I recently caught up with South Africa’s Ryan Sandes after his impressive victory at the 2017 Western States. You can listen to a full and in-depth interview HERE on Talk Ultra podcast.
Ryan’s story is one that inspires and it just shows what is possible.
“An impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon completely changed my life back in 2008. Could I run 250km, self-supported through a Desert? Without another thought, I maxed out my credit card and entered a race I knew almost nothing about. The lead up to the Gobi Desert Race consumed me but most importantly it enabled me to dream.”
Episode 138 of Talk Ultra brings and we bring you a full and in-depth interview with Western States 2017 Champ – Ryan Sandes. We also bring you an interview with the USA’s Hillary Allen who is very much pioneering a path for female mountain runners in Europe. We have the news, ultra chat and this weeks co-host is the 2017 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes.
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Firstly, as we record this Hardrock is kicking off. Going to be an exciting race this year… my predictions are for Caroline and Kilian taking the wins. You Elisabet? You have raced against Frosty, Nathalie is a teammate, you were at TCC with Jason – you have some real insight into the runners this year…
High Trail Vanoise and European Championships
Luis Alberto Hernando proves once again he is one of their best in the world by taking victory ahead of Arnaud Durand-Pallaz and Dimitry Mityaev and in the process becoming Skyrunning European Champion. For the ladies’ Megan Kimmel (on fire at the moment) took victory ahead of Ragna Debats and Mimmi Kotka. Ragna was crowned 2017 European Champion.
Buff Epic Trail (series of races)
Eugeni Gil beat Skyrunner World Series leader Aritz Egea (Classic distance) and Adrien Michaud was 3rd – times4:08,4:11and4:16.
Oihana Azkorbebeitia pipped Celia Chiron in a very close finish – just 26 seconds!5:07was the winning time. Laura Sola placed 3rd in5:10.
Ronda del Cims
Antoine Guillon and Lisa Borzani won the ‘classic’ 170km event which has a whopping 13,500m of vert! This year they had a new event, the Euforia which at 233k proved a challenge too far for many… Julian Morcillo and Nahuel Passerat took the victories.
Ever since Kilian and Emelie went and raced in Alaska, Mt Marathon is now a one-to-watch and this year Scott Patterson took the male win and Allie Ostrander for the women. Emelie Forsberg still holds the ladies’ record.
00:33:11 Lets go to an interview with HILLARY ALLEN
Wataro Lino took the 2017 title in 24:56:19 ahead of Marco Bonfiglio and Harvey Lewis III. The almost ‘unbetable’ Pete Kostelnick finished 6th in 28:18 – he also had a below par IAU 24hr champs.
Sandra Villines was ladies’ champ ahead of Amy Costa and Pamela Chapman-Markle – times 34:34:43, 35:30:19 and 35:48:31 respectively.
IAU 24 HR Champs
Patrycja Berenznowska ran an incredible 160.5 miles to take the ladies win – wow! For the men, it was a nail biter with Yoshihiko Ishikawa beating Johan Steene by less than 1-mile! 166.26 to 166.61.
FKT news – Andrew Hamilton finishedthe Nolans14 in 53h 42m going north to south. Apparently he started with 30 miles already in his legs… he tagged the Mount of the Holy Cross first making it 15 peaks not 14.
Well, Western was a surprise huh? I have written about my thoughts on Jim Walmsley but I welcome your outlook Elisabet?
It was a day of surprises and the ladies’ race was an open book with many of the pre-race favourites having bad days – only Magda Boulet rallied for 2nd behind an inspired Cat Bradley taking the win.
My thoughts on Jim Walmsley and Lighting The Fire HERE
Good friend Ryan Sandes ran a classy well placed race to take a huge victory – so well deserved.
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
As races go, the Hardrock 100 has anticipation and attention way beyond its relatively diminutive size – less than 150 runners will toe the line in 2017! However, as those who have run the race confirm, Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and the Hardrock 100 route is something to embrace. If proof were needed, Kilian Jornet has run and won the race three times and he will be back again in 2017. For Kilian, the course is tough, beautiful, offers a challenge but maybe more importantly, it’s low-key. He can turn up, walk around, race and have little of the media and fan frenzy he would get in Europe, irrespective of the size of the race. Kilian’s Salomon teammate Anna Frost also confirms that this area of the USA is something pretty darn special – so much so she currently calls Durango her home.
It’s a high altitude race, with much of the race taking place above 3000m and the high point coming around 4200m. In total, the runners climb and over 10.000m whilst covering 100 challenging miles.
Last year, Anna Frost topped the ladies podium and Jason Schlarb and Kilian Jornet were the joint male winners, all three therefore are guaranteed an entry for 2017 and all three have confirmed participation but Anna Frost is still unsure if she will toe the line – more on that later.
It’s a constant frustration for me that we never see a fully stacked field at Hardrock. Don’t get me wrong, there is always plenty of class up at the front but it often feels that the winner will come from a small and select group of 4 or 5 runners. I think we all know that so many top elite runners would love to toe the line but the Hardrock lottery is against them – I guess it does add some charm and anticipation to the race.
I don’t think we will see Kilian Jornet hold hands this year but I do anticipate he will spend much of the race in the company of 1 or 2 runners until beyond the midway point – it’s a big day out for Kilian in an awesome place and he enjoys the company. Of course, he may be enticed by setting a super fast time? If he does, then we can expect him to hit the front alone maybe somewhere around half-way, if not, he may take the race by the horns in the final quarter. Whatever he decides, Kilian will win barring an accident.
Jason Schlarb has dined out on crossing the line at the 2016 Hardrock for one year and who can blame him. He has done something that so few can do, keep up with the Catalan. Earlier this year Jason raced The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica with a solid run and then he recently placed just inside the top-10 at Transvulcania. For the last month or so he’s been in the San Juans preparing and it’s fair to assume he will be ready for battle.
Iker Karrera is an interesting addition to the 2017 line-up and after being a ‘one-to-watch’ at so many races in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, I can’t help but feel Iker’s been a little awol for the last 18-months and that leaves a question mark. Iker on his day is one of the best there is, especially at long distance races with loads of vert – he won Tor des Geants in 2013 for example. If he has the form that provided him with 2nd at UTMB in 2014 then we have an interesting race on our hands.
Karl Meltzer has won Hardrock five times and he’s back. He will be the first to admit he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Kilian but Speedgoat is a fox. He appears to have recovered well post his Appalachian Trail FKT and he’s been sensible by not rushing things. He won Zane Grey 50 which prompted me and Speedgoat to confirm, ‘there is life in the old dog yet!’ If he’s feeling good, he has the long game to put on a great race and few can keep up with Speedgoat’s hiking pace – an essential skill for Hardrock. The AT HERE
Mike Foote is another mystery for this years race. Not that I or you have to question who he is, the question is more about his form? Ever since he did his FKT project with Mike Wolfe, Foote seems to have raced a little on the back burner. Having said that, mountain races are his thing and he has a long list of impressive results at UTMB and he has been 2nd at Hardrock. He will start slow and then move up making up places and time in the final third.
Nick Pedatella was 4th at Hardrock in 2012 but I know little of his current form. Experience alone and a top-5 performance in the past makes him someone to make a note of.
Adam Campbell was 3rd at Hardrock in 2015 and 2014. As many of you will know, Adam was wiped out of 2016 with a near death accident. Read HERE. No pressure on Adam in 2017 and I’ll make no guesses or predictions, to see Adam toe the line will be a wonderful sight and one that he and many of us thought would not happen. Read HERE
Mr Hardrock, Joe Grant, is back again! The lottery gods love Joe and Joe loves Hardrock. He placed 2nd in 2012 and in many respects, that podium place set Joe up for the runner who he is today. I say runner, but I feel Joe goes beyond the tag of ultra-runner and I see him more of an adventurer. He’s taken on some huge challenges over the years, examples coming with the Iditarod, his Colorado 14ers FKT and expeditions via bike. Pretty sure Joe will treat Hardrock as another awesome adventure in the mountains and if things go well, we can see him in or around the top-5.
Other names to watch to be in and around the top-10 are: Mike Wardian, Coury brothers (Jamil and Nick), Grant Guise and Scott Jaime.
Anna Frost has won the race the last 2-years and who would want to bet against her? Frosty when in form is unstoppable and when she is not in form, she can often dig deeper than any other runner I know. I was with Frosty in Costa Rica (Read HERE) and spending much time chatting – I was well aware that she was switching into a new phase of her life. At Zegama-Aizkorri she participated but was way off the top-10 and at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira she dropped. All things considered, I think Frosty’s prep for this years Hardrock is behind where she would like it to be and therefore she has three choices: 1. She will run because she loves the course and wants to irrespective of placing. 2. She will think that she can win it and be mentally prepared for the pain that will be required or 3. She’s over it and can’t get herself set up for the physical and mental challenge it will bring. Of course, the only descent thing to do was ask Frosty… “I’m doing Hardrock! It’s been a mental and physical battle this year but one I am winning right now. Definitely not on competitive form but I am doing HR because I love it! ….I’ll get it done! It deserves that.” So. it looks like it’s no1.
Caroline Chaverot is probably putting the fear of god in the ladies’ competition. In 2016 this French lady was unstoppable and for me was the stand out runner, male or female, in 2016. The depth of here ability incredible, her range (long or short) her skill (fast or mountainous) was unmatched. 2017 kicked off with a rough patch and an early withdrawal from Transgrancanaria, what followed was some quiet time away and then boom, she was back with victory at Maxi-Race Annecy and most recently, Lavaredo. Her victory at UTMB last year sets her up perfectly for Hardrock and I think she will win the race.
Nathalie Mauclair, also from France, can’t be ruled out of the podium places but her recent form seems a little below recent years. She was 2nd at Marathon des Sables earlier this year. Her record at Diagonale des Fous, champion in 2013 and 2014, is the best indicator of success in the San Juans.
The wild card goes to local girl, Hannah Green who has been training her butt off and is super strong and young. She may lack experience but has heart and if she can hold on and manage herself she could do it and be up on the podium. (Hot tip from Frosty)
Three time winner Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) gave Frosty a battle in 2015 with a really strong run – Frosty triumphed with a late surge. Missing the race last year, it’s fair to assume that Darcy will be fired up for a great run. She has the experience, no question, not sure she has the speed of an in form Frost, Chaverot or Mauclair.
Darla Askew is the last prime contender for a win and podium – she’s placed 2nd before and that is backed up with two 3rd places.
Ones to watch – Jamie Frink, Betsy Kalmeyer, Tina Ure and Rachel Bucklin.
Episode 129 of Talk Ultra brings you an in-depth interview with Anna Frost. We speak with the inspiring Fred Streatfield we talk with the Rocky Racoon 100 winner, James Stewart.
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Rene Hess, Daniel Weston, Dan Masters, Kerstin Palmer, Sarah Cameron, Neil Catley, Sam Wilkes, Melissa Bodeau, Lindsay Hamoudi, Aaron Aaker, Simon Darmody, Philippe Lascar, Rohan Aurora, Mathew Melksham, Brian Wolfkamp, Thomas Mueller, Mark Moromisato, Jamie Oliver, Rand Haley, Ron van Liempd, Mike Hewison, Steve Milne and Rupert Hitzenberger.
This weeks show is full of inspiring interviews but you will have to forgive us for it being a little late… I blame a full-on trip to Costa Rica to cover The Coastal Challenge. It was an incredible race and full of brilliant racing and excitement. The UK’s Tom Owens dominated the men’s race ahead of Chema Martinez from Spain and the USA’s Jason Schlarb.
In the ladies race, Anna Frost from New Zealand made it third time lucky showing Spain’s Anna Comet and Portugals Ester Alves a clean pair of heals.
The 2017 edition of the race really was spectacular and on the next show we will discuss the race in detail and bring you interviews from the race.
Read all about and view images of the 2017 edition HERE
For Anna Frost it was a special race and significant in more ways than just winning. Frosty first arrived in Costa Rica in 2014 but didn’t even make the start due to doctors orders. In 2015 while leading the race, she was forced to withdraw on the penultimate day with injury. In 2017 she came back and put the demons to rest.
Frosty is an inspiring lady and it seemed only correct that Niandi had a ‘one-to-one’ with the Green of the trails.
00:03:50 INTERVIEW with ANNA FROST
Moab Red Hot 55K
On the last show we interviewed Hayden Hawks and he fulfilled his promise with a win and course record at Moab Red Hot 55k. His 3:39 bettered Rob Krar’s record by 5-minutes. Marie Hogan won the ladies’ race in 4:44.
The Coastal Challenge
Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third.
Max King beat the old CR by 37-minutes to win in 3:32. Yiou Wang took the ladies win in 4:18.
Black Canyon 100K
Alex Nichols is on a roll and gets a coveted WSER slot after his win 7:55 ahead of Elov Olson and Eric Sensman. Olov also getting a WSER slot. Nicole Kalogeropoulos placed 1st for the ladies in 9:30, Clare Gallagher was 2nd and Ailsa MacDonald 3rd. First two also get WSER slots.
On the last show we discussed our Lanzarote Training Camp and one attendee stood out with an inspirational story, Niandi caught up with Fred Streatfield.
00:58:05 INTERVIEW with FRED STREATFIELD
Join us in Lanzarote, January 2018 for our MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP HERE
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK – I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Rocky Raccoon has been one of those races that has always attracted a high quality field early in the season for a fast 100-miles. Just think Ian Sharman… so, it’s great pleasure to catch up with fellow Brit James Stewart on his impressive 2017 victory.
‘Western States definitely was the race of my life. Everything came together so perfectly that day. I had a once in a lifetime race day experience. I had only dreamed of winning Western States and wanted some day for that to happen. All the stars aligned and I could win. To be among the winners list is surreal…I admire and respect all those women and men who have won. It’s such an honour to have my name listed as a winner of Western States 100.’
Kaci Lickteig ran her first ultra in 2012 aged 25-years. A small lady, she does pack a punch. It’s all wonderfully echoed by her nickname ‘Pixie Ninja’ – that sums up Kaci in a nutshell.
Some may say, 3rd time is a charm. It certainly is the case with Western States 100. The rise of this lady has been gradual but logical – 6th in 2014, 2nd in 2015 and yes, you’ve guessed it, top spot in 2016. The ‘WSER’ is rolling course, which begins in Squaw Valley, California. It climbs more than 5500m and descends nearly 7000m before reaching the finish in Auburn some 100-miles later. It’s the ‘Grail of Trail!’
Packet pick-up was as bustling and busy as usual. It was s series of high fives and hello’s as the runners entered the hall to collect numbers ahead of the next day’s Superior 100. Traversing the Sawtooth Mountains on the Superior Hiking Trail in the far reaches Northern Minnesota near the Canadian Border, the Superior 100 course parallells the North-Shore of Lake Superior. The race rolls along a series of sawtooth peaks with breath-taking vistas.
It’s a race with history and a race that is unique, very unique.
I was last at this race in 2014 and I was blown away by the experience. Believe me, folks down in Minnesota are some of the nicest you will ever meet. I wrote an article on my last trip called Minnesota Nice. I had wondered if my 2016 experience could live up to the 2014 experience.
The simple answer, yes!
As in 2014, I was looked after by Kurt Decker who works for TC Running. TC is the ‘go-to’ place for running shoes and apparel in the Twin Cities area and Kurt, well, Kurt is the ‘Godfather of Trail’ in this area. Kurt and the TC Running crew man an awesome aid station at Oberg (95-miles) on the Superior route and as the last aid before the 103-mile finish line, it’s a really important one. Music, fresh food, open fire, incredible crew and an abundance of chairs make this an oasis that is difficult to leave for that final 7-mile push for the line.
Gooseberry Falls State Park (Minnesota) is the start line for the race, the finish comes at Lutsen 103.3-miles later, just short of the Canadian border. A 38-hour cut-off, 13 aid stations and 6400m+ of elevation gain and descent make this race one of the toughest in the USA.
As race director, John Storkamp says,’ it’s Rugged, Relentless and Remote.’ It is. Taking place on almost 100% single-track, Superior 100 is a special race of mud, tree roots, rocks and a never ending green tunnel of trees that pulls runners to the finish line. The race is one of the oldest 100-mile races in the USA and with a capped field of just 250 runners it has a feel that is akin to Western States or Hardrock 100. Founded in 1991 when there was no more than a dozen 100-mile trail races in the USA, back then if you wanted to run a 100, you had choices like Western States (’74), Old Dominion (’79), Wasatch (’80), Leadville (’83), Vermont (’89), Angeles Crest (’86), Mohican (’90), Arkansas Traveller (’91) and Superior (’91). Superior quickly earned its reputation!
Superior 100 is old school.
You can view the runners portraits from the 100 HERE
The 20% chance of rain was looking less and less likely on the start line of the 2016 edition of the Superior 100. Fresh coffee was free flowing and the 250 runners who would toe the line milled around chatting and talking about the day, night, day and possible 2nd night that lay ahead. It was chilled, calm, relaxed and un-cluttered. At the stroke of 0800 Storkamp released the runners and almost immediately the race fragmented with the podium contenders leading the race. At the rear, many participants were already walking with a full understanding of the task ahead – better to ease in and finish strong and not the other way around.
Joe Uhan, Jeff Vander Kooi, Adam Schwarz-Lowe, Doug Kleemier, Ben Vanhoose, Joshua Nichols, Brian Klug and Timbo Jenkins amongst others dictated the early pace. It soon became apparent that it was going to be a hot and humid day. Timbo Jenkins arrived first at Split Rock River where a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and Lake Superior was provided. With approximately 9-miles covered Jenkins started to walk. He looked us in the eye and said, ‘this is not where I am supposed to be… how did I end up leading the race?’ It was Timbo’s first 100 and as is often the case, he was feeling good in the first 10-miles. Schwarz-Lowe, Uhan and the other main contenders followed and at aid 1, Frank Pipp was 6-minutes behind Jenkins.
In the ladies’ race, it was a relaxed start for two-time winner (2014 and 2015) Mallory Richard and three-time winner, Susan Donelly (who was running her 16th Superior 100, yes, 16th). I have a simple rule for long races, watch what the experienced runners do and copy it, if you can. In this scenario, it was relatively easy for the other ladies to copy as experience was saying, taking it nice and slow and steady!
Carla Goulart lead the race followed by Mallory Richard 5-minutes later. Amy Broadmore, Tina Johnson, Janet Hausken, Tracy Denbleyker and then a group of 4 or 5 followed within a 30-minute window.
At 20-miles, Richard had drawn level with Goulart in the ladies’ race and Janet Hausken was trailing 20-minutes later – the race was starting to take shape. Jenkins despite his comments at 9-miles had somehow continued to pull away from the rest of the men’s field. It was a brave move for a rookie ‘hundo’ runner and his 7-minute gap over Kleemier, Schwarz-Lowe, Peltonen and Uhan was looking good.
Silver Bay came just 5-miles later and any hard work by Jenkins was undone as 2014 champion, Schwarz-Lowe drew level along with pre-race favourite, Uhan. The writing was starting to appear on the wall. Importantly, Frank Pipp, also running his first 100 had closed to 4th and trailed the front group by just 5-minutes. In the ladies’ race, Richard was opening up a gap and the remaining ladies could only see her run off into the distance. Goulart was still holding a strong 2nd place over 30-minutes ahead of Janet Hausken and Tina Johnson was another 8-minutes back.
At MT Trudee it was all change, in just a short section of trail, Pipp had caught the front men and passed them. No easy task! Uhan followed 6-minutes back and Schwarz-Lowe was another 2-minutes later. Early leader Jenkins was 4th 28-minutes behind Pipp and it was looking like he had made the classic rookie mistake of going out too fast – ‘I’m feeling rubbish; I may quit’ he shouted as he went past. Kurt shouted, ‘keep plugging buddy, it’s a 100-miles, anything can happen!’
For the ladies’, Richard was in the form of 2014 and 2015 and was grabbing the 2016 race by the scruff of its neck. At Tettegouche her lead was 12-minutes over Hausken. Early raced leader Goulart was cooked and had now dropped back to 5th lady over 30-minutes behind the leader. Crystal Hutchings and Tina Johnson had moved into 3rd and 4th with the experienced Susan Donnelly in 7th.
Finland at just over 50-miles signified in the midway point of the race and it was soon becoming apparent the impact a day of sun and humidity was having on the race – exhaustion, dehydration and fatigue was the order of the day! Richard was now in a race against herself and ultimately the other men in the race, her lead over 2nd place was 2 hours and 12 minutes. But guess what, early race leader Goulart has found some inner strength and closed the gap from 5th to be back in 2nd 8-minutes ahead of Johnson. Was this going to be one of those incredible comebacks?
In the men’s race it was a similar story for Jenkins. He was still running in 4th but he hadn’t dropped and he was closing the gap on Schwarz-Lowe in 3rd and Uhan in 2nd. Pipp was still leading the race by over 30-minutes now and many thought he was either on for an incredible first 100-miler victory or a potential detonation over the next couple of hours.
Darkness was now upon the race and the 20% of chance of rain came… the only problem being that 20% became 100% and for a good 8-10 hours the heavens saturated the Superior 100 course making what is already slippery and challenging terrain even more challenging.
Pipp pushed on at the front of the race with no pacer. At Crosby Manitou his lead was 50-minutes over Uhan and Jenkins had had one of those great comebacks to be sitting in 3rd level with Schwarz-Lowe. Richard was now not only obliterating the ladies race but she was lying 6th overall level with Steven Graupner. Johnson, Hausken and Hoff were all now running for 2nd.
Cramer Road at 79.9-miles signified a significant marker with the final 25% of the race ahead, it’s here that places can change as a full day of running takes its toll. Despite this being a first 100, Pipp was showing no sign of flagging. On the contrary, he was looking strong! He arrived with 14:49 elapsed and believe it or not, early race leader Jenkins was back in 2nd with 16:09 elapsed and Uhan back at 16:23 and Schwarz-Lowe was 4th in 16:41. If Pipp didn’t blow up the race was his, but the fight for 2nd was wide open. Richard arrived in the ladies race with 17:37 elapsed and I am sure she had eyes on the men in-front of her. Johnson was still in 2nd but 4-hours back and experienced Superior runner, Donnelly had moved all the way up to 3rd, her 16th finish was looking guaranteed.
Kurt was waiting at Oberg with his TC Running aid station. The pancakes were cooking, the music was playing and at 02:45 Pipp arrived like a train. It was 3-hours later that Jenkins arrived still in 2nd. Remember, he nearly dropped at 30-miles… anything can happen in a 100! However, Uhan and Schwarz-Lowe had closed the gap and the trio left together. With just over 7-miles to go, this was going to be one hell of a finish.
Pipp crossed the line in 20:24:00 a superior, Superior 100 champion. His run for a rookie 100-mile runner was incredible. Uhan had run a clever and smart race, he had saved something for those closing challenging miles and he pulled away from Jenkins and Schwarz-Lowe. His finish 22:46 was a solid 8-minutes ahead of Jenkins who had no doubt had the race of his life… he had managed to pull ahead of Schwarz-Lowe and take the final podium place by just 1-minute. But this only tells half the story. In the closing miles, under darkness, tired, fatigued and lacking focus, Jenkins had run into a head height true branch that cut his head open sending him flat to the ground. Somehow he managed to pick himself up and find the effort and pace to hold off a charging Schwarz-Lowe.
Richard finished next, first lady and 5th overall with a new course record 23:51. Her performance was stunning and almost looked effortless. It was impressive! Tina Johnson finished 2nd and Stephanie Hoff 3rd, 29:50 and 30:52 respectively. Queen of the Superior 100 finished 4th in 31:07 and in doing so, achieved her 16th buckle.
What followed was a long day and night of struggle and strife. Some achieved their goals, others failed to complete the challenge that they had set themselves. There was no failure… just undone business. You see, Superior 100, more than any other 100 I have witnessed is so much more than a race, it’s an experience. It’s a low-key traditional race experience and one that I encourage anyone to participate in. It’s a special race and if the 100 is too far, a 50-mile and classic marathon distance takes place on the same course and concludes at the same venue. I have often used this quote and having witnessed the highs and lows of the 2016 Superior 100, I am going to use it again for all those who have unfinished business.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Check out Superior Trail Races and consider being one of the lucky 250 in 2017
The 2016 edition of the UTMB will take place this August, for 13-years the race has made a rendezvous in the endurance capital of the world, Chamonix!
In preparation for the 2016 edition, the organisation have just announced the elite level competitors that will compete, head-to-head, with 7500 runners over the four races – CCC, OCC, TDS and UTMB.
The main event, the UTMB, is a 170km journey that takes in 3 countries with a total elevation gain of 10,000m. A time limit of 47 hours is provided to give the 2300 runners an opportunity to complete the journey.
Now in anyones book, that is a quality ladies line-up. The most notable name missing is of course Nuria Picas. I have highlighted the hot favourites for overall victory and definite wild card of Jasmin Paris for a surprise podium place.
Luis Alberto Hernando
WOW! That may well be THE elite field assembled in any race ever… It’s a seriously exciting line-up and just look at how many bold names are in that line-up! In all honesty, the whole list could be bold as victory could come from anywhere.
So with several months to go, we have already seen Caroline Chaverot and Didrik Hermansen lay down seriously strong performances at Transgrancanaria.
Elite line-ups for TDS, CCC and OCC are as follows:
Notable names in the TDS are Ruth Croft and Lisa Borzoi for the ladies and in the men’s race, Franco Colle, Pau Capell, Travis Macy and Sondre Amdahl amongst others.
CCC ones to watch: Jo Meek, Holly Rush and Manikala Rai fo the ladies and Sage Canaday, Michel Lanne and Freddy Thevenin amongst others for the men’s race.
Who in your opinion will make top 3 in the respective male and female races at the 170km UTMB event?
Recently I have produced several articles (links below) on planning your training, walking for ultra running, base training, speed work and now I ask the question, how long should the long run be?
Short distance runners often run over distance in training. Think about it, a 10km runner may run a long slow half marathon to build endurance. A half marathon runner may run a long and slow steady 16-miles in preparation for a fast race.
This all falls apart when we go to the marathon and beyond. How often have you heard in marathon training that the long run should be 21/22 miles or 3 hours and 30 minutes in preparation for a race.
Long runs and adapting for an endurance run such as an ultra comes from not one run but a combination of all runs. It’s about your accumulative run history. They all add up to make you an endurance machine.
First and foremost, consistency is key and long runs should be progressive and based on ability and experience. A long run should test you but not break you.
Episode 99 of Talk Ultra we talk all about ELS2900 with RD Matt Lefort and 3rd place overall, Andy Symonds. Sophie Grant talk Raid de la Reunion and Paul Giblet from the UK wins Javekina Hundred beating Speedgoat! Niandi is here too looking like a Druid.
00:01:30 Show Start
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE
TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE
It’s the end of August and that can only mean one thing, UTMB.
UTMB has become one of if not THE mountain races to do. In many respects it is almost a victim of its own success. More and more runners want to participate in the big circular dance around the Mont-Blanc but the trails can only take so many people.
I could enter into a debate about the points system but I won’t. I actually think it’s a solution to an ever increasing problem that UTMB organisation face and as such we all know the score, we know what we need to run the race and ultimately we have a choice.
Should points come from qualifying races? Yes, why not!
Should races pay a fee to supply those points? Yes, why not!
I know my last comment will create some debate but to be honest, the fee to ITRA is relatively small and the cost per head is minimal and the races that offer points gain entries. However, I do think another option exists for points.
Why not let all races provide points? Say 0.5 points for an easy trail race of say 50km and then points increase by 0.5 up to a maximum 4-points for a big mountain ultra. If you then want the points, you the runner pay for each 0.5 point you receive. That way, the person who wants/ needs the points pays and the race and other runners don’t pay. Seems logical to me and in actual fact, I think it would generate even more money for ITRA and the UTMB. I welcome your thoughts on that and boy oh boy what a way for me to start a preview on the 2015 race.
UTMB is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) and as such offers points to a larger circuit. Francois D’Haene and Nuria Picas were 2014 champions.
Well, I was supposed to be in Chamonix for this race but at the 11th hour I have decided not to attend. It was a tough decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Particularly now that I am seeing all the social media posts of all the runners and spectators arriving in the endurance capital of the world.
The reality is I have been on the road since January with little or no break and next week I travel to the USA for over a week which is then followed by a succession of weekends travelling and providing photography and writing for a succession of races. I personally had great potential to break )ver training one may say), so, home I am staying and for once a relaxing weekend.
The main event starts at 1800 Friday 28th August. I always feel a little ashamed when I say the main event as a whole series of tough and challenging races take place during UTMB week. For example, the ridiculous PTL, the tough TDS, the challenging CCC and the OCC but I only have so much time and the UTMB draws the crowd and the most stacked field. For the first year, UTMB will not be a TNF event and the new sponsor Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail has a tough act to follow, I wonder if we will notice any difference?
One thing is for sure, the men’s and ladies’ races are stacked. Darn it, I used that word again! Let’s try again – A plethora of talent has arrived in Chamonix to do battle on this super tough and iconic 100+ mile course that circles Mont-Blanc.
Tofol Castanyer made the podium last year and with no Francois D’Haene he for me has the nod for victory. He has been quiet lately no doubt keeping the powder dry and although not very experienced over 100-miles he is a super savvy and experienced mountain runner with the solid Salomon team who can offer support and backup.
Luis Alberto Hernando should win UTMB but he won’t. Nothing would please me more to see Luis top the podium in Chamonix but the reality is, he is not a 100-mile runner (not yet anyway). Put him on a course from 50km-80km and he is unstoppable. Put him on a 100km course and he may or may not win but will podium. Put him on 100m route and he will go great for the first 80km and then fade. This is not helped by entering UTMB tired. He won Transvulcania, placed 2nd at the IAU World Trail Champs, won Ice Trail Tarentaise and then placed 2nd at Tromso Skyrace looking distinctly whacked at the end. That was only a few weeks ago and I just don’t see the recovery and training working in Luis’s favour. I hope I am wrong!
Miguel Heras, well who knows? If he is fit and on fire he could win and almost certainly podium. However, he is extremely injury prone and his performances could come with a flick of a coin. In 2015, Miguel has been much more low key, he has raced but without any pomp and circumstance and that was intentionally so. Placing 2nd behind Thevenard in 2013, Miguel WANTS to win the UTMB and this may well just be the year!
The Salomon trio is rounded out with Ryan Sandes. This is a really interesting inclusion into the UTMB mix. Ryan can climb, can run fast and is endurant (Drakensberg Traverse) and therefore may well have the essential credentials to podium at the least and may well just win. Certainly, Salomon could repeat the trio of results that we have seen in pervious years. Ryan has had a mixed 6-months with injury, a last minute withdrawal from Western States and I therefore think he is going to be super focussed on this race. One to watch!
Sage Canaday enters the 100-mile distance for the first time and as great a runner as he is, I don’t see him making the podium. Controversial I know. He has the speed for sure. He has the climbing and descending but I have no reason to think he has the race plan or strategy for what will be at best a 20-hour race. Like Luis Alberto I would expect strength and dominance over the first 100km and then a fade. But he has been in Chamonix preparing and he is a student of the sport. He may very well have hidden himself away, changed everything about his training and come up with the perfect 100-mile training plan? A 5k track session (in 16min) just 3-days before the race suggest otherwise though.
Xavier Thevenard won the race (surprisingly) in 2013 and then seemed to implode with the pressure. Last year he took the attention of himself and ran the TDS and won it. In doing so, he became the only runner to have won the CCC, TDS and UTMB; impressive! So the facts speak for themselves, super talented and obviously can perform with the best if the pressure is off. Will the pressure be on for 2015 is the question? I think it will but less than in previous years and that may just allow him to run his own race and find his 2013 legs and head. Good luck.
Julien Chorier impressed the hell out of me a couple of years ago at Ronda dels Cims with a consummate performance. He loves the mountains and he can run fast too. He was 2nd to Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria in 2014 and 2nd to Kilian at Hardrock 100. A recent 6th at Western States shows us that all is in place for a great run and that’s why I give him a nudge over Gediminas.
Gediminas Grinius has been a revelation. His rise in the sport over the last 18-months has been remarkable and you know what, he could win UTMB. He ran a great UTMB last year (5th), won Transgrancanaria and placed 4th at Western States. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then he will close out super hard and fast.
Stephan Hugenschmidt is my dark horse and potential big surprise of the 2015 UTMB. He had a breakthrough 5th at Transvulcania, won Zugspitz and had a great result at Transalpine.
We are now in the territory of surprise packages and believe me, some of the fellas mentioned below will figure highly in the run for the podium and top-10.
Seth Swanson has been 2nd at Western States 2-years on the run and I still know very little about him. My head says he will need a UTMB run to find his legs before he can comeback and mix it up at the very front. However, nobody expected him to place 2nd at WSER and then go back and do it again!
Sebastien Chaigneau is the old guard of the race, the wily old fox that everyone loves. Seb has had a tough couple of years and as time has passed, the competition has got faster. I’d love him to find some of that old form, that 100-mile sparkle and dish out to the newbies.
Jeff Browning may well be the best prospect from an American perspective as he is a true mountain man. But he may well lack some of the essential European speed.
Franco Colle won Tor des Geants and then earlier this year placed 2nd at Mont-Blanc 80km. In addition, he has been at the IAU World Trail Championships, ran (and won) a Skyrunning exhibition event in Cervinia and recently ran Tromso Skyrace. Potential dark horse for UTMB!
Sondre Amdahl like Gediminas has been a revelation. He is committed, sometimes too committed but I love his passion. He prepared meticulously for Transgrancanaria and placed 4th, went out to the USA to prepare for WSER and placed 15th and has spent recent months preparing in Chamonix for UTMB. Top-10 potential and maybe around 5th if he has a great day.
Best of the rest
Francois Faivre – 7th at UTMB last year.
Carlos Sa – He could win it but more than likely a top-10.
Pascal Giguet – Top-10 at Mont-Blanc 80km.
Ryan Smith – a Brit who may well be a real dark horse.
Robbie Britton – local lad, 3rd at the 24-hour and 7th at Tarawera. Placed just outside top-50 at UTMB last year but has been in Chamonix for months which will either mean he is in fine form or broken. I think the former. Good luck Robbie.
Yeray Duran – Always strong at Transgrancanaria.
Paul Giblin – another Brit with all the potential to spring a surprise.
Kim Collison – Another multi talented Brit who has speed and endurance.
Joe Grant – We all know Joe and what he can do.
Danny Kendall – The UK’s top MDS performer, not new to UTMB and this may well be his best year.
Jesse Haynes – Great at WSER but in Europe, who knows?
John Tidd – Won’t win but absolutely solid performer.
Stone Tsang – Every chance for a stunning or latter ‘teens’ performance.
Yoshikazu Hara – same as Stone?
I could go on….
Neck on the line, this race is for Nuria Picas and I personally think she is going to have the race of her life and win it with a consummate performance. This is no way a reflection on the competition, just an observation of Nuria and an understanding of how this lady ticks. For the past 2-years, Nuria has raced a ridiculous schedule and still placed 2nd twice behind Rory Bosio. This year, Nuria has been quiet. Very quiet. A win at Transgrancanaria and then what? I will tell you, training and preparation. She will be on fire!
Caroline Chaverot though has also been on fire! In the last 18-months Caroline has exploded with a series of remarkable performances that would suggest a solid UTMB is on the cards. Her victories at Lavaredo and the Eiger confirm that she can perform on the big days out.
Nathalie Mauclair beat Caroline at the IAU Word Trail Championships but that really draws no comparison to UTMB. However, Caroline beat Nathalie at Lavaredo. Take your pick! On paper, I would say Nathalie will be better over the longer distance and time that UTMB will offer and her victories at Diagonale des Fous will put her in a great place both physically and mentally for that.
The upset may well come from Stephanie Howe and I am sure that TNF and the USA would like nothing more than Steph picking up where Rory Bosio left off. Stephanie’s 3rd at WSER left her feeling tired but by all accounts, she has prepared well for the circle of the big white mountain. She has the speed, I just wonder if she has the legs for the climbs and descents and a 24+ hour run in her?
Francesca Canepa may make the podium? I have always been impressed how Francesca can race UTMB and then just a week later race Tor des Geants. One thing is for sure, I don’t think we will see Francesca at Tor this year after last years’ controversy. 2014 was a great year for the Italian (until Tor) and then it all seemed to go to bits. Understandable really. So coming into UTMB we have little to go on, other than 3rd at the Eiger but she was 30min of the winning time. UTMB may well be a redemption year!
Uxue Fraille has always impressed with her patience and calculated running. She is a diesel. Expect her off the pace early on and close well. She placed 5th last year and a repeat performance is a distinct possibility.
Fernanda Maciel is solid on the UTWT circuit and although I don’t see her taking the top slot on the podium, top-5 is a distinct possibility and if she has a great day, the podium may well be hers. Fernanda spent a great deal of time at altitude over Christmas (too long) and this tired her. Let’s hope she is recovered and ready to race hard in Chamonix.
Darcy Piceu is an interesting addition and after that ding-dong with Frosty at Hardrock I am really eager to see what she can do here in France. She placed 3rd in 2011 in just under 29-hours, she will need to run much faster than that this year! One thing is for sure, the distance and time on feet will be no issue, the question mark will be recovery post Hardrock?
Ester Alves from Portugal has already raced a great deal in 2015 with a string of top placing’s and I have no reason to think that a strong performance is a distinct possibility here. But by strong I mean top-10. A recent tumble at Ice Trail Tarentaise won’t have helped her preparation but she is strong and committed.
Lisa Borzani races and races and races. At TDS in 2015 she placed 2nd. I see her a consistent performance for a top-10 but not victory or the podium.
Nicole Struder ran 14:22 at Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. That’s fast! But she will need to add 10-hours of running to that Rocky time at a minimum for UTMB and through in some serious mountains. So although I see her potentially having a good race, I don’t think that those USA trail legs will handle the European mountains.
My dark horse for the ladies is Veronica Bravo. She is a super strong adventure racer, has the mind for the long game and 100% commitment. She may not win but I expect she may turn a few heads and UTMB race day looks like it will be a hot one; she loves the heat! Earlier this year she won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.
Amy Sproston is a tough one to call. She won Hurt 100 but UTMB is a faster race with tougher competition.
Sally McRae may well offer the best prospects of a top USA performance outside those of Howe. Sally has been top-10 at WSER twice and although UTMB is a big step up from Western, she may well have the race to mix it up.
Gill Fowler from Australia may well rock the apple cart. She was 4th at Lavaredo, yes somewhat off the front pace but a top-10 at UTMB is on the cards.