With a New Year looming it’s finally great to announce that in May 2019 I agreed to join forces with ULTRA X and myRaceKit to work with them in promotion of two events on the 2020 calendar:
Azores April 23rd to 26th
Jordan October 3rd to 11th
ULTRA X have had a great 2019 with events in Sri Lanka, Jordan, Mexico and the Azores, in 2020 they move forward:
- Sri Lanka – March
- Azores – April
- Jordan – October
- Mexico – November
- Bolivia – tbc
- China – tbc
ULTRA X have brought a new experience to the multi-day world offering race entry at accessible prices, easy registration, a global series, a community and club for all and uniquely, they a proposing a ULTRA X World Championship that will take place every 2-years, starting in 2021.
Although new to the multi-day world, ULTRA X had significant growth in 2019 and now with the help of myRaceKit, specialist equipment supplier for multi-day races, 2020 looks set to be a great year.
Many will know myRaceKit through two-times Marathon des Sables and multi-day specialist, Elisabet Barnes. Elisabet was the owner of myRaceKit until she sold to the new owner, Rebeca Ehrnrooth, Elisabet remaining as a shareholder.
Moving in to 2020, myRaceKit are the exclusive equipment partners for ULTRA X events including pre-race weekends. At the Azores and Jordan races, Elisabet Barnes and Sondre Amdahl will fly the myRaceKit flag amongst two hotly contested races with runners from all over the world attending.
The ULTRA X Azores 125 is 2-day event in April and is designed as introduction to the multi-day format. It is the first half-distance race Ultra X have offered. The Azores are truly spectacular situated 1000-miles in the Atlantic Ocean. Close to Portugal, this tiny archipelago of islands offers incredible trails along volcanoes, through amazing green valleys and past stunning lagoons.
Taking place on the island of Sao Miguel, nicknamed “the Green Island”. It is one of the nine volcanic islands based out in the Mid Atlantic. Governed by Portugal, this wild and remote archipelago is characterised by dramatic landscapes, fishing villages and green pastures. The climate of the Azores is very mild for such a northerly location, due to the marine influence, temperatures remain around 20c all year-round.
Racing takes place over 2-days, with 83km to cover on day-1 and 42km to cover on day-2. It’s not an easy challenge! Included in entry is accommodation during the race, race entry, rationed water, medical team, ground assistance and a medal at the finish. The race is self-sufficient, so runners must come prepared to survive for the duration of the race.
Enter here https://tickets.trumin.com/ultra-x-azores-2020 £295.00
Ultra X Jordan (previously the Wadi Rum Ultra) takes participants through the land of Lawrence of Arabia. The mystical course takes competitors through historic sites, into dramatic Wadis and over magnificent sand dunes.
Wadi Rum’s nickname is ‘the valley of the moon’ and you will see why.
Its landscape, characterised by unique towering rock formations will truly blow you away, as will the challenge. As locations go, this place is unrivalled in its beauty.
A 5-day race, the race will cover daily distances of 46km, 50km, 70km, 46km and finally, 38km. As will all ULTRA X races, the event is self-sufficient, so, runners need to carry food, clothes, sleeping bag and all they need for the event. Rationed water and a tent is provided.
Enter here: https://tickets.trumin.com/ultra-x-jordan-2020-deposit Deposit is £300.00
Speaking to Sam Heward from ULTRA X in October, I expressed how happy I was to be joining in 2020:
“It is great to see that Ultra X are creating new races, in new locations around the world. Ultra X 125 Azores is something a little different with it being just a two day race, this will appeal to many as a mini adventure and an opportunity to test themselves before stepping up to a 5-day format. I have heard much about the Azores and it’s a place I am keen to visit and explore.”
Roll on 2020, some new trails and experiences.
Contact ULTRA X https://ultra-x.co/
Contact myRaceKit https://www.myracekit.com/
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Day 2 and 3 at the Lanzarote Training Camp have been full-on. Shane Benzie of Running Reborn has been looking at everyones run technique and providing guidance for improvement in group and one-to-one sessions – Shane has been a huge hit with everyone and his advice invaluable.
On day 2 we took all groups for a long 5-6 hour walk at a fast pace. Over the years on the training camp we have understood that a key element of successful multi-day race is an ability to walk with ease and at pace.
Day 3 started with glorious sunshine and our famous or infamous volcano hill reps. They are always a hit! The sun came out, we had blue skies and fluffy clouds.
In the afternoon, we had a run out to our bivouac location, inside a volcano. An opportunity for many to test out dehydrated food, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and also their packs with weight. It is always a fun night and this year even more special with gale force winds and rain – quite the experience. It really was brilliant!
Join our 2020 Training Camp HERE
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The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.
The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.
Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.
A reward purse totalling $8000 will be up for grabs as the race gets underway from the stunning beaches of Quepos, Costa Rica.
Each day, $250 will be up for grabs should the stage course records be broken by the fastest male or female. For example, in 2018, Tom Evans broke every stage record, that would have been rewarded with a $1500 payout!
Should the overall course record set in 2018 by Tom Evans or Ragna Debats be broken in 2019, $2500 will be on offer. Should the male and female record go, that is a payout of $5000.
Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!
Jordi Gamito has just won the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. The first non-Nepali to win the race in its 8-year history. This comes on the back of an incredible 2018 season when Jordi made the podium at UTMB.
He now joins TCC2019.
What attracts you to Costa Rica?
All!! I visited Costa Rica once and it was incredible and very wild. I am very excited to step on that land again and feel the “Pura Vida” again.
This is the 15th edition of the TCC, a special one – what do you know about the race?
That it will be a true adventure, with a lot of wild scenes and pure nature.
Heat and humidity will play a major factor in the race, how do you plan to adapt?
I don’t know! I think it will be the hardest part of the race for me. I live in the Pyrenees and from now to April is full of snow. The contrast will be the hardest for me.
Ragna Debats and Tom Evans set incredible course records in 2017. There is prize money available for a new CR in 2019 – does that motivate you? Can you break the record?
It’s always a motivation. However it will be the first race of the season and I don’t know how I will feel. But of course, I will try to do my best.
Multi-day racing brings many different challenges to a single-stage race – what are you most looking forward to? What are you most fearful of?
What I love the most in multi-day racing is to share all the hours of the day with other runners. A special bond is created that makes the experience unique.
The elite line-up is incredible for 2019, you will need to be in the best shape, does that excite you?
Always love running with the best runners.
February is early in the season, what will your winter training look like, so you will be ready for February?
I will try to be ready! However, I have to know that in winter my training is always hard due to the snow! I’m living in the pyrenees and from now to april all the mountains are full of snow.
I am sure you have looked at past editions of the race, viewed the stages, the profile – it is a tough race that suits a rounded athlete. You need to be able to climb, descend, handle technical trail and run on the flat – where will your strengths be?
I love technical trails, the more technical the better. So, this will be my strength in Costa Rica.
What experience do you have of multi-day racing? Y
I ran El Curce in 2014, Everest Trail Race in 2017, PIerra Menta Ete in 2018 and I have just won the 2018 edition of the Everest Trail Race!
Racing starts very early in Costa Rica, with the sun! An early finish allows for relaxation on the beach, you can even have a beer – combining racing and relaxation is a key of TCC. It is a ‘Pura Vida’ race – tell us about your hopes and desires for the 2019 edition.
I love traveling and discovering new trails to run. I love discovering the trails of new countries. So I think it will be a real good experience.
What three music choices would sum up your racing style?
“ Long way to the top” ACDC
“Eye of the Tiger,” Survivor (Rocky III)
“Working on a dream” Bruce Springsteen
Tell us about your nutrition and hydrations strategies for the race?
For me it is very important. I think that the key is eat often and the most important will be the hydratation… so drink, eat, drink, etc.
Tell us about key equipment such as shoes and apparel that you will use?
I will wear all the Compressport equipment and Altra shoes.
Tell us about your greatest achievement/ result in 2018?
I achieved a dream with 3rd place at UTMB!
Please list a summary of your career highlights for 2017 and 2018:
1 1º trail Mascareignes (Isla Reunion)
2 3º Ultra Pirineu (Catalonia)
3 3º UTMB (France)
4 2º Grossglokner trail
5 3º Pierra Menta Ete
6 2º Maxi Race 86km
7 3º Madeira Ultra Trail
8 3º Trilhos os Abutres
TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, travelling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.
Follow in 2019 #TCC2019
The Coastal Challenge
Website (UK) HERE
Website (Global) HERE
#tcc2019 #thecoastalchallenge #tcc19
Twitter – @tcccostarica
Backed by the space port of Mos Espa (Star Wars Episode 1) the 2nd edition of UMED ( Ultra Mirage© El Djerid) got underway with the morning glow of a strong orange sun after it had tipped over the summits of the surrounding high dunes.
Over 130 runners from 23 nations stepped forward to undertake a circular 100km route through the Tunisian desert. Heat, sand, mixed terrain, palm groves, oasis all providing a stunning backdrop to an ultimate running challenge. The calm and quiet of the Sahara broken only by the sound of birds.
Any running journey can be a lonely one, but the desert really does provide isolation, only a snake or a camel providing any company. Of course, the sun only leaves the runner with darkness and as the rest from intense heat may be welcome, the complete darkness of the desert provides its own challenges as the runners navigate via reflective strips all the way back to where they started, the lunar landscape of Mos Espa and the bulbous film set village made famous by Star Wars.
The 2017 champion, Mohamed El Morabity had returned to defend his title, however, the desert king (Mohamed’s elder brother) Rachid El Morabity was also on the start line looking to upset the 2017 champions dreams. In the women’s field, two-time MDS champion, Elisabet Barnes was returning to racing after an almost year-long hiatus – what would the day hold for all of them?
On the stroke of 0700 the runners were released. They had 20-hours to complete the desert journey via marked route and 5 checkpoints placed at 20km, 35km, 50km, 65km, 80km and the finish providing an end to an epic journey.
With no wind, the 30-degree temperatures seemed intense. From the start, the experienced runners reigned in their pace but at the front, Marwen Kahil from Tunisia dictated the pace followed by fellow Tunisian, Mohamed Mnsari – the duo no doubt wanting to put on a good show on home ground. All the main contenders followed some way back, they were in no rush to push the pace and Rachid, Mohamed and Sondre Amdahl maintained a close eye on each other.
In the women’s race, Elisabet Barnes dictated the pace, shadowed by Tunisian, Shefia Hendaoui. Behind, Orianne Dujardin from France followed looking relaxed and in control.
At 20km, the positions had hardly changed. However, Elisabet had broken away from her shadow and was now dictating the pace at the front. With 80km to go, it was a brave move, but she looked strong and in control. For the men, there was little but the front of the race was starting to fragment with runners either forming small groups or running alone seconds and minutes apart.
By CP2, it was all change. The desert king Rachid had gently pressed on his accelerator pedal and in doing so he had split the men’s race apart. The early protagonists were left to struggle with the only runners able to follow the Moroccan’s pace coming from his brother, Mohamed and Tunisian, Emir Grairi. The duo looked strong and in control and then minutes later it was the arrival of Sondre Amdahl.
For the women, Elisabet was now pulling away from Shefia and Oriane and her pace was starting to impact on the men’s race with the Swedish runner placing well in the top 10.
With 50% of the race covered and the arrival of the first Oasis the race was taking shape. Rachid and Elisabet had opened huge gaps and were looking strong for victory, but behind them both the race was changing.
The 2nd male to arrive was the Tunisian Emir looking strong. Then Sondre arrived. What had happened to the 2017 champion Mohamed? He finally arrived walking, looking broken and explaining that he had hurt his ankle. He looked set to drop out but at the 3rd CP he pushed on.
For the women, the early pace had impacted on Shefia and now Oriane was running in 2nd. It was all to fight for though, the duo was only separated by minutes!
50-65km were the most challenging of the race with relentless soft sand that slowed the front runners to a walk at times. Behind, this section would eventually take its toll with over 30% of the UMED field not progressing past this section. Rachid and Elisabet took it in their stride but the impact on Emir was noticeable and he relinquished 2nd place to an in-form Sondre. Mohamed was somehow rejuvenated, and he now ran with the Tunisian, the duo looking for the final podium place.
Rachid arrived at the 80km checkpoint looking tired and exhausted. The day was taking its toll. He searched for food and drink, but the fatigue was obviously confusing him, he was undecided what he needed. Sitting down he consumed two cartons of juice only to vomit them back up. He left for arguably the toughest 20km’s he would ever run. The gap Rachid had accumulated was crumbling and Sondre arrived just 3-minutes later. The fight was on!
Sondre hunted the Moroccan down slowly pursuing but Rachid despite chronic fatigue never gave in, he arrived at the finish broken. He crossed the line and collapsed into the arms of the RD, Amir Ben Gacem. Moments later he was in the medic’s hands with an IV in his arm. Sondre finished a stunning 2nd just 6-minutes later. It had been an epic battle. The fight for 3rd came to an easy conclusion for the 2017 champion Mohamed when Emir dropped from the race with severe cramps just 5/6km from the line.
Elisabet was the next to arrive, the new female champion and 4th overall – she was back! This was a stunning world-class performance and her time was just 9-minutes slower than the 2017 champion, Mohamed.
“UMED was a really great experience. It was good to be back in a desert race after a break this year. I enjoyed the varying terrain, the heat, and the perfect mix of friendly atmosphere and hard racing.” – Elisabet Barnes
Behind, Oriane secured her 2nd place ahead of the local woman, Shefia.
With the arrival of darkness, the race took on a new challenge as the participants battled the terrain, darkness and the 0300 cut-off. As with all races, the dream of medals evaporated like water in a Mirage. Blisters, fatigue, dehydration, missing cut-off times, each runner had a story to tell.
“I did not dream of medal. I wanted to run strong and run well. That was my UMED goal. At half way I felt very unwell and I knew it was the beginning of heatstroke. I also had damaged feet with blisters… We had been advised that gaiters were not necessary, they were! I was mentally and emotionally strong, but I knew it was time to be kind to myself and I allowed myself to call it quits. I had done what I set out to do, I had run well, I had run strong, and that was for 50km. Next year’s goal will be to run well, run strong and get that medal.” – Sue Ding from Malaysia who had completed the 2018 Marathon des Sables.
As Roosevelt rightly said:
“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.”
Racing does not give guarantees. It is why we test ourselves. Pain eases, memories fade, skin heals and soon, often the next day, the desire to return and put the demons to rest is what motivates everyone. The desert is magic and leaves only one desire: to come back and tame it!
Post-race, RD Amir Ben Gacem was proud of the race, “Last year, we had just 60 runners, this year we had over 130 and I am proud to say, over 30 women. That is stunning. The race will evolve, and we learnt some lessons this year that will be applied for 2019 only to make the UMED bigger and better!”
“Wow, I am really happy with that,” Sondre exclaimed. “I am the first ‘human’ – to place 2nd behind the desert king Rachid and to have his brother behind me is a true honour.”
- Elisabet Barnes 10:26:06
- Oriane Dujardin 12:58:57
- Shefia Hendaoui 13:35:57
- Rachid El Morabity 9:11:47
- Sondre Amdahl 9:18:12
- Mohamed El Morabity 10:17:33
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All good things come to an end…!
Today, the 2018 Lanzarote Training Camp concluded with an incredible morning in the soft-sand and dunes of Lanzarote. It was such a great day! The 40 participants of the training camp looked like (and acted like) kids in a sand pitt.
Up, down, around and over.
There was some pretty serious acrobatics and high-flying too. It is amazing how tired legs and bodies were revived after 100+ miles of running in one week still had some energy left.
The morning session was followed with an afternoon discussion about ‘the next steps’ and how to follow on the training camp both physically and mentally.
A final easy run or ‘walking with poles’ session brought the training element of the camp to an end.
Final night festivities will see maybe a few drinks downed, a group meal and dare I say, the Club La Santa disco may well get a visit.
It has been an incredible week. A huge thanks to all the participants who made it so much fun. Obviously, many thanks to Elisabet Barnes, Sondre Amdahl, Tom Evans and Marie Paule Pierson – the 2018 coaches.
Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?