Episode 144 – Darcy Piceu and Anna-Marie Watson

Episode 144 of Talk Ultra brings you an interview with Darcy Piceu after her incredible FKT on the John Muir Trail. We also speak with Anna-Marie Watson who this year placed 7th at UTMB and just recently won the first edition of the Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura. Speedgoat is back co-hosting!
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00:10:24 NEWS
Bear 100
Jeff Browning does it again winning another 100 – very soon after UTMB too. Lars Kjerengtroen 2nd and Timmy Olson 3rd – 18:28, 19:28 and 19:36 respectively.
Hannah Green beat Amie Blackham and Kelsey Bingham – 24:22, 25:50 and 25:54 respectively.
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Spartathlon
The legendary 153 mile race was won by Aleksandr Sorokin in 22:04. He set a relentless pace from the off and his time ranks as one of the all time best, of course, Yiannis Kouros holds the fastest times. Radek Brunner was 2nd and Nikolaos Sideridis 3rd, 22:49 and 22:58.
Patrycja Berenzowska won the ladies’ race in 24:47 setting a new CR! Zsuzanna Maraz and Aleksandra Niwinska was 2nd/ 3rd in 25:43 and 26:28.
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Ultra Gobi 
The UK’s Dan Lawson blew the race and CR apart with 2 days and 22 hours for 248 miles. Incredible. Dan has also placed 2nd at Spartathlon.
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Kilimanjaro FKT
Fernanda Maciel set a new FKT 0f 7:08 for Africa’s highest peak climbing 5895m. Her round trip time was 10:06. Previous best by Anne-Marie Flammersfield was 8:32 and 12:58. Kilian Jornet did hold this record for the outright fastest time but this was bettered by Karl Egloff setting 4:56 and 6:42 for the round trip.
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Grand Canyon Rim to Rim FKT
FKT’s are just getting more popular… now Tim Freriks who won Transvulcania earlier this year has set a new bar of 2:39:38 beating Jim Walmsley’s time (Jim helped Tim for this FKT and are friends) – Walmsley still holds the R2R2R record.
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John Muir Trail FKT
Hardrock 100 specialist Darcy Piceu (formerly Africa) covered the 223 miles in California to set a new FKT of 3-days, 8-hours beating the previous CR by 12-hours. Notably this was very close the the men’s record and later this year Francois D’Haene will attempt this FKT.
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00:31:09 Interview with DARCY PICEU
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Ultra Pirineu
Pablo Villa and Maite Maiora produced solid performances at this classic race amongst world class fields. Full results HERE. In the marathon race, Kilian Jornet obliterated the old CR in a super close race and Ruth Croft won for the ladies.
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Half MDS Fuerteventura
MDS have spread their wings and introduced a new 120km, half-distance event on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. It was won by Peru’s Remigio Huaman and the UK’s Anna-Marie Watson. Full report, results and story HERE.
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01:35:24 Interview with ANNA-MARIE WATSON
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UP & COMING RACES

Andorra

Els 2900 Alpine Run | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Argentina

La Pachamama 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 53 km | 53 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
La Pachamama 73 km | 73 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Australia

New South Wales

Hume & Hovell 100 | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Hume & Hovell 50 | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Washpool/Gibraltar World Heritage Trails 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Victoria

Great Ocean Walk 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Bahamas

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Canada

Nova Scotia

Valley Harvest Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Quebec

Bromont Ultra 160 km | 160 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 55 km | 55 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Bromont Ultra 80 km | 80 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Croatia

109,8 km | 109 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
161.4 km | 161 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Finland

Eastern Finland

Vaarojen Ultramaraton | 86 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail noir 58 km | 58 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Aude

Grand Raid des Cathares | 177 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Raid des Bogomiles | 101 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Aveyron

Endurance Trail | 100 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Essonne

Trail du Viaduc des Fauvettes 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Haute-Corse

A Paolina | 70 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Haute-Saône

52 km | 52 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Ille-et-Vilaine

51 km | 51 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Orne

85 km | 85 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Pas-de-Calais

58 km | 58 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Pyrénées-Orientales

100 Miles Sud de France | 100 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Grande Traversée Mer Montagne | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Rhône

55 km | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Somme

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relais | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tarn-et-Garonne

50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Herbstlauf Schloss Thurn Hobbylauf | 87 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Greece

Rodopi Advendurun 100 miles | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Hong-Kong

Prohiker – Round-trip Course | 156 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

India

Karnataka

110 km | 110 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
80 km | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

National Capital Territory of Delhi

Bhatti Lakes 100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 220 km | 220 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Bhatti Lakes 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Indonesia

MesaStila 4 Peaks | 65 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
MesaStila 5 Peaks | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Italy

Emilia-Romagna

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Tartufo Trail 66 km | 66 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

69 km | 69 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website

Piedmont

120 km | 120 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
57 km | 57 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
82 km | 82 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Morenic Trail | 109 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kenya

Kenya Wildlife 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Korea

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Morocco

The Saharan Challenge | 52 kilometers | October 12, 2017 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

Herfst Ultraloop Berg en Dal | 60 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

New Zealand

100 km | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
100 km Relay | 100 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
74 km | 74 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Portugal

180 km | 180 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Azores Triangle Adventure | 103 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website
Réccua Douro Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Réunion

La Mascareignes | 67 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website
Le Grand Raid | 167 kilometers | October 19, 2017 | website
Trail de Bourbon | 111 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Slovakia

105 km | 105 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

South Africa

Bonitas Golden Gate Challenge | 70 kilometers | October 20, 2017 | website

Spain

Aragon

Long Trail Guara Somontano | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Guara Somontano | 102 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Castile and León

The Way of Legends | 254 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website

Valencian Community

Ultra Trail Del Rincon 100 km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ultra Trail Del Rincon 170 km | 170 kilometers | October 06, 2017 | website

Sweden

Sörmland Ultra Marathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Switzerland

Valais

Les Défis du Jubilé – 52 km | 52 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 68 km | 68 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Les Défis du Jubilé – 71 km | 71 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

Tunisia

Ultra Mirage El Djerid 100km | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

United Kingdom

Cornwall

Atlantic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | October 06, 2017 | website

Cumbria

Lakes in a Day | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Essex

75 Mile | 75 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Yorkshire

“Round Ripon” Ultra Studley Roger | 35 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Rotherham

Shropshire

The Longmynd Hike | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Wales

Gower Ultra 50 | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

USA

Arizona

Canyon De Chelly Ultra | 55 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Cave Creek Thriller 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Flagstaff Sky Race 55K | 55 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Arkansas

Arkansas Traveller 100 | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

California

50K Ultra Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Coyote Ridge 50 Km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
Cuyamaca 100K Endurance Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Euchre Bar Massacre 50 M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Midnight Express Ultra 72 | 72 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Skyline to the Sea 50km | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Super Tahoe Triple Marathon | 124 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Tahoe Double Marathon | 52 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Tahoe Trifecta | 39 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Triple Marathon | 78 miles | October 13, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Twin Peaks 50 Miler | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Colorado

50K Trail Race | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Georgia

Relay | 60 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 100M | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Running Dead Ultra 50M | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Illinois

100 Mile | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Des Plaines River Tail 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Kansas

Lake Perry Rocks! 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Kentucky

100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Maine

The Pounder | 50 kilometers | October 15, 2017 | website
The Punisher | 50 miles | October 15, 2017 | website

Michigan

Montana

Le Grizz Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Ultramarathon | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

New Jersey

New York

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100K Run | 100 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Tesla Hertz 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

North Carolina

Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock Ultra 50K Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Tuna Run 200 | 200 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50k | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon 50M | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Oregon

50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
50+K | 54 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Pennsylvania

50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Lt. J. C. Stone 50K UltraMarathon | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 100 Miles | 100 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
Oil Creek Trail Runs 50 Miles | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website
Quad State Quad Buster | 46 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

South Carolina

50K Relay | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Ragnar Trail Carolinas-SC, Presented by Salomon | 120 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Tennessee

Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website

Texas

50 Mile | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website

Utah

Pony Express Trail 100 | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website
Pony Express Trail 50 | 50 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Virginia

50K | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website
GrindStone 100 | 101 miles | October 06, 2017 | website
The Wild Oak Trail 100 “Hot” TWOT | 100 miles | October 20, 2017 | website

Washington

Baker Lake 50k | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Defiance 50K | 50 kilometers | October 07, 2017 | website
Ft. Steilacoom 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 14, 2017 | website

West Virginia

West Virginia Trilogy – Day One 50 km | 50 kilometers | October 13, 2017 | website
West Virginia Trilogy – Day Two 50 Mile | 50 miles | October 14, 2017 | website

Wisconsin

50 Miler | 50 miles | October 07, 2017 | website
Glacial 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | October 08, 2017 | website
Glacial 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | October 08, 2017 | website
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CLOSE
02:51:35
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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Five 42.2km

Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes are the 2017 Marathon des Sables champions! The displayed consistency, pacing and a strong mental approach to once again top the podium in a race that started multi-day racing an astonishing 32-years ago!

The fifth and final timed stage of the 32nd edition was the ‘classic’ marathon distance. The course started with a short section of rocky plateau and then dunes. At 5.5km a dried Oued with crevasse provided an early challenge and then at11km a small gorge introduced the runners to a stony Oued. From 22km the course alternated dunes and stony plateaus and at 37km the old town of M’fis situated on a hill provided a glimpse of the final bivouac in the distance. It was all downhill from here to close out the 42.2km course.

After a week of pure calm, the winds on the final day arrived causing sandstorms and twisters. Elisabet Barnes lead the early stages of the ladies’ race and then eventually Nathalie Mauclair finally took over the charge, no doubt trying to prove a point on the last day. Barnes kept the French lady in sight and the duo crossed the line in 3:52:17 and 3:54:31 respectively – Elisabet Barnes the champion of 2017.

Fernanda Maciel placed 3rd as she has done for much of the week, her time 4:14:32 and Emilie Lecomte 4th in 4:22:09. Aziza Raji placed 5th and the ladies’ top-5 was complete.

Despite an early charge by Thomas Evans, Rachid El Morabity seized the day as he has done most of the week showing a masterclass of running in the Sahara. He pipped his brother Mohamad (a star of the future) by just 7-seconds, 3:10:08 to 3:10:15.

Aziz El Akad and Abdelaziz Baghazza beat Evans to the line 3:11:19 and 3:14:13 to 3:16:20 – the week confirms Evans as a class act and one who has shown great humility to fellow runners.

Of course, the MDS is so much more than just runners going fast.

The finish line is one full of stories, emotion, tears and laughter – race director Patrick Bauer, stays on the line and experiences every single one with each and every runner. Some of the stories and images will follow in the coming weeks! But for now let me leave you with two magical moments…

Congratulations go to all those who completed the 32nd Marathon des Sables and a huge nod is forwarded to those who attempted a tough, challenging and inspiring MDS and did not cross the line!

Final results and stage results HERE

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage Four 86.2km

Two start times, 0815 and 1115, the same distance – a gruelling 82.2km of the best of what the Sahara has to offer, incredible views and at times brutal terrain with intense heat.

The route echoed much of the 2016 edition passing early through the oasis of El Maharch, a flat dried up lake before the first couple of climbs of the day starting at 10km. Cp1 offered some refreshment before the climb of Mhadid Al Elahau followed by a high level plateau traverse before a fast and thrilling sandy descent. Heading south a great deal of soft sand took the runners to Cp2 and then climbing a path, the runners came back on themselves through the nest valley. Cp3 to Cp4 was a long sand passage that eventually crossed a Oued. Cp4 to Cp5 and Cp5 to Cp6 were relentless dunes to sap the mind and energy. The push from Cp6 to bivouac via Cp7 was relatively flat but continually sandy – a tough day in Morocco!

The day in many ways unfolded at the front as one may have anticipated with Rachid El Morabity and Nathalie Mauclair taking stage victories. However, the story was not clear cut.

Mauclair took the race to Elisabet Barnes in a last ditch effort for victory. It was expected by everyone, after all, Mauclair is a long distance specialist. Through half the race the gap between the two hovered around 3-4 minutes. From Cp5, Mauclair extended her lead over Barnes but the 2015 Marathon des Sables champion dug in, used her flat running speed and closed on the French lady. Mauclair took victory in 9:39:58 and Barnes crossed the tape in 9:41:16 – job done! With the marathon stage to follow tomorrow, Barnes is in a strong perdition for a 2nd victory at this iconic race. Fernanda Maciel, also a long distance specialist, followed the duo ahead and she finished in 10:00:58. Emilie Lecomte was 4th.

In the men’s race, Rachid ran behind a lead pack that continually changed for much of the day. He never quite looked his fresh self but he pulled it out of the bag as he has done so many times before. He finished in an impressive 8:16:44.

Man of the day was British runner Thomas Evans who set his stall out on day 1 and has played the Moroccans at their own game. He has impressed day-on-day and on the long stage he didn’t sit back and defend, he attacked. At times leading the race. His efforts were rewarded with 2nd in 8:27:46. The margin of time behind him and El Morabity does not reflect a stunning performance! Rachid’s brother Mohamad placed 3rd and then Abdelaziz Baghazza and Remigio Huaman in 8:28:33, 8:41:42 and 8:43:39 respectively.

As I write this, runners are still out on the course enduring another day that will test them to the limit. Don’t listen to anyone who says ‘this’ is an easy race – it is not! So many are fighting demons, some fail, but the grit and determination is inspiring. For example, two people have inspired me – Duncan from the UK who is participating with two prosthetic legs and Louis from Luxembourg who has no arms – inspiring!

The fifth stage of the 2017 Marathon des Sables if the classic marathon stage of 42.2km and medals will be awarded on the line. The race is Rachid El Morabity and Elisabet Barnes for the taking – four sections of dunes will not make it easy!

Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Stage One 30.3km

 

On the stroke of 0900, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables began! The roar of the helicopter followed the runners as they were released from the line with a relatively flat, sandy 30.3km of the Sahara ahead.

Pre race nerves suddenly disappeared and months-upon-months of training and preparation could finally be put to use in the sands of Morocco.

As usual, race director Patrick Bauer warned the runners of how heat, dehydration and the desert brings a very unique challenge.

The route travelled south via a stony plateau and the first 6km were inaccessible by vehicle. A line of dunes followed that took the runners all the way to Cp1. From here, the direction of ESE and the east brought more flat but soft sand. A rolling landscape preceded Cp2 and then small rolling dunes, a rocky plateau and a small sand climb introduced the runners to the highpoint of the day and the sight of bivouac in the distance. A following 2.5km stony plateau resulted in the end of day-1.

The ladies’ race was all about 2015 Marathon des Sables champion Elisabet Barnes. Today she ran strong, confident and looked in incredible shape showing all the ladies a clean pair of heels. As she ran past me she shouted, ‘I feel great and I am loving it!’

Even 2016 second placed lady, Nathalie Mauclair could not keep up. Aziza Raji followed and then Fernanda Maciel, Emilie Lecomte and Melanie Rousset.

At the line, Barnes finished in 02:38:13, Mauclair 2nd in 2:44:57 and Raji 2:54:36.

The mens’ race was all about Brit, Thomas Evans. He but the Moroccan quartet of Rachid El Morabity, Mohamed El Morabity, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and Hammou Moudouji under real pressure as they pursued him through the sand and dunes of the 30.3km stage.

Always holding him in sight, it was like a stage of the Tour de France as the Moroccans took it in turns to pace and hold him at 1-200m. It was in the final kilometre they made a move. 2016 MDS champion Rachid was outsprinted by his brother Mohamad, El Mouaziz placed 3rd and Evans held on for 4th. The times, 2:10:36, 2:10:54, 2:11:17 and 2:11:58 respectively.

The 2017 edition for the race is going to be exciting!

Stage 2 is a tough stage of 39km. The start will be at 0830 and the cut-off is 11h 30mins.

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Marathon des Sables 2017 #MDS – Registration Day

It’s hot… I know it’s the Sahara but today has been hot!

After a day of travel, some 1200 runners arrived in bivouac yesterday and settled to a first night in the Sahara. A meal, some admin and it was an early night. The winds increased with darkness and the general comment in camp the following morning was, “Wow, it got cold last night!”

It caused some last minute anxiety as today is bag drop day and therefore after registration all runners are wearing and carrying everything they need for the week. I could see a few warm layers being taken from cases and added to packs… they can always be thrown away later!

Today is a long day as everyone just wants to run. However, all admin procedures must be undertaken at specified time slots.

Firstly luggage is left and it will not be seen till after the race. Passport and identity is checked and then an overview of medical forms. Packs are weighed for a minimum 6.5kg and in some scenarios checked for mandatory kit. A Spot tracker is added to the runners packs, numbers are collected, timing chips activated and that’s it. The process takes about 2-hours in the heat of the day.

Bivouac is spread over a large area and in each tent, which hold 8-people there is carnage as last minute planning takes place.

As the evening approaches, the last full meal is provided. On waking, self-sufficiency takes over and the runners will start, well and truly, the 32nd edition of Marathon des Sables.

Day 1 is 30.03km with a 10-hour cut-off time.

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Fred Streatfield – The Community Of Running

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Fred Streatfield has been running all his life. You could say that running defines him. However, Fred is so much more than a runner, he’s a husband, a father, a grandfather, great grandfather a builder and in April 2017, he has set himself the challenge of running the Marathon des Sables.

‘MDS’ as it is known within the running community, is for many a dream goal. It’s been billed as the ‘Toughest Race on Earth’ and while we all know that it’s not, the multi-day Saharan adventure does bring its own set of unique problems and difficulties to encounter.

The race is over 30-years old and has without doubt paved the way for all modern day, multi-stage races. It’s format of self-sufficiency has been copied time and time again. In the early days, it was tens of runners who toed the line. Now it’s 100’s of runners and in recent years, with the growth of ultra-running, more than 1000 stand within the dunes of Morocco every April for what will be, for them, the ultimate experience

When you’ve been running for as long as Fred, you’d think this Moroccan adventure would be a walk in the park, or should I say, the dunes for him. But no, despite 49-years of running, Fred is intimidated for this new venture in his life.

A race like this is intimidating, it should be, after all it’s why you do it, no? Fred is no different than any other when signing on the line and paying the deposit. He wanted his run experience to be made whole, with something alien to him, something that would completely take him out of his comfort zone. Little did he know that when he signed up, his challenge would become something so much more than running…

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Niandi Carmont caught up with Fred after a training camp in Lanzarote. It was a camp specifically tailored for those undertaking a multi-day race of any type. Among the 40-participants on the camp, Fred became somewhat of hero.

It’s a simple way to start any conversation about a future race, direct is best sometimes, “Do you feel prepared Fred?’

“Well, yes. Yes and no really. I feel I now need to do more training but in all honesty, I don’t stop – I do need to do more long runs though.”

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Fred had arrived in Lanzarote feeling a little worried that he would be isolated, little did he know that he was leaving one family behind to be joined by another.

“The training camp was absolutely just beyond belief really. The volume of running we did and the guys I ran with… It was amazing, they were all young whippersnappers, and me, I’m an old boy! But I did keep up with them.”

Keep up with them Fred did. He’s an old-school road runner, a little obsessed with running fast. Too fast at times, particularly when you consider his 65-years. We had a phrase when I was younger and you’d see an older runner, ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ and yes, Fred is as fit as a butcher’s dog. On day 1 it was a shakeout run of just 60-minutes, Fred by his own admission says that he’s not used to technical terrain – too many years running on the road! Forty minutes into the run he hit the deck, it looked a bad fall. His arm was bruised, is elbow bleeding and he was holding his ribs. We imagined the worst. He bounced up, brushed himself off and pushed on. The next day, the first day of the camp was a long run, Fred didn’t hold back and placed himself in the fast group.

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”Yes. I went with the first group, with the fast group. Last year I ran The Great North Run with Mark Scott (also on the camp) and I beat him by about three minutes. We were running for Macmillan charity. In the race, Mark came in after me, we exchanged niceties, shook hands and then we met again on the camp. As I was waiting for the run to start, Mark came and said, “Come on, Fred. Come on. Come on. You belong in this group.” which was the fast group. I said, “No, no, Mark, I’ll go with a slower group”. He went, “No, no. You go into this fast group.” Anyway, I stuck with him for 40-minutes, the run was going to be about a 20 to 23 plus miles. I thought to myself, if I continued at this pace I may not finish. It would have done me in. Ian was with me at the time so we eased off with another runner, Paul Allum and then joined your group Niandi.”

Niandi was of course flattered, it was just 1-day into the camp and already Fred was getting a fan club. Niandi’s group was pretty much running all the time but it was a slightly slower pace than the group up front lead by Elisabet Barnes, 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion.

Fascinated by stories and people, Niandi knew Fred had a story, we all have a story, but Niandi had that intuition, that sixth sense that told her that there was more than meets the eye. It started simply, ”Tell us a little about what motivated and inspired you to decide to do MDS and how it all started?”

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“Well, it goes back quite a way. There is a nice little story attached to this. I saw the race on the internet and how it posed the question of challenging one’s self. I was attracted to it but I dismissed it and moved on. Then a few weeks later, I went on to a website and it popped up again. My initial thoughts were about it looking really tough and I wondered if I could do it, after all, I am getting on!”

Niandi laughed, she’d heard rumors that there was more to the story. She probed, “Tell my how your wife was involved the entry process?”

“I went off into town with my wife. I left her and went to get some information on the desert running. I hadn’t told her though. I bumped into a friend of mine and he said, “What are you doing?”  I was on the spot so I told him that I was thinking that I may be tempted to run in the Sahara and I was getting some information. I told him though, whatever you do, don’t tell the wife!”

I am sure you can fill the gaps but the inevitable happened. The following day they bumped into each other once again and how did the friend great Fred?

“How’s the desert coming on?”

“Have you entered?” my wife said. “No, but I’ve been considering it”

The ice was broken. Fred entered the race and never looked back. His wife supported him every step of the way. But elation and excitement turned to loss, sadness and questions if the race would ever happen.

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“I think it was December 10th, it was the registration day. That was 2015. We waited for the entry for 2017 to open. I am not computer savvy and she had offered to help me fill out the forms. Technology and me don’t go together. Anyway, we checked in and we paid the deposit and that was the start. At the same time, we were in the process of moving house, always a big thing. The move happened and then 5-weeks later she passed away.”

It’s a moment like this that a life can fall apart, imagine it, married for so many years and then suddenly a void. Fred was all set for throwing in the towel but this is the power of running and the community connected with the sport.

”There was a closed website group just for the people who are running the MDS in 2017,” Fred continued. “They all said, “No, no, no. Don’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.” So, I decided to carry on. It’s been difficult and it’s still difficult now. That’s one of the reasons I’m running. II am also running for Macmillan Cancer Charity. It’s important to help the charity too.”

No words needed. What feels like minutes is only seconds and Niandi picks up the conversation. “That’s a very noble cause, Fred. You’ve had a lot of support from the running community and from the people at the Lanzarote Training Camp, but it’s also due to your personality because you’re very outgoing. You’re very positive. You’re very bubbly. You’re very communicative and you’re really fun to be around.”

There’s silence and then a, “Thank you.”

******

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“I can’t remember my first race. But I was running at school. That’s where it all started but a key moment was when I had started work. Some guy just walked up to me. He went, “You look fit. In the car park, over here, every Saturday morning, be there. You will want to bring some running stuff.” I didn’t get any backing from my parents or anything like that and I really appreciated it so I started to go, I still have those old plimsoles.”

Simple beginnings and picture starts to form of Fred, his background, his history, his dedication to work hard and graft.

“I got some old shoes and some old shorts and then just went running. It just went from strength-to-strength really. I was about 15 or 16 and I have never looked back – I have met some amazing people. Obviously, they were not with us anymore, but they kept me going and helped me and nurtured me through. Even in the early days, the running community helped me.”

Community, bonds, friendship, values, Fred found all these in Lanzarote and it confirmed to him all that is good about running and although the decision to continue after the passing of his wife was a tough one, he now knows it was the correct one.

”Words fail me really, everyone on the training camp has been so incredible. It’s been tough. they’re so nice. It was really tough, II didn’t say anything on the camp but while I was there it coincided with the anniversary of my wife’s funeral.”

“I think there was a very strong bond between everybody and people knew what you’d gone through and I think that they felt the vibes,” Niandi responded. “Family is also very important to you. I also got that impression because you come from a very close family. Well, maybe you could tell about your family, about your daughters.”

”Yes, my daughters have been strong for me. Also, I don’t know how they’ve coped losing their mom. But anything I want, anything, they are there for me. They cook me my food and they take turns to have me as a guest at weekends – just so that I don’t starve. I’ve got four children myself and each of my four children have got four children.”

”That is 16 grandchildren?”

”Yes, 16 grandchildren and one of my granddaughters who is now 20, she’s not the oldest, she’s just had a little baby girl, six months ago!”

“You’re a great-grandfather?”

“I think that shocked some of the guys in Lanzarote. They looked at me and said, “How many grandchildren you got?” I said, “I’ve got one great-granddaughter.” I don’t think they could believe it.”

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Married for 44-years, his wife was 18 and he 19. Through thick and thin, as Fred quite rightly says, “It wasn’t all roses.” But who’s story is. They battled the tough times, enjoyed the good times. “She was my best friend. She helped me, she made me who I was and she was a very strong person and a really nice person as well.”

Part man, part robot, Fred has held back some other vital information. “You also have to keep a check on your health,” Niandi asks. “Because you’ve had a few health issues?”

“Yes. I’ve got a pacemaker. It’s all checked, it’s all monitored, and it’s good to go. In 2012, when I had a problem, they said I would never run again. At the time, I was looking at the MDS and I thought my chance had gone. But since then, everything is working out and I am fine. I’ve done just over 200 runs and races. I’m pretty fit.”

The finish line of the 2017 Marathon des Sables will be a special one. Red ribbon will pass through the fingers of race director Patrick Bauer. Attached to the ribbon will be a large disc of gold. As Fred crosses the line and the prize is placed around his neck, I have a real feeling that there will be more than just Fred’s tears shed on the finish line. This simple man embodies the race. He is a personification of the values the race holds true.

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*****

 

Fred’s typical training week:

  • Monday – Swimming
  • Tuesday – Run club night which is usually a sat 8km-10km.
  • Wednesday – Cycling 2-hours indoors.
  • Thursday – Run club hill sessions or fartlek. Followed by 1-hour swimming.
  • Friday – Rest.
  • Saturday – Park Run in the morning and then a 10km to half-marathon run.
  • Sunday – Usually 9 to 15-miles.

On MDS:

I’m sure I’ve got everything that I need. The Lanzarote trip helped with this, there might be a couple of little bits that I need, but nothing really. I think I need to slow down a little bit when running, think about the long game. I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be tough. Believe it or not, I’ve joined a sauna club. I’m hoping to spend a few hours in the sauna. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take my running stuff, though. I run in Lanzarote with my pack and that worked, I didn’t have full weight in it but it was good. I need to test out my food now and I am good to go.

Would you like to join our 2018 Multi-Day Training Camp, if so, go HERE

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Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura – New Event

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Marathon des Sables, the iconic multi-stage race has finally, after 30-years expanded with a new race for 2017 – HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA.

The event will echo the ethos of the iconic ‘MDS’ race providing a 3-day self-sufficient journey of 120km’s on the Canary island of Fuerteventura.

Pre registration is open and although the event will take place in September, specific dates have not yet been confirmed.

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The MARATHON DES SABLES organisation and Fuerteventura present a new challenge: the HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA. This 120 km running race in three steps will be held on September 2017, in Fuerteventura, in the Canaries Islands. As the MARATHON DES SABLES, it will be a food self-sufficiency race.

Unlike the the legendary benchmark multi-stage father figure race, Marathon des Sables, the new ‘half’ edition is designed to provide an entry level race at a much more affordable price. Where families may be able to join a racing father or mother and enjoy what Fuerteventura has to offer while a parent or parents race.

Although not confirmed, it is anticipated that entry per person will be under 1000 euro and places will be limited to 500.

(I must stress, this price and entry places are not confirmed yet)

Inscriptions for the race are HERE and as stated, it is expected that they will be limited.

Half MDS Marathon des Sables

Join our 2018 Multi-Day Training Camp with Elisabet Barnes and Sondre Amdahl in Lanzarote, January 18th to 25th. Booking and info HERE

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Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun 2016 on RUNULTRA

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“South African trail running pioneer Linda Doke and 2015 Marathon des Sables female champion, Elisabet Barnes placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in the ladies’ race. Both ladies summing up their experiences with a similar thought process, “What an incredible privilege it was to spend 5 days running through this magnificent part of the world on the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun®. Sometimes it takes experiencing places like this to remind us how just how fragile and yet so powerful nature is, and how unbelievably insignificant we are in the bigger scheme of things.” – Linda Doke –

Read the full article: HERE

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2016 – Day 2

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The Lanzarote 2016 multi-day training camp got underway today with an easy 1-hour run along the coastal trails of La Santa to Famara.

In total, we have a group of 27 runners with a broad range of 2016 objectives such as Marathon des Sables (Morocco), The Coastal Challenge (Costa Rica), Big Red Run (Australia), Cape Wraith Ultra (UK) and the Everest Trail Race (Nepal).

It’s always great to see so many runners of mixed ability come together with one goal in mind; completion of a challenging multi-day race!

Tomorrow, 4-hours of classic desert terrain awaits the runners as they depart in three groups lead by Elisabet Barnes, Niandi Carmont and Marie-Paule Pierson. Ian Corless, camp co-ordinator and planner, will move through the groups, running out-and-back to ensure that everyone is on track and comfortable.

In the afternoon, a group talk and discussion followed with an easy 30-60 min run.

Lanzarote, situated off the coast of Morocco provides the perfect environment to simulate many of the conditions that runners will experience in a classic multi-day race; wind, sand, rocks, tough terrain, climbs and maybe even a little scrambling.

If you are interested in a multi-day training, dates for 2017 have been set and you can view HERE

Many thanks to the following brands for helping with this camp:

MyRaceKit, OMM, inov-8, Berghaus, PHD, Raidlight, Scott Running

 

Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun™ 2016

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I am fortunate to travel to many races and work as a photographer and journalist. In 2015, I traveled to South Africa with Nikki Kimball and Olympic rower, James Cracknell for the Richtersveld Wildrun.

It was an incredible experience and I have to say, a highlight of my year. I recently wrote in an online article for AVAUNT Magazine (HERE):

“The simple act of running, placing one foot in-front of the other as a method of transport takes us back to our roots, our basic instincts. In search of a place to sleep, to hunt for food; it is about being in the wild, surviving and fulfilling a primal need.”

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In 2016, the race goes one step further and becomes ‘Transfrontier.’ The race will now pass over the Orange River and in to Namibia.

After two years the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has become known as one of the toughest, most scenic and unique trail running stage race events on the South African trail running calendar. In 2016 however, this iconic event takes on a new shape to become the first cross-border trail running event in the world; extending to a linear 200km, five day crossing from South Africa to Namibia through the heart of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have unlocked a truly unique opportunity to experience both sides of such a unique and powerful place  – and to finish a long day at a natural hot springs in the middle of the wilderness is unbelievable!”said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner, the events company behind the Wildrun™ events.

The new route will maintain the best of the first three days of the original edition, including the Vyf Susters, Hellskloof Pass, Armmanshoek, the Tswayisberge, Springbokvlakte and the iconic Tatasberg boulders. On day 4, the route will veer of its original course and cross the Orange River at De Hoop into Namibia and the untouched southern section of the Fish River Canyon. This 50km day will take runners into a wilderness that is completely inaccessible by vehicle and rich in wildlife such as Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, Namibian wild horses and giraffe.

©iancorless.com_RichtersveldRaceDay32015-0853After a long, tough day, runners will spend the evening in the canyon at a natural hot spring, before taking on the final day of roughly 25km to finish at the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort and wrap up a powerful and truly unique experience.

Race dates are 13-17 June 2016 and entries open midday October 21st

International entries HERE

European entries HERE

The overall race distance for 2016 will be 200km and the daily distances will be – 36.3km + 32.1km + 34km + 48.3km + 21.3km.

Terrain is very mixed, varied and stunning and requires adaptation to sandy terrain, heat, climbing, remoteness and an ability to run with a GPS.

Need help with training, join my 2016 multi-day training camp in Lanzarote.

Details are HERE

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Roland Vorwerk, marketing manager of Boundless Southern Africa, one of the driving forces behind the success of the event, said they are very happy to support this new cross-border trail running event.

“This new route contains even more highlights than the original Richtersveld Wildrun™, and promises to give participants a challenging but spectacular trail running experience.”

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If you need inspiration, check out the film from 2015 below.

You can also view photo galleries HERE

 

If you would like more information please use the form below or use the above links.