Lanzarote Training Camp 2019 – Day 2 and 3

Day 2 and 3 at the Lanzarote Training Camp have been full-on. Shane Benzie of Running Reborn has been looking at everyones run technique and providing guidance for improvement in group and one-to-one sessions – Shane has been a huge hit with everyone and his advice invaluable.

On day 2 we took all groups for a long 5-6 hour walk at a fast pace. Over the years on the training camp we have understood that a key element of successful multi-day race is an ability to walk with ease and at pace.

Day 3 started with glorious sunshine and our famous or infamous volcano hill reps. They are always a hit! The sun came out, we had blue skies and fluffy clouds.

In the afternoon, we had a run out to our bivouac location, inside a volcano. An opportunity for many to test out dehydrated food, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and also their packs with weight. It is always a fun night and this year even more special with gale force winds and rain – quite the experience. It really was brilliant!

Join our 2020 Training Camp HERE

The El Kott Twins, Lina and Sanna join the The Coastal Challenge 2019 #TCC2019

The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.

The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.

Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.

Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!

We have already announced Lucy Bartholomew and Ida Nilsson, now the El Kott twins, Lina and Sanna! The twins been a revelation in 2018. They first made an appearance on the skyrunning circuit in 2016 and 2017 but it was really this year that the duo made an impact. They have raced all over the world, at times relentlessly, covering single-stage, multi-day and just recently an adventure race. The twins are going to love Costa Rica and the challenges that the race throws at them.

Lina speaks first…

What attracts you to Costa Rica? 

Lina: The exotic environment! I’ve only been in jungle when I was little so that is very exciting!

Sanna: The nature differs so much from the Swedish, it is just totally different from what I am used to, so I am eager to explore the jungle and the beaches!

This is the 15th edition of the TCC, a special one – what do you know about the race? 

Lina: That it is tough, humid and… tough. So tough I said it twice!

Sanna: I have heard stories from friends who have been running it before. And I have watched a few videos from previous races. It will for sure be a challenge! 

Heat and humidity will play a major factor in the race, how do you plan to adapt? 

Lina: I haven’t planned at all, going directly from low minus degrees in the Swedish winter with lots of skiing. May not be the prefect plan, but I think it’s almost impossible to adapt to those circumstances anyway…

Sanna: I don’t really have a plan to adapt to that. I’m by then in the middle of the ski season in Sweden, so there will be the opposite; cold and crispy days. But I think I can handle it. 

Ragna Debats and Tom Evans set incredible course records in 2017. There is prize money available for a new CR in 2019 – does that motivate you? Can you break the record? 

Lina: It’s mostly the challenge itself that motivates me. I’m not looking for breaking any record, but if I feel in good shape of course I would try to 😉 

Sanna: That’s is such a fun carrot to catch. Though for me it will be really hard. I want to say YES I can break it. But this time, I doubt that. It is many flat parts, and with heat as a combination, it will not be my strongest side.

Multi-day racing brings many different challenges to a single-stage race – what are you most looking forward to? What are you most fearful of? 

Lina: To discover new trails and places everyday! To get injured…

Sanna: That’s what I like with this race. I have done a few stage races before, and that gives me new chances every day. Motivation after another. I look forward to cross some rivers during the race, since I think it will be wanted! My biggest fear is dehydration, I have struggled with that on other races, and nothing I want to face again.. 

The elite line-up is incredible for 2019, you will need to be in the best shape, does that excite you? 

Lina: That’s amazing! I’m really looking forward to race with these strong and inspiring people. Despite I’m now suffering with a knee injury myself, I really hope that I can recover well and start training properly before…

Sanna: It really motivates me to do good training for the races because of that. And it will be so exciting to compete against so strong athletes!

February is early in the season, what will your winter training look like, so you will be ready for February? 

Lina: It’s usually a lot of snow where I live in Sweden so there will mostly be cross country skiing and skimo, but hopefully I’ll manage to squeeze in running everyday too! 

Sanna: There will probably be a lot of cross country skiing, but I always run a few sessions a week. Maybe I’ll put in some flat faster sessions, to get the legs used to those parts. (I know they can climb already).

I am sure you have looked at past editions of the race, viewed the stages, the profile – it is a tough race that suits a rounded athlete. You need to be able to climb, descend, handle technical trail and run on the flat – where will your strengths be? 

Lina: I’m definitely an uphill runner so I’m looking forward to those hills!

Sanna: My strengths.. hmm, I guess the diversity of it. That it is really variated, and definitely that it last for several days. Stage 4 might be my best day. Good elevation, everyones’ legs are a bit tired after three days of racing. I hope I still will have good speed. 

What experience do you have of multi-day racing? 

Lina: I have done Transalpine two times and Transrockies one time in duo-team with Sanna. A lot of suffering, a lot of happiness and memories! I also do adventure racing which is Non-stop racing for days with navigation, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking. So I’m quite used to being out for long.

Sanna: I have experience from both Adventure Racing (where you change diciplines between, running, trekking, mountain biking, kayak, and other sports, during several days, non-stop racing) and stage races. I’ve done TransAlpineRun two times, and TransRockiesRun, though together with Lina. This time will be the first multi-day racing as solo runner.

Racing starts very early in Costa Rica, with the sun! An early finish allows for relaxation on the beach, you can even have a beer – combining racing and relaxation is a key of TCC. It is a ‘Pura Vida’ race – tell us about your hopes and desires for the 2019 edition. 

Lina: One of the best things is absolutely to take a swim after a run, and also to eat fresh fruit, so if I have got both of these I’m more than satisfied!

Sanna: A beer doesn’t appeal me, buth maybe a smoothie? I am excited for the fruits, and hope that they will taste sooo good. I hope we will have nice weather, but that means for me, some clouds on the sky. Otherwise it will be only suffer party. 

What three music choices would sum up your racing style? 

Lina: That’s a hard one since I never listen to music when I’m running… But if I’m in real race mode, some hard rock or up-tempo music for sure fits. I usually run in a steady pace all the race, so maybe some classic music would suit my style too? 

Sanna: I’ll for sure choose Avicii. Any of his hits makes me always be a bit faster. Then some more sing along music tunes, but most likely pop, and in the finish line, Bobby McFerrin “don’t worry, be happy” for relax.

Tell us about your nutrition and hydrations strategies for the race?

Lina: I’ve done both eating too little, and eating too much on races. The key is HYDRATE with both water and electrolytes. Eat something little if hungry…

Sanna: I will probably have gels with me, and get fresh fruit, salty stuff and electrolytes on aid stations. 

Tell us about key equipment such as shoes and apparel that you will use?

Lina: A loose thin tank top from GORE wear, either loose shorts or tight shorts, will try both on the race I guess. Light but steady shoes, probably All Out Crush 2 or Tough Mudder 2 from MERRELL. I really like to go light weight, but on long races and stage races it’s important to have some stability too. 

Sanna: Gore Wear tank top and shorts, thin gococo sportwear socks (that never get blisters!), Merrell All Out Crush 2 and Ultimate Direction Halo vesta. There you have it!

Please list a summary of your career highlights for 2017 and 2018:

Lina:

  1. Winning Transalpine 2 years in a row with Sanna
  2. Winning Expedition Oregon (Adventure race) in 58 hours with Team Leki/Merrell.
  3. Winning Skyrace Comapedrosa and Olympus marathon.
  4. To run on amazing places around the world, in Yading, China for example!
  5. Complete the ELS2900 in Andorra 2017 with Sanna as the only female team.
  6. Racing good and being in the top ranking of the Skyrunning series.
  7. Being better and better on vertical races and manage to be on the podium on every one I entered.
  8. Travelling between races in a van during the summer calling myself an elite athlete for the first time!

Sanna:

  1. TransAlpineRun winners both 2017 and 2018
  2. Second in Olympus Maraton and High Trail Vanoise, just one week in between. (where I did a multisport race). 
  3. Sprint with Sheila for third place at Comapedrosa in Andorra. 
  4. Winner of Hornindal Rundt in Norway 2017.
  5. Winner together with TEAM LEKI/MERRELL in Expedition Oregon 2018
  6. Totally 5th in the Skyrunner World Series 2018. 
  7. A few podium places on vertical races.

*****

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

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE and the the 2018 edition HERE

Follow in 2019 #TCC2019

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The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

#tcc2019 #thecoastalchallenge #tcc19

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Ultra Mirage© El Djerid #UMED 2018 Race Summary and Images

Backed by the space port of Mos Espa (Star Wars Episode 1) the 2nd edition of UMED ( Ultra Mirage© El Djerid) got underway with the morning glow of a strong orange sun after it had tipped over the summits of the surrounding high dunes.  

Over 130 runners from 23 nations stepped forward to undertake a circular 100km route through the Tunisian desert. Heat, sand, mixed terrain, palm groves, oasis all providing a stunning backdrop to an ultimate running challenge. The calm and quiet of the Sahara broken only by the sound of birds. 

Any running journey can be a lonely one, but the desert really does provide isolation, only a snake or a camel providing any company. Of course, the sun only leaves the runner with darkness and as the rest from intense heat may be welcome, the complete darkness of the desert provides its own challenges as the runners navigate via reflective strips all the way back to where they started, the lunar landscape of Mos Espa and the bulbous film set village made famous by Star Wars.

The 2017 champion, Mohamed El Morabity had returned to defend his title, however, the desert king (Mohamed’s elder brother) Rachid El Morabity was also on the start line looking to upset the 2017 champions dreams. In the women’s field, two-time MDS champion, Elisabet Barnes was returning to racing after an almost year-long hiatus – what would the day hold for all of them? 

On the stroke of 0700 the runners were released. They had 20-hours to complete the desert journey via marked route and 5 checkpoints placed at 20km, 35km, 50km, 65km, 80km and the finish providing an end to an epic journey.

With no wind, the 30-degree temperatures seemed intense. From the start, the experienced runners reigned in their pace but at the front, Marwen Kahil from Tunisia dictated the pace followed by fellow Tunisian, Mohamed Mnsari – the duo no doubt wanting to put on a good show on home ground. All the main contenders followed some way back, they were in no rush to push the pace and Rachid, Mohamed and Sondre Amdahl maintained a close eye on each other.

In the women’s race, Elisabet Barnes dictated the pace, shadowed by Tunisian, Shefia Hendaoui. Behind, Orianne Dujardin from France followed looking relaxed and in control.

At 20km, the positions had hardly changed. However, Elisabet had broken away from her shadow and was now dictating the pace at the front. With 80km to go, it was a brave move, but she looked strong and in control. For the men, there was little but the front of the race was starting to fragment with runners either forming small groups or running alone seconds and minutes apart.

By CP2, it was all change. The desert king Rachid had gently pressed on his accelerator pedal and in doing so he had split the men’s race apart. The early protagonists were left to struggle with the only runners able to follow the Moroccan’s pace coming from his brother, Mohamed and Tunisian, Emir Grairi. The duo looked strong and in control and then minutes later it was the arrival of Sondre Amdahl.

For the women, Elisabet was now pulling away from Shefia and Oriane and her pace was starting to impact on the men’s race with the Swedish runner placing well in the top 10.

With 50% of the race covered and the arrival of the first Oasis the race was taking shape. Rachid and Elisabet had opened huge gaps and were looking strong for victory, but behind them both the race was changing.

The 2nd male to arrive was the Tunisian Emir looking strong. Then Sondre arrived. What had happened to the 2017 champion Mohamed? He finally arrived walking, looking broken and explaining that he had hurt his ankle. He looked set to drop out but at the 3rd CP he pushed on.

 For the women, the early pace had impacted on Shefia and now Oriane was running in 2nd. It was all to fight for though, the duo was only separated by minutes!

50-65km were the most challenging of the race with relentless soft sand that slowed the front runners to a walk at times. Behind, this section would eventually take its toll with over 30% of the UMED field not progressing past this section. Rachid and Elisabet took it in their stride but the impact on Emir was noticeable and he relinquished 2nd place to an in-form Sondre. Mohamed was somehow rejuvenated, and he now ran with the Tunisian, the duo looking for the final podium place. 

Rachid arrived at the 80km checkpoint looking tired and exhausted. The day was taking its toll. He searched for food and drink, but the fatigue was obviously confusing him, he was undecided what he needed. Sitting down he consumed two cartons of juice only to vomit them back up. He left for arguably the toughest 20km’s he would ever run. The gap Rachid had accumulated was crumbling and Sondre arrived just 3-minutes later. The fight was on!

 Sondre hunted the Moroccan down slowly pursuing but Rachid despite chronic fatigue never gave in, he arrived at the finish broken. He crossed the line and collapsed into the arms of the RD, Amir Ben Gacem. Moments later he was in the medic’s hands with an IV in his arm. Sondre finished a stunning 2nd just 6-minutes later. It had been an epic battle. The fight for 3rd came to an easy conclusion for the 2017 champion Mohamed when Emir dropped from the race with severe cramps just 5/6km from the line.

 Elisabet was the next to arrive, the new female champion and 4th overall – she was back! This was a stunning world-class performance and her time was just 9-minutes slower than the 2017 champion, Mohamed. 

“UMED was a really great experience. It was good to be back in a desert race after a break this year. I enjoyed the varying terrain, the heat, and the perfect mix of friendly atmosphere and hard racing.” – Elisabet Barnes

Behind, Oriane secured her 2nd place ahead of the local woman, Shefia.

With the arrival of darkness, the race took on a new challenge as the participants battled the terrain, darkness and the 0300 cut-off. As with all races, the dream of medals evaporated like water in a Mirage. Blisters, fatigue, dehydration, missing cut-off times, each runner had a story to tell.

“I did not dream of medal. I wanted to run strong and run well. That was my UMED goal. At half way I felt very unwell and I knew it was the beginning of heatstroke. I also had damaged feet with blisters… We had been advised that gaiters were not necessary, they were! I was mentally and emotionally strong, but I knew it was time to be kind to myself and I allowed myself to call it quits. I had done what I set out to do, I had run well, I had run strong, and that was for 50km. Next year’s goal will be to run well, run strong and get that medal.” – Sue Ding from Malaysia who had completed the 2018 Marathon des Sables.


As Roosevelt rightly said:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 Racing does not give guarantees. It is why we test ourselves. Pain eases, memories fade, skin heals and soon, often the next day, the desire to return and put the demons to rest is what motivates everyone. The desert is magic and leaves only one desire: to come back and tame it! 

Post-race, RD Amir Ben Gacem was proud of the race, “Last year, we had just 60 runners, this year we had over 130 and I am proud to say, over 30 women. That is stunning. The race will evolve, and we learnt some lessons this year that will be applied for 2019 only to make the UMED bigger and better!”

“Wow, I am really happy with that,” Sondre exclaimed. “I am the first ‘human’ – to place 2nd behind the desert king Rachid and to have his brother behind me is a true honour.”

 RESULTS

  1. Elisabet Barnes 10:26:06
  2. Oriane Dujardin 12:58:57
  3. Shefia Hendaoui 13:35:57

 

  1. Rachid El Morabity 9:11:47
  2. Sondre Amdahl 9:18:12
  3. Mohamed El Morabity 10:17:33

ALL IMAGES AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE HERE

UMED RACE WEBSITE

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Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 7

All good things come to an end…!

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

Up, down, around and over.

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

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

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

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

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

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 2

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

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

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

It was a great first session!