Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 5

What a day! The 2018 Marathon des Sables concluded today on the edge of the Mezouga dunes on what will bee remembered as one of the toughest marathon stages in the races history.

The day started at 0700 with the majority of the field departing in strong winds and sand storms. The top 200 departed 90-minutes later also in sand storms.

The winds never eased and for the duration of the day, the runners encountered a full-on headwind all the way to the line.

The course was in comparison to other stages of this years race, a relatively easy one despite some large dunes in the final third. However, the combination of cooler temperatures, relentless wind, and drifting sand made for a tough day.

In reality, the race was over yesterday for the podium places and Rachid El Morabity and Magdalena Boulet were crowned 2018 Marathon des Sables champions. On the day, Magdalena won the final stage in 4:19:39 and Rachid placed 4th in 3:31:41.

The overall men’s final podium stands as:

  1. Rachid El Morabity 19:35:49
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 20:01:28
  3. Merile Robert 20:41:00
  4. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 20:51:59
  5. Gediminas Grinius 21:31:23

Gemma Game from the UK followed up a solid and consistent week placing 2nd on the final stage. 4:29:31 to Magdalena’s 4:19:39. Bouchra Eriksen placed 3rd in 4:30:58 and without doubt has been a revelation this year. Natalia Sedykh won the first three stages, gained a 1-hour time penalty, had very sore knees and stomach issues to have a very tough week in the Sarah. Today she placed 4th in 4:39:25 ahead of the USA’s Jacqueline Mariash in 4:40:22.

The overall female final podium stands as:

  1. Magdalena Boulet 25:11:19
  2. Bouchra Erksen 26:36:00
  3. Gemma Game 27:00:23
  4. Natalia Sedykh 28:26:56
  5. Anna Marie Watson 29:04:43

Of course, the final day is all about emotion and runner’s of all abilities a lifetime goal and achievement. Many a tear is shed on the finish line as Patrick Bauer embraces each and every runner, kisses them on the cheek and places a medal around their necks.

MDS is more than a running race. It is a life changing adventure of 250 km’s with intense highs and lows, elation and pain, laughter and crying. The bonds created in the Sahara are not forgotten. The pain and the joy will be remembered.

Tomorrow, a short stage of 7.7km transitions the runners from the Sahara and back to buses for the journey back to civilisation – a shower, some food, drinks, a bed and clean white sheets. Believe me, everyone has earned it!

Full Results HERE

Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 4

The long day! It’s the day that makes the Marathon des Sables and it is the one most feared by the runners. The 86.4km’s of stage 4 are classic MDS and yes, they are beautiful km’s combining many of the elements that make the Sahara and Morocco so unique. However, soft sand and dunes are not the friend of the long distance runner, particularly when trying to cover distance as quickly as possible.

It was an epic day!

Intense heat during the day with strong winds as sunset came and then a very cold night making most runners wear down jackets to keep warm – it was a tough day for all, Rachid finished in 8:12:05 for the men and Magda 10:29:58 for the women. As I write this, 27-hours have elapsed and runners are still out on the course trying to finish ahead of the 35-hour cut off.

Camp life is key to the MDS – being self-sufficient, carrying everything you need, the only provisions are rationed water and a bivouac (tent) shared with 7 others.

The day started at 08:30 for the masses and 11:30 for the top 50.

Rachid El Morabity and Natalia Sedykh as expected dictated the pace at the front. Rachid consolidating his lead and showing the rest of the elite men who is the boss! It’s quite simple, when it comes to the desert, Rachid is the king. He glides over the terrain, almost floating – he is beautiful to watch. He dictated the day and won with a 20+-minute margin.

For the ladies, Natalia was always going to push and see if she could claw back the 1-hour penalty time and regain the overall lead. By CP1 she had 3-minutes, by CP2 Magda was catching the Russian and then after CP4 it was all over… Natalia broke with the pressure and was forced to ease up eventually finishing 6th on the stage.

For the men, Rachid’s brother, Mohamed, followed in the footsteps of teacher and once again placed 2nd, 8:33:52 to Rachid’s 8:12:05. France’s Merile Robert excelled finishing 3rd 8:43:35 and Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius finishing 4th. The ever-present Abdelkader El Mouaziz had a tough day finishing 5th in 9:19:09.

Magdalena Boulet from the USA showed her strength at long distances and dominated the stage running a clever race firstly behind Natalia and then passing her and running strong all the way to the line in 10:29:58.

With Natalia’s explosion, it was all to fight for for the ladies podium and Bouchra Eriksen once again showed real consistency finishing 3rd ahead of the UK’s Gemma Game, their times 11:22:36 and 11:29:00 respectively. The UK’s Anna Marie Watson had a bad day with stomach issues and finished 9th. This opened the door for The USA’s Emily Kratz and Jacqueline Mariash to finish 4th and 5th in 12:08:49 and 12:24:15.

With the marathon stage tomorrow, the podium looks set with Rachid and Magda the 2018 Marathon des Sables champions.

The long day though is really so much more than discussing the elites who seem to run with ease over the harsh terrain. The day is about all the runners, the mid-packers, the slow, the runner out of their comfort zone, the runner looking for a lifetime achievement, the runner looking for adventure, the runner with a mid-life crisis – the long day changes people and it changes me as I experience their journeys. The lows of a withdrawal at a CP or the highs of a hard fought finish. 

THIS IS THE MDS!

It brings a tear to me eye as I document the journey from early in the day, through the night and into a 2nd day.

I have heard ultra runners say that the MDS is easy. It is not! Trust me, it is not… The cut-off times are generous but ask yourself, running or walking, would you like to be out there for 35-hours?

I am honoured to document this race and I salute all those who tried this year and failed. It is not a failure… trust me! You put yourself on the start line and risked a great deal. You will be back.

For those who fought sleep deprivation, hunger, blisters, the cold, the heat, tired aching muscles and so much more – congratulations. You have achieved something quite incredible this long day. With ‘just’ a marathon to go. The 2018 MDS is on paper, ‘in the bag!’

Full results HERE

Overall GC going into the last official stage:

  1. Magdalena Boulet 20:51:40
  2. Bouchra Eriksen 22:05:02
  3. Gemma Game 22:30:52
  4. Natalia Sedykh 23:47:31
  5. Anna Marie Watson 24:24:21
  6. Rachid El Morabity 16:04:08
  7. Mohamed El Morabity 16:37:30
  8. Merile Robert 17:07:55
  9. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 17:28:08
  10. Gediminas Grinius 17:58:58

Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 3

One could be forgiven in thinking that today, the two fastest runners in the 2018 Marathon des Sables, Rachid El Morabity and Natalia Sedykh had an easier day… They both won again, for Rachid that is two stage victories and for Natalia it is 3 out of 3. But the winning margin was just a handful of minutes for the duo. I think they are saving something for tomorrow’s long day of 86.2km.

Today’s stage by MDS standards was an epic one that combined a multitude of terrain. Soft sand, dunes, gorges, stoney climbs, exposed ridges, the technical climb and descent of Jebel El Oftal and then an easy and relatively flat fast run in to the finish.

Rachid and Natalia dictated the day but Mohamed El Morabity and Magdalena Boulet was never far behind. It was a controlled day. In the end, Rachid finished the 31.6km in 2:36:20. Mohamed followed just over 1-minute later in 2:37:32 and then ever present Abdelkader El Mouaziz was 3rd in 2:40:43. Peru’s Remigio Huaman had a good day today with 4th ahead of Aziz El Akad.

Despite the 1-hour time penalty, Russia’s Natalia Sedykh continues to push at the front. Today she finished 1st again just over 5-minutes ahead of Magdalena, 3:28:27 to 3:33:45. Magdalena leads the race overall but Natalia claws back the 1-hour time penalty little by little. I can’t help but think we may see an all out effort on the long day to bring things equal. It could be a risky strategy but what has Natalia to lose? Bouchra Eriksen once again was 3rd ahead of the UK’s Anna Marie Watson and Gemma Game who placed 4th and 5th respectively.

Despite some strong winds and sand storms in the night, day 3 of the MDS was calm with little wind, clear skies and relentless heat. It’s amazing to watch runners of all abilities fight their demons, particularly on the climb of the Jebel – it brings out some serious inner strength.

The key now is recovery. The long stage of the MDS is tomorrow and they have 35h to complete the 86.2km distance. Bodies and minds are now tired – everyone will need to dig deep!

  1. Natalia Sedykh 2:28:27
  2. Magdalena Boulet 3:33:45
  3. Bouchra Ericksen 3:39:13
  4. Anna Marie Watson 3:44:13
  5. Gemma Game 3:47:03

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 2:36:20
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 2:37:32
  3. Abdlekader El Mouaziz 2:40:43
  4. Remigio Huaman 2:41:11
  5. Aziz El Akad 2:48:10

 

Overall GC going into the long stage:

  1. Rachid El Morabity 7:52:03
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 8:03:38
  3. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 8:08:59

 

  1. Magdalena Boulet 10:21:42
  2. Bouchra Eriksen 10:42:26
  3. Gemma Game 11:01:52

*Natalia Sedykh 11:03:22

Full Results HERE

Marathon des Sables 2018 #MDS2018 – Stage 2

 

Today, the king and queen of the desert set out their stalls! For Rachid El Morabity, it was a day of showing the rest of the field a clean pair of heals as he slowly but surely pulled away from the field finally finishing almost 10-minutes ahead of his brother and day 1 champion, Mohamed.

For the ladies, 2016 champion Natalia Sedykh was no doubt frustrated and angry after winning stage 1 only to be penalised 1-hour for failing to have a whistle at a kit check post day-1. A penalty was applied and now Natalia must run and race hard each day to make up the time. Today, she gained over 8-minutes on the ladies overall leader, American, Magdalena Boulet.

Day 2 was a tough day for all with relentless soft-sand which made moving tiresome. Throw in a stony and steep climb up Jebel El Otfal and then the fast and sandy descent to the final CP, and it was only really the final 4km’s that was stony, flat and faster.

Day 1 had no drop outs but day 2 was taking it’s toll. Some runners were fighting demons to get to the line but there was some real grit and MDS spirit out there as participants dug in to achieve a lifetime goal.

At the front of the race Mohamed El Morabity trailed his brother to finish 2nd just 45-seconds ahead of Abdelkader El Mouaziz. Aziz Ell Akad finished 4th and Merile Robert 5th.

 The USA’s Magdalena Boulet once again placed 2nd on the stage and looks at home in the sand, Bouchra Eriksen was 3rd ahead of the UK’s Gemma Game and Anna Marie Watson in 5th.

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 3:04:01
  2. Mohamed El Morabity 3:14:36
  3. Abdelkader El Mouaziz 3:15:16
  4. Aziz El Akad 3:18:34
  5. Merile Robert 3:18:34

 

  1. Natali Sedykh 3:56:08
  2. Magdalena Boulet 4:04:48
  3. Bouchra Eriksen 4:16:08
  4. Gemma Game 4:19:48
  5. Anna Marie Watson 4:19:48

Tomorrow’s stage is 31.6km’s and starts at 0830 with a 10h 30m cut 0ff.

Full results HERE

 

Marathon des Sables 2018 Race Preview #MDS #MDS2018

It is here, the 33rd edition of the iconic Marathon des Sables – 250km, 6 stages over 7 days and over 1000 runners from over 50 countries battling the sand and the heat of the Sahara in a self-sufficient manner.

The MDS is the granddaddy of multi-day racing and with its long history it is still the race that all other multi-day races base themselves on. Patrick Bauer’s vision is as strong today as it was back in the 80’s.

Bauer is not just a race director, he is a passionate man who loves Morocco and the people. The MDS ‘is’ Bauer and without him it is like the band QUEEN touring without Freddie Mercury center stage.

The stats for the race are impressive. They always are.

In 2018, as per usual. The 40-49 age group is the most popular. Yes, it is the mid-life crisis group with 349 males and 72 females toeing the line. The 30-39 group is next with 225 males and 58 females. Surprisingly, the 50-59 group comes in 3rd with a split of 177 to 37 male and female respectively.

The youngest runner is 17yr old Moroccan Ali Zaghloul who will be supported along the route by his father, Mehdi. The youngest female is Sally Wellock from the UK aged 23yrs.

France takes top honors for the oldest male, Jean-Claude Raymond aged 80yrs will look to complete his 12th MDS and Philippa Lloyd from the UK is the oldest female aged 69yrs.

I have to say, I have a soft spot for my good friend Didier Benguigui, this will be his 14th MDS and he is blind. I have seen him over the years overcome great adversity to achieve his medal. He is a true inspiration, he will make you cry – a legend of the MDS!

For those who love stats, believe it or not, the 2018 MDS will be Christian Ginter’s 31st MDS – yes folks, 31st edition – incredible!

ELITE RUNNERS

Female:

Natalia Sedykh returns to the MDS after winning the race in 2016 with a blistering performance. For me, she is the head and shoulders favourite for the 2018 race. She is currently in excellent shape and at the end of 2017 she won the Oman Desert Marathon.

Andrea Huser is a UTWT specialist and one of the strongest runners in the world with a string of incredible performances, be that UTMB or Transgrancanaria. She hasn’t run in the desert before and multi-day racing is a fickle beast. I see her doing well but I don’t think she will have the pace of Natalia.

One lady who will have the pace to take on the Russian is Magdalena Boulet. Magda has won Western States and placed 5th at UTMB. However, like Andrea, she is a desert Virgin and that will be her achilles heel for victory.

Anna Marie Watson can run in the sand, she won Half MDS Fuerteventura and recently placed top-10 at UTMB. She is likely to be a real contender for the podium this year and has trained specifically for the challenge ahead.

Gemma Game was 4th at MDS in 2015 and would have been a likely challenger for Natalia but has decided to ease of the gas for the 2018 race and she plans to have as much fun as possible.

Jax Mariash is a multi-day specialist who will bring her Gobi, Atacama and Namibia experience to Morocco. The question will be, does she have the speed to match the experience?

Also keep an eye on Bouchra Eriksen, Amelia Griffith and Beth Kay.

Male:

Rachid El Morabity is the desert king and you’d be a fool to bet against him. He won Morocco and Peru in 2017 and knows the sand like the back of his hand. He is an amazing runner with a wealth of experience and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

Mohamed El Morabity is Rachid’s younger brother and if Rachid was not running, Mohamed would have the nod for victory. He was 2nd in 2017, and he also won the 100km Ultra Mirage in Tunisia.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz won the London Marathon in 1999 and 2001. He has a marathon PB of 2:06:43 – ouch! He is a MDS vet having placed 2nd twice and 7th.

Aziz El Akad is a consistent Moroccan who has finished in the top 5 at MDS on 7 occasions – that speaks volumes!

Gediminas Grinius was new to sand and multi-day at MDS Peru at the end of 2017. The race didn’t start well for him, but he eased into the race and finished strong. I am sure Peru was invaluable for him to fine tweak his prep for MDS Morocco. I expect to see his kit and food fine-tuned and it to be lighter. He is a formidable performer, strong as on ox and never gives in.

Alejandro Fraguela placed 3rd at Half MDS Fuerteventura and that will set him up well for a strong and consistent run in Morocco.

Arnaud Lejeune is maybe the great French hope. However, his lack of desert experience will be against him despite great results at UTMF and a top-10 at UTMB.

Vajin Armstrong from New Zealand is a strong runner and fierce competitor, he’s a sand/ Sahara virgin and has a huge learning curve ahead of him.

Majell Backausen from Australia is also a strong competitor and like Armstrong will have his first desert experience in Morocco.

*Remigio Huaman is on my start list but I am not sure if he will race? If he does, he is a podium and most definitely, top 5 contender.

THE 2018 RACE

Speculation is always rife about the route the race will take and certainly looks like from the very brief description below that the 2018 edition of the race will be similar to 2017. I therefore predict a finish in Merzouga dunes.

For perspective, the 250km distance can be covered at 3km ph with an approximate 83hrs finish time. By contrast, the fleet of foot can cover the distance at 14km ph with a finish time of 18hrs.

For the record, 2017 distances per stage were as follows:

  • Day 1 30.3km
  • Day 2 39km
  • Day 3 31.6km
  • Day 4/5 86.2km
  • Day 6 42.2km
  • Day 7 Charity stage

I think it’s fair to say that the 2018 edition will have similar distances and therefore the key days will be day 2 and of course the long day!

2018 ROUTE OVERVIEW

Stage 1 – The terrain will be flat with a great deal of sand, small dunes and a small climb to the finish.

Stage 2 – Is a longer stage, with a great deal of sand. It will include a climb through a gorge and then a steep descent.

Stage 3 – Starts with a climb followed by small climbs one of which is very steep with a technical passage. This stage includes the first ‘real’ dunes of the 33rd MDS.

Stage 4 – The dreaded long day! It’s going to be a tough day with a great deal of sand. It includes two passages through small gorges, a climb up a djebel, a rollercoaster through sand and a technical descent. It’s a day about managing oneself and saving something for the night.

Stage 5 – Is the classic marathon stage with dunes to kick off the day. It’s a day of no major difficulty and it includes sandy oued and small sparse dunes. However, be prepared for the long plateau towards the end.

Stage 6 – Obligatory charity stage and buses will wait for the finishers to return them to civilization.

KEY STATS

Needless to say, key elements of the MDS are the distance, heat, sand and self-sufficiency. The combination of all these elements makes the race a tough one! For safety, each runner is tracked and monitored with a SPOT tracker.

Each runner must carry all the food they require for the journey and the race specifies a minimum per day. This must be adhered to; however, a runner can carry as much food as they like. The downside is the weight. Therefore, the race is all about balancing calories to weight.

The runner must also carry a sleeping bag, sleeping mat (if they wish), any luxuries and they must decide if they carry a change of clothes – many don’t!

Mandatory kit is specified by the MDS organization and this must be carried. It includes:

  • SPOT tracker
  • Knife
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Lighter
  • Venom pump
  • Antiseptic
  • Sleeping bag
  • Survival blanket
  • Mirror
  • Salt tablets
  • Light sticks
  • Headlamp

In addition to the above, other items are specified and failure to carry them will incur a time penalty.

The only items provided by the race for each runner is water (rationed) and a bivouac (tent) that holds 8 people.

SCHEDULE REMINDER

April 6 – arrive Morocco

April 7 – Inspection day

April 8 – race start, stage 1

April 9 – stage 2

April 10 – stage 3

April 11 & 12 – stage 4

April 13 – stage 5

April 14 – charity stage

April 15 – free day

April 16 – journey home

FOLLOW

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Talk Ultra Podcast HERE

 

Episode 144 – Darcy Piceu and Anna-Marie Watson

Episode 144 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Darcy Piceu after her incredible FKT on the John Muir Trail. We also speak with Anna-Marie Watson who this year placed 7th at UTMB and just recently won the first edition of the Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura. Speedgoat is back co-hosting!
*****
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We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
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*****
00:10:24 NEWS
Bear 100
Jeff Browning does it again winning another 100 – very soon after UTMB too. Lars Kjerengtroen 2nd and Timmy Olson 3rd – 18:28, 19:28 and 19:36 respectively.
Hannah Green beat Amie Blackham and Kelsey Bingham – 24:22, 25:50 and 25:54 respectively.
*****
Spartathlon
The legendary 153 mile race was won by Aleksandr Sorokin in 22:04. He set a relentless pace from the off and his time ranks as one of the all time best, of course, Yiannis Kouros holds the fastest times. Radek Brunner was 2nd and Nikolaos Sideridis 3rd, 22:49 and 22:58.
Patrycja Berenzowska won the ladies’ race in 24:47 setting a new CR! Zsuzanna Maraz and Aleksandra Niwinska was 2nd/ 3rd in 25:43 and 26:28.
*****
Ultra Gobi 
The UK’s Dan Lawson blew the race and CR apart with 2 days and 22 hours for 248 miles. Incredible. Dan has also placed 2nd at Spartathlon.
*****
Kilimanjaro FKT
Fernanda Maciel set a new FKT 0f 7:08 for Africa’s highest peak climbing 5895m. Her round trip time was 10:06. Previous best by Anne-Marie Flammersfield was 8:32 and 12:58. Kilian Jornet did hold this record for the outright fastest time but this was bettered by Karl Egloff setting 4:56 and 6:42 for the round trip.
*****
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim FKT
FKT’s are just getting more popular… now Tim Freriks who won Transvulcania earlier this year has set a new bar of 2:39:38 beating Jim Walmsley’s time (Jim helped Tim for this FKT and are friends) – Walmsley still holds the R2R2R record.
*****
John Muir Trail FKT
Hardrock 100 specialist Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) covered the 223 miles in California to set a new FKT of 3-days, 8-hours beating the previous CR by 12-hours. Notably this was very close the the men’s record and later this year Francois D’Haene will attempt this FKT.
*****
00:31:09 Interview with DARCY PICEU
*****
Ultra Pirineu
Pablo Villa and Maite Maiora produced solid performances at this classic race amongst world class fields. Full results HERE. In the marathon race, Kilian Jornet obliterated the old CR in a super close race and Ruth Croft won for the ladies.
****
Half MDS Fuerteventura
MDS have spread their wings and introduced a new 120km, half-distance event on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. It was won by Peru’s Remigio Huaman and the UK’s Anna-Marie Watson. Full report, results and story HERE.
****
01:35:24 Interview with ANNA-MARIE WATSON
*****
UP & COMING RACES

Andorra

Els 2900 Alpine Run | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Argentina

La Pachamama 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 53 km | 53 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 73 km | 73 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Australia

New South Wales

Hume & Hovell 100 | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Hume & Hovell 50 | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Washpool/Gibraltar World Heritage Trails 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Victoria

Great Ocean Walk 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Bahamas

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Canada

Nova Scotia

Valley Harvest Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Quebec

Bromont Ultra 160 km | 160 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 80 km | 80 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Finland

Eastern Finland

Vaarojen Ultramaraton | 86 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail noir 58 km | 58 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Aude

Grand Raid des Cathares | 177 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Raid des Bogomiles | 101 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Endurance Trail | 100 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Essonne

Trail du Viaduc des Fauvettes 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Haute-Corse

A Paolina | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Haute-Saône

52 km | 52 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Ille-et-Vilaine

51 km | 51 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Orne

85 km | 85 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Pas-de-Calais

58 km | 58 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Orientales

100 Miles Sud de France | 100 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Grande Traversée Mer Montagne | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Rhône

55 km | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Somme

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relais | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tarn-et-Garonne

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

Germany

Bavaria

Herbstlauf Schloss Thurn Hobbylauf | 87 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Prohiker – Round-trip Course | 156 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

India

Karnataka

110 km | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

National Capital Territory of Delhi

Bhatti Lakes 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 220 km | 220 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Indonesia

MesaStila 4 Peaks | 65 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
MesaStila 5 Peaks | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 66 km | 66 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

69 km | 69 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Piedmont

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
82 km | 82 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Morenic Trail | 109 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kenya

Kenya Wildlife 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Korea

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Morocco

The Saharan Challenge | 52 kilometers | October 12, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

Herfst Ultraloop Berg en Dal | 60 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

New Zealand

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relay | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
74 km | 74 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Portugal

180 km | 180 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Azores Triangle Adventure | 103 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Réccua Douro Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Le Grand Raid | 167 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Trail de Bourbon | 111 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Slovakia

105 km | 105 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Spain

Aragon

Long Trail Guara Somontano | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Guara Somontano | 102 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Castile and León

The Way of Legends | 254 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

Ultra Trail Del Rincon 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Del Rincon 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website

Sweden

Sörmland Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Valais

Les Défis du Jubilé – 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 68 km | 68 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 71 km | 71 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tunisia

Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Atlantic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Lakes in a Day | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Essex

75 Mile | 75 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

“Round Ripon” Ultra Studley Roger | 35 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Rotherham

Shropshire

The Longmynd Hike | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Wales

Gower Ultra 50 | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

Canyon De Chelly Ultra | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Cave Creek Thriller 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Flagstaff Sky Race 55K | 55 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Arkansas

Arkansas Traveller 100 | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

California

50K Ultra Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Coyote Ridge 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
Cuyamaca 100K Endurance Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Euchre Bar Massacre 50 M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Midnight Express Ultra 72 | 72 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Skyline to the Sea 50km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Super Tahoe Triple Marathon | 124 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Tahoe Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Tahoe Trifecta | 39 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Triple Marathon | 78 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 Miler | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Georgia

Relay | 60 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Illinois

100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Des Plaines River Tail 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Kansas

Lake Perry Rocks! 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kentucky

100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Maine

The Pounder | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
The Punisher | 50 miles | October 15, 2017 | website

Michigan

Montana

Le Grizz Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

New Jersey

New York

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100K Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50k | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Oregon

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50+K | 54 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 100 Miles | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Quad State Quad Buster | 46 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

South Carolina

50K Relay | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Carolinas-SC, Presented by Salomon | 120 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Texas

50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Utah

Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
GrindStone 100 | 101 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Washington

Baker Lake 50k | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Defiance 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ft. Steilacoom 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

West Virginia

West Virginia Trilogy – Day One 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website
West Virginia Trilogy – Day Two 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

50 Miler | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Glacial 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Glacial 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | October 08, 2017 | website
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Half Marathon Des Sables Fuerteventura 2017 Summary

The inaugural Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura has just taken place!

Unlike the legendary bigger brother, the race, as the name suggests, is half the distance of the Moroccan counterpart and as such provides a great opportunity for novices to test themselves over multiple days or, it allows experienced runners to race faster and harder.

300 runners toed the line of the first edition, the only thing known before the start of the race that they would need to cover 120km’s over 3-days. Like the bigger brother, the race route was kept secret till just before the race and of course, runners are required to be self-sufficient – only bivouac and water is provided.

A 7km walk to bivouac 1 followed kit-check thus allowing a phase of ‘adaptation’ before the racing kicked-in. It was an opportunity to check apparel, shoes, gaiters and make sure the pack was sitting and fitting well to the body. Of course, all this should have been dialed in before the race!

A few hundred meters from the ocean, bivouac 1 was an oasis of calm. A final full meal, a night under the stars and the arrival of dawn would see the start of stage 1.

Stage 1 25.5km starting at Playa Las Coloradas and finishing at La Pared Isthmus.

It was a hot day, a really hot day of stifling and oppressive sun.

Deep blue ocean, orange rocks and cliffs were contrasted by black volcanic slopes – a trademark of the Canary Islands – as the runners ran the opening miles to Cp1. As one would expect, a long sandy beach followed leading to a technical path and dune decent to Cp2. The final 3 miles were classic Fuerteventura terrain; sand, stony plateaus and dunes to the bivouac.

Local runner, Yeray Duran was no doubt a pre-race favourite and he didn’t disappoint on day 1 running with Alejandro Fraguela Breijo. The duo pushed hard from the off but Peru’s Remigio Huaman, who completed the Moroccan race earlier in the year, kept an ever-watchful eye. Duran suffered in the heat placing 3rd and Fraguela Breijo took victory almost 5 minutes clear of the Peruvian. Timings were 2:23, 2:28:09 and 2:30:46 respectively.

“Tomorrow is the long stage,” said Huaman post-race. “I need to keep in contention from the start, watch my food, watch my liquid. I like to run easier early and then speed up!”

For the ladies, the UK’s Anna-Marie Watson who just week’s earlier placed top-10 at the UTMB had a great first day. She clinched a solid victory of almost 20 minutes ahead of Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo. Kristina Schou from Denmark was 3rd, their times 3:04:03, 3:23:46 and 3:31:51.

Watson post-race discussed how the first ascent was tough and how the temperatures were high. This is coming from a lady who has placed 2rd overall at the Marathon des Sables Morocco in 2015.

“The sand dune before Cp2 was dreadful,” Watson continued. “I had to compose myself and push on. Tomorrow is the long day and that is my preference so I will rest, recover, eat and prepare.”

Stage 2 66.5km starting Aguas Verdes and finishing at La Pared Isthmus.

A straight north-south stage of oueds, dirt roads, single-track, dunes and ridges was made unbearable by oppressive heat but the stunning ocean provided company and contrast to the glow of orange. After Cp3, the race crossed the pretty village of Pajara and as the day unfolded volcanoes and the ocean would provide relaxing views to a challenging day. Due to a rock slide, the final miles of the route changed thus saving the runners a little over 3km.

As promised, Remigio Huaman used his ultra-running skills and desert running skills honed in Morocco earlier in the year to stamp his mark on the men’s race. He followed his strategy with a steady start but he upped the pace as early as 8km in the 66.5km stage leaving Hernandez Curbelo and Fraguela Breijo struggling. At Cp2 the gap was 8 minutes and at Cp3 it was 13 minutes. As the finish line came, the gap had opened to 30 minutes – an unbeatable lead going into the final day. Hernandez Curbelo improved his strategy and placed 2nd and Fraguela Breijo placed 3rd. For Duran, it was a bad day and he slipped in the day’s ranking to 5th and out of the top 3 after a time penalty for taking an IV drip due to dehydration.

For the ladies’ it came as no surprise that Anna-Marie Watson used her long-distance skills to school the opposition. With each mile, she pulled away and finally finished with a 14-minute lead over Kristina Shou. Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo placed 3rd.

“I had no strategy but to run on feel and listen to my body,” Watson said. “I ran my race not worrying about the competition. It was a great stage, I loved the cliffs underneath the camp and the sun set was incredible.”

Ranking

  1. Remigio Huaman overall 9:03:08
  2. Jonathan Hernandez overall 9:59:59
  3. Fraguela Breijo 10:18:30 
  1. Anna-Marie Watson overall 11:32:22
  2. Kristina Shou overall 12:14:13
  3. Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo overall 12:38:22

 

Stage 3 21.1km starting Tuineje and concluding at Las Playitas

At 10am start at the heart of the island unleashed the runners into the heat of the day and a maximum time of 6 hours to complete the stage. Solidified lava was the terrain of the opening miles followed by dirt roads and the village of Gran Tarajal. Mountains followed with some great climbing and descending before single-track brought the runners home.

Three days, three days racing… There was no easing back or victory lap for the final stage, Remigio Huaman pushed from the front and not only consolidated his lead but extended it averaging over 13.15km per hour for the stage.

“For me, the Half MDS is relatively easy as I am fortunate that I can run quickly,” said Huaman. “I am able to get the stages over, even the long one, quickly. I can eat, rest and recover. However, many of the other runners spend so much time on their feet, they walk long distances, suffer from the heat and suffer from hunger, they are the heroes as are all the staff!”

Duran kept the home crowd happy with 2nd place on the stage and Juan Jose Rodrigues Garcia placed 3rd on the stage ahead of 2nd overall, Jonathan Hernandez Curbelo, the times 1:35:49 for Huaman, 1:39 for Duran and 1:40:30 for Rodriguez Garcia.

Anna-Marie Watson eased off the gas for the last day knowing that victory was secure. This opened a doorway for the Spanish runner Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo to seize an emotional final stage victory in 2:14:03. Watson finished in 2:19:04 and 2nd placed lady overall, Kristina Shou confirmed her consistency with 3rd in 2:20:52.

“My dream started many years ago, 17 actually when I heard of the MDS,” said Watson post-race. “In 2015, I placed 2nd at MDS and in just a few shorts years things have progressed, what a dream!”

As with all multi-day races, the journey of the front-runners is only a very small story of the race. The true race happens behind. Runners fight fatigue, heat, exhaustion and demons just to finish. France’s Mathilde Male sums it up well:

“I am happy the race is over, but I am sad it is coming to an end… My best memory will definitely be the arrival of the long-stage, at around 1am. Staff were cheering and I was with my race partner Christelle, it was magic.”

OVERALL TIMES

  1. Remigio Huaman 10:38:57
  2. Jonathan Hernandez Curbelo 11:41:37
  3. Alejandro Fraguela Breijo 12:05:42

 

  1. Anna-Marie Watson 13:51:26
  2. Kristina Shou 14:35:05
  3. Yolanda Fernandez Del Campo 14:52:25

 

Full results HERE

 

Images ©Cimbaly/ Valentin Campagnie / Marta Bacardit

Seminal UTMB 2017 – The Ladies Race

Nuri Picas running to the podium in Tromso earlier I’m 2017

The 2017 UTMB was billed as the ‘best ever’ and as the weather finally improves in and around Chamonix, life returns to normal for everyone and we all have an opportunity to step back and look how important this years race actually was.

I think it may well be a seminal edition and for many reasons.

I wrote about the men HERE.

The ladies race turned out to be far more unpredictable than the men’s with many of the pre-race favourites either having bad days and going slower than expected or dropping through illness or injury. This opened the doorway for an interesting top-10 and several unexpected names.

The TOP 10 Ladies

NO1

Nuria Picas 25:46:43 – Came into the race not a dark horse but with a question mark. Nobody doubted the ability of this lady, she has proven time and time again that she is a dominant force in mountain running over any distance. She dominated the UTWT rankings and has placed 2nd twice at UTMB. However, in the latter part of 2015 and pretty much throughout 2016 she was missing from racing. It appeared to me that a really tough calendar and race dominance had taken its toll. 2017 has been quiet and just recently I watched her race in Tromso at the Tromso SkyRace and she placed on the podium. It still left me with a question mark though on UTMB – would she have the endurance for 25-hours of running?Nuria set the pace in the ladies race and produced a dominant performance. She built a huge gap during the night and day and it was only in the latter 20% that the race took its toll forcing her to slow. The margin she had built up so important! At the end, this margin was reduced to less than 5-minutes! Nuria is back and like many long-term fans of the sport, Nuria’s victory is a welcome one. A seminal moment.

NO2

Andrea Huser 25:49:18 – Andrea races and races. She has a physical and mental strength un-matched. A race can start badly but she has the tenacity to push on and this year’s UTMB is no different. She started down the ranking, pushed on and with over half of the race covered took control and moved to 3rd and then second. She hunted Nuria Picas down as she slowed, almost a re-run of 2016 when she hunted Caroline Chaverot down. For two years running, 2nd at UTMB.

NO3

Christelle Bard 26:39:03 – Signifies the excitement and unpredictable nature of 100-miles. Although she has had success at CCC and TDS in past year’s, Bard was not really on my radar for a top-10. My fault, I should have done more research. Experience counts though and a steady start paid dividends as she slowly but surely moved through the field. In the final 80km’s or so she moved through the field from 10th to an eventual podium slot. A seminal year for this lady!

NO4

Kaori Niwa 27:31:39 – Was not a surprise after placing 8th last-year. The 100-mile distance is all about consistency and perseverance and this is how this lady excelled. As the distance and weather conditions took its toll, Niwa pushed on and reaped the rewards. A seminal year for this lady!

NO5

Kellie Emmerson 28:13:06 – Australian Emmerson was a surprise top-10 who I think (?) was running her first 100. She is proficient over the 100km distance and maybe the most significant indicator coming into the 2017 UTMB was her 4th at Tarawera earlier this year. Her race was well executed with patience and consistency and her 100km pace kicked in the latter stages to go past St Laurent.

NO6

Alissa St Laurent 28:13:43 – Had a tough race but persevered to finally have a strong and consistent race to place 6th. She certainly slowed as the race progressed and I am sure she will be frustrated with losing that 5th place in the closing stages.

NO7

Anna-Marie Watson 28:37:16 – What a breakthrough performance for Anne-Marie, last year we had Jasmin Paris from the UK in the top-10 and this year I was expecting Beth Pascall to step up to the mark but this was all surpassed by Watson. Her progress through the sport has been quite the surprise, go back to 2008 and she placed 124th lady at CCC – cut to the 2017 UTMB and she was 7th. Wow! That is some progress and the indicators are there, from 2015 she has a string of victories and top ranked places, 2nd at the 2015 MDS, 1st Cotswold Way Challenge, 1st at Cappadocia Ultra and most recently 1st at Gran Trail Courmayeur – a seminal performance.

NO8

Amy Sproston 28:44:08 – Has a running history the length of my arm and a string of notable runs, highlights coming over many varying distances. She has been top-10 at UTMB before – 8th in 2012. Notably she has also had great results at Western States, 2nd in 2016. So, matching her 2012 position is no surprise, it looks like she paced herself well with a slow first half and then making up ground in the second half. Notably, the USA’s top female finisher!

NO9

Mariya Nikolova 29:04:16 – This Bulgarian lady was 16th at UTMB in 2015 in almost 33-hours. 2017 is breakthrough year for her and her time of 29 hours a significant improvement even when one considers the shorter course.

NO10 

Robyn Bruins 29:41:11 – So, the Australian ladies have a seminal year, just like the USA men. Bruin placed 10th and in doing so arguably has one of the best results of her career. She is known in the Southern Hemisphere, but in Europe, no, she is a newbie. This result will no doubt kickstart a renaissance not only in her own running but the running of Emmerson who placed 5th.

NOTABLES:

Pre-race favourite and I think many pundits odds-on for victory, Caroline Chaverot, had a tough race and dropped at midway. Chaverot, like Picas in her hey-day has been unstoppable with many races and a recent victory at Hardrock 100 may well have just taken its toll. It could be a seminal UTMB for this French lady as she decides her plans and calendar moving forward.

As often happens, many of the pre-race favourites had a tough night, day and night at the 2017 UTMB.

Magdalena Boulet, 5th last year had a bad day, Juliette Blanchett 4th last-year dropped early, long distance specialist Emelie Lecomte dropped at Courmayer, Fernanda Maciel withdrew with eye problems from the wind, snow and rain and Stephanie Violett (formerly Howe) battled on for a finish but was not in the top-10 as I and many others expected.

So, a seminal year without doubt.