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.

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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.

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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

support_patreon

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

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Episode 115 – Jason Schlarb, Speedgoat Karl, Elisabet Barnes

A_GRAVATAR

This is Episode 115 of Talk Ultra and we have an interview with Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb. We also speak with Elisabet Barnes about her Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun and Big Red Run double. Speedgoat Karl is with us on the countdown to the AT and of course we have the news from around the world.

00:16:46 Karl on the AT – http://atrecord.redbull.com/karl-meltzer-mobile/p/1

00:32:00 NEWS

HARDROCK

Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb 22:58 – 2nd fastest time

Xavier Thevenard 23:57

Jeff Browning 4th and what a double with WSER and now the fastest accumulated time

Anna Frost 29:02 5th fastest

Emma Roca 29:36

Bethany Lewis 31:57

00:48:30 INTERVIEW JASON SCHLARB

EIGER ULTRA TRAIL

Results:

Diego Pazos 11:39 – appears to be on fire with a podium in Transgrancanaria, win at MB80k and now this!

Mathis Dippacher 12:04

Jordi Gamito Baus 12:08

Notable – Ueli Steck was 26th in 14:35

Andrea Huser 13:09

Kathrin Götz 13:39

Juliette Blanchet 13:43

ANDORRA ULTRA TRAIL – Ronda dels Cimes

Nahuel Passerat 31:33

Kenichi Yamamoto

Nicola Bassi

Lisa Borzoi 37:25

Missy Gosney

Marta Poretti

DOLOMITES SKYRACE and VK

Tadei Pivk 2:03

Stian Overgaard 2:04

Martin Anthamatten 2:05

Laura Orgue 2:28

Elisa Desco 2:30

Celia Chiron 2:32

VK

Philip Goetsch set a new CR once again in 31:34 and Laura Orgue won the ladies race in 38:31, just 17 seconds shy of her own CR.

SPEEDGOAT 50K

Hayden Hawkes 5:25:04

Alex Nichols 5:27:42

Taste Pollmann 5:51:52

Abby Rideout 6:50:41

Kelly Wolf 7:13:46

Magdalena Boulet 7:30:10

Robert Young of the U.K. the controversy goes on…

Gonzalo Calisto, 5th at 2015 UTMB tests positive for EPO see the posts HERE

http://d.pr/i/12FWJ

Timmy Olson – American Tarzan. Discovery Channel HERE When Tim gets low on energy, he goes into his trademark “Animal Mode,” and enters the “Pain Cave” to get through it – training which will serve him well in the jungle!”

Coming up – Skyrunning World Champs this weekend HERE

02:07:00 INTERVIEW ELISABET BARNES

03:10:16 AUDIO – the meaning of life see the post HERE

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Flinders Tour – 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

River Run 100 | 100 kilometers | July 31, 2016 | website

River Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 31, 2016 | website

Canada

Quebec

Pandora 24 Ultra X Trail 100M | 100 miles | July 23, 2016 | website

China

Les Foulées de la Soie en Chine | 56 kilometers | July 31, 2016 | website

France

Drôme

86km | 86 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Haute-Corse

Via Romana – 62 km | 62 kilometers | July 31, 2016 | website

Haute-Garonne

52 km | 52 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

52 km Relais | 52 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

Haute-Savoie

Trail du Tour des Fiz | 61 kilometers | July 31, 2016 | website

Isère

Défi de l’Oisans | 200 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Trail de L’Etendard | 65 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

Jura

Tour du Lac de Vouglans | 71 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Savoie

La 6000D | 63 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail du Beaufortain | 105 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Chiemgauer 100 k Mountain Ultra Run | 100 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Chiemgauer 100 mi Mountain Ultra Run | 100 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

Brandenburg

Berliner MauerwegNachtlauf | 62 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Guadeloupe

Rèd Mammel | 50 kilometers | July 22, 2016 | website

Ultra Transkarukera | 120 kilometers | July 22, 2016 | website

Iceland

Hengill Ultra 50km | 50 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Hengill Ultra 81km | 81 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

India

Himachal Pradesh

The Himalayan Crossing | 353 kilometers | July 26, 2016 | website

The SPITI | 126 kilometers | July 29, 2016 | website

Indonesia

Mount Rinjani Ultra | 52 kilometers | July 29, 2016 | website

Italy

Aosta Valley

Monte Rosa Walser Ultra Trail | 50 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Sicily

Etna Trail | 64 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Südtirol Ultra Skyrace – 121 km | 121 kilometers | July 29, 2016 | website

Südtirol Ultra Skyrace – 66 km | 66 kilometers | July 29, 2016 | website

Veneto

Trans d’Havet Ultra | 80 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Kenya

Amazing Maasai Ultra | 75 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Madagascar

Boby Trail | 80 kilometers | August 05, 2016 | website

Isalo Raid – Grand Raid | 80 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Namoly Trail | 50 kilometers | August 05, 2016 | website

Mongolia

Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100K | 100 kilometers | August 03, 2016 | website

Philippines

TransCebu Ultramarathon 105 Km | 105 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

TransCebu Ultramarathon 55 Km | 55 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

Russia

Elbrus Mountain Race by adidas outdoor | 105 kilometers | August 04, 2016 | website

Golden Ring Ultra Trail T100 | 100 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

Golden Ring Ultra Trail T50 | 50 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

South Africa

Griffin 50 Mile | 50 miles | July 23, 2016 | website

Washie 100 | 100 miles | July 22, 2016 | website

Spain

Aragon

Calcenada Vuelta al Moncayo – 104 km | 104 kilometers | August 05, 2016 | website

Gran Trail Aneto-Posets | 109 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Vuelta al Aneto | 58 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Catalonia

105 km | 105 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

55 km | 55 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Ultra | 104 kilometers | August 05, 2016 | website

Principality of Asturias

Ultra Trail DesafíOSOmiedo | 86 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Sweden

Tierra Arctic Ultra | 120 kilometers | August 05, 2016 | website

Switzerland

Grisons

Swiss Alpine Marathon K78 | 78 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Valais

La Spéci-Men | 72 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Turkey

Gökhan Türe Ultra | 90 kilometers | July 22, 2016 | website

Long Course | 75 kilometers | July 22, 2016 | website

Medium Course | 60 kilometers | July 22, 2016 | website

RunFire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon | 220 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Cumbria

Lakes Sky Ultra | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

East Riding of Yorkshire

The Montane Lakeland 100 | 100 miles | July 29, 2016 | website

The Montane Lakeland 50 | 50 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

Hampshire

Oxfam Trailwalker GB (South) | 100 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Scotland

Run the Blades | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

USA

Arkansas

Full mOOn 50K | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

California

Harding Hustle 50K | 50 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Ragnar Trail Tahoe | 136 miles | July 22, 2016 | website

Salt Point 50 km | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

San Francisco Ultramarathon | 52 miles | July 31, 2016 | website

Colorado

50 Mile | 50 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

Grand Mesa 100M | 100 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

Grand Mesa 37.5M | 60 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Grand Mesa 50M | 50 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

Never Summer 100km | 100 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Ouray 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | August 05, 2016 | website

Wild West Relay | 200 miles | August 05, 2016 | website

Maine

Down East Sunrise Trail Team Relay | 102 miles | July 22, 2016 | website

Maryland

Rosaryville 50k Trail Runs | 50 kilometers | July 24, 2016 | website

Minnesota

Minnesota Voyageur Trail 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

New York

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

North Carolina

The March | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Oregon

Cascade Lakes Relay | 132 miles | July 29, 2016 | website

Relay | 132 miles | July 29, 2016 | website

Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | July 23, 2016 | website

Siskiyou Out Back Trail Run 50M | 50 miles | July 23, 2016 | website

Texas

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

Washington

White River 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Kanawha Trace 50K | 50 kilometers | July 30, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

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

Hilloopy 100+ Relay | 100 miles | July 30, 2016 | website

03:14:00 CLOSE

03:17:15

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

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

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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

TheGuardian_BRR

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 – Stage 5 Marathon 1 “Mohan Marathon” Marathon 2 “Roseberth Marathon” – 84.39km

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Elisabet Barnes nailed it today, no question, no doubts, she showed the boys how to run a multi-stage race and she also showed them how to pace and judge an 84km stage. Elisabet is the Queen of the Simpson Desert.

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An 0430 wake up call really did have everyone walking around a little goggle eyed this morning, particular with the very low temperatures and biting wind. It was 2 degrees but it felt below freezing standing around waiting for the 0600 start.

A roaring fire is a key element of the Big Red Run, irrespective of the time of the day, this morning was no different. A huddle of runners crowded the fire, arms outstretched, I am sure they think, if I can get my hands warm, the rest of my body will follow.

Trackers were attached to packs, compulsory reflective vests were handed out (for the dark hours) and just after 0600, the runners departed for an 84km double marathon over the Simpson Desert.

A hour of darkness soon had holes of sunlight punched through it as sunrise came, it was an incredible start to the day and it was a wonderful sign that a full day of clear skies was ahead. The chilly wind continued to blow, some would say, they were perfect running conditions.

Andy Dubois lying in 3rd overall gave it everything today, it was an all or nothing scenario and one that I love to see and applaud. He could have rested and be satisfied with his podium place but no, he tried his best to take 2nd from Jamie Hildage and lets face it, had he had a good day and Elisabet Barnes a bad day, overall victory may well have been a possibility?

Andy pushed and lead over the first marathon but Elisabet kept him in sight, gaining no more than a few minutes, he tested those behind and Elisabet summed it up on the line, ‘The pace early on today was fast, right from the gun Andy went hard and he wanted to test himself and us. I held on not wanting to ket him out of sight, you may think my time margin is a good buffer going into a long day but it can soon go!’

Jamie Hildage echoed Elisabet’s comments, ‘I had a 20min margin over Andy and he wanted to take it back. I had to keep an eye on him but in all honesty, the early pace was far faster than I would have preferred to go for an 84km day.’

Andy pushed but the wheels started to come off and he paid for the early pace, Elisabet and Jamie passed him just as the first marathon concluded and then Elisabet made a move and slowly pulled away from Jamie. Once Elisabet had the lead, she does what she does best, put her head down and knock out a metronomic pace to take not only her 3rd stage victory out of 4 but the overall 2016 Big Red Run victory.

This terrain, the desert, multi-stage days and relatively flat terrain are Elisabet’s domain and she really did dominate this event, ‘So it’s been a good week in the office! Today was the final competitive stage of the Big Red Run, the long stage of approx 84km and it was TOUGH! Some of the boys decided to race very hard from the start and despite my lead going into the stage it was a case of holding on and hoping for the best. Luckily their wheels fell off and not mine so all ended well. I am really chuffed to have won the race outright!’

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Jamie held on for 2nd place arriving 30 minutes after Elisabet. A previous Big Red Run competitor, Jamie had improved his time considerably after his last effort and he was very happy. Andy crossed the line 3rd and looked equally ecstatic, he raised his arms, cheered and well truly embraced the tape. ‘I had to risk all today and hope that I could possibly break Jamie and take back his time advantage. In reality, I had nothing to loose as 4th place was well behind me and I would have had to well and truly explode to loose my 3rd place. My strategy was to go hard over the first marathon and see what happened. I did what I could and I am happy with 3rd place.’

Braddon DB Johnson has run well all week, always around the top 4 and today was no different, he finished the day with a huge smile content with his Simpson Desert experience. Equally, Helen Durand has been an extremely consistent 2nd lady, she too crossed the line looking incredibly happy and surprisingly fresh with her days running.

At the time of writing this, the runners have been out on course for just under 13 hours (1900 hours) and they have till 0400 on Saturday to complete the distance. With darkness, the temperatures are dropping and the pitch black sky is coming to life with an amazing display of stars.

It’s going to be a long night, wish everyone well and we will post results and times tomorrow. Now let the slide shows begin, let the fire roar and lets cheer the runners in!

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Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 4 ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 31km (revised route)

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Day 3 of the Big Red Run unfortunately had no racing due to freak weather conditions during night 1 and throughout the day on race day 2. It left the Simpson Desert a mud bath of sticky clay. However, the runners embraced the day and used it for personal admin a real sense of group spirit came together where everyone helped each other to make uncomfortable camp conditions considerably better. The sun shone all day it is quite remarkable how the earth dried out. Overnight the temperatures really dropped (2 deg) leaving one or two runners with an uncomfortable night. Braddon DB Johnson whilst holding a hot mug of steaming coffee said. “It was in interesting night… I had every item of clothing on and was still a little chilly!”

As the early morning mist burnt off, a glorious day welcomed the runners for a revised stage 4 that left camp via Big Red dunes. A clockwise loop with a couple of dog legs thrown in then re-navigated the runners back to Big Red and the finish line from which they had started.

James Kohler has been trying all week for victory, often leading the stages in the early kilometres only to find in the latter stages. Today though, the 30km racing distance and a days rest played into his hands and from the off he opened just a slight gap from the usual protagonists of Elisabet Barnes, Andy Dubois, Jamie Hildage and Braddan DB Johnson.

As the run progressed, James slowly pulled away but it was a very slender margin and Elisabet made sure she kept him in sight throughout the day, she had said early in the morning, ‘Today is all about being sensible and making sure I don’t extend too much energy ahead of tomorrow’s 80km+ long stage!’

No doubt Andy, Jamie and Braddan had similar thoughts. James though seized his opportunity and ran a great stage 4 to take 1st place in 2:56:03. Elisabet crossed the line 2nd in 2:59:45 and Andy Dubois placed 3rd in 3:01:04.

It was a close day with the top 3 men and ladies all finishing within a 30-minute window. Jamie Hildage placed 4th and Braddan DB Johnson 5th, their respective time of 3:04:06 and 3:08:58. Helen Durand was the 2nd lady 3:20:03, she has performed consistently throughout the race and Anne Bennet seized the 3rd place in 3:33:27.

Tomorrow is the long day and runners will be resting up in camp and preparing for a long day ahead. Weather and ground conditions have improved dramatically over the last 24-hours and although a new route has been planned, hopefully it will include much of the terrain of the original proposed route. Camp will be moved tomorrow and although it may not be located in the original camp 5 location, it will be placed close leaving the final stage 6 ‘fun run’ as close to 8km as possible. After all, there is a very serious barbecue, cold beers, showers and some entertainment planned for post race recovery.

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Big Red Run 2016 – The Interviews, Part One

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Niandi Carmont has joined me at Big Red Run (pictured above), she was originally going to run the main event but a foot fracture after The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica relegated her to the sidelines and recovery. However, injury progressed well and although not up to full speed or endurance, Niandi decided to run the Little Red Run (150km) which is the sister event to the the bigger, 250km main event.

It was always planned that Niandi would accompany my photography with a selection of interviews for web and Talk Ultra podcast. Here are the first two.

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The Turner Threesome: Dennis Turner, Megan Turner and Vicki Turner

Now what a nice day to spend a family holiday! Running 250km in the Australian outback is what I would call an off-the-beaten track holiday if ever there was one. I look at the three tired, dusty, smiling faces in front of me and I think it’s probably not such a bad idea. A father and 2 daughters taking time out to do something different, something that probably tightens and strengthens family bonds in the name of a common cause: type 1 diabetes.

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Vicki’s 9-year old daughter Ella has type 1 diabetes.

Dennis explains: Vicki was the instigator behind all this. She asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I said yes and here we are. I also spent a lot of time out in the desert in the 70’s with the oil exploration crew and I’ve travelled across the desert 4 or 5 times since then. It’s a beautiful country. It’s very green at the moment and a bit wet compared with what it normally is. Usually it is very  dry and desolate with not much covering the dunes.

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Vicki: Dad loves walking. He walked from one side of England to the other last year. As for myself I’ve never experienced the outback like this.We’re from South Australia.

Younger sister Megan chips in excitedly: I’m here for the fun of it. It’s all an adventure really. Once my father was convinced, he got me into doing this. He phoned me up, told me we were going to go on a trip across the desert but he failed to mention it involved walking 150km. We’ve stuck together so far as he likes to keep an eye on me (giggles).

But then her father goes on to explain that they’ve not taken the event light-heartedly and spend most weekends getting in mileage on the beaches and in the dunes as well as training a couple of times during the week. We get on pretty well. The desert brings out who you are, your character and your stamina. We love the outback all 3 of us, we’ve done a lot of travelling in it over the years.  But it is a real challenge mentally and physically to do it at my age.

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I ask him if he’s proud of his daughters and there’s no hesitation in his reply: Absolutely. I’m very proud of them. 

I can see on their faces that they are touched by the compliments and as I leave then I cannot help but think that the three of them will look back on this privileged time spent together in a remote part of their beautiful country with the conviction that they had chosen the right time in their lives to take up the challenge together.

***END***

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Sabrina Paxton: Thelma & Louise Oz-style.

A long-legged blonde with blue eyes and a self-mocking, bubbly style, Sabrina is a gutsy lady. You can see she’s an outdoorsy girl. Mother of 2 young boys and a passionate yoga teacher, she loves to share her experiences (and food) with others. Here, have some of these pine nuts in your freeze-dried Mexican rice. Good fats. And here’s a bit of mint dark chocolate too.

I warm to this runner who almost didn’t make it to the start. In fact she DIDN’T make it to the start.

I missed my interconnecting flight. My first flight from Sydney into Brisbane was a bit late. I missed check-in cut-off time. The hostess wouldn’t let me on. I sat in the airport for a while panicking. My friends on social media and Quantas pointed me in the direction of Isa, to hire a vehicle to come down here. So I hired a commercial vehicle with big headlights and I drove across the outback through the night. There wasn’t ever really a moment where I thought I was going to give up, I had so much community support. So many people have gotten behind me to enter this race. I knew when things didn’t go according to plan that I had to explore every possible avenue to get here. Admittedly I was a bit scared, I’d never driven through the outback before, never mind 700km alone at night just before a 250km multi-stage.

I ask her what gave her the adrenaline to think straight and react so quickly.

I guess I was in the frame of mind I had put in so much preparation and there was so much expectation. You just need to draw strength and reserves to pull it together. I was so focussed on getting here. I was pretty wired actually. There was only one point where I was quite fatigued so I stopped and got about 40 minutes rest, I set my alarm for 40min. I drove at about 70 to 80km an hour. It was at least 10 hours solid driving. I had the whole day in Brisbane to plan this carefully and did some research on the internet on distances and fuel stops so I took 2 jerrycans of fuel with me. I flew into Brisbane at 6.30, picked up the car, filled up the 2 jerrycans and even then I only just made it with the fuel gauge needle in red the last 80km to go. 

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This lady is not only gutsy but she can think on her feet. A little perplexed I ask her why she hadn’t planned her connecting flights any better.

I am a sole parent to 2 boys who have never spent a day away from me really so I couldn’t orchestrate any different times where my kids could be looked after by a person they trusted. It was my only option to get that flight. There was a 2-hour buffer time. It is just unfortunate hat that flight landed so late.

Sabrina has other qualities too, which are no doubt very important in long-distance endurance events. She turns negatives into positives and manages her expectations.

Looking back, I really enjoyed that ride into Birdsville, with sun up and all the beautiful landscapes. I felt very privileged. I had missed the start but it was no big deal as the organisers dropped me off at check-point one. Once I got out the car I pretty much put my race-kit on and started running. At the finish they had added a 13km section for me to make up for missing the first part. 

So all is well that  ends well. I believe that you can still do what you want to do even if it feels like life has thrown you a bit of a hard situation.

***END***

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Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 3 ‘Arpilindika Marathon’ – 42.195km (Cancelled)

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‘Arpilindika Marathon’ – 42.195km – cancelled

Adversity brings out the best in people, it’s the ‘Dunkirk’ spirit where everyone rallies around to make individual hardships a group hardship and with a little commitment, dedication and tenacity, woes and problems are taken away.

This is very much the spirit this morning on day 3 of the 2016 Big Red Run.

Race day has been cancelled due to out of the extraordinary weather during the night of day 1 and throughout day 2. In summary, the rain came in during the night and turned the Simpson Desert into a mud bath of some of the most sticky clay I have ever witnessed or in certain places, flooding!

Yes, the desert has become something akin to a UK Lakeland fell or Yorkshire moor.

They are freak conditions that have left the race team and runners in somewhat of a dilemma.

A night of reflection gave Lucas and Greg (race directors) an opportunity to look at options and an early departure from camp to recce the surrounding area confirmed several things:

  1. Racing would not happen on day 3.
  2. Camp would not be able to be moved due to excessive flooding, boggy ground and unpredictable roads that would potentially leave numerous vehicles bogged down.
  3. Day 4 will have to be a ‘new’ route to avoid some of the worst conditions and to ensure that vehicle access is possible at certain sections of the course for safety and checkpoints.
  4. Day 5 will hopefully still remain a long day of 80+ km but due to camp not moving, it will have to be re-worked to allow for the new start and end locations.
  5. Day 6, the final day is yet to be confirmed.

Greg confirmed at his early morning update that all of the above could change as they work through plans to make things happen. However, the sun has come out, the skies are blue and the conditions are already starting to dry out.

In camp, the Dunkirk spirit is at it’s best with groups of runners grabbing spades and clearing walkways to help alleviate everyone from the muddy mess. Clothes are being dried on make-shift washing lines and bushes, feet are being warmed by a fire and in an amongst all this there is a great deal of laughter as music fills the camp. The only real downside is that the flies have returned…

Today, the Simpson Desert and the Big Red Run is turning into a scene of ‘Survivor’ and on reflection, although everyone would have preferred a full racing day, the experience will be one to remember.

Greg and his team are now working flat out to make things happen and in the last 5-minutes I have had an update on plans for the coming days.

  • Tomorrow, stage 4 will be approximately the same distance as planned with a re-working of the route to miss the most affected areas and allow vehicle staff for crew access and safety. Overnight camp will remain in the same place.
  • Stage 5 will be a long stage of 80+ km (tbc) and the route will have slight modifications but it will finish at the original camp site as planned. This will allow Greg and his team to move the whole camp from it’s current location to the originally planned location while the runners are out on course.
  • Stage 6 will be as originally planned, a short un-timed run into the town of Birdsville.
  • The Big Red Bash – an open air concert originally planned to take place next to the Big Red Dunes has now been moved to the town of Birdsville. With over 7000 people travelling to the concert, the risk of vehicles getting stuck in the outback was far too high.

All-in-all, Greg and has team have done a remarkable job to pull all this together at such short notice. As I said, the 2016 Big Red Run will be one to remember!

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