Western States Endurance Run #WSER 2015 – Race Preview

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

WSER logo ©westernstatesendurancerun

The stories been told many times, 1974, lame horse, decided to do it on foot and Gordy Ainsleigh pretty much invented modern day 100-mile trail running. I have never seen or witnessed the Western States course and that does frustrate me. However, we have many stories, videos and race reports to fill the gap. It’s not the toughest course out there but it has the history and it’s fair to say that if you are going to Western States to do well, you need to be a runner!

Looking at the top contenders, the female race all looks relatively simple. We have a host of past stars turning up and therefore it’s relatively easy to look on predict where the action will come from.

Stephanie Howe as the past champion is a hot favourite. Steph doesn’t race a great deal but when she does she makes it count: 3rd at TNF50, 2nd at Way To Cool 50k and most recently victory at Lake Sonoma – all looks good!

Larisa Dannis was 2nd last year and has had a 2nd at Overlook 50k, and 2 victories at Berkley Trail 50k and Door Country Fall 50 but what about results in 2015? I can’t find any which leaves me with a question mark.

However, expect curve balls from Magdalena Boulet and Michele Yates. Stephanie Howe may well be the defending champion and Larisa Dannis may well have placed 2nd in 2014 but I see the Boulet/ Yates duo rocking the front of the field and potentially winning and taking 2 of the top 3 podium places. In particular I see Yates as a hot favourite for the win!

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Emma Roca from Spain is an interesting inclusion to the race with an entry via the UTWT. Emma is an all round tough lady from an adventure racing background who has excelled at mountain races, I wonder if WSER will be too much of a running race?

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One lady who has to be watched even though she openly admitted to me that her form is not 100% is Nikki Kimball. Nikki has won the race 3 times, placed top 5 another 6 times and this year returns for her 10th race. Irrespective of the finish time or position, it’s going to be a special year for Nikki.

Aliza Lapierre was 3rd in 2012, 6th in 2013 and in 2014 won Bandera 100k. A fast lady, if she is on form. I certainly expect her to make her presence known amongst the top 5 but no results for 2015?

2009 winner, Anita Ortiz is returning after extensive injury and although 5 years have passed since the golden feeling of a WSER victory, one has to assume that if Anita is toeing the line, then she feels ready to race.

Pam Smith was 4th last year and won WSER in 2013. It certainly seems that Pam can blow hot or cold. Ask Speedgoat Karl, he dismissed her in ‘13’ and she smoked him on the course. If she is feeling good and not too tired from training, she may well win again. However, she could quite easily just scrape in under 24 hours?

My last shout goes to Kaci Lickteig, who placed 6th last year. She had a win at Javelina Jundred (100 mile) in late 2014 and a 2nd and 5th over the 50-mile distance in 2015. I think this year we will see a different run from Kaci

Ones to watch:

Denise Bourassa 7th last year

Meghan Arbogast 8th in 2014

Nicole Struder Rocky Raccoon win

Joelle Vaught 8th at Tarawera

Claire Price UTWT entrant

 

The men’s race to coin a phrase is stacked! It’s an interesting mix of talent with a couple or maybe even a triple of potential winners but also several runners who have all the potential to shake things up and mess the podium party.

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It may come as no surprise that Rob Krar is the out-and-out favourite. Rob has become one of the most impressive runners to watch and follow in the past couple of years and his rise has been incredible. 100-mile wins in 2014 at WSER, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run absolutely make him the man to beat.

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Francois d’Haene like Krar was unbeatable in 2014. He too had 3 100-mile victories but on completely different courses to Krar: UTMF, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous). Notice the difference? Mountain races! Francois can run but I just don’t think WSER will be lumpy or hard enough for the Frenchman.

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Ryan Sandes by contrast has placed 2nd at WSER before and although he does well on tough, challenging and mountainous courses, he can also run fast with the best of them. He told me in the latter half of 2014 that WSER would be a priority this year and he has spent a month in the area preparing. We must point out that it has been a rocky road for him recently and dropping at Transvulcania was not ideal preparation. However, we can all have bad days!

Dylan Bowman placed 3rd last year and I have to say has been on fire recently. He is the man in form and may well be the one who pushes Krar and possibly passes him? However, Dylan has already got plenty of racing and victories in his legs whereas Krar is fresh. It may well be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Seth Swanson placed 2nd last year and won Cascade Crest 100. In 2015, he was 2nd at Sean O’Brien and 6th at Sonoma. I have to be honest, I know little about him and just he surprised others and me in 2014, he may well do the same again!

Ian Sharman is rock solid at WSER. Over the years he improved year-on-year with 2014 being an exception. He has been quiet recently which is a great sign. It almost certainly means that he has been preparing meticulously, I really hope that he makes the podium.

Okay, now it gets tricky.

Brendan Davies had a great run last year, he is a runner and as such, WSER suits him and he should do well.

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Julien Chorier is meticulous, an incredible runner and if this race was full of mountains he’d be my top tip along with Francois. However, the course is not lumpy and as such I don’t think it’s a race for Julien to shine. I still expect a top 10 from him though.

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Gediminas Grinius is a new star with an incredible history. Like Francois and Julien I think he needs mountains to excel. One plus for him is the distance, he certainly likes to run longer and his recent victory at Transgrancanaria is proof that if he is feeling good in the latter stages, you better watch out!

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Sondre Amdahl is another newbie revelation. An incredibly nice guy, he moved out to the US to prepare meticulously for WSER. He did the same for Transgrancanaria and although he had a great result, I do wonder if he wanted the win too much! This may apply at WSER but I have a feeling that we will see Sondre shine. I expect good things from him.

Ones to watch:

Alex Varner 7th in 2014 and recent victory at Lake Sonoma 50

Andrew Tuckey 6th at UTMB and 3rd at TNF 100. I can’t help but think that Andrew may well be a surprise package and a dark horse in this race.

Thomas Lorblanchet Leadville winner 2012

David Laney 19th in 2014 and 2 victories in 2015 at Bandera 100k and Chuckanut 50k

Joe Grant

“Last year was a pretty remarkable day – we had temperatures that weren’t bad (89 degrees was the high), Rob and Stephanie ran remarkably strong races, and we had 296 finishers, including 129 silver buckles (for sub-24-hour finishes),” – race director Craig Thornley said. “This year has the potential to be even better. The men’s race will be exciting with Rob and a host of talented runners running to beat him. And our women’s race may very well go into the books as our deepest and most competitive field ever.” – ©wser website

Race day is Saturday June 27th

Race website HERE

2015 entry list HERE

Latest news HERE

Raid de la Reunion #DiagonaledesFous 2014 Race Preview

©iancorless.comIMG_4260

With 5-summits over 2000m, the Raid de la Reunion (Diagonale des Fous) is a great season closer for the UTWT. Now in its 22nd edition, ‘Reunion’ as it is affectionately known has gained legendary status within ultra running circles, not only because of some epic battles that have taken place on the course but also because of the fans, terrain and the tough 164km course and 9000m+ of ascent.

MEN

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Francois D’Haene, winner of the 2013 edition and recent winner of the TNFUTMB is without doubt the hot favourite. Currently, he is arguably one of the best 100-mile mountain runners in the world.

Lithuanian, Grinius Gediminas who is 2nd in the overall UTWT ranking may well be a surprise package after a solid and impressive 5th at TNFUTMB and 3rd place at Lavaredo. Will Reunion be one race too many? I don’t think so. He seems to have his head screwed on.

The ever-present Antoine Guillon who recently placed 3rd at Tor des Geants lies 3rd in UTWT rankings and is a consistent performer. I don’t see him winning but a top place is a distinct possibility. Reunion is a tough and long race though. As we have seen in past editions, anything can happen.

©iancorless.com.IMG_7127Transvulcania14Xavier Thevenard after winning the 2013 TNFUTMB seemed to go into a little bit of a meltdown with the weight of expectation placed upon him. However, he recently came out of the whole with a win at TDS. In doing so, he became the only runner to win at UTMB, CCC and TDS, quite a result. Xavier may well feel at home on Reunion. I think we will see a good run.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is a machine on tough courses as his 2013 Tor des Geants confirms. He raced well at Reunion in 2012 but his recent joint 2/3rd with Tofol Castanyer behind Francois D’Haene is a sure sign that he is in form for the 164km adventure. Question is, can he beat Francois?

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Pascal Blanc is serious contender and knows the course like the back of his hand. He has a string of top-10 finishes, his highest place being second. In this field his experience will really count.

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Julien Chorier impressed me no end at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and then placed 2nd behind Kilian at Hardrock 100. He is meticulous in planning and if he has no back issues, he may very well be the one who can push his fellow Frenchman, Francois D’Haene to the line.

©iancorless.com.IMG_9119Transvulcania14Jason Schlarb (current interview on Talk Ultra) surprised me with 4th at UTMB. He has certainly honed his European mountain skills in 2014. Reunion however is a little more extreme and may well shock Jason. He seems motivated though and the opportunity to race such a quality field will excite him. Expect him to be out of the mix early on and then work his way through the devastation.

Freddy Thevenin placed second last year behind Francois D’Haene but I don’t see him making the podium this year. He is a top-10 contender for sure.

©iancorless.com.IMG_3848MDS2014Christophe Le Saux never stops… I am not sure but I think he has done every race in the 2014 UTWT. That is seriously impressive. He will be in the mix, likely top-10 but not a contender for the podium.

I am going to give a shout out for Stuart Air. He’s a Brit who has had quite a year… he ran Hardrock 100 and now Reunion. Great to see someone local, (a Brit) mixing it up with the best in the world.

Ones to watch:

David Pasquio – 5th in 2013

Sondre Amadahl – 7th at UTMB

Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Javier Dominguez

On a final note, Ryan Sandes leads the 2014 UTWT rankings but will not race.

 

LADIES

Nathalie Mauclair ©iancorless.com

Nathalie Mauclair returns as the 2013, defending champion and I wouldn’t want to bet against her. She ran a great race in 2013 ahead of Emelie Forsberg and in 2014 the French lady has had a string of great results, notably 3rd at UTMB and Western States, Nathalie has speed and endurance; a lethal combination. However, the speed can sometimes upset the apple cart by running too hard/ fast too early.

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Julia Bottger won the 2014 Ronda dels Cims and knows the Reunion course well. She loves long and technical mountain races and as her results at Tor des Geants show, she will be a definite podium contender here on the island. Julia has had a busy year though. It started in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge and post Reunion she still has the Salomon SkyRun to do.

Nerea Martinez  ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez like Julia embraces tough. She placed 2nd at Ronda dels Cims and has had a string of top results ranking top-5 at Transgrancanaria, UTMF, TDS and she placed 6th at Lavaredo.

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Uxue Fraille knows how to pace herself and can play the waiting game. As the other ladies falter and fail, expect Uxue to move up and contend the podium. Placing 3rd at Transvulcania was a great result early in 2014 and recently placing 5th at UTMB confirms that a podium place at Reunion is a distinct possibility.

Denise Zimmerman placed 3rd at Tor des Geants and although I am sure the other ladies have acknowledged her presence in the race, she may well be a surprise to watchers and followers. Denise is no one trick pony as she has made the podium at Transgrancanaria and placed highly at UTMB in the past.

Finally, Lisa Borzani may mix things up and although she finished 2nd at the 2014 Tor des Geants, I don’t see her having the gusto to rally once again for another big effort. Particularly when you look at her recent results. Back-to-back podium places at Tor and TDS must leave you jaded.

Alexandra Rousset may pull something out of the bag. She placed 4th in 2012 and has won the race previously (2004).

Notably, UTWT series leader Nuria Picas will not run and in addition, neither will Fernanda Maciel and Francesca Canepa.

 

2500 runners will toe the line and more information is available HERE

Hardrock 100 2014 Race Preview

Image copyright ©hardrock100

Image copyright ©hardrock100

Hardrock 100 is a small key race for a select few. However, in its history, Hardrock has always become a highly anticipated race that often plays out like a great boxing match reminiscent of the days of Jake La Motta or Casius Clay.

I am pretty sure you remember the Hardrock draw all those months ago. Name after name was drawn from the hat and for once we had a line-up that was not only going to illuminate the high altitude mountains of Silverton but also potentially (despite its size) was possibly going to be ‘the’ race of the year!

That’s a bold statement considering we have already seen the Hernando and Jornet smack down in La Palma, the Krar master class at WSER, a return to form of Anton Krupicka at Lavaredo and the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix. Oh yes, Hardrock 100 has whetted the appetite of every ultra running aficionado worldwide, but why?

Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com

With no disrespect to every other participant in the race, the draw and inclusion of Kilian Jornet has transformed the 2014 edition into arguably the most highly anticipated edition of the race ever. You see, Kilian has ‘that’ list, and that list is almost full. It’s ticked off, ruled out, almost complete but one race has eluded him. A race that he would have run years ago had the lottery been kind. As it happens, the luck of the drawer has finally come through and KJ will get his chance. Hardrock 100 is not just any race though and although we are all eagerly awaiting a legendary performance, it’s no foregone conclusion that Kilian will dominate this race. It’s a course that must be learnt, respected and absorbed. Kilian will come to the race probably with the least running ever in preparation for a 100-mile race. Walking off ski’s and on to the Transvulcania La Palma course was almost a textbook start to Kilian’s running season. However, after a repeat win at Zegama-Aizkorri he threw in a curve ball and departed for Alaska for another successful ‘Summit’ record. Just days later in Chamonix, Kilian wins the Skyrunning World Championships VK and SKY races and then hops on a plane for Colorado with just 7-days to go before the main event. KJ’s preparation is far removed from his competitors but after all, we are talking about Kilian Jornet and I for one would not want to bet against him! Word is that Frosty will be pacing sections of the race and I would assume, Kilian will have additional help from Ricky Gates? However, at this stage I don’t know who that will be. Kilian’s’ race may well come apart if he goes for the course record, pushes out at the front alone and then makes a navigation error. It’s easily done and many repeat Hardrock runners have gone on record to say that the race has several key moments that can make or break a successful Hardrock, so, Kilian will need to be wary of this. In contrast, if Kilian just wants to win the race, a likely scenario will be that he keeps himself in contention at the front of the race, probably keeping close to Dakota Jones and then making a break in the latter stages. It’s anyone’s guess and I for one can’t wait to see how this plays out. It is going to be epic!

Dakota Jones UROC ©iancorless.com

Dakota Jones has been 2nd and 3rd at Hardrock in previous years. Without doubt, Dakota knows the course and will be fired up for this years race, particularly after a below par Transvulcania La Palma. It would be fair to say that in any other year, Dakota would be a hot favourite for the win but the competition at Hardrock this year is stellar. So, Dakota becomes just another hot contender in a remarkable field. However, I do believe that Dakota hasn’t run his best race yet on this course and therefore his odds for victory are high.

Seb Chaigneau

Seb Chaigneau has been on the course for a few weeks now and has covered every inch of it with Hardrock ever present, Joe Grant. Seb ran an incredible race in 2013 setting the 2nd fastest time with 24:25. Paced by Scott Jurek, Seb will repeat the 2013 winning formula and hopefully everything will align once again. 2014 has not been a good year so far with DNF’s at UTMF and Transgrancanaria, but Seb has a great outlook on running and an ability to re-build and re focus.

Julien Chorier

Did I say this race was stacked? 2011 Hardrock champion, Julien Chorier is returning and he will bring meticulous preparation and planning to the mix. Julien’s 2013 Ronda dels Cims performance was a stunning master class of grinding it out for hour-on-hour with 100% focus. Just an element of that commitment and Julien will push all the other contenders to the line and don’t be surprised if he passes them. His 2013 6th place at TNFUTMB doesn’t quite do Julien’s talent justice, I remember post race he just said he was constantly fighting the sleep demons. A solid Transgrancanaria in 2014 where he placed 2nd to Ryan Sandes adds a confidence boost to the impressive Frenchman’s palmares.

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson, Transvulcania La Palma 2013 ©iancorless.com

Timothy Olson rounds out the ‘hot’ contenders for the win and considering WSER happened just days ago, Timmy’s absence puts his Hardrock expectations in perspective. I have to say that I am just a little worried (in the nicest way) by Timmy’s eagerness to train. He has an immense ability to nail preparation and peak for 1-race as his 2012 and 2013 WSER performances confirm. But, and this is a big but, I have almost seen his love for running impact on great performances in some key races. I think I witnessed this in La Palma this year. Timmy just loves the trails out there, loves the mountains and that enthusiasm saw ‘big’ training days pretty much all the way to the main event which made Timmy, in my opinion, look just a little flat and tired during the race! I may be wrong. I hope Timmy pulls off the reigns, allows some recovery before Hardrock and should he toe the line with a taper similar to the examples set at WSER we are in for one major showdown. One thing is for sure, the longer the race goes on, the better Timmy will get.

Joe Grant - Arc'teryxJoe Grant loves this race! It epitomizes for him what is great about our sport… long tough days in the mountains. Last year things did not go to plan but his best time of just over 25-hours is still up there in the all time best list which he set in 2012. In this field, Joe will need a great day and arguably a performance of his life to win. However, a podium place is not out of reach. Joe is a modern day adventurer who mixes up what he does in a constant pursuit to set new boundaries. His Iditarod and Alaska White performances set Joe apart from the competition and in the long run, may well give him and edge. If recovered from Lavaredo Ultra Trail, expect Anton Krupicka on pacing duty.

Jared Campbell - Ronda dels Cims - iancorless.com

Jared Campbell won’t win the race but he’s been there and done it on tough courses. He’s completed Hardrock multiple times, (8 I think) and he is a 2-times finisher of Barkley. He actually won the race this year in some tough and gnarly conditions.

Ones to watch:

  • Adam Campbell – Had a great run at UTMF a couple of years ago and then had some tough times. Difficult to say how Adam will go on this tough course but he does have a great pacer in Gary Robbins.
  • Jeff Browning – one Hardrock finish 33:18
  • Stuart Air – Stu won’t win and in reality will not be close to the podium but it’s great to see a Brit work through the ranks and be given the opportunity of a lifetime. Stu is no slouch and the longer and harder the course, the better he becomes. Hardrock will suit him down to the ground providing he has adjusted to the altitude.
  • Tsyuoshi Kaburaki – needs know introduction, RD for UTMF and consistent UTMB performer.
  • Nick Coury – top-10 at Hardrock in the past
  • Ty Draney – Like Jared Campbell, Ty loves big days in the mountains. He’s had success at Hardrock in the past but top-10 would be a good performance.

After that stellar men’s line up, the ladies race of just 18-entrants looks far too formulaic (if a tough 100-miler can be) with two ladies leading the charge for overall victory, Diana Finkel and Darcy Piceu (Africa).

Darcy Africa with Nicky Kimball and Frosty, Transvulcania 2012.

Darcy Africa with Nicky Kimball and Frosty, Transvulcania 2012.

Darcy Piceu has won this race the last 2-times with 2-great performances, however, it has almost been at the faltering of Diana Finkel that has opened the gateway for Darcy to take over the lead and charge on for the finish. Darcy has already run 5-races in 2014 and come away with -4-victories and a 4th place, so, the form looks good! Having run on or around 29-hours previously, it’s fair to assume that Darcy will be looking to repeat that time this year which will set her up for another potential victory. In the past 4-years, Darcy has been Miss Consistent – 30:14 in 2010, 29:46 in 2011, 29:09 in 2012 and 29:54 last year!

Diana Finkel has been the stand out lady on the Hardrock course in recent years. In 2009, Diana ran 27:18 and that is some way quicker than Darcy and many of the men who will toe the line have run! Her most recent victory was 2011 when running 29:27 and in all honesty, 2012 and 2013 looked to be set for repeat performances but medical issues have plagued Diana’s performances. On her day, Diana will win this race, so, let’s hope the medical gods are on her side this year! Diana looks to have good form with a recent win at Jemez Mountain 50m (where Anton Krupicka won) and 3rd at Zane Grey 50.

Ones to watch:

Sarah McCloskey – 4th at Hardrock 2013 and winner of Wasatch 100 and 2nd at Bear 100-miler.

Betsy Kalmeyer – 14 Hardrock finishes and 5th last year.

Betsy Nye – 12 Hardrock finishes and 3rd last year. Best performance in 2014 was 5th at Marin Ultra Challenge 50m.

Kim Gemenez – 7th Hardrock 2013.

Liz Bauer – 9th Hardrock 2013.

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Course description: (content ©hardrock 100 website)

The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultramarathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Range, USA.

The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range. Entrants must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. The race has been held in early July of each year beginning in 1992, except for 1995 (too much snow) and 2002 (nearby forest fires). Each year’s race is run in the opposite direction of the previous year’s event (2008 was run in the clockwise direction, 2009 will be counter-clockwise). In order to complete the event, instead of crossing a finish line, runners are required to “kiss the Hardrock”, a picture of a ram’s head painted on a large block of stone mining debris.

This course offers a graduate level challenge for endurance runs. The course is designed to provide extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness. Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance.

Race website HERE

 

 

Julien Chorier joins Hoka One One

Julien Chorier iancorless.com

Winner of the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji (UTMF) in 2012, two times winner of the Grand Raid de la Reunion, winner of the Hardrock 100, 2011 and the 2013 winner of the Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord (Rond dels Cims), representing the Salomon International Team, Julien Chorier has decided on a new venture for 2014 signing a new contract with Hoka One One.

Julien, the consummate professional has always been attentive to technological advances and has been sensitive to the ambitions and the sensitivities offered by Team Hoka.

Julien Chorier iancorless.com

Signing a three year contract, Julien has decided to offer impetus to his passion for trail running and will act as ‘Team Captain’. In parallel, Julien will also participate in the development of the Hoka trail community in Europe.

An exciting 2014 awaits for Julien when he will return to Hardrock 100. It proves to be an exciting edition of the race with arguably the best field ever assembled.

Julien Chorier iancorless.com

“After great years in the Salomon team, I thank with my heart for all the support and advice given during these years , I have decided to give a new impetus to my career providing myself with a very important challenge: to race and test myself on new trails , create innovative dynamics in the Hoka team, to make my contribution to product development
and develop a Hoka community in Europe. Hoka honours, both athletically and professionally; my contract offers new opportunities to live my passion for trail . The desire to always innovate and move forward , the stated priority to draw naturally from the requirement of the highest level , involving me full in product development are all factors that convinced me of this new challenge.”

Without doubt, this new departure for Julien will provide exciting moments on the trails of Europe and of course, worldwide.

I personally still think back in awe and wonder at Julien’s performance at Ronda dels Cims in Andorra, 2013. It was a consummate performance of a professional in the form of his life, dominating a race from the front.

Bonne chance Julien!

Links:

 

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

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 YatesRob 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
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • 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!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • 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; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn 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 Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’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.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • 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 ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC 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
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • 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 Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • 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 BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • 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.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • 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 Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • 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 Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new 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 KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb 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 UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed 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 JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe 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, SKY and ULTRA in 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?
And finally…
 
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.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
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…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

RACE IMAGES The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1010566Once again, the races of The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® have gathered at the heart of the valley more than 50 000 people who came from around the world to be a part of this celebration of ultra running. Today early afternoon, the young frenchman, Xavier Thévenard from the Jura région won the TNFUTMB, along with an absolutely incredible performance by TNF athlete, Rory Bosio who not only set a new course record but placed 7th overall.