s classic ‘Dean’ and the audience lap it up.

Irina power dresses and looks like an air hostess wearing a suit, shirt, scarf and ridiculous high-heels. Sean and myself refuse to stand close to her… The style of dress was important, Irina’s background was in banking and she wanted to show everyone that it has been possible to still be a business professional and a runner. “My Story’ was about dreaming, having no limits and empowering herself, other women and yes, men, to wear run shoes and find out what is possible. The story of how she achieved sub-3, one of the fastest female performances for a Romanian and how her dreams may well lead to Olympic selection.

Antoniya Grigorova, Bulgaria’s top female ultra-runner, talked about her plans, planning and training in preparation for running the longest trail in Bulgaria: Kom-Emine. A journey of 600km. A professional athlete she provided an insight into the mind, the training and the nutrition of what the journey will take.

Lunch was followed with the lion roaring. Sean was in fine form and told the story of his world’s longest triathlon with great skill and humor. He was a natural on the stage and it’s fair to say the audience loved him. His presentation was interspersed with still images and small videos that documented the journey – and what a journey! A bent bamboo bike, a Sunday roast dinner blended into liquid form for lunch, skinny dipping in an icy river and his face being stung constantly by jelly fish while swimming.

I followed Sean and what an act to follow. My talk was always going to be a visual one as I planned on taking that audience around the world with a selection of races and images from Running Beyond (here). Of course, I had to provide some context on my journey and my opening dialogue provided a glimpse on how I got to where I am today.

Boyan Petrov is a legend in Bulgaria. An Alpinist, he talked us through the training, the planning and the equipment required to climb 8000+m peaks without oxygen. He’s one of the few climbers to make 3 x 8000m peak in one year, something he has done twice. He also discussed the dream of climbing all 8000+m peaks – more people have been to space than done this!

The day concluded with Dimitrina Sivkova talking about trauma prevention and getting back in shape.

It was an incredible day of challenges, feats, adventure, goals, inspiration and living a life with barriers or restrictions. The takeaway was, ‘make dreams happen!’ Dean concluded his talk with a famous quote, it’s not new but it’s apt and it somehow summed up exactly what Fizkultura was trying to achieve:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop and two events, a 12-hour and 6-hour race called Project 360. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and a qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any

Despite tiredness and fatigue, an evening dinner in a vegan and vegetarian restaurant provided us all with an opportunity to discuss the day – we were all motivated. We of course were reminded that the following day, Sunday, there was a race in a local park running a 600m loop. A small selection of runners would start at 0630 looking to log mileage and qualifying time for Spartathlon. The main event would start at 0900 with a 6-hour event that would allow runners to do as little or as much as they required. Travel plans scuppered any participation plans for me but I went and cheered on with Irina for an hour and of course, we just had to run a loop with ‘Marathon Man!’

Watch Dean in the video HERE

I love the fact that despite jet-lag, bust days of presenting and travel, Dean rocked up to the start line and run for 6-hours. He personifies his name.

I must say, I was sad to leave Sofia, my new friends and a great, developing running community. Dean, Sean, Irina and myself were there to inspire others but we left inspired. We were each individually energized by our time in Bulgaria. Sean will be bashing out the bike miles for Australia, Irina will be looking for the speed and endurance for a fast marathon, Dean? well, Dean will just keep running and running and me; travel, photography and telling stories. I love to do that and the story of Fizkultura and Bulgaria is a special one – a personal one!

Thanks to:

A huge thanks to the British Embassy, Elenko Elenkov, Begach Running Club and the many new Bulgarian runners who hosted, entertained and looked after us – Alexander, Milen, Vladi and so many more.

Follow on:

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

Twitter @talkultra

 

Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 Review #Peak20

Packs for a multi-day race or a running multi-day adventure were once the domain of Raidlight. Of course, other brands ventured into the arena but it was only really the arrival of WAA that made everyone start to stop, look and see what else existed.

Packs are personal.

I think a pack becomes even more personal when one requires something to be comfortable for multiple days and also when carrying 6.5kg or more.

Salomon have now extended their ‘vest design’ to the S-LAB PEAK 20 and in doing so, they will turn the head of many a runner and make them question, is this THE pack for them for their next multi-day adventure or race.

Shape, gender, size, height and so many other variables dictate if a pack is comfortable or not and this depends on you, so, when looking at this pack I try to be impartial and when possible I always try to cross reference with a female perspective. The plus of this pack is it comes in S, M, L and XL so no compromising to be made. I am 38/40 chest and I have a medium which fits perfect.

If you are heading to the mountain for an overnight adventure, I am pretty sure the Peak 20 will work for you. However, would the pack work for a race like Marathon des Sables, Grand to Grand, Everest Trail Race or one of the 4 Desert races when one is completely self-sufficient for multiple days?

Let’s look at the packs highlights:

  • 1 main compartment with a full length zip (double slider) that open up allowing easy access and organisation of what is inside.
  • Fabrics that wick and are quick drying.
  • Three sizes – S, M and L.
  • Soft trims so no chafing.
  • Sensifit is a Salomon buzz word that ultimately means it should be the Rolls Royce of bags when coming to fit and comfort.
  • Front hydration pockets x2 (designed for 500ml soft flasks).
  • Adjustable front straps for customized fit.
  • Zipper pockets – It has 2 large pockets on the front, 2 expandable pockets on the shoulder straps and 2 top zipped mesh pockets.
  • Will take a bladder.
  • Ability to carry poles or ice axes.
  • Lightweight at 484g +/-.

THE PACK

This pack will work for an overnight adventure, mountain marathon race or an adventure when an excessive mandatory kit will be required. But, the big question for many will be, can this pack work for a 6-day self-sufficient race?

In a word – Yes!

Simple reasons why:

  • Yes, it can hold 2 x 750ml of liquid at the front
  • Yes, it has 4 pockets on the front that will allow immediate access to anything you will need whilst running a stage.
  • Yes, it can hold another liter to 1.5 liters on the rear in two external pockets.
  • Yes, it can hold everything you need for 6-days self-sufficiency.

OVERVIEW

The pack has a 20L capacity (typical for Marathon des Sables and comparable with the competition from Ultimate Direction, WAA, Raidlight, OMM and others) and has one large external zip on the rear that works two ways so that you can zip down or zip up depending on preference. Once open, it’s possible to access the pack easily and arrange contents. Internally there is a small mesh panel so that you divide the large compartment in two – a good thing for maybe an overnight jaunt but not required for a multi-day adventure.

It’s light, very light! It has a vest style that echoes and follows on from the designs from Salomon’s other models.

The front of the pack has two stretch pockets for soft-flasks or bottles. On top of these pockets sitting a little lower are two large pockets with zips that hold a surprising amount. On top of the shoulder straps are two stretch zip pockets that provide additional storage.

On the sides of the vest are adjustable cords that pull the pack closer to the body or allow the pack to be looser.

On the top of the rear of the pack above the zip, is a central cord pull. Pull this and the yellow cord that wraps around the pack pulls tighter and compresses the contents. Great when the pack is full to make everything tight and secure but especially useful as the days pass when racing and the pack contents become less.

IN DETAIL

The pack tapers and as you can see from this side-view is narrow at the bottom and then opens up wider as one gets closer to the top. On both sides is an open topped stretch pocket that will take a bottle or other items.

The pack has thin blue padding that does not sit inside the pack but on the outside and underneath the mesh back. The is ingenious as it has been designed so that it can be removed.

It is held in place by small metal buckles that attach to web loops. I removed the padding and used my sleeping mat inside the pack as my padding. Ingenious – not only do you save weight but your mat doubles up as protection when running and sleeping.


The two-way external zip is great to allow access to upper items or lower items in the pack without having to un-zip the whole pack. Importantly, when un-zipped it’s easy to access the inside and arrange items. An internal mesh panel can be used to split the pack into two halves. For some this may be useful but if like me you use the sleeping mat inside, you can only have one large compartment. It’s a great space and like any pack, you will want to play around with how you pack your contents to find the correct balance. As a tip I recommend you leave your sleeping bag out when packing. Put all the contents in and then add the sleeping bag filing in all the empty spaces – you will be amazed how a lightweight down bag will compress.

The external cord the wraps around the pack is designed to be pulled tight and compress the contents. This is adjusted on the rear of the pack just above the zip.

Simply hold the buckle and pull the cord. The cords pulls tight and compresses to make the pack smaller and tight – perfect! You can make this even tighter by pulling the cords on the side and then taking up the the slack by the top adjustment. This on days 3, 4, and 5 will be just incredible at making the pack smaller and smaller as contents are used up.
On the shoulder straps, the yellow cord is also present under the two shoulder zip pockets. Pull the cord here and take up the slack and you pull the top of the pack closer to your back.

 On the sides of the pack between the bottom rear and the front lower pockets there is a yellow cord on each side – again this allows you to pull the bottom of the pack as close to your back as you require.

In a nutshell, this level of adjustment is just perfect and is the best of all packs I have tried.

 The front of the pack is classic Salomon vest design but with some differences. Fitting to the torso comes via 3 straps. Two go right to left and one goes left to right. These attach via a black plastic hooks to a yellow cord.

They can be moved up or down and they can also be made tighter or looser. In particular, this will be useful for lady runners who need to adjust the pack to fit around their chest. It’s a method that works and the on-the-go adjustment is welcome.

There are two stretch pockets that are designed for soft-flasks. This for me caused concern as I was under the impression that they would only hold 500ml. Not so! These pockets will take the Hydrapak SF750 soft-flasks and you can drink from these without the need to remove them.

Prefer straws? The Hydrapak 600ml bottles with straws will fit.

Prefer hard bottles? This is where I needed to think outside the box… OMM make very slim 500ml bottles and they fit like a glove.

Have no fears, you can carry enough water up at the front. Also, lets not forget the two external pockets. In my tests, I had 2x 500ml OMM flasks on the rear too. So, at a minimum you could carry 1litre or 2litres with 2 bottles on the rear. At a max you could carry 3litres with 1.5 up front and 1.5 at the rear.

UPDATE on the bottle situation. I finally obtained 2x 750ml Raidlight bottles with straws and they fit like a glove to the front pockets!


The two pockets that sit below the bottles are a real welcome addition. They are easy to get at. They have great capacity, trust me, you need no more additional space up front, especially when one considers the two additional sip pockets on the shoulder straps. These pockets are less spacious but they will take a phone, snacks or other essentials.

 

There is an attachment system for poles that comes over the right shoulder. I personally though would probably attach to bungee cords to the front of the pack so that I can place the poles across my chest when not in use.

Fit is sweet and with all the adjusters you can really get this pack close to your torso. It fits like a piece of clothing and there are no rough edges – all the seams are soft. Salomon actually say that the pack may be worn against the skin and it will feel like apparel.

At 484g it’s light.

INITIAL SUMMARY

This pack is still under test and things such as longevity, strength, weaknesses, durability and so on have not been tested as it’s too early to say.

However, what I can say is that this is the best pack I have tested for running when the contents are heavy and I require 20L capacity.

I have long been a fan of the Ultimate Direction Fastpack as I loved its simplicity and no nonsense approach to the task of carrying many items and weight. The Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 has now become my new favourite.

It’s not without flaws – what pack is? The yellow cord compression works like a dream but it can be a little tricky to set up – it’s a small price to pay though.

The front bottle pockets almost certainly require soft-flask use or using the OMM 500ml bottles. I personally would always caution against soft-flasks for a multi-day, if they puncture, you are screwed. However, the Hydrapak soft-flasks are more durable than much of the competition and they have never let me down. The 600 or 750 versions work with the vest – perfect.

We will follow up with some action shots of the pack and an overall summary from a male and female perspective in the coming weeks, for now, this pack gets an ‘A’ for awesome.

Photo below is copyright Ricky Gates – he’s currently using a prototype Peak 20 with front pack. Interesting!

You can read Ricky’s specs and the contents of the pack on his Facebook page #transamerica 

In use at Everest Trail Race, November 2016

Some comments:

Paul Wilson Used one on the spine race. It was ace. Did most of my training with an ultimate direction fast pack then seen got the Salomon pack. Which proved to be far better.

Jana Studzinska Tested on fully self supported solo running trip across Serra de Tramuntana. Can’t recommend more.

Sito Castello perfecta para la Everest Trail Race.

Robert Kampczyk Cool bag. Like it because my complete Photo Equipment can insert.

What Salomon say:

Ideal for alpine running, superlight mountaineering or fast hiking, the streamlined S-LAB Peak 20 set uses our trail running knowledge to move fast in the mountain, with stretch fit and complete stability. With convenient access to the 20L compartment, both the pack and the load are easily compressed for maximum stability under partial load. It includes front storage solutions for two 500ml soft flasks and essentials and possibility to carry poles, ice axes…

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable fit
  • Breathability

FEATURES:
Back systems
MotionFit Trail
Sensifit (pack)

Load Management
Soft Twin Link
Compression quick lace
Top and bottom sensi load lifter

Pockets & compartments
2 front soft hydration elastic pockets
2 front zipped large pockets
2 shoulder expandable pockets
2 top zipped mesh pocket

Carrying system
4D Pole holder

Opening & closure
Wide front opening with double sliders

Miscellaneous
Soft trims
Apparel sizing
Patent pending

Fabrics
PVC free
Elastic Power mesh
Fast wicking fabrics
70D Nylon Double Ripstop, Waterproof 500mm
70D Nylon Triple Ripstop – Silicone coating, Waterproof 500mm
Elastic Jersey

Pack weight (lb oz) : 17.073
Pack weight (g) : 484
Pack volume (l) : 20
Pack volume (ci) : 1220