Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 7

All good things come to an end…!

Today, the 2018 Lanzarote Training Camp concluded with an incredible morning in the soft-sand and dunes of Lanzarote. It was such a great day! The 40 participants of the training camp looked like (and acted like) kids in a sand pitt.

Up, down, around and over.

There was some pretty serious acrobatics and high-flying too. It is amazing how tired legs and bodies were revived after 100+ miles of running in one week still had some energy left.

The morning session was followed with an afternoon discussion about ‘the next steps’ and how to follow on the training camp both physically and mentally.

A final easy run or ‘walking with poles’ session brought the training element of the camp to an end.

Final night festivities will see maybe a few drinks downed, a group meal and dare I say, the Club La Santa disco may well get a visit.

It has been an incredible week. A huge thanks to all the participants who made it so much fun. Obviously, many thanks to Elisabet Barnes, Sondre Amdahl, Tom Evans and Marie Paule Pierson – the 2018 coaches.

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 5 and 6

Day 5 is bivouac day! Arguably, it is the day of the Lanzarote Training Camp that the runners dread but learn the most.

It’s quite simple – we simulate many of the feelings and experiences that you will encounter in your chosen multi-day self-sufficient race.

Runners leave with their race packs including sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food for the dinner, snacks, food for breakfast, a minimum 1.5ltr of water and clothes such as down jacket!

The attendees run or walk in guided groups to the bivouac taking a minimum of 2.5 hours. They then pitch a tent (transported for them) and then they are rationed water. Our bivouac is extra special – it is inside a volcano!

We provide hot water but many runners test and try their own cooking skills using Esbit and then they eat a dehydrated meal. It happens every year… “Oh wow, I love this meal!” to the opposite, “Oh my word, that is disgusting!”

It’s invaluable what can be learnt with a simulation night.

We get a roaring fire going and chat into the night – it is special!

The following morning, our camp attendees are welcomed to ‘rise’ with crow of a cockerel around 0630/ 0645. They then must prepare their own breakfast and prepare for another run; again, a minimum 2-hours.

A night under the stars and an opportunity to test sleeping bag, sleeping mat and all other aspects of self-sufficiency makes everyone realise what is good and what is bad.

Back at Club La Santa we have a 2-hour debrief talk and discussion, from here, all our attendees go away armed with the knowledge that will help them achieve the finish line of their next multi-day race.

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 4

No pain, no gain – well, that is what they say! Today, was ‘pain’ morning at the Lanzarote Training Camp when all the participants did at least 6 reps of a volcano.

It’s a challenging morning and the vertical gain is designed to replicate the largest jebel that has appeared in all the latest editions of Marathon des Sables.

Steep with lose gravel for the climb and the descent is a mixture of stone, lose rocks and sharp lava – a gravel road section allows some recovery before a repeating.

It was a hot day and although the session was tough – everyone loved it!

A break for lunch and then Elisabet Barnes did a practical workshop of foot care. It’s an essential session that prepares everyone with all the relevant skills to allow them the flexibility to be self-sufficient when racing. Elisabet also showed and demonstrated foot taping as a preventive measure against blisters.

At 6pm, the day concluded with an easy 5 or 10km shake-outrun to loosen the legs!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 3

A long day on the trails this morning with our 40-participants split into 5 groups moving along the stunning coastline on Lanzarote. The technical trails are a challenge and it is fair to say, they are a much greater challenge than those encountered at say, MDS.

Reassuringly, our run/ walk group covered 25km in less than 4-hours. Perfect and a great confidence boost for the race.

The sun was shining, the skies were blue and the ever present wind that is always in Lanzarote, blew in off the sea to help make perfect running conditions.

It was a hot day though and that could be seen on one or two red faces after the run… Remember the sun cream folks!

A break for lunch and then at 4pm a talk/ discussion by MDS 2017 3rd place, Tom Evans.

Tom talked about nutrition and the differences and requirements of each participant. No two runners are the same. For example, the simple calorie needs and differences between a ‘fast’ runner. ‘mid’ runner or ‘walker.’

The type of food you will eat and how it is made up – carbs, protein and fats. For example, 1 to 1.5g of carbs per KG of body weight is considered ideal, 1.5g per KG of protein and 1g of fat per KG – but is that possible in a multi-day race?

As the question: What is normal for you? YOU need to know what you need! All valuable lessons and questions.

For example, a typical day for Tom:

  • Breakfast – Porridge and nuts
  • Whilst running – 2 x GU gels and 100g of Tailwind
  • Recovery – 2 x 70g of weight gain protein shake
  • Dinner – 100g freeze dried meal (LYO) and Pip & Nut peanut butter
  • Hydration – 6 x Nuun tablets

Typically 2623 calories for 665g weight

Hydration, needless to say, so important in any race! You need to sweat to cool muscles, remove toxins and keep ones core cool. Sodium replacement is key.

Tomorrow is another full-day with hill reps in the morning, a foot care workshop and easy shoe-out run!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 2

The first full day on Lanzarote for our 40-clients turned out to be quite the day with a triple whammy.

At 0900, five groups ventured out on the coastal trail to the seaside of resort of Famara. Tom Evans, Sondre Amdahl and Elisabet Barnes guiding three groups of runners, arguably described as fast, medium-fast and medium based. Yours truly guided a run/ walk group and ~Marie Paule Pierson guided a walking group.

Tom’s group managed an incredible 34km in 3-hours over some really challenging terrain. By contrast, Marie Paule was out for 5-hours covering approximately 26km with her walking group.

It was a great first session!

In the afternoon, Elisabet and Sondre delivered a 2-hour workshop on the ‘Pack and its Contents’ for multi-day racing, in particular a self-sufficient race such as Marathon des Sables.

They discussed all aspects going through each item of equipment, why they took it and what it weighed. They discussed the pros and cons of each piece of kit and if they considered it to be essential. All valuable information.

At 5pm, we all ventured out to one of the many volcanoes in this area taking a very easy group pace. Once there, we explored climbed, descended and run on the many technical trails that make up this area.

We also had the first outing of ‘The Storm Trooper!’ – Chris Sparrow, who plans to run the 2018 MDS in full Star Wars Storm Trooper dress!

It was a fun few hours before everyone was back in Club La Santa, suitably tired, after a very full day one!

The day ended with a few drinks and a great meal to replenish ahead of a busy day two!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 1

Today was arrival day at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. Early starts from a snowy and icy UK saw our first clients arrive midday and then a steady trickle of runners arrived culminating in our last runners arriving at 1630. In total, the 2018 Lanzarote Training Camp has 46-attendees.

We have the best coaches on hand to guide our clients through the rigours, both physical and mental, for preparing for a multi-day adventure in 2018 or onwards into 2019.

Arguably, day 1 is a relaxing day as it is all about travel. However, to ease everyone into a challenging week, we started with an easy 1-hour run as the day came to an end. Clear skies, the glow of a disappearing sun and the smell of the ‘sea’ in the air – what better way to start a training camp?

Tom Evans, 3rd place at the 2017 Marathon des Sables led the speedy runners. Sondre Amdahl, experienced single-stage and multi-day runner, lead the 2nd group. Two times MDS champion and experienced multi-day race expert, Elisabet Barnes, guided group 3 and then group 4 was lead by our walking specialist, Marie Paule Pierson.

It was s stunning start to the 2018 camp!

Early evening drinks, a group meal and briefing finished the day. Tomorrow, Friday, the participants embark on a lengthy coastal run of sand, rocks, single-track and dunes. It is going to be a great day and one that is eagerly anticipated by all.

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Timothy Olson joins the 2018 The Coastal Challenge is #TCC2018

With just 1-month to go to the 2018 The Coastal Challenge, #TCC2018 – Race director, Rodrigo Carazo, is pleased to announce that TNF athlete, Timothy Olson, will join the line-up for the race. It has been said, year-after-year that ‘this’ TCC is the best… Without doubt, 2018 has the greatest line-up in the race’s history!

Joining Timothy Olson on the start line in Quepos this coming February will be past winner and previous course record holder, Michael Wardian here. Fast-man and 2017 CCC champion, Hayden Hawks here. The Cape Wrath Ultra and Dragons Back Race champion, Marcus Scotney here. The flying Brit, Tom Evans here, who placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables – the highest ever placing for a British runner at the race. Chema Martinez, the speedy Spaniard once again returns to TCC, he has placed 2nd many times, can he win in 2018? Finally, Sondre Amdahl here who raced TCC in 2017, has recently made the podium at Everest Trail Race and has an illustrious resume at ultra-distance races, UTMB and Western States to name just two.

The ladies’ race is also set to be a classic with previous 2015 champion, Ester Alves here returning after placing 3rd in 2017. MDS two-time champion, Elisabet Barnes here, also returns to Costa Rica, however, illness post Everest Trail Race in November may will impact on her chances for the podium, in her words, “Preparation for TCC this year has been poor with two bouts of cold and flu, I am seriously behind but I love Costa Rica and the race, so I don’t want to miss it!” Finally, Skyrunner 2017 World Series champion, Ragna Debats here, will have her first taste of Costa Rica and its amazing landscape after an incredible 2017.

They say it is hot in Costa Rica – with this line-up, the trails between Quepos and the finish at the stunning Drake Bay can expect to be scorched as these fast guys and girls blaze a trail over this iconic multi-day event. As the locals say, “Pura Vida!”

I caught up with Timothy, after a tough 2016, 2017 saw a return to form for the American. It was my first question, how was 2017?

2017 was a solid year, I hope to build on that health and fitness and have a strong 2018. It is always nice to get a good win against solid competition and I achieved that. I plan to continue to train smart and have lots of fun getting in long runs in the mountains.

You have recently been training in Chile, how was that experience?

Chile was great, it was fun to explore and have a fun Holiday with my family there. I did a TNF Endurance Challenge race and then after the race I took some time off and enjoyed some chill runs with my wife and kids. So there wasn’t much training, I hope to get back to Chile and explore the mountains down south. 

You have signed up for TCC to kick-off 2018 – what is the attraction?

Costa Rica is an amazing place filled with life, lush greenery and so many amazing places to explore. I’m excited to try a stage race, push myself with some fast runners and enjoy nature and chill beach camping

We have quite a line-up for the 2018 race – Tom Evans, Michael Wardian, Marcus Scotney, Hayden Hawks, Sondre Amdahl, Chema Martinez and more… The local competition will be strong too! It is tough way to start a year – do you embrace that?

That is quite the lineup! Just like any race, I line up and try to give my best, I don’t really concern myself with other competition. However the competition does motivate me to be in good shape and work on my speed game to be ready to go. This will be a great opportunity for me to push harder at the start of races to keep contact with the leaders. This will be a challenging yet fun way to start the year. 

Costa Rica – hot, humid and challenging, In many ways it sounds perfect for you?

We’ll see, I don’t mind heat, but day after day of intense running and heat can catch up to you. I hope to race smart and be mindful that we’ll be racing for 6-days. I do like a good challenge, so I’m excited to see how it plays out. 

What are you most looking forward to at the race? The reason I ask,  family is joining you beforehand – is that a bonus or distraction?

The family will travel back to the States when I start the race. Traveling with family definitely has its distractions to my training and sleep schedule but it sure is fun to experience this world and travels together. It definitely enriches the experience having family around, but I’m excited for a week focused on running for the Costal Challenge. 

Mindfulness, tell me what it brings to your racing and your life in general.

Mindfulness is a practice of being aware of your body and mind – connecting them together with your breath to focus and bring ones attention into the present moment. I feel like running and being in nature encourages me to be present and appreciate each moment. In training and racing, the practice of breath awareness and focus allows me to push myself and train hard when it’s called for. My practice of mindfulness through meditation plays a tremendous roll in both my training and life in general. Being mindful of my training encourages me to prioritize recovery and chill days too which keeps me healthy and helps me continue to enjoy running. With kids, jobs and the chaos of life, my meditation practice allows me to be present with my family and when challenging moments arise, I use my practice and instead of reacting unconsciously in those moments I can respond appropriately and make wise choices.

Is this your first multi-day in the style/ ethos of Marathon des Sables?

Yes, I did TransRockies a while back but wasn’t really racing. I had a fun partner and we had a great experience but I’m excited to try it out with a little more effort. 

Any plans for other multi-day races?

Not as of now, but if some multi-day race offers me a solid deal to come out and join I’m more than open to more of these.

What does 2018 hold beyond TCC.

I’m really excited for this next year of racing. After TCC I think my next big race will be Madeira 115k in April. I haven’t figured out much after that, but I’m looking at UTMB. Still open to suggestions that I should consider. Maybe the Broken Arrow Sky race in Tahoe in June. It should be a great year and I look forward to pushing my limits in 2018. 

*****

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Ester Alves return to The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica #TCC2018

Ester Alves is returning to Costa Rica!  It comes as no surprise… TCC has always been at the top Ester’s list and 2018 will see the Portuguese ladies 3rd participation in the event. She is a past winner and last year, 2017, she places 3rd behind Anna Frost and Anna Comet.

Recently, Ester fought a hard fought battle in Nepal for the top spot of the Everest Trail Race – she finished 2nd after an incredible competitive race.

Recovering over the Christmas break, her sights are now set, once again on the TCC podium.

You are coming back to TCC, a past winner, what is that attracts you to this adventure?
Coastal Challenge give us the oportunity to run, in a magical place like the rain forest and at the same time enjoy moments of fabulous tropical relax with all atlhetes in the camping intimicy 🙂
You have just raced ETR in Nepal, it’s quite different, how was that experience?
Very hard for me. I went to ETR without altitude training or specific climb training. I trained hard in the gym, it was my only option as I knew that it would be a climbing race. All the views, landscape and the place is amaizing: the people, organization, mountains, animals… a different world
Is there anything you can take from Nepal that will help with TCC?
NEPAL is more about climbing … Costa rica is more about running… speed!. But there are some technical parts at TCC that are similar to Nepal. When you arrive from Nepal and you see those Sherpas, carrying many kilos on their heads you understand that anything is possible and your body is an amazing machine…. you became powerful with that thought!
How are your feelings for the 2018 TCC, once again you will race Elisabet Barnes – you two have a battle going on.
I have a big admiration for Elisabet. She is a  fighter. Running with her is knowing that you wont rest at all… It is always a challenge to know you are running against MDS queen.
You seem to handle the heat and humidity well, any new plans (tricks up the sleeve) for 2018?
The only trick is the experience, and training and this year another trick: tranquility…. it helps to control the anxiety before and during the stages.
With a month to go, how is training after the Christmas break?
I never stopped for xmas. I did plenty of bike and gym work and I did a little running. It was all active recovery really post Nepal. The work is being done now! The worst day at TCC is the first, it is such a shock. So hot, so humid that you cannot take a breath.
What 3 tips would you give to those who will do TCC for the first time?
1) Be paciente with the heat
2) Rest well after stages
3) Don’t leave food around your tend because of the small animals 🙂
What do you most look forward to at TCC?
I love Costa Rica and the race, it’s so special. The whole experience is magical and I am sure 2018 will be another great year – I look forward to everything about it!
What objectives do you have for 2018 post TCC?
After TCC I will start to prepare World Championships in Penyagolosa, after that I will return one more year to UTMB. At the end of the year I have a big project to Climb an 8000m peak – Shishapangma (8027m) in Tibet. Here is the project https://www.facebook.com/wegonnatry/
Finally, heat and humid of TCC or snow, cold and mountains of Nepal?
To be honest it is all about the challenge, pushing boundaries and testing myself – that can be heat, humidity, snow, cold or altitude. I embrace the challenge.

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Hayden Hawks to join the line-up at The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018

Hayden Hawks is one of those rising stars in the sport. A fast-guy moving from tack to trails and leaving scorch marks behind… But who is this 25-year old from Utah? In 2016, he burst on the scene with victory at Speedgoat 50K, sponsorship with Hoka One One followed and victory at Capstone 50K in November laid the foundations for that very memorable head-to-head with Miller at San Francisco 50. I profiled Hawks for IRUN4ULTRA and you can read that article here.

In 2017, Hawks toed the line at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. We expected a dominant performance and in the early stages, along with Tim Freriks, the American duo set a relentless and fast pace. By the time they reached the high-point of the course at Roques de los Muchachos, Freriks was looking strong and pushed ahead whereas Hawks felt the pace and had to eventually ease up but he pushed on for a finish, way outside his and all pre-race expectations.

It was a learning curve, but with learning comes knowledge. Hawks then turned un in Chamonix to toe the line at the CCC, one of the shorter races over the UTMB weekend – he won it!

It was all starting to click into place and just recently, Hawks once again toed the line at San Francisco 50; the super-fast showdown that often concludes a racing season for many an elite. It was Freriks once again who took the top slot but this time Hawks sealed a podium place (3rd) rounding out a solid 2017.

With 2018 around the corner, Hawks has secured a place at the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica #TCC2018. It will be a seriously competitive start to 2018 and in a race that will bring a new experience and learning curve for the Utah man.

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

In addition, the UK’s Tom Evans will also run the 2018 TCC, read HERE the unstoppable Michael Wardian HERE and just recently, two new names have been added, Sondre Amdahl and Ragna Debats – more news to follow on this!

I caught up with Hawks to find out a little more ahead of the 2018 TCC

  1. You have been tipped as one of the ‘new wave’ of US ultra-runners who will make an impact on the world ultra-scene – how does that feel; does it bring pressure?

I am excited to be in this situation where I can inspire and help others. That is really what’s it’s all about. Of course, it can bring pressure but learning how to embrace that pressure and turn it into positive energy is what you need to do as an elite. This is a dream come true and I feel so blessed to be in the situation I am in, doing what I love every day. Life is wonderful and amazing and I hope to be the best I can for years to come! 

  1. You have some fast friends, Jim Walmsley and Tim Freriks, do you guys push each other to new limits and expectations?

We definitely push each other in races, sometimes training, and definitely inspirationally! These guys inspire me and help me want to be better. I know that I have to be on my A game at all time. We are all pushing the limits and making our sport more exciting and fun to watch. We always want to give our best and push the limits. It’s also great to have competition that you also call friends. Isn’t our sport awesome?  

  1. You started 2017 with Transvulcania, what was it like racing in Europe on those trails?

I actually ran 4 races before Transvulcania in the USA to start 2017 that all went great. I always wanted to race in Europe though and really enjoyed my time. I was pretty tired going into that race and should have been more prepared. It was a great learning experience that I would never change, this blow up has changed my career and helped me so much from the lessons I learned. European trails are definitely different and need to be practiced on, but they are fun and amazing to run on! I really enjoy them.  

  1. CCC was a great moment for you, tell me about it?

It was a career changer! Definitely the best and most exciting race I have won to date! I had a great time and felt so strong for that race. I crossed the line and felt like I could have kept going. It was just one of those perfect days! Can’t wait to go back! I appreciate everyone that believed in me after some rough races and the support and congratulations that I have received. 

 

  1. You have decided to run TCC in Costa Rica in 2018 – it is a multi-day race in heat and humidity – are you intimidated by the race?

I am not intimidated. I have been to Costa Rica before and know what the weather, trails, and culture will be like. It will be amazing! I have been training by doing 150+ miles a week in 6 Days for years. My body and mind know how to do that and I believe that it will really bring out my strengths competing in this style of event! I also love climbing and so the vert will not be intimidating but embraced! 

  1. You will have strong competition from Mike Wardian, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney, Chema Martinez and more – you are going to need to be fit, healthy and strong – does that excite you?

I love competition! It gets me excited to know that I will be going up against athletes like these! They are also good friends of mine so I am excited for the fun times we will share together! I always make sure I am prepared and expect my competition will do the same. We will have many hard fought, exciting, fun miles! 

 

  1. Tell me a little about your preparation for Costa Rica – what are you doing at the moment?

Right now, I am doing 100 miles in 3 Days in the Bears Ears area in Utah that is under attack for protection. This is a very rugged and technical land. I will be doing upwards of 150 miles in 6 Days training for this race. I will be prepared!  

  1. What will a multi-day race bring you for your plans later in 2018?

A multi-day race will help my body learn how to push even when it is tired. I will need this for the longer races I will be doing, specifically the 100 mile races. This will be a great race as well as great training in a wonderful land! 

  1. What are the plans for 2018?

I will be doing some long races in 2018, capping it off with my first 100-mile race. Not 100 percent sure what that race will be. I love the long events and will be running Mt Gaoligong 125k and Penyagolosa 100k this spring! 

  1. Finally, what is your lifetime, long-term dream race or goal?

My dream race like many other Americans is to be the first American to win UTMB. I love the vibe and fans of this race and the area it is held in. I would also like to travel the world running races across the world experiencing new cultures and lands! 

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Mountain, Ultra, Trail and Skyrunning Review of 2017

As a year comes to a close, I always like to look back and consider the highlights of the year, not only personal highlights but global highlights of the running world.

It is a daunting task at times.

The running year is now so full that it can be difficult to remember what happened just weeks ago, never mind months ago. So, with this in mind, please consider that this article is my thoughts and not a definitive highlight of 2017.

Having said that, I am going to make some huge mistakes and I am going to miss some key people, races and performances.

I welcome you, the reader, reminding me of what they are – please, just be nice!

So, let us look at 2017.

I was considering going through chronologically and in all honesty, it may have been the better solution to the task at hand, however, I have just gone on impulse! 

Western States was won by Ryan Sandes and I have to say, it was a sweet victory for the South African who over the years I have considered a great friend. Ryan was my first ever interview on Talk Ultra podcast and I love his story. The non-runner who became a runner who eventually won Western States. It’s a dream story. While on the subject of Western, we also need to mention the ladies champ, Cat Bradley. While all the top contenders faded, Cat ran a sound and solid race to take the biggest win of her life. It was no one-off, something she has proven recently by setting a FKT in the Grand Canyon – Rim – to – Rim – to – Rim fastest known time in 7:52:20

Francois D’Haene racing in China, April 2017

Francois D’Haene is the best 100-mile mountain runner in the world – end of the story. The dude has been nailing it for years and when Rob Krar won 3 100’s in one year, so did Francois. The Frenchman has consistently dominated the distance and when the trail has vertical, he is almost unbeatable. In 2017, he elevated himself to a new level firstly beating the ‘unbeatable’ Kilian Jornet at UTMB and then setting (obliterating) the FKT for the John Muir Trail. He also ripped MIUT (Madeira Island Ultra Trail) apart, and the previous CR set by Zach Miller. Without doubt, Francois is the male ultra-runner of the year in my eyes. We just need to see him at Hardrock 100 now!

Andrea Huser blows my mind constantly. She is the most impressive and consistent runner in the ultra-world and I often ask the question, if she raced less, would she win more? She has a string of top results but often has missed the big win. But when you race as much as she does, you can’t help but just nod in respect.

Caroline Chaverot was unbeatable in 2016 and 2017 started with some issues, issues that she has battled with throughout 2017. Despite this, she won Hardrock 100. It was a great victory and not one without controversy… she left her bleeding pacer on the trail for others to help. Just recently she rounded out her year with a win at Saint E Lyon in France – the classic November night race.

Ida Nilsson and Tim Freriks kicked off their seasons with victory at Transvulcania. Ida’s win was to be expected, but Tim’s win was a revelation. The ‘cowboy’ then went on to set a FKT in the Grand Canyon. Ida continued her great running throughout 2017 and then the duo turned up at San Francisco 50 and both won again – they topped and tailed the year and we can expect big things in 2018!

Jim Walmsley and the PR machine in many ways signified a new era in the sport of ultra-running and not all for the better in my opinion. The hype around the 2017 Western States before the race pretty much had Jim with his buckle, the Cougar and a new CR. The reality was very different. Jim then went to UTMB and showed signs of learning the craft. He watched Francois and Kilian and paced his day. It eventually went wrong but he rallied and closed out strong. A definitive moment for Jim and I was well aware that this would be a turning point for his 100-mile future. He then confirmed he would run on Reunion Island at Raid de la Reunion! While I can admire the decision, for me, it was always going to be a questionable decision in regard to his ‘professional’ development. But I am being judgmental and I hope not in a negative way. I ‘get’ that Jim wanted to run on the island but the step-up from UTMB was huge and despite leading the race, he eventually dropped around the 100km mark. It has been a huge learning year for the fast man and I still hold true that up to 100km, the guy is pretty much un-matched. I am looking forward to seeing him nail 100-miles in 2018 (maybe 2019) and when he does, watch out, it will almost certainly be super-fast and mind blowing. 

Kilian Jornet pretty much was missing from the mountain, ultra and trail calendar for the past 18-months and rightly so. He had set targets on the final summit of his Summits of my Life – Everest. A failed attempt in previous year and then Nepal earthquakes had put things on hold. No bad thing. Kilian learned, progressed and then finally summited Everest twice in one week which blew the minds of the whole world. Of course, anything so amazing has questions raised over it and rightly so. Just recently an article appeared and Kilian responded. Read HERE. More will come to light in regard to Everest and ultimately one has to assume the Everest film will answer all questions. Post Everest, Kilian started running again and won a super-fast Sierre Zinal, he won Hardrock 100 with a dislocated shoulder, placed 2nd behind Francois at UTMB and won Glen Coe Skyline. In the winter, he has had operations on his shoulders and now is in recovery and waiting to get back into the SkiMo season. Kilian has nothing to prove in my eyes. What does 2018 hold? Who knows really, ultimately, Kilian is at the top of his game and he will go where his heart takes him… expect a Zegama appearance, a Hardrock appearance, maybe the Bob Graham will be on the cards and maybe he will be back in Scotland for Glen Coe. Who knows? Whatever the path, he will inspire.

Camille Herron won Comrades, wow, it is the holy grail of road ultra-running. She then followed with a DNF at Western States and Leadville and I, and others, was left wondering what had happened. Oh, my word has she put the record straight. In recent weeks Camille has set a 100-mile world record 12:42:39, a 100km USA track record 7:36:39 at Desert Solstice and then went on to run for 12-hours and set a 12hr All-Surface World Record 92.708 miles. She is the new Ann Trason and arguably, she will be in for a shout as ultra-runner of the year.

Courtney Dewaulter can push Camille close. This lady won Run Rabbit Run (again) this time losing her vision in the final 10km. She then went on to win Moab 200 (actually 238-miles) outright and then recently ran 250.079km / 155.391 miles in 24-hours setting an American record. Wow!

Nuria Picas came out of the wilderness of 2016 and quite rightly, finally won UTMB. Nuria was unstoppable for many years but the big loop around Chamonix had eluded her, I firmly believe she can consider her career complete with this win!

The UK’s Dan Lawson flew around the Gobi Desert to win with a new CR at the 400km Ultra Gobi. Dan is the UK’s hottest prospect at the long game, particularly when you consider past runs on the Grand Union Canal and 2nd at the iconic Spartathlon.

Marco De Gasperi pioneered the way for Skyrunning on Monte Rosa in the early 90’s and has had incredible journey as one of the most respected mountain runners in the world. Finally, in 2017, Marco became the Skyrunner World Series (SWS) champion after an incredible season of consistent running and podium places – a true inspiration.

Maite Maiora moved up several notches in 2017 and was a dominant force on the Skyrunning circuit with a string of victories and podium places. 2017 was her year in the sky! But let us not forget Ragna Debats, she had an amazing full season and triumphed over multiple distances in addition to a great run at the IAU World Trail Champs. Also, Sheila Aviles came of age… a name to watch in future years! For the guys, keep an eye on Jan Maragarit.

UTMB had arguably the greatest male line-up of elite runners ever and it turned out to be great show down and we saw the confirmation that US runners are getting UTMB. Tim Tollefson was again flying the flag with a 3rd place. It is only a matter of time until we see an American win the big dance around France, Italy and Switzerland – will it be 2018? It could well be if Francois d’Haene and Kilian Jornet don’t run.

Hillary Allen has represented the USA in Europe for a couple of years now and once again she was doing so in 2017. However, it all fell apart, before my eyes, at Tromso SkyRace in Norway. She fell many meters, bounced on the rocks below and came away with some serious injuries. Thankfully, the recovery process has gone well and I wish Hillary well for 2018.

Ruth Croft has been in the mix for some time and I think it is fair to say that her victory at ‘Templiers’ in France recently has elevated to the New Zealander to a new level for the coming year… what does 2018 hold for this lady?

2017 most certainly has been a FKT year – Iker Karrera, Darcy Piceu, Francois d’Haene, Tim Freriks, Cat Bradley, Alicia Vargo, Rickey Gates and so many more have all taken the Fastest Known Time discipline to new heights but I wonder if ‘Stringbean’s’ FKT on the Appalachian Trail is the one that should have had more press and coverage? He soloed the AT quicker than Karl Meltzer and Scott Jurek and without help, but, relatively slipped under most radars. Read here.

Jeff Browning crushed the 100-mile distance in 2016 and did so again in 2017, he is a great ambassador for the sport.

Luis Alberto Hernando is for me, arguably one of the most talented runners in the world. But he is a quiet guy who in many ways, keeps himself to himself. He races hard and crushes the competition. In 2017, he once again became IAU World Trail Champion on a course that he, and many others said, didn’t suit him. The guy is pure class!

The UK’s Damian Hall came to running late in life (not that he is old) but he has slowly and surely chipped his way through the ultra-ranks and this year just missed the top-10 at UTMB – an incredible result.

Tom Evans broke on the scene by placing 3rd at MDS Morocco and in the process set a new benchmark for UK based runners to aim for. He followed this up with some other solid results in 2017 and I, like many others, wonder what 2018 holds in store.

Rickey Gates ran across America. Nuff said! Read here.

Ueli Steck, the Swiss Machine, died on the mountains and left the mountain world devastated by his passing. Here.

Alex Honold free soloed El Cap in arguably one of the most awe-inspiring and risky climbs in the history of the sport. It is quite literally, off the scale and beyond comprehension. I know it’s not running but it is without doubt worth a mention! Here.

The infamous Barkley once again served up another serving of spine tingling history with John Kelly finishing and Canada’s Gary Robbins left wiped out on the floor in tears. You can’t make stories like this up.

Gary Cantrell (Lazarus Lake of Barkley fame) organised a race that went through his garden, The Big Backyard Ultra. Every 60-minutes, runners set off on a loop. During the night, the loop changed. The principal was simple, you keep going till one man or woman is left Standing. Well, Guiiiaume Calmettes was that man in 2017 running 245.835 pipping Harvey Lewis. 

Rachid Elmorabity once again won Marathon des Sables in Morocco proving that he is the greatest multi-day desert runner in the world at the moment. Elisabet Barnes, 2015 MDS champion once again returned to the sand pit after missing victory in 2016 and was unstoppable with a dominant and impressive force of sand running.

MDS Peru followed on the 32-year traditions of its Moroccan big brother with the first edition in Peru’s Ica Desert. This was the first time any event was allowed permission to take place in this amazing National Park. It was great first event with Morocco’s Rachid Elmorabity and France’s Nathalie Mauclair taking the top honours.

Michael Wardian did what he always does, run and run and run throughout 2017. But he kicked off the year with a world record running 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. The guy just continues to impress.

Best shoes of 2017? Well, this is well and truly a can of worms and I can only answer from a personal perspective. The Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 here blew my socks off and is now my favourite day-to-day trail running shoe. For when it gets technical, gnarly, muddy and I need an aggressive shoe, the VJ Sport iRock2 here has set a new benchmark for me in regard to grip.

Best clothing? inov-8 have continued to impress me with not only excellent run shoes but appeared to match. They now have a really specific line of products (including packs) that make them an excellent one-stop shop for anything that you would need for a messy and muddy 5km fell run to the tough and challenging 100+ mile UTMB.

Best moment of 2017? That is a serious toughie but maybe Ryan Sandes finally taking that WSER top slot. I know how much he wanted it and he didn’t have an easy journey obtaining it. Huge respect! But hey, I have been inspired by so many in 2017.

On a personal note to conclude:

For me, I started travelling in January and I stopped in December. Yes, I have been on the road for 12-months and I consider myself to be truly blessed for the opportunities I have had to follow my dreams and make a living from it. I never take it for granted! While I could go into the details of each trip, I won’t. Every race is documented in words and images on this website and my social channels and you can find out about them should you so wish.

INSTAGRAM here

TWITTER here

FACEBOOK PHOTOGRAPHY here FACEBOOK TALK ULTRA here

PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE here IMAGE SALES here

Don’t forget Talk Ultra Podcast which has documented this sport HERE

BUT, and this is a huge BUT. My passion, and my work calendar comes at a price. I have a son, a family and an amazing partner, Niandi. They have all been neglected in 2017 with my travel and race coverage. It’s a dilemma and one that keeps me awake. I struggle for answers but I want to say THANK YOU for the support to all those people who mean the world to me, you know who you are.