Skyrunning UK – Lakes Sky Ultra and Scafell Sky Race 2017 Preview

Following on from the V3K, a double bill weekend is ahead as the Scafell Sky Race and the Lakes Sky Ultra will take place. 40km and 2800m of vertical gain and 56km with 4500m respectively make the two races a pure Skyrunning challenge.

Taking place in the iconic Lake District, both races will offer points for the 2017 Skyrunning UK Series which currently has Sarah Ridgway and Oli Johnsson heading up the rankings after success at the V3K.

Sponsored by Salewa and organised by Charlie Sproson and the Mountain Run team, the two races are a highlight not in the 2017 Skyrunning UK calendar but the UK race calendar.

The Scafell Sky Race will take place on July 16th and offers a tough challenge for a novice or experienced Skyrunner with a fully marked course, 9 manned checkpoints and GPS tracking. By contrast, the main event of the weekend, the Lakes Sky Ultra will take place on July 15th. The LSU is a tough challenge with exposed sections, technical scrambling and quad busting 4500m of vertical gain – this race is not for novices and a strict vetting procedure is in place to ensure that those who take on the challenge are well placed to finish. Like the Scafell race it has a fully marked course, 13 manned checkpoints and GPS tracking.

In the words of the race director, Elevated ridgelines, breathtaking exposure, fast travel on technical mountain terrain. Definitive Lakeland vistas. Classic Lakeland scrambling. Fell running on additives. This is Skyrunning™. This is the Lakes Sky Running™ Weekend.

Both races will prove to be exciting and we can expect the LSU to see a potential male and female winner coming from the following:

Men:

Bjorn Verduijn was the Skyrunning UK champion in 2016 and therefore heads up the field as a hot favourite, he recently toed the line at the Dragons Back Race but complained that he had a lack of fitness – a question mark hangs over him for LSU.

Andrew Berry set the second fastest winter Bob Graham Round in January this year so we know he can handle the terrain and challenge.

Tommaso Migiuolo recently placed 5th at the V3K gaining valuable points for the overall ranking. A top placing at LSU may well see him top the leader board as we move into September and the Glencoe races.

Mark Davies placed 15th at LSU last-year so he has course knowledge. Importantly, he recently placed 10th at the tough and challenging Dragons Back Race.

Jean Tournaire will also be a potential for the top-5.

Women: 

Zoe Salt has raced LSU previously so knows the course and has recently had a good return to form placing highly at Transvulcania Ultramarathon – she is a great potential for the podium.

 

Jacqueline Toal may well be the lady to push Zoe all the way to the line, she is a key figure in mountain running in Ireland.

Sarah Harley recently won the V3K half distance race which didn’t qualify in the Skyrunning UK calendar but it does show some great form – the LSU is a huge step up though in course severity and distance.

Cat Slater placed 4th in recent Keswick Mountain Festival 25km Trail Race, like Sarah though, the LSU is quite a step up.

With 141 entries in total, the LSU will be an exciting race and the ladies field is proportionately large with 24 entries. With so many unknown it will be a good race to watch.

Countries represented are Poland, Holland, Ireland, France, America, Romania, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand and Sweden.

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The Scafell Sky Race has 83 entries and it is fair to say that the head and shoulders favourite is Australia’s Lucy Bartholomew. Lucy is one of the most talented female runners in the world and is very much a protégé of Emelie Forsberg. She has set many records and recorded many victories in the Southern Hemisphere and most recently she arguably had her biggest success making the podium at Mont-Blanc 80km. Read more HERE.

Ben Hukins may well be the first across the line, he was a main contender in the Skyrunning UK calendar last year and it’s interesting to see him drop down from the LSU to the Scaffell Race – maybe a tactical move for points?

Also keep an eye on Jo Kilkenny, Paul Barton and Gavin Sandford.

You can obtain more information from the race website HERE and don’t forget to follow @lakesskyultra on Twitter and go to the LSU Facebook page HERE.

Episode 128 – Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks and Pushpa Chandra

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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.

New Year and Talk Ultra needs your help! 

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! 

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.

Donate HERE

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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

01:12:28 NEWS

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.

The Spine

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.

Coming up…

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

02:36:50 INTERVIEW with Hayden Hawks

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 100km | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Caboolture Historical Village Dusk to Dawn 50km | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Tasmania

The Cradle Mountain Run | 82 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

65 km | 65 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Canada

Yukon

Yukon Arctic 100M | 100 miles | February 05, 2017 | website

Yukon Arctic 300M | 300 miles | February 05, 2017 | website

Yukon Arctic 430M | 430 miles | February 05, 2017 | website

Chad

Half TREG | 90 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

TREG | 180 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

Chile

60K | 60 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Costa Rica

Adventure Category | 155 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Expedition Category | 236 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Finland

Lapland

66° North Ultra Race | 66 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Roavve Polar Ultra 300 | 308 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Rovaniemi 150 | 150 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Rovaniemi 300 | 300 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

Rovaniemi 66 | 66 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

France

Aude

Gruissan Phoebus Trail | 50 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

Côtes-d’Armor

Défi Glazig (45 + 18) | 63 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Germany

Lower Saxony

Brocken-Challenge | 86 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

India

Gujarat

135 Miles | 135 miles | February 10, 2017 | website

160 km | 160 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Run the Rann 101 km | 101 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Run the Rann 161 km | 161 kilometers | February 10, 2017 | website

Ireland

Kildare

Donadea 50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Italy

Marche

Maratona sulla sabbia – Ultra maratona | 50 kilometers | February 12, 2017 | website

Kenya

Kimbia Kenya 100 km | 100 kilometers | February 03, 2017 | website

Kimbia Kenya 50 km | 50 kilometers | February 03, 2017 | website

New Zealand

Tarawera 100K Ultramarathon | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Tarawera 60K Ultramarathon | 60 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Tarawera 85K Ultramarathon | 85 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Oman

Wadi Bih Run | 72 kilometers | February 03, 2017 | website

Spain

Canary Islands

Marathón ‘Isla del Meridiano’ – 86 km | 86 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Region of Murcia

100 km | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Thailand

100 km Run | 100 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

50 km Solo | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

66 km | 66 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

75 km Run | 75 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Jungle 100 | 100 kilometers | February 17, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Arc of Attrition | 100 miles | February 10, 2017 | website

Devon

Coastal Trail Series – South Devon – Ultra | 34 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Oxfordshire

Thames Trot 50 | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Surrey

The Pilgrim Challenge North Downs Way Multistage Ultra | 66 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Pemberton Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Arkansas

White Rock Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

California

American Canyon 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Fort Ord Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Jed Smith Ultra Classic – 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Jed Smith Ultra Classic – 50 Miler | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Ordnance 100K | 100 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Sean O’Brian 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Sean O’Brian 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Sean O’Brian 50-Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Florida

110 With Donna Ultra Marathon | 110 miles | February 12, 2017 | website

Iron Horse 100 km | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Iron Horse 100 Mile | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Iron Horse 50 Mile | 50 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Lost 118 | 118 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Massachusetts

50 km | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Uwharrie 40-Mile Mountain Run | 40 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Oregon

Bristow 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

South Carolina

Mill Stone 50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

Rut Rogue 40s – 40 Mile 3-5 Person Relay | 40 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Rut Rogue 40s – 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Texas

100K | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

100K Relay | 100 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

100 Mile | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

100M Relay | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | February 11, 2017 | website

50 mile | 50 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Piney Woods TrailFest 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile | 100 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile | 50 miles | February 04, 2017 | website

Virginia

The Wild Oak Trail 100 | 100 miles | February 11, 2017 | website

Washington

Orcas Island 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

John Dick Memorial 50K | 50 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

Venezuela

Ultra Laguna de Urao | 65 kilometers | February 04, 2017 | website

03:16:20 Close

03:21:44

We say this every show, but Talk Ultra is nothing without downloads and listeners so please help us spread the word.

Share us on Facebook

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Importantly, go to iTunes and subscribe so that you automatically get our show when it’s released we are also available on Stitcher for iOS, Android and Web Player.

Our web page at www.iancorless.com has all our links and back catalogue.

Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra 

He is Karl Meltzer and I’m Ian Corless

Keep running

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Wardian nails the World Marathon Challenge

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©worldmarathonchallenge

Michael Wardian needs no introduction. The dude has been blowing our minds for years with a stunning display of running. Only recently I wrote an article for IRUN4ULTRA (here) about Wardian’s incredible 2016.

Well, ‘The Running Man’ has kicked off 2017 in fine style with the World Marathon Challenge. Yes, 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days.

Ask anyone, running 7-marathons back-to-back is a tough challenge but doing them with just 16-hours sleep and all at an average pace of a new world record 2:45:56 sets the mark to a whole new level The fastest marathon was in Miami where Wardian clocked 2:37:56 – he said it was a tough day!

The challenge began in Antarctica on Jan 23rd and concluded in Sydney, Australia just 7-days later. Argentina, Miami, Madrid, Morocco and Dubai filled the gap.

The previous record of 3:32:25 held by Dan Cartica was blown off the scale by Wardian who in his interview for Talk Ultra podcast discussed how tough, physically and mentally this challenge was.

The World Marathon Challenge was the brainchild of Richard Donovan (Ireland). He himself completed the challenge twice, the first time for a charity, GOAL and the 2nd time in 2012 when he lowered the elapsed record to 4-days, 22-hours and 3-minutes. The first ‘official’ challenge took place in 2015.

You can listen to a 1-hour special with Michael Wardian on Talk Ultra podcast released Friday 3rd February on this website.

Samantha Gash – Run India

Photo ©nicdavidson

Photo ©nicdavidson

Samantha Gash runs an incredible 3200km across India.

On 22 August Samantha Gash began a 3200km run across India. Samantha has partnered with World Vision to visit the communities they work with across India along the way. She will learn first-hand about the challenges they face, as well as sharing the stories of success that are providing hope for their future.

Samantha, an endurance athlete from Melbourne and passionate advocate for social change, ran from one of the driest deserts on earth (Jaisalmer, Rajasthan) and ended the run in the wettest place on earth (Mawsynram, Meghalaya).

The Cause:

A quality education can be the foundation that helps young people around the world achieve their dreams. From literacy and numeracy to essential life skills, education equips children with the tools they need to make positive life choices, advocate for their rights and support themselves and their families. Education is also a fundamental human right – one that too many children don’t get to enjoy.

The barriers that prevent children from accessing – and completing – a quality education are complex. Through Run India, you can join Sam as she delves deeper into the challenges facing Indian communities today – and witness incredible stories of change. Sam will be visiting 18 World Vision’s Area Development Projects across India and sharing the stories of people she meets in these communities. Tackling issues such as malnutrition, access to appropriate water and sanitation, early marriage and gender bias. These projects demonstrate World Vision’s holistic approach to community development and commitment to ensuring that all children can access the education they deserve.

The funds you raise through Run India will support six World Vision projects across India. You will be part of a movement that transforms lives through the power of education.

You can donate to Run India here

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The Interview:

Ian: It’s been quite an epic journey. I was trying to think the last time we had you on the show and I think it was when you ran with Mimi Anderson in South Africa?

Samantha: Yes, in 2014. That would have been November 2014. Two years later.

Ian: Two years later, so you have Run India!

Samantha: Two years later. Yes, Run India!

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Ian: Before we go into the nitty gritty and you can tell everybody all about the details of this. In simple terms the planned route was 3,800 kilometers taking approximate 76 days, averaging 50 kilometers a day. The whole process was not just you sort of fulfilling a passion to run across India and tick another ultra-box but it had a real reason. Like everything that you do it’s about creating money and creating awareness. Tell us a little bit about the whole process?

Samantha: Firstly, I knew from the get go that the route was not going to be 3.800km, but everyone wants a figure… I remember trying without much success, trying to say in every interview beforehand give or take a couple hundred Ks. It’s not like I’d gone out and mapped the route. The route was based on as much prior knowledge but I’ve always wanted to have that level of flexibility to make changes obviously based on safety but more based on an interest about a certain area.

I wanted to be able to go with the flow and change something. I was clear that the route would change and it did for both race and safety and for interest sake. The run was, if we’re going to talk about numbers let’s get those over and done with. The run was 3,253 Km’s. I stuck to kind of the time frame in fact I had no choice, I had to stick to the time frame because I had certain dates when I was going to community visits. The idea was to make sure I could get to those certain places on a certain date because these communities take quite a lot of planning when they have someone from the outside coming in. So, the reality was that this dictated the route and time frame.

Our goal was to meet with certain people and do interviews and to sometimes do experiential processes where I would see how they would cook meals, see their family and so on. I had so many ceremonial dances and songs. Most of the rewarding moments are when I would be sitting in someone’s home, a home that should only fit one person but has 15 people in there and I was just speaking to people about how they live their life and what are their hopes and what are the challenges.

I very much think that my run and the brutality of the run — I hate the road and my run was pretty much all on the road. To run the road like that I feel like my role and my treat was to get invited into strangers’ homes and to have those interactions.

Ian: One of the things that strikes me immediately is covering this distance and covering this distance over the amounts of days that you did it and covering a big chunk of mileage every day is stressful enough as it is because you’re worried about getting injured, you’re looking at your nutrition, you’re looking at your hydration but then on top of that, you’ve got all these other things going on.

You’ve got a time frame where you need to be in certain place which means that certain days you’re going to have to run a certain distance whether you want to or not, but also there’s logistics and there’s planning. I’m fully appreciative that you’re going to enlighten me on how that planning and everything happens because that’s obviously something that you can’t do while you’re running, so there’s a great team of people behind you organizing all that.

Is this type of thing a real positive in that it refocuses your mind and takes your mind away from the actual running and it provides a distraction? Or is it a distraction that impacts on the running?

Samantha: All the above at different times. It was brutal particularly the first month. You plan so hard for two years and you think that our plan will equate to success particularly when we’re diligent, when we work with the right people and then you get to India… I have done a lot of traveling in developing countries and I realize that nothing goes to plan.

I got very sick from week two to week four because it was so hard to get my head around just the immense amount of changes happening every day. I get there and the monsoon season had been much later this year which meant the humidity was high. I’m running in nearly 40 degree of temperature and high humidity – It made Costa Rica seem like a walk in the park with the temperature.

©bruceviaene

©bruceviaene

Ian: I was going to say The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica was must have been preparation for that?

Samantha: Oh, my god. I kept thinking where are those water crossings that I could just put my entire body in? Luckily I had Nicky Kimball who came out and joined me for part of the run, I met her in Costa Rica and we just kept saying, “Oh my god, this is so humid. This is just unbelievably humid.”

I had three teams out there with me. My crew which travelled with me, I had an Indian based logistics team that I had contracted in, they were well versed with the areas that I was running in and then I had a security team.

Essentially I had these three teams and I had a team leader from the Indian side because culture is different and you must respect it. You need an Indian team leader to look after that side of things and then I had an Australian team leader who I’d hoped would bridge that gap between all the different teams. To put it out there, my Australian team leader couldn’t cope with India, it’s completely understandable but it was very unfortunate.

He couldn’t cope with the intensity of India, the lack of privacy. We had a camper and were pretty much sleeping on top of each, add such high temperature as well and he just had a bit of a break down. Unfortunately considering the project was my baby and everyone else was pretty pushed as it was, my paramedic who was there for the first five weeks’ kind of took over some of the financial components of the project. But in terms of the liaising with the teams, it fell in to my lap which is not good. Tip – never ever allow yourself to be the one that deals with the rest of the human interactions when you must push yourself and do the running. Not a good idea!

It’s never going to be done as successfully as it can be done. I got to one point after I got very sick and I just got this realization, “Sam, a successful day for you is if you can just keep moving forward and no one wants to walk out on the project.”

The sickness was an issue, when I got to Deli I had an MRI on my knee because something felt wrong.

I got the results back and I had a couple of issues but nothing like what I thought I was going to have. I adjusted a mental shift and then we kind of went up north to the Himalayas and I just felt that there was a shift in the project from that point on wards.

Ian: It’s exhausting listening to you saying it.

Samantha: I haven’t even touched on the chaos!

Ian: Yes, I can imagine. I can absolutely imagine. You started on the Pakistan side and then went across, you went up towards Nepal and then came across towards Bangladesh. It’s part of the world I have visited and I can completely get what you’re saying about the chaos. There’s elements of these areas that are very very well planned. Very well-organized, but the problem is, nobody else knows what those plans are. Somebody knows, but nobody else knows. It’s about communicating with that person, and making sure that that person or several people are in line with the plan. I’m guessing that was one of the big stresses that you are having to deal with day in and day out.

Samantha: Yes. You just described it beautifully and I haven’t thought of it that way. Running across India is like running across a lot of different countries. If you know the history of India, it just had so much shit and border change, the language and dialects. Everything is just so… it can change every 50 kilometers. You must put so much responsibility in your Indian team and then accept on a cultural level of things are very, very different. You must give in to that when you do a project that’s in a country that’s not like yours. When you don’t accept that, that’s when things go wrong.

I remember saying to my crew constantly, stop longing for things that you’re going to have in a couple of weeks’ time. Accept and embrace what you have now which you’ll never ever have again. I was incredibly grounded into just try to make the most of every moment. Sometimes you feel you’re getting fleeced by that, and you start to second guess things when you’re being communicated too. Because India is sometimes the culture where people try and make the best of every situation.

You must think why that’s the case. That’s the whole point of empathy. I think it’s irrelevant for day to day life. But we think of India, population of 1.26 billion. People who are very successful are ones who have made the most of any opportunity that comes their way. Sometimes that gets interpreted differently from people. I just think I learned so much about my own ability to deal with stressful situations. I think just being very grounded and present with the survival being out there.

nic-davidson

Ian: I knew Nikki Kimball was joining you because I’d spent time with her when I was in America, and you bumped into Emily Forsberg, she was out doing her yoga camp. Can you tell me how that came about?

In addition to all that, there was content being put on your website. The Run India website, and the address for that is runindia.org.au. There were stories appearing on there like Deepika’s determination to get education. There was one about self-defense, about a brave father being reunited with his daughter. How was that content being put together, was that content being put together in real-time as you were running?

Samantha: Yes, most it. That content was created with the supportive of World Vision and the community visits that we did. I had about 16 community visits that I did along the way, and within each of those community visits I probably did three to five different interactions around that community, and all of that we filmed. I mean, we learned along the way which were the better ways of filming it. Sometimes we would just first go in there and speak to people, do the interaction and then do a post interview. Other times we would film along the way.

You just had to learn quickly which was going to be the best way of creating content that could be shared later. We had one videographer out there with me. We would film it all, and then we would send it off trying to upload that content, that footage every night. It’s really, interesting.

Ian: Yes, I know that pain. Internet is not a strong point of these places.

Samantha: Exactly! World Vision wanted us to send it in hard drives back to this editing house in the south in India. And I was like, “There’s no way we’re going to find a post office to send you these.” So, we did the uploading, which brings its own problems – they did a great job.

The whole point of the project was to explore the barriers to why a child in India can’t go to school, and to look at it in a geographical sense that as you go across the country and the road that we were traveling across, those barriers are so unique to that area, and what makes up that area. We looked at malnutrition, which I think is a consistent barrier across the entire country. The prevalence of the sex trade, child marriage, all these different subjects such as personal safety and protection, particularly when you’re in the urban centers of India.

Those stories were about looking at education, but looking at the barriers. As opposed to just education itself.

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Ian: What’s amazing and it’s always been one of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about you as a runner. Running almost is an accident for you. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. But if I think back to when we first met, when we first started to talk, you’re a very educated person from a very educated background. You gave up a very successful career to start running. I guess it was that career that originally enabled you to take on the 4Desert races. You were the first female, the first youngest person to complete that – Gobi, Sahara, Atacama and Antarctica. Was it this experience that made you realize that there was an opportunity for you?

But also, using your education and your background to turn it all in to good. It’s obvious when you’re speaking now that you’re not talking about running. You’re talking about awareness. You’re talking about people. You’re talking about change. You’re talking about why this journey was happening. And I think if you were a pure runner you’d be telling me about how the running was, but you’re not. You’re telling me about the journey and why you’re doing it. Is that a fair assessment?

Samantha: Yes. I am not a professional runner. Though I get put in that category all the time, I’m derogatory to professional runners, but I do a whole lot more than just run. It’s interesting because people try and understand and try and make a connection with the way I’ve chosen to run, and why I’ve chosen to run.

At the end of the day, if you look at people who run, they always have different motivations. I think all those motivations are to be celebrated in their own way. And if you’re using running for the thing that makes the most sense for you, well then you’re more likely to be running for a much longer period. For me, I just think the way I’m in love with endurance sport. You see the highs and the lows, and the self-discovery that it takes people too, but it also takes you to your worst state.

In a development context, when you are being pushed so hard, your capacity to understand people who are in a daily worse state. Not by choice which we choose to do as ultra-runners, but because of their circumstances. And I think that connection allows us to share a story. And when we share a story, we can hopefully help other people understand a life that is so far removed from ours.

Ian: Absolutely. I hate asking these questions, but inevitably I must ask them because I’m trying to compress your incredible journey into a small block. What was the highest and the lowest point of your incredible journey?

Samantha: I guess on a running perspective, the low point, when I went up to Rishikesh and when I went up to Darjeeling in Gangtok, I really struggled on the road. The plains of India are just incredibly overwhelming from a running perspective. To be in that intensity of pollution, at times it was heartbreaking to my soul.

Anytime I got up towards the mountains, even though with technically harder running, my pace just increased. I live in a National Park; I love the solitude of running for what it does to our mind. I was on cloud nine and thinking of Nicky Kimball’s journey with me in India. She was there for some of the most crucial running. Later, like a week after she left, she saw me running up on the mountains and she was like, “Oh gosh I chose the wrong section of the run,” and I’m like, “I’m so sorry.” She was there for some of the most humid running. I didn’t realize it but don’t sweat that much. I didn’t sweat anywhere near as much as other people who came out which was why my feet didn’t get destroyed. Nicky unfortunately was getting some terrible blisters and her feet were falling apart by the end.

Highlight to me was going up to the mountains. It was amazing to see Emily Forsberg out there. The Himalayas are so incredible.

Then I think that visiting different people in Himalaya as well was quite transformational for me. I don’t think I could have done the run if I didn’t continually see people along the routes and understand what was going on. That is why this projects was so special, it was the connection with people. When I ran across South Africa with Mimi, we ran across some beautiful terrain but had no connection with the outside world or the beneficiaries that we were trying raise funds for. But because the running was so beautiful, it made running 1,968 kilometers okay. There is no way I could have run over 3,000 K on the Indian roads if every couple of days I wasn’t going into the slums or a development project and understanding why I was doing it.

Ian: You mentioned Emily, how did that happen? Was that a pure coincidence?

Samantha: I had a friend in India who was like, “Do you know Emily is here right now? I was like, “Really?” I had a quick check on Instagram which confirmed and so I asked a mutual Ryan Sandes to connect us. Emily had a very full schedule, she was doing a yoga training camp. But we managed to meet up on her day off.

We caught up, we did some yoga. I met one of her other friends who is from Australia and we just spent the whole time chatting and eating lots of food. It was nice to see someone from the running community out there.

Ian: How did the actual journey itself unfold? Did you stick to a daily average that was consistent with your planned 50 kilometers?

Samantha: It was an average 50 and there’s probably about nine days that I didn’t run at all. There were a few ad hoc days of around 30 to 40 but beyond that, it was 55 up to 76 k’s per day.

Ian: 55 to 76km days make a huge difference because if you’re trying to cover 50k (31 miles) you can jog, you can run, you can walk and you’ve got plenty of time in the day if you’re not going up 2,000, 3,000 meter mountains to cover the distance. If you then add 10 kilometers, 20 kilometers to that, then certainly you are talking about being on the road on the trails for 12 hours. Then that starts to impact on your rest, on your recovery, on your team, and everything else that you do. I guess what you were trying to do all the time was manage that balance between covering the distance but also making sure that you could recover and go the next day and do it again?

Samantha: Yes, and it was hard the first two weeks. One day, I had a community visit, I ran 50ks and then did the community visit immediately afterwards which lasted five hours. I remember I got there, it was so hot during the day because you’re in the desert. Also, as I ran towards the town the monsoon weather just came down – it feels like, “Oh I’m kind of hot, I’m cold, I’m steamy.” I didn’t know what was going on and then I go straight into a community visit where I am being presented about malnutrition issues…

I remember thinking, “I think I’m going to pass out right now. I am feeling really light headed.”

I had to quickly put food in and I go, “I’ve just really got to be on the ball. If I am going to try and do this. I have to make sure that I have food and water in these community visits.” There was maybe like a handful of times when I would run and then go into a community visit and I just had no other choice but to do that. That is what I didn’t want to do because I knew that I wouldn’t be fully engaged in that visit and I would lose these amazing opportunities. That’s why I had days when I wasn’t running and I’ve got to say now these were harder days than the running days. Because we never knew what the day would look like. We would be driven to the middle of nowhere and you would face confronting things.

One day I went into a malnutrition clinic and I just I saw babies who were so much smaller than they should have been for their age. The mothers looked so young. Then we did a backwards kind of on a journey and saw the travel that they would have done to go to that place to get to that clinic. Then you get perspective – you learn that those parents earn 40 cents/50 cents a week. They are on such a spectrum of poverty, that making the decision to take their child to this malnutrition clinic, which is their only chance of survival, they must potentially lose the income for the day, which means they might not be able to feed their family.

Every day was life and death. We were talking about education what they needed is food to survive. They can only change their lives once the children get educated, so, these families have some hard decisions.

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Ian: Nepal is a similar situation. There’s people in Nepal who have money but there’s so many people who don’t have money. I have this real dichotomy sometimes whether what I’m doing is justified and right? I walk around with a camera and I see beauty in everything. Whether it’s something that is beautiful or something that isn’t beautiful but becomes beautiful because of hardship, poverty, etcetera.

It’s very easy to just lift a note out which is worth a dollar or two dollars and give it to somebody for a photograph. You walk away and you think, “Did I help that situation? Was what I did morally correct?” I must try and justify it to myself and I think it was okay because at least they can go and buy something.

But one of the things that you were doing was obviously you were raising money for World Vision who can then support six different areas within the regions that you were running. You already touched on the fact that that money could help malnutrition, child protection, maybe just provide clean water.

Samantha: Definitely.

Ian: How did that fundraising project work and I’m assuming that the fundraising is still going on?

Samantha: Yes, the fundraising is still going on. We’ve raised over $160,000 so far. I expect we’ll raise close… I hope we’ll raise closer to the $200,000 mark. In a couple of ways, we worked with corporate partners to fund certain components. We also got people in the public to take on a 12-week challenge. The concept was Strong Minds and it was, “What strong mind do you need to take on a 12-week fitness challenge?” While also fundraising for the strong minds of those in these communities who must be so resilient to deal with the circumstances that they have every day.

We were looking at that, what does it take to have a strong mind and how can you make your footsteps count. We had public fundraising for people doing that and then also just donations through the website and through our awareness campaign. It was as much of an awareness as a fundraising.

How do you measure success in these types of things? I think it’s very hard. I always want to raise more and I’m very hard on myself; have the objectives being met? Did I make my footsteps count? But yes, having seen the project and seeing how far that money can go, I feel very confident that people’s lives can be changed in India and I don’t say that comment easily. These projects do make a tangible difference!

Ian: Now you started the journey on August the 22nd. What was the date that you finished?

Samantha: November 5th.

Ian: Okay. That’s a big chunk of time.

Samantha: Yes, it could have been 10 years ago.

Ian: [Exactly.

Samantha: It feels like a lifetime.

Ian: It does. I know myself with travelling is that you wait for that opportunity to get home and go and relax and then within two days it feels as though, “When did I travel last and what was I doing and where was I going?”

Samantha: Yes, totally.

Ian: What’s the impact been on you emotionally, physically and what’s it like getting back into Australia and readjusting into normal life?

Samantha: I think it’s a lot easier to adjust to being back home than the adjustment to be India. I kind of told you before, my whole mental approach was about being very much in the present and having so much gratitude that I could have this experience.

I didn’t get down much when I was doing the project. There was plenty of reasons to be down. I think there was only one moment where I was like, “I just don’t want to run right now.” I had an hour sleep and then I got back out there.

It was a shock to the system that I had to do so much and I just felt I had been let down in that moment with the planning but physically I felt good. You can’t go from that much level of activity to inactivity. In fact, that’s not healthy. You have to kind of wean yourself off but you wean yourself off by just kind of being outdoors and listening to your body and not feeling like you need to wear a watch and not committing to a race even though I have a race in February. Physically I feel quite good. I do get tired when I do a little bit too much. I’ve gone back to work and I’m doing quite a bit of travel so I think it’s just that culmination of all that stuff that sometimes mentally and physically drains me a little quicker.

Emotionally it’s like I try not to talk about it. My job is to talk about it, I have now started to incorporate India into my presentations. The other day I was like, “Oh gosh, I’ve been so verbose”, because I haven’t verbally processed much of it.

Where do you start? You have given me quite a good platform to ramble but it’s hard to know where to start. People traditionally just want to know, “What was the hardest thing?” I give these generic answers like, “Well, there was no one thing that was the hardest. It was the culmination of many things.”

Ian: Exactly.

Samantha: Every now and again I watch back the footage and I just can’t believe that I got to live that life. The power of photos and the power of video. It makes it very, very real and I still can’t believe that I did what I did and I managed to fit so much into every day. That was a lifetime in three months.

Ian: I think you’re right. I think one of the reasons why I created Talk Ultra is that I said right from the start that it would always be a long show because I didn’t want to compress people’s experiences into 20 minutes. I wanted to find that space and that arena that would allow me to talk in more depth.

Admittedly I put my hands up 20 minutes ago and said I’m going to have to ask you this bad question because unfortunately the people listening do want to know the highest and the lowest points – equally, how do I compress your 3,000-kilometer journey into a period of time and try and encapsulate what you went through. It’s not possible. It’s not possible.

I think what is interesting is that you’ve managed to encapsulate a journey without talking about the running. You’ve talked about the important things about the journey, which is the impact that your journey can have now with fundraising and how it will affect people’s lives. You questioned yourself whether it is valid. Of course, it’s valid because I think sometimes we can look at these things and think, “Well what is the positive? What is the negative?” You only must change a handful of people’s lives for the journey to be valid because everybody has validity in an existence and a continued existence. I think you can create a knock-on journey which hopefully will continue to perpetuate.

Samantha: You’re right. This project is something that has had an impact. Its right we push ourselves in these types of way and yes we want to make an impact to other people’s lives but I think you should always be clear that the bigger impact is probably going to be on your life too. That’s okay because that’s how we push ourselves in endurance sports. It’s to see what we’re capable of doing and how far can we push our minds and how far can we use these thing, which is our bodies, to be able to do that.

Ian: You’re the type of person, Sam, that always has something planned. [laughs] Dare I ask, is there another project at the back of your mind that you’re thinking of for two years’ time or three years’ time?

Samantha: I wanted to do this since 2011. It was when I was running across South Africa with Mimi that I was like, “Yes, I think I’m ready now to tackle this,” because it wans’t just tackling the run and it wasn’t just fundraising. It was also to work with a not-for-profit and try and change the way that they connect with people as well.

World Vision being one of the — I think is the largest not-for-profit globally, this was a radical project for them to get behind. When so much is happening in the development sector at the moment with funding and foreign aid, it was an intense time to push the boundaries. I think I had to just be so strong with this project was important to doing and that for two years I was lucky enough to have a champion in World Vision that was willing to do the fight with me. I did a couple of trips to India and went to see the project. It was a lot. There was so much more to this than any other project I’ve ever done.

I think what I now need to do is to not plan for a little bit. This is the lawyer side in me. I like to plan and I can’t help but get obsessive in that planning process which is why I can do something like this. But I’m planning to do the Western Arthurs hike in January which is very technical hike in Tasmania. I’m doing that with another female endurance athlete. I want to look at kind of collaborating with other female endurance athletes in different types of, I suppose, adventures. I’m doing that in January and then in February I’m doing a multisport event in New Zealand called Coast to Coast.

These are just more light hearted things. I’ve been enjoying multisport hikes, cycling and kayaking now and it’s good to use my body in a different way. Yes, there is a project still in that region that I am interested in doing but I’m not planning anything right now. That part of the world (India) is still fascinating to me and obviously, the Himalayan area.

Ian: Can I ask you, your background as a lawyer? How much help does that give you in what you do now?

Samantha: You don’t need to be a lawyer, but my background helps, also my experience in performing arts. I think the two of them, that capacity for communication, for rational thought, for logistics understanding culture and bureaucracy and obviously, a lot of that was relevant in India.

On the flipside, being a strong independent, and I’m going to put it out there, fiery abrupt woman was also part of the negatives in India. One day there was a bit of a crisis over payments or something and I was being taken advantage of. I should have been calmer but I fired off an abrupt email.

You must change sometimes your style of communication

Ian: Yes, I am sure you do. Well, look, it’s been fascinating to get just a little insight into this journey. Where can people go to get more information? I mean the runindia.org.au website has got a lot of information on there and people can still go there and donate, but is there anything else out there Sam?

Samantha: So, in the runindia.org.au website has a lot of videos and I think the videos captures the imagination of what happened and provides a better insight than me rambling at times.

If you enjoyed this article, think about becoming a Patron and supporting Talk Ultra podcast and this website on Patreon HERE

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The Ultimate Equipment Guide to Desert Multi-Day Racing – Hints ‘n’ Tips

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Desert running brings many challenges and running in a desert for multiple days brings a whole new set of challenges. Over 30-years ago (1984), Patrick Bauer, filled up a pack with food and water and trekked off alone into the Algerian Sahara to cover 350km’s on foot in a self-sufficient manner. Little did he know at the time, but this journey was the start of something incredible, the Marathon des Sables.

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Also read

Top Tips To Better Multi-Day Running HERE

Multi-Day Food On The Cheap HERE

MDS as it is affectionately known paved the way not only for multi-day desert racing but ‘all’ multi-day racing, be that in snow, ice, rainforest, jungle or the mountains. If multi-day racing was the mafia, MDS would be the Corleone family and Patrick Bauer would be the Godfather – Don Vito Corleone.

All multi-day races have followed and tried to replicate the MDS format, however, the reality is, I have yet to experience a race that matches the size, the scale, the organisation and awe-inspiring splendor of what Bauer and his team have created in the Sahara. Ask anyone, despite experience, despite achievement, MDS is usually ‘on the bucket list!’ It’s fair to say, that MDS is directly attributable for many new ultra-runners. You see, MDS offers more than just running, it offers a challenge, it offers something quite unique – the Sahara and the MDS strips the runner back to basics and deprives them of all luxuries so that they are stripped raw. Runners find themselves in the desert.

 

The 32nd Marathon des Sables takes place in 2017 and runners all over the world are wondering and asking the question, “What equipment do I need for the MDS?”

This question is the same for many other desert races but I need to be clear, not all races are the same. For example, MDS requires the runner to be completely self-sufficient. This harks back to Bauer’s pioneering expedition in 1984. The runner must carry ‘all’ they need for the duration of the event, the only exception being:

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Bivouac – A simple tent cover is provided at the end of each day and this tent must be shared with 7 other runners.

Water – Water is provided in bivouac and out on the course but is rationed.

Anything else the runner needs must be carried – pack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food, snacks, luxuries etc.…

The above format is very similar for races such as the Grand to Grand in the USA, Racing the Planet races such as Atacama, Gobi and so on.

So, items discussed in this post directly relate to a ‘self-sufficient’ race in the MDS style. To clarify, races such as Big Red Run in Australia and The Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa are ‘semi’ self-sufficient races and therefore runners can carry far less items and often bags are transported each day and therefore the runner can run light and fast. However, please keep in mind that many of the kit items and needs directly relate and are transferable.

The Detail

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Let’s be clear, it is important to note that equipment will not make you complete any race. What it can do is make the process easier and more comfortable. Equipment is something we all must take to any race and finding out what works and doing the research is part of the fun.

If you want to increase your chances of completing your chosen race, commit to the training required, get your head in the correct place and then finish off with the appropriate equipment for the job. Far too many stress about what equipment they need and neglect the appropriate training.

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Multi-day racing in its purest form should be very simple. However, over the year’s deciding what equipment to take has become increasingly more complicated.

It shouldn’t be complicated and in all honesty, it isn’t!

Here is just a simple list of absolute essentials, one could say that this list is mandatory:

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Buff
  • Jacket
  • T-Shirt
  • Shorts/ Skort
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Gaiters
  • Rucksack
  • Sleeping Mat (optional)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Head Torch
  • Flip-flops or similar
  • Toilet paper
  • Personal medical kit (feet etc.)
  • Spot Tracker (supplied at MDS, optional at other races)
  • Road Book (supplied)
  • Salt Tablets (supplied)
  • *Food for the required days
  • **Mandatory kit
  • ***Water

Optional items:

  • Warm jacket (usually down that packs small and light) – I consider this essential and not optional
  • Stove and Esbit fuel blocks
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Spare socks
  • Walking Poles
  • Goggles
  • Spare clothes (?)

Luxuries:

  • Mp3 player
  • Phone
  • Solar charger
  • Kitchen sink…

Perspective:

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Any multi-day race has (arguably) five types of participant:

  1. The elite races who will contest the high-ranking positions.
  2. Top age groupers who will look to race for a high place and test themselves overall.
  3. Competitive runners looking for a challenge.
  4. Those who wish to complete and not compete.
  5. Newbies who are out of their comfort zone.

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When one looks at kit and requirements, it’s easy to think that the needs of the top elites in group 1 will vary from those in group 5. I would arguably say no! All the runners need the same things; they all must carry the same mandatory kit and they all must carry the same minimum food requirement.

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I think the differences come with experience. Novices and newbies will more than likely prepare for the unknown, the ‘just in case’ scenario. Whereas top runners will be on a minimum, the absolute minimum. Groups 2- 4 are a mix of groups 1 and 5 and they fall somewhere between.

So, for me, groups 2, 3, 4 and 5 should (where possible) aim to be like group 1. The only key difference comes with shoe choice. Runners who will spend much longer on their feet and out on the course will most definitely need a shoe that can withstand that pressure and the shoe must also be good for walking. Groups 2-5 never fully appreciate (often until it’s too late) how much they will walk in a desert race.

EQUIPMENT IN DETAIL

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When looking at equipment, I am going to provide a brief synopsis and then some recommendations. I will then supply ‘my’ equipment list.

Hat – A hat is essential to keep the sun off your head; options exist that have a neck cover built in to avoid that delicate area that will almost certainly be in the sun all day.

Sunglasses – So many choice, but you need a good pair that has ideally a large lens to protect the eye. Some desert specific sunglasses include a brow pad that helps stop sweat dripping in your eye. Do you need prescription? If so, I use prescription Oakley and they are excellent. Do you need goggles? Yes and no. If you have good sunglasses with good coverage, then no. However, should a sand storm hit, it can be uncomfortable. Goggles guarantee no sand in the eyes.

Buff – A buff or even two are essential. One around the neck helps keep the sun off and you can also wet it to help reduce core temperature. In wind and sand storms, the Buff is lifted and protects mouth, nose and sometimes eyes. A spare Buff is a luxury but worth considering.

Jacket – Jacket choice will depend on sleeping bag choice. If you are using a light bag, a lightweight down jacket is an essential item. Look at Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, Yeti Companyon Strato, Mont-Bell Plasma 1000 Down, Berghaus VapourLight (not down) and/ or PHD custom made.

T-Shirt – It’s not rocket science, you will have been running in a shirt already, if it works, why change it? I read countless arguments about should it be black or white – you know what, it doesn’t matter. Look at the elite runners, they are often sponsored and have little or no choice on colour. Comfort however is key.

Shorts/ Skort – Same answer as T-Shirt.

Socks – Getting the correct socks are key for any race and like I have said for shirt and shorts, if you have socks that work, why change? So many options exist but for me I am a firm believer in Injinji toe socks.

Shoes – Shoes are personal and must be suited to you, the individual. Consider your gait (neutral, supinate or pronate), consider time on feet, consider your weight, consider how much you will walk (and then double it) also consider shoe drop and how much cushioning you need. It’s impossible to recommend any one shoe because of these variables. You will see top runners using a lighter shoe, remember, these shoes only need to last 20-30 hours. However, you may well need a shoe for 40, 50 or 60-hours. Do you need a trail shoe? No, you don’t need a trail shoe but I would say that many trail shoes are more durable as they are designed for the rough and tumble of variable terrain. Do you need an aggressive outsole? No, you don’t, but I do think some grip is better than none and therefore I would use a trail shoe over road. Protection? Toe box protection is a good idea as deserts include lots or rocks, far more than you may think. Do I need a size bigger? Shoe sizing does depend on what is ‘normal’ for you. I always recommend a thumb nail of space above the big toe, you don’t need any more than this. Recommendations of going a size is bigger is bad advice in my opinion. A shoe that is too large allows your foot to move, a moving foot causes friction, friction causes blisters and the rest is the same old story that I see at desert races all over the world. However, I would recommend a shoe with a little more width in the toe box, this will allow for some comfort as the days progress. If you are prone to feet swelling, discomfort, blisters and so on, get a strategy sorted before you head out to your chosen race.

Gaiters – Are essential and they should be sewn and glued on to the shoe to guarantee that no sand can enter. Raidlight, MyRaceKit, WAA and Sandbaggers make versions of gaiters.

Rucksack – A rucksack is one of the most essential items for the race as it will hold on your kit for the duration of the event. Many versions exist and the type of pack you choose depends on many things: Male/ Female, Small/ Large, Tall/ Short and so on. Some packs just don’t work for some people. You also need to consider if you need a front pack to hold essential items. How will you drink on the go? How much do you plan to run in comparison to walk? I have some simple advice:

  • Keep the pack as small as possible, if you have a bigger pack you will just fill it.
  • Keep the pack simple – far too many packs are over complicated and messy
  • Keep the pack light
  • Make sure that drinks are accessible, easy to use and don’t bounce
  • See how the pack feels full with all food and then see how the pack feels with 5-days food missing.

Raidlight used to be ‘the’ pack for a multi-day race but that has changed in recent years. For sure, Raidlight are still one of the main options, however, the WAA pack is a ‘go-to’ at many races and the Ultimate Direction Fastpack is slowly but surely becoming a favourite. New entries to the market are coming from Salomon and OMM have been making packs for multi-day adventures for years.

Sleeping Mat (optional) – Inflatable, Foam or no mat. I’m a firm believer in taking a mat, the weight v comfort is a no brainer. I would also choose an inflatable mat even though it does run a risk of puncture. However, with good admin, good care, in years of using inflatable I have never had an issue. A foam mat is guaranteed to last the race but for me a large and cumbersome. OMM make a very thin foam mat that they use as the back padding for their packs – this may be a god option for the real minimalist runner. Look at products from Thermarest, Sea to Summit, Klymvit and OMM.

Sleeping bag – Like the pack, a sleeping bag is a key item is it is likely to be the largest and heaviest item (except food and water) that you will carry. A sleeping bag is important as a good night’s rest is key for day-to-day running. If you are on a budget, Raidlight offer a ‘Combi’ that is a sleeping bag that converts into a jacket. You kill two birds with one stone and the price is a bargain. However, for me it has downsides – it’s large, heavy and offers limited flexibility with temperature regulation. I will always go with a sleeping bag and down jacket scenario is this for me provides less weight, less packed size, more flexibility and the option to get warmer at night by wearing the jacket inside the bag. Problem is, this comes at a price. A lightweight down bag and jacket will be more than likely three to four times the price of the Raidlight Combi. Also, consider your size, shoulder width, height and so on. Some bags are very small whereas bags such as PHD and Yeti can be purchased in small, medium or large. Recommended bags are PHD (custom or off-the peg), Yeti, Western Mountaineering, Haglofs, OMM (not down) and Raidlight.

Head Torch – Don’t compromise, you need a good head-torch that provides enough light for running in a black desert at night. Don’t use rechargeable or a torch with gizmos. You just ideally need variable power, a red-light option so you don’t disturb others at night and it will either take AA or AAA batteries. Recommendations are Black Diamond, Petzl, Silva or LED Lenser.

Flip-flops – Free slippers that hotels give away are popular as they are small, fold and are lightweight. However, they don’t stay on and they don’t protect from thorns or stones. Cheap, lightweight plastic or rubber flip flops work for me. I have seen some improvised flip-flops made from run shoe insoles and some string. It’s that group 1 to group 5 scenario again!

Personal medical kit (feet etc.) – Foot care is essential and although many races have a medical team on hand to look after you and your feet, understanding how to do this yourself is key. learn foot care and treatment and understand how to tape your feet. Ready-made foot care kits are available such as this at MyRaceKit here

Spot Tracker (supplied at MDS, optional at other races)

Road Book (supplied)

*Food for the required days – (see clarification below). Food is very personal and it’s imperative you find out what works for you based on your size, gender, calorie burn and speed of running. The front runners will use carbohydrate and fat as fuel as they will run at a faster pace and therefore they will potentially fuel ‘during’ each stage with carbs. However, as you move through the pack going into groups 2-5 the need for fat as a fuel is more important and therefore ALL runners before heading out to any multi-stage race should ideally have taught their bodies to use fat – we have an unlimited supply of this fuel! Post run it’s important to repair, we need protein for this and re-stock energy supplies, we need carbs for this. Dehydrated meals for many runners form the basis of a morning meal and evening meal. Many options are available, some people can eat anything, others are very particular. Keep in mind allergies such as gluten intolerance and decide in advance will you go hot or cold food. For me, the additional weight of a Titanium stove and fuel is worth it for hot food and a drink. We sampled some dehydrated food in 2015 HERE. In 2015, my partner Niandi Carmont ran Marathon des Sables and we worked hard to reduce pack weight to the minimum and we made sure we dialed food choices in to provide her with her desired calorie needs but also keep weight low.

As an example:

  • Dehydrated Meals x6 672g
  • Dried Mango 93g x 4 372g
  • Porridge 59g x 7 413g
  • Coffee 1g x 10 10g
  • Peanut Butter 33g x 5 165g
  • Honey 21g x 8 168g
  • Mini Salami 10g x 10 100g
  • Tropical Mix Bag 194g
  • Sesame Bites 27g x 6 162g
  • Dried Banana Block 270g
  • Mixed Nuts 200g x 2 400g
  • Macademia Nuts Bag 153g
  • Cranberries Bag 175g
  • Pitta Wraps 296g

Total Weight 3550g

**Mandatory kit – see clarification

***Water – see clarification

MY EQUIPMENT LIST

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It’s important to note that equipment must be specific to the race you are doing and race conditions. The list below is an example of equipment for Marathon des Sables. However, if I was going to Atacama or the Grand to Grand (both self-sufficient) I would be looking at a heavier and warmer sleeping bag and a warmer jacket. Temperatures at night get much colder than the Sahara. The Grand to Grand can also have rain. If a rain jacket is on your list, the inov-8 AT/C Stormshell at 150g is hard to beat.

It’s important to note that equipment will not make you complete any race. What it can do is make the process easier and more comfortable. If you were looking for a one-stop solution, I would say that if you went away and purchased the equipment list below, you would have a comfortable and successful race. The exceptions come with shoes, that is personal and food. Food choices below are personal but a good example, you must find what works for you.

Also, note that minimum pack weight (on day one) at MDS is 6.5kg. So, you can keep purchasing lighter and lighter and then find that you are too light. I have done this. The plus side of this, is that lighter equipment allows you to take more food and/ or more options – again a good thing. For example, in my equipment list, I could go with a slightly lighter jacket, I could not take poles and I could leave the iPods at home and that would allow me 2 or 3 more dehydrated meals. However, I would prefer the equipment I want and am happy with and add 2,3,4 or 500g for the first day. Remember, the pack gets lighter as the day’s pass.

WEARING:

Hat: inov-8 or The North Face

inov-8-hat

Shirt: inov-8 AT/C Base with zip or The North Face ‘Flight’ Series – Both light and functional and allow air flow. I don’t like tight or compression as they are too hot.

inov-8-atc-t-shirt

Shorts: inov-8 AT/C 8” Short or The North Face ‘Flight’ Series – Both light and functional and allow air flow. I don’t like tight or compression as they are too hot.

inov-8-atc-trail-short

Socks: Injinji Trail Midweight or Injinji Outdoor 2.0 (which is Merino wool)

injinji-midweight

Shoes: The North Face Ultra Endurance, Scott Kinabalu Supertrac or inov-8 Trail Talon – Please note, I am a ‘neutral’ runner who prefers a moderately cushioned shoe with an 8mm drop. I would happily use any of these shoes in any multi-day race. They are comfortable, take a gaiter well, have good protection and they work excellently when walking. Remember what I said, shoes are very personal.

scott-kinabalu-supertrac

tnf-ultra-enduranceinov-8-trail-talon-275

Watch: Suunto Ambit 3 Peak 3 – Has enough battery life for a whole race. If I was worried about weight I would just go with a cheap digital.

Buff: Any

Glasses: Oakley Prescription – Prizm Trail Flak 2.0 has interchangeable lenses so I can switch from clear and smoke

oakley-flak-20-xl-matte-black-black-iridium

IN THE PACK:

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L 520g – It’s a simple pack that is light, fits to the torso well, comes in S/M or M/L, holds two large bottles comfortably against the torso and importantly they don’t bounce and it has 3 external stretch pockets. The main compartment has a roll-top closure, so, as pack contents get less, you can roll the pack smaller to reduce any problems with contents moving around.

ultimate-direction-fastpack-20

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket 180g – is super light, has a full zip and pockets, it’s a jacket I can use anywhere. I could go lighter, a little lighter, for example, the Mont-Bell is 50g lighter!

mountain-hardwear-ghost-whisperer

PHD Minimus K Sleeping Bag 380g – PHD work for me, you can have them custom made with or without zips and they are excellent. Yeti make a bag that is more than 100g lighter but I prefer the warmth and comfort of the PHD.

phd-minim-ultra-k

Thermarest Prolite Small 310g – Small, comfortable and you can double up and use it as padding in your pack.

 thermarest-prolite-small

Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles 290g – Lightweight and folding that provide 4-wheel drive when walking.

black-diamond-carbon-z-pole

Black Diamond Spot Headtorch w/ batteries and spares 120g – Powerful (200 lumens), lightweight with many varied settings.

 black-diamond-spot

Esbit Stove 11g – Small, lightweight and simple.

esbit-stove

Esbit Titanium Pot 106g – Small, lightweight and durable.

esbit-pot 

Esbit Fuel 168g

esbit-fuel

iPod Shuffle x2 64g – Life saver

Buff 16g – Essential

Spare Socks 91g – Injinji Trail Midweight or Injinji Outdoor 2.0 (which is Merino wool) 

Flip-Flops 150g – But Xero True Feel are good.

 sandals

Total Weight 2406g If I was looking to be very minimalist and as light as possible, I would not take the stove, pot and fuel and the poles, total 1831g. But, I would probably prefer the option for hot food/ drinks and work around no poles, so total weight would be 2116g.

EXTRAS:

  • Compeed 22g
  • Sportshield 8g
  • Corn Wraps 8g
  • Spork 10g
  • Pen Knife 22g
  • Compass 32g
  • Matches 20g
  • Savlon Antiseptic 18g
  • Toothpaste 36g
  • Tooth Brush 15g
  • Superglue 3g
  • Space Blanket 60g
  • Hand Gel 59g
  • Wipes 85g
  • Toilet Paper 36g
  • Safety Pins 5g
  • Ear Plugs 2g
  • Venom Pump 28g
  • Blindfold 15g
  • Sun Cream 80g
  • Whistle 15g
  • Signal Mirror 12g
  • SPOT Tracker 113g

Total Weight 806g

TOTALS:

Pack and Main Kit Contents: 2406g

Extras: 806g

Food: 3550g

Total 6762g

This pack weight includes poles and cooking utensils plus luxuries like Mp3

 (water would be added to this weight)

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IN SUMMARY

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I enjoy the process of looking at kit, looking at the options available and working out what is best for me and my situation. In some respects, I am lucky as I can test many items out in the market place and decide what I do and what I don’t like. However, trust me, products these days are so good that you can’t go wrong with almost any of the choices. Yeti, PHD, Haglofs etc. all make great sleeping bags, they will all work. Mountain Hardwear, Yeti, Mont-Bell etc. down jackets are all excellent, they all work. I could go on, but you get the picture. Like I said at the beginning, multi-day and desert racing is not complicated, don’t make it so. The only item you need to be sure on is shoes, make sure you get that right. But then again, I am sure you were running before you entered your multi-day race? You were using run shoes, be them road or trail and one must assume that they gave you no problems? If the answer is yes – why change them!

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Finally, we all love equipment and gadgets, it’s fun to go shopping and get new items. However, being physically fit and mentally strong is what will get you to the finish line – equipment is just part of the process, remember that.

Good luck!

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Clarification:

*Food (As required at Marathon des Sables)

He/she must select the type of food best suited to his/her personal needs, health, weather conditions, weight and backpack conditions. We remind you that airlines strictly forbid the carrying of gas (for cooking) on board either as hand luggage or otherwise. Each competitor must have 14 000 k/calories, that is to say a minimum of 2,000 k/calories per day, otherwise he/she will be penalized (see ART. 27 and 28). Any food out of its original packaging must be equipped, legibly, of the nutrition label shown on the product concerned. Any food out its original packaging must be equipped, legibly, of the nutrition label shown on the product concerned. 

**Mandatory Kit (as specified at Marathon des Sables)

  • 10 safety pins
  • Compass 1deg precision
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Disinfectant
  • Venom pump
  • Signal mirror
  • Survival blanket
  • Sun cream
  • 200-euro note
  • Passport
  • Medical certificate

***Water (as specified for Marathon des Sables)

Liaison stage: 10.5 liters per person per day

  • 1.5 liters before the start each morning,
  • 2 or 3 x 1.5 liters during the race, at check points,
  • 4.5 liters at arrival post.

Marathon stage: 12 liters per person per day:

  • 1.5 litre before the start in the morning,
  • 1.5 liters at check-points 1 and 3,
  • 3 liters at check-point 2,
  • 4.5 liters at arrival post. 

Non-stop stage: 22.5 liters per person over 2 days:

  • 1.5 liters before the start of the race in the morning,
  • 1.5 liters at check-points 1, 3, 6,
  • 1.5 or 3 liters at check-points 2, 4 and 5,
  • 4.5 liters at arrival post,
  • 4.5 liters at the bivouac.

Why not join our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote with 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes. The camp takes place in January each year.

Information HERE

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Support on PATREON HERE

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Episode 121 – ELS2900 and Big Red Run

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Episode 121 – On this weeks show we speak with ELS2900 race director, Matt Lefort, about his super tough Andorran race. Niandi brings us a selection of audio, recorded in the Simpson Desrert, as Australia’s 2016 Big Red Run took place. Ian is interviewed by a Portuguese magazine and Speedgoat is back co-hosting!

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK is now available in Germany, Spain, Italy and the English language versions will be posted out on November 3rd. News in that the book will now also be translated to Swedish – HERE

00:09:12 Interview with Ian by Rute Barbedo from a Portuguese magazine also listen to Ian’s 1-hour interview by Tom Williams for Marathon Talk HERE

00:31:34 NEWS

LIMONE VK

  1. Philip Goetsch – SWS champ 2016
  2. Stian Angermund
  3. Patrick Facchini
  1. Christel Dewalle – SWS champ 2016
  2. Valentina Bellot
  3. Hilde Alders

LIMONE SKY

  1. Alexis Sevennec 2:46
  2. Hector Haines
  3. Kiril Nikolov

Tadei Pivk SWS 2016 champ

  1. Megan Kimmel 3:17 and CR and SWS 2016 champ
  2. Laura Orgue
  3. Celine Lafaye

THE OTTER

Marc Lauenstein defended his Otter African Trail Run title in South Africa, and set a new course record in 3:54. Robyn Owen and Stevie Kremer placed 1 + 2 with Owen winning in 4:49 to Kremer’s 4:52. Full results.

BIG DOG BACKYARD ULTRA

A 4.16-mile loop of trail every hour. Those that finish the loop in an hour move on to the next loop and this continues until the last runner standing!Babak Rastgoufard won in 28:48 and gets a place in the  Barkley Marathons.

OCR

Jon Albon becomes OCR world champion again

AUTUMN 100

Centurion Running’s Autumn 100 had 2 course records from Mark Denby 14:07:39 and Susie Chesher 15:22 – Suzie was so quick she finished 2nd overall results here

ELS2900

6,700 meters  of elevation gain over just 70k (44 miles). Thirty-nine competitors started the race, and 24 managed the improbable finish. Xavier Teixido, finished in front at 13:49. Vivien Reynaud and Òscar Perez were second and third in 15:18 and 15:38.

Sonia Regueiro became a two-time finisher and winner, this time 18:59, three hours faster than her finish last year, and Cati Lladó was second in 21:26. 

00:54:56 INTERVIEW with ELS2900 RD – Matt Lefort

Pete Kostelnick if you don’t know already is aiming to break the trans-US running record, which stands at 46 days, 8 hours. Pete will likely finish in around 41 or 42 days early next week, which is utterly insane when you think about the fact that he could shave nearly five days off this record. He’s averaging 71 miles a day for the last 36 days, or in Aussie speak, that’s 114kms a day. Bowsers. Read HERE

Kilian Jornet looking for a VK record? Read HERE

02:03:30 INTERVIEW from Big Red Run

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Blackall 100 | 100 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Blackall 100 – 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

South Australia

Heysen 105 | 105 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Victoria

Ned Kelly Chase 100km – Wangaratta Fitness Fun Addicts | 100 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Barbados

Midnight 50 | 50 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

Canada

Ontario

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Costa Rica

Q50 Costa Rica Ultramarathon | 86 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

57 km | 57 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

France

Aveyron

Grand Trail des templiers | 76 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Intégrale des Causses | 63 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

La Solitaire | 65 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

Trail des Hospitaliers | 75 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

Corse-du-Sud

Corsica Coast Race – 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Corsica Coast Race – 95 km | 95 kilometers | October 27, 2016 | website

Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia

Röntgenlauf Ultramarathon | 63 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Guadeloupe

Le Grand Raid | 57 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Hong-Kong

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Salomon LT 70 | 70 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

India

West Bengal

Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race | 100 miles | October 24, 2016 | website

Indonesia

Bromo Tengger Semeru 102K | 102 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 170K | 170 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Bromo Tengger Semeru 70K | 70 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Israel

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 100 Km Run | 100 kilometers | October 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 200 Km Run | 200 kilometers | October 28, 2016 | website

Ultra Marathon Sovev Emek – 61 Km Run | 61 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Italy

Campania

Amalfi Coast Trail | 87 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Piedmont

Lago d’Orta Ultra Trail – 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Lago D’Orta Ultra Trail – 80 km | 80 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Malaysia

100K | 100 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Namibia

Namib Desert Challenge | 220 kilometers | October 24, 2016 | website

Nepal

Annapurna 100 | 110 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Annapurna Ultra-Mountain | 85 kilometers | October 26, 2016 | website

Solukhumbu Trail | 289 kilometers | October 28, 2016 | website

New Zealand

Blackmores XTERRA Trail Challenge Waihi Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Taranaki Steelformers 100 mile Around the mountain Solo | 100 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Oman

Oman Desert Marathon | 165 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

Trail de Bourbon | 93 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 21, 2016 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultima Frontera – 166 km | 166 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Ultima Frontera – 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Ultima Frontera – 83 km | 83 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Ultra-Trail Gran Vuelta Valle Del Genal | 125 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Basque Country

Long Trail Apuko Extrem | 68 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail Apuko Extreme | 110 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Sweden

Markusloppet | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Turkey

Cappadocia Trail 60km | 62 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail | 110 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Derbyshire

Dusk’til Dawn Ultra | 50 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Durham

Original Mountain Marathon | 52 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Scottish Borders

Three Peaks 38 mile ultramarathon | 38 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Suffolk

Coastal Trail Series – Suffolk – Ultra | 34 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

USA

Arizona

100K | 100 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

50 mile | 50 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

California

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Lake Hodges 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Florida

80 Mile Relay | 80 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Jacks 50k Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Mutual Mine 50K | 50 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

“Running for the Bay!” 50K | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Illinois

Chicago Lakefront 50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Kansas

Kansas Rails-to-Trails 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50K | 50 kilometers | October 29, 2016 | website

Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Maryland

Patapsco Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Minnesota

Surf the Murph 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Surf the Murph 50M | 50 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Nebraska

G.O.A.T.z 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Nevada

Ragnar Relay Las Vegas | 195 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

New Hampshire

Ghost Train Ultra Race 100M | 100 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 45M | 45 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 60M | 60 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 75M | 75 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Ghost Train Ultra Race 90M | 90 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

North Carolina

Triple Lakes Trail 40 Mile Run | 40 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Tuna Run 70 | 70 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Uwharrie 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Uwharrie 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Ohio

Run With Scissors Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 29, 2016 | website

Stone Steps 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 23, 2016 | website

Pennsylvania

Quad State Quad Buster | 46 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK | 50 miles | October 30, 2016 | website

Tennessee

100 Miler | 100 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Texas

50k | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | October 24, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 100 Miler | 100 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 50K | 50 kilometers | November 04, 2016 | website

Big Cedar Endurance Run 50 Miler | 50 miles | November 04, 2016 | website

Cactus Rose 100 Mi Trail Run | 100 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Cactus Rose 50 Mi Trail Run | 50 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

Trans-Pecos Ultra | 163 miles | October 23, 2016 | website

Utah

Goblin Valley Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 21, 2016 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

50 Mile Ultra | 50 miles | October 22, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Run Around the Gorge | 69 kilometers | October 22, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

50K | 50 kilometers | October 30, 2016 | website

03:07:14 CLOSE

 

03:10:28

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Stitcher You can listen on iOS HEREAndroid HERE or via a web player HERE

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Big Red Run 2016 Race Summary on RUNULTRA

BigRedRun_RunUltra

“A down jacket protected me from the cold wind and the low temperatures, amongst the dunes of the Simpson Desert, the sky was not dark, it was black. A lack of light pollution, a lack of people, I was remote and alone in the outback of Australia. Above me the sky glowed with a series of glitter balls. It was like a child’s artwork creation, you know the ones I mean – black card, some glue and then throwing glitter at the card until it sticks. To say the sky was amazing would be a complete understatement. I could see all the constellations, I could clearly pinpoint stars and for a moment I was lost, overwhelmed by the enormity of my location and my insignificance within the world in which we live.”

Read the full article on RUNULTRA HERE

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Read daily race reports form Big Red Run HERE

View the Big Red Run IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

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RACE WEBSITE HERE

Picture of the Day (Big Red Run) – The Guardian

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Always a pleasure to have a picture in THE GUARDIAN. Here is a photo of Elisabet Barnes taken on the 84km long stage of the Big Red Run, Australia. See the post HERE

View the image HERE

Have to give a huge thanks to Greg Donovan and the Big Red Run team for the opportunity to travel and work in the ‘outback’ of Australia on this race and Elisabet Barnes for a stunning and inspiring run.

Also thanks to my helicopter pilot, Mitch. Great arial photography happens when you have a pilot who understands what it takes for a photographer to capture the shots he wants. Mitch did a great job, no worries mate!

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Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part Three

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Niandi Carmont brings us her final two interviews from the 2016 Big Red Run, Alistair Nicol: A Lease on Life and The Tansley Tandem: Carlie and Jade Tansely.

Alistair NICOL: A Second Lease on Life

“To have your childhood dream realized is a really big deal.” – Maya Rudolph

It’s a bit of a process. Three years ago I had some heart problems, mainly due to the extreme stress of building a 3-storey functioning windmill in The Rocks down in Sydney. I found myself in hospital having my heart shocked back into rhythm. My cardiologist suggested I do some exercise and from there a little bit of running led to more focussed training and setting challenges. I’m also interested in the beautiful locations where you can do these challenges. My Dad was a photographer and travel writer for the Automobile Association and when I was a kid he’d come back from his trips and show me these stunning images of magnificent landscapes, remote regions and the outback. He’d interview local personalities and all of that made me dream – I knew then I wanted to visit those places. I got caught up in the stress of life and it’s only when I had my health issues the I took a step back and realised that I’d let go of my legacy.

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It is surprising when you look at Alistair as he doesn’t look like a candidate for heart problems. He’s  young, lean and lanky and looks athletic.

I was working with site managers and production directors at festivals and events. You end up taking other people’s stress,people who are just not pulling their weight. My tendency is just to make a job happen. After a few years of that, it started catching up. I probably could have been exercising more and I could have been eating a slightly different diet.

For Alistair the Big Red Run is a real challenge and an opportunity to reunite with his father’s legacy.

The first day was the my first marathon too! It’s not always easy to find training time although I have put in a lot of training the last 9 months. My legs are feeling pretty good. I’ve taken a producer, managerial approach to running in that I’ve been working with so many physics and chirps and other sports people. I’m actually not feeling too bad today – I might feel differently in 3 days time. (lLaughs).

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I ask him if he’s happy with his preparation.

On account of the rain, I think I should have taken half a dozen pegs to hang up and dry out my kit! Seriously, I think i might have over-catered on the food. I definitely took more than I needed. Also I had planned to do the Big Red Run but with the soft tissue issues I’ve had with my knee, I’ve had to switch back to the shorter version the Little Red Run. 

And his impressions of the ambiance, camp life?

It’s funny how there are people from all walks of life. They are all completely different in their personalities. I suppose it’s natural for an event like this in such a remote area that brings people together, people you’d otherwise probably not get to meet. There’s a sense of looking after everyone’s well-being.

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The Tansley Tandem: Carlie and Jade Tansely

Endurance and passion for the outdoors definitely run in the Tansely family. In 2015 father Shawn Tansely ran the Big Red Run and his wife Carlie and 2 daughters volunteered. This year Shawn is back running the BRR, accompanied by his wife and daughter, 18-year old Jade. Their youngest daughter is volunteering. Jade is also the youngest participant in the BRR. I caught up with them just after stage 4.

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I ask Jade about her impressions so far:

Pretty sore but I’m still OK. The hardest so far is knowing you have to get up every morning and go again. It’s amazing out there – I was struck by the size of the sand dunes, they are massive. This is my first multi-day – I’ve never done anything as weird and wacky. My friends at uni think I’m insane.

Do they train together?

Carlie: We stuck together the first 2 days and then Jade decided to do today by herself, just to find out if she could.

Jade: I needed to know if I could get myself from start to finish without Mum’s help and obviously I could, cos I finished today. It was bit of a confidence boost. I definitely needed to prove to myself that I could be autonomous and independent.

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We move on to the topic of race preparation and training.

Carlie: We didn’t always train together because of our different schedules, juggling with uni and work. Endurance and the love for the outdoors is something the girls have grown up with. They have been camping and hiking since they could walk. It’s just part and parcel really.

I wonder if Jade is mature enough to step back and analyse her performance. I ask her if she would do things differently next time.

A whole lot more training. I’d probably try to do some events and longer distances beforehand to be better prepared mentally. 

I ask Carlie about her takeaways on doing this event with her daughter.

I think it has bonded us. I get to see how Jade has developed as an adult and how she can stand on her own two feet and achieve. I’m very proud of her. Today was very tough, knowing I wasn’t with her. I was a bit stressed but she made it and it’s fantastic. Tomorrow for the long day we will stick together at Jade’s pace, walking, running, whatever!

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Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part Two (The Winners)

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Niandi Carmont catches with Elisabet Barnes and Jamie Hildage on the finish line of the 2016 Big Red Run.

Swedish multi-stage expert Elisabet BARNES claims victory at this year’s edition of the Big Red Run, 1st overall and first female. Brit living locally Jamie HILDAGE  finishes second overall and first male.

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Elisabet: I did the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun the week before last, 200km in South Africa on the border to Namibia, where we finished the race. I finished 3rd woman and 8th overall. I had a great time. The scenery was absolutely spectacular. The trails were a bit more technical than I was used to. It’s not my strength perhaps so under the circumstances I am happy with the result. Because of the terrain and the amount of ascent and descent, I actually did a lot of hiking in Richtersveld so it’s quite different to the Big Red Run which is reasonably flat, where you do a lot of running so my legs worked in a different way. It probably helped me prepare from a fitness perspective  and I had a week between the 2 races and although a lot of that was taken up by a lot of travel I did have a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast in Australia,  allowing me to relax a little before the race.

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I ask her if she had adopted a race strategy before the event?

I took a good lead already on Day 1 because I thought people were running a bit slowly so I naturally opened up a gap, which I managed to hold. In multi-stage racing you take each day as it comes. You can’t think too far ahead and this race was a prime example of that because a lot of things changed during the race due to rain and flooding. If you run one day at a time, it can work in your favour.

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Jamie, first male and second overall ran his second edition of the BRR this year and beat his time last year by massive chunks of time, even though this year’s edition was a marathon short because of the adverse weather conditions which meant Stage 3 had to be cancelled and proclaimed a day of rest by the RD Greg Donovan to ensure the safety of the runners.

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Jamie: Last year’s race was very hot, dry and arid. It was completely different race to this year. This year there was a lot of bush to run through as it has been wet here in the Simpson Desert. I certainly didn’t come back with some expectation of some finishing place. I kind of came for some fun and I’m just very happy about the way it has worked out. Also last year I hadn’t done a lot of preparation and since then I entered a lot of events to try and improve my focus as I don’t have a coach. I was trying to find a way of concentrating my efforts. I did a couple of 50km mountain races last year, a hilly 20km race, the Two Bays in Melbourne in January and I finished off with the Australia 50km just 6 weeks ago. The preparation i put in for those put me in good shape for coming into this event.

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Fun? It didn’t look like fun to me when Jamie crossed the finish line. He had really pushed himself to his limit. 

Jamie: This morning we joked between the 3 of us running out there this morning. Andy Dubois, a very popular ultra-running coach here in Australia, was running with us. He went out very very hard this morning and almost blew all 3 of us up. We were lucky to dig ourselves out and finish in some shape that wasn’t too bad. 

So the three men in the leading pack got checked if I’m not mistaken?

Jamie: (laughs) It’s a regular thing in the ultra world here. I think i’ve done one race only where I didn’t get checked. I think I spent a lot of time in a dip in that race so the lady behind didn’t see me!  I think the distances are a real leveller and Elisabet is incredibly strong and does really well at these events.

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And the highlights of the BRR 2016 for both of them?

Elisabet: I think it’s a really friendly race. Experiencing the camp life has been great. From a running perspective, today has been great, just coming in, knowing I had won the race. Today’s course was beautiful as well, although we ran really really hard and it was quite painful.

Jamie: (Laughs) Running with Elisabet was my highlight.It’s a beautiful place to run and just how much different the course is this year both physically, geographically and also for me having put in so much effort trying to prepare myself for it.

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