It seems a lifetime since I started putting this book together and although the Italian, Spanish and German versions were released in October, it’s so satisfying to finally have the English version released today.
The book will be available in store in all good book sellers and of course one of the easiest solutions for purchasing is via Amazon.
Please note that RUNNING BEYOND has been given a different name in Italy, Germany and Spain. A Swedish version is also planned – more news on that to follow.
The Witteberg is a South African mountain range just off the south-west corner of Lesotho. The range, which rises to 2408 metres, stretches for about 60km from Lundin’s Nek in the east to Lady Grey in the west. The range lends its name to the Witteberg Series, the uppermost fossiliferous sequence of the Cape System of sedimentary rocks in South Africa. The race starts in the town of Lady Grey which is famous for its annual Nativity Play and its quaint houses and incredible scenery. Discover the wonder of Balloch cave along the route with it bushman art and idyllic setting nestled between some of the highest peaks in the Witteberg.
The Witteberg range is one of the most picturesque places in South Africa with some distinctive peaks like Avoca and Halston Peaks dominating the skyline.
The Salomon SkyRun and SkyRun Lite are unique in that they are truly self-supported and self-navigational races, where athletes tackle the remote terrain of the Witteberg Mountain range with a Map a Compass or GPS unit and a back pack containing all there food, water and compulsory equipment that will enable them to survive in this harsh environment, while operating at an average height of between 2200-2500 meters above sea level.
The trail starts in Lady Grey and the first 65km of the route is the same for both races, after the compulsory stop and medical check at Balloch are the Skyrunners allowed to continue while the Lite runners have completed their journey. The route climbs sharply out of Lady Grey to the first check point at the Tower; this is about a 12km run and is a combination of hiking trails and mountain running. As you climb the trail to the tower the majestic landscape unfolds in front of you and it now feels as if you are on top of Africa. Following the fence line you make your way along the ridge line to the second check point which is at Olympus, this is another 10km and the terrain is now devoid of paths and trails and athletes must decide which is the best route to the check point. After Olympus the athletes can pick up a small trail that will lead them to Snowden which is check point 3 another 11km or so, there is a natural spring just past Snowden where you can fill up your water bladders (does depend on how much rain has fallen so not always guaranteed a lot of water) before making your way to Avoca Peak the highest point (2756m) on the race. The climb up Avoca peak is challenging as the gradient is steep and the terrain is rough especially after good summer rain. From Avoca the route takes you over the “Dragonback” a ridge line that is about 3 meters wide with steep descends on either side, a fantastic formation of rock that is a feature of the race and a spectacular viewing point on a clear day. The route flattens out for a while as you move towards CP6 at Skidor which is again a leg of about 10km. At Skidor you descend into the valley down a technical descend before picking up the river that will lead you to the compulsory stop at Balloch Cave having now covered about 65km of the race.
Once Athletes have done their medical and been give the all clear by the doctor, it upwards and onwards as they take on the challenge of Balloch Wall a climb with a vertical ascent of over 500m in just 3km and back down the other side on the way to CP 8 at Edgehill Farm. Most athletes will now be operating in the dark as night fall will have replaced the harsh African sun. Navigating through the Bridal Pass from EdgeHill to the turn is tricky with a lot of athletes losing a lot of time trying to find the correct entrance into the pass that will lead them onto the ridgeline again. The Bridal pass has now been included as a waypoint on the route to assist athletes in negotiating the pass. A steady climb up the Pass will take you onto the ridgeline and to the check point at the Turn. From here you will double back toward the Wartrail Country Club via Halston Peak which is the last check point on the route. The climb down from Halston’s is technical and is made more difficult by the fact that you are very fatigued at this stage but buoyed by the fact that you are now heading to the finish at Wartrail Country Club.
Philipp Retier has had a quite 2014 due to a problematic foot injury. The season started well with a multi day adventure at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the iconic, Transvulcania. In June, running ground to a halt after running 100-miles in the charity D-Day celebrations in Normandy. Philipp is back on track now and I caught up with him as he prepares for the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa.
How have the last couple of months been from a racing perspective?
Unfortunately I have been injured for the whole summer from a community running event on the flat asphalt road and was not really able to run. I could not think about racing. To stay fit I was cycling quite a lot around my home town – MTB, road bike and cross-bike. As you can imagine, it was very disappointing for me, but it is great to have a big (running) perspective now at the end of November with the Salomon SkyRun.
Do you have any targets between now and your trip to SA?
My studies at the university started in the beginning of October, so I have enough work trying to fit everything in my day; so no races are planned in preparation. I still feel more familiar to cycling than to running at the moment which I have to change in the next weeks.
How’s training going – have you done anything specific for SA?
I have already asked a few participants about the terrain and climate at the SkyRun and figured out that the weather is changing pretty fast – hot and very dry in the valleys, freezing cold and stormy on the ridges. For the cold I can prepare at home and for the hot maybe a few sauna-sessions should be good! As the terrain is very rocky and rough I will run more off-trail at home.
Julia Bottger, Philipp Reiter and Ryan Sandes in Gran Canaria copyright Ian Corless
Maybe you have been brushing up on your navigation and looking at some maps?
Yes, indeed! I was asked to scout routes for a trailrunning stage race here in Germany, so I have done quite a lot of map work trying to find the best, fastest and most beautiful spots. I mainly run around with a map in my hands which could be similar in South Africa…
Are you intimidated by the navigation element of the SkyRun?
Should I? It is totally new for me not to “just” follow the marks in a race but that makes it more interesting. Then it’s not only fast legs and stong lungs to be in a good position but also your brain has to work much more! I am only a bit worried as I have no experience using the compass for navigation or a mobile GPS-device apart from my watch.
The course sounds extreme, particularly if the weather turns. Have you researched the course?
No, not really. I have only watched some videos from the last editions and they made the course and the race look quite tough. It’s not the heat or the cold alone that make me worried but the extreme fast changes of both. So the backpack will be more heavy than in a “normal” race as it’s quite a lot of stuff to carry…
A strong local contingent will be toeing the line… Iain Don Wauchope, AJ Calitz and so on… do you know much about them?
Yes, I have heared that they are really strong and apart form their fitness they are very familiar to the race route, the climate and the terrain. They know exactly where to find water, how to climb the barbed wired fences,… So, I will just thry to follow them.
Michael De Haast has put up a great price purse should somebody post a great time, is that an incentive for you?
Aaagh, that is a good question. I have read that it’s $10.000 for the first runner who goes under 12 hours! But I guess that is almost impossible and I know that my teammate Ryan Sandes, who is an excellent runner especially in that type of terrain, needed about 12:30h last year. So I am not sure if someone can beat that. It would be a great boost for my student wallet though.
Have you been to SA before?
No, unfortunately not. But one of my climbing friends was there last year for bouldering and he was so excited that he will come back next year. He showed me some pictures – just stunning!
What are you most looking forward to?
The huge untouched landscape, some wild animals you can only see in the zoo at home (giraffes, lions, elephants,…), get to know the SA culture and how it’s connected to the European colony many years ago. Eat the famous steaks. Go running on the table mountain and explore Cape Town – quite a few things to do… maybe I will need to stay?
“The Salomon SkyRun is something completely new. I have been running in the jungle of Costa Rica, the Rocky Mountains in the USA, scrambled in the French Alps and raced on dry Spain islands but it’s was all marked. I never had to care about choosing the best and fastest way, run with a map in my hands and think about not missing the next well to fill up my water bottles. To perform good in this SA adventure I will not only need power in my legs, strong lungs and mental force but also navigation skills and the ability to read the terrain to choose the best way. It’s much more about tactics and planning! – I can’t wait!” Philipp Reiter
Philipp Reiter at the finish of Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless
All good things must come to an end… at least for this year! The 2014 Skyrunner® World Series concludes this weekend in the mountains that surround Lake Garda.
On Friday the VK will commence as the light fades and darkness surrounds the mountains. Sunday the SKY race takes place over a course of 23.5km’s and 2000m +/-. Two races, one great weekend of running and at conclusion we will have newly crowned male and female Skyrunner® World Series champions for both VK and SKY distances.
As one would expect, these two races are attracting a who’s who of the Skyrunning world.
In the VK, La Sportiva and Salomon are fielding two very strong teams. Illuminated by the glow of head torches, a very interesting battle will unfold.
Urban Zemmer is the outright favourite after winning Limone Extreme in 2013 and in the process winning the Skyrunner® World Series. However, La Sportiva teammates, Nejc Kuhar, Nadir Maguet, Marco Facchinhelli and Marco Moletto will be looking to pull rank and gain valuable points.
Kilian Jornet has been training hard and as we all know, can never be ruled out when it comes to head-to-head racing uphill. Add to the mix, Marco De Gasperi and Thorbjorn Ludvigsen and the Limone Extreme VK looks set to be a classic.
For the ladies, 2013 Skyrunner® World Series champion, Laura Orgue, like Zemmer is the outright favourite. This lady has been unbeatable uphill in 2013 and I don’t think Limone will be any different.
Stevie Kremer will push and push and look to gain an advantage as will Christel Dewalle, Antonella Confortla, Emelie Forsberg, Sara Longoni, Francesca Rossi, Beatrice Delflorian and surprise entrant, Julia Bleasdale. Julia is an exciting prospect from the UK and I am extremely keen to see how this Olympian performs.
Do you want to bet against Kilian Jornet? No, me neither. Kilian has excelled in 2014 and other than placing 2nd to Luis Alberto Hernando at Transvulcania; the Catalan has won every rave (VK’s excluded). Kilian has been training hard and Limone will see one chapter close for 2014 before the transition to skis and another Summit attempt in December.
Marco, 11th August 2012 in the mountains above Zinal.
Marco De Gasperi if fit is potentially the one person to push Kilian all the way to the line and if firing on all cylinders, may well take the glory away from the Salomon runner. I personally have waited all year for this head-to-head to happen and the prospect is exciting.
Waiting in the wings is a plethora of Skyrunning talent who will be looking to upset the apple cart and history shows that anything can happen.
Manuel Merillas is hot property at the moment and after strong performances in the Skyrunner® World Series, his presence at Limone adds an exciting element to proceedings. Recent top-3 performances at Trofeo Kima and The Rut add weight to a very strong case that we see a surprise on the shores of Lake Garda.
Ionut Zinca had a great result at Limone last year and recently placed well, once again at Dolomites Skyrace. I would anticipate Ionut having a great race, he’s a fierce competitor and top performer.
Zaid Ait Malek won the Matterhorn Ultraks and is without doubt a contender for the podium at Limone. However, Aritz Egea has performed consistently all year and at just under 24km’s, the Limone course plays to his strengths.
Michel Lanne had a great run at the Skyrunning World Championships and a glimmer of that strength will intimidate the competition.
Alex Nichols is one again making the long journey from the USA and has great potential to mix it with the best, however, 2014 has been a tough year and his current form is unknown.
Tadei Pivk will also be a hot contender for the top-5.
Did we say THIS FIELD IS STACKED…. !
Rounding out the hot contenders for the top-5 places are Jono Wyatt, Alexis Sevennec, Thorbjorn Ludvigsen, David Schneider and Nicola Golinelli.
Look out for:
Hassan Ait Chau
Stevie Kremer already has the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series sewn up, so, this will take the pressure off and allow Stevie a trouble and stress free run. As we all know though, she probably will still nail it and has every chance of taking away the victory.
Elisa Desco, Emelie Forsberg and Laura Orgue will do everything in their respective powers to ensure that Stevie does not have another victory. In all honesty, the ladies race is wide open. Laura Orgue has displayed pure class going up hill and certainly, the first half of the Limone course will suit her racing style. I expect to see Laura to be leading at the summit; the question will come if she can hold of the charging train of Forsberg, Desco and Kremer. Very few ladies can go downhill like Emelie Forsberg and if she is in contact during the 2nd half of the race, Emelie will potentially take top honours.
Elisa Desco is a very rounded athlete uphill and downhill, at 23.5kms the distance will suit the Italian and with valuable points at stake, we can expect a 100% committed effort for victory.
Maite Maiora started the year with a bang at Transvulcania and has continued to bang the drum all the way throughout 2014. For sure, Maite stepped up a level this year and along with Desco, Forsberg and Kremer, she has been a force to be reckoned with. The podium is a distinct possibility but it’s going to be a battle.
Victoria Wilkinson had a great race at the Dolomites Skyrace and has continued to excel on the UK Fell running scene. The podium may just be out of reach but top-5 is a distinct possibility.
Anna Lupton has been missed in 2014 with injury. Arguably, Anna has been the UK’s most consistent performer in previous Skyrunning events and it’s great to see her back on a start line.
Tessa Hill has been a little quiet in 2014 but has committed herself to Limone and has recently posted, ‘My main way of preparing for this is to get as much climb in the legs as possible and then top things up on the bike.’
Julia Bleasdale is a British Olympian who raced the 5000m and 10,000m at the London Olympics. She placed 8th in both finals. Julia tipping her toes into the Skyrunning world is a great boost for the sport and Skyrunning in the UK. However, Julia understands the challenge ahead, “I hear so many great things about Skyrunning, but I do not underestimate the strength required to compete in this extreme discipline! So I am delighted to mix things up at the end of the season for variety. I love running in the mountains as they give you depth in your strength, but track athletes cannot transform themselves in just a few weeks to be ready for this!”
Stephanie Jiminez excels at the Sky distance and Limone will suit the skill set of the Salomon athlete. Her experience sets her apart from the competition and on her day, she can beat the best in the world.
Transvulcania La Palma, the inaugural Skyrunning event of the 2014 Skyrunner® World Series. It was always going to be a stacked field, so stacked that predicting a winner required an element of guesswork, faith, hope and some good old ultra thinking. It was no surprise to see Kilian Jornet duke it out with Luis Alberto Hernando and true to form, as in 2013, Sage Canaday repeated his 3rd place on the podium. However, who could have predicted the rise of Stephan Hugenschmidt?
Stephan should have been on my radar after his 8th place at the 2013 Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks, however, he slipped through. In retrospect it was a huge mistake! His Transvulcania 2014 performance has elevated him to a new level and he is now on the ‘one-to-watch’ list. No longer will he slip through the radar…
Stephan’s 2013 results
March – Trail du Petit Ballon : 3rd
July – Salomon 4-Trails : 2nd
July – Swiss Alpine Marathon : 3rd
August – Matterhorn Ultraks : 8th
September – Sardona Ultra Trail : 2nd
October – Ultra Trail del L’Argo Orta : 1st
Post Transvulcania, friend of Ta;lk Ultra and iancorless.com, Hendrik Auf’mkolk interviewed Stephan and kindly shared for all our benefit.
At Transvulcania this past weekend, Stephan Hugenschmidt ran to the top of the trail running world with a sensational 5th place showing. For insiders, this does not come as much of a surprise, however. The 27-year old German who lives and works in Switzerland already made his mark on the scene last year with top results at Swissalpine (3rd), Matterhorn-Ultraks (8th) and Sardona-Ultratrail (1st), among others. Salomon Germany picked him up for the 2014 season and during the team’s spring training camp he impressed his team mates with sparkling form. In the following interview, Stephan tells us how he got into the sport, why Transvulcania is only a snapshot, and what is next.
Stephan, congratulations on your fantastic race at Transvulcania! You definitely won’t be flying under the radar anymore in the future. Has it sunken in yet ?
Well, the response after Transvulcania was huge and I’m really happy for all the congratulations. But things will calm down in a few days. What remains are all the unforgettable impressions of the race and its unique landscape. But the cards will be reshuffled for the next race and then it does not really matter how I did at Transvulcania.
You ran a very constant, clever pace. How did you feel out there on the course? How did you witness the race play out?
As I always do in ultras I tried to listen to my body and find my rhythm. I did not let myself be deterred by the usual early speed of the other runners. And then there were all those spectacular views , the completely different terrain and the crazy spectators – things like that really motivate and help me get through the lows. The fact that I was able to consistently pass some of the international top stars, that surely inspired me as well…
As you said, the terrain and the climate on La Palma are very different from anything here in continental Europe. How did you prepare for the race?
By training in foul mid-european weather (laughs). The one-week training camp in Croatia in April with the Salomon Germany team definitely helped. But not in terms of heat-resistance. While we were there the cold and uncomfortable Bora winds were sweeping across Croatia.
You already turned heads with a string of top results last year. How did you get into the sport? What fascinates you about trailrunning?
I would say I am a very passionate runner and I love being in the mountains. As a child I only spent a few weekends a year in the mountains – mostly with my dad. He passed his passion for running and the mountains on to me. Every now and then I would toe the line for a classic mountain run, but I never really felt comfortable with these all-out mountain sprints. Too short and somehow incomplete… I want to run in the mountains and over the mountains, not just up a mountain. I know trail running does not necessarily have to be in the mountains, but for me the two belong together.
What draws me to the sport is being out there running through the most beautiful landscapes. That’s so much better than running through the street canyons of a big city, isn’t it? Also, I am fascinated by the fact that besides a strong physical condition, you need a good technique.
How does your typical training week look like?
Most of my training happens on the weekends. I live in Uzwil, where it’s hilly, but not enough so for serious mountain running. So on the weekends I make the one-hour drive to the mountains as often as possible, mostly to the St. Gallen Rheintal region. That’s an ideal starting point, because you start very low (ca. 450 m above sea level) and can easily do 1.500 m of vertical at a stretch. My training runs in the mountains are between 30 and 45 km and normally contain more than 2.000 m of vertical gain.
During the week my training is rather unspectactular. I run my usual loops around Uzwil, which are between 10 and 15 k. They don’t contain any considerable climbs though.
Do you have a favorite workout or training ground?
My favorite place to train is in the mountains around the Pizol and the sorrounding Sardona region. The landscape there is simply fantastic!
What are your goals for this season? Where will you be racing next?
My next race will be Zugspitz Ultratrail at the end of June. My first 100k… I am also going to do Swissalpine K78 and Ultratrail del Lago d’Orta. If I remain injury-free, there will probably be more races added to the list, but nothing is fixed yet. Some day, I want to do the Transalpine-Run and, of course, UTMB.
Stephan, thanks for the interview and best of luck to you!
Ten years on and the Skyrunner® World Series goes nationwide. The successful 15-race model with three distances, Vertical, Sky and Ultra, will be reproduced, where possible, in many ISF member countries, which currently count 27.
Earlier last year, France was the first country to launch the Skyrunner® National Serieswhich includes some of the best races in the country in the 42 km to 80 km range. USA followed in December with a full calendar featuring five Sky, five Ultra and four Verticals.
South Africa launched with three SkyMarathons and the new, much acclaimed Lesotho Ultra Trail in November. Two more races are to be announced.
The UK as we know, lacks the higher altitude common to skyrunning, but it lacks nothing of the tough, challenging courses that have produced skyrunning stars of the highest level. The first race announced earlier this month has 4,000m of vertical gain over 80 km – enough to satisfy even the most demanding Skyrunner.
Today, Italy, birthplace of skyrunning, announces their calendar, which perfectly reproduces the World Series format with five races in each discipline – Vertical, Sky and Ultra. In a country that boasts over 120 affiliated races and 90 associations, the calendar is spoilt for choice. The National Series was created to mirror the SWS format and includes some of the country’s top races, such as the Giir di Mont, the Trans D’Havet (last year’s European Ultra Championships) and the Cervino Vertical K, where the first Vertical Kilometer took place 20 years ago at the foot of the Matterhorn. The Italian Championships (one race per discipline), will be announced at the end of the month.
The concept of launching National Series lies in promoting the skyrunning philosophy at grass roots level and to offer runners in many different countries an opportunity to experience the skyrunning concept on home ground – to participate in well-organised, quality events with the passionate support of organisers and supporters; to enjoy spectacular courses that embody the skyrunning spirit; to push themselves further and higher on challenging terrain; to enjoy strong competition and, to reap the rewards of race and Series’ prize money. The winners of each Series will win a place in the 2014 World Series finals (or the first 2015 races) together with travel contributions and other benefits.
Particularly welcome has been the response from National Series organisers to create races and circuits that reflect the spirit and the values of skyrunning and where, no doubt, future stars will emerge.
Other National Series are in the pipeline, starting with one of skyrunning’s most important countries for both races and runners, Spain and Andorra.
Following on will be announcements from Australia & New Zealand, China, Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia…
Four weeks today The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica will start. Celebrating ten glorious years, the 2014 edition of the race will arguably be the most competitive in the races history.
Kicking off the 2014 racing season, runners from all over the world will assemble in Quepos for an exhilarating journey along the Costa Rican coast and within the rain forests of this exciting and idilic land.
Unprecedented in the races history, an elite line up of runners will toe the line featuring:
Anna Frost (New Zealad) – Salomon International
Nick Clark (UK) – Pearl Izumi
Julia Bottger (Germany) – Salomon
Philipp Reiter Germany) – Salomon International
Michael Wardian (USA) – Hoka One One
Jo Meek (UK) – tbc
The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.
Rodrigo Carazo and Tim Holmstrom from the TCC organisation have quite a race lined up!
In addition, Gemma Slaughter, 2013 female winner of the TCC will return to defend her title. Without doubt, Gemma will find the 2014 race very different to 2013. However, she does have experience and knowledge of what this race can bring; from a physical and mental perspective. I will be catching up with Gemma in the coming week for an interview on how she feels, how training has gone and what are her expectations for the 10th edition.
Frosty – ‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’
Wardian – ‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’
Clarky – ‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’
Reiter – ‘It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.’
Bottger – ‘I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting’
Meek –‘I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run, admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.’
The stage is set!
I will be reporting live ‘daily’ from the race and posting each evening a synopsis of the action with images (connections allowing).
Follow on Facebook: HERETwitter: @talkultra and of course on this website.
If you’d like to read more about The Coastal Challenge, here are my links to the 2013 (9th edition).
SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.
The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.
A man is indeed able to cover 250 km in less than two days and in fact in less than 40 hours. After the success of the project, the architect of the feat, John Foden, began to envision the establishment of a race that would bring long distance runners to Greece from around the world to run on the trail of the ancient runner Pheidippides. The next year a multinational team of British, Greek and other enthusiastic supporters of the idea, led by Michael Callaghan, a philhellene, organized the First International Spartathlon (Open International Spartathlon Race), wherein the name for the race combines the Greek words for Sparta and Feat.
The race was held with the approval and supervision of the Athletics Federation with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries and included the participation of women. The organizational success of this inaugural race and its broad appeal were decisive to the subsequent establishment of the annual race.
Accordingly, in 1984 the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded. Since then a yearly race has been organized each September. Why September? Because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides run to Sparta.
The 2013 edition of the race will start on Friday 27th September with 350 participants and for any last minute dropouts; this entry list will be topped up from a waiting list of 160 runners.
Mimi Anderson *
Robbie Britton *
Sweden, Poland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, France, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Malta, United States, Uruguay, Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and of course Greece.
Spartathlon, for many is a bucket list race. It has a magic that cannot be found at other races. The distance, strict cut-off times, the heat and so on all add to the drama. The course is conducted point-to-point and elevation ranges from sea level to 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), over tarmac road, trail and mountain footpath. Aid stations are placed every 3 to 5 km and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is run under police and medical supervision with doctors, physiotherapists, and emergency vehicles being on call throughout the 36-hour race duration. The race is very demanding.
The course is not the most spectacular and 153 miles of roads may not appeal to many, particularly if coming from a trail or mountain running background. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has run this race and not loved it. For sure, the Greeks, French, Japanese, German and now a growing UK participation love this race and demand is continuing to grow.
Lizzy Hawker raced in 2012 and not only won the ladies race in 27:02:17 but placed third overall. The outright winner was Stu Thoms from Germany in 26:28:19.
For the 2013 edition of the race, all entrants are of interest. For many, Spartathlon is a journey about completion and not competition. However, two people are of interest and for opposite reasons. Firstly, Robbie Britton from the UK is coming to Spartathlon for the first time but he is potentially an exciting prospect for the overall with a solid 100-mile result at the South Downs Way 100 in a time of 15:43:53 and 239.008km at the World 24-hour championships. Robbie has said in his blog, “I’m right excited about getting to Sparta now and can’t wait for the great challenge of this historic race. We’ve got a solid British team heading out there; including a few Grand Union Canal Race winners, one of whom is attempting a double Spartathlon and it should be a great atmosphere out there. After a strong showing from the Brits at UTMB and The Grand Slam of Ultra Running, I guess we best put a bit of effort into Spartathlon now too…” Bog here
Secondly, Mimi Anderson will be doing Spartathlon her own way in 2013… she raced in 2011 and surprised herself with her performance. So much so, this year she is coming back to do it twice! Yes, twice.
Mimi’s press release:
‘Marvellous’ Mimi Anderson, the 51 year-old grandmother from Smarden in Kent who is a triple long distance running Guinness World Record holder and already the legendary finisher of several ‘doubles’ of extreme long distance races for which the one-way normal run would be beyond most mere mortals, is about to attempt probably her most daring double – a two-way run of the iconic Spartathlon race held in Greece each year.
Traditionally there are about 20 runners from the UK each year and Mimi first ran the race in 2011 when she finished 3rd lady overall and the 1st UK finisher in 32 hours 33 minutes 23 seconds. She has decided to return in 2013 and having completed the normal race on her previous visit, she will be attempting the double this year (a distance of 306 miles), which is believed to have only ever been done once before. It has certainly never been done by anyone from Britain and no female has ever attempted it.
Mimi’s plan is to do the race first then, all being well, start the return leg at midnight on Saturday night. She will be running the race itself to achieve the best time she can and then attempting the return leg in in the same tough 36 hours maximum time allowed for the race.
Her husband Tim and friend Becky Healey will be crewing for her during the event and the reason for starting the return leg at midnight on the Saturday is to enable the crew to get some sleep – otherwise it becomes too dangerous for them to be driving safely!
Mimi will be running to raise money for her usual cause – the 10 Million Metres Campaign, which was set up by Alex Flynn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago. People can donate on the Justgiving site at www.justgiving.com/marvellousmimi1
The 2013 event for sure will be exciting for all involved and for those watching. If you would like more information, please go to the race website.
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!
Sage Canaday 5:08:07
Anton Krupicka 5:09:36
Jason Schlarb 5:19:34
Max King 5:29:02
Justin Yates 5:42:24
Luke Nelson 5:47:09
Timothy Olson 5:47:10
Jason Loutitt 5:49:35
Michael Barlow 5:53:37
Ryan Smith 5:53:51
Stephanie Howe 6:17:02
Jodee Adams-Moore 6:18:06
Ruby Muir 6:25:54
Emma Roca 6:41:21
Krissy Moehl 6:43:54
Becky Wheeler 6:48:43
Silke Koester 6:52:16
Erica Baron 6:55:46
Anita Ortiz 7:02:18
Francesca Canepa 7:05:14
Steve Way 6:40:14, Linus Holmsater 7:24:18 and Frijof Fagerlund 7:29:01
Kilian Jornet (Spain) 08:59:47
Luis Alberto Hernando (Spain) 08:59:49
Casaba Nemeth (Hungary) 09:43:25
Emelie Forsberg (Sweden) 10:21:32
Nuria Picas (Spain) 10:33:34
Uxue Fraile (Spain) 10:34:20
Stuart Mills 22:17:50
Charlie Sharpe 23:02:45
Ed Batty 23:07:40
Lizzie Wraith 24:15:06 (smashed old CR)
Debbie Martin Consani 26:02:00,
Julie Gardner 28:16:47
Ben Abdelnoor 7:39:26
Riichard Ashton 8:20:58
Robin Houghton 8:33:30
Katherine Brougham 9:44:10
Alice Briscoe 10:35:42
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
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
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!
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…