Episode 132 of Talk Ultra and we talk ‘The Road To Sparta’ with Dean Karnazes. Mike Wardian tells us how difficult it is to cover 20-miles at Barkley and Janine Canham tells us about multi-day running, the Hong Kong run scene and the 9 Dragons race.
I am going solo this week. Karl is on the road and has been for sometime promoting his up and coming movie on his Appalachian Trail FKT (info HERE) and Niandi is busy with work…
So here I am, recording solo literally just before I jump on a plane and head for Morocco and the 32nd Marathon des Sables.
Just a little info on Niandi – the cam boot is off and slowly but surely she is moving around more. Pool sessions daily and strength work in the gym are all falling into place and we have set ourselves a little 3-day fast packing for early May as a target. Running may be a way off yet, this fracture was more serious than the one a year ago.
Me? Well, I had a weekend off work with Niandi in Paris which was pretty awesome and then I followed that with a trip to Norway to work as a stills photographer on a feature film. Something new for me and I loved it… I am a real fitm fan so to work behind the scenes with the crew and actors was just incredible. I will be back in Norway at the end of April for 2 more days on set
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein – just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE You can download the Tunein APP HERE
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Well the big news is all about a little race in Tennessee that usually nobody finishes. This year one person did, John Kelly. The 15th finisher. However, his incredible victory in many ways was overshadowed by what first looked like Gary Robbins missing the 60-hour cut-off by 6-seconds. The reality was, Gary had gone off course and navigated his way back to the yellow gate the wrong way – he would have been a DQ even had he been inside the 60-hour time. It all makes for a great story and you can read more HERE. However, lets celebrate John Kelly being the 15th finisher of what is arguably, the toughest race in the world.
If you need clarification on ‘toughest’ – I caught up with Mike Wardian who got lost on lap-1 and eventually finished the first 20-mile loop outside the 12-hour cut-off.
INTERVIEW with MIKE WARDIAN
Georgia Death Race
Avery Collins won the 74-mile race ahead of Kyle Boykin and in the process obtained a Western States slot. What has followed is a Tweet/ FB storm as Dave Mackey has called Collins out for smoking dope (a banned substance on WADA’s list). There has been much chatter with in the community and this will rumble on. Bob Shebest was 3rd.
Aliza Lapierre won the ladies race ahead of Jackie Merritt and Alondra Moody – 14:00, 14:24 and 14:58 respectively.
Kilian announced his year! Everest figures and an attempt at the Bob Graham Round.
Surprisingly, his run calendar is full, no doubt due to the run series that is currently a little under the radar…. Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre Zinal, a return to a super stacked UTMB and of course Hardrock 100 and Ultra Pirineu figure. From a UK perspective, KJ will race at Glen Coe which is awesome news.
Jon Olsen and Gina Slaby took top honours running 154.58 and 142.38 miles respectively.
American River 50
Scott Trummer beat Zach Bitter by 13-mins 6:03 to 6:13 and Rich Hanna was 3rd. Vanessa Taylor was top lady ahead of Melissa Penwell and Kelly Cronin – 7:29, 7:37 and 8:26.
El Reventon Mountain Race
Aritz Egea is back taking a win ahead of Miguel Heras by 12-min – 3:48 to 4:00. Cristofer Clemente placed 3rd. Dominique Van Mechgelen won the ladies’ race in 5:09.
The racing scene in Hong Kong is growing and growing and I caught up with Brit, Janine Canham who has lived there for 25-years. She has witnessed the run scene grow and she tells us about her running, multi-day running and the recent 9 Dragons race.
INTERVIEW with JANINE CANHAM
Recently I was in Bulgaria with Dean Karnazes and it was just too much of an opportunity to pin him down and talk about his up and coming book The Road To Sparta which is currently being released worldwide and will be available in the UK from late April. Read more HERE
Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
John Kelly was the 15th and only finisher of the 2017 Barkley. An incredible achievement and something that didn’t come easy (his 3rd attempt) for the Washington DC runner. His time of 59:30 shows just how close it was. However, many would say (including Laz the race director) that 30-minutes leeway is far too much in what is universally considered the ‘hardest’ race in the world.
Kelly had ran the first 4-laps with Canada’s Gary Robbins who was faced with a repeat of 2016 when he ran a similar story with Jared Campbell (who went on to win the race) for the 2nd time.
Kelly and Robins had traded blows, helped each other along and then at the end of the 4th lap they went there respective ways – one clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. A rule introduced by Laz to ensure less finishers and a race to the line. Both didn’t finish in 2016!
It was on this lap that the weather changed. Rain, mist, fog and of course sleep deprivation bullied the runners as they searched for the 13 books from which they must tear out a page.
Kelly triumphed arriving at the infamous yellow gate first having taken ‘anything’ he could find from the course to keep warm – a orange hat, a plastic bag and so on. As his hands touched the gate, he asked, “Where is Gary?”
It was a question many asked and as the 60-hour cut-off approached Robbins could be seen sprinting up the road, poles in hand, desperation on his face…
No – he was 6-seconds over the mythical 60-hour cut-off time. There was no way Laz would be lenient… the ultra world collapsed and universal sympathy was sent to Robbins on what was the most heartbreaking 6-seconds in running.
The reality is, it wasn’t as close as many first thought. Robbins had made a navigational mistake in the mist and fog. Although he made the yellow gate with all the relevant pages of the book, he did not take the correct course and therefore Laz would not have permitted the finish, even if Robbins had been within the 60-hour cut-off. Robbins tagged the gate from the wrong direction and in the videos posted on Canadian Running you can see the desperation of a broken man.
So, just as Jim Walmsley became famous with going off course at Western States, Gary Robbins may well become more famous and gain more recognition than the 15th Barkley finisher, John Kelly.
He and the 2017 Barkley, rightly or wrongly, will be remembered as the most stunning 6-seconds in ultra running and it is comparable to those 8-seconds that separated Greg Lemond from Laurent Fignon at the 1989 Tour de France.
Both John Kelly and Gary Robbins are legends of the sport for undertaking the 5-loop beast at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee as are all those who toe the line.
But we should all remember John Kelly for achieving what so few have done… Robbins brings us tears but as he says below, “I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own.”
Over the years, the Barkley has grown and grown in stature – funny for a race with $1.60 entry fee.
Everyone will now look to 2018. Robbins for sure will go away, lick his wounds and will be back… Kelly summed it up though, ‘Oh no, next years course is going to be even harder!’
40-runners will receive the letter notifying them that they have been unlucky to gain entry to the 2018 Barkley – would you like to be one of them?
Perspective – a statement from RD Laz:
I wish I had never said 6 seconds… Gary had just come in after having run off courseand missing the last 2 miles of the Barkley, that is of course, not a finish. I do, however, always record when runners come in, whether they are finishing a loop, or not. So I had looked at the watch, even tho there was no possibility that he would be counted as a finisher. When someone asked if he had gotten in before the limit; I foolishly answered. I never expected the story to somehow become that he had missed the time limit by 6 seconds. He failed to complete the course by 2 miles. The time, in that situation, is meaningless. I hate it, because this tale perpetuates the myth that the Barkley does not have a course. The Barkley is a footrace. It is not an orienteering contest, nor a scavenger hunt. The books are nothing more than unmanned checkpoints. The Boston marathon has checkpoints and you have to show up at all of them or you can be disqualified… that does not mean you are allowed to follow any route you choose between checkpoints. Now, the class with which Gary handled this terrible disappoinment at the end of a truly magnificent performance… that was exceptional and is, in and of itself, a remarkable achievement. But he did not miss the time limit by 6 seconds, he failed to complete the Barkley by 2 miles.
Of course, Gary Robbins, ever the gentleman has soon penned just a few words to congratulate John Kelly and clarify the final moments of his 2017 Barkley. Read the full article and post HERE
“…I thrashed my way to the road and put my head down and gutted out the hardest three minutes of my life to collapse at the gate, overtime, and from the wrong direction. I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own. That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me.”
Episode 93 of Talk Ultra has an interview with lady on fire, Megan Kimmel. We also speak to Harald Zundel about running long and super hard races. We also speak with Greg Donovan about running the 4 Deserts Grand Slam and the Big Red Run in Australia. Speedgoat is with us and we have some new music and new logo!
This weeks show is a Marathon des Sables and Barkley Marathons special. We have daily chats from the Sahara with top Brit and 5th overall, Danny Kendall. By contrast, we also have daily chats with actor, Bertie Portal who undertook the challenge of a lifetime at his first MDS. Barkley Marathons are infamous and we speak with rookie ‘fun run’ finisher Jamil Coury and we also speak with two time finisher and 2014 champ, Jared Campbell. The News, a Meltzer Moment, Up & Coming Races and of cousre Speedgoat Karl.
Lake Sonoma 50
Zach Miller 6:11:10 CR
Rob Krar 6:12:14
Sage Canaday 6:12:58
Emily Harrison 7:26:15 CR
Step Howe 7:33:24
Kaci Kickteig 7:37:42
Marathon des Sables
El Morabity 20:27:37
Al Aqra 20:37:09
Karl Meltzer 9:09:40
Mick Jurynec 10:05:39
Cody Draper 10:44:26
Jen Segger 12:32:02
Linday Tesar 13:04:55
Tonya Littlehales 13:10:14
Jeff Browning 16:49:53
Jason Koop 19:13:56
Justin Faul 20:30:51
Candice Burt 23:04:08
Cherri Marcinko 24:26:18
Lisa Jones 25:00:31
Paul Navesey 6:11:28
Richard Ashton 6:23:26
Mark Perkins 6:24:41
Louise Waterman Evans 7:06:08
Edwina Sutton 7:09:21
Sarah Perkins 7:19:43
Scott Jurek and Rickey Gates – UK and Bob Graham Round
“Quite possibly one of the most difficult courses I have done in my life! Over 28,000 feet of ascent in 65 miles, yet amazingly gorgeous!”
The Barkley Marathons are infamous. It’s the trail that eats its young… on this show, we have an interview with Barkley rookie, Jamil Coury who completed the 60-mile fun run and an interview with 2-time finisher and 2014 champ, Jared Campbell
‘Lazarus. A sadist? I had a perspective about him. He is soft spoken. He is a great guy. He is kind of like your inspirational High School or College coach. He is going to make you to dig deep. He is going to push you to that edge and push to see who you really are once you strip away the layers. I thought I was done after 2-loops. I got to that point where I was already thinking about my race report, ‘How the Barkley beat me.’ I rose above it; I found that extra to get through that 3rd loop. So, Lazarus does want to see you succeed but he wants participants to not believe they can do it, to push through so much to get to the end. That is why the course is a genius thing… most events design a course to help you finish, they want you to finish. This race is opposite, they do everything to help you fail.’
IC: The Barkley marathons have just finished, once again, only one person finished the full five loops; Jared Campbell. Today I am speaking to Jamil Coury who finished the ‘fun run’ (60-miles) at his first attempt. You survived?
JC: I did, I somehow survived. It was beyond expectations of how difficult it would be. I read the stories, I read the book, I have talked to friends but I was blown away by how difficult this race is!
IC: can you put it into words? I know friends who have gone to this race with high expectations but the course has chewed them up and thrown them out with only 1-loop at the mot covered.
JC: I had only seen about 2-miles of the course before race day. Much of the trail is cross-country, you occasionally have a little good trail but mostly your navigating and struggling to remain upright and move forward. It was interesting at the start. The field is probably 50/50; those with experience and those that are virgins. My plan was to stick with veterans and use them to help me on the first lap. A buddy, Alan had finished 4 fun runs so he was a great person to follow. We probably had a group of 10 in the early stages. At the first book it was like a feeding frenzy; a scene out of the movie, ‘The Hunger Games.’ We all wanted our pages ASAP so we didn’t loose the veterans. It was high intensity. It was like survival, I just wanted to keep those guys in sight.
IC: From following the race, a nail in the coffin was the weather. You had some really horrible stuff thrown at you.
JC: We did! It was calm at the start but then it started raining and it didn’t let up. We then had snow and high winds on the peaks. It really took people out. Either they weren’t prepared or it was so cold that they goy hypothermic.
IC: Your strategy was to follow so that you could get around loop-1. Did that work for you?
JC: Yes it did but I was working too hard for so early in the race. I sort of had no choice… I stayed with the group and made it around without too much issue. It was a good strategy.
IC: How difficult was the terrain? We hear the stories, we see some pictures and of course a movie is imminent about the Barkley. I have also interviewed avid Horton, Nick Hollon and Jared Campbell. They all say it’s your worse nightmare… it rips you up and it has so much climbing. Is it that bad?
JC: Yes for sure. The course is designed to push you to your limits and then find out what happens when you reach that point. You are going through wood, cross-country, you rock climb, you try to traverse muddy climbs, you go through briers that rip you apart and the mud, oh the mud; I think I will have nightmares about the mud. It was just crazy. Plus everything was so steep. I had done calculations and compared it to Hardrock 100. I am used to that terrain but some of these climbs are just like mountain climbing. I used poles on loop-2 and 3 and you are just digging in, pulling, grabbing trees, whatever you can to keep going. You feel like you will fall off!
IC: Stats show for the full race that it has almost 60,000 ft. of vertical in comparison to 33,000 for Hardrock. That’s just crazy… even Nolan’s had 45,000ft. In the fun run you will have around 37,000ft.
JC: The loops are little subjective. They say the loops are 20-miles but they are more 24-25 miles.
IC: What time did you do the first loop in?
JC: We started at 0645 so I guess just a little over 9-hours. I think 5 of us came in together.
JC: We were going to do a 20-min turnaround but I headed out first. I wanted a head start and I felt they were stronger than me.
IC: Did you alternate for this loop?
JC: No, loops 1 and 2 are the same direction, 3 and 4 or the opposite direction and 5 is your choice but it depends if you are with someone else for the last loop. They won’t allow 2-people to do the same loop.
IC: With 1-loop done did you feel confident to retrace or is it not that easy?
JC: I felt comfortable for parts. In the middle in the mountains it started to get tough. The f1st loop went so quickly with so many little changes, left, right and so on. Plus it was going to be dark. My plan was to get as far as possible before darkness came. Lazarus the RD told us we needed to be prepared for a cold night. So, I took extra clothes and that was critical. I had enough gear. I must say, having been with people on loop-1 it was nice to be alone on loop-2 and use my skills to navigate. It was kind of exciting. I think I made it to book-4 with no issues.
IC: That’s good going. In the races history many don’t even get this far… mentally how difficult was it, so many different aspects; fatigue, navigation, temperatures which caused you the most distress?
JC: After book-4 it started to rain and sleet. I was getting cold and my hands were really cold. I was getting concerned and nervous. I was wondering to myself, I hope I can make it and then I saw lights! The group caught me. I would say that your body just gets sore. All the climbing adds up and you question, can I do this? The night, the conditions, it is just survival. The race has no aid stations, no helpers; you are against yourself and the elements. You are trying to stay alive.
IC: I guess that’s a bonus. Once you are on a loop you have no choice but to go to the end of at least that loop. I guess the problem comes when you get to the end of a loop. Making yourself go back out must be really tough… it’s a huge commitment.
JC: Oh yeah. Interestingly though, because it’s a big loop, the course is surrounded by groomed trail that they call ‘quitters roads.’ Literally you can be back in camp in a hour or so. It’s a huge mental challenge to quit. It’s easy to get out of a situation but it also makes it hard to go on. At the end of loop-2 I was not in a good shape. It was impossible to think of a 3rd loop. I knew it would take so long, I knew all the climbs that I would have to do and I was questioning how could I do it, and how could I get to the books.
IC: So you’re sitting with warm clothes, food and thinking of lap-3, what was happening around you, how many were left in the race.?
JC: Jared was already out on loop-3. We had seen him on the reverse loop at one of the book stations, 2nd I think, so we were near the end of our loop-2. Jared was hours ahead. I was with about 3-4 other guy’s. We had our little pack. As we approached the end of loop-2 we all discussed our plans. Nearly everyone was going to take a 1-hour break. I got back to camp but my crew would not let me stop. I was coming up with all sorts of excuses… my foot hurts, my ‘this’ hurts and so on. Deep down I didn’t want to quit but that is the Barkley game. I just kept doing what I was supposed to do; eat, caffeine, dry clothes and then I kind of just got moving again. I left with John Todd.
IC: Tough call eh, must have been so tempting to fall asleep and stay warm?
JC: A plus for sure was the weather, it was really improving, and it was something to look forward to. It really got me back out there to see it. I wasn’t sure if I would make the loop but I thought, get out, enjoy the day and see what happens.
IC: Did you do the final loop solo?
JC: I was mostly with John and Alan. We left loop-3 together and we just headed out and sort of took it as it came. We made the first book together and then we teamed up and worked book-to-book. Every now and again I took my own line but we always met up at books and we worked as a team, especially later. We were moving so slowly. We were going to be so close to the cut-off. We had a 40-hour cut off to hit and in comparison to our 9-hour 1st loop, the 3rd was taking 16-hours. The night and the poor weather had taken so much… we never made it back after that, we were depleted on calories. We each would lead on sections and do navigation, it was a push though for the last hours, last books. We knew we would be close.
IC: And your finishing time?
JC: We did 39:56, so we had 4-mins to spare…
JC: Yep, very close.
IC: That must have been a pressured final hour?
JC: Hell yeah, the last book we had to get to had a climb called checkmate, it’s a super steep climb. We got to where the book should be but we couldn’t find the book. We kept walking past it and we had precious minutes to spare. We were panicking. The book was under a rock; it was in front of us but hidden. It sure added some drama. We ran the final 2-miles into camp. I think everyone in camp was more nervous than us!
IC: for sure, I was following on line and it was captivating, really touch and go.
JC: It was quite the experience. Nice to be under 40-hours.
IC: That would have been tough had you not made it.
JC: I was happy to get 3-loops. Under the time limit is a bonus.
IC: And you have the 3-loops are you tempted by 5?
JC: I am, yes!
IC: Something sick in that decision I think!
JC: Yes. Beforehand I was doing the math and I thought I could do 5. But the reality was different. I didn’t do the course justice. I didn’t prepare. Jared had a 40,000ft vertical day in training over a 23-hour period getting ready for Barkley. That is insane! I am looking forward to doing proper training and heading back next year. Knowing the course helps too. I enjoyed being alone and navigating, I look forward to more of that.
IC: The 52-hour record for the 5-loops, do you think that will go down or do you think Lazarus will try to keep making the course harder?
JC: Apparently this year’s course is the toughest they have had. Only really a 5-looper could answer that. We had 13-books this year too which is the most they have had. It’s tough to say, Jared was in great shape and he did almost 58-hours. For me this year it would be tough to imagine 5-loops.
IC: Yes, it’s a different ball game. The mental and physical jump is massive. Can I ask about the course, Jared for example is a great runner and a great hiker? Is this course about being a great hiker?
JC: It’s a mix. You definitely need to be comfortable on steep and technical terrain. You need to be comfortable on rocks, trees, bushes and kind of efficiently moving around this ever-changing terrain. Hikers do really well. You just need lots of time outdoors on tough terrain.
IC: Is it possible to say what percentage you ran in comparison to hike?
JC: It was lots of hiking… I don’t know percentages. I certainly could have run more on loop-3. We definitely walked runnable sections due to fatigue. You can’t think too much, you just need to do what you can.
IC: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to attempt Barkley?
JC: Vertical and vertical. Go across country, don’t use trail, go rough trail and practice navigation. Also get used to carrying a pack, you will need a pack with additional clothing, food and water. Also get used to night and how to function in bad conditions. Be specific. I am certainly going to do lots and lots of vertical; Nick Hollon, Jared and many others confirm this.
IC: Finally, entry to Barkley is infamous, how do you get in?
JC: Exactly, you need to know people, talk to them, you need to be told how to get in. It is what it is. It’s a unique part of the event…
Audio with Jamil Coury will be uploaded to Episode 59 of Talk Ultra available April 18th.
Jared Campbell will be on a future edition of the show discussing his 2014 victory
You can listen to Nickademus Hollon talk about Barkley HERE
The course itself, which has changed distance, route, and elevation many times since its inaugural run in 1986, currently consists of a 20-mile (32 km) loop with no aid stations except water at two points along the route and the runner’s parked car at the beginning of the loop.
Runners of the 100 Mile version run this loop five times, with loops three and four being run in the opposite direction and loop five being runner’s choice. Runners of the 60 mile ‘fun run’ (considered to be harder than Hardrock) complete three circuits of the loop.
With 54,200 feet (16,500 m) of accumulated vertical climb, the 100 mile run is considered to be one of the more challenging ultramarathons held in the United States, if not the world.
In addition to running, competitors must find between nine to eleven books, the number varies per year, and remove the page corresponding to the runner’s race number from each book as proof of completion.
The cut-off time for the 100 mile race is 12 hours per loop, and the cut-off for the 60 mile version of the race is 40 hours overall, which averages out to approximately 13 hours and 20 minutes per loop. Since the race’s inception in 1986, only fourteen runners out of about 800 have completed the 100 mile race within the official 60 hour cut-off (Mark Williams 1995, David Horton and Blake Wood 2001, Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer 2003, Jim Nelson and Mike Tilden 2004, Brian Robinson 2008 (55:42:27), Andrew Thompson 2009, Jonathan Basham 2010, Brett Maune 2011, Brett Maune 52:03:08 (new course record), Jared Campbell 56:00:15, John Fegyveresi 59:41:21 for 2012, Nick Hollon 57:39:24, Travis Wildeboer 58:41:45 for 2013, Jared Campbell 57:53:20 for 2014).
In 2006 nobody finished even the 60 mile ‘fun run’ in under 40 hours. The best women’s achievement is Sue Johnston’s 66 miles (106 km) in 2001.
The race is limited to 35 runners and usually fills up quickly the day registration opens. Potential entrants must complete an essay on “Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley.” The race starts at different times each year and is signaled by the lighting of a cigarette.
The course was designed by Gary Cantrell. His idea for the race was inspired upon hearing about Martin Luther King, Jr‘s assassinJames Earl Ray escaping from prison, and making it only 8 miles (13 km) after running 55 hours in the woods. Cantrell said to himself “I could do at least 100 miles.”
What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele Yates, Rob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; Zegama, Mont-Blanc, Matterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yateshadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th. (Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in Zegama, Canazei, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Matterhorn Ultraks, UROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for Bandera, Tarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Wayand the Winter 100.
Lizzie Wraithnew female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton Krupicka, Miguel Heras, Julien Chorier, Seb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His Transvulcania, UROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernandopushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian Jornet, Sebastian Chaigneau, Julien Chorier, Joe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKYand ULTRAin one of the endurance capitals of the world.
Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
On this weeks show we speak to 22 year old Nick Hollon who just recently finished the infamous Barkley Marathon. We catch up with Natalie White who tells us all about the future plans for UK based Inov-8 who are 10 years old in June. We have chat with Ozzies Brendan Davies and Shona Stepehenson who placed 5th and 2nd respectively at UTMF in Japan. In Talk Training we speak to Mitch from Stride UK. We also speak to Chris Mills in 15 mins of fame. We have a blog, the news, up and coming races and of course, Speedgoat.
Robbie Britton 6:47:17, Mark Davies 07:11:58, Mark Denby 07:12:04
Hayley Stockwell 8:47:51, Joan Clarke 8:57:08, Sandra Goldsack 9:12:54
once again continues to inspire, she recently broke her own speed record from running Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu – 319km in 63hr 8min.
She is now pack in Nepal to do the Mustang Mountain Trail Race – multi stage 277k in 8 days
1 Mahmut Yavuz 13:52 2 .Aykut Çelikbas 14:15 3 . Mustafa Poyraz 15:14
1. Elena Polyakova 15:00 2. Muazzez Özçelik 19:53 3. Bakiye Duran 22:55
Asier CUEVAS 6:53:14 Michaël BOCH 6:56:49 José Antonio REQUEJO 6:57:02
Irina ANTROPOVA 7:42:52, Sue HARRISON 7:48:12 and Sophia SUNDBERG 7:53:21
http://www.5000mileproject.org – British couple, David and Katherine are running 5000m across South America in 1 year! They started on July 28th. I have had some email chats with David and we hope to hook up within the next month or so.
Pierre Loic Deragne 17:52:10, Andy Pearson 17:55:12, Matt Cecill 18:42:22
Lee Kemp 7:02:50 (new CR), Ricky Lightfoot 7:09:30 and Matt Williamson 7:21:51
Tracy Dean had a real battle to the line with a calf injury but held on to win by just over 1 min ahead of Fionna Cameron 9:12:21. Third was Sandra Bowers in 9:17:02
00:2415 Brendan Davies – Brendan recently raced at Tarawera ultra in New Zealand. Part of the Inov-8 international team, he recently raced at the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji in Japan. He says it is the hardest race he has ever done… he was 5th. We caught up with Brendan just days after the race. Website HERE
00:36:37 Back to News
00:38:30 Shona Stephenson – Shona, a personal trainer and mum of two girls also raced at the Ultra Trail Mt Fuji. Like Brendan, she is also part of the Inov-8 international team. Shona secured an impressive second place behind US based Krissy Moehl, we caught up with Shona when she arrived back home in Australia. Website HERE
00:56:08 Back to News
01:05:10 Meghan Hicks – has raced at Marathon des Sables several times before. However, in 2013 she returned with several objectives. Her main priority was to make the podium but her ultimate goal was to win the race…. we caught up with Meghan at her home in Utah, less than 14 days after the iconic 28th edition of the MDS. Website HERE
01:43:10 Blog – Anton Krupicka is back…. he always writes a very detailed daily post. Here is a highlight:
Sat-AM: 6:59, 11,500′ ~ Grand Canyon Double Crossing
Used the standard South-North Kaibab route and clocked a 6:59:24 roundtrip, which was a 17min PR for me and I think ~30sec under Mackey’s previously 2nd-fastest time (but still 6min short of Dakota’s FKT). I didn’t know if I was going to go particularly quick today, but thought I’d just see how the legs were feeling. After getting down to the river pretty quickly (despite being slowed a minute or two by a descending mule train), I decided to keep going steady and see how things shook out. Felt pretty solid all the way to the North Rim, hiking a fair bit above the Supai Tunnel, but then on the way back down I was definitely already getting pretty tired by time I made it back to the residence water spigot. Things got progressively worse on the run back to Phantom Ranch (stiff, achey, tired legs), but I pounded three bottles of water there (spending 4min at the spigot) and then climbed quite strongly all the way to Tip-Off, but above there things got pretty weak/queasy as I ran out of water about half-way up. At Tip-Off I thought there was a really good chance I could still get Dakota’s record–even take 5min or so off of it–but in the end I was just psyched to sneak in under 7hr. Great run, and a good confidence boost going into TV, as I know I still have a lot of running fitness to gain. Had another 12min of running on the day, getting to and from the South Rim. Splits: River, :46; Phantom Ranch, :53-54; Cottonwood, 1:54; Residence, 2:09-10; Bridge, 2:42; Supai Tunnel, 2:56; North Rim, 3:22; Supai Tunnel, 3:35; Bridge, 3:43?; Residence, 4:04-6; Cottonwood, 4:16; Phantom, 5:08-12; River, 5:19; Tip-Off, 5:49; Skeleton Pt, 6:14; Cedar Ridge, 6:37; South Rim, 6:59:24.
01:45:10 Talk Training – this week we introduce Mitch to Talk Training. Mitch is based in the UK and has a practice called STRIDE UK (http://www.strideuk.com). In our first episode we touch on the importance of flexibility and stretching.
01:59:45 Natalie White Inov-8 – UK based company Inov-8 have a reputation for making some of the best running shoes available. They have made some iconic products such as the famous ‘Mud Claw’. In 2013 they are introducing a new clothing range to the brand, they have created an inter nation racing team and they also celebrate a 10th birthday in June. Website HERE
02:17:45 Nickademus Holllon – Barkley ultra marathon is infamous. It strikes fear into any runner. So difficult is this iconic ultra that finishers are few and far between, Nick Hollon not only completed the race in 2013 but at the age of 22 he also became the youngest ever winner. We caught up with Nick to hear all about how he achieved a finish and also to find out how started in running… he has a great story. Believe me, he doesn’t like to make things easy! Website HERE
03:09:45 Back to Karl
03:14:00 Meltzer Moment – Speedgoat gives us his Good, Bad and Ugly.
03:18:40 15 min of fame – this week we speak to Chris Mills (24fifty.com). Chris is just an ordinary guy. He actually hasn’t run an ultra…. yet! But I am sure when you listen to him, you will find his story inspiring.
03:3210 Races – the up and coming races for the next two weeks.