Sandes of Time – Ryan Sandes at the 2017 #WSER Western States Endurance Run on IRUN4ULTRA

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.”

You can read the full article on IRUN4ULTRA HERE

Episode 138 – Ryan Sandes and Hillary Allen

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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00:18:26 NEWS
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.
Mount Marathon
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
Badwater 135
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.
WESTERN STATES
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.
01:50:24 Interview with RYAN SANDES
UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

96 km | 96 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
River Run 100 | 100 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website
River Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Victoria

You Yangs 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

La Chouffe Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Brazil

Ultraaratona dos Perdidos | 105 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

Bulgaria

65km Tryavna Ultra | 65 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Broken Goat 50K | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Ontario

50 Km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
GORE-TEX 50 Mile | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Quebec

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Pandora 24 Ultra X Trail 100M | 100 miles | July 22, 2017 | website

Finland

Lapland

135 km | 135 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website
55 km | 55 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

France

Corrèze

L’EDFi du Lac | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Le Tour du Cardant | 65 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Drôme

86km | 86 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Eure

Tour de France en Courant | 2750 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Haute-Garonne

52 km | 52 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website
52 km Relais | 52 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Hautes-Alpes

Sky Race Max de Montgenèvre | 57 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Sky Race Max de Montgenèvre | 57 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Isère

La Grande Course | 65 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website
Oisans trail tour relais 2 | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Oisans trail tour relais 4 | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Oisans trail tour relais 5 | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Jura

L’intégrale | 110 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Relais de 2 coureurs | 110 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Grand trail de la Vallée d’Ossau | 73 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Savoie

62 km Mad’ Trail | 62 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail du Beaufortain | 105 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon Juli | 108 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Brandenburg

Berliner MauerwegNachtlauf | 62 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Greece

Kronion Ultra | 70 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Iceland

Laugavegur Ultra Marathon | 55 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
The Iceland Trek | 84 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

India

Jammu and Kashmir

120 km | 120 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Back to Back Marathon | 84 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Back to Back Ultra | 78 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
Ultra Marathon | 39 miles | July 22, 2017 | website

Italy

Piedmont

Bettelmatt Trail – 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
BUT – 83 km | 83 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Sicily

Etna Trail | 64 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Südtirol Ultra Skyrace – 121 km | 121 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website
Südtirol Ultra Skyrace – 66 km | 66 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website

Veneto

Asolo 100 km | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Asolo 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Trans d’Havet Ultra | 80 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Kenya

Amazing Maasai Ultra | 75 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Mauritius

Xtreme Dodo Trail | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Papua New Guinea

Kokoda Ultra Marathon | 96 kilometers | July 26, 2017 | website

Philippines

Catarman 2 Allen Northern Samar | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
TransCebu Ultramarathon 105 Km | 105 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
TransCebu Ultramarathon 55 Km | 55 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Portugal

Running Challenge Linhas de Torres | 100 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Romania

Marathon 7500 Elite | 90 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website
Ultransilvania | 101 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website

Russia

Golden Ring Ultra Trail T100 | 100 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website
Golden Ring Ultra Trail T50 | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2017 | website

Singapore

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Slovakia

Nízkotatranská stíhačka | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultra Sierra Nevada | 103 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
USN Trail | 62 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Aragon

Gran Trail Aneto-Posets | 109 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Vuelta al Aneto | 58 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Cantabria

Sweden

Swedish Alpine Ultra | 107 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Berne

Eiger Ultra Trail E101 | 101 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Eiger Ultra Trail E51 | 51 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Valais

Swiss Alps 100 | 160 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Swiss Alps 50 | 80 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Turkey

100 Miles | 100 miles | July 28, 2017 | website
75 km | 75 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
80K Ultra Maraton | 80 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
ORDU Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Buckinghamshire

Chiltern Ultra Challenge “Intro” 50km Ultra | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

City of Bristol

Kennet & Avon Canal Race | 140 miles | July 28, 2017 | website

Cumbria

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

East Riding of Yorkshire

The Montane Lakeland 100 | 100 miles | July 28, 2017 | website

Glasgow City

Clyde Stride Ultra Marathon | 40 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Hertfordshire

Fairlands Valley Challenge – 50km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

100 km | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Day 1 50km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Day 2 50km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website

Scotland

50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Shropshire

Wenlock Olympian Run | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Wenlock Olympian Walk | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

USA

Arkansas

Full mOOn 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

California

50 km | 50 kilometers | July 16, 2017 | website
Harding Hustle 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Tahoe | 136 miles | July 21, 2017 | website
Salt Point 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
San Francisco Ultramarathon | 52 miles | July 23, 2017 | website
Santa Barbara 100K | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Santa Barbara 100 Mile | 101 miles | July 14, 2017 | website

Colorado

Hardrock 100 Endurance Run | 100 miles | July 14, 2017 | website
High Lonesome 100 | 100 miles | July 28, 2017 | website
Never Summer 100km | 100 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Idaho

McCall Trailrunning 40 Mile Classic | 40 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Kansas

Psycho Psummer 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Maine

Down East Sunrise Trail Team Relay | 102 miles | July 21, 2017 | website

Maryland

Catoctin 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Rosaryville 50k Trail Runs | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website

Montana

50 Mile | 50 miles | July 14, 2017 | website
50 Miles | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Seeley Lake 50K | 50 kilometers | July 14, 2017 | website

Nevada

Tahoe Rim Trail 100M | 100 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Tahoe Rim Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Tahoe Rim Trail 50M | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

New York

50K | 50 kilometers | July 28, 2017 | website

Oregon

44 Mile | 44 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
67 Mile | 67 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
Relay | 69 miles | July 22, 2017 | website
Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2017 | website
Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50M | 50 miles | July 22, 2017 | website

Texas

60k | 60 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website

Vermont

Vermont 100k Endurance Race | 100 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Race | 100 miles | July 15, 2017 | website

Washington

50K | 50 kilometers | July 15, 2017 | website
Emory Corwine Memorial Ruck Race | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Kaniksu 50 | 50 miles | July 15, 2017 | website
Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage | 190 miles | July 14, 2017 | website
CLOSE
02:58:20
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
I’m Ian Corless and she is Elisabet Barnes.
Keep running
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Superior 100 2016 Race Summary

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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.

iancorless-com_superiot2016-4422As 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

You can view race images HERE

You can purchase race images HERE

The 2016 Race

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!’

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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.

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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.iancorless-com_superior2016-7125

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

HERE

Race Images are available HERE

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® #UTMB 2015 In-Depth RACE PREVIEW

Logo_UTMB

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.

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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.

MEN

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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….

 

LADIES 

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

Ones to watch

 

Shona Stephenson – Top-10 at UTMB before.

Sarah Morwood – 11th at UTMB previously.

Manu Vilaseca

Caroline McKay

Denise Bourassa

 

And so many more….

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Rob Krar and Stephanie Howe win Western States 100

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ALAMEDA, California — June 30, 2014 — The North Face athletes Rob Krar, 37 of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Stephanie Howe, 30 of Bend, Ore., outpaced a field of the most elite ultrarunners in the world to earn first place at the renowned Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run Saturday. Krar, who placed a close second at Western States last year, won in a smoking time of 14:53:24—the second-fastest run in the race’s 40-year history. The course record belongs to The North Face athlete Timothy Olson, who ran a 14:46:44 in 2012. Howe, edged into the top 20 overall, placing first in the women’s division in 18:01:42.

As the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race, the Western States 100 has reached iconic status as one of the most challenging, competitive and prestigious 100-mile races in the country. Nearly 400 runners began the run at 5 a.m. Saturday in Squaw Valley, Calif., ascending more than 18,000 feet and descending nearly 23,000 feet through high country wilderness and steamy canyons, before reaching the finish line in Auburn, Calif.

A competitive runner in high school and college, Krar started running ultra distances on a whim in 2012 “just to see what it would be like.” Aside from his top finishes at Western States, Krar is best known for holding the fastest known time for both the single and double crossing of the Grand Canyon. Additionally, he earned the top spots at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k and The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships 50-mile in 2013.

“Last year I was sitting at the finish line next to Tim [Olson], and maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision at the time, but I knew in my heart that the goal for 2014 was to come back to Western States and run the best race that I could,” Krar said shortly after crossing the finish line. “The training I put myself through preparing for a race like this isn’t just hard on me, it is hard on the people around me. I am so grateful to have the love and support that I do.”

Krar trailed Max King, 34 of Bend, Ore., by mere minutes most of Saturday, but passed him around the Peachstone aid station, 71 miles into the race. Seth Swanson, 35 of Missoula, Mont. took second-place finish in 15:19, and Dylan Bowman, 28 of Mill Valley, Calif., rounded out the podium with a third place finish in 15:36:41. King ultimately placed fourth. The North Face teammate Jez Bragg, 33 of the U.K., placed an impressive 11th in 16:45:36.

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Despite never running more than 65 miles before Saturday, Howe rounded the historic Placer High School Track with a 28-minute lead on her closest competition around 11 p.m. on Saturday. Starting out slow and steady, Howe came into the Dusty Corners aid station around mile 38 in the lead. In her first 100-mile race, Howe earned the fourth fastest time for a woman in Western States history.

“I was nervous to see how my body was going to react,” Howe said of her longest race ever. “I just fueled well and kept pushing myself. I had great mentors who gave me tips on how to run a 100-mile race.”

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Howe, an exercise physiologist who earned her spot in the race the traditional way through the lottery pick in December, said her knowledge of maintaining a proper diet and fueling was a huge advantage for her. Running with her pacer and fiance, Zach Violet, Howe said they were just “savoring the moment” as she closed in on victory.

Howe edged out Larissa Dannis, 26 of Stafford, N.H., who finished as the second woman in 18:29:18, and Nathalie Mauclair, 43 of France, who came in third in 18:43:57.

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Getting the Wally Hayward record by Johan van de Merwe

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Introduction

It was in October 2012 when I first heard about Wally Hayward’s indissoluble records. At that stage I was in the prime and peak of my running career. I was set on challenging the 24 hour race record that was uncontested for the past 60 years. Wally Hayward set the South African record of 256.4 km in London on the 21st of November in 1953. On paper the record seemed fully reachable and even undemanding. With the collaboration of my co-club members at the Pietersburg Road Runners and with the added financial aid of Digit Vehicle Tracking we hosted the first 24 hour race within our local community. The race took place on the 31st of March, 2013 and the purpose thereof was to ultimately improve the 24 hour South African record. It was however not as trouble-free as it initially seemed. Even after my best efforts I still missed the record with approximately 3km. I was extremely disheartened, saddened and disenchanted. Hosting the race proofed to be very pricey and I felt as though I disappointed all my family, friends and supporters. As a consequence, I under duress tried to forget about improving the record.

In order to deal with my setback I participated in numerous elongated races. During April to September 2013 I took part in a 6-day race in Hungary where I completed 516km. I furthermore ran the Comrades Marathon and finished it with a time of 7h28. In addition I also did three hundred milers, the Washie Race (13:18:02), the Golden Reef Race (14:41:45) and the Capital Classic Race (14:33:08). My results far exceeded my expectations but it still did not relief my utter sense of dissatisfaction.

Who is Wally Hayward?

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Wallace (“Wally”) Henry Hayward (10 July 1908 – 28 April 2006) was a South African endurance athlete with a 60-year career. Wally won the Comrades five times and completed the distance of around 90 km the last time just before his eighty-first birthday.

He was born and died in Johannesburg. In 2006 just a few days before the annual Wally Hayward Marathon, Wally passed away.

Comrades Marathon

He won the race for the first time on his first attempt in 1930 at age 21 (the youngest runner at that stage). Only twenty years later he competed again and won it from 1950 to 1954, except for 1952 when he choose to rather represent South Africa at the 1952 Summer Olympics. He finished tenth in the Olympic Marathon event.

In 1951 and 1953 (first athlete under 6 hours) he broke the down-run record, and in 1954 he broke the up-run record and became the oldest man to win the race at age 45 (later overtaken by Vladimir Kotov in 2004). In 1988 he returned once again to participate. He beat half the finishers with a time of 9h44m. Wally’s most dramatic moment came the following year, in 1989, when he completed the down run at the age of 80. There was hardly a dry eye in the stadium as he staggered across the line in an obviously distressed state, making the cut-off time by a mere 1min 57sec, after which he finally quit the race for good. To this day, he has the distinction in the record books of being the oldest finisher in the history of the Comrades Marathon.

Other records

In 1953 he established records in the London to Brighton Marathon, the Bath to London 100-miler and the 24-hour track race. At the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney he won the bronze medal in the 6 miles competition. In the 3 miles contest he finished fourth. Hayward fought in North Africa and Italy during World War 2 and in 1942 earned the British Empire Medal for bravery for his actions near El Alamein in Egypt.

Family

Married Gladys Catto in December 1934 and had one daughter, Gwenolyn in October 1935. In 1957 Wally and Gladys divorced. In 1971 Wally married his second wife, Bertha Bland.

Contoversy

In 1953 he accepted a small donation towards his traveling while competing in the UK. The South African Athletics and Cycling Association declared him a professional, banning him from all amateur events. The ban was finally lifted in 1974.

Wally Hayward Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Hayward

DECISION

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On the 4th of October, 2013 I came across a list of international races. I was interested in determining the amount of 24 hour races that was still to be hosted throughout 2013. At that time I occupied the seventh position for the international 24 hour races. I reflected back over 2013 and realized that there were no races that I was particularly proud of. I wanted to conclude 2013 on a high note but had no idea how to accomplish my goal. It was already October. My body felt fatigued and worn-out and an exceptional achievement seemed utterly impracticable and idealistic. I browsed the internet and discovered a 24 hour race that was scheduled for the 7th of December. The race was to take place in Taipei, Taiwan. While looking at the previous years’ results I realized that the race was a high standing sports event. I later learned that it was classified as a “gold labelled event” according to the International Association of Ultra runners.

I decided to travel to Taipei in order to participate in the race. It was particularly difficult for me to attempt again to improve the South African record only eight months after my setback. It felt as though I was not in the best physical condition so as to take on the challenge. With all the long races in which I participated in during 2013 I never focussed on just training effectively for any race. I mainly focussed on tapering for and recovering after a race. My legs ached incessantly, my muscles felt stiff and I was just not able to practice adequately. I had to decide whether or not my desire to improve the record was stronger than my physical condition.

GAME PLAN

During the first 24 hour race I ran on the 31st of March 2013 I learned a few essential things. I henceforth decided to concentrate solely on the three mistakes I made while preparing for the race in Taipei. My first mistake was that I started much too fast. The second mistake was that I did not eat and the third detrimental mistake was that I tended to pull my body weight to the right side and as a result it affected my overall balance. In October and November I focused on practicing on the racing track without the use of my GPS watch with the intention of establishing a proper pace and the most suitable eating pattern for every five laps.

THE UNKNOWN

Taiwan is a rather unfamiliar and foreign country with its indefinite culture and peculiar eating habits. My greatest concern was that my body would not be able to deal with the outlandish food, eccentric aromas and odd tastes. We decided therefore to take South African food with us on our journey. I specifically packed cheddar cheese, salami, biltong and pvm energy bars. We arrived four days prior to the race in Taiwan with the aim to adjust to their climate. To furthermore prepare adequately I researched all the contestants and studied their unique profiles. The contenders were all world class athletes against whom I had to compete. I harboured mixed emotions of excitement and apprehension. Some of the participants included athletes like the 2013 – 24 hour world champion, The USA’s 100 mile and 12 hour record holder John Olsen, the eight time race champion, Asia’s 24 hour record holder, Ryoichi Sekiya and Asia’s 12 hour, 100 miler and 100 km record holder Yoshikazu Hara, the 24 hour woman record holder Mami Kudo, the Italian 24 hour record holder and the two-time Spartathlon champion Ivan Cuddin.

RACE

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I only truly comprehended the magnitude of the race a day before it commenced. It was amazing to witness how the track transformed into an Olympic type of arena. Enormous tents, medical facilities, banners, cones and an impressive platform for introductions and entertainment were erected within a short span of time. I felt rather anxious once the athletes were being formally introduced to the media and while meeting all the various champions and record holders. I was fully aware of the enormity of the race. I was faced with the reality that I had to really do my best in order to compete with my commendable opponents. Shortly before the race started the athletes were introduced to the public and to their personal lap-counters. Each international athlete had the opportunity to write inspirational, encouraging words with their signatures on a big gold label board. I wrote “God will give me strength” not knowing how true it would prove throughout the duration of the race.

A particular doctor was employed to see to the needs and physical welfare of each athlete. All athletes were weighed in, in order to monitor their wellbeing throughout the race. Every single one was weighed on a fourth hour basis when the direction of the race was changed. I was rather shocked to weigh-in on 65.5 kg as I usually only weigh between 60 to 62 kg. I was in mint condition in 2012 just before the Washie race when I only weighed 59.5 kg. The extra weighed had me rather concerned.

The race commenced at exactly 9h00. I was clothed in my full South African attire that reflected our country’s national colours. The starting gun announced the beginning of the race and I was faced with the moment of truth. All participants was at first hesitant to take the lead. After a few frustrating and exasperating laps I however decided to take the lead. After every fifth lap I took the time to eat something. My wife provided me with various snacks that consisted of cheese, salami and pvm energy bars. I mostly drank 32 GI, water, rehydrate and Sprite. After every 60km I also drank a recovery drink as well as an addition magnesium tablet. After the first three hours I yet again realized that I started too fast. I was still in the lead of approximately 40.8 km, more or less 1km ahead of the Japanese, Hara. Even though I was still running comfortably I was concerned that I was yet again making the same mistakes as I did previously. I felt so poised that I even played cat and mouse games with Oslen and Cudin.

After the first fourth hour the direction of the race changed and the athletes were weighed in. My weight shockingly decreased to 61.5kg. I lost a staggering 4kg within the first hours of the race. The doctor spoke to my wife and informed her that if I lost any more weight that he would be obligated to take me out of the race. I was petrified and tried to make various plans in order to pick up weight. My wife ordered a Mc Donalds burger, but I felt awfully nauseas after the first bite. The last thing I wanted was to throw up during the race. I knew from experience that one can easily loose all your strength within a blink of an eye when you dehydrate. I was fearful and decided to conceal something in my pants in order to ensure that my weight was not less than the previous weigh-in. My wife moreover found two-minute noodles that I was able to eat. I determined to go to a different scale to be weighed. I weighed 62.5kg – it was a great relief. I instinctively decided to stop chasing kilometres and to exclusively focus on improving the record time.

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I set a few milestones for myself in the race in order to obtain my goal. I just did not want to make the same mistakes as those I made in Polokwane. On twelve hours however I completed exactly the same kilometres as I completed previously – 145.2km.  I realized that my attempt might be in jeopardy and I set an objective for the 100 mile mark. My 100 mile time was 6 minutes slower than it was in Polokwane. My self-confidence was shot. My time was 13:38 far removed from my expected time of 12:45. Wally completed his 100 miler split during his 24H race in 1953 in a time of 12:47.

I apprehended just how difficult it would be to improve the record time. I knew that it was imperative for me to maintain the correct posture and to proceed regardless of how I felt. My position fell from first to third. My body played tricks on me and I continuously ran to the bathroom without any avail. When looking back it might have been a way for my body to rest. My wife realized what was happening and she kept a close eye on me. She encouraged me not to waste any time.  She warned me before the race that she was going to be rather stern in order to keep me in line. At 22 hours I realized that the record of 256.4 km was well within my reach if I kept my focus. It required a lot of exertion and determination. My body did not want to take in any food or fluids at that stage.

On 23 hours my personal lap counter indicated that I have completed 249km. I still had to do 7.4 km in order to improve the record. I knew I had to step up and increase my pace. I eventually completed the race and improved the record with a total distance of 258.064km.  The South African flag waved proudly above my head as I crossed the finish line.

It is almost anomalous and strange to be without a goal currently. It feels as though I am growing stronger and stronger despite my age. It is imperative for me to set a goal that will serve as my focus point for the next two years. I have my sights set on the 48 hour as well as the 6 day records that seem attainable on paper. The only record that might be within reach is the demanding, arduous SA 100 miler record that was set in 1972 by Derek Kay with a time of 11:56:56.

My biggest rule in running is that you must at all times believe in yourself when you participate no matter how unattainable and gruelling your goal seems. If I work hard and prepare adequately none of my goals will be unfeasible and beyond my reach.

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Many thanks to Johan van de Merwe for providing this report and images.

Johan will be interviewed for a future episode of Talk Ultra.