Caroline Boller 50-Mile Trail Record In-Depth Interview

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Photo credit © Anthony Stasulli

In December 2016, female ultra-running in the USA hit a purple patch. Two Ann Trason records fell, Gina Slaby set a new outright 100-mile record lowering Trason’s 13:47:41 to 13:45:49 at Deserts Solstice Invitational and Caroline Boller lowered the USA 50-mile trail record to 5:48:01 at Brazos Bend. Caroline, aged 42-years is a Brit living in the USA and has only been running ultra’s for 4-years. I caught up with her to find out about this stunning run.

Ian: I’m joined by Caroline Boller and she’s Americas 50-mile fastest runner on the trails. How are you doing Caroline?

Caroline Boller: I’m doing very well thank you Ian.

Ian: So how does it feel running 50 miles super-fast and breaking a record that was set by Ann Trason, I mean come on, that pretty damn good isn’t it?

Caroline: Well it was a very good day, I was determined to have fun, it was my birthday so that helped to keep a positive mind-set, it was better day than I expected.

Ian: Yes, I mean what was Ann’s record 6:14 and change and you run 5:48:01, now, we have got a say that this is not on the same course and of course there’s many variables that come in with a trail record because the elevation gain, the type of surface that you’re running on but still it’s 50-miles and you’ve got to run it damn quick. What’s the thought process going in to a race like this, did you ever have a record at the back of your mind?

Caroline: The set up was more of a mark to see could if I go as fast as that and possibly faster on this course which is quite a fast course. I did have the record in mind, at the same time it was more of a personal challenge to me to try and see if I could get out there and just see how fast could I run on a trail surface; on a course that’s conducive to fast times. I thought I could probably run it sub-six on a good day, the trail was as described and then I got out there and was just having a fantastic day.

Whenever you go that fast in a 50-mile race or a long race like that you know there’s always a danger that it’s going to catch back up to you and I was willing to take that gamble and it paid off, and it doesn’t always work out like that but on this day, it did and it turned in to a great day because of it.

Ian: There’s so many things that come in into this type of performance and I’ve mentioned it before on my podcast and I’m going to go back to Ian Sherman’s win at Rocky Raccoon. Where the stars align, the weather’s perfect, the course is perfect, the person is perfect and it results in a perfect performance and arguably one can say that is how world records, course records, life time performance bests come. Do you feel that for you it was one of those days where everything just aligned?

Caroline: Well it definitely was a good day the conditions were amazing, the conditions can be quite difficult down there because it is essentially a swamp and even in the winter you can have– quite aside from the wild life there’s alligators and mosquitoes and things like that, which if you don’t like that sort of thing can throw you of a bit, but the weather was really good. It can be very humid there and we didn’t have a tone humidity in the air or at least I didn’t feel it, and the weather was quite cool.

It can also be quite warm even in December, so having an over cast day, a day that was very cool and was cool throughout. There was a little bit of wind for the second and the third loop course, three loops and second and the third loop we were buffeted a little bit by wind in some of the exposed sections of the course, but those sections were limited; I would say it was a total of maybe four or five miles throughout the whole race.

And so, I don’t think it affected me too much and I just enjoyed it and it’s one of those days where I just went in with a positive attitude. Like I said that helped me to overcome when it became tough, because it did get tough and I’m just thankful that it came together as it did because it’s very easy to give back all those early fast miles at the end and the fact that, that didn’t happen too much, I think I lost a couple of minutes from that last loop and that’s it. And other than that, my splits were very consistent throughout and yes it just came together well on the day.

Ian: Tell me about the pigs?

Caroline: The pigs were completely unexpected. I was running, it was in the first couple of miles and we’d just done a turn back and there quite a lot of runners at that point because we’d only just come out at the start right, and so I wasn’t the only one who was intimidated by these pigs but I could hear this noise in the brush and it was very loud, multiple animals snorting and you just don’t know what’s going to come out of the bushes. I was sort of thinking, no what could this be, I’m expecting it to be wild boar which is quite a bit bigger and has horns, they are much more aggressive and instead it was these pigs, they were wild pigs but they came out and they were maybe a dozen or so of them.

They came out right in front of me on the trail, just a few feet away and they streamed across the trail – stunning! If I had been there or if anyone had been there they would have completely been wiped out by this stampeding heard, but at the same time there’s part of me going, “They are so cute.” There were little baby piglets in there too, so cute. It could have been quite a different story from my racing day because you could still hear them in the brush even after the main group had passed and I thought no, I’m just going to have to chance it and go for it and I did and I was lucky enough that I did not get taken out by the pigs, I don’t think anybody did which is excellent news.

Ian: Brilliant! I was reading your report about the race and one of the things that interested me was in the latter stages of the report, you said that you felt as though there was always another runner in front of you and that you were running in second and chasing that runner, and that other runner may very well have been Ann Trason. Does visualization and mind games play a big part of getting a good performance out of yourself.

Caroline: It definitely does! The races where I am very mindful of keeping a positive attitude and of reinforcing that, in my mind I keep saying things to encourage myself and to tell myself that it’s going well – just keep at it! I sat to myself. ‘just stay there you don’t want to lose all that ground.’ Having that visualization of weather, a real runner or not, so, in this scenario I was just visualizing Ann Trason in front of me, and just following her lead which was quite fun.

In the end of the race I had a runner behind me, I passed him at about mile 45 and I was imagining that he was close on my heels and going to pass and I thought it would be quite fun to finish the race first overall, that was definitely motivating for me as well.

Ian: That must have been Michael? If I remember correctly, he was running the 100-mile race but dropped down to the 50?

Caroline: He had dropped down a couple of days before the race as he had come down with a cold, on the day he raced the 50.

Ian: On a course like this where you’re coming across other runners, how helpful is that in terms of motivation as well?

Caroline: Well the nice thing about a loop style course is that you do of course see a great deal of people. There are quite a lot of out and back sections from the course as well and you would see a lot of the same runners as you’re going around and they were all very encouraging, it makes it much more interesting! Instead of sort of just having a flat expansive road or trail, there was always something to be anticipating, I’ve got an aid station coming up here, I’m going to see my crew here, look I’ve seen that person again and they are having a strong day it’s good for them, try and encourage them on and there was always something to look at, always something to keep my mind engaged which was great.

Ian: What I find interesting is you consider yourself a rank amateur but you just set this time and that would indicate the opposite. How does that fit in your mind set?

Caroline: Well it is very hard for me to reconcile it too because I came to running later in life. I didn’t start until I was about 38, so for me it’s just been four years of plugging away. I feel that I’m only just sort of getting a handle on how to do it properly and I still don’t think I have a lot of it figured out. I mean I have yet to have a successful 100-mile race. I’m always optimistic that there’s a lot of better races still in me and I can perform better. Maybe it’s more of a personal view of myself that I’m never quite satisfied and I always want to be pushing for more.

I also see so many of these amazing women out there and of course the men too. Sometimes they make it look so effortless. Sometimes they get it right all the time and I don’t. I mean, I have races where I’ll have a good race and then I’ll have a bad race. I don’t have a ton of consistency. I do still think of myself as somebody who’s working out. I’m not quite there yet.

Ian: But in running terms you’re still in primary school, aren’t you? Because you’re only running for four years.

Caroline: Yes, that’s the hope [laughter], because I’m also 42, so you never know. At some point age catches up with you but then you see runners that are running well into their late 40s, early 50s, mid 50s and beyond. They’re so inspirational, so I know there’s more life in the legs yet.

Ian: I think age is just a number. There’s a point where you do go over a certain point and then you will get slower, but I don’t think at 42 that you’re not past the opportunities of achieving better results. You’re coached by Mario Fraioli, what does that bring to the package and how much do you learn from him?

Caroline: Well, Mario has a wealth of experience at all distances. He’s traditionally been someone who has focused on marathon and below distances with his athletes, but he also coaches ultra-runners.

The thing that appeals to me about that is that I’m keen to continue my progression on the speed end of things as well as on the endurance end of things. Mario is good at making sure that both of those aspects are covered going into any race. I feel like I don’t lose a ton of speed even when I’m training for something like a 50-mile, or 100K, or beyond that – the speed is there and it just takes a little bit of another thing if I want to then run a marathon or a 50K or something that requires quite a bit more speed and turnover.

Ian: In terms of the training that he gives you, does it look very much like a marathon training plan or do you feel as though it’s an ultra-training plan?

Caroline: Well it depends what I’m training for because I do still run marathons. When I’m training for a marathon, it is a very classic training cycle for a marathon, although I’m not very good I have to say at timing my marathons. I rarely take the opportunity to fully get me dialled in for a marathon. I tend to sort of jump into these things, and he goes, “Well, you’ve only got six weeks, so there’s not that much we can really do but we can try.” I think he’d probably love to see if I could plan it out a bit more. I am impulsive sometimes and just feel like racing.

Mario does work with me on that. But then when I’m training for an ultra, like when he was training me for Western States, the training is completely different. I mean I’m out there doing almost exclusively doing hilly, or trail runs, and lots and lots more elevation. Just even an emphasis on hill repeats climbing power, that kind of thing. Just very different, it looks very different than a marathon training cycle.

Ian: A good proportion of speed work and endurance work?

Caroline: Yes, definitely! I always keep the speed work in there. Even when we’re training for something like Western States, the speed work is always in there. It just looks a little bit different. For a marathon, if it’s a flat marathon that I’m training for, then he wants me to try and get the maximum leg turnover and speed that I can, so I’m going out and try to find the fastest surface that I can do it on. Whereas if I’m training for something like Western States, that’s not going to help me that much, so I need to do that type of work on the trail or on a hilly road, something that pushes me to maintain leg turnover at the same time as packing climbs and combining those two aspects.

Ian: When we talk about an endurance side of your training, what’s a longer run for you?

Photo credit to ©Paul Nelson

Photo credit to Paul Nelson

Caroline: If I’m training for something like 100-mile, usually I’ll try and get a 30-mile (ish) training run in there but I’ll also probably jump into a 50K and possibly 100K as well in advance to sort of get those miles in my legs. It’s not like I’m going out every weekend and cranking out 28, 30 miles. That’s just too much. We must pick the right times to do that in the cycle that is going to help me to progress. But if I’m training for something that is shorter, I mean, I didn’t anticipate doing Brazos Bend the 50-miler, or JFK 50-miler which I just did three weeks apart… I did these only on the back of the fact that I had a disappointing World Champs for the 50K road in Doha.

I knew the fitness was there. I sort of just had a long run in Doha… I had an asthma attack and it was awful. I believe in that fitness and I knew it was there, but even that training I wouldn’t say was ideal for what I tried to do both at JFK and at Brazos Bend. Again, probably if I plan these things out a little bit better maybe I could possibly improve. I don’t know. We’ll see!

Ian: You are being very modest because you were second at JFK, running 6:32. Like you say, you were at the 50K World Championships. It may have not gone the way that you wanted it to, but the point is you were there and you were representing your country. I think your best result at Western States was eighth, is that right?

Caroline: Yes.

Ian: Eighth at western states. A lot of people would be going, “I was eighth at Western States,” and, “I’m eighth at Western States.” I would probably be more impressed with your eighth at Western States than maybe your 50-mile run, but that maybe is just the geek side of me.

Caroline: [laughs]

Ian:  Western States being Western States. Where does that fit into the big picture? Because it’s fantastic to run a fast 50-miler and to beat a legend like Ann Trason. Of course, that moment in time is now documented and you will be remembered for history of running as being the person to the set that time. But also, the geeky ultra-running side of me and the ultra-running world would be impressed with a WSER 8th.

Caroline: Well yes. For me personally, and I am thrilled to have been in the top 10 because every year that race is incredibly competitive. I mean, the women who run that I have the utmost respect for, and at the same time I am always wanting to get the best performance out of myself and I don’t feel that I’ve had that on that course yet. I feel like I’ve had a very disappointing last 20, 25 miles both times that I ran it.

Particularly this year, it was a very difficult pill to swallow because I felt good. I ran a slightly more aggressive race than I had the year before. I came in well ahead of where I had been the year before at Forest Hill. I mean basically I passed a lot of the ladies’ in the Canyons and I was in third place… for something like 40-miles of Western States.

I thought this is coming together for me and then it just all fell apart. I just found that I didn’t have anything left. I don’t know if that’s physical, mental or a combination of both but I’m not satisfied with the way that those last miles went for me and I’d like to go back and do it better.

Ian: Yes.

Caroline: That’s something to me personally, that I’m not happy with. It’s nothing about the other ladies, you know?

Ian: Where do you go from here because you finished 12th at Western States this year. Your automatic qualification is not there; you’re going to have to go to a golden ticket race and get an entry. So how does that work? Is that a priority for you to pinpoint one of these golden ticket races and get a place?

Caroline: It is, but probably not for 2017.

Ian: Okay.

Caroline: I have realized that I am trying to do it all in a year and every year that comes around, I race everything from half marathons on the road, to 100-milers.

Ian: Yeah.

Caroline: Maybe I would be best served by focusing and spending one year, being a bit more specific about what I’m doing, and then come back to the trail so I feel that I can probably have a better performance. I’ve never done a 100k on the road so I’d like to do a 100k on the road. I’m mulling over whether I jump into Comrades because I think that’s always been a bucket list to me and I think it would be fantastic and suit my skill set fairly well, and then also I’ve got this bee in my bonnet about trying to run a sub 2:40 marathon. I think I can but I think I can only do that if it hasn’t been a year working focused on trail running. I don’t know what my 2017 calendar looks like for sure, because as I said I’m always one who jumps into something based on how the last race went. I’m bad at planning these things.

Ian: Okay.

Caroline: But I sort of feel like 2017 would be a great year for me to focus on a little bit more similar type of races and then focus back on the trail maybe for 2018 and see if I can have a fast race.

Ian: You’ve been 3rd at Bandera before, so that’s obviously gone well. I think what you’re saying makes sense to me and I used the term before that you’re primary school runner in terms of running. What I mean by that is you’ve only got four-years of running and of course to run well, and to run in the way that you want to run for a 100-miler takes a little bit of time and even though you’ve placed well at States maybe the transition to go into top five does mean you need more running of different types before you can nail Western States?

So, with 2016 at an end it certainly sounds as though you’re not quite sure what your targets are for this year so what happens now in this period? Is it just about recovery, speaking with your coach? Maybe looking at the calendar and deciding how to bring your training together and setting those A-races for next year?

Caroline: Yes. I will talk with Mario and we’ll go through some ideas. I’m sure he’s got some ideas as well but I know he always sort of wants to hear what excites me and what gets me fired up. Then he’ll tell me if he thinks that if I do certain races maybe they’re a bit too close together or maybe I should pick 2 out of those 3 to do, or something like that and sort of help to shape it for me. He also knows that I quite like doing races close together in a block. Like three close races together in a row.

Usually by the time the third one comes around my body is ready for it and that’s often where I have my best performance so that’s something that I like. It’s a bit unusual, some people focus on one or two big races a year and they want to make sure there’s plenty of recovery in between, but that’s something that works for me. For the time being, I’m taking it very easy now but I’m quite keen to get back to it because I’m feeling alright, you know. My body’s recovering quite well.

Ian: Yes. Well you have good weather in California?

Caroline: Yes. California, we’re very lucky it’s always lovely here. I don’t mind running in the rain though, the rainy days I find it very refreshing. So, I’ll probably still be out there doing reasonable number of miles and maintaining fitness. But maybe, maybe not as focused as it has been the last two months.

Ian: Okay, so I’m going to finish off with a question. I’m glad you’re not sitting opposite me so you can’t throw anything at me. [laughs]

You’ve just broken an Ann Trason record and Ann Trason won the Western States 14 times. Any chance of you going to Western States and getting 14 victories?

Caroline: No, I don’t. No! No! I have so much respect for Ann. I honestly don’t think that anybody is ever going to repeat that. It’s just an outstanding accomplishment. And I don’t even think there’s a chance. If I ever was lucky enough to have a strong podium finish at Western States I think I’d have to hang up my hat and say, “thank you very much. That was lovely.” I’m onto new things now. Love the race. Absolutely love it. I will always want to get there and support runners, volunteers whatever it takes to be part of it but boy! The dedication to win fourteen times. Oh! Wow! Just absolutely awestruck by that.

Ian: Caroline it’s been excellent speaking to you. Many, many congratulations on this record. I hope you manage to sit down with your coach, sort your year out and I hope to see you back to Western States and see you move up the ranking.

Caroline: Thank you very much for having me Ian.

Ultra Signup Results for Caroline HERE

©Myles Smythe of Michigan Bluff Photography

©Myles Smythe of Michigan Bluff Photography

Support on PATREON HERE

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Richtersveld Wildrun™ 2015 – This Week!

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It is days before the second Richtersveld Wildrun™ kicks off and anticipation is building for what promises to be a tight race through one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world.

This four day, 150km stage race is one of the most challenging trail runs in South Africa and runners can expect to take on a harsh, mountainous desert as they are tested to the limit. Similar in format o the iconic Marathon des Sables, ‘Wildrun’ is notably different in that runners are not self sufficient: equipment is transported for them and food is provided.

At the front of the field, three of Southern Africa’s top trail runners and an American ultra-running legend will go toe-to-toe as they battle it out for top spot. Bernard Rukadza and Katya Soggot will both return to defend their titles and will come up against the likes of South African long distance trail running champion, Thabang Madiba and three-time Western States 100 mile champion, Nikki Kimball.   Both Rukadza and Madiba have been enjoying superb form in 2015 with Rukadza securing his second straight ProNutro AfricanX title in March and Madiba taking second place at the same race and at the Otter African Trail Run in October 2014. Madiba will be hoping to go one better at the Wildrun™ and take first place, but he will be up against it thanks to Rukadza’s form and route experience from the 2014 event. This is also the first time Madiba is taking on a run of this magnitude and he will have to adapt quickly to stay in the hunt.

Day 2 of the 2014 Richtersveld Wildrun, 'Die Koei' to Hakkiesdoring, Northern Cape, South Africa on 5th June 2014

“Stage racing is one of the races that helps to find your strength in running. You learn to push while in pain and learn techniques to apply to survive all stages. A win will be a big bonus for me but I’m looking forward to give all my best,” said Madiba.

In the ladies field, Katya Soggot will be representing South Africa off the back of a string of victories in the Western Cape, including the Spur Silvermine Mountain XL, Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™, Three Peaks Challenge, Matroosberg Challenge and Jonkershoek and Helderberg Mountain Challenges. She has been virtually unbeatable locally and will relish the opportunity to measure herself against an ultra-runner of Kimball’s calibre. With three Western States 100 titles as well as an Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and Marathon des Sables title, Kimball is one of the top ultra runners of her time and will be hard to beat, but Soggot’s experience from the 2014 event is sure to come in handy.

“The magnitude of untouched wilderness, the comfort and welcome at every rest camp, and the elves who made it so. My feet touched where angels fear to tread. I never dreamt I would have the privilege to relive such an experience and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Boundless Southern Africa and Wildrunner for the opportunity,” – Katya Soggot

Since its inception in 2014, the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has had amazing support from Boundless Southern Africa and marketing manager, Roland Vorwerk was equally excited about the quality of racing anticipated.

“The Richtersveld Wildrun™ route includes many of the Park’s most spectacular features, and includes trails that very few people get to traverse. We are looking forward to these runners experiencing the unique natural and cultural landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and meeting the communities associated with this innovative event.”

Mens Four Medal Ceremony

From a British perspective, Olympic rower and all around endurance athlete, James Cracknell was scheduled to race the 4 day Richtersveld Wildrun. However, James already had a commitment in place to commentate for the BBC on a rowing event in Poland. This race commentary was due to finish in time to allow James to travel to South Africa. Unfortunately, the commentating has been extended by one day and although James will still travel to South Africa he will arrive late and miss day one of the race. Needless to say, James is somewhat perturbed by this. Never happy taking the easy option, James and myself are currently looking at doing day 1 of the race at the end. Of course, this would mean a solo run but the team at Wildrunner have confirmed that they can make this happen. So, although James will not be able to compete head-to-head with other runners, we will have an overall time for the 4 day run that we can compare to other competitors.

“What more can be said other than this is going to be one hell of a race! Bernard Rukadza has been on fire in the Cape recently, winning everything from marathons to short Spur Trail Series™ events, but Thabang Madiba comes with the South African long distance trail champion label and arguably more endurance experience. I can’t wait to see these two trail heavy weights going head to head, solo, and in the magical Richtersveld desert,” said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner – the events company behind the Wildrun™.

You will be able to follow the Richtersveld Wildrun through images and words here on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2015 Day 2 Savegre Valley to Dominical Beach

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TCC 2015 Day s Savegre Valley – Dominical Beach

39km

2250+ ascent

Days don’t come much more exciting than day two of The Coastal Challenge… could Frosty pull back the time lost to Veronica Bravo? Could Mike Murphey refocus after going off course on day 1, loosing a chunk of time to Iain Don Wauchope and then going into the red trying to pull back time?

Well the simple answer is yes!

Both Frosty and Mike Murphey showed incredible powers of recovery and lead the race  from the front.

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Frosty took an early lead from Veronica Bravo and slowly but surely extended her lead as day-2 threw everything at her; tough climbs, sections of fire trail, gnarly descents, km’s of fire trail, water crossings and then a long hot stretch of relentless beach.

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“Today was true Costa Rican; jungle, trail, beaches and wonderful people… oh, and darn hot! I felt good for 20km but I didn’t like the fast section of road but I was able to push to the end. A good day” – Anna Frost.

As the finish came, Frosty had clawed back all lost time on day-1 and took the overall lead of the ladies classification. Veronica Bravo didn’t have a bad day… Frosty was just having a great day. Veronica looked strong and relaxed mile-after-mile and always gave a smile.

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Nikki Kimball rounded out the top-3 for the ladies and as we expected, Nikki is just pacing herself. Post race Nikki said, “I am just off ski’s and the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s so different to Marathon des Sables where the heat is dry. But then again, I am not in the shape I was in for the 2014 MDS?”

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Mike Murphey pushed and pushed, slowly pulling away and extended a lead over Joe Grant who he had run with over the first climb and descent. Running so hard in this heat, humidity and with such mixed terrain was a consummate performance. Mike certainly showed his speed, endurance and commitment, so much so it gave Mike a course record for the Savegre Valley – Dominical Beach stage. Mike had said the previous day,

“I love some motivation and to chase, so I plan to go for it. I need to pull back the time I lost from going off course and then gain some time for the lead. I love that.”

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Joe Grant had felt really good and matched Mike step-by-step in the early stages while Iain Don Wauchope (day-1 stage winner) chased some 90-seconds to 2-minutes back. But Joe rolled his ankle and then had to run cautiously.

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Eventually, Joe and Iain joined forces and ran the final stages together but Mike was long gone… they crossed the line almost 30-minutes back confirming Mike as the new race leader with Iain in 2nd and Joe in 3rd.

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1-Mike Murphey – Canada- 4:03:57
2- Joe Grant – UK – 4:32:22
3- Iain Don Wauchope – South Africa – 4:32:22

 

1st – Anna Frost – 4:57:20
2nd – Veronica Bravo – 5:21:05
3rd – Nikki Kimball – 5:35:10

Overall classification to follow (times)

Mike Murphey and Anna Frost are current leaders.

 

 

 

Jo Meek on RUNULTRA

 

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Jo Meek has illuminated the ultra world in the past 18-months placing 2nd at the 28th edition of Marathon des Sables, winning The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, setting a new course record and an outright win at Iznik Ultra and then placed 5th at the iconic Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. But it didn’t end…

I caught up with Jo and wrote an article for RUNULTRA on this rising star of our sport.

Please check it out HERE

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The Apocalypse is coming : 100-miles and 50-miles

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The Apocalypse is coming. Conquest, Famine, War and Death.

It arrives on May 17th 2014.

Ultra running is going through a boom. Statistics show that ultra races are popping up all over the world at an alarming rate. The UK is no different, apparently, some 200 races now exist on the calendar and that is just in the UK.

The 100-mile distance by many is considered to be the Holy Grail in ultra running. To that end, Richard Weremiuk from Beyond Marathon has now added a new event to take place on May 17tt 2014.

In a partnership with ultra marathon pioneers, Racing the Planet and The National Trust, Richard and his team plan to send you on an epic journey around the Shropshire hills over 100 or 50-miles.

Are you ready to face 50 or 100 miles on an awesome new course?

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River valleys, farmland, woods and rolling hills; Shropshire provides a landscape that is rich in wildlife and geology. It’s a tranquil place that is embraced by visitors and locals as a place that provides a quality environment to walk, run or just spend time outdoors.

The varied geology of the Shropshire hills provides a link between the Welsh Mountains and the Midlands. The terrain is a trail runners playground, moorland plateaus, craggy stiperstones, quarries, woods, forests and the valleys of the Long Mynd will test each and every participant as they journey to beat the riders of the Apocalypse.

Church Stretton, the race HQ, was called Little Switzerland in the late Victorian and Edwardian period due the surrounding landscape and its development as a health resort. Nestled within an area of outstanding beauty (ANOB), The area incorporates some of the oldest rocks in England. Carding Mill Valley provides a hub for the local area and as such is a great location for the race HQ.

The Race

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“Any 100 mile race is a personal challenge, a chance to test your limits. This 100 miler is no exception. The race features over 5 km’s of vertical ascent and descent” says Richard Weremiuk.

With 4700m of vertical ascent and descent, only the Lakeland 100 (UTLD) appears to have more vertical gain than the Apocalypse 100 in the UK. This will be one tough challenge. But Richard always brings something unique to his races.

“The course has been ingeniously designed. It is a single complete circle, but with independent 10 mile loops at each compass point featuring the names of the four riders of the Apocalypse; Conquest, Famine, War and Death.”

Death! Now that is an ominous way to finish a 100-miler… but knowing Beyond Marathon, they do have an enthusiasm to inject some fun and humour, even a little dark humour at times.

The four 10-mile loops have been chosen for course or checkpoint characteristics and as such, they have been named appropriately.

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Beyond Marathon HERE

Beyond Marathon have a reputation for providing quality races that keep costs low with no compromise on quality. Despite low entry fees (£31 for the 50 and £44 for the 100) and a restricted race entry of just 60-people, participants will get quality administration and support.

“We are keeping our ethos inline with our other races: Dusk till Dawn (day and night versions), The 12 Labours of Hercules, The Gritstone Grind, and next year we will bring you those events as well as The Millennium way ultra marathon, and Double or Nothing. It is simple; Low cost and great value for money says Richard.

If you feel a 100-miles is too far, Beyond Marathon are offering a 50 mile option which would see you head out to tackle Conquest and Famine before heading due South back to race HQ.

Note:

Navigation skills will be required, though we provide custom maps to every participant and also files in various GPS and electronic map formats.  Though the course is not officially marked, we always try and help out with some markers in tricky areas. We have endeavored to make the second half of the 100 easier to navigate, as nights are dark in Shropshire! That said the moon is almost full on May 17th, so nature may lend a helping hand. The race has great support from The National Trust and our other partners, and look forward to introducing more UK runners to the mystical Shropshire hills.

RACE WEBSITE HERE

THE ROUTE

The event begins at The National Trust centre in Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton.

Heading west, participants climbing out of the Valley on Marches Way. Continuing West to Cross The Shropshire Way on Adstone Hill. Skirting around Black Rhadley to reach checkpoint 1 at mile 10.

Embarking on the West loop, the first 10-mile section confronts the runners. A climb of Corndon Hill and then Lan Fawr must be tackled before heading south to Todleth Hill, turning in an Easterly direction CP2 awaits at mile 20.

Running the length of the famous Stiperstones, passing The Devil’s chair on the way.  No time to sit down, you continue on the Shropshire Way and then head to Habberley and Longden Common to reach CP3 at mile 30.

The North loop is an easy and fairly flat section in and around Pontesbury, which will give all an opportunity to recover, though there is a small climb before you reach CP4 at mile 40.

Heading South East through Dorrington and Longnor, after The Lawley, Easthopewood is CP5 at Mile 50.

The East loop sees you head over Wenlock Edge and join the Shropshire Way and Jack Mytton Way before heading back to Easthopewood. A superb ridge run and a 10-mile trip down Wenlock Edge to reach CP7 in Moorwood.

Two very sharp climbs are on the Southern loop. Once through Craven Arms you scale Norton Camp, descend into Norton and Head uphill from Medley Park to Hanging Wood all the way to the tower on Callow Hill before heading to CP8 at Mile 80.

Wistanstow and then onto Horderley are the two next focal points and then a route direction change, heading North to climb Church Moor Hill to Cross the Shropshire Way and head steeply down into Asterton. North West to Wentnor, Norbury then along side Linley Big Wood CP9 at Mile 90.

Just 10-miles now to go on familiar terrain and the race is over. A final descent into Carding Mill completes the journey.

The course profile is shown below. It features over 15,500ft  (4700 m) of ascent and descent).

Elevation Profilev2

Race route: http://beyondmarathon.com/apocalypse-100/apocalypse-100-route/

 USE THE FORM BELOW FOR A REDUCTION ON RACE ENTRY

SOURCES:

Epic Marathon Camps – Morocco

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Another year will soon be over, it will be January and you will be feeling the effects of all those extra calories and you will realize that you are way behind with your training… yes, Spring is just around the corner and irrespective of your 2014 events distance, your are going to need to kick start your training and get in shape! What better way to get the ball rolling or should I say, the legs running than a week in Morocco.

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Epic Marathon Camps are ideal for runners of all ability and provide the opportunity to train and learn with like-minded individuals in a fantastic location, close to Marrakesh, Morocco.

The foothills of the Atlas Mountains will become your playground. Alice Morrison and Charlie Shepherd will be your hosts for the week along with coaches, Holly Rush and Karl Zeiner.

rsz_prvenuerun3 Combining excellent facilities with superb views and a high level of comfort. The hotel for the week has two swimming pools, a spa, and numerous different areas in which to exercise or relax. The venue’s style and philosophy fits perfectly; to offer a traditional Moroccan experience in comfort and style and with access to some superb scenery that is perfectly suited to physical training.

‘It’s quite simple, both Charlie and myself have entered the Marathon des Sables for 2014. Charlie has great experience of Morocco and has already coordinated multiple camps in the area, it seemed logical that we should extend our portfolio to a run specific camp,’ explained Alice.

Holly Rush is a TeamGB athlete and in 2013 placed 7th lady at the highly competitive Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. In addition to this, Holly won a Bronze medal at the World Mountain Marathon Championships.

Karl Zeiner recently placed 16th overall at the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the UK and brings an extensive knowledge of marathon and ultra marathon training to the camp.

I asked Holly about her expectations of the camp and what participants can expect…

‘We are specifically targeting runners who want to get away from the January blues at home and get stuck into some focused, specific endurance training with like minded people in beautiful surroundings.’ Holly said with a look of eagerness on her face, ‘The January camps will be a great way to kick start the New Year with a possible eye on a spring marathon or ultra.’

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Morocco is the ideal place to enjoy some winter sun without a long haul flight and yet once you arrive it will feel like you could be in another world. Participants will have the opportunity to train on a variety of surfaces, road, trail, sand and of course hills so every run can be different.

The camp can be as involved as each individual person requires. The team will offer plenty of easy running, all guided of course so that it’s possible to investigate the surroundings. Specific session will be mixed in to the week, threshold, marathon race pace, reps and hill repeats will keep everyone literally on there toes.

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A unique selling point of EMC (Epic Marathon Camps) will be the magnificent location, high-end accommodation and facilities and of course the knowledgeable staff with quality training.

‘The camp will provide the perfect running experience allowing each and every person with one-to-one sessions with Holly and Karl.’ Explained Charlie. ‘It doesn’t stop there… days are based around running, core building, stretching and in the evenings lectures will be available about specific subjects to help progress each participants individual progression in the sport they love. Tired and aching bodies will be eased with in-house massage as required.’

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Running is not only about miles, it is also about the food we eat and how we can enhance food choices so that we become efficient in every aspect of the sport. To that end, a nutritionist will be available for the whole week (a keen runner and cyclist herself) inspirational, balanced and incredible cuisine will be provided. You know you are on to a winner when the chef says, ‘I would never sacrifice taste for calories’.

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Places are limited for the January training camps, January 11th to 18th/ January 19th to 26th.

The price for the all-inclusive week (transfers to-and-from the airport in Morocco, food, soft drinks, laundry and all services from the coaches) will be £1,495 for seven days (excl flights)

Please use the enquiry form below to receive a special £50 discount from the Epic Marathon Camps team.

LINKS

  • Training Camp Dates HERE
  • You can view the website HERE
  • Follow on Twitter @EpicMCamps
  • And ‘Like’ on Facebook ‘Epic Marathon Camps’

*This is an advetorial post on behalf of Epic Marathon Camps

The Lake District, some ‘RnR’

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After several weeks of travelling, it was lovely to get out in the Lake District at the weekend. Some hiking, camping and basically just being with the people I love to be with. Even the rain (every now and again) couldn’t stop me appreciating the beauty that is at home.

If you have never taken time out to appreciate this part of the UK, do so, you will not be disappointed.

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Episode 41 – Kremer, Clark, Mills, Whitehead

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Episode 41 of Talk Ultra – We speak to Stevie Kremer 12 months on after she burst on the Skyrunning scene with a 2nd at Sierre-Zinal. We have 15 mins of fame with double leg amputee, Richard Whitehead. An interview with Lakeland 100 winner, Stuart Mills. A catch up with Nick Clark on the Grand Slam of ultra. Smiles and Miles with Emelie Forsberg. The news, a blog, up and coming races. Marc is back for Talk Training and of course, Speedgoat co hosts!

00:07:30 NEWS

Speedgoat 50k

  1. Sage Canaday  5:08:07
  2. Anton Krupicka  5:09:36
  3. Jason Schlarb 5:19:34
  4. Max King 5:29:02
  5. Justin Yates  5:42:24
  6. Luke Nelson  5:47:09
  7. Timothy Olson  5:47:10
  8. Jason Loutitt  5:49:35
  9. Michael Barlow  5:53:37
  10. Ryan Smith  5:53:51
  1. Stephanie Howe  6:17:02 
  2. Jodee Adams-Moore  6:18:06
  3. Ruby Muir   6:25:54
  4. Emma Roca  6:41:21
  5. Krissy Moehl  6:43:54
  6. Becky Wheeler  6:48:43
  7. Silke Koester  6:52:16
  8. Erica Baron  6:55:46
  9. Anita Ortiz 7:02:18
  10. Francesca Canepa  7:05:14

Stockholm 100k

Steve Way 6:40:14, Linus Holmsater 7:24:18 and Frijof Fagerlund 7:29:01

Trans D’Havet

Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (Spain) 08:59:47
  2. Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) 08:59:49
  3. Casaba Nemeth (Hungary) 09:43:25

Ladies:

  1. Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) 10:21:32
  2. Nuria Picas (Spain) 10:33:34
  3. Uxue Fraile (Spain) 10:34:20

Lakeland 100

  1. Stuart Mills 22:17:50
  2. Charlie Sharpe 23:02:45
  3. Ed Batty 23:07:40
  1. Lizzie Wraith 24:15:06 (smashed old CR)
  2. Debbie Martin Consani 26:02:00,
  3. Julie Gardner 28:16:47

Lakeland 50

  1. Ben Abdelnoor 7:39:26
  2. Riichard Ashton 8:20:58
  3. Robin Houghton 8:33:30
  1. Katherine Brougham 9:44:10
  2. Alice Briscoe 10:35:42
  3. Rachel Ball 10:43:43

WMRA – 10. WMRA World Long Distance Mountain Running

Mitjia Kosovelj won Andrew Davies from Wales 2nd and Ionut Zinca 3rd

Antonella Confortola won Omella Ferrara 2nd and Anna Celisnska 3rd. Have to give a shout out to Claire Gordon from Scotland who was 4th and Anna Lupton from England who was 5th

Hal Koerner and Wolfe – FKT on JMT –HERE 

Ann Trason to run a 100 in September – Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival – HERE

Now the iconic Sierre-Zinal is coming up this weekend. I remember being at this race last year… pre race I got chatting to this shy girl who just seemed a little uncomfortable being surrounded by some of the best in the world. Needless to say, this shy girl performed out of her skin and finished second on the podium. One year on, I catch up with Stevie Kremer and find out what the last 12 months have been like and what the future holds.

00:42:38 INTERVIEW Stevie Kremer

01:16:20 BLOG

We have given Stuart Mills, the Lakeland 100 winner plenty of coverage this week with a long interview, however, his interview does go very much hand-in-hand with his blog… so, this weeks blog is ultrastu.blogspot.co.uk

You can read his very unique and in-depth analysis of how he races. Word of warning… make yourself a coffee. It’s a long one!

Blog HERE

01:17:00 15 MIN OF FAME with Richard Whitehead – http://www.richardwhiteheadrunsbritain.com/

HERE

01:32:40 TALK TRAINING – Marc Laithwaite is back after a busy couple of months. Not only has he been training for an Ironman but also he is the RD for the Lakeland 50 and 100.

01:57:55 SMILESandMILES with Emelie Forsberg – smilesandmiles@yahoo.com

02:20:40 INTERVIEW

This week’s interview is with Brit, Stuart Mills. Stuart as you will hear has a very unusual approach to running… or should I say, training and racing. Without doubt it works! Just the other week, Stuart once again won the Lakeland 100 for a second time. In this in-depth interview we discuss everything. I am sure you will find it fascinating.

03:23:30 MELTZER MOMENT – It’s good, good, good this week

03:29:52 CLARKY’S CORNER – It’s two down and two to go for Clarky and the other ‘Slammers’. Leadville is just around the corner. We catch up with Nick, discuss how Vermont went and what lies ahead…

03:44:22 RACES

Belgium

Trail des Fantômes – 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Arc’teryx Squamish 50 | 50 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

Arc’teryx Squamish 50K | 50 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Ontario

Iroquoia Trail Test – 50K | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Quebec

XV de la Vallée- Trans Vallée | 66 kilometers | August 16, 2013 | website

Denmark

Hovedstaden

Ultra Marathon Bornholm | 100 kilometers | August 11, 2013 | website

France

Hautes-Pyrénées

Grand Raid des Pyrénées – l’Ultra | 160 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Isère

Ultra Tour des 4 Massifs | 160 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Ultra Tour des 4 Massifs – 90 km | 90 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Savoie

Tour de la Grande Casse | 62 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Trail du Galibier | 55 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Allgäu Panorama Ultra Trail | 69 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Berlin

100MeilenBerlin | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Ireland

Ulster

Quadrathon | 169 kilometers | August 15, 2013 | website

Kenya

Kenya Highlands Race | 75 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Mongolia

Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100K | 100 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Sweden

Björkliden Arctic Mountain Marathon 50 km | 50 kilometers | August 16, 2013 | website

Björkliden Arctic Mountain Marathon 70 km | 70 kilometers | August 16, 2013 | website

Trans Scania | 246 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Switzerland

Grisons

Swiss Irontrail T141 | 136 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Swiss Irontrail T201 | 201 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Swiss Irontrail T71 | 66 kilometers | August 23, 2013 | website

Trail Marathon 70 KM | 70 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Obwald

MOUNTAINMAN full | 80 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Vaud

Ultra Trail du Barlatay | 81 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

United Kingdom

England

ashmei 33 Mile Trail Run | 33 miles | August 18, 2013 | website

North Downs Way 100 | 100 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

USA

Alaska

Resurrection Pass 100 Mile Ultra Trail | 100 miles | August 09, 2013 | website

Resurrection Pass 50 Mile Ultra Trail | 50 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

California

Rattlesnake 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Run-de-Vous 100M | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Run-de-Vous 50M | 50 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Run on the Sly 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | August 18, 2013 | website

Colorado

GORE-TEX TransRockies Run – Run3 | 59 miles | August 13, 2013 | website

GORE-TEX TransRockies Run – TRR6 | 120 miles | August 13, 2013 | website

Leadville Trail 100 Run | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Michigan

Marquette Trail 50 Kilometer | 50 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Marquette Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Minnesota

Ragnar Relay Great River | 200 miles | August 16, 2013 | website

Nevada

Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight 51 km | 51 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

New Jersey

Wildcat Ridge Romp 100k | 100 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Wildcat Ridge Romp 50k | 50 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Wildcat Ridge Romp 50M | 50 miles | August 10, 2013 | website

New York

Beast of Burden Summer 100 Miler | 100 miles | August 17, 2013 | website

Oregon

Where’s Waldo 100k Ultra | 100 kilometers | August 17, 2013 | website

Utah

Kat’cina Mosa 100K Mountain Challenge Run | 100 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

Vermont

100on100 Heart of Vermont Relay | 100 miles | August 18, 2013 | website

Washington

Angels Staircase 50K | 50 kilometers | August 11, 2013 | website

Angels Staircase 60K | 60 kilometers | August 11, 2013 | website

Wyoming

El Vaquero Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | August 10, 2013 | website

03:46:44 CLOSE

03:51:01

LINKS

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

Website – talkultra.com

 

 

World Trail Championships 2013

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Lightfoot and Mauclair triumph in Llanrwst sunshine

7 July 2013 – In sweltering conditions Great Britain and France dominated this weekend at the 4th IAU Trail World Championships in Llanrwst.

There was home delight as Britain’s Ricky Lightfoot won the men’s individual race by almost 10 minutes, and in doing so led the GB and NI team to a superb team gold. In the female event France’s Nathalie Mauclair was equally impressive, as she demolished a world-class field and also headed-up team success for the France women.

The day had started under cloudless, blue skies on the famous bridge in Llanrwst, North Wales, with over 120 athletes assembled, ready to take on the tough Gwydyr Forest terrain and temperatures that were to hit 27 degrees centigrade by the time the afternoon sun revealed all of its warmth. The ultra-trail running event entertained runners from 18 countries including Australia, USA, Great Britain, France and the Czech Republic all lining-up to tackle the challenging 77km route.

The pattern of the race was soon to become apparent as GB athlete Ricky Lightfoot, France’s Julien Rancon and German Florian Neuschwander led the runners out onto the first tree-lined climb and the first of five 15km loops, before finally heading back into Llanrwst.

As the runners passed through the first of the checkpoints and back to the start of loop 2 at the Saw Bench (16km), it was Lightfoot and Rancon who were clear, and the electric atmosphere of the team support arena made for a gripping and exciting viewing area, as the runners took on hydration and words of encouragement from team staff.

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In the women’s race a clear pattern was already emerging as Nathalie Mauclair led through the Saw Bench, over 3 minutes up on French team-mates Aurelia Truel and Stephanie Duc.

Rancon and Lightfoot meanwhile remained locked in battle, and so it remained up to the 50k point, as the Briton began to pull away from the French athlete, and it was at this point that a heavy fall put paid to Rancon’s gold medal chances.

This left the door open for Neuschwander to begin his charge and as he passed Rancon, the German runner had Lightfoot on his radar. However, the power of the Briton was undeniable and for the next 25 km Ricky remained focused and strong, hardly putting a foot wrong and maintaining a consistent 10-11 minute lead all the way back to the finish line in Llanrwst, to take the home-crowd plaudits and obvious delight, becoming the new world champion in 5 hours 36 minutes and 3 seconds.

Behind a highly-excited Neuschwander (5:45:16) raced in for the silver, with an emotional Rancon (5:54:21) eventually crossing the line in third, realising that his fall on the technical Gwydyr course had cost him his chance of golden glory.

Speaking immediately after the race Lightfoot told the ecstatic crowd:

“I am glad that is over! The heat and the route were really, really hard today, and I was always aware that there were some great athletes behind me, so I couldn’t really relax.

“There were some time checks on the course, but I was also never really sure of just how far behind the guys were, so I just ran my own race and concentrated on finishing strong”.

It was apparent how much this meant to the British athlete who has cut his teeth on the fells of the Lake District in England, as he added:

“I really can’t quite believe it to be honest, being world champion is something you only dream of, it will take a while to sink in!”

Backed-up by fellow Brit Iain Ridgway in a superb 4th, Great Britain also triumphed in the team event, ahead of France and Germany.

Meanwhile in the women’s race there was to be no looking back for the majestic Mauclair, who gradually and impressively increased her advantage over the course of the 77km to race to victory in 6 hours 38 minutes and 45 seconds, a full 17 minutes clear of compatriot Truel (6:55:51) who took the silver medal. Italy’s Maria Chiara Parigi ran a superb second half of the race to claim the bronze medal (7:00:30) just ahead of first female British athlete Jo Zakrzewski in fourth.

World Trail Championship 2013, Joanna Zakrzewski, 1st GB female (5th in womens)

The French ladies were dominant winners of the team prize too, as Mauclair and Truel were backed up bu Duc in 6th place. Italy won the team silver, with Zakrzewski leading Great Britain to yet more success and the bronze medal.

In the supporting 10km event – which also included an International match, seeing athletes from Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and Brittany going head-to-head – there was an enthralling battle between Wales’ Andy Davies and Rob Samuel, as they swapped the lead throughout the technical and fast Gwydyr Forest tracks, with Davies (33:50) prevailing in the last 100m, just ahead of Samuel (33:53). Team-mate Alun Vaughan (34:59) made it a 1-2-3 for the Welsh boys, easily securing the team prize.

In the women’s race there was a great run from England’s Katie Walshaw (39:42), winning by over a minute ahead of Scotland’s Jenny Maclean (41:05) with Wales’ Kate Roberts (41:07) a mere 2 seconds behind in third. England won the women’s team prize.

Welsh Athletics and the Conwy Sport Development teams were also looking to the future too as they facilitated a roster of free-to-enter junior events and a family fun run, completing a festival of running and a day of which Wales and the UK could be proud.

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4th IAU Trail World Championships medal results

 

Men’s Individual

  • Gold – Ricky Lightfoot (Great Britain and NI) 5:36:03
  • Silver – Florian Neuschwander (Germany) 5:45:16
  • Bronze – Julien Rancon (France) 5:54:21

 

Women’s Individual

  • Gold – Nathalie Mauclair (France) 6:38:45
  • Silver – Aurelia Truel (France) 6:55:51
  • Bronze – Maria Chiara Parigi (Italy) 7:00:30

 

Men’s Team

  • Gold – Great Britain and Northern Ireland 17:47:59
  • Silver – France 17:58:14
  • Bronze – Germany 18:42:29

 

Women’s Team

  • Gold – France 20:46:16
  • Silver – Italy 21:28:22
  • Bronze – Great Britain and Northern Ireland 21:43:01

Full World Championship results are available online via this link http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/race-results.php?event=1386 and the International 10k results are here http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/race-results.php?event=1385

For further information on all of the events and links to the Championship’s social media offering, head to www.worldtrailwales2013.org

Terry Conway pre race interview Ronda dels Cims 2013

Terry Conway at Cavalls del Vent copyright iancorless.com

Terry Conway at Cavalls del Vent copyright iancorless.com

Lakeland 100 winner and course record holder, Terry Conway speaks to Ian ahead of the 2013 Ronda dels Cims. This will be Terry’s biggest race challenge yet. A race over 100 miles with altitude gain over 12,000m is not something that is easy to prepare for while living in the UK. However, Terry has paced his home in the English Lakes and has trained hard to prepare himself for the challenge ahead.

YouTube HERE

Links: