Episode 128 of Talk Ultra is here and what a show… we speak in-depth with the incredible Michael Wardian after his record breaking World Marathon Challenge. We speak to star in the making, Hayden Hawks and Niandi Carmont brings us her first female ‘one-to-one’ interviews with Pushpa Chandra. We have the news, chat, gossip and of course Speedgoat co-hosts.
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Many thanks to our January Patrons
Rene Hess, Daniel Weston, Dan Masters, Kerstin Palmer, Sarah Cameron, Neil Catley, Sam Wilkes, Melissa Bodeau, Lindsay Hamoudi, Aaron Aaker, Simon Darmody, Philippe Lascar, Rohan Aurora, Mathew Melksham, Brian Wolfkamp, Thomas Mueller, Mark Moromisato, Jamie Oliver, Rand Haley, Ron van Liempd, Mike Hewison, Steve Milne and Rupert Hitzenberger.
It was our 2017 Lanzarote Training camp and I have to say what a huge success it was. We had 40-clients who came from as far afield as Canada to take part in our 7-days of fun. It really was special and so great to get so much awesome feedback. I will post a link to images and audio feedback in our show notes.
We had some inspiring people attend and in future shows we will have audio following some of the incredible stories. To kick it off and following on from my discussion with Niandi in our last show. Niandi brings you the very first of female ‘one-to-one’ interviews with Pushpa Chandra.
00:27:30 INTERVIEW with Pushpa Chandra
World Marathon Challenge
Well, the big news is Mike Wardian ran 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. Wow. He ran 2:54 in Antarctica, 2:45 in South America, 2:42 in North America, 2:37 in Europe, 2:45 in Africa, 2:49 in Asia, and 2:45 in Australia. In the process he set a new world record average time of 2:45.
01:22:54 INTERVIEW with Michael Wardian
Women’s winner, Chile’s Silvana Camelio ran 4:14 in Antarctica, 3:45 in South America, 3:58 in North America, 4:08 in Europe, 4:10 in Africa, 4:34 in Asia), and 4:37 in Australia. The last result almost gave away her overall victory but she held on by just 6-minutes That 4:37 in Australia left her just six minutes ahead of China’s Guoping Xie.
Carol Morgan blasted around the tough course in 109-hours 54-minutes – unbelievably, 43-hours quicker than the previous ladies best.
In the men’s race it looked to be a battle between two previous winners, Pavel Paloncy and Eugeni Rosello Sole but Tom Hollins came from behind and clinched victory in 99-hours 25-minutes. Tom won the 2016 edition of The Challenger, the Spines ‘fun run’ race! We hope to have an interview with Tom in the next show.
The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica has a super stacked field with Chema Martinez, Tom Owens, Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb and so many more in the men’s race.
For the ladies we have to previous champions, Veronica Bravo and Ester Alves heading up strong competition from Elisabet Barnes and Anna Cometi.
In the US it’s the Sean O’Brien 100k.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
This week I will be in Amsterdam on Feb 3rd, 4th and 5th for a Trails in Motion event and Running Beyond book signing with Mud Sweat and Trails
We are going to have Running Beyond Event which will take place 3, 4 and 5th March in London, plans are progressing for that… watch this space.
I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo
Hong Kong, it’s a place I have wanted to visit for sometime! The noise, the bustle of life, it has an energy that is far removed from many places that I visit. Nepal I suppose in some ways come close but only on a noise level, here everyone has the latest phone, computer, camera and so on
It’s a long way from the UK or anywhere in Europe. A short 1 –hour flight to Amsterdam, a couple of hours’ stopover and then a 10.5-hour flight through the night and of course 7-hours time difference. You arrive mid morning but you feel like you be wrapped up in bed.
Once you leave the air conditioned confines of the airport or train station, the heat hits you. It’s like someone just turned a hair dryer on and the humidity? It’s uncomfortably high.
Most normal people would get a couple of hours sleep. A little RnR maybe? No, not us. The Salomon team were on my flight; Greg Vollet (team manager), Remi Bonnet, Laura Orgue, Martina Valmassoi and Yngvild Kaspersen. It’s a multi-national bunch with France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Norway represented.
Active people don’t like being compressed in a cylindrical tube for any length of time, especially 10.5-hours. So it was a quick turnaround at the hotel, check-in, drop luggage in room, shower and go for lunch before heading out on the Lantau 2 Peaks course. Lunch was an interesting navigation of what felt like a lucky dip. We ticked boxes on a menu card and hoped for the best. Some of our choices were excellent, some average and the less we discuss the pork balls, the better!
Lantau 2 Peaks by Action Asia Events after all is why we are all here. Lantau is the 4th race in the 2015 Skyrunner® World Series for the SKY distance and the top male and female honours are all to play for.
Our early arrival in HK affords an opportunity to check out the 2nd section of the course, from Cp1 to the finish; it is one we seize. I get to look at some possible photo spots and loosen off from the travel, the Salomon team get a 13-14k mountain run in.
Running is easy! Navigating our way across Hong Kong via 2 trains, no ‘blue’ taxi’s meant that a bus was the only option. As it turned out it was a great adventure.
So here we are.
We have consumed food, used public transport, christened the trails and as darkness falls the place is coming to life in a glow of neon lights and sounds.
UTMF will be a VERY different race this year. First and foremost, the race date has moved from early in the year to late in the year; this is significant! Another important factor is the course. For 2015 (the 10th edition) the race will be run counter-clockwise and as such all the climbing and difficulty will come in the early stages and therefore leave the more runnable sections for later in the race; again significant!
With around 8500m of climbing and a distance over 100-miles (105) this race is a real challenge.
However, for me this years UTMF may very well be all about the UTMB.
Yes, UTMB was only 4-weeks ago and we all know the devastation that took place in and around Chamonix. It was carnage!
Much has been discussed about the DNF’s and failures at UTMB and unfortunately I think it’s a sign of the times. The racing calendar is full and race series like the UTWT encourage runners to race regularly 100km+ and 100-miles often; is too much? Francois D’Haene and Nuria Picas dominated the calendar in 2014 and where have they been in 2015?
Just look at the start list here at UTMF. Many of the key players are runners who had tough, below par or DNF’s at UTMB.
Fernanda Maciel dropped with 2/3rds of the race done with severe foot pain.
Amy Sproston dnf
Gediminas Grinius dropped with over 90-miles completed.
Sondre Amdahl dropped with just over a marathon covered.
Jeff Browning dropped with a twisted ankle.
Of course, this is not all the favourites at UTMF but a pattern may be forming? All of the above have raced at one or more of the following: Lavaredo, HK100, Transgrancanaria, Western States, UTMB and now they line up at UTMF and I wonder how many post UTMF will travel to Reunion Island to take on the Diagonal des Fous (Raid de la Reunion). For many of the runners that will be 3 big 100-milers or a combination of 100-miles and 100km+ in relatively quick succession. The body may take it in 1-year but can it take year-after-year?
I merely raise the question?
So who is going to win?
THAT is a million-dollar question. Keeping in mind what I have said above, we can still expect Grinius, Amdahl and Browning to figure at the front of the race providing they have no issues. Sondre Amdahl(interview on Talk Ultra) should be the freshest of the 3 as he dropped early at UTMB and therefore it was probably just like a typical training run for him. However, what caused the ‘failure’ of his hamstring at a race that he obviously prepared meticulously for?
Jeff Browning (interview on Talk Ultra) loves the long and hard races. He dropped at UTMB but I am pretty sure he will be recovered here. He lacks some of the speed of the competition so although I think he will be in or around the top 5-10 I don’t think the podium could be his.
Gediminas Grinius (interview on Talk Ultra) has continually impressed. He loves the long hard races and he closes like a demon. I do worry that he is just tired though? I may be wrong. He has the race and skill set for UTMF, pretty sure he would have prepared the course the other way around but Transgrancanaria finishes with a very runnable last 20km and look what he did there!
Okay, so that is the UTMB contingent done and dusted and arguably I am now talking about who may win the race?
Gary Robbins has had a steady year with a great FKT (interview on Talk Ultra) and becoming a new Dad just a few weeks ago. He just missed the podium in 2013 and I think a podium slot may well be his this year.
Brendan Davies is a runner who I should add to the exhausted list above! He just ran the Worlds 100k and this year he did TNF100, Western States and Transgrancanaria where he had a really tough day out. He has potential to be on the podium BUT….
That leaves Didrik Hermansen for the top slot and if all things go well I think he can do it. He has the running legs for the latter half of the race and as he showed at Transgrancanaria and more importantly Lavaredo (where he won) he knows how to get the job done!
As one would expect the start list is extensive at UTMF and I have picked out some key names. For sure I will have missed some other key players, in particular the local talent who I am less familiar with.
Anyone we should look out for who can take a podium place?
Uxue Fraile made the podium at UTMB and considering my thoughts at the beginning of this article, can she be recovered? Actually, I think yes? I saw Uxue at the weekend spectating at Ultra Pirineu and she looked fresh, enthusiastic and excited for the race ahead. Her talent lies in the waiting game and more often than not she picks up the pieces as others fall by the wayside. I think we will see a similar strategy here at UTMF. Don’t be surprised with a podium place!
Fernanda Maciel was also spectating in Catalonia at the weekend! Her UTMB experience was far more dramatic and maybe traumatic that Uxue’s. Without a doubt, Fernanda has the race for UTMF as she proved last year with 2nd. Can she put the record straight so soon after UTMB?
Amy Sproston dropped at UTMB with approx. 100km in her legs. She can recover from that I think. Significantly (like Gary Robbins) she is a HURT 100 winner and that will be useful here at UTMF. It’s going to be a long day out!
Victory may well come from Aliza Lapierre. Her 8th at Transgrancanaria was off the lead ladies pace but significantly she placed 4th at Western States and has raced little since. At this point in the year with a whole bunch of tired legs around her, Aliza may well be the best option to fade the least.
Dong Li placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria with a breakthrough performance, she was 2nd at HK100 and won TNF 100. Add to that a 4th place at Mont-Blanc 80km and like Aliza she may well have fresh legs for the UTMF. She is going to need them though… as far as I know, this is the first time she will race 100-miles. This is a tough debut for the distance!
Shona Stephenson has raced well here in the past and with fresh legs she may well be a contender for the podium if not for the win if everything goes well.
Nora Senn may well turn a few heads and then like the men’s race a whole wealth of local talent will infiltrate the top 10.
As one season comes to an end the planning of a new season starts and today we are pleased to announce the calendar for the Skyrunner® World Series and Continental Championships 2015.
In less than three years, Skyrunning has grown to a new level and today, the announcement of the 2015 calendar signifies a significant expansion of the sport and it truly becomes a world series with the addition of the Continental Championships.
It is a very exciting time and in conjunction with the growth of the National Series, it has never been a better time to be a Skyrunner…
Lauri van Houten, executive director for the ISF today provided the details of the new series and lists the full calendar for 2015.
The big news for 2015 is that the Series goes global – more races, more places and, now, the chance to count an extra race in the ranking. The successful 5 SKY/5 ULTRA/ 5 VK formula stays where three results out of five are scored, but now you can choose a fourth race from the Continental Championships of your choice.
Twenty-seven races in nine countries stretch across five continents. Africa, Australia and China make their first appearance together with the rugged mountains north of the Arctic Circle in Norway.
New Skyrunner® National Series will be announced throughout the year, so skyrunning closer to home becomes a tangible reality in: Africa, North & South America, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Oceania, Poland, Portugal, Russia and Spain.
Benefits in the Series and Championships include 1,700 race slots, 450 free entries, 250 accommodation and 80 travel slots. The Series final $ 25,000 is redistributed and additional prizes – not just for the winners – are on the way.
We are proud to reconfirm and thank our our partners Salomon, Active Patch 4U, Compressport, Scott Sports, inov-8, Arc’teryx and La Sportiva for their support and look forward to announcing new ones for 2015.
2015 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES & CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
IMPORTANT please note re scoring:
Points will be available in 3 Skyrunner® World Series races + 1Continental Championship race for each discipline.
2015 SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES
July 19 – Dolomites SkyRace® – 22 km, Canazei – Italy
August 22 – Matterhorn Ultraks 46K – Zermatt – Switzerland
September 5 – The Rut 25K – Montana – USA
October 4 – Suunto Lantau 2 Peaks – 21 km, Hong Kong – China
October 18 – Skyrunning Extreme – 23 km, Limone Sul Garda – Italy
May 9 – Transvulcania Ultramarathon – 75 km, La Palma – Spain
June 27 – Mont Blanc 80K – Chamonix – France
August 2 – Tromsø SkyRace® – 45 km, Tromso – Norway
September 6 – The Rut 50K – Montana – USA
September 19 – Ultra Pirineu – 103 km, Bagà – Spain
July 10 – Kilomètre Vertical Face De Bellevarde, Val D’Isère – France
July 17 – Dolomites Vertical Kilometer®, Canazei – Italy
August 1 – Tromsø Vertical Kilometer®, Tromso – Norway
September 4 – Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer®, Montana – USA
October 16 – Vertical Kilometer® Crèste de la Mugheira, Limone Sul Garda – Italy
May 17 – SKY Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri – 42 km, Zegama – Spain
July 12 – ULTRA Ice-Trail Tarentaise – 65 km, Val d’Isère – France
June 26 – VERTICAL KM Vertical, Chamonix – France
July 18 – SKY Ti DoDo Trail – 25 km, Black River Gorges – Mauritius
July 18 – ULTRA Xtreme DoDo Trail – 50 km, Le Morne – Mauritius
February 7 – SKY Sai Kung – 26 km- Hong Kong – China
February 7 – ULTRA Sai Kung – 50 km, Hong Kong – China
July 19 – ULTRA Power of Four Trail – 50 km, Aspen – Colorado
October 3 – SKY Flagstaff SkyRace® – 39 km, Flagstaff – Arizona
October 4 – VERTICAL Flagstaff Vertical Kilometer®, Flagstaff – Arizona
11 April – ULTRA Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon®– 75 km – Australia
12 April – SKY Buffalo Stampede SkyMarathon® – 41 km – Australia
SKYRUNNER® WORLD SERIES PRIZES
US $25,000 will be awarded to each Series M/F champion.
Brit, Stuart Air (Scott Running) heads to Hong Kong this weekend to participate in the MSIG Sai Kung 50. Stuart had an incredible 2013, new to Skyrunning, he performed exceptionally well at the very tough Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims with a 13th place. Stuart then followed this up with a top placing at Ice Trail Tarentaise against world class competition.
Not content with two tough races, Stuart placed himself on the start line of Tor des Geants. Placing well overall, Stuart set a fastest time for any Brit at the event.
Stuart’s participation at MSIG Sai Kung 50 starts 2014 on the right foot, arguably, Stuart has an incredible year ahead. Hardrock 100 awaits… yes, Stuart was extremely fortunate to be drawn out of the hat and will now line up against one of the most competitive fields ever assembled at the race.
Stuart very much considers himself an Alpinist; embracing the opportunity to go to the mountains, fast and light, Stuart loves vertical and technical terrain.
Coming from a relatively mild but wet UK winter, Stuart feels prepared for the challenge ahead, ‘Training has gone well in the Lake District and Wales’ Stuart said in an interview by Michael Maddess, ‘I have clocked up 60-70 miles and 4000m of vertical per week. The weather has been a challenge, but strong winds, rain and snow all help with the training.’
Asia’s answer to the TNFUTMB is the UTMF 100, a mountain 100 miler that circumnavigates the ancient volcano of the title name. It has over 9000 metres of elevation gain so it is not for the feint hearted.
The ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI is an unparalleled event that challenges the human spirit through the outdoor sport of trail running. By connecting mountain trails, local footpaths and forest roads around the foothills of Mt. Fuji, this 161km course allows participants to enjoy majestic 360 degree views of Mt. Fuji while experiencing the stunning natural beauty and culture of this region.
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki has been instrumental in this race and after his experiences at the TNFUTMB, he was sure that Mt Fuji was the only place in Asia possible to offer a race on a par with the iconic 100 miler that has its home in Chamonix. In actual fact, TNFUTMB race director, Michel Poletti is toeing the line at UTMF just two weeks after finishing the 28th edition of the Marathon des Sables.
The 2012 and inaugural edition of the UTMF had initially had an incredible start list that had included Scott Jurek, Mike Wolfe, Sebastien Chaigneau and Tracy Garneau. However, all mentioned did not turn up and race. This opened up the race and Salomon athlete, Julien Chorier topped the podium in a time of 18:53:12. Running his first 100 miler, Arc’teryx athlete, Adam Campbell placed 2nd (listen to Adam on the latest Talk Ultra episode HERE) and Kenichi Yamamoto placed third.
The 2012 ladies race was dominated by Salomon athlete Nerea Martinez Urruzola in 24:05:04 with Hiroko Suzuki second almost three hours later and Nora Senn third.
What does 2013 have in store?
Well, from a European and Australian perspective we will see a quality race at the head of the race. The success of the 2012 UTMF has encouraged Julien Chorier, no1 to return and defend his title.
Sebastien Chaignea TNFUTMB copyright Ian Corless
Certainly Julien is the pre race favourite, he has knowledge of the course, understands the demands required and of course he is the title holder. However, TNF athlete, Sebastien Chaigneau will almost certainly have a different outlook on how the race unfolds… he had a mixed 2012 and ultimately it was a year to forget by his standards. He came into 2013 motivated and his stunning performance at Transgrancanaria will mean Julien will need to be looking over his shoulder or maybe even ahead of him for this race.
Gary Robbins, no 102 (Salomon) from Canada is also going to be flying and ready for this race. Gary has an incredible story (listen to his interview on Talk Ultra HERE) and after being sidelined for almost two years, he returned in the latter half of 2012 and not only dominated but set a new CR at Hurt 100. He has a new outlook on his racing… he is going to race less, but when he races, he will make it count. Definitely my hot tip for the win.
Brendan courtesy of Inov-8
Inov-8 athlete Brendan Davies, 1061 fresh from Tarawera ultra will be confronting the 3,776 m Mount Fuji and he will revel in the task ahead of him. Brendan has plenty of speed but will he have the climbing legs to be up at the front. He has said on his blog that he his in the form of his life. (listen to Brendan Davies interview HERE).
Christophe Le Saux – MDS 2013 copyright Ian Corless
Christophe Le Saux, 1099 (Hoka One One) only last week finished in the top ten of the Marathon des Sables. He will be lining up to test himself. Logic says that fourteen days between ‘MDS’ and UTMF is not enough, but, Christophe loves the hard, technical and gnarly courses as he has proved at Tor des Geants in the past.
In addition to the above, Grant Guise, 108 from Australia, Jeremy Ritcey, 111 a Canadian who lives in Hong Kong and of course many of the local Japenese runners will figure.
Nerea Martinez Urruzola is not returning to defend her title, so, this does mean the ladies race is wide open… arguably though, the competition has greater depth for the second edition of the race.
Krissy Moehl, 1106 (Patagonia) from the USA needs no introdction to the ultra world. Her reputation is well established and as such, her twelve years in the sport and her TNFUTMB win will all come into play in helping her make the top of the podium here. She was fourth at the renowned Hardrock 100 in 2012 and of course this will set her up perfectly for the 9000m of vertical at UTMF.
Hong Kong based Brit, Claire Price, 173 (Salomon)will have a great perspective of what is required on this demanding course. She recently won Hong Kong 100 and although this is the first time racing in Japan, the distance may be her stumbling block. She will need to respect the distance and the terrain. She finished Western States in 2012 but didn’t have a great race.
Shona – image courtesy of Inov-8
Finally, Inov-8 athlete Shona Stephenson, 1062 will be racing in her first international 100 miler ahead of what is a daunting year of races. She has already raced at Tarawera and Northburn 100 and will be racing at TNFUTMB and also participating in the Skyrunning ultra series in 2013. Shona has trained in the Blue Mountains and although she has great speed, will this lack of high mountains allow her to perform to her best in and around Mount Fuji?
Of course, local competition will have an advantage on this course. So expect some surprises!
The Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is an ultra endurance race that takes place in Hong Kong. The 100km course starts in Pak Tam Chung on the Sai Kung Peninsula and covers some of the most beautiful scenery in Hong Kong, including remote and unspoilt beaches, ancient forests, nature trails, reservoirs and steep hills. The course is based around Hong Kong’s famous Maclehose Trail, but with some diversions to ensure that runners spend more time in its most scenic sections, as well as finishing with the descent from Hong Kong’s highest peak (Tai Mo Shan). The course involves a cumulative elevation gain of over 4500 meters and the cut-off time is 32 hours. This is a unique, challenging and beautiful run for the trail running enthusiast and a chance to take part in an unforgettable event. Join us and make some memories!
Application for 2013 Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is now open. First come first served so please register without delay! Registration HERE
Useful information on training for a 100 km event is available here