MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR

©iancorless.com_Christmas2014_

 

Dear All,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support in 2014. It has been an incredible year!

I feel extremely thankful that I am able to make a living working as a photographer, writer, podcaster and reviewer in the incredible world of trail, mountain and ultra running.

Without you… my work would be futile. I sincerely thank each and everyone of you who has followed, tweeted, shared, liked and acknowledged my work.

THANKS!

 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas break and I wish you all the very best wishes for a successful and fulfilling 2015.

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As a way of thanks, I have made a series of screen savers available HERE that you can download to your computers. Please feel free to download one or all the images.

Dolomites Vertical Kilometer #VK 2014 – Race Day Images

©iancorless.comIMG_5887Canazei2014

Incredible sunshine, clear skies and huge crowds welcomed runners from all over the world for Canazei Vertical Kilometer, part of the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series.

Runners departed in waves of approximately 25-runners to tackle the steep and grassy slopes of the VK.

For the men, last years 2nd place Urban Zemmer produced a dominant performance pulling away from his La Sportiva teammates, Nejc Kuhar and Marc Moletto for a convincing win. Last years winner Kilian Jornet placed 7th which was an incredible performance comjng just days after his Hardrock 100 win and course record.

For the ladies, VK specialist Laura Orgue fought off a strong battle from Christel Dewalle and Antonella Confortola, last years winner placed 3rd.

Men

  1. Urban Zemmer 32:51
  2. Nejc Kuhar 33:45
  3. Marc Moletto 34:04
  4. Philip Gotsch 34:18
  5. Rhorbjorn Ludvigsen 34:31

Ladies

  1. Laura Orgue 38:14
  2. Christel Dewalle 38:34
  3. Antonella Confortola 39:36
  4. Victoria Kreuzer 40:42
  5. Francesca Rossi 41:30

 

Kilian Jornet sets new record in Alaska

Kilian Jornet

Breaking news from Alaska and the Summits of my Life team is that Kilian Jornet has set a new record in Alaska. A time of 11-hours and 40-minutes (tbc)

Nº6

2014: AMERICAN SUMMITS 

Mount McKinley, United States. 6.186 m

Denali is a symbol of exploration and adventure and we’ll be delving into the icy lands of Alaska to climb its frozen walls.

Image ©summitsofmylife ©kilianjornet

Image ©summitsofmylife ©kilianjornet

News from Alaska is sparse and we will update you as soon as we have any news. Kilian and the team are well and will return to Europe in the coming days.

Summits of my Life posted on Facebook:

Great news from Alaska!! Kilian has set a new record on the McKinley!! Huuuuge congrats Kilian!!!! The team is still out there for a few more days so there are no confirmed details. We’ll get you the full story as soon as they are back! Congrats again, Kilian, you are amazing!!

The previous record was set by Edward Warren HERE

Overview:

Ed Warren
Date:  21 May – 01 June 2013
Location: Denali National Park, Alaska
Overview:
On May 31st, 2013 Warren set the speed ascent and round-trip records on Denali. Climbing via the West Buttress, he ascended in 12 hours and 29 minutes and completed the round-trip effort in 16 hours and 46 minutes. In doing so, he beat the previous records which Chad Kellogg set in 2003.
Kilian’s time beats the record by just over 5-hours, however, we do need confirmation of the official time.
Info from ©wikipedia

Mount McKinley, [native name Denali (Koyukon Athabaskan for “The High One”, Dghelaayce’e in Ahtna)] is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet (6,168 m) above sea level. At some 18,000 feet (5,500 m), the base-to-peak rise is considered the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level.[6] Measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominentpeak after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of US state of Alaska, McKinley is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The first European to document sighting the mountain was George Vancouver in 1794. In 1903, James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing McKinley, which was unsuccessful. In 1906, Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent, which was later proven to be false. The first verifiable ascent to McKinley’s summit was achieved on June 7, 1913 by climbers Hudson StuckHarry KarstensWalter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit. In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route and therefore the most popular currently in use.[7]

Follow Kilian Jornet HERE

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TRAVAILEN – Film Review. Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drak Traverse

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

‘Travailen’ – To make an arduous journey

It was never going to be easy. Making an arduous journey never is, however, the Drakensberg Traverse has a history and in the opening minutes of this 30-minute visual candy, we are introduced to that history, not only in words but mages.

Ryan and Ryno explain the process of how they met at the Salomon SkyRun years earlier and how a seed was planted, a seed that would grow and blossom into the Drak Traverse.

It’s in the early section of the film that we are treated to an explanation of the challenge through an array of images accompanied by short interviews

Gavin & Lawrie Raubenheimer pioneered the trail in 1999 (104hrs 39min) and established a benchmark (and route) that must include the 6-peaks under self-sufficiency. Previous record holder, Stijn Laenen excitedly discusses the ‘Drak’ and how difficult a speed attempt will be. But ultimately, one of the most important characters is Cobus Van Zyl, a large man with a deep authorative voice. Cobus held the current record which he set with Ryno, but he shows no jealousy, no hint of contempt; in actual fact it is the contrary. Cobus actually becomes involved in the whole process, helping recce the route, plan logistics and during the attempt, Cobus is the ‘pin’ back at HQ following the tracker.

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Ryan speaks softly and shows vulnerability throughout the whole film. He may well be a superstar with a list of palmarès to confirm his ascendance in the sport in such a short space of time. However, we see none of that in this film… no previous glories, no back slapping… in actual fact, the back slapping comes from Ryno who almost places Ryan on too high a pedestal.

‘I felt super vulnerable, out of my depth and out of my comfort zone’

Ryan tells us in the middle section of the movie where we are introduced to the extremities that the Drakensberg can throw at anyone. On the third day of a fast-pack attempt; Ryno, Cobus and Ryan are confronted by extreme weather and Ryan pulls the plug amongst snow-covered fields. One has to remember, Ryan is new to running, let alone extreme running and it becomes very clear in these moments, that although Ryan may very well be the vehicle of the film, this attempt would not be possible without the knowledge and experience of Ryno and Cobus. Ryan has no façade, he has no bravado, and he tells it like it is…

‘If things go wrong, I don’t think I’d be capable of looking after myself.’ 

Footage of the actual record completes the final third of the film and for me; the process of reducing 41hours 49mins of record-breaking time into approximately 11-12 minutes is where the true miracle happens. I know only too well as a photographer how protective I can become of images and moments. Dean Leslie and the crew at The African Attachment work wonders. It’s like a wonderfully crafted piece of music that actually takes instruments away, rather than adding, to make the whole piece larger, greater and more memorable. Switching for arial vistas and close ups; the story is told in a series of bold moments that encompass key moments during the traverse. 

‘If I am not ready now, I never will be’

Ryan rushes to prepare in the final moments before the midnight start. At the stroke of 12, they depart into the night. Climbing metal ladders running through the night, head torches are replaced by the arrival of the sun.

Back at base, Cobus and Cindy Van Zyl follow Ryan and Ryno; they monitor each step via trackers.

‘You realize how quickly things can go wrong, how vulnerable they are… if you need to escape, it’s at least 6-hours hard hiking!’

Exhausted by the heat, Ryan and Ryno reach Cleft Peak at 08:39 and run on. Dreaming of milkshakes they become dehydrated and face the demons of trying to refuel at night at Giant’s Pass.

‘If you don’t get your nutrition right you will fail and you will simply stop’

Tired, exhausted and lacking concentration they move on into the night. Trying to sleep is almost impossible. The dawn of a new day shows us the impact of the terrain, the beauty, the magic and the splendor of the traverse. Here words aren’t required and the mix of visual and music takes us to a new level. This is more than a running movie. It’s art.

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

‘It’s about doing things that make you happy and doing it because you want to.’

Bushman’s Neck Border Post 5:49pm with 205km’s covered, Ryan and Ryno approach a Red Bull arch. It’s the first glimmer of the real world and the brand that made this attempt possible. No crowds, no razzamatazz, just a few friends and family…

‘Just a short run in the Drakensberg Mountains,’ Ryan says to camera.

As the film closes, quite rightly, respect is given to the history of the Drakensberg Traverse via visual snaps:

  • Cobus & Ryno
  • Andrew Porter (successful solo attempt and record)
  • Stijn & Andrew
  • Gavin & Lawrie

Travailen is not your usual showboating movie about running. It’s a honest piece. It shows vulnerabilities and how we overcome them. Egos and reputations are dismissed into a collective gathering of skill and experience. It’s a spiritual journey that I am sure will live on within each of those involved.

As a movie it is a visual feast handled with great skill by Dean Leslie and the team at the African Attachment. The blending and fading of subtle music provides a wonderful and balanced atmospheric to the pain and struggle of Ryan and Ryno. For such a tough challenge, the movie is a calm and tranquil homage to a very tough, rugged and gnarly mountain range. The characters involved, maybe it’s the South African accents, blend with the nature providing a wonderful silky smooth experience.

Runner or not, Travailen holds joys and pleasure for all. The film previewed on May 29th at The Labia, Cape Town. The film will be available for public release, however, the date has not yet been made available. I will update as and when appropriate.

READ MY DRAK TRAVERSE INTERVIEW WITH RYAN SANDES HERE

Thanks and credits:

I’d like to thank Ryan Sandes, Ryno GrieselKelly Burke, Dean Leslie, Greg Fell, Red Bull and The African Attachment for the opportunity to see an advance copy of Travailen.

Links:

TAA logoRed Bull Logo

 What Red Bull have to say:

The visually epic tale of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drakensberg Grand Traverse record.

At midnight on Monday, March 24 2014, trail runners Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set off into the darkness from Witsieshoek car park. Their goal: to complete the 210 kilometreDrakensberg Grand Traverse – the mother of all Drakensberg hikes – faster than anyone had before.

To rightfully claim the title they had to travel on foot, carrying all their own gear without receiving any form of support along the way. It was just them against the mountain elements. Against the clock.

Travailen is the thrillingly visual tale of their attempt. Dean Leslie, Director for Travailen, gives us some insight into the toughest assignment the The African Attachment have ever taken on.

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 – Race Day Images

©iancorless.com_IMG_1255Zegama14

Boom! Kilian Jornet (Salomon) breaks 9-year old Rob Jebb record in less than ideal conditions at the 2014 Zegama-Aizkorri. Marco De Gasperi (Scott Running) once again placed 2nd and Luis Alberto Hernando (adidas) places 3rd with a great Transvulcania/ Zegama double.

Mens result 
Kilian Jornet breaks 9-year old CR – 3:48:38
Marco Dega – 3:50:38
Luis Alberto Hernando Alzaga – 3:50:57

©iancorless.com_IMG_2026Zegama14

Stevie Kremer (Salomon) confirms that she is currently one of the best ‘Sky’ distance runners in the world with a dominating result amongst a very strong and highly competitive ladies field. Elisa Desco (Scott Running) placed 2nd and Maite Mairoa (La Sportiva) came from behind to place an incredible 3rd just ahead of Emelie Forsberg (Salomon).

Ladies Results:
Stevie Kremer – 4:46:44
Elisa Desco 4:50:21
Maite Maiora Elizondo 4:51:48

Zegama-Aizkorri 2014 In-Depth Race Preview

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

Kilan and Hernando copyright Ian Corless

The heat subsides on the island of La Palma, the waves continue to splash on the shoreline and a new week begins. It’s only 10-days since the incredibly successful, dramatic and exciting Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma. But wait a minute, days away, the iconic mountain race, Zegama-Aizkorri kicks off. Ask anyone about ‘Zegama’ and they say, it’s ZEGAMA! Nothing more needs to be said… it’s a race that excites mountain runners like few other races do.

Zegama Map iancorless.com

It’s a brutally fast and technical race that is not for the feint hearted. Located in a natural park, Aizkorri-Aratz, it brings respect and excitement to every mountain runner that toes the line.

Zegama Profile Zegama this year may very well just be a classic in the making, we had fireworks at Transvulcania, but one look at this line-up and I think we may well have fireworks once again but this time on the proportions of a New Year’s Eve get together…

Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Marco De Gasperi, Tom Owens and Pablo Villa illuminate a top-quality men’s field.

Emelie Forsberg, Maite Maiora, Stevie Kremer, Kasie Enman, Elisa Desco and Nuria Picas add no element of softness to the race line up, these ladies are as tough as nails and may well take down a few of the top ranked men.

So, what is going to happen on the trails and mountains of the Aizkorri-Aratz?

Tech specs:

A medium mountain route over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri, which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region (Aratz – Aizkorri –Akategi and Aitxuri). Starting in the town of Zegama (296m) the race climbs up to the high point of Otzaurte (652m) and then follows a mountain pass and a route along paths and mountain tracks of great natural beauty. It combines forests with steep rocky slopes and high grazing land. It is very technical and with a high level of difficulty.

Date: 25th of May, 2014

Start and finish: Zegama ( guipúzcoa ) –09:00 start.

Total length: 42.195 km.

Control points: 14
Refreshment points: 13

Flying sprint: Aizkorri (22.58 km)

Accumulated height gain: 5.472 meters

Maximum altitude: 1.551m Aitxuri

Minimum altitude: 296m Zegama.

Technical percentage of course: 70% approx.

Climate: medium mountain, possibilities of intense heat, strong winds, fog or rain.

Time limit: 8 hours.

Closing time of check points: Click the button to see the control time

 

MEN

Kilian Jornet, Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet, Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

The men’s race is full of talent and like Transvulcania, a winner could come from any direction; are we due a surprise? However, based on the La Palma showdown, one has to conclude that Luis Alberto Hernando and Kilian Jornet are HOT favourites for the win.

Luis Alberto Hernando Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando fulfilled a dream at La Palma and coming to Zegama he will either be immensely satisfied and looking for a victory loop or he will be fired up and ready for more… I’m going with the latter! He’s a fierce competitor and his powers of recovery post Transvulcania will be good. Zegama suits Luis and he only ‘just’ missed out on the win in 2013 by seconds, pushing Kilian Jornet all the way to the line.

Kilian Jornet Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet now has one race under his belt and all the competition will now know that his training is done… I joke, but Kilian usually only needs one race to loosen up and he is back in his stride. If we look at 2012, Kilian placed 3rd at Transvulcania and then just 1-week later dominated Zegama in atrocious conditions. For sure, Kilian doesn’t like heat and he will be hoping for cooler conditions come the weekend of the 24th. If he could choose, he would like rain, some snow and wind. If we get those conditions, Kilian will almost certainly be hot favourite. Should we get sun, heat and calm conditions, I think Kilian is still the hot favourite BUT it will be close, very close.

Marco De Gasperi Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Marco De Gasperi Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

So close that Marco De Gasperi will almost certainly make Kilian and Luis potentially repeat the Zegama finish of 2013 or we may have a ‘replay’ of the Kilian and Marco sprint from the Dolomites Skyrace in 2013. One thing is for sure, the legend that is Marco De Gasperi will be pushing the Spaniard and the Catalan over every meter of this course and if he is not pushing them, he will be leading them. Marco keeps telling me that he is getting old but class is permanent and that class will shine in Zegama.

Tom Owens Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Tom Owens Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Tom Owens had a superb Zegama in 2011 and 2012 and then disappeared in 2013 with injuries. However, Tom is back! A recent 2nd behind Ricky Lightfoot at the Three Peaks in the UK and a stunning 6th at Transvulcania, his first ultra, without doubt elevates Tom to hot and he will be looking for a podium place. For Tom to place 6th in an ultra and then drop down to his preferred distance, SKY, can only mean that he has an even greater chance of rocking the cart. His strong fell running background is a perfect fit for this race. Podium potential for sure.

Tadei Pivk Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Tadei Pivk Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Tadei Pivk produced a stunning run in 2013 taking the final podium place ahead of Zaid Ait Malek. Both of these runners will make an impact one again. In particular, Zaid has progressed in the last 12-months with a series of quality results and performances. He’s a small guy with a huge character and personality. They will both be up at the front.

Zaid Ait Malek Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Zaid Ait Malek Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Michel Lanne will be leaving his helicopter at home and once again lacing up his ‘Sense’ to test himself against the best in the world. He will be in the mix, he always is, however, he just needs that touch of extra luck to help him move up to the very front end of a pure mountain race like this. Michel had a string of top-3 performances in 2013, a notable 2nd to Francois d’Haene at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight. Just recently he placed 2nd at Trail du Ventoux, so, the form is good.

Pablo Villa Transvulcania 2014  ©iancorless.com

Pablo Villa Transvulcania 2014 ©iancorless.com

Pablo Villa is going to be on a high after top-10 at Transvulcania and like Tom Owens will be looking to carry the momentum on here. It’s going to be a tough call and although I don’t see him contesting the podium, the Scott runner will be in the mix if recovered.

Oli Johnson inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Oli Johnson inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Inov-8, Skyrunning partner are sending a very strong field that can be broken down into several levels. I see the strong performances coming from Eirik Haugsnes, Aritz Egea and Alex Nichols. Anyone of these guys could make the top-10. Oli Johnson placed top-10 at Mont-Blanc Marathon in 2013 and will represent the UK at the up and coming Skyrunning World Champs, he has the run ability and skill set to excel at Zegama, however, I am not sure he is 100% at the moment, so, I think he will have a presence at the front end, his performance will very much depend on his progression in the last 2 to 3 weeks. Pierre Laurent Viguier recently won Trail du Citadelles but like Robbie Britton, this race may well be too short, too technical and too fast for them to excel. I see Zegama, as being a learning curve and Chris Steele will no doubt embrace the opportunity and give it all he has.

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

Alex Nicholls gets a nod in the inov-8 line up but we have other quality overseas competition coming from Cameron Clayton (USA), AJ Calitz (South Africa) and we should have had Vlad Ixel arriving from the Southern Hemisphere, however, recent injury has put a stop to that. A real shame, Vlad is my hot-tip as one of the new ‘surprises’ in the trail and ultra world. No worries, we will get to see him perform in June at the World Champs. AJ Calitz pushed at the front end of the 2013 Zegama and then it all went pear shaped when he tried to follow Kilian on one of the descents, he hit the deck and his race was over… AJ swore he would be back and he is! I still think he is in for a learning curve experience but I do expect to see him in the mix. Cameron has all the speed needed to race at the front but this race is like no other. It’s fast, furious, relentless and technical. The question for Cameron will be can he use all that natural ability and perform on what for him, will be very technical terrain?

Martin Gaffuri Transvulcania Half Marathon ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri Transvulcania Half Marathon ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri raced really well in 2013 earning some very cool Skyrunning stripes. He started 2014 with a warm up in Costa Rica laying a great foundation and at Transvulcania he raced the half-marathon so as not to use up too much energy and gain a confidence boost. However, the race didn’t go well… just a bad day I am sure. However, it may play on Martin’s mind? Martin has the right skill set, speed and downhill ability to do well at Zegama so we will just have to see what happens.

To be honest, Zegama has an elite list that extends well beyond 50 runners, so, here are a few notable mentions that we can almost certainly expect to see in the mix:

  • Cristobal Adell – potential top-10
  • Alfredo Gil – potential top-10
  • Jokin Lizeaga – potential top-10
  • Greg Vollet – Team Manager for Salomon. Don’t be surprised to see Greg beat some of his own athletes and he may well make top-10.
  • Thorbjorn Ludvigesen
  • Fabio Bazzana
  • Florian Reichert still new to Skyrunning and on a learning curve but may make the mix?
  • Stephan Wenk
  • Hassan Ait

Who have I missed? In a field this stacked, it’s impossible to account for everyone, particularly local runners who I may not know too well but who will excel on local terrain.

Check out the men’s elite field at http://www.zegama-aizkorri.com/en

LADIES

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Emelie Forsberg copyright Ian Corless

Rewind to Transvulcania and I think we may well see some similar performances with the exception of Frosty who will not be racing at Zegama. What we have, is a who’s who of female mountain running and it’s wide open.

Nuria Picas Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas is on fire! As I write this, she has just won TNF100 in Australia setting a new course record. Add to this win, two incredible 2013 wins, one at the 105-mile UTMF and the other at Transgrancanaria and Nuria is the female to beat at any distance and on any course. However, she pulled out of Transvulcania (correctly in my opinion) and although Nuria is on the start list for Zegama, I expect a similar withdrawal this coming week? However, should she race, she will be pushing at the front, of this I have no doubt. The question mark will come on how fresh she will be for a short, fast mountain race after racing 100km’s or more in the early part of 2013. Nuria placed 2nd in 2013 behind Emelie Forsberg and finished just seconds ahead of Stevie Kremer. It’s an exciting prospect. Update 21/05/14 : Nuria will not race stating that recovery is paramount after her win in Australia.

Emelie Forsberg Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Emelie Forsberg is just off skis and other than running half of the Transvulcania VK and a couple of hours in the Transvulcania main event, has little running in her legs. Add to this a bad fall in La Palma, stitches and some recovery time and Emelie may well be going to Zegama the most underprepared ever. She was relatively underprepared in 2012 when she arrived an unknown, however, look what has happened since… She has said to me that Zegama is no longer an ‘A’ race and she will use it to find form, however, Emelie on an off day is still a formidable force and I still see her in the mix. Emelie won Zegama in 2013 and pretty much everything else in her long and demanding season. When knocked off the top slot, particularly in mountain running, it was by Stevie Kremer! Firstly at Mont-Blanc and then at Limone, so, Emelie will be taking Zegama with one eye on the trail and the other on Stevie.

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer copyright Ian Corless

Stevie Kremer is also just off skis but unlike others, Stevie does maintain some running during the winter months. It may not be a great deal of hours or mileage but that connection with trail certainly puts her in a good place for the first race of the season. She showed this last year at Zegama when she flew down the final descent (she says she can’t descend) and nearly caught Nuria for 2nd place. Notorious for being nervous on the start, Stevie turns that energy into exciting running. She can climb with the best and although she thinks that she can’t contest the downhills, she can! Stevie just needs to believe it. My tip for the race victory!

Maite Maiora Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Maite Maiora Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Maite Maiora is a class act when it comes to mountain running. Her recent 2nd place at Transvulcania shows a new side to this slight but extremely strong runner. With added endurance, boosted confidence and great technical ability, Maite will be in the mix at Zegama and testing the other ladies to the limits. I see her on the podium; the question will be at which level? To be honest, if her recovery has gone well post La Palma, I see her going head-to-head with Stevie.

Elisa Desco Transvulcania VK ©iancorless.com

Elisa Desco Transvulcania VK ©iancorless.com

Elisa Desco returned to racing in 2013 and won the highly prestigious Sierre-Zinal. Her recent win at the Transvulcania VK and half marathon confirms that her form is good. Elisa has all the right elements to perform well at Zegama and without doubt she is podium material. The ladies field is so strong, it may well just come down to who makes the least mistakes? Elisa won’t make many!

Uxue Fraile Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Uxue Fraile Zegama 2013 ©iancorless.com

Uxue Fraile once again produced an incredible race in Transvulcania. I said in that preview that she lacks the outright speed of some of her rivals, however, what she does have is staying power and true grit. So, should any lady falter, Uxue will be in the mix to take places. I see this happening again at Zegama. She will definitely be in the top-10, probably in the top-5 and may just sneak the podium.

Kasie Enman is coming over from the USA and will add an interesting dynamic o the race. She’s a fast lady and as Stevie says, she is without doubt one to watch. The trails and technicality of Zegama may not allow Kasie to unleash her natural speed, however, I don’t see her being off the pace. The biggest question will come in her form, as this is a return to racing after having a child.

The ladies race has less depth than the men’s field, however, you can expect to see the ladies listed below in or around the top-10.

  • Oihana Azkorbebeitia last big win in 2012, Puebo de Gran Fondo and has had top ranking at Zegama before. This is her comeback after having a baby. You can’t rule her out…
  • Nerea Ambilibia
  • Aitzibier Ibarbia
  • Stephanie Jiminez strong run at Transvulcania VK and just coming into form.  Will not race, Stephanie says she is not ready for 42k yet.
  • Silvia Miralles
  • Landie Greyling strong South African runner, 5th at Kepler Challenge and 2nd at Addo Elephant.

Who have I missed? It’s impossible to account for everyone, particularly local runners who I may not know too well but who will excel on local terrain.

YOU CAN CHECK THE FULL LIST HERE

Trail Magazin, Germany 2013

 

Marathon des Sables 2014 Stage 4 (The Long Day)

©iancorless.com.IMG_3324
Tough, very hot and exhausting was the general consensus in bivouac. Starting with a tough ascent of a Jebel, also featured in the 2013 race, the long day was going to be brute. Dunes, salt flats; a wonderful passage of a high ridge and plenty of sand and dunes was going to be a test for all.

Al Aqra once again started from the gun and broke tradition. Instead of blowing up and loosing pace, he seemed to get faster and coverd the 82km stage in a crazy 7:14.Second place was taken by race leader, El Morabityok  almost 30min later, 7:37:18. Sa placed 3rd in 7:40:19 and importantly from a UK perspective, Kendall continued his best MDS performance so far with 6th place, 8:04.

Kimballshowed her class and experience starting slowly and nce she had started to pull away the gap tinued to grow and she not only secured a stage winning performance but also (barring disaster) ran a race winning stage. Speaking after the stage, Kimball said that adjusting to the heqt in stages 1 to 3 was essential and that once settled she could run her own race on the 82km leg. Klein unfortunately seemed to have the demons of 2013 looming over head and never looked comfortable. Running to CP3 in the heqt of the day Klein looked distresed by the heat. Soldiering on, Klein finished the stage 5th in 12:06:48, almost 2hrs behind Kimballs 10:48:38.

Morrisey from Ireland finished 2nd in 11:36:10 and must be cursing the bqd luck of stage 1 when she was unwell. Pierron placed 3rd and Roux 4th.

Top Brit Julie Donovan finished a little further down the classification but still holds 5th overall.

GC with one stage to go:

Men:

El Morabity 16:53:56

Al Aqra 17:03:19

Ahanal 17:14:17

Kendall 5th 18:07:49

Ladies:

Kimball 24:11:08

Klein 25:11:00

Roux 25:38:08

Donovan 5th 28:16:19

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Marathon des Sables 2014 Stage 5

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What a day for the Brits… Morrisey won the ladies race ahead of Roux and Kimball and Kendall placed 2nd behind a flying El Mouaziz.
The final official day of the 29th Marathon des Sables came to a conclusion today over a classic marathon distance in the sands of the Sahara. From the outside looking in, it would appear that the leading ladies and men were happy with the overall standings and raced pretty much together. However, Morrisey had something to prove… had she not had a terrible first day due to illness, we may well be looking at a different set of results for the ladies GC, however, as we all know, that is racing… Morrisey pushed the pace throughout and a little like Meek in 2013 stamped her authority on the final stage taking out the win in 4:35:23. Roux from France placed 2nd, 4:52:47 and Kimball and Klein placed 3rd and 4th respectively in times of 4:53:41 and 4:54:19. Kimball looked extremely happy with her foray into a miltiday race and Klein was respectful in defeat.
El Morabity and Al Aqra ran side by side throughout the final day, both happy with 1st and 2nd places. Ahansal trailed a little behind also confident his third place was secure. However, at the front of the race, Elmouaziz used his 2:06 marathon pace to set the sand alight and take a convincing stage victory in 3:11:22. I cannot help but think that he will be back, learning curve over and ready to push the front of the race in the 30th edition. Kendall pe race told me he was going to go for it and go for it he did. Not only did he need to maintain a 1 min lead over Solaris he also had the possibiliy to chase Sa for 4th. As the day unfolded, Sa matched Kendall, however, in the latter stages, Kendall pushed and placed 2nd on the stage with a stunning run, 3:22:26 and Sa finished less than 1 min later in 3:23:12.
El Morabity, Al Aqra and Ahansal placed 5th, 6th and 7th confident that the GC would nt change.
The 29th MDS has been a tough and hot race… the hardest; maybe. Each and every runner, first to last achieved something very special in Morocco this year. To see the joy, the tears, the passion and the pain released on the final finish line is a joy to behold. Medal in hand, memories to last forever. The 29th MDS is done. A short charity stage takes place on Saturday and the the parties begin… a hotel, a shower, clean beds and plenty of food.
The MDS is quite a race and no sooner will this race be over and preparations will begin for 2015; the 30th edition.

Men

  1. El Morabity 20:27:37
  2. Al Aqra 20:37:09
  3. Ahansal 20:50:58
  4. Sa 21:24:58
  5. Kendall 21:30:15

Ladies

  1. Kimball 29:04:49
  2. Klein 30:05:19
  3. Roux 31:30:56
  4. Pierron 32:29:47
  5. Donovan 33:37:17

Great result for Brit ladies: 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Donovan, Leakey, Morrisey and Young