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

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REVIEW of 2016 in Trail, Mountain, Ultra and Skyrunning

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As a year comes to end, it’s always nice to be able to look back and appreciate some of the highlights that all come together that allows one to decide if it was a good or bad year. For me personally, 2016 was a cracker and I am truly thankful for all the opportunities that came up.

Looking back and deciding on what a highlight is, is of course a tricky thing. It’s very personal and it also requires a great memory. So, I will declare right from the off that these are ‘my’ highlights and yes, I am going to miss some key performances, runners, experiences and so on that should be in the list. So, please feel free to comment and remind me.

It would make sense to start in January and move through to December in a logical way… I am not going to do that, I am writing this off the cuff.

Jim Walmsley has been on fire in 2016 and ironically, despite an amazing run and course record at JFK50, FKT’s for the Rim-to-Rim and Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon and countless other victories, it will be his Western States performance that well and truly cements Jim as one of the most exciting runners to rise in 2016. He said pre Western States that he was there to win and win with a course record. He flew along the trails and at one point was almost 30-minutes under the record. As he passed 90-miles everyone was re-writing the history books and then boom! Jim went off course. I caught up with a full and in-depth interview with Jim and you can listen to that HERE and read it HERE. Jim for many is the male Ultra-runner of the Year with victories at Stagecoach Line 55km, Franklin Mountains Trail Run, Lake Sonoma, Mesquite Canyon, Moab Red Hot 55k, Bandera 100k and the recent JFK50. 2017 is going to be a very exciting one.

Rob Young set off on a journey Across the USA looking for a new record, fame, glory and an opportunity to raise a load of money for charity. Somewhere along the way he lost a grasp of reality, perspective and ruined what was a remarkable story be cheating and deceiving the whole ultra running community. Ultimately, Rob is a story of an individual who tried to do good and maybe we should ask what went wrong rather than preach about his morals.

That brings me on to Mark Vaz. What is it with FKT’s and delusional behaviour? Mark seemed to think that running from Land’s End to John O’Groats 31-hours quicker than anyone else for the 860-mile journey was a good idea. It’s not even a convincing lie. As many pointed out, the god of ultra -running, Yiannis Kouros, couldn’t have done it as quick as Mr. Vaz claimed… oh dear!

Pete Kostelnick by contrast embraced the FKT concept and showed the world that the claims made by Rob Young are possible by smashing a 30+ year old Guinness record out of the ether by running Across the USA a full 4-days quicker than anyone else. As records go, this is an absolute doozy and when you look deep and hard into this 40+ day journey, you soon start to understand the difficulty and complexity of running 70+ miles a day. You can listen to an in-depth interview with Pete HERE and read the story HERE. In addition, we must also add to this story, Pete’s incredible and record breaking run at Badwater 135. This achievement has been overshadowed by the USA run but as a stand alone run, it’s also a cracker.

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Karl Meltzer did it, he finally completed the Appalachian Trail in a new record breaking time after failing on two previous occasions.  His time was some 10-hours quicker than Scott Jurek’s set in 2015, however, Karl did run in the opposite direction and has said, post run, he feels that they are two records. Notably, Karl helped Scott in 2015 and Scott helped Karl in 2016. It’s a remarkable story and one that truly reflects our sport of ultra-running. Karl’s record of 45-days, 22-hours and 38-minutes now sits in the record books and well and truly establishes Karl as one of ‘the’ greatest ultra-runners in the world. This is also backed up with his 38 100-mile victories and 5 victories at Hardrock 100. Listen to the in-depth interview HERE and read HERE

Talking of Hardrock 100, Kilian Jornet and Jason Schlarb held hands and crossed the line together in 2016. It was a wonderful moment that split the ultra-running audience in two. Some would have preferred a race to the line while others discussed the wonderful gesture and statement this moment made. Whichever camp you sit in, it was back-to-back victories for Kilian and a career defining moment for Jason Schlarb. Something he discussed in my in-depth interview HERE. For equality, we also need to mention Anna Frost nailing a back-to-back ladies victory. As I understand it, these three Musketeers will all return in 2017.

Aaron Denberg got a bee in his bonnet about Hardrock 100 lottery and decided to create a law suit. Many believe Mr. Denberg makes some good points but questioned if his approach was the correct one? Hardrock 100 released statements and have since removed the payment of a fee by each runner to enter the lottery, something which was apparently illegal! This will run and run (pardon the pun) but ultimately, is Hardrock a victim of it’s own success?

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Caroline Chaverot for me, without doubt, female ultra-runner of the year. This French lady has been on fire all the way from victory in Transgrancanaria early in the year to a most recent win in Hong Kong on December 2nd. Along the way, Caroline won UTMB, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and won the IAU World Trail Championships in Portugal. Add to these incredible results, victories at Madirea Island Ultra Trail, Mont-Blanc 80km and the UTWT world title for 2016 and I lower my head and bow to Queen Caroline. Plus she has made the lottery for Hardrock in 2017… exciting!

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Adam Campbell survives a horrific fall and not only lives to tell the tale but has a remarkable recovery, listen to the interview HERE and read HERE

Lizzy Hawker sneaked from under the radar and once again picked up the gauntlet testing her personal boundaries and voyage of self-discovery. After years of injury, Lizzy completed the GHT (Great Himalayan Trail). A 1600km, east to west journey across Nepal. It was, as Lizzy promised, a “beautiful, rough, hard and unforgettable journey”. It was about many things, but also about trying to raise money to give opportunities to Nepali runners, particularly girls, for whom one chance can be a catalyst for much wider change.

Damian Hall set a new FKT on the UK’s South West Coast Path 10-hours, 15-minutes and 18-seconds for the 630-mile jaunt.

Jeff Browning, what a year…! Winner Hurt 100, 3rd at Western States, 4th at Hardrock 100 and 4th at Run Rabbit Run – that is some year, the WSER/Hardrock double a stand out and fastest combined time.

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Kilian Jornet won Hardrock 100 and attempted to summit Everest. The Summits Of My Life project continues on into 2017 after Kilian and his team decided to pull the plug on a 2016 attempt as weather detonated.

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Emelie Forsberg was quiet in 2016 after damaging her ACL and having an operation, she did however return to Trofeo Kima and put the record straight with a victory… she hopes the course record will come in 2018 when the race will take place once again. Emelie discussed her injury HERE

Beth Pascall went from strength-to-strength in 2016 and elevated the Lakeland 100 (UK) record to a whole new level by placing 4th overall. Listen to her interview HERE

Zach Miller did what he always does and lead from the front. At UTMB many predicted, me included, that it was going to be a story of glorious victory with a stunning ‘off-the-front’ performance or carnage with a monumental blow-up! In reality it was both, the blow-up came and he somehow managed to hold on for grim death to still get a top-10 place, he will win this race one day! Jump forward to December and Zach did it again at San Francisco 50. This time he had company and many are saying that ‘this’ race was one of the highlights of the year as Zach and Hayden Hawks traded blows at the front. Zach won with a course record and he took home the $10,000 prize. Hayden finished just 2-minutes back. Note that name! If you want to know what it’s like to put it ALL on the line, take a look at Zach’s final 2-minutes of that incredible 5:56:03 run.

Andrew Miller became the youngest winner of the iconic Western States and today, myself and so many others still know very little about this 20-year old. Certainly, Jim Walmsley had an impact on the kudos and plaudits that Andrew should have received. Running 15:39:36 at WSER takes some doing but I can’t help but think that Biology and chemistry are a priority as Andrew starts his sophomore year at Northern Arizona University. He will be back at WSER in 2017!

Kaci Lickteig has been nailing it and nailing it and finally got the Western States victory that she has longed for and then contrasted it with victory at the Bear 100. You can listen to Kaci’s post Western States interview HERE

Andrea Huser runs and races it would appear ‘every’ weekend. She is relentless. As I understand it, Andrea raced on thirteen occasions but I may have missed some/ She had victories at Raid de La Reunion Swiss Irontrail T201 Eiger Ultratrail 101km, Lavaredo, Trail d’Albertville, Trail Des Allobroges and Maxi-Race Annecy. Phew… any other year and the lack of Caroline Chaverot and Andrea would be female ultra-runner of the year.

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Luis Alberto Hernando won Transvulcania, became Skyrunning World Champion for the ultra distance and became IAU World Trail Champion. That is a solid year and Luis has raced less having become a Dad. Had his feet not fallen apart at UTMB, he may well have been in the running with Jim for male ultra-runner of the year.

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Diego Pazos is a name to watch and has surprised many in 2016. He’s my heads-up for the future. He had a notable result at Transgrancanaria early in 2016 but what followed was quite incredible, his victory at Mont-Blanc 80km a highlight!

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Didrik Hermansen won Transgrancanaria and then placed 2nd at Western States. That is solid and shows real diversity. What will 2017 hold for him? Listen HERE and as Sondre corrects me, Didrik ran 6:45 and 6:38 for 100k.

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Running Beyond Book was released in October and November to a worldwide audience and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish and of course is available in English. Containing 240-pages, this large coffee table books documents the sport of trail, ultra, mountain and skyrunning in images and words, HERE

Dan Lawson (UK) won the IAU 24 Hour European Championships in 2016 with a distance of 261.843 kilometres (162.702 mi).

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Jasmin Paris has elevated herself to a whole new level in 2016. This quiet and shy fell runner set new records for the UK’s ‘Rounds’ and in the process placed 6th at UTMB (her first 100) won Tromso SkyRace, won Glencoe Skyline, became the Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion 2016 and in addition to countless other races, also placed on the podium at the Skyrunning World Championships for the ultra distance behind Caroline Chaverot. Interviews with Jasmin Paris HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE

Joe Grant set a new record on the 14’ers in 31-days by cycling between trailheads and then summiting all the 14’ers (50+ of them) on foot to then return back to his cycle and then continue on his journey. He was self-sufficient for the whole trip. “I did set a speed record, but that wasn’t my goal,” says Grant, 33, an accomplished ultrarunner who finished second at the 2012 Hardrock 100. “The goal was to challenge myself and see the state, although the previous record served as a reference for how long I could take.” taken from trailrunningmag.

Megan Hicks also completed a ’14’ journey, the Nolans 14 in Colorado. She completed the journey in 57:19:19 to the summit of the 14th peak and then completed the journey back to the Fish Hatchery Trailhead in under 60-hours – 59:36. Her time is the fastest ever completed by a woman.

Nicky Spinks continues to inspire and while she may have lost her ‘Round’ records to Jasmin Paris, she went on to set a new benchmark with a record for a double Bob Graham Round – Nick is an inspiration! You can listen to an interview with her HERE

Ludovic Pommeret ran the most controlled and impressive UTMB ever moving from not being in contention to slowly but surely ticking off the runners ahead and taking the crown at the largest ultra in the world. Add to this victory four other victories and Ludovic is one to keep an eye on in ’17.’

Caroline Boller set new American Trail 50-mile record 5:48:01

Gina Slaby set new female 100-mile WR 13:45:49 for ‘any’ surface, Anne Trason had the previous record of  13:47:41 set in the early 90’s.

Skyline Scotland achieved a first with Glencoe Skyline achieving Skyrunner World Status in the Extreme category and as such, the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the best fields assembled on UK soil for a mountain race. HERE

Jon Albon transitioned from obstacle racing (something he still does and excels at) to Skyrunning and won the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Extreme category. We are going to see more of him in 2017! HERE

Samantha Gash ran across India in a project called ‘Run India’ as a means to create awareness and raise money. Covering over 3000km you can listen to her story in episode 125 of Talk Ultra out on Friday 16th December.

Ida Nilsson started the year with a win in Transvulcania, she took victory at The Rut and then in early December won San Francisco 50. Without doubt, Ida is a star of the future. Listen to Ida talk about Transvulcania HERE

Stu Leaney breaks Michael Wardian’s 50km treadmill record by just 7-seconds

Mina Guli ran 40-marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks to raise awareness for water, listen to the interview HERE

Jason Schlarb started his year by prepping for Hardrock 100 by skiing the course, listen to the interview HERE

Skyrunning and the world series (SWS) elevated to new heights with an increased circuit that traveled the globe and the addition of the new Extreme series.

And finally (maybe), Donnie Campbell just recently set a new Winter Ramsay Round record to finish a very solid year!

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So what have I missed? 

I am well aware that I will have missed some key performances in 2016 and I welcome you commenting and letting me know. Of course, many performances, races or experiences will resonate on a personal level for you. I can think of many British performances that are worthy of a nod – Jo Meek’s 2nd at the CCC, Paul Giblin 5th at Western States, Joasia Zakrzewski’s medal at the 100k World Champs for example.

Be great to hear from you…